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Whacked! Review
game: Whacked!
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Microsoft
date posted: 09:10 AM Wed Nov 6th, 2002
last revision: 06:25 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

By Colin K. Yu

Spin the wheel. Pick a letter. Answer in question form. Press the buzzer. Choose a square. Walk away with a consolation prize. These are aspects we recognize from game shows. And as game developers attempt to bring the game show atmosphere to the video game world, there have been some hits, such as You Don\'t Know Jack! and there have been some misses, such as Who Wants to Beat Up a Millionaire. Unfortunately, Presto Studio\'s Whacked! falls into the latter of the two.

With a zany cast of characters, hectic battles, and an online capability, Whacked! could have had the potential to be a successful video game. But the biggest flaw that plagued its success was the inability for the developers to follow through on the very thing that it relies on, its game show theme.

Whacked! begins with an introduction that reveals the game\'s host, Van Tastic. Van explains how the game show needs a bigger audience, and the best way to do that would be to have contestants battle each other. The motivation for these contestants is the elusive \"Prize\" that remains mysterious until the end. The characters are then presented, and once the player chooses one, the game begins.

This is where Whacked! begins to go awry. The entire game set disappears, and all the characters disappear, leaving your character alone in front of three doors. Each door contains three challenges, and the player is free to choose which door to enter, but in the end, all nine challenges must be completed, defeating the purpose of choosing. And when I said \"must be completed,\" it means exactly what it says. There is no second or third place in this game, so if you lose a challenge, you\'ll have to retry over again and beat it to proceed on with the game.

Without a general theme visually apparent in Whacked! the game becomes nothing but challenges. When the player completes the arduous task of reigning first place in the primary nine challenges, a new set of three doors appear, and the challenges ensue. Completing a challenge not only continues the pace of the game, but also rewards the player with a new weapon, as well as a short commercial. These commercials are a mixed bunch, with some being hilarious, while most others are plain stupid. Frankly, the single-player experience is so tedious that, no matter how great the \"Prize\" may be in the end, it doesn\'t make the effort seem worth it.

The gameplay in Whacked! is reminiscent to that of Cel Damage. Players run around, and for the most part, try to kill each other. There are a total of six different challenges in this game. \"Fragfest\" and \"King of the Hill\" are the most familiar challenges, where in \"Fragfest,\" your goal is to kill everyone in sight, and in \"King of the Hill,\" your goal is to stand in a designated area for an amount of time. In \"Combat,\" the player\'s task is to be the first to collect an allotted number of stars that appear on the level. In \"Grab n\' Run,\" the player must hold the gold trophy for an allotted amount of time, while avoiding a barrage of attacks from your opponents. \"Dodgeball\" will remind everyone of their childhood, where the only weapon is a dodgeball, but this time you\'re out for blood. And last is \"Chicken,\" where you must collect stars from slaying flocks of chicken that bombard you. These six prove to be a good variety of challenges, and will definitely be an interesting experience.

Controls are simplistic, and should pose little problem. The left joystick is for movement, the triggers are for sidestepping, the A and Y buttons are for jumping, and the X and B buttons are for attacking. The primary attack is weak and slow, and the ability to do a Mario-style butt-stomp is available, but the weapons that you can pick up will most likely be the weapons of choice.

The game carries a total of more than thirty different varieties of weapons. Only an small batch is available at first, but as noted, with each challenge completion, a new weapon is unlocked to unleash more carnage. Some of these weapons include a Home Run bat that sends your opponent flying, explosive Rubber Duckies, a giant Staple gun, Plunger missiles, a Cactus, and a Freeze gun. There are other crazy additions to the game that create more havoc, and creating anarchy is always fun.

The levels are very unique, ranging from a ceiling fan to even the kitchen sink. One of the best ideas for a level is located in the back of a moving pick-up truck, with a police car behind it. While the car chase ensues, players can jump back and forth between cars, and when the car sways, all the characters fly in that direction. Still, the levels are usually small in size, and whether that was a good call is a toss-up. It\'s bad because it constricts the amount of area to run, and yet it\'s good because it\'s usually difficult to spot your opponents. There are the occasional hazards that occur during the level, such as the ceiling fan spinning rapidly, or the kitchen sink draining, but the overall details and intricacies of the level are generally pretty simple.

The characters themselves are a colorful, zany cast. While there are only four selectable characters in the beginning, there are four additional characters, including the host Van Tastic that can be unlocked. Some of the cast includes Charity, a child with bad dental hygiene, Lucky, a rabbit with an attitude, and everyone\'s favorite, Lucy, a sexy woman with nothing but two censor bars as her outfit. (As a side note, never in my life more than in this game have I wanted to be a pair of censor bars... Which is kind of sad...) Each character carries their own personality, complete with a voice to say almost anything and everything. Unfortunately, these characters have little, if any, differences in ability, making the choice between characters solely an aesthetic decision.

The multiplayer capability is where a good chunk of the action should be. This is because the single-player experience is nothing to write home about, and the fact that taking smack to the computer is just no fun. So inviting three other friends over is a good option, but the best option is the newly-available Xbox Live capability, letting you chuck Rubber Duckie bombs at your friend who\'s playing on the other side of town. Although I haven\'t had the opportunity to test it online, the game alone barely lags, and most likely it won\'t lag over a broadband connection. Even better, with the Xbox Live headset, you can choose Charity, the little girl, as your character, and alter your voice to be a deep husky male voice just to make your opponents think twice about shooting that rocket at you.

In conclusion, Whacked! is a decent game. Again, what hurts the game the most is its presentation. The game show theme was the glue that would have held the game together. Gameplay-wise, Whacked! succeeds with unique level and character innovation, and fast action. If you are interested in picking up Whacked! for its single-player experience, I would suggest you look elsewhere. If you\'re looking for an in-house multiplayer experience, I would suggest Fuzion Frenzy. If you\'re looking for an online multiplayer experience, I would suggest you try out the Whacked! demo that\'s included with the Xbox Live kit first. If you\'re interested in Whacked! just to see Lucy the naked wonder, I would suggest waiting for BMX XXX to arrive; you\'ll get your ya-ya\'s there. Otherwise, I would rent it first, or wait for this game to go on sale before buying it.