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Article for the week of 12/27/08

‘Block Party’ for the Wii a trip to creepy town

A Wii Review
By Ezra Mann

(These articles have also been published at and soon at

Every now and again the gaming world offers a title that blurs the line between entertaining and disturbing. Sometimes one must find the entertainment in all the bizarre.
Activision seems to be going for the creepy game of the year award with some of its latest party game offerings and just in time for the holiday season. The only problem is I’m pretty sure this is the gift you don’t want to keep on giving. “Block Party” for the Wii might just be too much of a mental scar for the average digital enthusiast.
It’s not often that I find a game that is so out of whack that I can’t even recommend it for rental, but I pretty much reached the point of not wanting to play again after the first time. To be fair, some of the party games were rather addictive, but most of the time I was either shocked or weirded out by what was going on.
In this competition that can be played with up to four people, you are given a choice to be an unsupervised child who can participate in several “creative” activities. Like children imitating an episode of Jack Ass some of the competitive choices include wielding fire arms, drinking “beverages” that launch you into the air by the power of flatulence and being propelled through the air while trying to catch airborne food. This might all be fine and dandy if the children’s vocal expressions didn’t make one want to call to child protective services.
I’m all about letting kids play video games if the parents can teach them restraint and the differences in the real world, but I’m not sure parents are ready to give all the talks necessary that may come due to this game. Let’s face it, sometimes there are moments when you need to keep browsing for other options.
In the end, the game really isn’t the worst thing you could be exposing you or your child to, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you have high expectations or are easily offended. It’ll just make you appreciate the games you already have that much more. For something that might kill your boredom with a risk I’d say “Block Party” for the Wii earns two and a half out of six toggles.

“Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise” another simulated success
By Ezra Mann (Editor in Spoof)
Every gamer at one point or another has come in contact with the scenario where you either control a person’s life, a plot of land or even an amusement park. These games are a dime a dozen with a few standout titles, so these days you really have to reach for that special something to produce a sure hit.
Rare and Microsoft Studios have actually managed to make this element successful on the 360 and with an angle that is a unique treasure. In this sequel to the original hit you once again deal with the world of a certain South American Party favor, but with a bit more urgency. “Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise” for the Xbox 360 may be a continuation, but it delivers in an addictive way that will keep you giggling and entranced for hours.
In this second installment you are back to gardening to attract piñatas on Piñata Island with the addition of a desert and arctic landscape. You also get 32 new piñatas and it wouldn’t be a party without the return of the dastardly ruffians led by Professor Pester.
The story centers on Pester’s bumbling attempt to steal piñata data from piñata central so he can control the island and instead ends up erasing all data which leaves you to restore all the files, if you so desire (Though he is bent on being a pain if you try). The neatest thing about both titles is how simple and at the same time complex the game can be where you just place this and that here, but with just enough attention that you’re never bored. Heck, I never thought there’d be much joy in watering and watching virtual plants grow.
Like the game that came before it, this is appropriate for all ages and can be played with two people at home or with up to four on Xbox Live. Additionally, during the game you are not alone even if you don’t play with a friend with a cast of helpers that will provide you with gardening help in one form or another.
If that’s not enough you even get to play in mini games that can help your piñatas become extra special like getting sent to celebrations, racing contests or romancing to make wee paperlings. This game definitely deserves to at least be rented and may even pull in those who may not normally dig the simulated genre. For a fiesta I’ll not soon forget and be sharing for a while I give “Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise” four and one fourth out of six toggles.

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