Fuzion Frenzy 2 Review
If you enjoy party games, then you are probably aware of just how much fun Nintendo's home consoles are. From WarioWare to Super Smash Bros. Melee, Wii Sports, Super Monkey Ball and finally on over to Mario Party, Nintendo and the developers they work with seem to know how to do party games right. Microsoft has decided they want in on this market and they're delivering their best with Fuzion Frenzy 2, a party game with a slightly violent but still comic style and a very futuristic vibe. But can this title possibly be enough to entertain people who expect a lot out of a party game?
During the planning stages of Fuzion Frenzy 2, Microsoft decided they were going to get outside help for this one. They went to Japanese developer HudsonSoft, who made the games, and hired them to make a sequel to their largely-unheard-of Fuzion Frenzy on the original Xbox. And HudsonSoft set out to do just that and put their own flair into it. But unfortunately, what they've delivered is a mishmash of tons of rather boring mini-games without a smooth learning curve, and put it in a package with some of the most annoying presentation ever.
The meat of Fuzion Frenzy 2 comes in setting up tournaments with four players. You can choose to go to one of many planets, each with their own theme (Earth is included), and each has its own set of unique mini-games. All added up, there are over 40 mini-games in all. As you and up to three other players compete, you win cards which you can play during the coming round. Some of them will multiply your score, others will divide your opponents' scores. Some let you choose the next mini-game or planet to play on.
Most of the mini-games are plenty futuristic and unique compared to most other games, but inside Fuzion Frenzy 2 itself, they kind of all run together. And with the game's six generic Tron-looking characters to choose from, they simply don't have the lasting charm that we can relate to when compared to Mario Party. The graphics are certainly the sharpest I've ever seen in a game of this type, but then again, we are on the Xbox 360 and that's kind of expected.
It's the sound that really hurts this game, however. HudsonSoft decided to get the most annoying announcer voice ever (and yes, I played Street Fighter Alpha 3) and just have him constantly blurt out one of about 15 catchphrases during the mini-games. Between rounds he also chatters on endlessly - but at least you can skip his "cutscenes" by mashing the A button. You can also turn off his voice in the sound options, and I highly recommend this if you're going to be playing this game for more than about 15 seconds. But even beyond that, the music and sound effects are so bland and boring that it actually kills some of the excitement of the rest of this game.
There are other problems, as well. Fuzion Frenzy 2 requires that four players participate in all matches, so if you have even two or three playing, the game automatically fills up empty slots with these crazy AI opponents. Sometimes they'll totally stomp you, and sometimes they're just plain terrible, and it all varies from one round to another.
Finally, let's get to the feature that Microsoft is touting as ground-breaking for a party game. Fuzion Frenzy 2 includes online play over Xbox Live. Now, it does work pretty good, but I honestly don't understand why people would spend much time playing this one over Live. The mini-games are generally shallow and while there is plenty of room for skill rather than luck here, the whole fun of a party game, to me, is supposed to be getting together with people and having fun. Doing this over a headset just isn't the same.
Microsoft did bring Fuzion Frenzy 2 in at a somewhat reduced price of $49.99 instead of the usual $60 for Xbox 360 games, but it's just not low enough of a price for me to recommend it. If Hudson had worked on making more compelling mini-games and improved the presentation, then I think the online play might actually be a hit - and it might still, if Microsoft brings the price down further towards budget-game levels. Until then, you're still better off busting out Smash Bros. or Wii Sports.