Developer: Hudson Soft
Release Date: January 30, 2007
Mini-game mayhem has been redefined by the Nintendo Wii and the likes of Rayman: Raving Rabbids, but can Fuzion Frenzy 2, the sequel of a more old-school game in the same vein, hold up? It sort of does, despite missing on at least three critical design points of a good party game.
I'm going to immediately jump on the first problem with Fuzion Frenzy 2 — the graphics. To call them last-generation isn't accurate because there's a bit of dust and grime, and there are unnecessarily high polygon counts. However, there is the exact same lack of animations, lips that don't remotely match what's being said, and characters that apparently tried to hop on the "anime" bus but ended up on the "short" bus instead. So when it comes to the graphics, the developers did a nice job in using modern effects, but they chose to layer them over mistakes that were being made during the early days of the PlayStation 1.
In terms of audio, Fuzion Frenzy 2 certainly pushes the envelope — and not in a good way — with its pathetically repetitive and overused music clips, and its voice acting. I can normally tolerate bad or terrible voice acting, but I shut off the voices for this game.
As I've said in previous reviews, however, good gameplay can make up for even terrible graphics and sound. Too bad Fuzion Frenzy 2 fails here, too. For those who haven't played the original, the format is almost as brain-dead as a party game can get. Pick a planet, and you'll perform four mini-games — the first and last are always selected by the system — out of a themed list for points. The player with the most points gets that planet, and whoever gets the specified number of planets wins the game. It's simple but effective and playable, right?
Well, apparently, someone decided that it was "too boring," and threw in cards, a gimmick that's been around since Sonic Shuffle and still hasn't been done correctly, in my opinion. Some cards multiply the points you get from a game (meaning that even last place can get the most points), others modify the multiplier cards (stealing or inverting them), and all of them end up breaking the game wide open, usually rendering the mini-games themselves irrelevant until everyone is out of cards. Oh, and the deejay gives you new ones in the exact same mini-game with the exact same announcement at least once each planet, just in case the game starts getting balanced.
Okay, so the party game has failed at graphics, sound effects, and overall play structure. How about the mini-games themselves? They look rather sub-par, but to be honest, they work. Each of the games is designed to last a minute or two, sticking to a variety of simple and always all-against-all concepts. Whether it's pure button mashing, being the first to strike a sequence of buttons, varied types of coin collection, knocking foes off the stage, draining a lifebar, or....
Well, there are relatively few core types (with a few surprises, including a very intriguing implementation of the classic Lightcycles game), but unlike some games of this sort, each individual game in the type comes across as at least significantly twisted, if not completely different. The flamethrower fight's pretty standard, but when those flamethrowers are now being used to knock people off the stage, it's oddly different.
More blessedly, Hudson took the time to make unique levels for every game. Even as thematics and elements are shared, playing two different mini-games will produce two different appearances, without exception, evoking distinct feels and keeping games in reality, no matter how similar they are (the "rumble" series in particular is only minorly changed from game to game).
If, having given the mini-games themselves a shake, you happen to enjoy them, both online and offline play offer Mini-Game Frenzy and Custom modes that let you play single mini-games or run "playlists" of ones that interest you. After one tournament, this is a godsend. Unfortunately, the mini-games still run thin after a significant number of tries.
Honestly, Fuzion Frenzy 2 fails to impress. Decent mini-games can only go so far to fix a broken main game, terrible art design, and voice acting that even a patient fan of low-quality acting can't handle. If you want mini-game mayhem on the X360, look forward to Rayman: Raving Rabbids (if you don't already have the Wii version), or better yet, scroll around X-Box Live Arcade a little. This game has exactly one target audience; Gamerscore fanatics will get all of the limited joy to be had in one rental, along with the entire set of 1,000 gamer points. Otherwise, the title is too hardcore in stylations for family, too anime for sports gamers, too silly-looking for anime fans, somehow too insipid for party game fans, and too low-quality as a whole to be worth purchasing by anyone.
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