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Jan 19, 2012
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By Matthew Scott Hunter

‘Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD’

Experience the oddest world yet

(T) ****

Oddworld Inhabitants

PlayStation 3

Of all the “Oddworld” games, “Stranger’s Wrath” creates the oddest world yet. It’s a Western, starring a strange creature in the Clint Eastwood role, with dusty desert towns populated entirely by chicken people and combat that brings a whole new meaning to the term “live ammo.” See those chipmunks and spiders scurrying around? Well, pick them up and slap them on your crossbow. One shot of the motor-mouthed chip-punk will lure an outlaw over to silence the cacophony with his boot. A second shot with the arachnid will promptly hogtie the outlaw with spider web. Now simply vacuum him up and turn him in for the bounty. Wanted criminals are worth twice as much when you bring them in alive.

Originally an Xbox exclusive in 2005, “Stranger’s Wrath” holds up remarkably well in HD and could easily be mistaken for a current-gen game in terms of visuals. In terms of gameplay, however, it feels a bit dated. The growing selection of wildlife-turned-projectiles keeps the first person shooting interesting throughout, but the third-person platforming and melee combat sections feel a bit sloppy. There’s also a great deal more variety to your ammo than there is to your enemy types. Still, while the enemies are similar, the approach you take to incapacitating them can be as varied as you want to make it. You can stealthily take the gang down one by one, or you can run in guns-a-blazin’. Either way, once you’ve collected a few bounties, you’ll be treated to a plot twist that adds some nice depth to traditionally eco-friendly story of “Oddworld.”

‘Trine 2’

(E10+) ***1/2


Xbox Live Arcade

This archetypal sidescrolling quest for a wizard, a knight and a thief is elevated by some gorgeous visuals and a few clever puzzles. Each character brings different goblin slaying and path-clearing abilities to the table, requiring you to switch between them on the fly. Or, if you team up with a couple friends, you can utilize the abilities of all three simultaneously to come up with solutions that are otherwise unavailable when playing solo. It’s just enough to keep you engaged by this unspectacular but undeniably charming fantasy platformer.

‘Nano Assault”

(E10+) ***1/2


Nintendo 3DS

You’ll be fighting infection the hard way in this fantastic voyage, which has you killing germs with a microscopic spacecraft. The game alternates between somewhat dizzying “Super Mario Galaxy”-style ground combat and on-rails flying segments similar to “Star Fox.” The highlights of the game are the stunning backdrops, clearly inspired by the exotic — almost alien — images brought to us by electron microscopy. The downside is that the entire course of treatment is over in a meager three hours. If only real medicine worked so fast. CV

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