Matthew Scott Hunter
In most games, it’s annoying when you die.
In “NeverDead,” it’s annoying that you don’t.
As Bryce Boltzman — a demonslayer with some
of the worst one-liners this side of Duke Nukem
— you are cursed with immortality. Of course,
being immortal doesn’t make you indestructible.
One nasty swipe at your extremities from an
enemy, and you’ll have to gun him down whilst
hopping on your one remaining leg. Take enough
damage, and you’ll find yourself entirely dismembered,
frantically rolling your decapitated head around
the level in search of the rest of your anatomy.
While initially amusing, this grisly gimmick
quickly becomes a chore. After you’ve gotten
stuck in a few cycles of being knocked to pieces
the moment you’ve finished reassembling yourself,
you’ll be longing for a good, old-fashioned
death to return you to the previous checkpoint.
Aside from a few mildly clever puzzles that
require you to do things like pull off your
own head and toss it into an air duct, the gameplay
of “NeverDead” consists entirely of third-person
running and gunning, with a dash of “Devil May
Cry” swordplay thrown in. Enemies emerge from
obvious spawn points, and you must repetitively
gun them down until they finally stop spawning
and you’re permitted to move on. Interminably
long boss fights that reward patience and stamina
rather than skill and intelligence break up
these generic encounters. You’re also given
a very mortal A.I. partner to protect, but her
personality is so bland that if she didn’t occasionally
die, forcing you to replay a small section of
the game, you could easily forget she was there.
“NeverDead” is a run-of-the-mill shooter with
a single cool idea, implemented in the most
annoying way possible.
Namco Bandai Games
Namco Bandai’s weapons-based fighting franchise
just got a lot more complicated. Borrowing a
little inspiration from “Street Fighter,” “SoulCalibur
V” has included a power meter that gradually
fills over time. A portion of this meter can
be used for parrying or enhancements of your
existing attacks, or the whole thing can be
used to unleash a devastating Brave Edge attack.
Between these additions and the new Defense
Breaker, which limits how often you can block,
“SoulCalibur V” is a fighter that favors the
‘The Simpsons Arcade Game’
Xbox Live Arcade
I like to think I was a pretty smart kid, with
refined and discriminating tastes, and then
I play something I fondly remember, like “The
Simpsons Arcade Game,” and I suddenly realize
that in my youth, I was more Bart than Lisa.
Four players assume the roles of Homer, Marge
and the aforementioned children and brawl their
way through Springfield, jumping, attacking
and jump-attacking. Though the game is cameo-rich,
none of the characters seem particularly in
character. When did Smithers turn into a baby-snatching
jewel thief? I also have fond memories of the
similar “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” brawler
Konami made around the same time. I shudder
to think what that’s really like.