Codemasters; Wii; $49.99
ESRB Rating: Teen (13 ) (mild language, violence)
Score: 3 1/2 out of 5
One of the better-realized flight-and-dogfight games available on Wii, Codemasters' "Heatseeker" is accessible to generic-action buffs, as well modestly satisfying for flight-sim fans (although it's not exactly a "flight simulator" by aficionado standards).
Its "arcade" mode basically sets your plane to righting itself while "professional" mode gives total control over your wild-blue-yonder orientation.
For the most part, "Heatseeker" throws you into a variety of modern-day scenarios and has you flying a variety of strike fighter craft, controlled using both the Wii-mote and nunchuk attachment, set up so that one hand guides the fighter simply by pointing where you want it to go on the screen -- mouse and cursor-style -- while also rotating and gyrating the thing to affect pitch and roll.
The opposing hand handles other tasks, like firing and using the throttle, depending on how you set it up (there are three controller layouts from which to choose).
It's a sensitive interface requiring a steady hand and subtle movements -- no worries about accidentally breaking the chandelier with a flying Wii-mote -- but can prove sluggish when making low-lying, strafing runs.
Gameplay is all about modern warfare, where fighters are computer-assisted to the max, and guided missiles, heat-seeking or otherwise, are all the rage. Thus, while it's fairly easy to draw a bead on an enemy target thanks to an emulated rudder found in the cursor/reticle aiming mechanism, it's hard to hold that bead while careening around in the sky.
But all it takes is a couple of seconds for the computer to get a lock on a bad guy and then you let fly a missile or two, set-it-and-forget-it style.
There is also a Hollywood-esque "impact cam" that gives you a momentary missile-eye-view and/or a quick cut scene to the explosive death throes of thine enemy.
Sadly, graphics are serviceable, but scream "last generation" with washed-out colors and less-than-shapeliness.
Still, at this stage of the game, there aren't too many dogfighting titles on Wii -- just two, to date -- so "Heatseeker" is at least novel and mostly fun despite its shortcomings.
Konami; PlayStation Portable; $39.99
Rating: Teen (13 ) (sexual themes, simulated gambling, strong language)
Score: 2 1/2 out of 5
As a high school "dating" simulation, Konami's "Brooktown High" for PlayStation Portable is worth a gander simply because there aren't too many games like it (in North America anyway; they're all the rage in Japan).
Sadly, it's not a particularly thorough game of boy-meets-girl, mainly because the characters therein are gross stereotypes inducing little empathy: geek, jock, preppy and greaser.
Conveniently, there are just four classes to attend -- physics, physical education, French and art -- coinciding with these character classes. For better or worse, there are only a couple dozen students to interact with at Brooktown. Your multiple-choice conversations with each are basically a lesson in teen-angst-movie trivia in which you're trying to figure out what you are expected to say or what requested favor to undertake in order to remain popular and get a date. (It helps if you've seen "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "The Breakfast Club" and "Revenge of the Nerds.")
The gameplay, featuring a solid rock 'n' roll soundtrack, is novel enough. However, it's just not particularly intelligent nor extensive.
Microsoft; Xbox 360; $59.99
Rating: Mature (17 ) (blood, partial nudity, violence)
Score: 2 1/2 out of 5
Clearly, nobody is better at skulking around in the shadows, finding, tracking, talking to and killing people than a ninja. And that's pretty much all you do in "Tenchu Z," a game of dress-up in your best black pajamas.
Adjust your attributes (less agility in favor of more strength is recommended), load up on blow darts and smoke grenades, then go out and skulk, find, track, talk and kill, mission after mission -- all 50 of 'em.
Seemingly designed with fans of the black pajama in mind, the game plays long if you're all about the skulk and stealth kill; faster if you just run amok and kill everyone, which will make your enemies more attentive to you for a few seconds before they forget that there's a ninja among them and go back to their posts conveniently situated near some skulkable shadows.
Ironically, pajamas, black or otherwise, are also good for sleeping in. Yawn.
Get your kicks with Ronaldinho
EA Sports will turn Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho into a customized character for "FIFA Soccer 08" on the Wii. Not coincidently, Ronaldinho is also the cover athlete for the game, to be released this fall.
The Wii-exclusive Ronaldinho will host a game mode designed and created exclusively for Wii called "Footii Party with Ronaldinho."
With this mode, EA introduces unique party games -- including "Table Soccer" and "Shoot Off" -- in which you can play as your self-created Wii character and then unlock Ronaldinho and take him on.
Each "Footii Party" game is created as a multiplayer social experience designed to engage and entertain fans of all ages.
"My character looks like he enjoys playing football and shares my passion for the game," said Ronaldinho, commenting on his Wii-ified self. "This is important to me."
Ask the expert
Having troubles with your game? Post questions on Shaun Conlin's message board atwww.ageofplay.com/forum. Responses may also appear here in the coming weeks.