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SORE THUMBS: Embarrassment of Riches

108 characters is about 104 too many in Suikoden IV

Matthew Scott Hunter

The Suikoden series has earned a cult following, greatly because of its "108 Stars of Destiny." In Suikoden IV, as in its predecessors, you can gather 108 characters into your party, all of them diverse in appearance and personality. Much work must have gone into developing this many characters—effort that might have been better spent elsewhere.


Random encounters take place far too often, especially at sea. Suikoden IV has a strong, epic story, but when your quest is interrupted by minor battles every five seconds, you start to forget where you're going. I'd trade 25 characters to fix this. The presentation also could use work. Maybe I'm spoiled from Fable, but I'd trade 47 characters for lush graphics and more spoken dialogue. Then there's our hero. It's hard to get into an adventure when you're represented by a guy who appears to have asked his barber to make him look like the latter half of Laverne & Shirley. For our protagonist to look less like a dork, I'd give up 32 characters.


This leaves four characters, which is the most you can bring into battle anyway.



Tork: Prehistoric Punk (E) (2.5 stars)


Ubisoft

Xbox


We now know for certain how the dinosaurs became extinct: Tork, cave-brat, clubbed them all to death for no reason. They certainly weren't a threat—that would be challenging. Now he's traveling through time to rescue his father, clubbing similarly dim-witted foes in a generic, platforming fashion. With 3D platformers becoming so innovative lately, this budget title feels prehistoric.



Tiger Woods PGA Tour (E) (3.5 stars)


EA Sports

Nintendo DS


You can push a button to choose when to swing a baseball bat or tennis racket, but in golf, it's not so much when you swing, as how. With the DS stylus acting as a miniature golf club, PGA Tour captures what's missing from most golf games. Were it not for the invisible contours of the putting green, this could be the best of all golf sims.



Spider-Man 2 (E) (2.5 stars)


Activision

Nintendo DS


Imagine a spider spinning a gorgeously elaborate web so complicated that the arachnid can no longer find its way to snared flies. That's what Spider-Man 2 is like. Despite stunning 3D effects, getting lost in poorly designed levels ruins the game. Had the designers remembered the DS' second screen, they might've included a map.



Matthew Scott Hunter has been known to mumble, "Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start" in his sleep. E-mail him at
sorethumbs@gmgvegas.com.

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