Slingshot Entertainment // 2000 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // October 19th, 2000
Some of us may remember a series of books that took the form of a fantasy adventure; where you made choices and then flipped to the page given in response to see how your choice worked out. If you made all the right choices, the hero would win in the end. This is how these "Multipath Adventures" work from these DVD-Video games from Slingshot and Brilliant Digital Entertainment. As the story progresses, you are offered choices and the computer graphics animated video proceeds with the story based on your choice. Using the simplistic interface capabilities of DVD video players does not lend itself easily to games, but can work for casual entertainment in the living room or for the kids. This game based on the "Xena Warrior Princess" license is better in terms of story and game play than the "Ace Ventura" entry, but suffers from flaws of its own. This adventure is strangely titled "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
Xena and Gabrielle are wandering when they find out that Bacchus, the God of Wine, has "gone bad" and now is turning young women into the evil monsters called Bacchae. Together, with old friends and enemies along the way, they must find the best way to defeat him and save the women. Zeus narrates and passes judgment on your choices.
First off, as a game this isn't that bad. Definitely on the juvenile side, but at least the choices you make have some effect on what happens next and on occasion even the eventual outcome. It is possible to win, lose, or gain a more marginal victory. The choices are straightforward and easy to understand. This is because they actually have text that explains your choices rather than the obtuse picture icons that were done in the "Ace Ventura" game. The level of difficulty is set for kids so they won't get too frustrated, and therefore adults will find that the correct choices are relatively obvious. You can also choose to just let it run, as it will go ahead and make default choices for you, resulting in a marginal victory.
The characters are fairly true to the television series, from what little I know of it. The voice actors do a reasonable job of imitating the real stars. Kids, particularly girls, will likely enjoy taking control of the actions of Xena.
The "Ace Ventura" game suffered mightily from dropouts in the sound level during its soundtrack. No such problems here. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is very clear and expansive, and sound effects are as likely to come from the rear as the front channels, though they seem reasonably placed for directionality. Dialogue is easy to understand, and the sound effects are pretty good.
Several trailers for other games are included as extras, to give you a feel for the other products available. Two of the games are horror based and would have been better additions for our Fright-Fest celebration, but this one isn't bad.
One major complaint I have with these games is the computer graphics, which look very clunky and blocky. Too few polygons are devoted to making the characters rounder and smoother, though I will admit the frequent cleavage seen on the television show and in the game did get special attention. Those looked round enough anyway. But in this case the graphics are even worse than in "Ace Ventura." The arms look like they are connected at the elbow with string often enough to really ruin any 3D effect from the animation. And the motion of these characters is positively stilted and looks like marionettes on strings as they bob and nod about. Computer games have gone far beyond this level of quality, and the look is disappointing.
Likewise, the video quality isn't very good either, with frequent motion artifacts and shimmer problems abound in any pattern on clothing or items. This is the one area "Ace Ventura" did a better job with.
This is a kid's game. For kids it should be fun, and even have some replay value since different choices bring up different scenes and outcomes. It is possible to lose, but no adult would since you are given ample chance to avoid that fate. Still for kids I think this will make for a fun diversion and is worth a purchase or perhaps just a rental.
The makers of this game are sentenced to working on improving the animation and graphics quality of the characters in their game. Likewise the DVD authors are sentenced to paying closer attention to the video quality, though at least here the sound was done right. From a game play standpoint, the makers are acquitted for making a game that should be fun for the age group who are most likely to play it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Slingshot Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Not Rated