X-8 fun, but not undisputed champ

Available: Now for GameCube

From: THQ

Nintendo gamers have held their breaths for a proper sequel to “No Mercy,” but “Wrestlemania X8” isn’t it. The game looks good, features many match times, has the most complete roster to date and sports a nice Create-a-Wrestler mode, but the gameplay itself has holes. It’s fulfilling when two wrestlers are in the ring, but add one or two more and the wheels fall off, thanks to some miserable collision detection. Body-slamming one opponent shouldn’t automatically knock over everyone within eight feet of him, but that’s what happens. Why THQ didn’t just jazz up the “No Mercy” engine and make everyone happy is a mystery. But “X8” is still fun when it succeeds, and the engine, however flawed now, has potential to grow.



Available: Now for PlayStation 2; late summer for GameCube and XBox

From: Midway

“MLB Slugfest 20-03” is a quick and dirty, albeit polished, nod to yesteryear. Anyone who enjoyed baseball back in the 8- and 16-bit age will be in heaven with the dead-simple hitting and pitching interfaces, which are fun to execute. The fielding and baserunning controls are a little clumsy, but not impossible to overcome. This of course is to say nothing of the violence _ it IS a Midway game, after all. Knocking out fielders and beaning hitters is not only legal and oh-so-fun, but also becomes part of your winning strategy. All this gameplay goodness comes with some pretty animation and the funniest announcing duo in gaming history. “Slugfest” could be deeper and more refined, but its presence is definitely a blessing nonetheless.


(Billy O’Keefe writes video game reviews for Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.)


(c) 2002, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services