How can you cram all the exciting summer-flick action into a tiny Nintendo DS cartridge? Science still doesn’t know, but here are a few examples of how you can’t.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2
If you like Harry Potter and you like videogames, this will ruin both of them for you the same way a naked man and a bag of spiders ruined Spider-Man for me. Harry’s adventure is so dominated by crate-shoving puzzles that they should’ve named it Harry Potter and the Depressing FedEx Warehouse. You’d think after seven years of wizard school, the kid could do more with his life. After an hour of this game, I now understand what it feels like when my grandmother sits and stares at the wall for a decade.
The solution to every Harry Potter “puzzle” is tapping on the 0 to 1 objects in the room until a door opens. That’s not to say the game’s easy. Every few minutes, evil sorcerers will appear offscreen and shoot you before you know they exist. Other times, they appear directly on top of you. The combat’s almost groundbreaking in its stupid lack of elegance. It’s like the lead designer left on his first day, saying, “Combat system?! I came up with the idea to put a crate on one side of a room and a door-opening switch on the other! Now you want me to change the face of videogaming twice?! Fine, watch: absolutely random wizards wherever.”
Lots of videogames are boring, but this might be the first game to be dull on purpose. It’s like the game was made by evil psychiatrists to help push suicidal babies over the edge. When The Smurfs came out, a research lab that tested Tasers on bunnies changed its slogan to: “Now the Second-Saddest Thing Anyone’s Done with Electricity.” If you’re stupid enough to enjoy this game, it’s more choking hazard than entertainment. It has so little depth that I’m starting to think “The Official Nintendo Seal” might be Japanese for “Cat Toy.”
The game includes several minigames, and each of them is dangerously close to the congressional definition of torture. Let’s take a look at some…
Smurf Coloring: This is exactly what it sounds like. The player taps a Smurf to change its colors. If I were a child psychologist, I’d say it’s the perfect way to limit your kid’s artistic expression. But since I’m a videogame reviewer, I’m only qualified to say it’s the perfect way to tell a kid you hate them.
Smurfette Dress-Up: You select from several slight variations of skirts and hats for Smurfette, and when you’re done, you quit. That’s the whole game—because smurf you, kids. This minigame’s more disrespectful to a person’s time than a real girl changing clothes.
Match the Smurf: In this one, you’re shown a picture of a Smurf and asked to tap that same Smurf. Quickly! Or slowly! It doesn’t matter! Who knew the road to pointless despair would be paved with vacant-eyed Smurfs? Me. I knew. The second I bought this game, 50 pigeons threw themselves against the windows of the videogame store, and the clerk shrieked something about a prophecy. This game’s so boring that if you look at it for more than five minutes, your brain will send a screaming pain into your genitals just to test if you’re still alive.
Smurf Band: Due to the nature of evil, the only instruments in the Smurf Band are triangle, snare drum, tambourine, and cymbals. The sounds are so horrible that in order to record this game, they had to convict a witch and hold a microphone up to her while she burned.
Picture Book: I apologize that the second half of this sentence is going to leave a scorch mark on your brain, but this turns your Nintendo DS into the audiobook version of the novelization of the Smurfs film. It’s slightly interactive, so tapping on pictures will make something wiggle or start one of the soul-crushing minigames. It’s 1982’s idea of clever. We live in a world where every other videogame lets you move entire characters through a story, and The Smurfs expects a kid to sit through an electronic pop-up book? If you’re a father who actually gives this to your kid, he’ll ask you if it was the reason Mom left. And it was—The Smurfs is that bad.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SUPER SOLDIER
Is that tiny smear of flag-colored pixels supposed to be Captain America? Either this game was programmed using authentic WWII-era technology, or this is some kind of scam to sell reading glasses to children. Was the theory here that if they zoomed out far enough, we wouldn’t notice it sucked? Well, it might’ve worked, because I can’t tell if this is Captain America punching HYDRA agents or doxycycline fighting a chlamydia infection.