Mean Arenas


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 4

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 6

It's easy to believe game designers who make games like this sit down at a meeting and think of what games they can combine. Some of the ideas are most certainly better off being scrapped (Chuck Rock mixed with DOA Volleyball...shudder), but some of them work and we end up with a game like Mean Arenas. Though far from perfect, this is an interesting diversion that can be enjoyed for an extended period if maze games are your thing.

Taking elements from the under-appreciated arcade classic Ladybug and then mixing in some Smash TV (or Robotron to keep it in the same era), Mean Arenas has players becoming contestants on a futuristic game show. Losing is not recommended because, well, you die. Winning means riches beyond your wildest imaginations but you really have consider the dying part before stepping into the arena. Really.

Each of the countless levels take place in a lackluster looking overhead maze. You'll collect various power-ups, but the main purpose are the pieces. Collecting all of them in a given level sends you on your way to the proceeding level. Every stage features countless switches, traps, and other various things to distract enemies. Some switches will warp you, other completely chance the map you're in, blocking enemies from catching you.

You also can collect bombs to destroy the countless enemies who pursue you relentlessly. They aren't the only hazard either. You'll face lava pits, spikes, flame-throwers, conveyor belts, and more. This leads to the games biggest problem: There is simply too much to watch out for and the small undetailed graphics make it hard to tell an enemy/hazard from power-up. You'll constantly meet your maker unintentionally and without any logical reason. Well, there probably was a reason, but you will never actually know what it was.

The only real sound is the digitized voice from the mildly amusing announcers who occasionally throw in a witty quip during and before the match. The sound effects are passable for an 8-bit console and no music is present during play. This is certainly not a game that uses the CD format the way it should.

The final straw is the lack of a decent 2-player mode. Co-op or a versus style race might have added a few points to the score. Regardless, there is some entertainment value to be had here, but you'll need some very keen eyes to make it all the way to the end. Slim the game down a few hazards or improve the graphics and this one would've been a hit.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 25, 2005 05:14 PM