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Publisher: Microsoft Corporation
Developer: Presto Studios, Inc.
Style(s): Game Show
Synopsis: Longtime adventure game developer Presto Studios offers its first action title in Whacked!, a four-player party game emphasizing frenzied, cartoon-style combat in a demented game show format. Contestants choose one of seven offbeat characters, ranging from an ornery rabbit to a spoiled sweet tooth, before deciding on the following modes of play: Gameshow Mode, Battle Mode, and Rehearsal. The basic game has players progressing through four stages of free-for-all battles to claim a mysterious, ultimate prize. An assortment of power-ups and weapons are available within each arena to ensure the action remains chaotic from beginning to end. Controls are designed to be simple for anyone to pick up and play. Characters can sidestep left or right to avoid attacks, perform a punch attack or use a weapon, and jump high into the air. Gameshow Mode offers six variants, including "Combat," where the goals are to 1) whack each other until stars are released, and 2) quickly grab them before opponents do. "Grab 'n' Run" involves carrying a golden trophy for a specified amount of time as others chase it down. "Dodgeball" is patterned after the playground classic, while "King of the Hill" has characters defending a moving patch of swirls. "Fragfest" involves wasting as many rivals as possible within the time limit, and "Chicken" consists of slaughtering the noisy cluckers for their stars. The action takes place across 13 different settings, ranging from an arctic pipeline to underneath a Christmas tree. Over 30 weapons include such diverse armaments as pitchforks, staple guns, explosive dogs, rubber ducky grenades, soda cans (used to belch), circus cannons, and shish kebob sticks. Random elements come in the form of question marks and big red buttons, which can either help or hinder a player. Since Whacked! is designed first and foremost as a multiplayer title, options available in Battle Mode include split-screen play on one system, networked consoles via System Link, or online play using the Xbox Live service. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Package Contents: 36-page Instruction Manual
The full-color manual lists each and every weapon, power-up, and special event found in the game. It also explains how to set up an Xbox Live account. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Sharp graphics, some background animation, and hilariously drawn commercials are positives, but the Xbox is capable of more. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
One of Microsoft's first games announced for Xbox Live, Whacked! is an offbeat multiplayer game reminiscent of the publisher's Fuzion Frenzy. Both involve short, frenetic experiences that are a little on the shallow side, but are nonetheless entertaining in small doses. Unlike Fuzion Frenzy, Whacked!'s presentation is very much like a game show, one mirroring the movie The Running Man, where contestants are routinely placed in violent situations to boost ratings. Host Van Tastic, a character who wows the crowd with his plastic smile and Elvis-like coiffure, explains the rules in amusing cut-scenes, while some dark and twisted "commercials" are aired between events. The single-player "Gameshow" mode is essentially the multiplayer game organized into a structured format. After choosing one of four initially available characters, players advance through a series of nine individual competitions taking place within four studios, for a total of 36 events. Six play variants spice up the action to a degree, so the game is more than just slamming players with Looney Tunes-inspired weapons. One mode involves blasting an onslaught of chickens, for example, which is reminiscent of South Park on the PC and Nintendo 64. Depending on the studio level, players have to eliminate 50, 100, 150, or 200 small chickens (and collect the remaining stars) before their character runs out of lives. This is not an easy task, since the chickens multiply quickly, tend to surround players, and can peck away a life meter within seconds. The result is a tedious and annoying event that involves frantically jumping around the level looking for the few power-ups that materialize on the stage. Since more and more chickens have to be eliminated as the game progresses, this event only gets worse -- fortunately, players only have to experience it four times in total. Another weak game is Combat, which is simply a scramble to collect stars before opponents. Dodge Ball is better, since it maintains the playground sport's feel by letting players catch the bouncing red balls by pressing a button as it nears the character. Get hit three times without catching the ball and you're out. Play continues until only one remains, but this is a game that ends quickly. Other variants will be familiar to fans of first-person shooters. There's King of the Hill, where players attempt to stand in a glowing green area for the specified amount of time; a tag variant called Grab 'n' Run, where players hold a statue above their heads for the required time limit; and Fragfest, a deathmatch variant where players try to eliminate as many opponents as possible within a time limit. That's really all there is to Whacked! There are no boss battles, no mini-games, and no real surprises, other than the commercials and cut-scenes sprinkled in between the six forms of competition. Each new studio offers the same exact format, albeit with more stars to collect, more chickens to kill, and longer times to maintain control or possession of the requisite items or areas. What makes this title fun is the wide assortment of weapons, power-ups, and random elements, 36 of which are doled out as "rewards" for clearing the single-player events (thus making the Gameshow mode a necessary evil if you want to have any fun at multiplayer). Weapons are entertaining, though few are surprises -- most are the regular melee, projectile, and explosive variants players have seen before in similar games. Baseball bats, axes, and homing missiles are ordinary, but the freeze gun, attack doggies, and beehives are sure to put a smile on your face. It's a shame more of an effort wasn't placed on a character's basic moves -- all players can do is jump, punch, and butt bounce. A few more attacks, a block, or character-specific moves would have gone a long way. The environments are hit or miss in terms of quality. The standout is "Joyride," where characters battle in the bed of a pickup truck engaged in a high-speed chase with a police car. Players can jump onto the tailing police car's hood to grab weapons, stars, or a pack of matches, which can be carried over to the truck to light a fuel canister that will torch any character caught in its fiery path. Other levels have similar elements, such as the cannons on a pirate ship that blast players to new areas, or a switch activating a sink's garbage disposal. Some levels seem too small, however, while others, like the High Rise, look great but are filled with narrow ledges and bottomless pits leading to many cheap deaths. As a single-player game, Whacked! doesn't have enough meat on its bones to satisfy one's appetite. The entire Gameshow mode can be completed within a few hours, and much of it feels monotonous since players are forced to do the same things over and over again. Unfortunately, that same criticism can be levied against the multiplayer game as well. While it's fun, it's not a game that you play hours on end. Whacked! needs more characters, more variety in their moves, more freedom and interactivity within stages, and a more responsive camera system. The theme is fun, the commercials are hilarious, and some of the environments are clever. Better than the similarly themed LOONS, but there's room here for improvement. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
With Xbox Live support, the game can be enjoyed on a regular basis with friends or complete strangers. The short nature of competitions means this is a title that can be revisited multiple times in a week, month, or a year. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Some of the sound effects and music are repetitive, but the voice acting is above average. The announcer is especially amusing. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
A nice selection of weapons and power-ups, but the game seems to reward luck more than skill. A risqu? character and some sexual innuendo means this title is aimed more toward teenagers and adults than the entire family. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.