SYSTEM
PS2

PRICE
$49.99

DEVELOPER
Sloof Lirpa

PUBLISHER
Sloof Lirpa

RELEASE DATE
04/01/01

Learning Is Fun With Solid Snake & Tony Hawk: Dating & Ebonics Edition Review

By: John Doe


"Infotainerment" is a new line of software from the inventive folks at Sloof Lirpa. Recognizing that using pop culture icons to educate the masses is a great way to get rich quickly, Sloof Lirpa needed only to visit a few schools before they found out that the most visible top three cultural icons these days are: Tony Hawk, Solid Snake and Sally Struthers. Tracking down Tony and Solid (Dave) Snake was fairly easy, but getting Sally Struthers away from the buffet table in Ethiopia proved to be a little dangerous and eventually the design team left her alone. Once they had the two of the top three most recognized figures in entertainment today (by kids aged 12 to 17 - J'lo's huge booty came in fourth by the way - the only thing that was missing was the actual premise of the game and the game itself. Sloof Lirpa's CEO, Dajoe Ksyonyuu hit the streets again to get a pulse on America and find out what the youth today best needed edumacating about the mostest. The answer was clear: Kids don't understand dating or Ebonics. Bingo. A game is born.


Highs:
Lows:

We received a couple of "builds" as they are called in the video game industry from the company and the latest one is 99.9% complete. All that is left to be done as of this writing is 58% of the games coding, 73% of the voicework, 101% of the marketing and 60% of bugs added in case the game is set for a PC release sometime in the future. I can tell you this, I play a lot of games and this one is probably by far one of the most engrossing pieces of software I've had the pleasure of crashing my PS2 system. This game actually "fubar"ed my PS2 so badly that I was actually able to play N64 cartridges on it for a brief few moments. (Please don't ask why I even tried this in the first place...) I wasn't eager to do a review on a game that was clearly not ready for release but the CEO said that he couldn't possibly care less and knew that the game would sell like hotcakes even if it never booted up. So who am I to argue? I'm a professional, so when I got the game in my possession, I did what any other self-respecting video game reviewer would do so as not to be interrupted; I divorced my wife, faked my own death and got an AOL email address.

Once the game starts (inexplicably the Dreamcast logo comes on at first, which the head of development, Imac Iddin, says should be fixed by the release date, if not then, soon after) you are treated to some of the best CG intro's ever. They are so great, they almost look fake. It shows Solid Snake being called out of retirement by Mei Ling. She asks him if he knows much about dating and he laughs and says, "I'm a swinging dude baby, yeah!" in a terrible Austin Powers imitation voice. Then she tells him to be serious for a moment and he bends over and you can see the crack of his butt! She says he has to get to "Chico Pico Sophomore High School" quickly because the kids are asking questions about dating and no one knows what to do. Then there is a shot of a helicopter racing over the ocean towards where I'm assuming Solid Snake lives, and Mei Ling says, "We are sending the chopper to get you now." But Solid Snake smiles and says, "Cancel it ragdoll, I'll take my four wheeler." In the next sequence, Solid Snake is booting down the highway on a skateboard and some cornball surfer guitar music is playing. WTF?

The next scene shows Tony Hawk making prank phonecalls to fellow skateboarder Andy McDonald and when Andy picks up the phone, Tony shouts, "Your game sucks!" and slams down the receiver. After a few of those calls, he falls asleep on the couch and either has a dream or a flashback where Puff Daddy comes into his house and says, "Tony, you've got ta he'p me. No one understands da way I jive. Ya' know what I'm sayin'?" Tony shakes his head and says, "Come again?" Puff Daddy then pistol whips him in the face and says, "Don't hold out on me. You invented Ebonics, yo. You 've got ta teach da brothers an' sisters. Don't make me come ovah there b****." Tony is wiping blood off of his face and says, "You want to me to teach Ebonics? You know I can't, Puff. I made a deal..." Puff looms over Tony and says "We're gonna git 989 Studios ta develop Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 if ya don't cooperate in da hood, yo." "Then I have no choice, "says Tony. "I'll do it. But when I is done, Ima going ta come fo' ya Puff an' mess ya up. Word. Peace out. Yo."

Tony and Solid Snake show up at the same time at the school and as usual, whenever two heroes meet each other for the first time, they must fight. I questioned the level of violence in an "infotainerment" game, but my calls to Sloof Lirpa were not returned. At this point the game starts and you can select either Tony or Solid Snake. This first level is a lot like Tekken where you fight each other, but unfortunately, Sloof Lirpa didn't have time to develop a fighting engine so they licensed Agetec's Fighter Maker for this first level. So you'll have to stop everything and learn how to develop all of these incredibly difficult fighting moves. It took me 4 hours to animate a single punch, which sort of tells you how long this first level can take. After about a week, I finished the first level which only came to about 30 seconds of actual gameplay time (slightly longer than The Bouncer). There is no way to skip this first level, but trust me, you'll want to see what's coming next.

From there, you choose your character and your path (Tony for Ebonics or Snake for Dating) and you must continue this one story arc until you complete the game. The biggest problem is that there is a ridiculous storyline that involves the sun crashing into the Earth in 3 days time and you must complete Tony's story line in that timeframe. The game functions almost in real time (a minute of game time works out to 60 seconds, okay so it's slightly different than reality) and there is no pause button and the game can't be shut off. Even unplugging the PS2 didn't help because the DVD disk that the game comes on has it's own power supply software and feeds the machine all it needs and automatically locks the disk storage area. So, in a nutshell, you have to play this game straight for 3 days at a time. No sleep, no bathroom breaks, no work, no nothing. What is cool is that after about 50 hours of play time and staying awake with no food or drink, people start showing up at your house and talk to you about how much of a loser you are and that your wife is better off without you and that you can fly and that you are getting balder and fatter. I thought that was a little strange. What was also a little freaky is that they can't be photographed and when I tried to strangle the loudmouth of the group he kept disappearing. Oh well. Just part of the job I guess. After I got some sleep and food, they took off. Guess I showed them.

The Ebonics part of the game is particularly cool and it's nice to see that this unique dialect is being treated with the respect it deserves. Ebonics is a language just like any other language. I ask you where would we be without Klingonese or Pig Latin? Nowhere my friends. Nowhere. After the big fight scene, Tony has to teach as many kids about Ebonics as he can within the three-day time limit. Unfortunately for Tony, this classroom isn't like Dangerous Minds where all of the troubled kids that hated school actually showed up everyday to class, oh no! Tony has to skateboard around town and find them. Once he finds them he collects them in his "hoodie" and can actually carry up to 100 students in his pockets, whereupon he can deliver them to the classroom. But it isn't that easy. Officer Dick wants Tony dead, and chases him all over the place. The only way to stop him for awhile is to get Tony to tag the walls with graffiti, which Officer Dick will automatically begin to clean. In an extremely cool cameo, Tony runs into Spider-Man and is able to use Spidey's powers during the downtown city level (see screenshot). This part functions just like the Spider-Man game and I'm pretty sure that Neversoft and Activision will be letting the dogs out all over Sloof Lirpa for this blatant infringement of copyright.

Back in the classroom, you have to use the controller to type the Ebonics which is a real pain. The worst part, is that any USB keyboard is supported except that you can't type on it (Sloof Lirpa took that out at the last minute) you can only use it to CTL-ALT-DEL when the PS2 crashes. Every kid that learns to speak Ebonics, somehow magically (its not explained exactly) pushes the sun back from crashing into the Earth. The first time I played I was able to make 400 kids learn Ebonics but the Sun still crashed into the Earth killing us all. The second time I played, I got around 1200 kids and the sun still crashed into the Earth. The third time was the charm and I made 2457 kids learn Ebonics, and the Sun still crashed into the Earth. I guess that happens no matter what, which is a good lesson for anyone to learn. "Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you will fail miserably and be responsible for the deaths of billions." Oh well, it still made learning Ebonics fun.

Solid Snake's Dating game is much more infotainering, if I can use that word for a moment. Snake's portion of the game isn't tied to the Sun crashing into the Earth storyline thankfully. It's more like Metal Gear Solid meets that game with the graphics and the guy that can jump and stuff (the title escapes me right now). Your objective is to show the kids how to date properly by showing them what to do on a date. As Snake you'll have to hit upon the various female teachers (there is a working code where he can hit on the male teachers as well). If you can convince one of them to date you (hint: Use the cardboard box to surprise her in the ladies room) the dating portion of the game will commence.

From this point on, the game is basically a series of situations that you must select the appropriate action for. You will be presented with a scenario and three possible solutions are available to choose from. Depending on your course of action, the further you will get on your date or the faster it will be over. For example, the first scenario goes something like this and is always presented by Mei Ling. "Snake, you are supposed to pick up Shakita at 8:00 PM. Will you knock on her door at A) 7:45 PM B) 8:00 PM or C) 9:45 PM?" Now you must choose. By trial and error you will discover that both A & B are wrong as the date will end before it even gets started. C is the correct answer. Why is C correct? Well, showing up early for a date is a no-no. Showing up on time shows that you are whipped and C shows that you are in control and that the woman digs this. Hey, I'm not making this stuff up!

As you progress through your date, you'll have to make other important decisions. For example, after dinner you are both in the car and Snake is driving. Snake has to fart. Does he A) Pull over, get out and pretend he is looking for something B) Open the window C) Crank up the stereo and open the window. You can figure that one out on your own.

If you successfully complete a date, you'll receive your female friend's phone number. If you dial this number in real life, a woman is supposed to answer and tell you that you won the game. However, when I phoned I got this really cranky guy who yelled at me for phoning at 5:17 AM. Screw him.

Graphically the game is visually impressive and uses a new graphic technique called Sprite-olygons, which is a hybrid of sprites and polygons, I would imagine. Considering I'm only a video game reviewer and therefore on the same evolutionary scale as a microscopic creature living on the back of a bug that is feasting on an amoeba, I can't really explain anything too technical except to say that the visuals are "tight, crisp and smooth" and other buzzwords that we make up to sound intelligent. Also the frame rate slows down and there is a ton of pop in.

Musically the game is a mixed bag. Having Gary Coleman sing the Different Stroke's theme song throughout the entire game (both chapters) was definitely cool but became annoying after awhile. The ability to turn down the music didn't work, in fact, I dare say, it became louder when I was supposedly turning it down. Accidental glitch or the work of Satan? Still not sure about that one.

All in all, if you are looking for a game that encompasses a passion for Ebonics and dating, this isn't half-bad. Certain areas of the game are frustrating, but nothing that smashing a few Dual Shock 2's couldn't cure in a heartbeat. The use of Snake and Tony is prime and really help to give the kids something to identify with. If these two pop culture demi-gods can't get through to the kids today, then "Houston, we really do have a problem." Buy it!

OVERALL
7.5

GRAPHICS
8.0

CONTROL
9.0

MUSIC/FX
3.5

FRUSTRATION
9.0

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