It's not every day that a video game almost takes your life, so forgive me if I spend a few minutes rattling on about the dangers of Midway's newest "sports" game. It was only a few short weeks ago on a day much like today, I was rushing out to retrieve the mail and see if any new games or accessories had shown up. I was halfway out the door when I tripped on a mysterious package and came within inches of falling head-first down a long set of stairs.
Bruised and confused, I decided to open up this mystery box and see what it was that almost sent me to an early grave. I tore into the package excited to solve this mystery only to find a copy of Aqua Team Hunger Force: Zombie Ninja Pro-Am, a golf game based on a popular cartoon. Now that I've officially been introduced to all of the zaniness that makes up this bizarre sports game I kind of wish that I would have fallen down those stairs and spared me from having to suffer through this thoroughly terrible PlayStation 2 game.
Aqua Team Hunger Force: Zombie Ninja Pro-Am is a golf game ... an incredibly stupid, out-dated golf game. As the title implies, the game is based on Aqua Team Hunger Force, which is a show featured on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. I'll be honest with you, this little fact means nothing to me, I don't regularly watch the show and I've done my best to avoid the recent movie. But I'm not lucky enough to avoid the official video game, for whatever reason it decided to track me down and almost kill me.
The game opens up with Frylock (a floating box of French fries) getting accepted to a local golf course. Of course Master Shake (the talking beverage cup) is none too pleased about this and demands to tag along. Along the way the creepy neighbor, Carl, gets involved and from there all hell breaks loose. Of course, this introduction (and boring tutorial mode) is nothing more than an elaborate way to get you to the scummiest golf course around, a place nobody in their right mind would want to visit.
At first the game looks a lot like any other golf game; you pick a club, aim the target and do your best to get it in the hole in as few strokes as possible. For the first few minutes I actually thought that this game could be a lot of fun, it's not very often that you see over-the-top golf games, and even when you do see them they are usually get old quickly (see: Outlaw Golf). I hoped that Zombie Ninja Pro-Am would be different, but it proves to be just another licensed sports game that thinks it's funnier than it actually is.
Let's address the golf aspect of Zombie Ninja Pro-Am first, since it is without a doubt the most solid aspect of this game. Now keep in mind, when I say that it's the most solid that should not imply that the golf mechanics are actually up to snuff, because they aren't. In a lot of ways this Aqua Team Hunger Force game feels exactly like the golf games from 15 years ago that are showing up on the Virtual Console. Your options are extremely limited, you can't zoom in to properly aim your target and you hit the ball exactly the same way you did 23 years ago when playing Golf on the NES. This golf experience feels extremely dated, especially when compared to the things Electronic Arts is doing with the Tiger Woods PGA Tour series.
If this was just a funny, over-the-top golf game then I could accept that and move on. I probably wouldn't have given the game a high score (after all, the one gameplay mechanic dates back to the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System), but there would be no reason to spend a thousand words dogging on the title. Unfortunately Midway decided that a half-baked golf simulator wasn't good enough, Zombie Ninja Pro-Am needed something extra. Unfortunately that something extra ended up being the thing that completely breaks this first Aqua Team Hunger Force game.
You see, the way Zombie Ninja Pro-Am works is that after each shot you actually have to spend the time walking to the ball before you can take another shot. There's an obvious problem with this, walking across the golf course to collect your ball is a boring activity that nobody wants to do unless they have to. But this game forces you to make the journey, which is made worse by the fact that you're constantly fighting enemies looking to keep you off the course. That's right, as you walk to your ball you'll have to play a Final Fight-style brawler that involves you smacking weird mutants and other creatures with your golf clubs.
This weird mini-game would be acceptable if the controls were good, but they aren't. Most of time you are spent just mashing buttons and hoping for the best, it's as if play mechanic was thrown in at the last second. Unfortunately the game forces you to spend more time fighting these weird cartoony creatures than actually playing the round of golf, which is ultimately the downfall of this game.
Page 1 of 2