Early in the game you hear the announcer proclaim that "viewers across the universe are glued to this battle." If that's true, then I feel sorry for everybody out there in outer space who is having trouble watching Heroes, Lost or reruns of Roseanne. If Fuzion Frenzy 2 is the best thing on space TV then it's no wonder why the aliens are spending more time coming to Earth and kidnapping rednecks in small Podunk towns.
Fuzion Frenzy 2 is the sequel to the moderately successful 2001 game; a game that Bill Gates called his favorite original Xbox title. If you've played Mario Party or any other multiplayer mini-game collections then you will feel right at home with Fuzion Frenzy 2, this is basically a collection of 40 mini-games that are instantly forgettable. Despite the overwhelming power of the Xbox 360, Fuzion Frenzy 2 ends up feeling dated and insignificant, especially when compared to other recently released Microsoft games (like Gears of War or Viva Piñata).
You play Fuzion Frenzy 2 with four people (either real people or computer-controlled characters); all players are racing to win the most mini-games and rack up as many points as possible in order to win the game. Instead of different game boards, you have to travel from one planet to another in order to engage in a new collection of mini-games. Each of the planets has its own distinct style, such as the Blazer (a level engulfed in hot, hot magma), Moisture (a level full of water sports), and Icicle (the ice level). Earth, Machina, Eternite and Amuseth round out the planets, each of them limited to only five or six games each.
In each of the planets you play four mini-games, depending on how well you do you will receive a set amount of points (10 for first place, 6 for second, and so on), the person who has the most points at the end of all four rounds will be named the winner and be able to choose the next planet. But there's more to this game than just winning mini-games, you will also be given special cards that multiply your score, steal other people's multipliers or reverse your competitor's multipliers. Learning when to use these special cards is just as important as learning how to play the mini-games, rounds are often won or lost based entirely on card management.
While I like the direction Hudson is going with these special cards, it's too easy for a player to dominate the round to the point where nobody will be able to catch up to them. A perfect example of this is when a player wins the first mini-game and uses a "x6" multiplier, which means that the player will have a sixty point lead from the very first game, something that is practically impossible to overcome no matter how good you are. This scenario happens far more often than you would think, which only leads to a lot of frustrating rounds where it doesn't matter what you do.
While I'm complaining, it's easy to be disappointed by the lackluster collection of mini-games. A title like this lives or dies based solely on the quality of the mini-games, and there's no denying that these are pretty bad. While there are 40 different games, there isn't a whole lot of variety at play here. You'll find at least five different mini-games where it's your job to beat somebody else up, or a bunch of games revolving around pushing buttons as fast as you can, or all of the levels that have you collecting coins. There are a few mini-games that are different from the rest (such as one where you have to jump over laser hurdles, one where you are driving Tron-style motorcycles with walls coming from behind them, and one where you play a futuristic game of basketball), but none of the games are very memorable. That's not to say you won't have fun playing some of these mini-games with three other friends, but it's impossible to compare this game's paltry collection of activities to that of Mario Party or other established "party" games.
But it's not the mini-games or the unfair scoring system that makes this game completely unbearable at times. Instead it's the character designs that ultimately hurt Fuzion Frenzy 2. Generally speaking I’m pretty tolerant of bad character designs, but there's just something about these characters that go from bad to just plain painful. The six playable characters are that disgusting mix of anime and real life; they look more like angry emo kids than contestants on a futuristic game show. The only redeeming quality about these characters is that they are different colors, but even that is fishy due to the fact that the yellow and orange characters look almost exactly the same from a distance. You will feel embarrassed simply choosing one of the contestants, and it often comes down to picking which character looks the least silly.
But these stupid looking anime characters have nothing on the game's "host", the single worst part of Fuzion Frenzy 2. It's not enough that he calls himself a DJ (despite the fact that he doesn't do any disc jockeying at all), but this host is the single most ridiculous looking character of all time. His fashion sense is so bad that I wouldn't be surprised if there are clothing designers who reference him in their suicide notes. To paint the picture, this character wears hot pink pants, a purple shirt, a aqua blue tie, and a yellow jacket. And that's not the worst of it, he's also sporting this crazy light show on his shoulders, which is easily the worst fashion accessory of all time. The moment you see this character you know you're in for a bad time, he's so bad that I probably would have give the game a 7.0 or higher if he was simply taken out altogether.
Unfortunately it's not just that he's stupid looking, it's also that he's obnoxious and extremely annoying. He has about five phrases that he says over and over and over and over and over. There are mini-games where he literally says all of his phrases five or six times. And they aren't especially witty, he'll yell out things like "I've never seen anything this crazy before" and "player 1 did that hurt?" There's one mini-game in particular where he ended up saying the same phrase 25 times in 60 seconds. It's as if he's daring you to keep the sound on.
While the meat and potatoes lay in the tournament mode, there are a few other ways you can tackle Fuzion Frenzy 2. If you want to practice the various mini-games you can simply jump into the Mini-Game Frenzy, which allows you to tackle any and all of the games you've unlocked. There's also a game where you can play the mini-games until somebody gets a certain amount of wins, completely negating any problems I had with the scoring system. And if you want, you can take any of these game modes online. Unfortunately I found the online mode to be something of a ghost town, every time I attempted to find somebody to play with I found myself all by myself waiting for somebody (anybody) to show up. This may be fine if you have friends who also own the game, but if you're looking to have a fun party experience online with strangers then you may want to look elsewhere.
The graphics are on par with the rest of the experience, in other words they aren't very good. Most of the mini-games look like they could have been done on the original Xbox, and none of the special effects are very interesting at all. This isn't the worst looking Xbox 360 game I've played, but after experiencing Gears of War, Rainbow Six Vegas and Viva Piñata it's hard to look at these visuals. About the best you can say is that they get the job done, which is definitely more than I can say for the voice acting.
If you try hard enough you can have a good time with Fuzion Frenzy 2. There's something to be said about gathering a bunch of friends together to go head to head against in the various mini-games. If you choose your games carefully you shouldn't have too much trouble having fun playing a few rounds, but it won't take long before everybody is demanding you put in something else … something better. Fuzion Frenzy 2 could have been a good game, but it doesn't try very hard and that's really the most offensive part of this whole experience. I'm not asking for a perfect party game, but if you're going to make a game like this the least you can do is make it enjoyable. And my time with Fuzion Frenzy 2 was spent cringing more than having a good time.