reviews\ Oct 19, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Whacked! - XB - Review

Those of you who are familiar with the more extreme Japanese game shows know that contestants are tossed into some really messy and even painful situations in order to win that much desired secret prize.  Now imagine a game show where the contestants are literally at war with one another, using any means necessary, to win the mysterious prize in a wacky game called Whacked!  Ladies and gentlemen, let the demented games begin!


Welcome to Whacked, a game show hosted by the strange mutation of every game show host from Bob Barker to anyone who hosted Family Feud named Van Tastic (who is literally all hair and teeth). The game’s premise is to win the secret prize that awaits one of the seven oddball contestants in a series of violent--yet somewhat hilarious--challenges.  This is definitely not your parent’s game show.


There are two ways of playing the game: Gameshow Mode (a single player mode) and Battle Mode (the multiplayer mode).  Either mode you play, gamers can choose from seven unique contestants.  There’s Lucky (an irritable rabbit whose hands and feet were cut off by good luck charm factory), Charity (an incredibly psychotic-looking little girl who loves shiny objects) or Lucy (who simply just wears two strategically placed censor bars instead of clothing). Each character has their own personality and all of them will do anything to win.


Gameshow Mode takes gamers through a series of challenges in unusual backdrops such as under a giant Christmas Tree or an Artic Pipeline.  The challenges range from a no-holds barred battle royale against other contestant to collect fifty stars (and you can even steal stars from the other contestants) or compete in Grab n’ Run (where the first player to carry around a gold trophy for the specified time wins the game). Of course, there are quite an extensive collection of weapons (a giant stapler, rubber ducky grenades, or sticky bombs to name a few) and Question Mark power-ups to help (armor or invisibility) or hinder (such as getting the plague or being on fire) you.


The problem is that the action becomes really repetitive and this could have been the game’s downfall if it were not for the fact that it keeps throwing different obstacles or situations.  The six different ways of playing the game can change.  For example, playing Chicken, where crazed flesh-eating chickens are after you, starts off as a simple game of kill as many chickens as you can.  The second time you’ll have to kill the chickens using a specific weapon.


As decent as the single player game is, though; Whacked is most definitely a true multiplayer game. In fact, with so many options, you’d think the main game mode is the multiplayer games.  You can play against four players using a single Xbox console or connect two consoles using an Ethernet hub and cables for a System Link game (used when you don’t want to clutter a single screen during play with four players). But the ultimate highlight of the multiplayer option is the extremely delightful fact that you can play this game online using the Xbox Live service!


Graphics-wise, Whacked has some of the sharpest and high-in-detail visuals that wonderfully bring this demented world to life.  The unusual backgrounds in the playing environments are like a mental patient’s distorted fantasy land, they’re filled with fully interactive objects that make the rest of the area appear fully third-dimensional.  And the characters are simply amazing both during animated cut scenes and during the competition.  This is definitely one good looking game.   


The sound also wins big points especially in the effects category as well as the voice and music.  From the sharp clicks of your giant stapler to the angry clucking of insanely violent chickens, you’ll find the game is alive with sound effects.  Gamers will find it hilarious how each character has his or her own comments for different kinds of situations during the action or how cornball host Van Tastic sounds.


Whacked is a viciously twisted game that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty but it falls short when it comes to the challenges.  The action can grow somewhat repetitive even when the game throws extras to keep gamers on their toes.  It’s multiplayer options make this a decent party game to be enjoyed with a group of friends or with a network of all-new gamers once the Xbox Live is finally launched.  


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 7.1
Where the Loony Tunes-inspired Loons: Fight for Fame failed, Whacked slightly succeeds. It not only takes seven contestants through a variety of different challenges of the fragfest kind but also clever mutations of games like tag or dodge ball.  The action will also seem monotonous--although the game tries to throw something new at the players in mid-game such as the Big Red Button that instantly changes the rules of the game or distorts it enough to make it seem different.


The controls are also easy to manage in this game since all you do is jump and attack. You can power jump to get to those hard to reach places by holding the jump button or do a spike attack by pushing both the jump button and the attack button . . . simple enough.


Graphics: 7.8
Whacked is also a sharp looking game with plenty of details and fantastic-looking backgrounds.  Gamers will admire the vivid colors and fully interactive objects such as the kitchen sink’s giant running facet to the jar of mustard you can jump up on. The characters are also amazingly detailed, especially Charity whose wild eyes and crazed grin look really disturbing. 


Sound: 7.7
From the cheesy game show's music to Van Tastic’s incredibly corny delivery, the sound is a real highlight.  The soundtrack is very retro 70s game show music that has been spoofed so many times in television shows that it so surreally fitting here.  The voices are cartoon-quality yet every remark is rude, crude and downright lewd but never overly offensive. The sound effects are also effective here and most of it is really comical. 


Difficulty: Medium
The computer-controlled contestants do put up quite a battle in both the single player mode or battle mode (when four players aren’t on screen, the remaining contestants are computer-controlled).  There are four difficulty settings and they can be changed to fit your comfort level but the game is still somewhat challenging even in the Normal setting.


Concept: 7.2
Whacked has enough challenges but there is nothing really unique in terms of ideas.  There are a number of things that set it apart from other similar games such as the inclusion of funny animated commercials in-between levels but it‘s not enough. 


Multiplayer: 7.5
There’s no doubt that Whacked was made with multiplayer action in mind and the multiplayer option in this game is what party games are made of.  For one thing, up to four players can play using a single Xbox (seen in as split-screen) or you can set up a System Link game with another console.  There are also plenty of playing modes such as Combat, Dodgeball, Grab n’ Run, Fragfest and King of the Hill.  You can even change certain settings to modify the games.


When Xbox Live finally goes online, gamers from all over will get to battle it out (up to four players at a time) using all of the different playing modes and weapons.  The service also promises to feature the use of the voice communicator so gamers can talk trash while they play and it also includes a feature that allows gamers to invite friends to play.


Overall: 6.7
If you’re looking for seriously deranged antics and wildly fun challenges, Whacked is the game for you.  Still, there isn’t a whole lot to this game and that is quite a tragedy since its silly sense of humor and wickedly crude action could have made this a game show to remember.

Above Average

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