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My Street
Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Idol Minds
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
Since I first saw My Street at last year's E3, I've had mixed feelings. On one hand, it's a true 'Family Title'. There are no gun-toting maniacs, no one is killed, no 'Prostitute Power-Ups' - from start to finish this game is about as kid friendly as you can get. Not that this is a bad thing, since I can always appreciate a 'good' game and wish more companies would put them out. On the other hand, I'm still not sold on the idea. I'm sure this game is something of an attempt to tap into the childhood memories of my generation (since I am convinced we're the last ones who played outside after school), but the idea just doesn't fly. My Street is a noble attempt, but is ultimately a victim of its own simplicity.

I was generally impressed with the look of My Street. One of the more striking aspects of the entire game is just how much this looks like a Saturday morning cartoon. In fact, I was asked on more than one occasion if I was playing a game based on Jimmy Neutron. While at first I scratched my head at this remark, after watching an episode of the show, I can definitely see how the two could be confused. Although light on the special effects, the overall quality is good and works well with the spirit of the game. The audio component is just as good, and adds to the game's excellent presentation.


Gameplay:
Unfortunately, this is the area of My Street where potholes begin to appear. You play the role of the new kid on the block. Since you are the new kid, friends are in short supply and you only have 20 days before the start of school. Why you just can't meet people when you get to school is beyond me - but the plot is pretty pointless anyway, so don't question it. In order to meet new friends, you have to play games with them. This is very hard at first, since none of the kids want anything to do with you - requiring you to get their respect the old fashioned way, by kicking their asses in seven different games.

One of the more striking aspects of My Street is the sheer simplicity of each of the mini-games. Instead of bogging the games down with all kinds of 'features', each one can be picked up and played by anyone. It should come as no surprise that my favorite of the seven games was dodge ball, which I have justly labeled 'The Sport of Kings' on various occasions. One of the great aspects of My Street is that each of the games are varied enough to offer something for everyone.

The RC Racing game feels like the old off-road racing games found in the arcade. Instead of going for the now typical 3D look, it instead takes on an isometric, top-down perspective. Each of the game's 10 tracks do a great job of presenting different hazards that you'd find when racing RC cars (such as puddles of mud). In order to make things more interesting, you can also pick up power-ups on the track such as turbo boosts. There are even different vehicles that you can choose from, such as a tank with a real working cannon!

Lawn Mower Racing is a variant of RC Racing, only instead of racing small cars, you control riding lawn mowers. The basic goal of this game is to cut the most grass (thus gaining points). This may sound easy, but flowerbeds are conveniently placed, and rolling over these obstacles deducts points from your total score, while hitting weeds gets you bonus points.

Chemistry is a rather interesting variant of the puzzle game Puyo-Puyo (or Dr. Mario, or Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine or ShatterbloX). Molecules drop into your beaker and you control their decent. As same color molecules touch, they charge up a special move meter. After the meter is full, you can use the power to either empty your beaker, or 'ruin' your opponent's experiment by turning their molecules into stone.

Chicken Herding is one of the more oddball mini-games. The main point is to guide chickens to their coops by placing arrows on the ground and building a path for them to follow. The real challenge of this game is placing the arrows with the face buttons (X, O, Triangle and Square) instead of the directional pad. Given the amount of strategy in this game, this is definitely the thinking-gamer's mini-game.

Marbles was one of my least favorite mini-games, but it can also become rather addictive. Instead of knocking marbles out of a ring (like you do in the real game), the objective here is to control as many marbles as you can. This is done by shooting your big magnetic marble towards the others in the ring. Once your marble stops, all of the marbles in its general area are drawn towards it and change to your color.

Volleyball and dodge ball are both very simple and play just how you would expect. While both of these games are excellent, I found that they also ran at too slow of a pace for me, something that took from their enjoyment. This was especially true with dodge ball - which is usually very fast paced.

Overall, I enjoyed the variety of games - but the more I played, the less I liked them. As I mentioned before, the games are perhaps a little too simplistic and come off as shallow after awhile. The multiplayer options can be utilized both online and off, and are enjoyable either way, but online games hold a slight advantage since you face more variety in your opponents instead of playing the same people all the time. Sure the ability to play these games with other people online adds something to them, but as time moved on, I found even dodge ball wasn't much fun.


Difficulty:
In short, My Street is easy enough for most people to play (even parents who don't play many games), but at the same time, it's not so hard that you will become easily frustrated. Personally, I wasn't too impressed when playing the computer, since certain aspects of the A.I. became predictable and could easily be outmatched with a little thought. As far as the competition online goes, it all depends on the games you play. You're always going to find one or two players who excel at a certain game - the fun part is trying to find out which game you're good at and becoming that player.

Game Mechanics:
The controls for each of the mini-games are very easy to use and can be picked up after one game, except for Chicken Herding, which takes awhile to get used to. The response, however, isn't as great. Although the controls vary between games, they are very sluggish. Most of this can be attributed to the slow pace of the gameplay - and can lead to some frustration during certain games.

Overall My Street is enjoyable, but geared towards more casual players. This game is highly suggested for parents looking for a game to play with their younger kids. The absence of objectionable material makes this a very kid friendly game, and the enjoyable multiplayer options should provide enough enjoyment so parents won't have to feel like they're being forced to play. The more hardcore gamer may want to give this one a rent first. The online experience is fun, but the game's simple nature ultimately works against its fun factor.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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