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Something For The Kids 

Three new games in the key of EVideogames

Videogames are for kids. Or at least they were in the beginning. These new E-rated games (E for Everybody) aren't quite your Mario Bros. of yesteryear, but there are a few gems among the field of bland.

Yes, Virginia, there is a videogame about Shamu. Believe me, I love the whales and manatees. I'm all for saving them. I'm just not sure a Sea World videogame is the way to go. The game consists largely of following arrows and collecting a crystal fortune while staying out of the reach of evil Poseidon. The phrase, "You collected a Kraken Krystal!" should be the game's tagline, due to the sheer number of times it appears onscreen as you collect your crystals. Other highlights include unlocking pretty pictures of the real Shamu, smashing through rock barriers, running from giant squid and, well, that's it.

The game is easy enough for a 2-year-old, and while a 2-year-old might be entertained by it, you have to ask yourself whether or not we should be supplying our children with brainless entertainment that is easier than Super Mario Kart. I say no. Let's sink Shamu and let her blubbered body wash belly-up on the shore.

I liked the Shrek movies. Who didn't? There was something for everybody, an appeal the game manages to maintain as well. The characters ring true to their original big-screen counterparts. Even though voice impersonators were used, they sounded enough like the big stars to make me happy.

The best part about Shrek Superslam is choosing from the cast of characters in a two-on-two fight setting. There's much fun to be had with a fully destructible background and neat skills in the ring. Try pitting Donkey against Gingerbread Man. I got in good with Puss in Boots because he had a sword that made for a pretty attack. There are a lot of options, and there's nothing I like more in a battle game than character options.

The single-player mode is decent, but it goes fast. You can choose to extend it, though this game was designed for multiple players. It just isn't as fun alone, and perhaps kids shouldn't be vegging out in solitude anyway. Unfortunately, when all four characters hit the battle arena, it can get messy and difficult to see where your characters are going. Despite the few mechanical problems, though, this game was fun, one I made sure to play with my nieces and nephews when they were down for Thanksgiving.

When I first heard that I was getting this game, I cracked up. I so wanted to play God. I also wondered how the Bible could be rated E, considering all the rape, pillaging, murder and general graphic warfare that happens to be a large part of the Good Book. Of course, the violence is edited out of the videogame.

Well, no playing God here, but I can be a Boy Scout and incur the wrath of God. There's several little games within The Bible Game, mostly intended for multiple players. You can play against the computer, but it's not much fun. Instead, grab a couple of friends and do the trivia thing. Selecting cards is one aspect of the game. You need to avoid the one called "The Wrath of God." Pictures of the plagues are presented onscreen and your score is bankrupted.

One subsection of the game, called "Do Unto Others," might bring a chuckle to older audiences, though nothing racy from the Bible translates to the game. The Bible Game is largely a test of knowledge. The other adventures in the game range in settings and tasks; I found them generally frustrating, but sometimes fun.

One thing's for sure: This game is far better than Shamu. If I hadn't had Superslam waiting, I might have actually played this one for most of the evening. And if Crave Entertainment is interested in making an M-rated, first-person shooter based on the naughtier aspects of the Bible, I am so in.

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