Back in 2001 if you had a few friends over, owned an original Xbox system and you all wanted to get your game on, then the chances are you would pluck out your copy of Fuzion Frenzy to fulfil those multiplayer party urges. Back in the day when Fuzion Frenzy was an Xbox launch title – although the multiplayer feature over Live was available – the amount of Live members was in its infancy, so the lack of Live players available left this title firmly in the singleplayer or local multiplayer dominion.
Jumping forward 6 years and we now have a new pearl-white box full of gaming goodness sitting in our gaming lairs, with millions of online Live players ready to be challenged at a touch of a button. With the aid of backwards compatibility, Xbox owners old and new weren’t without some old Frenzy love, but the game emulated some clear slowdown when compared to playing the same title on the original Xbox. So it was only a matter of time until Frenzy fans were given a new brother to play with, and this came in the form of Fuzion Frenzy 2 [Catchy title –Ed]. With the insurgence of over 6 million+ Xbox Live members to date, a much larger user base is now at your fingertips should you wish to venture away from offline play whether that be on your lonesome or with a few friends on the same machine.
Loading up Fuzion Frenzy 2 for the first time you will witness a much more polished approach to the franchise’s next-gen outing, but scratch under the surface and you will see a very similar untouched structure to the original title, with much of the same features, modes, games and characters available.
By either entering a tournament or creating a single match you are shown a scrollable list of the forty-three available mini-games. In an attempt to help boost longevity in the game, thirty-seven of these games are ready to go with the remaining six locked up until you dive into the tournament mode to unlock them via each of the six characters. This is disappointing at first if you have purchased this game solely on the basis of party play but there are plenty of mini-games here to keep your multiplayer soiree occupied.
Rather than set each game in soul-less arenas, Hudson Software have created seven vastly different worlds within the Fuzion Frenzy Galaxy; Blazer, Machina, Icicle, Moisture, Amuseth, Earth and Eternite. To kick off, Blazer World, a volcanic rich world that will see you knock your foes into lava pits through to firing balls of magma at each other. Machina is an industrial planet full of mini-games featuring turret driven tasks to twisting turbine challenges. On Icicle World you face games of the sub-zero variety, melting statues in record time and sliding around on the icy surfaces while battling for coin domination. With planet Moisture’s surface being 99% water you can safely assume that most of the mini-games here will take place in or using water. Amuseth is one giant casino planet, so think of pinball and you get the idea what happens here. Earth sees the most variation of mini-games in Fuzion Frenzy 2. These mini-games are held in a futuristic theme featuring robots through to plasma rumble arenas. Lastly on our Galaxy tour we have Eternite, which isn’t really a planet as such, more like an area of space where mini-games take place either on spaceships or in space itself.
In an ‘if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’ approach, a few old gems from the original return once again in Fuzion Frenzy 2, all but under a new name and a new skin. A few of my old favourites like Twisted System and Sumo are back under a new disguise – adapted to suit the worlds they appear in. Strip all this away and it is pretty much the same gameplay from the old version, just in a fancy suit. I say ‘pretty much’ as some favourites have been affected during this revamp process. Some had been advanced where they should have just kept them just the same. One that springs to mind is in fact Twisted System, now known as Turbine Jumper, which is located on the industrial planet of Machina. Turbine Jumper has a similar type of gameplay to the original but has now been tarnished with an altered camera angle. This has, in turn, affected the game in quite a way – not only is it now harder to monitor your position when compared to the original, but it is also harder to view when to jump or duck as these bars have been replaced with glowing rods that make it harder to tell which is which as the glow of them is so intense at times. A little disappointing as it was one of my favourite mini-games in the original.
Controlling your characters is a simple pick up and play affair, great for non gamers in the party as well as old folk, should you be having that kind of gathering. Each game type has its own array of controls, these range from guiding your character with the analogue sticks and using the face buttons to jump and bash your opponents or operate machinery. These are all clearly shown before each game begins to give new party members time to familiarise themselves with which button they should be bashing. Just like the original, party members can practice in each event before scoring takes place, again handy for first timers on the game or even on a console.
The biggest let down with Fuzion Frenzy 2 is in the audio department. If I ever have to hear one more time, the words ‘That must of hurt player one’ my 360 will be taking flight! The developers have not only booked the cheesiest of voice actors for the commentary but this guy had spent no less than an hour recording these different phrases (or lack thereof) for the game. To say that the in-game commentary doesn’t vary all too greatly is a huge understatement. This is made very clear from the start once you have heard the same one liner already mentioned within seconds of the round starting.
Commentary aside the usual sound effects fit the bill for a party-style game as well as the music which has similar variety to the commentary with its repetitive jingles. Most users will find themselves making a bee-line to the games options screen and turning off the awful commentary. Thank goodness for the 360’s ability to play your own custom music, which is something that bodes very well with a party of individuals who are all crying out for the music to be turned off.
With the 360’s extra juice under the hood you would think Fuzion Frenzy 2 would relish in detailed graphics and take its original wacky visual style to another level. Sadly this isn’t so. The graphics in this game fails to impress and just feels that the game has had a spit and polish rather than being reworked from the ground up. With that said, it is a party game after all and the graphics fit that purpose, but sadly they didn’t go up a level with character detail or richer environments.
Hooking up this game over Live widens Fuzion Frenzy 2’s arms, as not only can you take on numerous unknown players and friends but you can also fill additional local slots in a tournament with Live members too, whether they are on your friends list or Joe Blogs off the virtual street.
Overall Fuzion Frenzy 2 doesn’t disappoint if a party game is what you are after. With a mix of offline and online play on all forty three mini-games there is plenty there to waste a few hours of game time with. As always with the Fuzion Frenzy franchise after a few rounds you will already have your handful of mastered favourites with many more to unlock and introduce to your gaming party folk. Kudos to the publisher Hudson Software, who was aware of the games somewhat limited appeal and has made the game’s RRP a more acceptable £25, which doesn’t hit the pocket as hard as it would have been at a full retail price.
Being a party game Fuzion Frenzy 2 does have a niche market appeal and as a single player title, once you have played through all forty three mini-games, found your favourites and collected the easy attainable achievements; you will get bored of it very quickly. Hooked up with few friends over Xbox Live or over local, Fuzion Frenzy 2 does comes into its own as a gut aching barrel of laughs, worthy of its reduced RRP price tag.