Review: Feral Interactive Family Fun Pack 2

Entertaining, Educational, and Fun for the Whole Family (March 13th, 2006)

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Product Manufacturer: Feral Interactive Ltd.

Price: $39.95 US

The Good

  • Great price for 3 games and an encyclopedia. Works on OS X 10.2 and up and on PPC G3s and up. Not RAM hungry.

The Bad

  • Worms 3D is harder and more frustrating than it looks.

If you have children and at least a 700 MHz G3 Macintosh, Feral Interactive's family game packs are very appealing. In Feral's Family Fun Pack 2, gamers enjoy three colorful, three-dimensional, humorous, often quirky, and challenging titles: Worms 3D, Rayman 3, and Ghost Master. With engaging atmosphere, graphics, puzzles, and game play, these three titles should entertain for a long time. An encyclopedia is included to round out the learning curve.

The Family Fun Pack 2 is attractively packaged. All the discs come in one thick case, similar to commercial DVD movie cases. Space in the front of the case holds the Worms 3D and GhostMaster Quick Start Guides and the Rayman 3 Manual. This package will protect these games for a long time.

Helpful Options Panel

Worms 3D and Rayman 3 offer a useful Options Panel. The Options Panel contains five tabs: About, Video, Updates, Support, and Advanced. The About tab includes version number and copyright, with buttons that open the Feral Interactive web site for more information and to register the software. The Video tab lets you choose your screen resolution and color depth. The Updates tab works like Apple's software update system preference. Users can elect to automatically check for updates when the games are launched and to check the site immediately. The Support tab gives you access to the game FAQ documents and to generate reports that Feral Interactive can use to troubleshoot problems. The Advanced tab offers other languages and the ability to invert the mouse in select views, such as first person or third person view. The Options Panel is a clear indication of Feral Interactive's commitment to customer support.

Worms 3D

The odd Worms from Family Fun Pack 1 are back in Worms 3D. The Worms Blast graphics in Family Fun Pack 1 were very good, and the transition to 3D makes this a successful sequel. The 3D graphics are offset by whimsical, witty, and entertaining game play. The goal is to lob grenades, missiles, pigeons, air strikes, bazookas, sticky grenades, Uzis, dynamite, sheep and other exploding, quirky weapons across the playing field at opponents. Although it sounds simple enough, it's not.

Anything But Simplistic

The island playing fields, surrounded by a large body of water, are comparably quirky and dangerous, like the weapons. I battled against the computer on what appeared to be a salvage yard with giant vehicles and tires strewn about; a miniature golf course with a golf cart, golf clubs and golf tees; and a deserted shipyard with cranes and construction debris. Since I'm not very good, I tend to die quickly. You can play against the computer army, play against other people on the same computer, play across a LAN with other Macs, or through Game Ranger, which requires opening some TCP/IP ports.

The simple name and playful animated mayhem belies the challenge of Worms 3D. Worms 3D requires jumping forward, vertical jumps, and flips, in addition to simpler movements to navigate the landscapes and obstacles There are also key combinations to select and use assorted weaponry, and to manipulate several camera views from first person to blimp view. Thankfully, Worms 3D offers a tutorial to acclimate new players to game controls, weapons and utilities, which parents and children will find both entertaining and useful. You may be tempted to spend your time in the tutorial, since you can't lose and game play is still challenging.

In addition to digit dexterity, Worms 3D also requires a quick mind to recall where the enemy resides, to formulate strategies, and calculate trajectories, distances and crosswinds, which change from moment to moment. Worms 3D requires patience, because the computer players are expert marksman and make nearly impossible shots! Unfortunately, this ability easily frustrates new players in the first levels. Worms 3D is anything but simplistic.

Rayman 3

Rayman 3 is a fun-filled, cartoon influenced 3D comic adventure. In many regards, it reminds me of games available on Nintendo, Playstation, and XBox, with time-based power ups and weapons. In Rayman, players run, fight, jump, fly and battle their way through Rayman's world against the Hoodlum Army. One of Rayman's strengths is humor, because whacky things happen in the world. Throughout 5 realms, players acquire the Heavy Metal Fist, the razor-toothed LockJaw, and the Shock Rocket that can shoot around corners, and other super powers and weapons. Most kids who play video games will be familiar with this type of game, understand how to work it, and therefore find it an attractive title.

Satisfying Puzzle Game

Rayman 3 begins with a movie showing the lums being turned into hood-lums and the player, as Rayman, is awakened and his hands stolen by his frightened friend. Players are loosely led through the game by a flying green bug with an attitude who, just happens to have a game manual. This friendly green airborne sidekick tosses out one-liners, witty criticisms, and commentary throughout the game, much like the narrator in classic cartoons. Other characters in the game are classic cartoon types, too. Rayman's best friend, for example, is a plump, dimwitted blue amphibian-like creature, and the hoodlums are small black insects with glowing red eyes. The violence in the game is less graphical than today's cartoons, too, a welcome surprise.

As noted above, the first mission is to find Rayman's hands, which are needed to activate key panels to open doors and raise or lower platforms and other switches. After this first mission, the player continues to chase André, the master hoodlum, through the Faerie kingdom to the heart of the world, but the game does not end here. Instead, one of Rayman's friends must be transported to a witch doctor through a glowing portal in the floor to save his life, because he has eaten André. In the transitional warp, Rayman turns boarder, leaping between glowing platforms and ramps as they speed along accompanied by funky disco music and psychedelic patterns. It is a pleasant surprise that the game difficulty is neither stagnant nor escalated, so all players are not discouraged and grow with the game.

Rayman 3 is as much a puzzle and strategy game as a 3D adventure. The increasing difficulty of the levels includes increasingly challenging puzzles. Each level has a goal and to perform these tasks, the player must figure out how to close a door to stop the retreating barrel that hides different items in each level. These puzzles are the true appeal and challenge of Rayman 3, while the cartoon finish, characters, and humor create an entertaining atmosphere. Children who can understand instructions will enjoy Rayman 3, as will their parents.

Ghost Master

This is the game I wanted to play! Ghost Master's motif is unique, defying common roles in strategy games; the player controls ghosts, ghouls, and goblins to haunt humans in Gravenville. Ghost Master offers 11 full 3D environments and 15 scenarios in which to terrorize Gravenville's inhabitants. The game is also steeped in movie lore and brims with horror movie parodies. Hints and tips can be found on the Feral Interactive web site.

Frightfully Fun Sim for Teens and Adults

Ghost Master is modeled in many ways after the ever-popular Sims games. The principles are similar, because you control six categories of ghosts, to achieve predetermined goals. Each ghost and scare method consumes plasma, which can be replenished by frightening humans. More plasma means greater scaring capability, and more fun! As Ghost Master, you have a 3D view of each scare field, capable of moving through and between floors like a ghost yourself, and zooming in and out of the scene as well. You also have clairvoyant insight into the mortals present in a haunting, including willpower, terror, madness, and belief. Your Ghost Master's goals are fulfilled when you scare away all the mortals at a haunting, who run away screaming, or complete other objectives. Released spirits, are added to your fright team permanently and are immediately available to haunt.

If you are not familiar with the Sims-type games, Ghost Master offers a particularly alluring training haunt, a girl's college dorm called Haunting 101, and a nod to horror movies that feature similar characters. Haunting 101 features three floors of college coeds in bathrobes, towels, and pajamas. As Haunting 101 progresses, the game's disembodied voice-tutor explains the screen displays and their functions.

Ghost Master is more than a frightmare. It is also a logic and puzzle game. The objectives between hauntings vary. In some hauntings, the Ghost Master must release fettered spirits. Sometimes this release is simply scaring away a particular mortal. Sometimes this is considerably more difficult, like breaking a particular jar. In other hauntings, the Ghost Master must coax humans to move about the haunting or eliminate obstacles that hinder humans from taking a particular action to achieve the goals of that particular haunting. Questions like, what motivates the humans present, or what obstacles need removal and how is that accomplished, keep the game challenging and frightfully fun.

Children's Encyclopedia Britannica 2004 Edition

Education and knowledge are healthy and important, but the addition of an encyclopedia to the Family Fun Pack 2 seems the proverbial sow's ear. Though written in short sentences and paragraphs that children can understand, there is nothing new or exciting about the Children's Encyclopedia Britannica 2004 Edition. The interface is functional, but not particularly attractive or engaging, especially for children. Searches are convenient and fast. Articles, images, multimedia, maps and more are included in this encyclopedia, so it is useful for children's research. I had hoped that this encyclopedia might be more engaging, with a game-like interface to involve children, but alas, the Children's Encyclopedia Britannica 2004 Edition is your typical encyclopedia on CD.

Fun Pack 2 Develops Problem Solving Skills

Feral Interactive's Family Fun Pack 2 is a collection of three engaging 3D games that entertain through atmosphere, strategy, and problem solving. My children and I have enjoyed all three games to varying degree, according to our age and experience. The graphics in all three titles are bright, game play satisfying, and puzzles challenging. Problem solving is an important skill to develop in our children, and these games encourage players to consider multiple paths and strategies to complete missions and solve puzzles to reach their goals. Worms 3D, Rayman 3, and Ghost Master pack enough atmosphere and quirky charm to keep your family entertained for months.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Mike Swope


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