Picks and Pans Review: The Dark Way
Newbery Medal winner Hamilton wraps her fabulous book of ghost tales in a literate, metaphysical cloak. Kids will first be snared by Lambert Davis's surreal artwork, then Hamilton's telling of such eerie fables as "The Girl Who Was Swallowed by the Earth" and "Medusa." Each includes a history of the relevant legend. (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, $19.95; ages 8 up)
As action heroes go, Michael Jackson might not rank up there with, say, Clint Eastwood or Robocop, but he is the main man in this flashy, enjoyable video game.
The Jackson figure tilts his fedora, spins, moonwalks and preens (the only thing missing is a cosmetic surgery level). He also bashes, kicks and outdances lots of bad guys as he liberates captive children, who appreciatively squeal "Michael!" Then he moves to a final battle with Mr. Big.
The action is fluid, and the background music is spectacular by video game standards: Instrumental versions of Jackson hits ("Beat It" on the "street" level, for instance) are reproduced with surprising fidelity. The stomp 'em-and- move-it game itself is routine, but the effects are exceptional, and if you can't flaunt style over substance when it comes to M.J., when can you? (Sega/Genesis)
(Thad Novak, 10, says: It's hard, confusing and a stupid idea in the first place. Why make a game about a rock star?)
HARLEM GLOBETROTTERS BASKETBALL PAT RILEY BASKETBALL
Two video basketball games, two styles.
The Trotter game (by GameTek for Nintendo) lets you do lots of Globie tricks, such as bouncing the ball into the basket. It also allows two players to play as teammates for some enjoyable clubbing of the stooge opposition, the Washington Generals.
The Riley game (Sega/Genesis) is faster, more detailed and more competitive, though it allows two players only to compete, not be on the same team. The fictitious teams' players are rated in four categories and perform accordingly. Seattle's "Horner." for example, is a dead-on outside shooter but runs like a hassock.
Riley also offers varying perspectives, such as a shooter's-eye look at the basket. The pace is hectic—like a Denver Nugget game under the hyperactive Paul Westhead regime—and a few subs would have pleased armchair coaches. But this is an eminently playable game that makes a middle-aged father envy the reflexes of the 10-year-old who just beat him 157-62.
(T.N.: The biggest difference is the graphics. Pat Riley: incredible. The slams—with different dunks from different positions—are the best graphics I've seen in any sports game. Especially in one-player versions, though, there's less confusion about who has the ball in the Globetrotters game.)
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