E3 '07: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am Impressions
You've seen the show, now take control of Frylock, Master Shake, and Meatwad as you battle your way through crabs and aliens.
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Aqua Teen Hunger Force is one of the most bizarre cartoons on television. For the uninitiated, the series revolves around three major characters and their wacky adventures--a shape-shifting ball of meat not approved for human consumption; a sadistic, violent milkshake; and the spiritual leader of the group, a box of french fries with the ability to shoot fire, lasers and lightning from his eyes. Frylock, the last in that list, is also the brains behind the operation, although despite his best efforts, the team always seems to end up in trouble.Midway's bringing the trio to video game screens, and a rep manning the demo we tried told us that although the deal with Cartoon Network to produce the game was signed several years ago, the project has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Slated for release in October this year and exclusive to the PS2, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro-Am is part golf game, part hack-and-slash, with a splash of golf cart driving thrown in to break it up a bit. It's almost as if Tiger Woods, Diablo, and Mario Kart got in a fight with a Happy Meal. Despite the name suggesting otherwise, Midway was quick to point out that the game doesn't actually feature either zombies or ninjas--apparently that's just the writers' sense of humor shining through.
The gameplay is split into a few parts. There's the obvious golf portion, but really that takes a backseat to what you'll need to do between shots. This golf in the game plays most like Everybody's Golf. All you need to do is aim your ball, hit a button to stop the moving bar for power, then again for slice--the learning curve is very gentle. The basic backstory is that Frylock is invited to join an exclusive golf club, and as usual Shake decides to ruin it for everyone. Next thing you know you're battling hordes of Carl's crabs with whatever weapons you can get your hands on. Special items let you mix the gameplay up a bit, replacing the golf ball with Meatwad, and hitting power shots with Frylock. Once you reach the green you'll face a boss or need to complete a puzzle to continue. The golf cart levels mix it up a bit and sees you thrashing around the greens, chasing the alien Mooninites and picking up weapons and power-ups. Shake is a melee character with weapons like swords, guitars, flammable aerosol cans, chainsaws, and a shotgun, while Frylock deals slower, but more powerful, ranged magic damage.Each level includes a golf-sim-style flyover to show you the objective while ESPN's Scott Van Pelt and Cybernetic Ghost from the TV show provide commentary. The build we saw had placeholder audio and the demo area was too noisy to properly hear it, but all the dialogue has been penned by the same writers from the TV show, including original voice-over work by Dana Snyder, Carey Means, and Dave Willis. The final game will include 12 levels, nine of which are pure golf combat, two golf cart-racing stages, and a tutorial to get you up and running. While the golf seems to just the cover story for getting you around the course, it does reward you for playing well. Scoring under the card awards you points you can spend on unlockable content, including three 11-minute episodes from the TV series, a never-before-seen episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force made specifically for the game, and some of the live-action extras found on the DVD versions of the series. Midway is expecting six to eight hours of single-player campaign, with additional time required to reveal all the hidden areas and unlock everything. Currently there are no official plans for going cross-platform, but we wouldn't be at all surprised if this one turns up on XBLA somewhere down the track.