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NHL 2K Dreamcast *** IF YOU'RE a fan of the plethora of football games released this year, you'll probably enjoy this extraordinarily complicated ice hockey number. Once you've battled your way through a dizzying array of small-print options to define rules, leagues, coaches, teams and - thankfully - level of difficulty, you might be just about ready to bully off.

NHL 2K Dreamcast *** IF YOU'RE a fan of the plethora of football games released this year, you'll probably enjoy this extraordinarily complicated ice hockey number. Once you've battled your way through a dizzying array of small-print options to define rules, leagues, coaches, teams and - thankfully - level of difficulty, you might be just about ready to bully off.

NHL 2K is not the equivalent of a quiet kick-around in the park: it is fast, furious and violent. And graphically the motion-captured players look impressively realistic. Take the teams through championship leagues and tournaments to become the icing on the cake.

If you aren't a dedicated follower of ice hockey, however, the chances are that the game will leave you cold; part of the dubious attraction of footie games is the familiar teams/players you play with. If that doesn't bother you and you're just looking for a fabulous-looking, visceral game, stop right here. (Sega, £39.99)

Tomb Raider Gameboy *** It's every small boy's dream - Lara Croft in their pocket, bath, bed, in fact, constantly at their side. Well, small boys, dreams come true. Lara has arrived in delightful miniature with all her iconic charms intact on the Gameboy Color and once you've got her, the original cyber-babe will never leave you - but only because she doesn't have the choice.

Obviously, the Gameboy can't match the powerful capabilities of the other consoles Lara has graced with her presence, so the graphics, gameplay and linking scenes which imbued the other versions with such an alluring cinematic quality are lost. Instead, we're left with a fairly ordinary 2D platform game which seems to owe an awful lot to that old favourite, Prince of Persia - pits of spikes appear out of nowhere and floors fall away to hasten you to a sticky end.

She still looks good, though. As is her wont, she is a far bigger character than usual for the gameboy and the graphics aren't bad considering the hand-held's limitations. It is also an annoyingly playable game despite the simplistic nature of the "find a lever and pull it" style puzzles.

Yes, the controls are damn fiddly and surprise evisceration on what look like cocktail sticks is an extremely frustrating way to go, but she swims, leaps, wiggles and tumbles just like in the old days. And who didn't love Prince of Persia, anyway? Disturbingly addictive. (THX, £24.99)

Wipeout 3: Special Edition PlayStation *** Wipeout's back again. Actually, Wipeout 3 is back again. Needlessly. This game was just too cool when it came out five or so years ago. Not only did it advocate Red Bull before anyone had even thought of adding it to vodka, it also had a sound track by the Prodigy just before they went mainstream. It broke new ground with its smart, futuristic graphics and Bladerunner-style courses.

Wipeout 2097 improved on the original formula with a tweaking of the graphics and a tickling of gameplay. Wipeout 3 was pretty much more of the same. And now we have, literally, even more of the same. In fact, this compendium is the definitive conflation of of all the best courses from its predecessors in neatly accessible form. There are eight courses from Wipeout 3, five from 2097 and three tracks from the original. There's also a munitions factory full of weapons and the old four-player option. But you have to fight your way through an embarrassment of options and dull grey screens before you get to hover your way in style around the courses.

Wipeout has been such a success that it isn't really surprising that Psygnosis has latched on to the cheeky compendium flog-the-old-stuff-again idea, but that shouldn't excuse such a naughty move. It is still cool, so if you have yet to be initiated into its futuristic joys, buy it. Otherwise it's just a faintly jazzed up version of what you've already got in your racks. (Psygnosis, £29.99)

Army Men: Operation Meltdown PlayStation *** The little green-and-tan plastic men return with more assaults on our patience. It's another game in a long line of predecessors and, as seems to be inevitable, it's little different. The (once) original idea is that you take the part of a green toy soldier with a variety of missions to complete. Should you choose to accept these, pick up some guns, crawl around quietly for a while, melt down the nasty tans and save the world. Run-of-the-mill stuff, really, for an alternative games universe.

Again, it follows the tried, tested and successful formula of strategy, firepower and plastic humour. To give it some credit, this sequel is considerably trickier than its forebears and this is almost enough to make it a worthy addition to your existing collection of army men. If you can bear the scrappy graphics because you so enjoy playing toy soldiers, you'll like it. If you can't, you won't. (3DO, £29.99)

s.chatterton@independent.co.uk

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