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The Independent Online

Power Stone 2 Dreamcast **** As this goes to print, you will either be smug in the knowledge that a PlayStation 2 will be in your sweaty grasp before the end of the year. Or you won't. But worry not, for PS2 games are going to need a little time to achieve jaw-dropping maturity. Meanwhile, the price of a Dreamcast has been reduced and, provided publishers carry on releasing tip-top games such as this one, the only thing you'll be missing out on come Christmas time is the Boys Own kudos attached to owning Sony's all-singing, all-dancing new machine.

Power Stone 2 Dreamcast **** As this goes to print, you will either be smug in the knowledge that a PlayStation 2 will be in your sweaty grasp before the end of the year. Or you won't. But worry not, for PS2 games are going to need a little time to achieve jaw-dropping maturity. Meanwhile, the price of a Dreamcast has been reduced and, provided publishers carry on releasing tip-top games such as this one, the only thing you'll be missing out on come Christmas time is the Boys Own kudos attached to owning Sony's all-singing, all-dancing new machine.

This is the sequel to the fighting game released in tandem with the Dreamcast console last year. At the time, it was a delightful change from the normal tedium of beat-'em-ups in which you shuffle back and forth across the screen smacking each other. Its interactive backgrounds and slapstick graphics meant it broke the Tekken mould.

Generally, sequels tend to deserve as much derision as can be mustered. This one is a move on from the original and, therefore, forgivable. Gameplay is still frantic as you whirl dervish-style around each level driving tanks and wielding furniture, lead piping and comedy guns. But the backgrounds you lay waste to have multiple levels - fall from a window and land in the street or the boat you are sparring on may sink leaving you in the drink still landing fatal blows on your opponent. And the masterstroke - the game can be played by four people for some really lunatic pugilism. Forget the PS2 for the moment and treat yourself to this colourful mayhem. (Capcom, £39.99)

Cool Bricks Colour Gameboy **** Retro may be the way forward but all these revivals can get a little tedious. The nature of addictive puzzlers, however, means that they can be recycled, revamped and re-released time and time again without losing much of their appeal.

This twist on Breakout, the classic paddle, ball and brick smashout, retains all the original's fiendishly addictive simplicity with the addition of a little bit of modern zing provided by power-ups, weapons and rogue balls. The idea is to use the paddle to bounce the ball - in pong style - to smash away the bricks. Once all the bricks have been demolished you move on a level. Certain bricks will disintegrate to release treats or handicaps - catch them as they fall to launch their effect.

The game kicks off at an insidious leisurely pace which cannot fail to hypnotise. Before you can say realise, you'll be a an anti-social, drooling thumb-tapping loon who can't put the blasted thing down. You have been warned. (SCi, £19.99)

 

Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 PlayStation ** Activision is about to bring out an all-format sequel to the surprise four-wheeled hit Tony Hawks Pro Skater. It may be a whole year since the original was released for the PlayStation, but it is barely two months since Crave's version for the Dreamcast hit the streets in baggy trousers and a silly hat.

Unfortunately, it seems to have been a fairly pointless exercise in repetition. Save for a couple of new features tacked on to the central game, any added appeal is limited. The skatepark design option is amusing for a short while and the two person skate-off adds a competitive feel which diverts for as long as your eyes can cope with the disorientating split screen. But other than that, the only difference seemed to be in playability - it was far easier to execute flashy moves and grind on to high scores which shouldn't really be the point of a follow-up.

As far as graphics are concerned, the PlayStation sequel fails to improve on the original or match the elegance of the Dreamcast version of the first installment. Neither cool, hip nor radical. (Activision, £29.99)

s.chatterton@independent.co.uk

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