Hit the decks to try your hand as a DJ

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The Independent Online


PlayStation **** If you like music and you've got some rhythm, it's likely that when this game reaches the shops (mid to end May), it will have you hooked. Beatmania is the PlayStation version of a DJ- simulation arcade game which currently has Tokyo by the dancing shoes and is certain to tickle the British clubber's fancy. Gameplay is tricky to describe. Beatmania comes with its own turntable/ keyboard which you use to mix samples, riffs, hand-claps and other musical emanations over an original track. Bars on the screen determine which keys you should hit when, and at what point you should scratch with the turntable.

Part of the joy of the game is that the tunes are all recognisable - you can crucify Moloko's "Bring it Back" or massacre a Europop hit. You're probably best off avoiding the rave and Balearic anthems in favour of the cool and - more important - slower jazz numbers until you've mastered the decks.

(Konami, £49.99)

WWF Smackdown

PlayStation **** The allure of World Wrestling Federation may escape me, but it's a billion-dollar business in the States and the appeal of the redneck glitz and dubious glamour of fixed wrestling matches is rumoured to be set to rival the Pokémon invasion we are currently experiencing.

The most recent game version of the WWF's execrable TV programmes has arrived and certainly it's one of the best-looking wrestling games yet. The lucky WWF fan has the chance to pick their favourite wrestler and this time fight them without a script.

Wrestling games are nothing more than a different take on your typical beat'em-up game: with Smackdown all 36 of your TV heroes are realistically emulated down to their mullet haircuts, costumes and special moves. Much like the TV battles, there's also a whiff of storyline as you fight through the season and into the carpark. In the game's favour, play is slick, the controls aren't overcomplicated and the graphics are impressive. There is also a dizzying array of fight options should you tire of pure wrestling. If you like this sort of thing, WWF Smackdown is probably an essential purchase.

(THQ, £39.99)

Vigilante 8 2nd Offense

N64 ** If you're after a bit of Seventies-style road-rage action, then this reworking of Activision's original car-battle to a funky beat will probably be right up your blind alley. Shuffle on your strides, zip up your boots and rev up the Chevy ready to bomb around combat arenas. The aim, really, is to destroy practically everything in sight without writing off your own four-wheeled love machine. There isn't much more to this game than that. A nominal structure exists in Quest mode as you are given missions to complete. But it's hardly taxing.

Nor is the game particularly user-friendly: car control is clumsy, missions aren't easily decipherable and 10 fingers weren't really enough to master the special moves.

(Activision, £39.99)