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X-Box Reviews: Fuzion Frenzy


Fuzion Frenzy Screenshots

The Final Say!

Fuzion Frenzy - reviewed by Andrew Parsons
Review Date: 3 April 2002
Review Score: 8.1/10 
Distributed By: Microsoft

"A party game on launch? What were they thinking?"


When the list of titles for launch day was announced, it had the usual suspects – racing games, snowboarding (remember SSX on PS2?), a shooter. However, the Xbox launch included Fuzion Frenzy, a futuristic take on the party game.


To date, PS2 has yet to receive one of these, and the others are now getting dated, so it was both intriguing that Microsoft would make an attempt, and a relief that finally there was something to compete with the Mario Party series.


When Mario Party was first released it split gamers into two camps. There were the ones that appreciated the simplicity of the minigames and enjoyed playing against their mates. Then there were those who found the whole idea mindlessly boring. Fuzion Frenzy is set to do the same thing, but probably with higher contrast because it doesn’t have the frills of previous titles.


However, with Mario Party, the whole game was cohesively brought together with the board game concept. Each minigame was admittedly very simple, but when combined with 20 or 30 other minigames over the course of a full romp around a game board, it provided a more thorough offering. This combined with the stable of Nintendo characters, brought it so much success that in the end, not one but two sequels were created and also became bestsellers.


Sony tried it on as well, with Crash Bash. In this case, it also had its own set of famous characters and tied the games together in traditional Crash style by forcing you to play and win stages before others opened up. It did well, but not as well as Mario Party.


By releasing Fuzion Frenzy as a launch title, Microsoft have made an extremely bold move. There are no familiar faces to identify with or to help sell the game – its success relies entirely on the content of the gameplay.


Looking at Fuzion Frenzy, we can see that it has distilled the essential elements out of the previous party game titles, and just presented a set of 45 minigames without the frills of a board game nor the challenge of not having all games available at the beginning. While this may be a disappointment to some, for others, it’s a relief since they know that the whole game is accessible immediately.



The game itself is set in a futuristic city, all dark and super-technological. Every stage has an elaborately designed background aimed at convincing you that you’re in this city. They come replete with ultramodern and fantastic transportation, jaw-dropping heights, and an atmosphere that’s full of neon and fog.


Centred within all this mayhem are the arenas themselves. The minigames are divided into 12 general categories, 2 from each part of the city. The games within each category are all very similar but have enough differences to make them a new challenge.


For instance, there are a number of variations on the bug splatting competition, with who can get the most, who can protect their base from the bugs the longest (the “base” in this case being a giant burger), who can get the most while avoiding the speeding trains, and so on.


The 12 categories are:

Coliseum – Rolling Ball (encased in a steel cage you’re in races, point to point competitions or last man standing tournaments), Ice Car (games such as ice hockey are featured here)

Downtown – Fireworks (launch fireworks and colourful explosions in different ways), Music (match the beat and button combinations to win)

Outlands – Demolition (blow the other guys up first), Tail (your vehicle grows a laser tail, or similar which you try to use to entrap objects and other players)

Military Zone – Pod (keep control of the pods longer than anyone else), Tank (old school tanks – blow the other guys up while collecting tokens)

Power Station – Hopper (stay alive the longest while avoiding fans and electricity), Splat (splat the bugs for points)

Waterfront – Jet Boat (general racing on water), Orb (keep the orbs for as long as you can)


The main game play is to choose a number of stages to play, 2, 4 or 6 (the whole city), and each player then selects a character. Fuzion Frenzy requires that the game has 4 players, so it will automatically choose computer-controlled players when you haven’t got enough people to play.


Each stage has 3 minigames followed by the “Fuzion Frenzy” round. This round is a straightforward dash-n-bash scenario, where each player competes to get their orbs into the goals. You can punch and kick the others to get their orbs, and the winner of this round is usually the winner of that stage.


The points are tallied and kept track of until in the end, an ultimate winner is announced at the end of the stages. Simple, isn’t it? But that’s part of the beauty of this game. In addition, you can choose any minigame for a quick fix or maybe a bit of practice for a problematic area.


Of course, multiplayer is where this game shines. The AI of the computer-controlled players can be fun for a while, but this style of game gets old very quickly as the computer becomes predictable over time. Playing this game with a bunch of friends is the way to do it.


Each minigame becomes fresh and new as you see how different human opponents approach them. And of course, you can distract your mates by bumping their controller just as they’re about to go over the waterfall, or jump the electricity and blame it on the dog.


Soundwise, Fuzion Frenzy is solid. Each character has their own voice overs, including insults and victory phrases, although some of them can get a little tiring, such as Zak and his 10-year old boy attitude.


It’s a little disappointing to realise that all of the games you have access to at the beginning are the extent of the range. Sure, there’s heaps of them, but there’s less reason to keep playing at them because there’s no reward.


Similarly, because Fuzion Frenzy does not keep track of high scores or best times, outside of the actual game you play, there’s no way of tracking how you stack up against other players.


This review may have come across fairly negative, but please don’t misunderstand me. I am definitely one of those who loves this game, as does my son and recommend it highly. But, for those looking for deep gameplay, or a more “comprehensive” party game in the style of Mario Party, you need to be aware of the differences.


- Andrew Parsons

Copyright ©2002 www.impulsegamer.com