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April 06, 2006

REVIEW: My Street

My review of My Street is up at GameDAILY Family.

Sony Computer Entertainment has been very good to my kids and me. They’ve brought us countless hours of family entertainment, with such gems as Ratchet & Clank, Sly Cooper, Dog's Life, Jak & Daxter, Hot Shots Golf, Frequency, Amplitude, Gran Turismo, and the EyeToy series.

So why then, in the name of all things entertaining, did SCEA (Sony Computer Entertainment America) decide to waste our time by publishing a clunker of a game called My Street?

Maybe they wanted to have a unique kids’ game with online capability, which is becoming an ever-more crucial part of Sony’s strategy, especially in light of Microsoft’s insanely successful Xbox Live service. When My Street was released three years ago, Sony was just beginning to gingerly dip its toes in the online gaming waters.

OK, so you can play the game online. As Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) said to Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis) on the front steps of the Philly police station in Trading Places, “Grand! Great! Thanks a lot!” So now what? What good is the ability to play online if the underlying game simply isn’t compelling?

Either way (online or off), My Street is a multiplayer party game which centers around the goings-on in a quiet suburban neighborhood cul-de-sac. In theory, My Street is a nice change-of-pace game for kids. In theory. In practice, it is plagued by a plethora of pervasive problems.

For a game that was clearly designed for kids, My Street is beset by frustrating gameplay. The competitive mini-games are poorly designed with bad controls and camera angles, and the only part of the game that might have been enjoyable is ruined by poor design.

A game like My Street is just crying out for freeform, open-ended gameplay. Alas, the game is plagued by so many invisible walls, I felt like a mime on the sidewalk, annoying the passersby. My Street could have been a lot more palatable with a little sandbox gameplay. Hey, now that I think about it, there was an actual sandbox somewhere on the block, but it was probably blocked by an invisible wall. ;)

Another annoyance is that you have to chase down some of the neighborhood kids in order to interact with them. They always seem to running this way and that way, hither and yon.

And once you finally corral one of these youngsters to give them their Ritalin smoothies, chances are pretty good that they won’t be very nice, as some of the kids in My Street are just plain nasty. Say, I have an idea. Let’s try to save the smack talk for games for older folks. Games like, oh, I don’t know, like Rainbow Six. In games for kids, as in life, mean people suck.

In the end, the only part of the game that my kids really liked was creating custom characters for themselves. So they got that going for them... which is nice.

So enjoy.......um....... enjoy playing other games, I guess.


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