Cool New Games!

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
May 1, 2004

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Developer: EA UK

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Demo: six to 14

Genre: Action-adventure

Premise: Harry becomes the target of both a recent escapee from the wizard prison and its team of morally vacant guards in this new game centering on the third movie in the Warner Bros. film franchise. Pals Harry, Ron and Hermione need to combine their strengths and newfound spell-casting skills to overcome the Dementors, a feat that’s made possible by the introduction of companion gameplay functionality. This feature, a first for the Harry Potter game series, lets as many as three gamers at a time play as the wizard chums.

Platforms: GameCube, Xbox, PC, Game Boy Advance

Street Date: This month

Shark Tale

Developers: Edge of

Reality, Vicarious Visions,

Amaze, KnowWonder

Publisher: Activision

Demo: six to 14

Genre: Action-adventure

Premise: Based on a CGI feature from DreamWorks that’s slated to debut in October, this underwater game lets players work through 25 missions to help a fast-talking little fish named Oscar achieve fame and fortune in his hometown of Reef City. Immersed in an aquatic culture that blends original environments with scenes from the film (which features the voices of Will Smith and Robert DeNiro), kid gamers must help Oscar up his cred by collecting items, solving puzzles and mastering the art of Fish-Fu fighting.

Platforms: PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, PC

Street date: September 2004

The Quest for Krud

Developer: Absolute Studios UK and Decode Interactive

Publisher: Decode is actively shopping, but may self-publish

Demo: six to 10

Genre: Third-person action-adventure

Premise: Exploring the world of the Blobheads, the CGI alien co-stars of Decode Entertainment’s mixed-media kids series of the same name, this title takes players all over the galaxy. From battles in the streets of mystic Middle Blobvia, to the sewers of faraway planets, young Blobhead alien Blairek goes on a quest to recover The Book Of Krud, Blobvia’s sole source of wisdom that has been stolen by Evil Sandra and her minions. Blobheads is the first console release from Decode’s four-year-old Interactive division, and an on-line marketplace where players can use game points to buy, trade and make their own weapons and gadgets will support the title.

Platform: PS2

Street Date: aiming for Q4 2005

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme

Developer: Konami Corporation

Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment

Demo: six and up

Genre: Interactive dance

Premise: A wider array of play options takes this moving-and-shaking game franchise to a whole new level this year. Kid dance whizzes can challenge their friends to dance-offs in Oni Mode, which is designed for expert dancers and allows only four concurrent mistakes each game. Meanwhile, Mission Mode offers up intense two-player dance battle scenarios, and Work Out mode will keep tabs of how many calories you’ve burned.

Platform: PS2

Street date: Fall 2004

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Developers: Amaze, Adrenium Games, Griptonite Games, KnowWonder

Publisher: Activision

Demo: six to 12

Genre: Action-adventure

Premise: The immense fortune inherited by the Baudelaire orphans is in danger of being poached by their distant cousin Count Olaf. Based on the HarperCollins book series that has spawned 10 titles so far, and launching in tandem with a live-action feature film starring Jim Carrey, this mission-based game prompts kids to solve puzzles and collect parts to assemble inventions that will help them outsmart their evil kinsman.

Platforms: PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance, PC

Street date: November 2004

Also likely to keep kids’ thumbs occupied once they hit shelves later this year are: Star Wars Republic Commando, a first-person shooter game for teens from LucasArts; three new Mega Man X action-adventure games from Capcom; Konami’s three Yu-Gi-Oh! titles based on the trading cards; two sequels to Kingdom Hearts from Square Enix; and a multiplatform, Christmas-themed game from THQ based on the book and upcoming movie The Polar Express.

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