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In this latest game released by Microsoft for the Xbox, you play Apollo the leader of a gang of mice who's looking for a fight with the local gang of rats, ala West Side Story. Sneakers, originally released in Japan under the title Nezmix, finally makes its way to the US as an exclusive game available only at Toys 'R' Us.
The game can be broken out into two phases: search and battle. The search phase, which requires you to locate enemy rat scouts, makes up the majority of the game. As you move from location to location, your motion is restricted to traveling along defined tracks. This was exasperating and made me long for Stuart Little 2 for the PSOne. As you walk along these predefined routes, you seek out rat scouts, which are easy to do, as they stand out in the open and don't move.
The second phase of the game is the battle phase, in which gangs of rats attack you and your friends en masse. This comical street gang brawl boils down to little more than a series of spinning punches. The highlight of the fight is that you can finally move freely. The battles rarely last more than 30-40 seconds. The game play is exceedingly juvenile, which isn't bad for a game marketed as a children's game, but the fact that they also place a time limit on completing each level drives my kids (and I) nuts. Accompany this time limit with the fact that you can't save in the middle of a level means that should one rat escape detection as time expires, you will have to locate them all over again.
Even with the beauty of Xbox fur shading and the addictive musical scores, I quickly grew tired of this game. My two youngest kids (4 and 6) however, loved this game. They don't like actually playing it but they wanted me to keep playing it for them. I endured the torture just to please them, but was soon reminding them that we could be playing Blinx instead. They jump at that opportunity, thankfully. Bottom line: avoid this game unless you have small children and don't mind dropping 30 bucks.
Sneakers is both the name of Microsoft's rodent politique simulator and its red jacket, gym shoe-wearin' lead character. But this ain't no Stuart Little. Your job as this defiant III' mouse is to recruit and lead an army of like-minded micronauts against a group of dark-furred ruffians hell-bent on taking over your town. It's also the first game from MS's Japanese development studio. Expect a U.S. release later this spring.