Casual Friday: GTA Bore

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Grand Theft Education

And now, as a service to folks who want a little background on felony, I've got a few things for you to check out. First , the fine folks at Rockstar Games now provide the original two games in the series free for download. That's right, games that I played during my juvenile delinquency are right here and ripe for the plucking. Both these games are extremely simple by comparison to today's entertainments, but they set the 2D tone for things to come.

Also, a lot of whippersnappers may not know that Ron Howard got in on the original straight-to-drive-in action. Yep, that classy guy once directed and starred in a Roger Corman-produced shlockfest that will complete your next Man Movie NightTM. The 1977 film's name: Grand Theft Auto. Here's a little taste of what you've been missing.

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Two words: fan-tastic. And by the way, the 25th anniversary edition comes packed with interviews and a commentary track with Corman and Howard.

(Other) Game Picks of the Week

Mario Kart Wii (on the Wii console)
While everyone else is smashing up cars in GTA's Liberty City, don't forget that another racing game came out this past week--and it's a little more family-friendly. In fact, I'm not even going to waste your time. If you own a Wii, buy this game. If you don't own a Wii, try to find one and then buy this game. Mario Kart Wii collects the best race tracks from previous Mario Kart games,&#160;adds a&#160;host of new ones, and wraps everything up in a package that's a whole lot of fun. You get to select from&#160;such classic characters as Mario, Luigi, and Donkey Kong to see who's fastest.

It doesn't matter whether you're a hardcore Mario-phile or not: The controls just make sense. And as gimmicky as plugging your Wiimote into a plastic wheel may sound, it works wonders. No steering column, not too much in the way of buttons to learn. And then there's the ability to race again buddies on the couch or online. Congratulations, Nintendo, for making yet another intensely addictive game. And making me wonder what would happen if I threw a banana peel in front of my neighbor's&#160;car.

The World Ends With You (on the DS handheld)
Something fishy is happening in Tokyo (specifically, Shibuya): People are disappearing in a deadly game--and you're one of the "players." This beautifully stylized game shows a funkier side of the Japanese metropolis and offers a lot more than the usual action-RPG. Explore the world to solve on-screen puzzles, and tap away to ward off enemies. Collecting powers, you'll discover various ways to fight as you try and survive for seven days.

Fair warning, though: as much fun as the game is, it suffers from the dreaded "hip" factor. Because it is so tapped into the Japanocentric subculture, you may feel slightly uncool when reading the dialogue (of which there is plenty). Bonus points for anyone who can multitask and handle all the action on both of the DS's screens at once.

Until next week...

Senior Writer Darren Gladstone geeks out over gadgets, games, and odd uses for humdrum tech. In other words, he's a nerd--and he's okay with that.

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