Innovative sequels to last year's best games.

If you've read my column before, you know that I usually review games that meet two criteria. First, obviously, they have to be kid-friendly because that's the whole point of what I'm doing here. Second, they have to be innovative. I tend to not review games that are typical platformers, or fighting games, or even kid-friendly shoot 'em ups. Most of what I talk about here are original concepts that haven't been done before and that work well as a video game.

In this column, I'm going to talk about two innovative games, but as a twist, they're sequels. Many of you may know sequels don't usually work in the video game world. Gamers have already played it before and no matter how much extra stuff they throw into the game sequel, it never seems to grab us gamers as something new. Surprisingly enough, the two sequels below feel like completely new games and they're definitely worth a look.

So, two new innovative sequels (I never thought I'd ever type that), let's give it a whirl:

Patapon 2 (PSP) Rated E for Everyone
www.patapon-game.com

Patapon is by far one of the most addicting games I have played in a long time. At its roots it's a rhythm game, but as you play it becomes so much more than that. You take the job as "Mighty One," god of the Patapons. It's your job to lead your Patapons to their new home by issuing them commands (button combination style) to the beat of the Eternal Drum. Along the way you'll gain more Patapons into your marching party and you may even have to issue the fight command to your group to clear the way of enemies so you can reach the end of each level.

The layout of the game is a 2D sidescroller and the controls are really basic. The commands are generally four-button combinations pressed along with the rhythm.

In Patapon 2, there are over 80 missions to complete and over 500 items to collect for hours upon hours of entertainment. They also have added a new multiplayer mode where you can team with up to three friends and play through special multiplayer missions to unlock loads of secret features.

I strongly suggest checking out the website where you can play through the first three levels of Patapon 2 in the minigame section. I guarantee you'll walk around at work or at home saying "PATA PATA PATA PON!"


Boom Blox Bash Party (Wii) Rated E for Everyone
boomblox.ea.com

Boom Blox is a physics-based puzzle game for the Wii designed by Electronic Arts and Steven Spielberg. Yep, you read that correctly. Steven Spielberg designed this video game. So, what can you expect to see in Boom Blox? Well, you take on the daunting task of throwing things at blocks on screen using the Wii remote. But wait, it's not as boring at it sounds!

Boom Blox takes you through the storyline of a world in peril and it's your job to solve all of the problems the Boom Blox animals have. Sometimes you have to destroy block-based buildings by throwing baseballs at parts of the structures, sometimes you have to place blocks on screen to help something get from one side of a map to the other and other times you just have to blast apart columns to retrieve stolen gems. There are even Jenga style pull the blocks out without making it fall type levels. The game is very simple but quite addicting as you're ranked based on how many tries it takes you to complete the levels correctly.

The sequel adds new aspects to the original game and includes a ton of new minigames using the same basic principals of Boom Blox. The multiplayer feature of the sequel has been greatly improved adding scads of new versus levels and a new cooperative mode where you work together to clear levels as fast as you can. The last amazing feature is the newly improved create a level system where you can actually download player-created maps from the Wii WFC. All in all, this game is a solid sequel to an already amazing game.