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Tap ... tap ... poke ... poke ... PUNCH!

The hand boasts 20 different muscles. Three new video game releases will have players using and abusing each and every one of them. 
"TEKKEN 5" offers players a bewildering array of punches, blocks and kicks.
"TEKKEN 5" offers players a bewildering array of punches, blocks and kicks.Namco Hometek Inc.

The hand boasts 20 different muscles. The new releases below will have gamers using and abusing each and every one of them. 

"WarioWare Touched!" encourages players to literally tap, drag, and squiggle their fingers across the touch screen of the Nintendo DS. "TEKKEN 5" offers old school, finger-bleeding button mashing. And the boxing game "Fight Night Round 2" combines violent joystick jabs with softer dabs when working as a ringside cut-man.

“Tekken 5”
While fighting games such as “Mortal Kombat” and the mammary-crazed “Dead or Alive” have made the news for one supposed transgression or another, “Tekken” keeps truckin': quietly earning respect among fighting game aficionados for no-nonsense sequels populated by saucer-eyed Japanese heroines.

What's the plot? In "Tekken 5" cinematic cut-scenes allude to existential rumblings among the participants at the fifth King of the Iron Fist Tournament. But really, who cares. 

“Tekken” owes its reputation to its ability to offer a bewildering array of punches, blocks and kicks all the while maintaining an old-fashioned, arcade style of play. Fighting control and movement rests with manipulating the PS2’s controller buttons. Joysticks, in the default controller setup at least, are useless appendages serving as much purpose as the plot.

The game soundtrack is loud, abrasive and purely awful in a way that only arcade game soundtracks can be.

The 25-plus characters, each of whom come with his or her own set of signature moves and fighting styles, are equally over the top. 

Who can resist Christie Monteiro, a Brazilian capoeira expert with a fashion preference for tie-dye? How about the fighting kangaroo, Roger Jr., or maybe Asuka Kazama, the mandatory Japanese waif who prefaces her fight with “Let's get this over with” before kicking your butt.

Settings are not interactive, meaning players can’t bounce the enemy off of a well-placed spike for added damage. But talk about eye candy:  Fighters do battle amid cascading waterfalls, a penguin populated ice floe and a softly lit field covered with pussy willows the size of tennis balls.

Big, brash and awash in color and style, “Tekken 5” deserves to be played on the big screen with the speakers cranked.

“WarioWare Touched!”
Two years ago the Nintendo Game Boy seemed headed for creative oblivion due to endless Pokemon sequels and adventure games with pages and pages of tiny text. 

Then came “WarioWare,” a collection of hundreds of mini-activities that re-introduced whimsy and game addiction to the platform. These mini-activities ranged from games that measured quick reflexes to more whimsical ones such as brushing a character's teeth. Because the activities were so short, no more than five seconds, gamers were compelled to play on.

Now comes "WarioWareTouched!" It's the same frantic concept, but built to take advantage of the Nintendo DS's touch screen.  Players must tap, drag, draw and furiously smudge the stylus or available finger across the screen. There are balloons to pop, underarms to tickle, snowballs to roll and wildfires to put out courtesy of a peeing cherub on a swing.

Nonsense? Of course. Like Sega's "Feel The Magic XY/XX," an earlier DS title which employed the same touch approach, "WarioWare Touched!" is colorful, addictive nonsense with little or no redeeming value. I love it.

"WarioWare Touched!" follows a hazy thematic logic.  Selecting a particular character on the introduction screen leads to a string of mini-games requiring a certain action (dragging games or tapping games) with graphics and music to match. 

But really the only theme that matters with “WarioWare Touched!” is “Faster … More … Now.”

"Fight Night Round 2"
Last year’s boxing title “Fight Night” took a beating from some critics who found the game's control frustrating. Instead of relying on sequential button mashing like most fighting games, “Fight Night” used the console controller's analog joystick to reek havoc.

Performing left and right jabs were fairly easy, but more powerful hooks required complicated joystick swiveling. Those gamers who didn't throw in the towel were rewarded with an engaging boxing game.

"Fight Night Round 2" maintains the control system and one ups its predecessor with improved graphics. Graphic processing resources that were previously devoted to rendering the facial details of ringside fans have been rightfully devoted to the fighters themselves.

The improved graphics rendering pays off in the slow motion cut-scenes “Fight Night Round 2” runs between rounds.  A nasty shot to the head sends sweat and blood flying. 

In the ring, “Fight Night Round 2” comes off as a gripping, realistic boxing game with one notable exception. In addition to the usual uppercuts and haymakers, boxers can taunt, grapple, engage in an illegal hit, block punches and bob and weave.

Boxers tire as the rounds rack up (and players will tire too, twelve three-minute rounds get a little rough on the wrists) and if they take enough hits to cause swelling along their faces, they'll have a harder time seeing — causing more missed swings.

The exception to the realism is in parrying, or catching a punch and redirecting it leaving an opponent off balance. "Round 2" exaggerates the off-balance factor to the point where the parried fighter is left unguarded and helpless for too long a time. This may be a minor quibble for most. I wasn't even aware of the problem until a boxing fan pointed out the problem. 

Both past practitioners of the sweet science like Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano — Mike Tyson is a big no show — as well as contemporary boxers are available to control, but the true fun is in creating a boxer to look like yourself, thanks to a simple-to-use visualizer, and then watching him or her get pummeled in the ring.

Ok, perhaps watching your digital doppelganger get beaten to a pulp is more disconcerting than fun, but "Fight Night Round 2" includes a "cut-man" feature.  Between rounds, gamers can reduce swelling and staunch bleeding by ever-so-carefully applying joystick swivels to affected areas.

Ahhhhh. ... that's better.  Your boxer looks almost human again and your sore fingers had a chance to relax.