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Archive for August, 2008

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 8-30-08

Posted by nfinit on August 30, 2008

Yakul from last week’s comments mentioned that this could well be the worst worst generation for software ever– and judging from my cynical dismissal for everything other than Castle Crashers, you may think I share that opinion. But I believe we’re receiving some genuinely great titles, from No More Heroes to Bioshock to Fallout 3– but it seems there’s more dross to sort through than previous console generations, and the crap that’s there isn’t even interesting crap.

But this generation is far from the worst. Ignoring the 2600 and the Crash that it created, I’d say we’re doing better now than in 16 bit era, something we treat as sacrosanct, lauding luminaries such as Chrono Trigger while ignoring Bubsy the Bobcat and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective.

Yes, there’s a lot of crap this generation, but it’s crap that’s recognizable and avoidable and not masquerading as triple-A titles. There’s also a greater diversity of games this gen as compared to the endless string of mascot platformers on the Genesis and SNES.

Finally, (and this may be only my own experience talking) I think games this generation provide a far greater value than years before. The NES/SNES eras and even most of the PS1 cycle were still largely driven by the arcade, a model that gave us $50-70 games that lasted less than a weekend. Publishers were forced to counter the rental market by increasing difficulty to the point where only the most skilled were able to enjoy the entertainment investment they’d made. And while such logic still exists to some degree, it’s now possible for even a novice gamer to garner full enjoyment from GTA 4.

Also, I’ve been reminded that Castlevania: The Next One will be arriving on DS later this year.  I retract my statement, then:  Instead of Chrono Trigger being the only noteworthy title on the DS field from here until– well, whenever– there’s Chrono Trigger and Castlevania SOTN VI.

I’m pulling this update out early this week, as for some inexplicable reason Mercenaries 2 is releasing on Sunday. I suppose that makes sense in that it allows to celebrate Labor Day by blowing up Venezuelans in many unique and hilarious ways, but now we’re just madly refreshing Cheapass Gamer in hopes that Best Buy breaks street date.

Mercenaries 2:  World in Flames (PS3, PS2?!, 360)
You may be asking why Mercenaries 2 is so important that I’m willing to shuffle around my busy drug-and-supermodel-oriented schedule to bring us this update a full forty-eight hours earlier than normal.  Well, I’ll tell you why.

In Mercenaries 2, you can hijack a helicopter, pick up another tank (also likely hijacked) and then use that tank while being flown around via helicopter.

Forget your opera house scenes, your colossi, your hours of meticulously scripted codec conversations– this is the defining point of gaming, and I’m not sure if there’s any where further to go once atop this precipice.  Mercenaries 2 will simultaneously save our generation and destroy it. There’s no need to keep the wheezing-husk Western civilization around any longer. Soon the world economies will be driven toward one goal– transmitting the binary data of Mercenaries 2 to the distant stars, in hopes of spreading this game’s wisdom, virus-like, to the cosmos. 

Hopefully the lack of review scores and initial impressions doesn’t mean this game is going to suck, as I’ve already cashed out my 401(k) for a microbus, two hundred pounds of pot and all the zig-zags to be found in Astoria.

Infinite Undiscovery (360)
It’s by Tri-Ace, the Valkyrie Profile guys, so that’s a good sign. And while it’s doing some interesting new stuff with stealth gameplay and a party system that makes use of its entire cast, 1up is complaining of it’s Wii-level graphics and the plot is your basic “keep big bad from becoming god” JRPG trope.  But I’m more troubled by Squeenix’s continued inability to create characters that don’t look like absolute poofs:

It’s sort’ve hard to connect with a guy wearing a muffin on top of his head, y’know?  Amano’s stuff was less frilly than this, and his characters had more estrogen than a CLAMP anime. As I don’t keep on top of JRPGs, can a kind reader please explain why anyone would chose this over Tales of Vesperia, other than the Squeenix logo on the front of the box?

Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise (360)
Rare failed to make the case to the hardcore for the first Viva Pinata, and the followup doesn’t look remotely like anything we’d be interested in either.  Which is a roundabout way of saying this Isn’t Meant For Us, but you wonder who it’s meant for at all. The market VP2 is targeting just isn’t ever going to be within the 360’s sphere, and a single series isn’t going to expand that market to where the system becomes attractive to parents of twelve-year-olds and Harvest Moon fans.

Warhammer:  Battle March (360)
Speaking of target audiences– this is an expanded version of the Warhammer PC game
Mark of Chaos, a middling quality quasi-RTS with a number of quality control issues.  Hopefully those have been cleared up for the 360, But at $60 it’s hard to make the case for a two year old PC RTS that plays like point and click Dynasty Warriors.  If Namco had released this at $40 they may have generated some middling interest and maybe provided a vehicle for DLC. As it stands the most sales this will produce will be from the used bin.

Rapala Fishing (Wii, 360)
Fooled you!

Shred Nebula (XBLA)
How do you follow up something as critically acclaimed as Braid, something as anticipated as Castle Crashers, something with the nostalgic weight of Bionic Commando ReArmed?  If you’re CrunchTime Games, you release an updated version of Subspace– which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Subspace was a good game and it’s due for an update, but it’s the sort of thing that’s completely useless if you don’t have a Gold subscription.

Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball (XBLA)
You know everything you need to know about this by reading the title. Various internet memes come to life to play dodgeball, made all the more tragic for the lack of the Will It Blend Guy. Looks harmless enough, but what would compel a person to purchase this over Castle Crashers?

Tony Dungy Simulator ’09! (PS3, 360)

(not seen:  Jesus smiting Rex Grossman, Peyton Manning being awesome, Tom Brady hanging Super Bowl rings off his lingham.)

I’m not sure why something like this isn’t rolled into the yearly Madden updates, but that’s assuming EA would ever need to expend effort to sell Madden.

Facebreaker (PS3, 360) Facebreaker KO Party (Wii)
There’s no reason for a boxing game to exist on any other platform than the Wii, which leads a person to wonder why the title was split in the first place.

Fading Shadows (PSP)
There’s two reasons you’ve not heard of this: one, it’s a PSP game being sold exclusively by Gamestop (a breach of logic and common sense that’s a hallmark of Agetec); secondly, it’s Mercury without the accelerometer gimmick. What it lacks in a defensible sales model or gameplay, it makes up for in a plot that came from the darkest recesses of a Mortal Kombat fanfic writer’s meth-addled id:


Evil is afoot and the villainous Master Gardal has diabolical plans. With the aid of his faithful minions Quiph and Morg, he intends to conquer the famed Castle of Heaven… the supreme fortress built to protect the world from forces of darkness. The only way for Gardal to breach the castle gates is by sacrificing the pure, untainted soul of Erwyn, a young boy mentioned in a millennia-old prophecy. Gardal and his minions have already captured the boy and imprisoned him inside a dungeon to await execution. Yet Gardal didn’t count on the help of Aira, Erwyn’s clairvoyant sister. To save her brother, Aira has sealed Erwyn’s soul within a single teardrop and transformed the teardrop into a protective orb. Now, in order to free her brother she must safely guide the orb into the Castle of Heaven using a magical beam of light. Unfortunately, sending the beam of light to Erwyn has used all of Aira’s strength and she cannot control it any longer… Will you help her?

The copy editor must’ve wrote this under the impression he was working on a White Wolf RPG before was told to work the play mechanics for Marble Madness into the plot.

NEXT WEEK:

Spore! Confirms/denies evolution/Intelligent Design!

Zoids Assault! Its existence confuses and angers me!

Yakuza 2! Gives us false hope in Sega!

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Posted by nfinit on August 29, 2008

Upcoming 8-30-08

Yakul from last week’s comments mentioned that this could well be the worst worst generation for software ever– and judging from my cynical dismissal for everything other than Castle Crashers, you may think I share that opinion. But I believe we’re receiving some genuinely great titles, from No More Heroes to Bioshock to Fallout 3– but it seems there’s more dross to sort through than previous console generations, and the crap that’s there isn’t even interesting crap.

But this generation is far from the worst. Ignoring the 2600 and the Crash that it created, I’d say we’re doing better now The 16 bit era, something we treat as sacrosanct, lauding luminaries such as Chrono Trigger while ignoring Bubsy the Bobcat and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective.

Yes, there’s a lot of crap this generation, but it’s crap that’s recognizable and avoidable and not masquerading as triple-A titles. There’s also a greater diversity of games this gen as compared to the endless string of mascot platformers on the Genesis and SNES.

Finally, (and this may be only my own experience talking)I think games this generation provide a far greater value than years before. The NES/SNES eras and even most of the PS1 cycle were still largely driven by the arcade, a model that gave us $50-70 games that lasted less than a weekend. Publishers were forced to counter the rental market by increasing difficulty to the point where only the most skilled were able to enjoy the entertainment investment they’d made. And while such logic still exists to some degree, it’s now possible for even a novice gamer to garner full enjoyment from GTA 4.

Also, I’ve been reminded that Castlevania: The Next One will be arriving on DS later this year. I retract my statement, then: Instead of Chrono Trigger being the only noteworthy title on the DS field from here until– well, whenever– there’s Chrono Trigger and Castlevania SOTN VI.

I’m pulling this update out early this week as for some inexplicable reason Mercenaries 2 is releasing on Sunday. I suppose that makes sense in that it allows to celebrate Labor Day by blowing up Venezuelans in many unique and hilarious ways, but now we’re just madly refreshing Cheapass Gamer in hopes that Best Buy breaks street date.

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PS3, PS2?!, 360)

You may be asking why Mercenaries 2 so important that I’m willing shuffling around my busy drug-and-supermodel-oriented schedule to bring us this update a full forty eight hour earlier than normal Well, I’ll tell you.

In Mercenaries 2, you can hijack a helicopter, pick up another tank (also likely hijacked) and then use that tank while being flown around via helicopter.

Forget your opera house scenes, your colossi, your hours of meticulously scripted codec conversations– this is the defining point of gaming, and I’m not sure if there’s any where further to go once atop this precipice. Mercenaries 2 will simultaneously save our generation and destroy it. There’s no need to keep the wheezing husk Western civilization around any longer. Soon the world economies will be driven toward one goal– transmitting the binary data of Mercenaries 2 to the distant stars, in hopes of spreading this game’s wisdom, virus-like, to the cosmos.

Hopefully the lack of review scores and initial impressions doesn’t mean this game is going to suck, as I’ve already cashed out my 401k for a microbus, two hundred pounds of pot and all the zig-zags to be found in Astoria.

Infinite Undiscovery (360)

It’s by Tri-Ace, the Valkyrie Profile guys, so that’s a good sign. And while it’s doing some interesting new stuff with stealth gameplay and a party system that makes use of it’s entire cast, 1up is complaining of it’s Wii-level graphics and the plot is your basic “keep big bad from becoming god” JRPG trope. But I’m more troubled by Squeenix’s continued inability to create characters that don’t look like absolute poofs:

It’s sort’ve hard to connect with a guy wearing a muffin on top of his head, y’know? Amano’s stuff was less frilly than this, and his characters had more estrogen than a CLAMP anime. As I don’t keep on top of JRPGs, can a kind reader please explain why anyone would chose this over Tales of Vesperia other than the Squeenix logo on the front of the box?

Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise (360)

Rare didn’t make the case to 360 owners first game in this series and the followup doesn’t look like anything remotely what they’d be interested either. Which is a roundabout way of saying this Isn’t Meant For Us, but you wonder who it’s meant for at all. The market VP2 is targeting just isn’t ever going to be within the 360’s sphere and a single series isn’t going to expand that market to where the system becomes attractive to parents of 12 year olds.

Warhammer: Battle March (360)

Speaking of target audiences– this is an expanded version of the Warhammer PC game Mark of Chaos, a middling quality quasi-RTS with a number of quality control issues. Hopefully those have been cleared up for the 360, But at $60 it’s hard to make the case for a two year old PC RTS that plays like point and click Dynasty Warriors. If Namco had released this at $40 they may have generated some middling interest and maybe provided a vehicle for DLC. As it stands the most sales this will produce will be from the used bin.

Rapala Fishing (Wii, 360)

Fooled you!

Shred Nebula (XBLA)

How do you follow up something as critically acclaimed as Braid, something as anticipated as Castle Crashers, something with the nostalgic weight of Bionic Commando ReArmed? If you’re CrunchTime Games, you release an updated version of Subspace– which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Subspace was a good game and it’s due for an update, but it’s the sort of thing that’s completely useless if you don’t have a Gold subscription.

Pirates vs Ninjas Dodgeball (XBLA)

You know everything you need to know about this by reading the title. Various internet memes come to life to play dodgeball, made all the more tragic for the lack of the Will It Blend Guy. Looks harmless enough, but what would compel a person to purchase this over Castle Crashers?

Tony Dungy Simulator ’09! (PS3, 360)

(not seen: Jesus smiting Rex Grossman; Peyton Manning being awesome, Tom Brady hanging Super Bowl rings off his lingham)

I’m not sure why something like this isn’t rolled into the yearly Madden updates, but that’s assuming EA would ever need to expend effort to sell Madden.

Facebreaker (PS3, 360) Facebreaker KO Party (Wii)

There’s no reason for a boxing game to exist on any other platform than the Wii, which leads a person to wonder why the title was split in the first place.

Fading Shadows (PSP)

There’s two reasons you’ve not heard of this: one, it’s a PSP game being sold exclusively by Gamestop (A breach of logic and common sense that’s a hallmark of Agetec); secondly it’s Mercury without the accelerometer gimmick. What it lacks in a defensible sales model or gameplay, it makes up for in a plot that came from the darkest recesses of a Mortal Kombat fanfic writer’s meth-addled id:

Evil is afoot and the villainous Master Gardal has diabolical plans. With the aid of his faithful minions Quiph and Morg, he intends to conquer the famed Castle of Heaven… the supreme fortress built to protect the world from forces of darkness. The only way for Gardal to breach the castle gates is by sacrificing the pure, untainted soul of Erwyn, a young boy mentioned in a millennia-old prophecy. Gardal and his minions have already captured the boy and imprisoned him inside a dungeon to await execution. Yet Gardal didn’t count on the help of Aira, Erwyn’s clairvoyant sister. To save her brother, Aira has sealed Erwyn’s soul within a single teardrop and transformed the teardrop into a protective orb. Now, in order to free her brother she must safely guide the orb into the Castle of Heaven using a magical beam of light. Unfortunately, sending the beam of light to Erwyn has used all of Aira’s strength and she cannot control it any longer… Will you help her?

The copy editor must’ve wrote this under the impression he was working on a White Wolf RPG before was told to work the play mechanics for Marble Madness into the plot.

NEXT WEEK:

Spore! Confirms/denies evolution/Intelligent Design!

Zoids Assault! It’s existence confuses and angers me!

Yakuza 2! Gives us false hope in Sega!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Posted by nfinit on August 24, 2008

Upcoming 8-26-08

Following an unprecedented 12 month span where no games were released or announced I, your faithful servant, return to warn you about what you should under no circumstance spend money on this coming Wednesday. Luckily for your 401k, despite a relative heavy deluge of gaming this week nary a single one is worth venturing forth from your impoverished hovel to obtain.

Playstation 2

DT Carnage PS2 Racing

Not a lot of information exists on DT Carnage, including review scores– the few things to be found other the standard PR palbum is it’s price– $15, and it’s publisher, Agetec. Which is more than sufficient evidence for anyone with any self respect to ask themselves why they’re purchasing videogames at a Wal-Mart.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli

A racing game with four times as many names as car makes, Ferrari Stradale Challenge Truffle Profiterole reeks of the same sort of cash-in mentality that brought us Ford Racing and Corvette Challenge. Of course, Ferrari are remarkable whores, so this should come as little surprise, you’d just have rather they would have had more dignity than to farm out the Prancing Horse to a developer who’s last game of any note was Impossible Mission. For the Wii.

Shining Dragon

At first glance this would appear to be another in Sega’s endless attempts to wring blood from the Shining series stone without having to actually bother making something resembling a Shining game. But no, it’s a piece of anime fighting fluffery based off something called “Ikki Tousen”. If you should happen to be an “Ikki Tousen” fan, this probably means something to you, if not this game shouldn’t mean anything to you either, unless you’re willing to drop $14 on an end-of-cycle Japanese 2d fighter that’ll probably sell 10,000 copies and– Oh who am I kidding, I may as well preorder now. Maybe there’s an LE with an Ikki Tousen mousepad or something.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09

If you’re the type of person who buys golf games, you’re probably not the type of person that reads review scores to golf videogames, and you’re certainly not the type of person that reads articles talking about review scores to golf videogames. Like you weren’t going to buy this anyway.

Playstation 3

Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty

This would appear to be a downloadable standalone expansion for Whichever Rachet and Clank Was the Last One, which in itself is a rather neat idea, after all it’s nice to see aftermarket content for something that isn’t an FPS or racer, and a 360 owner, I’d like to see more stuff along these lines come to Live. PS3 owners however, probably aren’t thrilled to receive what amounts to an utterly mediocre map pack for a series that has snuck it’s way into becoming Sony’s flagship franchise. But it’s either this or spend more money on song packs.

Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice

So this is interesting, if not exactly good. What we have here is a sequel to Disgaea– an critically overlooked strategy RPG that quickly became a cult hit among the weeaboo set– transported over to the PS3 with little gained from the process other than higher resolution sprites. Which in itself isn’t all that bad– after all, if there’s anything we need more of is turn-based RPGs in the vein of Shining Force– But you have to question Atlus’ sanity, seeing that the vast majority of their fans have as yet seen little reason to upgrade to a PS3, and reasons diminishing by the day. Even the horrific spectacle of Disgaea mutilated to fit on the Nintendo DS will sell more than this.

Vampire Rain: Altered Species

I don’t know how you can combine Metal Gear Solid and vampires and make a bad game out of it, much less a horrible one, but Artoon managed to do so and now they’re hoping they can catch, shell-shocked PS3 owners unawares as well. Eighteen months might buy you a new subtitle and better box art, but the shame still shines through.

In addition the PS3 will receive versions of Tiger Woods ’09 and Ferrari Tourino Fratelli Garbanzo Trebuchet– Set your resolution to 1080p and re-read what I wrote beforehand.

Wii

Mario Super Sluggers

Remember that Mario baseball game Namco made for the ‘cube? No, of course you don’t, it’s a Mario baseball game, even the most slavish of Nintendo devotees have to be reminded of it’s existence. Well, this is that, but with waggle tacked to one end, sealed in shrinkwrap and shoved in the face of the Wii Sports set in the hopes none of them played Mario Superstar Baseball either. And of course, they won’t have, and of course it’ll sell thirteen million copies.

Freddi Fish: The Case of The Missing Kelp Seeds

Like I’m Even Going to Bother.

Margot’s Word Brain

The only way this could be even marginally interesting is if it were “Margo’s Brain Rot”. Moving right along…

Pajama Sam: Don’t Fear the Dark

Now you’re just screwing with me, Nintendo, there’s no way you actually allow–

Spy Fox In Dry Cereal

So this would appear to be Fail Week for Nintendo, as we skip NES quality standards and go right for Chase the Chuckwagon territory. If you’re reading this next week and hear me talking about General Custer Wii, upgrade your videocards.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play

Take my last Tiger Woods comment, pull the resolution back down to 480p and combine it with the entry for Mario Super Sluggers. Then get rid of all that, as golf is a sport that actually makes sense for Wii functionality, and EA has assigned it’s head development team Tiburon to this title, unlike every other damned time they’ve make a Wii game and left it to languish to three guys with a PS2 SDK in a garage somewhere in Austin, Texas without air conditioning. With a major developer treating a Wii platform title as it’s flagship SKU for the series, perhaps we’ll finally see a renaissance in third par–

Kidz Sports: Crazy Mini Golf

—nevermind.

Xbox 360


Crash Time: Autobahn Pursuit

I have no clue what this thing is, and no one outside of IGN does either, and all they’re doing is regurgitating the official PR docs. But apparently it’s a chase game– whatever the hell a “case game” may entail– that’s associated in some way with a German action TV show. It’s thirty bucks and by the screenshots would appear to involve German armored personnel carriers in some fashion and while it sounds hard to imagine how you can make a bad game out of that, we’ve already went over Vampire Rain today. The fact that the developer’s last game of any note was something called “World Racing 2”– I guess “General Racing Product 2005” wasn’t spartan enough– doesn’t help alleviate my concerns. But it is my understanding that ramps are involved.

Tales of Vesperia

The 360– despite all logic, common sense and wishes of the larger gaming public– remains the go-to system for next gen roleplaying games. Which, you know, would be great news for Microsoft if this were 1997 and it were possible to sell a videogame system based on the amount of support Square/Enyx throws your way. I’ve never played a Tales game, I guess if you’re into this sort’ve thing you already know if you’re going to buy it or not.

(While we’re here–Vesperia? At least Symphonia had a recognizable root word. This sounds like it was bankrolled by a prescription lung decongestant)

Castle Crashers

Unless you’re the remarkably rare confluence of hardcore gamer and golf enthusiast, this is undoubtedly game of the week, maybe even game of the month if Mercenaries 2 winds up sucking wind. My fellow Live Arcade subscribers have been waiting since 2006 for this title, patiently ignoring the fact that if it’d be on any other online network we’d have spent the past six months playing this bastard child of Knights of the Round and Alien Hominid into the ground as it cleared Microsoft certification. My only real concern for this title– other than if it’s worth dropping $15 bucks on if you’re not a subscriber to Live Gold– is the difficulty level vs Behemoths’ last game, the aforementioned Alien Hominid. It’s as yet unclear if Behemoth knows how to build a fun game, even if that game looks like it can’t possibly go wrong.

Nintendo DS

The DS is the usual swamp of shovelware this week, littered with luminaries such as “My Chinese Coach” and “Sims 2 Apartment Pets” and a friggin’ Digimon title of all things. But there is a new Harvest Moon game out for it this week, as well as N+ finally moving to the platform it was destined for. And if you haven’t bought Bangai-O Spirits yet, do so. Otherwise 2008 is looking dire up until Chrono Trigger.

PSP

The Week in PSP in summary:

At least Nintendo can keep a certain air of dignity about itself as it diligently goes about it’s task of destroying the industry.

Next Week!

Mercenaries 2! FINNISH MADMEN BLOW THE FUCK OF VENEZUELA!
Infinite Undiscovery! HAS A NAME THAT MAKES NO SENSE!
Rapala Fishing Frenzy DOESN’T GET TALKED ABOUT AT ALL!

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