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)
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.
Spore! Confirms/denies evolution/Intelligent Design!
Zoids Assault! Its existence confuses and angers me!
Yakuza 2! Gives us false hope in Sega!