Videogames, politics, science, all the important things in life.

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 10-21-08

Posted by nfinit on October 21, 2008

Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?: Make the Grade (DS)

This is actually a pretty neat game, as it’s very meta. Here’s how you play:

1: Buy Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader
2: Find a 5th grader with DS
3: If said 5th grader is playing any game other than Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader, you fail.

Back at the Barnyard: Slop Bucket Games (DS)

The existence of Slop Bucket Games raises a number of troubling questions:

*Why does THQ hate us?
* If you’re in the market for Slop Bucket Games, do you consider yourself above the Harvest Moon series?
*Is there an artificial insemination minigame using the stylus as a syringe full of cow semen?
*If not, why?
*Why on earth is this being sold for thirty bucks?

Bioshock (PS3)

It’s good to see the PS3 finally become as viable as the 360–

–from August 2007.

I question if Bioshock can still hold up as a AAA title. I loved the game when it first came out, and consider it GOTY for 2007, but perhaps more than any good game in recent memory, it doesn’t really hold up well after the initial play through. The vaunted Little Sister gameplay mechanic never fully realized itself, and the Big Daddies held little threat after the first five hours of gameplay. It was a game victim to it’s own multitude of options– once you started exploring the levels and gaining weapon upgrades and powerups, the game became almost absurdly easy. But the story and setting are enough to make this must-play material for hardcore gamers, it’s just a shame the game never really lived up to 2k’s own expectations.

Disney Sing It (Wii, PS3, PS2, 360)

I can remember a time back in the 32 bit era where a Disney karaoke game would be contending for the most embarrassing thing to happen to gaming for the entire year, between the N64 shaped like Pikachu and news that Sega was calling their new system the “Dreamcast”. We would stand around the Babbage’s counter, share a laugh about these developments while talking about how awesome Parasite Eve before going home alone to masturbate to jpgs of hentai pornography.

Now I’m not sure I’d be willing to call Sing It the most wince-inducing videogame so far this update.

Eternal Sonata (PS3)

Note to PS3 owners: don’t bother sending out resumes to Ernst and Young.

Fable 2 (360)

I loved the original Fable to death, right up until about the three hour mark where I realized I was basically playing a fenced in Zelda with funny accents. That said, I felt Fable could be a legitimate AAA game if it weren’t for a few fundamental flaws:

* A main quest that lasted all of five hours
* No consequence at all given the lauded good/evil gameplay mechanic
* Three-foot high fences that were impervious to jumping, axes, magic and swearing

To counter these complaints, Peter Moleneux endowed Fable 2 with the following:

* A seven hour long main quest
* Map dog

More distressing to fans of the original game are Moleneux’s pleas to the gamer press to “Please don’t review this game in the same way that a hardcore gamer would. In fact, if you could get non-gamers to review Fable 2, that’d be better. Maybe someone blind and without thumbs. Do you have a dog? Dogs are good. Hey, you remember Dungeon Keeper, right? “

A month ago, Fable 2 was up there on my list of must-buy titles of 2008, along with Fallout 3 and Mirror’s Edge and Prince of Persia: The Next One. Now Fable 2 ranks somewhere between elective spleen removal and purchase of a grocery bag full of skunk anal scent glands.

Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon (PS2, PS3, PSP, 360, Wii, Sinclair ZX Spectrum,– just kidding, it’s not actually on the PSP )

There are some concepts so brain-dead obvious for translation to videogames that developers just can’t get right. Transformers games, for instance. You’d think a game about cars and jets that turn into robots would be a natural for the digital form– but the Mech Game Corollary comes into play and ruins any attempt at creating a decent game of the concept.

Same way with dragon games. They’re huge, breathe fire, fly, eat villagers, generally ruin shit. It seems like they’d be obvious candidates for the basis of good gaming– However, unless the game features Panzer Dragoon in the title, dragon-based games are downright horrible.

So wither the Spyro franchise. which has had sixteen games, five developers, and virtually every game-capable hardware platform to create a single memorable videogame experience, yet when you ask hardcore gamers what we think of the series we’re stuck trying to remember if that was the one with the commercial of a marmoset screaming into a bullhorn outside of Nintendo HQ.

As far as this particular Spyro goes, this is the first game in the series that allows the player to fly at any time during the game– which, I dunno, you’d figure would be the main component of a game series based on being a flying, fire-breathing lizard. It look these people ten friggin’ years to finally think that free flight would be a good idea?

Little Big Planet (PS3)

Media Molecule has exceeded my wildest expectations with this title– If I had to guess any company to finally unleash the Jihad Al-Talib upon gamers, it’d have been Sega. Good work, guys.

Lovely Lisa (DS)

I’d do more research on this title, but I’m positive I’ve been placed on a New York State pedophile watchlist just for looking up the box art on Gamestop.

Master of the Monster Lair (DS)

This would appear to be a combination of Tecmo’s Deception and Monster Lair using the DS, and if hearing that doesn’t cause a tingling in your nether regions then you’re reading the wrong website.

Midnight Club LA (360, PS3)

I’m not really sure what Midnight Club is doing anymore that Need for Speed doesn’t do every single year.

But it’s a dry year for quality racers, and it’s not like Rockstar makes bad games. That said, you’d think Rockstar would be clever enough to figure out a way to include Midnight Club cars in GTA4 and vice versa.

Naruto: Clash of Ninja Revolution 2 (Wii)

Fuck this noise, I’m going to use this paragraph to talk about a real ninja game– Legend of Kage 2 for the DS.

I’ve not been shy in my opinion that ninja games make the very best videogames– even the passing presence of ninjas can largely suffice to make an otherwise annoying and obtuse game kickass, as evidenced by Metal Gear Solid’s Cyberninja.

LoK2 is the very essence of a ninja game– insanely high jumps, air dashes, rampant eviscerations, busty women in improbably loose-fitting gis– add in a giant rock dude and a healthy dose of superfluous bare breasts and you’ve pretty much got Ninja Scroll, the videogame. It’s development was quite obviously a labor of love from Tatio, much like Space Invaders Extreme before it, and it’s presence makes me yearn for the same treatment to be given to Shinobi and Ninja Gaiden and (especially) Strider.

It’s not perfect, but then what is with gaming, especially when you’re dealing with a very deliberate throwback to the 8 bit era– the graphics are sparse, the levels largely interchangable, the DS Lite buttons entirely too small and indistinct for the type of game you’re playing– but it represents what I feel to be the very essence of gaming, and encapsulates so many things of what made me fall in love with the medium that I can easily overlook it’s faults. At twenty bucks we should probably all own it, if for no other reason than to become a little more grounded in an age of Wii Sports and Guitar Hero and Brain Training. This is a videogame, unapologetically so, and something that deserves our attention, if not devotion.

Pass the Pigs (DS)

We now have a videogame based around a game based around tossing rubber pigs on a table and seeing how they land. We’re talking about a mechanic barely a step removed from tossing coins in the air, and THQ is selling it to an unsuspecting public for twenty dollars. A random dice roller is more sophisticated than this game! I don’t know to be horrified or amazed.

Penny Racers Party (Wii)

Prior to filing this report, I had the pleasure of being privy to an exclusive interview with Tomy CEO, Kantaro Tomiyama:

Nfinit: It’s a pleasure to meet someone with such an initmate connection with the industry an how our games are HOLY GOD WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR EYEBALLS?

Tomiyama: Shortly before my company got into the business of producing videogames, I was invited aboard the experimental starship Event Horizon. Upon that ill-fated voyage I saw sights so horrific that I felt compelled to tear my own eyeballs free of their sockets. In unrelated news, I recently promoted myself to Tomy’s Quality Assurance team lead.

Spider-Man: Web of Shadows

Funny thing about Web of Shadows– it may wind up being a better Fable 2 than Fable 2 itself. At the very least it looks like it may actually deliver on a storyline the player has some actual input in the outcome of, and something actually resembling a good/evil mechanic that does more than effect housing prices.

It looks incredibly well-done, which surprises me, as I associate Treyarch more with Call of Duty games and cash-in movie tie-in games than AAA-contender titles. The fact that comic book games have generally sucked since Capcom stopped doing Marvel Vs games doesn’t help its pedigree.

Star Ocean: First Departure (PSP)

The only thing this game does is annoy me that we’re never ever ever ever going to see a proper Phantasy Star V.

Touchmaster II (DS)

Upon closer inspection, this game has absolutely nothing to do with I feel betrayed. And drowsy. But mostly betrayed.

Wii Music (Wii)

I’m not going to get into the argument if Wii Music is or isn’t a game, all I know is it’s a game that I have no interest in whatsoever. But that’s okay, I’m not interested in Beverly Hills Chihuahua either, but it doesn’t keep me from enjoying W.

The larger question is if something like Wii Music– which firmly establishes Nintendo as a lifestyle company instead of a videogame company– is harmful to the industry as a whole. May be. But I know this is also the same industry and same console that allows me to play No More Heroes and Mad World and Mega Man 9, so the damage must be limited in scope– after all, we’re talking about the same industry that generated 13 billion dollars in 2006 while selling Okami and Gears of War and Twilight Princess. There’s simply too much money to be found selling games to hardcore gamers for something like the Wii Music– or the Wii in general, really– to do any sizable, long-term damage.

But you do have to be worried about Nintendo– when Shigero Miyamoto is no longer interested in Zelda as much as he is in flailing his arms vaguely in time with the theme to Zelda, you may have a real, quantifiable problem.


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