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

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 11-4-09

Posted by nfinit on November 2, 2009

It’s weeks like this that make me wonder what Holiday ’09 would look like if Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2 hadn’t exposed videogame marketing execs as enormous pussies with no confidence at all in their company’s product. Would I have spent my paid time off this week and dedicated it to Bayonetta instead of playing Forza 3 all last week? I’ve played the Japanese demo; the only thing it needed was menu translation and ESRB clearance (Hint: MA-17). Is this the week I’d get to make fun of the utter superfiousness of Bioshock 2?

We are eight weeks away from Christmas and there is one quality game release this week. One. And that’s Dragon Age, a game you’re far better off buying for the PC if you can run it.
So on with the brave, (mostly) awful few who’ve decided to do battle with Modern Warfare 2– most of which in no way overlap with a bog-standard FPS set in modern-day Afghanistan, but then neither does Heavy Rain and that didn’t keep SCEA running like a scalded dog into 2010.

I promised friend of the blog and former Queen of Caid Sue that I’d try to include at least one child friendly game in my weekly rundown– and I’m sort of cheating here as there’s maybe four games I actually want to talk about this week and Rock Band Lego happens to be one of them, but it’s either this or Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Grooves and a man has to maintain some amount of pride in his work. So this one is for Teh Bug.

It would be easy for me to go over what you probably already know about this game, mainly that it’s the most child/family/beginner-friendly guitar game ever attempted. I mean, they even to so far as to make an Easy Mode that goes beyond Easy Mode, just requiring an input of some sort while at note passes in order to get credit for striking that note. But the game also has a number of neat touches like automatically importing your existing (an appropriate) RB1 and RB2 for Lego use, collecting Lego bricks to construct your own Rock Den (although curiously no mention of building your own instruments) and rock battles vs giant evil robots. It even accounts for budding drummers too short to reach the kick pedal. Ignore that noise. What you need to know is that all that is just plausible cover for what this game is really about:
Lego David Bowie, bitches. If you want your impressionable young foundlings to date super models, perform private concerts for British royalty and pull off an amazingly convincing Nikola Tesla– and for fuck’s sake why wouldn’t you–, buy them this game. Just, y’know, warn them of the dangers of admitting bisexuality to the American press.
BAND HERO (PS3/360/Wii)
Activision’s * Hero franchise continues it’s valiant struggle against relevancy. In an attempt to produce it’s own child/family/beginner Rock Band clone they’ve managed to produce something a lamer and more obviously pandering product that doesn’t even involve rocking out on pirate ships constructed of Danish polystyrene building blocks.
How weak does Band Hero look in the face of Lego Rock Band?  Searching for “Band Hero” in Google results in all of three returns for the actual game before Google gives up and starts giving you results for Rock Band instead. And it should be noted that the full name for Band Hero as given by Activision is “Band Hero Featuring Taylor Swift”. That’s right. You’re paying sixty bucks for Guitar Hero: Taylor Swift.
In the event I haven’t made my point clear enough: Guitar Hero as a franchise may be facing serious problems. Guitar Hero 5– Touted as Neversoft’s “Strongest Guitar Hero yet” by Activision PR– was soundly trounced in last month’s National Public Diary sales reports despite Activision giving away Guitar
Hero Van Halen for free with every GH5 box sold for the month.
Of course, this may be a reflection of a larger issue– the marked decline in sales of the Guitar Whatever genre as a whole. Turns out when you churn out over a dozen titles inside of five years that people stop caring about that product. Who knew? I mean it’s not like we had any precedent for that sort of–
I was going to make fun of this, but selling six million copies seems justification enough for a Director’s Cut edition. Kinda a dick move by Lucas Arts not to sell all the Sith Edition content to existing Force Unleashed owners as DLC, but if Lucas had any clue what they were doing we’d all be playing new Tie Fighter games.
Pricing is interesting on this game– Lucasarts wants to sell Sith Edition for forty bucks– sounds like a good deal, it includes the original edition plus all downloadable content and two new levels. But the original game is being sold for $24 used, and this release will only serve to depress that market further. If you’ve waited this long for Force Unleashed, are two new levels worth what’ll probably wind up a twenty dollar difference between the two games? Â Probably not. Knowing this, why doesn’t Lucas just sell the silly thing for twenty dollars and it impossible to make money off the used version? I mean, you’d think Lucasarts has someone on staff who’s supposed to make these sort of informed decisions; I’m just some guy with a laptop and a working URL to Gamestop.

Finally, Bioware returns to making old-fashioned, hard-as-nails Fuck You Western Role Playing Games and thank god for it. Not that Mass Effect or Knights of the Old Republic weren’t fine WRPGS, mind you, but sometimes you just want goblins and dungeons and swords with stat bonuses and not have to suffer through a crippled first person shooter to get to that point.
Much like Borderlands a couple weeks ago, this game seems like the sort of thing you almost feel bad playing on the console; but there’s no way my ancient Athlon 64 can hope to run Dragon Age and I know the 360 version will Just Work. That said, if you own a PC that meets the minimum specs, please play that instead. Â There’s no way to console-fy a dungeon crawler enough to make it work quite right, and at any rate Bioware has actually optimized the experience for KBAM, which, when you consider how heavily skewed towards the console Mass Effect and KOTOR were, tells you something of what Bioware’s trying to do here.
EDIT:  DiabloFett of The Platformers has informed me that the console version of DA is indeed optimized for console controller use, which is excellent news for people too cheap (hi!) to buy a new motherboard already.  But having played the demo at NYCC ’09, it still feels very much like an old school Bioware PC WRPG, which was the point I was rather feebly attempting to make.  At any rate, there’s no reason to hesitate buying this if all you want to play it on is your PS360, so go nuts.
As a purist, games like this annoy me in that there’s nothing you can do to a ’69 Charger and expect it to hang with a Lamborghini Revington in a course that involves anything other than a perfectly straight line. But then, that’s not the point of Nitro– As a Wii/DS arcade version of a more “serious” EA HD console title (in this case Need For Speed Shift on 360/PS3) the point is to be half-assed an “casual friendly” and pandering to the Wii crowd in the very worst way. In short, it’ll be cheap; not-fun; vaguely insulting to anyone who wanted a “real” game on their Wii and sell for shit.
EA simply refuses to take the Wii market seriously, and as a result they’ve been unable to get major titles like Madden and Dead Space to rise above the background noise of Wii shovelware titles. Meanwhile Capcom has sold over 750,000 copies of Monster Hunter 3 in Japan, and the only thing that’ll keep it from being huge in America will be Capcom fucking up and charging a subscription.
This is all the more confounding when you realize that Nitro, handled properly, would probably do far, far better on the HD consoles than Shift will ever do; mainly as there’s not been a good Burnout-like arcade racer on the 360/PS3 since… well, the last Burnout game, and that was released nearly two years ago. Meanwhile the only arcade racer Wii owners care about involves the judicious application of Blue Shells
I’m convinced this is either going to be the DS GOTY or an epic, godawful embarrassment. There’s no middle ground for this game. Â On one hand; Chinatown Wars taught us that open world crime games can be done on the DS and done exceptionally well, on the other the production values just screams “twenty dollar Wal-Mart exclusive” I mean, just look at the game’s official trailer:
In between a dozen alternating “that looks awesome/that looks retarded” moments, check out around 1:10, where your guy’s gun rotates about in his palm like a dowsing rod. And the devs are okay with showing that in official press material!
More distressing is that the developer apparently hasn’t done anything since V-Rally for the Gameboy Advance. I dunno, maybe they’ve been pouring every spare amount of manpower into this release, but the lack of standard shovelware guys like Wayforward release to keep their heads above water between milestone releases is bothersome.

Remember when Star Wars games were events and not annoying afterthoughts that prove impossible to find hard information on? This isn’t even the premiere Star Wars release of the week; and that honor belongs to a re-release of a year mediocre FPS. Does anyone care about this?
Speaking of afterthoughts.  Moving on…
Yup. That’s some soccer games alright.
Look, what do you want from me? It’s hard enough for me to muster interest in videogames of sports I actually care about, there’s no way I you can reasonably expect me to care about a soccer game enough to do research. Soccer is so alien to my American Football is Football state of mind that I cannot possibly think of something that could make me interested in The Beau—
Ha! Nice try Pele, but I don’t care about Harry Potter, either!*
(*note: Hermione x Ginny slashfic notwithstanding)
On first glance this appears to be a bog-standard Dreamcast-quality Wii Fishing game, but closer inspection reveals–
That’s Aksys! The Guilty Gear guys! Also the blatantly homeo-erotic Cho Anki! What does this mean for you, the gamer? Fucked up transsexual Japanese fishing action! The fact that Play-Asia is trying to sell this thing for $50 only confirms my suspicions–Hooked Again! is going to be ten kinds of perverted and I wholeheartedly recommend it as my Wii Game of the Week.
Style Savvy
Sushi Academy
My Baby First Steps
Imagine: Babyz Fashion
Dora The Explorer Puppy playtime
Reader Rabbit Kindergarten
Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom
We Cheer 2
Dream Salon
DDR: Disney Grooves
A Christmas Carol
Food Network: Cook or be cooked
Ultimate Party Challenge Bundle
DDR: hottest Party
Agatha Crhistie: ABC murders
We Wish You a Merry Christmas

One Response to “Wallet Abuse Wednesday 11-4-09”

  1. Theodosia Skye said

    “Lego David Bowie, bitches. If you want your impressionable young foundlings to date super models, perform private concerts for British royalty and pull off an amazingly convincing Nikola Tesla– and for fuck’s sake why wouldn’t you–, buy them this game. Just, y’know, warn them of the dangers of admitting bisexuality to the American press.”

    Naw, you don’t have to worry so much anymore. In fact, I’m greatly look forward to the day (and it’s coming soon, bwahahaha) where sexual equality will rear it’s shameful head again — a day when MEN will roll their eyes at each other in frustration and annoyance, while two guys at the bar are kissing and not-so-subtly looking around to see how much attention they’re getting.

    Thanks for the Lego Rock Band info, now we’re probably off to pick it up today. :)

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