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

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 11-11-09

Posted by nfinit on November 10, 2009

Pop’N Music

Despite the plain-Jane name, this is actually the fifteenth Pop’n Music title for Konami, albeit the first to make its way to North America.  Sadly, it looks to continue Konami’s fine tradition of innovating games in the music genre while simultaneously wholly unable to capitalize on the success of rhythm games in North America– In Pop N’ Music Wii’s case, Konami’s taken this arcade proven, wildly successful control scheme:

and tried to make it work with this….
….with predictable results.  Instead gameplay based on frenetic button-slapping action, you wind up with ineffectual flailing about, which makes it virtually impossible to be sure which button you’re supposed to be activating at any given time.  The game adjusts for this by allowing you to just flail around and hit anything– which is fine, but the whole “waggle vaguely in time with music” thing has been done on the Wii already, by no less than Miyamoto himself-

And even  Nintendo couldn’t get it to make money.

At least Konami isn’t ditching the J-pop this time around, even if they are trying to shoehorn the gameplay into feel-good standards like ABC and Loveshack.  But on the whole it doesn’t feel like Konami’s learned anything at all from Rock Revolution.

The wierd part about this whole excercise is that they probably could have made this idea work outstandingly well on the DS.

Call of Duty 6:  Modern Warfare 2

Everything you need to know about this game you already know, and thanks to Gamestop’s rather liberal interpretation of the term “street date” there’s a goo chance that if you were going to buy this game you’ve already beaten it.
So I’m not going to change anyone’s mind on the subject when I say that while I can respect that CoD6:MW2 is no doubt a technically outstanding game, I don’t think there’s a bit of actual art involved anywhere in its development.  This goes beyond the obvious contempt Infinity Ward holds for its player base– I just think the entire endeavor is as corporate and soulless as the multibillion dollar behemoth that spawns each year’s iteration.  They’re a very cynical, formulaic type game from a very cynical, formulaic company.
All this said, I won’t hold it against anyone that does enjoy this sort of thing– I don’t get sports games or dating sims, either.  But I do believe that giving Activision money at this point actively harms gamers and gives the industry the wrong sort of idea.  So take that for what you will.
Spectral Force Genesis
Holy shit yes, Sega finally came to it’s senses and–
Well that’s nowhere near as fun.
Well wait, I take that back; Spectral Force Genesis actually looks like it might be interesting– There’s not a whole lot of info on the DS version of this traditionally Japanese-only strat series (most updates report befuddlement that the game was ever translated at all), but what little is out there makes this sound a lot like the classic Sega CD strategy RPG Dragon Force in that you pick a nation, build your army and take over the map while defending against other hostile nations and negotiating diplomatic treaties with whomever you’re not currently sacking or being sacked by.
Of course, the game might also be terrible; there’s just not a lot of information floating out there.  But it looks intriguing; and between this, Muramasa, Nostalgia and Fatal Fury 12, Ignition Entertainment is putting together a pretty nice string of quality niche Japanese imports.
Kenka Bancho:  Badass Rumble
When a game’s title translates to Wandering Badass:  Badass Rumble, I am duty-bound to report on it.  And as awesome as the name is, the concept is even better:  This is a surly teenage Japanese badass sim; sorta like what would happen if you crossed Godhand with Harvest Moon, but somehow even more insane and Japanese than that.
That said, it’s hard to tell if this game is going to be any good or not– Okay, chances are it’s going to be terrible– But you have to admit the premise is pretty fantastic.  Basically you spend your time wandering around a Generic Japanese City taking over school territories, beating up on local toughs, and macking with the ladies- all the while building up your badass skills to become the premiere badass in all the land.
Of course, it’s also clunky and largely incomprehensible and makes you wish the concept had been thought of by a developer with the wherewithal (and platform) to better flesh the idea out– bit now that the idea is out there, maybe someone like Rockstar will take the idea and use it for Bully 2.
Phantasy Star Zero

Phantasy Stars that are based on Phantasy Star Online and not the Master System/Genesis Phantasy Star games cause me to bleed out the eyes and black out from pure manifest rage, so I’m not capable of judging this correctly.  If you’re one of the sick, sick people who enjoyed PS Online and always wanted more, then you’ll love this as it removes PSO’s storyline and subscription system and basically gives you the straight MMO monster-hunting romp that’s become popular with… well, Monster Hunter.  And while I suppose it makes sense for Sega to build upon Monster Hunter’s popularity by tagging the concept wit Phantasy Star Online, I just can’t begin to care about this. I want Phantasy Star and Shining Force back and I’m tired of seeing whatever new flavor of the month psudo-RPG mechanic hijacking their good names.
I guess what I’m saying here is that this is worse than 10 Modern Warfare 2s.  If you buy this, I hate you.
Harvest Moon:  Animal Parade

Or as I like to call it, Harvest Moon:  Dirty Carney Edition.  This time around you’re tasked with rounding up escaped circus animals that broke loose from a traveling troupe and forcing them to breed– which seems excessively cruel.  Also presumably your town is now infested with dirty, dirty carnies.  Luckily, you’re also allowed to marry a wizard and/or a witch, which may allow you to use dark Romani majiks to cast out the carnies at the cost of filling your town full of Gypsies.  So to recap– Sex with pagans; persecution of carnies; riding around on elephants– if you buy one Harvest Moon in your entire life this is probably the Harvest Moon you should be buying.

Harvest Moon:  Sunshine Islands

The problem with the Harvest Moon games is that by this point they’ve become utterly incomprehensible from the outside looking in.  Even the media for upcoming Harvest Moon games has become a matter of “here’s a new Harvest Moon, buy it already” without a scrap of useful information outside of something about islands and a plush pig.

I mean, if you’re a Harvest Moon Person, you probably look at something like this:

And utter tiny little squeals of glee, but the rest of us just sorta shrug and make jokes about Julia’s boobs.

I can say one thing with utter conviction regarding tomorrow’s two Harvest Moon games– In terms of pre-order bonuses, Animal Parade is getting the shaft.  At Gamestop, pre-ordering Animal Parade gets you this handsome, albeit rather staid stuffed duck:

Prospective Sunshine Island owners however, get a pimp stuffed pig!

So I guess what I’m saying here is that if you were going to buy one of these it probably should have been Sunshine Islands and it should have been a week ago.  And also yes, these two count as my child friendly picks of the week, nonstop Pagan orgies aside.

Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2 Part 2: Reflex

‘sup, Lithtech

Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2 Part 3:  Mobilized

Which brings us to the rather embarrassing situation of a DS port of a PS360 game having comparable graphics to, if not better than, the Wii port of samesaid PS360 game.

While the complete and total lack of gameplay impressions doesn’t bode well, this is at least done by the same n-space guys that ported World at War to the DS, and that apparently turned out well enough, and this looks to be More Of That.  Also, hey:

They’re the Geist guys!

I’m trying to figure out how this works, and near as I can tell it’s Pokemon, but with a heavy Victorian England flavor and with dragons.  Which means it’s either fantastic if you have kids into this sort of thing, or a trainwreck.  I cannot begin to attest to the game’s quality, however.  No gameplay video exists as near as I can tell, and the only media that I can find is the official trailer:

It’s even unclear if you’ll be able to buy the game this week.  Gamestop, where I get release date information from, swears it’s coming out the 10th, whereas Amazon is convinced it’s not releasing until next June.

TMNT:  Arcade Attack

These guys managed to fuck up the SNES Turtles In Time remake for Xbox Live Arcade, there’s no reason to think that they’ll do a better job with a brand new game.  Also for some insane reason it’s using clunky DS 3d instead of hand-drawn sprites.  Pass.

(on another note, as long as we’re trying to do “serious” TMNT games again, isn’t it time someone tried a Devil May Cry-type game with this license?  That should work, right?)

Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage

Remember when Shaun White was relevant?  That was a fun 3 days.  This, meanwhile, is what it is– If you’ve been craving SSX or 1080 (and really, why haven’t we had a new SSX or 1080?) then you’ll like this.  Also if you’re looking for the PS360 version of Shawn White this year you’re SOL.

System Flaw

Ordinarily this would just be another generic DS action title relegated to the pile of crap I don’t want to talk about this week, but there’s one thing that bears mention:

This represents North America’s first ever DSi-only game.  So thanks for that, Storm City.

Also, System Flaw Guy gets around a lot:


Ultimate Party Challenge
Wedding Dash
Hot Wheels: Battle Force Five
Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus
Chaotic:  Shadow Warriors
Style Lab:  Makeover
Petz Nursery
Team Elimination Games
Style Lab:  Jewlery Design

Dragon Ball: Raging Blast

Dragon Ball:  Attack of the Saiyans


5 Responses to “Wallet Abuse Wednesday 11-11-09”

  1. Drafin said

    I get the distinct impression that you don’t like anything made in the last 10 years or is not from another country… LOL


  2. nfinit said

    Not at all! Actually, I think Japan has rather stagnated over the last console gen; the Wii and the failure of the PS3 has confused the Japanese development industry and forced them to either make terrible Wii games or PS360 stuff that can’t make money.

    Arkham Asylum is probably my game of the year– the only thing I can see supplanting that right now is Dragon Age: Origins. All the games I like are being made by Americans right now– It’s just frustrating to see so much money being sunk into the same tired formula that is Call of Duty and it’s ilk.

    The only new, interesting stuff right now seems to be coming from small Japanese devs making stuff for the DS and PSP. And that’s not an indication that American games are bad, it’s just that everyone’s been in a holding pattern and waiting to see if it’s possible to make money as a 3rd party Wii developer or if they should wait for Sony’s next system.

  3. Drafin said

    >>>It’s just frustrating to see so much money being sunk into the same tired formula that is Call of Duty and it’s ilk.

    Personally, (not that you asked or anything :) ) IMHO it’s just like any other market. People will buy Madden, a new Guitar Rock Hero Band World Tour Sold Out, and Call of Duty every year so that’s where development bucks go. It’s why there are no “innovative” MMORPG games being designed. They all are in the Everquest/WoW type of setting, with no new game play options.

    It all falls back to making what people will buy. Ever wonder why there are tons of wrestling, hunting, and fishing games? Because if they make them at a low enough price point people buy them unfortunately.

    Companies tend to go where the money is.

    (in the course of full disclosure to anyone reading this I play CoD and Madden)

  4. Viator said

    This week’s gem for me was Torchlight. I like that a nobody-publisher made a solid game that spread mostly on word-of-mouth and sold a ton of copies– mostly thanks to the blessings of a Penny-Arcade comic.

  5. nfinit said

    @Viator: Torchlight looks pretty great. Whatever MMO they’re building on that ought to be fantastic.

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