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

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 12-30-09

Posted by nfinit on December 30, 2009

Here’s what I don’t understand about the games industry.

Let’s say you’re a game company, maybe your game is I dunno, Mega. And let’s say you have a game that’s finished, pressed, and shipped to stores, just waiting on store shelves. For the sake of argument let’s give our fictitious company’s fictitious game a fictitious name, maybe Layonetta. Now, there’s nothing keeping you from selling this game– indeed, since stacks of this game are just sitting around taking up valuable storage space, they’re kinda a pain in the ass for Gamestop and Best Buy to keep on hand if it’s not actually being sold and making money.

Now let’s say it’s the week after Christmas and you know that maybe Layonetta won’t be a blockbuster, maybe it’s a niche title that needs all the help it can get, that that’s the very reason you’ve been sitting on this game for the past month, living in mortal fear of your game being drowned by the huge Modern Warfare 2/Japanese 3d Gothic Dominatrix crossover market. You know people will be coming back to stores the week after Christmas with gift cards and returning detritus like Guitar Hero 5 for stuff they actually want to play– Your game is full of sex and blood and violence and all sorts of things we love, why not market your game with the line “Get what your really want” and sell to all of these people who already own the big holiday releases?

So in other news, I couldn’t find a single store in NYC willing to sell me Bayonetta. Bastards.

Divine Divinity II: Ego Draconis (360)

One of the disappointing developments of Dragon Age: Origins was that despite the name containing the word “dragon”, the cover art featuring a “dragon” and the game and the universe it inhabits supposedly revolving around dragons, there were all of three dragons in the entire game, two of which were entirely optional fights, one of those two accessible only through a dialog tree.

Not Divine Divinity II: Ego Draconis! Not only is the landscape lousy with dragons, you actually become a dragon halfway through the game! Clearly based purely on the number and variety of dragons to interact with, Divine Divinity II is Dark Fantasy RPG Dragon Game of the Year 2009.

As far as the game itself? It’s an old-school open world action RPG in the mold of Oblivion and Fallout 3, to the point that it’s actually using the same engine Bethesda used to make both of those games. So on those grounds it should be pretty excellent, on the other hand it’s coming from a smallish European developer who’s only ever produced for the PC and who hasn’t released a full-sized, honest-to-god videogame since the lastDivine Divinity back in 2004. So you sorta have to be aware of what you’re getting into before you make the plunge into a huge, meaty fantasy WRPG. If I weren’t still playing Dragon Age, I’d probably be all over this– as it stands, Mass Effect 2 is releasing in a couple weeks, which means by the time I’m finished playing Bioware games and in the mood for another WRPG, Ego Draconis will probably be down to twenty bucks at Gamestop.

That said, if Bioware ain’t your thing yet somehow still love RPGs with that western developed open-world flavor, look into this. Seeing as how the PC version will probably be a buggy mess, this may be one of the very rare cases where a WRPG is best experienced on the consoles.

The Magic Obelisk (Wii)

If you can get past the rather um… troubling… title card, The Magic Obelisk presents what may be a rather insanely great puzzle platformer based around the concept that your guy can only move in shadow and that the player must then manipulate light sources in order to create and stretch shadows to complete each stage. It’s the sort of compact, original concept that we’d never see on an actual disc anymore.

It’s also five bucks and the first original game Game Arts has developed this decade, so maybe you Wii owners ought to buy that. On that note, does anyone know if Nintendo is going out of their way to advertise this at all? This really seems like one of the concepts that could easily be a high profile title for the WiiWare program, and would probably see no small amount of PR money spent by Microsoft if it were to be released on Xbox Live Arcade. It worked well for Braid at any rate, and The Magic Obelisk seems just as worthy.

Learn Chess (DS)

It seems like there should already be a definitive Chess program for the DS, and there’s no way it should be this.

Learn Geography (DS)

Okay 1: Endutainment software never. fucking. works. Either buy your kid a book or buy your kid a game, don’t annoy your kid by spending money on something you both know will maybe see the insides of a DS once before being swapped out for a Pokemon game as soon as your back is turned.

So the only other real reason to own this is 2: You’ve got a nerdy kid who’s yet to have the joy of learning beaten out of their skulls by the education system. Well still don’t buy something like this, as that kid is going to know full well you could have spent that same amount of money on something interesting, like I dunno. An ant farm. Or a radio kit. or a DEAD SCORPION ENCASED IN LUCITE!

Remember: If you have a kid that you think is smart enough to warrant endutainment software, that kid is also smart enough to know when she’s being patronized. Buy the scorpion instead!

Dreamer: Zoo Keeper (DS)

I can’t even. Look kids, if your life’s ambition is to become a heavily sedated zoo keeper then please, buy this. Or a gun. You know, whichever.
I just want to take this minute to point out that, since I started write ups for shovelware, I’ve noticed that Dreamcatcher Interactive is quite possibly the worst thing in the world that doesn’t involve the words “genital”, “mutilation” and “Africa”. Learn Chess, Learn Geography and Dreamer: Zoo Keeper are all Dreamcatcher Interactive… games, if you wish to use that word, and there’s at least an even chance that if you see a DS or Wii shovelware title on Wallet Abuse, it’s a Dreamcatcher Game.
And that chunk of awful rounds out the week. I was hoping there would at least be something from Xbox Live Arcade, it’s the last week for the titles scheduled as releasing this year to come out, so it doesn’t look like we’re ever going to see Samurai Shodown or Earthworm Jim HD come out. Which is sad

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