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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 1-20-10: Whatever you do don’t buy Dark Void!

Posted by nfinit on January 19, 2010

Ordinarily I’d say this was a disastrous week for gaming– three boxed games ship this week, one of which is a glorified Popcap Facebook app, one a bog-standard DS JRPG and the final a hilarious look into Capcom’s continuing inability to come to grips with the HD market.  However, let’s be fair– Mass Effect 2 comes out next week and there’s no reason to buy another game after that, ever.  So this works out well.

So play some more Bayonetta, or spend the week burning through Mass Effect 1 playing an ultra-nationalist right-wing bitch to load up in Mass Effect 2.  Either way, don’t spend money on games released this week!  They’re terrible!
Bejeweled Twist (DS)
I dunno.  I have no doubt Bejeweled Twist is a perfectly respectable puzzle game that might even be worth nineteen bucks, but I look at footage for the thing and think two things:
1:  Bejeweled Twist would be a safecracking minigame in a console game
2:  It’s a fucking Bejeweled game!  Why would you ever play money to play Bejeweled?
But I’m probably bitter because Bejeweled completely overshadowed Popcap’s true early brush at genius– Alchemy.  I spent two years unemployed in the late 90’s mainly because I would spend eight hours a day playing Alchemy instead of looking for work.  I’d probably pay good money for an updated Alchemy game.  Also also it’s unclear what the boxed version of Bejeweled Twist is missing from the five dollar DSiWare version aside from a few missing gameplay modes.
Dark Void (PS360)

One of the great overlooked subtexts of this console generation has been Japan’s near-total inability to get a grasp upon the American HD console market.  Despite early success with games like Dead Rising and Lost Planet and — well, not terribly much else– Japanese developers have struggled to understand why American gamers are no longer terribly interested in Metal Gear or Katamari. Gears of War and Modern Warfare  have hijacked the American core gamer market just as thoroughly as Mario stole the game market from Williams/Midway and the arcades.

Often, the answer has been to just ape Gears of War as much as you can without Epic issuing a cease and desist order against your developers. Resident Evil 5, for instance, was basically Gears of Africa. Some companies, such as Namco, have elected to hire western developers to play around with classic franchises in hopes of sparking some amount of nostalgic interest in American audiences. Namco, for instance, lent out Splatterhouse to San Diego-based Bottlerocket Entertainment long enough to produce  a recognizable game  before yanking back the franchise for in-house polishing, driving Bottlerocket bankrupt in the process. In some cases Japanese developers have just hired American developers to basically make Gears of War for them– a situation where you invariably wind up with a bundle of regret and wasted opportunity like Dark Void.

Oh Yeah.  That bad.
Which is frustrating, as the basic hook– Gears with jetpacks!— ought to work!  But just like 2009’s Bionic Commando revival, Capcom farmed out what was a braindead-easy idea to a western developer only to see the entire effort crash and burn.
How badly is Capcom expecting Dark Void to bomb?  In a recent investor document leaked from Japan, Capcom revised original sales estimates for Dark Void– some 1.3 million units– to six hundred thousand.  Admittedly, over half a million videogames sold sounds like a lot, and in any sane console generation that would be enough to turn a profit and almost assure a sequel– but it’s 2010, Dark Void is supposedly the centerpiece of a mass media franchise, and bracing your investors for the news that the sales goals won’t meet half the original estimate means that this game will be swept under the carpet sooner than you can say “thirty dollar MSRP by May”.
Also Capcom pushed back virtually every othr big-name HD title announced for Q1 2010– Super Street Fighter, Monster Hunter Wii, Dead Rising 2, Lost Planet 2– to avoid the swell of games Modern Combat 2 forced into the early months of 2010.  Dark Void stands alone to withstand the brunt of Christmas v2.0.  This game is fucked.
Glory of Heracles (DS)
It’d be easy to write this off as another generic late-era DS JRPG, but this is a generic late-era DS JRPG published by Nintendo.  Sadly it’s not developed by Nintendo, but rather the guys responsible for Donkey Kong, Barrel Blast, Donkey Kong, King of Swing and Door to Phanomile.  So the pedigree is.. well, sorta terrible on that end, but the Hercales games are well-regarded inside Japan and this is the first Hercales game to come out to America, so maybe it’s not too godawful bad, after all Nintendo would rather not kill the franchise dead out of the gate.
That said, hated GoH, giving it a 6.8 out of 10.  One would think that given nearly 2 years since its original Japanese release someone could have given it a decently plot.  Or maybe the plot was fine and they accidentally wound up ruining it. Whichever.

One Response to “Wallet Abuse Wednesday 1-20-10: Whatever you do don’t buy Dark Void!”

  1. megamario said

    The Heracles game is part of a series? Well I suppose that explains the slight marketing push on part of Nintendo.
    By the way, Nintendo Power gave it a 7, for what it’s worth.

    Also I find it amusing that Dark Void 0 (the $5 DSiware game) is apparently better in every respect then the real thing.

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