Bigredcoat

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

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 1-26-10: A suprising lack of Mass Erect jokes

Posted by nfinit on January 26, 2010

This is one of those remarkable weeks that may well go down as one of the secret great weeks in videogame release date history.  Every platform– even the PSP!– gets something unique and interesting and possibly even worth playing.  In the Wii’s case you get two compelling videogames, both of which are third party!

And as much as we bitch at publishers for turning tail at the prospect of facing off against Modern Warfare 2 in NOvember, this is probably a good thing.  Left to their own devices, most of the games on today’s list would have been abandoned.  Perhaps the greatest thing Modern Warfare 2 has done is to break up the industry’s belief that they’re operating a market that only operates 3 months out of the year.

Of course, the industry being what it is, nothing will actually be learned from any of this.  The traditional density of holiday titles has just been pushed back a month and Summer ’10 looks as barren as any other Summer for videogames, a puzzling tactic when you consider that Summer is typically when the vast majority of the gaming audience is on break from school and/or would rather spend all day inside in front of an air conditioner.

Imagine:  Party Planner (DS)

We’ve reached the point in society where we’ve killed our kids dreams enough that they’re willing to spend thier free time playing games about being hostesses.  Good work, America.

(Also, yeah, this has been said a million times before, but Party Planner?  Really?  No Imagine: Scientist or Imagine:  Astronaut or Imagine: NSA Linguistics Specialist?  Shouldn’t NOW be all over this sort of thing?)

Legend of Kay (DS)

This is the hardest game on today’s list to get a grasp on, as the internet seems utterly unaware the DS version exists and all the media, articles and reviews instead focus on 2005’s original PS2 version.  I can’t even tell if they’ve taken the PS2 original and managed to fit it inside a DS case or if this is an Okami-style reworking complete with clumsy touchscreen control.

If JoWooD has managed to do the latter, then you’re looking at a tight, if somewhat dated, cutsey Zelda-like.  It’s being published by shovelware experts Dreamcatcher, so chances are they didn’t actually bother spending a lot of money on this translation– which in this case might actually be a good thing.

MAG (PS3)

When the term “mixed emotions” comes up in the IGN preview for a videogame, you know you have issues. I mean, the open beta has been out for a month now and there’s zero buzz generated for MAG, no reviews, remarkably few videos and we’re talking about what should be a major first-party exclusive.

What’s most troubling is that all discussion about MAG dried up right about when it’s open beta was released a month ago– and it’s not like there’s a whole lot of MAG that’s not within that beta, the entire reason for this game to exist is as a massive squad-based shooter, there’s no hidden gameplay elements or any single player component worth speaking of.  You’d think Sony would want -some- sort of discussion going on to deflect the massive amount of hype Mass Effect 2 has built up for the 360– the fact that Sony refuses to talk about this game while at the same time refusing to move the release date is troubling.  Either Sony doesn’t care about MAG (which is always a possibility) or they know full well the game is a bomb and the best thing to do with it is to push it out when all attention is diverted to the biggest release of the first quarter.

Mass Effect 2 (360)

Mass Effect 2 is one of those weird media experiences where you’re best off ignoring all the advertisement the parent company has produced and just remind yourself that it’s actually going to be enjoyable and not something awful and regrettable.  Also if you’ve managed to avoid doing so already, don’t listen to Giant Bomb for the next month, those assholes seem intent on spoiling every specific plot point and secret the game has to offer.

In short, this is going to be the finest sci-fi RPG experience since… well, since the last Mass Effect.  The only thing that concerns me is Bioware fatigue.  Now, I love Bioware to death, but having plowed through two separate Mass Effect 1 playthroughs and about 120 hours of Dragon Age, I’ve noticed that Bioware does a very few specific things in each of their games, and I can only hope that ME2 manages to break up the formula.

I mean, I’ve not played a moment of ME2 yet, I’ve studiously avoided gameplay footage and save for the aforementioned Giant Bomb podcasts I’ve managed to seclude myself from as much ME2 discussion as possible, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to tell the specific plot points of ME2 before they occur, and I can do this because these same plot points have appeared in every Bioware game since the release of Knights of the Old Republic:

1:  Introductory Chapter (Usually this is the worst part of any Bioware game, although Dragon Age has shown that they’re capable of producing a game where the opening 3 hours aren’t an excercise in tedium).

2:  Introduction to the story

3:  Complete dismissal of the story as you do 60 hours of sidequests

4: Visit four or five specific places to move the plot forward, scattered about in an overworld map that gives the impression of freedom of choice

5: Gather your party

6: Final encounter

7:  Epilogue

Also there will be a party HQ and a dating sim involved.  Possibly also a wholly embarrassing/possibly awesome musical interlude.  Other random bitchings:

* Bioware games don’t really allow for as much party customization as you might be lead to believe, as by the time you have your party together most of the game is already over.  By the time you have everyone together, you probably have a team you’re comfortable with.  So the only real method of party experimentation comes through multiple playthroughs– which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as Bioware games are made to be played through at least twice, but it’s kinda misleading.

*A minor gripe, but this bugs me:  rather than featuring full-on gay party members, all the “alternative” party members Bioware includes are bisexual.  Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s kinda a cop-out on Bioware’s part.  I was almost impressed with the character of Zeveran in Dragon Age: Origins as it would appear at first glance the game had presented you with a non-stereotypical homosexual character, but it just turns out he’ll fuck anything breathing.  It’d just be neat if Bioware tried something forward-thinking this time around.

*Equipment selection in Bioware games is abysmal, particularly in regards to armor drops.  Finding quality cloth armor drops for casters in Dragon Age was nearly impossible, and Tali was using the same armor I found 2 hours into the game through the entire endgame sequence.  Bioware likes to address these issues through DLC packs, but forcing players to pay for content to get decent equipment is just tacky.  We wouldn’t accept this behavior from any Activision publisher, and Bioware shouldn’t receive a pass simply because they do so many other things right.

*It’d be nice if Bioware could hire one guy who knew how to make a working inventory system.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii)

Hey you, hardcore Nintendo fan.

https://i1.wp.com/www.gossipgamers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Nintendo-DS-Player-at-Walmart.jpg

Yeah, you.  You know how you keep complaining that no one ever makes original, high-quality hardcore 3rd party titles exclusively for the Wii?

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle  Screenshot

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle  Picture

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle  Screenshot

Buy this fucking game.

And don’t be scared off by stories about the first No More Heroes game that you didn’t buy, either.  All the clunky open world stuff is gone, all the jobs people hated from the first game replaced with Retro Gaming Challenge-inspired NES minigames, and you can skip money collecting entirely and just challenge bosses directly.  Also this:

dz801s.gif picture by bigredcoat

I’m not a fan of buying into mass media in the belief that media deserves to be supported, but I think there’s a legit reason to buy NMH2 outside of the fact that it should prove to be an excellent action game:  You’re not likely to find a more stylish, original, inventive game this year, and certainly not on the Wii.  Suda 51 gets us.

Shadow of Destiny (PSP)

Much like Legend of Kay, this game is a hard one to gauge as all the relevant media has focused on the console original, and much like Legend of Kay, if it turns out to be a good port it may well be a worthy portable experience.  That said, the PS2 original was released way back in early 2001, and what made a good adventure game in the age of Shenmue may not hold up well today.

Still, the concept is fantastic– It’s a murder mystery where you’re trying to solve (and ultimately avoid) your own eminent slaying.  Also no combat, just straight console-style adventure with no minigame foolishness.  It’s about as much of a throwback you can get without resorting to paddle controls and  an A/V switch.

Tatsunoko vs Capcom (Wii)

This is a hard game for hardocre Wii afficiandos to get a grasp on, as on one hand it’s a semi-serious 2d Capcom fighter on the Wii, on the other hand they don’t quite understand why they havent’ been given Street Fighter 4 in some form.  That said, you have to respect Capcom’s boldness here– Tatsunoko is hardly a household name outside of Japan and the entire old-school 2d fighter genre is an unknown quantity on the Wii.  When you account for the licensing wrangling that had to occur for the Tatsu characters to appear in North America at all you begin to wonder if Capcom is seriously expecting a return on investment at all.

That said, should you care about this game?  Well, outside of Marvel vs Capcom on XBLA a while back, there have not been a lot of these types of masher-friendly mindless fun 2d fighters released this gen, and outside of Super Smash Brothers Brawl there’s just really nothing else like it for the Wii at all.  But you also run the danger that this will be seen by the Wii audience as a lesser port of a full PS360 experience, the Dead Space Extraction of the Street Fighter universe.  Wii owners may have preferred to have been given some form of Street Fighter IV instead, even if they’d have to settle for Soul Calibur II-level graphics to get to that point.

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