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

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 3-10-10

Posted by nfinit on March 10, 2010

Lost last week amid Activision and Ubisoft taking a giant squat over the remains of their collective  good will and leaving behind an enormous steaming coil was the very shortly lived, utterly genius introduction for Portal 2 Valve retroactively crafted in the middle of Portal 1.
But just as gamers were starting to piece together the clues to the Portal 2 universe– complete with hidden BBS URLs, image data hidden within audio data, openly taunting the gaming community via Morse code– the official Portal 2 reveal came out something like three days later, via Game Informer as apparently it’s 1998 all over again and major game announcements still happen via game magazine.
portalwrap1.jpg picture by bigredcoat
If this trend were extrapolated to it’s natural conclusion it would also  indicate that game demos are being distributed via polybagged DVDs and that somewhere Dave Halverson still has a jo– OH CHRIST HE’S RE-RELEASING GAMEFAN WILL SOMEONE PLEASE STOP THIS MAN BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN.

But I digress.  In honor of Portal 2 single handedly saving the print industry, I present to you this week’s games, along with the appropriate magazine which conceivably could have heralded their release.

The Calling (Wii)

Around October of 2008 early video of a Wii survival horror game somehow found its way off of Hudson’s corporate servers and onto YouTube, and thus The Calling was revealed to the public.  Rather than rolling with this and enjoying some Halloween-themed faux-ARG hype, Hudson quickly demanded all the video for The Calling to be wiped from YouTube’s servers– and while the official explanation was that this video was stolen and never meant to be seen by the public in the first place, most suspected it was because the game highly resembled Fatal Frame on rails.
Eighteen months later and we’re still unclear as to what we can expect out of The Calling, if it’s on rails or not, or how much it wound up borrowing from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but what’s there looks interesting and is obviously inspired by Japanese horror movies whose goal isn’t so much to shock and disgust you as it is to make you feel creepy and regret walking near the woods for at least three months.

The Calling and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories  illustrate that one of the greatest strengths of  the Wii has turned out to be survival horror, and I’m not sure anyone would have predicted this, short of observing that waving around a flashlight in the dark is an inherently creepy activity and easily translated into the Wiimote control scheme.  It’s just a shame this game is using Resident Evil-quality art assets as it would be a great way to screw around with loved ones who were expecting a nice safe night of Randomly Clicking B While Spazzing Out.


NP253_Cover-1.png picture by bigredcoat

Nintendo Power!
The magazine for apps native to Nintendo devices.  And since it’s no longer owned by Nintendo, revealing The Calling in Nintendo Power gets around the strict corporate policy keeping Nintendo from ever promoting 3rd party titles not named “Monster Hunter”.

The Daring Game For Girls (DS, Wii)

Here you have a game that’s clearly targeted at girls without obviously  lowering itself to the level of Imagine: Petz Magical Horse Nanny and while that that’s good, it’s also a typical Majesco shovelware minigame collection, meaning in the end it’s cheap and terrible and only loosely definable as a “game”.   This is  insulting for everyone involved as the entire premise of this game insinuates that it’s impossible to get young girls interested in a games that are not  bog-standard collections of tepid low-skill minigames.
The Daring Game For Girls tries to disguise these casual gamer roots by insisting that it’s teaching girls about famous women in history, and while that’s a fine and noble goal, wouldn’t girls be better served with a copy of The Daring Book For Girls itself and an actual working videogame instead of the worst of all possible scenario as manifested in “The Daring Game for Girls”?
I dunno.  Just be aware that if you let your little girl play this that you’re exponentially increasing her odds of becoming a Hooter’s Waitress, and not the sort who’s only paying bills while going to college.


B0001A99IS01LZZZZZZZ.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Cosmo for Girls! Because if you’re going to pander to young women by re-enforcing gender stereotypes while making vague allusions to “feminism” you may as well teach them about proper sweater layering.   (also after researching this topic I spent 3 days clearing out my laptop’s hard drive with DARPA-approved formatting software.  True story.
Final Fantasy 13 (PS360)

I could go on contrasting how FF13 and Mass Effect 2 are taking completely different tracks in removing the extraneous, non-fun bullshit that surrounds their respective flavor of Role-Playing Game and focus instead on the parts people actually enjoy– the combat–, but there’s one thing that takes the “Maybe this game isn’t actually an RPG at all” argument to a whole new level–

–The goddamed thing doesn’t have any towns. Even Mass Effect 2 has towns, and that game has devolved to the point where you can fairly describe it as Gears of War With Towns. FF13 was clearly built around combat mechanics first with a flimsy shell of a Japanese Role Playing Game around that– and while this may produce a compelling video game, I’m not sure how you spend five years developing a Final Fantasy game and forget to include the parts of the game where any actual role-playing may take place.

But  I’m hardly an expert on the subject of Final Fantasy games anymore, so maybe I’m wrong in this and FF13 could wind up being an excellent game, even if’s Chris Kohler described Final Fantasy 13 as “a failed experiment” and Edge Magazine described the entire first half thusly:

one long corridor of palette-swapped enemies, fights that never quite find the right level of challenge, and cutscene after cutscene (after cutscene) leaving your joypad entirely idle.

Not to sound like a sour old man who hates anything new, but I was a serious Final Fantasy junkie and a subsequent weeaboo horror right up until around the third disc of Final Fantasy 7 where I wandered off to play Planescape: Torment and never came back.
The reason for my disenchantment with the modern Final Fantasy series this lay almost entirely in Square’s inability to craft a compelling cast of characters since the company moved to the Playstation 1.  Take this  image from Final Fantasy 13’s cast:

Just by looking at this I can tell four things.
1:  I will never be able to make a connection with the main character (In this case, Lighting, the chrome-pink haired chick in the foreground)
2:  The black guy with the amazing afro will almost certainly be the only interesting character of the whole bunch
3:  The game will never focus on him quite as much as you would wish
4:  If Lighting’s clammy, stick-like thighs are any indication she is badly malnourished and possibly suffers from rickets.

As I mentioned before, I think Square’s issues with bad casting stems from Final Fantasy 7:

The main character being the bland, boring bishi Cloud, whereas everyone involved would have much rather played on halberd-wielding hard ass Cid Highwind or tragic gunman Vincent Valentine.   Or take Final Fantasy 12’s cast:

Where you’re stuck playing hairless manchild Vaan through most of the game when you’d easily prefer to play the gentleman sky pirate Balthier  and his bunnygirl cohort Fran, because they’re SKY PIRATES and SKY PIRATES ARE AWESOME.  Nope, get used to sixty hours of sexless pedobait.  Thanks, Japan!All of which illustrates just how insanely great Final Fantasy 6 was.  It didn’t really matter if there were Final Fantasy 6 characters you couldn’t make a connection with– since it was an ensemble cast, your story could revolve around whoever you wanted.  Want to pimp around Narche with a team composed of Locke, King Edgar, Setzer and Stago while Terra does whatever with magic crystals?  You could do that.  Want to enlighten the populace to the finer points of violent women’s lib with Celeste, Terra and Relm?  Not a problem.  Want to utterly ruin your game and play through using Gau, Gogo, Umago and Sabin?  Whatever gets you through the night, babe.


newtype_mar_09.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Newtype! While the relevance of JRPGs has deminished since the heyday of Final Fantasy 7, Squeenix is fortunate in that the people who are left are insane and will spend money on anything.
Foto Showdown (DSi)

I don’t know how Konami reached the point where they thought the term “Foto Showdown” was better than the game’s original title, “Monster Finder”, but here we are and now everyone’s going to confuse this with game that much more interesting  import-your-friends-photo-into-a-fighter game revealed at Nintendo’s press event last week.

Foto Showdown looks nifty in its own right though, combining the whole Pokemon/Digimon/Monster Rancher…thing with pictures snapped using the DSi’s camera to import your own monsters.  This sounds like the sort of thing that’d be great for both parents and adult perverted gamers.  Parents can let their kids wander around with this thing and not be bothered for the rest of the day while  sexual deviants try to figure out if the bestiary includes sandworms and bearded clams.


BoyslifeMagazine.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Boy’s Life Magazine! Let’s face facts, there’s one prime market for a game where the audience converges around children and photography, and that market usually somehow involves hundreds of hours in the therapist’s office dealing with repressed memories.

Racquet Sports (Wii)
Proto-Natal camera controls.
Minigame collection.
Avoid at all costs.

Shuttle Express!
The premiere online magazine for Badminton enthusiasts in New Zealand!

Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition (PS360)

So if you’re wondering if you should pay fifty bucks for Resident Evil 5 a year after it’s release, here’s all the evidence you need.
If you buy Gold Edition then you need to be beaten about the head and your money stolen from you and put to better use, such as gin and/or crack cocaine.  Yes, you get the DLC packs “Desperate Escape” and “Lost in Nightmares” with this particular edition of RE5, but both those packs are only five bucks each off Xbox Live and Playstation Network.  So the very best scenario for Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition would still have you lose ten dollars, and this is presuming you’re the sort of gamer who has moral prohibitions against buying used games.
I mean, on one hand it’s good that Capcom is still supporting Resident Evil 5, but fifty bucks for a year old game isn’t just silly on Capcom’s part, it’s borderline insulting.  At least when Bethesda kept pumping out expansion discs for Fallout 3 they made each package at least a fair value vs its online offering– Capcom’s RE5 solution hinges upon the concept that the gaming public is unable to get online and yet still somehow desperate for more RE5 content– nevermind that RE5 is fundamentally broken without online co-op in the first place.
Wet__Play_Magazine_July_cover_by_Be.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Polybagged issue of Play Magazine. For gamers suffering from poor taste and are willing to spend money to prove it.

Sam and Max 2 Beyond Time and Space (Wii)

Speaking of weird examples of disc-based content distribution– yeah, I know not everyone has access to broadband internet, and yeah, I know the Sam and Max episodes are probably too unwieldy to easily fit on the Wii’s tiny amount internal storage– but isn’t selling something like Sam and Max episodes on disc sort of like selling Plastic Beach on 8-Track?
modelrailroader.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Model Railroader Magazine. The Go-to publication to sell something quirky, inherently antiquated and baffling that it yet exists.

Yakuza 3 (PS3)

So the big…. well, only… story about Yakuza 3 is that Sega has deemed it necessary to cut large swaths out of the the US port of the game, citing financial reasons but probably because everyone at the translation department had the horriblem dark knowledge in the back of their mindss that the all-weeaboo audience wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from  masturbating furiously during the hostess club segments.

Let’s pull back for a moment and say that the hostess club was indeed too expensive to make worth the effort.  Yakuza 3’s defenders will say that the mere fact that this game is getting a translation to English should be enough; that if the choice between getting Yakuza 3 sans edited content or no Yakuza 3 at all, that the choice for fans is clear.
But if Yakuza 3 was so financially infeasible to translate that entire chunks of the game had to be left on the cutting room floor, maybe it’d have made more sense to do as bare-bones a translation as possible with no English voice work at all  and deliver it over Playstation Network.  Then the game could live or die on its own merits and if the market materalized a full, professional translation could be justified, perhaps even as a port for a system more traditionally poised to sell Japanese games to an American audience.
shonen_jump-january_2008.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Shonen Jump.
Japanophile, inherently damaged by translation, faintly embarrassing to everyone involved


Somehow FRAGILE DREAMS made it over to America

GOD OF WAR III  is basically just more GOD OF WAR and I don’t really see that as a bad thing

Meanwhile DRAGON AGE AWAKENING is more DRAGON AGE and that’s a very very good thing!


3 Responses to “Wallet Abuse Wednesday 3-10-10”

  1. hugh betcha said

    And that makes 3… you’re the 3rd of 3 people I’ve spoken to (counting myself) who’ve come into contact with FF13 to conclude that Sazh (the guy with the afro) is the sole interesting character. Have a glance at Penny Arcade’s front page. Or talk to me about the game for an hour. 10 or so hours in and he’s the only character I don’t want to cockpunch.

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