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

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 5-5-10: Fat Princess, Stephen Hawking, The End of Humanity

Posted by nfinit on May 4, 2010

No theme this week– there’s only three brick-and-mortar games in stores this Wednesday, and ever since I’ve aquired a PS3 I’ve been playing an unhealthy amount of Demon’s Souls (note: for healthy, non-masochists-any- amount of Demon’s Souls is an unhealthy amount) instead of writing, but I wanted to address this bit where Stephen Hawking is now openly speculating on a possible alien invasion.

For those unaware, Stephen Hawking has gone on record that actively signaling for contact with alien cultures (note that there has been some confusion as to how this relates to SETI:  Namely, it doesn’t.  SETI merely searches for possible signals) is a foolhardy and ultimately fatal exercise in that the moment an alien civilization is made aware of our existence they’re likely to open up a wormhole and proceed to slurp our brains out through bendee straws.

This speculation would in itself be rather harmless–I’m of the opinion that any civilization that’s mastered interstellar travel probably has no need for whatever we’ve got left and is far better served by scooping up comets in the Oort Cloud and/or dismantling Jupiter, but Doctor Hawking went and upped the ante by giving detailed instructions on how to build a time machine.

Now, keep in mind, Doctor Hawking is not insane.  He’s not a nutjob.  He’s not a shlub sitting in the basement of an abandoned paint factory in a hand-built Faraday cage monitoring government telephone traffic.  No, Doctor Hawking is a board-certified genius. Probably smarter than the next hundred people dumber than him combined.

What I’m trying to get at here is that Doctor Hawking knows something, and we’re fucked.

So enjoy this week’s slate of games, because as meager as it is, they’re probably our last!  But we had a good run and maybe Wal-Mart will break the street date of Red Dead Redemption before we’re all converted into peat moss.

Picross 3d

Publisher: Nintendo

Developer:  HAL Laboratory

Platform:  Nintendo DS

It’s Picross but this time instead revealing of flat images you uncover charmingly blocky 8bit 3d sprites.  So that’s fun.

The great tragedy about the Picross concept is that it was pioneered by Nintendo, and as result the images you’re treated to tend to be fairly safe.  Puppies, hearts, horrible Italian stereotypes, music symbols– It’s the sort of concept you wish a morally bankrupt development studio like, say, Team Ninja would steal.  You’d wind up with a better game than Dead or Alive Paradise and you could just skip the annoying interstitial relationship bits and just build the entire game around revealing softcore pornography.

Come to think of it, maybe Tecmo should skip the entire fiction around the Dead or Alive universe, buy the Panesian back catalog and give us Bubble Bath Babes 3d.

(this is the part of the article where I post a relevant screenshot but it turns out there exists no worksafe Bubble Bath Babes screenshots.  So here’s the nearest thing to a worksafe boob I could find)

I hate to play the “amuricans r dum” card but maybe there’s a good reason why North America was the last market to get hold of Picross 3d– Nintendo has no faith in our ability to process this game.  After watching gameplay footage I still have no idea how you’re expected to operate this thing. and

I can only assume that Picross 3d is part of Nintendo’s ongoing attempt to make gaming unpalatable to gamers, this time by employing mathematics and non-euclidean geometry.

Fat Princess:  Fistful of Cake

Publisher:  Sony computer Entertainment

Developer:  Titan Studios

Platform:  PlayStation Portable

This is an attempt to bring the robust PS3 Fat Princess experience to the PSP, and it’s as slimmed down in the process as you might expect.  Yeah, you get a handful of new maps, but the game shrinks from a 32 player experience to 8 players on the PSP and you lose the ability to invite players into the game or to chat with them once they’re there.

To put in terms that Fans of Fat Princess can easily digest, it’s like going from Exit to Eden-era Rosie O’Donnel to post-Kabbalah Madonna.  Not fun at all!

It’s one of those ports that’s baffling as to why it should exist in the first place.  It’s an ugly, dumbed-down Fat Princess that brings a five dollar premium over the PS3 version for the privilege to play it on your PSP.  It feels like one of those projects that Sony blatantly money hat-ed into being to justify the existence of the PSP Go, and had Sony the good sense to keep it on the Playstation Network (and not charged more money for the experience) that would have probably worked well.

That said, all this is probably being unfair to Fistful of Cake.  Fat Princess is a great concept and had it evolved from a PSP game (where it seems like it’d be in its natural habitat) to the PS3 via PSN, probably no one would complain about the PSP version.  But the fact that the PS3 version is established, there’s little justification for Fistful of Cake to exist unless you happen to be a Fat Princess fiend.

Iron Man 2

Publisher: Sega

Developer:  Secret Level

Platforms:  Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, Playstation Portable

You’d have thought that after the commercial and critical success of Batman Arkham Asylum that comic book IP holders would have realized that forcing a comic book game around the release of movies based on that same IP was a broken and invalid business model.

Furthermore you’d think after Sega managed to fuck up an Iron Man game to the point where it was voted IGN’s 2008 “Worst Game Everyone Played” that maybe Marvel would hand the license over to someone who could figure out how to make a decent game based on flying around as a robot and  blowing things up.

Amazingly Marvel has done neither, handing the exact same IP to the exact same publisher who then handed the development to the exact same developer who couldn’t get Iron Man right the first time around.

untitled-40.jpg picture by bigredcoat

In case you’re wondering if maybe, just maaaaaybe Secret Level was capable of producing a competent game after being given a second stab at making an enjoyable game based around flying around as a robot and blowing things up, keep in mind that Sega has already dissolved the studio (and possibly the physical developers as well).

Secret Level’s incompetence was marvelous to behold.  not only did they manage to fuck up Iron Man twice (again!  Robots!  Flying!  Stuff!  Explodes!) but these were the same guys who were given the Golden Axe franchise and managed to fuck up Devil May Cry + raptor mounts.

If Secret Level and GRIN still existed I’d like to have seen along the lines of a competition between the two, giving them the most braindead easy game design ideas and seeing if they could manage to fuck it up.  Also we could throw Double Helix of GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra fame into the mix.  Give them all a copy of Renderware and tell them to remake Joust and see what sort of abomination comes out the other side.  I’d play these games– hell, I’d pay money for these games, and more importantly they’d exist to show budding young game developers what to never ever ever do.


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