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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 6-23-10: A Transformers Game That Doesn’t Suck!

Posted by nfinit on June 22, 2010

10 Minute Solutions
Publisher:  Activision
Developer:  Unnamed Game Developers Begging For The Sweet Release of Death
Platform:  Wii
There was a point in time– and this may still hold true– where the Wii Balance Board install base was larger than than the total number of PlayStation 3s sold.  Despite this, third parties (and even Nintendo itself) has refused to use the Balance Board for any interesting applications.  Whether is is due to Nintendo’s inborn recalcitrance to support it’s own peripherals or the fact that third parties see the Balance Board as little more than a way to sell people on the idea of losing weight while playing a “videogame”, it’s something to keep in mind six months down the line when the Kinect library consists of Kameo: Elements of Power Spastic Edition and seventeen hundred downloadable updates for Jillian Micheal’s Fitness Ultimatum (now with graphics!).
10 Minute Solutions will only set you back twenty bucks (keep in mind I’m using the hypothetical “you” that may one day eat an entire box of Oreos in one sitting and may be overcome with shame enough to buy a Wii fitness program) but one has to ask exactly what 10 Minute Solutions brings to the table that Wii Fit or EA Sports Active weren’t already capable of.  Does there exist an audience that churns through Wii fitness management programs the way Dudebros cycle between Modern Warfare clones?
All I know is that as long as Activision is using the Balance Board for crap like this, they’re not using the Balance Board to remake an interactive version of Freeway.

Redneck Racing Box Art
Calvin Tucker’s Redneck: Farm Animal Racing Tournament
Publisher:  Zoo Games
Developer:  Zoo Games Too
Platform:  Wii
Shitware developer Zoo Games has apparently turned Calvin Tucker into some sort of redneck “brand”, which must come as a shock to the real Calvin Tucker, freelance journalist for hyper-English business website
This is beyond the point that reworking Mario Kart into a “redneck” game is as weird and regressive as a Tyrone Biggums Pac-Land conversion.  If a publisher had released something along the same lines for any other ethnic/socioeconomic group they’d be fired out of a cannon into the Pacific Ocean.  Rednecks?  Sure, fine, it’s not like they have any self respect anyway, these are the same people responsible for Larry the Cable Guy’s movie career, the self-destruction of John McCain, Sarah Palin:  International Oil Expert, the inability for Ford Motors to just stay dead, and every Atlanta Braves jersey sold since 2005.
What I’m curious about is the strange convergence of Redneck culture and the Nintendo Wii.  Sure, the Wii is the biggest selling game system of the current console generation and by that alone it stands to reason it’d have a larger Redneck install base, but I’ve always been under the impression that Rednecks play Modern Warfare, Smackdown vs Raw and little else outside of that.  The Redneck audience is basically the Dudebro audience, only with less of an emphasis on personal hygiene.  Furthermore, if EA couldn’t get these people to buy a kart racer based on NASCAR, how could a farm animal Mario Kart possibly work?
Dragon Ball:  Origins 2
Publisher:  Namco Bandai
Developer:  Namcom Bandai
Platform:  Nintendo DS

If you’re at the point where you’re making a sequel to a game subtitled “origins”, maybe it’d make sense not to call it “origins” anymore as it’s obviously no longer “origins” but rather “The next part of the story”?  After all,  Dragon Ball Z:  The Next Part of the Story still sounds good.

Also at some point the Dragon Ball franchise started enjoying Dragon Ball games that weren’t mediocre 3d fighters but instead rather decent 3d adventure games, which is a nice way of saying “Zelda, but with co-op levels”

Reviews for the first game were surprisingly decent, and in the grand Namco tradition, this looks to be more of the same.

Field and Stream: Total Outdoorsman Challenge
Publisher:  505 Games
Developer:  505 Games
Platforms:  Xbox 360

Normally I’m quick to make fun of stuff like hunting simulation videogames but last week I spent something like five hours in Red Dead Redemption stalking around the tundra of not-Colorado trying to find grizzly bears to stab to death– and I wasn’t shamed by that.  In fact, I found the process of calmly laying in wait for one of nature’s most feared and respected natural killers to come within range of my Bowie knife oddly relaxing.  For those few hours I became one with a digital version of nature, peacefully taking in the beauty of the frozen wonderland before me for hours on end before engaging in a five second long knife fight that usually resulted in me loading a quicksave.  Basically what I’m saying is that  there may be a market for Cabella’s/Field and Stream/Bass Pro Shop game featuring crazed, grizzled mountain men hunting wild animals using only the most primitive tools available, up to and including dropping boulders on top of elk.

As far as this game goes?
Will some kind soul please donate an actual 360 dev kit to 505 Games so they can get rid of the Pentium III they’ve been using since late 2001?

Puzzle Quest 2
Publisher:  D3 Publisher
Developer:  Infinity Interactive
Platforms:  Nintendo DS/Xbox Live Arcade

When Puzzle Quest: Galactrix was released last year– and subsequently bombed– many gamers became worried that Infinite Interactive may have simply run into an outstanding bit of luck in the first Puzzle Quest game and would be unable to duplicate their success.  Fortunately it turns out Infinite Interactive wasn’t a one-hit-wonder, they just have the one game they’re very good at making, and that happens to be Bejeweled wrapped up in a candy shell of an RPG.

Puzzle Quest 2 mixes up the formula from the first game a bit in that you’re no longer traversing a JRPG-like overworld, instead you’re inside something that highly resembles a western-developed dungeon delving RPG where you search room by room for treasure, and whenever beset by an angry elf or orc or flame demon you engage in a game of 2 player competitive Bejewled.  For anyone who’s not played a Puzzle Quest game before this works better than it sounds, and combining the twin addictions of puzzle gaming with loot whoring is a devious, nearly cynical plan on Infinite Interactive’s part.  Remember when Google released an version of Pac-Man on the Google front page and those assholes at Rescue Time calculated that Google had deprived the global economy of 120 million dollars of lost productivity? Puzzle Quest 2 is going to be the Deepwater Horizon to Google Pac’s Exxon Valdez.
What’s weird about this revision of Puzzle Quest is that the DS version– which is missing content over the XBLA version, mind you– costs twice as much as it’s console counterpart.  I suppose this is part of the price to be paid (quite literally) for pressing a game to DS silicon, but wouldn’t it have been fair and/or lucrative to D3 Publisher to allow a DSiWare version at the same price as the XBLA game?
Transformers:  War for Cybertron
Publisher:  Activision
Developer:  High Moon Studios  (Hey!  It’s the Darkwatch guys!)
Platforms:  Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii
I’ve wondered at length about the games industry’s inability to produce a truly great Transformers videogame– after all, the idea sounds dead simple.  You’re a robot, you’re nearly invulnerable save against laser attack from other robots, you can also be a car or a jet or possibly a tape deck.  Take these concepts and wrap them up in a bunch of levels with lots of lasers and explosions and robots trying to kill you with lasers and it should work, right?
I think the problem is that there’s simply too much stuff going on in a Transformers game– it’s hard to fit in thins to do for a robot that can also be a jet that can also be a car that can also somehow be a city for other robots.  There’s a few game types that work for this (The Ultimate Alliance games come to mind), but for your standard 3rd person action game, the Transformer’s franchise can’t get out of it’s own way.
What I’m trying to convince Activision to do is to stop focusing on cramming as many Transformers into one game and focus on single robots, and release Starscream:  Intergalactic Super-Dick.
Interestingly, War For Cybertron might be our mythical Good Transformers Game, or at the very least a Decent Transformers Game.  The console version is sitting on an 85 at Metacritic, which is on the good side of average.  It appears the secret to producing a good Transformers game is to make Gears of War: Giant Robot Edition.  I’m not entirely convinced that this formula doesn’t help Gears more than it does Transformers, to be honest.
Wipe Out The Game
Publisher:  Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developer:  SCE Studio Liverpool (nee Pysgnosis)
Platform:  Nintendo Wii
A series reboot on the DS seems like an odd direction for Psygnosis to take for the WipeOut franchise, especially considering Psygnosis no longer exists and the company that legally owns the WipeOut name is now wholly owned by Sony, but weirder things have happened (such as the Sega Saturn port of WipeOut XL) and it’s not like Nintendo has any plans to do anything else with F-Zero, so why not?
wait a goddamned minute…
Oh fuck you, ABC.


Aksys Games is sitting there with a straight face and is asking you to pay fifty bucks for DEATHSMILES.  In 2010.  On disc.  I’m not making this up.

NINETY NINE NIGHTS 2 is released and I must come face to face with one of my greatest shames– ownership of Ninety Nine Nights 1.


One Response to “Wallet Abuse Wednesday 6-23-10: A Transformers Game That Doesn’t Suck!”

  1. Dandan said

    So what I’m curious about now is whether you actually just had that history of the Wipeout franchise sitting in your head, or whether you went back and did solid due-diligence solely for the sake of delivering that thar visual joke, because either way it had me cackling for several minutes straight.

    The Redneck Demographic: An Insight

    So I go to Florida a few years ago to visit extended family, including some poor unlucky teen cousins being raised by hypercatholic parents. How hypercatholic? Videogames such as Megaman are deemed -too- -violent-, because you -shoot- things. Consoles are banned outright from the household, because It’s The Only Way To Be Sure.

    But they have a PC at least. I can work with this. I hit up a stripmall EB (only choice, apologies) looking for some shovelware that will look like diamonds to these starved kids- I’ve already provided them with BMX vs ATV, which is the gold standard for offroad racers- and located a 7 dollar number called “Championship Lawnmower Racing”. For 7 bucks, it’ll be a fine gag gift, I reckon.

    14-year-old son of the family opens the present, and looks at the helmeted John Deere Lawn-Dominator rider staring up at him from the box. He leaps up and says in a genuine fashion that 14-year-olds have not yet learned to feign “OH MY GOD, I HAVE BEEN WANTING THIS GAME ALL YEAR!!!”

    So basically, my extended family is the reason you have Animal Tractor Kart-Racers plugging up your gaming catalogues. There’s not much that can be done to stop them, unfortunately- if they sell at least 6 copies, they’ve made back the dev cost.

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