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Archive for October, 2010

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 10-27-10

Posted by nfinit on October 27, 2010

Backyard Sports:  Rookie Rush
Developer:  Humongous Entertainment
Publisher:  The Shambling Corpse of Atari
Platforms:  DS, Xbox 330, Wii.

You know how EA keeps screwing around with Wii owners by mutating the Wii game into some sort of super-deformed casual-friendly thing that in no way resembles the Madden everyone actually wants to play?  It feels like EA is trying to copy the success of the Backyard series by doing so, but whereas the Backyard games ooze charm and are beloved by their audience, EA’s Wii Madden games for the past two years have largely been rejected by a Wii market who knows full well when they’re being pandered to.

You could do worse than buying your kid Rookie Rush.  It’s cheerful, friendly, and won’t actively insult your children like, say, Mater’s Tall Tales from last week.  Although with all children’s games based on real-life versions of other games I question the effectiveness of buying a child a videogame about football when that child would probably prefer either playing real football or a better videogame.  On the other hand, Rookie Rush’s roster has something to teach your children about diversity, from jocks:

to  nerds

To party sluts

And former TNA Knockouts champ Awesome Kong

And the Germans say multiculturalism is dead.

Bit.Trip FATE
Developer:  Gaijin Games
Publisher:  Aksys Games
Platforms:  WiiWare

At some point I guess I’m going to have to admit that Gaijin Games has no interest in developing for XBLA (maybe Microsoft has a strict “no horriblely racist game dev names allowed” policy) and buy a Wii primarily to play bit.trip games.  Fate, Gaijin’s (Seriously, this name is awful) fifth outing does nothing to alleviate my seething rage for Nintendo’s PS2-era relic– indeed, seeing as this is what R-Type would have looked liked if developed by Activision and released on the 2600 (Pre-Crash Activision, not the Evil Goatee Activision you see today), I’m even more embittered that there as yet exists no way for me to give these wonderful, horribly named people my hard-earned money.

Bloody Good Time
Developer: Outerlight
Publisher:  Ubisoft
Platforms:  Xbox Live Arcade

Yeah, I dunno.  There’s not a lot of video out for this game (and as of the time I’m writing this it’s unclear if it’ll be released for XBLA at all this week) but what little media exists seems to indicate  the sort of zany first-person shooter that simply serves to remind you that you wish Free Radical never made Haze.  Then you get depressed because you never bought a replacement Xbox 1 and can never play Time Splitters again.

Moving on.

Crafting Mama
Developer:  Cooking Mama Limited (Seriously!  That’s their name!)
Publisher:  Majesco
Platforms: Nintendo DS

Oh god this is -way- worse than trying to find something interesting to say about Bloody Good Time.  Perky, asexual housewives; minigames; the implied association with arts and crafts– the only thing that could make me less interested about this game is if retirement planning and/or 4-time Winston Cup champion Jimmie Johnson were involved.

Wait, that’s not being entirely fair.  At some point in time the ____ Mama series inspired this:

So it has to be doing something right.  Wake me up with this series reaches “Mama Lets Husband Film Oral Sex; Video Leaks Onto Internet via Unsecured Linsys Router”.

CSI Fatal Conspiracy
Developer:  TellTale Games:  Payin’ the Bills Division
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360

Some days Telltale does awesome stuff like revitalizing Sam and Max or makes a poker game starring The Heavy from Team Fortress 2, some days they need to feed their families before their significant others file for divorce.  We may not be happy with the fact that Fatal Conspiracy exists, but until more of you assholes go out and buy Puzzle Agent, this is what you’re going to have to deal with.

In Telltale’s defense, they’ve managed to scrub any mention of their company from any media relating to Fatal Conspiracy, up to an including the game box itself.  As far as Gamestop and Amazon are aware, Fatal Conspiracy merely comes from some unnamed developer within Ubisoft, possibly by the janitorial crew in between bouts of breaking mercury-leaden fluorescent lamps over one another’s heads.  Sadly the Internet does not allow you to escape your shame, Telltale!

Deca Sports 3
Developer:  Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson Soft
Platforms: Nintendo Wii

Hudson Soft’s detestable; frustratingly successful Wii Sports ripoff continues, further ruining Hudsonsoft’s fine reputation as a classic games deve–

Okay so maybe this isnt’ the worst thing they’ve ever done.  Still, you’d think after four of these games Hudson would manage to produce a halfway redeemable game once, right?


I think we’re to blame for Deca Sports.  As hardcore gamers it’s our responsiblity to inform our grandparents and housewife friends and other Wii owners that they only ever really need to own two or three games aside from the pack-in and most of those games can be identified by the word “Mario” in the title.

Fable 3
Developer:  Lionhead Games
Publisher:  Microsoft Games Studios
Platforms:  Xbox 360

Hidden behind the fart jokes and Peter Molyneux inability to simply shut the hell up (and the fact that Fable 1 was a thoroughly disappointing Zelda clone), Fable 2 was a legitimately good game and I felt unfairly maligned by the hardcore community.  Now that the danger of Kinect integration has passed, I fully expect Fable 3 to carry on where Fable 2 left off, only hopefully this time with less jarring storytelling devices such as skipping ahead five years in the narrative without warning.


At any rate I think Fable’s main problem– you know aside from the bit where the game’s lead developer comes off as a self-aggrandizing jerk– is it’s timing.  Sure, it’s probably the only action RPG of note this holiday season, but this holiday season is also scary strong, a legit candidate for Best Gaming Holiday Ever.  If Fable 3 had simply released two months before now or two months hence it’s late October release date it’d be the only thing the gaming media would talk about for that entire month.  As it stands it’s got to contend with.  Instead it has to deal with a half-dozen strong GOTY candidates on every major platform released this month alone.

Admittedly this bad timing is more of a “gaming conversation” thing rather than any effect on actual sales.  The first two Fable games sold a billion copies and nothing except maybe Darksiders has really appeared in the action RPG market in the meantime.  That said, there’s just so much quality crap coming out this year that I’ll probably not even touch Fable 3 until after the end of the year, and I adored Fable 2.

Habro Family Game Night 3
Developer:  Unknown; presumably Chinese prison labor
Publisher:  EA
Platforms:  A PlayStation 3 that has better things to do, such as play Blu-Rays of Underground Comedy Movie;  the Nintendo Wii kept in your grandparent’s hall closet underneath the Pong unit from 1973, the Xbox 360 you’d rather be playing anything else on but has been forced into this travesty by your idiot non-gamer roommate

Is it asking too much of America in 2010 to keep a lousy Connect Four box in the hall closet?  Isn’t the entire point of Hasbro board games so you can collect a stack of boxes you never touch and only keep on hand should company come over and they might want to get drunk and spend the next six hours playing Axis and Allies?

For that matter what kind of bullshit is “family game night”, anyway?  If you’re a teen then you’re just pissed that your parents are pulling you away from something important like Call of Duty, if you’re younger than a teen you know full well you’re being trotted out for your parent’s amusement.  Furthermore if you’re going to subject your children to this nonsense then why wouldn’t you teach them how to play D&D instead?

Intellivision Lives! (although we’d rather it didn’t)
Developer:  Intellivision Productions, Inc
Publisher:  Virtual Play Games
Platforms:  Nintendo DS

Everything I need to know about Intellivision I’ve learned from watching Jeff Gertsmann’s Game Room videos at

Mainly I’ve learned that I made the right decision when I asked my parents for a 2600.

Monopoly Streets
Developer: EA Salt Lake
Publisher: EA
Platforms:  PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360

Not to be confused with the Google Street View MMO Monopoly City Streets which lasted all of four months before being shut down, it’s servers encased in concrete-filled drums and sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

This is yet another console translation of the venerable board game, this time the gimmick being that you can tour your city from street view, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.  Also this is one of the variations that forces auctions whenever you land on an unclaimed property so it’s largely unusable.

Much like Hasbro Game Night 3 previously, I’m baffled as to why these games continue to be developed.  Isn’t’ the point of a board game the -board-?  This isn’t a matter of the rather excellent Risk: Factions earlier this year the developers were able to take the basic concept and make a stylized turn-based strategy game out of it– Monopoly is fundamentally a bad, broken game to begin with and there’s not much you can do with the basic formula and keep it recognizable as Monopoly.  It’d be different if someone were to take Monopoly and turn it into a console-friendly tycoon game but that doesn’t appear to be in Hasbro’s vision for the series.

Pinball FX 2
Developer:  Zen Studios
Publisher:  Microsoft Games Studios
Platforms:  Xbox Live Arcade

It’s hard to recommend Pinball FX 2 as a game because, well.  It’s digital pinball.  Also this is free and largely serves as a framework to sell tables as DLC further down the line.  Although this does come with one free table included, so if you’re wondering what sort of bullshit people had to deal with in the 1950’s in addition to segregation and polio, here’s your chance to relive history.

If you download this thing and haven’t’ lat least downloaded the Super Meat Boy demo yet then I fucking hate you.

Rock Band 3
Developer:  Harmonix
Publisher:  MTV Games
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii

The latest, best reviewed, and possibly last relevant rhythm game on the market is also the most comprehensive– this revision’s update finally brings keyboards back to the gaming realm, some nine years after Konami gave up on Keyboardmania and decided the best way to make money in America was to fund Hideo Kojima’s repeated assaults against cohesive narratives.

That Harmonix basically took a year off in between major Rock Band revisions and wound up with something gamers and the mainstream are actually exited about speaks a lot for exactly how badly this genre was bungled by (almost) everyone involved, but you have to imagine most of the damage was done by Activision’s demand that a new Guitar Hero revision be released every hour, on the hour, for the past four years.  Meanwhile Harmonix goofs around with the Beatles back catalog and then released a “real” sequel and suddenly everyone cares about guitar games again.  Who knew?

There’s a weird, largely unreported subplot going on with Rock Band 3– Despite copies of the game leaking through various sources for the past three months, our good friends in Canada will be denied Space Oddity until at least next week, despite Canada being so in love with Rock Band 2 that Neil Young had to be discouraged from using a MadCats Wireless Fender to perform Long May You Run at the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.  True facts!

Anyway turns out Canada will be bereft of RB3 until early November due to RB3 not being French enough.  This is the official story as is coming from EB Games and we can only assume that as we speak there are men being shipped in by the truckload into warehouses just inside the border hurriedly applying “le Keytar” stickers on plastic instruments through the dead of night.

Shaun White Skateboarding
Publisher:  Ubisoft Montreal
Developer:  Ubisoft

Speaking of genres left a smoking crater by Activision’s stewardship, did you know they’re still making skateboarding games?  And -two- of them are coming out this week?  I was so confused by this revelation that I went to Best Buy to see if there were still Dreamcast games on clearance and wound up coming home with fifty dollars in Blur CDs.

Anyway.  When Shaun White Skateboarding was announced earlier this year it actually looked somewhat interesting, what with a unique gameplay hook revolving around grind rails organically appearing from the environment, allowing you to shape your own skate board in the middle if the city.  There was even talk about it being a spiritual successor to Jet Grind Radio.  Then Ubisoft Montreal screwed all this up by releasing an absolutely detestable videogame.

Since Giantbomb doesn’t allow embedding of it’s videos to WordPress, click this link and be amazed at the awful.

From all appearances SWS looks to be yet another decent Ubisoft idea wholly ruined by the management realities of Ubisoft itself.

Smackdown vs Raw 2011
Developer:  Yuke’s
Publisher:  THQ
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360

I’m not certain but I think this is the first SvR to be released in the WWE’s new PG era, where overtly violent displays such as hitting people in the head are verboten.  Not that this will stop you from performing these traditional acts of brain-scrambling brutality in the videogame; there’s even an achievement for tossing a guy (or presumably lady) off the top of a ladder, to the floor, through a table.

Sadly none of the game’s storylines are likely to feature HHH incapacitating Linda McMahon before she can waste forty million dollars of his inheritance on a doomed senatorial campaign.  But the expanded storyline creator (now featuring 15 created wrestlers, up from last year’s six) should remedy this oversight.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher:  LucasArts
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

If you enjoyed the first TFU game then there’s absolutely nothing present in the second game’s review scores that will dissuade you from enjoying this as well.  If you like the idea of dudebro’ing it up in the Star Wars universe– and the net worth of George Lucas and Infinity Ward seem to indicate that most everyone does– then this is your game.

That said, I’m not sure how LucasArts managed to take an idea centered around a guy who dual-wields lightsabers, melts Stormtroopers, fistfights Imperial Star Destroyers and can legitimately take Darth Vader in a fight and turns that into a boring game, but damned if they didn’t manage to do it.

(Wait.  That’s no surprise at all.  The dude has the ability to kick the living shit out of pre-Grieving Father Mode Darth.  How do you present a legit challenge to someone like that?  It’s like if you started off God Of War 3 at the point at the end when Kratos is casually breaking Zeus’ face open.  There’s nowhere to go from there!)

Tony Hawk Shred
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360

Hey remember how everyone hated Tony Hawk: Ride because it introduced a barely functional skateboarding controller and the game itself was a regression in almost every way from previous Tony Hawk Games?  Yeah, they made another one.

(the observant reader may have realized at this point that we have entered a future where Skateboarding and Guitar games somehow still exist and EA is publishing the only well-liked games in any of these genres, and managed to so simply by not releasing revisions every fucking year.)

ZHP Unlosing Ranger vs Darkdeath Evilman
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher:  NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Portable

The only way I can figure that someone may be in the market for ZHP Unlosing Ranger is if you’re the sort of gamer who exclusively plays one genre on one platform and the genre and platform your neurosis has come up with was SRPGs for the PlayStation Portable.

I mean, I’m nowhere qualified to judge another human being, I willingly spend free time watching professional wrestling– But at the same time I have to figure that if you’ve managed to consume the entire PSP SRPG library up to the point where you’re in line with a boxed copy of Unlosing Ranger in hand (pretend for a moment that this scenario is taking place in a universe where non-Japanese people buy PSP games) maybe it’s time you reassess your life and how you got to this point.  How you reached this point in your life is no fault of your own, I’m just saying there’s more to gaming than Nippon Ichi.  There may even be other publishers releasing games on the PSP, I’ve not verified this but it’s my understanding that it even has a Metal Gear game now.


Actually next week is kinda slow.  We’re getting a new Fist of the North Star game and that’s always pretty cool to ha–  OH WAIT

We’re fucked.


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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 10-20-10: The Week Games Didn’t Suck Anymore

Posted by nfinit on October 19, 2010

Arcania:  Gothic 4
Developer:  Spellbound Entertainment AG
Publisher:  JoWood Productions
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.

The three of you reading this who are both hardcore German free-roaming PC RPG fans and who do not get your gaming news from Die Videospiele Vollgepisst  should know that Gothic publisher JoWood has decided to reboot the franchise to be more mainstream-and-console friendly, taking the series away from German PC RPG stalwarts Piranha Bytes and giving it over to Spellbound Entertainment AG, most recently known for translating Great Giana Sisters to the DS.  To put this in perspective for anyone who didn’t just spend the past half hour reading through the Gothic series Wikipedia portal, this is roughly akin to Bethesda outsourcing Elder Scrolls to the guys responsible for Purr Pals DS.

(Actually  that’s not being entirely fair to SpellBound, as to the best of my knowledge they have not produced two separate Napoleon Dynamite games.)

This is the first Gothic game to appear on consoles as well as the PC, but it would appear Gothic 4 has paid a predictably heavy price for it’s newfound mainstream audience– that being that the game is roughly 14 hours long and full of World of Warcraft-style fetch quests.  Gothic fans may find this particularly distressing when games like Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect have shown that you can chase the sweet, sweet mainstream  console gaming dollar and still provide a robust pseudo-PC RPG gaming experience.  Sadly it appears JoWood has decided to take the Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest path to mainstream success, which may explain why JoWood has only recently even deigned to admit that Arcana:  Gothic 4 is the next mainline Gothic game, having passed through more naming revisions than Billy Gunn in the late 90’s.

Blazing Souls Accelate
Developer:  Unclear, but probably Idea Factory.
Publisher:  Aksys Games
Platforms:  PlayStation Portable

No, I don’t know what “Accelate” means either aside from that the original Japanese devs probably really meant “Accelerate” and Aksys is so hardcore OCD about translation that they felt the game would be irrevocably harmed by fixing what appears to be a rather obvious spelling error.

Blazing Souls Accelerate is a rather astoundingly generic PSP Strat-RPG, to the point where it’s not entirely clear who’s responsible for original development.  Aksys’ website isn’t forthcoming with this information and the only evidence for Idea Factory’s involvement is that they were responsible for the first Blazing Souls PS2 game.  Blazing Souls Accolade is in fact so generic that just finding screenshots for this game resulted in visiting a Russian-language JRPG fansite that refused to let me leave the page without clicking on a confirmation dialog box and I probably now carry some sort of weaponized computer virus on my laptop.  These are the pains I take for my art.  Anyway, about that screenshot.

Let’s be honest here– the only reason you’re playing original PSP games in 2010 over iPhone games or DS games or running PS1 games in an emulator is because you expect PSP games to look super nice.

This thing is a fucking widesecreen SNES game.

I mean, come on.

That said if PSP games weren’t hilariously easy to pirate I’d buy Blazing Souls Accommodate simply as we’ve entered the late PS1-era stage of the PSP where the only things being released are super-niche JRPGs that sell maybe 3000 physical copies.

Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011
Developer:  Cauldron
Publisher:  Activision
Platforms:  DS,  PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360.

Remember all the times in Red Dead Redemption where you’d me minding your own damned business enjoying the sunset or picking wildflowers or absconding with nuns and some asshole mountain lion would leap out of nowhere and chase you and your horse over a cliff forcing you to respawn halfway across the map?  For those still traumatized by such events, Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2011 provides pure unadulterated revenge fantasy.

Also, if you play the home console versions you can buy the package with this:

And at that point you’re basically playing Time Crisis.  WITH BEARS.

I touched on this last year, but at some point the Cabella’s games became these hilariously over-the-top FPS games that just happened to feature grizzly bears instead of Taliban opposing force counter-insurgents.  somewhere along the way this development also lead to the development of the Dangerous Hunts Bear Maul Tour

Casper’s Scare School Spooky Sports Day
Developer: Red Wagon Games
Publisher: SVG Distribution
Platforms: Nintendo DS; Wii.

Somehow Casper still exists but somehow Wendy the Good Witch remains ignored despite Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and the entirety of Goth culture.  This is complete horseshit

I’m going to blame the rise of ghost hunter television shows for the bizarre resurgence of Casper the Friendly Ghost in our modern culture.  There’s no other rational explanation.  As far as this game goes:

Please don’t buy your children this game.  If your child is foolish enough to actually ask for this, then he’s also dumb enough to be fooled into playing another, better game.  Also your child may be suffering from severe developmental issues and/or may be influenced by communication with ghosts or other unworldly spirits inside your home.

Cars Toon:  mater’s Tall Tales
Developer:  Disney Interactive
Publisher:  Disney Interactive
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

I dunno if I’ve ever touched on this before, but I really hate the word “mater” instead of “tomato”.  Aso “tater” instead of “potato”.  Use of either is just admitting you revel in being a lazy ignorant redneck fuck.  See also the term “fixin’s” instead of “toppings”,  “sammies” instead of “sanwiches” and “veggies” instead of vegetables, although these are more widespread cultural annoyances than evidence of being distressingly proud of your rural Southern upbringing.

As far as this actual game goes, Disney Interactive is asking you to pay fifty dollars to play an interactive advertisement for the Cars franchise.  This is the same week where you could buy your child a Kirby game instead!

DJ Hero 2
Developer:  Freestyle Games
Publisher:  Satan Made Flesh in Corporate Form
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Wii. Xbox 360

Despite Activision’s spin that the first DJ Hero was “the highest grossing new intellectual property of 2009”, I have to imagine DJ Hero 2 exists more out of inertia than on any real sales merit.  Sure it churned a lot of money, but then again through 2009 the base package cost 120 dollars, and most of the actual 1.5 million sales it produced came well after retailers realized they were stuck with hundreds of thousands of shelf-hogging DJ Hero boxes.

But the industry being the way it is you can’t go and develop a game from the ground up complete with licensing and turntable and expect to only get one stinking videogame out of it, so here we are in the twilight of the rhythm genre’s relevancy with a second DJ Hero game.

And much like the first game, DJH2 is probably a perfectly acceptable effort, basically taking the formula of the first game and adding more, more songs, a second turntable and more opportunities for freestyle scratching.  Of course, I don’t get rhythm games and I don’t get club culture so I’m about as well suited to offer opinions and/or enthusiasm for this game as I am for breeding Bichon Friese puppies, just to say that I wish this fucking genre would die so Neversoft can be freed from their corporate shackles and release a Skeleton Warriors sequel.

EA Sports MMA
Developer: EA Tuburon
Publisher:  Electronic Arts
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

I’m coinivinced that EA Sports MMA doesn’t exist as much as an attempt to build an alternative brand to UFC Undisputed as much as it represents a public resume to UFC president Dana White that EA is capable of building a competent UFC game backed with EA’s marketing clout.

On the other hand, if EA Sports MMA represents an earnest effort then it’s encouraging in that it provided a holistic view of MMA as a worldwide sport spanning many different leagues, rulesets, arenas and fighting styles, as opposed to UFC’s compartmentalized approach.  For instance, you can utilize the rules for Japan’s PRIDE promotion if you wished, where fights take place in boxing rings and fighters are allowed to stomp on the heads of downed opponents, or the more sanitized rules found in America’s Strikeforce series.

The problem is the roster, as has been publicized by Dana White’s threats to blackball any fighter who signs a contract with EA.  Due to this the roster is largely composed of guys who are either so popular as to be untouchable by Dana in the first place– Fedor Emelianenko and Randy Couture the most obvious examples– or guys like Bobby Lashley and Bob Sapp who would never be handed UFC contracts to begin with.  So you wind up with a roster with a handful of high-profile stars filled in by people casual MMA fans have never heard of.

That said, you could always create Anderson Silva and spend fifteen solid minutes kicking in Chael Sonnen’s head as he lay in a stupor, and if that’s not sixty dollar’s worth of entertainment I don’t know what is.

Fallout:  New Vegas
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

I’m trying very hard to stay optimistic about New Vegas, but this is an Obsidian Games joint and in the wake of Alpha Protocol there’s every chance that Obsidian is a bad studio.  I mean, let’s look at the record:

Alpha Protocol:  Complete, irredeemable shit

Neverwinter Nights 2:  Good, albeit fantastically glitchy despite the engine and setting being handed over whole cloth from  NWN1

Knights of the Old Republic 2:  Fantastic as an RPG, probably better than the first KOTOR, but also buggy as a Brooklyn used mattress store and obviously releasing incomplete (despite again the engine and setting being established in KOTOR 1)

I dunno.  It’s entirely possible that New Vegas is an outstanding game, you just can’t deny Obsidian’s dubious pedigree.  And it’s not like Obsidian is exactly working with the most stable engine ever created– Fallout 3 had some rather astounding issues with free-world jank:

Like I said, I’m trying to ignore all this and remember that even if New Vegas were nothing but seventy hours of side missions for FO3 then it’d instantly be my GOTY, but man, I do not feel good about this.

Flip’s Twisted World
Developer: Frozen North  Productions
Publisher:  Majesco

At some point a couple of years back the Wii became the go-to console for weird gravity shit, and by “go-to console” I mean “now there’s three gravity games and two are Mario Galaxy”, although there’s also Lost in Shadow coming out soon, but it’s more a perspective-trick platformer than a gravity platformer so I guess nothing in the paragraph works at all and I should start again.

Flip’s Twisted World looks interesting, but it’s also being compared to a low-rent Mario Galaxy.  Which is fine, as long as the twenty dollars you’ve said by buying Flip instead of Galaxy somehow makes you forget that you’ve willingly decided not to play one of the most inventive and beloved games of this console generation, although that twenty bucks will also buy you buy most of the bit.trip games, so I guess that’s a pretty good trade.  Anyway if you’re considering buying this game do so before Majesco realizes they’ve somehow funded development for a videogame that isin’t a babysitting sim and they have all copies pulled from shelves and the developers at Frozen North rounded up and shot.

John Daly’s ProStroke Golf
Developer:  Navarre
Publisher:  O-Games
Platforms:  PlayStation 3.

Yup.  That’s where we’re at.

A John Daly golf game is a great idea; but a wholly forgettable motion-controlled golf sim is entirely the wrong way to go about this.  Instead of just slapping John Daly’s name on the front of the box like his pro golf career was something of an accomplishment (I love the dude to death, but he’s only won five tours since joining the PGA in 1987.  Danica Patrick has had a better career than this guy), the best way to do service to this great man is to live the life of John Daly in videogame form.  Follow me here.

1:  We’re going to make this an open world game like GTA 3, so we’ll need a city with lots of golf courses and Hooter’s restaurants.  Myrtle Beach, South Carolina is a fine choice and also allows us to incorporate fireworks smuggling into the gameplay.

2:  You play as John Daly, Golf Hustler, a guy who shakes down tourists and other local pros for skins money while at the same time paying off massive drug and gambling debts to the local crime families.

3:  The ultimate goal of the game is to restore your professional reputation as a golfer so you can rejoin the pro tour, gaining sponsorships along the way.  During this you must avoid media scandal while at the same time satisfying your own animalistic needs for whores, booze, gambling and whoring.  Also you must avoid your maniacal, kife-wielding ex-wife and find parts to upgrade your RV which serves as your home and mode of transportation.

Kirby’s Epic Yarn
Developer:  Hal Laboratory
Publisher:  Nintendo
Platforms:  Wii

So if you’re interested in buying this you have to temper the fact that you’ll be playing an excellent 2d platformer with the knowledge that you’ll be paying fifty dollars for a five hour long game that was in no way meant for adult consumption.  This is the gaming equivalent of buying a box of Fruity Pebbles for dinner.

Power Gig:  Rise of the SixString
Developer:  Seven45 Studios
Publisher:  Seven45 Studios
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Back two years ago when Power Gig was likely first conceived, a guitar game utilizing a real guitar sounded like a good idea.  Rock Band/Rock Band 2 had just recently awakened people to the idea that the rhythm genre was a mainstream phenomenon, roughly thirty Guitar Hero expansions were released in an 18 month span, and somehow it became a socially accepted– and even somewhat cool– practice to carry around plastic videogame guitars on your person in public.  Friends and frat brothers bonded over long nights of clanking plastic keys and it seemed like the music and gaming industries had combined into an unstoppable cash generating typhoon.

We had guitars, we had microphones, we even had somewhat complete drum sets– the only thing we were lacking was a Real Guitar, and until that point Real Guitar Players would continue to turn their collective noses up at the legion of plastic Stratocaster-wielding nerds infiltrating comic cons and karaoke joints.  Gamers, being the most absolutely insecure market for mass media, are constantly seeking legitimacy, and if for no other reason than that it seemed like a guitar game using a real guitar was the next logical step.

Then something funny happened.  Seemingly overnight, people stopped caring about guitar games.  Rock Band: Beatles came and went with nary anyone noticing despite, you know.   The Beatles.  Guitar Hero’s constant stream of expansion discs and dubious revisions, already something of a running joke in the industry, became tiresome and trite.  Stacks of Rock Revolution discs were unsellable at five dollars a pop.  The bubble had burst.

But the gaming industry works almost entirely upon inertia, it’s not like you can stop producing a game even when it’s painfully obvious it’s destined for disaster.  That brings us to Power Gig:  Rise of the Six String.

This is going to be bad.  I mean, awful bad.  This is going to be one of those disasters our children will ask us about years later and we’ll brace ourselves trying to explain what went wrong, much as your parents probably do Jimmy Carter.  Not only is it a bad game (this is being written late on a Tuesday evening with no mainstream gaming press reviews announced as of yet– Which means no review copies were sent to the usual suspects.

Power Gig is about to sent us on an incredible, near-unprecedented journey of fail, but this goes beyond the mere dubious quality of the game itself.  Let’s talk about the entire Power Gig package:

1:  The Guitar:

Looks reasonably good representation of an adult guitar, right?  I mean, get rid of the tacky looking buttons and that seems like something you’d expect to see lying around the house of your nearest guitar playing friend’s home, and indeed the promise of Power Gig is that you could use this guitar to learn how to play for real.

Only problem is, that’s not a full-sized guitar.  It’s only 2/3rds the size of something you’d actually want to play music on.  So no matter how good you ever get at Power Gig– and there’s no evidence that you’d -want- to get good at Power Gig– none of that will translate to real-world guitar playing ability.  Basically you’re paying at least $170 for something that looks slightly more legitimate than the black plastic thing that sort of resembles a guitar that came with your copy of Guitar Hero 3 for the PS3.

We’re not done.

For a mere two hundred and thirty American dollars, you also get the game, the real-guitar-but-not-really, and this… thing.

Air drums.  You get air drums.

I mean, this game’s entire premise is about authenticity, right?  I mean, that’s why they brought in Eric Clapton, that’s why there’s a guitar with strings on it, that’s why this thing is touted as giving the gamer the ability to learn how to play a real guitar.  So what the fuck is with this reject from a mid-80’s MTV fever dream?

Still with me?  We’re almost home.  If you were still in the market for a guitar game following the genre’s collapse, you’d just wait two weeks and buy this thing anyway:

Which is Fender’s Actual Fucking Guitar for Rock Band 3.

I mean, I hate to see people fail, especially devs trying to feed their families in this economy, but sometimes people should just fucking know better.

Super Meat Boy
Developer:  Team Meat
Publisher:  Team Meat
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade (this week) WiiWare (sometime in November)

How insanely good is this week’s lineup of games?  Super Meat Boy is probably only the third best game to be released this week (possibly fourth depending on how important Kirby is to you).

It’s still going to wind up being the first game I buy over New Vegas and Vanquish though, as I can turn on my 360 at any point and just buy the stupid thing, plus it’s only fifteen bucks.  Fifteen bucks of pure 16/8-bit sadistic platforming love.

Edmund McMillan hates humanity and wishes to express this hatred through single-screen platformers.

Developer:  Platinum Games
Publisher:  Sega
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.

Kids, do you love Shinji Makami?

Don’t answer that; it’s a stupid question.  Of course you love Shinji Mikami.  Shinji Makami was responsible for Resident Evil 4, for Devil May Cry 1, for PN 03, Viewtiful Joe and God Hand.  You love Shinji Mikami and Shinji Makami loves you.

That’s why you need to buy Vanquish.  Right now.

Usually when you have Japanese studios trying their hand at traditionally Western-developed genres you wind up with some godawful abomination like Quantum Theory.  But Platinum Games has this figured out– the trick isn’t to ape western game design, rather it’s to take a proven idea (third person cover-based shooter) and Japanese the fuck out of it with pinpoint control, arcade-fast gameplay and fill it full of robots.  Also get rid of the co-op crap while you’re at it, hardcore gamers are solitary creatures and largely resent being forced to interact socially in games unless you’re actively trying to kill the other guy and/or escape a zombie apocalypse.  Vanquish is going to represent the perfect fusion of Japanese gaming ideal and American fit-and-polish.

The only possible drawback I can see ( you know, without actually playing the game yet) is that Vanquish may be lamentably short at seven hours.  That’s somewhat made up for in that (much like Bayonetta, also from Platinum games) you are scored on how well you performed each level.  I can fully see myself playing through each level two or three times, but I also understand that seven hours of entertainment for sixty dollars is a tad underwhelming.  But it’s seven hours of what may well be the best game of it’s genre.


Find out of WWE Legal had enough time to strip Matt Hardy out of SMACKDOWN VS RAW 2011!

Against all logic FABLE THREE is coming out this Holiday.  Seriously would it have killed you to put this out two months ago when I was stuck playing Persona 4 all Summer?

TONY HAWK SHRED wait holy shit you guys made a second game that uses that godawful skateboard?

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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 10-13-10: Medal of Dutyfield

Posted by nfinit on October 13, 2010

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Dragon’s Lair Trilogy

Developer:  Digital Leisure
Publisher:  Destineer
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

When  I first caught wind of this title I was somewhat intrigued, seeing as how Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair Trilogy only actually comprised two games.  But there’s always the possibility of some weird Dragon’s Lair variant specially produced for a wealthy Arabian oil baron was unearthed, or maybe the studio found some unused prototype material and cobbled it into a working game (or at least as far as you can call Bluth’s early experiments in Quick Time Events “games”.

So I went to Destineer’s Dragon Lair Trilogy  website and was greeted with this pile of horseshit:

Number one, we’re pushing the limit on the term “timeless” here– Don Bluth’s stuff was timeless in much the same way the ** for another, NO ONE EVER LIKED SPACE ACE.



It’s easy to see why Destineer felt the need to include Space Ace in the package; a thirty dollars you’re pushing the public’s limit for putting up with compressed video file formats and pretty much everything you need to get out of Dragon’s Lair you can relive in about fifteen minutes on Youtube anyway.  It’s just disingenuous as hell, and that bothers me.  Why not call it the Don Bluth collection?  People probably remember Secret of NIMH and Anastasia far better than the Laserdisc stuff at this point, and selling people Space Ace without warning them first is only going to piss them off.  I mean there were absolutely no redeeming points to  Space Ace–

–well okay maybe a couple.

Anyway my greatest concern with the Dragon’s Lair Trilogy isn’t so much the fact that Space Ace exists at all, it’s that if Destineer keeps re-releasing Dragon’s Lair games than sooner or later the damned thing is going to appear on Kinect and we’ll have combined the twin destructive forces of FMV gameplay and Waggle into a giant shitstorm of suck as publishers the world over realize they don’t need to spend money on videogame designers if they can instead trick the populace into gently shuffling in time to a cartoon and call it a “videogame”.

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Developer:  Novarama
Publisher:  SCEA
Platforms:  Sony PSP

Once you get past the idea that you’re playing what amounts to a European-derived clone of Pokemon, this is actually a neat concept.  Instead of finding animals to enslave via wandering around an overworld and looking for random battles, you use the PSP camera to wander around your real-world environment until certain conditions in the background and lighting are met, place a token recognized by the game on the ground and wait for the monster to appear, coaxing it out of hiding via video footage of your school playground or your parent’s bank account statements or your dad feeling up the cleaning lady.

Basically what I’m saying is that this is secretly a way for Sony Computer Entertainment to collect damning blackmail information.  The parents of the five children who happen to own PSP cameras are fucked.

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Just Dance 2

Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

Game sales are weird; there’s just no way to tell what titles are going to sustain a multibillion dollar behemoth like Activision and what’s going to wind up regarded as shovelware-level palp.

It certainly seemed like Just Dance was the latter; it being thoroughly savaged by critics for being sloppy and cheap-looking with next to no replayability thanks to no unlockables.  It turns out the mainstream buyer (read:  Wii Audience) couldn’t care less about that crap.  Sloppy controls are a benefit when you consider gaming a hobby performed by introvert weirdos, and unlockables are probably backward and regressive anyway; no one likes being told that chunks of the product they just paid money for is hidden until arbitrary goals are met.

So it turns out Just Dance 1 sold stupidly well and has spawned it’s own franchise, including children’s versions, an all-Broadway version, an insanely slick-looking Micheal Jackson tribute and this full-blown sequel, which will sell more copies than the past five iterations of Rock Band and Guitar Hero combined.

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Lucha Libre AAA Heroes of the Ring

Developer:  Immersion Software and Graphics
Publisher:  Konami
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Heroes of the Ring is something I’d love to see succeed; ever since the tragic loss of the Def Jam fighting franchise our industry has been in dire need of wrestling games other than Smackdown vs Raw.

But it has a few things going against it.  For one, it’s Tuesday and there’s no reviews up for this game yet; that would tend to indicate that no review copies were sent out and that’s generally a bad sign.  What’s worse, it’s not WWF No Mercy, so no one would even care even if it did somehow turn out that this was a good videogame.

What’s worse, with no Ultra Mantis Black
why should we even care?

Sadly the most interesting thing that will ever come about of Heroes of the Ring is the free lucadore mask promotion fiasco– If for some weird reason you actually pre-ordered Heroes of the Ring then you were promised a free luchadore mask.  Turns out these masks failed to pass consumer safety standards, most likely meaning they were prone to melt to people’s faces should they catch fire.

It should be noted that if you really wanted that lucha mask, there exist places you can buy such things, featuring much more interesting people.

(basically this entire entry has been an ad for Chikara Pro, and I’m okay with that, and you should be, too!)

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Lufia:  Curse of the Sinistrals

Developer:  Neverland
Publisher:  Natsume
Platform:  Nintendo DS

The entire Curse of the Sinistrals experiment Neverland is performing is quite random.  For one, I’m not sure why the development team chose the second Lufia game to remake for the DS; I seem to remember most of the nostalgia for the series stemming from the first game.  Secondly it’s not a turn-based JRPG at all anymore, it’s now an action RPG.  It’s hard to understand what value the Lufia brand brings to the party unless Neverland just has a creepy obsession with the mid 90’s.

This isnt’ the first time Neverland was responsible for ruining an otherwise perfectly functional turn-based franchise by re-writing it as an action RPG– these were the same guys who brought us Shining Force Neo and Shining Force EXA.  Basically this means that Neverland ranks among history’s greatest monsters roughly alongside Jim Jones but slightly behind Idi Amin, who gets extra atrocity points thanks to that one scene in The Last King of Scotland where he replaced his wife’s legs with his arms.

But if Neverland is going to inexplicably mutilate something I suppose it’s better that they do so to one of their own properties.

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Medal of Honor

Developer:  DICE (multiplayer) Danger Close (singleplayer)
Publisher:  Electronic Arts
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Medal of Honor: No Subtitle Required is more than just the next MoH or even the first MoH to leave the trenches of WWII; it’s a reboot of the entire series and nothing less than an assault upon Activision’s font of profitability, Call of Duty.  EA badly needs MoH not to just be a good game, but to be a rather outstanding game, the sort of thing you can build (or, in this case, rebuild) an entire franchise around, and one of the few bright spots in what is becoming an increasingly bleak Holiday 2010.

Here’s EA’s problem:  Medal of Honor sucks.


And maybe you’re thinking “73 doesn’t sound too bad; I wouldn’t beat my child if he were to come home with a 73 on the report card” but you have to remember that game sites work on a scale that starts off at 75% and works up from there.  Also reviewers are naturally skittish against giving scathing reviews to AAA titles emanating from one of the Big Three– even Mirror’s Edge still sits at an inexplicable 79% Metacritic aggregate.

Most complaints seem to stem from the fact that MoH: Epic Beard Guy is that the twin development studios tasked with creating separate single and multi-player gameplay modes managed to combine for a rather rote retelling of the modern-day Call of Duty and Battlefield games.  Which would all be fine if Treyarch   weren’t already coming out with a modern-day Call of Duty coming out next month and if you’re going to buy a generic CoD game you may as well buy the generic CoD from the masters of generic CoD.

It could also be that there’s just a lot of stagnation in this genre– This year alone we’ll have had Bad Company 2, Medal of Honor: Company of Duty and Call of Duty: Black Ops.  This is ignoring ancillary stuff like Army of 2 (2), Kane and Lynch 2, Halo Reach, Tango Down, MAG, ect, ect– that’s a lot of brodude to go through in one year and you have to think the genre (such as it is) is in very real danger of pulling a Guitar Hero and wearing out it’s welcome.

And I’m not convinced that’s necessarily a bad thing, either, even if the alternative for the time being is for the industry to wear itself out on waggle.  Gun porn is cool, but it’s also really fucking old and I’d rather the industry move on before someone at Capcom gets the bright idea that the next Strider game should be about shooting at Russians with meticulously detailed M4 carbines  rather than cutting them open with plasma swords.

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Sengoku BASARA Samurai Heroes

Developer:  Capcom
Publisher:  Capcom
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii

At first I was going to write off Sengoku Basara as yet another generic Dynasty Warriors knockoff and move on with my life; I’d literally never heard of this series before today.  Turns out Sengoku Basara is a Dynasty Warriors knockoff; but does so in a little different way:  By giving kids the wrong idea about Japanese history.  For instance, Oda Nobunaga:  Shotgun Ninja

…and basically moves on from there, featuring other real-life Japanese historical figures in mech suits and other clear violations of Japanese culture that never the less will get some people interested enough that they’ll also learn about the boring parts along the way.

Which is to say that there’s no need to stop with merely making Japanese history sound way more awesome than it has any right to be; the same basic idea could be extended to other dry areas of history, such as the Reconstruction.  It doesn’t particularly matter of John Wilkes Booth didn’t actually escape Ford Theatre via an out-of-control Warthog case sequence; by the time people realize what’s up they’ll have already been exposed to history.

As far as this game goes; IGN is the only review currently available and they gave it a 45, which would be outstanding if there was a decimal between the 4 and the 5 andIGN’s review scale went to 5, but sadly it scales to 100.  Stay away!

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4:  Episode 1

Developer: Sega/DIMPS
Publisher: Sega
Platforms: XBLA, Playstation Network, WiiWare

So it turns out the way you make a good post-Adventure Sonic is to get rid of all the crap that came with Adventure and beyond– any of Sonic’s friends not named Tails; machineguns; lycanthropy, NPC interaction, the z-axis– and cram it as full of nostalgia as you can get away with without actively tricking people into buying Sonic 1 again.

But never discount Sega’s ability to fuck a good thing up:  Note the “Episode 1” in Sonic 4’s title.  There’s still plenty of opportunity for Sega to do something awful, whether it be Big the Cat or an Episode featuring nothing but water levels or the return of this abomination:

There’s also the issue where Sega’s asking for fifteen bucks for four level’s worth of content.  There have been some fairly meaty XBLA titles released at that same price point, some of which you can point to as being candidates for full-fledged console titles– Sega’s asking the same price for what would maybe amount to half of a Genesis game.  I’m not sure how Sega can hope to justify that save that they expect Sega fans to be so desperate for new quality Sonic that they’ll consider fifteen dollars a pittance.  Me, I was as hardcore of a Sega guy as they came back in the day when Sega and Sonic were still relevant, but there’s no way I can justify dropping fifteen dollars on this when Super Meat Boy is coming out in less than a week.

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Super Scribblenauts

Developer:  5th Cell
Publisher:  Warner Brothers
Platforms:  Nintendo DS

The main complaint about the first Scribblenauts game (Provided you’re allowed to call anything related to Scribblenauts as a “complaint” without being beset by it’s virulent; largely oblivious fans) was that once you moved past the insanely brilliant idea of a puzzle game where you almost literally wrote your own solutions, it was a rather terrible game.  The controls were shoddy, too many items stored in the database performed the exact same function; and most all of the puzzled could be solved with a handful of items– the most extreme case being a vending machine which simply coughed up the star you sought every level.  Despite these objections Scribblenauts became the darling of the New Games Journalist and the rare weird DS game that also wound up a commercial success.

As far as the puzzle game portion of Scribblenauts went; one ever complained about the amount of stuff in Scribblenauts, it was always how much of that stuff was duplicated or otherwise useless.  5th Cell addressed these concerns by adding more stuff.

Okay, that’s not entirely fair.  You now control your character with the D-Pad like a civilized human being, and the adjective system allows for far more interaction between items; but it’s hard to tell at this point if the primary puzzle issues have been address.

Review scores are overall outstanding, with an aggregate of 85%.  This is admittedly early, but it’s still significantly higher than the first game, so it’s entirely possible 5th Cell fixed the actual scribblenauts-as-a-videogame-rather-than-an-idea issues; and that’s probably about right.  With an idea as different as Scribblenauts it’s not exactly rational to expect any studio to get it right on the first try.  It’s also one of those games that you should probably want to succeed regardless of it’s quality as a videogame; sometime the idea really is more important than the game itself.


VANQUISH is here to make you remember why you love videogames!


EA Sports MMA is probably even more underwhelming than Fedor’s strength-of-schedule!

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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 10-6-10: Slutty genies, NBA Jam, and other stories

Posted by nfinit on October 6, 2010

The less that was said about the Summer of 2010 the better.

Moving on.

Ben Ten: Ultimate Alien:  Cosmic Destruction
Publisher: D3 Games
Developer: Griptonite Games (DS version) Papaya Studios (Everything else)
Platforms: Fucking Everything

This week’s Most Egregious Use of Subtitle Colons award goes to this thing, which is about alien forms and ultimate alien forms and console exclusive ultimate alien forms and… something.  From what I can gather (without running the very real risk of being exposed to the Ben 10:  The Cartoon) BT: UA: CD is a 3d platformer/brawler where you regularly transform into different ULTIMATE ALIENS, which basically means this is Kameo:  Elements of Power with better marketing.

At any rate, how the fuck is Ben 10 still a thing?  It debuted in 2005!  There are kids who received Ben 10 merch at Christmas who are now working toward associate degrees!  At what point did children’s cartoons simply never end and why did Silverhawks have come and go before this period of time?  I mean we’re talking about dudes in robotic bird suits flying through space via the power of keyars.  There’s a half-dozen game ideas in that previous sentence alone.
Castlevania:  Lords of Shadow
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Mercury Stream Games
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Franchise reboots are popular in Japan, as is farming out said franchise reboots to Western developers, and Lords of Shadow represents both of these disturbing trends.  And while the idea of a 3d Castlevania-styled God of War-style brawler sounds  like a good combination, there’s simply not a lot to be excited about with Lords of Shadow.  For one, it can hardly be considered a “Castlevania”– it was developed simply as “Lords of Shadow” before Konami realized they were paying for a gothic 3d brawler and decided to slap the Castlevania moniker atop it.  Secondly, the it’s not like devloper Mercury Stream has a long lineage of quality games to call back to.  They’re the guys responsible for Clive Baker’s Jericho and American McGee’s Scrapland.

And don’t be fooled by the “Kojima Productions” logo on the box– Kojima himself has admitted that his crew only has a tangential investment in Lords of Shadow, as if you’d want Hideo Kojima to have anything to do with a Castlevania title in the first place. Meanwhile Konami left Symphony of the Night mastermind Koji Igarashi for dead on Xbox Live Arcade with ten thousand dollars and a mandate to produce a new title for Summer of Arcade 2010 or be loaded into the railgun of a fully-functional 1:1 scale model of Metal Gear Rex and fired  directly into North Korean airspace.

Anyway,  Lords of Shadow.  It’s a hard game to get a gauge on as the demo is literally ten minutes long and the reviews are in that mid-80’s range where reviewers clearly can’t tell if it’s an average game with great production values or a good game that they simply don’t quite “get”.   I want Lords of Shadow to be a good game; if Konami can manage to bring the Castlevania name back to relevancy maybe Igarashi will finally be given another crack at a real 3d Shadow of the Night, but the way Konami’s gone about development for Lords of Shadow just leaves me feeling no enthusiasm for the game at all and I honestly would feel a little guilty for buying it new.
Comic Jumper
Publisher:  Twisted Pixel
Developer:  Twisted Pixel
Platforms:  Xbox Live Arcade

Funny videogames don’t exactly have a storied history.

For one, quality videogame writing is  rare and coveted asset, and humor itself is highly subjective and doesn’t often translate into games well– the few instances where good, funny writing have occurred in gaming are usually spoken about in hushed, reverent tones, such as the Monkey Island games.

It’s even rarer than that to have a funny game that’s also a fundamentally good videogame.  There’s a reason why most genuinely funny games are adventure games, such as the aforementioned Monkey Island series or Sam and Max– It’s hard to have a good action game experience that comes off as funny without being overbearing.  Not that this isn’t impossible, Time Splitters was a good videogame that was funny simply due to the sheer absurdity of the events taking place.  Duke Nukem 3d is another example, although its humor is mostly juvenile and offensive to the point where it comes back around the other side and you don’t really mind that women are being treated as property simply because of all the other insane shit the game is asking you to accept.

Usually though, action gamest that try go out-of-the-way to be funny fail in some crucial way.  Brutal Legend was funny, but was also some sort of godawful multiplayer RTS hybrid that Doublefine had so little confidence in that they refused to explain what the game was even about during the game’s demo; whereas Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard tried to hide it’s gameplay flaws with a forced attempt at self-aware humor that only served to aggravate and expose those very same problems.

Still, there’s a lot of things going for Comic Jumper.  The developer Twisted Pixel is actually known for producing good games that are actually genuinely funny, what with Splosion Man probably being the best exclusive Xbox 360 released last year.  For another, it’s stylish as all fuck; every stage is set in a different comic book era or genre, with art and gameplay corresponding to those settings.

If the game is more than five hours long I’m going to wind up buying it; I’ll let you know if that was a mistake or not.

(Fake edit:  Ha-HA!  No I’m not playing this awful excuse for a videogame, the updated Giantbomb quicklook utterly savaged Comic Jumper as I was in the process writing up this week’s WAW.  Clever FMV and good dialog is no substitute for lousy gameplay fundamentals.)
Def Jam Rapstar
Publisher: Konami
Developer: 4mm Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii.

So this is Hip-Hop karaoke.  I am in no way qualified to say anything of interest about this game, although Paul Cryone of developer 4mm saying “Internally we used Get on Da Mic as the architectural model of how not to do Def Jam Rapstar” is the sickest burn one developer can deliver to another without a direct reference to Silicon Knights.

In tangentially related new I’m saddened to see that the Def Jam label has apparently abandoned the concept of rap-themed MMA games.
Enslaved:  Odyssey to the West
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Ninja Theory
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Enslaved is probably a decent game; the demo was interesting enough, it’s freaking gorgeous and who doesn’t want more Uncharted 2? I just have a hard time summoning any interest in Enslaved considering the sheer amount of outstanding stuff coming out this Holiday.   If this thing were released a month previously or held onto for another two months it’d probably be the only thing the gaming community would talk about for at least a week.  As it stands most everyone who would be interested in Enslaved probably has a half-dozen other games to pay attention to between now and Christmas.

This is a Ninja Theory game, the guys more famous for everything they’ve worked on other than Enslaved– one being the thoroughly lackluster Heavenly Sword, the other that based on the strength of Heavenly Sword Capcom somehow decided that twelve hours of gong-related puzzles was good a good enough portfolio to entrust with the future of the Devil May Cry series.

As I alluded to with Lords of Shadow, I consider the most frustrating aspect of this console generation the flight of Japanese publishing houses to Western development studios. It’s all the more frustrating when beloved franchises are dragged into the mix.  It’s one thing for Capcom to attempt to reboot the long-dead Bionic Commando brand (even if the result is an utter farce) But when you take something that people already care about (like say, Castlevania or Devil May Cry) you’re just going to annoy the people who have invested themselves into these franchises and are aware of what you’re doing.  Has there ever been a recorded case where a franchise reboot handed over to a wholly alien developer has resulted in a resurrection of that series?  I’m willing to bet these cases are exceptionally rare– Ironically one of the few I can think of being Bionic Commando ReArmed, although it can be argued that’s entirely because it was not a wildly ambitious HD experience, unlike virtually every other attempt to “westernize” established Japanese franchises, up to and including the “full-sized” Bionic Commando reboot.

This console generation has already seen a homogenization on a massive scale; with art styles and gameplay mechanics and even GUIs  becoming more generic across genres, continents and publishers.  All of which is a shame, because if you’re craving for weird Japanese shit this generation you’re stuck with a few stalwarts such as Metal Gear and Final Fantasy, or you’re going to have to go to the handhelds.

(note that I wouldn’t mind so bad if this

wasn’t what passed for character design at Ninja Theory.  DMC 5 is going to be ugly, and I don’t just mean in the way that Heavenly Sword plays like a lobotomized God of War.)

As far as Enslaved:  Journey to the West?  As I mentioned, it’s probably decent; if you have a console capable of playing Enslaved then there’s currently a demo available for your perusal.  The platforming sort of holds your hand, but does so in a very inconsistent fashion that leaves you wandering where the game expects you to go in the instances where the devs refused to make the climbable parts of a level obvious.  It seems to be a thoroughly competent 3d platformer; I’m just not entirely convinced that alone is worthy of sixty bucks this Holiday season.
Final Fantasy:  The 4 Heroes of Light
Publisher:  Square Enix
Developer: Matrix Software
Platform: Nintendo DS

Despite allusions within the title, The Four Heroes of Light has  nothing to do with Final Fantasy 4 or any other mainline Final Fantasy game. Matrix Software producer Tomoya Asono bills this as “a classic fantasy RPG using today’s technology”, which seems to me a roundabout way of saying “Hey DQ9 sold more copies than the King James Bible, let’s get in on that while we still have jobs”  And for Squeenix proper that translates to  “it’s probably a good idea not to chase away the traditional JRPG market while we spend a decade fucking around with mainline Final Fantasy

So should you buy 4 Heroes of Light?  It’s a traditional FF RPG to the point where it even has a Job system.  Of course you should buy it.
NBA 2K11
Publisher: 2k Sports
Developer: Visual Concepts
Platforms: More systems than NBA Elite 11 will appear on this year

The 2K11 edition is a neat concept in that it’s as much a tribute to Micheal Jordan’s career as anything else, with the main draw being a suite of challenges from MJ’s pro hoops history, as well as insights to the teams and players he would ultimately go on to ruthlessly destroy.

It is as yet unclear if MJ’s involvement in this game has resulted in inflated stats for Kwame Brown and/or greatly exaggerated chances for a Charlotte Bobcats playoff run than should really be expected.

In a hilarious turn of events NBA 2k11 might be the only “real” NBA game produced this season, what with the mysterious and sudden collapse of EA’s reboot of it’s own NBA series.  That said, even with these new features NBA 2K11 isn’t the most interesting NBA game to be released this year or even this week, as this exists:
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Canada
Platforms: Wii (for now)

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like, and yes if you own a Wii (and only a Wii) you need to own this game.  Or if you have a PS360, you should wait and buy the copy that has online multiplayer and won’t cost you fifty dollars.

One of the great subplots surrounding the gaming industry this year has been EA’s masterful trolling of the Wii userbase with NBA Jam.  First came the announcement that EA had somehow wound up with the NBA Jam license, paid for via a mostly full carton of Camel Lights and an agreement to validate Matt Boody’s parking ticket.  The game was revealed at E3 this year and seemed to have “Wii Exclusive” written all over it, what with the game being a lo-fi arcade throwback, and, well, appearing on Wii hardware during the event.  Wii owners were ecstatic, finally they had some good evidence that a major publisher was treating their platform with some modicum of respect.  There were some caveats of course, the main one being that there would be no online play offered, but this wasn’t seen as unreasonable, Jam is an arcade game and meant to be a shared experience.

Oh, and it’d be sold on disc.

For full MSRP.

Again, whatever.  This is NBA Jam, that’s sort of a big deal, and if EA is going to treat the Wii seriously it only made sense to ship discs at full retail, right?

Then game the news that NBA Jam– or at least a mode of NBA Jam– would be included as downloadable content for EA’s “real” NBA game, EA NBA Elite 11, for the PS3 and 360…

…with online play.

This in itself was a masterpiece of trolling by EA.  Not only would PS360 owners get a high-def version of the Wii game for practically free, it was obvious EA was using the entire NBA Jam announcement as a promotional tool for Elite 11.  Wii owners were, of course , mortified.  A  hue and cry was released over messageboards the world over and a great victory was struck over Nintendo goons and the casual hordes which sought to destroy our hobby.

But not all was lost for Wii owners– after all, the version of NBA Jam present in Elite 11 was largely crippled.  Yes, it was in HD and would feature online play, but it could hardly be called a full-fledged product; the game would be very basic and not feature the full suite of options and game modes present in on the Wii disc.

Then in late September it was revealed that EA Canada had fucked up so badly with the development of NBA Elite 11 that the game would have to be pushed back to an indefinite date sometime in 2011, if indeed it was released in time for the 2011 NBA season at all.  EA, in desperate need to make something out of this fiasco– and with the coding for NBA Jam just sitting there– decided to announce that the PS360 version of NBA Jam would still be released, with all the modes present in NBA Jam Wii, with online play.

This is the point where if this were taking place on a messageboard that EA would need to seriously consider deleting it’s account for fear of real-world retaliation for it’s heinous and hilarious actions.

So will I be buying this game when it comes to Xbox Live Arcade?

Yeah, probably.

(Also the reviews range from good-to-outstanding, with the only real flaw mentioned being the lack of online mode.  Also if you buy this there’s the very real chance that EA will remember it’s been sitting on Mutant League football/hockey for something like 15 years.  Buy this game!)
Pokemon Ranger:  Guardian Signs
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Platforms: Nintendo DS

Fun facts about Pokemon:

1:  I’ve never been interested enough to do research on a Pokemon game

2:  I’m not going to start today!

…  Okay fine.  I lied.  There is exactly one interesting thing I can find about Guardian Signs.

Ukulele Pichu!

Let us never speak about this again.
Shantae:  Risky’s Revenge
Publisher: WayForward
Developer: WayForward
Platforms: Look at the box you dink!

Moreso than any other title released this week, you need to buy this game.  Not only is it an outstanding oldschool 2d platformer, the more positive reinforcement Wayforward gets for this sort of thing the fewer Spongebob games they’ll have to produce.

Also good lord just look at it.

If you’re reading this then you’re probably already aware that this is a followup to the original, much-beloved Shantae released all the way back in 2002 for the Gameboy Color.  The sequel– although I don’t know if you can call something released eight years later a “sequel– Looks to continue the first game’s fine legacy, garnering excellent reviews.  Wayforward seems to realize they might have something important on their hands here, and have been treating Risky’s Revenge as something of the start of a full-fledged franchise, which is good as those guys deserve to be working on their own creative projects.

It is a bit odd that it’s downloadable only (and thus sadly exclusive to DSi/DSi XL systems) but that’s probably understandable considering the costs involved for producing carts for niche 2d platformers that don’t have a Nicktoons license attached to them.
Wii Party
Publisher: Nintendo like a motherfucker
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Platforms: The Cancer That is Killing My Hobby

I don’t get the Wii, I don’t get party games, I (mostly) don’t get Nintendo, I don’t get party games on the Wii developed by Nintendo; I am absolutely the last person on the face of this earth you should approach for opinions on Wii Party.  That said, anything that keeps Nintendo EAD from developing another Wii Music is a good thing for everyone involved.  That said, at some point Wii Party was responsible for this:

So I can’t be too mad at it.




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