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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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