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

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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