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

Archive for November, 2010

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 11-24-10

Posted by nfinit on November 24, 2010

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Crazy Taxi
Developer: Hitmaker
Publisher: Sega
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network

This is a strange era we’re in, where system sellers for the Dreamcast are sold almost as afterthoughts for pittances via Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. It’s also a good era because let’s face it, ten bucks is about where Crazy Taxi should have been sold all along, and if Sega understood this simple fact maybe people wouldn’t have been so annoyed that the Saturn and Dreamcast libraries were filled with largely untouched ports of arcade games that could be mastered and tossed aside in an afternoon’s worth of play.

I’m kind of torn on this most recent revision of Crazy Taxi, however. For one, it’s not an emulated version of the Dreamcast game. Like virtually all halfassed Sega DC-to-XBLA ports, this stems from the PC version of the game, which was not coincidentally also the lowest rated of all Crazy Taxi home versions. Further, Crazy Taxi’s perfect encapsulation of the zeitgeist of the late 90’s is gone. The Offspring’s music is gone, as are any licensed shops and restaurants. Goodbye, Tower Records. Hello, Record Store. Goodbye Pizza Hut, hello Strangely Ominous Building With Extravagant Red Roof. Goodbye KFC, hello FCS, which we can only assume refers to Federated Chicken Services.

That said, it’s hard to fuck up Crazy Taxi. It’s an arcade classic, and has the sort of simplistic gameplay elements that make it easy to enjoy regardless of the pop-in or generic grunge metal. On the other hand, it’s hard to fuck up Crazy Taxi simply because there’s not a lot -to- fuck up. Without trying to justify the fifty dollars you’d have spent in 1999 to enjoy Crazy Taxi at home, you’ll burn through this even quicker. What I’m saying is, buy Pac Man CE DX instead.

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Donkey Kong Country Returns
Developer: Retro Studios
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Wii

Growing up as a Sega guy, there were a number of Nintendo stalwarts I was intensely jealous of. Eventually these games cause me do develop a grudging respect to the SNES until I finally relented and admitted my burning hatred for Nintendo should not override the fact that I was a guy with a passion for videogames and keeping myself from the very best games simply because they were on a system sold by a manufacturer I held umbrage with. Games such as Final Fantasy III, Chrono Trigger, Ninja Warriors, even, as much as I hate to admit it, the pastel delights of Yoshi’s Island.

Donkey Kong Country was not one of those games.

I didn’t get it. It was fucking Mario with bananas, and what’s worse it kick-started the entire rendered graphics fad that wouldn’t die until Killer Instinct II made everyone feel dirty and ashamed for abandoning traditional sprite-work. I still don’t get it. I don’t understand why Nintendo guys are so excited for this game, I don’t get why this is any more compelling than the three dozen 2d platformers that have appeared on the Wii following New Super Mario Brothers Wii.

Perhaps DKCR is symbolic of the weird mid-life crisis Nintendo has experienced over the past couple years. Not only is Nintendo desperate to remind hardcore gamers of it’s SNES library, it’s doing so by blatantly remaking old SNES games and duct-taping Wiimote integration on the side. It’s like they’re trying to create an idea that there’s a clear lineage between the SNES and waggle and saying “ wouldn’t all those SNES games you loved even been -more- wonderful if we’d simply sawed off the top half of the SNES controller and replaced those same functions by spasmodically shaking your controller instead?”

Oh, the game? It’s apparently fantastic, and sits at an 88% on Metacritic, with a bevy of 4-5 star reviews. It’s one of those games that Nintendo has deemed it appropriate to be difficult, and Retro doesn’t suck, so it’s a good game. I still don’t see where it does anything differently from the DKC games, but in all fairness I never played those games because the art was godawful.

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Micheal Jackson The Experience
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal (HD versions) Ubisoft Paris (Everything Else)
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS (somehow) PSP (why)

So can we get back to the point where we admit MJ was a pedophile again, or are we still in that zone where we have to respect him as an artist because he overdosed on propofol?

Because the dude was totally a fucking pedophile.

Anyway, this game. It’s one of those post-DDR dance games that’s probably going to take over the music game market now that Kotick left the guitar game genre a smoking crater. I saw this demo’ed at New York Comic Con last month and it looks insanely slick and everyone who got through to the stage looked like they were enjoying themselves immensely, so if dancing games are your thing, this is probably an amazing… erm. Experience.

It also totally allows you to dance in the Smooth Criminal video, and if my knees weren’t shot to hell I’d play this thing like a motherfucker, MJ’s penchant for pederasty be damned.

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Spelunker HD
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Irem
Platforms: PlayStation Network

For some reason in my mind I had connected Spelunker HD with Derek Yu’s Spelunky. Turns out this is just Irem’s remake of the NES Spelunker, only using PSN avatars for some reason.

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Also apparently Spelunky was announced for XBLA a year ago but nothing’s been heard of it since. What do we have to do to convince Microsoft or Sony to throw however much money it’d take to move Spelunky or Cave Story or La Mulana to an HD console?

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Developer: BottleRocket Studios
Publisher: Namco
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

At first I was pissed at Namco for taking Splatterhouse HD from BottleRocket Studios, stripping them of their development kits, and abandoning the remaining developers in the California desert to die of thirst, and then I saw this

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And realized maybe Namco was on to something.

This game is a hot mess, an ugly pile that simply regurgitates the worst elements of God of War. At least that’s what I’m going to assume, as the only material from this game comes from Giant Bomb’s Quicklook, which does the game no favors whatsoever.

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Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom
Developer: Game Republic
Publisher: Namco
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

This is probably going to be one of those games I wind up loving more than is warranted given the actual quality of the game itself, but how can any gamer not fall in love with something that infuses the 3D Zeldas with Shadow of the Colossus? And for forty dollars! Even if it winds up sucking wind at least you’ve spent less money than you did on Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Buy this game!

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Gran Turismo 5
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Platforms: PlayStation 3

Yadda yadda, the delays, the fact that only half the cars present on the disc are actually fully implemented, the bit where there are literally over fifty Nissan Skylines in the roster.

Here’s the two things you need to know about Gran Turismo 5:

1: License tests are still there

2: Fuck you, Gran Turismo 5.

You know how I know I’m good enough to drive a car in Forza 3? I buy a car and proceed to win races with it. If I were incapable of winning races with that car I’D STOP USING THAT FUCKING CAR.

It’s twenty ten, Polyphony Digital! You can’t keep doing this shit! You can’t keep locking out vast swaths of content your users have paid for with arbitrary locks that have little to do with the actual act of participating in the game itself. I’ve been playing racing games since Pole Position 2, I’m pretty sure I’ve got the whole gas/break/steer thing down pat.


Do not confuse DIVINITY 2 for DIVINE DIVINITY 2 despite them both being the exact same game.

QUAKE LIVE ARENA for XBLA sure is…something.

The fact that I’m bringing up GOLDEN SUN: DARK DAWN fills me with immeasurable sadness in that this is not a Landstalker game.


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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 11-17-10

Posted by nfinit on November 17, 2010

Apache Air Assault
Developer:  Gaijin Entertainment
Publisher:  Activision
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

On one hand it’s good to see Apaches make a comeback to the videogame realm because I mean, just look at this fucking thing

On the other hand this is a realistic flight sim.  On a console.  That never works well.  Also why did we have to get this when EA’s Strike series has lain fallow for two console generations?

Assassin’s Creed:  Brotherhood
Developer:  Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher:  Ubisoft
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.

So I finally got around to playing Assassin’s Creed 2 this year, and I admit I was totally wrong about that game– it’s an improvement in every conceivable way over AC1 and I’d have no problem saying it was last year’s premiere action game over Arkham Asylum.

And the great thing about AC2’s gameplay was that it was solidly a single-player game.  There was none of the gameplay or design choices that crop up when you build a multiplayer game in mind– Instead Ubisoft Montreal presented us an open-world Prince Of Persia; a rare combination of intricate sandbox gameplay with intense 3d platforming action.  It was so good that I didn’t even mind the silly and distracting sci-fi Dan Brown-meets-Minority Report story that wrapped around AC2.

Suffice to say it’s not the sort of game where I played it and thought “what this needs is deathmatch”

Which is pretty much what we’re getting with Brotherhood.  Admittedly more of a good thing is still a good thing– It’s not like they’ve stripped out the single player game for Brotherhood, this game continues Enzio’s story through Rome, which sounds pretty fantastic.  But I also have to think that with only a year of development time provided– and Ubisoft splitting the game between five different developers just to get another Assassin’s Creed through the door for 2010– that the game can’t help but suffer.  It’s also entirely possible that Brotherhood was what caused Patrice Desilets to flee Ubisoft and that can’t possibly be a good sign.

Battle vs Chess
Developer:  TopWare Interactive
Publisher:  SouthPeak Interactve (The rare but feared Double Interactive!)
Platforms: Possibly Everything

I have no faith at all that this game actually exists and no clue how or why it popped up at– Both Amazon and Gamestop refuse to admit knowledge of Battle vs Chess’ existence and Amazon seems confused by the whole affair and continually tries to sell me Battle Chess instead, which only leads us to wonder why no one’s tried to sell an XBLA version of Battle Chess yet.

If Battle vs Chess does exist, and it does manage to emerge in some saleable form at some point this week, it appears to be chess with World of Warcraft artwork and gameplay mutations.  I don’t really know if that’s something you want taking up space in your disc drive tray.

Barbie Groom and Glam Pups
Developer:  An as-yet unnamed sinister cult
Publisher:  THQ
Platforms:  DS, Wii.

I’m not sure what dark god I’ve angered that would place me in a universe where Barbie Nintendogs would be allowed to exist, but I promise to perform whatever vile unspeakable acts are necessary to take me from this hellish nightmarescape.

Developer:  EA Bright Light
Publisher:  EA
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii

I’m having a hard time understanding if this is supposed to be a bare-bones version of Little Big Planet or a massively complicated version of the track editor from Exitebike.  Either way this is what the grim future off Wii/PS3/360 interoperability holds for us– $40 interactive stickerbooks designed to be so easy to use your grandmother can be a game designer.

Not that I’m saying that’s a bad thing.

EA Sports Active 2
Developer:  EA Canada
Publisher:  EA
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii

As a general rule I don’t like to talk about releases which aren’t actually games (which is why you’ve not seen any Kinect titles in these pages) but I noticed this ans wondered what could possibly be going on in Sports Active 2 that could justify a $99 msrp.  Turns out in addition to a fitness/lifestyle disc of dubious quality, you also get this:

A collar, cuffs of some sort, and what appears to be a sex swing.  So it’s also a bondage dungeon starter kit that easily flies under the radar of a skittish significant other on Christmas Morning.  So that’s probably worth $99 on it’s own.  We can only begin to speculate what’s present on that USB stick.

EA Sports NFL Training Camp
Developer:  EA Canada
Publisher:  EA
Platforms:  Wii

Any reports that the menu selection for the easiest difficulty setting in this game is subtitled “The Albert Haynesworth” is spurious and will result in a lawsuit.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Developer:  EA Bright Lights
Publisher:  EA
Platforms:  Every Fucking Thing

One of the things largely lost amid the general insanity of E3 was the revelation that the newest Harry Potter game would in fact be a cover based shooter.  I feel everyone just sort of shrugged this news off and assumed it was part a larger collective gaming media fever dream but no, it’s real.  The game adaptation of Deathly Hollows is Wizards (of Gears) Of War.  And I’m perfectly fine with that.

More movie licensed games need to take this route, instead of being generic 3d action games that loosely follow the plot of the movie.  In fact you can start to see that happening now– Sega’s Captain America adaptation would surprise no one as yet another 3d beat-em-up that follows the tropes laid forth in Arkham Asylum, but instead Sega is making it into Prince of Persia.  No, the other PoP game.  The 2d one.

No, really.  That’s happening.

And I’m a fan of this idea simply because if we keep it up, sooner or later Scarlett Johanssson is going to star in a movie that winds up copying Bayonetta and there’s simply no way my life improves from that point.

Mario vs Donkey Kong:  Mini-Land Mayhem
Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
Platforms:  DS

So I’m going to admit that everything I need to know about Mini-Land Mayhem I gleaned from Destructoid’s review, and as such I’m not terribly interested in this Nintendo-licensed remake of Lemmings as I am the identity of this game’s central kidnapped woman.  Namely, that this new woman is quite clearly neither Peach nor Paula.

I don’t know who this mysterious new woman is, but I am going to speculate that there’s some weird behavior that Mario engages in that encourages those around him to abscond with innocent women, whereupon Mario is then “forced” to rescue them, likely in return for deeply personal favors.  I’m not even sure if Mario understands the role he plays in these events, it’s happened so many times to him by this point that he likely considers it perfectly acceptable behavior.  Indeed, this may in fact be the only way he has to meet with and impress women– after all, he’s a largely unattractive, barely coherent  squat man with limited social access.

Why has Mario yet to impress upon any of the women he comes in contact with the importance of locking their doors at night, or simple self-defense techniques such as jumping atop an assailant’s head?  Why has Mario not given Peach or Daisy a turnip to keep by their bedside?

Distressingly, it would appear events are spiraling out of Mario’s control– now a strange new woman has been entered into Mario’s twisted white knight fantasy.  And wither Paula?  She has not been heard from in nearly thirty years, can it be assumed she met a grisly fate at the expense of Mario’s twisted fantasy world?

Marvel Super Hero Squad:  The Infinity Gauntlet
Developer:  Griptonite Games
Publisher:  THQ
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii

I can’t say anything about about Super Hero Squad.  One, they’re frickin’ adorable, two a stripped-down super-deformed Marvel Ultimate Alliance is a terrific way to introduce kids to both comics and gaming.

That said, isn’t the Infinity Gauntlet a weird choice for storyline?  I remember this being a big important event in the Marvel universe, not to mention sort of morbid, what with Thanos’ ultimate goal being killing off half of the entire universe just just to mack on Death

Is there a comics statute of limitations that allows the medium to poke fun at established events like Infinity Gauntlet?  I hope so, as this means in twenty years time our own children will have to explain to their kids why Steve Rodgers is running around with a gaping hole in his chest following the events of Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Civil War.

Developer:  EA Canada
Publisher:  EA
Platforms:  PlaySation 3, Xbox 360

A lot has happened since we last visited the NBA Elite 11/NBA Jam trainwreck; so let’s recap.

1:  At E3 2010, EA reveals that they now own the NBA Jam license along with a brand new Wii-exclusive standalone NBA Jam title for Holiday 2010.  There is much rejoicing among the Nintendo community and everyone generally feels good that the Wii gets a serious, full-sized game that makes best use of the Wii’s simplified graphics.

2:  Several weeks later it’s revealed that the game will be sold on-disc, for $40, along with new modes.

3:  Also the same game will be given away as downloadable content with NBA Elite 11 on the 360 and PS3, albeit without the Wii-exclusive modes.

4:  Some months later some guy posts a hilarious; damning Youtube video of Elite 11’s demo, featuring notable new innovations such as “shit doesn’t happen when you press shoot” and “Mid-court Kobe Jesus.”

5:  Roughly half an hour later announces that NBA Elite 11 will be postponed until some undetermined date in the near future, possibly within the actual NBA calendar year.  However, in some desperate attempt to actually make money off this entire mess, EA announced that NBA Jam HD would still come to the 360 and PS3 on time.

On disc.

For fifty dollars.

Also without the Wii’s extra gameplay modes.

6:  EA announces that Elite 11 is cancelled entirely and the entire staff at EA Canada forced from thier offices into the Canadian tundra.

And that’s where we stand.  Fifty dollars for what was, by all rights, supposed to be a freebie that also doubled as the greatest troll played against Nintendo fans since Wii Music.  And we have no real idea when to expect Jam HD to unlock into a fully-fledged product, but it’s a safe bet that the box itself doesn’t warn consumers that they’re paying fifty dollars for what at first amounted to the $10  online use tax EA levies against all used games.

The upshot is that EA Canada spent their short time upon the mortal coil producing an outstandingly good version of NBA Jam.  So you have that to look forward to, if at some point in the near future EA can be convinced to spend money on people who’ve already given them money.  Which, you know, isn’t ever going to happen.  In the meantime feel free to speculate as to the sequence of events that would have precipitated EA’s purchase of the Mortal Kombat franchise and it’s inclusion in Rise of the Imperfects 2.

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
Developer:  Chunsoft
Publisher:  Aksys Games
Platforms:  DS

So looks to be a fairly bog-standard DS point-and-click adventure game, only featuring a boat that’s slowly taking on water and a cast full of people who have had timebombs sewn into their bowels.  So pretty much the best point-and-click game ever made.

Need for Speed:  Hot Pursuit
Developer: Criterion Games
Publisher: EA
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii

I should love this game, right?  You’ve got the Burnout devs working on one of the most popular Need for Speed variants, the much-beloved Hot Pursuit series, which itself would be the first game Criterion’s released in nearly two years.  And has been mentioned previously, I love racing games to the point that I’ll gladly spend my free time playing all those decidedly unfun racing sims like Gran Turismo and Forza; games that people swear are only played because they’re car porn, not because the guy playing grew up reading Car and Driver magazine.

So why can’t I summon any interest at all for this revision of Hot Pursuit?  Is it because Criterion hasn’t interested me since Burnout 3?  Is it because the demo was slow and clunky and brought to mind none of the feel of the earlier Need for Speed games nor anything from the Burnout series?  Is it because Gran Turismo 5 is shipping at the end of the month and I know full well I’d rather play that instead?

I don’t know.  I can’t explain it.  All the pieces are there, I just can’t shake the feeling that Split/Second may be the superior faux-Burnout.

Sniper Elite
Developer:  Raylight Games
Publisher:  Maximum Family Games
Platforms:  Wii

Among the exciting new features exclusive  Wii version of Sniper Elite (Along with Sniper Elite Party, Sniper Elite Karts, Cooking Mama w/Sniper Elite and Sniper Elite:  Other M), famed GBA shovelware developer Raylight Studios has included a thrilling Spot the Sniper mode, featuring your own character model!

Sonic Colors
Developer:  Sonic Team
Publisher:  Sega
Platforms:  DS, Wii

I like that we’ve reached the point in the Sonic cycle where “not awful” seems like an achievement.

I dunno.  I’m not sure if our culture is capable of judging this game rationally.  There’s every indication that it may be the best 3d ever, but that’s akin to saying “there’s every indication that this bowl of cold unflavored oatmeal is the best bowl of cold unflavored oatmeal ever”.  There’s still the possibility that 3d Sonic is just inherently unworkable and we’re merely seeing the best possible example of of a flawed premise.  But if nothing else it would appear that Sonic Team has at least managed to produce a Sonic game that represents the “good” parts of previous 3d Sonic games while avoiding the temptation to include fishing minigames, or melee sections starring lycanthropes or anything relating to highly sexualized anthropomorphic vampire bats.

The question Sonic Colors asks is once you strip all the -bad- parts out of 3d Sonic games, do you have anything left at all?  It may be possible, but I remain unconviced Sonic Team is the studio that should be trusted to finding out.  I still say that Treasure hasnt’ done anything productive for Sega in years, and they’re perfect for this sort of thing.  At this point what’s left to lose?


I  can’t remember if MAJIN AND THE FORSAKEN KINGDOM is something I’m supposed to be excited about or not.


Revel in the joy utter dickery that is the story of Namco’s tortured development of SPLATTERHOUSE~!

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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 11-10-10

Posted by nfinit on November 10, 2010

101-in-1 Sports Party Megamix
Developer: Nordcurrent
Publisher: Atlus
Platforms: DS

Goddammit, Atlus.

This game is brought to you by Nordcurrent, famous for 101-in-1 Sports Party Megamix for the iPhone, 101-in-1 Sports Party Megamix for the DS and Robin Hood: Return of Richard, which appears to be a medieval Operation: Wolf gone horribly, horribly wrong.

I’m not sure but I think I kinda hate Nordcurrent.

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Beyblade: Metal Fusion Battle Fortress
Developer: Hudson
Publisher: Konami
Platforms: Wii

So I’m not going to do any research for this game, because doing so will fill my brain with information about Beyblade, information that could potentially be used for more useful purposes, such as providing a buffer if I ever accidentally inhale a can full of Krylon paint.

Instead, I’ll just say that if I were a kid and you were to present me with something that named itself “metal fusion battle fortress” I’d do everything in my power to make sure that my parents spend all of my allotted Christmas funds on this franchise and make a serious attempt at convincing them to use all funds for the next three Christmases obtaining new “metal fusion battle fortress” related material.

Apparently I would be revolving the next three years of my childhood about an anime about guys who fight with tops. This is somehow more ridiculous than Yu-Gi-Oh, which is an anime about guys who fight with collectible card game decks; yet still not as socially ostracizing as basing your life around Digimon.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops
Developer: Treyarch
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS

Reviews and player impressions seem to bear out what we all thought about Black Ops going in– not terrible, not outstanding like a Modern Warfare, about average for a Treyarch Call of Duty effort. Which is just fine, as the timing for Black Ops is perfect– no one cares about Reach anymore and the Battlefield reboot was an embarrassment for everyone involved. Black Ops wins via attrition if nothing else and is probably enough to keep the studio entrenched in Call of Duty until such time as Bobby Kotick kills the genre like he did Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk.

Because I mean, that’s the real question here, right? How much time does this genre have? With Activision’s investors demanding as many iterations as possible and EA releasing two major Battlefield/Medal of Honor revisions within nine months of each other you have to figure it’s just a matter of time before the genre suffers brodude burnout. And if the Skate series and Rock Band Beatles/Rock Band III are any indication it’s not like producing quality software is enough to make people care again. Once people stop caring they stop caring, and the big Western developer’s inability to grasp this simple logic is probably the great untold plot point of this console generation, above and beyond Japan’s console stagnation and any company not named Nintendo’s inability to make money off the Wii.

Just to rattle a few names off the top of my head

Battlefield Bad Company 2
Army of 2: 40th Day
Kane and Lynch 2
Halo: Reach
Medal of Honor
Black Ops

That’s a lot of AAA-level realistic/sci-fi shooters targeting the exact same market to come out since Spring, and thats before you go into the lesser players like Bioshock 2, MAG, Lost Planet 2, Singularity and Tango Down. What’s worse, many of these games rely on healthy online communities to at least some degree– How is it that publishers can expect this same market to support a dozen games in one year, and stick around with each long enough to keep anyone interested past the first two weeks? Furthermore, how do you convince these same people to stop playing Modern Warfare and Left 4 Dead?

The simple answer is you can’t. Activision’s only plan is to burn this market as thoroughly as possible by carpeting it with incremental revisions and monetizing the experience to the nth-degree. There is no long term plan nor have we provided companies like Activision and Ubisoft and EA any incentive to come up with one.

But what can we do? If your’e reading this you’re likely a hardcore gamer anyway. You’ve been aware of Bobby Kotick’s slash-and-burn policy at Activision for months now. I might recommend that we actually do have a recourse here– simply stop buying this crap new and start spending money on stuff like the next three games instead:

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Crescent Pale Mist
Developer: ClassiC Shikoukairo
Publisher: Rockin’ Android
Platforms: PlayStation Network


ClassiC Shikoukario is an independent Dojin soft developer, or at least that’s as much as I could glean from the scant English-language sources available. As near as I can tell Crescent Pale Mist is their first effort at selling a game to North America, and is something akin to a bullet hell 2d platformer. It’s probably the nearest you can get to playing a VanillaWare game for six bucks without, you know. Buying Odin’s Sphere. Which you should go ahead and do anyway.

This is probably also Rockin’ Android’s first high-profile attempt at Playstation Network game, and their efforts to bring the Japanese indie development scene to America is probably worth your money more than anything Activision has released this year.

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Developer: Artoon
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: Wii


You might think paying fifty dollars for what amounts to Araknoid: The Platformer is excessive, but when you consider it’s being bundled with a brand new black Motion + Wiimote, it’s not quite as silly.

My only contention is that this thing is being sold exclusively on disc. If Nintendo was going to sell FlingSmash for what amounts to ten dollars, when wouldn’t it make sense to just sell it on WiiWare for ten bucks as well? Reviews haven’t exactly been kind to FlingSmash, even if it does represent a novel effort from Artoon. Although I suppose if the last thing you were known for was Vampire Rain then you’re lucky anyone’s bothering to print discs for you at all.

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Developer: Cave
Publisher Cave
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade


While I’m glad that Guwange exists and we’re given the opportunity to play it offically in North America, I find it odd that Cave is using their lesser-known stuff like this and DeathSmiles to introduce their particular brand of shmups to American audiences when the DonPachi games are sitting right there and involve evil robotic bees.

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fuckin’ bees!

I can only assume Cave has tragically underestimated America’s fear and revulsion of stinging insects and our intense desire to strike vengeance against them.

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Just Dance Kids
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: Wii

There is no way I can research this game without the very real danger of having the real-life version of Detective Elliot Stabler tracking me down and harassing me to the point where I admit I have paid for sex from schoolboys using crack rocks simply so he’ll stop bothering me. Instead, I offer this challenge to the reader:

Should Just Dance Kids be pronounced

Just Dance Kids, implying that the only thing to be found on this disc are dancing children or
Just Dance Kids, imploring children to stop all current activity and immediately dance?

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Karoke Revolution Glee
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Plaforms: Wii


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Monster Jam: Path of Destruction
Developer: Activision
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, DS

So it turns out monster trucks are still A Thing, and the Monster Jam series is their ruling body, much like NASCAR lords over stockcar racing, or the WWE is the biggest wrestling promotion, or the International Gay Rodeo Association is the premiere sanctioning body for LGBT rodeo in North America.

This game is probably godawful– all the promo videos feature a named monster truck (somehow the actual monster truck circuit hasn’t evolved much in twenty years– Gravedigger is still the only truck you really need to know about as it’s a hearse that kills other cars) tooling around a PS2-era game engine while the announcer repeats said trucks’ name over and over again. Admittedly this is the precise level of intellectual engagement necessary to sell to monster truck aficionados, but for anyone looking in on the outside you’re sort of left wondering if there’s any actual game involved.

What I find interesting is that there’s no developer attached to this title– the official webpage for the game is actually hosted on the Monster Jam URL itself, and there is no information forthcoming out of Activision proper. There is a small publisher in New Zealand called Torus Games that was apparently responsible for the first Monster Jam game on the PS2, but as their own page makes no mention of Path of Destruction we can only assume that Activision simply moved Torus’ original engine to a new studio and summarily had these developers marched behind the chemical sheds as soon as Path of Destruction went gold.

While we’re on the subject, the homepage for Path of Destruction is sort of amazing:

You are now aware there exists a monster truck with a Mohawk who’s driver also has a Mohawk.

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Nickleodeon Fit
Developer: High Voltage Software
Publisher: 2k Games
Platform: Wii

You know, in case your kids were too stupid to figure out Wii Fit.

Also, do kids seriously need fitness programs now? Isn’t this something that solves itself with pixie sticks and/or installation of a swing set?

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Rune Factory 3
Developer: Marvelous Entertainment
Publisher: Natsume
Platforms: DS

I am convinced Harvest Moon fans only ever play Harvest Moon and Natsume has happened upon the perfect release cycle so that whenever these people are in danger of being bored by their current Harvest Moon game then there’s a new Harvest Moon ready for thier consumption. These people may only be tangentially aware of the fact that they’ve spent nearly fifteen years in a trance-like state, playing incremental revisions of the exact same game.

Either that or Natsume is relying on the only pocket of people in the world who’ve yet to make Facebook accounts. Either way they need to sue and/or firebomb Zynga, posthaste.


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The Sly Collection
Developer: Sucker Punch Productions
Publisher: SCEA
Platforms: PlayStation 3

Forty American dollars for all three Sly games remastered in HD sounds like a good deal, but I’d argue that you’re probably only ever going to want to play the first game anyway as the quality noticeably drops later in the series, particularly in the second game where the series takes a decident Sonic Adventures bent as the game starts to rely on Sly’s cast of friends more than Sly himself. Also much like the Sonic series you have to be careful in that this is basically a dangerous delivery mechanism of the furry lifestyle into modern culture. DON’T BE FOOLED AMERICA!


ASSASSIN’S CREED BROTHERHOOD doesn’t need to exist!

MARVEL SUPER HERO SQUAD so fucking adorable I want to put it in a sack and toss it in a river


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Wallet Abuse Thursday! No Kinect Allowed Edition!

Posted by nfinit on November 4, 2010

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Atari’s Greatest Hits Volume 1
Developer:  Code Mytics
Publisher:  Atari
Platforms:  Nintendo DS

If the concept of fifty classic Atari games gets you excited then let me re-adjust your expectations by pointing out that this package actually consists of 9 pre-Crash Atari -arcade- games and the rest of the cart filled up with godawful first-party 2600 games.  And since none of these games are Pit-Fighter, what’s the point, really?

The most galling aspect of this package is the “volume 1” moniker tacked on at the end.  I know that this is standard procedure for any sort of compliation (sadly we have yet to see evidence of an SNK Arcade Classics Volume 2), but how much can be left for a second collection of Atari tripe when this collection already has 2600 versions of the 9 aforementioned arcade games as well as Fun With Numbers and all the Swordquest games?  Somehow Atari’s managed to put together a package less compelling than their Xbox Live Game Room production, and those games were so godawful that Krome Studios was forced out of their offices and driven into the Australian desert.

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The Amazing Race
Developer:  Ludia, Inc
Publisher:  Ubisoft
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

I am so not talking about this game when I could be talking about —


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Babysitting Mama
Developer:  Cooking Mama, Ltd
Publisher:  Majesco
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii






Cooking Mama, Ltd are brilliant madmen and you must support them.  It’s not like you’ll be doing anything more important with your Wii for the next six months anyway.  Buy this game!  Buy it twice, everyone has a niece or little sister that needs to be emotionally traumatized.

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Blood Drive
Developer:  Sidhe Interactive
Publisher:  Activision
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

If you were to com up to me and ask “Hey Nfinit, how would you make the perfect videogame” I’d answer by asking you to respect my personal space and how you found your way into my home.  Then I’d say I’d make Joust, but in 3d.

If you asked me to make two perfect videogames, and I was no longer allowed to reference Williams/Midway arcade games, then I’d say remake Carmageddon, but this time with guns.
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Of course since it’s 2010 and we can’t have nice things anymore, you’re running down zombies instead of pixelated women and children.  That said, this is still considerably less silly than the time the Germans replaced all the bystanders in Carmageddon II with robots.  Also this is apparently set in an analog to Las Vegas– how Activision managed to capitalize on Dead Rising 2 and launch a month ago is beyond me, but I can only assume there was a threat of a lawsuit involved.

Two problems prevent me from recommending blood drive, though– one, literally no media has been released outside the debut trailer that surfaced last September, and secondly it’s a fifty dollar game.  From Activision.  The fact that even Activision refuses to squeeze every last possible dollar from this title by releasing it at full MSRP is more than a little troubling, but at least it’s from Sidhe Interactive, the guys who gave us Gripshift and Rugby League 1-3, so they understand arcade racing and wanton violence.  Also Melbourne Cup Challenge, but I’m unclear how that factors into the Blood Drive formula.


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Fist of the North Star:  Ken’s Rage
Developer:  Koei
Publisher:  Tecmo Koei
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

I’m torn on Ken’s Rage.  On one hand, Destructoid gave it an 85% and compared it favorably to Streets of Rage, which is about the highest praise I can think without specifically referencing Jimmy Carter.  On the other hand, Japan’s Famitsu magazine gave it a 9/8/7/8 and the Japanese love Dynasty Warriors games almost as much as they love hating whales.  I suppose both of these actually translate to middle-to-good depending on what sort of genre you’re into, but I’ve also been emotionally scarred by Ninety Nine Nights and am reluctant to revisit that dark time in my life when I only owned three 360 games and one of the other two was Dead or Alive 4.

Still, the only real thing you need to know about Fist of the North Star games is if people’s heads explode in a geyser of viscera upon incidental contact with your fists–

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— So I think this works.

I know this sounds hypocritical when I just said the exact opposite for Blood Drive, but it seems like Ken’s Rage is one of those games that is specifically harmed by charging the full sixty dollar MSRP.  I suppose the difference is that while Activision are notorious cutthroat mercenaries when it comes to wringing every last possible dollar out of a franchise, Koei could do a lot to re-establish the Muso genre in America by using the Fist of the North Star name combined with a $40 price point.  Although their logic might be that  Fist of the North Star sells itself in the minds of people who would already be in the market for Wierd Japanese Shit.

Basically what I’m saying here is that I want to play this game, but there’s no way I’m paying sixty dollars for that privilege when in the case of Blood Drive, the gameplay hook is good enough that you’d expect the publisher to demand sixty bucks if they had any confidence at all in the game itself.

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God of War:  Ghost of Sparta
Developer:  Ready at Dawn
Publisher:  SCEA
Platforms:  PlayStation Portable

Does anyone seriously think the God of War franchise is done?  It’s well respected, they sell well, and they have to be easy to make; over a third of the games in the series exist on the PSP.  All I’m saying is that when Jaffe produces his next Calling All Cars there’s no way he resists the sweet sweet allure of a final, final God of War, especially if he can finally sell SCEA on the whole “Kratos tearing through all mythology” idea that sounded way, way better than the God of War III we actually wound up with.

As for Ghost of Sparta, it’s kind of special in that it may well be the last great PSP game, provided you ignore that we’re going to wind up playing Persona PSP ports for the next three years.  While it’s probably still not as good as GoW II, it improves upon Chains of Olympus and fixes my main complaint with the first PSP game, that being it’s length.  Also presumably this game doesn’t feature that goddamned ridiculous Charon fight, so automatically this game is 12 times better.

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Goldeneye 007
Developer: EuroCom
Publisher:  Activision
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

I’m a firm believer that some game concepts are so good that they need to be revisited periodically to keep them fresh in the gaming public’s mind.  The very best books and movies are constantly in print and are enjoyed by everyone, it only makes sense that we do the same for stuff like Goldeneye and Shadow of the Colossus in our own hobby.

Unfortunately the economics of the games industry means that publishers can’t leave a good thing be, and instead of a straight uprezzed port, Activision gave Eurocom the Goldeneye license and told them to find a way to stick Daniel Craig into it.

Now that’s probably not as bad as it sounds.  Initial reviews seem to indicate that Eurocom held an obvious reverence for the N64 classic and that the changes made to the game were basically to bring the original concept more up to date with modern game development theory.  Also the multiplayer is pretty much exactly the same as before, and that’s really why you’d want to play thing anyway.

The real problem is going to be filtering out how much of Goldeneye’s classic status is due to it’s core gameplay concepts and how much has to do with the fact that it was the first halfway competent console first person shooter.  If you hold that Goldeneye benefits greatly from nostalgia then this wasn’t for you anyway, but if you beloved Goldeneye and felt it was legitimately a great game, then you might be pissed off at the changes Eurocom was forced to make, no matter how they were handled.

But hey, at least you get a really cool controller out of this thing, provided you’re willing to spend seventy dollars on the complete package

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My main qualm with Goldeneye 007 is that I don’t know if this is the sort of game you need to sell on disc for full MSRP int 2010.  This seems perfect for a thirty dollar direct download, provided the Wii had better storage options and the WiiWare service wasn’t limited on file size.

Boxshot: James Bond: Blood Stone by Activision
James Bond 007:  Blood Stone
Developer:  Bizarre Creations
Publisher:  Activision
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

When I think of Bond movies, I remember the parts where he’s sneaking around improbably villanous headquarters, the parts where he’s in shootouts with hordes of goons,and the parts where he’s involved in-car chases escaping said goons, usually immediately after being found sneaking around their secret HQ and engaging in a one-sided firefight.

These are all elements that we know videogames excel at.  Sneaking used to be it’s own genre thanks to Splinter Cell and Hitman and Metal Gear Solid, shooting waves of goons from behind cover now makes up the vast majority of videogames sold outside of Asia, and good racing games have been done at least far back as the first Pole Position.

So how do we take these fundamental elements, these elements that have led to dozens of classic games, to uncountable hours of gaming enjoyment, and wind up with… this?
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And it’s not like you can use a movie as an excuse– there’s no Bond movie attached to Blood Stone and there will not be a new Bond movie released in the foreseeable future.  This is the most important Bond-related media that will come out for literally years and we wound up with some weird mashup of Arkham Asylum and Project Gotham Racing.  How does this happen?  More importantly, if you’re Activision and you’ve been trusted with the future of the entire Bond franchise, how do you let this happen?

And it’s not as if gamers are pressed for quality titles this Holiday season.  Most of us still haven’t got to Vanquish yet, and Bizarre is asking us to spend quality time with a game where you spend the vast majority of the action staring at a cell phone screen?

To put this in perspective, two Bond games were released this week, and Bizarre was trounced by a remake of a Rare game.  What happened to this company?

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MegaMind:  Mega Team Unite (Wii)
MegaMind:  Ultimate Showdown (PS360)
Megamind:  The Blue Defender (DS, PSP)

The only thing of interest here is that THQ didn’t trust the Wii with the Megamind: The Ultimate Showdown experience.  This is roughly equivalent to Mike Shanahan benching Donovan McNabb last week, but replacing Shanahan mistrust at Donovan’s ability to run the two-minute drill offense against the Detroit Lions with Shanahan electing to go with David Carr over Donovan for a Starbuck’s run and Carr returning covered in flames with a case of Woolite and an iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts.

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PokePark Wii:  Pikachu’s Great Adventure
Developer:  Nintendo
Publisher:  Nintendo
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

So I’ve mentioned the bit where I’ve never played a Pokemon game, I’ve never wanted to play a Pokemon game, and Pokemon instills within me a great and seething rage that can only be sated with demeaning midget cosplay porn, right?  Because this is another one of those fucking games.
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Just look at those happy fuckers.  God, how I hate them.

I was surprised to learn that this was the first Pokemon-branded game for the Wii and somehow it didn’t wind up a remake of Pokemon Snap!, but instead a giant fetch quest engine.  So that’s odd.  What’s not odd?

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Ys:  The Oath in Felghana
Developer: Nihon Falcom Corporation
Publisher:  XSeed
Platforms:  PlayStation Portable

I know there’s something to be said for staying authentic to the source material, especially when you’re dealing with something as esoteric as a Ys game, but someone in XSeed’s marketing department– Provided XSeed has a marketing department– should have put their foot down and demanded a subtitle that doesn’t sound like a term you’d use to describe someone passing gas while taking a piss.

Think about it.  The felghana.

As far as this game goes, it’s Ark of Napishtim (in retrospect maybe The Felghana isn’t an aberration at all), but more of it.  So if you’re one of the three dudes in North America who were into that… you know, roughly four years ago… You probably already own this.


CALL OF DUTY 7:  BLACK OPS allows us to settle the ultimate unanswered question of the Cold War:  Could Nixon take JFK in a knife fight?

BEYBLADE:  METAL FUSION BATTLE FORTRESS cannot possibly begin to live up to it’s title

HAWX 2 somehow got made, so that’s kinda cool.

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Wallet Abuse Wednesday 12-1-10

Posted by nfinit on November 1, 2010

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Cave Story
Developer:  Daisuke Amaya
Publisher:  Nicalis
Platforms:  DSiWare


I’m torn on the DSi version of Cave Story.  On one hand Cave Story is amazing and everyone must play it, on the other hand it’s quite possible that Tyrone Rodriguez is a scumbag who traps indie devs in bad contracts and then takes forever to port their efforts to home consoles.  But then he’ll go and say stuff like this:

As far as gamers and media not being onboard with DSiWare, we all should be in accord that a console is only as good as the games that are available on it. If gamers and the media aren’t happy with DSiWare, it isn’t because the DSi isn’t capable of good games — it’s because some publishers that constantly republish shitty mobile games and charge four times as much for them on DSi. Maybe games likeShantae and Cave Story will make players have something good to download on their DSi.

So you clearly want to pull for the guy and after all, anything that gets indie devs paid is a good thing, right?  But wouldn’t’ it be better for these devs if they weren’t stuck with an incompetent studio that develops strictly for the most marginal of downloadable services?

The frustrating thing about this whole affair is that if you want Pixel to get paid, you sort of have buy Cave Story through Nicalis.  There is no readily apparent Paypal button on Pixel’s own blog.

Also holy shit what is going on at Pixel’s blog?!

Beat Sketcher
Developer:  NoisyCroak
Publisher:  Sony Computer Entertainment America

Beat Sketchers, Beat Sketchers… that sounds like it might actually be a videogame, maybe some sort of DDR clone or a Sketchers-sponsored reskin of Mirror’s Edge, but in today’s post-Move PS3 marketplace I hadI better make sure:

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Ha!  Almost tricked me, Sony Computer Entertainment of America!



Deadliest Catch:  Sea of Chaos
Developer:  Crave Games
Publisher:  Crave GAmes
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii

The concept behind a deep-sea fish trawling sim based on a reality TV show is wacky, but still fundamentally sound.  There’s no reason you can’t make a good game based on the concepts shown in Crave’s promo material for Sea of Chaos, even if the last game was, well…
What Crave needs to do (aside from, forcing Sunsoft to make a new Blaster Master game) is to take things a step further and incorporate real-life reality TV show issues when managing your crew.  Give us the ability to interact with the crew members and discover what horrible secret forced them to take the most absolute desperate job one can legally obtain in America.  Is the crew member addicted to prescription pain killers?  Pay him under the table in pills while avoiding tax and health insurance regulations!  Is the crew member hiding from loan sharks?  Agree to deposit said crew on the most remote crag of inhabited rock on the Pacific Coast!  Is the crew member a disposed South American general fleeing a failed junta?  Sell them to South Asian pirates for a healthy profit!

Also we can get meta and incorporate increasingly desperate Alaskan Seafood Marketing Institute PSAs featuring Ben Stein assuring everyone that the fishing industry is PERFECTLY FINE KEEP EATING FISH as your pots steadily dwindle in size until your fishing village eventually goes broke and is populated entirely by meth-addled derelicts.




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Echochrome 2
Developer:  Japan Studio
Publisher:  Sony Computer Entertainment America
Platforms:  PlayStation Network

The original Echochrome was unique puzzle platformer that used perspective tricks in  M. C. Escher-like environments as actual levels.  It was well-recieved and was a rare early standout system exclusive for PSN in America.

Where the first Echochrome was special and new and rooted in sound gameplay fundamentals despite it’s seemingly gimmicky premise, Echochrome II is none of these things.  Instead it’s using  the same shadow manipulation tactic you saw in A Shadow’s Tale/Lost In Shadow to showcase (read:  it’s a stunt port) for Playstation Move.  It’ll probably be decent, but I’m unsure how using the Move Wand as a flashlight is any more intuitive (or useful) as using analog sticks like in any first person shooter.

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Epic Mickey
Developer:  Junction Point
Publisher:  Disney Interactive Media
Platforms:  Wii

And now presenting the case for Epic Mickey.

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Warren fuckin’ Spector, bitches!  The man who brought you Thief and Deus Ex and Wing Commander and System Shock!  Everything this man touches turns out good-to-awesome, provided you’re willing to admit he was not in the building when Invisible War was discussed.

Now, presenting the case against Epic Mickey:

He’s never made a platformer before.

Warren Spector is known for storytelling and atmosphere, and indeed the reviews for Epic Mickey praise both of these elements, to the point that some reviewers have noted that the story is the only reason they were interested in finishing the game at all. It would seem  that Warren Spector created a competent if somewhat uninspired 3d platformer in a surreal environment that basically serves to narrate the story Warren wanted tell and little else.  IIn short, Psychonauts with better branding.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, right?  Psyconauts was decent enough, even if it was the sort of game you played simply so it’s evangelists would stop bugging you about it.  Warren always has a good story to tell and he’s a master at making you think about your decisions and the impact they’ll have on the environment, so it’s probably worth playing just for those elements alone.

Epic Mickey feels like one of those games so damaged by it’s own hype it’s impossible to judge correctly one way or another until long after forum discussion has died down.  It may be an excellent experience despite it’s generic 3d platformer roots.  It may wind up being remembered as uninspired palp.  We don’t know yet and we may not for years to come.




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Golden Sun:  Dark Dawn
Developer:  Climax
Publisher:  Sega
Platform:  Nintendo DS

Talking about the Golden Sun seires causes me a great deal of heartache as I take a look at this art

and am immediately reminded that I’ll never play a new true Shining Force game again.

That said, Dark Dawn is doing some rather interesting things:

Those little underlined passages on the dialog box work much like hyperlinks and once tapped on bring up relevant background information.  I mean, I have no clue if the game is any good, I’m staunchly opposed to doing any research regarding Climax games not produced for a Sega console, but at least someone finally found a use for the DS’s twin screens.


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Pixeljunk Shooter 2
Developer:  Q-Games
Publisher:  Sony Computer Entertainment America
Platforms:  PlayStation Network

So they went and made a second one of these.  This time you’re fighting inside the worm that ate you at the end of the first game.  I suppose that means something to the people who played through the first game and is in fact a horrible spoiler for those still playing Shooter 1 and you now hate me forever.  In unrelated news I really need to get around to playing one of the Pixeljunk games, all of them look worth playing and some of them might even be decent.

People keep complaining that Shooter/Shooter 2 are named so despite not being shooters.  I don’t understand this, as to me they seem to be a combination of Defender and Sinistar, and both of those games are shooters.  They’re just shooter puzzle games, which is fine.





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Quake Arena Arcade
Developer:  Pi Games
Publisher:  id
Platforms:  Xbox Live Arcade

The most frustrating thing of engaging in libel against unreleased games is dealing with XBLA publishers that aren’t quite sure when their own game is set for release.  This is why I wasn’t able to talk about Pac Man CE Deluxe the other week despite being deeply in love with the first game and being of the opinion that people who enjoy Pac-Man CE are demonstrably better people than those who do not.  In unrelated news, if you have the ability to play Pac-Man CE DX and have not yet done so, you and I can no longer be friends.

So, Quake III Arena Arcade.  Maybe it’s coming out this week. seems to think so, despite the game itself being officially cancelled by John Carmack  two years ago.  The product that’s been under development since then is being developed by Pi Studios, a devlopment house best known for taking games like Rock Band Beatles and Mercenaries 2 and porting them systems they have no business being associated with, such as the Wii and PlayStation 2.  Also apparently they had something to do with Wolfenstein.

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no, not that one

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Nope, not that one either

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Yeah, the reboot no one liked or asked for.  At any rate even if this was a perfect port of Quake III Arena– and why wouldn’t it be, that thing was designed to run well on a Pentium 2, for chrissake– it’s still just going to remind you you’d rather be playing Unreal Tournament instead.





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Unbound Saga
Developer:  Vogster
Publisher:  Vogster
Platform:  Xbox Live Arcade

Speaking of devs that Microsoft can’t be bothered to communicate with, this might also exist this week.  God knows why, we can only assume it’s part of some elaborate prank Vogster Entertainment is playing upon XBLA-subscribing Squeenix fans who think they’ll buy Unlimited Saga when instead they’ll purchase an utterly forgettable comicbook brawler that no one liked back when it was released on the PSP.




TRON: OLD DUDES EVOLUTION tarts things up with sexy ladies in latex suits


Also since that’s quite possibly the only two games released next week I suppose I’ll do my GAME OF THE YEAR post instead.  LISTEN TO THE PODCAST, ASSHOLES.

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