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

Archive for the ‘Wallet Abuse’ Category

Wallet Abuse Friday 1-7-11

Posted by nfinit on January 7, 2011

Get Fit with Mel B
Developer: Deep Silver
Publisher: Deep Silver
Platforms: PlayStation 3

The most damning aspect of Move and Kinect is that no longer can you relegate stuff like “Get Fit With Mel B” into the Wii ghetto and move on with your life. No, now this thing is sitting there next to Red Dead Redemption and Vanquish and other real video games, cheapening everyone in the process. But mainly me.

I don’t even know what Mel B brings to the table aside an endorsement from a woman that I want very badly to kick my ass

Let’s see what the official website has to say for itself:

Good Game

Get Fit with Mel B is arguably the best overall fitness game on the market. Unparalleled graphics and replayability.

—DieHard GameFAN

Yeah, y’know, because DieHard GameFAN is your go-to source for news and opinion on sports and fitness products.


Get Fit with Mel B is the best option out there for getting fit with a video game.

—Universal Gaming Database

Okay there’s no way the “Universal Gaming Database” actually exists, right?


So not only did Deep Silver submit a review simply to procure a pull quote for their own game, they couldn’t even be bothered to give their own game five stars. Deep Silver could have pulled this exact same trick with Giant Bomb’s editable database and gave themselves a Giant Bomb endorsement; although that’s assuming Giant Bomb wouldn’t issue a cease and desist within twenty minutes of publishing said pull quote.

The real loser here is, as always, DieHard GameFAN, who’s now been reduced to being mentioned in the same company as The Universal Gaming Database, Gaming Props, and The Totally Gaming Network. Also in wholly unrelated news, my blog at Big Red Coat is totally available for pull quotes! All I require is a modest monetary reward. Or free games. Or Taco Bell coupons.

(Also it’s entirely possible this game was actually a launch title for Move and should not be in this edition of WAW at all. Sometimes is weird like that; stuff will appear in it’s database and not disappear for months despite launching in twelve different territories across all major platforms. To be perfectly fair I just wanted to post pictures of Mel B and take potshots at Dave Halverson.

Lost in Shadow
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Konami
Platform: Wii

The PS3 is getting fitness programs; the Wii is getting third party games I want to play, Pete Carrol is taking a 7-9 team into the NFL playoffs and the President of the United States of America is a an open fan of Micheal Vick. It’s a weird world.

What’s not weird, however, is the idea of you buying Lost in Shadow. Like right fucking now. Put down your laptop or iPad or whatever, give Best Buy forty bucks, and come home with one of the most inventive and charming 2d platformers to come along since… well since Epic Yarn two months ago, but that’s not the point!


Stop being an asshole! Give Konami your money right now! Do it before Hudson remembers they used to make Bonk games! OH GOD TOO LATE

Look, the point is, Hudson has killed before and will kill again. They need to be rewarded for good behavior as much as they need their offices firebombed whenever they release a new Bomberman game.

Also how does it work out that the Wii wound up with the strongest lineup of 2d platformers since the early 90’s SNES? Super Mario Brothers Wii, Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Waggle, A Boy and His Blob, Cave Story and now Lost In Shadow.

Yet somehow Team Meat decided that this was the one platform they couldn’t sell Super Meat Boy on. I mean, I’m usually not one to complain about third parties abandoning the Wii as it’s hard to blame a dev for not wanting to compete against Nintendo on their own platform when XBLA is sitting right there, but it’s hard to imagine there wasn’t some sort of way to sell Super Meat Boy on the Wii given the fact that it’s become the go-to system for retro-themed games this console generation.

Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of Osborne House
Developer: Frog Games
Publisher: THQ
Platforms: DS

One of the interesting– well, not interesting. Let’s say “neat”. But “neat” doesn’t mean anything, either. Okay, one of the things I’ve found out while doing WAW every week is that there exists this strange cottage industry of Nintendo DS adventure games; usually based on IP that’s long since passed into the public domain, but all roughly the same; based around a series of rote puzzle mini games loosely tied around a central narrative that only old people and very shy children who’ve spent too much time in the company of old people could possibly enjoy.

While it would be very easy for me to dismiss Mystery of Osborne House as another of these by-the-numbers adventure titles (provided you can even fairly call these “adventure” games without horribly offending the memory of Full Throttle and Grim Fandango), I’m stopped short– With the popularity of Professor Layton, perhaps Frog Games was inspired to create something with verve and artistry instead of an excuse to give retirees another six solid hours of pipe puzzles.

And with that you think maybe Frog games is trying this time– after all, that’s not just good art; that’s an actual art unique art style. Maybe Frog Games finally gets it, maybe they’re willing to pull these poor lost proto-gamers fromotheir comfortable, quilt-lined shells and–


(while we’re on the subject, we’re all in agreement that the mini games in Bioshock/Bioshock 2 were the only interesting pipe maze games, right? There’s something to be said for the tension created when you know if you fuck up you’ll be on the receiving end of a rocket-propelled grenade. Maybe this is the sort of thing Frog Games needs to expand into; providing hacking mini games to other developers. God knows Fallout 3/New Vegas could benefit from an hacking gameplay mechanic that didn’t involve trying one letter combination and immediately backing out and restarting if you didn’t succeed on the first try)

Developer: SouthEnd Interactive (Not to be mistaken for SouthPeak Interactive)
Publisher: Microsoft Gaming Studios
Platforms: XBLA

I’m trying to get into IloMilo but it just seems way too complicated for it’s own good. There’s a lot of mechanics to keep track of in 3d space and the way the two “ends” of each puzzle operate as you bring Ilo and Milo together was difficult for me to get my mind around during the demo. But I rarely “get” this type of game, so don’t let my inability to enjoy IloMilodissuade any of you; it’s obvious the developers loved making this game and that warmth permeates everything about IloMilo. If super-cute 3d puzzlers are what you’re into it’s hard to find a better example on XBLA at the moment.

Developer: TastyPlay
Publisher: Beatshapers
Platforms: PlayStation Network

So I don’t want to say that a downloadable title on PlayStation Network validates Move as a gaming platform, but–


This looks very much like an actual videogame.

The fact that StarDrone also exists on iPhone sort of harms this argument; it’s hard for me to believe that any sort of waggle integration is justifiable if the game isn’t built from the ground up to exploit motion control. But still, I get very much of a Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved feel from StarDrone, and Retro Evolved was pretty much the best (and only) argument for Xbox Live Arcade for months after the 360 was released.

(also, if you’re Nintendo, aren’t you concerned that this thing came out on Move three months after it’s launch instead of on four years ago on the Wii? How does Nintendo keep letting this sort of thing happen? I miss the evil Nintendo of old that would have simply left a Wii Dev kit sitting on Beat Shaper’s doorstep along with a note explaining how many copies of StarDrone they should expect to sell in order to pay it back.)


KINGDOM HEARTS RE:CODED is probably the last thing on earth I want to talk about that does not actively involve bowel movements

VENETICA looks suspiciously like the first instance of an HD videogame someone might want to pay actual money for in 2011.

GHOST TRICK is something you should buy but probably won’t because you’re a jerk who hates good things.


Posted in Wallet Abuse | Leave a Comment »

Wallet Abuse Thursday! No Kinect Allowed Edition!

Posted by nfinit on November 4, 2010

the image
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.

the image
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 —


the image
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.

the image

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.
the image


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.


the image
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–

the image
— 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.

the image
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.

the image
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

the image

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?
the image

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?

the imagethe imagethe image
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.

the image
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.
the image

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?

the image
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.

Posted in Wallet Abuse | Leave a Comment »

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

Posted by nfinit on October 13, 2010

the image
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”.

the image

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.

the image
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.

the image
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!)

the image

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.

the image

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.

the image
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!

the image
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.

the image
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!

Posted in Uncategorized, Wallet Abuse | Leave a Comment »

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 7-28-10: The Summer of Suck Continues

Posted by nfinit on July 28, 2010

<!–the image–>
Arc Rise Fantasia
Publisher:  Ignition Entertainment
Developer:  imageepoch
Platforms:  Nintendo WiiAdmittedly I don’t play them often anymore nor do I pay much attention to the scene, so I may well be talking about my ass, but it feels like at some point over the previous console generation JRPGs got really “poofy”.  What I mean by that is that at some point everyone started dressing like they were going to a goth loli convention or were being designed by the same people responsible for Rozen Maiden

For instance:
Tales of Symphonia

67919image1.jpg picture by bigredcoat
Crystal Chronicles
Final-Fantasy-Crystal-Chronicles--My-Life-as-a-Kin-5.jpg picture by bigredcoat
Luminous Arc
Luminous2_jacket1280.jpg picture by bigredcoat
Arc Rise Fantasia
untitled-51.jpg picture by bigredcoatY’know, poofy.

Which I suppose is about right, as Arc Rise Fantasia is as generic as a generic JRPG can possibly be, and most of it’s hopes pin on the fact that not very many games like it exist for the Wii and this is possibly the last JRPG release of note for the system until The Last Story, which won’t come out until sometime shortly before President Newt Gingrich’s first midterm election.

This would appear to be a risky foundation on which to build your hopes upon– after all, if you’re a JRPG fiend who happens to also only be a Wii-exclusive gamer is about as common as a Gran Tourismo addict who’s Wii-only.  Moreover, the supposed success of ARF leads to troubling questions about our own industry– if ARF can succeed on a recipe of exclusiveness and mediocrity, what does this mean for Kinect?

That said, ARF provides what promises to be Perfectly Acceptable Gaming provided you can ignore it’s “Jill-the-master-of-unlocking” level of voice acting, it’s mid-generation PS2-level graphics, the fact that it relies on the Classic Controller to play properly and oh this:

untitled-53.jpg picture by bigredcoat(on a wholly unrelated note, every time I see this game’s title I can’t help but read “Battle Fantasia”, which saddens me as I’m reminded that Battle Fantasia exists and I spent twelve American dollars on it instead of an equivalent amount of Woolite by which to inject directly into my eyeballs.)

<!–the image–>
BlazBlue  Continuum Shift
Publisher:  Aksys Games
Developer:  Arc System Works
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
BlazBlue continues it’s weird parallel-universe Street Fighter 4 track with a $40 pack of balance tweaks and new characters.I’ve never actually played BlazBlue outside of demo units, for the simple reason that it’s difficult for me to stay good at two games of the same genre at the same time– I’m pretty sure if I tried to keep up with BlazBlue I’d just pick the character that looks nearest to Chun Li and try to play her in the same way.  However, for $40 BlazBlue makes a compelling argument simply as a digital artbook of simply stunning 2d sprites, the likes of which we used to only get through Vanillaware games or when SNK updates King of Fighters.

As far as Continuum Shift goes, as near as I can tell you’re only really getting three new characters at launch, with the fourth to be released as DLC later, presumably for free.  I’m not a fan of fighting games releasing new characters as per-character downloads, after all everyone’s going to need these same characters to play against at some point.  That data already exists on your hard drive until you unlock it and I’m not sure that’s a good direction for the gaming industry to go in.  That said, it’s something we’re going to have to get used to, as console versions of Super Street Fighter Four will probably do the same thing with characters introduced in the arcade version.

BlazBlue and it’s like trouble me though, in that as more quality 1v1 arcade fighters are released the easier it becomes to talk myself into spending money on an arcade stick, and down that path only lies madness.  Madness and a growing, inescapable pit of debt to the Sanwa Denshi Corporation.

Clash of the Titans
Publisher:  Namco Bandai
Developer:  Game Republic
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360You remember Clash of the Titans, right?

clash3.jpg picture by bigredcoat
No, not that Clash of the Titans, although it’d probably have made for a better game.  This was the one that came out in April, lost something like 400 million dollars and was soon forgotten because hey, who the fuck asked for a new Clash of the Titans?

Still don’t remember it?  Right.  Liam Neeson dressed in tin foil and shouting about squids

Clash-of-the-Titans-Zeus-Perseus-Clip-24-3-10-kc.jpg picture by bigredcoat
That’s it!  Clearly you weren’t the only people who forgot about Clash of the Titans as Game Republic has only now remembered they were supposed to ship this flaming turd of a videogame to store shelves– the last time I remember a game being released so late from it’s movie counterpart was Wanted: Weapons of Fate, a game translation so poorly received that the parent company was dissolved, it’s offices burned to the ground and the development staff stripped naked and forced into the Swedish tundra.  Oh yeah.  This one’s bad.
untitled-54.jpg picture by bigredcoatMeanwhile, what the fuck happened to Game Republic?  We’re talking about a studio founded by the guy largely responsible for Street Fighter 2 and their last output has been this godforsaken thing an a PSN port of Settlers of Catan.  It’s possible that Okamoto lost so much money because of Folkore that he now owes the Japanese mafia an endless string of shovelware ports and party games.  We’ll know if this is true or not if it turns out Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom is actually a Team ICO kart racer.

Posted in Wallet Abuse | Leave a Comment »

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 6-9-10: I don’t really care about Green Day all that much

Posted by nfinit on June 9, 2010

Disgaea Infinite
Publisher:  NIS America
Developer:  Nippon Ichi Software
Platforms:  PSP

The Disgaea universe confuses me.  On one hand most of the game world is populated with demons and angels that are obviously supposed to hold some sort of childlike charm to them, but are still weirdly developed and anyone over the age of 28 or so feels vaguely creepy playing a Disgaea game in public.  On  the other hand, Disgaea is also randomly populated with people who are obviously supposed to be adults:

In various states of undress.  So I guess what I’m trying to say here is that I know Disgaea is supposed to be porn, but I dunno what kind of porn it’s supposed to represent, and that bothers me.  Pick a side between lolis and adults, Disgaea!

So this isn’t a new SRPG at all, but rather one of those visual novels in the vein of Phoenix Wright that the Japanese are so keen on nowadays.  This might strike you as odd, but then you realize the last Disgaea game was Contra.  Contra with undead penguins.  so this makes perfect sense.

(For the sake of this entry please pretend this is in English. NIS America's website is charmingly useless and only provides no English screenshots of DI.)

If there’s one constant to Nippon Ichi, it’s its amazing artwork, and the static nature of an adventure game is the absolute best way to put those assets to best use

She puts the brass back in "brassiere"

Y’know.  Assets.  Anyway, I can’t really fairly judge Disgaea Infinite as adventure games/visual novels/what have you aren’t really my thing, but during my short time with Phoenix Wright  I grew to understand why people like them.

I think we can all agree that at some point NIS is going to run out of new directions to take Disgaea before the inevitable happens and we get Disgaea Kart.  Who do we have to petition to get a 2d fighting game before that happens and/or they totally poison the franchise by making Dead or Alive Prinny Paradise?

There are currently no review scores available for Infinite, although considering the nature of this game that probably doesn’t mean terribly much– you’re in this for the setting and the writing, not so much the gameplay.  So the merits of this game will rest entirely on the translation.  As NIS America makes their living porting this sort of stuff to American shores, that’s probably fine.

Green Day Rock Band
Publisher:  MTV Games
Developer:  Harmonix
Platform:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii

Harmonix never made it clear why Green Day was the natural successor to The freaking Beatles, nor why this disc wasn’t just sold as DLC like any other reasonable Rock Band song pack.  Anyway, there’s a few hints that even Harmonix isn’t really taking Green Day seriously.

1: It’s freaking Green Day

2: A week before GD:RB hit Harmonix started dropping info about Rock Band 3, including the new keytar

3: Seriously, it’s a disc of Green Day songs

4: No instruments were released with the disc.  This is of course a good thing as no one wants more plastic crap littering the den (and good luck getting Best Buy on board with giving up retail space to a non-numbered Rock Band in 2010), but even the Aerosmith pack for Guitar Hero got a crappy guitar.

However, you do get some of the great Beatles Rock Band-style interstitial movies based on Green Day’s history, and there’s no less than three full album’s worth of music included.  So if you’re a big Green Day fan then that’s all fantastic, it just seems an odd direction for the series to take when Harmonix tries to avoid the excesses that ruined the Guitar Hero name.

There’s a dearth of reviews for Green Day Rock Band, which considering we’re two days from release is either utterly meaningless or raises questions about its quality.  The 90% Game Pro review reads like a fan of Green Day itself wrote it whereas the Official Xbox Magazine balked at paying $60 for a glorified track pack and gave it 75%

Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker
Publisher:  Konami
Developer:  Kojima Productions
Platforms:  PlayStation Portable

So while no one was paying attention Kojima went and possibly produced the best Metal Gear Solid ever for the one system no one buys games for.

Peace Walker eschews traditional life bars for a mullet-based life meter.

Peace Walker looks like it’s combining all the best control elements of previous MGS games (which isn’t terribly difficult to do;  just make it so you don’t need four different button combinations to perform the rather basic videogame operation of shooting a dude) along with a weird mashup of Pokemon and Monster Hunter.  The gameplay is, like Portable Ops, multiplayer co-op based but you’re also expected to build Outer Heaven by collection soldiers and build your own personal Metal Gear out of spare parts.  I’m sure Snake will in no way regret this decision in years to come and/or this horrific unthinking killing machine absolutely will not awaken to try and eat everyone in late 70’s Costa Rica.

While these sound like intriguing concepts, I question the motives of a Metal Gear Solid game based around the idea of sound gameplay concepts.  I dunno about anyone else reading this, but I play MGS for batshit insane moments like the 30 minute late title card in MGS3.  Is one of the stalwarts of  single-player jank falling before the brutal co-op blade of Monster Hunter?

I agree with Giant Bomb’s Brad Shoemaker in that Peace Walker is probably best served on XBLA and PSN where it’s onboard co-op component can truely shine, but I’m mostly saying that because I took my PSP apart a couple weeks ago and I need to find some conductive copper tape before the screen will work right again.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11
Publisher:  EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii

I can understand the value that still lies within the Tiger Woods name, and had Tiger bounced back from his philandering scandal and started immediately winning tours again, keeping the Tiger Woods name on EA’s PGA game would have been a brilliant move.  But he’s not started winning.  In fact he’s tanking; sitting at #138 among all pros in the world in Fed Ex Cup Points and managed to hit three bystanders at The Memorial tournament at Dublin, Ohio. For whatever reason this makes Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11and its associate ad campaign seem all the more desperate and, well, skeevy.

Gotta hand it to EA though for sticking it out with Tiger in the face of scandal and overall shitheel behavior, joining the same brave, esteemed ranks as Goldline and IBM.
As far as the actual game?  As with the 2010 version, the Wii and PS360 version are two distinctly different games, with the Wii version touting to near 1:1 motion when used with Wii Motion Plus. and a new first-person view putting mode.  Also, minigolf!

You may think the live show ticket sales for the Mini Golf Pro Tour are abyssmal, but this is still a bigger gate than the average TNA show.

Instead of good controls and minigolf courses, the PS360 version gets graphics.

Sadly the Callaway's new Tassel Driver was banned from the Tour after repeated legal challenges from Macho Man Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior.

New for all systems is the Ryder Cup.  Apparently Team Golf Changes Everything, I dunno, I don’t play golf games that don’t involve FUCKING NINJAS.

Every bit of deserving of your love as Golden Tee; Ninja Gaiden; your grandmother

The following games will receive a sentence each and like it:

America’s Next Top Model (DS, from Crave) Finally, a glimpse into the cutthroat world of Beyblade convention Booth Babes.

Vacation Isle Beach Party (Wii; Warner Home Video Games) Sort of like DOA Paradise, but for Mormons.

Mega Man Zero Collection (DS; Capcom) I was going to write about this until I realized it was a collection of GBA Mega Man Zero games and not SNES Mega Man X games; now I just feel cheated.

Posted in Wallet Abuse | 1 Comment »

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 5-26-10: Blur, Galaxy 2, we’re all junkies!

Posted by nfinit on May 25, 2010

Hey Mark, what have you been doing instead of updating your blog?
Playing motherfucking Red Dead Redemption, that’s what!
I’ve poured something like 20 hours into this game over the past three days and I’m actively avoiding story missions for as long as possible for the sole purpose of making the game last longer– and that’s ignoring the point that I know full well that it’s a fairly long game in and of itself even if I were to plow through the story missions.
It’s rare that a  game makes me regret advancing its story and thus inexorably diminishing the time I get to spend with it– in fact, I can remember doing this all of three times before.  One was last year’s all-too-short Batman: Arkham Asylum.  Before that there was the pangs of regret that caused me to put off the last couple hours of the first Suikoden for the PS1.  The first time this happened was with Sonic the Hedgehog 2– although in that case it was mainly because the game was supposed to be a birthday gift and I was in danger of finishing the game before I was to technically receive it.
Suffice to say, Red Dead Redemption is an amazing game– These might be the best visuals I’ve seen out of a videogame.. well, ever, this is the first game I can really remember looking at and thinking that this would be utterly impossible to replicate on PS2-era hardware.  The draw distances are simply staggering and the fauna is quite literally crawling with wildlife, most of which is intent on feasting upon your rapidly cooling corpse.
I’m not  willing to say it’s my game of the year over Bayonetta as of yet.  It has  problems, not the least of which are clunky, imprecise controls that force you to question your ability to make it out of any given situation.  Also. Rockstar badly needs to understand that it’s not necessary to map multiple functions to a single key, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been violently murdered because James Marston was too close to a patch of weeds and became suddenly entrhalled with picking the flowers in the middle of a firefight.
It’s one of those games you have to enjoy in spite of its controls, and it’s difficult to give a game like that unqualified praise, especially when you’re dealing with something that  wants to define itself as an action game.  There’s a problem when a game like Mass Effect 2 has far superior core gameplay elements than an open world action game epic.
Also the game is hilariously glitchy
But glitchyness and clunky controls are problems endemic to open world games, and it’s not fair to damn Red Dead for these faults.  It is probably the finest game if it’s type to ever be crafted, although in all fairness I’ve yet to play Just Cause 2.

I have a simple metric for judging if a game is great:  If I’m playing it, I lose track of time, and when I’m not playing it I’m thinking of playing it.  So that’s why it’s 8 pm on Tuesday and all I have written for Wallet Abuse is this rambling love letter to Red Dead Redemption, and that’s pretty bad as this was an important week for games, including at least one title that’ll probably wind up on a lot of GOTY lists, that being Super Mario Galaxy 2, and all I can really think about are the intricacies of playing Liar’s Dice in Chuparosa!

But I also wanted to go over this amazing thing that happened this week:

Now don’t get me wrong, gaming ruined my life and I’m -okay- with that, but I can’t recall ever pushing an old woman down a flight of stairs to get my hit of Forza 3.

Although I probably would for Rallisport Challenge 3.

Anyway, since I’ve not done a gimmick in a couple weeks, and seeing that we actually have a decent list of games this week, I wanted to judge this week’s slate of games against the equivalent addictive narcotic effect, starting with–

Backyard Sports:  Sandlot Sluggers
Publisher: Atari
Developer: HB Studios
Platforms: Everything (but I’m blaming it on Nintendo)
k, let’s try that again.

Anyway, since I’ve not done a gimmick in a couple weeks, and seeing that we actually have a decent list this week, I wanted to judge this week’s slate of games against the equivalent addictive narcotic effect, starting with–
Publisher:  Activision
Developer:  Bizarre Creations
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Combining the best elements of Project Gotham Racing and Wipeout is a good start for a great \game, and I can’t complain about any game who’s advertising campaign revolves around bashing Mario Kart for the simplistic party game it is. But I do wonder if there’s any appreciable single-player component to be found within Blur, or if you’d really want to bother dipping into it if you have access to Live Gold or Playstation Network– Paying full MSRP for a game that’s basically a shell for the online lobby always bugs me, and you run into the very real problem if the game’s community drying up inside of two weeks– and that’s before you deal with the possibility of Split/Second laying claim to the same pool of online casual racers.
It’s a slow period for console racing games though, and provided we don’t see GT5  Blur could well be the only significant racing game to be released between Forza 3 and Test Drive Unlimited 2.  I don’t know if that will help the game’s popularity and keep the community from wandering off inside of a month, but if you’re going to buy this it’s probably best to do it sooner rather than later.



Much like Blur’s relationship to Mario Kart, crystal meth was first synthesized in Japan before coming to America and taking over large swaths of suburbia, trailer parks, and abandoned hillbilly shacks.  Also, much like the events within the game of Blur itself , over time a meth lab has a 100% chance of exploding violently.

City Builder
Publisher:  Virtual Play Games
Developer:  Collision Studios
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii
I can either find interesting things to say about a game who’s developer’s last game of note was Daisy Fuentes Pilates or I could spend my free time dragging prostitutes across the Mexican wasteland from the back of my horse.  This is all you’re getting.


Huffing Krylon!
I’ll be perfectly honest– I find this picture personally hilarious at some core, fundamental level and the entire purpose of this entire theme is to share it with you all.  Seriously though, don’t huff paint and don’t buy this game.

Dawn of Heroes
Publisher:  Majesco
Developer:  Wicked Studios
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii
At first i was convinced that Dawn of Heroes existed entirely to confuse people who came into Gamestop looking for the far more interesting and genuinely good Might and Magic:  Clash of Heroes, but further research proves that Dawn of Heroes first popped up at Tokyo Game Show three years ago.  How in the hell you can put a game in development for thirty-six months and still wind up with something that looks like this:
is quite frankly beyond my ken, but whatevs.  The biggest problem Dawn of Heroes has isn’t its generic name, or the fact that it’s drop dead hideous, but that in that there’s approximately five billion games doing the simplistic JRPG/SRPG thing on the DS right now, all of them better and without the shame that buying a Majesco product brings upon your family.

Also only one site has bothered to do a review of DoH so far, and that’s Nintendo Power with a 7.5.  This thing is going to blow goats.


Whip-it Cartridges!

Mostly harmless, slightly embarrassing to everyone involved, and there’s far better things you could be doing with the same equipment (in whip-it’s case, just eating whipped cream instead, in the case of your DS, playing quite literally any other JRPG ever released for the system)

Hexyz Force
Publisher:  Atlus
Developer:  Sting
Platforms:  PlayStation Portable
A super-deformed JRPG released on a failed system who’s main selling point is twenty minutes of anime cutscenes.  It’s like I’m playing Lunar on the Sega CD all over again except there’s more than 16 colors on-screen and the president doesn’t suck.
Seriously though, how the fuck does Atlus stay in business releasing stuff for systems that they know full well has something like a 99.99% piracy rate for all games released upon it?  Did the game seriously cost Atlus less than $80 to translate and they can count on the three vehemently Libertarian weeaboo PSP fans to buy this stupid thing?
As far as the actual game goes, this is by the same guys that developed Riviera: The Promised Land and Yggra Union, so at least it (probably) doesn’t suck


I was going to post an anime-related fictional recreational drug here, but the only  relevant item I could come up with was Red Eye from Cowboy Bebop and I respect CB too much to associate it with whatever the hell it is we’re being sold here in this game.  So, much like games with anime cut scenes, here’s something that wore out it’s welcome in the late 90’s, although to be fair to Hexyz Force it didn’t kill Steve Belcher getting there.

ModNation Racers
Publisher:  Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer:  United Front Games

Platforms:  PlayStation 3

Unless you’re really into Playstation fandom why are you buying this instead of Blur?

Nectar!  (from Haze!)
If your Sony fanboyism leads you to purchase forgettable PS3-exclusive racing games in lieu of far superior cross-platform alternatives, you may as well resort to the fictional drug that powered the most forgettable PS3 exclusive game that no one admits buying.

Super Mario Galaxy 2
Publisher:  Nintendo
Developer:  Nintendo EAD Tokyo
Platforms:  Nintendo Wii

Shigeru Miyamoto can use leftover bits of Super Mario Galaxy and manage to make something that sits at 98% on Metacritic but refuses to do anything interesting with Starfox.  Jerk.



UFC Undisputed 2010
Publisher:  THQ
Developer:  Yuke’s
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Apparently Undisputed 2010 is a solid purchase if you’re heavy into UFC, but it also seems clunky enough to ward off the UFC’s dudebro audience.  The 12 year long career mode sounds intriguing and apparently Joe Rogan will even mention stuff that happened in your previous fights, but the presentation and fighting engine seems simish to a fault.  These are all the sorts of mistakes that EA’s Martial Arts game probably won’t make,  but then again it won’t have Anderson Silva, so what’s the point, really?


Red Bull!
Much like I’m unconvinced people actually enjoy playing clunky sim fighters such as Undisputed, K-1 kickboxer, and Fight Night, there’s no way I believe anyone actually enjoys drinking Red Bull.
Witch's Wish
Witch’s Wish
Publisher:  Natsume
Developer: TryFirst
Platforms:  Nintendo DS

Fuck you there’s no way I’m talking about this game when there’s Mexicans to be sho
Oh my god this thing is adorable

I question the quality of WW however, as all the major gaming sites are clearly reciting from the same paragraph-and-a-half of Natsume’s press release, and while this paragraph tells the story of a strong collectivist, working-class plot, it doesn’t really explain what this thing is supposed to be.  But it’s a Natsume game, so I’m going to assume it’s something to do with agriculture.
Mandrake root!

I’m going to run with the farming thing here, and seeing as how this is a game clearly based on neopagan poppycock, mandrake root works quite well.  Also mandrake has a solid traditions in videogames, appearing in everything from Odin Sphere to Final Fantasy to– for reasons as yet unexplained– a boss in Mega Man Zero 4.


Oh man I hope ALPHA PROTOCOL doesn’t suck but it’s been delayed sixteen times and that’s never good.
BACKBREAKER lacks NFL license; snowball’s chance in hell.
Holy shit it’s 2010 and SYPHON FILTER:  LOGAN’S SHADOW is a PS2 exclusive!

Posted in Uncategorized, Wallet Abuse | Leave a Comment »

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 4-7-10: Squishy Tank, Ununseptium, Game Room Sucks

Posted by nfinit on April 6, 2010

There was a huge new player announced on the gaming scene this week, something that looks to revolutionize not only the way we play games, but the way we think about games, and also possibly the way we think about playing games, as well as the way we game about thinking plays.

I speak of course of the discovery of ununseptium, the 117th atom to be discovered in the Periodic Table of Elements. Ununseptium hasn’t officially been named yet, and won’t be for some years to come, but it’s discovery and subsequent production will serve as a bridge between the most exotic currently known heavy elements with half-lives measured in milliseconds and the hypothesized “Island of Stability” wherein superheavy elements may be found with half-lives extending for millions of years.
In honor of this monumental achievement, I will rank this week’s list of games by their nearest appropriate Transuranium Element.

Squishy Tank
Publisher: Natsume
Developer: Probably Also Natsume
Platform: Nintendo DS

When I first saw that this was bases on a Japanese tank mascot game I had high hopes that it was in some way ripping off Squeenix’s criminally underloved Rocket Slime Adventure. For a fleeting moment I believed that perhaps Squishy Tank was but the tip of an iceberg of cutesy tank combat sims just boiling beneath the Japanese import scene. After all, with Squishy Tank we’d have Rocket Slime and Tachikomas and that awesome little tank from Metal Slug– Surely Squishy tank would be the herald of a bold new future filled with mascot tanks cheerfully spraying the napalm of love into our hearts and other various flammable organs.

Nope, it’s just Bubble Breaker with powerups. Laaaaaaaaame.



Much like Squishy Tank, Ununquadium has proven to be a bust.  Although researchers have pinned hope on the 114th element’s high, wide fission barriers as a hedge against an impractically short half-life typical of the transuranium element family and thus a possible waypoint along the line to the Island of Stability, Ununquadium has thus far proven reluctant to manifest itself.  This is doubly frustrating, as our nation’s top scientific minds have long theorized that the mass production of ununquadium is all that’s holding humanity back from hoverboards, arc reactors and self-defogging car windshields.


SPLINTER CELL CONVICTION checks necks, immediately break… wait a sec?

That’s the list?

Yup, that’s the list.  And I didn’t even get to Darmstadtium!

So while I have this time I’d like to bitch and moan about Microsoft Game Room, or rather how badly Microsoft botched Game Room and why it’s probably already fucked and should be thrown into a lake and our points refunded so we can buy more Idolmaster avatar rewards Castle Crashers.

I want to love Game Room.  I honestly do.  Cheap, faithful arcade classics built inside a customizable arcade/trophy room that other Live members can come visit and issue challenges through?  That’s hitting a lot of very good things, things I hold dear to my heart in the same place as the Chaterham Super Seven and Cheers-Era Kirstie Alley.  The system would launch with thirty games– Thirty games!– with a promised seven games released each week thereafter.  Even if only a third of all games released for it were decent there would still be something worth picking up every single week.

Then Microsoft went and fucked all that up the very next week.  The seven games per week?  That’s not actually starting until sometime in late April.  For an entire month, no new games will appear in Game Room.  The reason for Game Room to exist– a constant stream of new, obscure, classic games– is broken out of the gate.

Add to this is that the first batch of thirty games had far too many 2600 and Intellivision games that were of questionable quality even when they were released.  Seriously, Outlaw?

No one wanted to play Outlaw back in 197whatever, and that was back when you had a choice between Outlaw, Pong, or sitting in a running car in a closed garage.

On the arcade side you wound up with far too much cruft like Batlantis (amazingly Konami took the idea of “bats” and “Atlantis” and managed to turn them into a mid 80’s Space Invaders ripoff) and Red Baron, which is neat as a historical oddity, but including it in the initial set of 30 games and asking us to pay as much money for it as Tempest isn’t just short-sighted, it’s downright insulting.

Not that there weren’t worthwhile games in this batch, but seeing as these games come from the early 80’s and late 70’s, few of them were ever designed to use a joystick.  Crystal Castles, for instance, is an undeniable classic, but it’s broken and unplayable on anything other than a trackball.  In fact, I’d say there are only two unquestioned classics in the first batch of games that aren’t completely broken via use by the 360 control pad– Tempest and Centipede– and Tempest feels clumsy with a pad instead of a paddle.

This is a problem that will plague Game Room through it’s entire existence, provided Microsoft intends to produce anything past this first batch of thirty games.  Yes, the emulation is spot on– you even get the ghostly afterglow from Red Baron’s early vector graphics– But due to that precise emulation anything that’s not directly controlled via joystick is going to feel awkward, if not rendered unplayable.  And then there’s the issue where there’s no game in the bloated and diseased 2600/Intellivision library that anyone in their right mind wants to pay three dollars to play in 2010.

Anyway, the most damning thing for Game Room is that on April 14th, this thing will exist:

This is Final Fight: Double Impact.  It’s Final Fight, it’s arcade perfect, it features a remixed soundtrack and this neat arcade cabinet overlay to keep the screen resolution from looking weird in HD, and it’s not going to be in any way shape or form associated with Game Room.  Oh and it’s also going to feature Magic Sword because I mean,  why not include motherfucking Magic Sword

Same deal as above.  Arcade perfect, some graphical filters to make things look better in HD if you want to turn them on, and a remixed soundtrack.  All in one package, all with no Game Room integration whatsoever.

Beyond Game Room’s questionable games selection, beyond the uneven pricing that places Atari 2600 Millipede at the same value as arcade-perfct Centipede, beyond the infuriating lack of optimized 360 gamepad control, this is going to be Game Room’s biggest problem– convincing publishers that stuff like Final Fight Double Impact belongs on Game Room and not part of Capcom’s own piecemeal service.  I mean, what appeal does putzing around in my own virtual arcade with Football for the Intellivision have when Capcom wants to just sell me Final Fight on its own service?

All this is ignoring that Microsoft is going to have to convince publishers like Capcom that vast swaths of their retro library is no more valuable than Lunar Lander.  I’m not sure that’s ever going to work, and if Game Room is doomed to be limited to obscure western pre-Crash “classics”, I’m not sure what the point of the whole exercise is supposed to be.  And not to bring up the E-Word, but Mame is sitting right there.  Any computer capable of rendering this webpage is capable of emulating every game currently sold on Game Room.  If Microsoft can’t get Tempest and Magic Sword under the same roof, why aren’t I just loading ROMs off my hard drive instead?
NEXT WEEK~! (for realsies this time)

SPLINTER CELL CONVICTION is number one in my heart; in busting dude’s heads through urinals

I predict heavy flow with BLOOD BOWL oh god that was terrible

GTA 4:  EPISODES FROM LIBERTY CITY exposes that Microsoft has only a vague, sketchy understanding of the term “exclusive content”

Posted in Science all up ins, Wallet Abuse | 12 Comments »

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 3-24-10: Buy iJumpman!

Posted by nfinit on March 23, 2010

It’s Retro Week here at Wallet Abuse, as there’s two retro-themed items you need to know about– One of which you really need to buy like, right fucking now and another which only I’m probably the only person in the room who’s really interested in it despite being a major push by Microsoft itself.  Anyway, onto the thing every last one of you jerks need to buy:

It’s iJumpman, by mcc!

I normally don’t talk about digital downloads here as getting anything resembling a coherent release schedule is damned near impossible and the best I could do is to report about the games a week late– and certainly I don’t talk about iPhone games here, the silly thing isn’t a console and roughly fifty thousand are released each week, most of which I have been lead to believe are some variation of Desktop Tower Defense, only with fart noises and motion control.

iJumpman though, is none of those things.  Instead it’s a retro-inspired (I believe the kids use the phrase low-fi) puzzle platformer where the player manipulates the level as much as they manipulate their own character.  It works better if you see the official vid:

There’s also a free Windows/Mac version up at

iJumpan reminds me a lot of what the original Atari 2600 devs would have done had you put a Mode 7 chip into the VCS as well as a massive amount of RAM and an actual working CPU and maybe a GPU of some sort and a useable controller.

iJumpman is from friend of the blog mcc, who is both more handsome and smarter than you are.  Give him your money!  Also ask him about lasers!  Dude can go all day about lasers!

Okay so for the second retro download this week and the part that likely only interests me due to the markedly high chance of one day playing Moon Patrol on my 360:

Microsoft Game Room is here!


Sometime this week.  I hope.  Truth be told it might be on Xbox Live Marketplace as we speak, but the 360 navigation menu is only slightly more comprehensible than Linear A.  Supposedly upon release.. which may or may not have happened earlier this afternoon.. Microsoft Game Room will feature 30+ classic arcade/pre-Crash titles, with seven added each week until such point as Microsoft runs out of things to emulate or they accidentally release the 2600 A-Team prototype and the entire Entertainment and Devices Division winds up the property of Stephen J. Cannell.

Anyway, with all this retro wankery going about, I felt it best to judge this week’s games vs their appropriate pre-Crash title.

Imagine:  Gymnast

Publisher:  Ubisoft

Developer:  At This Point, Probably an Algorithm Specifically Designed To Crush The Dreams of Little Girls

Platforms:  Nintendo DS

Never let it be said that I lie to my readers.
It’s cool, she’s in college!
Okay so here’s the deal.  No more shovelware games unless I find them personally amusing and/or an excuse to post salacious pictures.
No more Imagine, no more Petz, no more Detineer or Zoo Games, no more painfully obvious Nicktoons cash-ins clogging up this page.  No one wants to buy this shit, and I ran out anything interesting to say about Imagine games the first time I mentioned that buying your little girl a game specifically designed to re-enforce gender stereotypes just seemed a little off.  Companies like Dreamcatcher Interactive are destroying my will to like good games, draining me of the time and enthusiasm to talk about stuff that really matters, like say:

Just Cause 2
Publisher:  Square Enix by way of Eidos Interactive
Developer:  Avalanche Studios
Platforms:  Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC, the insides of my dream

Kids, you remember Mercenaries 2?

untitled-30.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Yeah, we can all admit now that Mercs 2 was kinda terrible.
Kids, you remember how you wanted to remember Mercenaries 2?  Open world mayhem and utter destruction without the janky, unpolished feel that made Mercs 2 the sort of game that you had to convince yourself you were enjoying?  Okay, maybe Mercs 2 is a bad selling point. Let’s start over
Kids, you remember Red Faction: Guerrilla, right?  Alright, how imagine RF:G, but with grappling hooks.
Just Cause 2.  It’s sorta like that.  If this is your sort of game then I don’t need to tell you to buy this, you’ll already own a copy as soon as it comes off the trucks at Best Buy.  If this isn’t your sort of game– and by “your sort of game” I mean “you like being able to ram trucks loaded with explosive barrels into buildings just to watch that entire building explode” then be aware that open world games like Just Cause 2 carry baggage– namely that it’s never going to feel as complete nor as polished as a Modern Warfare 2.  But such is the price of videogame freedom.


riddle_of_the_sphinx.png picture by bigredcoat
Riddle of the Sphinx!  (Atari 2600)
Sometimes the word “classic” doesn’t really mean “classic” as much as it means “this thing is old and awkward”, sort of like if an Andre the Giant match were to appear on WWE Classics.  Anyway, Riddle of the Sphinx represents something of an early sandbox game in that there was no real goal to what you were basically left to wander around to your own devices and just make things happen.  It also proved to be staggeringly complex, with a control scheme that used both 2600 controllers and the difficulty switches and TV Black/White switch on the 2600 console itself, something I didn’t realize until twenty some odd years after I stole procured Riddle of the Sphinx from a friend in elementary school.  Easily the worst possible thing I’ve ever broken up with a friend for.  But I mean, just look at the cart, for fuck’s sake:
How could I help myself?

Moto GP ’09/’10
Publisher:  Capcom
Developer:  Monumental Studios
Platforms:  Playstation 3, Xbox 360

By all rights, I should love the Moto GP series.  After all, I love games with bikes:

the-ninja-warriors-again.png picture by bigredcoat

and I love games with racing

chase-hq-4.png picture by bigredcoat

So why am I utterly unimpressed by every motorcycle racing game I’ve ever played not specifically named “Road Rash”?
I blame the series on it’s rather exacting handling and twin-stick control scheme… well that and a lack of ninja robots.  Apparently this revision includes a more forgiving physics model and a more traditional racing-game control scheme, so maybe I’ll pick this up if and when Capcom includes brutal physical assault along with the free 2010 track downloads.
Unfortunately, the bike racing bike racing fans really want to get to– the beastly 800cc bikes– are locked away until you complete the 125 and 250cc campaigns.  This is a highly regressive practice, especially in the face of Forza Racing 3. It’s encouraging to see racing game embrace driving lines and rewind functions, however, even if this particular game lacks a restart feature for whatever insane reason.

THE FONZ! (Arcade)
It was hard to find a pre-Crash motorcycle-themed title, and even harder not to just throw my hands up in the air and post a picture of Stunt Cycle, but luckily Sega somehow managed to trick Paramount Television into allowing this to happen, resulting in what may well result in the underpinnings for Super-Hang On.  But probably not.

But you’d have thought a Fonz game would work, right?  So it’s sort of like MotoGP 09/10 in that regard– Motorcycle arcade games seem like a rock-solid idea, yet they rarely wind up being worthwhile.

Red Steel 2
Publisher:  Ubisoft
Developer:  Ubisoft Paris
Platforms:  Wii
So here we have a game that utilizes the Wii Motion Plus attachment in a unique combination of first person shooter gameplay and swordsmanship with compelling cell-shaded art style that plays well with the Wii’s hardware.  What we’re not sure of yet is if these elements combine to form a good game, but you have to like everything that surrounds it and it’s the sort of thing Wii-owning hardcore gamers have been begging for from third parties.

It’s also the sort of game that hardcore gamers should very much want to see succeed.  And while I say that I’m not encouraging the flawed practice of buying specific games with the goal of being rewarded by seeing more games like it released… it’s not like there have been a lot of hardcore Wii games released lately.  What do you think you’re doing, saving money?


182_2.png picture by bigredcoat
Bank Panic!  (Arcade)

Just barely making the cut as a pre-Crash title, Sega’s little-known arcade shooter featured… the old west.. and.  Guns.  Sort of.  There were surprisingly few pre-Crash old west-themed games ever released, and absolutely nothing that included both shooting things with guns and cutting them up with swords.  I guess selectable weapon technology was beyond the grasp of game developers before the NES invented a Select button.

Rooms:  The Main Building
Publisher:  Konami
Developer:  Hudson Soft
Platform:  Wii, Cracker Barrel Gift Shop, Dollar Store, McDonald’s Happy Meal
So this is a sliding puzzle game.
On disc.
For thirty dollars.
In 2010.
ScreenShot Image
Okay correction, an absolutely hideous sliding puzzle game on disc for thirty dollars in 2010.  This is some Destineer-quality shit, and makes it hard to remember that this is the same company that occasionally puts out incredible stuff like Lost in Shadow and… um…
No, wait
Oh, that’s unfortunate
No, not that either…

Okay that’s good enough.
Seriously though, has there been a more inconsistent used-to-be-relevant game developer in recent memory?  These guys had their own fucking console for a while and now they can’t even get Bomberman right.  If it wasn’t for the fact that the Mario Party games somehow sold seven hundred billion copies it’s hard to imagine they’d still exist.


3d_tic-tac-toe.png picture by bigredcoat
3D Tic Tac Toe! (Atari 2600)

A barely justifiable digital version of a game that works perfectly well without any transistors whatsoever.  I hate to admit that I actually owned this thing, but for the life of me I don’t understand what my reasoning was behind begging my mom to buy it.  What’s even weirder was that I didn’t own my 2600 until well after the Crash and while my friends were all happily playing NES games– for whatever twisted reason I chose to spend time and my parent’s money with this instead of Castlevania.  The 80’s were a deeply confusing time for everyone involved.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
Publisher:  Atlus
Developer:  Atlus/Lancarse
Platforms:  Nintendo DS
All the previews for Strange Journey seem incredibly positive, and well they should– it reads a lot like a combination of Etrain Odyssey and the dungeon-exploring bits of Shen Megami/Persona games minus the all the annoying RPG bits.
Of course this also means you’re playing a SMT game sans improbably leggy Japanese schoolgirls, but the ESRB had to give in an “M” for some good reason, so I’m holding out hope something fucked up happens later on.
AD&D:  TREASURE OF TARMIN!  (Intellivision)
Finding a pre-Crash console 3d dungeon romp proved difficult, as pre-Crash consoles had no business playing RPGs or 3d games.  I badly wanted to  put Xanadu here both for its fantastic early 80’s anime box art and the fact that it was actually Japanese, but it came in a year after the Crash itself… Oh, what the hell.
SAKURA WARS:  SO LONG MY LOVE somehow combines Annie Oakley, Anime, 1920’s Manhattan and Giant Robots.  GAME OF THE FOREVER.

DEAD OR ALIVE PARADISE is easily the skeeviest, most embarrassing game released… in at least three weeks.  Seriously, it’s softcore porn.
GRAND THEFT AUTO IV:  EPISODES FROM LIBERTY CITY will challenge you with full frontal male nudity; Microsoft’s fundamental understanding of the term “exclusive content”

Posted in Retro Wankery, Wallet Abuse | 1 Comment »

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 3-17-10: God of War 3, Dragon Age Awakening, I hate Hakan!

Posted by nfinit on March 16, 2010

Screw GDC and OnLive and the PS3Mote and all that boring industry insider crap.  The real news last week?  The full cast for Super Street Fighter 4 was finally revealed!  That’s right, the tenth and final character was released and… well.

Yeah.  A massive oiled grappler hailing from a sport where its a legal and standard tactic to stick your hand down your opponent’s trousers and fondle their genitals.  You know, to distract them.
And let’s look past the point where Hakan, despite being happily married and literally crawling with infant daughters is quite literally the most homoerotic thing humanly imaginable and also ignore the part where Street Fighter IV now has four joke characters.  Capcom decided to introduce yet another new merchandising vector original character rather than make fans happy and include one of the many dozen beloved yet long-ignored characters already crowding Capcom’s intellectual property portfolio.
Capcom’s roster is rife with fantastic yet long-lamented characters, any one of which any other developer in the world would immediately latch onto and create an entire game around, if not a full-fledged franchise.
You know what’s also fantastic?  This week’s list of games!  Well, most of them, anyway.  Any gaming system without the words “PlayStation Portable” has something worth buying this week.  In fact, I believe this week’s selection of games is so good that you can correlate each one with a Capcom character that easily should have been included over the Turkish oil wrestler.
Dragon Age Origins: Awakening
Publisher:  Electronic Arts
Developer:  Bioware
Platforms:  Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC

Initially I was conflicted about putting an expansion pack on this list, especially for something that’s unplayable on its own– after all, I don’t do writeups for downloadable content packs on Wallet Abuse.  But I’m interested in Awakening, and I’m going to buy it anyway, so screw you.
Forty bucks for twenty five hours of More Stuff for the most playable western role-playing game that’s not named “Fallout 3” isn’t a bad deal at all, especially when you consider that Mass Effect 2 could be completed in less than that if you were just interested in burning through the story.  Plus it fixes the one big complaint I have with Dragon Age: Origins now that I’m in my third play through of it– namely that by the time you complete your party your game is almost done and there’s nothing really left to do aside from side quests and initiate the endgame.  Which sucked, as the makeup of DA:O pretty much meant that Oghren the Dwarf would aways be your last character and he was easily more interesting to have around than half your crew.  Twenty five extra hours of surly drunk bezerker sounds like Good Times to me.

The advent of Dragon Age Awakenings is encouraging, as it may signal a return of more substantial post-release content for western RPGs.  One of the big complaints I have regarding the way developers handle downloadable content at the moment is that the mission packs released so far this generation don’t really add a whole lot to the game in question.  Fallout 3 was especially bad for this– yeah, Bethesda kept the game relevant for a long time by constantly releasing missions via DLC, but the packs added at most a couple hours to the game proper, and for the most part they felt tacked on.  While (most) of these packs were enjoyable and worth the five bucks each Bethesda was asking, I found myself wondering if everyone involved would have been better served with a single full-fledged old school expansion pack instead, even if it would have taken a lot longer to produce and as a result dropped into the used game rack at Gamestop a lot quicker.

Bioware seems to be taking the best of all worlds approach with Dragon Age Origins, releasing sporadic DLC packs that keeps the game fresh at retail and still providing big hefty expansion packs larger than most full single-player action games.  This approach would also seem to reveal a glimpse into how developers are gaming the current economy.


Arthur! (original appearance Ghosts n’ Goblins)

My first instinct was one of the main characters from Knights of the Round, but I felt the ensuing debate over which character to represent the game would tear my blog apart.  Just pretend its canon that this Arthur is the same Arthur from Knights of the Round and that Percival and Lancelot have deferred to his superior demon fighting prowess.

And yes, a lance and a suit of armor may be unfair when facing someone like, say, Sakura, but you have to remember that Street Fighter 4 takes place in a universe where Akuma’s presence is an accepted occurrence.  Clearly the power levels in Street Fighter were thrown out the door a long time ago and that’s before you share the universe with Magneto.

Fragile Dreams:  Farewell Ruins of the Moon
Publisher:  X-Seed
Developer: tri-Crescendo
Platforms:  Wii

You know its a good week for games when even the Wii gets something genuinely intriguing that’s not published by Nintendo themselves.

It is a hard game to get a handle on, though.  I’ve seen it described as “action adventure” and “action RPG” and even “survival horror”, although designer Kentarou Kawashima is quick to point out that its not survival horror at all, but instead a “human drama” game.  That in combination with its focus on narrative and atmosphere almost makes you wonder if this is something of a Wii version of Heavy Rain, although with the quick time event stuff stripped away and replaced with an actual video game.  I wonder though if the Wii isn’t developing an entire genre based on flashlights.

In all seriousness though, Fragile Dreams looks to be an incredible gaming experience, even if the gameplay itself is somewhat archaic in the Japanese tradition of save points and limited inventory space and respawning enemies.  The art style plays well on the Wii and the core of the game itself probably isn’t possible on anything but the Wii right now– even if it were to appear on Sony’s suggestively-shaped PS3mote, they’d probably miss the point entirely and try to run the game through Unreal Engine 3.


Poison!  (original appearance Final Fight)

Fragile Dreams:  Farewell Ruins of the Moon is a difficult game to define, so I’m using the most difficult to define character in the Capcom universe to represent it.  Also as its never been fully described exactly where Poison lies within the GLBT spectrum, its a fun character to use to fuck your fanbase over with.

Imagine this scenario:  Capcom spends the next several months following Super Street Fighter 4’s release refusing to address Poison’s gender and/or sexual orientation, but at the same time releases a series of revealing–yet not too revealing– pvc statues, hug pillows and those horrible boobie-shaped mouse wrist rest featuring her image.  Then, just as the fanbase starts to admit that maybe they’ve been been wrong about Poison all these years–BOOM!  Silently release hundreds of gigs worth of high-resolution official Udon artwork on 4chan revealing a fully transgendered Poison taking advantage of every character on the Super Street Fighter 4 roster.

I’m not exactly sure what you’d accomplish by doing this, but the results would be hilarious.

God of War 3
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer:  Santa Monica Studio
Platforms:  PlayStation 3

I could pretend to be Mister Snooty Games Review Guy and claim that the blood and angst and boobs that the God of War series brings to the table is below me, but gameplay-wise there’s nothing that God of War does that I’m not in love with, and to be honest, vivisection and boobs appeal to me.

Gameplay-wise, aside from new abilities and environments God of War 3 isn’t doing anything new, which is good and bad– Good in that the base God of War formula makes for a damned fine video game, but bad in that its been three years since SCE Santa Monica put out a GoW game and in that time this genre has seen a lot of games that improve upon God of War’s 3d brawler formula.  SCE Santa Monica is sort of stuck though, in that God of War 3’s entire selling point is that God of War fans have been waiting forever to see this series appear on the PS3– So they can’t really do much to make the sort of improvements seen in, say, Bayonetta or Ninja Gaiden 2.  God of War 3 is still going to be button mashy, its still going to feature obtuse, if not downright unfair platformer puzzle sections, and its still going to to feature those annoying quick time event finishers.

All of which presents a problem for SCE Santa Monica and the series in general, as the space GoW occupies is a lot more crowded than it was back when the series reigned supreme in the waning days of the Playstation 2 era.  Even in the angst-and-blood filled western-developed 3d brawler market its no longer unique.  Dante’s Inferno might suck, but its already captured over six hundred thousand sales in only a month, and whereas Darksiders has its flaws, it does everything God of War does and more, and its sold at least a million copies at the time of this writing.

That said, God of War 3 us a big enough title and will be advertised enough that there’s no doubt it’ll top the PlayStation 3 charts next month and possibly for some time to come, but you also wonder if there’s really anything for Kratos left to do after this game aside from rake in money and drink honeyed mead from Aphrodite’s cleavage.


Whesker! (original appearance: Resident Evil)

Hilariously violent, over-the-top, guilty of taking himself entirely too seriously, far too powerful to exist within his own universe– Kratos and Whesker fit all these criteria.  Although I think there may be a way to convincingly argue that Kratos himself could appear in a Street Fighter game, provided you’re willing to say his appearance in Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny places him within the Namco universe and the Namco x Capcom games would then somehow allow Kratos a back door into Street Fighter itself– but I think at that point Dante from Devil May Cry would stop any of this from ever happening.
But back to Whesker.  Yes, he may be more powerful than God at this point in the Resident Evil universe, but I’m pretty sure Sagat has killed God by this point in Street Fighter canon.
Basketball Hall of Fame Ultimate Hoops Challenge (Zoo Games; Wii)
Publisher:  Zoo Games
Developer:  The Shambling Damned Begging For Release
Platforms: The Wii (of fucking course)
Can’t all be winners, I guess.  There was actually a lot more shovelware this week than this lone title, but I felt like being encouraged about the games market for once and not have to depress myself by spending any more time on Build-A-Bear: Friendship Valley than absolutely necessary.
Hall of Fame Ultimate Hoops Challenge is just… weird.  First, somehow or another either the Basketball Hall of Fame conned Zoo Games into thinking its license was worth anything at all, or Zoo Games conned The Basketball Hall of Fame into thinking they were a real developer capable of producing a video game that wasn’t actually a collection of Wii minigames, but also I want you to take a closer look at this box art:
This might be the whitest basketball video game ever made.  Sure, EA’s One On One:  Dr J vs Larry Bird might have only featured one black guy, but at least he represented half the game’s characters!
Hall of Fame Ultimate Hoops Challenge touts a roster of sixteen players, which means the game is barely capable of producing three full teams and by “sixteen players” we can assume Zoo Games actually means “these are the only guys senile enough to be talked out of signing with Electronic Arts instead”

Captain Commando! (original appearance: Captain Commando)

White, ancient, hopelessly hokey, improbably good at the free-throw line– Okay so maybe the last bit is entirely speculation, but everything else fits, including the way Cap. Commando was originally envisioned as the spokesman for Capcom itself.  Plus the original Captain Commando design could make for a passable Bill Walton:
Okay sure he has flamethrowers and extendable arms, but that basically puts him at the same level as Dhalsim, plus Dhalsim can teleport.

Infinite Space (Sega; DS)
Publisher:  Sega
Developer: Platinum Games
Platforms:  DS
So a scifi RPG/space exploration sim with fully customizable ships produced by Platinum games and basically reads like a Japanese, hahdheld version of Elite?


I wish I had ovaries so I could have this game’s babies.


Rolento! (original appearance: Final Fight)

The most amazing possible combination of game descriptors can only be fairly described by the most amazing possible, long-forgotten Capcom character design, Rolento, who follows the sound video game design philosophy that states that anything is instantly better with quarterstaffs involved.
Seriously though, I had my heart set on Rolento being the final character reveal.  If Capcom isn’t going to do anything useful with the character then they should at least license him out  along with the agreement of whatever corporate husk currently owns the rights to SNK’s Billy Kane and finally make the comprehensive Badasses With Sticks videogame experience.  This game would make ten billion dollars and I’m giving this idea away for free!

Metro 2033
Publisher:  THQ
Developer:  4A Games
Platforms:  Xbox 360, PC

We’ve already had an old-school meaty expansion pack for the best fantasy WRPG since Torment; a Japanese mashup of Elite and Mass Effect that’s somehow even more awesome than simply describing it as “a Japanese mashup of Elite and Mass Effect” and the fourth game in a series that’s renowned for non-consensual freestyle spine displacement and we’ve still not reached the best idea of the week, as here we have a post-apocalyptic survival horror FPS THAT TAKES PLACE ENTIRELY WITHIN THE IRRADIATED REMAINS OF THE MOSCOW SUBWAY SYSTEM AND THE GAME WAS DEVELOPED BY UKRAINIANS.

Oh and the game is based around a bullet economy that has the player shooting your enemies with currency.  But after hearing this is basically playing RE4 underneath Moscow that’s sort of like telling me I get to make out with Christina Hendricks in the back of a production replica of Airwolf as it constantly orbits the Tokyo Tower.  There’s just too much awesome to comprehend.
That said– there’s the distinct chance that Metro 2033 might not actually be very good.  For one thing, the PC specs– the lead platform for Metro 2033– are kinda insane, the game wants 8 gigs of ram, a Core i7 CPU and a videocard that Nvidia hasn’t actually released yet.  And somehow this is supposed to fit inside the seemingly retro Xbox 360 spec sheet.  Also previews for the game have complained that its overly scripted and the game tends to come to a screeching halt in order to tell its story.
However, the story itself may prove to be exceptionally good– its based on a novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky and is a bestseller in Russia.

STRIDER!  (original appearance:  motherfucking Strider!)

So how do you improve on what I’ve already proclaimed to be the best idea possible with Infinite Space?  By making it Russian and giving it a sword!
Which leads me to my second embittered rant in as many entries, and it stems from Grin so wholly fucking up with the Bionic Commando revival that we’re never ever going to see a modern Strider game as long as any of us are alive.  Sure, maybe there will be a Bionic Command ReArmed-like re-imagining of the classic arcade game, but it just won’t be the same, and the 3d space just begs for the sort of fast-paced free-flowing gameplay that the original arcade Strider was so damned good at.  So thanks Grin.  You assholes.  You managed to fuck up a game completely based around grappling hooks and ruined everything.  I pray Vikings kill you in your sleep.

Pokemon SoulSilver
Pokemon HeartGold

Publisher:  Nintendo
Developer:  Game Freak
Platform:  DS

I’ll be honest.  I’m simply not qualified to talk about these games as I hold nothing but contempt in my heart for Nintendo and have never actually played a Pokemon game.  So you know, if you like this sort of thing and most of you do, you already know which one of these you’re going to buy (if not both of them) and a great many of you have probably given your own old Pokemon games for your own children to play around with.  That’s great.  Really.  I hate all of you

Mega Man!  (original appearance:  Mega Man!)
Older than dirt, primarily known as a Nintendo guy, has made an enormous sum of money for the parent company and is yet faintly baffling to everyone involved as to why he’s still popular.  Yeah, that’s Pokemon.
I’m not quite sure if Mega Man’s presence  breaks Street Fighter or not– nevermind the fact that he’s a robot that has a laser cannon as an arm– in Street Fighter this makes him roughly as powerful as Sakura– the problem is that he probably can only be hit by low attacks and I’m pretty sure the Vs games he’s been in have had this same problem.  This is okay, because much like Mega Man, Pokemon simply cannot be killed.
Resonance of Fate
Publisher:  Sega
Developer:  tri-Ace
Platforms:  Playstation 3, Xbox 360

All of the good jokes about this game being sent out to die a week after the release of Final Fantasy 13 have been told to death on messageboards already.  This is a shame, as it seems this game has largely been dismissed already despite the base combat system having a lot of promise and the story itself sounds interesting, resembling somewhat of a JRPG take on the traditionally western staple of wandering about a post-apocalyptic wasteland, although in this case representing a cautionary tale about humanity ruined by its own excesses rather than outright nuclear war.  Also firmly in Resonance of Fate’s favor, at some point this happens:

All that said, we don’t really know how well the game has fared in translation as only one review yet exists and its in Dutch.  This close to the game’s release, that’s sort of troubling, and maybe gives credence to the whole “sent to die” thing.  However I’m willing to give this game the benefit of the doubt based entirely on the game’s box art alone.  If anything can get me interested in JRPGs again its people in nice coats looking cool with guns.


Dante!  (original appearance:  Devil May Cry)

Cool coat?  Check.  Awesome gun?  Check.  Stylish as hell?  Check.  Infantile obsession with boobs?  Check!

You have every right to be irrationally exuberant about JUST CAUSE 2

Meanwhile its hard to tell if RED STEEL 2 is going to be horrible or not but its the sort of thing I badly want to be excited for

IMAGINE: GYMNAST is here entirely for me to post lewd pictures of Brandi Personette HA HA JUST KIDDING WE’RE TOTALLY TALKING ABOUT SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI:  STRANGE JOURNEY FOR LIKE SIX HUNDRED WORDS INSTEAD. Also probably still tasteful photographs of Brandi Personette.

Posted in Wallet Abuse | 8 Comments »

Wallet Abuse Wednesday 3-10-10

Posted by nfinit on March 10, 2010

Lost last week amid Activision and Ubisoft taking a giant squat over the remains of their collective  good will and leaving behind an enormous steaming coil was the very shortly lived, utterly genius introduction for Portal 2 Valve retroactively crafted in the middle of Portal 1.
But just as gamers were starting to piece together the clues to the Portal 2 universe– complete with hidden BBS URLs, image data hidden within audio data, openly taunting the gaming community via Morse code– the official Portal 2 reveal came out something like three days later, via Game Informer as apparently it’s 1998 all over again and major game announcements still happen via game magazine.
portalwrap1.jpg picture by bigredcoat
If this trend were extrapolated to it’s natural conclusion it would also  indicate that game demos are being distributed via polybagged DVDs and that somewhere Dave Halverson still has a jo– OH CHRIST HE’S RE-RELEASING GAMEFAN WILL SOMEONE PLEASE STOP THIS MAN BEFORE HE KILLS AGAIN.

But I digress.  In honor of Portal 2 single handedly saving the print industry, I present to you this week’s games, along with the appropriate magazine which conceivably could have heralded their release.

The Calling (Wii)

Around October of 2008 early video of a Wii survival horror game somehow found its way off of Hudson’s corporate servers and onto YouTube, and thus The Calling was revealed to the public.  Rather than rolling with this and enjoying some Halloween-themed faux-ARG hype, Hudson quickly demanded all the video for The Calling to be wiped from YouTube’s servers– and while the official explanation was that this video was stolen and never meant to be seen by the public in the first place, most suspected it was because the game highly resembled Fatal Frame on rails.
Eighteen months later and we’re still unclear as to what we can expect out of The Calling, if it’s on rails or not, or how much it wound up borrowing from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but what’s there looks interesting and is obviously inspired by Japanese horror movies whose goal isn’t so much to shock and disgust you as it is to make you feel creepy and regret walking near the woods for at least three months.

The Calling and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories  illustrate that one of the greatest strengths of  the Wii has turned out to be survival horror, and I’m not sure anyone would have predicted this, short of observing that waving around a flashlight in the dark is an inherently creepy activity and easily translated into the Wiimote control scheme.  It’s just a shame this game is using Resident Evil-quality art assets as it would be a great way to screw around with loved ones who were expecting a nice safe night of Randomly Clicking B While Spazzing Out.


NP253_Cover-1.png picture by bigredcoat

Nintendo Power!
The magazine for apps native to Nintendo devices.  And since it’s no longer owned by Nintendo, revealing The Calling in Nintendo Power gets around the strict corporate policy keeping Nintendo from ever promoting 3rd party titles not named “Monster Hunter”.

The Daring Game For Girls (DS, Wii)

Here you have a game that’s clearly targeted at girls without obviously  lowering itself to the level of Imagine: Petz Magical Horse Nanny and while that that’s good, it’s also a typical Majesco shovelware minigame collection, meaning in the end it’s cheap and terrible and only loosely definable as a “game”.   This is  insulting for everyone involved as the entire premise of this game insinuates that it’s impossible to get young girls interested in a games that are not  bog-standard collections of tepid low-skill minigames.
The Daring Game For Girls tries to disguise these casual gamer roots by insisting that it’s teaching girls about famous women in history, and while that’s a fine and noble goal, wouldn’t girls be better served with a copy of The Daring Book For Girls itself and an actual working videogame instead of the worst of all possible scenario as manifested in “The Daring Game for Girls”?
I dunno.  Just be aware that if you let your little girl play this that you’re exponentially increasing her odds of becoming a Hooter’s Waitress, and not the sort who’s only paying bills while going to college.


B0001A99IS01LZZZZZZZ.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Cosmo for Girls! Because if you’re going to pander to young women by re-enforcing gender stereotypes while making vague allusions to “feminism” you may as well teach them about proper sweater layering.   (also after researching this topic I spent 3 days clearing out my laptop’s hard drive with DARPA-approved formatting software.  True story.
Final Fantasy 13 (PS360)

I could go on contrasting how FF13 and Mass Effect 2 are taking completely different tracks in removing the extraneous, non-fun bullshit that surrounds their respective flavor of Role-Playing Game and focus instead on the parts people actually enjoy– the combat–, but there’s one thing that takes the “Maybe this game isn’t actually an RPG at all” argument to a whole new level–

–The goddamed thing doesn’t have any towns. Even Mass Effect 2 has towns, and that game has devolved to the point where you can fairly describe it as Gears of War With Towns. FF13 was clearly built around combat mechanics first with a flimsy shell of a Japanese Role Playing Game around that– and while this may produce a compelling video game, I’m not sure how you spend five years developing a Final Fantasy game and forget to include the parts of the game where any actual role-playing may take place.

But  I’m hardly an expert on the subject of Final Fantasy games anymore, so maybe I’m wrong in this and FF13 could wind up being an excellent game, even if’s Chris Kohler described Final Fantasy 13 as “a failed experiment” and Edge Magazine described the entire first half thusly:

one long corridor of palette-swapped enemies, fights that never quite find the right level of challenge, and cutscene after cutscene (after cutscene) leaving your joypad entirely idle.

Not to sound like a sour old man who hates anything new, but I was a serious Final Fantasy junkie and a subsequent weeaboo horror right up until around the third disc of Final Fantasy 7 where I wandered off to play Planescape: Torment and never came back.
The reason for my disenchantment with the modern Final Fantasy series this lay almost entirely in Square’s inability to craft a compelling cast of characters since the company moved to the Playstation 1.  Take this  image from Final Fantasy 13’s cast:

Just by looking at this I can tell four things.
1:  I will never be able to make a connection with the main character (In this case, Lighting, the chrome-pink haired chick in the foreground)
2:  The black guy with the amazing afro will almost certainly be the only interesting character of the whole bunch
3:  The game will never focus on him quite as much as you would wish
4:  If Lighting’s clammy, stick-like thighs are any indication she is badly malnourished and possibly suffers from rickets.

As I mentioned before, I think Square’s issues with bad casting stems from Final Fantasy 7:

The main character being the bland, boring bishi Cloud, whereas everyone involved would have much rather played on halberd-wielding hard ass Cid Highwind or tragic gunman Vincent Valentine.   Or take Final Fantasy 12’s cast:

Where you’re stuck playing hairless manchild Vaan through most of the game when you’d easily prefer to play the gentleman sky pirate Balthier  and his bunnygirl cohort Fran, because they’re SKY PIRATES and SKY PIRATES ARE AWESOME.  Nope, get used to sixty hours of sexless pedobait.  Thanks, Japan!All of which illustrates just how insanely great Final Fantasy 6 was.  It didn’t really matter if there were Final Fantasy 6 characters you couldn’t make a connection with– since it was an ensemble cast, your story could revolve around whoever you wanted.  Want to pimp around Narche with a team composed of Locke, King Edgar, Setzer and Stago while Terra does whatever with magic crystals?  You could do that.  Want to enlighten the populace to the finer points of violent women’s lib with Celeste, Terra and Relm?  Not a problem.  Want to utterly ruin your game and play through using Gau, Gogo, Umago and Sabin?  Whatever gets you through the night, babe.


newtype_mar_09.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Newtype! While the relevance of JRPGs has deminished since the heyday of Final Fantasy 7, Squeenix is fortunate in that the people who are left are insane and will spend money on anything.
Foto Showdown (DSi)

I don’t know how Konami reached the point where they thought the term “Foto Showdown” was better than the game’s original title, “Monster Finder”, but here we are and now everyone’s going to confuse this with game that much more interesting  import-your-friends-photo-into-a-fighter game revealed at Nintendo’s press event last week.

Foto Showdown looks nifty in its own right though, combining the whole Pokemon/Digimon/Monster Rancher…thing with pictures snapped using the DSi’s camera to import your own monsters.  This sounds like the sort of thing that’d be great for both parents and adult perverted gamers.  Parents can let their kids wander around with this thing and not be bothered for the rest of the day while  sexual deviants try to figure out if the bestiary includes sandworms and bearded clams.


BoyslifeMagazine.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Boy’s Life Magazine! Let’s face facts, there’s one prime market for a game where the audience converges around children and photography, and that market usually somehow involves hundreds of hours in the therapist’s office dealing with repressed memories.

Racquet Sports (Wii)
Proto-Natal camera controls.
Minigame collection.
Avoid at all costs.

Shuttle Express!
The premiere online magazine for Badminton enthusiasts in New Zealand!

Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition (PS360)

So if you’re wondering if you should pay fifty bucks for Resident Evil 5 a year after it’s release, here’s all the evidence you need.
If you buy Gold Edition then you need to be beaten about the head and your money stolen from you and put to better use, such as gin and/or crack cocaine.  Yes, you get the DLC packs “Desperate Escape” and “Lost in Nightmares” with this particular edition of RE5, but both those packs are only five bucks each off Xbox Live and Playstation Network.  So the very best scenario for Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition would still have you lose ten dollars, and this is presuming you’re the sort of gamer who has moral prohibitions against buying used games.
I mean, on one hand it’s good that Capcom is still supporting Resident Evil 5, but fifty bucks for a year old game isn’t just silly on Capcom’s part, it’s borderline insulting.  At least when Bethesda kept pumping out expansion discs for Fallout 3 they made each package at least a fair value vs its online offering– Capcom’s RE5 solution hinges upon the concept that the gaming public is unable to get online and yet still somehow desperate for more RE5 content– nevermind that RE5 is fundamentally broken without online co-op in the first place.
Wet__Play_Magazine_July_cover_by_Be.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Polybagged issue of Play Magazine. For gamers suffering from poor taste and are willing to spend money to prove it.

Sam and Max 2 Beyond Time and Space (Wii)

Speaking of weird examples of disc-based content distribution– yeah, I know not everyone has access to broadband internet, and yeah, I know the Sam and Max episodes are probably too unwieldy to easily fit on the Wii’s tiny amount internal storage– but isn’t selling something like Sam and Max episodes on disc sort of like selling Plastic Beach on 8-Track?
modelrailroader.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Model Railroader Magazine. The Go-to publication to sell something quirky, inherently antiquated and baffling that it yet exists.

Yakuza 3 (PS3)

So the big…. well, only… story about Yakuza 3 is that Sega has deemed it necessary to cut large swaths out of the the US port of the game, citing financial reasons but probably because everyone at the translation department had the horriblem dark knowledge in the back of their mindss that the all-weeaboo audience wouldn’t be able to stop themselves from  masturbating furiously during the hostess club segments.

Let’s pull back for a moment and say that the hostess club was indeed too expensive to make worth the effort.  Yakuza 3’s defenders will say that the mere fact that this game is getting a translation to English should be enough; that if the choice between getting Yakuza 3 sans edited content or no Yakuza 3 at all, that the choice for fans is clear.
But if Yakuza 3 was so financially infeasible to translate that entire chunks of the game had to be left on the cutting room floor, maybe it’d have made more sense to do as bare-bones a translation as possible with no English voice work at all  and deliver it over Playstation Network.  Then the game could live or die on its own merits and if the market materalized a full, professional translation could be justified, perhaps even as a port for a system more traditionally poised to sell Japanese games to an American audience.
shonen_jump-january_2008.jpg picture by bigredcoat

Shonen Jump.
Japanophile, inherently damaged by translation, faintly embarrassing to everyone involved


Somehow FRAGILE DREAMS made it over to America

GOD OF WAR III  is basically just more GOD OF WAR and I don’t really see that as a bad thing

Meanwhile DRAGON AGE AWAKENING is more DRAGON AGE and that’s a very very good thing!

Posted in Wallet Abuse | 3 Comments »