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Sunday, Nov 30, 2008
New releases for the week of 2008-12-01...

Another painfully (some would say mercifully) slow release week is upon us as the year winds down and publishers allow the games that they’d never put up against anything to trickle out. 


The lone truly big-ticket item to be seen in the bunch below is Prince of Persia, for which the lack of numbers or subtitles would seem to indicate a restart for the franchise.  Interestingly, it’s a franchise whose momentum seems to be building, given some recent high-profile shoutouts from the likes of Yahtzee and the news of an upcoming movie version of the game starring none other than Jake Gyllenhaal.


Prince of Persia would seem to be the one game this week that is being released because its publisher wanted it to get the release day highlighting—and the holiday promotional push—it deserves.  It’s not too late for the Christmas rush, and yet it’s found a window in which there is very little to distract us from its release.  The Prince himself is new (and quite frankly, he sounds like kind of an ass), but the plot is basically the same—evil dark spirits are released upon the world, and the Prince must save the world with the aid of a mysterious woman named Elika (who becomes the means of saving the Prince from death when we players are inadequately suited to such a task).  If you liked the Sands of Time trilogy, it sounds like you’ll like this, and with the inadvertent spotlight put on the series thanks to the similarity of Mirror’s Edge‘s acrobatics to those of Prince of Persia, now might be just the time to get into it.


There are a couple of Mushroom Men games coming out this week as well, which may be worth a look.  The Wii version of the game (subtitled The Spore Wars) has been the recipient of some pretty decent preliminary reviews, and who doesn’t love a good platformer?  Platformers not based on already-established franchises are pretty rare these days (LittleBigPlanet notwithstanding), so it feels like something I’d want to support, anyway.


Elsewhere, SingStar Abba might just be the game that finally gets my father into video games, WiiWare might have some buried retro treasure on its hands with Space Invaders Get Even!, and The Tale of Desperaux is on its way for the kids.  Finally, there’s A Vampyre Story, which at first glance looks like your run-of-the-mill PC adventure game, but a closer look reveals that it’s been in production since at least 2004, and the folks behind it are former LucasArts adventure game developers.  If this doesn’t make you squeal with joy, you must not have played PC games in the ‘90s; for the rest of us, this could be a classic in the making.


What are you playing this week?  Have you recovered from your turkey hangover?  Let us know in the comments, and enjoy the snow.


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Sunday, Nov 30, 2008
WALL-E: 3-Disc Special Edition -Walt Disney Video - [$39.99]

Let’s be honest: you’re just going to be buying this one because you’re hoping that its recipient is then going to invite you over to watch it. Because while $39.99 is sometimes too much to spend on yourself, it’s not too much to blow on someone else. That’s particularly true when talking about this jazzily-designed and nicely slim multi-disc package (encased in “Earth (And Space) Friendly Eco-Packaging”, in keeping with the film’s anti-consumerist message) which, sure, comes complete with plenty of extras, but mostly just the extras you’re going to care about (particularly the deleted scenes and extra short subjects) and a digital copy that they can put on their home computer. Since it already seems clear that Wall-E is going to be the 2008 film that stands the test of time, this allows you to show your prescience and inestimable good taste in one fell swoop.


AMAZON


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Sunday, Nov 30, 2008
1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die / 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die - Universe [$36.95]

For the wine collector or serious wine connoisseur, 1001 Wines is a challenge and a joy. You’re sure to discover something new here, there are 1,001 after all. The only thing you’ll be limited by is your pocketbook as a few of these can get quite pricey and fellow wine-hounds buying out the vintages. 1000 Foods is more of a general audience book with appeal to foodies and chefs. From fruit and cheese to fish and meat, grains and spices, the book covers every essential edible in a lifetime of eating. More than just a long list of stuff, 1001 Foods is also of use to creative cooks looking for new inspiration.


AMAZON


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Sunday, Nov 30, 2008
Nina Simone - To Be Free: The Nina Simone Story - Legacy [$49.98]

So amazing and expansive was Nina Simone’s work that it is constantly being remixed, reimagined, repackaged and reconsidered. Since her return to the welcoming embrace of the ancestors, the marketplace has been flooded with no fewer than a dozen reissues and anthologies of Simone’s art. If comprehensiveness and the right balance of bonafide hits, b-side classics, and unreleased live performances are the criteria for a first-rate boxset, then the compilers and producers of To Be Free performed their job masterfully. Spanning the years between 1957 and 1993, the four-disc compilation covers Simone’s years with Bethlehem, Colpix, Philips, RCA, and Columbia Records. Included are nearly all the classics you’d play for some who has never heard of Simone, as well as unreleased material not even in bootleg circulation. By far the most exciting thing about the anthology is the DVD, an Emmy-nominated 1970 documentary enlivened by rare performances and interviews. Engrossing from start to finish, the video gives you a sense of Nina Simone as both an artist and a fearless bandleader.  To those of us not fortunate enough to have caught her when she was among the living, the concert footage is a special treat.


AMAZON


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Sunday, Nov 30, 2008
Holidays on Ice - David Sedaris - Little, Brown [$16.99]

So long as David Sardonic, er, Sedaris, is a household name, he will forever be affiliated with Christmas. Who didn’t first come to this man’s oft-times sassy, other times outrageous satire via NPR’s broadcast of “Santaland Diaries”? This funny little stocking stuffer of a book adds six new stories to the 1998 version opening with—what else—“SantaLand Diaries”, which fans will enjoy every Christmas until their sanity has finally left them and they can laugh no more. With this book they’ll get the holiday treat they anticipate, and some new goodies, as well.


AMAZON


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