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Text:AAA
Sunday, Feb 8, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-02-09

There aren’t a ton of releases showing up this week, but the ratio of quality games to total games looks to be surprisingly high given that we’re smack dab in the middle of February and that the onset of Valentine’s Day tends to lead to other pursuits, like movies and books.


Of particular note this week is Flower, the PlayStation 3’s downloadable release that’s filled with more questions and answers. Thanks to Wikipedia, GameTrailers, and previews from pretty much every major gaming site out there, I’ve seen plenty of footage of the game and have read just about every developer quote and preview description that has been released on it. And still, I have no concrete idea of exactly what I’ll be doing.


Of course, that’s probably part of the appeal. Developer thatgamecompany, who previously brought the highly acclaimed non-game fl0w to the PS3, is making a name for itself in creating pieces of software that stretch the very definition of what a “game” can be. On one hand, we could assume that Flower will be another such non-game, which simply allows the player to float along the breeze on a whim. On the other hand, there are PS3 trophies involved, so there will certainly be at least one set of concrete goals that must be fulfilled to “complete” it. It’s bound to be interesting, seeing the way that thatgamecompany navigates their vision among the necessity of trophy inclusion.


If you’re not really the zen gaming type, there’s another console-downloadable goodie on the way this week as well, this one on the Xbox side of things. 3 on 3 NHL Arcade is the game, and you know, EA’s purporting that this will bring NHL action to the masses, advertising wide-open, arcade-oriented gameplay and goofy-looking skaters. I’ve actually had my reservations about this one, given that I thought NHL 09 was pretty masses-friendly (it was the one sports game I gave the time of day to last year) and screenshots make the super deformed players look awful—sort of like NBA Jam with a more realistic big-head cheat on, which doesn’t make much sense when you think about it. Of course, a tweet from Destructoid‘s Samit Sarkar showed up last week in which he offered “Initial impressions: 11,236/10”. Suddenly, I’m optimistic.


Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad for the Xbox 360

Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad for the Xbox 360


If you’re just dying to buy something that comes in a box, chances are that there’s something out there this week for you, too. FPSers will look toward F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, which will probably be fine if you were into the first F.E.A.R., but disappointing if you’re hoping for much more than a rote shooter. Those who cut their teeth on the Genesis will find the memories flooding back in a big way with Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, which I will personally be buying for the chance to own the first four Phantasy Star games on one disc. Portable gamers have LocoRoco 2 to look forward to on the PSP, and, um, there are games showing up on the Wii(!) and the Xbox 360 this week called Onechanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers and Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad respectively, which are sure to appeal to a bunch of people I don’t know.


I mean, I can’t imagine that’s the best way for Nintendo to go about convincing people that the Wii is not a “kiddie” console.


With plenty to choose from this week, there must be something up your alley. Tell us about it, and let us know what you think when you play it!  The full release list is after the jump, with a little bit of Flower gameplay to whet your appetite.


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Text:AAA
Sunday, Feb 1, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-02-02...

We’ve seen the summer doldrums, we’ve seen the dregs of December, but never, in almost a year of taking a look at the coming week in games, have we seen a release list so dire as the one I’m staring at right now.  There are a grand total of five releases, one of them an Xbox Live Arcade downloadable title, and there is not a single retail release for any of the major consoles.


Who can we look to, to save us from the indignity of $30 burning a hole in our pocket?  Why, Atlus of course.


My World My Way

My World My Way


My World My Way is right in Atlus’s wheelhouse, a turn-based role-playing game that might actually appeal to those who feel as though they’ve grown out of turn-based role-playing games.  Think for a second about the prototypical protagonist of an RPG.  This character is usually a teenage (or maybe early-20s) boy who sulks most of the way through the game even as women find him irresistable and important people whisper things about prophecies to him, taking him for some sort of hero.  He’s utterly unlikable, yet we come to identify with him given that spending 40 hours with anyone will cause an attachment of some sort to take hold.


Well, the protagonist in My World My Way is unlikable too, but intentionally so.  In fact, this particular protagonist is a princess, who can actually pout—in battle—to get her way.  My World My Way takes the tropes of turn-based RPGing and mocks them mercilessly.  Is it actually funny?  Does it hold up for an entire game?  Can you put up with an intentionally unlikable protagonist for 30 hours worth of gameplay?  FIND OUT ON TUESDAY!


Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise


Otherwise, PC owners finally get to see what the fuss is about last year’s sleeper racing hit Burnout Paradise, and EA tries to go casual on the 360 with 3 on 3 NHL Arcade, which might be just what you need if you’re still trying to use the NHLPA ‘93 controls on NHL 09.


...or, you could keep catching up on your backlog—it’s Tomb Raider and Lord of the Rings for me this week.  How about you?  Let’s hear it in the comments, and take comfort in the knowledge that it won’t be long ‘til next week.


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Text:AAA
Sunday, Jan 25, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-01-26...

Who needs new franchises when the old ones keep kicking?


A couple of old NES-initiated franchises are releasing the latest iterations of their respective series this week, and both deserve to be recognized as quality for their respective genres, despite the niche audience that both cater to.


Rygar, on the NES, was a flawed but still brilliant little stroke of adventure-platforming, a game that favored exploration over the constant jump-hack-jump games of its day.  It flawlessly followed the Metroid formula of guarded exploration, making areas viewable but unexplorable until certain items and power-ups were found, and its graphic style was distinct on a system where “distinct” was a difficult adjective to master.  If not for an archaic RPG-style grind ‘n level-up system that artificially and unnecessarily lengthened gameplay in a game that could not be saved in any way (there wasn’t even a password system), it might have been remembered as one of the great, long-remembered NES games.  Plus, it introduced the Diskarmor, something like a combination of a circular saw blade and a yo-yo, a weapon whose (eventual) versatility makes it an awfully desirable bit of gear.  Here’s Rygar in 1987…


And here he is today, getting his God of War on against the


Colossi

“Hekatonkeil”:


Look, Rygar may have been why my first NES died.  I left that thing on for a week just trying to make it through the game (which I never actually accomplished).  I still have a soft spot for the guy, and I know that one day…one day soon…I shall beat a Rygar game.  Maybe this week’s Wii release of Rygar: The Battle of Argus will be the one.


On the less action-oriented side is Nobunaga’s Ambition, a strategy game that’s been churning out release after release for 22 years while managing the unenviable feat of being utterly ignored by the mainstream gaming press for most of that time.  I remember that the first one got something of a push in Nintendo Power, and despite my own interest in deeper gameplay experiences (triggered by Dragon Warrior), the lack of anyting resembling monsters or flashy graphics steered me away from it.  While I’m not the only one it put off, as it’s certainly sold enough copies to be a viable franchise for over 20 years, I haven’t met anyone who’s played a single game in the series.  Have you?  Let me know it the comments!  I want to know you people exist.


Nobunaga’s Ambition has gone through a bit of an overhaul as well, but incredibly, it’s still recognizable as Nobunaga’s Ambition here in 2009, in its most recent incarnation.  Here’s the 1987 version of Nobunaga’s Ambition:


And this is Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle, on the PS2:


I can’t imagine, if you’re into the whole historically-based strategy game thing, that you’ll be disappointed by this one.  Can we hand it a Lifetime Achievement Award yet?


What are you playing this week?  My copy of the Ultimate Shooting Collection shows up on Tuesday, so I know what I’m doing.  Check out the list of releases, and trailers for Rygar: The Battle of Argus and Nobunaga’s Ambition: Iron Triangle after the jump.


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Text:AAA
Sunday, Jan 18, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-01-19...

I missed a week!  Ack!  OK, here’s last week in a nutshell: Moon.  If anyone can do a first-person shooter on the DS, it’s Renegade Kid, who put together the actually-pretty-excellent Dementium: The Ward last year.  It’s been pretty well-reviewed so far, and DS gamers don’t have a ton of options for when they want to shoot things.  You can shoot things in Moon.  Have at it!


EA\'s Skate 2

EA\‘s Skate 2


As for this week, there are plenty of sneaky picks that look awfully interesting.  Skate 2 follows the very well-received inaugural edition of EA’s big new Tony Hawk-killer, which so far has lived up to such a title by actually making video game skating feel like something worth doing again.  SimAnimals is a new Wii “Sim” experience that ditches the humans, which might actually be the smartest thing that EA’s done on the franchise for the Wii…human simulation is a little too much for the little console that could, so why not coerce the veterinarian in all of us out for a while?  I have no idea what The Maw is, really, but the stills I’ve seen from the Xbox Live Arcade title look pretty interesting, and the PS2 continues its JRPG renaissance with Ar Tonelico: Melody of Metafalica, a title that’s probably pretty profound in context, but looks kind of meaningless right now.


Even so, it’s a different Japanese import that’s got my eye this week, one that may not sell many copies, and may not turn many heads at all.  It’s a little something being put out by budget publisher UFO Interactive, with a truly nondescript title: the Wii-exclusive Ultimate Shooting Collection.


Karous

Karous


Ultimate Shooting Collection is actually, as you may have guessed, a collection of three games, two of which have never been released in the United States.  The one that has been released in the states is Chaos Field, which sounds like the space-shooter equivalent of Shadow of the Colossus, basically a collection of space shooter boss fights one after the other.  Radio Allergy was almost released in the states—it was supposed to be one of the last GameCube games, if not the last, but it was cancelled before it could see the light of day.  Finally, there’s Karous, a game whose art style has fascinated me since I first caught wind of it back when it was a brand new Dreamcast game being released in the very un-Dreamcasty year of 2008.  Yes, I’m going to go ahead an pretend that un-Dreamcasty can be used as an adjective.  It’s actually the reason I bought a Dreamcast in the first place.  Of course, once I did, I could no longer track down a copy of the game.


Now’s my chance…and yours as well.


Is anyone else out there as excited for the Ultimate Shooting Collection as I am?  Going Skate-ing this week?  Perhaps the PSP Star Ocean remake is more your speed?  Check the full release list after the jump, followed by a trailer for, yes, Ultimate Shooting Collection.


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Text:AAA
Sunday, Jan 4, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-01-05...

Way back in June, back when “The Week in Games” was still relatively new (because, well, Moving Pixels was still relatively new), it seemed like kind of a big deal that a game was coming out for every single platform in a single week. It’s the sort of event that takes serious coordination on the parts of both developers and publishers, and it usually signals the arrival of a pretty major release.


Hotel for Dogs

Hotel for Dogs


Well, I’m never going to make a big deal about it again, because this week another game is coming out for every platform imaginable, and that game is…Hotel for Dogs. Look, I didn’t even know this thing was based on a Nickelodeon movie starring Emma Roberts and Diego’s voice until I started madly Googling for information on this game…information that is surprisingly hard to find, as it turns out.  There’s barely a whisper of the game on the movie’s official website, the usually comprehensive gametrailers.com yields nothing on the search results, and searching on YouTube reveals but a single trailer for the Wii/DS side of the gaming equation, which looks really terrible.  Chances are, even high-end graphics won’t save this thing.  Of course, it’ll probably still sell more than LittleBigPlanet.


Fishing Master World Tour

Fishing Master World Tour


If you’re going to go after anything, your best bet this week would probably be to give Saints Row 2 a runthrough if you haven’t yet.  The game is the type that seems to divide critics and players, but if you’re into the whole sandbox thing and you don’t mind a hefty dose of highly immoral behavior, it’ll probably entertain you until next week.  Otherwise, Fishing Master World Tour for the Wii is the sequel to the highly underrated Fishing Master, which actually makes fishing fun with a pleasing, cartoony presentation style and a surprisingly fast-paced take on reeling ‘em in.  Honestly, if you’re looking for a family game, you’ll probably have about ten times as much fun with Fishing Master World Tour as you ever will with Hotel for Dogs.


That said,  I’m putting the Hotel for Dogs trailer after the jump anyway, just because there’s a place for “hilariously bad” when nothing quite qualifies as “highly anticipated”.  Enjoy!


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