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Monday, May 18, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-05-18!!

Are you the type of gamer who needs to have things that other people don’t have?  Are you the type for whom “console exclusive” is the magic pair of words which inspires either immense pride or extreme jealousy?  Well then, for this generation, the Wii is your console.  This week demonstrates as much as well as any—look at the release lists, and you’ll see the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 each with the four same releases, while the Wii?  Seven console-exclusive releases, with the only cross-platform release being the Rock Band Classic Rock Track Pack.  Given the similarity of the Xbox 360 and PS3 processors, it simply doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint for a third party to release exclusives on one or the other.  The Wii, as a machine with a completely different reason for being (not to mention a far weaker set of specs), almost demands exclusives, given its emphasis on control and limited graphical capabilities; even when games aren’t exclusives, parts of them are far different than versions put out for the other systems.


Of course, a look at this week’s releases also demonstrates the drawback of such a philosophy—wow, does the Wii ever attract some shovelware.


In this space, we’d rather focus on the games that aren’t shovelware, and thankfully, there are plenty of those this week as well.  At the top of the list is the Wiimake—oh…oh my…did I just write “Wiimake”?  I’m kind of ashamed, actually.  It’s the Wii remake of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (or the exponentially less cool Punch Out!! featuring Mr. Dream, if you got to it late), whose most promising announced feature so far is the return of the classic controls with the updated graphics.  Sure, those controls won’t beat the visceral thrill of flailing about with the Wii remote and nunchuck while you try in vain to knock down the likes of Glass Joe, but we have Wii Sports’ boxing for that anyway, right?  In any case, the art style of the new Punch-Out!! is pretty appealing, and old-school nintendo fans are almost guaranteed to have a good time with it!!


If you could care less about old-time gaming, Boom Blox Bash Party is a good way to support one of the new Wii franchises.  The first Boom Blox, highly touted as Steven Spielberg’s entry into the gaming arena, was at first a victim of widespread disinterest, and it sold terribly out of the box.  That said, it’s apparently been a consistent seller for the Wii, given that it’s almost hit seven-figure sales since that slow start.  Bash Party tweaks the formula a bit with underwater and outer space levels (and all the gravity changes such environments would imply), and adds the ability to download new levels at no extra cost, which could potentially push the replay value of the game into the stratosphere.  Here’s hoping the second entry in the series doesn’t take quite so long to catch on.


As for all of those non-exclusives on the other big consoles, I would be remiss to not mention Bionic Commando.  As the modern-day update to what remains my favorite Nintendo game of all time, I’m excited and utterly skeptical at the same time.  My skepticism is mostly borne from descriptions that compare the Bionic Commando swing mechanic to the modern Spider-Man games, but I’m hoping against hope that there’s more to it than that.  If nothing else, it looks to be a fun hi-def adventure game, which is fine and all, but the Bionic Commando name deserves more.


...and how could I forget Imagine: Makeup Artist?  Oh, right.


What are you playing this week?  Is anyone else dreading the release of Bionic Commando just a little bit?  Do you know anyone who you can hold at gunpoint and force to buy Boom Blox Bash Party?  Let us know in the comments, and enjoy the atypically busy release week!!


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Text:AAA
Monday, May 11, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-05-10...

It is a slow, slow week on the gaming front, but as is ever the case, a little digging reveals a few gems among the coal. Did you like that metaphor? No? I’ll try harder next week, bound to be another slow week in this, the doldrums of the gaming year.


This week, Sacred 2: Fallen Angel hits the consoles, having been out on the PC for the last six months or so.  The PC version was somewhat derided for its bugs, but hopefully the many delays that have hit the console versions of the game indicate a commitment to ironing out whatever bugs were there.  It’s been nine years now since Diablo II, and even the most devoted Diablophiles will be hungry for something just a little bit different.  Sacred 2 borrows Diablo‘s isometric viewpoint and punishing difficulty, and adds a world that’s a little bit brighter and, perhaps most importantly, a little bit funnier. Don’t be mistaken—if you’re new to this sort of game, you’ll find the difficulty of it awfully oppressive; stick with it, however, and you find a game that actually doesn’t take itself too seriously, making it an awfully pleasant diversion that may just last you until Diablo 3 shows up, unicorns, rainbows and all.


The PlayStation 2, perhaps surprisingly, has another potential cult classic on its hands thanks to Atlus, who will be releasing the oppressively titled Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2: Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon on the still-slowly-fading system tomorrow.  The game’s got style—you can see that much simply from the few trailers that are out.  If it can have half the narrative strength and beautifully balanced gameplay of Atlus’ Persona series of games, PS2 hangers-on are in for another treat.


Desktop Tower Defense is arriving on the DS this week, which seems like a perfect fit for the little system, even if the low resolution of the tiny screen might have made for a difficult implementation…it’ll be interesting to see how it translates from PC to portable.  If Left 4 Dead fatigue has set in, Killing Floor is another zombie shooter that’ll be seeing the light of day on Steam this week.  And, of course, Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball finally arrives on the Wii this week, a game whose name, well, it speaks for itself.


Me? Aw, hell, I’m playing Halo 3 this week.  The full release list, and a trailer for Sacred 2, is after…the jump.


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Monday, Apr 27, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-04-27...
X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the Xbox 360

X-Men Origins: Wolverine for the Xbox 360


The constant slow-burn of publicity that Activision has been leaking over the last couple of months for X-Men Origins: Wolverine has been nothing short of really impressive.  The trailers, particularly, have been well put together, with early trailers indicating an exciting (if run-of-the-mill) superhero game, while later ones allow the possibility for a game that is darker, more exciting than any X-Men game has a right to be.


Then, it becomes clear that the game is not based on the movie; the movie, rather, was made based on the game, and that’s when anyone keeping an eye on this game realizes there could be something here.


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Text:AAA
Monday, Apr 20, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-04-20...

The people at Nintendo never cease to amaze.  Do you remember Excitebike?  Perhaps you remember playing it, you mastered the timing of flattening out that little bike for perfect landings, you remembered just how long you could keep the turbo jets on before you overheated, maybe you even created a few custom tracks for the game (which, looking back, was a surprisingly forward-looking feature for such an old title).  It was absolutely a good game.


What it wasn’t, really, was exciting.  Even at its fastest, the scrolling of the racetrack was really pretty slow, and you could almost always see obstacles coming way ahead of time, even if you didn’t necessarily have the reflexes to do anything about it.  It was a skill game, not a speed game.  And yet, by way of simply giving it the name “Excitebike”, Nintendo told us it was exciting.  As long as it’s a good enough game, the mere presence of the name offers it a sense of exhilaration that the game on its own simply doesn’t offer.


As such, I’m surprised it took them until the Wii to resurrect the Excite* name.


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Text:AAA
Monday, Apr 13, 2009
New releases for the week of 2009-04-13...

It seems every major game release of late comes in at least two forms: the plain, vanilla version of the game that looks like every other game on the shelf, and the big, fancy, pack-in laced, appropriately expensive “Collector’s Edition”.  Resident Evil 5 had one, Gears of War 2 had one, Halo 3 had one, Metal Gear Solid 4 had one, and so on.  If there’s a major game release to be exploited, you’d better believe it will be, sometimes in three or four unique editions for the sake of capitalizing on the various levels of anticipation that the given game’s fanbase will be experiencing in the days leading up to release.


As such, it’s possible that I shouldn’t be surprised at the presence of a “Collector’s Edition” game being released this week, but I kind of am.  Here’s why: I’ve never heard of this game.  It’s called Demigod.  It’s a PC exclusive.  And right up until about five minutes ago, that’s all I knew of it.  Since then, I’ve called up a bunch of web pages on the thing, one of which called it a “strategy fighting game”, which seems pretty accurate as far as I can tell.  It’s a strategy game that pits a demigod against a titan in a number of battles, and in some cases there will be minions to call to do the demigod/titan’s bidding.  It sounds fun, especially for those looking to get into strategy who aren’t convinced that they actually have the time for it.


But yeah, there’s a collector’s edition for this.  Really?  A new, PC-only IP?  Apparently so - the collector’s edition comes with a soundtrack, a poster, and a pewter figurine that you’ll be able to eBay for beaucoup bucks if this thing takes off.  Besides, can you really have too many pewter figurines in your house?


Dokapon Journey

Dokapon Journey


The Wii is seeing the release of Samurai Shodown Anthology, which looks good for the nostalgia of revisiting one of the best fighting games in the post-Street Fighter II landscape.  Atlus’ DS dominance continues with Dokapon Journey, which they’re hilariously advertising as the best way to make enemies since spitting on somebody’s food—it’s a competitive RPG, which means you go on an adventure but you can also take on your buds in the process.  And…oh yes, PS2 owners finally get their chance at Guitar Hero: Metallica, which is confirmed awesome for pretty much every other system at this point.  No, the game didn’t change, but the challenge is there, and the tracklist is absolutely worth playing.  PS2 owners, get to it.


Enjoy the holiday week, whether you’re off or not.  Play some games, sure, but then go out and enjoy the sun.  It’s out there.  It’d be a shame to waste it.


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