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Monday, Jul 21, 2008
New releases for the week of 2008-07-21...

It’s not particularly surprising, nor should it be surprising, that the week after E3 is just as sparse as the week of E3 (which we will briefly wrap up later this week) when it comes to the depth of the game release schedule.  It’s tough to concentrate on the releases of yet another entry in the Kidz Sports series when you’re concentrating on, say, new screens for MadWorld.


STILL—some of us are simply not inclined to want to enjoy the fresh air that comes with this time of summer, and so, to the release list we must LOOK:


Fans of idea recycling will no doubt be rather thrilled at a couple of the bigger releases for the week, including the one that I’m most likely to end up with at some point: namely, the Nintendo DS remake of Final Fantasy IV.  Back when Final Fantasy IV was known to us Americans as Final Fantasy II (you know, before Final Fantasy VII went and confused everybody for a while), it was winning hearts and minds as one of the most influential RPGs of its time.  The fully-developed story, an active turn-based combat system that probably seemed as close to perfect as you could imagine at that point, and some of the baddest baddies in role playing at the time made for a play experience that somehow managed to make 30 hours seem short.


For the sake of the DS, the entire world of Final Fantasy IV has been given a complete and utter overhaul, with character models that move far beyond the sprites of the SNES version (or even the Game Boy Advance remakes), complete with three-dimensional modeling and completely redone towns.  While it’s still the same game, it looks completely different, which may well be all we need to give this classic another playthrough.


Also on the recycled material front is 1942: Joint Strike for the Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network, which scores bonus points not just because it’s a shmup but because 1942 is a classic (total classic!).  Hopefully the updated version can live up to its name, and hopefully those big planes still take an obscene number of shots to down.


MLB Power Pros 2008 could be a nice alternative to the baseball sims that pervade the sports market, because really, all we want is R.B.I. Baseball for a new generation, right?  Dungeon crawler fans may well flock to Atlus’ latest as well, as Izuna, the unemployed ninja herself, gets an improbable second go on a new portable.  That’d probably be a nice second step in the genre for those attracted to the genre by those Pokémon dungeon crawlers a couple months ago.  Otherwise…well, there’s just not much to speak of.


Looking forward to anything this week?  Let us know!  The full release list and a trailer for the new Final Fantasy IV are after the JUMP:


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Monday, Jul 14, 2008
New releases for the week of 2008-07-14

Welcome to E3 Week, people!  Since nobody on our illustrious staff is actually going to E3, you’d probably be better off going to one of those other gaming sites if it’s comprehensive E3 news coverage that you’re looking for.  Otherwise, you can count on us to make occasional remarks on the big news stories and keep reviewing games.  You know, kind of like we always do.


McFadden is good and all, but he's no James Starks.

McFadden is good and all, but he’s
no James Starks.


I can’t imagine that most publishers think to themselves, “you know when a good time would be to release a game?  E3 week.  Nobody could possibly get too distracted by the overload of gaming news to forget about Big Release X, could they?”  Of course they could.  As such, there’s very little motivation to put out big releases this week, since the attention is bound to be diverted to other things.


Given the light and decidedly unimpressive list of releases this week, then, there’s only one thing that really sticks out as something I’d particularly like to play: NCAA Football 09.  Can EA put enough improvements into their yearly college football game to warrant yet another purchase?  ‘Tis the eternal question!  It is true, though, that I tend to welcome excuses to try and take my alma mater’s football program (University at Buffalo, and yes, they have a football team.  Kind of.) to a bowl game, since I’m relatively sure such an occurrence will never happen in the real world in my lifetime.  Um, Let’s go Buf-fa-lo!


OMG! INVIZABUL RAIFL!

OMG! INVIZABUL RAIFL!


Up and around the rest of the release list, Southpeak’s Mister Slime actually has nothing to do with the Dragon Quest series (unfortunately!) but it still looks like a fun little puzzle game, and Her Interactive moves their Nancy Drew series to the Nintendo DS, where it seems like it would be a perfect fit for its female adolescent target audience.  We Love Golf! is, for obvious reasons, a perfect fit for the Wii, and there’s a PlayStation 2 exclusive (I had no idea those still existed!) called B-Boy, which is You Got Served!-style breakdancing action.  Given that my 4-year-old fancies himself a breakdancer of late, I may just end up with that.


The full list of releases, along with a trailer for NCAA Football 09, is after the jump.  Happy E3 week, everyone!  Try


not

to hit information overload!


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Monday, Jul 7, 2008
New releases for the week of 2008-07-07

If you stare at this week’s release list long enough, you can hear crickets chirping.  Try it.


...


See?  We’re into the sparse weeks of summer, where the games that are going to keep indoors for the season have pretty much all been released, and the winter holiday season is but a breath of anticipation, months away from beginning.  So what’s on tap for this week?


This is Civilization Revolution.  Good times.

This is Civilization Revolution.  Good times.


Civilization: Revolution: looks like a winner, and so far, it’s been pretty well-received, so we’ll go with that.  The problems with translating PC-style strategy games to consoles is well-documented, particularly given most consoles’ lack of a mouse.  There are lots of PC-to-console strategy attempts, but most of them do one particular thing wrong: namely, they try to exist as straight-up ports of the originals.  So far, it seems that Civilization Revolution has avoided this pitfall, making it a must-buy for console owning sim-whatever fans.


Of course, as Joystiq points out, any game that features the physical presence of Napoleon hovering over everyone else is a little bit suspect.


Antonio Fango, one of the suspects in Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice

Antonio Fango, one of the suspects in Nancy
Drew: The Phantom of Venice


As for the rest of the offerings, the Wii offers lots of kids’ stuff, most notably a little bit of easy entry into the Final Fantasy series in the form of Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon, which could be a fun way to scratch the RPG itch with my kids around.  Sega has the officially licensed version of the 2008 Olympics on the way (though I suspect I’ll stick with Mario and Sonic, thank you), Unreal Tournament 3 is another PC-to-console port which might be worth looking at if the whole multiplayer FPS thing is cool for you, and hey! Nancy Drew!  Adventure fans who are sleeping on Her Interactive’s Nancy Drew series of computer games are actually seriously missing out.  Yes, even if you’re not a teenage girl.


Seriously, though, I’m off to give Civilization Revolution a look.  I’ve gotta knock that Napoleon down a few pegs, after all.  The full release list is after the break, with a Civilization Revolution trailer to get you as excited about the thing as we are.


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Monday, Jun 30, 2008
New releases for the week of 2008-06-30...
From Gamecock\'s Hail to the Chimp

From Gamecock\‘s Hail to the Chimp


Is it surprising at all that there are but 11 releases (ten if you knock off one version of Gamecock’s Hail to the Chimp) for the week of the American Independence Day holiday?  Probably not.  It’s one of the first full weeks that schools are out, it’s a popular time for vacations, and it’s all but ready made for outdoor fun, what with fireworks having to be an outdoor activity and all.  Just about the last thing on anyone’s mind is finding another reason to stay indoors, and maybe that’s a good thing.


For those who absolutely must get their kicks underneath the cover of the infinite-SPF protection of a roof and walls, however, there are a few goodies in this nearly-empty bag.  Hail to the Chimp is notable for being one of the few attempts at a “party game” (does Fusion Frenzy even count?) on the Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms, and if you’re not sick of election mania already, it might just be the thing for you.  The Wii is getting a pet sim called Purr Pals this week, which surely surprises nobody, and the PSP might have a hidden treasure on the way in the form of Fading Shadows a platformer for people who like puzzles in their platforming more than baddies.


Soo…we're drawing stars on jellybeans then. (From Atlus' Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2)

Soo…we’re drawing stars on jellybeans then.
(From Atlus’ Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2)


Atlus, however, comes through again with a big release for the summer season in the form of Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2.  The original Trauma Center was one of the benchmark releases for the Nintendo DS, offering up the opportunity to use the DS stylus as a scalpel, a brilliant move on their part, especially given how obvious it seems after the fact.  The second in the series apparently addresses the consequences of the first, and you’ll surely be taking on lots of difficult surgeries and finding body parts you never knew existed.  Is that a pancreas?  To the garbage with it!


So once again, three cheers for Atlus, still giving summer gamers reasons to rejoice.  The full (or all but empty, if you prefer) release list and a trailer for Under the Knife 2 is after….the jump.


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Monday, Jun 23, 2008
New releases for the week of 2008-06-23...

Wow.


You know, I’ve seen a lot of summers at this point, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that video game publishers generally don’t like to release things in the summer.  It’s probably a matter of something like, oh, too many kids playing outside, or perhaps not enough gift-giving holidays in the season’s general proximity.  Whatever it is, I’m used to the summer being a slow time, a time when I can catch up on games that I didn’t give a fair shake the first time around, on games for which my Gamerscore is a highly mockable, measly 5/1000 (Hello, GTA4). 


Not this year.


This year, summer is a season of life, of flowers, of party games and shooters and the requisite movie tie-ins that usually make up the majority of the summer schedule, now relegated to the background in favor of triple-A releases given a chance to shine in the sparse desert of releases.  Except that this year (or, at least, this week), it’s not even close to sparse.


How about a little love for Tom Hamilton, am I right?

How about a little love for Tom Hamilton, am I right?


Of course, my house will certainly end up with a copy of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, loathe as I am to admit it.  Whether I buy it at full price ($59.99?!) now or wait until it gets a bit, oh, cheaper is another story.  Hail to the Chimp looks to be a fantastic way to capitalize on election mania in party-game form, on the off-chance you’re not utterly sick of election mania yet.  Battlefield: Bad Company is the one getting all of the advertising dollars, and the advertisements have me this close to buying it, though I’m still waiting for a sense of the buzz on it to make a final decision.  Sports nuts get Top Spin 3, just in time for Wimbledon.  And there’s even plenty for the kids, what with WALL-E making its way into homes tomorrow and even an American Girl game coming out for the PC this week.  There is, in the most literal sense, something for everyone this week.


Of course, there’s nothing I could possibly be more psyched about this week than the upcoming release of Atari’s reimagination of the Alone in the Dark series.  This is a series I’ve been playing since it originally appeared on the PC in…jeez, 1992, and none of the games have really approached the wonder of the first.  Perhaps it’s because the original was the progenitor of the cinematic style that is the series’ trademark (using polygons instead of hand-drawnsprites was a pretty big idea at that point), and the rest couldn’t help but live in the shadow of the first’s definitive style and innovation, but it hasn’t quite been the same since the original adventure of Edward Carnby.


The new Carnby wields a mean sword.

The new Carnby wields a mean sword.


The new, 2008 version of Alone in the Dark appears to be trying its darndest to follow in the footsteps of the original game’s innovation, but not in the graphical arena, given that graphics are sort of plateauing right now.  No, this new Alone in the Dark has a gameplay innovation: it’s episodic, and in an interesting twist, players can play the episodes in whatever order their little hearts desire.  Want a true blockbuster experience?  Play it from beginning to end.  Want to turn it into Memento?  Play it in reverse.  Want a Tarentino-esque experience?  Play the middle episodes first.  It doesn’t matter!


What would be interesting to see is just how many people play for a while starting at the beginning, eventually get frustrated, and skip to the end.  Not that I ever would.  No sir.


The full release list, and a trailer for Alone in the Dark, is after the break.


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