Games

TWiG 2008-04-21: We Need a New Acronym!

New releases for the week of 2008-04-21...

Oh, I liked "TWiG" so much. The mixed capitalization, the emasculating implications...it was just simple enough to be catchy. Of course, I can say that now that Kotaku, perhaps the most popular gaming blog out there (and the gaming representative of the Gawker empire), has gone and co-opted it.

Now, I'm sure you could go ahead and find fifty instances of other places that had used "TWiG" as an acronym meaning "The Week in Games" before I did. That's not the point. The point is, that before last night, I didn't know of any of those, and I was much happier then. Got any ideas for new acronyms? FTW (For the Week)? GTFOA (Games to Find Out About)? Drop 'em in the comments. Bonus points (to be redeemed later) go to something that could be a potential internet meme.

This is the Wii Wheel. It's so...white.

As for this week's games, well, it looks like a sparse week, but there are so many potential winners here that I hardly know where to go for something to highlight. The elephant in the room is Mario Kart Wii; of all of the games coming out this week, that one's bound to sell the most, and it's surely yet another Nintendo-sponsored reason to own a Wii. Still, it loses points for a) having been done before, and b) foisting the Wii Wheel upon the world. I'm a Wii apologist, and I can admit that. I'll defend it to the death, insisting it's "next-gen" (whatever that means) to my bloody death. The habit that even Nintendo itself has latched onto of releasing plastic shells for their innovative control interface, thus removing the necessity of imagination to go with the waggle? I taste bile in the back of my throat every time I read about one of these things. Images in my mind of millions of Wii Wheels in landfills amongst 3rd party plastic bats, rackets, and fishing poles make me die a little bit inside.

As a rhythm game fiend, Battle of the Bands looks like fun (if a little confusing), and Square Enix is at it again, releasing The World Ends With You worldwide, to the rejoicing of millions (or, at least, thousands) who have salivated over the game for the nine months it's been out in Japan. Still, it's impossible to overlook the PS2's sole release this week: Persona 3: FES Edition. Why, after two weeks of highlighting old games, would I choose to go that route one more time? A number of reasons, actually:

1. It might have the highest quality-to-sales ratio of any game released last year, aside from perhaps Zack & Wiki. Seriously, almost nobody played this thing, and GameSpot, regardless of what you think of them, still saw fit to name it best RPG of '07.

2. 30 hours of brand new content. Seriously -- 30 hours. The "expanded" content of the FES edition is an entire new chapter for the game, along with a tweaked version of the original. If you hadn't played the original, there is officially no excuse to miss this unless you break out in hives at the mention of RPGs.

3. You get this 70-hour beast for $29.99. This is why the continued vitality of the PS2 is a great thing for gamers.

What are you looking forward to this week? Are you saving your cash for GTA-day next week?

As always, the full release list can be found by clicking on that handy little "continue" link, right...there:

PS2:

Persona 3: FES Edition (22 April)

PSP:

Chameleon

Wii:

Battle of the Bands (21 April)

Dream Pinball 3D (22 April)

Target: Terror (22 April)

Wild Earth: African Safari (22 April)

The Red Star (22 April)

Mario Kart Wii (27 April)

PC:

Turok (22 April)

Lineage II: The Chaotic Chronicle (23 April)

Xbox 360:

NBA Ballers: Chosen One (21 April)

DS:

Dream Pinball 3D (22 April)

River King: Mystic Valley (22 April)

The World Ends With You (22 April)

PS3:

NBA Ballers: Chosen One (21 April)

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Game of the Year Edition) (23 April)

Music

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1. The Old Dark House (James Whale, 1932)

Between Frankenstein (1931) and The Invisible Man (1933), director James Whale made this over-the-top lark of a dark and stormy night with stranded travelers and a crazy family. In a wordless performance, Boris Karloff headlines as the deformed butler who inspired The Addams Family's Lurch. Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, Melvyn Douglas and Ernest Thesiger are among those so vividly present, and Whale has a ball directing them through a series of funny, stylish scenes. This new Cohen edition provides the extras from Kino's old disc, including commentaries by Stuart and Whale biographer James Curtis. The astounding 4K restoration of sound and image blows previous editions away. There's now zero hiss on the soundtrack, all the better to hear Massey starting things off with the first line of dialogue: "Hell!"

(Available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

2. The Lure (Agnieszka Smoczynska, 2015)

Two mermaid sisters (Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska) can summon legs at will to mingle on shore with the band at a Polish disco, where their siren act is a hit. In this dark reinvention of Hans Christian Andersen's already dark The Little Mermaid, one love-struck sister is tempted to sacrifice her fishy nature for human mortality while her sister indulges moments of bloodlust. Abetted by writer Robert Bolesto and twin sister-musicians Barbara and Zuzanna Wronska, director Agnieszka Smoczynska offers a woman's POV on the fairy tale crossed with her glittery childhood memories of '80s Poland. The result: a bizarre, funy, intuitive genre mash-up with plenty of songs. This Criterion disc offers a making-of and two short films by Smoczynska, also on musical subjects.

(Available from Criterion Collection / Read PopMatters review here.)

3. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)

In the category of movies that don't explain themselves in favor of leaving some of their mysteries intact, here's Olivier Assayas' follow-up to the luminous Clouds of Sils Maria. Kristen Stewart again plays a celebrity's lackey with a nominally glamorous, actually stupid job, and she's waiting for a sign from her dead twin brother. What about the ghostly presence of a stalker who sends provocative text messages to her phone? The story flows into passages of outright horror complete with ectoplasm, blood, and ooga-booga soundscapes, and finally settles for asking the questions of whether the "other world" is outside or inside us. Assayas has fashioned a slinky, sexy, perplexing ghost story wrapped around a young woman's desire for something more in her life. There's a Cannes press conference and a brief talk from Assayas on his influences and impulses.

(Available from Criterion Collection / Reader PopMatters review here.

4. The Ghoul (Gareth Tunley, 2016)

The hero (Tom Meeten) tells his therapist that in his dreams, some things are very detailed and others are vague. This movie tells you bluntly what it's up to: a Möbius strip narrative that loops back on itself , as attributed to the diabolical therapists for their cosmic purposes. Then we just wait for the hero to come full circle and commit the crime that, as a cop, he's supposedly investigating. But this doesn't tell us whether he's really an undercover cop pretending to be depressed, or really a depressive imagining he's a cop, so some existential mysteries will never be answered. It's that kind of movie, indebted to David Lynch and other purveyors of nightmarish unreality. Arrow's disc offers a making-of, a commentary from writer-director Gareth Tunley and Meeten along with a producer, and a short film from Tunley and Meeten.

(Available from Arrow Video)

​5. The Illustrated Man (Jack Smight, 1969)

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(Available from Warner Bros.)

6. The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987)


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(Available from Warner Bros.)

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(Available from Criterion Collection)

8. The Green Slime (Kinji Fukasaku, 1968)

Incredibly, Warner Archive upgrades its on-demand DVD of a groovy, brightly colored creature feature with this Blu-ray. As a clever reviewer indicated in this PopMatters review, what director Kinji Fukasaku saw as a Vietnam allegory functions more obviously as a manifestation of sexual tension between alpha-jock spacemen competing for the attention of a foxy female scientist, and this subconsciously creates an explosion of big green tentacled critters who overrun the space station. While we don't believe in "so bad it's good," this falls squarely into the category of things so unfacetiously absurd, they come out cool. There's a sublimely idiotic theme song.

(Available from Warner Bros.)

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