Friday, January 30, 2009

preview of mad world

Anyone looking for the M-for-mature Wii game to knock his or her socks off this year can stop looking: MadWorld has arrived! Or, it will on March 10, 2009, but until then, IGN has a great preview of this upcoming Wii title with some pretty great description of gameplay and a lot of interesting info about the developers, heavy hitters responsible for some of the best horror games out there. MadWorld is all about the chainsaw, and apparently derives some of its plot from the movie The Running Man ["well I hope you leave enough room for my fist, because I'm going to ram it into your stomach!"]. This game looks cuh-razy in many ways, from its stark black and white animation style to the main character's arm-attached chainsaw to the wide variety of gruesome methods of killing dudes.
Suddenly, a gigantic dartboard rises from the street and the main character begins swinging away with a baseball bat, violently knocking foes airborne and at the board for points. "Splaaaaaaaaat!" reads a comic-book-like font as characters are sent spinning toward the giant target. This is a mini-game and it's called Man Darts. No -- seriously.
IGN: MadWorld Preview

hotel dusk: room 215

Loving this game lately! If like me you prefer your games light on the violence, action and shooting and heavy on the plot and character then Hotel Dusk: Room 215 might be the game for you. This DS game really invokes old school point-and-click adventures while also fluidly incorporating the DS's many interesting functions to create a very cool, suspenseful game without relying on blood, guts and action. If you don't love reading, however, you'll want to steer clear as it is ALL about reading dialogue and learning information. You even get a little pop quiz at the end of each chapter to make sure you were paying attention! The plot so far is full of mystery and intrigue and definitely leaves me wanting to know more with each new piece of information I get. The characters truly are deep and sympathetic and the game's writers bothered to write in some pretty funny, engaging dialogue that, while not necessary, is a wonderful driver of the story. The stark, sketchy animation style looks great on the DS and the characters are adorable. The controls are seamless - the stylus is PERFECT for this game - and as mentioned, the use of some of the DS's unique capabilities to create challenging puzzles is pretty awesome to behold. I want more DS games like this one! Two thumbs up.

americans heart the gba

Nintendo just released numbers for sales of the Gameboy Advance, both hardware and software, and it turns out that we Americans are responsible for an overwhelming proportion of GBA profits. Nintendo clearly has figured out the formula for getting us to keep buying stuff by continuously improving upon and releasing new models of their handheld systems. And while GBA games don't sell new anymore, from personal experience I can state that they still sell like crazy used, thanks agains to Nintendo's smart strategy of putting the GBA port in the DS (although the DSi will say goodbye to that benefit). Sony wishes it could keep up with its iterations of the PSP but for now Nintendo is clearly the boss in the handheld market.

Japan: 16,950,000
The Americas: 41,640,000
Other: 81,440,000
Total Life-to-date hardware sales worldwide: 140,030,000

Japan: 72,940,000
The Americas: 217,240,000
Other: 87,060,000
Total Life-to-date software sales worldwide: 377,240,000

Nintendo Financials: Are People Still Buying the Gameboy Advance?

mirror's edge third-person hack

One cool thing about PC games in this age of console giants is the possibilities of hacking games to reveal interesting new features or add crazy new options to a game. There is often a lot more room with a title's PC version for funky innovations and downloadable game changers. The latest of these PC game hacks is for Mirror's Edge and it allows a third-person vantage point not available in the game while disabling the camera's up-down function. Mixed reviews of this hack complain that it removes the suspense and momentum of the game's action, plus the model and her movements of course look pretty bunk, not having been designed to ever be actually seen. Still, it's cool that innovations like this happen and I think it drives the buzz of the online gaming community in a good way. Check out the Mirror's Edge third-person action in this video:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

afro samurai sounds fun but terrible

IGN has reviewed Afro Samurai and it sounds like the game offers some laughs, some fun, some good smackdowns of bad guys, but overall is actually a pretty poor game. The lowlights include bad camera functions, bad platforming and crappy boss fights. The highlights, of course, include Samuel L. Jackson voicing Afro as well as sidekick Ninja Ninja. Sounds like a rental at best.

fallout 3 expansions rolling out

The first of three planned packs of Fallout 3 downloadable content, Operation Anchorage, is now available. Operation Anchorage pits you against the communist Chinese in the frozen landscape of Alaska. The future packs apparently include one expansion that allows you to play past the ending of the original storyline. Cool stuff!

Monday, January 26, 2009

a sad wii story

Many gamers lament the lack of M-for-mature Wii games aimed away from the console's target demographic of families and casual gamers, which is why the story of Winter, the "lost Wii game" is especially sad. This game would have been a real showcase of Wii controls packaged into a beautifully animated survival horror game akin to Silent Hill. The main character is stranded in a mysterious blizzard filled with scary creatures, and keeping warm is an important aspect of your health, meaning you have to start fires to warm yourself up in addition to keeping safe from bad guys. Sadly, Winter has no publisher and no current plans to be finished. It's a real tragedy and you have to wonder why Nintendo doesn't see more value in getting this kind of game to market. This developer footage shows this innovative and extremely creepy game off quite nicely:

more spore

Looks like Spore: Galactic Adventures is not the only new Spore title on the horizon. In the next few years it turns out we can expect new titles on the PC (a kiddy-aimed pet game it sounds like) plus a Wii game and a DS game that are connected somehow. EA is definitely trying to create a franchise with Spore and with any luck some of these games will be blockbusters. If the Wii one is done well it could be a big thing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

resident evil 5!

Resident Evil 5 looks cooler and cooler with every new trailer that comes out for it and this one from is no exception. Enjoy!

spore: galactic adventures announced

I once claimed that LittleBigPlanet kind of wanted to be Spore. Seems like the opposite has turned out to be true in an interesting full-circle turn of events with the announce of Electronic Arts's first expansion pack for this year's PC hit/miss (depends who you ask) - Spore: Galactic Adventures, to drop in March 2009. According to IGN's preview, this EP makes some of the developer's tools available in order to allow game users to create their own playable planets (also known as level design) with customized creatures, buildings and vehicles to share on the Sporepedia. With Sims 3 so close I can't fathom picking this up anytime soon but it could be the boost of energy that Spore needs to convince more people that it is actually a good game.

windows 7 possibly less offensive than vista

Having just bought my first Vista laptop I will say I don't hate it as much as I had come to think I would. I mostly use this computer for internet and writing rather than gaming because I have an awesome 22" monitor on my other PC, but Vista has gotten in the way a few times, I will admit. I've had a few of those moments of "wait, I know we asked you five times already but are you SURE you want to delete that?" and that is pretty annoying. Also, it kind of seems like almost every program has a Not Responding hiccup during loading even if it does successfully load. Aaaaanyway, Windows 7 is next on the horizon and, while it is built on Vista and thus probably not that different, it does sound like they mostly fixed the problem of the operating system itself eating up RAM and Vista needing way higher specs to run games than XP would.

noby noby boy!

Quite a mouthful of a name, this Playstation network exclusive will drop in Japan on 1/29 and is the latest game from Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi. If you're not familiar with Katamari it centers around rolling stuff up into a ball to make it bigger, or so I've been told. I've never actually played it and since this new one is just for PS3 I may not get a chance to try it either but the ESRB's magical description of it really does make me want to try it. The few preview screenshots online look simple and beautiful and I looove the color scheme on the snake thing. It does sound a lot like KD but still hilarious and definitely not like many other games currently on the market:
This is a puzzle game in which players control a large snake-like creature whose objective is to grow by gobbling up objects (e.g., mailboxes, small animals, houses, etc.). Players advance in the game by growing the creature as big as possible and then reporting its length to a character in space. Consumed objects sometimes pop out of the snake's rear end, making a comical "splat" sound.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

twenty trends destroying and saving gaming

IGN has two excellent articles up lately that take a hard look at trends in the gaming industry that are both destroying the future of gaming and also preserving it. I can't help but agree, even with the finger-pointing at EA/Sims 2 for overdosing on sequels. Just cause I buy them doesn't mean the games have all been truly the quality they should be. Also, good discussion about the Wii's shortfalls as well, and the importance of the casual gaming industry. Worth a read:

these games look silly

So I was doing some Google image searches when I came across the image at right and had to follow the link and find out what the hell it was. And thus I bring you via Random Good Stuff the Weirdest Interactive Video Games nobody wants. The Spiderman game is really the crowning achievement but the others look pretty goofy too so check them out.

violent games not necessarily more fun?

So says a study from the University of Rochester and some think tank in Orlando called Immersyve. They designed a test showing that adding more violent/gory elements to a game didn't necessarily ramp up the fun level. Of course they didn't prove that it decreases the fun level... Anyway, these guys messed with Half-Life 2 to give you either a psychic power or a shotgun, and found that killing dudes "peacefully" with the psychic power was just as satisfying as splattering them all over the place with the shotgun.
[Lead author of study Andrew] Przybylski said the message for game designers is that their resources are probably better spent designing games that will satisfy the psychological needs of players to feel competent, a feeling of autonomy and being connected to other players.
"That's probably a better place for them to put their efforts than being able to very realistically depict someone's arm falling off," he said.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

not a good review

It doesn't take much to impress me, really, which is why I know a game really sucks if I think it sucks. Which is why I must declare that Zoo Tycoon DS is a sucky suckfest. I should have read some poor reviews and known better but I picked it up as an impulse having always liked the PC version. The game itself is OK although not rendered nearly as nicely as it could have been. You can barely tell a lion from a giraffe with the tiny pixelated graphics and, most grievous of all, I experienced my first DS game freeze with this game. So, thank goodness for receipts and 7-day-guarantee used games. Avoid this one!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

why online only, why?!

With the 2/24 release of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand approaching, IGN has some pretty great preview info on what will surely be one of the defining video games of our lifetime. Apparently it has a pretty damn fun co-op mode but it's online only! I can't say that I would necessarily have bought this when it comes out but I would have been much more motivated to it if I knew my boyfriend would be able to back me up as Lloyd Banks or some other member of G-G-G-G-Unit! Anyway, perhaps I will someday need to rent this game and buy a one-month gold membership just to play it but I can't really get too excited about games that emphasize their online content more than anything else. Still, blowing stuff up in the Middle East while cursing in true gangsta fashion does sound pretty awesome...

a great turn-based strategy game

I got Age of Empires: Mythologies for Christmas this year and I can't recommend it enough. If you've never tried the series it's actually a pretty great intro to it and if you've played Age of Mythology you'll especially love it. All your favorite units from Myrmidon to Mummy are there; the only major difference is the turn-based system. It takes a bit of getting used to but it's totally fun. The graphics are really great with rich music and cool battle cutscenes and the interface is quite easy to use. Once you get accustomed to recognizing each tiny building and unit the turns start flying by. Plus with its full system of achievements and unlockable heroes/gods this game has tons of replay value and I think I'll hold on to it for quite awhile. Two thumbs way up!

ubisoft hearts little girl gamers

If you've been in a game store and browsed the DS section recently you surely have noticed Ubisoft's new line of Imagine games aimed at young girls. Movie Star, Rock Star, Teacher, and most popular, Fashion Designer, and more to come I'm sure. Of course some people are concerned about the gender-specific message these games are sending little girls that play them but I agree with the argument about the difference in what boys and girls want out of their gaming experience. Boys like blowing stuff up, girls like creating and customizing. Whether it is with animals, clothes or whatever, little girls like making stuff and sharing it. I only wish the DS had existed when I was young enough to enjoy all the horse games and other animal-related DS games out there. I probably would have even been interested in Fashion Designer - I know my boyfriend's little cousin basically hasn't put hers down since getting it for Christmas. Personally I'm all for anything that encourages girls to think about careers of any sort and get them working creatively from a young age. I will say that Ubisoft should get some sports-related girl games out there, or some more boy-themed Imagine games to balance out the girly ones. And I don't have much love for the ones about babies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

guitar hero 3 becomes first billion-dollar game

Activision announced last week that over the holiday shopping season, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock became the first single game title to ever reach the billion dollar sales mark on its own. Fun fact: sales of actual musical guitars are up, too! And of course companies are attributing the rising numbers to the popularity of music simulation games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I have to say I had opportunity to check out the DS version of Guitar Hero recently and it seems pretty cool if not mind-blowingly easy compared to the console versions.
Data from national instrument retailer Guitar Center indicated that sales of real guitars were also up. Griffith said two-thirds of non-musicians exposed to music games plan to start playing a real instrument in the next couple of years, while three-fourths of musicians said they've spent more time with their instruments since picking up a music game.

dsi gets possible ship date, price

The new iteration of Nintendo's handheld gaming system, the DSi, now has a possible US ship date: April 4th, 2009! This new information just out this week has not been officially confirmed by Nintendo but has gotten the gaming community all excited. The new system is set to retail at $179.99 when it is released in the states. Apparently the DS Lite still sells so well in the US that they have just been sitting on the DSi waiting for the right moment to grab the attention of the handheld gaming market.
Nintendo's DSi handheld looks similar to its predecessor, but
boasts a built-in camera, an SD Card slot, internal memory, an improved user
interface and access to DSiWare, an ever-expanding list of downloadable DSi
games and content available over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

resident evil 4: wii edition

I have mentioned many times that I'm way too chicken to play most really scary games, especially limited ammunition situation games like Resident Evil. I guess I've been on kind of a survival horror kick lately because I finally picked up Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition and I have to say it is pretty much made for me. It is so awesome being able to point and aim to shoot rather than using control sticks. The game is still challenging and has those deadly cut scenes that make you actually do stuff to avoid dying during them. I'm loving it although I have watched this game played through on the GameCube so I know what kind of horrifying enemies are in store thanks to Las Plagas! I'm glad they made this game for the Wii and I'm eagerly anticipating the other GC games getting updated for Wii this year.

home again + many cool new games

I'm finally back in town and back to a normal schedule, for a little while anyway! Traveling gave me great opportunity to play my DS and I actually picked up an awesome new game called Dementium: The Ward. It's a very freaky, fairly graphic survival horror shooter with a pretty twisted plot involving an insane asylum where something went horribly, horribly wrong. The gameplay is really smooth and intuitive; you steer yourself with a flashlight, meaning much of the top viewing screen is shrouded in darkness most of the time. The bottom screen is inventory and vital signs, including a heartbeat sound effect that gets faster and more frantic the lower your health drops. The monsters are very scary and I have totally jumped in fear several times so far playing it. One bad aspect is that if you die you automatically have to restart the chapter, rather than picking up at a save point, which means you just have to get comfortable with quitting and reloading your game right before actually dying. One cute thing about this game is that its creators are clearly very proud and actually used their own names as names on the medical charts of patients-turned-zombies with prognoses like "delusional parisitosis". Anyway, two thumbs up for Dementium: The Ward, which IGN gave an 8 in its review.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

more neglect ahead

So it's gonna be a wee bit longer until the blog gets a proper update as I am off on a trip out of town for the next few days. Until then, enjoy this totally awesome video promoting Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop, slated for release on the Wii on February 29:

Monday, January 5, 2009

wii games to look forward to in 2009!

After the dismal year the Wii had in 2008 things can only be looking up, right? Well, there are quite a few things to look forward to in the coming year for the family-friendly console. One that is piquing my interest the most is the less family-oriented Deadly Creatures. Here's a cool video showing the badass-ness of the tarantula that you can play as in this upcoming game, slated for release February 9, 2009.

zelda never fails to satisfy

I picked up The Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass for the Nintendo DS recently and all I can say is that it lives up to its excellent reviews. This game is truly one that any DS player can enjoy. I've read that some people think it's too easy but honestly I'm finding parts of it challenging. Not difficult, really, but I certainly wouldn't call it too easy. I loved Windwaker so I was delighted to find that the plot is a continuation from the end of that game. The graphics are gorgeous and you kind of forget that its a handheld game; the controls are smooth and in my opinion not as limiting as some people call them. The music is great, the characters are great. It's a really fun game in the tradition of Zelda games we all love.

Friday, January 2, 2009

i want to try world of goo!

This game looks seriously cool and I looove the little eyes on the goo ball dudes. World of Goo is also significant because it was independently developed with a $10,000 budget of personal savings from its creators, Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel. It also walked away with many awards from IGN including Best Wii Title of 2008! They give it a 9.5 "Incredible" rating which is pretty damn spectacular. It's available as a WiiWare title and for the computer.
The game environment, including the music produced by Gabler, definitely has a dark, Tim Burton-esque feel to it that contrasts well against the quirky, upbeat goo balls. Whether it’s the actual science of building towers or figuring out the mystery behind the odd semi-involved characters (e.g. the painter, MOM, the Goo Corporation) that interests you, this game will definitely make you wonder.
How the World of Goo became one of the indie video game hits of 2008

sorry for the absence

But I've actually been pretty much not home at all with time to write although I have been getting quite a lot of gaming done. I have some great comments on some excellent titles and I swear, one of these days they will be posted! Until then, keep the faith and know that even when they're not being posted about, video games are getting played.