I’m going to be honest here, I’m having a difficult time summoning up interest in today’s writeup. That’s mainly because this week’s Wallet Abuse consists of:
Lilt Line (WiiWare)
Super Mario Brothers All-Stars Wii (Wii)
Under Siege (PSN)
X-Men Arcade (PSN, XBLA)
Just Sing! Christmas Songs Volume 2 Developer: Someone actively taking the food out of the mouths Hifumi Kono’s children as we speak Publisher: Hitler Platforms: DSiWare
Now keep in mind, it physically pains me to say good things about Nintendo and it’s quite possible that Under Siege is one of those PSN games that no one, including the developer, knows exactly when it’ll be available for download. Lilt Line is probably decent enough, but if I’m going to start talking about downloadable Nintendo games then at some point I’ll have to bring up Just Sing! Christmas Songs Volume 2 and no one really wants that, now do they?
You people seriously don’t want me to do that.
Okay,fine. But in protest to today’s parade of irrelevant crap, I’m going to critique the year in shovelware developers as well, because as good as this year was, we need to honor those who remind us of the terrible threat cheap, assessable gaming casual gaming poses to everything we love.
It’s a DSiWare title, which means we don’t get box art or even a unified title card, but this works nicely as we also learn exactly how many public domain Christmas standards Nintendo will allow to be transmitted over their service any any given time.
Also, this is the second game in the series and we’re only just now getting to “Merry Christmas” and “Deck the Halls”. What sort of esoteric shit did Engine Software break out for Volume 1? King Diamond’s No Presents for Christmas? Coffin Fuck’s cover of Here Comes Santa Claus?
At any rate, this is a karaoke game, and if it’s like most karaoke games it doesn’t really matter what you say as the DSi mic is only picking up (at most) your tone. So you could actually sit there and offer forth the most vile swears imaginable to “Deck the Halls” as long as you get the tempo right.
SHOVELWARE 2010 RETROSPECTIVE SPOTLIGHT: DESTINEER GAMES
Destineer opened 2010 mocking the hopes and dreams of Wii owners worldwide with Triple Crown Championship Snowboarding; one of the few non-fitness Wii games released this year that actually made use of the Wii Balance Board. As Wii traumatized Wii owners tried to make sense of a world that would allow snowboarding games not named 1080 appear on their beloved hardware Destineer released an unrelenting stream of crap for the Wii, culminating in the late Fall release of Dragon’s Lair Trilogy, a collection of laserdisc games for a system that cannot itself play a Dragon’s Lair DVD.
Among other highlights:
Marines: Modern Urban Combat: a game which basically served to remind Wii owners that Infinity Ward would rather risk a lawsuit from Activision than make games for their system
Harley Davidson Road Trip: The rare title that managed to troll both Nintendo fans -and- Sega fans who wondered whatever became of the Harley Davidson LA Riders license
Statisfashion: Which managed to retroactively make everyone think Style Savvy by Nintendo was also crap.
Destineer’s dedication to breaking the will of Wii owners worldwide was unmatched. Not only did Destineer manage not to release a single worthwhile game all year long, they did so with a style and panache worthy of an artist. We here at Nitrobeard are left in awe at their efforts.
Gaijin Games was helpful enough to provide videos of people actually playing Lilt Line on their website, and from what I can gather it involves tilting the controller to move the player’s line through a twisting corridor while hitting “The Button” (said in rather ominous tones) when you cross lines. Sounds simplistic, but these are the same guys who gave us the bit.trip games, so taking simple concepts based on rhythm and turning them into outstanding games is sort of what they do.
On a wholly unrelated note, anytime I see the Gaijin Games name I get a tiny thrill inside as I invariably confuse them for Vic Ireland’s Gaijin Works and I think it’s finally time to swear violently about Working Designs for three hundred words. Sadly it’s not to be. Yet.
SHOVELWARE 2010 RETROSPECTIVE SPOTLIGHT: SOUTH PEAK GAMES
South Peak followed up a breakout 2009 (X-Blades, Velvet Assassin) with a frustratingly silent 2010, where their talents at following up on outstanding gameplay promise with soul-crushingly bad execution was almost entirely wasted on the already crowded DS shovelware market. However they were responsible for Blood Bowl for the Xbox 360, where South Peak managed to take the concept of Orcs vs Space Marines playing no-rules intergalactic football and somehow made it less compelling than the board game.
Under Siege Developer: Seed Studios Publisher: Seed Studios Platforms: PlayStation Network
A lot has been made about these games not appearing on the Virtual Console instead of being sold sold on disc for thirty bucks, but one has to remember that the way Nintendo operates if these games were on Virtual Console then they’d break up the SNES original into it’s component pieces and charge eight dollars for each game. And since Nintendo is lazy and would rather not go through all that trouble anyway, this was probably the only form you were ever going to get Super Mario All-Stars to appear on the Wii in the first place.
If you’re the sort of person who owns a Wii and buys actual videogames for it, you’re the sort of person who already wants to own these games. The only problem? Nintendo may not be kidding about this whole “limited edition” thing. Already it’s sold out online at Gamestop and Best Buy, and the only way to get it through Amazon is to pay fifty bucks through a 3rd party reseller. In other words if you don’t already won this disc you’re probably already fucked.
SHOVELWARE 2010 RETROSPECTIVE SPOTLIGHT: CRAVE GAMES
Crave has always been on the forefront of crap, and their alliance with the Discovery Channel has lead to amazing new breakthroughs in Shovelware science, allowing the Newport Beach company to terrorize the gaming public with games based on the Alaskan crab fishing industry. This is combined with a strong stable of traditionally shitty games, such as Brunswick Pro Bowling for the Wii and Baby Pals for the DS. I expect no less from the guys who once made a Napoleon Dynamite game for the PSP FOUR YEARS AFTER THE MOVIE ITSELF WAS RELEASED.
I swear to God this happened.
Overall another strong year for the standardbearers of Shovelware excellence.
Every once in a while a developer will get it into their head that they are going to get the whole ‘RTS-on-a-console’ thing right and it usually ends in failure because a thumbstick is a poor substitute for a mouse. Seed Studios has at least incorporated Move support so maybe that will help, but even official PR-approved gameplay video seems to suggest that it’s still a jerky, frustrating experience.
X-Men Arcade Developer: Konami/Backbone Publisher: Konami Platforms: PlayStation Network, XBLA
Under Siege abandons base building and resource gathering, none of which is suited for the console anyway, but you’re probably reading this on a computer capable of playing Dawn of War anyway. So why not play that instead?
SHOVELWARE 2010 RETROSPECTIVE SPOTLIGHT: MAJESCO
Usually a strong contender every year; I have a hard time giving props to Majesco’s shovelware efforts when they stumble and release genuinely good videogames. It’s very hard to give credit to efforts such as Attack of the Movies 3D when titles like A Boy and His Blob and Data East Arcade Classics are sitting there providing genuinely compelling gaming experiences. Hopefully a strong lineup of godawful Kinect titles such as Zumba Fitness will put Majesco back in it’s rightful place atop the shovelware heap in 2011.
Look. I know we all want to sit here and pretend that the early 90’s beat-em-ups are something we actually want to go back to, but do any of you really think this thing is going to provide you with more than an hour of entertainment? I mean, Scott Pilgrim vs The World is sitting right there. It’s a better game. It probably even has better spritework.
Anyway, if you’re intent on buying X-Men Arcade you need to be be aware that the home port is being handled by Backbone, the same assholes who managed to ruin Contra on XBLA. They’ve killed before and they’ll kill again. If you buy this then sooner or later someone will slip up and let Backbone handle something important, like The Ninja Warriors Again or Cybernator.
SHOVELWARE 2010 RETROSPECTIVE SPOTLIGHT: ACTIVISION
All the Call of Duty games in the world won’t do you any good when you willingly put your name on this: