Wallet Abuse Weekly: Christmas In October Edition

 

And we were doing so well.

This week offers a scant handful of games, ranging from the important but probably mediocre (Battlefield 3), the possibly good and probably overlooked (Kirby: Return to Dreamland) and the token Game That Will Sell Disproportionately Well Because People Are Idiots And Have Nothing Better To Do (Dance Central 2)

It’s a wretched week to be sure, more suited for the doldrums of August than a scant four weeks before Black Friday. But this makes sense, as sadly the worst of the holiday rush is over. Uncharted 2,Zelda: Skyward Sword and Skyrm are important to hardcore gamers,and Modern Warfare 3 will be interesting if for no other reason than to see exactly how Activision will recover the Modern Warfare mantle since the dismantling of Infinity Ward. But other than these four we may be done with Shit Everyone Must Play Before The End of The Year.

No theme this week-- That’s because of of Dark Souls. In fact, Dark Souls is why this is being released on Tuesday and not Sunday and why I’ve neglected other, less essential duties such as “taking out the trash” or “eating” or “moving from this seeping pool of my own filth”. In fact, if we were to rate games based entirely on the depraved level of basic hygiene they inspired, Dark Souls wouldn’t just be the current Game of the Year, it’d be Game of the Year dating back to at least Fallout 3.

Sadly none of this week’s games are likely to inspire anyone to become a degenerate hikikomori, but take heart! Skyrim is only 17 days away!

 

 


 

 

Battlefield 3
Developer: Digital Illusions CE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

I’m not going to sit here and say that Battlefield 3 has a shot at being the best game of the year: my game snob cred would be shot to thell if I admitted to playing plebe pablum such as your Modern Warfares or your Maddens or your Mario Karts. But I will say that Battlefield 3 is going to be the most important game released this year, if for no other reason than Electronic Arts needs to do to Call of Duty what it’s already done to Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk: run the Bro-op genre into the ground and deprive Activision a source of income.

This is a sound strategy because EA doesn’t need to do all that much-- just release a decent game and advertise it enough to assure that it sells well. Hell, Homefrot managed to sell a million copies off of advertising alone and it’s developers are wanted by the United Nations Security Council for war crimes. Activision has shown it will completely flip it’s shit the moment EA enters one of it’s markets. If Battlefield 3 sells even moderately well we can look forward to...

*Call of Duty Modern Warfare: Blackwater World Tour

*Call of Duty Black Ops: Ronnie and Marge’s Greatest 80’s Hits

*Call of Duty Classic: Secret Weapons of Hitler’s Mecha-Bunker (crossover w/the History Channel!)

*Call of Duty 4 Kidz: Predator Drone Party Activity Pack

*John “Soap” MacTavish’s Downhill Jam

...within the next year, driving fans away from both Call of Duty and Battlefield/Bad Company and finally freeing hardcore gaming from the dudebro hordes that trick otherwise reasonable publishers such as Capcom into things like Lost Planet 2, and coincidentally freeing up DICE to produce Mirror’s Edge 2.

Or you know, shutter the developer and force families to go hungry. Whatever.

I’m writing this on the Sunday before BF3’s release, and for a game this important there’s been a distinct lack of pre-release review buzz. While this is usually a negative indicator as to a game’s quality (As an example, by this point last week we already knew Arkham City was likely GOTY), it’s more likely that EA is simply keeping everything under lock and key until the official launch. After all, if EA intends on advertising Battlefield on an equal level as Modern Warfare, then the launch needs to be more than a bunch of gamers huddled outside Gamestop in the chill of October, it needs to be a media event. Which means that in lieu of research I must resort to the most reliable and respectable repository of insider-only pre-release information-- Gamestop user reviews

 

Sick fires, bro! CoD fans, you have the floor for two minutes to respond--

 

I’m not sure if you understand the correct meaning of the terms “beta” or “proper use of ellipses” but your point is still valid; Is there anything the BF3 community would like to add--

 

Okay maybe we should stop before someone commits a felony.

 


 

 

Centipede Infestation
Developer: WayForward
Publisher: Atari
Platforms: Nintendo Wii, 3DS

The main problem with researching Centipede Infestation is that every third search result comes back with how to counteract an actual centipede infestation. Turns out boric acid solves this problem, once again proving true the old adage: There is no problem so great that cannot be solved with sufficient application of the correct acid.

While I support WayForward being involved in as many games as humanly possible, I’m not sure I’m thrilled about their take on Centipede. Centipede Infestation is little more than a bog-standard twin stick shooter, albeit with bugs. I mean, that’s fine if you want to remake Smash TV or Zombies Ate My Neighbors, but that’s a different from of arcade game. I’m not sure if this can be considered an “update” if all WayForward is really doing is taking the name and shoving it inside a contemporary arcade structure.

There are ways to properly update simplistic single-screen 80’s arcade classics, as exhibited by Pac Man Championship Edition and Tatio’s sublime Space Invaders Extreme. Centipede’s formula would be ripe for that sort of manic, neon-infused fever dream-- sadly WayForward went for perhaps the most obvious solution and turned what could have been a rejuvination of a classic into something we’ve already seen on XBLA thirteen hundred times.

 


 

 

Dance Central 2
Developer: Harmonix
Publisher: soulless shells of men who spent money releasing this crap and Twisted Pixel but could not be bothered to keep FASA alive after forcing them to destroy ShadowRun
Platforms: Waggle 2.0

For those keeping track, we’re a year into the Kinect era and the best use scenario for the hardware remains vaguely moving your body in reaction to music videos. Well that and Netflix.

As much as I hate Nintendo (and I must reiterate that I absolutely hate Nintendo and everything it stands for) at least by this point in the Wii’s lifetime there was some justification for the existence of the Wiimote-- Red Steel, Wii Sports/Play, Twilight Princess, Resident Evil 4: Waggle and Umbrella Chronicles. The Kinect? Fucking Dance Central.

Again.

This time there’s 2-player drop-in/drop-out support in all modes and improved voice functionality, but that doesn’t sound so much like “improvements” as much as “shit that was purposefully left out of the first game to justify a sequel”.

That said, it’s good that Harmonix got out of the way of Activision’s disastrous Guitar Hero stewardship and as long as they stay solvent there’s always the chance to see a Vita/3DS update to Amplitude. But not as long as you idiots keep buying this tripe.

 


 

 

Dragon Ball Z: Ultimate Tenkaichi
Developer: Spike (The Fire Pro Westling dudes!)
Publisher: NamCai CamBo Games
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

 

I haven’t kept up with DBZ games since DBZ Legends for the Saturn, and looking at video for Ultimate Tenkaichi I sort of regret that. This game looks like a cross between a demented Macross mixed in with the world’s most ludicrously fast Quick Time Event-based gameplay and looks absolutely nothing like a traditional 1v1 fighter. I’m not sure if I could begin to control this game or even vaguely understand what’s going on, but I’m also intrigued to know if I can control the stupid thing. I just wish I could care about the game’s universe aside from the cell-shaded Toriyama artwork.

Luckily there’s a new Kirby game coming out this week so no one in the hardcore gaming community has to pretend this the week’s best game, but it should at least be decent. Whether it’s sixty dollars worth of “decent” depends on how much you’re into inexplicable grunting.

 


 

 

inviZimals: Shadow Zone
Developer Novarama
Publisher: SCEA
Platforms: Somehow The PlayStation Portable. No, really.

So I guess Augmented Reality games are A Thing now. That’s probably a good development; it stands to reason there’s more stuff you can do with a camera built into the back of a handheld gaming device than with a camera built into the front of your television.

This is Augmented Reality + Pokemon, this particular variation justified by using your local scenery as the background for your pet’s endless pit fights. This is a perfectly acceptable use of new technology, and simply proves that sooner or later every genre on the face of the earth will wind up with some sort of Pokemon variation. I just hope we survive as a culture long enough for Indieszero of Retro Game Challenge fame to attempt a Pokemon game where you collect and train other Pokemon Games.

There’s a few things about inviZimals that strikes me as odd, however:

1: It’s a PlayStation Portable exclusive game released in 2011. This is sorta like Halo 2600 only somehow less profitable.

2: This is a Pokemon game developed in Europe. I’m nearly positive this is in retaliation for the shameful portrayal of Spanish townsfolk in Resident Evil 4 and someone needs to put an end to this before it escalates further and Japan attempts to develop a playable and enjoyable followup to Heavy Rain.

3: Somehow these guys managed to develop an augmented reality game for the one handheld gaming device still sold that does not contain a built-in camera. So not to break the heart of the three kids who will get this awful thing for Christmas they have to give away the camera for free.

 


 

 

Just Dance Kids 2
Developer: Hell if I know
Publisher: I am not going to jail to be sodomized for you people
Platforms: Fuck you

I am only a week removed from visiting TRU for the annual Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale. There is absolutely no way I will run the risk of researching this game.

 


 

 

Kirby’s Return to Dreamland
Developer: HAL Labs
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Wii

As someone who views Kirby games and indeed most of the Nintendo library from the outside looking in, I find it hilarious that all of Kirby’s traditional enemies have simply given up trying to oppose Kirby’s nigh-unstoppable reign of terror and have joined common cause with him. Kirby made it clear in Epic Yarn that you either stand alongside him, or you will be eaten, your soul forever lost inside the formless pink eternal void.

By rights Return to Dreamland should be the best game released week-- It’s a Kirby game for chrissake, and Kirby games are almost always inventive and fun and worth checking out even if they do have a bad habit of not actually presenting an appreciable challenge, to the point where Epic Yarn only vaguely resembled what any sane person may describe as a video game.

It might not be possible to give Return to Dreamland an unqualified recommendation, though. For one thing it continues Nintendo’s strange fascination with co-op gameplay in a 2d platformer. While that worked insanely well for New Super Mario Brothers Wii (and probably had more to do with being the first full-sized console 2d Mario in ages more than anything else) it does have the unfortunate side effect that the game suffers when playing by one’s lonesome. Which would be fine on any other system than the Wii, as while Return to Dreamland is built around drop in/drop out anytime co-op, it’s strictly a one room, one TV experience.

Look, it’s great that Nintendo is trying to spearhead a 2d platforming console revival, even if it is sorta strange that Nintendo insists on selling these games on disc for full Wii MSRP. But they’ve gotta at least attempt to put online co-op in one of these multiplayer-centric platformers, if for no other reason then to see if people would be interested in using it. Kirby’s perfect for that; the game is stupid easy and everyone is invested in keeping Player One alive as if Kirby dies everyone dies-- it’s not a situation like New Super Mario Brothers Wii were the game is built around screwing over your partners and timing is important.

 



NEXT WEEK

 

Oh hey it’s a new Lord of the Rings game! Oh no wait Snowblind ignored thousands of pages of untapped Tolkien lore and wrote their won stupid story. Under no circumstance should you purchase THE LORD OF THE RINGS: WAR IN THE NORTH

For those keeping track GOLDENEYE: RELOADED is an HD remake of a Wii remake of an N64 game that is only remembered because somehow there once existed computers incapable of running Unreal Tournament. Meanwhile Panzer Dragoon 1,2 and Saga remain untouched and barely playable due to the Saturn’s graphical limitations. I am saying all this to remind you all once again that there is strong proof that there is no God.

But whatever UNCHARTED 3 is here to save us all and remind us to eat delicious SUBWAY SANDWICHES.