Only three games this week and they’re all awful FUCK IT WE’LL DO IT LIVE
Mario Kart 7
Developer: Nintendo EAD; Retro Studios
Platform: Nintendo Handheld Mario Kart Delivery Platform
It’s hard to understate the importance of a Mario Kart to any given Nintendo console. If Mario Kart were an EA franchise then it’d get an update every year and they’d charge extra for online multiplayer. If it were an Activision game then it’d get three updates a year, charge for online multiplayer, and half the tracks would be DLC. If it were an Ubisoft game then it’d get an update every year, they’d charge for online multiplayer, and they’d cancel all PC ports because they figured everyone would just pirate it anyway. If it were a Valve game then it’d be given away for free and youd’ be charged money for hats.
Nintendo, they’re happy just releasing one update every console cycle and seeing that game chart in the NPDs for the next five years. Given that Nintendo owners are happy to buy a Mario Kart every time they buy a Nintendo system it’s remarkable that Nintendo bothers updating the game as much as they do-- I mean, it’s Nintendo, they’ll never update anything quite as much as you’d really like, but the fact that they bother tweaking the formula at all is commendable.
The 3DS version’s theme appears to be nostalgic wankery, half of the courses are pulled more or less directly from previous MK versions with the help of Retro (get it? GET IT?!) Studio’s help. Also it’s pulling in gameplay elements from previous MK games, such as collectable coins from Mario Kart 1 and apparently the random luck introduced from item use has been toned down considerably, with the promise that actual skill at driving will become more important in this version. From what I remember this is the first time a handheld MK has attempted full online multiplayer, which likely necessitated the drop in racer count to 8. Also in a nod to F-Zero GX you can buy upgrades and customize your kart this time around, although it’s as yet unclear how this change will be accepted in the cutthroat world of competitive MK racing.
I’ve personally always resented the Mario Kart series-- I feel that it’s pulled a lot of attention from the far superior F-Zero games (to the point where now it appears that Nintendo has abandoned the entire F-Zero franchise), and I still contend that it’s not so much a racing game as it is a party game dressed up as an arcade racer. Plus it’s sorta ruined mascot platformers as it’s now accepted that once a franchise becomes popular enough it has to get an accursed kart racer and that almost always sounds the death kneel for that particular series. Still I have to admit a certain perverse joy in constantly cycling out Princess Daisy in MK: Double Dash.
Also if Turn 10 is reading this-- if you guys had made as much improvement to Forza 4 as EAD did to MK7 without resorting to motion control gimmicks, more people would have updated from Forza 3. Just throwing that out there.
Platforms: Nintendo Wii
When you think about it, board games on consoles ought to work. A good board game is timeless and reaches across all age groups and are beloved by both gamers and non-gamers. But board games are a pain in the ass; they take forever to set up and there’s always lost pieces and at least one person is going to have to be shut out of most of the fun by presiding over the game itself.
Board games on a home console get rid of all that. The rules are there to be deciphered by the computer, the pieces are onscreen, and setup is as easy as selecting your character and hitting Start. Plus enormous television sets are shockingly cheap these days, it’s not like back in 1987 when we tried crowding around the family 19 inch console TV and tried to convince ourselves Monopoly on the Sega Master System worked Just Fine.
This though... I’m not so sure about. For one thing this isn’t based on a classic Western boardgame; it was developed specifically for game consoles and thus has a video game sensibility to it, such as warp pipes and rotating boards and any number of other elements that anyone reading this will figure as intuitive but nongamers will just as likely be confused. Plus, it’s inherently a Japanese game. Sure it’s based on Monopoly, but Monopoly is sorta boring and dense anyway. This is Japanese videogame Monopoly, as seen through the eyes of someone who makes Dragon Quest games for a living. That’s a lot of abstraction layers placed upon what’s already a fundamentally bad game.
Thirdly--and this is through no fault of the game itself, but still something most of it’s owners are going to have to come to terms with-- I get the feeling a lot of kids are going to see the Dragon Quest Slime and Mario on the cover of this thing in stores and be bitterly, bitterly disappointed come Christmastime.
I hope this works. Stripped of it’s social elements Carcassonne worked even better as an Xbox Live game than it did as a board game, and it stands to reason that there’s an entire untapped American market for board games that work as videogames, but I’m not sure if this is the videogame to do that.
The Adventures of Tintin
Developer: Ubisoft Montpelier Studios
Publisher: Effing Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS, De officiële Nederlandse NationaleSpeler van het Videospelletje
Tintin should work as a videogame, right? You have a nosey kid and his wacky drunken captain friend travelling the world and having adventures with a rad Jack Russell terrier. It’d be like Uncharted with 100% less awful gunfights and 100% more Jack Russell terriers. And if this game were inspired by and based on the comics, I’m sure Adventures of Tintin would make for a passable-to-great videogame experience. Unfortunately The Adventures of Tintin is instead based on the upcoming movie and games based on movies never ever ever turn out well.
Well okay almost never ever ever turn out well, save for very specific conditions where you can base the entire game around a psychotic Canadian and his love for cutting things in half. What I’m saying is this game is going to be bad and we knew it was going to be bad back at E3 when the trailer opened up with interviews with Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson instead of anyone associated with Montpelier Studios.
Which is all rather terrible because we all know this thing is going to sell an order of magnitude better than Rayman Origins, Michel Ancel will be forced to work on this game’s sequel rather than Beyond Good and Evil 2, and no one will learn their lessons. I really fucking hate the industry part of this industry.
DR LURATEC AND THE FORGOTTEN KINGS is the sort of thing I can look at the title, deduce that Konami is ripping of Professor Layton whole cloth, and walk away feeling depressed and dirty.
I HEART GEEKS is nowhere near the most shameful videogame Marc Ecko Productions has ever been involved with.
JUST DANCE 3 confuses and angers me as I’m nearly positive I talked about that thing sometime in October but I’m too lazy to verify
NONE OF THIS MATTERS BECAUSE I WILL BE INSTEAD SPEND THE ENTIRE WEEK EATING BBQ AND DRINKING SUN DROP AMID THE LUSH FORESTS OF HICKORY, NORTH CAROLINA. GO TO HELL!