So I'm back.
I apologize for leaving you all without updates for the better part of the past month-- those of who who keep up with the (sorta) weekly Beardcast know that I've spent most of this time vacillating between a rather abrupt apartment move and rocking myself gently back and forth in the nearest dark corner.
Its been... an interesting experience. And it kinda annoys me in that between Dead Space 2, Venetica, Lost in Shadow, Little Big Planet 2 and IloMilo, this has been a rather strong month for video games, and with Marvel vs Capcom, Test Drive Unlimited 2 and Bulletstorm, February is going to be amazing as well.
I just, y'know. Wish I were coming back on any one of those other weeks. Of the four games vgreleases will admit to knowing about this week:
- One is a Brain Training knockoff, as apparently it is still legal sell Brain Training knockoffs in 2011
- One is a first party game for the Wii and thus releasing Sunday (and is a god damned dirty Wii Sports derivative)
- One is....
I don't even know what the fuck.
- And one happens to be a sequel (to a remake) of one of the best games of all time. So let's start there.
Bionic Commando ReArmed 2
Platforms: PlayStation Network; Xbox Live Arcade
For the purists freaking out over the inclusion of a jump button-- Yes, it is dumb. No, it should not be there. But that's fine, because you don't need it. Consider the jump button the same thing as "casual easy" mode on Bayonetta and never pay it any mind. It's there for people who don't understand that the feature they're using makes the game inherently less fun. Its like if you took the whip away from Simon Belmont and gave him Megaman's arm cannon. Sure it is basically the same game, but what's the point?
I got to play a little bit of ReArmed 2 when it was demo'ed at NYCC last year. And if you loved Bionic Commando NES or ReArmed 1, then you're gong to love this. If you didn't love either, well. You're going to hate this game. Also you're destroying America and you make Michelle Obama weep.
All of which makes the inclusion of the jump button rather odd. Bionic Commando was the videogame that brought us grappling. Its entire gameplay is based upon the conceit that you can't just waltz over to any old platform and leap over to it like some uncouth savage like Mario. No, you had to find a way to grapple or swing your way over to the platform and if you couldn't reach it then you were less of a man. Including the jump button isn't going to make anyone who hated ReArmed love this game.
Also, I'm concerned about these Fatshark guys. Why Capcom didn't tap one of the seven different companies formed after the dissolution of GRIN is baffling; I can only assume someone at Capcom is a huge fan of Lead and Gold and is also a raving lunatic.
Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove
Platforms: Nintendo DS
Okay so maybe I was being a bit harsh on this week's selection, as out of four games released you have one very good game and one that's at least very fucking weird. In this case, Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove, which is a goth loli Elite Beat Agents.
What's neat about this video is how blatant the Natsume spokesman is regarding Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove's inspiration. Yup. This is Elite Beat Agents. And that's fine; its been over four years since EBA came to America. The statute of limitation on having to pretend you're doing anything new there has long since run out. Also it's good to see the goth community put in a positive light after the horrible damage done by Stephanie Meyer.
Tangentially; if you find yourself in need of a Tim Burton-inspired EBA-- and if you're not, what the fuck is wrong with you-- you may want to pick up Gabrielle's Ghostly Groove as soon as you lay eyes on it. Gamestop refuses to believe this game exists at all and Amazon randomly fluctuates between being in-stock and listing a release date of sometime in early May. Like 9 Doors this is probably going to wind up one of those late-release niche DS titles that only ships a dozen copies across all fifty states.
Junior Brain Trainer 2
Developer: Cyber Planet
Publisher: Maximum Family Games
Platforms: Nintendo DS
The gods of Nintendo game quality giveth; the gods of Nintendo game quality take away.
So this is apparently a kid's version of the rather more compelling (and better selling) Brain Training, although it's hard to tell exactly what kids they're trying to sell to. After all, if your child is cognizant enough to be trusted with a DS, chances are they don't need help with:
Moving things from one location to another, or:
Identifying deadly animals, or:
Naming the days of the week.
In fact I'm not even quite sure why you'd need a game to explain any of this at all ; although it's possible that Sesame Street has given up on teaching children that Monday comes before Tuesday in lieu of selling more Elmo merchandise. Although it does come with a rather sadistic-looking version of Space Invaders:
So maybe there is some small amount of value to this game for parents seeking to teach their children necessary skills. Although it should be noted that you could buy your child a copy of Space Invaders Extreme for the same price, but that's probably more of a "cool uncle" gift. Not that I'm advocating that you buy your child Junior Brain Training 2. In fact if you do so you're likely to cause the sort of repressed childhood resentment that doesn't become exposed until it comes time to pick out your retirement home.
Mario Sports Mix
Developer: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo Wii
Hey kids, remember the days when Nintendo would release well-polished, full-sized single-sport Mario sports games? Yeah well it's 2011, Wii Sports made more money than Coca-Cola and Squeenix needs a paycheck or they can't finish Final Fantasy 14.
Mario Sports Mix is probably decent enough; although you've no doubt noticed the distinct lack of a Motion Plus sticker. Also it's weird that Squeenix has at some point become Nintendo's go-to third party developer for basketball games instead of, y'know. Mario roleplaying games.
Square Enix's collaboration does allow for interesting roster updates. In addition to the usual incestuous Mario franchise mix, you get a rang of cutsey Final Fantasy figures such as White Mage, Ninja, Black Mage and Moogle, as well as Dragon Quest's iconic Slime. This also now means that the shared Mario Basketball universe not only includes every NBA starter from 2005, but also most of the cast of 8-Bit Theatre.
The roster of events in Mario Sports Mix is sort of bullshit. Nevermind the bit where Reggie had no idea that Nintendo had previously released a basketball game, a lot of these games seem like lazy copies of one another. Take for instance the inclusion of field hockey and ice hockey. What sort of asshole is going to willingly play field hockey when ice hockey is sitting right there? They're probably even using the same physics and just a green field texture instead of white. The game has volleyball but also dodgeball, which is basically volleyball where you aim at people instead of the ground.
All of which makes the lack of a tennis mode all the more baffling. I mean, the Volleyball court is sitting right there. The only rational conclusion is that Squeenix fears Camelot.
- This funny feeling in my pants can only mean that TEST DRIVE UNLIMITED 2 is on it's way!
- HYPERDIMENSION NEPTUNE sure does look like a NIS PS3 exclusive JRPG, yessir.
- If everyone is playing YOU DON'T KNOW JACK does it mean there's still time to stop myself from trading in Chrono Trigger to Babbage's?