Wallet Abuse Thursday February 10, 2011

This has been an awful week for video game news.

Hudson's gone.  I suppose that's no surprise to anyone; they did an absolutely horrible job of managing their franchises and no one remembers the TG-16 or Turbo Duo.  Activision just laid off 500 employees and announced the dissolution of the Guitar Hero and True Crime divisions, and Dragon Age 2 veers ever closer into playing more like Dynasty Warriors than Baldur's Gate.  Then Kotaku went disappeared forever amid a cascade of frames and flame line .gifs, which is fine because you all should have been reading Destructoid anyway. 

You know what else is awful?  This week's slate of video games.  But keep your heads up; your wallets will indeed suffer next week-- as will my release schedule.


Body and Brain Connection

Developer:  Nintendo, in association with Math Blasters LTD
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Platforms:  Xbox 360

Remember when Namco made games you wanted to play and the company had something resembling pride and self respect?

Well, that shit's over.  Much like a decrepit Ric Flair begging AJ Styles for a tenner to cover another week of ramen and microwave weenies, Namco has given up on any pretension of shame or quality.  I present you with Body and Brain Connection for Kinect.

In addition to contorting your body into shapes vaguely reminiscent of mathematical equations, there's stuff like a math soccer game where you solve basic arithmetic by kicking the ball representing the correct answer into the goal.  The whole enterprise seems like a strange milieu of Math Blasters and Wii Sports. 

Body and Brain Connection is going to sell sickeningly well.  Not only is it a a combination of all the things we despise about casual gaming mixed into a fetid vat of mainstream profitability; it's the first game released for Kinect since the Kinect launch window.  It's proven that these idiots will buy anything after buying a Kinect; Brain and Body Connection is going to sell more copies than the last five Tekken games combined.

Considering Namco's disastrous dalliance with Western development, one can easily see how the company will take away the wrong message from Body and Brain Connection's eminent success.  What's next?  New Rally X Bosconian - Pac Man?  Ace Combat:  Battle Over Poincaré Conjecture?  Tales of Long Division?


Hyperdimension Neptunia

Developer: Idea Factory
Publisher: NIS America
Platforms: Lastation 3

I was tempted to dismiss Hyperdimension Neptunia as yet another inexplicably Sony-exclusive NIS game no one could possibly care about-- lots of menus, chicks with purple hair, graphics vaguely reminiscent of a late-generation PSP game, distressingly underage female leads, the usual. 

But then I started doing some research (Which I assure the good reader had nothing to do with GIS'ing up images of said female leads) when I noticed something was really fucking weird about this particular NIS-published title, and I say that in reference to a company that will soon release a video game featuring lolis on bondage horses-- well, take a look at this:

That's weird, right?  Why would you name maps "lastation" and "leanbox"?  They sound vaguely familair, and why is Leanbox green and white and Lastation black and glowing blue?

What the fuck is even gong on here?

Wait a minute.  So this is the seventh-generation console war as told by a JRPG?  A JRPG sold exclusively on the PS3?

Did Idea Factory go and make the PlayStation 3 version of Segagaga?  And then not tell Sony about it?

What's strange about Hyperdimension Neptunia (aside from how the game is based on the relationship between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo as they fight off Apple, Inc AS TOLD VIA A JAPANESE ROLE PLAYING GAME) is that there's no mention on the official NIS site regarding the Sega-licensed guardian spirit summons from the Japanese original.  So it's hard to tell if that feature actually made it across the pond, although it's easy to imagine NIS America wouldn't have even bothered asking Sega of America for permission to use the likeness of Sonic in a game that features this:

One would imagine this thing is going to sell all of five copies; but somehow it's still easy to find copies of Disgaea 3 and Cross Edge for like twelve bucks at Gamestop.  Everyone reading this should probably get hold a copy if for no other reason than it's bizarre historical relevance, but don't feel pressured to pay sixty dollars for what's going to end up a bigger disaster than the war between 3d0 and Jaguar and CDi


Naruto Shippuden: Shinobi Rumble

Developer: Sega
Publisher: More Sega
Platforms: Sega Genesis Nintendo DS

Oh man!  Shinobi!  On the DS!  This is going to be even better than the time we inexplicably got a sequel to Legend of Kage --


(while we're on the subject, can we address the issue that the Naruto games are completely out of control?  I mean just look at this.  Does Takara-Tomy own the rights to the game they're currently distributing?  Shouldn't Namco-Bandai have something to do with this?  How did Atlus get involved?  Why is this game shipping in America before Japan?  NO ONE KNOWS.)


Test Drive Unlimited 2

Developer: Eden Games
Publisher: Atari
Platforms: PlayStation 3; Xbox 360

The guys at Polyphony Digital like to talk about the excesses they go to when producing Gran Trurismo games; from scanning in entire cars via lasers that measure sheet metal to resolutions in thousands of dpi to painstakingly recording each engine note using state-of-the-art high fidelity microphones to spending hours (and days, and weeks, and years) test driving cars on real-world tracks to accurately simulate every aspect in of their performance in digital form.  It also took Polyphony Digital six years and tens of millions of dollars to produce Gran Turismo 5, but such is the price of art.

When tasked against such high levels of performance for thee second Test Drive: Unlimited game, what did Eden Games do?  Well first they recreated the entire Mediterranean resort island of Ibiza.

Then they modeled a hundred different exotic cars to have something to tool about in, then included the entire island of Oahu from the first Test Drive: Unlimited because I mean, why not?  Data is cheap.  Also somehow in the middle of all this Eden managed to include damage modelling on vehicles and even a significant amount of off-road content.  Not too shabby considering Atari didn't even openly discuss TD:U2 until three years ago.

For those unfamiliar with the Test Drive Unlimited series-- and let it be known , I hold nothing but contempt for you all-- it's something of a sandbox racing game, having realized open world racing years ahead of Burnout: Paradise.  There's missions to perform (most of which involve ferrying about  suspicious white bundles), races to stumble upon, traffic to evade, and police to escape from.  It winds up being an odd mix of Grand Theft   and Forza Motorsport; only with less of an emphasis on vinyl layers and executing Italian Businessmen from the back of a stolen ice cream truck.

The first game was not without it's flaws.  It was largely aimless; the game had no problem at all letting you wander around as you looked for the next racing event.  Also the garage and character customizations were entirely pointless-- no one plays racing games to switch out virtual clothes in your fake Hawaiian home.  We have Avatars for that sort of thing nowadays.  Also since the game didn't have race tracks as much as it had arbitrarily selected sections of real-life roads, the races weren't always as enjoyable as they could be. 

But everything else about the game was a revelation and showed that the new generation of console hardware could do new and interesting things with even something as mundane as an arcade racer and in my opinion easily the best racing game on the 360 until Forza 2 was released.  It's entirely possible that TD:U2 represents little more than TD:U1 with more cars and another island, but I'd be happy with that.  Just give me a little more mission variety and I'd have no problem at all sinking another couple hundred hours into this.


Trinity: Souls of Zill O'll Zero

Developer: Omega Force
Publisher: Koei
Platforms: PlayStation 3

I'm going to assume that Souls of Zill O'll Zero is a real game that's releasing sometime this week and not part of some elaborate hoax that both Vgreleases and Whenitdrops have fallen victim to, but when I try to find information about Zill O'll Zero I find far more dummy links leading to GameFAQs-driven content farms than I do actual legitimate news sites.  Meaning that Koei has spent maybe three bucks advertising this game and has probably sent no review copies out whatsoever.  Which is probably for the best, considering:

Seeing as how this is a Koei game I'm going to assume it's yet another Musou variation, and seeing as it's billed as an "action RPG" in what little information I can dig up, that probably means it's Dynasty Warriors: Dragons And Shit Edition.

Here's what I don't understand about Koei/Tecmo's logic-- it couldn't have cost a trivial amount of money to localize a RPG for sale outside of Japan.  Trinity also represents Koei's first attempt at bringing the Zill O'll series to North America.  Given that, wouldn't it behoove Koei to spend at least as much money advertising this game as they did, I dunno, Dead or Alive Paradise?  Or  include a half-naked Hitomi playable character so at least Die Hard GameFan would pay attention to it?


You Don't Know Jack

Developer: Jellyvision Games
Publisher: THQ
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

I'm not going to pretend to understand why people would spend thirty dollars on a simulated game show in 2011 or why this game is sold on disc instead of through XBLA and PSN, but at least the writing is good and Cookie Masterson is back doing voices.  

You Don't Know Jack 2011 seems to have a particular issue in it's layout; where all the questions in any given episode play out exactly the same order.  Of course with 72 episodes at 10 questions each it's hard to imagine anyone memorizing all the possible answers (and if you were faced against someone capable of doing this then you were going to be slaughtered anyway), but it's still a troubling sign for the game's replayablility.  Also it seems like the sort of game that's designed more as a vehicle for DLC than as a compelling experience in it's own right.  Also there's the bizarre lack of inclusion for online multiplayer-- apparently modern latency prediction can allow someone in Singapore to Spinning Pile Driver a Ryu in Sheboygan but can do absolutely nothing for two shmucks trying to hit X at nearly the same instant from across Nevada.



Squeenix attempts to fight piracy the old fashioned way-- through art books and cloth maps with TACTICS OGRE:  LET US CLING TOGETHER

LEGO STAR WARS:  THE CLONE WARS asks the question how cool would it be if Lucas made some prequels to the classic Star Wars Trilogy to fit the animated series

And none of this matters because all of you will be playing MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3 anyway!