Wallet Abuse Weekly March 6-12: This Day We Are All Weeaboo.

So this week's theme was going to be about Federal Magistrate Joseph Spero's decision to allow Sony access to the IPs everyone who viewed Geohot's PlayStation3 cracking youtube video; and how we're all going to jail soon because watching a video is a thoughtcrime equal to cracking hardware you legally purchased-- which isn't a crime at all, but whatever.  The point was, we're all going to jail soon!  It was going to feature a list of the horrible things Sony would do to people conviced of watching this video, most of them lifted from Feudal Japan, and be titled "The Inescapable Wrath of Lord Sony Sama".  It would be mildly racist and awful and mainly used to poke fun at NeoGAF's Sony Defense Force.

Then this happened:

And I realized I'd feel like a jerk if I actually went through with that.

As much as I poke fun at Japan and the otaku culture that surrounds Japan worship in America, the fact is I'm a gamer and that means I have to love Japan, too.  If it weren't for Japan we'd all be stuck playing Zork and Freecell on our Pentium III-level PCs, or worse, Trevor McFur in Crescent Galaxies.  Virtually every game that we love today stemmed from something the Japanese gaming industry created decades ago, and chances are it was done better.

As insane as Japan can be, they generally do everything better than everyone else.  So this week, I'll compare every new game release with something better from Japan you could be playing instead.  Or instead of playing videogames you could do something useful and drop a few dollars into relief efforts.  This time, Japan needs you.


 


Dragon Age 2: No Subtitle Needed
Developer:  Bioware
Publisher:  Electronic Arts
Platforms:  PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 

Let me start off by saying that Dragon Age 2 is probably fine.

In fact, if you take into account Bioware's track record, it stands to reason that Dragon Age 2 is probably exceptional.  PC Gamer has already given it an Editor's Choice award and states it has "the best RPG Combat ever" (although I'm not terribly familiar with the differences between DA2 PC and DA2 PS360).  And a lot of the same concerns I have about Dragon Age 2 vs Dragon Age 1 were the same complaints I had about Mass Effect 2, and I can now accept that Mass Effect 2 is a better game than Mass Effect 1.

That said.  I can at this point only judge Dragon Age 2 vs the demo and the impressions I can collect in the media and right now, I'm not entirely convinced I'm going to like this game.  Oh, I'm going to buy Dragon Age 2.  I'm going to buy it, play the fuck out of it, run through the game twice as I always do; buy the DLC; commission erotic fanfic; buy the footie pajamas.  But man, I'm not sure I'm going to like Dragon Age 2.

Yes, this is hypocritical of me. Maybe it's that I hold Bioware's efforts in such high regard that I'm disappointed when the game I wanted to play isn't the game Bioware had any intention of delivering.  Or maybe it's that it's annoying to see Bioware willing to deconstruct the very idea of a role-playing game while leaving the Bioware plot formula intact since Knights of the Old Republic.  Or maybe it's just the ad campaign and the image EA insists on presenting that has nothing to do with the games Bioware produces.

Or maybe it's that the main character's name is fucking Hawke.

..and it's not even the good Hawke.

Fuck you, Dragon Age 2.

BETTER JAPANESE GAME YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING INSTEAD 

PERSONA 4!

Look, if you're going to play a dating sim with poorly designed dungeons at least play one with a competent artstyle.

 


 


MLB 2k11
Developer:  Visual Concepts
Publisher:  2k Sports
Platforms:  Everything 

As in most opinions not directly relatied to music, I agree with Jeff Gerstmann on videogame baseball-- the moment we had to aim the bat was the moment these games became intolerable.

The running subplot with the 2k MLB games (since acquiring exclusive 3rd party rights from Major League Baseball at any rate) is that they're awful and no one would ever play them if they had access to Sony's MLB The Show instead.  Visual Concepts tried to address these concerns since the disastrous and nearly franchise-ruining MLB 09.  This year there is a greater emphasis on realistic fielding-- Good fielders have a bigger "window" for missed throws and fewer things go wrong even if you fuck up the throw-- and there's a new fully analog mechanic to pitching.  Also players can get into the same sorts of performance slumps and hot streaks as they do in real life.  

All of which to say is that MLB 2k11 is a horrifyingly complex videogame built for the same audience that can't wrap thier mind around such concepts as "air dash" or "down down-right right fierce".  

Sports games are wierd like that.  You could put any average football loving bro or middle-aged dad in front of any given Madden update and they'll be entertained for hours.  Give that same person something like Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre-- games that are ssubstantially less complex -- and they'll wander off in short order.  NASCAR fans put up with bullshit like draft order, baseball fans understand the intricacies of Roy Halladay's throwing motion, basketball fans know how a fast break will play out just by looking at how players are reacting to the rebound, and most of these people cannot understand Pokemon. 

Oh yeah.  Don't buy this game if you have a PlayStation 2/3/Portable and can play The Show instead.

But you already knew that.

BETTER JAPANESE GAME YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING INSTEAD 

SNK BASEBALL STARS 2

Is it asking so much for a baseball game not to be as dry and tedious as the sport itself without resorting to the Backyard Sports series?  I can understand why this works with games like Forza and Gran Turismo as they're about car porn and wish fulfillment and there's five hundred fun arcade racers released every year; but all the noteworthy baseball games are more intimating than a Bill James spreadsheet.

 



MLB 2011 The Show
Developer:  SCE San Diego Studio
Publisher:  Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms:   PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, PlayStation 3

Here's a fun question-- How many millions of dollars do you think Sony lost by being unable to sell The Show across all platforms?  Would it make up for they money they've lost on the PlayStation 3 misadventure?

I mean, the entire MLB 2K franchise operates around the idea that they don't have to compete with Sony in 90% of the market.  There would be no reason for gamers to buy MLB2k if The Show was available to them-- surely the 2k series still makes more money, right?  Or maybe I'm reading this all wrong and most baseball fans caved in and bought a PS3 after 2k 09.

The big gameplay change this year is to bring all the throwing, pitching and batting to the analog sticks, something the 2k series has done for a while, but The Show still lets you play using the face buttons if you still don't cotton to the idea of playing your video baseball game as a video golf game instead.  Oddly while The Show supports the Move wand, it only does so for the Home Run Derby minigame portion, and even then the game doesn't bother modeling a hitting motion even though it's fully capable of doing so.

The RPG-influence Road To The Show is a little easier this time and remains the best reason not to bother with the 2k Sports offering.

BETTER JAPANESE GAME YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING INSTEAD

RBI BASEBALL

This series started off life as Pro Yakyuu Family Stadium for the NES and the version that eventually turned into RBI Baseball '93 for the Sega Genesis remains the last baseball game I've ever played.  I do not regret this decision.

 


 


Phantom Brave: The Hermuda Triangle
Developer:  Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher:  NIS America
Platforms:  For some inscrutable reason the PlayStation Portable

NIS is intent, for reasons that betray all logic, to port this seven-year-old PS2 strategy RPG to as many platforms that will not support software sales as possible.  At least since it's move from the Wii to the PSP Phantom Brave is getting smaller and thus theoretically more portable.  Provided NIS remains solvent, this means we can look forward to Phantom Brave ports for the Wanderswan, the Lynx Mk II and ultimately a version that will be packaged inside unsold Tamagotchi casings and given away in Happy Meals.

At least the EU release makes sense in that it's only going to be sold on PlayStation Network and thus (in theory, at least) playable on a PSP.  Still, it's 2011, why does NIS bother printing discs at all?  Surely the costs inherent in buying the tens of thousands of UMDs they're never ever going to sell far outstrips buying an XBLA/WiiWare/PSN liscense.  

On a wholly tangential note, I keep meaning to buy Phantom Brave but  get confused and return home with copies of La Pucelle instead.  It's getting annoying.  And expensive.  At least now Phantom Brave is free.

BETTER JAPANESE GAME YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING INSTEAD

 
PHANTOM BRAVE: THE HERMUDA TRIANGLE

Turns out playing a NIS Strat-RPG on a PSP is the most Japanese thing you can do that doesn't involve invading Manchuria.  So play this game anyway, but before doing so force your significant other to cosplay as your favorite Death Note character.

 


YooStar in the Movies II
Developer:  Blitz Games
Publisher:  Namco Bandai
Platforms:  Kinect

It's on Kintect, and it's a karaoke game where you don't even sing.  This thing is like three levels of not-game and it's probably the only HD title Namco will sell this year that will make money.  

In other news, Blitz Games Studios might be the worst developer in the world.  At least Zoo Games and Majesco are essentially harmless in that thier crap usually stays in the budget rack in the DS section. Meanwhile Blitz does stuff like this, where they try to pass of matching the movements of Ben Stiller as acceptable mainstream gaming,  and in the rare event when they try to make a "serious" videogame you wind up with Retribution: Dead to Rights.  As with most awful things in life, this is mostly Namco's fault-- Namco even let Blitz fuck around with Pac-Man.

Stop enabling these people, Namco!

BETTER JAPANESE GAME YOU SHOULD BE PLAYING INSTEAD

PAC-MAN CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION DELUXE

Because someone needs to remember when Namco had some actual pride in it's craft.  That time being sometime before the release of Enslaved.


Next week~!

Sega refuses to learn anything and now we have YAKUZA 4 to show for it!

THQ refused to buy the rights to Red Dawn and now we have HOMEFRONT instead! 

None of that matters because you should be playing OKAMIDEN anyway!