As you are well aware, the PlayStation Vita is utterly and completely doomed.
Vita games sold a grand total of three copies over the entire nation of Japan last week, and has at this point in it’s lifespan been outsold by the PlayStation Portable, the Nintendo 3DS, the Microsoft Zune HD, the WonderSwan Color and the Hitachi Arsenic View X300, an ill-fated but strangely popular console effort from Hitachi that had the unfortunate feature of pumping deadly arsenic directly into the user’s eyes. Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has written a formal apology to all three hundred Japanese Vita owners and has vowed to have all of the Vita’s hardware designers summarily executed on live TV immediately preceding the next airing of Naurto.
For some of you out there it’s possible-- albeit highly unlikely-- that you did not foresee Sony’s hilariously inept attempt at releasing a followup to the still mildly successful (and now remarkably cheap) PlayStation Portable and are left with 250 American dollars you are at a loss as to what to spend it on, as there’s no logical way a reasonable human being would spend such an exorbitant amount of money on a Sony handheld in 2012. Fortunately, I am here to help:
1: Japanese Import of Radiant Sivergun for the Saturn
Okay sure, you could just buy Radiant Silvergun in English on a system you already own, but where would be the fun in that? Plus, kanji-lettered Saturn covers just look insanely cool:
2: Radiant Silvergun for XBLA and a Japanese Xbox 360
For those who want to retain their Japanese street cred, but also want a system with more viability than the Vita in Japan.
3: A PlayStation Vita for me, Mark Bradshaw
Let’s face facts. I need to play Dragon’s Crown.
You need me to play Dragon’s Crown. Let’s work out a deal.
4: Most, if not all, of this week’s fine videogames:
Alan Wake’s American Nightmare
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade
Release Date: 2-22-12
What I've never understood about Alan Wake is Remedy’s refusal to embrace the parts that people liked about it the game in the first place. The storytelling, atmosphere, dialog and characterization of Alan Wake were all top notch, whereas the combat-- well, the combat is fine, for the first twenty minutes, but that twenty minutes is played out out for eight solid hours. Point flashlight at a monster until it’s vulnerable to gunfire, shoot that enemy while dodging other enemies that are trying to kill you, repeat. There’s flareguns and spotlights and a bevy of firearms involved, but they all provide the same basic function-- Point a light at something, then kill that thing. Or put even more simply, shoot something until you can shoot it with something else. It’s a solid concept, but also mind-numbingly simplistic and there aren’t enough enemy types to overcome the basic tedium.
Even Alan Wake’s most avid fans hate the combat, so it’s odd that combat has been Remedy’s focus through most of the original game and it’s DLC, including this XBLA-exclusive “sequel”. American Nightmare doubles down on the tedious through five more interminable hours, along with a ten minute long “survive ‘til daybreak” mode that features Alan trying to fight off a horde of shambling...shadow...things for ten solid minutes or you decide to wander off and play Gears of War instead.
Fifteen bucks for the only sequel Alan Wake is ever going to see sounds like a good idea, but that’s before you realize that Alan Wake itself only costs about twelve bucks.
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: 2-21-12
How many games in a particular formula do you need before you’ve crossed the line into a full fledged genre? If we’re allowed to expend the Heavy Rain/Asura’s Wrath concept out to games like Catherine, it would appear that the videogame industry has figured out what the anime industry has spent the better part of the past decade trying to pull off-- selling American audiences $60 anime packages wrapped around the barest scaffolding of a “video game”.
That said, I played the Asura’s Wrath demo and I actually enjoy what CyberConnect2 is going for here. It’s the western concept of movie-on-a-hand-crank that started off with Dragon’s Lair and transitioned into Heavy Rain, but with the Japanese sensibility of making everything you do feel really fucking cool. In Heavy Rain if you properly execute a QTE sequence properly then you manage to successfully lose track your son in a mall. In Asura’s Wrath if you properly execute a QTE then you punch Buddha into orbit, who then transforms into an Earth-sized Buddha robot, whom you then destroy by detonating a thermonuclear reaction via an island-sized fingertip. Plus, they managed to shove a rail shooter into the design doc, so it at leas somewhat resembles a full-fledged videogame if you tilt your head and squint hard enough.
I’m almost positive most of the internet’s backlash to Asura’s Wrath stems from Capcom’s outright refusal to be honest and upfront as to what sort of game it really is, and that’s a damned shame. While I’m not saying Asura’s Wrath is something I want to pay sixty dollars to experience, it’s definitely something I want to play in the near future.
Dynasty Warriors: The Vita Launch Version
Developer: Omega Force
Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Let’s go over the New Sony Console Checklist
- Highly regrettable Ridge Racer release? Check.
- New Wipeout release that will probably be the best looking game on the system for the next two years? Check.
- New fucking Dynasty Warriors? Check.
- Inexplicably well-produced version Hot Shots Golf? Check.
- Capcom Fighter of dubious utility given the inherent limitations of the control scheme? Check.
- Handheld version of a wildly popular console franchise produced by no one even remotely associated with the console original? Check.
- Complete and total refusal to acknowledge that Warhawk was the best reason to buy a PlayStation 1 for the first six months of it’s release? Check.
Is there really anything I can say about new Dynasty Warriors games at this point? Either you saw screenshots of this game and thought “More fucking Dynasty Warriors!” and pre-ordered your copy on Amazon on the spot or saw those same screenshots and though “More...fucking...Dynasty...Warriors” and immediately started drinking straight vodka while wishing for a world where Omega Team was instead born into Soviet Russia and sent to a gulag en masse to slowly die from starvation and cold.
To the latter, I can only assure my brethren that steps are already underway to strip Team Omega of their basic human rights and their plethora of wintel workstations re-purposed to a higher goal-- Road Rash HD. I would, however, like to address the former directly:
Presumably you own Dynasty Warriors: The Next Fucking One and purchased a Vita specifically so that you may never be without Dynasty Warriors in your life for even the barest fraction of a moment. I ask you though-- can you remember your life before it became a blur of eviscerated Japanese infantrymen and giant mecha? Do you have some vague inkling of what your family and loved ones looked like before Dynasty Warriors entered your life? Do you wake up in a cold sweat, crying out for the sweet, sweet embrace of fundamentally good game mechanics and a release from your tortured existence?
We’re here to help.
Publisher: Ignition Entertainment
Release Date: Some Amorphous Date Sometime in 2012 That IGN is Convinced is This Week, Somehow
I... guess? It’s hard to tell, Gamestop refuses to talk about the game; Amazon refuses to carry it, Wikipedia has disavowed all knowledge and it’s entirely possible UTV Ignition has fired it’s entire staff in the time it’s taken me to research this fucking game.
The gimmick to Fractured Soul appears to be the fact that you play via both 3d screens at once. Which will either be a mind-blowing, transcendent gaming experience, or the master plan of some alien intelligence as it attempts to infiltrate the mind of humanity-- possibly both. As of now though, it would appear to be a low-rent Shadow Complex brought to life by a studio who’s entire body of work is a seven year long effort do develop this videogame and an iPhone app called “Ringtone DJ”, which I’m going to assume tells one everything they need to know about the app via it’s very name.
On one hand it’s insanely cool that UTV Ignition would trust an unknown developer with funding for a game that’s so high concept that it needs three simultaneous screens to play properly-- on the other, there’s probably good reason why Ignition’s wikipedia page has more information about closed studios and sexual harassment lawsuits than actual published videogames. I want to like these guys but there’s absolutely no way the company will stay solvent through the end of the year. Hopefully they stay around long enough to release Hot Sex Witch Simulator 2012, aka Dragon’s Crown
Developer: VooFoo Studios
Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: 2-22-12
Remember downloading Hustle Kings for your PlayStation 3 2009 back in 2009? Well this is that again, but this time with specious touch controls and cross-compatibility with the PS3 version. Although this is probably the best (and possibly only) console pool game you can currently buy, I have to wonder exactly what the Venn Diagram for console gamers and people who are interested in real-life pool actually looks like, and if those people live in constant despair knowing that their genre of choice peaked with Lunar Pool back in 1987.
I want to say that one of the Grand Theft Auto 4 updates had a really good pool game in it, but I can’t remember. That’s the problem with bringing over bar games to consoles; there’s a good chance that someone has already utterly humiliated your best efforts in a throwaway minigame included midway through a mission everyone hated other than to keep a permanent save point created specifically as to play darts with alcoholic Russian immigrants. Perhaps worse, it’s entirely possible the best pool game possible exists in the middle of some unknown Wii minigame collection.
If there doesn’t exist a Road House videogame where you play darts and pool in between destroying drunken rednecks and running over Lincoln Towncars with monster trucks, there really needs to be.
Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater
Developer: Kojima Productions
Release Date: 2-21-12
I think that if everyone just admitted that MGS 3 was the best possible Metal Gear Solid and the one game from the entire series that anyone ever needed to play then we’d all lead happier lives; lives where we were allowed to forget that Raiden from Metal Gear Solid 2 ever existed, or anything from Metal Gear Solid 4 immediately following the microwave radiation room, or the fact that 95% of Metal Gear Solid 1 was spent staring at the HUD-mounted minimap like the world’s slowest game of Rally-X.
What remains to be seen is if Metal Gear Solid 3D is the best possible version of the best possible Metal Gear game, and after playing the demo I can’t say I’m in love with this port. While it’s remarkable that Kojima Productions managed to get most of the MGS controls to fit on a thumbstick and two shoulder buttons, the camera controls are far too clumsy. This experience may change significantly with the Circle Pad Pro, but the 3DS itself is a significantly different console with the CPP attached. I hope an acceptable control scheme is being hidden as an optional control method in the full game; I badly want to see what sort of mind fuck Kojima can come up with given 3d visuals and a stereoscopic camera.
Metal Gear Solid 3D always seemed like a sort of a tech demo for Kojima anyway, and I sincerely hope it does not portend a future for the 3DS as a home for clumsy PS2-era ports. The controls without a second thumbstick just aren’t there, and as we learned with the original DS, you really have to design games with the system’s limitations and advantages in mind.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus
Developer: Team Ninja
Platforms: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: 2-22-12
Speaking of handheld ports of PS2-era classics-- Ninja Gaiden Sigma Black Plus Jiggle Jiggle Touch Tournament Fighter Pro likely fares better than MGS3D. The buttons are all there and the Vita should easily match or better OxBox visuals. The problem is actually quite the opposite of Metal Gear Solid 3DS-- while the controls should be fine, NG1 doesn’t really seem like the sort of thing anyone would ever want to play on the go. Where MGS3 was shockingly modern for it’s time, NG1 was very much a product of it’s era with limited checkpointing, hard failure states, and a legendary degree of difficulty. Ninja Gaiden is the sort of game you zone out to; it’s not really meant to be picked up in five minute chunks, and it’s owners face the very real possibility of throwing their lavishly expensive handheld game system through the nearest wall in a fit of spider ninja induced rage.
If Team Ninja is intent on making sure as many people as possible play Ninja Gaiden 1 (then at some point they need to swallow their collective pride and remake the stupid thing using modern game design sensibilities. Ninja Gaiden 1 is a classic, one of the best games ever crafted, but in it’s current state it’s sort of like asking us to buy the idea of Bruce Willis as a serious action star. You know he’s up to it, you know few are better, but the whole thing just seems faintly ridiculous.
Developer: Bullfrog Productions
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Amiga, MS-DOS
Release Date: Sometime in 1993
I think I’ve flipped around on the idea of Syndicate 2012 and now hate it. Don’t get me wrong, I have no emotional attachment to the original game; I never played the silly thing and it honestly does not seem like anything I’d have been interested in in the first place. What I hate is the concept. It’s twenty twelve. The only people who remember the Syndicate “brand” are also the same people who are going to hate the fact that this game is treading upon that name. Grow some balls and use a new IP, for fuck’s sake, or at least reboot something that benefits from the concept.
The Deus Ex reboot made sense in that the first Deus Ex game was sort of broken and hard to play even at it’s release and had aged horribly over time. But it stayed in the same genre, kept the same feel, and above all honored the source material and it’s fans. Syndicate 2012 is the exact opposite of that. It’s not even the same genre anymore, for fuck’s sake. A cyberpunk RTS gangland game has become a vaguely futuristic highly stylized co-op based FPS game largely indistinct from any of the other vaguely futuristic highly stylized co-op based FPS games released over the past four or five years. What have we seen from Syndicate 2012 that couldn’t be readily confused with Brink, or Bodycount, or Black?
That was the great thing about the Deus Ex reboot-- the very first thing Eidos Montreal spoke of was creating a unique visual style. The whole concept seemed like hogwash at the time, and truth be told the entire “gold and black” aesthetic didn’t last much beyond Detroit, but it was immediately apparent that the developers were intent on not letting Human Revolution be mistaken for anything else other than a Deus Ex game. Syndicate? I don’t know. I hope I’m wrong, but it seems like Starbreeze are engaged in cargo-cult developer rather than trying to establish an ideal. That said, Escape from Butcher Bay proved that they’re capable of making excellent videogames; I’m just not sure what the point is to this specific release.
Oh sweet Jesus please tell me VGreleases.com isn’t fucking with me and let this be the week that BLACK KNIGHT SWORD is finally released.
I’m going to chose to be cautiously optimistic on BINARY DOMAIN and there’s nothing any of you people can do to stop me.
Meanwhile AWESOMENAUTS pushes the boundaries on words we thought were possible to stick the term “-nauts” at the end of.