Okay yes, I don't have a witty intro. However, I have a perfectly valid excuse for my lack of professional behavior: I was playing Borderlands 2 instead. You people don't get to tell me what to do anymore, I have a rocket launcher that shoots acid missiles.
In related news, I totally went against my own advice and bought Borderlands 2 for sixty dollars instead of waiting for it to go on a Steam sale. Tune in next week when I reveal I married a 19 year old nursing student and own a 1975 MGB!
Angry Birds Trilogy
Developer: Rovio Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS
The funny thing about creating a pop culture gaming phenomenon is how utterly difficult it is to stay relevant once you get to the point where you can start selling t-shirts in JC Penny. Basically it requires a good Second Idea-- this is why Nintendo’s managed to stay culturally relevant for nearly three decades, they’ve had more million-selling Second Ideas than most companies have outstanding First Ideas. Same for Capcom, although it’s only recently that we’ve begun to understand the cultural impact of Megaman and Street Fighter. Sega had a ton of legit Second Ideas after Sonic were they not cursed with the business acumen of an Amish pig farmer, whereas Square followed up on so many of it’s own Second Ideas that it is hard to remember that their greatest pop culture success occurred seven games into the Final Fantasy franchise.
Namco never really had a good Second Idea for Pac-Man. They would go on to create Galaga and a handful of other classics, but they never really stayed culturally relevant. Space Invaders defined an entire industry, but Tatio didn’t have a post-Space Invaders plan. Now they’re owned by Square Enix and have a monthly operating budget roughly the same as Nitrobeard’s yearly server cost.
We were convinced Rovio Entertainment’s Angry Birds series was to herald the end of gaming as we know it. The success of Angry Birds dominated the mainstream gaming conversation for the entirety of 2011 and a good chunk of 2012--- until it became obvious Rovio didn't have that Second Idea. Proof of that is that the best way they could think of to stay relevant was to bundle the Angry Birds “trilogy” onto a disc and attempt to sell it to the .2% of gamers who somehow didn’t have access to a smartphone.
Now the End of Gaming As We Know It exists in the form of Imangi Studios’ Temple Run. They probably don’t have a good Second Idea either, but if they’re smart they’ll convince Sega to license the concept and finally produce a good 3d Sonic game.
Dead or Alive 5
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Tecmo Bandai
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
A couple weeks ago I wrote about Tekken Tag Tournament Two and remarked on how odd it was that Tekken had existed for so long without really ever finding its niche as a balls-out crazy-ass version of Virtua Fighter that also doubled as a fun, accessible 3d fighter-- without remembering that the reason why Tekken never found that niche was because DoA was happily sitting in it the whole time. Well. More sort of wobbling than sitting, but you get the idea.
Team Ninja has been clever in not wearing out Dead or Alive’s welcome, while at the same time maximizing the use of the series’ cache by spreading it’s story and characters out out to side games such as the (sometimes) excellent Ninja Gaiden games or the (consistently) exploitative Dead or Alive Xtreme series. By doing that, Temco has more or less keep releasing the exact same game with a slightly expanded cast since 1996 and no one really seems to mind because the space between games is enough to remind us that we actually like playing Dead or Alive, despite it’s stupid faults.
Dead or Alive 5 might be more of the same formula, but it’s encouraging to Tecmo fans who now have proof that Team Ninja is capable of producing a quality video game without Itagaki’s guidance.
Any discussion of Dead or Alive 5 would be incomplete without addressing Dead or Alive's baggage. Great big wobbling fleshy pouches of baggage.
It’s not that DoA’ character designs are sexist and sleazy and feel vaguely scummy-- because don’t get me wrong, the entire DoA universe is sexist and sleazy and feels vaguely scummy-- but it also feels so very played out.
Okay. Fine. Women characters in games (and fighting game ladies in particular) have unreasonable secondary sexual characteristics. We get it. Is it just asking so much not to have Helena strut around in lingerie while obstinately running the world’s most powerful corporation? Can Ayane be allowed to grow out of her mid teens? Why does Kasumi look less like a ninja assassin and more like a fetish model?
Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
Developer: Studio Arkedo
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox 360
We have entered the stage of weepy game nostalgia-wank where studios have run out of good, legitimate things to feel nostalgic about-- Stuff like Scott Pilgrim vs The World, or Pac-Man CE DX-- and are now mining the nostalgia pits for things that we absolutely should not feel nostalgic for at all: 90’s mascot platformers.
Not saying that Hell Yeah! is a bad game-- far from it, it is wonderful and everyone needs to play it-- but its calling for bygone days that I knew for a fact were bad because I lived through them. Nearly everything about the 90’s were overrated save for Bill Clinton and Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and if we go about trying to update every bad, kitschy moment from that decade then someone’s going to get it in their head to remake Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and I refuse to live in a universe that would allow that.
Marvel vs. Capcom Origins
Developer: Capcom (Go get fucked, Backbone!)
Platforms: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
In August Capcom released JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure on XBLA. It was a criminally barebones port of a beloved (albeit fantastically niche) Dreamcast-era fighter. Capcom charged twenty dollars for the privilege of playing JoJo and everyone hated Capcom for it.
A little over a month after that, Capcom released this game, Marvel vs Capcom Origins-- a compilation package of Marvel vs Capcom 1 and Marvel Super Heroes, with both games receiving the same excellent treatment Street Fighter Alpha III XBLA received nearly a year ago, all for the shockingly low price of fifteen American dollars.
Now here’s the thing-- Capcom never actually listens to negative feedback. If they did they wouldn't have put DLC on the Resident Evil 6 disc after the Street Fighter vs Tekken fiasco, nor would they keep trolling the Megaman fanbase. So the stellar package represented by Marvel vs Capcom Origin isn’t a reaction to complaints to last month’s release. Instead, it is obvious that someone in Capcom hates Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and knowingly set it out to die.
...you know what, maybe JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure had it coming.
Anyway, with this package we now have a digital back catalog of all of Capcom’s Marvel series, which serves as a pretty nice demarcation point where Capcom’s superhero fighting games lost their fucking minds, for better or for worse. Sure, X-Men: Children of the Atom was insane, but it wasn’t “Hulk flies into the asteroid belt and throws a dark carbonaceous object atop your lifeless body” insane.
That said, this package faces the same issue all ports of long running series face. Regardless of how amazing Marvel Super Heroes may be, it’s hard to justify spending a lot of time with it when you know full well you could be playing Marvel vs Capcom 2 instead. This is an instant purchase for fanboys of the series, but otherwise it’s purely a historical novelty, although the real-time stat tracking is a nice bonus.
Developer: PlayStation C.L.A.M.P.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platforms: PlayStation Network
Tokyo Jungle is one of those batshit crazy Japanese ideas that were prevalent on the PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 that for some reason vanished when Sony became aware of it’s own success and started allowing it’s first person developers to take five years to release a single game.
While surreal, it’s also a remarkably simple concept. Humans have, for reasons unexplained, left Earth. Maybe their dead, maybe they went away on spaceships, maybe everyone finally played enough Temple Run that their brains turned to mush and they’re unable to leave their homes. Whatever the reason, the consequences are that after several years the cities have become overrun with wildlife and our pets and zoo animals must now fend for themselves. In Tokyo Jungle plays as a series of selectable animals with thier own objective-- the Beagle wants to overthrow the tyranny of the local Tosa Inu war lord. the Tosa Inu must in turn escape a pack of vengeance-seeing beagles. There’s a pair of deer looking for their mother amid the streets of Tokyo while avoiding lions-- there’s a lioness that must hunt for prey for her children. There is a Pomeranian (whose name may or may not be “Missile”, but really should be regardless) simply looking for more dog food.
Now, there are two sorts of people in this world, and they can be defined bytheir reaction to the above paragraph. The one, provided the own a PS3, immediately started browsing the PlayStation Network to see if Tokyo Jungle was on sale yet.
If you are the second type of person, you have come here in error.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertaiment
Platforms: PlayStation Network
I don’t think you could find a more fitting swan song for Psygnosis, and I laud Sony giving the legendary Liverpool developer a chance to remind everyone of what was possibly their finest work-- sure, while Wipeout HD was an excellent Wipeout game, Wipeout 3 is always going to be the definitive Wipeout in my mind, having done some truly amazing wizardry using the humble original PlayStation wait what do you mean the “other” Wipeout 3--
Sega probably didn’t do enoughto make NIGHTS INTO DREAMS enjoyable and/or playable to anyone who wasn’t already in love with it a decade and a half ago but whatever I get to play Nights without having to hook up my Saturn, y’all can go to hell
RESIDENT EVIL SIX: It’s awful!
There’s never been a point in my life where I’ve felt compelled to play a Sly Cooper game, so don’t expect me to care about SLY COOPER: THIEVES IN TIME, either!