Archive for September, 2010

Franchise and Series

The word franchise is used a) way too often and b) totally incorrectly in gaming. Look at the Wikipedia listing of video game franchises. Most of them are simply series of games.

A franchise is an IP with a) multiple sequels, b) spin-offs, c) adaptations into other forms of media and d) merchandise. Take Mario. On top of the original 2D and 3D series, there is the Party series, the Sports games, at least three cartoons, a feature length movie, comics, toys, playing cards, trading cards, lunchboxes, and even a damn cereal.

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Q2 and Q3 Capsule Reviews

Some lazy sod didn’t update his site for 5 months because he was too busy studying and playing those games he spends his hard earned on. Rather than just post capsules on new releases from the quarter, I thought it might be better to look at everything I played in that time. Then we might be able to do something with all of the capsules one day.

A Boy & His Blob: Rescue of Princess Blobbette
Charming shrunk down version of the NES game that’s not nearly as hard, and thus over in under 10 minutes. You can live without it.

Alan Wake
Once ambitious project gets released in what is essentially corridor shooter form with a dumb plot masquerading as something with deeper meaning, accompanied by shallow, lightweight shooting mechanics and some pointless collection. High production values and a lovely collector’s edition, though.

Alone in the Dark: Inferno
Highly flawed game gets second chance, but still has major problems where it counts and now looks worse due to poor upscaling and washed out colours.

Alpha Protocol
Entertaining light RPG with a somewhat compelling plot, let down by half-baked implementation of otherwise great ideas, absence of polish, glitches out the wahoo and poor combat.

Armored Core 4
Rock solid mech simulator is highly inaccessible. Stiff learning curve, but a deep customisation system will reward those who stick with it. Unfortunately that requires more patience than most will have.

Bangai-O Spirits
Simply crazy puzzle game masquerading as a shooter. Might disappoint fans of the original with its more puzzle oriented gameplay, but still a class act.

Blitz: The League II
Over the top sports effort goes a little too far with figurative “ball-busting” injuries, illegal steriods and off-field fraternising. Game is moderately enjoyable once you break the Midway Arcade AI™, but easily skippable.

Burnout Revenge
Sullies the good name of the series with cheating AI, never-ending challenges with low variety and an over-reliance on online antics over solo play.

Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Third GBA outing of long-running series eliminates problems with second game, though the result is absolutely fantastic thanks to some creative gameplay systems and a great departure in plot, it ends up being somewhat brief. All the more reason to play more than once.

Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Inspired but problematic. Gets caught up with that whole light world/dark world thing that nobody likes. Game is still enjoyable in spite of this artificial padding and by-numbers design.

Contra 4
A return to form for troubled series. Challenging gameplay without the needlessly cheap difficulty spikes of other games that inspire to be tough. Lovely sprite based art and a really detailed series history section are icing on the cake.

Crime Fighters
Side-scrolling brawler briefly amuses with bosses paying homage to slasher film villains, yet lacks the gusto and depth of its contemporaries.

Crush
Perspective-based puzzle initially amazes with its plane-crushing system, then grows increasingly annoying and imprecise to the point of depression induction.

Dante’s Inferno
Match God of War’s braindead, piss-easy combat system with some really messed up character design. Easily missable. Should have been called something else.

Dead Rising 2: Case Zero
Verbose but brief teaser whets one’s appetite for upcoming mass zombie slaughtering sequel.

Dirt 2
Varied rally game messes it up with grotesque extreme sports-inspired presentation. Not nearly enough point-to-point racing.

Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce
Monster Hunter x Romance of the Three Kingdoms will eat you alive if you don’t have three dedicated compatriots. Finding three other people who like Dynasty Warriors is impossible.

Excite Truck
Adrenaline-pumping racer is a little rough, but succeeds where others fail by remembering that video games are fun.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin
Fails to scare, but succeeds in boring.

Fight Night Round 2
Left in the dust by its successors, but still gives you everything you need in a boxing game, plus a free copy of Super Punch Out!! on the GameCube version.

Global Defence Force
Middle entry in the series blows others away with ridiculous number of varied missions, monstrous armory, jet-pack laden secondary character and the ridiculous over-the-top monster busting action you’ve come to enjoy.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Well executed handheld iteration gives players plenty to do without compromising the vision of the series. Late game frustration is delivered by the truckload, though.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Revisits series’ best setting with a bunch of new ideas. A little repetitive in mission design at times, but otherwise a strong entry.

Guitar Hero 5
Over-the-hill series doesn’t know when to quit.

Kirby Super Star
Ensemble cast of Kirby-inspired games is a treat. Cute, challenging and well-presented.

Klonoa (Wii)
Remake of fixed plane platformer proves that original was remembered more for its rarity than its quality.

Klonoa Beach Volleyball
Sickeningly cutesy volleyball game suffers from absence of difficulty and anything resembling depth.

Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX
The best Zelda outing on handhelds gives players a substantially different setting while maintaining the best of the series’ tropes. Playing for the first time provided indisputable proof that a love of retro games is not positively correlated with strength of nostalgic feelings.

LEGO Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues
Revisiting of classic Indy movies abandons adventure style stages of original for some puzzle and combat-oriented stages which just prove outright annoying. Half the package dedicated to fourth movie, which nobody really likes, making it even worse.

LittleBigPlanet (PSP)
Handheld outing of beloved PS3 game proves ridiculously frustrating due to more-prounounced control inaccuracy.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Multi-event sports fest will exhaust your patience before your body due to unwieldy controls.

Mega Man & Bass
Best 16-bit outing if played as Bass. By-numbers game if played as Mega Man. The choice is easy.

Mega Man 2
Far better stage design and an amazing soundtrack make this the best classic Mega Man game. Only goes downhill from here.

Mega Man ZX
Heavy reliance on backtracking and multitude of frustrating sections overshadow an otherwise competent platformer with high production values.

Mega Man ZX Advent
Corrects the problems of its predecessor while improving upon its strengths. A much neater and therefore more enjoyable experience.

Metal Gear Solid GBC
The best handheld MGS game without a doubt. Brings gameplay lessons learned from the 3D games back to the 2D style, and adds an intriguing story without the wallbangers the series later became famous for.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Strong MGS outing takes a few too many lessons from Monster Hunter. Will have you battling controls more than battling the enemy. Should have come with DualShock support.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops +
Multiplayer mission pack provides more of the same. Should have been used to retcon awful story of original.

Metroid Fusion
A game which excels in virtually every aspect. May seem overbearing compared to previous 2D outings, but it’s for the best.

Metroid: Other M
Cinematic approach is a drastic departure from classic series style, but accomplishes what it needed to. Seems a little fiddly at first, but ultimately proves to be an adventure worth experiencing.

Metroid Prime Pinball
Non-sensical pinball outing has great production values and sound, but just isn’t any fun.

Metroid Prime Trilogy
Three class acts on one disc. Implementation of new control style into older games is well-executed and the cohesion between the three games in the package was a neat surprise.

Metroid: Zero Mission
This is how you breathe new life into an old-fossil. Not only a classy remake through and through, but the additional sections are of an astonishing quality.

No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
The real desperate struggle is to stay awake during the over-the-top story scenes which were already played out by the end of the first game. Corrects mistakes made in the first game, but doesn’t really go far enough.

Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad
Chicks in hot outfits slashing up zombies. Somehow manages to become boring quickly.

Pokemon Sapphire
Even the weakest Pokemon outing is still far better than most games. Seems like the cut out more than they added in, but the core gameplay is still fantastic.

Punch Out!!
Not all that different gameplay wise, but all that proves is that the original’s gameplay is timeless. A layer of new paint is all this baby needed, and the visual and aural upgrade here is simply amazing.

Red Dead Redemption
The sheer attention to detail made when creating the game world is what separates this from its ilk. Throw in a fantastic story and high quality gameplay, and you’ll soon see why this was 70 million well spent.

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
It’s the ultimate version of one of the greatest games ever made. All of the extras from the PS2 version with an amazing control system and a true anamorphic widescreen display mode.

Saboteur
Artistically and conceptually strong game fails to deliver where it counts.

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters DS
Somehwat complicated card battle game does very poor job of explaining itself. Better once you’ve come to grips with it, but that might take longer than you are willing to give it.

Sonic Rush
Pretty typical Dimps Sonic outing – none of the momentum based platforming that made the originals classics. Too fast, too many bottomless pits and crappy boss fights. Nice music, though.

Splinter Cell Conviction
Typical flavour of the month outing from Ubisoft. Really dumb story and the stealth/tactical gameplay that made the series what it was is abandoned in favour of straight up gunplay.

Star Fox Command
Really weak attempt to give Star Fox a bit of strategic depth. Unfortunately, that’s not what any Star Fox player wants.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
12 years in the making, this sequel pretty much does everything you ask of it. Production values are insane, the Battle.Net system is great, and its friendly to less-talented players.

Super Dodgeball Brawlers
Sequel to classic GBA game just doesn’t have the same level of depth or variety.

Super Street Fighter IV
New characters, balance tweaks, better netcode and all the usual stuff. Still a high quality product.

Tekken 6
Too much focus given to an ill-thought out single player campaign at the expense of everything else.

Tokyo Beat Down
Amusing parody of American cop movies suffers from shockingly shallow gameplay, even by beat ’em up standards.

UFC 2009 Undisputed
Excellent first outing for the reborn UFC franchise. Learning curve is a little step, but players prepared to spend the time learning the ropes are rewarded.

Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble
Smash Bros inspired brawler is fun, but let down by some really frustrating missions and questionable design decisions.

Wario Land II
Wario’s no Mario, but the game gives you everything you want in a platformer, and rewards players who are prepared to look in every nook and cranny.

Wario Ware DIY
Nintendo’s micro game maker gives you the tools to make some ridiculous stuff, but the real stars are the in-depth tutorials that teach you everything you need to know about making these tiny games.

Wheelman
Another one of those me-too open-world games with no substance. Some of the car stunts are cool, but the game is totally forgettable.

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Oh look, a post!

Poor Frothing Demand hasn’t got much love this year. It’s mainly because I haven’t been paying too much attention to new releases this year. There will be new rants coming today – part of an agreement with myself to allow Red Bull consumption today.

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