Earlier this week, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto claimed his company had failed to "communicate the value" of the Wii U to consumers, a turn of phrase that struck me as quite amusing. As a fan of It's Always Sunny in Phila...
When assessing a publisher's impact on the industry, we tend to focus on the highs rather than consistency. THQ was anything but consistent, putting out Nintendo DS shovelware, rushed licensed games, and taking part in one of the absolute worst games of all time with Mohawk & Headphone Jack. And yet, THQ occupies a warm place in our hearts. Those three letters represent some of the best times we had with games of the past decade, bringing unknown studios like Volition and Relic into the limelight.
Once we scraped off all the Bratz games and pet sims, we had a hard time determining THQ's top ten best.
Pokémon is practically a cultural institution. Every true child of the '90s knows every word to the theme song, lost a lot of their parents' money on the trading card game, and spent many dozens of hours testing playground rumors in the videogames.
Black 2 and White 2 are the latest handheld entries in the main series. Being the first direct sequels already represents a pretty significant break from the norm in a franchise that is notoriously resistant to change.
After 15 years, many of the mechanics are starting to show their age, despite the constant refinement. With almost 650 Pokémon now, the time investment is beyond reasonable for the average player. Still, Game Freak has done its best to keep things fresh, deep, and approachable -- a balancing act few can maneuver successfully. The developer falls short a bit too often, but manages another worthy, if at times frustrating, entry.
[Read on for a description of every Resident Evil game ever released in the US, and my completion of them all in 2012.]
Why Resident Evil?
This year, Capcom is pushing out three entirely new Resident Evil games -- it's also the 15th Anniversary of Resident Evil: Director's Cut, which is the first RE game I fully completed. So why am I playing the series in the first place?
Honestly, Resident Evil 1 was one of the first times, outside of Metal Gear Solid and Tenchu, where I was completely immersed in the game and its world. I remember plotting out where I'd gone in the mansion in a custom map at 10 years old (no guides), and wanting nothing else than seeing "what's next."
I couldn't get enough of the unique scenarios the game offered, like dogs crashing through a window, or a terrifying snake appearing out of nowhere. It wasn't necessarily the claustrophobia and the slow-moving zombies that made me love the series -- it was the sheer amount of variety the game offered up.
If you haven't joined me on my Quests before, the way they work is pretty simple. It's kind of like a retrospective, but rather than just give you an overview of a franchise, I'll generally let you know what I thought of the game when it was released, and what I think of it now. If I didn't provide a complete vision of what the game is like before I replay it, I'll provide an "extended thoughts" section below each applicable entry. I'll update my progress in real time through my blog, and after I finish the entire Quest, I'll share it with you guys on the front page.
Despite being one of the biggest influences on Japanese game development, we are only now getting a videogame out of Studio Ghibli. I am grateful that Ghibli chose to partner with Level-5, but I am also curious as to why and why now.
Ni no Kuni raises a lot of questions about how the partnership formed, how the two worked together, and whether we’ll see more games out of Ghibli in the future. I was given the rare opportunity to sit down with the directors of Ni no Kuni while at TGS. They were willing to shed some light on this unlikely partnership and where it may lead next.
Square Enix isn't shy about a Final Fantasy spin-off, always ready to milk the franchise a little more in the name of nostalgia and profit. It is surprising, then, that it's taken the publisher so long to exploit one of the most iconic elements of the series -- its music. That Square Enix didn't seize upon the idea of a Final Fantasy rhythm game sooner is nothing short of miraculous.
Of course, all ideas are obvious in hindsight, and most of them sound pretty damn great on paper. The final product needs more than a few bright concepts to see it through.
I haven't made a final decision as to what my favorite game at E3 2012 is yet, but Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS is right up there.
When DreamRift's game was announced a couple of months ago, I was shocked. Instead of just being a straight port of the 3D Epic Mickey sequels on other consoles, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is a brand-new 2D platformer releasing for the 3DS.
And just look at the game. It is beautiful. If you are a fan of any of the old Capcom Disney games for the Super Nintendo, you are going to lose your mind over this.
It's a bit odd for me to be the one recapping Nintendo's E3 2012 press conference, because I totally missed it. But, looking over what news has come out, I think I know how it went down. There was a guy with abs, Reggie got zombified, and they finally showed Pikmin 3. That's basically it, right?
Here is a recap of all the major news during the event:
As someone who owns a 3DS and doesn't feel compelled to get a Wii U at launch, I'm greatly looking forward to tomorrow's 3DS-specific showing from Nintendo. Not to be all jaded or anything, but E3 2013 is going to be so much more exciting. It has to be.
When the first screenshots for New Super Mario Bros. 2 were revealed last month, I had this crazy notion that Nintendo discovered a way to add DLC to NSMB on the DS. It wasn't until I saw that big "2" that I realized it was a full-blown sequel.
A new Mario game -- not some odd spinoff but a true Mario platformer -- ought to be cause for celebration. Instead, I was deeply concerned that I had trouble distinguishing this sequel from its predecessor. Why should I be? Isn't it typical for a new game in a series to look similar to the ones prior? Well, not when we're talking about Mario.
For over 25 years, the mainline Mario series has remained so revered and influential because each new entry is a Madonna-like reinvention. The core gameplay remains the same, but there are so many tweaks that range from the subtle to the overt, not the least of which are the sweeping visual redesigns. Each game's aesthetic is a unique signature, the mark of a self-contained adventure that feels familiar yet wholly unique, a testament on Nintendo's behalf to never cut corners when it comes to its premier franchise.
However, if those New Super Mario Bros. 2 screens are anything to go by, Nintendo has gotten lazy.
In Nintendo's year-end fiscal reports briefing, released tonight, the company lays out its future plans for digital distribution. Starting with New Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo will begin offering its retail packaged 3DS games digitally through the Nintendo eShop as well, with both versions releasing on the same day this August. This practice will also be standard on Wii U from the launch of that system.
Consumers will be able to purchase the digital versions directly on the eShop or from their favorite retailers, who will in turn give them a code which would then have to be entered in on the eShop. Now, the retail option sounds convoluted, and Nintendo even cops to that a bit in the statement but points out that the familiarity of the retail process is more comfortable for many of their consumers and that customers under a certain age who are unable to make payments by credit cards benefit from the option.
Pricing for digital games will be no different than their physical counterparts and that purchases from the eShop will reflect the MSRP of the retail product. Nintendo does point out, however, that retailers would be free to set their own prices, allowing consumers to benefit from promotions and so on.
Straight from tonight's Nintendo Direct stream comes New Super Mario Bros. 2, available this August for 3DS. Mario appears to have a gold transformation of sorts, and the Raccoon Leaf makes a PROPER return, as in Mario can actually use it to FLY. Take that, 3D Land!
This is just the first bit of news from the stream. Expect more throughout the night and possibly tomorrow.
Of all Nintendo's classic franchises, Kid Icarus is one that has sorely been lacking in love, with protagonist Pit's failing to make even a playable Super Smash Bros. appearance until Brawl rolled around in 2008. However, that all changed when the 3DS was officially announced and Kid Icarus: Uprising made itself known to the world.
With its unique control scheme and gameplay designed to show off the 3DS' always impressive visual trickery, Uprising tries to make good on Nintendo's promise of innovative handheld gameplay and graphics that can make jaws drop. However, to do that, you need a plastic stand that comes shipped with every copy of the game.
On that note, all I can say is that if your handheld game needs a static add-on in order to make it less unbearable to play ... you might have a problem.
[Update: Full comment from Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen after the jump]
For those who've never heard of the game, The Binding of Isaac is a smart, well designed, randomized little shoot 'em up RPG that's already a big hit on Steam. The game's aesthetic and design both pay homage to the original Legend of Zelda, which is just the start of why the game would have been a perfect fit for the 3DS eShop. Sadly, it looks like the game's "blasphemous" themes are not something that Nintendo will allow on their handheld.
This is insane. Can you imagine if Sony didn't allow the DVDs of the movie Sleepers to play on their TVs or DVD players because they didn't want a movie about childhood sexual abuse to be "associated" with their hardware? That sort of thing would never fly in the world of cinema, but it looks like that kind of thought policing is still acceptable in "lesser" art forms like videogames.
It's a disgusting and sad situation, and I can only hope that something is done soon to change the way both Nintendo, and the industry in general, views the role between the hardware developers and software artists. Videogames as a medium will never reach their full potential if they are continually treated with the kind of fear and disrespect they receive from the gaming industry itself, let alone from outside influences. To see that kind of totalitarian action coming down from one of the industry's most powerful entities is very troubling. This does not bode well for 3rd parties' relationship with Nintendo, or for the immediate future of creative freedom in the medium on the whole.
As is the case with each new generation of Pokémon games, there's going to be a third version to round out the newest set; except this time it's a third and fourth. It seems Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version will be getting direct sequels: Black/White 2.
If you've been keeping up with the latest entries to the series, then you'll know that Reshiram, Zekrom, and Kyurem filled this gen's "Legendary" roles with the former two gracing the games' covers. Had Game Freak stuck to their trend, this third game would feature Kyurem on the cover and most likely be dubbed the Gray Version. They didn't, and it isn't; this has me interested. The single image released so far shows what appears to be a fusion of both Reshiram and Zekrom with Kyurem. Since they were both originally the same being, that makes a lot of sense.
On the whole, I've loved the direction the series has gone in with the latest games and the idea of a direct sequel has me pretty excited. Look for it later this year on the plain ol' not-3D DS.
Kenner's range of amazing Aliens toys was, scientifically, the greatest thing about the nineties. These action figures took the idea of Xenomorphs inheriting genetic traits from their hosts -- as seen in Alien 3 -- and ran with it, designing Aliens with ludicrous physical properties loosely based on animals. The great irony is that, for something that jumped the shark so hard, there was never a Shark Alien.
There was a Bull Alien, however. And a Panther Alien. And, my personal favorite, the Killer Crab Alien. Not just a regular crab, my friends, but a killer one. That's scary, isn't it?
Oh yeah, and I've made some of these toys hold videogames for a few minutes, because that justifies a vapid list article, doesn't it?
While Resident Evil 4 is considered one of the best made games of all time, shifting the series from survival horror to combat-focused action left some fans with a vast, empty chasm in their hearts. The modern Resident Evil is tense, fast-paced, and exhilarating, but it's not horror.
Resident Evil: Revelations is not a committed return to the survival roots of Capcom's PlayStation titles. However, it is most certainly a compromise, an effort to bridge a gap between the strenuous horror-oriented titles of yesteryear with the many contemporary conveniences gamers expect today.
While at times the marriage between old and new presents a conflict, the experiment seems to have been an overall success.