It seems like the dry spell may be coming to an end for 3DS owners. We recently saw the opening of the 3DS eShop and its surprisingly tasteful selection of classic Gameboy games, and this week, the handheld is getting its first, definite must-have title in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Nintendo’s given Link’s classic N64 adventure some much-needed, modern visuals and what’s being called the best use of 3D yet. There’s also a convenient touchscreen menu interface (sure to come in handy for any submerged temples you come across) and a second quest that should give veterans something to do even if they’ve already memorized the original game. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve played Zelda 64, so I am officially interested. That’s +1 game I’d like to play on the 3DS.
Shadows of the Damned is decidedly different. It’s a third-person action game and a collaboration between Resident Evil‘s Shinji Mikami and the always-eyebrow-raising Suda 51. You can definitely see both developers’ influence as the game plays a bit like a new-school Resident Evil with a completely insane sense of humor, although both the action and characters feel pretty stale. For instance, the main character is yet another rugged, Hispanic man who constantly scowls and calls the bad guys cabrones. Is there a single person left who thinks this archetype is novel, let alone amusing? I have to give them credit for the neon-lit, Día de los Muertos-esque take on Hell, but I’ll probably pass on the game. I am totally itching to hear the soundtrack, though, which was provided by Silent Hill‘s Akira Yamaoka.
Finally, F.3.A.R. is out this week. I think I’ve mistakenly included it in a couple past Play More Games, only to find that it suffered yet another last-minute delay. I’m pretty sure you can actually buy it now. I’m 99% certain. Call ahead just in case.
Long have gamers waited for this day. When Final Fantasy VII first arrived on Western shores in 1997, few could have foreseen the extent to which it would change the gaming landscape. It turned an entire generation onto JRPGs starring spiky-haired heroes and started Square Enix (back then, simply “Square”) down the path to becoming a global superpublisher. Yet even after countless sequels and spinoffs, many of the series’s fans would argue that nothing has come close to recapturing the magic they experienced when they played Final Fantasy VII for the first time. For years, the fans pleaded with Square Enix for a remake.
Now, in 2011, they’ve delivered:is finally available for the PlayStation 3 after years in development. Similar to the PS3 tech demo first shown on the back in 2005, Reunion HD reunites players with Cloud Strife and the world of Final Fantasy VII, this time with the same imaginative environments rendered in real-time in 1080p and Nobuo Uematsu’s classic score, reorchestrated and presented in 7.1 surround. You’re also sure to run into all your favorite characters (and maybe a few new ones) along the way.
Before the release of Half-Life in 1998, people saw FPS games like Quake and that other game as a venue for shooting their friends. Now it’s impossible to read about a new FPS without hearing about the unprecedented levels of immersion, the advanced enemy AI, and the enthralling storyline. With each new Half-Life game, developer Valve has managed to push the boundaries of first-person shooters a little farther, and the results have been unequivocably brilliant.
This week’sis no different. (SPOILER WARNING) While it’s already been leaked that the game jumps ahead a bit and begins with Gordon Freeman and company already struggling over what to do with the experiment from the recovered Borealis vessel, where the story goes from there is anyone’s guess. Expect to see other players’ influence on your own trip through the campaign thanks to Valve’s new “enhanced singleplayer” philosophy, and keep an eye out for a surprise cameo from a popular Portal character. (No, it’s not who you think. No, not her, either.) Episode Three is available now in stores and, of course, via Steam.
Originally announced back in 1997, Duke Nukem Forever promised to be a wise-cracking, alien-blasting follow-up to the surprise hit, Duke Nukem 3D. During its comically long stint in development, we’ve seen entire series like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty rise up and conquer the industry. Gearbox Software, the developer who rescued the game from the husk of 3D Realms, is betting that Duke still has what it takes to win over a generation of gamers who probably never even played Duke 3D.
Early reviews paint a grim picture of a clunky first-person shooter that’s been muddled thanks to a decade of redesigns and developer departures, but let’s be realistic: There’s little chance any game could survive 14 years in development and come out intact, let alone live up to its hyperbolic expectations. Any well-informed gamer starting up DNF has hopefully tempered theirs and will understand what they’re getting: an artifact of a bygone era of gaming that’s been dragged into a new one via a near endless chain of questionable decisions. It’s here more as a formality—for our observation and for closure instead for entertainment—but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s finally here.
Yes, Duke Nukem Forever is out today.
Did you miss us? It’s been a while since there have been any notable releases, but a few stalwarts have decided to be brave and send a couple of their games out right in the middle of E3.
First out is Red Faction: Armageddon by Volition, Inc. If you’ve listened to any of our shows (especially last week’s), you already know that all three of us are hopeless fans of the previous game in the series because of its online multiplayer and signature destructible environments. You may also know that Volition caused a little controversy by removing the multiplayer component from Armageddon. I’d be lying if I said I’m not disappointed, but there’s still a lengthy singleplayer campaign where you get to shoot aliens with a huge arsenal of over-the-top, sci-fi weapons, including a gun that flings around whatever debris you can get in your sights. Of course, there’s a sledgehammer if you prefer to do things the old-fashioned way.
In addition to the campaign, there’s a four-player, cooperative horde mode called Infestation, and Ruin mode, which tasks you with obliterating every structure in sight with your weapon of choice. Many developers have dabbled with destructible environments in their recent games, but none of them deliver quite the same satisfaction that comes from watching structures crumble under their own weight as only Volition’s Geo-Mod 2 tech can accomplish. That destruction is front and center in Ruin mode, and I’ve got to confess that it’s a little addictive watching your score creep up as buildings collapse all around you. It’s definitely worth trying if you’ve got a penchant for putting holes in walls or giant laser beams.
It’s also worth paying attention to the audio as you play. Guerrilla already had fantastic surround sound support, but they seem to have taken extra special care with the sound effects this time. Explosions and gunfire sound are crisp and pack a real sonic punch, especially when you’re dual wielding some Banshee heavy pistols. There’s also a cool, eletronic vibe to the soundtrack, composed by Brian Reitzell.
As for competetive multiplayer, here’s hoping for its triumphant return in Red Faction 5.
The other big game out this week is Sucker Punch’s Infamous 2, which returns you to the shoes of Cole MacGrath. He’s still zapping bad guys and generally causing mayhem with his lightning powers, but this time he’ll do it in a new city that very much resembles New Orleans. The morality system that we discussed at length in episode 7 makes its return as well, although Sucker Punch promises your decisions will carry more weight this time around. Paul should be happy.
To coincide with their announcements at E3, Nintendo’s turned on the eShop for the 3DS. Just power on your system and apply the latest update to gain access to the 3DS’s lineup of downloadable titles and classic Gameboy games like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. The sooner you do it, the better, since they’re giving away a version of the NES classic Excitebike that’s been updated in 3D. I’m a little jealous.
Are you getting either of this week’s big games? Has E3 fever got you too preoccupied to actually play games? Let us know what you think of the new releases and any of the news coming out of E3 in the comments!
There’s just too much incredible music out there to fit into one show! In an attempt to cover even a fraction more of it, we’ve each collected a few more songs we think are worth listening to. It was still nearly impossible for me to narrow it down so there’s quite a bit on here, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to a few of the songs here. Let’s start with a few songs from my all-time favorite game composers, in no particular order:
It’s time. No matter how hard the gaming draught has hit you this month, there’s something for you to play this week.
Let’s start with the big one: If you’ve spent any time on the Internet in the last week, you probably already know that Portal 2 is out today. When I finished the first Portal, I told myself that I wouldn’t mind if they never made a sequel—the game was brilliant but so concise that I was afraid the wonderfully fresh concept would start to get stale if there was too much more of it. Apparently sometime between then and now I changed my mind, because now I can’t wait to get back to the lab to shoot some holes in walls.
The other big game out this week (maybe even bigger than Portal, depending on who you ask) is the ninth Mortal Kombat, which aims to return the series to its blood-spurting roots, before recent installments got bogged down with multiple fighting styles and DC superheroes. With fighting games enjoying something of a Renaissance thanks to Street Fighter IV, it’s high time Mortal Kombat tossed its razor-brimmed hat back into the ring, and this outing could be a real contender—based on the demo, the game feels a lot like Mortal Kombat II, which was arguably the high point of the series.
Also making its long-awaited return is the SOCOM series in SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy SEALs. As someone who loves the idea of a tactics-heavy shooter but spent most of his time in SOCOM Confrontation spectating from beyond the grave, I’ve been cautiously following SOCOM 4 since it was announced, including spending a few hours in last month’s beta. (Thanks for the beta code, kube!) Unfortunately, I came to a lot of the same conclusions shared by reviewers and SOCOM die-hards—developer Zipper has made some serious changes to the gameplay in an attempt to broaden the series’s appeal to the trigger-happy Call of Duty crowd, and as a result, SOCOM 4 doesn’t feel quite like older SOCOM games. However, Zipper has promised a litany of patches to return that classic feel to the game. For the sake of “Socrack” addicts everywhere, I hope they deliver sooner rather than later.
If you’re looking for something a little more whimsical, look no further than Square Enix’s Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection for the PSP. This is yet another rerelease of the Final Fantasy classic, but since this one happens to be my favorite of the series, I’m willing to let it slide. Whereas the recent DS remake of FF4 opted for full 3D graphics, this PSP version returns to the hand-drawn sprites of the SNES original, although they’ve bumped up the detail quite a bit and, for the most part, the results are gorgeous. The game also includes a similarly enhanced version of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years—a somewhat-extraneous follow-up to the events of FF4, and an interlude game that connects the two. Personally, I would be fine with just the original FF4, but I’m glad (I think) to have the opportunity to try this new chapter.
This last notable game this week, Dino Crisis 2, was a bit of a surprise, both when it originally came out in 2000 and when Sony announced its rerelease this weekend. Whereas the original Dino Crisis was a forgettable survival horror game (It’s like Resident Evil with dinosaurs!), DC2 transformed the series into a dinosaur shooting gallery where protagonists Regina and Dylan mow down wave after wave of giant reptiles with everything from dual submachineguns to anti-tank cannons. I played it just a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised to find that shooting dinosaurs was just as fun as I remembered. It’s out today on the PlayStation Network for a mere $6. If you need a break from everything else coming out this week, it’ll be waiting for you.
So what are you playing this week? Portal 2? Mortal Kombat? Both? (Portal Kombat!?) Let us know how you’ll be dividing up your time in the comments.
You know it’s a light release week when the highest profile game coming out is a PSP game: It’s Patapon 3! The Patapon tribe continues its trek across the land, this time with the help of some new hero Patapons. Players tired of making the lonely journey towards Earthend by themselves will be happy to know that they can play the entire game co-op with a friend online, which should help break up the monotony of alternating the same couple of button presses over, and over, and over again, every ten seconds, for hours. Seriously, Patapon: I want to love you so much. You’ve got a great art style, cute characters, and a silly soundtrack that remained stuck in my head long after I put down the original game, but all of those can only distract me from the monotonous gameplay for so long.
If Patapon’s not your thing, there’s always Michael Jackson: The Experience. It’s Kinect-enabled! And… yeah, OK. Just save your money for next week, because that’s when everything’s happening.
If you’ve had a chance to listen to Episode 6, you may have noticed there’s something different about it. That’s right: New intro music! I’m proud to announce that Video Game Hangover now opens and closes with the addictive chiptunes of Magnus “SoulEye” Pålsson, who you might recognize as the composer for Terry Cavanagh’s perilous VVVVVV!
If you haven’t played VVVVVV aren’t familiar with his work, his songs bring to mind the infectious melodies and low-fi simplicity of classic games like Mega Man, Legacy of the Wizard, and M.U.L.E. They perfectly suited a retro-styled game like VVVVVV, and to call the soundtrack “background music” would be unfair—SoulEye’s tracks immersed me within VVVVVV’s world as much as the gameplay itself. Beyond game music, he’s composed a number of catchy, original pieces, including a recent track for the Songs for the Cure charity album, Remedy.
The tracks we’re featuring on the show include one of his original compositions, “Krakbound,” and “Popular potpourri,” a VVVVVV medley. If you want to hear more, check out the digital music section of souleye.se for lots of original work, including the full version of Krakbound. You can also buy copies of PPPPPP (the VVVVVV soundtrack) and PPPPPPowerup! (a collection of remixed VVVVVV songs) in MP3, lossless FLAC, or even on CD. Whether you’ve played VVVVVV or not, definitely visit his site and then let him know how much his music rocks on Twitter!
If you make awesome videogame-inspired music and would like to be featured in future episodes of Video Game Hangover, get in touch with us at email@example.com.
PPPPPPowerup! cover image by Roger Svanlund.
Something really strange is happening in gaming right now. Just a few weeks ago, Konami and Arc System Works released their Contra-inspired sidescroller, Hard Corps: Uprising, with minimal fanfare. And it was amazing! After a long drought of games like it, its breakneck 2D shooting action was just what I needed. So imagine my surprise to find out that Moon Diver, the new game from Kouichi Yotsui, the creator of Strider, is out today. Like Strider, you spend much of the game climbing up walls and slicing enemies into pieces, except this time you can team up with three other people online. I don’t know why these developers decided it was time for a 2D action game revival, but you won’t hear any complaints from me. I’m anxiously awaiting my chance to press start when the game releases later today.
If you prefer your slicing to be single-player only, Dynasty Warriors 7 is out this week for PS3 and Xbox 360. Even if you’ve never played a Dynasty Warriors game, I think you know the drill at this point.
After what seems like an eternity in development, The 3rd Birthday is finally out on PSP this week. This game continues the story of Parasite Eve heroine Aya Brea as she battles the forces of (presumably) evil mitochondria. This time around, she’s got the ability to “zap” into other characters and take control of them as she fights through the streets of New York City. I’m pretty curious about this since I enjoyed the original Parasite Eve, although when you say “third-person shooter” and “PSP” in the same sentence, I start to worry about how well I’ll be able to shoot while trying to juggle the camera controls.
Finally, the final Mass Effect 2 downloadable mission, Arrival, goes live today. Without spoiling anything, it promises to bridge the gap in the storyline between Mass Effect 2 and 3. Now that all the bonus episodes are out, I might have to sit down finally have a marathon ME2 session so I can get caught up.
Oh, and lest I forget, DragonForce’s infamous “Through the Fire and Flames” comes to Rock Band 3 today. You’ve seen people melt their fingers off playing it on expert in Guitar Hero; now Rock Band owners get their chance. You can even play it in Pro Guitar mode. Here’s an idea of what to expect.
And one more thing… Nintendo released a new portable this week. Have you heard of it? The Nintendo 3DS is the successor to the much-loved DS and lets you play games in eye-busting 3D, without the need for special glasses. For our initial impressions, tune into Episode 6 later this week.
Until then, here are a few of the 3DS games that are out now and (probably) worth checking out:
Augmented Reality Games/Face Raiders (built-in) – These reality-warping games make use of the included AR cards and the 3DS’s camera to cause dragons to pop out of your coffee table, or to plaster your friends’ faces all over shootable targets, the latter of which sounds way more antisocial than it actually is. There’s not really an experience like this on any other platform, so definitely give this a try if you have the chance.
Nintendogs + Cats – If you’ve played Nintendogs, you probably know what to expect from this. Among the new features is an augmented reality mode that lets you view your virtual puppy or kitten in your real life surroundings. Just don’t let your actual pet find out.
Pilotwings Resort – It’s the Pilotwings we all know and love: Fly your glider or rocketbelt through rings and balloons and try to land on that target without incurring too many broken bones. Or more likely, try to land as hard as possible see if you can make your Mii scream like a lunatic.
Ridge Racer 3DS – It’s RIIIIDGE RACERRRR… in THREE DEEEE! Seriously though, you really can’t go wrong with Ridge Racer, and the 3D effects are supposed to be incredible.
Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition – This is actually probably my pick for the top 3DS launch game, and that’s completely ignoring the 3D features. With this, you get the full version of Super Street Fighter IV, on a portable, with real online play. There’s an over-the-shoulder camera mode for really showing off the 3D effect and it looks incredible, but is kind of impractical for actually playing the game. Still, portable Street Fighter!
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars – This might be the sleeper hit among the 3DS’s launch games. Instead of a third-person tactical shooter like the console Ghost Recon games, it’s a turn-based strategy game that’s more in line with Advance Wars. Also it has cool character names like Richter, Saffron, and Mint, which is worth bonus points in my book. Also, Tom Clancy.
There’s just under a week left until the Nintendo 3DS comes to North America. Have you ventured out to your favorite game store to try one out yet? Have you been counting down the days while desperately stockpiling up your cash? If so, there are at least six games coming out this week that would like you to reconsider.
As always, we’ve got at least a couple military first-person shooters. This week’s entries include Crysis 2 and F.E.A.R. 3 (pronounced “FTHREER”). I’m sparing Crysis some (but definitely not all) of my usual FPS disdain for a couple reasons: I actually enjoyed the first Crysis’s combination of sneakysneak gameplay and superpowered action, and I also had a good time with last week’s short-lived Crysis 2 multiplayer demo, which featured a couple of really well-designed maps and more of those nanotech-enabled superpowers, like leaping onto rooftops. The multiplayer comes from Crytek UK (who, as Randy mentioned in Episode 5, were previously Free Radical), so maybe I’ll check it out later on when I’m in the mood for some multiplayer shooting.
As for F.E.A.R. 3, I believe Randy (again, in Episode 5) described it as “another F.E.A.R. game,” or something to that effect. If you’re a fan of the series, spooky shooters, and/or the little girl from The Ring, it might be worth your time.
If your PSP needs a break from Tactics Ogre, you might try Dissidia 012 [duodecim] Final Fantasy, the expanded version of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy crossover fighting game and their most baffling game title since Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days. This edition adds even more classic Final Fantasy characters, including two of my favorites: Kain Highwind and Laguna Loire. Now I’ll finally be able to see who would win in a fight! Unfortunately I found the battle system in the first Dissidia to be nearly incomprehensible, so the answer is probably: whichever character the CPU picked.
At first I was a little confused to see there’s a new Lego Star Wars game coming out, since the first two games already covered all six movies. It turns out Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars won’t be retreading too much ground since it’s based on the Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV series and animated movie, the former of which I’ve heard is actually decent. (The latter, not so much.) Confession: I actually love the Lego Star Wars series because of its co-op friendly gameplay and silly, tongue-in-cheek interpretations of the Star Wars movies. I don’t know how interested I am in this one since I haven’t seen the series or film, but this is probably a solid bet if you’re looking for some lighthearted platforming and shooting. Obviously LucasArts hopes that’s the case, since they’re releasing it on every single current platform, including the 3DS when it launches next week.
In downloads, there’s the recently revealed Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, which is a twin stick, co-op shooter. It’s a sequel to 2009′s Ghostbusters game, although this time you play as a group of cadets instead of the original four. The top-down perspective brings back fond memories of sinking tons of quarters into the old Ghostbusters arcade game, although it remains to be seen how well this one will play. Luckily, there’s a demo. This is out on PSN today and Xbox Live tomorrow.
Finally, it’s not a new game but, since we’re all fans, I can’t avoid mentioning that Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood is out for the PC this week. Climb all over Renaissance-era Rome to stop a global conspiracy, and then play a little of the hide-and-seek multiplayer online.
Also, once again: If you can afford a few dollars out of your gaming budget (and really, we all can), please help those affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami by donating to the Japanese Red Cross or other charity of your choice.
It’s a good week to be a fan of games starring big-eyed characters with brightly colored clothes and/or hair. After a few weeks of big, Western releases like Killzone 3, Bulletstorm, and Dragon Age II, it’s time for Japan to show its hand.
Possibly the highest title on the list is Sega’s Yakuza 4 for the PS3, the latest (at least in America) in the long-running, open world series about Japanese mobster/babysitter/golfer Kazuma Kiryu. Despite mediocre US sales ever since the first game came out on the PS2 back in 2006, Sega continues to find the time and money to bring these games to its small but fiercely devoted fanbase. After all the controversy over Sega cutting some content from the Western release of Yakuza 3 because of budget constraints, those fans will be pleased to know that the only things cut from this installment are a trivia minigame and the original opening song, which had to be replaced because of a licensing issue. Players should still have plenty of stuff to keep themselves busy while Sega figures out whether to localize the latest Yakuza game, which is a strange mix of Japanese gangsters and zombies.
Because I’m a devoted Monster Hunter fanatic, I’ll probably have to pass on Gods Eater Burst, which is Namco’s answer to Capcom’s PSP monster-slaying phenomenon that has gripped Japan for the last half-decade. Gods Eater mixes things up a little from the Monster Hunter formula by—among other things—adding a jump button and letting players carry both a gun and a sword simultaneously, the latter of which transforms into a giant maw to consume weakened monsters. (I’m guessing that’s where the “god eating” comes in, unless there’s something I missed.) There’s also a lock-on targeting feature, which should be a godsend for anyone who couldn’t get the hang of using the infamous Monster Hunter claw grip to keep your quarry in sight. (Monster hunters, this is where you can either scoff and/or shake your head in disapproval.) So why am I skipping the game? Well, mainly because embarking on a new monster hunting career when I’ve still got hundreds of hours to go is my existing one just seems irresponsible. I have to admit, though: It’s tempting.
I talked a little about Hard Corps: Uprising a few weeks ago when it came out for the 360:
In game downloads, we’ve got Hard Corps: Uprising, which is a spiritual sequel to Contra: Hard Corps. This game has stayed pretty far under the radar, but all you need to know is it has classic, sidescrolling shooting action and gorgeous 2D graphics. Actually, all you really need to know is: SPREAD GUN!
Since then, I’ve been able to try the game on the 360 and it plays very much like an updated Contra or Metal Slug. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they’ve added a dash move to make your character a little more agile than previous Contra soldiers, and, although it wasn’t great for my character’s lifespan, I quite enjoyed trying to make it through as much of the level as possible while holding down the dash button and shooting wildly. I blame that on the hard rocking guitar soundtrack by Guilty Gear series composer Daisuke Ishiwatari, which was another pleasant surprise. No promises that I won’t try to do this during online co-op.
If you’re looking for something more relaxing, there’s Capcom’s Okamiden, the sequel to the PlayStation 2 action-adventure game starring goddess-turned-wolf and occasional Marvel vs. Capcom contender, Amaterasu. It’s good to see that the series’s distinctive, sumi-e-inspired visuals survived the transition to the DS. I imagine it’ll also be easier to accomplish all that cosmic paintbrushing using the DS’s stylus instead of an analog stick.
If you’re really into imaginary words, there’s Ar tonelico Qoga: Knell of Ar Ciel for the PS3, which is an RPG and the third and final game of this series which began on the PS2. I wish I could say more about it but I unfortunately don’t have much experience with the series, apart from really enjoying the few bits of the soundtrack that I’ve heard. Hopefully the voice acting is better this time around. (For the record, the music box stuff going on in that video is not the part of the soundtrack I was referring to.)
Finally, we’re getting another PS1 classic on the PSN Store this Tuesday. In order to build hype for the upcoming The 3rd Birthday (AKA Parasite Eve 3), Square Enix is bringing us the original Parasite Eve, which was their first big, multi-disc RPG after they got the world’s attention with Final Fantasy VII. I have extremely fond memories of this game, although sometimes I have to be reminded it exists—maybe because its contemporary New York setting and horror/thriller elements are so different from what I associate with Japanese RPGs. It’s definitely worth a look if you’ve never played it. Just take a look at this intro movie and try telling me that 1998 wasn’t a great year.
Whew! That was a lot of Japanese games. What are your options this week if you’re a Japanophobe, though? Well, there’s Homefront. It’s a first-person shooter where army men yell “HOLY SHIT!” and shoot machineguns. Sounds awesome!
And one last thing: I’d be remiss writing this Japan-centric Play More Games without mentioning that, even though I’m across the globe, I’m still reeling from the news of the terrible earthquake and tsunamis which struck Japan last week. As someone who’s gotten years of enjoyment and—just maybe—enrichment out of a pastime that’s so closely associated with the country, I feel like I have that much more reason to help provide aid to everyone affected over there. Through efforts like the annual Child’s Play Charity, gamers have shown their enormous capacity for generosity. Here’s another chance for us to give back. If you’re able, please find a charity to support or simply donate to the Japanese Red Cross. Even a few dollars could make a difference.
Update: We’ve mentioned on the show that we’re fans of CheapAssGamer.com, for many reasons. Not only are there some great people there, but the site owner (and Tokyo resident), CheapyD, has repeatedly shown himself to be a generous and upstanding individual. In fact, he’s just opened a CAGs for Japan Relief fund via GlobalGiving and will match donations up to $10,000. If you’re planning to make a donation to any charity for Japanese tsunami relief, I think this one is an excellent choice.
Q-Games’s brand new PSN game, PixelJunk Shooter 2, came out yesterday. If you haven’t played it yet, now’s your chance! We’re giving away a copy of the game for one lucky VGHangover fan. All you have to do is follow us on Twitter and tweet this message:
RT and follow @vghangover for a chance to win PixelJunk Shooter 2! http://bit.ly/dQRBJc #vghangover
The contest will run until Monday, March 7th at 3PM Eastern, and we’ll randomly choose a winner around 5 PM. Make sure you’re following us and include the #vghangover tag in your tweet so we can find your contest entry!
This contest was made possible by VGH fan and veteran trophy collector, freakyzeeky! Here’s what he has to say about PixelJunk Shooter 2:
I really think this game is a definite improvement over it’s predecessor due to the slightly challenging nature of the main game, whereas the first game felt like a walk in the park in comparison. The online portion of the game also did not feel ‘tacked on’, it’s pretty beefy, with multiple unlocks of weaponry, shooting styles, spells, and the like to keep you occupied, and like the first game, the trophies aren’t really that hard, as you’ll unlock most of them as you play through the campaign, which can be played solo or local co-op. I say buy it, it’s easily one of my favorite PSN titles to come out this year, and worth it’s $9.99 price tag.
Thanks, freaky, and good luck to everyone who enters!
I’m taking a short break from being completely absorbed in Tactics Ogre to remind you that, yes, there are still more games coming out this week. And best of all, unless you’re planning on picking up a copy of Fight Night Champion, you can get all of these without even leaving your house!
If you’ve got an Xbox 360, you’ll be happy to know that the HD remastering of the much-beloved Beyond Good & Evil arrives on XBLA on Wednesday. Originally released way back in 2003, this was the first game to successfully combine 3D action, photography, and talking pigs. At the risk of inciting an Internet riot, I have to be honest and say I don’t fully understand why this game receives quite the amount of gushing praise it does, but that’s not to say I didn’t have a great time playing through it and recommend you do the same. That is, again, if you have an Xbox, since this is yet another timed exclusive.
But don’t despair yet, PS3 owners! Q-Games feels your pain and has prescribed PixelJunk Shooter 2, the followup to their quirky game about a tiny spaceship that discovers that water and magma don’t always get along. (OK, they actually never do.) This first direct sequel in the PixelJunk series of games (unless you count PixelJunk Racers: 2nd Lap, and really, let’s not) features brand new worlds and an even brander newer online versus mode that lets you heap all kinds of geological calamity (or just old fashioned bullets, if you prefer) onto one of your soon-to-be-former friends. It’s out this Tuesday on PSN.
Also out on Tuesday are a couple more DLC packs, the first being the First Strike map pack for Call of Duty: Black Ops. It’s completed its exclusive tour of duty on the 360 and is now ready for patient PS3 gamers. The second DLC, coming to both PS3 and 360, is Dead Space 2: Severed, an add-on episode for Dead Space 2 starring a couple characters from Dead Space: Extraction. Spoiler alert: Limbs get cut off.
Lastly, Square Enix and Sony have a surprise gift for everyone this week in the form of a PS1 Classic: It’s Vagrant Story, the cult classic, dungeon crawling RPG that just happens to be the all-time favorite game of one of your VGHangover co-hosts. (Hint: It’s mine.) I could extol the virtues of this game for hours, but for everyone’s sake (and because I really need to get back to Tactics Ogre), I’ll summarize: It’s another game from Yasumi Matsuno and his dream team. This time around, he leaves the isometric battlefields of Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics behind in favor of a complex, 3D battle system where you customize your own weapons and combos. Enriching the experience are gorgeous art and graphics (despite this being a PS1 game, I think the visuals have aged quite well), Hitoshi Sakimoto’s magnum opus soundtrack, and, in true Yasumi Matsuno fashion, a twisting, mysterious plot where pretty much no one is who they appear to be. The game can be frustratingly harsh on new players, but if you stick with it and take the time to learn many of the intricacies, I think you’ll agree it’s one of the finest and most rewarding games out there. If you’re looking for a fresh, new experience, please check this one out and definitely let me know what you think of it.
If you want a closer look, check out the game’s trailer which first captivated me back in 1999:
The February games onslaught continues this week! I’m still pouring hours into Test Drive Unlimited 2, but hopefully I can find time for a few breaks from that to play Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. I already talked a bit about this in our 2011 preview post, so let me just be lazy and quote that here:
If you played RPGs or strategy games in the mid-90s, you already know the Ogre series is practically legendary. If you’ve never heard of it, this PSP remake is your chance to play one of the most revered tactical RPGs of all time, featuring strategic battles and an intricate storyline from the team behind some of my favorite games of all time, Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII. The remastered soundtrack by composers Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata may be enough reason to pick up a copy, although it pains me that the PSP speakers won’t do it justice. Finally, if you preorder this on Amazon, it comes with a set of tarot cards (series fans will understand) illustrated the game’s artist, Akihiko Yoshida.
Something I hinted at is that this is the latest game (or latest remake, anyway) from my favorite game designer, Yasumi Matsuno. With all the improvements in this version, you might even consider it a director’s cut. For a little background info on the production, here’s a great Q&A with director Hiroshi Minagawa, who previously was the art director for Ogre Battle, the original Tactics Ogre and Vagrant Story.
I picked up Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation for the DS a couple days early on Saturday at a Gamestop signing event. Series creator Yuji Horii was there, and I’ll be talking a little about that in Episode 4. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll be getting to the actual game for a while because of Tactics Ogre (and the fact that I still haven’t played the DS versions of DQ4 and 5), but I’m still really looking forward to it since it’s brand new to the U.S. and is supposedly Yuji Horii’s favorite of the series.
The big game for most people this week is probably Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds for the PS3 and 360. Fans have been begging for it for years and it’s been the subject of countless fake screenshots and April Fool’s jokes, but now it’s finally here. I haven’t been a big fan of the VS. series since the original Marvel vs. Capcom, but maybe I’ll play a little Marvel vs. Capcom 2 on PSN this week to see if it changes my mind. I’m really disappointed and still pretty surprised that neither Strider Hiryu nor Captain Commando made it into MvC3, though. Those guys are MvC!
Before writing this, I didn’t know anything about the PS3′s Hyperdimension Neptunia other than the fact that it had a really cool name. It looked like a super, super-Japanese turn-based RPG full of scantilly clad anime girls. In a bizarre meta-twist, though, the plot is a loose allegory for the current console war and features characters based on the three major consoles. (Watch for the black, green, and white heroines in this trailer.) This might be a hit with people who thought Game Dev Story needed more combat and boobs.
In game downloads, we’ve got Hard Corps: Uprising, which is a spiritual sequel to Contra: Hard Corps. This game has stayed pretty far under the radar, but all you need to know is it has classic, sidescrolling shooting action and gorgeous 2D graphics. Actually, all you really need to know is: SPREAD GUN! This is out this Wednesday on Xbox Live Arcade and will be coming to PlayStation Network at some point in the future. Since we established in Episode 3 that we’re all huge Contra fans, I can’t wait to play some online co-op.
Last, but definitely not least, Splinter Cell: Conviction is out for the Mac on Thursday. This game made both Randy and my best of 2010 lists, so if you’re a Mac owner and you haven’t already played in on 360 or PC, definitely give it a try.
Are you picking anything up this week? Who’s on your Marvel vs. Capcom 3 dream team? Let us know in the comments!
I have a confession to make: After doing my best to hype up Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 last week, I didn’t actually buy it. Grin’s track record (the original BCR was their only game that wasn’t critically panned), the lack of reviews, and just a general skepticism surrounding Fatshark, the game’s partially Grin-staffed developer, made me cautious. Then there was that whole debacle about the PS3 version of the game requiring an Internet connection even though it’s an offline game. I was a little torn because on one hand, that’s an absurd practice that I don’t want to support. But on the other hand, I really did want the game! Then the mediocre review scores started rolling in and I didn’t feel as bad anymore.
Fortunately, there are still tons of games coming out this month for me to play instead. What’s out this week?
Leading the charge is the long-awaited Test Drive Unlimited 2, the sequel to one of my favorite driving games. I’m looking forward to cruising around Ibiza and eventually Hawaii, taking in the scenery and occasionally crashing into things, possibly including other players since the game populates the streets with everyone else playing the game. I hope there’s not too much congestion on launch day. This is out for PS3, 360 and PC, and is actually a merciful $50 in a world of $60 games.
Next is Mario Sports Mix for the Wii, where the multi-talented plumber proves he’s also adept at basketball, volleyball, hockey, and… dodgeball? Why not? I’ll admit I’m a little curious in this since I enjoyed Mario Hoops 3-on-3 on the DS, despite the awful, awful theme song (Don’t even click that.) and the fact that it didn’t have online play. This one does, so if the gameplay is similar, it could be a winner. Also, while looking up which sports are actually in the game, I discovered that Dragon Quest‘s slime makes a cameo, and he can apparently play volleyball. I’m going to try really hard to resist.
This was a surprise to me: There’s a new version of the hit 90s trivia game You Don’t Know Jack coming to just about every major platform. (Sorry, PSP owners!) You can now spend hours infuriating your friends with inane trivia over the Internet, which reminds me: Follow me on Twitter!
The last game on the list this week is Popcap’s Plants vs. Zombies on PSN. Maybe you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’ve played it on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Xbox Live Arcade, or even performed a breakdance homage to it because you’re some weirdo from L.A. Until now, though, there’s a good chance you haven’t played it on your PS3. Sunflower…
Finally, in a bizarre alternate reality, Portal 2 is out today and not on April 19th.
What are you playing this week? Can a slime even play volleyball? What form of personal expression do you think most wholly conveys the neverending struggle between the undead and foliage? Let us know in the comments!
While I was putting together my list for our 2011 preview episode a few weeks ago, I was horrified to realize that most of the games I’m looking forward to this year are coming out in February. Well, it’s February now, so what can we expect?
Actually, it seems like everyone took this week off because there’s just a small handful of games coming out. But that’s OK, because one of them is Bionic Commando Rearmed 2, the all-new sequel to Grin’s remake of the NES classic platformer. Series fans are a little worried by hero Nathan “Rad” Spencer’s newfound ability to jump, but as long as this game delivers more of the sublime platforming and shooting action the series is known for, it’s all good. (There’s actually a trophy/achievement for finishing the game without jumping, so you purists will get a shiny, virtual medal at the end.) BCR2 also has 100% more mustache than the original.
It’s not exactly a game, but Harmonix is releasing The Clash’s classic London Calling for Rock Band 3 this week. That’s not the song—it’s the whole album! Some tracks will support Pro Guitar and Pro Bass modes, too. Check out the Rock Band blog for a list.
The UnderGarden comes to the PlayStation Network this week, after coming out for PC and XBLA a few months ago. In it, you control some goofy-looking creatures as they float around luminous caves and solve some physics-based puzzles. It’s a good choice if you just feel like relaxing on the couch instead of grabbing your M41A or whatever you’re using to murder extraterrestrials lately.
Finally, there’s a new map pack out for Call of Duty: Black Ops for the Xbox 360, featuring five new maps—one of which, I’m told, involves Nazi zombies. Because of Microsoft’s exclusivity agreement, PC and PS3 Call of Duty fans can expect these maps sometime in early 2018.
Are you looking forward to anything else coming out this week? Which London Calling song are you playing first, or are you just going to run through the whole album? Let us know in the comments!
#5: Splinter Cell: Conviction
I’ve admittedly played very little Splinter Cell prior to Conviction, but it was still easy to see how much of a departure this game was from the rest of the series. Instead of the calm government operative he was in the earlier games, Conviction’s Sam Fisher is a free agent calling his own shots, and it has a huge impact on the gameplay. Everything feels very organic and on-the-fly, and without your support team chattering in your ear all the time, there’s a great sense that you’re really on your own. The main storyline is short, but it moves along so briskly that I had a hard time putting the controller down, expecting another shocking twist to be around the next corner. Also noteworthy is the multiplayer co-op campaign, which serves as a prequel to the main story and has one of the most memorable finales ever.