Monthly Archives: March 2012

On Video Game Prices and DLC: Greedy Businesses Are Always Trying to Stay Profitable

I worried, for a while, when I realized the time was approaching when I would have no choice but to write the article you are about to read.  I worried that the opinions contained herein would be extremely unpopular.  Then I realized that as a journalist, sometimes it’s my job to highlight unpopular opinions for the greater good.  And even more importantly, I realized that as an increasingly cranky old man my opinions are often facts.  So let me tell you a few things, kids.  I’ve been gaming on home consoles since the industry was but a mere toddler.  I remember a time before anybody knew what a Nintendo was.  I’ve seen the industry shift a lot over the past 30 years, but never have I seen so many gamers so convinced that they were somehow getting scammed.  From gaming message boards to mobile app stores, it seems like “greedy developers trying to make money” is a pretty hot topic these days.  From the $60 price tag on new games to Satan’s own marketing ploy, the dreaded DLC, gamers have their collective panties in a twist anytime anybody tries to charge them money for anything.  And to that ever-growing and ever-more irritable substrata of game enthusiasts, I confidently proclaim, “You are objectively wrong.  Untwist those panties, and stop being wrong, for once in your life”.  Let me help you.  Read the rest of this entry

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare

The latest title from Finnish developer Remedy Entertainment, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is the highly anticipated follow-up to their 2010 hit Alan Wake.  Currently it is an Xbox 360 exclusive, and was released on the Xbox Live Marketplace during the 2012 House Party promotion.  When Remedy announced last year that the next Alan Wake title would be digitally distributed instead of getting a full retail release, fan speculation ran the gamut from DLC expansions to the original, to a full retail-sized game released in several small “episodes”.  Although Remedy stated during this period of speculation that this second installment would not be a direct sequel, in-game dialogue says otherwise.  American Nightmare would seem to fit most definitions of “direct sequel”, in that it clearly follows the story of the original and even explicitly states several times that two years have passed since those events.   This concept of a small “placeholder” title to tide fans over and help secure funds for a hypothetical full sequel is pretty unique, but does it work?

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Shank 2: Teaching a Class in Advanced Sequel Making

 

I never got around to reviewing the original Shank.  It came out to somewhat mixed reviews, and that coupled with a price point on the high end of the downloadable game scale kept me away.  I eventually bought it on sale, however, and immediately regretted my decision to wait.  Somehow Shank‘s developers, Klei, had distilled everything I loved into one glorious revenge-fueled brawler.  It was like Metal Slug with a much more elaborate combat system, fused with an amazing unmade Robert Rodriguez film.  With my backlog, playing through a game twice is pretty rare these days, and I have completely lost track of the times I replayed Shank, whether front to back or just an individual level here and there.  The game never seemed to inspire much talk around the Internet though, so when a sequel sprang up seemingly out of nowhere I was more than pleasantly surprised.  As a bonus, Shank 2 released at a lower price point than the original, at $10 or 800 Microsoft Space Bucks (the price of the original has also been lowered to match, go buy it!).  I jumped on it day one but a series of computer issues prevented me from doing a review.  Well, no longer!  How does the sequel hold up against the original?  Read on and find out!

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Michael Bay to Fans: None of Your Memories are Safe

So I’m not sure how this evaded my radar.  I suppose I’ve spent much of the last several months speculating about what may be the greatest year for genre films in the last two decades.  From The Avengers to The Dark Knight Rises to The Hobbit, 2012 is undeniably going to be an amazing year.  But unless the Mayan calendar cultists are correct and humanity is mercifully ground to a halt by the year’s end, 2013 is going to bear witness to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film directed by Michael “what if Jetfire was a senile old robot who basically just mumbled and farted all the time” Bay.

Predictably, the fury of the Internet has been leveled at Bay since he recently announced plans to alter the beloved TMNT origin story to make them aliens (!).  With so many nerds distracted by the terrible ending to Mass Effect 3, earning their wrath right now is not as easy a task as it might be during any other year, so that in and of itself is an impressive feat.  Michael Bay has issued a statement urging fans to “chill”, assuring everyone that he has the situation well in hand.  I mean, why would anyone be worried after all those awesome Transformers movies, right?

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A Jaunt Worthy of Praise

 

Every once in a good long while I manage to stumble across a game (and I use the term in the most loose of senses) that not only defies the very medium it exists in, but also blows my mind and captures my attention so fully that other games go neglected. One of the first games like this was Flow; a game I stumbled across quite by accident. No one told me to check it out, pointed me in the game’s direction, or handed me a copy. I saw a quick bit about it on some game site, thought it looked interesting, so I went after it myself. I started playing the game quite innocently then I looked up and realized almost eight hours had passed. That being said it is no surprise thatgamecompany, the same people responsible for Flow, caught me again, this time with Journey. Read the rest of this entry

Masters of the Universe Classics: Fisto Review

Fisto punching

So lately a lot of MOTUC figures have been previously unproduced characters, variants of existing figures, or later releases that I never owned as a kid. These are nice, but it’s been a while since there’s been an update of one of my childhood favorites. Fisto is not only part of the classic, core group of MOTU, but probably my single favorite figure as a kid. He’s finally gotten the Classics treatment, and this time they didn’t rename him “Battle Fist”.

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The Preorder Curse Strikes Again. Thanks, Newegg!

You may remember my article regarding preorders from a while back.  This one, in which I detail caving on my no-preorder stance only to have GameStop sell my copy before I could even pick it up on release day.  So I thought next time around I’d be smart about it.  Online preorders seemed like a pretty good idea, often offering discounted prices and release date delivery.  When it came time to preorder my copy of Mass Effect 3, easily my most anticipated game of the entire year, I went with newegg.com.  I filled out my order around a month ago, and began the waiting game.

The first round of disappointment came when they shipped my order on release day, and sent it UPS.  Okay, I thought.  I’d get it a day or two late.  I’d also have to set up a stakeout to catch the delivery, because the UPS driver here practices Ninjitsu, the art of invisibility.  He also hates delivering packages, preferring to deliver slips of  paper letting me know I can drive to pick up my package at their hub the next day.  So today finally arrived.  My precious cargo was out for delivery.  Six or seven hours into the stakeout, it finally arrived.  Eager beyond belief for what is sure to be an amazing game, I tore open the package in the hallway on my way back to the apartment.

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Masters of the Universe Classics: Sorceress Review

Sorceress with staff

The original Sorceress figure has the distinction of being the only toy from my childhood that I remember wanting but could not find in stores. (Though this would become a disappointingly common problem after I started collecting toys again as an adult.) The Sorceress was, after all, one of the most important characters in the Filmation cartoon, and for a while the only toy we had to represent her was the falcon, Zoar. She did eventually get a proper figure, which I learned of on the back of another figure’s package, but I just never found her. A quarter century of flea market visits haven’t turned up a used one either. Her 2002 appearance didn’t receive an action figure, only a “staction”, and I never got into those. So the Classics version is my first ever Sorceress toy. Was it worth the wait?

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RetroGen Adapter: Really Cool or Retro Ripoff?

RetroGen Adapter in box

Recently I stopped into my local video game store and one item caught my eye. RetroGen Adapter? “PLAY YOUR GENESIS GAMES ON YOUR SNES” Holy crap! It’s like a Super Game Boy, or that Colecovision expansion module that plays Atari 2600 games. I love things like that, and it would’ve been amazing to have one of these in the 90s, so I bought it right then and there on impulse, without going home to research it first.

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