Thursday, December 03, 2009


I Guess I Haven't Had Anything To Write About?!

It seems like my interest in video games comes in predictable cycles. When a new system is coming out, I get all worked up about it. Eeee! Won't it be neat and splendid when I can finally buy one of those?

A couple years later, the honeymoon is over. I've had good times and bad times, and now the excitement is over.

I've played some good games recently, but there's really nothing that I feel enthusiastic enough to write about. There's really just not a lot to say about some of these things that's worth writing a whole article about.

So, briefly:

The Beatles Rock Band impressed me. Rock Band has always struck me as a perfect proof of concept for the idea of downloadable content -- why release a whole new game when all you really need is more songs for the existing game? I thought it was kind of odd that Harmonix was talking about making a music game with Beatles songs that used Rock Band instruments and Rock Band gameplay, but it wasn't Rock Band. I thought it was just press release garbage, but having played the game, I see where they're coming from. Despite the instruments and gameplay, it really doesn't feel like Rock Band. It's not about live performances and acquiring fans and money like Rock Band is; it really is more like they wanted to make a game that told the story of The Beatles, and that game just happens to play similarly to Rock Band.

I like it. I've bought both of the albums they've made available for it so far, and I plan to buy Rubber Soul as well. I'm kind of disheartened by the idea that they may not get around to the complete Beatles catalogue due to budget reasons. It's disheartening because I like to think that people who can put together something with this sort of love and quality should be able to make a living doing it.

Scribblenauts was, as I had feared, flawed. Like Drawn to Life before it, it had a wonderful concept which it executed exactly as promised, and then the rest of the game was pretty plain. I don't want to say anything bad about it because what they did was monumental, but at the same time, I haven't played it very much since I've finished it. I think part of the problem is simply that the player is overpowered, but how can you fault them for that? If it says on the tin that you can create anything you want, then you've got to expect that the player's going to be overpowered.

Lovable game. I will cherish it forever. I wish that I wanted to play it more.

a boy and his blob came out. I was a big fan of the NES original and especially the Game Boy sequel (which was the only game I actually owned), but more for the concept than the actual gameplay. When I was little, I imagined the sort of game that A Boy and His Blob could have been, with levels and bosses and all sorts of crazy things, and Way Forward basically took what I had imagined and made it real, right down to the beautiful hand-drawn visuals.

But in spite of that, it hasn't really "grabbed" me. I can only think that it's because I just haven't cared much about games generally lately.

Wii Sports Resort came out over the summer. I liked it. I don't see what the hell we needed Motion Plus for, and I'm starting to feel like, if you've played one Wiimote minigame, you've played them all, but I liked it. The best thing about Wii Sports Resort is that it does actually capture the feeling of being on vacation. First because of how wonderful the island is as a setting, and second because of the feature that allows you to pull random Miis from the Check Mii Out Channel. I mean, sure, you can download them yourself and then they'll live on your system and you can see them show up in all of the games you play, but there's something about playing this game where you run into Miis you've never seen before, and suddenly you recognize, oh! Isn't that whats his name? I've never seen him before! Gosh, you run into all sorts of interesting people in this game. That's what makes you feel like you're somewhere new, that you're on vacation in a video game.

Retro Game Challenge is a small miracle. It's amazing that a game that was tied in to a TV show that was only available in Japan that caters to a niche audience was ever localized for Western audiences. And yet here it is. And it's magical. There's really no other word for it. I've played through it start to finish several times over. I've completed every game in the set without cheats, except for Star Prince. Every single time I start it, it makes me smile. It makes me feel like life is still worth living. Like everything is right in the world. How terrible can things be if I live in a world where I can pull a small plastic rectangle out of my pocket, open it up, and play Robot Ninja Haggle Man, wherever I want?

I know how slim the chances are of the sequel getting the same treatment, but I'm happy. I'm not greedy enough to expect two miracles like this.

Finally, DSiWare is starting to prove itself. Flipnote Studio is so toylike, and yet so powerful a creativity tool. BASE 10 is a very clever puzzle game. Dragon Quest Wars is an absolutely brilliant little game, with the trappings of a collectible miniatures game but without all of the damned collecting. Mario Vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! is a serviceable Lemmings-like game with a wealth of user-generated content free to download. The only thing that's missing is a portable version of Defend Your Castle; luckily, the iPod Touch has my back.

I think that about covers it for now.


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