Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Decline and Fall of Fox McCloud: New releases for the week of 9-4-11

Disgaea 4

(PlayStation 3) It's a testament to how busy I've been lately that I'd actually forgotten that this was coming out this month. Disgaea is one of my favorite series and one of the reasons I bought a PlayStation 3 rather than an Xbox 360 in the first place, so for me this is like forgetting your anniversary, your wife's birthday, and your child's birth by planned cesarean section simultaneously. Possibly as the prelude to some horrible family film where I'm a workaholic husband and father who learns a valuable lesson about what's really important in life during some sort of madcap Christmas-themed adventure.

Resistance 3
(PlayStation 3) This series has always inspired a vehement “Meh” from me. I have the first one, and it's not terrible, but it's just sort of... there. It always felt like the video game equivalent of chewing on toothpicks: doesn't really taste like anything in particular, either good or bad, feels sort of dry and stale, useful if you need something to chew on to discharge tension or satisfy some sort of oral fixation but not something you'd put in your mouth for its gustatory merits. Presumably the series possesses qualities that aren't apparent to me if it's popular enough to warrant multiple sequels, but if so they're lost one me.

Star Fox 64 3D

(Nintendo 3DS) Nice to actually see some sort of confirmation that Nintendo remembers that the Starfox franchise is something that, you know, exists, even if it is a remake.

You have to remember that the original Starfox was a huge deal at the time it came out. The game charged into the American gaming market on the crest of an unstoppable tsunami of  marketing, propelled inexorably forward by the force of a world-shaking undersea earthquake of Nintendo promotional muscle while perched atop an indestructible surfboard of hype wrought from organic urethane poylmers of magazine coverage and breakfast cereal tie-ins.

It was ubiquitous. The gaming press couldn't stop talking about all the pretty 3D polygons. There was a monthly Star Fox comic strip in Nintendo of America's in-house monthly gaming magazine Nintendo Power that ran for ten issues, which was twice what poor Samus Aran got. Star Fox appeared on boxes of Corn Flakes. - though sadly, Star Fox never received its own crappy cereal the way Mario and Zelda did. If you owned a Super Nintendo in the early 90s, you could barely stop to breathe without filling your lungs with clouds of particulate Star Fox hype.

What the hell happened? Counting the original, there have only been four proper Star Fox games since 1993. (I'm defining “proper Star Fox game” somewhat strictly to mean “game that is about flying and is not a completely unrelated game in a completely different genre that had Star Fox characters shoehorned into it as an afterthought”.) It's not as if Star Fox games haven't sold. Did Slippy get drunk and make a pass at Shigeru Miyamoto's wife at the Nintendo office Christmas party, or something?

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