Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New article at Robot Geek

This site was silent last week, but for once it wasn't just me being lazy. I've been busy at the recently relaunched Robot Geek, a fine gaming website that I recommend to all of you. If you're one of the threes of loyal Pointless Side Quest readers out there, fear not: this site is very much still a going concern as well.

My most recent Robot Geek posting was this article, inspired by the recent release of Homefront. It's gorged to bursting with:
  • Actual, meant-to-be -taken seriously thoughts on suspension of disbelief in video games!
  • The logistics of large-scale cross-Pacific invasions!
  • Astonishing discoveries by revisionist historians on the role of wisecracking Japanese shape-shifters and giant nuclear-armed robots in 20th-Century Russia!
  • Completely gratuitous abuse directed at Ben Affleck over a movie that came out nearly a decade ago!
  • Hundreds and hundreds of words that weren't interesting enough to justify additional bullet points describing them!

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Still haven't gotten around to the first Dragon Age: New Releases for the Week of 03-06-11

(Sony PSP) Port of Nippon Ichi's 2004 strategy RPG for the PlayStation 2. This version will include all of the additional content added for the Nintendo Wii port released in 2009, as well as some new stuff specific to this version. I'm not sure what the “Hermuda Triangle" subtitle is all about; I guess whoever oversaw the localization at Nippon Ichi Software America thought the essence of the game was best captured by something that sounds like a really unimaginative name for a nautically-themed porno movie.

It's in the same vein as other Nippon Ichi games like Disgaea with lots of huge optional random dungeons, secret bosses powerful enough to swat the final boss of the main storyline like a fly, and the ability to level up both your characters and their equipment until they're all inflicting octovigenuple-digit  damage every turn, though this one is the oddball of that group in some ways. (At one point back when I was playing it, one of the most powerful weapons wielded by any of my characters was a flower pot.  That could fire lasers, for some reason.)

I had a lot of fun with Phantom Brave way back when, so if you like strategy RPGs and missed it the first time around I'd recommend checking it out.

I know very little about Pokémon, so it wasn't until I read up on these games that I discovered how they work. Like Sith, they always come in pairs- that much I already knew. What I didn't know is that they're basically the same game, except that each has a few items, battles,  Pokémon- or Pokémons or Pokémen or Pokémonim or whatever the plural form is- and maybe a bonus area  not present in its counterpart.

Thus, in order to catch 'em all- which I understand is encouraged in Pokémon circles- you have to either know someone who also owns a Gameboy/Gameboy Advance/DS and the complementary version of your own game in order to trade via the multiplayer feature, or buy what is essentially the same game twice. I take my hat off to whichever diabolical marketing genius came up with this; it's not often I find myself switching back and forth so rapidly from being impressed and being appalled.

(There are things I could say about the unfortunate implications of an installment in the Pokémon game franchise in which some of the Pokémon are restricted to the Black or White version of the game instead of being allowed to freely intermingle, but it's probably better for the blog to gradually work its way up towards “jokes about systemic racism” levels of offensiveness instead of just rushing there headlong.)

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the Genealogy of Downloads: New Releases for the Week of 02-27-11

Beyond Good and Evil (Xbox Live Arcade)

Upgraded high-definition rerelease of the 2003 action-adventure game. The game will also be available for download on PlayStation Network at some point in the future.

Beyond Good and Evil was one of those games that had the sad fate of gaining an intensely enthusiastic cult following that still speaks fondly of the game almost a decade later while bombing with the general public. Though well-received by critics, the game was a commercial failure when it was released,  the victim of the limited appeal of the game's premise, poor marketing support by Ubisoft, and a faltering market for games named after books by Friedrich Nietzsche that had already been oversaturated by prior 2003 releases Xenosaga: Die Wille zur Macht and the critically acclaimed The Birth of Tragedy: A Barbie Horse Adventure.

Rift: Planes of Telara (PC)

New MMORPG. Honestly, the only reason I'm aware of this is that the developers, Trion, had a legal battle over trademarks with Kevin Siembieda, owner of Palladium Books and creator of the long-running tabletop RPG Rifts. Which Trion really should have seen coming, since Palladium has long been notorious for continuously emitting IP-related cease-and-desist notices in much the same way that you or I exhale carbon dioxide. (Though, to be fair, Palladium's complaint was actually a lot more reasonable than the sort of thing they're often known for.)

Vagrant Story (PlayStation Network)

(PlayStation Network) Square Enix continues to mercilessly taunt me with reminders  of why Square used to be my favorite developer with this classic action RPG from the original PlayStation, released as a downloadable game. Check it out if you missed it the first time around.

Chuck E Cheese's Sport Games (Nintendo Wii)

I don't really have anything to say about this game, since any joke I could make about it is less amusing to me than the simple fact of its existence.

Now, I suspect that this will tempt some people  to sneer that a Wii game based on the animatronic mascot of a chain of children's restaurants/entertainment centers is an example of how far Nintendo has fallen from its once-glorious heights in pursuit of the casual gamer market. So allow me to point out that, back in the halcyon era of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, when men were men and games were games and your mom didn't understand that the NES couldn't play Colecovision cartridges, the NES had games about McDonald's, the Noid  from Domino's Pizza commercials, and even a game starring the red dot on bottles of 7-Up. (Though, tragically, Fido Dido's moment in the sun would be forever denied him.) We had everything short of Procter and Gamble's Adventures in Brand Management Land, so it's a little late in the day to complain about this sort of thing.

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