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October 2010

September 2010

Zombies Invade New Austin In Red Dead Redemption DLC

Undead Nightmare Let the record show that of all the classic monsters in our shared mythology, I hate zombies the most.  The idea of loved ones rising from the grave as rotted corpses eager to eat one's face is deeply disturbing to me on too many levels.  Combine that with my belief that zombies in video games are horrendously overdone this generation and you can understand why I was ready to pass on the upcoming "Undead Nightmare" downloadable content expansion for Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.  I've been eager for some kind of single-player add-on to John Marston's adventure, but zombies?  Not so sure about that.  Then I saw the new trailer released today that shows some of what's to come and now I think I'm on board with it after all.  Take a look at this:

Zombie bears!  The story has something to do with searching New Austin for a cure to the zombie plague that has mysteriously sprung up.  I wouldn't be surprised if some of the undead happen to be characters that Marston gunned down during his campaign through the west, but I think I see the shocking plot twist coming a mile away: before "Undead Nightmare" is over, sweet Bonnie MacFarlane will become a zombie.  That's how to twist the knife in the heart of the player, at least.

Original Beyond Good & Evil Gets HD Boost

Jade Did you play Beyond Good & Evil for the Nintendo GameCube, Sony PlayStation 2, and Microsoft Xbox?  Yeah, neither did I.  I wanted to play it based on all of the hype and praise I've heard about it, but I just never found the time.  Maybe now I'll make the time since Ubisoft has announced that it's giving the game a modern update into the high definition realm for release on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade.  Game Informer has the scant details.

Beyond Good & Evil HD will be boosted to 1080p visuals, and character models, textures, and audio have all been upgraded. The narrative and gameplay will remain unchanged, which is fine by us – why fix what isn’t broken?

This is all part of laying groundwork for the unscheduled-but-in-development sequel, Beyond Good & Evil 2, that Ubisoft probably fears would land in stores with a thud if players weren't familiar with the original game.  Bringing the first game back with a modern refresh for a fair price as a downloadable game is a supremely smart move and one that I wholeheartedly support.   I say that primarily because now I may actually get around to playing it.

Journey To The Rest

Buster Rod G You may have heard about Ninja Theory's upcoming adventure Enslaved: Odyssey To The West coming from Namco for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360.  I don't know what it is about this title, but just about every interview, preview, or general coverage that I've read about it goes out of its way to emphasize that the story is based on the classic sixteenth century Chinese novel Journey to the West and that nobody has ever based a game on said Journey.  That's always where my Spidey-sense starts to tingle because I know I've heard of other games based on Journey before.  After all, why would it take so long for a developer to base a game on this thrilling plot?

The novel is a fictionalized account of the mythologized legends around the Buddhist monk Xuanzang's pilgrimage to India (known as the Western Regions) during the Tang dynasty in order to obtain Buddhist religious texts called sūtras. The Bodhisattva Guan Yin, on instruction from the Buddha, the historical founder of Buddhism, gives this task to the monk and his three protectors in the form of disciples — namely Sūn Wùkōng, Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing — together with a dragon prince who acts as Xuanzang's steed, a white horse. These four characters have agreed to help Xuanzang as an atonement for past sins.

Exciting stuff!  Today after reading one poorly-researched piece of coverage too many I decided to get to the bottom of this mystery and compile a list of games based on the novel. 

Continue reading "Journey To The Rest" »

Nintendo Handheld Virtual Console Coming To 3DS

Donkey Kong While the idea for a Virtual Console that dealt in classic Game Boy and Game Boy Color games was floated for the Nintendo DSi, Nintendo is finally going ahead with the idea for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS.  The company has outlined plans to begin offering GB and GBC titles such as Super Mario Land and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX via download.  No prices were announced, but if it were up to me, I'd charge $3 for original Game Boy titles and $5 for Color games.  No word on Game Boy Advance titles for this service, but those can't be too far behind once the best of the monochromatic library has been exhausted.

Now, before you scoff and wonder why anyone would want to play Super Mario Land twenty-two years later, I submit that there were some fantastic games for the original Game Boy that deserve another pass.  Excluding the original Pokemon juggernaut (which you know will be represented on Day One of the service), there's Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins, Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land, Mega Man V, Kirby's Dream Land 2, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, and Donkey Kong (oh my, yes, please, Donkey Kong).  Maybe the Donkey Kong Land trilogy plays better on a screen that can actually keep up with it.  On the Game Boy Color side of things, we have the two Legend of Zelda titles, Oracle of Ages & Oracle of Seasons, Super Mario Bros. Deluxe, Wario Land 2, and Wario Land 3.  See?  At my pricing structure I've just made you spend $55.  There's plenty of money in these old games if valued realistically.

Stargate SG-1 Slot Machine Musings At The Big Pixels

Stargate SG-1 Slot Machine A decent chunk of the former Kombo crew isn't giving up the team spirit just yet, as many of us have regrouped under a new banner after Kombo's sudden implosion.  Join me and a few other familiar voices over at our new gaming-centic project, The Big Pixels, for musings and reviews published whenever we see fit.  First out of the gate for me are some thoughts on a Stargate SG-1 slot machine I played at a casino last week when I was visiting my parents in Indiana.  I spent about half an hour filling the machine with one dollar bills in an attempt to strike it rich with the adventures of Jack O'Neill at Stargate Command.  Did I break the bank and walk away a winner?  You'll have to read the whole story at The Big Pixels to find out.

Nintendo 3DS Releases Worldwide In 2011; Price And New Games Announced

Nintendo 3DSStart gathering your nickels and dimes because the Nintendo 3DS is coming and it's going to be expensive.  At a press conference in Japan earlier today, Nintendo announced that the successor to the DS would reach Japanese stores in February 2011 in both blue and black editions for a price of ¥25,000.  That's just under $300 at the current exchange rate, by the way.  North America and Europe will see the system in March of next year at an exact date and price to be announced.  As far as games go, a new video is making the rounds that shows the 3DS library in action (in plain 2D, of course).  Check out these clips of Kid Icarus, Metal Gear Solid, Star Fox, Paper Mario, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, two Resident Evil titles, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing, Dead or Alive, and much more.

I've been saying for months now that Nintendo is going to make another billion dollars with the 3DS, but if that $300 price carries over to the rest of the world, I may have to up that estimate.  That is very pricey for a handheld system.  After all, one can get a Sony PlayStation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 and a game for that price.  This is going to be a turning point for Nintendo this era, as this price is either too much and not enough people will buy them to meet the company's expectations or everyone empties their wallets and purses to own one.  Oh, who am I kidding?  Everyone's going to want one of these (including me), expense be damned.  Of course, at $300 I would never want to take this portable system out of my house.  I would hope that Nintendo of America would sweeten the deal on this a little by packing in a game to increase the value.  A real game!  Not Brain Age 3D or a collection of clocks.

New $50 Uncharted 2 Release Includes A Ton Of DLC

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves While DVDs have "Special Edition" levels of bonus content, it's become fashionable for video games that sell above and beyond the call of duty to enjoy a "Game of the Year" re-release at either a budget price or with all of the post-release downloadable content included.  Now it's time for Naughty Dog's Sony PlayStation 3 hit Uncharted 2: Among Thieves to step back into the spotlight on October 12 in North America for a reappearance of the latter kind as Nathan Drake's acclaimed adventure becomes a "Game of the Year" edition for $50 with a bunch of DLC included with a special voucher.  As the PlayStation Blog outlines, here's what that voucher redeems:

  • PlayStation Heroes Skin Pack
  • UNCHARTED: Drake’s Fortune Multiplayer Pack
  • UNCHARTED 2 Siege Expansion Pack
  • Currency Multiplier which grants Double XP up to level 10 in Multiplayer
  • Golden Guns option for the AK-47 and the 92FS 9mm pistol for use in Multiplayer
  • Early access to “Revenge” Booster – you still have to purchase it with in-game cash!
  • UNCHARTED: Eye of Indra – Motion Comic Bundle (which includes Episodes 1-4)
  • UNCHARTED: Eye of Indra – Rika Raja and Daniel Pinkerton Character Skins
  • UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves – Avatar Pack 1
  • UNCHARTED 2: Among Thieves – Avatar Pack 2
  • UNCHARTED Avatar Pack 3
  • UNCHARTED Avatar Pack 4
  • Pinball Heroes – UNCHARTED for the PSP

Not a bad haul if you haven't been tempted into buying Uncharted 2 before now and you plan to play a lot of the online multiplayer.  If you're only interested in the single-player campaign then you might be better off with a used disc of the original version.  I have a co-worker that really wants to play Uncharted 2, but since he doesn't have Internet access at home, the online multiplayer modes and DLC are useless to him.  He's been waiting a long time for the price of the game to drop, new or used.  Once this new version hits, I bet used prices for the older version will finally come down.  Get 'em while they're discounted!

First Episode Of Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Launches In October

Sonic the Hedgehog 4After simmering quietly for the last few months, Sega is finally ready to take Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I off of the stove and serve it up for the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, and Apple iPhone next month starting on October 7 for the iPhone and the following week for the Wii, PS3, and X360.  $15 will snag the console versions, while the iPhone version has yet to sport an announced price.  It's great to see that the first installment is just about ready to go, but is anyone else feeling twitchy about that price tag?  I've been burned by $15 games that promise more than they can actually deliver much too often lately, so while I know I'll have to go ahead and take the chance on Sonic 4, I also know that if the game turns out to be a dud (unlikely given how much I enjoyed the demo back at E3), I'll have to re-evaluate my tendency to spring for these $15 downloadable games.  I don't mind taking chances, but if each chance ends poorly, then it doesn't seem too smart to keep taking them.

Weekly Poll: Regrets, I've Had A Few

Weekly Poll for 9-20-2010The results for last week's poll worked out about how I expected with the majority of us gaming mostly on home consoles followed by PCs and handheld systems.  Surprisingly (pleasantly so!) is that none of you do the majority of your gaming on mobile phones.  For all of the fuss we hear about apps and bite size games, it's good to see that most of that is just marketing bluster.  I've downloaded a few games for my new iPhone in the past week, but aside from a port of PopCap's Bookworm, I haven't seen anything I want to spend time or money to play (well... maybe Peggle).  Long live the home console!

Speaking of lackluster apps and pointless purchases, this week I want to ask you about those times when you've purchased a game and then immediately regretted it.  Have you ever been in the situation where you've bought a game, walked out of the store or signed off of a retail website, and wondered "Why did I buy that?  What was I thinking?" (bitter cold rain optional).  Do you still have the regretted purchase around as a reminder to choose more carefully next time?  Be it game, accessory, or console, if you've had this moment happen to you, I want to hear about it.