The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games 07.13.04

Welcome, everybody, to another edition of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To Video Games. Mr Cheerful over here is Marvin, of course
*Hello
and I’m Misha.

This week’s news is a little bit special, since it’s the last edition before the pair of us take a break.
*Yes, indeed. We’re off to spend three weeks spreading our own brand of insanity all over the United States
So, the long and short of it is, this is the last time you’ll see us for a while.
*Okay… You can all stop celebrating now
And since we’re on an extended break after this, we’d better go out with a bang.
*The C-4 is on standby

News to make you cruise

PS3 prototype downgrade?

Reports are beginning to suggest that if, as reported, the PS3 does show itself at E3 2005, it will be in a less-powerful form. According to PC Watch, information from the Rambus Developers Conference is suggesting that the PS3 demo units will have only 256Mb of XDR DRAM memory, not the 512 originally specified.

Possible explainations for this move are many and varied – but most of them seem to revolve around pricing issues. One idea suggests that the move is designed to work in conjuction with doubling of the memory bandwidth, increasing the amount of work to be done by the Cell chip processor, while another theory postulates that the move was purely designed to cut the eventual RRP of the machine

Misha: Well, given all the pricing rumours, Sony may be finally realising that they can’t charge those sorts of prices…
Marvin: Or maybe they’re shot themselves in the foot
Misha: Either way, this sort of news is a double-edged sword for Sony… All will depend…

credit: spong.com

Pokemon: Green And Shiny

Hot new PokeNews: It seems Nintendo are planning yet another EX version of Pokemon. This time, it’s Pokemon Emerald, which would appear to be a deluxe version of the Ruby and Sapphire games. Few details are known at this point, other than the appearance of both Team Aqua and Team Magma, some additional battle modes, and the possiblility of mid-battle Tag Teaming, but there’s a scan of an advert courtesy of cubed-3.co.uk, online at the moment, and more info due to emerge when Emerald is presented, in playable form, at Japan’s Pokemon Fiesta in a few day’s time. Spetember 16th is the Japanese release date, 4800 yen will be the price, and a GBA wireless adapter will be included.

Marvin: ANOTHER enhanced version?
Misha: It seems so.
Marvin: And of the older games in the poke-generation?
Misha: Again, so it would seem.
Marvin: OK. Nintendo really *have* lost it
Misha: Unless this is going to be the uber-version of the G2 pokemon games… All the best of Fire Red and Leaf Green, fused with elements of Ruby/Sapphire
Marvin: Yeah, as if. This is Nintendo, kings of marketing here…

credit: cubed-3.co.uk

Oh, look. Halo 2

Bungie have released yet another “3D Screenshot” of anxiously-awaited X-Box FPS Halo 2 . The shot itself shows a Hog beeing blown clean apart (and reports suggest that yes, this will we possible in the release version). We have the small version or the large version, courtesy of gamesradar.co.uk.

Furthermore, the PAL release date has slipped by 48 hours. While the USA get the game on 9th November, UK gamers will have to wait until the 11th to get their hands on it. Offical reasoning, according to Microsoft official information, is that “”If we launched on 9 November we would have had to ship stock to retail by the end of the previous week. This means that retailers would have the game in stock yet not be able to officially put it on sale. The temptation to sell the game early over the weekend before the launch date could prove too strong for some European retailers, as we’ve seen in recent cases involving high-profile game releases.” Problems of this nature have been recently seen in the release of Driv3r, which hit the middle of the Top 10 charts even before it was officially released.

Marvin: I don’t know about you, but all this delaying stuff has managed to sap what little enthusiasm I had for the game
Misha: Gonna have to agree, there. I never got into the whole Halo hype, and the whole publicity thing has left me cold, despite the prettiness of the screenshot.
Marvin: And to release a game like that on Rememberance Day? There’s planning for you…

credit: gamesradar.co.uk

The Golden Warrior come to US GBAs

Ubi Soft have been confirmed as US publisher for Treasure’s GBA remake of their classic swords-n-sorcery hack-’em-up Guardian Heroes. The decision apparently comes after a huge upswell of gamer support for the release. Expected additions are three new characters, and some all-new levels, with all the various multiplayer modes left thankafully intact. The game is due to ship to US stores in September, at the same time as the Japanese release. No Euro-release date has been confirmed at time of writing.

Misha: I don’t care that I already own the game on the Saturn. I’m doing a Lucard for this one: WantNeedMustHave!!!
Marvin: Hmmm. Obssess much?
Misha: And can you blame me?
Marvin: I suppose not.
Misha: I just hope it’s a Shining Force-style good remake rather than a bad River City Ransom-esque one

credit: spong.com

Controversial Commentary

Let’s ask ourselves… What’s the worst crime a game can commit? Being full of bugs? Being generally crap? Not living up to expectations?

Perhaps. But I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest something you might not have considered: The greatest crime a game can commit is mediocrity. Surprised? Don’t be. Let’s look at things in-depth.

Everybody agrees there are few things in life as fine as a good-quality videogame. The sort of game that makes even the most jaded and cynical reviewer sit up, take note, and rave. The sort of game that gets 9/10 or better on 411’s own notoriously stringent rating system. These are the sort of games that developers can look at and learn from.

Then, there are the truly bad games. Alex Williams understands… His occasional series deals with some of the most hideously awful games in existence. These are the games that nobody would ever want to play, ever. But even these games can have some merit: Some games achieve the status of “So bad, it’s funny”, discovering a comic potential in much the same way as a truly bad film finds its niche. Others merely stand out to other coders as a warning: a “what not to do”. If the existence of Backyard Wrestling were necessary in order to ensure a future for the No Mercy engine, or continued improvements in the Smackdown series, isn’t it worth it? Can’t bad games have their existence tolerated if it leads to better games elsewhere?

Then, we have the masses in between. The games which aren’t bad, and certainly aren’t good. They’re just deeply average. What purpose do they serve? They’re neither a warning to others, nor a revolution in their genre. They’re just filler in the worst possible way, and fundamentally dull.

Perhaps the worst aspect of a mediocre game is that it forms the best candidate for over-hyping. Even the most brutal hype can’t redeem a colossally bad game: Rise Of The Robots is a prime example, where people managed to see through the press buzz and spot the lump of total worthlessness that the game was. But if the game is merely average, a good enough advertising campaign (and enough backhanders to games journalists) will be enough to convince people the game is actually good. Then the mediocre game sells well, and other companies will go “hey, that average game sold well, we don’t need to bother putting effort into coding next time.”

Furthermore, average games in a genre can, if they become seen as “the standard”, cause clouding of judgement, preventing people from appreciating some truly amazing games (*COUGH*FF7*HACK*)

Of course, rushing out a mediocre game is not exactly a new idea: and it’s not going to stop, either. But I maintain that it does a heck of a lot more damage than people realise.

The Final PlugDown

I do wish Bryan would put out a sub-standard column once in a while. Having to heap praise on him every week is going to make me look biased… This week, he’s got EVEN MORE from everybody’s favourite President Satoru Iwata.

What “other means” relates to, Alex is another one of those “download tours” which never seem to work because publicity is crap, so nobody ever hears about them unless they’re DESPERATELY SEARCHING for info, which is something I just don’t have time for. Anyway, aside from forcing me to drown my sorrows on Friday, AAAlex has another much-hated game for you to enjoy.

All must hail Cory, for he is accumulating the wisdom of the ages. Happy birthday, my friend, and may your remaining years surpass the ones you’ve had already in every good way. And try some Newcastle Brown with that Guinness… You might be pleasantly surprised…
*Oh, and I’ll have vodka-spiked Energon what I gatecrash your party, thanks…

Have we got reviews for you! Driv3r (Donahoe), Dragonball (Williams), Xevious (Angeloni), Riddick(Donahoe), and some more Mega Man(Take a wild guess…).

The ever-prolific Eric S is opinionating all over the site, as is his trademark. But here, he gets overshadowed by his feedback. Oh, and as far as the Balkans goes, Argentinians don’t screw anything, except in international Football/Soccer, because they tried to screw Maggie Thatcher once, and wound up *SNIP*ped.

Nute can have a pimp because his Finish Line is about the only thing in wrestling (that’s not written by Eric S) that I read regularly.

And over in comics, an interview with Matt Smith, editor of 2000 AD. READ IT!!

And look, it’s another week’s news over. All that remains is to throw in a link to this
*Right, then. We’re done. Last one on the plane is an N-Gage!
You’re on! ‘Bye folks! We’ll see you in a while!