Gaming Zen 2-27-06

Good day all. My name is Thomas J Pandich and this is your weekly fill of Gaming Zen. We’re almost to March and March is a killer month for gaming. Seeing as how there are so many good games coming out, this week’s top ten will preview the month and give you a feel for what I’m looking forward to. There’s some interesting gaming news, and thankfully, I’m feeling much better. So this week, you’re getting my whole ass. First though, plugs.

Plugs!

Mark B cracks on a shitty monkey game and then talks about the 2nd least beloved game in IP history. If you aren’t reading Mark B, you’re missing out on the most consistently entertaining column on Inside Pulse. Finally, Mark did Live Raw notes. They are much more in depth then your usual “I’m a jackass PW Insider reader looking to see my name”. I’m not plugging his Final Fantasy XI preview though as MMORPGs are against my religion.

Lucard reviews a DS game I don’t actually own and probably won’t own for a while. He’s a tad wrong about the RPG situation on the DS. If he’s willing to consider Age of Empires DS an RPG, then I’d be hard pressed to say the excellent Advanced Wars DS isn’t worth picking up. He also continues his horror video game countdown with the 11th Hour and something else that he hasn’t posted to his LJ at the writing of this article. He does have an interesting King of the Fighters: Neowave hands on preview coming out. If only I was a vampire, I’d get 2D fighter and stuffed Prinnys for the holidays. Le sigh…

Misha gets a pimp and a thank you. Granted, Misha hasn’t written anything for the site since news got axed, but we’ll let that slide. He sent me the UK version of Bubble Bobble Revolution which is an interesting attempt at doing something with the license. The problem is that Bubble Bobble Revolution doesn’t incorporate the separation of the two screens. As soon as you leave the bottom screen, you enter into the top screen. The lack of a “blind spot” ends up feeling even more disorienting. Besides that, the two screen “gimmicks” just don’t work. It complicates the game’s already uneven flow. Finally Bubble Bobble Revolution has the worst box art I’ve ever seen. Bub and Bob are incredibly overweight. It’s an interesting game, and a risky attempt at making a game, but honestly, it’s a failure.

Eric Szulczewski Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc… points out that I don’t read the dirt sheets mostly because I enjoy having my Raw Report have a twinge of markdom to them. As for Wrestlemania 17, it’s still my favorite of the PPVs. I loved Angle/Benoit, TLC 2 is the most entertaining non-ECW spotfest in history, the Vince/Shane match was a blast, and I think Rock/Austin II was fun despite being overbooked. Then again, Eric S gets a leg up on Scooter simply because Eric S writes about politics in his spare time on the site. Scott Keith writes about why Joey shouldn’t be cancelled. Ok, that’s not a fair comparission at all, but Eric S plugs me and writes new material once in a while.

Michaelanglo McCullar wrote a movie review and a DVD review. While I haven’t seen Running Scared, I have seen Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and it is a brilliant documentary. McCullar is the king of kings of movies.

And to close, Michael O’Reilly didn’t get plugged last week so I plug him now. He’s my favorite Canadian at the moment.

That does it for plugs. Let’s move on to news.

News!

The big news is the Nintendo DS Lite is… well… not really ready. So much for this stopping the DS shortage in Japan. Two of the three DS Lite colors were delayed by two weeks and Nintendo has stated that they are not taking pre-orders. This is bad news for Nintendo. The DS shortage is a major problem. Consumers want to buy it in a real shortage, not one of these market imposed shortages. Furthermore, Nintendo is missing out on a huge chance to put a big lead between them and the PSP. Seeing that the PSP has quite a few good to great titles coming out (Power Stone Collection, Tekken: Dark Resurrection, Dragon Quest & Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Portable) Nintendo’s considerable lead in Japan can and probably will shrink. Rumors put the US date around early May, but I say fix your problems in your number one market first before pouring resources into a market that has a somewhat strong anti-DS twinge to it still.

Speaking of Sony, there are a few rumors floating around on Magic Box. The two huge rumors swirling around Sony is that an online revision of Gran Turismo 4 is being released in Q2 for 2006 and that God of War 2 will land in the United States in February 2007. The biggest knock and subsequent biggest advantage that Forza Motorsports had over GT 4 was the online play. This rumor will come true if MGS 3: Subsistence is a success. As for God of War 2, I don’t buy it. God of War was the biggest hit on the Playstation 2 last year. Why they would put it on the PS2 and not the PS3 is a mystery to me, other then the PS2 having a higher installed user base.

There’s been a merger in Japan between Bandai and Namco making the 2nd largest game company in Japan. What does this mean? We’ll get some sort Pac Man/Dragonball Z cross over. It’ll be awesome. In all seriousness, Bandai has put out quite a few shitty games over the years. Namco could actually give us a non-shitty One Piece game, an arcade quality Gundam game a la Virtua On, and an Astaroth Tamagotchi. Hopefully this will be a good move. It has the potential to be an absolute disaster though.

What else? Hmmm. Ah yes. In the UK, all Call of Duty 2 commercials for the Xbox 360 have been banned because of “misleading footage”. My reply to this, thank god! It’s about time there’s a crack down on pre-rendered footage that we see ever so often in FPS and sports games. I hope this makes it to the United States somehow and that game commercials have to use “actual game footage” or have a huge disclaimer on the bottom of the commercial.

Let’s go through some games that have been dated. The big announcement is New Super Mario Brothers for the Nintendo DS will be out on May 7th. IGN gave us information about Mortal Kombat Armageddon, including that it’ll be out in October of this year. Finally, Elder Scrolls IV… still does not have an official date. How hilarious is that? Very kids, very.

Thanks to Magic Box, 1up, IGN, Gamesarefun, and Cheapassgamer for the news.

Deals!

This week is a tad slow, mostly considering that March will be such a ginormous month. There’s still a few deals to point out though. Chibi Robo is only $30 at overstock. Rome: Total War is having a price drop at Circuit City, down to 25 bucks. Also at Circuit City, EA’s B-list sports games (NCAA Baseball, Arena Football, etc) are all on sale for $23.99. That’s about the size of the noticeable deals these week.

Deals are slow this week… unless you go to Sears.com and check out some of the prices that they are offering on games. Dragon Warriors VIII $25, Wario Ware Twisted $15, Burnout Revenge for the Xbox ($15), and so forth. Take a look.

Best Release of the Week!

Honestly, what do you guys think I’m going to pick? Black? 24 the Game? Or you know, a Nintendo DS platformer staring Princess Peach that looks uber cute. I’ll just let you guess what I had this week as the best game coming out.

Top Ten!

For once, a top ten where rank actually does matter. Here are my top ten games coming out this March.

10. The Godfather: Now I may not be a fan of licensed games (I have a little thing called common sense) but the Godfather might just be the coolest license ever slapped on a video game this side of the Noid. Insert your favorite hokey Godfather quote here and then say something about EA making a game offer you can’t refuse. See, this top ten writes itself.

9. Full Spectrum Warrior: 10 Hammers: Full Spectrum Warrior was not really my type of game back in the day, but there is no denying how high the quality of the original was. This falls under the “not for me but quite a few other people will enjoy it”. A solid engine and some online play makes this one look like an absolute winner. If you like realistic shooters, this is the game to pick up in March.

8. Tales of Phantasia: Hey look! It’s one of the last legitimate releases on the GBA. I’ve been on a handheld RPG kick as of late and Tales of Phantasia looks to be like a winner. Granted, it’s taken nearly three years to be translated to English which is a bad sign, but it could also mean that fans of the import have been petitioning for years to get this released because it was so good. Let’s assume it’s the latter and that this game is a winner.

7. Rumble Roses XX: I have a love hate relationship with the original. I love the game for its hilarious characters, the fantastic voice acting, and the completely, often times random but funny, bits of story. I hate it for it’s clunky controls and complete lack of match options. Rumble Roses XX offers tag matches, online play, and a new story mode that is close to the relationship system in DOA Beach Volleyball. Hopefully this blond bombshell will have as much between the ears as it does between the funbags and give us the experience that DOA 4 promised.

6. Metroid Prime Hunters: Holy shit! This is actually coming out. Not only that, but it has voice chat, online play, and the first true first person shooter experience on the DS. Again, this game isn’t really for me, but the history behind this game and the track record of Metroid over the past few years gives me quite a bit of hope. Besides, when a Nintendo game gets delayed time and time again, it usually turns out for the better.

5. King of the Fighters: Neowave: Taken from Lucard’s preview:

“KoF NeoWave promises to be a sleeper hit for the Xbox, and almost certainly a lock for the best fighting game released this year. It a visually and aurally enhanced version of KoF2k2 after all, and it sports a few new tricks to keep it feeling fresh. NeoWave looks and feels like a throwback to the glory days of 2D fighters, when they damn near single handedly saved arcades from extinction. If the final release copy is just as good as the beat, then I need to beseech you now to pre-order this puppy.”

All I know is that Geese is the boss in this game and it has a line-up super similar to King of the Fighters 2002 (my favorite of the KoF games line-ups) minus the stupid ass strikers and with a brand new heat mode. If only this would get a PS2 port…

4. Shadow Hearts: From the New World: Shadow Hearts is probably the most underrated RPG series of this generation. The first two games were classics in their own right, but never really got the praise that they deserve. The final game of this generation looks to bring more of that RPG goodness that Shadow Hearts is famous for. Despite the Covenant combo system being retooled, the revisions sound interesting. This is one of the few RPGs out there that I’ll be picking up when it’s released.

3. Me and My Katamari: Hello new Reason #1 for owning a PSP. How are you doing today? I’m well. Thanks for asking. Think about it. Katamari… anywhere. Katamari on a Ferris wheel. Katamari at a NASCAR race. Katamari on a two hour layover in Charlotte. There are so many truly wonderful possibilities that Me and My Katamari opens up. Huzzah.

2. Kingdom Hearts 2: My own little guilty pleasure. Sora with Captain Jack Sparrow. Sora with Mickey. Sora with f*cking Kevin Flynn and Tron! As much heat as I give Square-Enix, I still love the original and the sequel looks like a vast improvement over the original with more crossover characters, a fixed camera, and a resolution to this whole love triangle thing.

1. Tetris DS: I didn’t want to put two puzzle games 1-2 and I honestly forgot about Pokemon Trozei for some of the lower spots. Tetris DS looks to revitalize the Tetris franchise in ways that have never really been attempted before. Tetris DS’ online play, unique DS exclusive modes, and a healthy dose of Nintendo themed loveliness. I’ll buy both puzzle games, but I can guarantee you that Tetris DS will get just a bit more loving from me.

That does it for this week. I’ll be next week with quite a few new things coming this week. The times they are a-changing around the Pulse. I swear to you that things will change soon (despite none of my other promises or predictions coming soon).