Devil Still Care?

Granted, Dante pretty kicked the over-the-top action genre into high gear with the original Devil May Cry way back in 2001. But since then, there have been many, many others who have stepped up to the plate. Most notably Bayonetta & Garcia Hotspur but Kratos & even Travis Touchdown could be considered on that company as well. So yes, a reboot was most likely needed in order to really get the franchise some notice. But the newly redesigned Dante isn't really winning people over, looking like a boy band reject desperately trying to go goth. But gameplay is ultimately key here, and Ninja Theory recently released a demo for 360 and PS3 owners to try out. No Wii U version as of yet, but based on the demo, they aren't missing much. The loud ridiculous death metal-esque soundtrack is distracting and the controls are kind of awkward and confusing. The fighting is competent but nothing special. Maybe this shouldn't be a surprise as Ninja Theory's games always seem decent but really lacking polish or something to make them stand out. Granted this isn't a hugely crowded field, but I can't imagine anyone passing up the next God of War or Bayonetta 2 (if they own a Wii U anyways) for this and in the meantime games like Darksiders 2 fill the void nicely.

Details of Bungie's first post-Halo project have surfaced.  While it doesn't sound like Halo but not Halo, it is still about the last remnants of humanity fighting an alien invasion. You'd think after claming they didn't want to do Halo anymore their next game have little to do with futuristic space wars with aliens. But I guess as long its a different futuristic space war with different aliens, that's ok.

Hey who wants an ugly-ass mini version of the Wii that not only lacks Gamecube support but internet features as well? Apparently Canada because for now that's the only place you can get the completely neutered Wii mini. I can see trying squeeze one last bit of cash out of the Wii but  can't imagine who this appeals to except maybe that crowd that just waits for consoles to hit under $100 before picking them up. Granted if for some reason you were just now buying a Wii, there's a ton of quality software to choose from and no long waits in-between, but of course there's virtually nothing else coming out for the system.

That's it for today, but I should have another post up Thursday or Friday. Until then, here's your trailer of the week: Warm Bodies


The Wii U after a week...

Sorry this post is way later than I intended, but due to not only a crazy holiday week but being massively ill (which I'm still somewhat getting over) I wasn't really able to post my thoughts until now.

The Wii U has been out a week. What are everyone's thoughts so far? I think it's one of the strongest launches ever, with something good for just about everybody. Not that it hasn't had some hiccups, but that's pretty normal with nearly every launch. So here are my thoughts on the games I've played so far and the hardware itself:

The Wii U: It's incredibly slick hardware, bottom line. The amount of updates is slightly annoying, but nothing new in this age of constant updating on all systems. The eshop is slick, getting friends is finally easy (though still a little more complex than it needs to be).
 The Miiverse may be one of the most entertaining things about the system, with constant user comments (and cool drawings) that make it far more socially integrated than the 360 or the PS3. Yes it's heavily moderated, but they aren't moderating criticism of games, just the racist swearing idiots you usually find online which is a good thing.
The gamepad itself is incredibly slick and works very well with pretty much every game I've played so far. The one downer is the extremely limited battery life of only a few hours means being tethered a lot to an outlet. In an age where controllers are expected to be wireless for hours of play, this is a big downside. Hopefully somebody comes up with something that extends the battery life soon.
Moving on to the games:

 Nintendoland: Haven't gotten much time on this one, but I've enjoyed what I've played so far. The unlocking of prizes is fairly addictive and seeing a constant stream of other people's miis is fairly cool. The only bad minigame is Takamaru's Ninja Castle, it's just very imprecise.

 New Super Mario Bros U: This is honestly the title I was most worried about after being thoroughly bored with NSMB 2. But from the very beginning this game absolutely shines with not only classic shades of Super Mario World but integrating new fun stuff as well. The level designs are much better as well and just more fun. This is not really a game that's innovative but it's easily the best 2D Mario in years and one of the better 2D side-scrollers in a long time as well.

Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed: This was a nice little surprise. I mean sure, I put it on my top ten launch picks, but I was expecting it to be passable. It's right up there with the better Mario Kart titles, and is actually based more on skill than things like blue shells. I did have trouble finding online matches, I assume it's because this a new system and it's not exactly a big core title, but I think those looking for something different than your usual shooter fare would do well to pick this up.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II: If you want a game that really shows off the graphics on Wii U, this is probably your best bet as it looks stellar. It controls really well on the gamepad.I played a few online sessions, but being that the install base isn't nearly as big, it is understandably hard to get into the match type you want occasionally. I'm not a huge shooter fan and this isn't really something I would get into but it's certainly a great choice for shooter fans who will miss out on nothing by getting this version over other systems and it adds the option of co-op with two screens which is impressive.

 ZombiU: This has probably been the most divisive title at launch. Some praise it, some damned it. I think those that damned it didn't really understand what type of game it is. It's old school survival horror with real suspense that you just don't see in your modern horror games. I don't think it's something I would enjoy myself enough to buy, but anyone looking for an actual scary game that also has the crushing but rewarding difficulty of a game like Dark Souls should at least give this a try and there is supposed to be a demo up in the next few weeks.

Scribblenauts Unlimited: I saved this for last because this for me is the sleeper title of the launch. I've never been horribly impressed with the Scribblenauts series, as it seemed like a good concept that was never really executed well. Until now. This has dominated my Wii U and I've had tons of fun not only solving puzzles but just seeing what wacky stuff I can come up with. With dlc this could have virtually unlimited play value so I hope this entry that finally gets it right gets the attention it deserves.

That's all for today, I'll hopefully be able to get up another post tomorrow now that I'm finally feeling human again. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Now You See Me


Does the Wii U need GTA?

Grand Theft Auto, arguably the biggest franchise in gaming, makes it's long-awaited return next Spring. The Wii U, which will finally allow Nintendo to have most current third-party offerings on their console without any significant sacrifices and possibly even some improvements since the Wii U is slightly more powerful and of course has the unique Gamepad controller. We are already seeing early benefits of this with major third-party offerings coming out at launch like Black Ops II, Darksiders II and in the future with highly anticipated games like Injustice & Aliens: Colonial Marines. But Nintendo owners won't be getting all of the big titles. Bioshock Infinity for example, arguably the most anticipated multi-platform game of early 2013, is not currently slated for a Wii U release. Now it's heavily rumored that a Wii U version is in the works, but If it's 6 or more months down the line, that's not really offering an experience on par with the other consoles. Whether or not the Wii U will get ports of games that are on the Xbox 720/PS4 (or whatever those will be called) is in question. But since we probably won't even see those systems til 2014, the important thing for now is that owners aren't missing out on current third-party offerings, especially those must-have titles that have such a huge and loyal following. This is the first time it seems like there is a real shot at getting a GTA release on a Nintendo home console since Nintendo seems to be really making an effort at having third-parties on board this time. Granted, GTA V was just recently announced, but it's definitely coming out on PS3 and 360, with no announcement one way or the other for Wii U as of yet. If Nintendo really wants to prove viable to the core audience, they need to have releases like this on their system as well, and in a timely manner too. No one is going to be pleased to get a port when everyone has already moved on to the next big multi-platform release. Getting GTA on the system would speak volumes. They manged to get the two biggest holiday releases-Assassin's Creed III & Black Ops II for launch, which is a good start, but they need to keep it up as that will be the best way to get a good head start on whatever Sony & Microsoft are planning next. That's it for today, I will try and have a post up this weekend about the Wii U launch itself, possibly on Sunday so I can at least give impressions of the launch games I pick up (which as of right now are Nintendoland, New Super Mario Bros U, Darksiders II and probably one more, most likely Epic Mickey 2 based on the awesome demo). Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: The Water Knight Game


You can pick up your Wii U games today...

Well maybe not Nintendoland or New Super Mario Bros. U, but it being the Tuesday before the Wii U finally launches many 3rd party titles such as Assassin's Creed III, Black Ops II & Scribblenauts Unlimited are hitting stores tomorrow so if you wanted to pick any of those up prior to launch it would be a good opportunity.

I'm now several hours into Paper Mario Sticker Star, and I can tell you that if you were expecting some sort of rpg you'll be at least mildly dissapointed. It's more like a classic adventure title with turn-based battles thrown in to mix things up. The good news is the majority of times it works quite well, but there are a few times when the design fall on its face to a frustrating degree. Mainly because the designers, rather than letting you be creative in how you solve puzzles (and boss fights, which are puzzles all on their own) have a very specific solution even when other objects would clearly get the job done just as well. Also at least to this point, sticker management is a pain as space at the beginning is pretty limited. It would be nice if I could just stack multiple stickers of the same type in one slot, but I do also see how that could really limit the challenge since most stickers respawn once you have left an area and at least the basic attack types are really cheap. Despite these minor annoyances like I said for the most part it works pretty brilliantly and add in the incredibly clever writing and you've easily have the best 3DS game of the year.

The final big multi-platform release of 2012 hits stores today in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. It changes up a lot of what I'd expect out of a shooter. Tons of MP content to be sure, but the single player, with it's jumping time periods and choices with consequences gameplay has me way more interested than I've been in recent history. The last shooter I probably seriously got into was the original Modern Warfare, which was probably the last major change-up to the COD series, so maybe Black Ops II offers a  drastic enough change that it'll get me invested in the series again. I would like to at least rent the Wii U version, so I'll certainly give my impressions if I get my hands on it.

-That's all for today, I will certainly do at least one more post before Sunday when the Wii U hits, but until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: World War Z


A tale of two (epic) Mickeys...

Yes I played Halo 4. My opinion? It's like 343 studios tried to get as close as they possibly could to a Bungie Halo rather than really put their own unique stamp on it. There are a couple differences-I think the Forerunners are some of the most challenging enemies in the series and ammo is a lot more scarce in general making you be a bit more tactical in your approach to enemies. And obviously there will be no lack of content with free Spartan Ops missions every week. And maybe for this entry it was the way to go, so 343 could point to this and say yes we can do a Halo game, now the next entry will be us really putting our own spin on it for the next entry. It does make me potentially excited for Halo 5, though at this point I can't see buying an Xbox 720 (or whatever it will be called) just for that if they are jumping to the next generation with the next entry.

I've been fairly vocal about my massive disappointment in the virtually unplayable mess that was Epic Mickey. It was ugly, even for a Wii game, the controls were a little wonky but the killer was the terrible camera that literally made it impossible to even see much of the time. When I heard they were making a sequel, I wanted to be optimistic that Warren Spector and his team would see the obvious problems and really work to fix them, but I was understandably not expecting a huge turnaround. I was interested in the fact that they were releasing 2 decidedly different Epic Mickey titles for home console and the 3DS, the latter being an homage to the old 8 & 16-bit classic Mickey games while the former was more in line withe original, giving people good reasons to buy both. That's assuming they are any good of course. Well, demos have been released for both titles, and I've turned from skeptic to very excited.

 For the console version, I know Warren Spector talked about this being a "video game musical" but I wasn't horribly impressed with the opening number by the Mad Doctor, so we'll see how that theme actually works out(but the addition of voice acting is a nice and much needed touch). The good news is the game plays very well. The camera is pretty much fixed, the controls respond well (though I think some potential was missed since this title fits motion control well and they decided to go with the traditional controller format) and it looks great. I might very well actually grab this for the Wii U come launch day as it should be roughly the same on all consoles.

The portable version is a pretty nice surprise as well. 2d platformers aren't exactly rare on portables so a title would have to do something special to stand out and Power of Ilusion manages to look great in its old school style and is jam packed with characters and general fan service for the discerning Disney fan. Granted if you are still playing plenty of New Super Mario Bros. 2 or Paper Mario (which I'll talk more about in my next post) I doubt this will replace those but it's also probably the last worthwhile 3DS title coming out this year (damn you Nintendo for pushing Luigi's Mansion 2 back) so it's probably worth the pickup at some point.

So in essence these two demos have for now turned me into a hopeful fan of the Epic Mickey franchise. Let's hope the full release lives up to the potential. My next post will almost certainly be on Sunday with thoughts if not first impressions (depending on how much time I get in) on the big 3DS holiday release-Paper Mario: Sticker Star. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Medieval Shark


The Medium Entertainment Review: Wreck-It Ralph

There's an important distinction to make about Wreck-It Ralph versus other video-game inspired movies. This is a movie that definitely makes the story take precedence over the video game world it's set in. It has some references to well known video games, but most of those are done within the first 20 or so minutes (almost all within the bad guys anonymous meeting we've seen so much of in all the trailers). So admittedly those expecting a movie completely jam-packed with nods and inside jokes about gaming might be dissapointed as the large majority of the movie takes place in the candy coated world of the Sugar Rush racing game. But the story while pretty predictable, is cleverly told and the characters are all very entertaining and peppered with great performances from the entire cast. It doesn't quite reach the heights of Toy Story, which it so clearly borrows a lot of its inspiration from, but it gets pretty close. In fact those who have grown up more on video games than traditional toys may feel more of a connection to this, as it certainly works as Toy Story for the gamer generation. This is not just the best video-game movie ever made (because let's face it, that's not exactly a high-bar), it's one of the better animated films I've seen in the last few years, especially compared to the recent disappointing efforts of Pixar lately like Cars 2 & Brave (and frankly I don't have much hope for Monsters University while we're at it). Hopefully this will get at least one sequel because I'd be very excited to see it's take on more video game worlds.

That's it for today, but I certainly plan on renting the much anticipated Halo 4 so look for my impressions on my next post, most likely on Wednesday. Until then, here's your TRAILER OF THE WEEK: Epic


Disney probably could've picked a better title...

I am beyond excited about Wreck-It Ralph, which is doubly amazing given the general history of movies based around video games (with the exception of the eternally awesome Last Starfighter) and the fact that it is a non-Pixar Disney animated film, which generally isn't all that good. I'm going to see it tomorrow and put my review up this weekend. I am completely sure it will be amazing. That being said, all the title makes me think of this:

The early reviews of Halo 4 are in. I'll be honest, I have had very little excitement about this game. It looked like 343 studios was very complacent in just keeping things status quo as to not rile the legions of Halo fans out there. The reviews, though overwhelmingly positive, seem to confirm this. I'm sure it will be reliably solid, but these days I think any shooter franchise, even one as revered as Halo really needs to do something original to separate itself from the huge glut of shooters out there. I do plan on renting it next week and will give impressions, but it's been a long time since a shooter has really gotten me excited, I doubt Halo 4 is going to rekindle that fire.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least talk about the surprise announcement of Disney buying Lucasfilm and more specifically and importantly, Star Wars. I think the biggest surprise at this point is people claiming it will ruin the franchise.  I would've expected the worst response to be more like "well it can't get any worse". Because seriously, all Lucas has tried to do in the last 15 or so years is pretty much ruin the franchise between messing with the original trilogy and unleashing the prequel trilogy on us. And just look at Marvel. It's films have hardly suffered since being under the Disney flag. Arguably the best news to come out of this is that Lucas will only be in a advisory role on the newly planned trilogy, really giving the Star Wars franchise a decent shot at redemption.

That's really all for today. I should certainly have a review up by Sunday of Wreck-it-Ralph, along with maybe some other things to talk about. Until then, here's your FREE GAME OF THE WEEK: Hero's Duty