Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gaming Kick, Continued

First and foremost, I'm a toy guy. I like buying action figures, it's a blast to track down super-cheap Playmobil toys, and who doesn't like stumbling on the odd figure marked only a penny? It's good times. Lately, though, I've been getting more valuable game time in, which sucks away the time I have to write about toys (bad) but keeps me from going out and buying lots of new toys I may not soon have the space for (good). The key enablers for this change aren't just the parade of above-par software. No. It's because they managed to get "collecting" into my gaming, damn them.

Toy runs-- that is, the long drives to multiple stores to attempt to score cheap clearance toys or new releases-- were spectacular training for game runs. Lately, numerous retailers (specifically, big box ones) have started to reward patience with obscenely low prices. You say you want to try Virtua Fighter 5 but don't think it's worth more than five bucks? You say you you don't think anyone should pay more than $9.98 for The Orange Box? Well, apparently someone out there agrees with you. I'm now seeing recent games like Soulcalibur IV for as little as $15 on the Xbox 360 and $34 (and falling) on the Playstation 3. The game came out about seven months ago.

So now there's a "collecting" aspect in just running around to score a good deal. I was curious to try LEGO Indiana Jones, but not at $50. So I waited around and got it last November for $12.50. And yes, that's new. Also, I blame achievements for giving me a sort of a meta-game on top of the normal games. If you've got weird little compulsions to unlock everything in a game, this is a painful experience as some of these are nearly impossible to get, but I guess the good thing about them is that getting them won't take up any extra space in your home.

Unfortunately, I still have yet to find a good (or any) fighting stick, so Virtua Fighter 5 seems to be borderline unplayable.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

5 Unreasonable Video Game Demands for 2009

I've got my video game itch back. I had it pretty bad before college and it's been coming and going since I got the Xbox 360. (I'd have it more if Konami had more Castlevanias or Nintendo did more 2D Mario games.) Here's what I want to see released or announce in 2009, dammit.

5. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (Nintendo DS)
The original New Super Mario Bros. was a 2D game with 3D graphics, and it came out in 2006. It sold millions of copies worldwide and continues to sell very well at full price nearly three years later. So where's the sequel? Nintendo has been downright awful at cranking out Mario platformer sequels since the early 1990s-- there was never a second Super Mario World, and the portable Super Mario Land series stopped at #2 before Wario took over. This is not really an unreasonable request.

4. Gradius (Something new, please)
Again, not really all that unreasonable. Gradius Rebirth was released in Japan last Fall, and there's no US release of the Wii Ware game. There haven't been any announcements of Xbox 360 or PSN or Wii games in the USA, and I'm particularly pissy about the lack of the Salamander games on online-enabled consoles. Why the heck aren't these available?

3. Bring Back Vs. Fighting Games (any, Xbox preferred)
Japan gets it-- specifically, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. There have also been "dream match" games featuring Optimus Prime (Convoy) fighting various Japanese heroes and villains. You may even recall the various Marvel vs. Capcom games and, to a lesser extent, the Smash Bros. series. What happened to this awesome level of creativity? The best we've seen is Soul Calibur and its myriad guest stars, which included the likes of Spawn, Link, and Darth Vader. These are nothing to sneeze at, but we need more. Why can't I get a game with Spider-Man, Batman, Shredder, Lion-O, Skeletor, Ryu, and the German Mechanic from Raiders of the Lost Ark all wailing on each other? I love my Street Fighter IV, but I want it to get absolutely nuts next time.

2. 2D Castlevania, Metroid (any)
The last 2D Metroid we got was Zero Mission in 2004. Castlevania got its last classic outing on the PSP in 2007. MORE PLEASE. Interestingly, Capcom seems to be one company consistently performing here with the Mega Man series. Between the two PSP titles and the amazing Mega Man 9, things have been good. I'm old, I like my games in two dimensions and want more.

1. A Retro Collection I Care About
There haven't been all that many collection discs I get genuinely excited about. The classic Super Mario All-Stars was and remains a shining example of what to do-- give people good games at a good price, without being annoying about it. Capcom's Mega Man 20th Anniversary Collection was also great. The various "Intellivision" or "Atari" collections largely suck, if for no reason other than I see these games as having zero actual appeal once the novelty of booting them up wears off. Where's Metroid All-Stars or The Complete Donkey Kong Collection? Why haven't we seen some sort of collection of the classic Dragon Warrior (or Quest) games since the GameBoy Color's bundle of I and II? Is it too much to ask that video games get some sort of box set treatment like some of the more popular classic bands out there? Probably. But I can't be the only one who'd shell out for the means to play classic or even slightly updated versions of the original few Zelda games in a big box with an action figure and let's say a few maps, right?