For the better part of last week, I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The reviews for it have been average at best, but I’m having fun with it, largely for the graphics, good control, the great acting, and the storyline that puts the Prequel-era movies to shame. Sure, I’ve seen some graphic glitches, the character’s gotten stuck a few times, and the game actually crashed on me once, but is the game as a whole bad? No. Not at all. But it could have stood to use a little more “polish”. I’m sure announcing to lay the whole team off a few months before the game was complete is the result of some of these glitches, but what they accomplished was great overall. Lucasarts finally made a character not from the movies interesting (see “Rookie 1″ from the Rebel Assault series).
The Wii version obviously lacks the graphical “wow” and alters the storyline (not to mention the characters move like mannequins in cutscenes, losing all their facial expression and subtle body movements that make them look more human), but the control is cool and responsive, and is actually quite fun to play. But going from 360 to Wii is a definite jump, especially in the loss of detail.
Next week, Mega Man 9 is coming out (for Wii and PS3, then 360 a week later or so), taking that total “return to basics” approach, complete with 8-Bit graphics, sound, and gameplay. It’s an interesting statement that this is one of the games generating the biggest buzz and excitement in the gaming community this year. Putting out another NES style Mega Man game 15 years ago would have probably generated an “Oh God, no” response from the gaming community, yet here we are welcoming a ninth installment with open arms. Have we really gotten too advanced with games that it has begun to stray away from gameplay that is simply just “fun”? Of course, there’s too much of simplicity (I’m looking at you, endless mini-game and party game clones), but it seems like with these games that go back to just fundamental gameplay, there’s something more than just “nostalgia” fueling the interest.
I’m in the “welcoming” camp. I loved 8-bit and 16-bit gameplay, especially 2D platformers, so seeing what was something of a dying genre for a while starting to make a return is fine by me.
I’ve been playing the Wii a little bit more (not as much as the 360, as I’m trying to complete a few games there), but I think it’s due to the Wii actually having games this month: Force Unleashed, Mega Man 9, Strong Bad Episode 2, Wario Land: Shake It, Lego Batman, de Blob, Samba de Amigo… not to mention that decent VC content is starting to appear again. I won’t be getting all of the above mentioned games, but outside of Brawl’s release last Spring, this is probably the most gaming content the Wii has seen all year. And sadly, it looks to be going back to crickets again at the end of the month. It makes you wonder why, with as big of an installed user base as Nintendo has now, why they’ve been sitting on their laurels and not doing much?
Like Metroid Prime 3, Wario Land hasn’t gotten much visible advertising, which is a shame, as 2D platformers have always been known as something of an art from Nintendo. They need to announce some games soon. The general gaming audience is getting tired of the kitten sims and mini game compilations. Wii Music has done nothing to generate interest from me, surprising for a Miyamoto title, and is certainly marketed more heavily than poor Wario has been.
Finally, in a bit of a surprise, Square-Enix is releasing a new Kingdom Hearts game for the Playstation 2. The PS2 is a system that simply refuses to die. PS3 has been out for nearly 2 years now, and at a point where the system should be getting children’s licensed shovelware by the ton from publishers you’ve never heard of, the PS2 is still getting a majority of the “big” titles put out on it, and now this. It’s a 3D version of the Game Boy Advance Chain of Memories game, but in a time where I thought I would have well retired the PS2 to my “archives” library, they’ve given me one last reason to fire the system up.
Playstation 2: The industy’s zombie that you simply can not kill. Even with fire.