Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Play-N-Trade vs Gamestop: Which Game Store Topples the Other?

Ever since EBGames disappeared after the 2005 merger with gaming giant Gamestop, there hasn't been much in the way of competition in terms of game specialty stores. In many areas of the country it was either Gamestop or nothing. If you were unhappy with Gamestop's prices, trade in values or general business practices then it was too bad - either suck it up and purchase from them or order from one of the many online websites that sell video games. However, Play-N-Trade, a relatively new franchise-based game store, has been opening up retail locations all around the United States over the past two years. Does it topple the 800-pound giant that is Gamestop, or is it akin to the mediocre indie stores you randomly run into from time to time? Well, both stores definitely have their pros and cons, which are addressed below:

Great return policy on used merchandise (if you're unhappy with a used game that you've purchased then you can simply return it within seven days for a full refund).
+ Extremely convenient - since they can be found virtually in any mall or major shopping center, you will never have a problem locating a Gamestop store in a pinch.
+ Solid trade-in promotions - Although Gamestop generally gives chump change for the majority of game trade-ins, they often run promotions that (for example, an extra $10 for trading in multiple titles at once) make you feel like you've gotten a worthwhile amount of value.
- A complete absence of classic titles and accessories will turn off retro gamers.
- Many of the so-called "new" games are actually opened copies that look suspiciously used (they may be missing the game manuals or have scratches and smudges on the discs).
- You will be charged a resurfacing fee for scratched trade-ins, even if you purchased the title from Gamestop in that condition.
- The used game prices sometimes are aligned with online auction sites such as eBay and Amazon, so those looking for a bargain on rare older titles will be solely disappointed.


+ Offers a wide selection of games and consoles for sale, including pretty much every old school system.

+ Each store is equipped with a professional disc resurfacing machine (used to fix scratched and damaged discs) similar to the ones found in rental stores.

+ You can try any game in the store prior to purchase.

- Abysmal return policy (you can only receive store credit back on defective merchandise or even merchandise that you haven’t opened yet but want to return).

- As Play-N-Trade is a franchise, the pricing on items is up to the manager’s discretion so each store has game’s priced differently.

- Much like Gamestop, Play-N-Trade also sells “gutted” opened copies of supposed new games.

Overall, there is not a clear-cut winner in this case. Play-N-Trade is definitely an interesting newer store with a nice retro selection, but having to be stuck with store credit (even in the case of non-defective, unopened returns such as game consoles) would make me chose Gamestop over them in the event of a large purchase. Overall though, if Play-N-Trade could somehow create a universal pricing structure and improve their store policies then they would have a better chance of taking on Gamestop’s game store monopoly. With Play-N-Trade becoming larger and larger, however, I’m sure Gamestop is watching them very closely.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Trace Memory - Will It Ever Make Its Way Back to North America?

Trace Memory, originally released for the Nintendo DS in North America in 2005, felt like a breath of fresh air in a gaming market that feels a bit stale at times. A puzzle-heavy adventure title, it went on to become more successful overseas than over on this side of the pond. Sure, it was pretty much devoid of any action or violence, but Trace Memory was still a beautiful, unique adventure title marred only by its unfortunate brief length (seasoned gamers could finsh it in well under 10 hours, though I do get the urge to play it again from time to time).

Known as Another Code in Japan, 'Another Code: R' has already made its way over to Japan and Europe. Continuing the story of the first title on the DS, foreign genre fans and those who have imported this sequel have been eating it up so far (even if Japanese gaming magazine giant Famitsu did score it an underwhelming 28/40, fan reception has been significantly better).

So, the question facing us is... will Trace Memory ever make its way back to the U.S.? I'm certainly hoping so! While a North American release has not been announced yet (and this dry summer season would have been the absolute perfect time for a title like this), I'm hoping that Nintendo will take a risk and give the U.S. market another chance at this original series. After all, I'm sure hardcore gamers who own a Wii would prefer a Trace Memory sequel over derirative New Play Control re-releases and the glut of shovelware plaguing the console, right?

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne Reprints - Get 'Em While They Last!

Despite being highly acclaimed upon release in late 2004, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne quickly fell into obscurity shortly after release due to being largely ignored by the game playing public. After fetching insane amounts of money on eBay due to later demand and a lack of adequate supply, GameQuestDirect took notice and gained permission from Atlus to sell reprinted copies of this title in 2008. Selling on an average of $35-$50, even those were quickly snapped up and the game once again became highly sought after.

GameQuestDirect has once again reprinted Nocturne in solid quantities for its original retail price of $49.99. While that may still seem a bit steep in price for those who are only mildly interested in playing a last-gen RPG, if you enter in coupon code GPNOCTURNE on their websiteit will bump the total price down to a mere $29.99. Add in their free shipping option and you have a deal that’s not too shabby, especially considering the fact that Nocturne is bound to explode in value once this next batch of reprints are completely sold out.

Nocturne is definitely a title I’ve had my eye on for years now but avoided due to the absurd prices it was going for on online auction sites. Here's hoping my $30 copy lives up to the hype!


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

E3 2009: And The Most Impressive Showing Was...

E3 2009 was certainly one of the more memorable E3 events held in recent years. Chock full of surprises from all three of the main competitors (Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft), I’m now looking forward to the rest of this gaming year more enthusiastically after some of the major new titles were finally unveiled during 2009’s largest gaming event. Who had the best overall showing in my book, though? Let’s just say it’ll be the company that has me the most excited for gaming’s (near) future…

On the Xbox 360 front, Microsoft announced some superb-looking (though expected) sequels such as Forza Motorsport 3 and Crackdown 2 that are sure to become hits when released later this year. The classic N64 FPS Perfect Dark will also be making its way over to Xbox Live Arcade, and the sequel to last year’s stunningly-received Left 4 Dead will be returning only to the Xbox 360 (though keep in mind it’s only a console exclusive – a PC version is very well on its way as well). Microsoft will also be entering the motion-control realm with Project Nadal, which lets you use your entire body to control on-screen functions. Let’s hope that the 360 market doesn’t become oversaturated with throwaway shovel ware ala the Wii due to this new device.

Sony had a solid, though unspectacular showing at this year’s E3. The announcement of a new PSP was certainly large news, and the PSP will be getting some impressive exclusives in the Gran Turismo, Assassin’s Creed and Resident Evil franchises. PS3 sequels such as God of War III and Uncharted 2 do certainly look great though… but then again, we’ve known about these for quite awhile now. Gran Turismo 5 on the PS3 was shown for the first time, however, and it looks like it’ll provide some stiff competition for Microsoft’s Forza 3 when it releases sometime in the future. Sony also unveiled their own motion controller which will see release in Spring 2010.

Nintendo’s E3 Press Conference surprised me the most. In terms of software, there were many unexpected returns such as New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2. Yeah, yeah… they kinda look like mere rehashes of past games, but their processors were of such outstanding quality that it’s hard not to get excited about these sequels. Perhaps most shocking of all, Team Ninja will be developing the next Metroid game which is said to be “edgier” than past entries. Wii Fit Plus, The Wii Vitality sensor, and new DS titles such as Zelda: Sprit Trackers another Golden Sun entry round out Nintendo’s portion of E3.

Overall, while Microsoft and Sony have some undeniably big hitters coming this season, it looks like Nintendo’s showing at E3 had the largest amount of software that I can’t wait to get my hands on. It’s safe to say that it’s going to be another great year for all three of the manufactures, though.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wii: What to Waggle From the Summer 'Till the End of '09

Did I truly purchase a Wii solely to play first-party titles? Not necessarily - I'll try anything that plays well, regardless of the company producing it. But just like the N64 and the GC before it, I'm having a perplexing time finding any third-party Wii games that grab my interest. My Wii library is proof of this - of the 8 Wii games I currently own, all are Nintendo published titles. I may have picked up a third-party release here or there, but ending up selling them off because they played like absolute rubbish (gimmicky, pitiful software like Elebits comes immediately to mind). And with Nintendo focusing more on their casual fans than their hardcore base, I'm thinking my Wii will collect far more dust than my otherwise daily-used Xbox 360.

For the rest of 2009, however, there are some titles being released that probably won't make my Wii completely lonely. Punch-Out!! (pictured above) may not be an immediate, $50 purchase, but it looks to be a blast from the past that may very well make its way into my library once the price takes a bit of a dip. Hopefully its old-school style gameplay will still hold up in our modern era, but according to recent feedback from gamers and critics it plays surprisingly well.

I also sold off my copies of Metroid Prime 1 and 3 this week after the announcement of Metroid Prime Trilogy from Nintendo. This disc, coming in August, will pack in all three of the console Metroid Prime titles on one disc for 50 bones. Although it may seem a bit premature to be re-releasing these games, they are indeed excellent, unique titles that are worth a second play through. The fact that I never played 2004's Metroid Prime 2 further sweetens an already tasty deal.

It sure is slim pickings from the big N other than those two major first-party properties, though. On the third-party front Samurai Showdown Anthlogy, another solid-looking compilation, should provide 2D-era fun. Muramasa and Sin & Punishment 2 are two hardcore titles that definitely look to be worth a play. I'm finding myself less enthusiastic about hyped up first-person shooter titles such as The Conduit, though. While this may sell well on Nintendo's platform (due to the dearth of titles in this genre), it looks completely lackluster compared to FPS's on the two more powerful current-gen consoles.After all, Modern Warfare 2 on the 360 will leave no room for generic FPS's such as this.

So while this looks to be a decent Wii lineup for the summer to the end of 2009 from Nintendo and various third-party companies, I'm not completely stoked about playing a single one of these titles. Compared to heavy-hitters such as Bioshock 2, Modern Warfare 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction and Dead Rising 2 on the Xbox 360, this Wii lineup falls incredibly short.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Forza 3: The Be End All Racing Title?

Forza Motorsport became an instant smash hit when it was released late into the original Xbox's lifespan in Spring 2005. The only true high quality racing simulator on Microsoft's original black box, the now defunct game publication Electronic Gaming Monthly went as far as to say that it's "Better than Gran Turismo 4". Forza 2 followed up two years later on the Xbox 360, improving on the original and remaining one of the best racing titles of this generation.

While both titles were undeniably excellent, Forza 3 will eclipse them in terms of sheer depth and content if the rumors of what it's supposed to feature come true. Supposedly shipping later this year on two discs, Forza 3 could potentially feature over 450 cars, 100 tracks, and gain a host of new game play modes such as rally and drift racing. The online play should also handle more racers at a time (rumored to be as many as 24 racers on the track at once) and the tuning options are said to be expanded. Of course, this is just speculation and rumor for now, but oddly enough Microsoft is not denying these claims either. And industry insiders are reporting that Microsoft is going to unveil even more information regarding Forza 3 this June...

If Forza 3's development goes as planned and these many features make it into the final product, then it's safe to say that Microsoft will have a true blockbuster on their hands. Hey, third time's the charm, right? Not to say that the first series entries weren't among the best simulation racers of all time, but Forza 3 may very well make the two prior entries in this series completely obsolete.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marvel Vs Capcom 2: A New Age of Online Fighting Has Been Confirmed!

After months and months of speculation and rumors, it’s finally official: Marvel vs. Capcom 2 will be hitting the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 as a downloadable title this summer.

Revealed last night (April 27th) by Capcom, this PSN and Xbox Live Marketplace-exclusive re-release will not only include all of the features of past editions of this title but online play as well. Based off of the Dreamcast code (which is as closest to “arcade perfect” as console renditions go), Marvel vs Capcom 2 will also contain HD widescreen support, new volume and sound options (such as the ability to use custom soundtracks – who wouldn’t want to hear “Wanna Take You For a Ride”, though?), and every character and option will be unlocked from the get go. I’m especially joyful about that last update, as I’ve already spent a countless hours playing Marvel vs Capcom 2 on the PS2 and having to unravel everything again would be overkill, to say the least.

Even more intriguing is that this announcement has already affected the values of PS2 and Xbox editions of this title. Previously two of the most expensive titles for their respective consoles, the prices for these out of print games have plunged since the announcement of the superior downloadable update last night. Good thing I unloaded my copy of the PS2 edition awhile back for nearly 100 gorgeous dollar bills. Now I just have to wait two more months for online 2D fighting perfection.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Lazy Saturday Afternoon Is Chock Full of 360 Rumors and News

Ahh, the weekend is finally here. After a long, grueling week of work and other "responsibilities", I've finally found some time to get back to my good ol' gaming blog again. However, while this Saturday afternoon may be a lazy one, this post will not be, as it's chock full of the most noteworthy news and rumors for the Xbox 360 currently making waves 'round the internet.

First, I'd like to talk about Marvel vs Capcom 2. Originally released for the Dreamcast in 2000 and later ported to the PS2 and Xbox over two years later, all versions of this excellent 2D fighter have been long out print. Due to the quality of this title (it's easily among the greatest and most addictive fighters of all time) and obscurity of it (Capcom no longer owns the rights to use the Marvel license, thus they are not legally able to give it a reprint), Marvel vs Capcom 2 has been fetching over $60 on the Dreamcast and Xbox and more than $100 on the PS2 as of late. This makes Marvel vs Capcom 2 one of the most valuable and sought after console titles currently on the market.

Rumors have it that Capcom may be re-releasing this infinitely-playable 2D fighter on both Xbox Live and PSN for an estimated cost of $15-$20 (after the points conversion). Not only has the ESRB rated it for both of the HD consoles, an Xbox 360 Achivements website has released an apparent list of achievements for the game.

Two loopholes stand out here, however. Not only has Capcom never re-acquired the Marvel license, but the achievements website that posted this may very well be the work of a jokester tricking gamers into believing a hoax. Also, the ESRB has rated games in the past that have never been released to the market.

Gamers may very well keep speculating on Capcom's legendary fighter coming to the current gen, but it would be wise not to bet any money on it until a major source (or even Capcom themselves) confirm this.

In other news, the March 2009 NPD sales figures have been announced, and Resident Evil 5 has debuted at the top of charts. Selling almost a million units on the 360 alone, the latest entry in the long-running series beat out even Pokemon Platinum for the DS. Didn't see that coming! Microsoft has also re-designed the notoriously aesthetically displeasing Platinum Hits covers (pictured above), and the company is even rumored to be coming out with a new Xbox Live Upgrade (said to be called 'Vip Membership', a level above the current Gold membership). More on that once some concrete info is released.

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Friday, April 03, 2009

What a Difference a Generation Makes...

Dinosaur Planet was originally planned to be one of the last big-budget releases on Nintendo's aging Nintendo 64 back in the first half of 2001. Produced by Rare Ware while they were still owned by Nintendo, Dinosaur Planet was posed to push the Nintendo 64 to its graphical and size limits.

Rare planned for this to be a brand new, original IP full of fresh characters and massive level designs (well, for the Nintendo 64, anyway - this was in the age before The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion).

However, later in the year it was discovered that Dinosaur Planet would be altered to Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet. The main character would be replaced by the legendary Fox McCloud and this project would no longer be seeing an N64 release. This title was moved up to Nintendo's Gamecube due to the N64's limited and expensive development costs (which we could blame on the big N's wonderful decision to use cartridges instead of compact discs) and drying-up fanbase. It would simply make no sense to release such a high-profile title this late into the console's lifespan, so Nintendo was determined to make Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet a showpiece for their next-gen console.

Nintendo eventually shaved the Dinosaur Planet sub-title off the game entirely and released it as Starfox Adventures in September 2002. Although it was essentially a Rare adventure title with Starfox tacked on, Starfox Adventures would go on to receive generally favorable reviews (as the 80% from GameRankings proves) and become a high-selling Player's Choice title.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Lesson on How NOT To Revive an Old Game Series

Although the "Ready 2 Rumble" boxing series was never my cup of tea, none of the past series entries have received the type of scathing backlash that the latest Wii release (titled 'Revolution') has.

A series previously owned by Midway (who sold the license for their boxing franchise off after having troubling financial issues) and now the property of Atari, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Revolution was supposed to be a casual-friendly revival for this once moderately popular series. The Ready 2 Rumble name has been out of the loop for nearly eight years, after all (its last appearance being the early GameBoy Advance rendition of Round 2 in Spring 2001), so what better time for a Renaissance-style resurrection than now?

Unfortunately, Ready 2 Rumble Revolution looks as if its not the type of comeback that fans have been looking for. Like a harrowed sports legend past his prime and only dirtying his memory by making a pitiful reappearance, Revolution has received horrendously bad reviews thus far. Game Informer went as far to give it their lowest score possible (an appalling 1 out of 10, something that hasn't been given out to a single title in their publication for ages). Gamespot gave it a slightly higher (but still pitiful) 3.5 out of 10, noting that Revolution had an excellent amount of potential but that the atrocious controls and lame, stereotypical characters ruin the entire game.

From the poor recreation of boxing on Nintendo's original Wii Sports pack-in to Ready 2 Rumble Revolution (as well as the glut of shovel ware boxing titles found on the system in-between those two releases), no developer has gotten this sports genre correct on the Wii yet. This is a shame, as the Wii's unique controls could very well make for an engaging boxing experience if done right. Oh well.... maybe EA could release one of their acclaimed Fight Night titles on Nintendo's system in the future, provided it's not one of their dumbed-down "All Play" versions.


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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Play Control Wii Releases: How Are the Reviews?

I've always found it mind-blowing that gamers would be quick to criticize companies such as EA (who would release gluts of annual games such as Madden and Need for Speed ad naseum) for milking game series for all they're worth yet they'd be the same people first in line to purchase the newest incarnation of the DS from Nintendo or an updated version of a Metal Gear Solid release (such as the Essentials collection or the Substance upgrades) from Konami.

I'd say that the recently released New Play Control series re-confirms that Nintendo rehashes their releases more than any other company. For those who are unfamiliar with the Wii re-releases of Pikmin and Mario Power Tennis, these are the same exact titles that appeared on the Gamecube years ago except with new inferior cover art, higher prices, slightly upgraded visuals for Mario Power Tennis and motion controls. That's it.

New Play Control! Pikmin has garnered a 77% average thus far, and despite its mostly favorable reviews UGO makes a great point about this soulless rehash:

"New Play Control! Pikmin exemplifies Nintendo’s “most profit from least effort” strategy. Like the no frills Virtual Console emulations to the last-gen Wii hardware, this game’s a money grab barely disguised by a low price tag and abandoned potential. Why isn’t Pikmin 2 on the same disc? Why isn’t their bonus content to warrant a re-purchase? Why are we paying $30 for a modified launch title for a dead console? ".

According to IGN, Mario Power Tennis' controls have actually been downgraded on its way over to the Wii. When commenting on its game play, IGN has said this:

"What was once a great game has been pruned and morphed into lots of waggle, unreliable motion control, and a game with very little control over ball placement."

So far, New Play Control! Mario Power Tennis has received a mediocre 65% average from Game Rankings.

Overall, although these games will probably see much success due to the casual market, I'm hoping they flop at retail in order to prevent such worthless cash-ins in the future.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Xbox 360: The Best of the Bargains

It is important to be money-conscious in today's poor economy. Here are some of the best Xbox 360 bargains on the market right now, each title delivering great value with great game play.

NBA Street: Homecourt

The NBA Street series has always been undeniably addictive, and Street’s first next-gen outing is no exception. Homecourt’s online play and replay-packed Homecourt Challenge mode will keep you hooked for months. I ordered my copy brand new off a seller on Amazon.com for a paltry $5, which is an absolute bargain for what I consider to be the best basketball game on the market right now.

Project Gotham Racing 3

Project Gotham Racing 3 was an instant hit as an Xbox 360 launch game. Thus, since it sold so well, the market is now flooded with cheap used copies. Available for about the same price of an average fast-food meal (used copies typically go for around less than $4), PGR3 may be old but the solid racing game play is anything but antiquated.

Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

Who would have thought that one of the best shooters on the 360 could also be one of the cheapest? I actually prefer the challenging strategic squad-based game play to more action-packed fair like Call of Duty. You can easily track down a copy of this top-notch shooter for less than $15.


GUN was shunned by most next-gen gamers due to its lackluster, PS2-esque visuals. However, if you can get past the mediocre graphics you will find an enjoyable (if brief) Wild West action romp with a fascinating open-world design. GUN on the 360 usually runs from around $10-$15, and is well-worth the price of admission.

Naruto: Rise of a Ninja

It’s really telling about the quality of this product that I – someone who doesn’t even watch the anime or read the manga that Rise of a Ninja is based on – would enjoy this release so much. The fantastic, cel-shaded visuals really pull you into Naruto’s world and the exploration and action bits are an absolute blast. Naruto: Rise of a Ninja is $12 well spent.

Burnout Paradise

Some design flaws prevent Burnout Paradise from achieving absolute racing greatness, but at its new low price of $19.99 there is no excuse not to pick up such a blazingly fast and fun racer.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

One Expensive Wooden PS2

If you're strapped for cash (and who isn't in today's poor economy?), then perhaps you can make a few extra bucks by shaping and painting a block of wood to make it look like an actual PS2 and then returning it to a store. For added realism, add a serial number so it'll scan in their store system like a normal PS2 would, earning you back $130 and tax.

At least that's what some money-hungry trickster did.

This wooden unit actually made it all the way to Sony's distribution center, which is the source of this photo. I'm thinking that the employee at the store merely scanned the bar code through the box opening and didn't even give the actual system a look. The person who duped the store also put dumbbells inside the unit to make up for the otherwise low weight. Truly, it's amazing that someone got away with this ordeal. And in terms of all the wooden PS2 consoles I've seen, this ranks among the nicest by far. Wait, I haven't seen any non-plastic PS2's prior to this date...


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Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Tribute to My Dreamcast

Yes, it’s finally time to say goodbye to Sega’s revolutionary white box. While I got into Dreamcast fever rather late (in 2004, when games for the console were long out of production), I still had a blast with it. Picking it up for a mere $9.99 at my local EBGames (a game store that was actually – gasp!- good) along with a few cheapie games, a blue VMU, and an extra controller, I brought the Dreamcast home a played it well into the night.

Perhaps the most fun of all was going from second hand game store to store and finding the most desirable games for the platform. Since I got into the console late and didn’t purchase games online during this time period, it was fun going from city to city and not knowing what you’d end up with. Coming home with a mint copy of Power Stone or Street Fighter Alpha 3 meant that I had a good run.

Although collecting games for the platform was enjoyable, I can’t forget about the gameplay aspect of the games. Street Fighter Alpha 3 was one I played with friends until the wee hours of the morning, Sonic Adventure 2 provided some of the best platforming action of its time period, and Virtua Tennis was an undeniably addictive tennis simulation.

Fast forward a few years later, however, and my Dreamcast has been ignored for quite some time. Sitting in a box in my dark closet and getting no love whatsoever, possibly jealous of all of the attention my new-fangled Wii’s and 360’s are getting.

I decided that it’s finally time to give this console a new home.

I listed all of the games and the console online for sale, and now I’m just waiting for a buyer. It’s not all bad news, though. Not only will I get some extra dough and save space, but I’ll be able to repurchase many of the best games for the console on other platforms. I’ll always miss Sega’s gorgeous final console, but the games and memories of it will live on.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

PS2: The Games You Missed

The PS2 has one of the largest and most diverse list of titles of any console ever released. I still play last generation's dominating console on a regular basis - sometimes even more so than the more recent batch of consoles. Due to it having such an unusually enormous game library, there were unfortunately many titles released that failed to get the recognition they deserved. These titles, despite being great experiences, were largely ignored by the gaming public during the time they were released and faded into obscurity as a result. Check out a bargain bin near you to see if you can track down any of these releases.
Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (2001)
Klonoa 2 offered the beauty of a 3D game with the rock solid game play of a 2D classic. Old school in game play but new school in look, Klonoa 2 is a simplistic blast from the past with tried-and-true 2D platforming and intriguing puzzles. Also, even though the length of Klonoa 2 was a bit on the short side, the level design was so great that you wouldn't mind playing through this a couple of times. If this was released by Nintendo it would have unquestionably garnered more respect.

Victorious Boxers: Ippo's Road to Glory (2001)
Whether you're familiar or not with the original Japanese manga is irrelevant. Victorious Boxers is simply a fun boxing title and the first noteworthy one on the PS2. Due to to this being based off of an unfamiliar property in the U.S. (and the lack of marketing), Victorious Boxers flopped horribly when it was originally released in 2001. So while it's a bit tough to track down in stores due to its limited print run, it's well worth it if you're in the mood for an enjoyable boxing title with Japanese flavor.

Viewtiful Joe (2004)
Capcom's Viewtiful Joe found mild success on the Nintendo Gamecube but was sadly ignored on Sony's platform. Which is a shame, because the PS2 version not only featured a new difficulty level but the ability to unlock Dante from the Devil May Cry series as well. Despite its sometimes unfairly hard difficulty, Viewtiful Joe is still among the most stylish and flat out entertaining brawlers found on the PS2. Henshin a go go baby!

Taiko Drum Master (2004)

Any fan of Japan, rhythm games, or random, cute, colorful crap would be doing themselves a disservice not giving Taiko Drum Master a try. Although the overly poppy soundtrack was slightly disappointing in some regards (Britney Spears? Blech.), the included drum peripheral made Taiko a multiplayer blast.

Street Fighter EX3 (2000)
Street Fighter EX3 was among the best of the PS2's launch games. Featuring unique tag-team combat that separated this from the rest of the series, EX3 is the most underrated entry in the Street Fighter franchise by far. Being released during the same time period when 3D fighters like Tekken Tag Tournament and Dead or Alive 2 dominated the scene probably didn't help its commercial fate though...

Steambot Chronicles (2006)

Steambot Chronicles proved that an RPG didn't have to be an epic experience ala Final Fantasy to be enjoyable. While the visuals were a bit lacking, the nonlinear game play and lighthearted dialogue made Atlus' overlooked title a true role-playing treat.

And so that wraps up this list. However, this is by no means the definitive assortment of missed PS2 titles, and I'm definitely going to have to complete a part two in the future to get such excellent games like Ico and 50 Cent Bulletproof in. Wait, maybe you should scratch that last title out...

Related article:
PSX: The Games You Missed

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Top 10 Best Sellers of '08 - Did Your Favorite Make the List?

The stats for the best selling titles of 2008 have been released, and it was unquestionably Nintendo's year for sales. Wii Play (bundled with the Wii remote) is at the top of the pack with a staggering 5.28 million in sales for last year alone. Would it have sold as well without the remote pack in? Probably not, but I know that’s the reason I (and millions of others) purchased it. The mini-games on it are decently fun too, if only for a limited amount of time. Mario Kart Wii, Wii Fit, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl round out the next three spots, all featuring both mainstream and casual appeal. Grand Theft Auto IV on the 360 did extremely well at the number five spot with over three million copies sold, and Call of Duty: World at War (the 360 version) outsold Gears of War 2 on the same platform. Grand Theft Auto IV sold under two million units at the number eight spot on the PS3, and Madden 09 on the 360 sold about the same at number nine. Mario Kart DS, a title that was released way back in 2005, rounds out the list at number ten.

And, for those that just want to know the top 10 best sellers without any context...

1. Wii Play (Wii remote bundle - Wii
2. Mario Kart Wii (Racing wheel bundle) - Wii
3. Wii Fit (Balance board bundle) - Wii
4. Super Smash Bros. Brawl - Wii
5. Grand Theft Auto IV - 360
6. Call of Duty: World at War - 360
7. Gears of War 2 - 360
8. Grand Theft Auto IV - PS3
9. Madden NFL 09 - 360
10. Mario Kart DS - DS

It was a tremendously good year for Nintendo, whose mix of accessible games and popular franchises dominated the sales chart. Amazingly enough, Mario Kart DS made the top 10 list despite being three years old! It was also interesting to see Call of Duty: World at War outsell Gears of War 2. Hopefully 2009 will be an even better year for gaming - I have my fingers crossed...

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

And the Award for Most Rehashed and Least Improved Game Goes To...

What gaming series has been beat to death more than any other? Could it be the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, where the quality of the games have been on the decline for years now? Nah. While it's true that Sega's once mighty blue mascot has seen better days, the Sonic games are generally different enough not to be considered mere rehashes. How about Mario? Well, most of the plumber's adventures are quite good.

So what could it be then? Well, none other than Koei's Dynasty Warriors series. Since its original release this mediocre and highly-repetitive action series has seen a staggering 32 releases (if you count the offshoots like Samurai Warriors and such, which share the same exact game play as the Dynasty Warriors titles. The Dynasty Tactics releases were not included because the game play is unique from the action versions). That comes out to nearly four new Dynasty Warriors games released per year with little innovation (if any) from title to title.

However, someone must be eating these titles up. Despite the Warriors series typically being a one-trick pony, the releases of these games seem to have no end in sight. Koei already has Dynasty Warriors 7 and Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2 in the works, as well as a few other titles for the series. However, it seems like Koei has built up a cult audience. While the Warriors games aren't in the same league as something like Grand Theft Auto in terms of sales, I'm sure each new release sells a decent enough amount to churn a profit for Koei. And I hear that these games are quite popular in Japan... so much for Western gamers being stereotyped as the only ones with poor taste in games...

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

UGO Buys 1up: EGM Officially Canned

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Remember how I recently reported that Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) might “go the way of the dodo”? Well, it looks like that has finally come true. UGO Entertainment has purchased 1up from Ziff Davis, and while they may have claimed that 1up would “stand beside UGO as a flagship brand.” (as quoted from UGO.com), that appears to not be the case as they’ve laid off an enormous amount of 1up’s previous staff. Also, to add insult to injury, Ziff Davis has canned EGM in the process.

What’s aggravating about UGO acquiring 1up is that they essentially purchased it and killed it off around the same time. It appears as if UGO simply wanted the 1up name in order to drive more attention to its site (which currently isn’t a major force in the internet world). Also, even though it’s no secret that EGM has been a magazine of questionable quality for the past six years, I still hate to see a magazine I grew up reading be put to an end.

Oh well, that’s the way the business world runs. The popularity of print magazines have been declining for years now in our Internet age, and I’d expect some of the few remaining U.S. game-based magazines to suffer the same fate within the next couple of years. As long as Europe continues to provide us with quality video game magazines then I’ll still be a somewhat satisfied man…


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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Pro-Gamer: Year Three is Up!

You see how many candles are on that cat's cake? There's three of 'em. Alright, so why am I pointing that out? Have I turned this into a rather special blog? Nope - that's how many years old Pro-Gamer has turned today (well, yesterday, but...).

Over the years I've lost contact with older blog friends (who seemingly got lost into another dimension and whose blogs have gone non-updated for quite some time now) but gained support from new ones. I would like to thank everyone whose ever read my blog and who has commented on my articles. It's great reading what you guys have to say, regardless if your views lack integrity or not.

I would like to keep this blog updated for many years to come, and maybe I'll even look into redesigning it sometime in 2009. Pro-Gamer has had the same look since 2006... it's looking a bit worn out now, eh? I'd just like to give a big thanks to everyone for reading and I hope that you guys stick by for another (hopefully) great year of gaming!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Activision Drives the Guitar Hero Franchise Even Further Into the Ground

Although I was never a huge fan of the series, I once thought that the Guitar Hero games were decent rhythm titles that provided a good amount of fun. However, with Activision releasing countless spin-offs with negligible improvements and song lists that decline in quality with each new edition I quickly lost interest in the Guitar Hero games.

It looks like Activision is going to milk the series even further in 2009. Although we're all aware that they're going to be releasing Guitar Hero Metallica for consoles this upcoming spring, it looks as if they have their third DS title already planned for release next year as well. The ESRB has confirmed the existence of Guitar Hero: Modern Hits for the Nintendo DS for a 2009 release. This will mark the third time Nintendo's ultra popular portable has seen a Guitar Hero title in less than a year.

After playing the mediocre Guitar Hero: World Tour on the 360 and deciding that the series has lost its appeal I can't say that I'm excited for another title in this series, especially a dumbed-down portable off-shoot. In the end, though, I really can't blame Activision for rehashing the same one-trick pony ad naseum. The sales are certainly there, and the public seems to be eating these sequels up. However, this is a series I see heading down the same route as Tony Hawk (another Activision property that was milked beyond belief) where the franchise is eventually run so far into the ground that the public will eventually lose interest.


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