Friday, November 28, 2008

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Delivers Online Street Fighter Goodness in HD!

Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (a rather unnecessary title, but oh well...) just hit Xbox Live Arcade on the 25th, and it's an essential download for any fan of 2D fighting. Not only does it contain gorgeous new high-definition visuals (still in glorious 2D form), it also features tweaked gameplay and addictive online play that will have you competing against strangers across Xbox Live for hours.

Some of the achievements are clever and tricky, such as one where you have to complete a seven-hit combo. Others include winning 100 ranked matches online and throwing your opponent ten times in one match.

The game costs a messily 1200 Microsoft Points, which amounts to $15. For the amount of replay value and fun HD Remix game provides it's well worth it - many recent full retail games haven't been this enjoyable.

To top it off, the beautiful remixed soundtrack adds to the experience and there's a standard edition of Street Fighter II thrown in for nostalgic value. Overall, if you're a 2D fighting game fan with Xbox Live then this should be an immediate purchase.

Super Street Fighter II: Turbo HD Remix is also available on the PSN Network (Playstation 3).

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wii Music Flops During First Month at Retail

Instead of providing Wii owners with an actual music game (ala Dance Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero) or an interesting music tool (like their very own Electroplankton), Nintendo decided to release Wii Music, a music game that features such exciting (and by exciting, I mean “not exciting at all”) tracks like “Yankee Doodle” and a laughable presentation (your little brother would blush if you forced him to play this in front of his friends).

Not only is Wii Music getting panned in terms of reviews, but it’s also been sales flop thus far. While Nintendo probably expected this title to appeal to the same casual audience that eats up titles like Wii Sports, Wii Play, and Wii Fit, their music creation title has sold less than 66,000 copies during its first month of release.

The hardcore following and absurdly high eBay prices of Electroplankton have proved that the hardcore will notice a brand new type of music title if the game itself is actually, y’know, good. That title also had no real goal and was more of a tool than a traditional game, but due to its exciting graphical style and unique presentation it gained a cult following. Also, the immense success of the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises showed that the core gamers and the mainstream alike will eat up a music-based release if the game play itself is satisfying – and those games didn’t need to become dumbed down in order to appeal to a wider audience. Nintendo seemed to be banking on that with Wii Music.

Although the rhythm genre didn’t require a more streamlined approach for a large audience, Nintendo seemed to think it did. If sales for Wii Music wane (shops are packed with it, and it’s not flying off store shelves like Mario Kart Wii and other mainstream-friendly titles were), maybe Nintendo will re-think their approach to their next casual release.


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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hey, That's Not the Real Pikachu...

It's been nearly a decade since the Pokemon craze was at its peak in the U.S., but despite the cards and endless amount of toys essentially fading out in popularity, the games still continue to sell like hot cakes. And hey, why not? Most of them are quality releases that provide a good amount of entertainment. Game pirates and hackers have noticed this over the years, too, and decided that they wanted a piece of Nintendo's pie. So what do they do? They create (rather shoddy) software of their own and throw in Pikachu and friends or they take forgotten releases of the past and replace the characters with ones from the Pokemon series.

Perhaps the most well-known bootleg is Pokemon: Chaos Black Version, which has been clogging up eBay listings for a couple of years now. According to fans this is basically the same game as Fire Red only with a few new Pokemon, events, and characters.

Others are far worse in quality. In fact, the back of the box for Pokemon Arcoiris Version is a hoot in its self. Here is an example of some of the fantastic grammar provided by the foreign bootleggers:

"The pokemon ARCOIRIS VERSION new games, The region where POKEMON first took root and exploded into into a major phenomenon,and the latest titles stuff in tons of exciting new features".

With a quality description like that, I can only imagine what the game itself plays like...

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the game pictured above in the top left is Pokemon Adventure, which supposedly plays like an old-school Sonic the Hedgehog title - only it stars one of Pikachu's crack babies .

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Review: Fable II (Xbox 360)

Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Release: October 2008
Genre: Action RPG

You’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of a rental, but due to the glitchy game play and disappointing story (and climax), Fable II falls short of being a truly outstanding sequel.

Fable on the original Xbox was by far one of the greatest games that Microsoft’s last console had to offer. With this in mind, Fable II became one of my most anticipated sequels of this generation. Although it’s an improvement in many respects, buggy game play and some poor design choices bring the overall experience down.

Once again you begin this title as a young’n, and as the story unfolds in several chapters your character grows older and goes through phases. Throughout Fable II, just as in the original, the choices you make will determine if your character is good or evil, and this affects the storyline, how other characters react to you, and parts of the game. This freedom of choice is by far one of the best aspects of the game.

Game play wise, Fable II feels a bit simplistic. While this was perfectly acceptable in the original, I’ve come to expect more from the combat engine this time around. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s nothing that will blow your mind, either. Taking down enemies with various magic attacks and such can be fun, however. Also, while having a dog follow you around and help you out as a companion is pretty neat, it’s not a significant feature overall.

The main story path is very brief. Although there’s tons of extras to be found in this title (such as marriage, loads of extra quests, and playing through the game multiple times to see it through a different moral path), the storyline itself is dreadful and yawn-inducing. Also, it also suffers from another pitfall that many Western RPG’s make: the characters are completely uninteresting. Besides the main hero or villain you play as, you won’t give a squat about the rest of the individuals.

Many of the quests are quite entertaining, however, and simply fooling around in the large and well-designed towns can provide hours of enjoyment. It’s just too bad that Fable II suffers from loads of bugs, from lock ups to glitched quests the require you to occasionally reset the game to advance.

Visually, Fable II is outstanding. Well-designed and varied environments put the original to shame in this regard. Unfortunately, while the soundtrack was one of my favorite features of the first title, it’s completely underwhelming in Fable II.

Overall, Fable II is a decent, though flawed follow-up to one of the standout titles of last generation. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of a rental, but due to the glitchy game play and disappointing story (and climax), Fable II falls short of being a truly outstanding sequel.

Score: 7.0 (out of 10)

Similar article:

Review: Fable (Xbox)

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