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It’s Good to be Nintendo [Game Overview]
Aug 21st, 2009 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

July was an interesting month for sales. It seems that if your name wasn’t EA or Nintendo, you didn’t even crack the top ten list for game sales. In fact, Nintendo’s month of dominance is even more astounding when you consider that the top sellers included New Super Mario Bros. and Mario Kart DS, games well past their prime. This tough economy is making it rough to be anyone but Nintendo, but I’m sure that the holiday season will bring other games to the forefront. There’s lots of good stuff in the pipe.

Speaking of dominance…

Pokémon Platinum launched about a year ago in Japan (September 2008). As of right now, lifetime, worldwide sales of that title have reached 5.66 million. That’s a lot of pokémon. Even more ridiculous are the lifetime sales figures for the franchise, which stand at 193 million units. It’s astounding to see just how well this series has done.

Expect that 193 million to increase by two come spring 2010, since Nintendo has announced that HeartGold and SoulSilver will be launching then. I’m a sucker for catching them all, so I’ll be picking both copies up, probably in the mail to spare myself some embarrassment at the store.

Expansion!

My most recent WoW relapse occurred around the launch of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. I can safely say that I’ve been cured of the need to grind in Azeroth, but that doesn’t mean I’m disinterested in rumors pertaining to the game’s expansions. While we’ll probably get most of this confirmed or denied at this weekend’s Blizzcon, there’s no harm in talking about proposed changes.

It’s MMO 101 to raise a level cap and open up classes to races to loosen restrictions and bring in more players and it’s MMO 201 to add in new races, so you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that the level cap will supposedly be 85, classes will be available to more races, and there are rumors that the Worgen and the Goblins will become the next playable races, but it’s most surprising to me to hear that they might remake classic Azeroth. That would be a monumental undertaking and it would seriously alter the way that people play the game to start. It would be cool to see them shake things up a bit.

I’ve also heard they’re buffing Onyxia so she’s less of a joke. Good on you Blizz.

Quick Update

While we’re talking about Blizzard, the Starcraft II LAN petition has reached 100,000 signatures. Unfortunately, 99,000 of those people (maybe more) will still buy the game when it launches, regardless of this petition. My guess is that Blizzard still doesn’t care. With how much money WoW makes them, they can easily shrug off a few lost purchases.

1776 Grudge?

Everyone loves when a company starts to talk price changes. Who wants to spend so much money on those consoles, right? I’m sure that the UK was thinking it was a good day when they heard that they were going to be changes to the MSRP of the 360, but it turns out that Microsoft is raising the price. By £30. That’s about $50.

Sorry England, I don’t know why M$ is treating you so poorly. I still like you guys.

OBJECTION!

Phoenix Wright is getting an UDON art book! Those guys are responsible for the fantastic Street Fighter comics and the new sprites in the HD Turbo Remix and they do fine work.

You can see images from the book here.

OVER 50%?!

It’s hardly scientific, but a Game Informer magazine survey suggests that the hardware failure rate for Xbox 360s over their lifetime has been over 50% (54.2%). This was revealed based on a survey of 5,000 of their readers and it’s kind of alarming. To be fair, the new hardware boards are supposed to have fixed this, but it’s still at a highly unacceptable level.

Also unacceptable, Microsoft is planning on cutting HDMI and component cables out of their packaging, forcing users to buy cables that used to come bundled. Thanks for being cheapskates guys, but I guess the economy’s pretty bad right now, so I can’t complain too much.

PERSONA!

I think it’s fair to say that I love the Persona series. A lot. I love seeing new games in the series announced and I’d love to see a remake of Persona 2 (both games). That’s what makes the announcement of a PSP version of P3 so strange. That game came out nearly two years ago and it’s getting a remake that allows the player to play as a female? More details as they become available, but I think I’m just bitter because I don’t have a PSP.

The Real Slim

After months of leaks and speculation, Sony finally confirmed the PS3 Slim at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany. The new hardware SKU will replace the older hardware and retail at $300 with some slight changes.

There will no longer be a power switch on the back and the power and eject buttons will be actual buttons instead of whatever tech they had there before, the system is obviously slimmer and smaller, there are only two USB ports, no media card slots, a new, faster disk drive, and, unfortunately, no custom OS (no Linux!), and no backwards compatibility.

Still, it’s a great deal for a blu-ray player and a fine system for gaming. Good to know it’s for real.

There you have it, the biggest news (to me) of the week. To those of you keeping score at home, yes, this is the first week I’ve gone without a Left 4 Dead 2-related story since forever ago and I’m devastated about it.

WoW and L4D [Game Overview]
Nov 14th, 2008 by Dan

Insert another credit, because it’s time for your weekly video game news and you’ve just hit the Game Overview screen.

Just a quick detour from the FF villains feature to talk about two great games that I’ve been playing recently. The first you’ve seen the opening cinematic for on the site. The second just released its latest expansion pack to a horde of slavering fans.

The Left 4 Dead opening cinematic actually happens to be a brilliant tutorial to just about anything that you’ll need to do in the game. There is only one zombie type and one weapon type not really introduced in the trailer, which I absolutely love. Video games are a multimedia medium, so why not show instead of explicitly telling? They show the zombie special abilities, like the tongue grip of the Smoker and the pounce attack of the Hunter, and they show which zombies are most perilous, like the light-sensitive Witch and the damage sponge that is the Tank. Enough marketing spiel though, how good is the game?

The demo consists of just two of the levels from the campaign mode, directly continuing from the opening cinematic as a helicopter announces that anyone still alive in the city should head toward Mercy Hospital for extraction. Once you regain control of your selected survivor (I tend to select Zoey, the female college student, and my roommate tends to pick Bill, the Vietnam veteran ex-green beret), your teammates mention that you can make it to the hospital through the subway tunnels. The game itself is sufficiently tense, at least in the first couple of playthroughs until I became properly acquainted to the gameplay mechanics and the nuances of each of the two levels, but until then, I can guarantee you that I was freaked out the first time a zombie horde attacked me, a Hunter pounced on me, a Boomer vomited on me (attracting said horde), or a Smoker nabbed me.

The game actually has decent replay value too. Once you’ve beat a mission, you want to immediately play it again. This is helped by the fact that the AI makes each level different every time. Enemies spawn in different places, extra equipment is located in different spots, and the zombie types are always different. For a while, every time my roommate and I came across a Tank, it was instant death. They’re still terribly difficult to take care of, but we do a little better nowadays. It’s definitely a great game though and should be on your list for something to try. Demo is free and up.

The other game I’ve been playing, as of yesterday, is the latest WoW expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. I haven’t played too much of the Northrend stuff, since I’m waiting for Min, but the Death Knight starting area quests are all fantastic. Working directly for the Lich King is pretty sweet and a lot of the new advances, including siege weapons, have been fleshed out for the campaign. Even if you don’t really want to be a Death Knight, I would most definitely start one just to see that area.

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