Saints & Sinners (Feb. 24)
In the video game industry, the fans are bombarded by two separate yet equally important groups: Saints, who bring with them only the purest form of joy, and Sinners, beings dedicated solely to evoking misery. These are their stories.
It’s another week and, here I am, still as mad as ever. Then again, I suppose that’s not an entirely true statement. I’ve spent a lot of this week basking in the glory of the original Mass Effect in a futile attempt to catch up with the trilogy before it concludes with Mass Effect 3. Last night (technically this morning, but who keeps track of time anymore?), I bested the final boss and prepared my body for the apparently out-of-body experience that is Mass Effect 2.
Saints & Sinners isn’t about old, great games, though; it’s time to praise and condemn some new, unreleased games!
Capcom, Namco-Bandai, and Sega: It must have been one hell of a week for Capcom to wind up on the positive side of the spectrum, or, alternatively, it must have been one hell of a mediocre week in which a subtle tease can steal the spotlight. Would you care to take a wager on which of these two this week ended up being? If you guessed “subtle tease,” then you win! Your prize? Come on, isn’t a subtle tease enough of a reward these days?
In the midst of this week’s doldrums was a flash-animated teaser for a yet-to-be announced project out of these three publishers. The animation consists of a hand putting in a lengthy code into a vault and then opening it to find three Petri dishes with the corporate branding of each respective company.
Usually I have a pretty good idea where publishers are going with these crossovers, but I can safely say that this one has me stumped. I’m a sucker for crossovers, though; Super Smash Bros. Brawl is one of my favorite games of the generation and I could actually stomach Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Coincidentally, I also really enjoy subtle teases for the sheer amount of speculation that they tend to produce. Thus being, all of these publishers receive honorary Sainthood for the week being.
EA: Capcom and EA as Saints in the same week? Is there something in the water? Did the calendar fast-forward itself to December 21? Not quite, but the reasoning does lie somewhere in the cold depths of the winter season.
Earlier this week, EA released a demo for SSX, a 2012 reboot of one of last generation’s most fondly-remembered franchises. I don’t often go out of my way to download demos, but I make special exceptions for games that got me through junior high school. When the game was first announced, there was a lot of concern that EA Sports had lost touch with the side of itself that helped to spawn the wildly off-kilter snowboarder. Let me be one of the first to tell you that, no, EA Sports didn’t forget and, yes, SSX is back.
The game is almost exactly as I remember it from my younger years; it’s fast, fun, and even a little bit funky. There’s just a feel to SSX that no other game of the genre can touch, and this game replicates that feel as well as it could have possibly hoped to. I know that there are a lot of cynics out there decrying the need for a reboot of a game that’s only as old as a generation ago, but that’s a concern that never crossed my mind as I was speeding down a mountain pulling off tricks as if I had never stopped playing for even a moment in my life.
If you haven’t already downloaded SSX for yourself, then I highly recommend that you do so. I tend to be pretty picky about reboots of iconic series so it comes as no small consolation that I love what I see so far from SSX. The full game comes out on February 28, and you can bet that I’ll an eager customer for this one.
EA, for once in your life, you are a Saint. Enjoy it before I remember the fact that you still, in the year 2012, haven’t even started work on a sequel to Mirror’s Edge.
Capcom: Shoot, Capcom, I knew I couldn’t count on you! Why do you do these things to me? Does my anguish amuse you? Do you enjoy the bitter fruits of being habitual Sinners?
In case you missed it, Capcom is currently in the final stretch of production on Street Fighter X Tekken, a crossover featuring two fighters I love squaring off for genre supremacy. It’s a crossover so, no, this game’s existence is not responsible for Capcom’s double-agent nature in this week’s column. Instead, I’ve put them here for what they are doing with the Playstation Vita version of the highly-anticipated title.
Sony platforms were already getting exclusive characters in Mega Man and Pac-Man, and the portable version in question was already set to be graced by the presence of inFamous protagonist Cole McGrath. As it turns out, though, the Playstation Vita version of Street Fighter X Tekken will have 12 more exclusive characters. Twelve is a big number; it’s bigger than two, and I’m also fairly sure that it is larger than the number of characters exclusive to the Xbox 360 (for those keeping score at home, that number would be 0).
But that’s not even what bugs me the most; it’s the fact that the version getting the most content is a portable game. Fighters are a tough genre to bring to the handheld landscape because, when it comes down to it, they are hard to control in such a condensed environment. Most games of the ilk require a certain amount of physical dexterity that can only be accomplished on a dedicated gamepad. I’d like to see 12 exclusive characters on a console version that I can play comfortably and play with friends than have them on a portable version with half the comfort and almost none of the competitive spirit.
I was wrong to believe in you, Capcom; you’ll always be Sinners in this write-up.
Skylanders Fans: Don’t even try to hide it from me, friends, I can see the amassing pile of Skylanders figurines on your desk. Yeah, they look pretty cool, and I bet they have some pretty spiffy abilities when you convert them into in-game characters, too. How much did you pay for them? The number that you answer that prompt with is probably far less than what some eBay customers are reportedly paying.
Skylanders, a child’s game with a cult following, has been infamously dubbed a cash cow, but I don’t think anyone thought that the game was producing revenue to this extent. Prices for rare figurines tend to level out around $200-400, but in some scenarios they go as high as $1,000.
Now, I’ve never played Skylanders, but I feel like I’m pretty safe in the assumption that the level of enjoyment that the game produces is nowhere near the equivalent of $1,000. For that price you could buy a great game like Mass Effect several times over! Or, you know, you could save the money and put it towards valuable life essentials. Whatever floats your boat, you sick, Sinning freaks.
Coca-Cola: I normally try to limit my selections to two Sinners a week, but this story churned my stomach so much that I couldn’t help but slap it in here at the last second. Coca-Cola recently hired Bobby Kotick on as the company’s Director in a move that could be described as both surprising and confusing. Were there not any penny-pinching, capitalistic figureheads left in the soft drink industry?
Before you know it, Kotick will have the company start releasing Current Coca-Cola, a more modern tasting soda, and then iterate on it year after year. After some time has passed he can start firing all of the men and women in charge of creating that soda and replace them with employees more open to manipulative practices. Hey, we might even see Current Coca-Cola platoon release years with Covert Coca-Cola, a drink crafted by a secondary studio under Coke’s employ.
The more I think about it, the more I think that Kotick is a natural fit for Coca-Cola; it’s not like he has a problem producing the same thing over and over.
Judgement has been passed