Saints & Sinners (Mar. 2)
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.
Hello again and welcome to a very somber, sleep-deprived edition of Saints & Sinners. I’m mad, folks, but with good cause this time; a devastating storm came through Southern Illinois, the region that I live in, and practically uprooted an entire town. It makes me a little shaky to think that I was about a half-hour drive down the road from my own fatality, but it has made me and everyone else in the area more grateful for what we have.
Now, time to get mad about some petty, irrational nonsense.
Sony: Free-to-play is a model for games that has grown increasingly more interesting in the past year. Team Fortress 2 and League of Legends both made the concept all the more appealing to people such as myself that had written off the tactic as one reserved for cheaply made games with no merit beyond their non-existent price tag. Killzone 3 joined those two this week as it became the first major Sony release to incorporate elements of free-to-play.
Let’s get this straight: Killzone 3 is not available in its entirety for absolutely no cost; the multiplayer, however, is. Players can now hop onto PSN and download the first-party exclusive’s competent competitive mode for the same price that it would take to take a deep breath, skip around an empty lot, or stare up at the clouds like some sort of pretentious hipster claiming that they are finding themselves in the simplicity of life.
If this move by Sony was a pleasant woman, then I would take her out on a nice date and, hey, she might even get a ride home. There is, of course, the catch that it costs a little bit extra to unlock the full extent of the mode, but it’s hard to complain about that small matter when you have several hours worth of gameplay to occupy you with no deficit incurred. I would love to see more top-tier developers adopt this philosophy of multiplayer; can you imagine free-to-play iterations of Halo or Call of Duty that only charged you for some of the finer eccentricities of the toolset?
I mean, you’d have to imagine it because that would never happen, but wouldn’t it be cool? It’s exactly that absence of a similar situation playing out in the industry that makes Sony my top Saint for the week.
Sega: There are some companies in the industry that you know are just in it for the money, and then there are some that you are forced to wonder if they even care about the bottom line at all. Sega has always fit in somewhere towards the latter end of the spectrum with such tantalizingly confusing moves as publishing Mad World, giving birth to the Dreamcast, and developing a Sonic game that featured the beloved icon as a shape-shifting Werehog. This week, Sega took another odd turn when they announced that they are rereleasing Jet Set Radio, a niche game with the mass market appeal of a snooty, independent film.
The move would make sense if Jet Set Radio had set the sales charts on fire, but, like many of Sega’s releases post-Genesis, it did anything but. Here it is again, though, making its way to the Playstation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 this summer as a digital download.
Wacky moves that make almost no sense always earn my favor and this is no exception to that rule. Sega, you are positively wacky for thinking that the third time will be the charm for the Jet Set Radio franchise. It didn’t sell incredibly well before, and I can’t imagine that it will sell incredibly well now. That said, it is a fantastic little game well worth a visit for those that missed it the first time around (and, based on the sales figures, I’m almost one hundred percent positive that you did) or those that haven’t tinkered with the series since Jet Set Radio Future launched to similarly mediocre sales on the original Xbox.
Sega, you make me laugh, and for that I am deeming you an honorary Saint for the week.
Nintendo: I feel like the Nintendo DS is becoming a leech on Nintendo’s furthering productivity. Does anyone else remember the awkward, drawn-out death of the Playstation 2? Year after year, Sony dragged out the living corpse of their most successful system to tout how alive and well it really was when, in actuality, it was really just sucking the life essence out of the then recently launched Playstation 3. The moral of the story is that when you launch a brand new system, you forget about the old one; this is a lesson that Nintendo has failed to learn.
Excitement held the internet hostage last weekend when Nintendo teased the next titles in the legendary Pokemon lineage. When last we left the franchise, Pokemon Black and White set the bar impassibly high for any game that followed it and made for a fitting swan song for the Nintendo DS, or so we thought. As it turns out, the next two Pokemon games, Black and White Version 2, will be released exclusively for the Nintendo DS.
The Nintendo 3DS is a nice, little handheld that has a few problems. Most notable among those issues is the fact that, at the moment, it doesn’t have a lot in the way of must-have titles. A new Pokemon game would have bolstered the library to the point that complaints about its size relative to those of other platforms would seem minor in the shadow of the iconic series. Instead, the 3DS will continue to burn up in the spotlight as the ancient, decaying carcass of the DS collects yet another charm to add to its bracelet.
I loved the Nintendo DS like I do few other systems. Two of my favorite games of all time were released for it and I can honestly say that the likelihood of any other platform replicating those experiences is negligible. In spite of that deep-felt love, I feel that the Nintendo DS needs to be taken behind the barn and shot a few times over.
Nintendo, it’s over. We had some good times and I’ll never forget the memories that we shared over your dual-screened masterwork, but it’s time to create new, eye-popping memories that give me a headache if I don’t look at them from the right angle.
Microsoft: This is what we in the business like to call a reach.
If there’s one thing that I like in life, it’s consistency. I spent a large majority of my life waking up, having the same breakfast, showering at the same time, and going off to spend my day with the exact same people as I always had. When my consistency was impeded, I would become instantly furious as if I had stubbed my toe on a cactus. In this analogy, Microsoft will be playing the cactus. They will also be playing the force that pushes my foot into the cactus. Heck, they might even be the needle in this scenario.
Microsoft revealed this week that they are going to be releasing a white version of the Xbox 360. One wouldn’t have to look very far back to discover that white was the original color of the 360 and that black was the aberration from normalcy. This has gotten me unreasonably furious.
I liked the way that original Xbox 360 looked with its soothing, marble frame that so nicely reflected the warming glow of my light fixtures. Then, within a few years, Microsoft completely did away with that model and replaced it with a generic, black slab that would become the staple of the 360 brand. It took time but I was eventually able to get used to this palette shift and embrace it as the new direction for Microsoft products.
Seeing a new 360 that touts being white as its prominent feature bugs me because white was already the color of choice in year’s past. I had settled into a future where all Microsoft systems would come bearing the same, dull visage of every other piece of modern technology. Acknowledgement of the forgone color scheme only serves to bring back the memories of what could have, would have, and should have been.
Judgement has been passed