Title: So I got a Wii.
Posted: March 12, 2009 (09:31 PM)
Super Mario Galaxy: Good lord. I haven't had this much fun playing a game in a long time.
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption? Not so much.
Darksiders (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
This article was designed to honor publishers and developers who actually took a chance on something new, so it's a little weird to start off with a game that's famous for extensively, um, "borrowing" from two of gaming's most popular and critically acclaimed franchises. Let's just get this out of the way: Yes, Darksiders is Zelda with God of War combat. The pairing actually makes so much sense that you've got to wonder why it hasn't been attempted before, and developer Vigil Games worked it into a decent homage that garnered solid reviews and is generally well-respected by nearly everyone who's played it. Unfortunately, its one unique aspect Ė its story, centering on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Ė is the worst thing about it. But hey, at least the requisite Navi clone is played by Mark Hamill doing his Joker voice.
Likelihood of a sequel: Itíll happen. Despite somewhat disappointing sales, THQ considers Darksiders a franchise, and a sequel is already in the works. Don't expect it until at least 2012, however.
Bayonetta (Xbox 360/PS3)
It almost seems unfair to include Bayonetta on a list like this, since it was directed by Devil May Cry creator Hideki Kamiya and is a successor to that popular franchise in all but name and sexual identity. In fact, if Devil May Cry 4 was that seriesí first sign of stagnation, Bayonetta was a breath of fresh air, mixing some the fastest and most flexible combat I've ever experienced in a straightforward action game with a delightful fetish for the over-the-top. The plot was ridiculous and impenetrable, but taken as an excuse to wave gravity-defying set pieces and gargantuan boss fights in our faces, I'm okay with that. And I loved just how deep the combat was right out of the gate. (Compare this to Darksiders, in which the combat was shallow and repetitive until you actually unlocked better combos.) It's also worth noting that the game topped a million sales in only a month, upending a long-running tradition of games with female protagonists being unable to find mainstream audiences.
Likelihood of a sequel: Very high, thanks to strong critical acclaim and a passionate fanbase. Kamiya has expressed interest in a follow-up, but said that the next game may wind up being more of a spin-off than a direct sequel. Devil May Cry is now in the hands of Ninja Theory, so Kamiya can now devote his full attention to his work at Platinum Games.
Dark Void (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)
Danteís Inferno (Xbox 360/PS3/PSP)
I guess you could make the argument that Danteís Inferno, being an adaptation of Dante Alighieriís epic poem, is not an original franchise. Or maybe you could submit that such a shameless rip-off of another game doesnít belong in an article that supposedly honors newness. As if gore, nudity and shrieking choirs were the only reasons God of War was a success, Danteís Inferno is virtually an exact replica of that game (the controls are identical) thatís somehow missing all of the things that made God of War so much fun. Simplistic combat and relentlessly drawn out level design prevails, but what I found most irritating was how developer Visceral used the poemís setting as an excuse to boost the sort of "edgy" content that supposedly put God of War on the map. I know those Kratos sex scenes weren't exactly high art, but just wait and see what this game's Lust level looks like. The game certainly functions as a tour of Alighieri's vision of hell (which was one of the poem's primary objectives), but the final product felt so sleazy that it's impossible to take seriously. The reviews weren't awful, so maybe I'm overreacting, but I get the sense that once God of War III was released a month later and showed everyone how it's really done, audiences more or less forgot about Dante's Inferno. The sales weren't too bad, though it's hard to imagine that EA managed to recovered from their monstrous marketing campaign.
Likelihood of a sequel: The game ends with a "to be continued" title card, and two-thirds of The Divine Comedy has yet to receive EA treatment, so you'd think a sequel is inevitable, right? Well, the joke's on you, as it has been since before Dante's Inferno even launched. Read that interview, though, and you'll see that Jonathan Knight's dream project is a video game adaptation of... Macbeth. Oh god.
Heavy Rain (PS3)
If youíre even vaguely acquainted with me, then you probably know that Iím no fan of Heavy Rain. Iím biased, though, since I consider the idea of an entirely story-driven game to be conceptually flawed to begin with. Whatís surprising and remarkable about Quantic Dreamís adventure game/self-proclaimed interactive drama, however, is that itís one of 2010ís biggest mainstream successes despite fitting squarely into a genre that few associate with mass appeal. (I mean, hell, the only reason Myst was so popular was because they were giving away free copies with PCs in the mid-'90s.) Heavy Rain quite easily topped one million in sales, which is especially impressive when you consider its place as a console exclusive. Gamers were smitten with the idea of bending the narrative to their liking, and non-gamers were attracted by its cinematic presentation and general ease of play. Even though Heavy Rain didnít work for me, the fact that it wound up such a huge commercial success is evidence that original ideas have a place in todayís game industry, given the right marketing, hype and word of mouth. Hopefully weíll see more cases of first-party publishers taking big risks down the road.
Likelihood of a sequel: Quantic Dream has enough respect for a good story to know that Heavy Rain's is self-contained, and as it turns out, David Cage isn't big on sequels, anyway. So don't expect one. You can, however, expect a film adaptation, which I think would work in the story's favor, honestly.
Metro 2033 (Xbox 360/PC)
And now we come to the only game on this list that I havenít played. Seriously, read up on Metro 2033 and it shouldnít be difficult to understand how this game managed to slip past me: Itís a futuristic shooter set in post-apocalyptic Russia that infuses RPG and horror elements and has players battling mutants and Nazis. Now, doesnít that sound like every other game ever made? Surprisingly, Metro 2033 nevertheless averaged solid review scores, turned in quite a profit despite no hype that I can ascertain, and some people still consider it one of the year's most overlooked games. And I guess itís not technically a new franchise, as itís one of two games on this list to be adapted from literature; the first was based on a 14th-centurt epic poem and this one was inspired by a Russian novel of the same name by Dmitry Glukhovsky. Its debut in the video game industry was a success, but THQ couldnít be planning a sequel, could they? What would they even call it? Metro 2034?
Likelihood of a sequel: Um, apparently, yes on both accounts. And itíll be in 3D! Maybe I should check this game out after all, as itís apparently way bigger than I realized.
Posted: March 12, 2009 (10:27 PM)
super mario galaxy is the best game on wii...easily
Posted: March 12, 2009 (11:37 PM)
The problem I had with Super Mario Galaxy (aside from the horrible jaggies) is it seemed to baby you at times. One of the easiest games I've ever played and there was no attempt at a challenge whatsoever. The level design was at times brilliant, though.
Posted: March 13, 2009 (09:12 AM)
Enjoy it while it lasts. Once the gimmick wears off, it'll quickly turn out to be your favourtie dust collecter ever.
Posted: March 13, 2009 (12:15 PM)
I wouldn't have bought a Wii if I didn't know what I was getting into, EmP. I'm not the kind of person to just spend $250 on a whim.
Posted: March 13, 2009 (01:29 PM)
We all liked our Wii's to begin with, man. Now 75% of them are pretty, white paper-weights.
Posted: March 13, 2009 (02:01 PM)
EmP, if you hate the Wii so much please send me yours along with your copy of No More Heroes. Thanks.
Posted: March 13, 2009 (05:35 PM)
Can't. My sister regualarly visits to play WiiFit.
I mean, PAL/NTSC issues would ruin it for you.