Thursday, September 04, 2008

Have you seen this man?

Above: Super Mario, missing since 3/9/08

This week I've been toiling on the fall preview for The Phoenix. It's my annual look at the biggest and best videogame releases of the holiday season. The process isn't too scientific: I check out the release schedule on,, and*, make a note of what seems interesting, and then write a fluffy paragraph about each game. My choices are unfortunately based more on what's been marketed well, or what's a big sequel, than on any direct contact I've had with these titles.

What's been interesting about the 2008 edition is the total lack of any exciting new Wii games. That's not to say there won't be any good ones this season. Every year, some of the games I mention turn out to be duds, and it's easy to overlook something that'll be great. Last year's preview didn't even include Call of Duty 4! There's also the inevitable delay immediately after the preview goes to press. But some selections are no-brainers for a preview like this, and this year none of them are for Nintendo.

I've read that Nintendo seems to be bowing out of the preview business, preferring to launch games on short notice without the usual build-up of publicity and expectations. On one hand, that's refreshing. Not much is worse than previews written years in advance for a game that ends up disappointing. And it's not as though they need help convincing people to buy a Wii at this point. Still, to look on the holiday release schedule and see nothing for the best-selling system is unprecedented.

Sure, there's Wario Land: Shake It, which... I don't know. Are you psyched about Wario Land: Shake It? Or would that be an affirmative-action pick?

More to the point: Am I evincing a critical blind spot because I can't see anything but shooters and sequels as games worthy of previewing?

*One of these sites is not real.


Sparky said...

I'm not sure. For all the derision that the hardcore faction is heaping on it, Wii Music might move a lot of units this fall, selling mostly to casual fans who don't want to shell out the dough for Rock Band or Guitar Hero peripherals. The positive vibe off Tales of Vesperia and fond memories of its Gamecube predecessor may turn Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World into a big hit. Glancing over the release list I see a new Crash game. I've also heard that Fatal Frame IV is due in October, although it's not on those lists.

There are a number of games that could be big, and it's still a bit early to worry. Still, the failure of even the quality titles to build much buzz ahead of time is a little troubling. Even more troubling is that 90% of the titles on the Wii release list look like trashy casual-gamer cash-ins making a quick stop on shelves en route from the shovel to the bargain bin. The sheer fatigue brought on by rummaging through the muck to find a quality game will eventually hurt the Wii, even in the casual market.

Quinn said...

Don't forget and - good resources both.

I'm with you on the dismal outlook for the Wii. The last game I was looking forward to was the Strong Bad game, which wasn't even a boxed release, and now I gaze into the future and only see what Yahtzee called "an empty bucket made of air." It's not a good sign when an incredibly pedestrian-looking title like The Conduit is generating the buzz that it is, only because it's on the Wii and not the 360/PS3 sidelines.

Maybe WiiWare is the silver lining here (Sam and Max gives me hope, but I'm not exactly excited for it, and anyway it's already on PC), but the rest of that cloud hanging over the Wii is big and dark indeed.

Mitch Krpata said...

Another game that's likely to be a big seller is the new Carnival Games, so maybe I should have included that. In fact, the success of the original Carnival Games itself may validate Nintendo's strategy here.

I'm not sure how much harder Nintendo needs to work to prove they're no longer targeting hardcore gamers before we'll start to believe them.

Etelmik said...

It's not out in the fall, but: MadWorld.

Daniel Purvis said...

de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob,de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob, de Blob.

Sorry, what I meant to say is MAKE SURE YOU INCLUDE DE BLOB. First, it's Australian. Second, I've had a chance to preview the game and it's AMAZING fun with a brilliant soundtrack, colourful graphics and tight gameplay. Third, Blue Tongue studio need the support as it's their first Original IP, ever!

Aside from that, there's a list here that may be of some use. Maybe. Probably not but, eh. Just maybe.

Daniel Purvis said...

Ahh, yes, de Blob is in fact a Wii game. Sorry for neglecting to mention that.