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Archive for November, 2011

Review #450

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

The Kore Gang
Developer: Zoink Games/Unique Development Studios/SnapDragon Games
Publisher: Rombax Games/Atari
Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 11/08/2011

Generally when a game spends an insane amount of time in development, the end product isn’t very good. Examples of this include Duke Nukem Forever and Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Sometimes however, there are exceptions to this rule. Case in point: Darkstar spent over a decade in development hell and the end result was a fun FMV point and click adventure game featuring the cast of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Darkstar took over TEN YEARS to come out, which is insane by any standard. However, there’s one last game that’s been waiting a decade to hit shelves and that’s The Kore Gang.

I’ve been following The Kore gang for well over a decade. You might not know this but it was originally intended to be an early Xbox release title. No, not the 360, but the original Xbox. Zoink games and Unique Development worked on it, but the game was eventually cancelled in 2004 due to the publisher’s financial problems. It came back to life in 2006 as it was turned into a game for the Nintendo Wii with the help of SnapDragon games. The game was FINALLY released in August of 2010 in Europe and it received incredibly high reviews – which again, is almost unheard of for a game that spent even half as much time in development as The Kore Gang did. It would take more than another year for the game to hit Stateside, but the tag team of Rombax Games and Atari (which brought us the very underrated Venetica earlier this year gave North American gamers the chance to discover The Kore Gang and with a budget price tag of only $19.99 to boot.

Now I’m by no means a platformer fan. In fact, I hate the genre and nearly everything about it. It is exceptionally rare that I can stand a platformer for any length of time, but there are exceptions that I love. Games like Psychonauts, the Wayforward A Boy and His Blob remake, The Haunted Mansion, Sonic: Generations and The Legendary Starfy are just a handful of platformers I’ve really loved over the years. Add in the fact I’ve been anxiously awaiting Zoink Games’ next release, WiiWaa and I knew I wanted to review The Kore Gang in spite of it being a platformer. The only question is if it would be one of the handful of platformers I liked, or it joined the other 99% in being detested.
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Review #449

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Relics: Dark Hours
Developer: Subdued Games
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 11/15/2011

I can’t explain exactly why, but I’ve always loved Full Motion Video games. From Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective to Double Switch and The 7th Guest, there’s something about these types of adventure games that I can’t help but find charming. While FMV games died off soon after the Sega-CD, they’ve come back in style lately. PC games like Darkstar and The 13th Skull used FMV prominently. Consoles too are starting to use it again, as we’ve seen with game like James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes and The Malgrave Incident. The latest FMV game is Relics: Dark Hours - a horror adventure game by independent studio Subdued Games. It’s a company I’ve never heard of until I discovered the game several months back in my search for upcoming adventure games. Sadly, while the game was scheduled for a Halloween release, it ended up getting pushed back until November 15th – right in the midst of a ton of other releases which I had already agreed to review. Now that the November release rush is done, I finally had a chance to sit back and see how Relics played. So is this budget FMV title worth paying seven to ten dollars for, or is even that too much to pay for it?
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Review #448

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Mystery Stories: Mountains of Madness
Developer: Cerasus Media
Publisher: Big Fish Games
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 11/20/2011

Games based on the works of Howard Phillips Lovecraft have been hit or miss. Shadow of the Comet and Prisoner of Ice are well regarding, while games like Necromonicon or Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth are often scorned. Games like Koudelka are either really loved or really detested based on the gamer. You never know what you are going to get with a Lovecraft based game, yet every time I see one, I pick it up without hesitation. What can I say? I love the Cthulhu Mythos enough that it blinds my reason. So of course when I saw Big Fish games was publishing Mountains of Madness for the PC, I knew I had to get it and more importantly I knew I had to review it so that people could know this game exists even if it sucked.

So was Mountains of Madness an eldritch abomination or was it one of the better adventure games released this year? Read on to find out…
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Review #447

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

WWE ‘12
Developer: Yukes
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Wrestling
Release Date: 11/22/2011

I’m a big fan of wrestling games. I have fond memories of Fire Pro Wrestling: Six Man Scramble for the Sega Saturn and Toukon Retsuden 4 for the Sega Dreamcast. I still occasionally pull out WWF Rage in the Cage for my Sega CD and I even listed WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006 as one of my ten favorite games for the Playstation 2. Unfortunately there is a lot of bad with the good. I’ve sat through steaming piles of crap like TNA Impact! and Wrestlemania XXI. Hell, Wrestlemania XXI not only received the lowest score I’ve ever given a game (at the time), but it was unanimously elected into the Video Game Hall of Shame when it was nominated.

WWE video games have been especially hit or miss over the last few years. You never knew what you were getting with the Smackdown Vs. Raw series. 2006? Great game. 2007? GM mode was ruined, controls weren’t as good and there were noticeable bugs that weren’t in 2006. It was noticeably worse and people complained. 2008? Well known for its terrible controls and design, along with a score of bugs. The Wii version in particular is cited as being near unplayable. 2009? We reviewed the PSP, PS3 and Wii versions of the game and found all of them to be the be best the series has been since 2006. After a two year slump, Yukes got their act together once again. 2010 was not as good as 2009, but it still had its moments. Then came 2011. Wow was this game not good. Kennedy reviewed it and it nearly drove him to drink. I myself owned the PS3 version. While I couldn’t say my experiences were as bad as Kennedy’s with the Wii version – it still wasn’t a good game by any means. I mean, I was consistently in the Top Ten for the rankings and am well known for my CAWs for the game, but WWE Universe was horribly done (title matches only on the PPV and no control over the booking of them). The game was bug ridden and while I enjoyed all five versions of Road TO Wrestlemania, I basically just made CAWs and found myself consistently shocked at the downturn in terms of controls along with how insanely easy the game was.

Yukes seemed to take the massive amount of complaints 2011 got to heart and promised a lot of fixes. They also gave us Brock Lesnar, the Road Warriors, Vader and Demolition as playable legends. That’s a mark out moment for me. So, even though I was pretty disappointed with 2011, I decided to give the series one last chance. Now repackaged as WWE ‘12, I was dismayed to learn that the game was just 2011 with some slight improvements and a LOT of new issues.
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Review #446

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Genre: 2-D Fighting
Release Date: 11/16/2011

When Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 was originally announced, many of us here at Diehard GameFAN were super excited. It had been well over a decade since the original Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 was released and we were all big fans of it. Although feelings about Street Fighter IV were mixed, everyone was letting out their inner fan boy about the game. The good news is that when it was released, we found the game to live up to the hype that both Capcom and fighting game fans had built up for it. Hell, I even chose it as the best game of Q1 2011. Sure there were complaints about the cost for Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath, as well as the nickel and diming for costumes, shadow battles and the usual “charge for everything that used to be part of the game” that Capcom has become known for, but in the end, the core game was awesome and that was what mattered.

Well flash forward less than a year later and here we are with Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. Unlike February, where fans were almost united in love of MvC3, there was a noticeable schism in the fighting game audience for this title when it was announced. Many people were shocked at how quickly this was released and wondered why this wasn’t the original game in the first place. Others dismissed it as a quick cash grab. Yet others wondered why this couldn’t be a DLC update ala Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. On the other end of the spectrum some gamers were simply excited for the eight new characters, the tweaking of characters and the rebalancing of others. I was somewhere in the middle. On one hand I had the Collector’s Edition of MvC3, which I purchased as it was cheaper than getting the regular and buying the DLC characters separately. However, once I heard of UMvC3 , I traded it in willingly. I was told there would be a nifty bonus for keeping my save data, and that my DLC of Jill/Shuma would work with UMvC3 without having to repurchase them. That plus twelve new characters for $39.99 seemed a better deal to me than eight new characters as $4.99 DLC, which would have been approximately $60 if these new characters were DLC for the original MvC3. On the other hand, I was pretty disgusted by the game’s release only NINE MONTHS after the original and I felt the characters SHOULD have been made as DLC for those that didn’t want to buy a whole new game. In short, I felt both sides had valid points, but at the end of the day, it matters how the game plays. Are the new characters and changes worth $39.99, or are you better off with the original? It’s time to find out.
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Review #445

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

The Hidden
Developer: 1st Playable Productions
Publisher: Majesco
Genre: Augmented Reality
Release Date: 11/04/2011

1St Playable Productions is an interesting company. They tend to DS versions of multi-console systems. They’ve handled Marvel Trading Card Game, Kung Zhu, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, Ben 10 video games and more. The Hidden marks 1st Playable Productions’ first foray off the DS. This 3DS game is another first, as it’s the only full augmented reality game currently released with the 3DS. Sure, gamers are able to fiddle around with the concept with the little cards that come with a new 3DS, but no one’s really had the chance to see if Augmented Reality is just another gimmick like the 3D slider or if one can actually make a full game out of it. Until now. So is The Hidden an under the radar game that will have you singing the praises of the 3DS and Augmented Reality, or is it so bad that you’ll want someone to perform an exorcist on Nintendo’s latest handheld?
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Seven Years of Mr. Chewie Biteums

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Seven years ago tonight I was returning from..somewhere (I honestly don’t remember) when I saw a little brown and white bunny in the middle of the street. It was snowing, it was obviously hurt, lost and not in the slightest bit wild. Against my better judgement (I had recently lost my previous rabbit), I managed to pick up this rabbit and bring him into my home. He’s been with me ever since. For a bunny I was told probably wouldn’t make it to six due to an exceptionally lethal form of cancer (less than 10% survival rate in any species), Mr. Chewie Biteums is not only cancer-free, but he’s made it to seven. I love that little rabbit.

I actually went back through my LJ Archive and found the post I made the night I found him at 10pm 11/7/2004.

That’s what is currently sleeping in my bathroom right now. It’s a chocolate bunny rabbit. Laura and I found him today. He was hopping right outside my apartment digging in the leaves looking for food. He was scared and lost and yet not afraid of humans. I didn’t see him at first. Laura pointed him out. And then I noticed something was wrong. This was not a wild bunny. You can tell by the feet and the ears and the muzzle. This was a domesticated rabbit. A house bunny. I told Laura and she laughed, thinking I was full of shit. So I went up to it. And it didn’t move or run. It hopped two steps when I came close, then sat there. And it let me pet it. Another sign it was not a wild bunny. Someone walked by and said they saw that bunny earlier that day sitting in the middle of the street and was glad it hadn’t been run over. Then she asked how much the apartments were in my complex. Laura was freaking out at me touching the bunny, afraid I’d get lice or mites or something. But I knew, I KNEW, this was a domesticated rabbit. I read all those books and talked with all those bunny owners and I spoiled Zuel rotten to the point where I knew every noise, every twitch, every thought in my poor Zuel’s head. I KNEW this bunny was not supposed to be in the wild.

Laura went on inside, but couldn’t get in without my key. The bunny let me continue to pet it and finally I decided to do something rash. I went to pick it up. It squirmed the first two times and tried to get away. The third time when I scooped him up, he snuggled into me and wasn’t breathing heavy at all. he was content and calm. Laura’s eyes bugged out when she saw me coming in with the rabbit. “You’re not going to keep that are you? It’s wild!” I said, “If it’s wild, why is it letting me hold it?” I brought it upstairs and it started to freak again from the steps. But the second I put it down in my flat, it was perfectly calm and happy again. I got some old white FISH! T shirts and a towel and made a makeshift bed for it. It happily sat on the blankets and looked around at its new surroundings while I went into my criper. Laura started saying “OMG, you’re going to keep him aren’t you? Don’t think about keeping him.” The little bugger finished out 15 baby carrots. He was starving. And he drank some water. He let me pet him and I checked him for ticks, lice, mites, tumours, burrs, the works. He’s in amazingly healthy shape except for a bunch of nicks around his neck which I put neosporin on. I checked and he’s an boy that hasn’t been neutered, but he’s very docile, friendly and wants love. The second you pet him he melts. At this point Laura started saying, “You should keep him. You need a pet. You should keep him.” He’s sleeping on some old shirts now (and peed on one) and if very comfortable and happy.

I don’t know how long he was outside or if he was abandonded or got outside somehow and got lost or if there was a hole in an outside wire mesh pen and he wriggled out of the hole (Which would explain the neck marks he has as they aren’t bites or the like.) He doesn’t have whiskers though. They’ve been cut or singed or something down to tiny nubs. Again, I’d like to think this doesn’t have anything to do with him being abandoned, but maybe an accident with him sniffing a ciggarette butt or the like. But he’s in very good shape and isn’t scrawny at all, so this a recent trip into the wild he’s made. A few days at the very most. Tomorrow I am taking him to the vet next to where I work to have a full checkup. I took a picture of him with my camera phone and Spike emailed it to me (For some reason it’s B&W here, but colour on my phone) which I will have blown up and I’ll make some, “Did you lose this bunny?” posters at work as well. Part of me doesn’t want to give it back because hey, they’re not good pet owners if this happened. Part of me wants to keep him. Part of me wants a friend to take him (Matt or Danielle) because I’m still not over losing Zuel and that was a while ago. And because I don’t think i coukld take getting attached to another animal and having it die on me again. But I think most of all it’s I’m leaving for Australia for two weeks and I don’t know anyone that could take care of it. And then I’m off to Tampa 3 weeks after I get back from Australia. Laura has a dog and cat and other people I know can’t take him. So I don’t know what to do.

He’s very sweet though and you can tell he’s so happy to be safe and out of the cold MN late fall/early winter. He ate our of my hand and comes to me already when I put out my hand. But I don’t want to get attached. I don’t I don’t I don’t. I feel like I’m making up to Zuel somehow for how she died thanks to my father. But part of me feels so guilty for even considering another bunny. Even if it’s only for the night. I know, I know. all this over a bunny right? What’s odd is all day I’ve been talking about bunnies with people. I showed Karma the web site where I always used to buy Zuel’s toys and treats and she thought it was the cutest site ever. And at dinner tonight, Laura and I talked about bad bunny owners and how at Easter People get bunnies for little kids thinking they will be cute and then abandon them when they realize Bunnies need lots of care and love. And then here I find a bunny right outside my house. A tame bunny who needs love and shelter and someone who understands how to take care of one explicitly. As Laura said, “What are the odds?” And it is true. What are the odds of all this happening on the way it did. To me. I’m just glad I found him. I’d hate to think what would have happened to him if we had gone to a movie like we originally planned, but for some reason we came back here to watch a DVD and I was going to bake cookies. Instead, I have a roommate. I was thinking about (if I keep him) naming him Sniffles or Gozer the Gozerian. But then Dave reminded me this is all too much how like a certain story written by Deborah and James Howe started off. A family, on their way to see a movie, encountered an obvious tame and lost bunny rabbit that they ended up keeping for themselves. A bunny that they ended up naming…Bunnicula. It’s fitting considering everything that’s happened I think. Right now I don’t know what to think. Laura’s gone home for the night, but I’m currently confused about everythng and I’m pretty emotional. I just don’t know why or what the emotion is. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see in the morning what happens.


Obvious he didn’t end up getting ANY of those names (thank god). I’d learn the next day from the vet I took him too that he had been burned/hurt by jerkie people and that he was a year old. That makes Chewie eight now, which is an extremely long time for a bunny. Zuel only made a it a few days past her eighth anniversary with me. His name was decided by a hilarious vote that satired the 2004 election. It’s also interesting to see how different he was that first night with how he is now. When we first met, he let me hold him, he wanted to play, he slept on the bed and was extremely grateful for the love and attention I gave him. Now he’s very anti-social and seems to have nothing but disdain for all other lifeforms.

We’ve been through so much. Three different homes. He’s travelled through twelve different states together, battled (and beaten) cancer and put up with five cats and three other rabbits in his lifetime. Here’s hoping he’s enjoyed the past seven years with me. I know I have with him.

Review #444

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Wappy Dog
Developer: Sega Toys
Publisher: Activision
Genre: Virtual Pet Simulation
Release Date: 11/8/2011

When you first see the header for this game, you might be wondering why Sega Toys is working with Activision rather than well, Sega – their parent company. Well, truth be told, there is precedent behind this unexpected alliance. We’ve seen it before with Bakugan Battle Brawlers and the subsequent games based on Sega Toys’ most famous product. Now the two have teamed up again to take on the virtual pet genre of video gaming. Sure virtual pets started with Tamagotchis in the mid 1990s, but it was NIntendogs back in 2005 that really proved the concept could be a billion dollar franchise. Since then we’ve seen everything from Purr Palls to Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer. Heck, even Nintendo went back to the well recently with Nintendogs and Cats, so with literally dozens of games based around rearing virtual pets, what can someone possibly do to stand amongst the pack?

Well, in the case of Wappy Dog, You pair the pet sim up with a robot dog that is used in conjunction with the video game to (hopefully) create a whole new spin on the genre and a more interactive experience. So were Sega Toys and Activision a winning pair yet again, or are video game stores going to have to hold adoption events for stacks of leftover Wappys?
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Review #443

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 11/1/2011

The 3DS has had a lackluster first year. Out of the eighteen games we’re reviewed for the system here at Diehard GameFAN, we’ve only been able to solidly recommend a few titles. Even then they are quasi-sequels or remakes. In fact out of those eighteen titles only two have been new IPs that originated on the 3DS. The first is the terrible Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion and the other is a very niche game named Dream Trigger 3D. That’s kind of sad. I personally have owned ten games for the system and I’ve only kept three of them: Pokemon Rumble Blast , Bust a Move Universe and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. Because I’m such a proponent of companies taking risking and trying new franchises or even, god forbid, a one-off game, I’ve been disappointed that the 3DS’ library has primarily consisted of games that more or less “played it safe” instead of really trying something new.

Well enter James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes. This game, which promised to mix puzzles and old school adventure gaming, was originally scheduled to be released around the 3DS’ launch. Well, it was pushed back to April, then May, then June, and so on. Finally on October 1st, it came out and I couldn’t be happier. Not only was Hollywood Crimes a completely new IP, but it was definitely taking a big risk in both presentation and genre choices. It was basically what I had hoped someone would do with the 3DS – push the boundary past the sequel-it is and remake fever that had plagued the system since March. The only question was if the thing was any good or not…
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