The Warp Whistle: January
Once a month Ben blows on his magic warp whistle and travels into the future to look at the (immediate) future of video games. These are his findings.
As you have noticed from our year-end lists, or perhaps a calendar, it is now 2011. One of the nice things about video games is that, unlike movies or music, they are always getting better. Sure, people might talk about the good old days of Pong and Mario or whatever else, but the advancements being made in technology are consistently advantageous to video game consumers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a new month’s worth of releases and one retro game that has been on my mind recently.
Angry Birds, January 4th (Playstation Network): This game gained a lot of popularity on smart phones. The premise is you fling birds into the evil pigs' castles in an attempt to destroy them. It doesn’t sound like much fun, but ask anyone with an iPhone and they will confirm that you are mistaken. This is probably worth a download if you haven’t experienced it before, and you like being addicted to pointless shit.
Emergency 2012, January 5th (Windows): Haven’t you always wanted to put out fires? No? You haven’t? Oh.
Venetica, January 11th (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows): This is a dungeon-based RPG that is at least visually interesting. It takes place in an alternate universe version of the 16th century and there seems to be plenty of kickass baddies to go around. It's been in production for a while, which typically is either a really good thing or a really bad thing. If you want my advice, just re-install Diablo II. Cause it’s fucking awesome.
DC Universe Online, January 11th (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows): I haven’t gotten involved in a MMORPG since World of Warcraft, but I’m going to give this one a shot for a couple reasons. From what I have heard casual and hardcore players alike can both enjoy the game, and I’m a gigantic nerd. The first month of the game is free, and after that the subscription fee is $15. I’m not sure how long I will play, but I feel like giving it a shot. Basically you can create a hero or a villain in the DC Comics universe and you have free reign. You can interact with the likes of Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Lex Luthor and the Joker. The big question is will you feel like you are actually impacting the environment? And can I finally punch Robin right in his stupid face? Only time will tell.
Rec Room Games, January 11th (Nintendo DS): Once a month I like to point out how useless most Nintendo exclusive games are. And it’s that time again! Don’t buy this.
Little Big Planet 2, January 18th (Playstation 3): Right out of the gate in January we already have what promises to be a valid Game of the Year candidate. Even when IGN describes the game’s villain it sounds adorable. “Little Big Planet 2 packs 30 story levels that tell the tale of the Negativitron, a horrible beast that has invaded Craftworld and is gobbling up all the cities on the planet.” THERE IS SOMEONE INVADING CRAFTWORLD LOL! Precious. All the early reviews seem very good, and if you enjoyed the first one there is no reason not to pick this up. And if you haven’t played the first one, go pick it up for ten bucks used or whatever. Let’s get your life back on track here!
Mindjack, January 18th (Xbox 360, PS3): In the distant future, when evil corporations control stuff, and genetically enhanced gorillas hunt you with guns on their backs, it is a struggle to…wait, what? Anyway, despite some interesting departures from typical shooting games, the controls are not responding well in early previews. Might be worth a rental, might not, better wait to see how the actual reviews rate this one.
Deadspace 2, January 25th (Xbox 360, PS3, Windows): Giovanny and I once debated about whether or not the Alien movie franchise was considered horror, as I think it is. Naturally I was right. And that’s my whole point. But the original Deadspace was a legitimately terrifying entry into the horror genre, or perhaps the space horror genre if that would make some more comfortable, and I don’t anticipate the second one will be a let-down. A lot of attention has been paid to the multi-player modes where you can play as one of the disturbing necromorphs; four kinds of them even, each with a different skill set. For a gorier Silent Hill in space, give this one a shot.
Well that’s about it for January. For this month’s look back in time, I’d like to talk about a game that still surprises me to this day.
Star Fox (SNES): Yes, I know they made other versions later, but the original was the peak of the series in my humble opinion. It is a rare thing indeed to make me play a flying or a driving game. Usually my history with video games is limited to sports/shooters/action/RPG’s. Driving or flying games have been virtually non-existent in my play list (does that term even work here?); even the heavily praised Gran Turismo series has never motivated me to spend the money. And the last time I got into a flying game before this was Air Wolf for the original Nintendo. Come to think of it, maybe I should have done this about Air Wolf, but I digress. Granted, Star Fox was certainly not a simulator. Realism was of little importance in a game about a fox space pilot. But I remember genuinely caring about the story, and feeling something for some of the characters, like Peppy Hare and Slippy Toad! Some of the other pilots I had quite the vendetta with, like the notorious Andross! Does anyone else remember those names, or am I the only one?
I might be the only one.
Regardless, the next time you bust out the old Super Nintendo (or an emulator) pop this one in if you have the chance. You’ll be glad you did. Or you’ll just think, “Ben is out of his goddamn mind, there’s a rabbit flying that space ship and this sucks.” Could go either way.
What do you plan on picking up this month? Also, did you and Fox McCloud save the Lylat system or do you love space dictators? Discuss in the comments sections.