Saturday, November 20, 2010

Annual Release Date Anticipation Overdrive

Well, it's that time of year again. My fever may not be Left 4 Dead-related this year, but regardless, the big-name hitters are coming out to play before Christmas strikes, and my anticipation for them is well through the roof. I'm excited for these new games, folks. The ones that I've waited months for. Years for in some cases. The land of gaming will no longer be reduced to second-hand Xbox titles and obscure indie titles from 2006. Big guns are coming out - for better or for worse.

"But wait!" I hear you cry. "Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood are already out!"

And to that, I would do this:

I am well aware that CoDBlOps and AssCreeBro are out. But if I was anticipating these titles, well, I'd be "mainstream," wouldn't I? ...and this blog isn't about the mainstream. I dished on Halo while praising Brutal Legend. I review independent titles over mainstream games. And while I admit that Brotherhood does look pretty good (though when the only other "big" game out is CoDBlOps, everything looks good right now). I digress - the games I am anticipating at the moment are smaller, more good games. They are as follows.

Poker Night at the Inventory finally got a release date - Tuesday the 22nd. This is great news. I love Telltale Games, I think they have great game design and storytelling philosophies and I eagerly await each new release. However, unlike my main squeeze, Valve... well... not all of Telltale's games are exactly brilliant. Valve seems to have had this streak of games since 2004 being nothing but pure gaming gold. Telltale, however; while their great stuff is truly great, their crap stuff is... shovelware. Licensed tie-ins that don't work, or games that are just plain lazy, or boring.

So I'm awaiting Poker Night with a grain of salt, because there's a very real chance, as funny as it will be, that it'll play like crap. I mean, it's just going to be a poker simulator, but if Telltale messes up the pacing or just doesn't make the game fun - and both are very real concerns to have - then it could bog down all the great writing and acting we're already certain is present. Here's hoping they throw on the polish, because they sometimes skip that step over at Telltale Games.

Super Meat Boy on PC. Now I already gave Super Meat Boy a glorious 9/10 review, and I have no denying the meat of the game will remain unchanged. What I'm waiting for is what they are changing. Sure, new characters are fun, but it's hard to stuff that up. I'm scared they'll stuff up the control scheme. Meat Boy, the flash title, suffers from awful sticky keyboard response times - and while not present in the XBLA version of the title, chances are controlling with WASD or arrow keys will render Super Meat Boy virtually unplayable. It might improve it, too. Only time will tell though. I've technically already played this game, but I can't wait to see if the change in format improves or destroys the standing 9/10.

And Epic Mickey, for the Wii. At first glance, this game is just stupid. It's like dark-world Mickey Mouse, sort of Disney trying to hard to be "cool" by adding "epic" in front of a word. But then you remember - this is a Warren Spector game, the man behind Deus Ex and Thief: Deadly Shadows. Then you look at some of the concept art. And then you are reminded of the best thing Mickey Mouse has ever been in, Fantasia. That was dark, inventive, creative and, well, epic. Then you realize that, as try-hard as Disney seems for Epic Mickey, this sort of rebranding of Mickey Mouse - surprisingly? - fits. There's some missions in Kingdom Hearts II where you play as a very Attack of the Clones-Yoda-esque Mickey, and he really seems at home kicking arse. Seriously, this is a good example of high-concept game design crossed with recognizable licenses that we don't see very often. License holders are shy to cross their IPs with a high-concept game - it needs to be safe, marketable. Epic Mickey isn't safe, and on the surface, certainly isn't marketable, especially not at your typical Disney audience. However, Epic Mickey isn't a game that needs to be looked at on the surface. Epic Mickey is a game that is deeper than the sum of its parts, and I think it could well be the out-of-the-blue hit Disney needs to be truly awesome again.

Okay, look, I'm also looking forward to when I get to buy Plants vs Zombies on XBLA with my 800 points rebate, and Q1 2011 has Portal 2 in it. But these are the games this holiday season I think will be freakin' great. And aren't BlOps are AssCrees.

Andrew Deavin - sticking up for the little guys, one sellout at a time.

In case you haven't noticed, the promised Review Archive is now armed and fully operational. It shall be updated with every review, and it's sorted in reverse chronological release order - fancy!

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