Catering to the Casual, Free XBLA & Marvel UA goes Golden – Welcome to the column that always provides entertainment for the lowest common denominator known as Dare to Play the Game.
Welcome to another edition of Dare to Play the Game. As of May 14th, 2007 @ 10:00am, I am officially single. So to all of the women that have been waiting for that once in a lifetime opportunity, please step forward. I’m waiting *tap tap*. Story of my life eh? I did happen to see Spiderman…3 this weekend as well; I enjoyed it. I didn’t really like the fact that Venom seemed to be a throwaway villain but I was very much appreciative of the way they treated the Sandman character. The story was interesting but we all know that Harry didn’t die. Goblins don’t die. Just ask Joan River’s plastic surgeon (*rim shot*). Anyway, back to the original topic…I’m still waiting.
Ode To Morgan Webb
Alright stop, collaborate and listen, Morgan is back with a brand new invention. Meh, she does need her own talk show, like late night after Conan O Brien or something. I’d DVR it . I would say she could do movies, but I think she could only get away with bad video game flics. Perhaps not, but she needs to be on my tv a lot more than she is. It’s frustrating. I miss Morgan on my tv regularly.
Quick news stories of interest
There is a lot of talk about the rise of casual gaming these days. Nintendo has gone so far as to design a console around the concept of attracting more incidental gamers to the playing field. Developer and publisher Eidos recently set up a casual games division, SoGoPlay, and also wants to cater to this demographic that many developers don’t quite know what to do with.
During a recent speech Lou Fawcett, head of SoGoPlay, told developers that games that might have previously seemed too simple could appeal to gamers that are decidedly less than hardcore. According to Games Industry, Fawcett argues that the technical advances we regular gamers enjoy are seen as intimidating by those outside the core gamer demographic. For her, the complexity of today’s games are keeping a lot of potential customers away.
“From a development perspective the casual market really challenges a lot of assumptions that you’d make,” offered Fawcett. “The casual market isn’t new. But the traditional videogames market has moved on and gotten so complicated and technical that it’s almost alienated a lot of potential customers.”
Fawcett suggested developers “get in touch with [their] feminine side” in order to understand what casual gamers, many of them women, believe makes for compelling gameplay.
As for why Eidos thought it best to create a new studio dedicated to casual games, Fawcett explained it was to ensure these littler games get the attention they deserve.
“It’s very hard internally for small games to get any degree of focus from the sales team or the marketing teams. Because obviously, when you’ve got big launches coming through it’s very hard to put attention on the small fry. But they are viable games and viable opportunities, and the whole ethos of having our dedicated division is that we make the noise to give these titles the attention they need.”
The “big launches” Fawcett refers to are games like the recently released Battlestations: Midway on the Xbox 360 and the upcoming Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, on the way for both the 360 and PlayStation 3. Casual gamers can look forward to upcoming releases on the PC and Wii.
This is mostly good by my accounts. Since the Wii has emerged like it has, the growth of “causal games” divisions have increased. Little games can be fun and can produce some very good titles. Properly marketed, these small time games can produce some serious change and profit for everybody included. My only concern here has to do with that they consider today’s games to alienate a lot of the casual gamers. I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that unless they are flight simulators or games that would require engineering degrees to operate. Also, I have no problems with casual games occupying the same space with “hardcore”games but as long as they don’t take over or anything. I just wouldn’t want to see another video game crash like the early 80’s or anything from over saturation of the market.
Rumor: Nintendo Power Shutting Down (from ign.com)
Hot on the heels of the news last week that Nintendo of America was planning to move a significant chunk of its marketing and sales departments from Seattle to either San Francisco or New York, IGN has learned that the company may be planning to close or restructure its official Nintendo Power magazine. Sources close to the publication tell IGN that mass layoffs are underway and that employees are being told to look for new work by September of this year.
Calls placed to Nintendo of America for comment went unanswered in time for publish.
Founded in 1988, Nintendo Power magazine has over the years faced an emerging threat from game-focused websites, which have the means to provide more timely news, previews, reviews, walkthroughs and cheats. Even so, the publication has maintained a loyal subscriber base.
Without an official confirmation one way or the other, we’re still in rumor territory, but what is undeniable at this point is that the magazine is either undergoing a rebirth of some kind or is on its last legs.
I remember subscribing to Nintendo Power back in the day for the NES & Super NES timeframe. Once the Nintendo 64 surfaced, I quickly killed my subscription and never looked back. It was a good magazine, sure a little biased but had it’s share of useful information. I will never forget some of the issues, especially their off shoot strategy guides which were the ancestor to the mounds of Brady and Prima guides we have now. I don’t know if anybody noticed but the official playstation magazine went down back in the early part of this year because it was no longer a viable production with the PS3 coming out. A lot of gaming magazines are having hard times actually which is unfortunate because I still like to thumb through the newest EGM or GamePro. Sure I look at the web, but kinda like games..I want to hold something in my hand. To be honest, I would give my right arm (not my left) to write for an actual game publication. I like writing here, honestly; but nothing beats having your words in print. I have nothing but well-wishes for the Nintendo Power staff and hope that this is nothing more than an ill-fated rumor.
XBOX Live Arcade – Aegis Wing (5/16/07)
I think I have a certain addiction for classic old school shooters. Galaga and Time Pilot rank as two of my favorites to play again and again on XBLA. Not to mention I go over frequently games like 1942 or R-Type on the Arcade Classics portion of my column. So there is a little bit of excitement that we are getting a new shooter in the classic vein of those past. Aegis Wing is a 2d side scrolling shooter that was conceived by three interns at MS who worked with Carbonated Games (the people who made UNO). The story is of the usual save your planet against alien invaders type but the best part of this game; it’s free. Yep, free for a limited time. This game also supports 1-4 players locally or over XBOX Live. Be sure to not forget about it this Wednesday and have some shooting fun!
Arcade Classic of the Week
Before there were games like Contra and P.O.W., there was a game called Rush’n Attack. A side scrolling action game, you were a Green Beret infiltrating what appeared to be a Soviet military base. Your mission: save the P.O.W.’s from being executed by the firing squad. The thing you will remember most about this game is that you basically knifed everything. There were also arms along the way (such as RPG’s and Flamethrowers), but it was basically about how fast you could knife enemy soldiers as you progressed through the four stages. The NES port which many are familiar with made many changes and only stayed true in actual look (not gameplay). Look for a XBOX Live Arcade port in the upcoming months. It should be more faithful to the original arcade game.
Art of Fighting Anthology
Shrek the 3rd
Taito Legends 2
Innocent Life: A Futuristic Harvest Moon
Taito Legends Power Up
Marvel Ultimate Alliance Gold
Shrek the 3rd
MLB 07: The Show
Shrek the 3rd
Touch the Dead
A somewhat interesting release week. On the PS2 front; Art of Fighting Anthology makes its way to the budget area. Amazon has it for the throwaway price of $14.99. For three classic fighting games, that’s pretty darn spiffy. Taito Legends got pushed back this week and appears to be EB/Gamespot exclusives. If you read my little rant from last week, you kinda understand why I wonder what’s going on with this situation. Somehow I think this just leads to me not getting Cadash on XBOX or PS2 anytime soon. On the 360 front, Marvel UA gets a Gold release which is nice because I was ready to buy an old copy of the game and download the expansion pack. Now I can buy Gold whenever I feel like it and get both. (just as long as they aren’t future packs :)). The only downside here is that the Gold is being released at normal pricing, I was kinda hoping it would get $50 treatment. A few decent looking games for DS round out the releases. Oh yeah, PS3 gets a baseball game *overjoyed* 🙂
Some Final Thoughts and Mutterings
Gaming wise, I sold a bunch of my items on Ebay over the past week and have shipped out all but two packages. Pretty good, nice to see people pay in a timely fashion. In combination with an auction my friend wanted; I went ahead and got a copy of Ninety-Nine Nights for 360. I do kinda want that Art of Fighting Anthology as well if somebody could pull me away from Mortal Kombat Armageddon (XBOX) long enough. Look for me also to spend some free time (get it, free…okay anyway) on Aegis Wing since I’m a sucker for classic style shooters. Outside of that, look for dvd reviews from me for this past weekend & all this week. Nice to know that my website is treating me like the wife I used to have :). Nah, I can’t be mean like that…have a great week kiddoes.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)