Death of Sierra, No Yoda vs Vader, and Pre-Owned Sales going extinct? – Welcome to the column that is about to start a rant the size of Barbara Streisand’s nose before the surgery known as Dare to Play the Game.
Welcome to another edition of Dare to Play the Game. 52/27/22/14. Every character this week in Warcraft with the exception of my hunter got some love. My troll rogue marched and hit level 52 with help from the Hinterlands and earned his first useable trinket. My blood elf mage stormed six levels and made his way into the Ghostlands. Even the dwarf priest who had not seen action for at least a month got some good shoulders & found his way questing again in Redridge. I think my major accomplishment this week was what I learned about spellcasters. I hit a point with my mage this week where I died about 5 times in one hour. It was around level 9 ½. No matter where I went, I was clearly overmatched. So again and again I met my WoW maker. Each time, I learned more about the character and then finally I hit 10. Level 10 for a mage is a big deal early on and opens up the playing field. Frost Nova became my new friend and I only died once for the rest of the weekend. I also made the decision right there to go Frost Spec. Yes, I know most mages go fire spec until they hit 70 but have you ever known me to do what everybody else does? Let’s see, Troll Rogue Combat Spec (most go Subtlety from what I’ve seen). A Hunter, Marksmanship build (everybody and their dog goes Beastmastery). The Priest? Discipline Spec (most go Shadow). So, it’s little wonder that a Mage for me would go Frostie. Mmmmm, Wendy’s anyone?
All blindfold jokes aside, I believe Morgan here is channeling a little bit of Carnac the Magnificient. Let’s see if we can listen in to get a gander at her perdictions. The answer is “WiiWare”. WiiWare, WiiWare…let’s open the envelope and find out. “What are boxers that you wear outside when you are shoveling snow?” WiiWare, HEYOOOOOO! Alright, alright, one more. The answer is “Orange Box”. Alright, Orange Box; like Half Life, Portal, etc. *opens envelope*. “What is the color of your Xbox 360 after you eat Cheetos and then attempt to play Portal?” Orange Box! She’s got a million of them I bet.
While some could-be-real, could-not-be-real images and video of Vader battling Yoda in Soul Calibur IV have surfaced over the past few weeks, the rumour that both characters will feature as DLC (Yoda for PS3, Vader for 360) is far from confirmed. Enter Soul Calibur IV director Katsutoshi Sasaki, who…fails to confirm or deny said rumours, saying “We don’t have any plans” to add the pair as platform-crossing DLC. Once was a day “no plans” meant just that, there were no plans, but these days it could just as easily mean “sure we will, but we’ll announce it in a month’s time when you’re starting to get sick of the game”.
Raise your hands if you think this is a bunch of bs. I thought so. Didn’t Sasaki get the memo? This is the age of DLC babie. Heck, they could add Obama & McCain in as DLC fighters and make a ton of cash. Hopefully they don’t, but they certainly could. Don’t think for a second that as a few months go on and they realized their little exclusive trick barely worked that they don’t release Yoda on PS3 and Vader on the 360 for $2-$3 dollars. Then you also have to think about the pending Clone Wars movie set to hit theaters. You could have half a dozen new characters for a good 800 MS Points. Exclusive tricks went out with the PS2 & Xbox. Remember Soul Calibur 2? That actually worked because you could fight with the Tekken Guy on PS2, Spawn on Xbox or even Link on GameCube. Why? Because we knew there was no magical way those could cross over. No Vader vs Yoda? Oh come on, we are smarter than that.
That’s a question Edge are asking today, and it follows on from a string of questions people have been asking for at least 10-15 years. What was once a company renowned for their PC adventure games, and later as the publisher of stuff like Half-Life and SWAT, are now facing oblivion, with Activision displaying zero interest in maintaining the brand following their merger with Vivendi. Me, I say put it to rest, and it’s a sentiment shared by company founder Ken Williams:
I really don’t know what Sierra even is these days…I suppose I should be disappointed anytime I hear that Sierra is being shut down, but it really doesn’t bother me. The company was horribly mismanaged for a long time, and it depresses me more every time I hear about a dumb decision being made than it does when I hear that someone did the right thing, even when it includes killing off a brand or reducing staff size.
Oh Sierra. Don’t worry. It’ll all be over soon. And when it is, we’ll remember you for Quest for Glory, not Magna Cum Laude.
Sierra, Sierra, Sierra. I miss Space Quest, King’s Quest and the Leisure Suit Larry series so beeping much. February 22nd, 1999 was the beginning of the end. Sierra’s Black Monday. Al Lowe and Scott Murphy were fired and Sierra, or what was left of it was ultimately transformed into every other gaming company. Dynamix was gone by 2001 and with the pending merger; any mention of Sierra will be as we weep and mumble something about point and click games. It’s probably for the best but most of us that grew up around these games are saddened about it anyway. Just this week, I was in a Half-Price Books and saw the entire collection of Leisure Suit Larry PC games for a meager $10. I came this close to buying it, I’m not sure what stopped me. Maybe I wanted to remember Sierra as they were and not what they have become. I want to remember Gabriel Knight or Quest for Glory. Unfortunately the last games Sierra put out were Eragon & a bunch of Spyro games. Sad times, sad times indeed. R.I.P. Sierra.
Trade-ins and the resale market are a great benefit to cost-conscious gamers (not to mention retailers gigging the trade-in values and resale markups). They’re also a pain in the ass for developers, especially the smaller ones, who face creating popular but poor-selling titles because everyone swaps it around. In an interview with Develop magazine, Frontier founder David Braben says developers should stop complaining to retailers and figure out ways to make owning first-buy copies of their games essential.
“We need to help retailers,” Braben said. “In fairness, they’re probably doing it because they’re struggling. But there are ways of tracking and deterring pre-owned sales.”
His ideas: Unique codes on boxes, similar to those used for PC online games, to ensure the games can’t be sold. Or, special content that can only be unlocked with a scratch-off card containing a one-use code.
But most likely, small developers will look to the downloadable channel as the way to go, Braben says. This will certainly become more viable in future generations of consoles, meaning devs still must cope with retail markets for the foreseeable future.
The following section might contain language not suitable for children. Heck, the language might not even be suitable for sailors on shore leave. Who the #$&*^@ does David Braben think he is? *Looks up the Wikipedia entry* Oh he’s a British computer programmer known for co-writing Elite, a space trading computer game from the early 80’s. His works currently include Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 (bleh), games based on Wallace & Grommit (double bleh) & Lost Winds, one of the first WiiWare titles. Okay the last one isn’t so bad. But seriously, this guy has a lot of nerve. This isn’t Japan, this isn’t Britain. This is the good ole United States of America. We are capitalists, we buy and sell our games from anybody and everybody. We might buy it new, on clearance, used or heck in little pieces coated with sugar if we so desire.
Personally, I’d say I buy about 10% of my games new, about 40% on clearance (when they hit $20 or less) and the rest used. Why? Am I too cheap? Well perhaps, I am a cheap bastard. But more importantly, most new games are just not worth $60. Most games are not even worth $39.95. Instead, most games are probably worth anywhere from $20 to $35. Why? Playing time. Any game that can be finished in under ten hours is not worth the new prices we are throwing at it. Rockband? Totally worth it. My girlfriend and I have probably put a couple of hundred hours into that game. I spent roughly $50 on it and probably have bought another $40 in DLC. It’s a great game.
But the same tired old first person shooter or sports game is hardly worth my time. I might discover it at $20 & used and go oh that’s a cool game. But at $60, not worth my time. So if something like this happened and these loser of games sit around at $60 time after time because of the destruction of the used market? Well, they will continue to sit around and no offense, but the only way they will magically disappear is if retailers get sick of them and mark them down to clearance. So as a result, my new games are still at 10% and the rest of my games are purchased at clearance. Congratulations, you’ve made a whole $10 extra from me. Use that and go buy a giant box of shut the hell up and please leave me and my used game market alone before I castrate somebody.
Hrmmm, this would be the second game in the Summer sweepstakes of sorts for Xbox Live Arcade. This game was originally on the PC where it drew a lot of acclaim and won the “Innovation in Game Design” award at the Indy Games Festival in 2006. It’s made by Jonathon Blow who has spoken out against many the lazy developer. Good for him. The game is a platformer in the style of Super Mario Bros and others. What makes it unique is the ability to reverse time and rewind your actions even after you die. There are many complicated puzzles as well that help to create images and tell the story. The objects are simple but the art is described as very elaborate. At 1200 points it might be tough to find an audience, however if there is enough good gameplay (which there possibly could be) it could warrant many purchases. Download the demo, see if you like it.
Light gun games, yeahie. So let’s see, this one you are in the Old West. You get to shoot at vultures, balloons, sombreros, and of course the usual assortment of bad guys. Just don’t shoot the innocent. Ummm, *raise hand*, I think there was already a game like this. It was on the old NES and called Wild Gunman. *sssssssh, away you* . But this game has Wii graphics. There’s more too, you can take part in an Old West train attack or there are even multiplayer modes where you can combine points or shoot each other to find out who is the fastest draw in the west. I can also use a cheese grater and get rid of these stubborn corns. At least I would be accomplishing something.
I love me the Sega Master System. There are plenty of good games for the system, just were never discovered. The virtual console could serve as an excellent example of bringing that to us. The first Phantasy Star, Golden Axe Warrior, Ultima IV, Y’s: The Vanished Omens, Shinobi & others. Instead what do we get? Sonic the Hedgehog. Except that already exists on Genesis virtual console released many times over. The selling point? This game has new bosses, different zones and a level map. How to find Chaos Emeralds has also been changed. I’m supposed to pay 500 points for this? It’s a downport. This is the same as Golden Axe on the SMS, or how about any Wii game that gets released on the 360 or PS3 at the same time? Now that I mentioned it, we probably will get Golden Axe for SMS next week. The selling point, oh look it offers no multiplayer and the stages are streamlined for easy playability. Translation = shorter stages and sucky game. Avoid.
Splatterhouse, mmmmm, one of the most underappreciated series ever. It’s been three months since Rick escaped from the house. The Terror Mask appears to Rick and tells him Jennifer doesn’t have to die. It then instructs him to go back into the house. I don’t know about the rest of you, but that chick can go find herself a new boyfriend. Anyhow, it is very similar to the first one in gameplay and scare tactics. More grizzly undead and big bad level bosses will haunt your nightmares as you try to conquer this game. This earns easily my download recommendation of the week as games like this just aren’t made anymore. Hopefully Rick can find some peace in your Virtual Console this week.
Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour
Monster Madness: Grave Danger
King of Clubs
Little League World Series 2008
Little League World Series 2008
The Cheetah Girls: Passport to Stardom
Quick Yoga Training
Ummm, raise your hand if you actually know any of the games being released this week. Oh wait, that’s my job. But honestly, I don’t have a clue either. Crash Time is a budget release for the 360 ($29.99). Apparently it will have crashes, stunts and chasing criminals as you are part of the Cobra 11 police force. Assuming the control or graphics don’t absolutely stink, it could be a good pick up (especially since Burnout got all complicated on us). Monster Madness is similar to the 360 version with 4 play top-down shooter action and over 70 different Monster Enemy Types. It’s also at a nice price of $40. A bunch of DS games also this week including Grid, the DS adaption of the popular racing game already found on 360 & PS3. Hard to really recommend anything this week, there are a couple of maybes but perhaps it’s another of those weeks when you look forward to the following week. Let’s see. Madden 09 is next week & a crapload of those Madcat NFL themed controllers. Can somebody send me a Philadelphia Eagles one (360) to test out? Come on, you know you won’t sell that many at $39.99. Besides, there is no way in Houston, I’ll get anything besides the Cowboys & the Texans.
After a staggering three votes and no clear winner, I would like to thank the academy for their lack of participation. So based on the very logical post from Cron, I decided to start Stranglehold. There needs to be more games with Tequila in my 360 console. I’m not talking about Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville either. The man is awesome and the game has a lot of character. I played through most of the first two stages and had a blast doing it. It’s a game quite honestly I should have gotten a long time ago. A little gem that simply got lost in the shuffle with the Halos, Rainbow Six Vegas and other multitude of shooters that got marketed over the top of better crafted games like Stranglehold. The multiplayer isn’t really there unfortunately, but the single player (which is what draws me to 1st person shooters 9 times out of 10) is one of the best I’ve played in a while. I love the interactivity of environments where shooting a street sign can land right on top of your victim for an easy kill. It feels somewhat more realistic. In RSV, you’re part of an elite task force. Ohhhkayyyy. In Halo, you are Master Chief….riggggghttttt. Sure, I’m no Tequila either, but at least I feel like he could be a breathing, talking, human being. So, I will continue to play this one and have only one question left this week. Chow Yun Fat’s best work arguably was in Hard Boiled and The Killer. Can I please get a reasonable copy of the Killer that isn’t bootlegged or $200 (Criterion)? Is that too much to ask, we have a beautiful Dragon Dynasty disc in Hard Boiled, could we get similar treatment for the Killer? I think so. So folks, keep gaming where it should be. Cheap and dirty, just like the hookers your daddy called up last night when he said he was just “going out with the boys.” The stains will wash out, but the clap never will.
Kedrix of Aldrianian
(*The Forgotten One*)