One simple truth kicks off this week’s splendiferous slate of videogame releases: “Life is like a hurricane, here… in Duckberg.”
DuckTales: Remastered (XBLA, PSN, eShop, PC)
In 1989, Capcom released a videogame adaptation of Disney’s hit ‘DuckTales’ cartoon. Playing as Scrooge McDuck, players found not only a platformer in the early ‘Mega Man’ mold, but an all-around classic game with much lauded music, secrets and non-linear gameplay. Through the efforts of WayForward Technologies of ‘Contra 4’ and ‘A Boy and His Blob’ fame, Capcom has given the 8-bit title an HD makeover, entitled ‘DuckTales: Remastered‘.
Among the new changes, front and center is the switch to a 3D modeled environment for the 2D gameplay. The character sprites have been replaced by hand-drawn versions. The game’s music has been remixed. In addition, the surviving cast of the show has recorded several hours of dialogue to illustrate the plot through cut-scenes. Likewise, the levels now have sub-objectives meant to tweak the game’s length and difficulty. The remastered game now has three difficulty modes that theoretically make it easier. Some new control options have also made it a bit easier for ‘Mario Bros.’ veterans.
Frankly, as a huge fan of the original, the changes are a mixed bag. The cut-scenes feel unnecessary. While the new character designs are excellent and authentic, the 3D environments seem really out-of-place. I wish that the original had been provided as an option, even if it didn’t have checkpoints and achievements.
Sadly, those unfamiliar with the game who don’t care for platformers will likely be hard-pressed to appreciate what is included. While the game hits PlayStation, Wii U and the PC this week, the 360 version isn’t due out until mid-September. A hard copy version with a PSN download code and a collector’s pin should surface sometime next week.
Payday 2 (360, PS3, PC)
In the surprise online hit ‘Payday’, players got the ability to take heists to a dedicated cooperative level. The success of that experience not only ensured a ‘Payday 2‘, but also encouraged developer Overkill Software to build a true a sequel that has mesmerized all different types of gamers in beta form.
‘Payday 2’ expands on all of the mechanics of the first title, and also contains new missions, items and objectives. Further, it has added several RPG elements such as class-based skill trees and a high degree of character customization. The amount of planning available also makes it quite distinct from a normal First Person Shooter.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team (3DS)
‘Mario & Luigi: Dream Team‘ follows a long legacy of Mario spin-off games, from ‘Super Mario RPG’ to ‘Paper Mario’ to ‘Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story’. Within this side-track of the Mario franchise is where the game is made or broken.
Naturally, the story revolves around the abduction of Princess Peach on Pi’illo Island (think “pillow”). In order to rescue her, Mario and Luigi must wake the Pi’illo inhabitants, a process that requires Luigi to sleep on each inhabitant while Mario delves into Luigi’s dream psyche, accompanied by Luigi’s various dream forms. That’s the plot of the game, no more, no less.
This actually makes for a nice variety of combat and puzzles, especially with all of the ways that zany Dream Luigi can interact with the environment. The game is a nice departure from the recent straightforward Mario platformers, but at the same time, it suffers when compared to classics like ‘Paper Mario’. Many people looking to play an RPG will expect a bit more variety in terms of story, environment and playable characters. On the other hand, those not burdened with high expectations may be pleasantly surprised.
My only gripe is wondering why the hell this game (or something similar) isn’t coming out on the Wii U? With the dual screen, there are so many ways to manipulate the sleeping Luigi, and yet the Wii U’s GamePad goes underutilized. And this comes at a time when the 3DS is getting big releases every other week and the Wii U has to settle for a ‘Pikmin’ retread.
Europa Universalis IV (PC, Mac)
The ‘Europa Universalis’ series is one that fans seem to mate with for life. The “grand strategy” game takes players to the Age of Discovery, and then gives them a whole mess of systems with which to succeed or fail in tackling the globe. ‘Europa Universalis IV‘ refines the series rather than remakes it, and raises the complexity to a new level. Fans of ‘Crusader Kings’ and ‘Civilization’ ought to be drawn to this. Before jumping into a game like this, I recommend playing the demo.