Videogame Releases: Week of August 12th, 2012

Videogame Releases: Week of August 12th, 2012

This week, Death wears a mask and brings an end to the dearth of big videogame releases. Both the world of ‘Darksiders II’ and the underworld of ‘Sleeping Dogs’ come ready to make our home theaters a marvelous spectacle. Even the Wii gets one last chance to shine.

Darksiders II (360, PS3, PC)

The first ‘Darksiders’ told the story of “War.” Many gamers were enamored with its ‘Zelda’-like mechanics, Joe Madd art and bombastic combat. ‘Darksiders II‘ kicks things up a notch with another horseman of the Charred Council, “Death.”

‘Darksiders II’ may be the true modern-day hope for what a sequel can be – a version 2.0 where the developers are able to build upon everything good from the first game with the aid of an established engine, IP and team. That the developer Vigil and publisher THQ have hit dire straits is not the backstory of ‘Darksiders II’. Rather, ‘Darksiders II’ is the gem in THQ’s portfolio of titles and studios. A version for the Wii U has been announced and will likely be released in the next six months.

Sleeping Dogs (360, PS3, PC)

Sleeping Dogs‘ has had a turbulent development history, but the game previously known as ‘Black Lotus’ or ‘True Crime: Hong Kong’ looks incredible. Gamers play as undercover police officer Wei Shen on a mission to infiltrate the most powerful Triad organization in Hong Kong. The slick trailers make this open-world, third person sandbox game look like a standout of the genre, but the deep and rather violent martial arts-based combat system is the heart of the gameplay.

The conscious decision to fully develop a PC version speaks well of the agreements between the publisher Square Enix and the developer United Front Games. ‘Sleeping Dogs’ has a shot at becoming a real blockbuster.

The Last Story (Wii)

At long last, ‘The Last Story‘ comes to North America. A year and a half after being released in Japan, and six months after European and Australian releases, the game arrives as a fitting swan song for the Nintendo Wii. That is, if you enjoy Japanese role-playing games, with their signature hyper-emotive story arcs and somewhat effeminate character design, then by all accounts this game is for you.

Developed by Mistwalker Corporation, which is headed by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the ‘Final Fantasy’ series and responsible for ‘Blue Dragon’ and ‘Lost Odyssey’, ‘The Last Story’ is not ‘Final Fantasy XIII’. It has gameplay beyond corridors and battle encounters. If, after watching this trailer, you want to play ‘The Last Story’, then you may be looking at your new all-time favorite game.

Dust: An Elysian Tail (XBLA)

Dust and his two companies, a sentient blade and some sort of flying furry, are all that stand between the land and evil. And so it is that ‘Dust: An Elysian Tail’ brings its own brand of side-scrolling action to bear upon the Xbox Live Arcade.

Reportedly the work of one man, Dean Dodrill, the game is styled in an entirely drawn presentation, complete with fluid animation. The combat begins simply and is built on combos. As the game goes on, these combative abilities are leveled into various kinds of magical attacks. Anyone interested in this game should know that it’s an XBLA exclusive title, so don’t wait around to see if it shows up on PC or PS3.

Papo & Yo (PSN)

I wrote about ‘Papo & Yo’ fairly recently, and wondered if the game was actually destined to ever get completed and released. While I can’t yet tell if the finished product is anywhere near as cohesive as it is ambitious, I have to applaud the vision for this game, even if it’s about as subtle as naming a movie ‘Allegory’. The puzzle-platforming looks top notch, and the visuals are impressive and nicely grounded. The graffiti in particular is beyond my critique. With all the makings of a critical darling amid several tough bits of mature subject matter, I hope its gameplay satisfies purchasers of this downloadable title.

The Expendables 2 Videogame (XBLA, PSN, PC)

If its name doesn’t already make it painfully clear, ‘The Expendables 2 Videogame’ is a licensed tie-in game for the upcoming film. I touched upon why games like this have a hard time managing to be decent in a previous post.

Here we have an arcade-y four-player cooperative game based around shooting things, presented in the guise of being an ‘Expendables 2’ prequel. This sounds like a decent formula, but the execution as seen in the PS3 version, which has been out for about two weeks, falls flat. Even in the vehicle sections, the feedback between shooting and hitting a target is painfully inconsistent. Still, I smiled at the imitation Stallone audio cue: “Are you feelin’ it?”


  1. Will ‘The Last Story’ really be the Wii’s swan song? Are no more new games planned? I remember Sony pumping out games for YEARS after the PS1/PS2’s demise. Why wouldn’t Nintendo?

    (because they never did with the SNES/N64/NGC? Probably. But even then, I would like to know WHY.)

    • Fair question. Some systems are so popular that they actually continue to be profitable long after a successor is released. (backwards compatibility can factor into this) Sony continues not only to sell PS2s, but also find new ways to introduce the PS2 in countries that are not traditionally tied into the major markets.

      In contrast, Microsoft pushed the first Xbox off a cliff the moment the 360 was released. Now Microsoft faces the problem of introducing a successor to an ultra-popular system.

      Nintendo quickly ended the N64 and Gamecube platforms, but they kept the original NES going for as long as possible. Seemingly unconcerned with customer confusion, Nintendo continues to sell DSi and DSi XLs alongside 3DS and 3DS XL models.

      The Wii has the lifetime install base (and cheap production costs) to justify long support from Nintendo. Especially with the Wii U seeming like a tough sell. The question is, where will the games come from? Nintendo already has to focus on the 3DS and Wii U.

      The Wii may still have some development focus that leads to decent or even great titles. If Mistwalker Corporation really believes in the approach used for ‘The Last Story,’ they would be wise to develop a title that could be played on the Wii or Wii U.

  2. Its simply the fact that Nintendo and third party publishers still arent the best of friends, 95% of the games on the Wii are minigame garbage, plain and simple, cheaply produced games that come out at $20 for families to pick up and for them to make a quick buck, besides a few good exceptions and Nintendo’s own titles, the Wii was really a disappointment. Sure it sold a ton of systems but the games were never really there beyond what Nintendo provided, especially for the more “mature” crowd of gamers. The system has been pretty much dead all of this year, with the WiiU coming out soon and sales dropping for the system and the games (even more so than it already had), I dont see any reason why Nintendo would keep supporting the Wii. It lacks just about everything that the other two have, HD, good online content and a good online system in general and of course the third party support.

    I have ZERO interest in the Wii U, the Wii was the end of Nintendo for me, Zelda and Mario has only worked so long and I’m tired of motion controllers and stupid tablet pads to keep making gimmicks with, even a no controller hit like the Kinect got boring REAL fast, I’m certainly not the gamer Nintendo is marketing the Wii or the Wii U for, I like my games like Darksiders II with a good controller and no gimmicks, so I’ll stick with Microsoft and Sony because even though they’ve added a gimmick, they still get the top notch games to keep me playing

  3. With all the time that I personally spent working on the Wii, and the kind of frustrating optimism needed to ask “Why does it have to be this way,” I would just add that I think that in the game industry the relationships between various companies and relationships between companies and consumers is far from everlasting.

    It’s king like that R. Kelly song, ‘When a woman’s fed up.’ Once a game, or a system loses a customer, and makes that customer walk away, they probably won’t return. Once a consumer says “I’ve played enough Farmville, or World of Warcraft, or Call of Duty, or Madden, or games on the Wii,” they become an ex-consumer. Likewise, between a big publisher or a first party company and a third party developer, when a big issue comes up (poor sales, missed dates, poor support, etc.) the business relationship goes Titanic, and acrimony is all that is left.

  4. OK, I can see that. Good points, all of you. However, when and how does a system lose a customer? Imagine, for example, that a new, genuine SNES-cartridge came out today. I’m not talking about some indie developer, but a real NEW Super Nintendo game all the way from the Kyoto headquarters.

    I would buy that. Oh yes. It would be a thrill to open up a brand new SNES-game, read the manual, carefully place the cart in the system and fire it up.

    That said, I think a lost customer can always return. Or was I never a lost customer? Every year, I will buy my fair share of second hand games for a majority of systems. On fleamarkets or in specialised stores.

    • Chaz

      Nintendo back then I’m still a fan of, I still play SNES games (one of the best systems ever made) and the occasional NES game as well, I still play Genesis titles, SEGACD games and MAME Arcade Roms, but Nintendo after the N64 really went downhill, each system after that produced less and less good games and only brought the same old stuff from Nintendo over and over again, while I’ve been a long time Zelda fan, I just couldnt bring myself to play much on the Wii, even those.

      As its going the days of original and exclusive games are barely there much anymore, you still get a few coming from each camp but in general most big games come out on all the systems (if its possible), the problem with the WiiU is that its finally getting games that have already been out and looked as good on other systems over a year ago, yeah its got some neat looking games but its all based on another gimmick controller. Next year we will most likely see the next Xbox and possibly a new Playstation as well and I would much rather follow those two who still give me genuine no gimmick gaming while having the option to go the other way if you want to. Nintendo is pretty much requiring me to use their dumb new controller or use the Wii’s controllers, each option is bad in my eyes 🙂

      • William Henley

        I must agree with this as well. Now, Nintendo’s games – mainly Zelda, had some of their best games on the N64, Gamecube and Wii. Shoot, the ONLY reason I haven’t sold my Wii is to fire up Windwaker. That, and the Virtual Console is great. As far as Wii games, the ONLY third-party game I own is Rampage.

        However, the SNES was a great system for RPGs, and had some great titles, many of which I still play. Final Fantasy 2 and 3 (4&6), Arcane, Wonderer’s from Ys, Actraiser, Zelda 3, these were just great games that I STILL want to play. Since my brother *ahem* BORROWED my SNES about 15 years ago, the Virtual Console has been a great way to play these games again.

        So, yeah, I got a Wii to play Gamecube, N64 and SNES and Genesis and TurboGrafix16 games on, got a PS3 to play Blu-Rays, Netflix and PS2 and PS games on, and my Xbox 360…. Well, it hasn’t been turned on in 9 months.

        I guess the question is – am I a lost customer? I still buy retro games, and the OCCASSIONAL new titles (the Tales series on the Xbox / Wii / Gamecube, Fable, Katamari).

        • It does sound like the mainstream games that emphasize 3D gameplay and realism in visuals, are not your thing. I’d say that the industry at a AAA level has kind of abandoned you. Downloadable games, handheld games, indie PC games, that is where you will find a lot of the flair that was common in SNES days and missing these days.

        • I have a code for the Legend of Zelda Majora’s Mask on the Virtual Console if you are interested. I have enough copies of that game that I don’t need another.
          You can have the code unless other people speak up and say that they want it.