Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gone But Not Forgotten 2: Game Cancellations That Also Still Sting

Oh, what could have been... That's a statement that dances around in my mind, taunting me at every waking hour. GAH! ...Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but no doubt you've followed a game from its initial announcement with feverish anticipation only to have it unceremoniously cancelled down the road. It's like a sucker punch to the gut when that happens, and that is what Gone But Not Forgotten deals with, cancelled games that I still feel the sting from. This is the second article in the series, so if you missed the first, check out this link. With that out of the way, let's get depressed and disappointed together! Yay!

Sonic X-treme (SAT)


Sonic X-treme was set up to be the first original Sonic the Hedgehog game for the ill-fated Sega Saturn. However, development hell plagued the game, as did the illnesses of two of main designers. Sonic X-treme went through plenty of alterations and versions before it was ultimately cancelled for good, one of which being the tube-like level designs where Sonic could run on walls, shifting the gravity in the process. The game was intended to use a unique fish-eye lens camera to make the game even more of an eye-catcher. Perhaps the remnants of Sonic X-treme can be seen in last year's Sonic: Lost World released for the Wii U.

Heavenly Sword 2 (PS3)


The original Heavenly Sword was a great success sales-wise, performing well enough to cross the million sale threshold. However, the development duties of its sequel were handed over to a new team, outside of the original developer, Ninja Theory. Meanwhile, Ninja Theory started work on a reboot to the Devil May Cry series. SCE Cambridge was the new team in charge of Heavenly Sword 2, but they were soon restructured and absorbed by Guerilla Games. As it stands now, Heavenly Sword 2 is but a wish from fans of the series, and while the creators say that hope isn't totally lost for a sequel, the likelihood of a new entry is quite low. Not very reassuring, huh?

Maximo 3 (PS2)


Maximo 3's cancellation is a case of poor sales of a predecessor meaning the halting of development for a sequel. After the critically acclaimed Ghost to Glory in 2001 and Army of Zin two years later, both titles released on the PlayStation 2, it's a darn shame that the latter didn't sell anywhere near enough to justify a third entry to cap of the trilogy. Perhaps the games' old school challenging gameplay turned off plenty of potential players, thus dooming a chance for a third game in the series. Well, at least we'll always have Ghosts to Glory and Army of Zin, right?

Bomberman (3DS)


Bomberman was one of the first games shown for the Nintendo 3DS. However, the developer Hudson Soft was purchased by Konami, who proceeded to cancel the game. As a huge fan of Bomberman 64 and its sequel, The Second Attack, the news of this inspired game hit me pretty hard. Not only was the game looking just like a great successor to those two Nintendo 64 classics, but since the game's cancellation, Bomberman as a series has been all but silent in recent years. It was only recently a smartphone game for Japan was announced, offering the old style Bomberman gameplay. It's not a replacement for what the Nintendo 3DS game could have been, but at least Konami isn't totally keeping Bomberman on hiatus.

Chocobo Racing (3DS)


Like the Bomberman project, Chocobo Racing was another tentative title shown during Nintendo's 2010 E3 press conference. Little is known about the game outside of a few screens here and there, but coming off the Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing inspired PlayStation One original, I can't help but feel saddened by the game's cancellation. It's not like competitive mascot arcade racers are in as steady supply as say, first-person shooters, so Chocobo Racing's 3DS entry would have been a welcomed addition to the gaming landscape.

Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble 2 (GCN, GBA)


Finally we look at a death-by-Nintendo-of-Japan Kirby game for the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo GameCube,  a sequel to Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble. The original Game Boy Color title used accelerometers in the game's cartridge to allow players to tilt the game system to move Kirby around labyrinths full of enemies, collectibles, and obstacles. As a huge fan of the original, the existence of a new Tilt 'n' Tumble excited me greatly upon seeing it in an issue of Nintendo Power. Now, all that is left of the game are old screenshots and some footage, a painful pair of reminders of what could have been.

Little Deviants (Vita) Review

Time for an early morning review to start your day off right. (Well, it's early morning if you're in the GMT -6 time zone like I am!) This next game was a launch title for the PlayStation Vita. Unfortunately, it's a rather weak mini-game collection. The charm is there, but something got in the way of making this game truly good. It's Little Deviants time on SuperPhillip Central!

These are not the deviants you are looking for.


Can you believe that the PlayStation Vita is already over two years old? With every system launch, there are titles that stand out and titles that are better left forgotten. While a fair share of the games that released were top-tier titles, the mini-game collection known as Little Deviants serves as an example of the latter type of title. Serving as a combination of a tech showcase of the Vita's various functionality and a mini-game collection, Little Deviants was a game that launch buyers of the Vita should have avoided.

During a flight through space, the deviants' ship suffers a crash landing on a foreign planet home to some very ferocious creatures. Through completing mini-games, the deviants collect various broken fragments of their ship in order to get the overall goal of escaping the planet in one piece. 

There are two modes in Little Deviants, a "Story" mode that has you playing through the 30+ mini-games, trying to earn the bronze trophy needed to unlock a new game, and a "Games" mode which allows you to play any of the mini-games you have already beaten in Story mode without having to cycle through as many menus as you would otherwise.

This is the map in Story mode where you
select which mini-game you'd like to play.
The PlayStation Vita hardware comes packed with a plethora of functions on it, and Little Deviants aims to use all of them, whether that's a beneficial thing to the whole product or not. You see, just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. That's the case with Little Deviants. Many times I cursed the awkward controls, whether they be touch, motion, or sound-based, wishing I was using traditional analog or button inputs.

While the different control ideas used in Little Deviants are ingenious, the way they are executed leaves a lot to be desired. For example, take a game where you have to roll your little deviant friend through a landscape, collecting keys, avoiding obstacles, and making it to each level's goal. Sounds easy enough, but when you factor in that you move the deviant around by fiddling with the imprecise and impractical rear touch screen to create hills to "push" your character, things get very frustrating very quickly. This is especially so when you need precise movements with a control setup that is anything but precise.

Many times you'll want your deviant to
move one way, yet he'll move the other!
Other games feature augmented reality, having the player shoot down enemy UFOs trying to snatch deviants in midair. You circle around in your position and aim the Vita to shoot down foes. My issue here is that for a portable system that is supposed to be for on-the-go usage, why do so many mini-games in Little Deviants make it so you'd look like a fool playing them in public? This isn't like "I'm too insecure to play a portable gaming system in public", it's more like "I already suffer from mental illness-- I don't want to make myself look crazier in public than I already am."

Don't mind me. I'm just spinning around
in the middle of my block like a madman.
Now not all of the games are hindered poorly by shoehorned use of the Vita. There's a mini-game where windows open on a series of apartments, and your job is to tap either the front or rear touch screens depending on where they face. Of course, you have to be careful of hitting friendly characters, as you will get a time penalty for every friendly you smack.

No vacancy for you evildoers!
Regardless, outside of the controls themselves, what makes many of mini-games so annoying is each one's duration. The majority of games in Little Deviants take upwards of five minutes to pass them, and that's not including trying to go for the rare gold trophy, earned by scoring a massive amount of points on a given mini-game. If you're a completionist, you'll most likely continuously need to play each mini-game just to slowly boost your score each time. This is a major time commitment and makes many of the mini-games feel less mini and more crazy.

Like Pac-Man, but with tilt controls
thrown in for bad measure.
Furthermore, when one thinks of a mini-game collection, they most likely think of something for the whole family or a group of friends to sit down and play. Little Deviants deviates from this norm by only containing single player for all of its games. All you get with this title are friend leaderboards and a means to takes jabs at others for besting their scores. Disappointing is an understatement, to say the least.

I bet this is a better product than the WWE these days.
Little Deviants is what you get when a developer gets a little too ambitious and takes every feature of a new piece of hardware and makes a collection of tech demo mini-games out of them. Such an end result of this is what you see with Little Deviants. With myriad times where traditional controls would work better than what is provided, no multiplayer at all, and most mini-games taking way too long to play through for the player to receive a respectable score, Little Deviants is a difficult mini-game compilation to recommend. For a better introduction to the features of the PlayStation Vita, and a free one at that, the already included Welcome Park application is where owners of Sony's portable need to turn to. 

[SPC Says: 4.0/10]

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Best Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Thirteen

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR THE FOLLOWING GAMES:

  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Puppeteer
  • Pokemon Red/Blue/Yellow

There's a certain art that comes from making an exquisite boss battle. It's all too easy to come up with a great idea for an encounter, only to have it executed poorly. The tussles with foes on Best Boss Battles in Gaming History are the exact opposite of that. These are wonderfully designed, memorable, absolutely awesome, and amazing battles that resonate with players, no doubt leaving an impression on them long after the boss in question has been beaten. This is the thirteenth installment of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History, and as long as game creators keep designing great boss battles, this segment will continue to live on!

If you missed a previous installment of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History, look no further than these twelve links!

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six 
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten
Part Eleven
Part Twelve

Head past the break to see the five bosses I have listed for this edition of Best Boss Battles in Gaming History!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, XONE) Gameplay Trailer

My most anticipated new-gen game is without question Batman: Arkham Knight, so you can imagine my delight upon seeing this new trailer for the game, featuring a lot of fantastic footage and action. Batman: Arkham Knight will hit the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on June 2, 2015!

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Wii U) TV Commercial

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U may be out now, but that isn't the last big title Nintendo has for North America and Japan. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is due out next month for North America, offering over 70 puzzling levels of brain twisting goodness. Check out the North American TV commercial for the game below.

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