New Releases: March 2010

What a month to kick things off with, huh? It seems Christmas was moved to March this year for some reason.

Actually there is a reason. Many Christmas releases were delayed because they didn’t want to compete with Modern Warfare 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii for one thing. For another, March marks the end of the first quarter of the business year. As such, if companies don’t want to kick off the year in the red, they need to release something!

As such, many big name titles are hitting one after another in rapid succession. Let’s take a look and see what we see!

-Week 1-

Nothing. The calm before the storm I guess. Oh there’s some first person shooter that stole the themesong from Jak X, but that’s about it.

-Week 2-

Final Fantasy XIII (PS3/360)

The first next-gen installment of the infamous Final Fantasy series hits America right at the beginning of March, making many developers wish they had challenged Modern Warfare 2 instead. FFXIII has had a long and strange development cycle though. Originally a PS3 exclusive, it was one of the primary reasons anyone bought that system only for it to recieve a (U.S. exclusive) XBox 360 port, much to PS3 fans dismay. It has also stirred up controversy because the original Japanese themesong is being replaced with “My Hands” by Leona Lewis, an American Idol winner. Again, much to the dismay of everyone. Lastly and most intriguingly, however, is that it’s Japanese release a few months back has caused many to question if it’s even an RPG anymore! Supposedly the most cinematic yet also most linear Final Fantasy yet, FFXIII is lacking many RPG elements. Most infamously, it lacks towns. While not the first RPG to do this, and indeed it may not even be a bad idea, it has raised many eyebrows. From my standpoint, FFXIII is an all or nothing gamble. It will either be a surprisingly fantastic spectacle, or it will be the next FFVIII. Either way, there’s absolutely no chance in hell it will be better than Final Fantasy XII to me. Still, I’ll pick it up for the spectacle and hope for the best. I mean, if nothing else it has a guy with a baby chocobo in his afro! That must be worth something!

Yakuza 3 (PS3)

Some call it “The GTA of Japan”, others call it a “Modern Day Action RPG”. Some Japanese magazines even call it “Shenmue Done Right”! Regardless, the Yakuza series is damn incredible. Telling the epic tales of Kazuma Kiryu, a former Yakuza member, the series is a smash hit in Japan right up there with Final Fantasy! In America? Not so much. Both Yakuza 1 and 2 bombed horrendously for various reasons. Yakuza 3 wasn’t even going to come out originally! However, the fans begged. You really can’t blame them either as Yakuza 3, with it massive hyper-detailed (and accurate) world and numerous optional side activities, could well be the single greatest game on PS3! One of the few that honestly could not be ported to 360 as it’s Blu Ray disc is bursting at the seams with content! Unfortunately, SEGA has revealed that due to budget and time constraints, a few side activities have been cut. Most notably, the ability to run the Hostess Club. This act alone has caused 75% of the people who were going to buy the game to boycott it. Of course much of this is the fault of bad PR on SEGA’s part as they failed to mention that the dating and hostesses would still be in the game. Hopefully they’ll clean up this mess before Yakuza 3 bombs and Yakuza 4 is rightfully denied to Western audiences. Before anyone calls me on it though, I admit that dressing up the hostesses was half the reason I was buying Yakuza 3 and the part I was most looking forward to. However, the game will still be great without it. I just hope the text is readable on a standard definition TV.

Spectral Force Genesis (DS)

Better late than never, huh? This was supposed to be released in America months ago but was pushed to February at the last minute and now March. Odd because it was already translated into English and released in Europe last year! The game it’s self is part of a long running series I am only vaguely familiar with. However I am very interested in this entry. From what I can tell, you pick one of a handful of different fictional countries and try to conquer the fantasy world of Neverland. Combat involves swarms of 2D sprites in a 3D battlefield all commanded in realtime via touchscreen. A tantalizing Japanese RTS for the DS with a Risk/Dragon Force-esque world conquest set up? Sign me up!

-Week 3-

Pokemon Heart Gold/Soul Silver (DS)

An enhanced remake of what is widely considered the best Pokemon game ever made. Heart Gold and Soul Silver adds tons of new features like the ability to have Pokemon follow you as well as the ability to download them to a Pocket Pikachu-esque device! While Krys has been replaced with Kotone as the female trainer of the game, much to my dismay, I still look forward to more Pokemon training action. This is probably the only game coming out in March that can seriously go toe to toe with Final Fantasy and win. Now if only I knew where I put my copy of Pokemon Pearl so I can get my Lopunnies back! I need my Lopunnies!

Rage of the Gladiator (WiiWare)

While it was supposed to be the first Wii Ware title to use the MotionPlus, Ghost Slayer beat it to that. Still, this looks to be Punch Out!! but medival and with a hammer. That’s good enough for me!

Resonance of Fate (PS3/360)

A new Tri-Ace RPG being released on both PS3 and 360. Resonance of Fate  seems to involve a unique combat system that focuses on flashy over-the-top gunplay. I know very little else about it beyond the fact that I need to give it a shot. Oh sure the character designs look bland and the plot will probably be dreary, but the combat looks awesome! Also, apparently there will be some degree of customization in it and that’s even more awesome!

Fragile Dreams (Wii)

A highly experimental game on Wii. In Fragile Dreams, you play what may be the last person left alive on Earth. He finds a girl but she runs off and now he looks for her while piecing together what ended the world. From what I hear, there is no combat at all. No action whatsoever. It’s all exploration. It’s a daring idea and, like Heavy Rain, could either be incredibly boring or shockingly amazing.

Infinite Space (DS)

SEGA does what Derek Smart don’t. Infinite Space is a massive hyper complex game where you command a custom starship and explore two massive galaxies. It seems a lot like what was attempted with the infamous Battlecruiser 3000 AD, except (if the Japanese reviews are true) actually good! While it’s no doubt a niche title with a steep learning curve, it is destined to find fans. Tell all your Star Trek fanatic friends to take a look!

-Week 4-

Cave Story (Wii Ware)

Everyone’s favorite freeware Metroidvania gets an enhanced Wii port! If you haven’t played it yet, look it up! Chances are, Cave Story will be well worth the price of admission even though it was originally free. It does make one wonder if they’re adding any new content though.

Red Steel 2 (Wii)

Looking absolutely nothing like the original launch day disappointment, Red Steel 2 promises me first person sword swinging action with MotionPlus support (and also guns). That’s about all I need to hear! Let’s pray that it finally provides me with the sword swinging action I’ve been craving since the Wii launched! Of course, I’m not counting on it. Still, the new graphics and atmosphere look nice and FPSes work well on Wii when they’re competently coded. So, this should be worth a look at least. It’s really great seeing a developer put actual effort into a Wii title as this actually looks good.

Cheer We Go! (DS)

Planned in the US and programmed by Natsume, Cheer We Go! looks like a blatant knock off of We Cheer. Very little information about it is available, outside of DSi camera support in a mini-game. Still, I like to live on the edge and plan on giving this a shot. Chances are it will be a rythm game and probably bare a striking resemblance to Elite Beat Agents.

Sakura Wars 5 (Wii/PS2)

The first of the long running Sakura Wars series to ever come to America, and boy is it late! The fifth and possibly final entry in this long running series takes place in an alternate 1930s America where girls in mech suits battle demons. The game provides a pleasant mix of strategy and dating sim elements and should be a joy to play for fans of this type of stuff. What’s most interesting though is the nature of the release. Sakura Wars 5 was released on PS2 in Japan five years ago! As such, it is being ported to Wii exclusively for it’s Western release. Even more interesting, however, is that it’s more expensive PS2 release will be a 2 disc special edition with the English dub on one disc, and the original Japanese voices on the other. Let me tell you, many of us have dreamed of releases like this ever since Final Fantasy X. Words cannot express how grateful I am to Nippon Ichi America for this.

Squishy Tank (DS)

Supposedly based on a series of Japanese flash animations, Squishy Tank is supposed to be some kind of puzzler. In fact, it looks like a very generic one. You know what? I don’t care. The writing alone has me sold. Not to mention it’s a game about a Squishy Tank!

-Week 5-

Wario Ware D.I.Y. (DS)

A Wario Ware where you get to make the microgames and upload them to the internet. Anyone familiar with the series’s “story” will no doubt know that Sean Malstrom will be laughing his ass off at this one. Still, this could be potentially awesome if there’s a way to just download a random handful of microgames, turning it into an potentially infinite Wario Ware. We shall see when it hits.

Samurai Shodown Sen (360)

Another massively delayed title, Samurai Shodown Sen a.k.a. Edge of Destiny, is a next-gen 3D Samurai Shodown. Unfortunately the graphics look terrible and you can bet it will get abysmal review scores. This is made worse by the almost universally awful new characters which are all bland and barely fit with the original cast! Still, I love my fighters and plan on giving this a shot. It could be a pleasant surprise! Just don’t count on functional online play. SNK never does that.

Monster Rancher DS (DS)

I thought this would never come out here! Monster Rancher DS is actually the more recent second DS title, which was released in Japan two years ago! It seems being bought by Koei is helping Tecmo be less retarded. For those unfamiliar with it, Monster Rancher is an incredibly deep monster training simulation series. One’s first reaction would be to call it a Pokemon clone. However, it is absolutely nothing like Pokemon at all. In Monster Rancher, you input data to make a monster and then take it back to the ranch to raise it for battle. Sure adventures happen every now and then, but it’s more about raising the monster than merely leveling it! Sadly it’s going up against Pokemon itself this month meaning it will probably sell quite poorly. Oh well, it’s a wonderful birthday present for me! Thanks Tecmo and Koei!

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