New Releases: April 2010

It’s that time again! Time for another month of new releases. April is looking much quieter than March did, which is kinda good because we’re still recovering from that with an absolute barrage of last minute March 30th releases. Heck, we won’t be seeing anything interesting in April until the 3rd week of it! Also interesting is that much of the month is taken up by things I thought were supposed to be released months ago. So I guess April is The Month of Obscure Delays.

– Week 3 –

AlphaBounce (DS)

Some kind of Breakout/Space RPG hybrid I had never even heard of until today. Seems to be a port of an online Flash game you can play here:

http://www.alphabounce.com/

I might need to check that out later. Sounds interesting enough.

Arcade Shooter: Ilvelo (Wii)

Created by Milestone, the former shooter staff of Compile. They are also well known for making a number of postmortem Dreamcast shooters. Ilvelo is yet another in their long line of vertical scrolling Naomi shmups, now ported to Wii and to be released at a budget price by UFO Interactive. Very little is known about it, but some sites are claiming a large number of stages and branching paths. If nothing else, we can definitely see that it’ll have cel-shaded graphics and a wacky atmosphere.

Final Fight: Double Impact (XBLA/PSN)

A port of Final Fight and Magic Sword by Backbone Interactive. Supposedly it will be using the spectacular Good Game Peace Out netcode that Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix used. This means great online play even on the worst of connections. Some people are saying “Who cares about Magic Sword!”, but for me? That’s the reason I’m buying it! What? Final Fight is a really basic and outdated beat ’em up that is only really notable for it’s spectacular graphics! Magic Sword is at least a unique and interesting arcade RPG sidescroller thingy of awesomeness and one I have fond memories of.

– Week 4 –

Beat City (DS)

What is this? I have no clue. Apparently some kind of music game for DS, it’s brought to us by a company whose only previous titles were cellphone games. According to GameFAQs:

“In Beat City, players must find their rhythm in order to restore Beat City to the vibrant, melodious city it once was. Using the stylus, players simply tap, swipe or hold on queue to the music’s beat in order to receive a high star rating within each mini-game. While players are tapping to the beat, they can watch the city transform right before their eyes ridding the city of Dame Isolde Minor and her Cacophony Corporation, who bring nothing but monotony. The better a player is at keeping the beat the more items are unlocked in the environment.”

So…something sorta like Rhythm Heaven perhaps? We shall see.

After Burner Climax (XBLA/PSN)

Anyone who knows me knows that on-rails chase-view shooters are quite possibly my all-time favorite genre. The fact that I gave such a positive review to budget shooter Counter Force/Ex Zeus is proof enough of that! As such, I am absolutely giddy with excitement over the upcoming 360/PS3 port of After Burner Climax. Sure I have some complaints due to it’s excessively missile heavy nature (a problem far too many on-rails chase-view shooters have), but a rail shmup is a rail shmup and I’m desperate. Not to mention this thing looks gorgeous and at a low XBLA price? How can I possibly not buy it! No, the hard part will be finding a 360 flight stick for that, as Johnny Turbo puts it, “arcade feel”!

Monster Hunter Tri (Wii)

Hooboy…I’m gonna get in trouble for this one. Monster Hunter Tri is one of the newest entries in Capcom’s Monster Hunter series; a series of multiplayer online dungeon crawls of sorts.

The original Monster Hunter was released on PS2 in North America and bombed horrendously. Not without good reason either. It was slow, confusing, and plagued by the PS2’s limitations. Players continually had to plod between tiny empty rooms that were supposed to represent an expansive outdoor environment and endure countless excessively long loading screens. Of course the game bombed here! Even I could barely endure a single mission before calling it quits.

However, the series gained infamy after it’s uproarious success on PSP in Japan. The PSP was doing terrible worldwide and was the laughing stock of the entire planet. But, once Monster Hunter Portable came out in Japan, sales of the unit skyrocketed exclusively for that game! All of the sudden, America’s interest was piqued! Why weren’t we getting these!

We did eventually receive the portable Monster Hunters, but with their online play removed. Capcom clearly felt that the market over here was too small and thus they shouldn’t waste time and money setting up US servers. Once again, the game bombed.

Now, Monster Hunter Tri on Wii has become the best selling third party title on the system in Japan and interest is once again piqued. The game is now set for a US release with GameStop giving away demo discs and even rumors of free online play just for the US! (It’s a pay service in Japan) Capcom is clearly going all out on this one and could serve as their last attempt at getting the series going in America.

However, I think we’re going about this all wrong. Much like how every hack n’ slash last console generation was called a “Devil May Cry clone”, every multiplayer Diablo-style dungeon crawl is being called a “Monster Hunter clone” these days regardless of the limited familiarity many players have with actually playing the series. The thing is, Monster Hunter is not a fast paced hack n’ slash refardless of what other people say:

“Providing us with more than a dozen items and equipment to use, Monster Hunter Tri is set to be a fantastic title for those in need for a hack and slash title that has role-playing elements mixed in.” – Dakota Grabowski, GameZone

This is how many people write about the game. From my limited experience with it, Monster Hunter is more of a slower paced monster hunting simulation than a fast paced hack n’ slash dungeon crawl. Yet people always seem to write about it as though it were the latter, consistently resulting in many confused and displeased consumers. Admittedly my experience with it is limited, but from what I’ve played it’s far from PSO, for better or for worse.

It’s also worth noting that Monster Hunter Tri can be bought packaged with a black PS2 shaped Classic Controller for the Wii. I find this fact hilarious.

Windy X Windam (DS)

Huh?! This was supposed to have come out months ago! I’ve been looking for it since October!

Anyway, Windy X Windam is a cheap $20 budget fighter for DS. Supposedly it has single pak multiplayer and uses both screens for a super tall battlefield. It also features characters from Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja. Early reports claim that it is absolutely terrible, horrendously unbalanced, and should never have gotten a US release. I’ll be the judge of that though.

– Week 5 –

Record of Agarest War (360, PS3)

The continuation of an obscure Compile game series being handled, appropriately enough, by Compile Heart. Record of Agarest War is yet another one of those “couldn’t you have done this on PS2?!”-style low budget tactics games that show up every now and then to the confusion of all. This one, however, features dating elements and spans multiple generations. In each generation you have a choice of one of 3 girls to eventually marry and then your offspring is the hero of the next generation. Similar in some ways to Phantasy Star III, but presumably without all the fail. The game itself spans 5 generations if I recall correctly. A fanservice caked limited edition will also be sold. Which reminds me, the game is absolutely coated with fanservice from head to toe. Much of which involves girls eating bananas.

Me? I only care about it because there’s a badass bunnygirl named Cure. Sadly she only shows up in the 4th or 5th generation and is not dateable. You taunt me, Compile Heart.

Super Street Fighter IV (360, PS3)

Know what I hated about the original Street Fighter IV? The complete snubbing SF3 got (with Capcom officially claiming that they sorta wanted to forget about it), the piddly number of new characters, the complete lack of ninjas, and the stiff controls. Super Street fighter IV looks to address most of these issues by adding in a number of Street Fighter III characters, including Ibuki who is also a ninja. Guy was also added, further fleshing out the ninja roster. On top of that are two new fighters, bringing us up to a nearly respectably 7 newcomers, 3 of which aren’t retarded! Now all they need to do is tighten up those controls and maybe get us some half decent SF1 representation (I vote for Geki, Retsu, Joe, or Eagle)!

Sorry, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m a rare SF1 fanboy who was disappointed by SF2’s lame character designs and was happy when SF3 was released (and displeased when they added in more SF2 characters)! I…probably shouldn’t talk about Street Fighter much. Regardless with Ibuki’s inclusion and SF4’s slightly greater story focus (in comparison to other Street Fighters), we might finally learn of Geki’s fate (what? he’s my favorite character!). Hopefully he fares better here than he did in Udon’s horrible comics (horrible only because they killed off Geki in one page).

Please excuse me, I’m horribly biased and also slightly insane.

Nier (360, PS3)

Nier is this month’s interesting and somewhat out of nowhere title and the one that probably most intrigues me. Created by Cavia of Bullet Witch “fame” and published by SquareEnix, Nier is an action RPG that looks like God of War at first. It should also win an award for Most Confusing Release Ever.

It took me awhile to piece this together. See, in Japan, there are two Niers: Nier Replicant on PS3 and Nier Gestalt on 360. The only difference is the main character’s design and relation to Yonah, the girl he’s trying to save. In PS3’s Replicant, he’s a young bishounen-esque guy and Yonah is his little sister. On the 360’s Gestalt, he’s an older, beefier guy and Yonah is his daughter.

In America, we will not be getting Nier Replicant. Instead we will be getting Nier Gestalt on both 360 and PS3.

At first this might make you think Nier Gestalt was “made for America”, hence why it’s the only one we’re getting. But then you might ask yourself if it’s not the other way around. Perhaps Nier was originally created for America and then, realizing it wouldn’t sell in Japan with a beefy older guy, they altered it for Japan? Either is possible.

Adding to the confusion is your sidekick, a scantily clad, foul mouthed hermaphrodite who has been seen threatening to chop a monster’s dick off and feed it to his children!

Adding to the confusion, it’s current gender status is said to be due to demonic possession. But his also means we don’t know it’s original gender. With the tagline “Nothing is as it seems”, the game seems to be toying with us. Congratulations, you’ve invented a whole new flavor of trap. Curse the popularity of that blasted Bridget!

And just when you think you have it all figured out, this interview adds even more to the confusion as the developers talk about fishing and farming and non-linearity in what originally looked like a God of War clone!

Still not convinced about the RPG? One of the early side quests sends you off to kill sheep and collect mutton. There is nothing more “RPG” than killing sheep for mutton. Nothing!”

They also prove to be completely insane.

Gamers who have read about NIER have heard about diseases and plagues, monsters and bosses, swords and magic spells, present day and far in the future, leveling up and character development, hermaphrodites and flying skeletons … and now, they are going to read about … Fishing and Cultivating! All of these small pieces of the game content are held together by the story which we have not revealed. The confusion reflects the concept that you can’t know what to expect from this game and it’s almost impossible to get an accurate picture of what you will find within until you actually play it through.”

At least they admit that the confusion is intentional though.

And we haven’t even started to show the top-down or side-scrolling gameplay yet!”

Ladies and gentlemen, this will either be one of the most amazing cult classics of this generation or the most spectacularly bad game ever made.

…and believe it or not, that wraps up April! A slow start and some big eyebrow raisers at the end. But whatever, after the onslaught of March with Zeno Clash’s 360 release sneaking up on me at the end and the inevitable wild goose chase I’ll be undertaking looking for Monster Rancher DS? I can take a little break.

Update: Monster Rancher DS has been delayed until summer.

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