May of 2010 was a great month at Game Forward. We managed to get three solid event preview features and one about a cool rehabilitation technology together, which in turn generated a bit more traffic than usual. We also published a couple of reviews and one of Nathalie’s news round-up posts did rather well. I’m sure that regular readers know that we offset our costs primarily through page impressions and ad clicks, meaning the bump in traffic made us a few extra bucks too.
The month of May, normally about the time that the traditional “summer drought” sets in, was also a surprisingly solid one for retail titles. Nathalie and I started playing a few for our own enjoyment, though these days I find it next to impossible not to be critical and at the very least take notes about the games we buy. We started playing one game for each console; 3D Dot Game Heroes, Alan Wake and Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Alan Wake will likely go down as one of my favorite games of 2010. Despite severe screen tearing, I find this game absolutely beautiful to look at. And, while the strorytelling mechanism is not quite at the same level as Heavy Rain, the writing and acting are well above average. Frankly, I would expect nothing less from the team at Remedy.
The gameplay itself is part survival horror, part open world adventure and part third person shooter. The premise is that you are safe in lighted areas and must destroy the darkness around your enemies using the trusty flashlight before dispatching them with traditional firearms.
The game creates a wonderful sense of tension and is presented like a season of a TV show. Alan Wake is difficult to describe without going into too much, potentially spoiling detail, but I feel that Xbox 360 exclusive is a must-play. We purchased the Limited Collector’s Edition, which includes a full soundtrack CD, a book called The Alan Wake Files and some video content, including DVD-style developer commentary. I think it was well worth the extra cost.
3D Dot Game Heroes is a game that literally explodes with charm. A 2D world has been transformed into 3D in this lighthearted tribute to action RPGs of the past, namely the eight and 16-bit The Legend of Zelda games with a healthy touch of Dragon Quest-like aesthetics.
The game features a fantastic character editor that lets you create just about anything to use as your hero. Check out the Hall of Heroes for a better understanding. My favorite thing about this game so far is that it does nothing in the way of hand holding. For example: you will be told little more than the direction in which to head to reach or complete a quest, which stays faithful to the retro-ness of the whole package.
A generous helping of post-processing effects gives this game and very surreal, stop motion animation-like look and the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic.
I am probably more disappointed with Super Mario Galaxy 2 than any other recent game I have played. While I am only about two hours into the game, I haven’t seen anything particulary exciting or impressive to this point. It is quite literally more of the same. Besides the staple of princess peach getting absconded by Boswer, the premise here is that Mario needs to collect stars to fuel a ship. Riveting.
There have been some changes, such as the utilization of a world map instead of the large hub world seen in the original Super Mario Galaxy. So far, the biggest addition is that of Yoshi, who can flutter jump and of course, eat and spit things.
Something that I find strange is that the fidelity of the music and sound effects seems to be far worse than the original game. This could be a side effect of our Wii being three and a half years old, but it honestly sounds like subpar compression technology was used this time around.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is still a great game, and certainly more challenging than the first however I cannot shake the feeling that I would have enjoyed it more as an expansion pack released a year earlier. Also, the controls are identical to the first game, so those who had trouble with them in the first game will likely get frustrated because of the bump in overall difficulty.
In the month ahead, I am really looking forward to playing Disgaea Infinite and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on the PSP and of course, E3 is only about a week away. This year will definitely be more exciting and relevant two Game Forward than last because of the focus on new video game technologies.
We should see the 3DS revealed to the public and both “Project Natal” and PlayStation Move will undoubtedly be featured heavily, giving us a better idea of the software lineups we should see at the time of their respective launches. I personally think that all three new technologies will be accessibility nightmares, but am also very excited to try at least two of them out this year.
I am slowly getting caught up on a huge backlog of planned reviews and features and I’m hoping that between Nathalie and myself we can push 15 or 20 articles out in the month of June. Some of the downloadable games I am looking forward to this month are Snoopy Flying Ace on the Xbox LIVE Arcade and Joe Danger on PlayStation Network.
Keep checking Game Forward for new content, don’t forget to follow Nathalie and Brian on Twitter and Like us on Facebook. We’ll have a game giveaway on our Facebook page this month. As always, a heartfelt thank you for reading!