Sunday, October 5, 2008

Most Anticipated Wii Games 2008

It's time to take a look at the games still coming out in 2008 for the Nintendo Wii that I'm most excited about. This list is on the short end relative to the other systems I own--excepting the slowly dying Playstation 2 of course--but there's two reasons for that I can think of. First of all, I decided to do this list after I had already purchased both de Blob and Wario Land: Shake It!, which were released just a short time ago, cutting two possible entries out of this post. Secondly, Nintendo seems to be gearing all of their efforts towards making 2009 the best year in the console's lifespan yet, with a slew of first-party releases and third-party goodies on slotted in for then. We got a glimpse of many of these titles thanks to Nintendo's Japanese and North American press conferences last week, with titles like Sin and Punishment 2, a sequel to Punch-Out!!, The Conduit, MadWorld, and loads of other titles. With that out of the way, let's take a list at the games I'll be rushing out to get upon their release, in order of how fanboyish I'll feel when I bring them to the counter:

  • Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars. This titles comes to us via publisher Gamecock Media Group, and was developed by Red Fly Studio. It's a 3D platformer, but instead of taking the cutesy, cartoony animal look adopted by so many since Super Mario 64 came out 12 years ago, Red Fly instead made a living, breathing Mushroom Man--one that somehow knows martial arts--and put him into a dark, dirty looking environment that just oozes with atmosphere. For example, these environments are accompanied by original music composed by none other than Les Claypool, the frontman of Primus. If you don't know much about Les Claypool, all you need to know is that he's arguably the most talented bassist in music, and that his music has always had a weird vibe and sound to it that is appropriate for an offbeat video game. There's literally no one better I can think of to have developed the music for a title looking to achieve what this game is, and the announcement grabbed my attention. As someone who is big on the belief that music can help your enjoyment of a title considerably, I'll be looking to grab this one to see if the gameplay merits the presentation they've wrapped this package in. Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars ships on November 11.
  • Deadly Creatures: Sometimes all it takes to grab people's attention is a concept. To my knowledge, no one has attempted a game where you play as a regular scorpion or spider in the real world, and with the trailers they have released for this THQ published effort, you have to wonder why not. Brutal is the word that best describes the battles you are supposed to be able to fight in this game by Rainbow Studios, as you take on the role of the aforementioned crawlers in their own world, taking on opposing creatures in a battle of the food chain. Though some of the early gameplay footage released looked a bit sketchy--somewhat due to game testers who had no idea what they were doing, as evidenced by game testers making the game look exponentionally more polished and fun on their go-around--I'm holding out hope that this title does what it set out to do, which is to release a dark and original game with an addictive battle system. Deadly Creatures is one of the last Wii releases of 2008, shipping December 22.
  • Dokapon Kingdom: It's an RPG and a board game, at the same time, and it's goal is to make you forget about the blandness of Mario Party 8. It's no surprise that Atlus would publish a quirky title such as this one, and it looks like it could be fun enough to wash the taste of Baroque out of the mouths of those still reeling from the last Sting/Atlus work. Much like Mario Party, it takes place on a board, but the board is also supposed to be more open, meaning you can move about in different directions. Rather than just sharing a space with another player when you both land on it, you battle in rock-paper-scissors style. Dokapon Kingdom is also your best chance at watching one friend punch another in the face, as you are allowed to humiliate a competitor after defeating him by changing his name, dressing them up in different outfits or framing them for robbery in order to change their status to "Wanted". Unlike the Mario Party series, this seems like a fresh take on a console board game, and I'm excited to pick it up and give it a shot with friends. Dokapon Kingdom releases very soon, with a ship date of October 14 for both Wii and Playstation 2.
  • Animal Crossing: City Folk. If you've played Animal Crossing in the past, and you didn't enjoy it, you may just want to skip over this section and the game. For those of you have yet to tire of being Tom Nook's indentured servant, this edition of the game will feature some nifty add ons that should make the experience feel more whole. For example, much like more recent versions of The Sims, there is a central hub for online play where you can meet up with friends and use WiiSpeak, a new voice chat tech from Nintendo, to interact with them. There's also the ability to dress up as your Mii while in this hub, in order to make life less confusing for all of those similarly looking Animal Crossing folk. This game wil also feature keyboard support, which means I won't tire of the game when I have to start sending out copious amounts of letters before all of my fellow citizens tire of my lack of politeness. That keyboard is also useful in the city, as you can text chat with others there if you prefer that to using WiiSpeak. If you own the DS version, there are also some features you can utilize, such as transferring your character from one game to the other via Wi-Fi. As someone who says that an Animal Crossing MMO may be the only one he could get addicted to, I'm excited to delve into the world of cutesy, talking critters once again, even if the game is missing a graphical overhaul.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World. This is a direct sequel to one of my favorite RPGs ever, and though they have changed the gameplay somewhat--the world map is now a set of locations, like the Baten Kaitos series or Super Mario RPG, rather than a free-roaming map to explore, like in the past--I'm as stoked as can be to get my hands on it. With the amount of backtracking that occurs in the Tales games though, I'm surprisingly fine with the move, and some of the other changes are also for the better as well. Namco-Tales Studios has incorporated the free run style of battle that has been in use since Tales of the Abyss in 2006, and they have also developed a monster-catching system, one that allows you to capture enemy monsters and put them to work on your own team of fighters. This should add an interesting mechanic to a battle system that is usually fun and addicting even without that sort of thing. Though it won't be as much of a looker as the recently released Tales of Vesperia, it's going to be a pretty Tales game. Let's hope the story and environments are at the same level as previous installments, so that the desire to replay the game upon completion is there.
There you have it. There are also a few games that lack a date, but are slated to be released in 2008. Dead Rising: Chop til you Drop is a port of the original XBox 360 game, but with fewer zombies and obviously, a graphical downgrade. With the game now utilizing the Resident Evil 4 control scheme though, the tradeoff may be worth it as long as there are still plenty of baddies to beat up with random objects. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers is a game I know nothing about, because as always, Square-Enix is being tight-lipped about a project that may not see the light of day for months and months. I did enjoy previous installments in the series though, especially the GameCube one, so if this is anything like that, I'll be happy to purchase it. Last, we have Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the latest entry in the survival horror series, this time directed by Goichi Suda of Suda 51 and Killer 7/No More Heroes fame. Combining his art styles with what is already an epic survival horror franchise is a recipe for fantastic gameplay, and I'm hoping to see that game sooner than later. If any of these titles slip into 2009 though, that's just going to make an already promising year even better.

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