Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Games of January 2013.

2013 begins with a bang courtesy of the virtuoso action developers at Platinum Games.  There's no major blockbuster this month - no Dead Space or Bayonetta or Darksiders - but Ninja Theory's take on Devil May Cry and Level 5 teaming up with Studio Ghibli will have to do.

 January 8th
Anarchy Reigns
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter: Trust ye in Platinum Games.  Day one.

Director Masaki Yamanaka doesn't have the name recognition of Platinum cohorts Hideki Kamiya or Shinji Mikami, but producer Atsushi Inaba has been on hand for every major success of the company's brain trust, from Devil May Cry to God Hand.  The short version is, this is an online brawler from the folks who defined the modern brawler genre with Devil May Cry to God Hand.

It's Platinum Games - the developer who gave us Bayonetta and Vanquish - so it's getting a purchase.  Simple as that.

January 8th
Earth Defence Force 2017 Portable
Hype-O-Meter: Nil.

The Earth Defence Force titles have been a guilty pleasure of gamers ever since the first release was deemed one of the best titles on the 360's fledgling XBLA - a bit like how folks latched on to flOw when the PS3 launched.

These games, basically, put you in the shoes of a human defending earth from giant insects in a third-person shooter.  And not even crazy space insects, but just like giant ants and such.  Still - some folks say it's fun on a bun, so it might be worth checking out.

...but for forty bucks?  Iii don't think so.

January 15th
DmC : Devil May Cry
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter: This could be a total disaster.  Still, day one.

In 2001, legendary designer Hideki Kamiya (Resident Evil, Viewtiful Joe, Ōkami) redefined the brawler genre with Devil May Cry, before doing it again with 2009's Bayonetta - but DmC: Devil May Cry is not being made by Hideki Kamiya.

It's being made by Ninja Theory.  Ninja Theory made Heavenly Sword and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West - which were both fine seven-out-of-ten games with lush visuals and ultra-high-caliber story presentation, but were rather lacking in comfortable gameplay (Heavenly Sword) or satisfying, deep mechanics (Enslaved).

Rock-solid action has never been the studio's strong suit, but Capcom trusted the studio with Devil May Cry.  Which is fucking crazy.  But Capcom apparantly had their nose lodged very far up Ninja Theory's ass throughout development, to ensure the gameplay met with the very high standards the Devil May Cry name is heir to.

Were they successful?  My time with the demo suggests 'no.'  But I've yet to meet a Ninja Theory game I didn't like, so I'm checkin' it out.

January 15th
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows
PSP, Vita
Hype-O-Meter: In the mood for something different?

Corpse Party was a very strange, very interesting, very endearing and very creepy visual novel/survival horror-style game from a developer no one had ever heard of named Team GrisGris.  (Gris-gris is a hatian Voodoo term for a spiritual talisman.)

The game was a darling with critics and fans, and - just now, today - we learned that a sequel would be dropping on the PSN next week.  If you've got one of Sony's handhelds and you want to try something that's unlike... well, everything - you might wanna' check it out.

January 22nd
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Hype-O-Meter: Day One.

Storied Japanese RPG developer Level 5 (Dark Cloud, Jeanne d'Arc, Professor Layton, White Knight Chronicles) teams up with animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli (Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away).

Do you really need to know anything more?  There's a demo up on the PSN.

Also, that is some lovely box art.  Beauty in simplicity.

January 29th
Hitman HD Trilogy
PS3, 360
Hype-O-Meter: Day One.

If you felt a bit burned by the somewhat-more-linear Hitman: Absolution with its long series of smaller areas to explore, the Hitman HD Trilogy will let you play through 47's glory days when the levels were huge and you could unlock every weapon in the game just by leaving a level with it.

...but y'know what?  I keep buying these HD re-releases - Team ICO, Ratchet & Clank, Prince of Persia, Devil May Cry, Metal Gear Solid - and I've never played through one game off any one of those discs.

Will I do the same with Hitman?  You bet your ass I will.

January 29th
Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (Vita version)
Hype-O-Meter: Fuck you, Insomniac.

Chamberlain and I came to some fast conclusions on Full Frontal Assault, and while I may be tempted to give its Vita version the time of day, I... I doubt it.

The Cave
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter: Day One.

The Cave sees you piloting several cartoony protagonists through the titular cave, which serves as both an environment to overcome and a metaphor for the human psyche.  It's basically a 2D puzzle-platformer, but that's not why we care.

The Cave was made by Tim Schafer's Double Fine Productions (Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, Stacking) with Ron Gilbert (The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle).

That is all I need to know. Double Fine have assured us the game will drop on PS3 this month, but no word on a release date yet.

* * *

And that's January!  Not exactly jam-packed, but there each week has something exciting to offer. Personally, I'm super-curious how Ninja Theory's crack at Devil May Cry will turn out.

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