The summer drought is almost over, but this week still only brings on major title (and even that has niche appeal). Luckily, the smaller releases this week hit a wide variety of niche audiences, so unless you're the sort who only buys a game if it's a major blockbuster, there should be something to liven up your dusty, holiday-season collection. From fighting games to cover-fetishizing shooters, it's this week's Pick & Play.
(Xbox 360, PS3)
Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei series of RPGs has seen many different incarnations: Devil Survivor and its sequel were tactical RPGs, the later Devil Summoner titles action-RPGs, but the vast majority have involved a fairly traditional turn-based JRPG combat system. The Persona sub-series has been no exception.
Persona 4 Arena, though, is not made by the usual SMT team. This is a fighting game sequel to the much-beloved PlayStation 2 RPG, Persona 4, set two months after that game's "true ending" and two years after the extended end of Persona 3 FES. But why does that matter? This is a fighting game, right? So it's just two beautifully animated 2D sprites smashing one another into the ground; since when has story been a concern? This is also, however, an Arc System Works game, and, according to Atlus, given the blessing of being canon.
Each story mode, for a given character, lasts a matter of hours, not mere minutes. This is a fighter with some serious meat on its bones. And those characters? A few are popping in from Persona 3 as well. Prepare to summon your own Persona when the game hits Tuesday, August 7.
A still shot of Hybrid wouldn't tell you too much about it. Despite its pedigree, built by the team behind the Scribblenauts series, it looks like a fairly generic third-person, cover-based shooter in a futuristic setting. There are two major elements that differentiate Hybrid from its ilk, though:
First, one cannot move freely in Hybrid, only transition between cover points, vault walls, and reverse direction while on the way to one's chosen destination. Secondly, many of these cover points are on the walls or ceiling of an arena, providing many different tactical options. Is it unique? Yes. Does it work? Amazingly, yes.
There are a slew of other neat features as well, most prominent among them being the context of a persistent online war going on, the battles you wage altering one group's standing over another in this larger-scale meta-game. Hybrid will be dashing onto the Xbox LIVE Arcade on Wednesday, August 8.
Following Telltale Studios' revival of the point-and-click adventure game genre, a slew of independent, European, and lesser-known developers have crafted some of the most compelling experiences ever to fall under that banner. Resonance, Gemini Rue, The Book of Unwritten Tales, and now Deponia adds itself to the list. 2D and animated, Deponia is a gorgeous game with a dense world.
It also sets out to tell a love story, if a comedic one. This is a game that wants to make its players laugh, even though they care about the hero and his journey. Deponia hits the PC today, August 6.
Remember Galaga? More to the point, do you remember Galaga Legions DX? It was crazy hectic, with fast-paced shooting and almost rhythmic enemy arrangements. Symphony is sort of like that: a vertical shooter with a rhythm, but a rhythm dependent on your own music library.
It was awesome when Beat Hazard did it with the Geometry Wars framework and, with an even trippier and better-composed aesthetic, I'm sure Symphony will manage it just as well. The game is out today, August 6.
Hidden Gem of the Week:
Joining Symphony in the music-ish genre of game this week is Sound Shapes, which is a bit of a platformer. One controls a small ball of sorts that sticks to and travels along the curvature of whatever object it is touching. It may leap from this object, at your command, and latch onto other ones (it is subject to gravity). Collecting small orbs is the order of the day. Progression rewards a player with building music, some of it even constructed by artists such as Beck. In addition to playback, the game allows for player composition, and one can share one's tracks. The game hits the PSN, for both the PS3 and Vita, Tuesday, August 7.
Date: August 6, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*