As we say goodbye to Christmas, continue onward with Channukah, bid Festivus adieu, and chew through the remainder of the 2011 calendar, we're left with a great deal to anticipate, with big-name games planned for release from January on. Joining them is new hardware: the PlayStation Vita and, potentially, the Nintendo Wii U. And, though Pick & Play is typically a feature in which we look forward at the coming week and say, "I want," with such a sparse release list in the remaining week of the year, it might be time to take stock of where we stand, and look back over the year that has been and, in particular, what we may have missed in the fall glut. On a bittersweet note, there are also those "might-have-beens," the titles that were announced and hyped only to either fade mysteriously into the background or be violently cancelled, cut down in their prime.
Zombie slaying, twin-stick shooters are nothing new. This one, however, has a bit of a pedigree, claiming itself to be "the spiritual successor" to Burn Zombie Burn! Tongue firmly planted in cheek, All Zombies Must Die! allows up to four players to gain levels as they slay the undead with weapons that they have collected or crafted. Elemental damage adds another layer of strategy to the experience. All Zombies Must Die! will be out on the PSN on Tuesday, December 27 and the XBLA on Wednesday, December 28.
The oddest entry in a series that wears its whimsy and weirdness proudly on its sleeve, Stranger's Wrath was a critically acclaimed and commercially unappreciated third-person adventure and first-person shooter hybrid. It wasn't so much the weaponry that made Stranger's Wrath distinct; it was the ammunition: live animals, which had to be caught to replenish one's stores. With all of the visual trademarks and witty writing of an Oddworld Inhabitants game, Stranger's Wrath deserves a second shot at fame. This downloadable HD rerelease looks to provide exactly that. It'll be out on the PSN this Tuesday, December 27.
Lost in the Fray:
I picked up Shinobi on a whim when I got my Zelda edition 3DS on Black Friday, inspired by the words of our own Sean Engemann. Not a game for the faint of heart, Shinobi demands almost precognitive reflexes or, failing that, rote memorization. Its levels have challenging but fair layouts, and its scoring system brings the action-platformer almost more in line with a rhythm game than anything else. The bosses, in particular, are fun to fight, with good patterns that reward a keen eye and aggressive play with quick-yet-satisfying victories.
(PC, PSN, XBLA)
Trine 2 is a gorgeous co-operative puzzle-platformer. The three distinct characters, which one may switch between at will, bring vastly different skills to the table, necessitating judicious use of their abilities to solve puzzles solo while enhancing one's multiplayer fun. Also, did I mention how good this game looks? Seriously, the art direction is stunning, with bright colors and meticulously crafted levels. Throw down $15 of your Christmas money for this gem.
A Classic With New Teeth:
When old school gamers argue over which of the classic side-scrolling Sonic games was the best, it generally comes down to a battle between Sonic 2 and Sonic CD, the latter the best thing to ever come out of the Sega CD attachment (though the Lunar games were pretty sweet too). With an intricate past, present, and dual-future time-travel mechanic, Sonic CD gets my vote, and also my money. It costs all of $5 and, believe me, the moment you turn it on and hear "Sonic Boom" blasting during the crisp, clean opening video (they really overhauled it for the HD release), you'll be aching to play. Just make sure you set your audio to "U.S."
Oh, and Tails is playable, now. Bam. Value added.
Where Is It?:
Postal III was supposed to come out last week. It's still showing on the Steam marketplace, but you can't purchase it from there. It's an enigma, to be sure. Where did it go? The release date was confirmed by the developers mere weeks ago. Well, the answer's a bit on the strange side. For whatever reason, one is able to purchase a Steam key for the game through the developer, though the game itself is not available for sale. Confusing? Yes. Unnecessary and frustrating? Absolutely.
What Might Have Been:
(PSN, XBLA) (3DS)
Mega Man Legends 3's tale is a sad one, and won't be retreaded in its entirety here. Suffice to say, the game was announced along with a fan-inclusive development process. Polls were conducted and input was sought through development meetings that included the community itself. Capcom canned the game months ago and, despite vocal protest from the fans, that decision has stood firm. Could it have had to do with the departure of Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune? The point is a moot one.
Mega Man Universe was an odd little title that looked to give the Blue Bomber abilities drawn not only from his long-running rogues gallery, but the entire Capcom library. There would be character customization; there would be a level creation tool. Then, in March of this year, the game was cancelled. Why? "Various circumstances."
By Shelby Reiches
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*