May 22nd, 2009 | by Ryan Fleming News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

GamerVania: Your Week in Video Games.

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After weeks of releases dominated by crap about ponies and Hannah Montana (my new least favorite game ever—you got lucky Legendary), there is a plethora of video game action this week. And not a World War II game among the bunch! This was the first week I actually had to pass on reviewing games I really wanted to play, due to the volume of prime releases available. Then again, despite the high profile of Terminator Salvation, the early reviews of the movie have been generally unfavorable, plus the game's a tie-in and looks like crap so we can skip that. Ever since playing Friday the 13th on the original NES, where you took control of a camp counselor and basically ran in huge circles until Jason decided to kill you on a whim, I have been wary of game tie-ins. The Harry Potter series of games (where your entire goal in life is not to stop Voldemort, but instead to collect magic beans) only cemented my feelings.

The DLC section is taking a short break this week. There were a few downloads, including some interesting Xbox Arcade games, but for the most part, there wasn't anything all that high profile. Instead, there were some truly solid game releases, including a pair of titles based on classic NES games, and a solid fighter. Onward!

UFC 2009 Undisputed (360, PS3)
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In our society today it may be considered a bit of a faux pas to grab your friend and try to wrestle him into a submission move—unless alcohol is involved—but the newest UFC game allows you to do just that. Fans of the Tekken or Street Fighter style of fighter may have a steep learning curve to overcome (you can't make Anderson Silva throw a fireball, or Forest Griffin do a sonic boom). But once they accept the reality of the physics, there is a deep fighter to play in UFC 2009: Undisputed. There are a few flaws, including an unnecessarily clumsy menu system and glitchy online play, but neither mar the campaign or versus modes which are the bread and butter of this game.

You choose your class of fighter—from a straight brawler to a grappler—and then proceed down a career path. There are a few issues with the difficulty settings, so some of the early matches might seem ridiculously mismatched, while later fights can convince you that yes, video games do cheat. In fact there are some fights that become so lopsided that you fully expect for the ref to step in while a shocked Joe Rogan mutters “He's…he's dead,” forcing you into the underground Tijuana fighting circuit to earn your way back into the main career mode, while half of all your proceeds go the victim's wife and bitter son Timmy...who you may end up fighting as your character ages and Timmy seeks his revenge. But no, instead you win the fight and gain new mouthpieces. Maybe someday. All in all, it's a satisfying game that will entertain both ultimate fighting devotees and fans of more realistic fighting games alike.

Punch-Out!! (Wii)
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After all these years, it's back. It's hard to find a fan of the original NES that does not rank the original Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! among the top games they ever played. Odds are most people can still tell you when or if they ever beat Tyson, and many still carry the psychic scars of watching your beloved 5'1, 130 pound avatar Little Mac, go into the ring and be horribly abused by a pre-rape conviction Tyson at his prime. It wasn't fair. Tyson simply dominated you with two-three punches. Many Nintendo controllers were the ultimate victims—as frustrated gamers everywhere hurled them at walls after watching Mac collapse in a bloody, broken pool. Unless you won and then you called every single person that you ever knew.

This week Nintendo attempts to recapture the magic by bringing back Little Mac to fight cartoony opponents/stereotypes that border on offensive. But in a fun way. Like the sacrificial French boxer Glass Joe, who has been beaten in video games more than anyone ever should, or the Canadian Bear, a giant grizzled looking lumberjack from somewhere in Canada. The idea is similar to the original—figure out the timing, look for gimmicks, and steal the momentum. Throw in a versus mode (although surprisingly no online play), and you have a fun and addictive game. It can never touch the original—no game could—but there is something incredibly satisfying about physically swinging a Wii controller and sending King Hippo to the mat.

Bionic Commando (360, PS3)
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You could call the original Bionic Commando one of the original NES cult classics, if only anyone played it. The name managed to hang around, and most old school gamers remember the title for its unique gimmick where the character used his bionic arm to swing around the map. Well the arm and the swinging remain, but that is about it. And it really is too bad, since the new game has flashes of cool. It builds drama well, despite a plot six-year-olds would yawn at and a fairly unlikable main character, but the gameplay feels way off. When you throw down with rushing hordes of bad guys and whip out your pistol, it can be a little disconcerting when your gun makes a tiny “pop” sound and you realize that you need to shoot up to 10 times for an enemy to even realize that they are being attacked. Don't worry, you tell your character. It happens to a lot of guys.

Another piece of the annoying puzzle is the radiation, aka programming roadblock. If anyone remembers the now infamous Superman 64, they probably remember the “kryptonite fog”—areas beyond the game's limits, where when you flew in that direction you were stopped by a solid wall of fog. The developers called this “kryptonite fog,” while waving their fingers and adding a spooky “whooo” to make it sound like something awesome and mysterious, when in truth it was ridiculously bad game with uninspired gameplay and crappy limitations. Well the tradition continues with Bionic Commando's “pockets of radiation.” You might find yourself standing there, gazing wistfullyat the large, cool looking area that would be an ideal place to explore if not for the pesky clouds of radiation that block the area off. You get the feeling that the developers are considering adding these new areas as DLCs, unfortunately the rest of the game isn't really entertaining enough to merit the interest.

HOT COFFEE AND NEWS

  • Look over here at the shiny! Keep looking, keep looking! Forget about our whole budget thingee and focus on something pointlessly inappropriate! Thanks, California. Yahoo News reports that California is appealing the US Supreme Court to allow them to ban rentals of “M” rated games to minors. The Courts originally ruled that there were other ways to prevent this, like, ya know, parents and stuff. But always the trendsetters, California has decided to appeal. Again.



  • Up in Quebec, there is a new law floating aboot, eh. Recently passed, the new law bans the sale of English-only video games where there is a French copy available, according to The Toronto Star. Typically games that are originally English based do come out with French versions, but can be delayed for months, which puts all video game retailers in the area at risk, as gamers will typically just go online to purchase the game. Well done French descendants. Well done.



  • The interwebs are abuzz with the news that Microsoft is tired of having Apple steal their lunch money and then point and laugh at them while doing it. Videogamenews.com reports that Microsoft is planning a handheld unit that will compete with the PSP, DS, and the iPhone. No more details have been released, but you can be sure the MS lawyers are poised in an attack crouch waiting for any leaks.



  • Looks like Portland is on the gaming map—or at least the Oregon City company Funnelbox is. The group recently completed nine months of graphics work on the game Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and are looking to add to that resume soon. Now, I wasn't all that kind to the game when I reviewed it, but the graphics were a highlight, and hopefully this is just the beginning for the Oregon company.



  • Yahoo Tech reports that a tiny little indy game seller by the name of Wal-Mart is entering the used gaming business. You may have heard of them. The world's largest game seller will begin buying and trading used games from you in select stores around the world, with the plan to eventually have kiosks in every store dedicated to buying and selling games. Wal-Mart issued the following statement to small game retailers everywhere, “Muwahahahahahaha, your children are next.” The spokesman then turned into a bat and flew away, thus rendering him unavailable for further comment.



  • Gametab.com reports that Fallout 3 has at least two more DLCs coming soon! Squeeeeeeee!!!- er… sorry. The next addition will be called Point Lookout, a new swamp area due in late June. The next DLC, Mothership Zeta where you are abducted by aliens, arrives in late July. Both DLC will be roughly $9. Take that real life!



  • This is just one of those things that fans of irony can really get behind. Gametab reports that Capcom has decided to skip the E3 debut of Dead Rising 2 because of fears of swine flu. That's right, we won't get to see a game about zombies because a couple people have a cough. Maybe the people at the Capcom offices need to get out a bit more. Maybe go for a walk or something.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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