Every Tuesday, Nintendojo discusses the week’s video game releases on Now Playing. As long as a game’s on a Nintendo console, it’ll show up here– so come every week and don’t miss a thing.
May 17, 2011
ExerBeat (Namco Bandai Games)
Virtual Console & WiiWare
May 16, 2011
Chrono Trigger (SquareSoft/Square Enix)
Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove: Monster Mix (Natsume)
May 17, 2011
SpongeBob Squigglepants 3D (WayForward/THQ)
May 17, 2011
Cake Mania: Main Street (Majesco Games)
Chess Attack (Ingram Entertainment/Mentor Interactive)
Picture Puzzle Collection (Easy Interactive)
May 16, 2011
Hellokids – Vol. 1: Coloring and Painting (BiP Media)
Word Searcher 3 (Digital Leisure Inc.)
If Nintendo Wii were a person, it’d either be crying uncontrollably due to the complete lack of high-quality games released for the system every week, or just so apathetic about the whole situation that it’s content to just sit in its tub of money (a tub, it should be said, made of solid gold) and wade in the good old days. The thing is, games like Exerbeat just aren’t the kind of games that certain Wii owners (that is, anyone who’s reading this article, perhaps) may want to see on a weekly basis. Though perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to judge– the game’s developed by Namco Bandai Games, after all, known for such games as Dragon Ball: Origins and, more recently, RIDGE RACER 3D. Okay, we’ll play fair– they’re also the folks who bring you the Tales series, so these are hardcore folks we speak of today. Which brings us to Exerbeat.
I’ve had the indomitable fortune of playing a certain game many times in the past (it rhymes with Pie Pool Quizzical Three: Senior Pear) which seems, as far as dancing-cum-fitness games go, pretty similar to Exerbeat, and you know, that’s not actually a bad thing. Namco-Bandai promises that the game will span “more than 150 fun fitness-oriented activities” and will cover “a variety of categories such as dance, martial arts, body conditioning, and quirky mini-game type party games”– and the fairly colorful, Wii Cheer-for-grown-ups vibe that videos and screenshots of Exerbeat provide certainly emphasizes the “party”. It’s a far cry from the fairly sterile, deceptively dull visuals that Wii Fit provides, and almost Dance Dance Revolution– or Para Para Paradise-like in execution. Yes, Exerbeat sounds like a casual cash-in, but you can’t fault Namco Bandai for trying– even this late into the Wii’s cycle.
Exerbeat combines high-octane dancing with, well, exercise.
And in a blatant violation of the Virtual Console’s usual release cycle (supposed to be only one title every time fan unrest reaches critical mass, come on) Square Enix is sending Chrono Trigger into the wild this week. This might be cool to some people, but honestly, this is the SNES version that’s been surpassed at least twice already– once with its rerelease onto the PlayStation’s Final Fantasy Chronicles and twice with the Nintendo DS port, which contained a supposedly more accurate translation as well as more endings and all of the FMVs included in the PSX version. It is, however, 800 Wii Points, which is decidedly less than the $16.99 Amazon’s asking right now for the DS version. Though it’s not by much, so if you have a DS and you’ve never played Chrono Trigger, you may as well get the DS version.
There’s also Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove: Monster Mix, which answers the oft-asked question “does Natsume do anything other than Harvest Moon?”. Apparently you can dress up a little girl who’s managed to sneeze her soul out of her body (an amazing feat) as she dances along to your Wii Remote actions. It’s cute, at least. In a somewhat disturbing way.
It’s hard to discuss the rest of the games just because their titles just give so little to be desired. That’s the thing with a lot of these releases– games like Exerbeat and Picture Puzzle Collection might be Game of the Year contenders, but their very names lack much of the cachet some of our best-selling games might pull. (Though Exerbeat perhaps isn’t so bad– you exercise to a beat. Fine, self-explanatory, I suppose Wii Fit does the same thing, though I had a friend ask once whether Wii Fit took place in a fitting room.) (No, seriously.) I’m by no means a salesman, but especially at this point in the Wii and DS life cycle, it’s terribly difficult to stand out among all the other games– especially the casual ones. Why stand out even less by naming the game Picture Puzzle Collection? As if video game enthusiasts aren’t biased enough with the games they play. (Will even the most game-starved 3DS owner buy SpongeBob Squigglepants 3D? I didn’t think so.) (Though it does look somewhere in the range of decent.)
Picture Puzzle Collection challenges players to put together images from artists from Gaughin to Monet.
I realize that much of the reason Picture Puzzle Collection is named so is because it’s casual game, and Easy Interactive wants people to know exactly what they’re buying. There’s a market for casual games and I totally understand that certain conventions (names) may and are different for that market. But even Picture Puzzle Collection‘s bargain brethren like Vampire Moon: The Mystery of the Hidden Sun, which is a spot-the-difference game of all things, is named at least somewhat creatively. (It also has something of a story.) I’m not saying that the game should be Vampire Portrait Collection because that just sounds creepy, but at least that way it’d manage at least a modicum of creativity.
(For further creativity, check out the enigmatic naming of Atlus’ Catherine, a seemingly racy game that’s actually a puzzle-platformer-survival horror game. Though this is also Atlus we’re talking about.)
But it’s time to get off my soapbox. Perhaps Hellokids – Vol. 1 is not up your alley– but maybe it’s just right for your kid. I mean, it’s ambitious enough to warrant more than one volume, supposedly. And maybe you hate pen-and-paper word searches and prefer Word Searcher 3, which I assume has more words to search for than Word Searcher and Word Searcher 2. Either way, it looks like this week is one for the casual crowd. If you’re into it, more power to ya.