This month in Versus Mode we’ve got:
MATTHEW FRASER VS. ANDREW RAUB
Matthew Fraser is a current GameCola writer known for his unique videogame reviews. He’s been on a leave of absence from GC for the better part of 2008—this is the first article he’s penned for us since January. This is Matthew’s first appearance in Versus Mode.
Andrew Raub is a staff writer for informal pop-culture review site Good-Evil.net, where he contributes videogame, movie, and music reviews as well as Web comics. This is Andrew’s first appearance in Versus Mode, though it’s not his first time writing for GameCola—he gave us a top ten list way back in December of 2003.
Matthew: Whether it’s coming out too soon after the last one is a moot point, as long as the developers have given themselves ample time to create new features and do the game properly. The business decision is obvious here; get the thing out before Guitar Hero World Tour to get a jump on the competition. And as far as a business decision goes, it’s a sound idea. But to the gamers, they don’t give a shit about that; all they care about is a good game. And if the game is a botched rush job, you can be sure as hell that people will jump ship to Guitar Hero. Never mind the fact that the first Rock Band hasn’t even reached my shores (Australia) yet—don’t get me started.
With the issue of price, if you accepted the price of the first one, the second game’s base instruments should be reasonably priced, if a tad on the expensive side. That is, if the improvements they say they are making to the technology are truthful. The premium instruments are a fucking joke, though. Even if it actually resembles a drum kit, and not a Fisher-Price toy you’ll find in your local department store toy aisle, you won’t see many part with that much money for it.
Andrew: I think a year between sequels normally isn’t too bad. But for a game that costs nearly $200, it’s a different story. However, Harmonix seems to be taking all strides to provide a worthwhile upgrade. Apparently all the original songs (and I’m guessing downloadable songs) can be imported into the new game. This is good, in that it will keep all the old songs available and they won’t be forgotten.
The real test is whether the developers upgrade or change the instruments. If owners of the original Rock Band can simply buy the game for 50-60 dollars, then there’s no problem. As for the price of the full bundle, I don’t think it’s too much at all. If you live by yourself and rarely hang out with enough people to fully enjoy it, well, you might regret buying it. But if you have two or three roommates and some friends who like to rock, you’re going to forget that you dropped $200 on some plastic. Hell, get your friends to bring over a case of beer in exchange for playing your Rock Band setup, and you’ve got yourself a fair deal and a night of extreme rocking fun.
Matthew: Indeed it is awesome. It’s a hit of nostalgia, and that’s what will make this game good. They say the average age gamer is in its 30s, and so it can safely be said that the average gamer can remember blowing dust out of a cartridge to get the game to work, using a tissue to clean out the connectors of shit if you kept it under your bed, and those frustrating, frustrating hours trying to find another energy pellet (for these were the days when what the young kids call “energy tanks” did not exist). Hopefully, Mega Man 9 will invoke some of those memories. Let’s not make it of a pussy difficulty, though.
It’s no secret that anything “retro” will garner profits, as Nintendo has known for ages. I think people are really starting to realize that a game can be good even if it only uses two buttons. New Super Mario Bros. is one of the most popular games for the DS, Super Paper Mario really gave gamers a good nostalgic feeling, and Contra 4 was received well by reviewers and didn’t water down its roots. Arguably, Contra 4 is one of the toughest Contra games there is. Mega Man 9 is supposed to have a pretty good difficulty as well.
There is definitely a market for “simpler” retro-style games, and even though it may not be a huge part of the entire gaming ecosphere, I think it’s big enough to warrant more games in the classic style. These days, creating a 2D game like this has to have a much easier development cycle than the more complicated 3D games. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the market will be watered down like it was in the past, instead encompassing few choice games.
I’m getting longwinded now…. Mega Man 9 is going to be awesome, and it’s going to be a good thing for fans and the industry.
Matthew: Before E3, I might have thought a little harder about this, but Microsoft’s big news seals the deal. Now that Final Fantasy XIII is going to be multiplatform, Sony needs to do something drastic, and fast. It cannot live on the power of its big-name exclusives, because they are either already out (MGS4) or haven’t got the sizzle to change the market. Never mind the fact that they aren’t so loyal these days (FFXIII). That really killed Sony’s momentum this year. The only thing that will keep the PS3 alive is the fact that it’s probably the best way to buy a Blu-ray player, but that won’t last either. Whether they need to drop the price, announce some huge fucking games, or get Ken Kutaragi to run around in a sailor outfit distributing PS3s to needy children, I don’t know, but all that needs to be said is that the PS3 is in some hot poo. And it’s losing its weaponry quickly.
Andrew: It sure would be nice, but I don’t think it’s entirely necessary. These days, anyone that really wants one will shell out the cash, or parents will get one for their kids. The real problem now is games. Final Fantasy XIII isn’t PS3 exclusive anymore, which is a total blow to Sony. Right now the only games on PS3 that are currently exclusives I would even consider are Metal Gear Solid 4 and Gran Turismo 5. Any game that is on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 is almost guaranteed to have a better experience on the 360, simply because Microsoft has its online interaction together. I don’t even know what to say beyond that. Get some games, Sony!
Matthew: It depends on the way Nintendo is marketing itself, and it definitely says that it’s the family-friendly, casual gamer’s best buddy who’ll clean the alleyways of dirt before you walk through them. The commercials that air down here for the Wii always show two or more people, nine times out of 10 a nuclear family, having fun with the console. But the Wii, for example, has its fair share of M-rated games, and that has not tarnished its image. Granted, they get nowhere near the amount of press attention that GTA does, but it still shows that there is a place for M-rated games on the consoles of the old Nintendo.
However, it will be interesting to see how its image is affected once GTA comes to the DS. Our good friends in the Murdoch media can’t resist a videogame story, and GTA is an easy target because of its instant recognition in relation to game violence. The antithetical juxtaposition would be too much for them to resist—a console whose chief steward is the loveable Mario letting the slutty, STD-infested, bitch-slapping whore of the videogame industry put out a game for all the kiddies to get their hands on.
The company and its consoles already survive well with adult games, and if GTA were just another anonymous M-rated game, it wouldn’t be such the edge-way bet it is now. I don’t think it’s too adult, but the great family protector, the media, might.
Andrew: I’m not the kind of gamer that thinks Nintendo is “kiddie.” There’s plenty of ultra violent explosion- and bullet-laden games for Nintendo systems. I’m not really a big enough fan of the GTA series to cry foul if the violence, drug references, or prostitution is watered down in Chinatown Wars.
Matthew: I know when I sit down to a gaming session that it’s burka for me and no less. I’m as far away from naked as possible. If I have even a little skerrick of ankle showing, it’s banned from gaming for the next month, and heaven help me if an eye is visible.
One of the strange things, among many, in this article is the fact that it’s Canadian men who are stripping down. Now, I’ve never been to Canada, but I’ve seen enough movies to know that it’s fucking freezing. I don’t know, perhaps Canadian readers can verify, but do they get off on being extremely cold? And what are they playing in the buff? Leisure Suit Larry? Are they waiting for the missus to come back and ask if she could give him a hand? Or if they could go for some multiplayer action?
Handy if you lose your DS stylus, though.
Andrew: I’ve never done it myself, but I can certainly see the appeal. I don’t think my roommate would appreciate finding me naked on the couch deeply entrenched in a round of CoD4, though. You can do whatever you want in the confines of your own room. I just don’t want to come over to your house and have to sit in your butt-sweat stains that are permanently in your couch.