I’ve fallen a bit behind on these, as there’ve been a fair number of new releases and I’ve found myself working weekends. Let’s get caught up, shall we?
Nintendo DSi XL ($190): Nintendo’s latest handheld, in stores Sunday, is simply a bigger version of the last one. If you eyed a DSi but balked because its small size made it feel like a child’s toy, this is for you. If you already own a DSi or DS Lite, there’s likely nothing to see here. Move along.
“Game Room” (ratings vary, free Xbox Live Games on Demand download): This free application serves as a hub for Microsoft to sell you retro arcade games for $3 to $5 a pop. Honestly, I didn’t really “get” this when I tried it out at Microsoft’s X10 media event back in February. It’s a cool concept, but when you consider that excellent, modern downloadable titles like “Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved” start at $5, the retro titles seem a tad overpriced. Many of these games are almost as old as I am and are commonly played for free online by unscrupulous folks running emulators, or on various browser-game sites, which makes the $.50 single-play option seem laughable. Additionally, the addition of another layer of user interface, even if it does employ the sadly underutilized Xbox 360 avatars, seems needlessly cumbersome. Why can’t I fire up “Yar’s Revenge” from my game library without loading “Game Room?” Admittedly, I’ve never been big on the customization of the PS3’s “Home” and other virtual spaces, so I may just be the wrong audience for this. At least they let you play free demos of games before you buy, though, making the single-play option seem more silly.
“Cave Story” (rated E10+, $12 WiiWare download): This two-dimensional puzzle/platform-jumping game actually hit the PC back in 2004, but it’s been remade for WiiWare with a redone English-language localization and improved graphics. MTV’s Multiplayer blog calls it “the closest you’ll get to a new, 2D ‘Metroid’,” and that’s good enough for me.
“Red Steel 2” (rated M, $50 on Wii, $60 bundle includes Wii MotionPlus): This sequel to popular Wii launch title “Red Steel” requires Nintendo’s MotionPlus accessory to play. (If you don’t already own MotionPlus, available separately or bundled with other titles such as “Wii Sports Resort,” there’s a bundle for this game, as well.) Essentially, it’s a cel-shaded, cartoon-style hybrid of first-person shooter and swordfighting game. One of the big gripes about the first game was that Wii’s motion controls weren’t sophisticated enough to pull off a compelling swordfighting experience, so now that MotionPlus has been on the market for a while, the folks at Ubisoft decided to address that gripe with a sequel.
“WarioWare D.I.Y.” (rated E, $35 on DS): Like other games in the “WarioWare” series, this one ships with about 90 microgames that can be played in just a few seconds. It also lets you design your own and share them with friends or strangers, thanks to the game’s content-sharing hub.
“Just Cause 2” (rated M, $60 on PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360): The first “Just Cause,” an open-world action game that let you hijack helicopters, crash them into mountains and paraglide to safety, was something of a cult hit. So it’s understandable developer Avalanche Studios and publisher Eidos would want to follow it up with something a bit more polished and ambitious. That’s this game, which follows agent Rico Rodriguez on a quest to destabalize an island nation in southeast Asia. How does he do it? Via crazy stunts and insane explosions, how else?
“Fallout 3” (rated M, add-ons discounted to $5 each on Xbox 360): All the add-ons for Bethesda Softworks’ hybrid of shooter and role-playing game are on sale for $5 last week. I’d have recommended you pick up “Broken Steel” and “Point Lookout,” but it’s too late now. So why am I telling you this? A crushing sense of guilt.
What I played last weekend: I squeezed in a game of “Culdcept Saga” but otherwise was busy working and watching “District 9” with my wife.