This week’s highest profile releases are yet another first-person shooter with middling reviews, albeit one that lets you alter time, and the umpteenth Lego platform-jumping title geared toward kids. So I’m just gonna lead with the weird Japanese “bullet hell” game featuring what the marketing materials refer to as “gothic Lolitas.”
“Deathsmiles” (rated M, $50 on Xbox 360): How could I pass up the opportunity to type the phrase, “Gothic, Lolita-themed shooter?” This extremely niche title is an old-school, side-scrolling shoot-’em up, a distinctly Japanese-tinged throwback that has you playing as one of five flying angels. It’s made by Cave, the Japanese kings of the genre whose games almost never see U.S. release, so if you’re at all interested in playing this, buy it now before used copies go for $100 on eBay. The only edition available is a limited one including the game, an Xbox 360 faceplate and a soundtrack CD. Too bad no one thought to sell a standard edition of just the game for $30 or $40.
“All Points Bulletin” (rated M, $50 on PC): I’ve spent the past two days playing the bejeezus out of “Crackdown 2,” due out next week. But for many fans, this massively multiplayer online PC game is the true successor to Microsoft’s surprise early-2007 hit. “APB,” made by original “Crackdown” developers Realtime Worlds, has players squaring off as criminals and supercops. If you’ve ever wanted a “Grand Theft Auto” MMO, this is the closest thing going. Early reviews have been mixed, but MMOs typically get better with age.
“Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4” (rated E10+, $50 on Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, $30 on PC, DS and PlayStation Portable): The trend of Lego-themed platform-jumping games for every kid-oriented movie franchise extends its tentacles into the realm of Harry Potter, having already strip-mined “Star Wars,” “Batman” and “Indiana Jones.” The script remains the same. They’re good fun if you’ve got kids who’ll play with you, or if you’re a die-hard “Harry Potter” fan, but the formula’s old-hat for more mature gamers who’ve been there and done that. I got to see this game in action a bit while at E3 in Los Angeles, and it looked good for what it is.
“Singularity” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3): It’s a typical U.S.-vs.-the Russians shooter that features some puzzle-solving and what sounds like a fairly well-executed time-manipulation mechanic. Sounds like a great rental.
“Puzzle Quest 2” (rated E10+, $15 Xbox Live Arcade download): The blend of matching colored gems ala “Bejeweled” and role-playing game hits the Xbox Live Arcade this week. I played this version at E3 and found it just as addicting as the original. It also, however, made me realize I never finished the original. I’m near the end game, though. I’ll be picking this up sometime after I finish the first game.