Here’s a look at what’s looking good this weekend, with an emphasis on new releases, sales or games that are otherwise relevant.
“The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D” (rated E, $40 on 3DS): Of all the “Legend of Zelda” titles, the classic “Ocarina of Time” may look the most shopworn. The Nintendo 64 original, which some gamers swear is the greatest game of all time, isn’t quite old enough to be considered cool and retro looking, and the fact that it hails from the early days of 3D graphics means its characters look blocky and the environments seem sparse. Like Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy VII,” “Ocarina” is a game that if you go back and play it today, it’s hard not to think “Man, this doesn’t look so hot.” So if you’re looking to scratch a nostalgic itch or if, like me, you never finished the original “Ocarina,” this rebuilt-from-the-ground-up 3D remake is a solid buy, even if the $40 price tag is a little high for a remake. It goes on sale Sunday.
“Child of Eden” (rated E10+, $50 on Xbox 360): Ubisoft’s often-delayed successor to Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s lights-and-music game “Rez” finally arrived this week and many of the reviews are nothing short of euphoric. It’s interesting to see what’s essentially a $50, 90-minute-long shoot-’em-up prompt dark horse Game of the Year speculation, but it sounds like if you have Kinect for the Xbox 360, “CoE” is a game you pretty much have to play. Whether you rent it for the weekend or plunk down five Hamiltons with the intention of playing again and again is entirely up to you. I’m going to set sail for my first playthrough tonight, with a standard controller, then play with Kinect so I can better appreciate the differences. Here’s a link to a preview I wrote back in March.
“Outland” (rated , $10 download on PS3, also available on Xbox 360): Housemarque’s stylish platform-jumping action game showed up on Xbox 360 a while back, but the PlayStation Network was down at the time, so it’s just now showing up on the PS3. In an era where most of the ambitious downloadable games will run you $15, “Outland” feels like a steal at $10. It’s satisfying jumping, “Metroid”/”Castlevania”-style exploration and cool visuals hit such a sweet spot it prompted me to claim two of the studio’s other games, “Dead Nation” and “Super Stardust HD” as my freebies in the PSN’s “Welcome back” offer.
“Magic: The Gathering – Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012” (rated T, $10 download on Xbox 360 and PS3): I’ve been playing this downloadable collectible card game to detox after reviewing “Duke Nukem Forever,” which also came out this week. (If you read my review, you’ll see why I’m not recommending it.) So far, I’ve only played the campaign, but once I unlock a few more cards and get a better hang of what the various decks do, I’ll probably post a full review on the blog. I am a little bummed that Stainless Games has apparently brought back a feature that lets your online opponents see which deck you’re playing with, so they can change what they’re using. It was included in the original “Planeswalkers” and spawned a whole irritating pre-match lobby metagame before it was stripped out via a title update.
“Akimi Village” (rated E10+, $10 download on PS3): It shows I haven’t been paying enough attention to downloadable games when I didn’t realize that indie developer Ninja Bee has made a game for the PlayStation 3. NinjaBee makes the “Keflings” games on the Xbox 360, as well as fun games like “Cloning Clyde” and “Outpost Kaloki X.” If you’re familiar with “A Kingdom for Keflings” and “A World of Keflings” on the Xbox 360,”Akimi Village” sounds like more of that, but without Xbox Live avatars, of course.
“Alice: Madness Returns” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, $50 on PC):What is it with this week and sequels to video games from the late 1990s and early 2000s? “Alice: Madness Returns” is the sequel to “American McGee’s Alice,” which came out in 2000 and gave a dark, Tim Burton-esque spin to Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland.” “Madness Returns” features a grown-up Alice grappling with her parents’ deaths by diving into her imagination’s Wonderland. If you buy the game new, you get a code to download “American McGee’s Alice,” the 2000 predecessor to “Madness Returns.” It’s also available to download separately for $10.
“Record of Agarest War Zero” (rated T, $60 or $50 for Xbox 360 or PS3): The 2008 Japanese strategic role-playing game “Record of Agarest War” was something of a cult hit when it showed up in the U.S. last year. And even though it stinks U.S. gamers had to wait two years for a localized version of the game, that means we had a much shorter wait for this new prequel. Like the original game, “Zero” features the creepy-sounding “soul breed” system, where you play multiple generations of the same lineage of heroes. The game plays out differently based on who your hero hooks up with, making it sort of a fusion of role-playing game, Japanese dating simulator and horse breeding. It feels pretty odd to describe it that way, but the unusual design feature adds replayability, so I guess it’s a means to a cool end. A limited edition bundled with various gewgaws will cost you $60, while the game alone is $50.
“Dance Central” (rated T, $50 on Xbox 360): Though it’s Kinect’s best-reviewed title, I’ve never really been able to get behind “Dance Central” because its soundtrack doesn’t resonate much with me the way it does for games like “Rock Band 3.” That said, there’s no denying it’s a well-made game. If “Dance Central” is your thing, a bunch of downloadable content for it is on sale on Xbox Live through the weekend. In the meantime, I’ll keep pining for an import-your-own-song feature like “Audiosurf” and “Lips.”
“Mega Man 5” (rated E, $5 download on Wii Virtual Console): Another classic Capcom “Mega Man” game hits the Virtual Console this week. My standard warnings about how Virtual Console content is locked to your Wii and not your account, meaning it can’t be redownloaded for free if your machine dies, apply.