Editor: January 2012 Archives

While the new release this week through the PlayStation Store is a fluid game called Puddle, a variety of previously released titles are now available as downloads for the PlayStation 3 and PSP. For the full list and more details, read on...
THQTHQ confirmed that on January 25 it was notified by the Nasdaq marketplace that it is at risk of being delisted from the exchange since THQ's stock closed below $1.00 per share for 30 consecutive business days. While not a good sign, this is a common occurrence for struggling companies. The company has 180 days to have the stock close above $1.00 per share for 10 consecutive business days. Even if that doesn't occur, there is still an appeals process to give THQ more time to right its boat.
THQValuSoft, THQ's bargain label, has released Eastville Chronicles: The Dream Queen Murder for the PC both to retail outlets and as a download. This is a hidden-object-style adventure game that explores a murder mystery set in an opera house.
Square EnixSquare Enix's latest Final Fantasy effort, Final Fantasy XIII-2 is now available in stores for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Yet another role-playing game in the franchise (with an increasingly obtuse numbering system), this game begins with characters setting out to save the world (as usual) after being signaled by a meteor or something. And just in case you were worried, this game promises "extensive downloadable content" that you can pay for, including additional episodes with story content and Coliseum Battles against bosses from previous Final Fantasy games.

NeverDead is in Stores

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KonamiKonami's game NeverDead for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available in stores in North America. NeverDead is a third-person action game that follows Bryce Boltzmann as he helps the National Anti-Demon Agency exterminate demonic forces. Boltzman became immortal nearly 500 years ago and can now suffer immense pain and limb loss without perishing, allowing him to use the environment by enduring horrors such as electrocution to electrify his attacks. We suppose it could be argued that Boltzmann is constant.

SoulCalibur V is in Stores

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Namco Bandai GamesNamco, part of Namco Bandai Games, has released SoulCalibur V for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. This latest fighting game from the storied franchise known for its weapons takes place 17 years after the events of SoulCalibur IV with a new generation of fighters battling for the Soul Swords both against the AI or online.
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive has released King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Wargame as a download for the PC, available through a variety of game portals. This epic strategy game with role-playing elements features a darker version of the King Arthur myths in which Arthur is now deposed and wandering the land as The Maimed King in an effort to reunite his kingdom.
THQTHQ announced a shift in its business strategy. For many years, a cornerstone of THQ's strategy has been to license tons of kid-friendly properties (such as Spongebob Squarepants, Barbie, Rio and My Little Pony) and sell mediocre games on the strength of that brand. Now, THQ wants to focus on "core game franchises" and "create dedicated digital properties." In other words, THQ wants to focus on creating profitable franchises like its Saints Row games. To that end, THQ says that it "...is in the process of exiting its relationships with kids' licensed entertainment companies..." FI is wholeheartedly in favor of anything that reduces the amount of shovelware (especially licensed shovelware) that pours out of the industry.
SOL Exodus from Seamless Entertainment can be downloaded to the PC through Valve's Steam service for $10. Set around 500 years in the future, this space-combat simulation is set in our own solar system prior to a supernova and has players facing off against religious extremists who think everyone should be consumed by the dying star. Of course, only the first half of the campaign against the Children of Dawn is available at launch. The other eight missions are planned as downloadable content.
Unigine Corp has released Oil Rush, a real-time naval strategy game set in a water-logged post-apocalyptic world. The world's final, floating survivors are battling over the world's remaining energy sources, so players will muster naval and air units to seize the production platforms of others, while building tower-defence style layers of structures to defend their own oil rigs. The game can be purchased here and includes Steam codes.
MicrosoftThankfully, today's Xbox Live Arcade releases are a break from the tradition of games with absurdly long names. Both of today's games are single-word, two-syllable names. Read on for the full list and more details...
MargaritavilleTHQ has launched Margaritaville Online through Facebook and for the iPad. Developed by Exploding Barrel Games, the game allows participants to stand around in a world based on Jimmy Buffett's songs, "...able to play and party with great music and frozen concoctions in an open easy-going world, featuring exotic adventures, customized bars and outfits, and playful mini-games." The question is why? We're too busy hanging out in a Dadaist-inspired sandbox world set in the back alleys of World-War-I-era Paris while actually drinking instead of consuming virtual "frozen concoctions" in a beach setting populated by characters that would be comfortable in a parade of Nintendo's Miis.
SonyIt's another light week in the PlayStation Store, but there is the new game Scarygirl, along with downloadble versions of previously released retail games and several PSP minis. Read on for the full list and details...
BioShock Infinite's LizIrrational Games just announced that BioShock Infinite will include a "1999 Mode," featuring limited resources and irreversible specialization choices. But why the name?


Many gamers, and most game writers, aren't aware of System Shock 2, and certainly haven't played it. That's OK, even though several of FI's staff still think it's the best game of all time. How can that be when those self-same folk call BioShock the best game of all time? Simple. BioShock was the same game. Rather than a futuristic setting with two space vessels (System Shock 2), there was an undersea dystopia (BioShock). Instead of a warring AI and alien hive mind (System Shock 2), there were competing industrialists (BioShock). BioShock had far better graphics, more refined systems and better writing, but System Shock 2 was a lot scarier. Cyber-nannies aside, System Shock 2 was scarier because ammunition was scarce. You could run out of supplies and be forced to flee and duck under a counter, hoping enemies would wander away. You couldn't clear out a level and wander empty hallways, because enemies were constantly bred and born to hunt you down. System Shock 2's horror came from the dearth of resources.

Gamers expecting Rise of the Triad-like play wanted to spray unlimited bullets at the alien constructs and criticized the lack of ammo as a serious design flaw. Here at FI, we loved it. It made the game what it was, and was the most important thing missing from BioShock. Because BioShock was so fast and loose with supplies, it was an amazing experience that occasionally seemed more like an objectivist firing range.

System Shock 2System Shock 2 was released in 1999. So, while not explicit, 1999 Mode is a promise to return that edgy, frightening quality to BioShock infinite, in exactly the right way – as an option. Just as Fallout: New Vegas made tracking food and water intake optional, 1999 Mode will be a choice. We're excited, since we expect it will be a choice between edge-of-the-seat terror and a well-scripted shooter.

MicrosoftMicrosoft announced the financial results for its fiscal second quarter ended December 31, 2011. Microsoft's gaming operations took in plenty of money, but the unit, overall, performed worse than in the comparable quarter the previous year. Read on for more details...

Silkroad-R Launches Officially

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Joymax has officially launched Silkroad-R, a persistent online game related (is that what the "R" is for?) to Silkroad Online as players travel along the ancient trade route from China to Constantinople, complete with the extensive PvP experience for which trade routes are famous. As usual, the official launch for this free-to-play game means that the item shop is now open. The game has been in "open beta testing" since December 15.
MicrosoftMicrosoft has released two more downloadable games through the Xbox Live Arcade program. This week's additions are a game for the Kinect sensor that has players checking out a haunted house and a platformer featuring a girl who is... scary. Read on for the titles and more details...
MajescoMajesco announced its financial results for its full year and fiscal fourth quarter ended October 31, 2011. Essentially, Majesco is doing well again because of Zumba Fitness, and pretty much exclusively because Zumba Fitness has been selling like hotcakes. Presumably, if the same people are buying both hotcakes and Zumba Fitness, they probably aren't getting more fit.
SonySony has released a new slate of downloadable games for the PlayStation 3. There's nothing much for the PSP, but there are quite a few retail games now available in downloadable form along with Amy and Zack Zero. Read on for the full list and more details...
Star Trek Online, launched for the PC at the beginning of 2010 and sold to Perfect World, has now launched as a free-to-play game. As usual, a monthly subscription or individual purchases are required to unlock all of the content, and game "enhancing" items are available in the game's store.
We are deeply saddened to learn that Bill Sears, known as "Phosphorous," passed away this weekend at 58 of heart-related problems. Part of the amazing and unusual group that makes games together known as Digital Eel, Phosphorous contributed the unique, endearing and bizarre visual style to games such as Dr. Blob's Organism, Strange Adventures in Infinite Space and Big Box of Blox.
Sony Online EntertainmentSony Online Entertainment is excited to let everyone know that DC Universe is now one year old. The game launched on January 11 of last year, and went free to play last November. The game really took off in the last months since going free-to-play, meaning that the game now has around 1.8 million registered players on the PC and 2.3 million registered players on the PlayStation 3. Any of those players who happen to log in today, get the glorious prize of a cape with the number "1" on the back. Wow. We at FI are overwhelmed.
MicrosoftMicrosoft has released two more games through Xbox Live Arcade, including a new take on a classic rescue-helicopter game and downloadable survival/horror title. Read on for the names and details...
SonySony has released another few downloadable games through the PlayStation Store to keep you sated until the big releases once again start rolling in. This week includes a re-release of the first two Final Fantasy games, a chance to pilot a rescue helicopter and another to build crazy machines.
UbisoftUbisoft made a very limited announcement concerning the third fiscal quarter of its fiscal 2011-2012 year. Since Ubisoft wanted to emphasize that this data is preliminary and that real numbers won't be available for more than a month, we'll just say that Ubisoft thinks the holiday season went pretty well. It also appears that the reason for this announcement was to try to mask the fact that it also announced Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has been delayed until the first quarter of the next fiscal year (roughly, spring-ish). So, a game was delayed, and Ubisoft's investor relations department was concerned enough that it would bother investors that it mentioned holiday sales were pretty good.
ZeniMax MediaThe litigation saga between ZeniMax (and its Bethesda Softworks unit) and Interplay over the right to make a Fallout massively multiplayer online game has finally come to a close. It has been obvious since 2002 that Interplay is barely holding on to its very existence. Since April of 2009, the rights to develop a Fallout MMOG should have reverted to Bethesda – Interplay clearly did not have the funds or the ability to build the game, but Interplay has been holding out. The obvious conclusion is that Interplay was simply being a pain in Bethesda's side in an effort to get a little more cash before giving up the ghost. Today, Bethesda confirmed that it paid Interplay $2 to settle the litigation and make Interplay go away. Read on for the full story and more details...
Bah! It's frustrating! Every time we sit down to say something remotely insightful about developments in the world of D&D, we discover that Wired's Geek Dad has beaten us to it. Wizards of the Coast (part of Hasbro) announced that it is working on the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The plan is to crowd-source part of the next edition's development and testing, so Wizards of the Coast is looking for a folks to sign up to participate. We wanted to write about how Wizards will be launching a new edition of D&D so soon after the last one met a mixed reception and splintered the gaming community that it can only serve to further fragment tabletop gamers. Then we spotted GeekDad's Summary. Read on for a quote...
GameStopRetailer GameStop reported selected financial results concerning the nine week holiday period ended December 31, 2011. Total Sales for this period were $3.0191 billion, just a touch over the $3.018.1 billion for the comparable period a year earlier. GameStop highlighted Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Assassin's Creed: Revelations and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim as having particularly strong sales.

Splendid Classic Game Covers

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Dots of War from MightyGodKing.comThere's always a chance some of you haven't seen these splendid box covers for almost-were classic games. The original post is from MightyGodKing, and this only penetrated our feeble, media-impervious skulls when we noticed it on BoingBoing.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission from the end of December, Viacom is going to have to pay the former shareholders of Harmonix Music Systems a buttload of cash, and yes, "buttload" is a technical financial term. When music games like Harmonix's Rock Band stopped being insanely profitable, Viacom decided to dump Harmonix and demanded that former Harmonix shareholders return most of the $150 million in performance bonuses that it paid out. The former Harmonix stakeholders then demanded another $700 million of performance bonuses, arguing that this was owed to Harmonix under the acquisition agreement because Viacom had engaged in financial shenanigans (another technical term) that resulted in underpayments to Harmonix stakeholders. Resolution accountants (arbitrators with accounting expertise) determined that Viacom owed Harmonix stakeholders an additional $383 million. Unhappy with the result Viacom has filed a lawsuit to require the resolution accountants to consider additional evidence and revise their determination. So, Viacom might not owe the full $383, but odds are good that they will. Filing suit after going to arbitration is rarely more than a delaying tactic. Remember, Viacom saves a lot of money if can merely delay that substantial payment.
Electronic ArtsNFL Blitz from Electronic Arts can now be downloaded to the Xbox 360 for 1,200 points ($15). This arcade-style football game allows players to compete in seven-on-seven matches based on the classic football game released to arcades in 1997.
SonyIt's the first week of the year, and a light week for the PlayStation Store, with only a few new games downloadable to the PlayStation 3. Read on for the full list and more details...

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Editor in January 2012.

Editor: December 2011 is the previous archive.

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