The Best Upcoming Fan-Service Games of 2008

January 31st, 2008

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Many gamers would agree that 2007 was a landmark year for video games largely due to a momentous barrage of quality software releases throughout the second half of the year. But this momentous line up of games would have been nothing without a set of strong ‘fan service’ games.

‘Fan service’ games are games designed with the intention of one thing; to feed the loyal fan base of a particular franchise or brand. Now sure, 2007 had some great games of this nature such as Halo 3, Contra 4 and Resident Evil Umbrella Chronicles but 2008 looks to blow the lid of the all previous expectations of fan service games. So let me present to you ten of the best, hitting your favourite systems in 2008:

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Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix

Capcom knows their fans and understands exactly how to please them which is why this game is arguably the most important game on this list. SSF2THDR HD Remix is as it sounds a reworked, high definition version of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. Don’t be fooled by previous fake HD games though HD Remix isn’t an upscaled version of the original game rather all of the sprites are being redone by the legendary Udon Comics.

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The high definition aspect is only one part of the deal though HD Remix’s also contains a slew of new content and modes several of which have been included by fan requests. I’m talking wide screen support, a remixed soundtrack and a training mode. But all of these pale in comparison to the online features that Capcom is planning to dish out.

Voice chat, spectator matches and indepth statistics are a few of the key features of this new oline mode. An example used by Capcom’s Christian Svensson on the game’s online statistics is that you will be able to find the best Cammy player in Canada or the person who has thrown the most projectiles in the world. So its not hard to see why Capcom are leading the way for fan service games of 08.

Super Smash Bros Brawl

Nintendo fans are arguably the most loyal and dedicated bunch of gamers around so when Nintendo announces a new installment of its franchise heavy fighting game message boards everywhere light up and fans clench their Wii-motes with new found pride.

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The inclusion of Kid Icarus’ Pit pleased fans of the NES classic

Knowing this, Nintendo has added to the almost out of control anticipation by dishing out the fanboy love in droves. Cameo characters such as Solid Snake and Sonic now join the extended character roster, a new level editor is included and content is filled to the brim. But much like Street Fighter the most anticipated new feature for the new Smash Bros is online play. Every since the broadband (and dial up) adapters were released along side Phantasy Star Online on the Gamecube Nintendo has been dodging the prospect of true online play. So Super Smash Bros isn’t just an important game for the fanboys, its also a time for the industry to see if Nintendo will finally step up to the plate and deliver on a true online experience.

Sega Superstars Tennis

Much in the vein of Mario Tennis, Sega have decided to develop a tennis game set around the expansive Sega universe. With a release date set for early March, Sega have already shared plenty of interesting details including a list of playable characters. The list of characters is what particularly has sparked a sudden stronger interest among fans as characters include Alex Kidd, Beat (Jet Grind Radio), Ulala (Space Channel 5), Amigo, NiGHTS as well as your typical set of Sonic characters.

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This stage is from Jet Grind Radio

Sega Superstars Tennis is set to come out on all major consoles excluding the PSP. Each game will feature its own console specific strengths. For example; the Wii version will take advantage of the motion controls while the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions will have online play.

DP’s Random Note: Notice how the first three games all have the word ‘Super’ in the title?
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Gaming Analysis: Video Game Sequels

January 29th, 2008

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With the development costs of video games rising every generation it comes to no surprise that it was going to get to a point (ie. now) where sequels control a lot of the video gaming landscape. Once a strong brand is formed, millions of dollars can be sucked out of it. So its no wonder there are so many sequels on the market, they are the safest bets in the industry and the key to major financial gain.

With the past holiday line up full of sequels I’ve been casting my eye over several franchises, analyzing the different types of sequels that exist in the industry. I wanted to provide a general outline of the different categories that video game sequels fall into. Here is what I have found:

Bigger and Better

Possible Features

Most game sequels fall into this category . This type of sequel takes the original game and delivers more content as well as new play mechanics, tweaks and modifications to the original game. Although these games don’t recreate the respective franchise, they offer enough new content and originality to maintain the interest and dedication of the fans while still being open enough for new players to the franchise.

This type of sequel is the most popular because it is a quite a safe bet, risks are kept to a minimum and developers are working with a tried and true template. The other advantage of this type of sequel is that the developers include enough new gameplay to ensure that the sequel won’t be labeled a ‘cash in’ or stale.

Games that fit this category: Metroid Prime 2:Echoes, Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

More of the Same

Possible Features

This type of sequel basically takes the original game, makes some ever so slight modifications and then stacks on more content to make a game larger than the original. These sorts of sequels contain basically no risk except for the risk that the franchise fan base and gaming community alike may be disappointed by the lack of significant updates and see this as a quick grab for cash as developers are milking an already successful title. If developers continue to create a constant stream of these samey sequels they can train their fanbase into never expecting any major upgrades (much like EA Sports).

There is only one example where these types of sequels are generally well accepted and that is if the previous game was so fantastic and brought so much to the table that it’s sequel could get away with little to no original content.

Games that fit this category: Madden, Castlevania, Fire Emblem

A New Beginning (Reinvention)

Possible Features

These games are all about risk, they take an existing franchise and reinvent it. New gameplay mechanics, graphic style, control method, a totally different genre are all examples of how a game can reinvent itself. There are primarily only two sorts of games that get reinvented, ones made by successful developers that want to continue to push the envelope rather than dishing out more of the same and bad games that sorely need re-imaging.

Reinvention can make or break a game franchise and is more likely to upset franchise fans because of sequel’s unconventional nature. With the move from 2D to 3D many popular game franchises were forced to reinvent themselves to keep up with technology. There were plenty of successful games and games that didn’t (and still haven’t) made the transition.

Games that fit this category: Zelda: Wind Waker, Resident Evil 4, Doom 3

Conclusion

Although I have only listed 3 categories of sequels, the truth is not every game neatly falls into one of these categories. The lines between each category are blurred and hence you get games that are a mix between the two. But conclusively speaking these 3 categories give you a solid guide as to what to expect from video game sequels. Next time you’re reading up on your most anticipated sequel try to factor in some of the points I’ve listed so that you can get a better idea of what the final build would be like.

Retro Video Review – Totally Rad

January 25th, 2008

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Since I did the last video review on Super Mario Land 2 there has been a a few readers have expressed that they’d like to see more video based content on the site. So I decided to continue working on more video for the site as its a lot of fun to work on and you guys seem to like it. ^_^

This time around I wanted to pay tribute to one of the first games that I owned on the NES; Totally Rad. I chose to review Totally Rad as it was never a very popular title so people might be interested to learn more about it. Get comfy though as the review is a massive 7 minutes long:

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Matty Jay (my voice man) and I have listened to a lot of the critique that we got back from our first review and we’ve made a lot of adjustments to improve the video. I’ve written a list of the improvements as well as our future goals for the video content on my personal blog.

We’re interested in some more feedback, good or bad. So hit us up via the comment box and let us know your thoughts.

I should also reference The Rad Project for the comparison between Magic John and Totally Rad. Fantastic read for those who had the original.