OK, we complain about this every year, but for the most part, developers have gotten pretty fair with aftermarket additions. Nevertheless, 2009 saw more than its fair share of high profile digital grifts. Prince of Persia kickstarted the gouge with DLC exclusive ending, brazenly entitled Epilogue. Capcom released a $5, less than 2 MB download for Resident Evil 5 about 45 minutes after the game hit store shelves, then proceeded to shake Street Fighter IV fans by the ankles over five character costume packs of questionable worth that could not be purchased individually. Madden 10’s “Elite Status” demanded an extra Abe Lincoln for the privilege of playing online in All-Madden difficulty, even though that’d always been possible offline free of charge.
Above: Parts of your favorite games most never got to see
But one of the biggest offenders for us was a clandestinely underhanded measure that used DLC to lure gamers back to retail. The Force Unleashed rewarded Star Wars fans - admittedly, a small audience - with a handful of timely, reasonably priced DLC… then turned the tables on broadbanders by making the final expansion exclusive to the retail-only TFU: Ultimate Sith Edition. While it’s nice new players could purchase the whole shebang at a reduced cost, DLC users, those who arguably made the investment worthwhile, were left in the cold unless they wanted to re-buy a bunch of content they already owned just to complete the story.
There’s little more shameless than asking consumers to pay more for your game because it’s just so good and it cost so much to make, and, oh, a weak pound, right guys? Right, or maybe you just wanted to see if you could get away with it.
By now, you’ve undoubtedly forgotten that X-Blades ever existed in the first place. But the console versions of this wholly unremarkable PC title sure as hell received more than their fair share of unwarranted hype thanks in part to a “sexification” of the game’s Battle-Thong-clad heroine, Ayumi.
Above: The Japanese box art and a piece from the official art book entitled “Oops…!” shows that X-Blades was far more concerned with spilling DNA than blood
So what if the game featured highly derivative combat, next to no substance, and a light and dark skillset where “Blah” and “Boring” synthesized into the all new combat element of “Blahring!” Marketing didn’t let something as surmountable as yawn-inducing gameplay or a sense of dignity get them down, no sir! Instead they focused on what the game didn’t have: proportional tits and sensibly covered ass cheeks!
Above: GR fanned the flames with our “Turn Any Game Into X-Blades” contest
We understand that advertising a rerelease of a game renowned for severed limbs and ball-breaking difficulty is a tough sell for television airwaves. But we’re really starting to resent the demographical target Tecmo has painted on us; from Dead or Alive to Ninja Gaiden, they’re resolute in their belief that our wallet is inextricably tethered to our erections.
Each and every Final Fantasy carries its own fanbase. Millions of Square-Enix devotees rally around the numbered entries, making each game not just a sequel, but also a franchise unto itself - a feat that no other series can claim. Here at the ‘Dar, we’re immeasurably fond of FFIV, the SNES entry that really shaped the future of Square’s RPG efforts. And despite those achievements, along with several remakes, no direct sequel was ever made. Until last year, that is.
Above: Broken Heart indeed
At first glance, it’s everything we wanted. Classic 16-bit graphics. All our favorite characters back together. Just weave a decent story, spruce up the battle system and we are so effing there. Oh, what’s that? It’s 800 Wii Points… for the first chapter? And the subsequent SEVEN chapters are all 300 Wii Points, concluding in ANOTHER 800 Point chapter? JESUS.
Above: Forty bucks, buddy!
Aside from the mobile phone-style price gouging that made the plot a disjointed mess, the game itself was a bastard-hard relic of tired gameplay. While the guts were the same, the battles were supremely boring and loaded with recycled enemy sprites and painfully uneventful bosses. Worst of all, the random encounter rate was off the scale, usually thrusting you into fights every other step. It all added up to a repulsive sequel that managed to sully an already outstanding (and completed) storyline. The old one holds up. This just plain sucks.
We had our suspicions about Damnation, seeing as it came from a developer (Blue Omega) whose only previous work was in obscure horror films, but the game’s gritty, alternate-history steampunk setting and cowboys-meet-Prince-of-Persia action were enough to keep us interested right up to its release. Then we found out it was an unbearably tedious, hilariously broken and surprisingly ugly wreck, and suddenly we couldn’t distance ourselves from this clunker fast enough.