Here are this week's releases on WiiWare, DSiWare, and Virtual Console!
Rage of the Gladiator Publisher: Ghostfire Games Players: 1 ESRB Rating: T (Teen) – Animated Blood, Alcohol Reference, Violence Price: 1,000 Wii Points™ Description: Rage of the Gladiator is a fantasy-based fighting game in which you must fight for your life in the arena. One of the most gorgeous WiiWare games ever, it features amazing 3-D graphics, animation, lighting, shadows and special effects. Full voice acting means each boss has its own personality and taunts you mercilessly. Discover insane finishing moves: Summon a fiery meteor or savage tornado, or transform into a hulking colossus 10 times your normal size. Customize your character and specialize in skill trees – Offense, Defense or Magic – to gain new powers. You'll also enjoy epic, blood-pumping music by legendary composer Sean Beeson. For added replay value, unlock Challenge Mode and encounter tougher bosses with new abilities. The game also supports the Wii MotionPlus accessory.
Triple Shot Sports Publisher: The Code Monkeys Ltd. Players: 1-2 ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) Price: 500 Wii Points Description: Triple Shot Sports is one of the most advanced recreational shooting games available for the WiiWare service, immersing players in the world of competitive target shooting. Most competitive events consist of activities that are traditionally derived from hunting and combat skills. Over time, these practices have evolved into a variety of competitive sports that include Archery, Pistol Shooting and Free Rifle. As with real-life shooting events, you will have full control over the aim of the weapon. You must also account for prevailing weather conditions and the athlete's breathing pattern, as these factors can influence the accuracy of your shot.
CASTLEVANIA RONDO OF BLOOD Original platform: TurboGrafx16 CD-ROM Publisher: Konami Players: 1 ESRB Rating: T (Teen) – Animated Blood, Fantasy Violence Price: 900 Wii Points Description: This is the 10th action-packed installment in the ever-popular CASTLEVANIA series, which depicts the epic struggle between the Belmont clan and the dark forces of Count Dracula. An instant classic, this title is recognized far and wide for its beautifully rendered world, outstanding game balance and haunting CD-quality music. The player takes control of RICHTER, the clan's ultimate Vampire Killer, guiding him through a total of nine stages filled with treacherous traps and hidden secrets. Using your legendary whip – passed on from generations of Belmonts – and a powerful selection of Item Crash attacks, it's up to you to destroy Dracula and his evil horde. What's more, rescuing MARIA at some juncture in the game allows you to use her as a playable character for even more vampire-slaying fun.
Zoo Frenzy Publisher: Gameloft Players: 1 ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) –Mild Cartoon Violence Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points™ Description: Create the zoo of your dreams and try to maximize your profit by managing tons of parameters. Enjoy five fun mini-games to train and support your animals: Feed them, heal them and even play soccer- or hockey-themed games with them. Your best-trained pets will go back into the wild to fight dangerous monsters and find cute new animals for your zoo. Enjoy use of the Nintendo DSi™ system's built-in microphone and camera – wake up the hero by shouting at him, and see yourself in the game.
101 MiniGolf World Publisher: Teyon Players: 1-8 ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) Price: 500 Nintendo DSi Points Description: 101 MiniGolf World is one of the first-ever 3-D miniature golf games for the Nintendo DSiWare service. Your stylus becomes the putter for an incredibly fun mini-golf experience. Play more than 100 challenging holes solo or with up to eight players on one system. Send your ball flying through loops, pipes, arches, extreme ramps and mind-blowing obstacles. Enjoy a combination of real golf rules and wacky mini-golf fun.
Battle of Giants™: Dinosaurs – Fight For Survival Publisher: Ubisoft Players: 1-2 ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and Older) – Mild Fantasy Violence Price: 800 Nintendo DSi Points Description: Long before mankind stepped into the world, the Earth was a harsh environment dominated by dinosaurs. Every species of dinosaur had to fight to survive in this hostile environment. Travel through the hostile lands as one of three breeds of dinosaur while battling giant enemies to save your kind. Create and customize your own unique dinosaur. Explore four mysterious territories and discover buried fossils to complete your mission. Enhance your dinosaur's abilities and compete against your friends in epic duels.
Car Jack Streets Publisher: Tag Games Players: 1 ESRB Rating: T (Teen) – Mild Language, Violence Price: 800 Nintendo DSi Points Description: A critically acclaimed game with high-octane action, innovative real-time game play, stunning visuals and an awesome soundtrack, Car Jack Streets will take you to the limit. The Italian mob is calling in your gambling debt of $1 million. Attempt a wide variety of criminal and legitimate jobs to earn as much cash as possible, but remember to avoid attracting attention from the cops and other gang members. Do you have what it takes to stay alive, pay your debt and rise to the top of the criminal underworld?
Seriously? It's a jaunty, cyclical musical form, mostly used in classical music, in keeping with the modern naming conventions of Castlevania (Rondo of, Symphony of, Aria of, Harmony of...). Wasn't there a random Castlevania name generator somewhere?
Don't forget Lament of Innocence from the PS2. "Lament" is kinda iffy though, since it could just mean an expression of grief or sorrow. But it does have a musical definition, too: "a formal expression of sorrow or mourning, esp. in verse or song; an elegy or dirge." Either way, I think it works for the game title.
Rondo of Blood plays like the older Castlevanias, right? Not like the newer Metroidvania-style games? I've always preferred the Metroidvania style (well, always since I first played Castlevania in 2005, with Symphony of the Night) but I did enjoy Super Castlevania IV. I'll probably download this.
@GameDadGrant Yeah, that's true. The musical 'theme' to the titles isn't totally consistent, though. I would love a fully operatic score for Castlevania, with leitmotivs for each character, and shit, some quiet passages during exploration, some rock thrown in during battle (and no dialogue or narrative whatsoever?). The disjointed nature of games would make such a nice bed for an ongoing opera that is dynamically generated from a number of themes. Like, if an enemy was around the corner, one lone female voice would ring out as a prelude to the upcoming battle. And while you were exploring a new area, the music would be more intrepid and muted, with little accents when you were near special items, maybe. And the boss areas would just have huge, stately, sinister sounding organ pieces.
Actually, I have a vision for a score for a DMC-styled game that is a juxtaposition of metal and opera. I think it could be really cool and catchy and super-intense and dynamic and climactic. Both forms can be pretty powerful, and the combination could also be pretty awesome, if done well. I actually started to write one a while ago, and then abandoned it after a couple minutes of work. Story of my life.
@Jargon My sister always used to play them on the piano. They bugged the shit out of me, because they were so repetitive.
Man, there are so many possibilities for merging music and gameplay in a cool way. The licensed tracks and pre-recorded, ambient, forgettable symphonic stuff that dominate today's games are such an unexciting, lazy choice (not for the composer, perhaps). Like with storytelling, most modern gamemakers are happy just to crib from films. And not even the good ones, with memorable scores.
But music can be even more integral. When I first heard about Rez, people were saying that you were actually creating the music as you played. Like, what game were they playing? Games like Rhythm Tengoku and that XBLA dual-stick shooter where each enemy plays a different tone after you shoot it are a nice start, but the combination can get even more flexible, even cooler, if the audience was given a bit of credit. Imagine a platformer where a simple beat played throughout the level, and killing enemies immediately produced notes, such that if you ran through a level perfectly, it would create a full song. If you took an alternate path, you could add alterations. And if you wanted to chop up the timing and hit things out of order, you could do that, as well. Your score could be based on whether you killed enemies in time to the beat, whether you were in key, etc.
Koji Kondo at least thinks about the integration of dynamic music into traditional gameplay. How many other mainstream composers do?
Wii Music may not be all things to all people, but it is actually a much, much more 'musical' game than Guitar Hero. Guitar Hero is like playing Simon Says while you listen to a recording of favorite song, but Wii Music allows for much more expression. You can make totally shitty renditions or really nice ones or weird, jazzy versions that barely resemble the original songs. You can have happy accidents that sound better than what you were actually trying to play, just like in real music. Band Brothers allows for a craaaazy amount of freedom, but the interface can be very demanding.
Cave Story next week, almost forgot about that. Nice.
TOTALLY forgot about Red Steel 2. I admit I'm not very excited about that one (not an FPS fan, remember) but I hope for those that ARE interested, Ubi pulls through with the game. I admit the style and presentation of the game is pretty sweet.