Content about controller


Nintendo today revealed more details about its new Wii U home console plus its touch-screen Wii U GamePad controller and announced that the Wii U will launch in the Americas on November 18th of this year. It also announced that during the launch window, more than 50 games will be available for Wii U, which will be offered in two different colors and configurations. The Basic Set will be offered in white at a suggested retail price of $299.99, while the Deluxe Set, which includes higher storage capacity, additional accessories and the new Nintendo Land video game, will be offered in black at a suggested retail price of $349.99.


Trying to invigorate a game genre that’s gone to its point of extent is a tricky move.  On the one hand, you create a worthwhile game experience that’s bound to attract some kind of audience.  On the other, it’s not always guaranteed to work.  With that, we have Zivix’s JAM Live Music Arcade, a game that takes an assortment of rock tunes and lets you mix them however you please, provided you’re ready to switch between various instrument tracks.  At first, it definitely shows signs of innovations, but it’s when you’re trying to go to the next level with the game that it really shows how flawed a rock experience it is.


Years ago, I reviewed Steel Battalion for the original Xbox, a game that came with a huge, table-sized 40+ button controller and two navigation sticks.  At that point, I said it was a little too over-complicated for its own good, but those who made the effort to invest time with it would be promptly rewarded.  Now, fast forward to last night, when I spent hours trying to navigate through Capcom’s latest game, Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor, for Xbox 360.  Same situation, too over-complicated for its own good, but no matter how much effort is put into it, the rewards never come.  So much for forward progress.


It’s a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon – classic PlayStation/PlayStation 2 games being remade with high-definition gloss-overs and some new motion features added for good measure.  But at least it’s a trend with merit, judging by what we’ve seen so far in collections featuring Sly Cooper, God of War and Ico/Shadow of the Colossus.  And now you can add one more classic to the fray, as Capcom has officially unveiled Okami HD, which will be coming to PlayStation Network this fall.


When it was first released last year, Batman: Arkham City did more than turn a few heads.  It defined exactly what a comic book-oriented game was supposed to be.  Featuring a larger environment than the original Batman: Arkham Asylum, breathtaking amounts of stuff to do within the prison-like city, awesome gameplay ranging from gliding to fighting enemies on the ground, and plenty of unique story twists, it set the standard for games that will follow in the years to come.  And with that, WB Games was probably wondering, “Why let Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC owners have all the fun?”


Nintendo is definitely looking to grab some attention this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo with its Wii U, and it got a head start earlier today with its Nintendo Direct online presentation.  In 30 minutes time, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata managed to talk about some of the system’s technical features, and while he didn’t really confirm too many games, some are bound to be of interest to fans of the company.


Dylan Cuthbert and his team over at Q Games aren’t known for making routine downloadable game experiences.  Each one they’ve produced stands out in their own right, like the twin-stick shooting fun of PixelJunk Shooter 1 and 2, the sheer addiction of PixelJunk Monsters, or the crazy old-school-ness (that is a word) of PixelJunk Sidescroller.  But even with such an offbeat resume, there’s no way you could see something like PixelJunk 4am coming.  It’s as funky a game experience as you’re likely to find this year, if not really about being a game itself.


I love Dragon’s Lair.  I’ve been an avid fan since I was a kid way back in 1983, and have collected a number of goods over the years, including a lunchbox (yes, really) and a poster autographed by Don Bluth and his team.  And I can play the original game backwards and forwards, and even name all the enemies that appear in it, from the Giddy Goons to the Lizard King.  So, yeah, when I was handed a code to check out Dragon’s Lair on Xbox Live Arcade, I was eager to give it a try and see if it held up as well as other versions of the game, like the ones for Wii (as part of the Dragon’s Lair Trilogy) and PlayStation 3.  But this time…something just doesn’t feel right.


When Nintendo presented its big showcase last year before the Electronic Entertainment Expo took place, it shocked the world with the announcement of the Wii U, a new game console that would take advantage of an innovative new touch screen controller.  However, when it came to hitting the floor and seeing the Wii U in action, most people think it came up a bit short, despite the interesting presentations.  This time around, Nintendo has a chance to really show attendees what their next-gen system is made of.  So how can they capitalize?  We’ve got a few ideas…


When Minecraft was announced last year for Xbox 360, a lot of folks figured it wasn’t a surprise, since Microsoft is all about lining up exclusive fare for owners of its console.  But, still, isn’t it more at home on a PC?  Could the experience possibly be ported over to Xbox Live Arcade and keep its awesome resourcing system intact?  Well, after a long time in development, the game arrived this week on the Marketplace and answered that question with a well-deserved “yes”.


When StarDrone came out for the PlayStation Network a few months back, it introduced an interesting concept that could be used with the PlayStation Move controller, one that had you directing a star-shaped drone across universal maps, collecting stars and other content while getting from point A to point B while you directed it on its journey.  Though hardly as addictive as other PSN games, it had enough moments to give the game a look.  With that, Beatshapers has brought the same experience to the PS Vita, but with touch-screen controls and a few exclusive levels for good measure.  The only question now is whether it’s enough to warrant another purchase.  Sorry, but not this time around.


Retro/Grade has quite the story behind it.  This downloadable game for PlayStation Network has been in the works for some time, introducing a new style of music/rhythm gameplay that ties in with a space shooter -- in a way.  We've seen it at a number of events, including last year's PAX Prime in Seattle, but upon seeing it at this year's PAX East 2012 event, we were treated with some good news.  The game is finally coming out later this year, as part of Sony's push to bring innovative new downloadable experiences to the PlayStation 3.


It seemed, at a glance, that Harmonix had done everything it possibly could with the Rock Band franchise.  There's been a trio of sequels that have introduced various instruments and new ways to play; thousands of songs released via DLC; and even band-specific games for Green Day and AC/DC, as well as a Lego spin-off. So what's left?  How about a new way to play?


With its first three House of the Dead games, Sega pretty much kept to form, putting two unlikely heroes together to save the world from a zombie apocalypse.  Sure, the third game – which arrived on PlayStation Network a while back – introduced some awesome shotguns, but the status quo of “shoot everything that moves” remained intact.  So would the same go for House of the Dead 4?  Well, sort of.


When The Witcher 2 came out for PC last year, gamers everywhere were entranced with its open-ended world, hours full of quests and decisions that would eventually shape the fate of Geralt of Rivia, the main hero (or anti-hero) of the game.  So when we heard that WB Games was interested in porting the game to Xbox 360, we were intrigued, while at the same time concerned, considering that most PC-to-console ports didn’t meet with that much success.  However, leave it to CD Projekt RED, the original game’s developer, to not only step up to the task, but exceed it, giving the Xbox 360 one of its better adventure games since Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur.  And that’s saying something.


A lot of people enjoy fighting games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, we’re sure, but very few use regular controllers when taking on others.  Every time we go out to a tournament or some MLG-sponsored event, we always see folks carrying around these special FightSticks, as well as FightPads that are much more comfortable when it comes to executing techniques and special moves.  (Try doing that with a typical analog controller.)  Mad Catz is a master in this specialty, and while its new Street Fighter x Tekken-branded S.D FightPad may not replace the superior FightStick model, it’s an affordable alternative that fighting fans will truly love.


Q-Games has always been a developer that’s been just as much about style as it has substance with its games.  Take a look at the PixelJunk Shooter games, or, for that matter, the gorgeous PixelJunk Eden or the entertaining (if slightly difficult) PixelJunk SideScroller.  However, its latest effort, PixelJunk 4AM, might be its most innovative to date.  The reason for that is, instead of giving you pre-set objectives, it instead lets you play around with a musical space, shaping it however you see fit using the PlayStation Move controller.


Steel Battalion was a rather quirky game for its time.  Unlike any other?  Sure.  But it also came with the most realistic vehicle play you could imagine, thanks to a deluxe sized controller that featured literally dozens of functions, ranging from various settings to an eject button, when things got too hot under the collar.  It was definitely an acquired taste, especially with its $200 price tag.  But Capcom is ready to bring this series back for a whole new audience, as it’s doing away with the controller in favor of Kinect-supported controls.  Will that be enough?


Introduce Virtua Tennis at any given gaming party and you’re likely to get the same sort of reaction.  At first it’ll be one of surprise, with a few people saying, “A tennis game?!”  Then they’ll pick it up and start playing it for a few minutes out of sheer curiosity.  The next thing you know, players will be going at it for hours on end, taking on each other in singles or doubles competition and refusing to give up the controller.  That’s the way it worked with the original Virtua Tennis when it launched on Dreamcast, and how it also worked with Virtua Tennis 4 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  Now there’s a version for on the go gaming you can have all to yourself.


Mad Catz knows how to make some pretty good third-party accessories for the market.  We’re big fans of their FightPads, which make the likes of Mortal Kombat and Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition quite accessible.  Those fighting sticks are pretty slick too.  But what about the games that require the pure touch of a pro?  Well, it seems Mad Catz has that department covered too, with its recently released MLG Pro Circuit Controller.  It’s definitely built with the pro in mind – however, that’s not only in skill set, but in pricing, which may be the one aspect that turns off prospective purchasers.


Razer is a manufacturer that’s never shied away from making quality technology, and it certainly knows how to work with game companies in partnerships, like LucasArts with Star Wars: The Old Republic and Electronic Arts with Battlefield 3 and Dragon Age: Origins.  But this latest deal with not only EA but also Bioware could pay off, as they’re working with the companies on exclusive goods featuring the Mass Effect 3 brand.  If you ever wanted to feel like you’re controlling Commander Shepard, these are must-haves.


Seeing as how I’ve got a stack of PS Vita games to review here, along with the unit itself, I decided to start on the simplest level possible – with a series I’ve become comfortable with.  Super Stardust HD was a brilliant addition to the PlayStation 3 line-up a few years ago, and the Portable version for PSP wasn’t half bad either.  So, since I’ve gotten used to Housemarque’s take on the traditional twin stick shooter, I decided to start my Vita voyage (heh) with Super Stardust Delta.  And wouldn’t you know it, it grew on me like a fungus.


Kinect Star Wars’ road to release has been a bumpy one.  The project was first hinted at a while back, featuring a wild Jedi battling segment and the promise of full interaction with George Lucas’ universe.  Since that time, we’ve seen bits and pieces of it, mainly a cool podracing segment that features full 3D support.  But what about the rest of the game?  Relax, Force users, you won’t have to wait long for it, as it now has an official release date – as well as a…dance-off?