This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.


Looking for a sign that the video gaming industry is bankrupt of ideas? Look no further than last year’s counterparts to this week’s article and last week’s article. See anything familiar? In terms of the top triple-A titles, they’re a little too similar for comfort. Of course, one has to wonder why anyone would be complaining about two straight weeks of awesome gaming goodness though? I guess I’m just weird that way.

Remember. Release dates are quite literally made at the whims of the publisher.  The following are subject to change without any warning.

 

Releases To Watch For This Week

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Xbox 360, PS3)

Tuesday November 16, 2010
Last year’s Assassin’s Creed 2’s raison d’être is pretty simple. Assassin’s Creed 1 was a great idea wrapped in a blanket of suck. Assassin’s Creed 2 simply takes that blanket off so that the idea can truly shine, making fans of all of us. So what’s Brotherhood’s raison d’être? One word. Multiplayer. From the looks of the various trailers, multiplayer consist of you, or possibly you and a small group of other assassins, hunting down another assassin, or a group of assassins. The trouble is that someone, or some group, out there has their eye on you. It’s unique in that the environment plays a big role. The setting is almost always crowded with people. The best way to survive is to blend in with the crowd or act like the NPCs. While you’re avoiding getting killed, you have to hunt down your target, which usually exposes you to your hunter.

Thankfully, Brotherhood isn’t just a multiplayer game. The campaign mode continues Ezio Auditore’s, of Assassin’s Creed 2 fame, story over in Rome. It starts with Ezio losing everything he built up in Assassin’s Creed 2. Now he must become the leader of the assassins to topple the reigning power oppressing Rome. He has to recruit new assassins to his secret order. You’ll have to train them by sending them to do assassin contracts and whatnot, but in return, they gain experience. When Ezio’s in trouble or needs a little help with his stuff, he’ll have the option to call on his recruits to help him out. Just try not to get them killed.

When thinking about the whole “sequalization to death” problem that games like this tend to represent to me, what with only one year separating this and AC2, I try to console myself by the fact that Assassin’s creed is a very unique game, and Brotherhood does add something different to not only the series but to video games in general. Not to mention that I’m rather intrigued by the whole dog and cat and mouse aspect of the multiplayer.

 

Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)

Sunday November 21, 2010

If a series has been dormant but its spin offs keep popping up somewhere in some shape or form, is that series really dormant? The last time we saw a Donkey Kong 2D platformer was back in the Super NES era, so I guess that means the “Returns” moniker is more apt than I suspected. You play as Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong on their quest to reclaim their banana loot from the evil Tikis that’s slowly hypnotizing every animal on the island to do their evil bidding. Lame stories aside, the real star of the Donkey Kong Country games is the insane, and usually quite difficult, 2D platforming. Unlike before though, you have 2 hearts, which basically lets you take two hits before you lose a life and go back to the last checkpoint. You also have Diddy Kong to help you out. This time around, he’s not just a smaller version of Donkey Kong. With him riding on your back, he adds 2 additional hearts and has a jetpack to help you hover for a couple of seconds.

Diddy doesn’t have to ride on Donkey Kong’s back all the time though. Have a friend play as him. In addition to the jet pack, Diddy can jump much higher than Donkey Kong, and if Donkey Kong dies, Diddy can continue on. This being the modern times, Diddy can jump onto Donkey Kong’s back at anytime from anywhere. Obviously, Diddy Kong is meant to be played by a less experienced player while the veteran player plays as Donkey Kong who doesn’t have a jet pack or a higher jump.

You know Donkey Kong Returns is both a modern game and a Nintendo game by the existence of the Super Guide feature. This feature is identical to the Super Mario Galaxy 2 version. The “Checkpoint Pig” shows up after you die enough time in the same level and offers you to sit back and let a white, AI controlled Donkey Kong finish the level. Unfortunately for you, all the collectibles he collects will not count. Fortunately for you, you can retake control at any time so you can use it just to pass that one stupid section that’s been giving you trouble.

I’m always pleasantly surprise to find that a simple 2D platformer can still be thoroughly fun even in the age of 3D open world games, and from the looks of the trailers, Donkey Kong Country looks very promising indeed.

 

Sonic Colors (Wii, DS)

Tuesday November 16, 2010

Poor Sonic. This much beloved series is still around more because of sheer fanaticism from the fan base and not for any tangible reasons like a recent, decent game. Basically, 3D has not been all that kind to Sonic, which is why Sonic Colors might actually turn out to be good. Sonic Colors take the series back to the 2D plane and, barring any Werehog shenanigans, stays that way until the credits roll. All the basics are there. Rings, gems, checkpoints, loops, Robotn…err Eggman, colorful little Wisps that grants new abilities. Wait that’s new. So the story goes that Dr. Eggman, I hate that name, just created an orbital amusement park, which imprisons these wisps. Sonic decides to go up there and rescue these Wisps, and in return they give Sonic powers like being able to dig through dirt or turn into a saw blade to climb up walls. All signs for this new Sonic game seems to be good, and with Sonic playing to his strengths, maybe we’ll finally have a RECENT Sonic Game that’s worth talking about.

 

Honorable Mention

999: 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (DS)

Tuesday November 16, 2010

This one’s a bit of an odd one. 999 is a little bit like Saw in that you have a group of people trapped in one place, a sinking ship in this case, sans gruesome deathtraps. It’s really also 2 games in one. It’s a text adventure wherein Junpei, that’s you, have to figure out why him and along with 8 other people are imprisoned there. Together they must escape through 9 different doors to get out, hopefully, and that’s where the second game steps in. It’s a classic, classic Point and Click Adventure. By that I mean you don’t have an onscreen avatar that you have to move around. Instead you move around the environment one First Person screen at a time. Each door has a lock, and somewhere in the room is the clue to unlock it. Aksys, the publisher, has a website with a Flash demo of the game, and if you’re any kind of a fan of old school point and click adventure games, it’s worth checking out.

 

 

Create (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii)

Tuesday November 16, 2010, (PS3 version comes out on Thursday November 18, 2010)
Take the one goal, multiple solution style of Scribblenauts and combine it with LittleBigPlanet style of customization, and you’d get an idea of just what the hell Create is about. The main crux of the game is about completing objectives in a given 2D level by placing objects around it. For example, one early level is all about making sure an RC car goes through a hoop in midair before going through the finish line. The simple solution would be to simply put a ramp by the loop so the RC car will jump up to it. The more interesting ways involve balloons and fans creating a draft through the loop so the car will go through it before the balloons are popped by a couple of hanging spikes on the other side of the hoop. The trailer I got that from had an even more elaborate way to do it, and it netted points for doing these extra things. In addition to customizing the foreground, the backgrounds are also very customizable and can be shared online with others (Unfortunately the Wii version does not have any online functionalities). LittleBigPlanet did wonders in getting people’s creativity flowing through their gaming. Let’s see if Create can do something similar.

 

EA Sports Active 2 (Xbox 360 Kinect, PS3, Wii)

Tuesday November 16, 2010, (PS3 version comes out on Thursday November 18, 2010)
The first EA Sports Active took advantage of the Wii Remote as a way to keep you a little bit honest when it comes to exercise games. In this sequel – and yes, I can’t believe an exercise game is actually getting a sequel – it’s taking advantage of the Kinect’s body tracking capabilities to really keep you honest. You can tell that this iteration is geared towards the Kinect so much that the PS3 and Wii versions come with additional special monitors for each arm and one leg (The Wii version uses one Wii Remote in place of one of the sensors) to monitor your movements. These sensors also monitor your heart rate, which is displayed on screen as you exercise and is also the reason the Xbox 360 version comes with one despite the Kinect requirement. EA Sports Active 2 comes with over 70 exercises instead of the 35 in the first one, and like before, it comes with a series of exercise regiments that last multiple weeks. Also, the online connectivity features allow you to upload your stats online and can be viewed later on a browser. There you can track your progress and issue challenges to your friends who also uses the game. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, just about everyone could use a little exercise routine in their life soon.

 

Coming This Week

Tuesday November 16, 2010

Apache: Air Assault (Xbox 360, PS3)

(Note: PS3 version comes out on Thursday November 18, 2010)
Helicopters are cool. Now here’s your chance to get behind one. With both Arcade Mode and Realistic Mode available, you can take Apache: Air Assault in either arcadey direction or the simulation direction depending on your taste in flight sims. There’s also a co-op mode where the second player plays as the co-pilot and does… whatever it is a co-pilot does and online multiplayer matches as well. Just try not to crash.

Barbie: Groom and Glam Pups (Wii, DS)

Not even puppies are safe from the dress up genre. This one has you dressing up a puppy of your choice, train it, and force it to parade down runways. You’d think PETA would have something to say about this blatant abuse of virtual animals.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS)

(Note: PS3 version comes out on Thursday November 18, 2010)
The second to the last Harry Potter movie is nearly upon us, and that means we’re about to get inundated by its licensed game on just about every console. What’s funny is more than the other Harry Potter games, this one might actually appeal to the Gears of War crowd. It’s basically a Third Person, cover-based Shooter with wands spouting spells instead of machine guns and whatnot. There’s even grenades! Or potions. Whatever. If you’ve been dying to play Gears of War with a Harry Potter skin on it, here’s your chance.

iCarly 2: iJoin the Click! (Wii, DS)

Games based off of teen TV comedies. Sigh. Why? Why do we want to help Carly and her gang make her webisode like the most awesome webisode on the internet? Couldn’t they just make a comic book or something?

Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS)

(Note: PS3 version comes out on Thursday November 18, 2010)

Take Marvel’s Ultimate Alliance games. Now change the art style so your mom will actually let your baby brother play it without any reservations about grown up violence, and you get Marvel Super Hero Squad. Play as the various iconic characters from the Marvel Universe and team up with a friend as you beat up villains and their cohorts. Fun.

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (Xbo 360, PS3, Wii)

Itching to catch street racers in their own game? Need For Speed has always been playing with the idea of the cops vs. street racers in their games, and now you can play as the cop the entirety of the single player mode. The feature they’re touting the most in addition to this is the Autolog, which could be construed as the next step to online leaderboards. If you’re still high for this series, Hot Pursuit should be on your to-do list.

EA Sports Active NFL Training Camp (Wii)

Do you desperately want to join an NFL football league? Well get your fat ass out of that chair and start exercising your ass off because they only take the best. Or you could buy this little game and pretend you’re right there with them doing all the training and conditioning used on NFL athletes. In case you’re wondering, yes. This is basically EA Sports Active 2 with an NFL skin, but it’s all for a good cause! Your high scores will contribute to the NFL team of your choosing on EA’s website, so show those other teams from other cities which team has the most devoted fan who will literally get up and exercise for their own team!

Gummy Bears Minigolf (Wii)

Unfortunately, this is not the licensed minigolf game of the Disney cartoon that ran in the early 90’s. It’s minigolf as played by a bunch of Gummy Bears. On the bright side, it does support the Wii Motion Plus for added accuracy. Sweet!

Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2011 (Wii)

Remember how the hunting genre has evolved into having stories in their games? Well, now you can add exercise games to that list. Now there’s a story based mission mode where you and Jillian must take down an evil food and drug company by… exercising I guess. Thank you Jillian Michaels. That’s exactly what I’ve always wanted out of my exercise games. Now I can die a happy man!

Naruto Shippuden: Dragon Blade Chronicles (Wii)

What is this now? The 8th time I’ve written about a Naruto game? But for once Naruto isn’t a fighting game. It’s a third person brawler/adventure game where you get to play as Naruto or Sasuke in an original storyline. It does have a versus mode, but given how you only have to option to play as Naruto or Sasuke, it’s probably not even worth hyping up.

Pac-Man Party (Wii)

Your iconic video game character is celebrating its 30th birthday. What do you do? That’s right! You make a Mario Party clone starring your character, some of his well-known cohorts, plus a whole bunch of made up characters. It’s not a complete loss though. It does come with a complete port of the original game that made this little yellow, gluttonous disc the icon that he is today.

Dragon’s Lair (DS)

AKA Quicktime Events! The Video Game. Surely you remember the classic arcade game that was nothing but pushing a direction or the attack button at just the right time to make sure Dirk, that’s you, doesn’t die some gruesome death. Unless of course you’re under 30 years old, which I gather many of you are. If that’s the case this game should be new to you. Not so much for the rest of us.

Naruto Shippuden: Naruto vs. Sasuke (DS)

They just can’t leave it at one game a week couldn’t they? As the name implies, this one retells the story arc of Naruto vs. Sasuke from the Naruto Shippuden show. Like most of the DS Naruto games, it’s a 2D platformer with ninja shenanigans thrown in for good measure. If it helps, you can switch characters at just about anytime. Happy Naruto!

Wizards of Waverly Place: Spellbound (DS)

Those Disney guys will license anything won’t they. Here’s yet another Disney show that has been video game-fied. Again. If they can, Disney will probably turn their rides into movies. Wait a minute.

 

Thursday November 18, 2010

Zumba Fitness (Xbox 360 Kinect, PS3, Wii)

Ever heard of Zumba Fitness? Neither have I. Apparently, it’s a fitness routine that uses dance moves with Latin and world music to burn away the fat. The Xbox 360 version obviously uses the Kinect to track your movement, and the Wii version will probably use the Wii Remote to track at least your hand movement. The PS3 version is the puzzling one. It supports the Move but is not required, which sounds a little bit like a step back for these kinds of games.

Game Party: In Motion (Xbox 360 Kinect)

You remember what happened after the success of Wii Sports right? Well, we’re seeing history repeating itself here. Game Party is a mini-game compilation with 16 games to choose from like Rootbeer Tapper, Table Hockey, and Darts. You can tell this whole mini-game compilation movement is still in its early phase given how this one lacks any kind of a silly theme like wacky sports or Christmas.

 

LTTP

 

What a week! Assassins. Gorrillas. Hedgehogs. Doors. It’s quite a week for gaming even if you’re not into killing people for money and revenge. I have my eye on opening doors. Let me guess. You are into killing people for money and revenge. If I give you $20, will you not kill me in my sleep?

 

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