Games | Weekly Game Releases | Blog | Week of April 15, 2008: This week, we get a little ranty. But that's OK. You like ranty.

List compiled by reibeatall and Sarcasmorator | Imports by parish, courtesy of NCS | Posted April 15, 2008

Game of the week

Gran Turismo 5: Prologue
Sony| Sony Playstation 3 | Realistic Driving Sim
The latest edition in what is possibly the only "realistic" racing game series for which I have any respect, Gran Turismo 5: Prologue arrives this week in two flavors: Retail box and downloadable. Much like Warhawk many months ago, Sony's trying the digital distribution model here.

What's in it for you, the customer? Well, if you pick up the retail version, you'll just pop the disc into the system and play. You've got the case, you've got the instruction manual, and you've got the physical copy. But you're going to have to trudge to the store to purchase it.

If you want it digitally, you get: The game. You get to be able to just turn on your system and play the game without having to mess with any discs, so you don't have to worry about scratched discs. You also have the purchase saved to your account, so if you need to replace your system at some point you'll still be able to download it. You don't, however, get a price break, and you also can't sell it to a friend to a second-hand retailer.

Yes, that's right. Because of retail brick-and-mortar pressures, the price for both versions is exactly the same. Retail is incredibly afraid of the digital distribution model, because it cuts out the middleman -- which is to say, them. So retail is basically blackmailing Sony and other manufacturers into releasing the digital products at the same price as you'd pay for a retail copy, despite digital's lack of the expenses involved in manufacturing, warehousing, shipping and inventorying physical objects. Otherwise, the retailers threaten, they'll pull product space from the shelves.

As a consumer, I find this frightening. I don't want retail companies, who are understandably out for themselves, to control how I buy my games. If a viable alternative like digital distribution is available, and it has the potential to be cheaper -- no disc pressing fees, no charge on cases and instruction manuals -- then I sure as hell want that alternative. And at a fair price.

But where will this end? The quick answer: When a company decides to give retail the middle finger. What Sony needs to realize is that without their involvement, retail loses a huge chunk of profit -- especially now that PS3 is finally gaining traction. But this won't happen any time soon, because Sony likes money, and any potential sales lost through retail makes them cry. Who cares about taking a stand against unfair business practices when there's money to be made?

Also appearing in stores

Capcom via the now defunct Clover | Nintendo Wii | Magical Wolf Watercolor
I know I'm going to take serious grief for placing Gran Turismo 5 as game of the week instead of Okami, but bear with me for a moment. I really wanted to get into Okami. The art was absolutely fantastic, and the story was something that intrigued me, but I simply couldn't stay involved in this game. I didn't really care what that little cricket on my back had to say, I didn't really care about the people in the village had to say, I just wanted to run around this magnificent looking world. But I couldn't get into the gameplay. Everybody said it was like Zelda, but if I wanted to play Zelda, guess what? I'd play Zelda.

But hey, it's like Zelda. And you use the Wii Remote to paint on screen. And it's been refitted for widescreen TVs. So maybe these little touches will entice some people who passed on this the first time around.

Rondo of Swords
Atlus USA | Nintendo DS | SRPG
Yet another title in Atlus's impressive April lineup -- impressive mainly because they're releasing four titles in one month -- and this one handled by our very own Nich, Localization Editor Supreme. Rondo is an SRPG with a twist: You basically attack by dashing through enemies along a path that you draw out rather than by standing next to your target and selecting "Attack." It's an interesting concept that could do a lot to freshen up a stale genre.

Downloadable Contentment: This Week in DLC

Wii VC: Fantasy Zone
Sega | Master System via Wii | Shooter
Now that the VC has begun including Master System games, just think of all the fun we'll have! Take Fantasy Zone, a pastel-colored shooter where you fly an egg-shaped ship called Opa Opa and battle lots of big bad bosses, like a block of wood. You can upgrade the ship with cash you pick up. This was meant to be a snarky post, but actually it kind of makes me want to play the game. Hrm.

Wii VC: Mega Turrican
Factor 5| Genesis via Wii | Shooter
Remember Super Turrican from a few weeks ago? This is a lot like that, except it's the version that game out for the Genesis. In SAT terms, it is to Super Turrican as Ghouls 'N Ghosts is to Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts. The bottom line is that it's still Turrican, so keep that in mind... whatever it means to you.

XBLA: Rocky and Bullwinkle
Microsoft | Xbox 360 | Microgames
What better way to update Moose And Sqvirrel for today's jaded, Internet-damaged gamer than with a collection of 100 or so microgames, about two dozen of which are compatible with the Xbox Live Vision Camera? I'm feeling pretty excited about this. I promise that's not at all facetious!

XBLA: Battlezone
Atari| Xbox 360 | Tank shooter
Atari has polished up its venerable tank shooter for the Xbox Live Arcade, adding new graphical effects and online play to the mix. It's a cheap one at only 400 Microsoft Points, but this is an oldie that's not much of a goldie unless you're really fond of slow-moving tanks on low-detail battlefields. I won't buy it unless they give you an Achievement for driving into the volcano.

Big in Japan: This Week's imports

Puzzle Mate trilogy
Compile Heart | DS | Puzzles, mate
A set of three games from Compile Heart -- you know, the last desperate remnants of legendary shoot-em-up creator Compile -- that are bound to be lost amidst a blazillion other games of its ilk on DS. The cover art looks to be painted by the guy who does Weekly Famitsu's cover, which pisses me off. I'm not a very good Japan-game-obsessed whitey, I guess, 'cause I can't stand that dude's art style. Anyway, this image is taken from the series' graffiti puzzle entry.

Bokura wa Kasekihorida
Nintendo | DS | Digging in the dirt
I think this game is the sequel to Spectrobes. It sounds like it: you dig up fossils in order to bring extinct species back to life... then force them to do battle. Either way, this is the kind of game that would have been some sort of homily about the arrogance of mankind playing in God's domain if it had come out in the post-Jurassic Park world. But it's arriving in the post-Pokémon world, so I assume the lesson is going to be that forcing lovable monsters to cockfight to the death is totally sweet.

Talk about how crappy these games are!