Games | Weekly Game Releases | Blog | Week of April 29, 2008: It's time for another worldwide moral panic about the evil things video games are doing to our precious, precious children. That's right, it's Grand Theft Auto IV. Get out there and grand-thieve some autos, boys and girls! And be sure to equip the Thief Glove to turn Steal into Mug!

List compiled by reibeatall and Sarcasmorator | Imports by parish, courtesy of NCS | Posted April 29, 2008


Game of the week


Grand Theft Auto IV
Rockstar North | Xbox 360/ Sony Playstation 3 | Open World Crime Spree
Now that Halo 3 is tidily out of the way, the Next Big Thing is Grand Theft Auto IV -- a game also destined to be the most Controversy-Ridden Thing as well. As anyone who's ever heard of video game knows, San Andreas and its hot coffee scandal made for a giant clusterfuck that scuttled a great deal of the credibility that gaming had managed to accumulate over the past decade or so.

But why was it such a big deal? Why is it that a little sex in a video game is enough to piss off the entirety of America, whereas sex in movies and novels (at least when done right) can advance the story and enhance the characters? I chalk it up as a stigma of the medium; video games are still viewed as something for children, even though the average age of gamers is somewhere in their 30s. Hell, it'd be even higher if all the grannies who played the Wii and the DS were counted as gamers.

But it doesn't matter. Video games are here to stay, regardless of what The Man wants. But they're not going to replace any other form of entertainment. Movies are always going to have a special place in the hearts of millions; they're a passive audio-visual feast of the senses. Books are the ideal way for an author to tell a story, and they certainly aren't going anywhere soon, what with the force of a thousand years of movable type behind them. And music has a history that's even longer than the written word, so even if rock 'n' roll isn't actually here to stay, the power of song is definitely worth keeping in mind.

It's weird to think of video games in the same breath as novels and music, but they all exist for one purpose: Entertainment. That's what all of this is about. That's what life's about -- well, that and propagation of the species, but that frequently falls under the headings of both entertainment and work, depending. You eat, you sleep, you work, you find entertainment. We all just want to be happy, and that's where, ultimately, video games exist. They exist to make you happy.

Oh yeah, and Grand Theft Auto. It's really good. You should get it.


Also appearing in stores


Mario Kart Wii
Nintendo | Nintendo Wii | Kart Racing Gone Awry
Did you like a previous incarnation of Mario Kart? Good! Play that one instead. We like to think of the blue shell's depredations as a metaphor for the Mario Kart series' evolution as a whole. Whenever Mario Kart pulls ahead, it immediately finds itself slammed from behind and sent back to where it started from... if it's lucky. Honestly, no Mario Kart sequel has topped the original. But at least this one comes with a molded plastic wheel-a-ma-jig!


Iron Man
Sega | Everything | Licensed Crap
Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an, uh, iron can. This is sure to be a fantastic game. What could be better than a licensed game rushed to release in time to coincide with the blockbuster movie? According to the sales figures for Spider-Man 3, not much!


Downloadable Contentment: This Week in DLC


Wii VC: Double Dragon
Taito | NES via Wii | The Original Brawler
It wasn't until I read Wikipedia that I learned that Double Dragon took place in a post-apocalyptic New York City. That doesn't matter though, because even if it took place in a 1970s Cincinatti, this game would still be awesome. The arcade version set the standard for scrolling beat-'em-ups -- Andore wouldn't exist without Abobo, after all; the NES version grants your fighter new moves as he beats up the bad guys, which could be called an "RPG element." But it isn't, really. It's just another way of saying you get to smash your knee into some guy's face after you've clobbered a bunch of his friends, and a sad apology for the lack of true multiplayer.


Big in Japan: This Week's imports


Emblem of Gundam
Bandai Namco | DS | Strategy
I could be mistaken, but I think this game is created by some of the same people who developed the older Fire Emblem games. Either way, Bandai Namco has cojones the size of a small continent, publishing a strategy game on a Nintendo system while clearly biting off the name of Nintendo's own strategy franchise. You go, girls!


Link's Crossbow Training
Nintendo | Wii | Clumsy shootin'
Shigeru Miyamoto told me that he hopes to teach Japanese gamers to love first-person shooters with the Wii Zapper enclosed in this package. While I truly applaud his sentiment, I don't think a horribly-designed hunk of plastic is going to change anyone's minds about a genre of games they're innately predisposed to dislike. It'll probably go over as well as trying to convince people to love margaritas by shoving their hands into a blender.


Talk about how crappy these games are!