Monday, 8 August 2011

Forthcoming games: nostalgia edition

I’m fussier buying games than books, and check the new releases every so often to try and see what’s coming down the track that might be of interest. Along with Skyrim, there are three games with some potential coming out in the nearish future.

Perhaps the least expected of these is Monkey Island: Special Edition. For people unfamiliar with Thundercats and mobile phones the size of a brick, let me explain. The Monkey Island series was a set of adventure games that first came out decades ago and they were tremendously popular. Monkey Island was/is an old-fashioned point and click adventure game starring Guybrush Threepwood, a would-be pirate. Unusually, the game isn’t packed with violence or serious dramatic tension. It’s essentially a comedy, a small genre in the world of gaming (The Bard’s Tale is the only other out-and-out comedy I think I’ve played).

The new game is very much an updated version of the first two games, so loyal to the original that you can press a button to seamlessly shift from the modern graphics to the old ones at any point. The music has been redone (in ye olden days ‘music’ was a series of electronic beeps) and the original cast rehired. I can’t remember how long the games were (I think I played one of them, loooong ago) but given the starting price is under £15 it’d have to work hard not to be value for money in terms of playing time. If you want to have a closer look at what it’ll be like the game’s website ( should make it clear whether you’ll be into it or not.

Money Island: Special Edition is out on the 9th of September, for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Sticking with the nostalgia theme, there’s another Tomb Raider out. Unhelpfully, it’s just been entitled Tomb Raider. This is due for release in the Autumn of 2012, but there’s some info out already.

Sadly, Keeley Hawes (whose voice is perfect for the role) no longer plays Lara Croft, though the new actress’ name has yet to be revealed. Graphically, the game looks to be enormously superior to Underworld, (also for the present generation of consoles), and the premise is more original than is usually the case.

Lara is on a ship that gets struck by a bloody big storm, and ends up sinking. She gets washed ashore, with multiple wounds, and has to try and get off the island. Makes a nice change from breaking into tombs and nicking stuff.

I’ve played probably half of the Tomb Raider games, most recently Anniversary (for the PS2) and Underworld (for the PS3). I do wonder whether the series is beginning to run its course. I enjoyed Anniversary a lot, but Underworld less so. The Uncharted series is, in my opinion, better in most regards (Drake’s a more engaging character, the gun battles are more enjoyable etc etc). Anyway, we’ll have to wait and see whether the new game can reinvigorate the old girl.

Last in this little preview of forthcoming games is Dark Souls, from the lunatics who made Demon's Souls. I was very tempted to buy Demons Souls, which is (by common account) excellent, thrilling and bloody difficult. It’s still available for those who don’t mind a serious challenge (no, really, it’s reportedly incredibly hard but still very fun) at a knock-down price.

Dark Souls, out on the 7th of October, also comes out in a limited edition form (which, weirdly, is under £40) for the PS3 and Xbox 360, which includes an artbook, Making Of DVD, official sound track CD and a (downloadable) guide to the game.

Dark Souls is not a direct sequel to Demon's Souls, although much of the same elements that made its predecessor such a hit will feature. The widely praised online features have been enhanced and there looks to be a large number of massive boss fights (as well as all the underlings). In terms of graphics and sound, the game looks solid, and given its predecessor’s high regard I’d be surprised if it didn’t sell very well.

So, very much a nostalgic feel to these games, with two (very) old favourites and a sequel. I hope Monkey Island does well. Maybe, just maybe, Phantasy Star IV might get a proper remake, if it does. A man can dream.


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