Links from the Mothership

A lot of good stuff this past week:

We’ll start off with my review of Total War: Shogun 2, a game to which I remain utterly addicted. I also take a look at the underwhelming PC strategy game Dungeons.

A triple dose of Brandon as he reviews Pokemon White, Okamiden, and de Blob 2 all on the DS.

Our esteemed colleague Tom Chick offers up his thoughts on THQ’s Homefront.

Danielle gets nostalgic with her review of the new Xbox 360 Dreamcast Collection.

Mike’s latest Cracked LCD takes a look at a new deckbuilding game called Nightfall.

James Fudge tells you to stay far away from Hyperdimension Neptunia on the PS3.

Rob Zacny tackles the grognard of grognard wargames: Gary Grigsby’s War in the East.

Finally we have several pieces left over from PAX East including a preview of Duke Nukem Forever and Part I of our look at the best indie games from the show floor.

3DS Shopstravaganza

No High Scores

The 3DS will soon be upon us and like every console launch, between the hardware, game and accessories, your wallet is going to take quite a beating. How much of a beating depends on how willing you are to travel around town for the best deals. Lucky for you we’ve got all of the current 3DS deals in one handy location to maximize your savings and minimize your driving.

Hardware
From what I can tell, the hardware isn’t completely sold out at retail yet, but I have no idea how many units Nintendo is planning on shipping to North America. Unlike past console launches where Amazon and GameStop were sold out of preorders months before the console launched, a quick perusal of the various online merchants shows 3DS’s still available for preorder. What this means for launch day is anyone’s guess. I would imagine the thing will sell out, either due to genuine interest or due to smaller set of initial shipments to goose interest up like only a sold out console can do. By now there are plenty of reviews of the hardware out there so it shouldn’t be too hard to come to a buying decision by Sunday, but if you’re at all on the fence, I’d suggest plunking down whatever the minimum is to preorder it and then decide on Sunday. Unlike the pricing wars that appear to be going on in the UK, here in the States, the price of the console is $249.99 everywhere I’ve seen it available for preorder. That being said, preorder wherever it’s convenient for you, or from wherever has the best deals on the games.

Games
The games are where the real savings can come in, especially considering there are 18 games you can potentially spend your money on. Here’s a list of the current deals on 3DS games at launch.

Best Buy – Get a $10 gift card with the purchase of any two 3DS games. Games range from $29.99 to $39.99.

Target – If you preorder the system at Target you’ll get a $5 gift card when you pick it up. I’m hoping some software deals come out between now and Sunday because as it stands, this is seriously lame.

Kmart – Buy a 3DS and instantly save $25 on a 3DS game. So far, this appears to be the best deal of the bunch. For starters, you only have to buy one game, which you’re probably going to do any way and rather than get the cash back in store credit, it just comes right off of the top.

Toys R US – Buy one 3DS game, get the next for half off. This deal comes in at a close second as again, the savings is off of the purchase price and not in the form of a gift card.

Amazon – Amazon has a deal where if you preorder a 3DS launch game, you get a ten dollar credit towards another 3DS launch game. Not a bad deal but the problem is that you don’t get the credit until the first game ships. Still, if brick and mortar isn’t convenient and you can satisfy yourself with just one game at launch, this isn’t a bad way to go. At least the games are all pricey enough to qualify for free shipping. That’s gotta count for something right? Here’s a link to the launch games page, so you can see everything in one fell swoop. Amazon also has a deal where if you buy a 3DS you’ll get a $25 credit towards one of the 3DS launch games, similar to the Kmart deal, however as with the $10 credit mentioned above, the credit won’t show up until a few days after your 3DS ships. Again, good if you can wait. I’m not sure how the two deals stack together. Here’s a link to the offer page for reference.

Trade In Offers
Traditionally, trading in your current generation hardware towards the price of the next thing is a nice way to save some money. The 3DS does offer backwards compatibility with DS titles, however due to the difference in screen sizes and resolution, some early reviews of the hardware aren’t painting this backwards compatibility in the best light. Destructoid’s Nick Chester has a good article up about it, including pictures, so I’d caution trading in your DS just yet. Now, this does seem like a subjective thing and you may find that your DS games look great for you, but this is not the first time I’ve read about DS games not looking their best on the system. Only you know how much this is going to bug you, and how much you’re going to play DS games on the 3DS once the system launches. Me, I’m keeping my DSi, partially for my kids, but mostly in case DS games look bad, and I would never suggest you do something I’m unwilling to do myself, so there you go.

If you decide to trade in your DS towards a 3DS, here’s a breakdown of what you’ll get at the various retailers:

Amazon: $50 for a DS Lite, $75 for a DSi, $100 for a DSi XL. Amazon does not give you credit immediately as you have to send the unit in and then wait until they deposit a credit into your Amazon account so if you’re looking for an immediate reduction in price this won’t work. On the plus side, the process is pretty easy and it doesn’t cost you more than time spent packing the thing up and a trip to a UPS drop off.

GameStop – $50 for a DS Lite, $75 for a DSi, $100 for a DSi XL. GameStop isn’t doing any deals on hardware or software other than giving you stupid ass PowerUp points that aren’t good for anything more than a couple of packs of batteries (seriously). If you decide to go the GameStop route for your preorder, I’d suggest buying your games somewhere else to take advantage of the savings.

Target – On the same day that the 3DS launches, Target will expand its trade in program to accept DS’s but the trade in values are downright insulting. $20 for a DS, $30 for a DS Lite, $45 for a DSi and $60 for a DSi XL. The only reason I’d do this is if you’re looking to trade in a DS Phat but even then, for $20 I’d just keep it.

Toys R Us – TRU is offering “up to” $75 based on the model and the condition of the unit. Honestly, that’s too vague for me but your comfort level may vary.

That’s the current state of 3DS deals. I’ll keep my eye on things between now and Sunday and if anything changes, I’ll update this page. Happy shopping!

HD Resident Evil 4, Code: Veronica coming to PSN, XBLA

No High Scores
Look, I know this has been all over the Internet for the past day or two, but indulge me. I want to report on this too.

Capcom has announced that a two-fer triple-dip of Resident Evil 4 coupled with Code: Veronica is coming to both HD consoles’ download services later this year in celebration of the franchise’s 15th anniversary. Upgraded (read: upscaled) 720p graphics and full trophy/achievment support are on board. There is no mention of any additonal extras or new content, but if Move support isn’t included for 4 at least then it’s a missed opportunity.

You- down in front. Did I just hear you think “meh, cash-in re-release”? Listen buddy, Resident Evil 4 is one of the best games ever made. If you took Brandon’s Nintendogs hostage and said “pick a favorite console game or the Corgi goes to the Nintendpound”, Resident Evil 4 would be top of mind. I actually didn’t play the game until the Wii edition came out so we were already well into the HD generation, and I still think it tops most of the AAA efforts since then. It’s truly epic, grand, creepy, ridiculous, surreal, sublime, and packed full of non-DLC content. I’m totally OK with a straight re-release of it with HD support, if only because it’s playable on current consoles. And having just traded the Wii in last week, my only regret was the loss of RE4. Besides, Metacritic has deemed it great with its mighty 96 aggregate score. And Metacritic is the very Voice of God.

Code: Veronica is the icing on the cake. I played it only once back in the halcyon days of vodka drinking and Dreamcast gaming. I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Now, if we could just get the first three retooled and updated. 15 years? Wow. I’ll never the first time I played an import copy of Biohazard and had no idea what it was. When you find that first zombie in the hallway, I thought “holy $#!t, this is like some kind of George Romero game!” And look where that has gotten us now.

WonderBrit Powers Activate In New Hunted Trailer

Bethesda’s upcoming co-op fantasy yarn Hunted: The Demon’s Forge has a big, bald Brit and a lithe, lovely, elvish Brit simultaneously shooting demons with arrows and hitting them until they explode. It’s all very fantasy heavy and super serious until you get to the part where the bald guy can apparently levitate enemies simply by yelling very, very loudly. The vibe is a little Wonder Twinsy, but in my opinion, co-op elevates everything so I’m willing to give this one a try.

3DS Freebies Revealed

No High Scores

As we wind up for Sunday’s 3DS launch, expect to see a bunch more 3DS stuff on Ye Olde Blogge to get you prepared for the future of portable eye strain. Today we point you to an excellent column at Wired where Chris Kohler details all of the free, built-in games and applications that ship with the 3DS. As with all new Nintendo hardware, these games look to be tech demos more than anything else, but you can still shoot a VR dragon that’s coming out of your coffee table and that’s more than I can say with the free apps that came on my phone. Take that HTC!

Wired’s Rating Nintendo 3DS’ Baked-In Freebies

Duke Nukem Forever Delayed

Of course it is.

New Patapon 3 Trailer

Time to get your rhythm on and meet the “Uberhero” with the new trailer. This one is set to drop April 12th.

KEY FEATURES

* BIGGEST RHYTHMIC-BASED WAR EXPERIENCE ON THE PSP – Glimpse into the deep multiplayer campaigns that deliver an epic feel with the addition of the new Hero Patapon!
* SUPER HERO SPECIAL ATTACKS – Customize your Super Hero Patapon to your specifications and deliver special attacks with the new Superhero character then lead your rhythmic army with a wide selection of soldier types.
* ONLINE CO-OP – Online Co-op and competitive gameplay with up to 8 players.
* CHAT SYSTEM – Chat with other Super Hero Patapons with an all new Pata-Text chat system.
* RHYTHM AND ACTION COLLIDE – Master all 8 drum rhythms and match them to your friends to lead your squad into victory over enemies and online opponents.
* LEVELING-UP – Collect elements to level-up your Super Hero Patapon or evolve into other Patapon forms.
* MISSION VARIETY – Take part in Co-Op Quests or competitive ‘Capture the Flag’ multiplayer game modes.
* UNIQUE ART STYLE – French graphic artist Rolito, noted for his abstract art style seen in collectible toys, animation, and websites, lends his skills to create a variety of unique characters and environments, bringing the Patapon world to life.

For more info check out the Patapon website: http://www.patapon-game.com/

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls Coming to PSN This Spring

Sorry Xbox/PC people, this one looks to be a PSN exclusive, according to the press release sent over from XSEED today.

I have to come clean — I was never a Wizardry guy. Of course I knew of the game but was always a Bard’s Tale fellow. Apparently, and I wasn’t aware of this, but Wizardry is still a rather big deal in Japan. This upcoming PSN release in North America is actually a re-release of a game that was available in Japan called Wizardry: Torawareshi Tamashii no Meiky? (Dungeon of Imprisoned Souls).

XSEED is bringing that game (renamed obviously), under the development of ACQUIRE, to North American gamers via the PS Network.

“Having the opportunity to work with ACQUIRE to bring over Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is truly an exciting one for us,” said Jun Iwasaki, President of XSEED Games. “We’ve long admired the Wizardry series as a pioneer of the RPG genre, so with our upcoming release players will be able to experience a defining moment in gaming history.”

Question is, do North American gamers still have a fondness for the Wizardry style of gameplay?

More from the PR:

Following in the tradition of the Wizardry series is the very first version available for today’s Next-Gen gamers; Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls features a simple game system complementing deep and involving (its) dungeon designs. Hardcore RPG fans will find a extensive and grueling 1st-person 3D grid-based dungeon crawl experience rendered in high-definition with hand-drawn characters and sprites by commercial artist Yuki Hayabusa. Players will develop a party of up to six members culled from a rich mix of five races and eight classes, and prepare to encounter over 120 different monsters.

Kratos Mortal Kombat Trailer

Remember when SoulCalibur 2 came out and the GameCube version got Link and the PS2 version got that dude from Tekken and the Xbox version got some lame ass character that Todd McFarlane pulled out of his trash bin? Good times. With the upcoming release of Mortal Kombat, the PS3 version gets Kratos while the 360 version gets…nothing. Kratos fits in perfectly with the Mortal Kombat oeuvre, so this fits and the lack of a crappy character shoehorned into the 360 version is better than whatever pile of creative snot Todd McFarlane has rolling around his brain.

Battle Slots!

I am a sucker for these puzzle-RPG mashup games and Battle Slots fits that genre perfectly. You battle! With slots! Plus, I like it because once, when I was in Atlantic City, I fought off an orc invasion with a Dolphin Treasure, multiline slot machine. Thragnar the Magnificent was all like “ARRGGHHH!!” and was all like, five wild suns bitch! Cha-ching!

Battle Slots is set to release this year although no release date is given.