By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to The Collector’s Edition, where I grumble and muse about topics relating to the ever shrinking world of retail video games. First off thank you very much for the positive response to The Collector’s Edition. Feedback is always appreciated, so if you have questions, comments, or concerns, you can get a hold of me on Twitter @John_Laryngitis.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, lets talk video games, or in one companies case the lack there of.
The last six months haven’t been kind in many respects to Konami. With all the hub bub surrounding Hideo Kojima and the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Konami has been shrouded in bad press and secrecy. The publishers only saving grace has been the positive reception to Metal Gear which will obviously be hitting a number of game of the year lists come December.
With Pro Evolution Soccer being the only thing Konami has been willing to commit to publishing and the recent closure of their LA studio, I got to thinking about Konami’s place in gaming and where they’re headed. I started to think about games like Contra, Gradius, and my personal favorite Castlevania. Despite the near radio silence out of the publisher it doesn’t take a detective to see that they have almost no interest in leveraging their classic properties in any other way besides pachinko machines. The announcement of Castlevania and Silent Hill pachinko machines with no retail or digital game to go with them was pretty disheartening for the future of those two franchises and made it abundantly clear that we shouldn’t expect a change anytime soon.
So from one collector to another, start buying any Konami games you might have wanted to get now. With Konami moving further and further away from video games don’t expect retail releases, re-releases, or restocks of older games. That copy of Snacher may be $300 now, but with the relationship with Kojima clearly soured I wouldn’t expect Konami to re-release it anytime soon or ever. This also goes for some modern day classics like the DS Castlevania games which can still be purchased relatively cheap. While Konami may still support releasing titles through digital platforms I can’t see any future where they celebrate their history with boxed copy games and certainly not re-releases or special editions. With most of the publishers top tier talent gone and big names like Kojima and Koji Igarashi fired/on vacation they have no reason to publish under the Metal Gear or Castlevania brands. Contra has remained dormant since 2007’s Contra 4 on the DS and the last Gradius game to get a physical release was back in 2006 on the PlayStation Portable.
It’s a shame, Konami is one of those classic publishers who hold a lot of street credit with people who grew up on the NES, but they’re move toward health clubs and semi-legalized gambling has left fans out in the cold for the future of those franchises.
I want to preface this next few paragraphs by telling you that no one is paying me to say this. However if there are any marketing executives reading this we can talk. Best Buy has made a fairly dramatic resurgence in the last year or so. As someone who regularly hunts for cheap games at retail the experience at Best Buy’s stores has gotten noticeably better. Now this shouldn’t be saying that much, in fact here are some fun tweets I did from 2012!
At a time when retail is fighting for its life it’s good to see that Best Buy seems to have trained up it’s staff, encouraged friendlier interaction with customers and best of all have added big discounts on new retail releases. The real reason I’m interested in talking about the blue and yellow retailer is because of their GCU, or Gamer’s Club Unlocked. After spinning their wheels for years with huge mistakes like a Game Informer style magazine and game specific coupons the company has finally found its footing with a great discount program.
While the service comes at a cost of $30 for two years, down from a shockingly high $120! The program offers 20 percent off all new game purchases, including “Toys-To-Life” figures and gives additional credit on trade-ins. Sadly the program doesn’t include video game consoles, but the club’s low price point still makes it a great choice for anyone who prefers new to used games. Additionally it gives you two times the reward points and pre-orders frequently come with $10 dollar reward certificates.
It’s certainly not perfect and their website lacks some of the ease of use and sleek design elements of, say, an Amazon.com but I like the fact that they’re trying. All that being said, I’ve still run into some employees who look at me like I’m crazy when I ask about a game or question them about the program, but honestly if you buy a lot of games this should be a no brainer.
I found myself writing about the upcoming re-release of Activision and High Moon Studio’s Deadpool game this week and it actually made me a bit mad. I don’t have a problem with Activision re-releasing the game, a ton of publishers are releasing last generation sleeper titles to make a little cash on the side and finance some new properties, it’s the new normal. My problem lies with the fact that it’s a lazy port that looks like Activision could not have cared less about. The new version of the game contains two DLC levels and two DLC costumes, there’s not even a mention of a high definition upgrade, I’m only assuming it has one, because how else can you justify selling a re-release?
If you scourer the internet, last mention of Deadpool was an article from September about the game being announced! The Amazon.com listing makes no mention about any upgrades other than the included DLC and features the exact same bullet points from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release just with Caps Lock on. Maybe I’m only mad about it because I enjoyed Deadpool on the 360. It wasn’t Red Dead Redemption or Bully, it wasn’t really on my top 10 games of 2013, but as someone who actually likes Deadpool, I felt it was an OK game and it deserves better.
That’s not just the fanboy talking there were some redeeming elements including a script from Daniel Way who wrote one of the best runs on the series and a great performance by Nolan North as the titular lead. Deadpool was never going to be a “Triple A” game, but fit in that nice middle space we used to see when THQ was still around. Not amazing, not awful, but a fun experience for a slightly budget price. Honestly this is one of the worst re-releases I’ve seen come out the door and I’m not surprised but disappointed in Activision. With a fall that included games like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Fallout 4, Halo 5, Rise of The Tomb Raider, Star Wars Battlefront and many, many more, this game is going to get completely lost. The one who gets the real short end of the stick is developer High Moon Studios who did a good job with what they were given and with Activision releasing the game late in the fall among the sound and fury of all those other titles, I fear Deadpool won’t find second life on new generation consoles, nor does it deserve to thanks to Activision.
Well that was depressing so why don’t we end this entry of The Collector’s Edition on a high note, and talk about Microsoft’s recent dashboard update. I don’t always cheer Microsoft, in fact I don’t feel like the software monolith has deserved much praise over the last few years, but I call’em like I see’em and the inclusion of backwards compatibility is a step in the right direction. Last week Xbox One users got over 100 games from one of the most successful platforms in history and that’s a great thing for consumers, fans, and archivists.
While a lot of those games vary in quality, Microsoft managed to include a few shiny gems like Fallout 3, Just Cause 2, Bioshock, Fable II, and Mirror’s Edge. What you might notice is that some of those big games have sequels coming out in the near future, and I would expect that to be a thing on the Xbox One. While Microsoft has said that backwards compatibility is up to the publisher with hitches including licensing rights, I’d expect most publishers to clear those rights up with the announcement of a new entry in the series or a Microsoft backed exclusivity campaign not unlike including Fallout 3 digitally for anyone who buys Fallout 4 on Xbox One. As someone who loved the 360 it really gives me a boost of confidence in the company. While backwards compatibility means little for some people, it gives fans like me another reason to hang on to their games. Saving those titles from being boxed up or traded in for credit. Ultimately it’s a good thing and while it could end nearly forgotten in a year like backwards compatibility on the Xbox 360, I’d hope that Microsoft stays the course and announces substantial updates to the list on at least a quarterly basis.
While we’re at it, Sony you’re on notice. Backwards compatibility should be a feature in your console as well. Do not rest on your laurels.
(Note from Patrick: We certainly won’t with PlayStation Now still going…)
That’s it for this time! Check out my other regular column, Sweet Release!, where I talk about all the hot new video games hitting store shelves.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who’s living the vampire life. Tell him what kind of life you’re living @John_Laryngitis on Twitter.