•••• Sony launched the PlayStation Vita on Wednesday in North America and Europe, and analysts are predicting it could actually be a hit for the beleaguered company despite slowing sales in Japan. [Los Angeles Times]
•••• EA Sports’ “NBA Live” franchise, which was briefly “NBA Elite” and then briefly non-existent, will be back for a 2013 edition. I hope EA just caves to “Linsanity” and throws Jeremy Lin on the cover. [Kotaku]
•••• Can “World of Warcraft” make you smarter? I’m not sure, but I can tell you firsthand that it can make you worse at sleeping. [Chicago Tribune]
•••• GBMC doctors are seeing more video game-related injuries. This is why I have a strict policy against moving while gaming, period. [ABC2 News]
Blowing Off Steam
Like many of you, I had two sacred trilogies guiding my developmental years: "Star Wars"and "The Lord of the Rings." For large chunks of the 20th century, those two works were the benchmarks in their genres of storytelling. After "Star Wars," If you were doing anything involving space, you couldn’t not be aping George Lucas in some way or another. J.R.R. Tolkien’s influence on the high fantasy genre is incalculable. Nearly every piece of entertainment involving a high fantasy realm of some kind is a spiritual offshoot of Tolkien's Middle Earth.
So why is it then that the video games for these two iconic brands have been so mediocre in recent years? "Star Wars: The Old Republic" is certainly getting a lot of praise from MMO fans, but in my mind the last truly good "Star Wars" game was "Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords," which didn’t even ship completely finished. There have been some real duds from "LoTR" titles as well, such as the embarrassing berry-picking adventures of 2003’s "The Hobbit." These are some of the most transcendent, cherished works of film and imagination. They don’t just deserve “good” games, they deserve great games.
A reader on Twitter suggested that Game Cache regularly include some classic games as well as the new stuff, which is an excellent idea. Although, because I’m withholding, I’m not going to start with the game he suggested. Since it’s in my bio, I thought I’d direct you to the 1989 classic "The Black Bass" for NES. The contest around this game that’s mentioned in the bio was held at Vista Video in Jacksonville, in northern Baltimore County.
This was during a time when buying a video game was a huge deal. Everyone owned Mario and you just rented games like clockwork. You had to take a Polaroid of the biggest fish you had caught. Just being able to check the game out was half of the contest, since they were obviously perpetually renting out the two copies they had. My fish, a beautiful nine pound bass, stood at the top of the bulletin board for a solid week. Then, on the last day of the contest, I came in with my mom to collect my prize (a copy of the game and a month of free rentals). To my horror, someone had brought in a 9.6 pound fish. Since I was 6 years old, I cried like a baby right there in the store. Here's a video of "The Black Bass" in all its glory. The guy hooks a 13-pounder at the end of the clip. Bully for him.
This Week In Game Cache
Well, that’s Game Cache’s first full week in the books! I reviewed "Baseball Superstars 2012," a kooky, deep JRPG/sports mashup for iOS/Android. I also proved your mom wrong when she told you sitting in front of video games all day would ruin your eyes. Finally, I gave you quite a few words on the uphill battle the PS Vita is facing in the mobile gaming market.
Loading For Next Week
You’ll get a chance to meet a fellow nerd in our first in an ongoing series of "Game Face" profiles. Better late than never, I’ll be reviewing a certain RPG from a certain Baltimore-based developer that collaborated with a certain former big league pitcher on his studio’s first release. If all of that fails to spark your interest, we’ll give up and post a gallery of "Tomb Raider" cosplay.
Really Important Video
A couple weeks back, the big players in game development got together for the annual D.I.C.E. Summit to discuss and celebrate all that is good in gaming. To kick off the awards portion, Kooberz Studios creating this amazing stop-motion Lego video to celebrate the great achievements in gaming of 2011. See if you can name all the titles, and enjoy Lego Batman kicking serious ass.