NiGHTS is on the Backorder list!

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It only happens once a generation: a game gets to represent an entire console. Sometimes that brand can become so successful that it leads to a future unimagined by the creator. The character can become an entire franchise and last for years such as Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog. In 1996 one character, nights, intended to become that franchise character for the Sega Saturn. It was not to be. NiGHTS Into Dreams was released on the Saturn in the summer of 1996 to compete head-on Nintendo’s Nintendo 64, and Super Mario 64.

Compared to Nights, Crash Bandicoot had a more illustrious career. Nights was a short-lived flash in the pan for Sega. But I have always looked at that game and wondered what it would be like to play. I recall the winter, waiting for the holiday season, and anxiously awaiting my Nintendo 64, and my latest dose of Mario. I would stand in Toys “R” Us, playing my Pilot Wings 64 demo, and only glancing curiously at NiGHTS. The Saturn didn’t drive me to it, and I was certainly not alone, but that’s no reason to ignore a game that has been beloved by many, today.

NiGHTS Has developed a cult following years. Now that I’m older and more interested in the games themselves than being a fan for one particular brand, I am excited to get my hands on NiGHTS Into Dreams when it comes out on Xbox Live Arcade on October 5. The game will include all of the original levels but will feature enhanced graphics for the modern high-def era. I’m excited to play it either way, it could have the classic graphics, still I’ve always been interested in how this game works and what drew people to it over games like Super Mario 64. What made Sega choose this as a flagship title? Did they think it was a worthy substitute for Sonic the Hedgehog? Could it compete with super Mario?

I have to play NiGHTS into Dreams to find out what made this a great launch title, paired permanently in my mind with the Sega Saturn. Do people love this game out of nostalgia for the Saturn? Or does the game stand on its own merits? I can’t wait to find out. The backorder is my list of games I should have played but never had time for. This game has been a long time resident on that list. Even though it’s a remake, I am excited to finally get my chance to sit down and play Nights into Dreams.

The Backorder: several long games!

As I mentioned in last week’s gaming post, I have been trying to catch up on the Saint’s Row series. I’m only about a third of the way through the first game in the series and I’m thinking I may stop right there, at least for a while. Once I get back to it, I’ll then have to complete it’s sequel, and potentially the third entry in the trilogy. Speaking of trilogy, I need to start Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to continue my trip through Desmond’s lineage, as I’ve already enjoyed Assassin’s Creed, ACII, and AC: Brotherhood. Then some Batman: Arkham City, after I already had a late introduction to Arkham Asylum.

I find myself drawn more and more to those third person, open-world, “sandbox” games. A lot of fun can be had hopping from roof to roof, zip lining to a ledge, or just blowing up a car with a grenade and watching the people scatter in fear. These are video games. Senseless, fun, stress relieving forms of entertainment that allow you to live the fantasy life of a super hero. I never thought of myself of a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, but GTAIV had so much buzz that I had to play it. When I was immersed in that giant map where you could do nearly anything you wanted, I was hooked.

Wash, rinse, repeat, and out came Red Dead Redemption – which I loved even more than Grand Theft Auto IV. I find myself anxious for GTAV, and for the next entry in the Red Dead saga, as well was excited to play the titles I’ve already mentioned from well established franchises. I’m usually late to the party, that’s the whole reason the backorder ever existed… but I’m looking forward to a few more sequels this year. Call the industry stagnant if you want, but I’m not necessarily looking for a new IP – each entry in the Grand Theft Auto Series is a unique story unto itself – each part of the Assassin’s Creed saga introduces you to a whole new cast of characters… you can call the industry stagnant, but I’m looking forward to this fall – and I need to catch up before it suddenly falls on me!

The Backorder: Final Fantasy VII

Back on WinBreak.com, I started a series of articles called The Backorder. The Backorder would feature either reviews or just a little announcement of sorts that I would be playing a game that I should’ve played long, long ago. It’s time for a new installment of the backorder.



It’s also time for a guilty admission: I never played Final Fantasy VII. It’s not that I never beat it, never finished, never loved it, never hated it… I literally never played it. I have fond memories of watching friends play through it. I watched them traverse some beautifully created hand drawn landscapes, and watched them cast spells with CGI effects that rivalled Hollywood cinema. But I never once took a controller in my hand and led Cloud and co. on their journy.

It’s true, and I’m not too ashamed to admit it. I’m not a big RPG fan. I always hated combining items, or being over-encumbered, or not knowing when to use which armor against what attack… the games had too many little details to pay attention to. I’m a gamer-jock: I just wanna go in and blow stuff up. So I never played many RPG’s, and most that I did, I never finished. But I’ve looked back at several and decided this might be the year I finish a lot of games that I started ages ago (or never started at all), particularly those in the RPG genre. I’m thinking this year will involve Final Fantasy VII, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. But I have to start with the game that gets every person I know to say “you know what the best time of all time might’ve been?”

My quest isn’t just to play the game, it’s really an attempt to find out what made non gamers, girl gamers, boy gamers, hard-core gamers, JRPG gamers — so many different people — all say how much they love this game. I started playing it again, and I’m only 30 minutes in. I have to tell you, the graphics don’t hold up well. It’s blockier than I remember it being, I can see why people are begging for an HD Remake. But the combat is tight, the soundtrack is still incredible, and the action is still palpable. I’m looking forward to getting to know my characters and playing through the story that spawned an entirely new generation of RPG fans and really gave rise to a new era of JRPG gameplay elements. I’m hoping to see what everybody else saw. The kind of thing that makes people want to pay over $200 for the “black label” edition of the game.

If you have any particular memories you wish to share, or tips for me while I’m playing Final Fantasy VII, feel free to share them below!

Backorder Bonus: Win Gears of War 2 Flashback Map Pack!

When Gears of War 2 launched, the pre-order hungry gamers got a few extra multiplayer maps for free. The maps were then released on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 400 MSPoints. The map pack included five maps for an astonishingly reasonable price. Some people hated the idea that they were just “remake” maps, but Epic recognized that and made the maps essentially $1 each. The remade levels from Gears of War 1 multiplayer in this map pack are: Gridlock, Subway, Canals, Mansion, and Tyro Station.

Maybe you didn’t pre-order your game, maybe you bought the game used, and maybe you just have no intention of paying for old maps! Either way, if you still don’t have this map pack and you’re interested, here’s your chance!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this thread between now and 12:00 NOON EDT on Friday, April 9th. A comment will be chosen at random and then sent a code. If you leave your gamertag, I can easily send you the code over Xbox Live. If you do not leave a gamertag, I will only be able to contact you if you are a registered user of WinBreak.com.

The Backorder Bonus: Halo Wars (360)

That’s right folks, it’s a Backorder Bonus! This time, the bonus download codes are for the Flame Decal Warthogs available in Halo Wars. We’ve only got Five to give away, so check down below for the details!

This one is unlike some of the other “Backorder” articles, because I haven’t made it very far in the game yet. The others, so far, I had either completed or played a large chunk of the game. Halo Wars was something I just recently decided to get back in to. I have had it sitting on my rack of games for months, with so many other games to play first, but perhaps it was the release of Halo Waypoint that pushed me over the edge. I have to squeeze a little bit of gamerscore out of this game!

Graphically the game does a lot to impress. Even though everything is scaled down with the overhead view, your favorite character types are still recognizable and still behave as they would when you encounter them in any other part of the Halo Universe. A new perspective on other things like Scarabs also adds a lot to the battle!

The control scheme isn’t always a popular topic, but when it comes to real time strategy games on the console, everyone has been worried. This may not be the new defacto standard, but is an excellent step in the right direction, with quick to access and easy to navigate menus, I was very impressed with how well the game has handled thus far!

I’m a sucker for CG, and I can’t wait for more of the Halo Universe storyline to unfold before my very eyes with some impressive voice acting and excellent imagery.

The Backorder Bonus: To win one of FIVE “Flame Decal Warthog” DLC codes, you’re going to have to get just a little creative. You’ll notice in the game that characters will sometimes blurt something out, whether it’s right after they are ‘created’ or right after they get a kill, or sometimes when under attack. This is the opportunity where the game developers can get a little crazy and have a laugh, add humorous lines. Now it’s your turn: let’s say you were IN the game, and you were a driver or gunner on the Flame Decal Warthog? What would your ‘tagline’ be? A funny saying? A war-cry? If you were under attack, would you have to say “it’s getting hot in here!”? What’s your Flame-Hog catch-phrase?

Also, as with any contest, make sure you leave me some way of contacting you (Gamertag, Twitter account, etc…) and please specify what it is, don’t just leave a name at the bottom! I’ll randomly select 4 of the 5 winners, with 1 winner of course being my favorite submission! The EARLIEST drawings will take place on November 14th, 2009, and will not end until all 5 codes are given away – if there are not 5 entries, consider the contest open until noted otherwise! Submit and win!

Note: Due to the nature of DLC codes, it is likely that these codes will only work in North America, so any entrants from outside the United States or Canada, please note that when you submit – if necessary, I will try to come up with alternative prizes!

The Backorder: Killzone (PS2)

I’ve got some kind of OCD when it comes to series. If it’s music, I prefer to collect entire discographies and rare albums. When I was in to trading cards, I had several complete series in my collections. If it’s a movie, I’ll buy the boxed set! Games are rarely different. I want to know about a game, it’s history, it’s characters, it’s story. I had no idea that picking up the original Killzone for PS2 was going to be such a terrible decision.

I won’t waste any time with a long “review” of this game, since not many people are going to care. Graphically, the game could have larned a lot from Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64. The game used very low resolution textures that were very grainy, some characters looked down right polka-dotted in an attempt to optomize graphical memory. The most visually impressive thing in the game was how many people were displayedon the screen at one time. When the Helghast began storming you, true, they would come in waves of 4-8, but for the time it was a technical feat! Unreal Engine 3 might allow hundreds to thousands of characters on screen at one time, but I was admittedly impressed with this feature.

That’s where it ends, though. The sound effects were terrible, the voice acting was a joke. Even the banter in-game got old in the first mission. I hoped that in later levels, the game would pull from other sound libraries, but it’s more annoying than Left For Dead players anouncing that they’re reloading… again.

The story hasn’t been bad, so far, but the volume of levels is something I never thought I would complain about in my life. I love single plaer campaigns. But this game feels so much like torture, it’s hard to go on. I have not completed the game, and I don’t know that I will. The level design is the most painful thing about the game. The checkpoints are in odd, distant places. If you die, you could end up replaying a 20 minute chunk of the game. Characters repeatedly say “we should go that way” – but the AI never takes point, and the Heads Up Display in the game has absoluely no navigational markers. I spent ten minutes trying to figure out where to go, before giving up on the game for the night. The next day, I realized I was trying to go the correct way all along, but some disc error had prevented me from continuing through the level!

Killzone 2 is an award winning title, and when I get my hands on it, it had better not let me down. I had heard it was a mediocre sequel to a mediocre shooter. But in m experience with Killzone on the PS2, even mediocre will be a step in the right direction!

The Backorder: The Conduit (Wii)

When I first got my hands The Conduit for the Wii, I was excited for all of the great things I had heard about it. Core gamers were supposed to be pleased, hardcore gaming had finally come to the Wii.

Maybe it shouldn’t have been surprised when I was let down in the end. Maybe my expectations were too high all along. But there was so much build up, hype, and even the screenshots made it look glorious! I thought I finally had a reason to dust off the Wii and get excited.

Let’s talk story: it uses every single Sci-Fi stereotype, rehashed and retold stories for about the ten thousandth time. Ever seen an episode of The X-Files? Good, then you’re up to speed. The characters do nothing to make me care, instead it even feels like the game is trying to hrry me through the storyline so that I won’t notice just how bland it is.

Graphically, the game looks about right fo the hardware specs of the Wii. People hate adding “…for a Wii game” behind every other line of their articles, but the fact remains that the Wii is not up to par with other current generation systems. If this game were competing with a PS2 title, hands down it would look fantastic, but the generic enemies and redundant environments did nothing to wow me.

I thought the ssound effects would be the game’ saving grace, and while many weapon and environment sounds were impressive, the terrible voice acting was inexcusable. In a post Uncharted era, the bar has been set.

The game itself has interesting play mechanics, and I did not feel as though I as being forced to ‘waggle’ my way through the game. It was intelligent use of the control scheme, although I still was hoping for something just a little different. More people want to see a shooter on the Wii that doesn’t force the crosshair to go all over the screen, but remain centered as it does with other first person shooters. so far, the best entries to the Wii-Shooter category, The Conduit and Red Steel, both had you shooting all over like a generic light gun game.

I don’t do a lot of multiplayer, but since the experience was supposed to be so unique, I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately, my first spawn in to a multiplayer match placed me either directly over top of another player or in a wall, or something. I was completely unable to move. I have not returned to the multiplayer menu since.

Maybe if I get Dead Space Extraction on the Wii, soon, I will have my faith in the Wii restored. but right now, rather than suffer through what should have been a better game, I will return to the game I know is laughable, but still fun: the House of the Dead combo pack with the Nyko perfect shot attached to my Wii Remote. It’s like i’m standing in the movie theater arcade all over again!

The Backorder Bonus: Need for Speed… Shift (PS3/360)

This first Backorder Bonus is a bit of a lie. I have recently been digging in to my stash of games and playing Need for Speed Undercover. But since I also recently just upgraded from my old 20GB Xbox 360 Pro console to an Elite console, I figured I would combine the occasion in to one big blowout and give away the NFS Shift Elite Series codes I have! Skip ahead if all you want is the contest details!

First, the game. Need for Speed Undercover is the culmination of the “Underground” saga. Rather than a continuation of the Need for Speed Most Wanted and Carbon stories, it seems, so far, to be a spin off into a world of double crossing racers, crooked cops, and personal vendetta. It plays much like the Underground series, more like a racing action game, and not a racing simulator. Need for Speed Prostreet and Shift, it’s sequels, are more like the latter. These games aren’t my style, I love the consequence free ability to crash in to a wall, smash in to an opponent, and take out water towers.

With the familiar “escape” game modes and a few new outrun modes, the game has more to offer than the transition from Most Wanted to Carbon did. Though it seems to encourage less “free roam” than it’s predecessors, continually prompting you to “press down on the d-pad” to skip to the next campaign related race.

The acting is among the same quality we’re getting used to seeing in the Need For Speed saga, but much like the other games in the series, I’m forced to feel like people are talking AT me and not TO me. You have no personal connection to the character you’re playing, so even when a potential love interest looks into the camera with her puppy dog eyes and feelings of betrayal, I don’t feel like the guy who turned on her… if that’s even what just happened!?

Graphics and sound of course what you’ve come to expect from Need For Speed, but this game does leave a little wanting – the environments just seemed to stale, and all of the day time racing made me wonder who really likes the color brown? Over all I’m enjoying it, but so far, I’ve stayed offline and stuck to the campaign, as I’m sure there are people who have been playing it every day since it’s release still waiting online to leave me in the dust.

BACK ORDER BONUS: This one’s easy, folks. To enter, simply leave a comment on this thread. That’s it. I’m not even going to be a jerk and force you to register on the site… not yet! I have a whopping TWELVE codes to give away. The first 6 people to leave a PROPER comment (your PSNID or Gamertag, and/or your Twitter ID. Follow @NuAngel so that I can DM you the code if you’re a winner), will be contacted with a code. After that, the remaining 6 codes will be given away at random, with the remaining winners being decided NO EARLIER than Tuesday, November 10th, 2009. The contest runs until I’m out of codes, even if it takes longer. If you only see 11 comments and it’s January, be number 12!

What you’ll win: Need for Speed Elite Series Unlock Code. The code is entered IN-GAME. Simply go to the main menu, then the options menu, then select Redeem Code. Once entered, go to Career, then International Events – the first career race must be completed before this will show. Elite Series gives you access to FIVE special races with pre-tuned cars, available nowhere else in the game. This was a preorder exclusive offered to Gamecrazy and Amazon.com customers.

PROPER COMMENTS: All you need to do is tell me how to reach you! Leave your Gamertag / PSN ID / Twitter ID, and I can DM you the message or leave it in your inbox on any of the gaming platforms.

Coming Soon: The Backorder Bonus*

Soon, I will be unveiling a new feature-series on the website. The Backorder and The Backorder Bonus*. The Backorder is just going to be a very simple segment where I occasionally chime and let you know what game I’ve been playing lately. Most of these games are from a backlog of games that I should have played a long time ago.

These will not be reviews or anything too detailed, but I will give a little bit of feedback and a quick opinion on the game itself.

*As a part of some these Backorder articles, I will sometimes include the Backorder Bonus. The more times I can offer this, I will. The intention of the Backorder Bonus is very much lik a preorder bonus for most new video games today. I intend to give codes for DLC, free copies of games, etc… whatever I can do, that’s what I’ll do! The rules for claiming these will be explained by the post itself, but I have every intention of keeping the first few very simple, to get more people participating!

I won’t be able to offer Backorder Bonuses every time, but I’ll be trying to do offer as many as possible!