I realize that from the outside looking in, it probably looks like the formula for Game of the Week is for me to collect a list of games coming out, choose the most prominent AAA title to talk about and call it a day. There are a few reasons for that, most of them having to do with the fact that the big title is the one I likely know the most about, have the most things I can say about it and is probably the one of the group that I am legitimately most likely to pick up. The problem here is that sophisticated and eclectic are probably not the first adjectives you'd pull out of your thesaurus to describe my gaming habits.
So, what to do on weeks when there are no clear big hits coming out for the myriad systems available? Well, in a way these are the best weeks because it's an opportunity to discover something I might not otherwise have looked at.
A game like, for example, Guacamelee! for the PS3 and Vita this week. A fairly typical Metroid style side-scroller, Guacamelee! seems notable first and foremost for its uncommon art style and setting, a style deeply invested into Mexican heritage and sensibilities. The danger for these kinds of games is always that the makers don't understand their source material well enough to do it justice, and instead of honoring a setting it instead treads on stereotypes. It's hard to say where on that line Guacamelee! will fall, but as a mid-western, middle-age, white guy, I can say definitively that it doesn't seem culturally insensitive to me. Which is to say, how the hell would I know? I'll wait to see what others think.
That said, the game does seem to have invested heavily in building a distinctive art style along with an entertaining stable of characters. Hard not to be hopeful they got the gameplay and the cultural touches right.
Also this week, Microsoft seems to think it's 1999. Along with the launch of Age of Empires II HD for the PC, which I can say from experience plays exactly the same as Age of Empires II Non-HD, only it's in HD, XBLA is also providing us a new Motocross Madness game. For awhile back in the late '90s, Madness games were a staple for Microsoft including two Motocross games along with the, as I recall, fun Midtown Madness. This updated version seems to revolve around the same '90s mentality of big jumps followed by hazardous mid-air tricks.
I suppose someone has been dying for a Motocross Madness reboot. Whoever you are, this is your week.