Kate: Alice: Madness Returns is a surprise sequel to 2000’s American McGee’s Alice, a game praised by critics at the time for wonderful (though now dated) visuals that made up for the average-to-mediocre gameplay. So how does the new installment stack up?
The gameplay has improved, thankfully. American McGee once stated that he wanted to be “the next Walt Disney, only a little more wicked,” but I’d posit that what he actually wants to be is a wicked Shigeru Miyamoto. He doesn’t quite reach Miyamoto’s level of brilliance, but it’s difficult to ignore how much the 3D platforming in Madness Returns owes to games like Super Mario 64, right down to the occasional rides on long, winding slides that containing lines of “coins” for you to try and collect.
It’s said you should never judge a book by its cover. But the simple fact is that we all do it. We can’t help ourselves.
The job of a cover …
I did not know much about Deadly Premonition before putting the disc into my Xbox. I had read a few things here and there, and I watched the “Two Best Friends Play…” video. There I stood, in front of the used Xbox 360 games section of GameStop, a used copy of Deadly Premonition in hand. It was in a generic used box, void of any sort of design. In a way, this seems to fit it better than the original box art. You go into it having absolutely no expectations other than that the game – from what little you’ve seen of it – is supposed to be so terrible it loops back to “awesome.” Little did I know I would soon encounter what is probably one of the most strangely compelling, surprising experiences in the history of videogames.
When the Wii came out in 2006, the style guide for the brand made the declaration that it should be called “simply Wii, not Nintendo Wii,” making it the first Nintendo console to not include “Nintendo” in the name.
Most companies would kill for the sort of name recognition, and yet for reasons unknown they wanted to slightly distance their name from the Wii. Today the Wii is a successful brand in its own right, but one that everyone assumed Nintendo would move on from with their next console, as they’ve done with every previous one. Instead, it appears that perhaps they’re following Sony and Microsoft’s lead, and creating a “sequel” console rather than a new “Nintendo.”
Unfortunately, this is already leading to brand confusion, with many people understandably believing the Wii U to be just another Wii peripheral. Even a usually knowledgeable source like CNET initially reported today: “At E3 2011, Nintendo unveils its new iPad-like game controller called the Wii U, due out in 2012.”