For those of you who lost reception during the football yesterday, I sympathise. Unless you're a primary school teacher, obviously, in which case you probably want to call the police and get in touch with the parents and so on. But seriously, there's no segue here: I actually share your pain, although hopefully you didn't share my other pain: babysitting a two-year-old child and a two-month-old puppy as they try and out-piss and s*** one another for seven hours.
Speaking of pain, Nintendo finally ends the nearly four-month wait for Wii beat-'em-up Super Smash Bros. Brawl tomorrow. It's a delay that's been off-set somewhat in the meantime by an early PAL release for Mario Kart Wii and the helpfully-scheduled release of Datel's Wii FreeLoader, which launched just in time to assist with Smash Bros. imports, but it will still have put a lot of people off. So let's reiterate what we said in our review with a new prop: this is fan service on the scale of Metal Gear Solid 4.
If you thought Kojima shoehorned in a lot of characters, just wait until you've spent a few hours with Brawl. Normally shy about allowing games to acknowledge the gap between Western and Japanese content, Nintendo has included all manner of nobodies from the depths of obscure Eastern 8-bit games it's fashionable to care about, and RPGs you'll probably never see on Virtual Console. Not only that, but many of them are quite serious characters in the delightfully bonkers single-player story mode, which is a kind of Super Friends mime opera directed by Jerry Bruckheimer. Not only that, but the fighting system is a grower, and it's got online play. Surprisingly good online play, given that the Wii's approach to the Internet is still in "awkward hug at a funeral" territory.
Meanwhile, as Smash Bros. gaily trots into cyberspace, EA and DICE try and do the opposite with Battlefield: Bad Company, which Kristan admired in his usual idiom as it did a Three Kings as Frat Boys thing alongside its usual massive online skirmishes. Me, though, I've been playing Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. There's an embargo on reviews that we had to sign up to in order to obtain a copy, so I can't tell you whether it's dull, forced and full of songs you'll forget instantly, and whether the documentary bits between tiers rival Don King's Prizefighter for their brevity, superficiality and misplaced self-confidence. Shame I can't, but you know.
The final word, though, can go to this morning's review, Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, which combines two of our favourite things: Japanese turn-based strategy and a daft name. Simon Parkin felt it also ought to have a compelling story to draw you into its repetitive but satisfying combat. Maybe if his name was Super Simon Story Twiglet: Hammer of the Parkin, he would feel differently. But it isn't. For shame.
- Battlefield: Bad Company (PS3, Xbox 360)
- Beijing 2008 (PS3, Xbox 360)
- Big Beach Sports (Wii)
- Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath (Xbox 360)
- Dream Pinball 3D (DS)
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (DS)
- Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, PS2)
- International Cricket Captain 2008 (PC)
- Kung Fu Panda (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC, PS2, DS)
- Legend of Sayuki (PS2)
- NASCAR 09 (PS3)
- Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (DS)
- Pro Cycling Manager 2008 (PC)
- Radio Helicopter (Wii)
- Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy (PS3, Xbox 360)
- Samurai Warriors 2 (PC)
- Skate Park City (PSP)
- Super Smash Bros Brawl (Wii)
- The Incredible Hulk (PC)
- The Sims Ikea Home Stuff (PC)
- Wacky Races: Crash & Dash (Wii, DS)