September is generally a bit more energetic, in terms of interesting or otherwise exciting titles - but this month makes up for it with a decent crop of could-be-great games, one incredibly special title and one high-profile release. Borderlands 2 is right on the top of many gamers' must-have lists, but for me the most interesting, endearing and necessary title of the month is a small one - the first one.
Mark of the Ninja
Hype-O-Meter : Day one.
A stealth-action game from Klei. Say it softly, and it almost sounds like praying.
Klei are the North American masters of 2D art and animation in gaming - more prolific and deliciously detailed than even Ubisoft's return to Rayman, with presentation that's never less than sumptuous - and if the quality of Shank 2's mechanics and design are anything to go on, Mark of the Ninja may just steal my stealthy gamer's heart.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Hype-O-Meter : Meh.
Turns out Tekken is still around. Who knew?
The genre-master of boasting a ridiculous number of characters with relatively little to differentiate them, Tekken Tag Tournament features over 50 fighters - and, for fans of the franchise, updated online play is nothing to sneeze at.
Double Dragon Neon
Hype-O-Meter : I'll look to like, if looking liking move.
"Double Dragon is the Super Mario Bros. of brawlers."Double Dragon Neon - a current-gen update of this classic of classics - is hard to nail down. Developer Wayforward is an incredibly prolific developer, with over thirty titles under their belt - including above-par 2D fare like Batman: The Brave and the Bold and BloodRayne: Betrayal and other weird stuff - but very little that actually sticks out.
-me, when asked what Double Dragon is by Kayla
Still, if Bionic Commando: Rearmed taught me anything, it's that excellent mechanics from the 1980s can still be pleasurable today. Double Dragon Neon is worth watching.
PS3, 360, PC
Hype-O-Meter : I want to want you. But I don't want you.
Borderlands' formula is exceedingly endearing - a visually striking, online co-op, open-world, first-person shooter, fantasy/sci-fi RPG. I tasted the first title for fifteen hours or so and set it aside for games not so damaged by balance issues - and entirely ignored the co-op, its greatest selling feature - perhaps doing to the game and myself a disservice.
Borderlands' profoundly unique offering earned it its share of fans, though, and Borderlands 2 is likely to land high on many gamers' best of 2012 lists.
Just not mine.
Jet Set Radio
Vita, PSN, XBLA
Hype-O-Meter : This game means nothing to me.
The game that popularized cel shading is back! This would mean infinitely more to me if I'd ever played the original game, but I hope it's retained its gamer mindshare with more than just ultra-hip visuals and a catchy soundtrack. Checking out gameplay, Jet Set Radio looks to be a stylish, capable platformer - and that's more than enough to secure my attention.
If I end up getting this, it's definitely going to be on the Vita.
Dead or Alive 5
Hype-O-Meter : This is the one with jiggle physics, right?
Jiggle physics aside, Dead or Alive hasn't appeared on a PlayStation system in over ten years. I think I remember liking Christy when I played DoA3 on my little brother's oXbox, but that's it. The games are always very good-looking, and I'm sure they're reasonably capable fighters, but they hold no allure for me. 5 offers a roster fleshed out with guest fighters from other games (Virtua Fighter, mostly), and once again sets the bar for dynamic stages in fighting games as you toss each other off rooftops or into hazards.
Little Big Planet PS Vita
Hype-O-Meter : There but for the grace of God.
Little Big Planet, with its weird, floaty physics and limitless potential, never got its hooks into me. After my time with the original, I conceded that the game has massive potential to become a fathomless LEGO set for any gamer willing to descend into the heady depths of its creation mechanics. While my brother became wholly seduced by LBP and its culture, the changes of 2 drove him away from the series.
Much as I'm curious about the next step in the flagship of Sony's "play, create, share" thing, I really don't need to become addicted to any one game - but come the 26th, it'll be hard to turn down anything that adorable.
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And that's September! Pretty sparse, compared to years past - but between the almost-guaranteed-awesome of Mark of the Ninja and the nostalgic curiosity surrounding Double Dragon Neon, it might be a good month to snuggle up with some downloadable fare.