GameStop January Bargains

January is apparently supposed to be a good month for bargains. I’ve generally been unimpressed by the January sales I’ve stumbled over, though. They’re pretty much like any other sales; sometimes you find good products at low prices, and sometimes you don’t. The prices aren’t particularly lower nor is the stock particularly better than during any other sales through the year, and stores pretty much have some sale or other going on all the time. May just be that I haven’t been looking in the right stores, or that Norway is behind on the January sales trend.

But I did find some good items on sale at GameStop, an international (and often reviled, for reasons I won’t go into here) chain which has only recently started popping up here in Norway. Here’s what I ended up picking up.

Cursed Mountain for the Nintendo Wii, bought for 80 NOK. A survival horror game with supernatural elements based on Buddhist religion and Tibetan folklore. You play Eric Sommons, a mountaineer who’s, emh, mountaineering a Himalayan mountain in search of his mountaineering brother Frank Simmons. I completed it not too long ago, and, as with most games, my feelings about it are mixed. It starts off pretty good, with great atmosphere and some good scares, not to mention a unique setting and some great sounds and music, but the game has plenty of clunk, both when it comes to the gameplay and when it comes to the storytelling (such as your character having been exposed to supernatural elements for a while, yet he denies their existence in the cut scenes; and his lack of surprise or relief whenever he comes across a normal human in otherwise deserted areas), and by the end all the clunk starts wearing on you. If you’re interested in the horror game genre though, it’s definitely worth looking into. Also, I just found out that there’s a limited edition version of the game including a soundtrack CD and behind-the-scenes DVD, which sounds very neat and which I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on. No idea if it’s been released in Europe or not.

The Dog Island for the Nintendo Wii, bought for 50 NOK. When I first saw this game I figured it was another one of those awful mini-game collection or pet simulation games, aimed mostly at  undiscriminating parents. Still, I was curious what it was, so I decided to look it up. I found a trailer for it on amazon.co.uk, which had one of the most adorable songs I’d heard in a while, inspiring me to do further research into the game. Turns out it’s actually a roleplaying game! And the game’s tag line is journey through an adorble quest. As an adorable quest sounded like a good remedy against all these action-heavy shooting games that are all the rage these days, I picked it up, but I haven’t yet played it much so I can’t give a quick review as I did with Cursed Mountain.

Many were apparently of the same initial impression as me when they saw the game, but rather than doing research into what the game is actually like – to find out whether or not their initial impression was correct or not – they bought it, leading to some amusing reviews. Here’s a snippet from such a review on amazon.co.uk.

I bought this for my 4 year old who is very good with most wii games. We wanted one of those dog games where you can customize and train your dog, but this certainly wasn’t it.

Play! A Video Game Symphony LIVE! audio CD-DVD combo, bought for 9 NOK. Live performances from a touring symphony which plays video game music. They’ve been in Norway twice now, but due to steep ticket prices and a program mostly including games I’ve no familiarity with (where’s Gabriel Knight 3?!) I’ve not seen them. But I guess now I can both see and hear them, thanks to this CD-DVD combo. The clerk behind the desk actually asked me if I wanted to just buy one copy, as they had a large stock of this item. Not giving it much thought, I said I only wanted the one copy. But really, I should’ve said I wanted all of them. I’m sure I could resell them for 18 NOK to both friends and strangers alike, making a 100% profit. I’d be rich in no time! And might’ve made for good presents for my friends who like video games. Their stock was pretty much gone the next day.

I’ve worked my way through the CD, but not the DVD, and I think I should re-work my way through the CD before I pass a final verdict. Of the games they perform music from, I’m really only intimately familiar with Sonic The Hedgehog, and their medley of music from the first game in the series is pretty good. Other than that, the electric guitar-driven Silent Hill 2 piece was also very nice, though I’m not familiar with the original. But besides those two, the music didn’t do much for me; there are some nice melodies here and there, but they seem to be mixing a few different pieces together, making it difficult for those who’re not familiar with the games’ music to get into it, and so it ends up sounding like generic, bombastic orchestral music. Also, there is a surprising absence of music from any of the Nintendo-owned franchises, which I know has been performed at the actual concerts, so I’m guessing they weren’t included due to copyright issues. Still, definitely worth 9 NOK, and probably 18 NOK too. For a more in-depth, more favorable, and probably all-around better review, I recommend giving Original Sound Version‘s review a peek.

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