If summer is the blockbuster movie season then late October and early November must be the video game equivalent. Between the transition from fall to early winter we have a myriad of high profile game releases to contend with. Some will be buried in the maddening shuffle, others will definitely be bought, while some niche games have a reliable fanbase. Oh, and don’t forget the major anime releases for this month. Now, throw in the sheer chaos of the Christmas shopping season that begins typically with Black Friday and the stage is set for an exciting month in games release coverage. At this time of the year I don’t envy entertainment journalists at major publications.
Two major events occurred on November 6. One was the United States Presidential Election and the other was the release of 343 Industries’ Halo 4. Both events have been extremely entertaining but I’m here to talk about the seventh iteration of Halo. The forth numbered game in the series marks the second time a Halo game has been developed by a Studio other than Bungie. (Halo Wars was developed by Ensemble Studios in 2009 before the studio itself became defunct.) Halo: Reach marked Bungie’s last game before the reins of the series was given to 343 Industries. The story picks up four years after the events of Halo 3 and once again stars Master Chief. If you’re into Halo you probably already have this game and you may have finished the story. Hardcore fans have no doubt spent the extra money on the Halo 4 Limited Edition. For the extra $40, the LE includes a book featuring an in-universe Spartan armor schematic and information covering the UNSC, a 90-minute extended version of the Forward Unto Dawn live-action series, and tons of digital goodies including maps, armor skin and early access to various specializations. The Halo 4 Limited Edition is still widely available and saving the day with Master Chief will cost you $100. If this edition doesn’t impress you there’s always the Halo 4 Limited Edition 360 that also released on November 6. Two wireless controllers and a copy of Halo 4 are included with the specially branded 360 console. Hopefully the ultimate Halo fans out there are prepared to Pony up at least $350.
November is also a great time to be a fan of the Paper Mario series. Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the latest entry in the quirky franchise. In this 3DS game Bowser has run amok at Decalburg’s Sticker Fest. One event leads to another and the Sticker Comet explodes. Now Mario and his new ally, Kersti have to clean up the sticky aftermath left in Bowser’s wake. Anyone who pre-ordered the game directly from GameStop got a wall decal included with their purchase. The pre-order bonus has since gone away but determined fans might be able find a few decals floating around in their local GameStop or on eBay—at somewhat inflated prices. Paper Mario: Sticker Star wafted into stores on November 11 and the game will cost you $40.
November isn’t complete without the annual release of the newest Call of Duty title. This year fans can look forward to Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Sure, it may be more Call of Duty but that hasn’t stopped it from selling quite well. Most gamers who enjoyed the original Black Ops are mostly interested in the game’s zombie mode. As with every yearly release, Blacks Ops II has two collector’s editions. The first is the Hardened Edition which includes a two-sided steelbook, two challenge coins, the official soundtrack and various digital goodies. This edition has an MSRP of $80, was sold out at places such as Amazon and GameStop and is now being sold secondhand for at least $100. Fortunately it is still available at Walmart and Target. The second, bigger edition is the Care Package and it is packed with a remote controlled Quadrotor Drone helicopter and stand combo, the swag from the Hardened Edition, and a Black Ops II branded toolbox to house everything. The toy helicopter pushes the price of the Care Package up to $180 and it is sold out at most places. Target is one of the few retailers that still has copies in stores and there’s always eBay. The entire regiment of Call of Duty: Black Ops II editions stormed their way onto retailer shelves on November 13.
3DS and Wii U owners can also look forward to Scribblenauts Unlimited. This newest game in the series isn’t a drastic departure from previous games in the story. Puzzle fans can still play as Maxwell and join him in his task to collect Starites. If you prefer more of an adventure game opposed to one focusing mainly on puzzles you’re in luck with Unlimited. The 3DS version of Scribblenauts has a bundle exclusive to GameStop. Fans will receive a pencil shaped stylus and a silicone cover for the 3DS. (This only covers the original 3DS, not the XL, sadly.) Additionally, anyone who pre-ordered both versions of the game will also have a free hat included with their purchase. The hats are given out at random, so hopefully you didn’t have your sights set on a particular cap. Scribblenauts Unlimited creatively penned its way into stores on November 13.
The trend of GameStop exclusive hats con
tinues with Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. In this sequel Mickey returns to Wasteland after the supposed death of the Mad Doctor. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit believes the Mad Doctor’s supposed reformation and joins him in further restoring the Wasteland. Oswald is tricked and the world further deteriorates. Mickey is summoned and both he and Oswald (as a playable character) work together in order to once again restore the Wasteland. Epic Mickey 2 is not exclusive to the Wii. It can be played on the Wii, Wii U, 360, PS3, PC and Mac, and now features co-op play. The game will cost $40 on the Wii and $50 on other platforms. If you pre-order before it releases on November 18 you’ll receive the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit hat. Actually wearing it out of the house is another matter entirely…
If anime has a blockbuster release this month it has to be volumes five through eight of Hellsing Ultimate. The last time Hellsing had a new release on DVD in North America was a little over four years ago. In 2008 the anime industry was in the middle of crashing and ultimately Geneon USA did not survive the fallout. The disaster left many Hellsing fans wondering when or if they would ever see more episodes of Ultimate in this region. Fortunately, FUNimation swooped in to rescue the license and as a result fans can finally watch the rest of the series legally. Alucard’s return is especially refreshing for vampire fans who despise anything related to Twilight. Fans who immediately pre-ordered and ordered sets of the Hellsing Ultimate Limited Edition were treated to a free pack-in of the Hellsing Organization patch. As of this writing, the patch is no longer easily available with the limited edition. FUNimation may slip more patches into subsequent orders without announcing the fact and they’ll also have patches at anime conventions. If you’re excited about Hellsing Ultimate’s return hopefully you pre-ordered a copy or picked one up shortly after it was released. Alucard made his dramatic re-appearance on November 13 and watching his adventures will set you back by $42 via Rightstuf.
Keep an eye out for part two of this month’s Treasure Hunter.