Treasure Hunter December 2012 – The Shortest Swag List of the Year

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Now that November is behind us the massive deluge of game releases have subsided. It is never clear why so many publishers seem eager to avoid the month of December. One reason could be not wanting to compete for consumer attention during the busy shopping season. As a result many high profile game releases have been pushed into early 2013 and beyond. New games for the month are already sparse but the amount of available swag is almost laughable. The same can also be said for anime, as many premium edition titles were delayed until next year. It would be wise to use this relatively light month to recover the money you spent in November or to take the time to save for 2013’s highly anticipated games.

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Our first item of the month is NIS America’s newest anime release, Umineko: When They Cry. Umineko is based on a series of visual novels of the same name, developed and published by 07th Expansion in Japan. The game is part of the larger When They Cry murder mystery series. Unsurprisingly, the all the visual novels were adapted into anime and Umineko is no exception. The wealthy Ushiromiya family is gathered on their private island in order discuss matters of the estate. The family’s patriarch, Kinzo, is actively dying and the inheritance needs to be split among the heirs. As everyone bickers they find themselves trapped by a typhoon and not long afterwards numerous murders begin to occur. The deaths are so bizarre they are believed to be caused by a supernatural source, namely a witch inhabiting the island. Battler Ushiromiya vows to uncover the mystery but soon he finds himself locked in a deadly struggle with the witch. In a first for NIS, volumes 1 and 2 of Umineko were released in the same month. Both volumes include episodes of the TV series on blu-ray, a 28-page art book and NIS America’s signature premium box. The number of episodes in each volume are not evenly split, so expect to pay $64 for the first box because it contains 18 episodes. Box two only has eight episodes and will cost $40. Alternatively, you could purchases both volumes bundled together directly from NIS for $104 and receive “Killer’s Gambit” an exclusive card-based mystery game. Umineko: When They Cry hacked and slashed its way into stores on December 4.

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Unless you absolutely hate the undead in popular culture you might have heard of a little series known as The Walking Dead. This zombie apocalypse story got its start in 2003 as a comic series written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Tony Moore, and later Charlie Adlard. In 2010 the series was loosely adapted into a TV series on AMC. The Walking Dead game actually takes place several months before the iconic Rick Grimes emerges from his coma. In this horror adventure game Lee Everett is charged with taking care of an orphan girl. Each decision he makes will effect the outcome of the game, namely who lives and who dies. The game was a digital-only release covering a multitude of platforms beginning with episode 1 in April and concluding with episode 5 in November. The Walking Dead Collector’s Edition bundles all five episodes together on disc along with a collector’s box and the first 48-issues of the ongoing comic series. (The game disc can also be purchased separately as a standard edition.) The collector’s edition is exclusive to GameStop, is only available through pre-order and as of this writing the game is sold out online. There are copies on eBay selling for both above and below the game’s original MSRP of $70. The Walking Dead will shuffle into stores on December 11.

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At one point many fans felt Mass Effect 3 would be a shoo-in for 2012’s RPG of the year. Those fans then went on to play the game and many were left dissatisfied with the ending. A vocal minority actually managed to get Bioware to release a new ending (or rather a better elaboration of the original ending), leading to more controversy. Not long after the new ending was released the controversy and buzz surrounding Mass Effect 3 died down. FUNimation hopes the overall popularity of Mass Effect 3 (sans the ending debacle) will convince gamers to buy Mass Effect: Paragon Lost. This movie is a prequel to ME 3 that focuses on James Vega and his early career as an Alliance Marine. FUNimation’s newest collaboration with Bioware eschews the 3D animation found in Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker in favor of traditional animation produced by Production I.G. In addition to a DVD/BD combo pack, fans will also receive a “Forever Normandy” patch in the box. Mass Effect: Paragon Lost lands in stores on December 28 and will cost you $27.

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