Weekly video game releases: 'Just Cause 2', 'Red Steel 2', 'Sakura Wars'

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The Independent Tech

Among upcoming video game releases: Hot-blooded sequel action in Just Cause 2's island of explosive chaos and Red Steel 2's shogun cowboy slice-'em-up, while on the horizon is the stylized and strategic role-playing fantasy of Sakura Wars: So Long My Love.

Just Cause 2 (360, PC, PS3)
Release date: North America, March 23. Europe, March 26.
Rico Rodruigez returns in his role as a highly-trained operative, wreaking havoc upon an island's worth of rebels and bullies - except this time with a grabbling hook that lets him tie enemies and objects together, as well as hoist himself up and around buildings, trees, trucks, airplanes, and so on. Initial reaction to the March 4 demo has been in general one of enthusiastic glee, and players have been deliriously uploading their exploits to YouTube. The official website also has details of pre-order bonuses (extra weapons and such).
Price: $59.99 / €64.99 (360 PS3), $49.99 / €49.99 (PC - Vista & Win7)

Red Steel 2 (Wii)
Release date: North America, March 23. Europe, March 26.
Self-described swordfighting geek and video game designer Jason VandenBurghe moved across the Atlantic to Paris in order to helm this larger-than-life sequel that focuses on the dynamism of swordplay. Motifs from feudal Japan are juxtaposed with wild west America and futuristic technology, and Red Steel's presentation style looks very slick indeed. The Wii Motion+ attatchment enables greater levels of control, unlocking a mountain of moves and also a sensitive tutorial system to teach players how to become Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name if he walked the way of the Samurai.
Price: $49.99 / €49.99
With MotionPlus accessory: $59.99 / €59.99

Infinite Space (DS)
Release date: North America, March 23. Europe, March 26.
A collaboration between Japanese companies Nude Maker ( Steel Battalion) and Platinum Games ( Mad World, Bayonetta, with historical links to Viewtiful Joe and Okami), Infinite Space presents players with spaceships to build and customize, a universe to explore, Arthur C. Clarke-inspired storylines, and great graphics. While Japanese video games magazine Famitsu scored the game very highly (34/40), the British-based import experts at NTSC-UK were more reserved in their judgment, so keep half an eye on review scores emerging nearer the Western release dates: early indicators from Nintendo Power and Edge Magazine are good.
Price: $34.99 / €39.95

Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love (PS2, Wii)
Release date: North America, March 30 (PS2 & Wii). Europe, April 2 (Wii only).
This is a single-player Japanese strategic role-playing game, so prepare for some cross-cultural entertainment. In the 1920s, secret military-trained teams masquerade as cute theater performers, protecting our cities from invasion by ancient demonic armies, many of whose evils have previously manifested themselves in Japanese history. Not only that, but in between action sequences there is plenty of opportunity to interact with other characters, make connections, and improve relationships, as in the Harvest Moon or Persona games. Not the most obvious of genre bed-fellows but a mix that's worked for the Sakura Wars series so far.
Price: $29.99 / €39.99 (Wii), $39.99 (PS2)

WarioWare DIY (NA March 28, EU April 30, DS)
Release date: North America, March 28. Europe, April 30.
The latest WarioWare game, as always hosted by Mario's nemesis and greedy buffoon Wario, is faithful to its lineage by placing greater emphasis on presenting a collection of mini-games rather than telling tales of heroism and bravery. There are 90 ready-made mini-games to play, but the real draw lies in allowing users to play games of their own creation. Since the Japanese release at least, Nintendo has been releasing two new mini-games each week, and running regular competitions to find the best creations after announcing a certain theme.
Price: $34.99 / €29.99

Zhu Zhu Pets (DS, PC)
Release date: North America, March 23. Europe, TBA.
Last year's best-selling mechanical plush toys, the Zhu Zhu Pets (aka Go Go Hamsters), arrive in video game form. The DS version is a top-down explorathon, leading the chubby furballs around various pleasant environments, all the while inside the equivalents of their real world Zhu Zhu accessories such as cars and hamster balls. The PC version is more of a race game in the vein of Super Monkey Ball, Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, or Mario Kart Wii.
Price: $29.99 (DS)