Well, it’s been four days since Red Dead Redemption 2 came out. Has it lived up to the hype? In this writers mind, HELL YES! However, time marches forward and stops for no one, not even the video game industry, and so it must be that we get yet another crop of fresh new releases to fill your life with a fleeting moment of joy, until it inevitably ends up on your shelf, forgotten and covered in dust. Hey, did you know that I have another column that deals specifically with forgotten items on the shelf (end shameless plug)!
Call of Cthulhu: The Official Video Game (PC/PS4/Xbox One)
When I think about copyright law and public domain (which is a lot, I assure you), three things come to mind, Night of the Living Dead, It’s A Wonderful Life and H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Mythos’. In 1981 a company called Chaosium created a pen & paper RPG called Call of Cthulhu based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It was a pretty well received game at the time as it was about more than just kicking down a door and killing goblins, a la D&D. In this game you were trying to solve mysteries and unravel global conspiracies about cults that worshiped ancient gods and wanted to bring about the fall of humankind. In 2005 Bethesda released a video game, CoC: Dark Corners of the Earth to strong reviews but terrible sales leading to the cancellation of two planned sequels and the shuttering of Headfirst, the studio that created it. It even had a fairly successful LCG by Fantasy Flight that ran from 2004 to 2015. Now we have a new studio (Cyanide) and a new publisher (Focus Home Interactive) who are going to try and bring CoC back onto your television sets with what they are calling The Official Video Game (catchy, right). You will play as Edward Pierce, a private detective, running around Boston looking for clues regarding a family’s mysterious death. What horrors will you uncover? I don’t know, are you sure your will is strong enough to handle it? Roll a d20.
Gal Metal – ‘World Tour’ Edition (Switch)
If there’s one thing space aliens can’t stand, its metal. That’s why I’ve always said that we’re all doomed since Ronnie James Dio passed away. However, five brave girls from Japan might just be what our world needs in order to save it from total destruction! Welcome to Gal Metal, the latest ‘weird Japanese game’ in a long line of ‘weird Japanese games’. In this game you will use your Joy-Con’s to rock out to the beat and push back the invading, octopus-like, alien forces. Save the Earth, but not before finishing your homework and doing an eight hour shift at the convenience store.
Save Me Mr. Tako! (PC/Switch)
Alright, this is the third game to feature octopuses, coincidence or worldwide conspiracy??!! In Save Me Mr. Tako!, you play as the titular character Mr. Tako who is trying to end a long war with humans and bring peace between the two species. The big hook here is that the game is going for a Game Boy graphical style, one that should cater to the retro crowd pretty well. Run, jump and shoot your way through several stages of platforming goodness!
Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! (Switch) / Drum Session (PS4) – Releases Nov. 2nd
While there are no octopuses in this game (that I can tell) this is our second rhythm drum game of the week, and it’s one we haven’t seen in North America since the PS2. Releasing not one, but TWO games, we are getting Drum ‘n’ Fun! for Switch and Drum Session for the PS4. On the Switch it’s pretty much a no brainer how it controls, use your Joy-Con’s to match the beat, hitting the right side, left side or full drum to gain points. The PS4 is a little trickier as Bandai Namco has decided to not release the drum peripheral here in North America. On that note I really have no clue how you would play it, I guess tapping buttons, or perhaps you wiggle the controller left and right, no idea. Someone buy it and tell me, I’m dying to know.
Ports and Re-releases:
Diablo III: Eternal Collection (Switch) – Releases Nov. 2nd. After being teased in a cute Tweet, and then accidentally leaked by Forbes, we will finally have Diablo III on our beloved Switch. I’m pretty excited about this because I have, if you can believe it, yet to play this game. I remember when it launched I was particularly upset about the “always online” component to the game, so in my mind I figured boycotting it was going to really stick it to Blizzard/Activision, it didn’t. Now, here we are four years later and I’m caving in to the bastards because I love convenience. C’est la vie.
Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far (PS4) – I hope you didn’t buy those other Kingdom Hearts collections for your PS4, because if you did then you’re an idiot! You should have waited for the FINAL collection of previous Kingdom Hearts games, fool. The good news is that you probably didn’t play them for more than a couple hours, so just throw those two old collections away, get this new collection, then get Kingdom Hearts 3 in January, then throw THOSE away when they release Kingdom Hearts: HD 126.96.36.199/258 – The Final Story of Your Life; Ultimate 365 Days in February.
Lego Harry Potter Collection (Switch/Xbox One) – Not sure why I included this, it’s a pretty old set of games, but they’re fun, and it’s Halloween so we’re all in a spooky mood. Plus, it’s on the Switch now; god, I love the Switch.
Mutant Football League Dynasty Edition (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Released last October as the spiritual successor to the Sega Genesis classic Mutant League Football, Mutant Football League (see what they did there?) is now being re-released with all of its DLC, as well as a new single player mode in which you will act as GM. This is an arcade style game, so don’t expect it to be a realistic sports simulator (it’s about mutants for god’s sake). On a tangential note, I’ve always said that Fantasy Flight, after losing the Games Workshop license, should re-release Blood Bowl: Team Manager under the Mutant League banner, so if anyone knows how to make that happen please pass along that note for me, thank you.
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection (Switch) – This is yet another collection, featuring the two Yomawari games, Night Alone and Midnight Shadows. I haven’t played those games, nor do I have much knowledge of them, but it sounds interesting. Again, we’ve got another spooky game for Halloween, and this time you play as a young girl who must explore a town, looking for your sister. It’s very dark, hence the Long Night title, and you will navigate the area using a flashlight and your wits.
The Quiet Man (PC/PS4) – Releases Nov. 1st. Hey, we haven’t had a story-driven narrative game in a few weeks, so why not try The Quiet Man! Another spooky offering, just in time for Halloween, you play as Michael Pitt’s doppelganger as he tries to unravel some kind of mystery. It’s being put out by Square-Enix, so it’s got to have some pretty decent production values, right?
Death Mark (PS4/PS Vita/Switch) – Releases Oct. 31st. Well look at that, another spooky story-driven narrative game. Like Beetlejuice, if you release three in a row you will awaken the horror and be forced to spend eternity moving from static screen to static screen making banal choices as you “unravel the mystery”. What will our next game be…
Orphan (PC) – Releases Oct. 31st. Oh thank god, it’s a Limbo clone, but according to the developer it is more than just a Limbo clone, it’s got a lot in common with Oddworld and Another World. This game was originally funded through Kickstarter and appears to be a labor of love put out by a small team of dedicated indie developers. The premise of the game is that you play as a young boy who is trying to survive an alien invasion…wait a minute, alien invasion…dear god, I understand it all now, oh no, the cult from Call of Cthulhu was successful in their attempts to awaken the ancient ones, but it took several years for the octopus-like creatures to reach Earth, and despite the attempts of an all-female metal band in Japan, they failed. Soon the Earth was overrun by these creatures and a young boy in the Appalachian Mountains found himself alone and trying to survive. As time went on the octopus aliens took over Earth and found themselves in a war with the humans, and it took one of these alien octopuses to finally say “enough is enough” and try to broker a peace between humankind and the star travelling octopuses. Oh dear lord, I’ve stared into the abyss for far too long…I can feel my mind slipping, just…help, someone save me…tor an sol toth…gah!! What am I saying…he bay yog sur tan…why am I grabbing this knife? Oh god, I’m cutting into my own flesh, arghhhh!!!! The pain, the pain!!! Will this madness never end?!!?
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Hi everybody, I’m back. Took a couple Advil and I’m G2G. Let’s talk about some old games, shall we? Ignore the blood.
Resistance 2 (PS3) – Released Nov. 4th, 2008: Wiki Link
Last week I talked about Nintendo and their seeming lack of interest in some of their first party franchises, well it seems Sony is in that same boat as well. Remember Resistance: Fall of Man, the PS3 launch title? No? It spawned two sequels! Really? Okay, well the first one came out ten years ago this week, the very boringly titled Resistance 2. Where the first game took place in Great Britain, the second game brings the fight to America, home of the brave and land of the free MOTHER FUCKER, and we don’t take too kindly to aliens trying to take over our country and turn us into mindless slaves. That’s why we have television (burn). I didn’t get a PS3 until 2011, so I missed out on a lot of the exclusive titles on that machine, and as a result have never played any of the Resistance games. From the looks of it I’d say it’s kind of like an FPS Gears of War, but way less “bro-y”, I guess. Perhaps Resistance fell to the juggernaut that was Fallout 3, kind of like what is probably going to happen to CoC for coming out one week after RDR 2. Acronyms are fun.
Grim Fandango (PC) – Released Oct. 28th or Oct. 30th, 1998: Wiki Link
It’s a strange world we live in, isn’t it? Grim Fandango, the brilliant, beautiful and technically impressive game that was nominated for, and won, several ‘Game of the year’ awards was technically a failure. While LucasArts can say it met “…domestic expectations…” and Tim Schafer can say the game made a profit, the fact is that it sold very poorly, selling less than 100k units after only a year and a half on the market. The writing seemed to be on the wall, adventure games were a dead genre, seemingly replaced with fast paced shooters and real time strategy games. The sales were so bad on Grim Fandango that LucasArts cancelled two planned sequels, one for Full Throttle and another for Sam & Max (this is an eerily similar fate that would befall Call of Cthulhu seven years later) . It seemed that, like movies, sometimes critics liked something more than the general public did. I didn’t get to play this when it came out, I was too busy playing Ocarina of Time, but a year later when I got my first job I had remembered all the accolades it received (as well as my fondness for Day of the Tentacle) and picked it up on CD-ROM. I was so blown away by the presentation and the game play, but slightly off put by the fact that it wasn’t truly point & click like the other LucasArts games. Now LucasArts is dead and Grim Fandango is back in the hands of Schafer and his team over at Double Fine, and in 2015 they re-released the game in HD, letting us all give the game a well deserved second chance.
Blaster Master (NES) – Released Nov. 1988: Wiki Link
I can’t ever look at that image above and not think about (arguably) the best song in video games. Originally released in June ’88 in Japan under the title Chô Wakusei Senki Metafight, which translates to Super Planetary War Records: Metafight, by November it had been localized and released in North America under the title Blaster Master. The game was a bit of a failure in Japan, but unreliable sources say the game was a hit in North America. While Wikipedia can’t give a citation to those claims, it certainly feels right. Why else would they farm out sequels to Western developers? What made Blaster Master unique was the way it merged Metroid-style platforming with Zelda-style top down dungeons. As a kid I remember being really impressed that you could get out of your vehicle and walk around. It was pretty much suicide in most places, but sometimes it was completely necessary in order to reach different areas in the game. I’m a little surprised that we refer to games as Metroidvania’s, when Blaster Master, from what I can tell, pre-date’s the Castlevania series doing this kind of stuff, idk, maybe not? What would you call that though, a Metromastervania?