Things are pretty light here in North America this week, as the U.S. gets ready for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. However, this is still the holiday season which means we have to have at least one AAA title released, and this one might be as polarizing as Fallout 76, but for some very different reasons.
Battlefield V (PC/PS4/Xbox One)
What do you think about when you hear “World War II”? Usually it’s a bunch of white dudes killing a bunch of other white dudes (yeah, I know Japan was involved too. Just bear with me); so when EA and Dice announced that the new Battlefield game would include *GASP* women, the gaming world was turned on its head. Well, okay, a bunch of misogynistic assholes got turned on their heads, the rest of us were just like, “Oh, okay, that’s good”. Well, THIS WOULD NOT STAND (to the assholes). It’s, “not historically accurate”, they cried, then when told that women did in fact hold several prominent roles on the battlefield during WWII they amended their complaint to, “Oh! Well BRITISH women didn’t fight in the war and that’s what we’re REALLY pissed off about”, right. Dice itself has wavered a bit on their stance, initially telling these players to fuck off, in so many words, and that they wanted to promote fun and inclusiveness over authenticity, but only a couple months ago they indicated that they were scaling back their custom character creator to feature less diverse options in a bid for “authenticity” which they conceded was important to their fanbase. Barf. My guess is that they saw a projected earnings report and realized that their core player base of alt-right assholes was not going to buy their new “pew-pew, reeeerroorr, KA-BOOM” game and tried to rebuild some of that (deservedly) burned bridge. You might be sitting here saying, “Well I’m just a normal person who doesn’t give a shit about any of this, I just want to know if it’s fun. How are the reviews”? Well…..Metacritic says they are “generally favorable” which is I guess about as good as you can expect ANOTHER WWII shooter to be, but overall this could be a financial disaster for EA. According to this CNBC article, pre-orders for the game are abysmal, and while previous entries had only lagged behind Call of Duty in the 20% to 40% range, this was tracking much, much worse than that, and it’s not just tracking badly against CoD, but also Assassin’s Creed and Red Dead Redemption 2. It’ll be interesting to see how EA and Dice respond to all of this when the next one comes out in 2019, if it comes out.
Farming Simulator 19 (PC/PS4/Xbox One)
I remember the first time I had heard of this series, I thought it was a joke. Surely no one would want to play a farming simulator (except me when I played Simfarm back on my old 486 DX PC), did Mad Magazine invent this? Nope, it was real, and not only real but a hit! Now with the 12th entry in the series (and only the 8th to be released on consoles and PC) you can get all of your farming itches scratched in stunning redesigned graphics. I mean, just look at this trailer, farming is sick! I mean, have you ever seen a more badass shot of a John Deere tractor? Other new features include the ability to raise horses (thanks Red Dead) and to grow cotton and oats. Hey, like I said, I loved Simfarm when I was a kid, and I certainly loved Harvest Moon, is this really any different? In case you were wondering, yes, that was the song “Electric Worry” by the band Crush; everyone’s favorite farming related song. Shout out to the end of the trailer for confirming that.
Woodpunk (PC) – Releases Nov. 22nd (PS4 & XBone early 2019)
The pixel art revolution continues with a new rogue-like game for the PC. In Woodpunk you travel around an overhead map not unlike Zelda or Smash TV, killing monsters and collecting resources in order to keep building and upgrading your arsenal in a procedurally generated world. In case you haven’t figured it out, Woodpunk is like Steampunk, but with wood. Go *waves hand* play.
Ports and Re-releases:
Warframe (Switch) – The free-to-play third person ninja action game Warframe is being ported to the Switch, and just like Fortnite you will not need to be a Nintendo Online subscriber to play this game. It does however require an internet connection, so unless you’re using a wi-fi hotspot on your phone, or the free Starbucks wi-fi, you’ll mostly be playing this around your house. For those not familiar, Warframe is, like I mentioned, a third person action game in which you play as a ninja who must go around killing aliens. Why? Who cares? As with other F2P games, there is a heavy emphasis on microtransations, with the in-game currency known as Platinum being the thing you’ll want to collect a lot of in order to gain upgrades and gear. The developer claims that you can eventually gain everything in the game through standard play and you will never have to spend any money, but they would hope that if you like the game you would throw them a few bucks to show your support.
Spider-Man: Turf Wars DLC (PS4) – The next piece of Spider-Man DLC arrives this week and will, according to Forbes, feature new “…missions, bases, crimes, challenges, and trophies” and it will also include new suits, such as the, “…Spider-Armor, Spider Clan, and Iron Spider Armor”. Heading up the new story line is everyone’s favorite big headed, C-list villains, Hammerhead. With Spider-Man being one of the most beloved games of 2018, I’m sure this will be snapped up quickly by its fanbase.
Jurassic World Evolution: Secrets of Dr. Wu (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – If you bought Jurassic World Evolution back in June and have done all that you can do, then fear not! An expansion has come out that will add a bunch of new stuff for you to do, like new missions, new dig sites, new research facilities, and new hybrid dinosaurs. For all you “Wong-Heads” out there, actor B.D. Wong is reprising his role as Dr. Wu, providing voice acting for the character.
Squishies (PSVR) – In this adorable looking VR game for the PS4 you control two fish-looking things, using them to move around the titular Squishes as you guide them to some kind of end goal. It looks rather tedious, but the developers are really excited about it and “…wanted you to be closer to your inner child and slooooow doooown while experiencing another world”. Okay.
Storm Boy: The Game (Android/iOS/PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Talk about a truly cross-platform game; this is coming out on just about every modern gaming device (sorry Vita). From the Steam page, “Based on Colin Thiele’s 1964 children’s book of the same name, Storm Boy takes place on the beaches of South Australia near the mouth of the Murray River, where the titular protagonist rescues orphaned pelican chicks, one of whom later becomes the child’s pet and faithful companion, Mr. Percival”. I’ve never heard of this book before, anyone familiar with it?
Forever Forest (Switch) – Releases Nov. 23rd. As I was looking for information on this game I just kept getting shown pages for the Paper Mario area The Forever Forest, but sadly this game has no relation to that famous Nintendo RPG. Instead what we are getting is an action-adventure survival game with RPG elements made by an indie developer. The screenshots look a bit like Zelda, but with pieces of Don’t Starve and Diablo thrown in for good measure. I haven’t heard any kind of buzz around this game so I’d assume it’s a bit generic and middle of the road, but at the right price it could probably entertain you for an afternoon.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Releasing your game the week of Thanksgiving is a bold move. You’re banking on a couple of things, that kids will have time off from school and are in the game playing mood, and that you can sell as many full-price copies of your game on Black Friday. These three titles braved the Thanksgiving holiday, a risky JRPG on a console that was not at all embraced by Japan, a quirky platformer based on a hit arcade game, and some little adventure game about a boy in green.
The Last Remnant (Xbox 360) – Released Nov. 20th, 2008: Wiki Link
At least you can’t say that Microsoft didn’t try. Despite the 360’s poor install base in Japan, Square Enix (among others) were commissioned to create exclusive games for the 360. Thus, the mostly forgotten The Last Remnant was developed, and marked several firsts for Square Enix, including the first game to be released in both Japan and the West at the same time, the first time Western actors were used for motion capture, allowing the voice actors mouths to match the words precisely, and the first Square Enix game to use the Unreal 3 engine. Upon release, however, the game was pretty much dead on arrival. Poor reviews saddled the Xbox 360 version of the game, with many criticizing the poor graphics (due mostly to textures popping in and out), slow load times and unskippable cut scenes. Japanese reviewers were less harsh, and it was even given Famitsu’s “Rookie Title Grand-Prize” award, but according to the game’s developers the game was scored too high by the Japanese gaming press. The PC version that would come out a few months later got better reviews and was eventually considered the best version of the game. A re-master for the PS4 is scheduled to come out in just a few weeks on December 6th.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (PC) – Released Nov. 23rd, 1998: Wiki Link
When I was 17…I played a very good game. I played a very good game I purchased, with my mom’s money. My name was Link, always Link. I stayed up listening to Ska…when I was 17…
Alright, so that didn’t really rhyme, sue me. I mean, what can I say folks? This is it, the greatest game of all time, it came out this week, 20 years ago. It’s hard to describe just what this moment meant for people around my age, but this was nothing short of huge. I’ll always have a love for 2D sprite based games, they’re beautiful to look at and can be fantastic story telling devices if done right, but back in 1998 we were on the cusp of the next big evolution of games. Yes there had been 3D games before Ocarina of Time; Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, Metal Gear Solid, and countless others on both the N64 and PS1, but Zelda, like it still is, was an event that was meant to transition us into the new frontier of gaming. At that time I hadn’t played anything as big, grand and open ended as Ocarina of Time. You start the game and you just assume that the world is that little village, the forest maze and the tree dungeon, then you leave, and it gets bigger, there’s a whole wide open grassland, a giant mountain to climb with caves to explore, a massive desert, an underwater temple, er, forget that last one. This one is special for many reasons, but none more so, for me at least, than that it was one of the last big games we played as a family before my parents divorced. They were already unhappy at this point, but for a few brief weeks we had Thanksgiving, Christmas and Zelda. If it wasn’t already considered by many to be the greatest game of all time, well it was sure as hell was the greatest game to me.
Bubble Bobble (NES) – Released Nov. 1988: Wiki Link
In video games there are many series that have come and gone (The Last Remnant), but yet still are others that have withstood the test of time and still delight us to this day (The Legend of Zelda). Bubble Bobble has stood the test of time. Originally released in arcades in 1986, the game was eventually ported to, let’s see here, literally everything (you can get it for your TI-8X graphing calculator). In November, 1988 Taito released a version for the NES where it became hit with both players and critics. If for some reason you have never played Bubble Bobble, the premise of the game is that you play as Bub, a little green dinosaur who blows bubbles out of his mouth to trap enemies. Each level takes place on a single screen, similar to many arcade games of the era, and you would advance to the next stage by defeating all of the enemies by kicking them while they’re down, similar to the original Mario Bros. A second player could also join in on the fun as Bub’s brother, Bob. There would be many sequels, named Rainbow Islands and Parasol Stars, as well as some taking the Bubble Bobble name, dozens of re-makes and of course everyone’s favorite spin-off puzzle game Bust A Move (or Puzzle Bobble). Though not as deep as other games, the simple game play and cute graphics would ensure that Bub and Bob held a place in our hearts for several years to come.
With that I bid you a fond farewell for the week. If you’re in the U.S. I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with happiness and joy as you spend time with your family. If you aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving, well, call your mom and dad, tell them that you love them.