This week is pretty full, but I don’t think we have a solid “must-have” here, so maybe just spend your money on family and friends this week, or pre-order Smash Bros., or pick up one of the many re-releases/ports coming out this week.
Darksiders 3 (PC/PS4/Xbox One)
If you need any proof that Red Dead Redemption 2 is the biggest game of the year then look no further than the latest trailer for Darksiders 3. A game series about the four horsemen of the apocalypse that has nothing to do with the wild west, playing a song about riding a horse in the desert and showing off scenic vistas that give off a certain western-themed game’s vibe. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Darksiders 3 might as well have texted “U up?” to RDR 2. Anyway, in this latest game you take control of Fury, the sister of War and Death, as she explores a desolate, open world, Earth where she must solve puzzles and complete various platforming challenges. To give this game some credit, it was almost lost to the wind after THQ filed for bankruptcy and shut down. According to Wikipedia there were several studios interested in the property, including Platinum Games and Crytek USA, so kudos to Nordic for taking the leap and releasing this game for all of the Darksiders fans out there. As you’ll see, later on down in the “notable releases” section sometimes when a company goes bankrupt we’ll lose something cool.
Artifact (PC) – Releases Nov. 28th
Hey look, Valve made a new game! Hold your horses for a minute though, it’s not a first or third person shooter; it’s a digital card game in the same vein as Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering. In case you missed it, Valve originally announced this game during a DOTA 2 event and, well, it didn’t go over well with the crowd. There’s a notorious video online in which Valve teases that they have a new game coming out, then you see “Artifact” show up on screen, and then under it “The DOTA card game” and the crowd just goes “AUGHHHHH!!” like Charlie Brown missing the football. Now you can’t throw a stick in YouTube without hitting a video titled something like “VALVE SERIOUSLY FKKED UP!!” and “VAlvE is shtting on it’s fanBASe??!!”; makes me really proud to be part of the gaming hobby, but you know, gotta do it for the algorithm and the likes. Okay, back to the game, Artifact is, of course, a DOTA card game where you get digital cards and use them to build your deck and beat other people in head to head matches. It’s not a new concept, but it’s tried and true and has been making a pretty big comeback as of late. This game has been in some form of beta or early access for a few months now, but now the full game is ready to be released to the public and you just know there’s gonna be some sweet, sweet microtransactions. Merry Christmas!
Rival Megagun (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 29th
Who asked for a two player, bullet hell versus game, because I want to give you a hug. Set up like a two player Tetris match, you fight through a typical vertical scrolling shooter stage full of flying ships, dozens of bullets, and big bosses. What makes this different though is that you can turn into a giant boss ship yourself and invade your opponent’s screen. It looks beautiful and adds something fresh to an established genre. Sign me up!
Ride 3 (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 30th
Hey, do you like motorcycles? Do you like racing? Do you like racing…motorcycles? Tight.
Ports and Re-releases:
PlayStation Classic – Releases Dec. 3rd. Not content to let Nintendo have all the fun, Sony has created their own mini-system full of nostalgic goodness. Dubbed the PlayStation Classic, you can pick up one of the baby’s on December 3rd, maybe. If the NES and SNES Classics are any indication then this may be a tough item to find this holiday season, so keep that in mind. The system comes with 20 games pre-loaded onto it, and has two controllers (without the dual shock thumb sticks). Curious what you’ll get? Check it:
- Battle Arena Toshinden
- Cool Boarders 2
- Destruction Derby
- Final Fantasy VII
- Grand Theft Auto
- Intelligent Qube
- Jumping Flash!
- Metal Gear Solid
- Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey
- Rainbow Six
- Resident Evil: Director’s Cut
- Revelations: Persona
- R4 Ridge Racer Type 4
- Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
- Syphon Filter
- Tekken 3
- Twisted Metal
- Wild Arms
That’s quite a list! There’s some very solid titles in there, including a very rare re-release of the first Persona game. Is it worth the $100 price tag? Maybe, if you haven’t already bought most of these on your PS3, PS4, or still have your PSOne discs. For those of you who aren’t up to date on the latest consoles, well this might be a great value to you, not to mention a big jolt of nostalgia. The way I look at this is like how I view those classic Nintendo systems; I don’t want one myself, but if I got it for a gift I wouldn’t be upset.
This War of Mine (Switch) – Now you can take the bleakness of living in a worn torn country on the go! Scavenge for resources, build a shelter, rob people, and practice a little necessary murder in this modern classic that has already been available for a few years on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
R-Type Dimensions EX (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 28th. The shooter series R-Type is back in this two game collection for PC and Switch. Bundled together are R-Type and R-Type II, two arcade classics that have been ported numerous times on multiple platforms, but what we have now is not only the original games in their old school pixel graphics, but new 3d models to give it that “modern edge” that looks so, so pleasing to the eye…yeah. In any case, R-Type and R-Type II are fantastic games that should satisfy horizontal shooter fans, and this re-release comes with the bells & whistles that we’ve come to expect from these kinds of retro collections, including online leader boards and the ability to rewind time.
Coffee Crisis (Switch) – Releases Nov. 30th. Normally I would skip over a port with a name this dumb, but one look at Coffee Crisis in action was enough to get me to give it a resounding thumbs up! Made in the style of classic brawlers like Streets of Rage and Final Fight, in Coffee Crisis you play as one of two baristas who must save planet Earth from an alien invasion. Stupid name and premise, but awesome looking graphics and game play make this something you should take a look at. Plus with the Switch you can get that sweet, sweet couch co-op going on.
Game Tengoku: CruisinMix Special (PC/PS4) – Releases Nov. 30th. Currently available on Steam in Japanese, we will now be getting an English version in just a few days. In this game that I’m just going to call “Game” for short, you pilot an airplane, or a space ship, or whatever, through a vertically scrolling bullet hell world, because we just don’t have enough of those! What sets Game apart from the others is that, according to the Steam page, it is unabashedly tongue-in-cheek, acting as a parody of vertical shooters and taking pot shots at the various tropes in Japanese video games. If you’re in the mood for a physical copy, Limited Run Games is doing a special edition of Game that is packed with goodies, including an art book, a CD soundtrack, 4 DLC characters and a DVD containing an original Game anime.
Battletech Flashpoint – For all you Battletech fans out there, we now have the first piece of DLC for this year’s tactical mech simulator. Titled Flashpoint, this expansion promises to add “…new game play, depth, and over 30 hours of new content to your mercenary experience” through missions they dub “flashpoints” (hence the title, get it?). If you loved this game then now you’ve got new stuff to do, and if you’ve been on the fence, well, maybe now is the time to jump in.
Escape Doodland (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 30th. Again, dumbass names usually mean I try and stay away from the game, but once again I’m drawn in by the graphics. In Escape Doodland, you play as a doodle from Doodland, where your peaceful little haven is being devoured by an evil monster. You must run away from it as fast as you can, dodging stuff and making quickly timed jumps in a game that I’m sure will have me screaming, “God dammit! Fuck you game, fuck you, fuck you fuck you!!!” I’m pretty sure my neighbors think I’m an asshole.
Gelly Break (Switch) – Releases Nov. 29th. In this apparent Switch exclusive, work together with a friend to save your Gelly friends from the Evil Blob as you shoot monsters and advance through each stage in a series of platforming challenges.
NAIRI: Tower of Shirin (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 29th. Since I am tired, here is the description from the game’s Steam page, “Nairi: Tower of Shirin is a Graphic Adventure sure to intrigue, endear, and challenge players of all ages. Take Nairi, a young upper class girl, on an adventure that will change her, and her world, forever”. Good? Good.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
A questionable re-boot, a flight sim classic, and an odd sequel with a lasting legacy are all having their birthdays this week!
Prince of Persia (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Dec. 2nd, 2008: Wiki Link
Originally leaked in 2006, this re-boot of the Prince of Persia franchise wasn’t acknowledged by Ubisoft until 2008, just a few months before release. For those familiar with the development of Assassin’s Creed, you may recall that it originally started as a new Prince of Persia game, but was eventually re-worked into the series we all know and (maybe) love today. Not content to just let their best known action series go stagnant, Ubisoft took the engine they built of Assassin’s Creed and modified it to make the new PoP game, giving it that cartoony cel-shaded look. This new game would have no ties to previous Sands of Time games that were released earlier in the decade, but would instead be a hard re-set of the series, focusing less on multiple enemy combat, and more on one-on-one battles with huge bosses and puzzle solving. In the end the game just kind of came and went without making much of a splash. Sales were pretty good but not great, and with the surprise success of Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft now had a new cash cow they needed to tend to. After releasing a quasi movie tie-in title in 2010 (that was also a return to the Sands story line), they have since quietly shelved the series that they once had so much faith in.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron (PC) – Released Dec. 3rd, 1998 (N64 on Dec. 7th, 1998): Wiki Link
In 1998 Star Wars mania was sweeping the country. After a successful theatrical re-release of the original trilogy, with those questionable George Lucas special edition updates, we knew that the first brand new Star Wars movie was going to be hitting theatres in just a few short months. Before that we would be treated to the first game in the Rogue Squadron trilogy, aptly titled Rogue Squadron. While PC players would get it first, I’d wager many of us played it for the first time on the Nintendo 64 just a few days after the PC version was released. The game is an arcade style shooter, in which you pilot a multitude of ships, including the X-Wing, Y-Wing, A-Wing, V-Wing and Snowspeeder, because god forbid they make a Star Wars game without a Hoth level. The Rogue Squadron series was such a hit for LucasArts and developer Factor 5, that Nintendo pulled out the big bucks and had them make two sequels for the GameCube. After the third game, Rebel Strike, came out Factor 5 wanted to continue to making Rogue Squadron games, including a 360 launch title that fell through but eventually became a PS3 launch title that was ultimately delayed and turned into the forgettable flying dragon game Lair after Sony declined to use the Star Wars license. The biggest cancellation, however, is probably the Wii re-master of the first three Rogue Squadron games, which was 100% finished, but due to the 2008 financial crisis was never released. Eventually the rights to Rogue Squadron went back to LucasArts, which itself has gone bankrupt so we may never see a release of any future Rogue Squadron games, instead having to be merely content with the Battlefront games put out by EA.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES) – Released Dec. 1st, 1988: Wiki Link
Originally released in Japan in January of 1987, we wouldn’t get the game in North America until December of 1988, almost two full years later. I’ll always remember Xmas 1988 for three things, being the first year I got to spend Xmas as a big brother and getting Super Mario Bros. 2 and Zelda II from my grandma. I’m not sure I’d still be a Nintendo fan if I didn’t get both of those games at this time in my life, I mean, I probably would, but the 1-2 K.O. punch from both of those games, more likely than not, cemented their place in my heart permanently. Like Super Mario Bros. 2, Zelda II was a pretty big departure from the original game. Not only was the sprite work more detailed and vibrant, but the core game play was different. No longer were you exploring an overhead map going from single screen to single screen, you were instead moving around a large open map with random encounters that led to side scrolling fights with various monsters. Taking a cue from RPGs, you now had an XP system that allowed you to level up one of three traits, attack, life and magic. According to Wikipedia, despite the series return to form in Link to the Past, all subsequent Zelda games have taken a few things from this game and become standard, including magic, towns, NPCs, and items like the hammer. Zelda II is unique not only for its side scrolling levels, but it is one of the only direct sequels in the entire series, and is the only game in the series to not have the prefix The Legend of Zelda in its title (completely screwing up the alphabetization of my digital library on the Wii and Switch, thanks Nintendo). While not as fondly remembered as other titles in the series (at least for me) you can’t disregard the impact the game had on not only the Zelda franchise, but on games in general, spawning many RPG/Action imitators like Faxanadu and Crystalis. Oh, one more fun fact from Wikipedia, the sages from Ocarina of Time are named after the towns in Zelda II, or technically, the towns are named after the sages because in the Zelda timeline, OoT comes before Zelda II, and for a very long time Zelda II was considered the “final” game in the series, only recently being surpassed by Breath of the Wild, which is now considered to be the “final” game in the convoluted Zelda timeline.