This might be the biggest week in gaming since the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, I mean, at least it is for me. I know there’s other games coming out this week, but who cares? It’s all about Super Smash Bros. baby!!!
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch) – Releases Dec. 7th
I try not to let video game trailers hype me up too much. After all, it’s just a marketing tool designed to get me interested in a product or service, but man oh man, that first reveal trailer that Nintendo released back in March had me screaming like one of those dorks who upload reaction videos of themselves jumping up and down and having a fit. At first I was content just to know that a new Smash Bros. was coming, “Well surely this won’t be out until 2019 at the earliest”, I thought, but then a mic drop…2018! HOLY SHIT! I’m pretty sure my neighbors looked out their windows when I screamed in shock and amazement. Now, after 8 months of teases and reveals we are finally getting the biggest Smash Bros. to date. Every stage, every character, tons of music, tons of assist trophies, a robust single player experience, online matches & tournaments, and brand new characters, including, Inkling Girl & Boy (Splatoon), Ridley (Metroid), Simon & Rictor Belmont (Castlevania), King K. Rool (Donkey Kong Country), Ken (Street Fighter), Isabelle (Animal Crossing) and some more Pokemon and Fire Emblem characters. Watching the trailers I also picked up on a reverence that the developers have for video game history. Save for the fact that they have a huge roster of characters from all facets of gaming, the attention to detail on sound effects is there, guns sound like they did in the 8-bit era, jumps sound the same, it’s near perfect at almost every level. I’m not sure where Smash Bros. can go from here. Having this entry be the ultimate version kind of seems like a cap to the series, and whenever they make the next game it’ll have a lot to live up to in terms of content, so do they go bigger and blow our minds even further, or do they go minimalist and force us to cherish what we have? Who cares, we have Ultimate right now!
Hey gang! I hear our very own Wolfman Jew is trying to organize tournaments for this game, so if you have a Switch and would like to participate and be friends with your fellow Avocadoans check out the The Great Nintendo Friend Code Swap put together by Avocado stalwart Lindsay Funke.
Gear Club Unlimited 2 (Switch)
PlayStation has Gran Turismo, Xbox has Forza, and Nintendo has Gear Club! Okay, what’s Gear Club? Well, according to Wikipedia, the first Gear.Club Unlimited was a mobile game that was eventually ported to the Switch, and did away with those pesky microtransactions. It seems the developers were so happy with the games performance on the Switch that they developed the sequel exclusively for the console. I can’t imagine this is better than Gran Turismo or Forza, but if you’re a car enthusiast and you want to take your semi-realistic racing on the go, then you might just have a new favorite series.
Just Cause 4 (PC/PS4/ Xbox One)
Taking elements of Grand Theft Auto and Far Cry, and mixing in the over the top attitude of Saints Row, the Just Cause series has been making waves ever since the first game was a sleeper hit in 2010. In this latest entry, you continue the adventures of Rico Rodriguez, one of the only Latino (Latinx? Is this the one I’m supposed to use? Please don’t Twitter shame me), protagonists in all of video games who, according to the Wikipedia page, must travel to a fictional South America country in search of The Black Hand. They are a mercenary organization with information about your dead father who, I guess, might not be? Dads, amirite? You can also blow stuff up and ride your car into a tornado, and that’s always fun.
Persona 3: Dancing In Moonlight (PS4/PS Vita)
Persona 5: Dancing In Starlight (PS4/PS Vita)
Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection (PS4/PS Vita)
Did you finish Persona 5 but wish you could spend more time with your favorite characters? Good news, now you can! No, not in the form of any new story content for the base game, but as a rhythm game! Please don’t leave, it looks fun. There are three versions of this game coming out, you can buy separate copies of either the Persona 3 or Persona 5 themed dancing games, or you can buy the bundle that comes with both games AND a Persona 4 dancing game that was previously only available on the Vita. It also seems the game will come with VR support, so you know, do with that what you will.
Monster Boy and The Cursed Kingdom (PS4/Switch/Xbox One)
Last year we were treated to a remake of the Sega Genesis game Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap for a multitude of consoles, and this year we have a sort-of sequel that, while not made by the same team, is being guided by the same person who helped bring that game to fruition, Wonder Boy creator Ryuichi Nishizawa. This game should be considered a spiritual sequel since, for legal reasons, it is not considered part of the Wonder Boy series (only “inspired by”). This game, like Wonder Boy III, is an open-world side-scroller in which you must guide the protagonist through various worlds as they transform into a variety of animals like a pig and a snake. The graphics are fantastic, giving the whole thing an animated film look. Hey, did you know that Adventure Island was also part of the Wonder Boy universe? Crazy, right?
Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden (PC/PS4/Xbox One)
Someone, somewhere decided one day that X-Com didn’t have enough anthropomorphic animals. Thus we have been given the gift of Mutant Year Zero: Road To Eden. Spawned from the minds of former Hitman leads and the designer of Payday, you will control a team of mutants who navigate a post-apocalyptic world, trying their best to survive. Taking a cue from humans, these animals are now sporting guns and other killing devices, in their quest to recover outposts, scavenge for food, and search for the mythical Eden, because there’s ALWAYS an Eden. Stylistically this game looks phenomenal, with some really breathtaking character models, but will the game play and story be able to match the visuals? That’s the big question my friends.
Ports and Re-releases:
Katamari Damacy Reroll (Switch) – Releases Dec. 7th. That pesky King of all Cosmos is back, this time in HD, to re-tell the story of the very first Katamari Demacy game. Brand new controls on the Switch allow you to use the joy-con’s to roll the ball around as you guide The Prince all over the Earth, collecting crap and turning it into stars. You can also use a regular controller to play as well, thank goodness.
Atelier Arland Series Deluxe Pack (PC/PS4/Switch) – Having made appearances on Nintendo handheld devices, this will be the first time an Atelier game has made its way to a Nintendo home console, you’re welcome JRPG fans. Featuring three full games in one package, Atelier Rorona, Atelier Totori and Atelier Meruru, considered the Atelier Arland Trilogy, this deluxe compilation should provide many, many, many, many, many hours of entertainment. Not looking to own all three? Don’t worry, each game will also be available separately.
Carcassone (Switch) – Releases Dec. 6th. The popular table top game from designer Klaus-Jürgen Wrede is making its way to the Switch. This is the first of several promised digital games from Asmodee who have also announced that they will be releasing Catan, Pandemic and Munchkin on the Switch. Asmodee also owns Fantasy Flight, so my fingers are crossed for some of their games to make it to the console as well (I’d love anything Arkham or Star Wars related). If you aren’t familiar with Carcassone, the general premise of the game is that you select a random tile from the stack and put it on the table next to an already placed tile, as long as the move is legal. Your overall goal is to score points by placing your workers on the tiles and completing various tasks, such as building a city, building a road, building a church, building a farm, etc. Game play continues until there are no tiles left, and the winner is whoever scored the most points. There is some post-game scoring, so if you’re not in the lead when the last tile is placed don’t fret, because those farms we talked about earlier will come into play. This is a fantastic game, either physical or digital (you can already get a copy on Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC), and gets two huge thumbs up from me.
The Last Remnant Remastered (PS4) – Releases Dec. 6th. I recently highlighted this game as the “Game Released 10 Years Ago” and talked about how, despite all of the firsts that it accomplished for Square (first worldwide release, first time using Unreal Engine, among others) it was pretty much a flop. Poor load times and buggy graphical issues made the Xbox 360 exclusive disappear from the public consciousness. However, who doesn’t love second chances? Square Enix have gone the remake route, updating the game for modern consoles, giving it a facelift. Did they improve on the game play at all? Not sure, but if you overlooked this title back in 2008, maybe give it a second shot. At least it won’t look any worse.
Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PS4) – Releases Dec. 7th. Just in case you were getting tired of playing Fortnite, you can go back to playing the game you got tired of playing before you started playing Fortnite.
Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Classics (Switch) – Releases Dec. 7th. When this was originally announced I was shocked to see that it was not coming out for the Switch. This seemed like the perfect fit for Nintendo’s new hybrid console, but apparently Sega didn’t, at least not at first. There was speculation that perhaps they were holding off due to a possible Virtual Console, pfft, how foolish we were. I’d chalk it up to Sega not thinking the Switch was going to do very well so they didn’t spend the money to make the port, then saw that the Switch was a hit and figured they’d try and make some money too. The series has been a big critical hit for the PS4 and Xbox One, so expect the same level of detail and care to be shown in the Switch version. One thing to note, Sega is also releasing several games under their Sega Ages banner, so there is a chance you may double dip on some of these in the future.
Destiny 2: Black Armory (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Destiny 2 continues to chug along, gaining some of the best praise it’s ever received, but with a player base that seems to be in decline. Starting Dec. 4th Bungie is hoping to turn all that around with a multi-week plan of attack to keep players engaged and give lapsed players a reason to come back. What does this latest expansion have to offer; well, if the name wasn’t a clue, then I’ll just come out and tell you, this expansion is all about weapons. There are new weapons, old weapons, new weapon vendors, and new weapon quests that revolve around getting weapon parts for weapons. You’ll also get a new raid, I assume it’s also weapon focused.
Pinball FX 3: Williams Pinball – Vol. 2 (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – My favorite digital pinball game is getting three new Williams tables this week; Black Rose, Attack From Mars and The Party Zone. As mentioned before, many of the Williams tables were already available on Pinball Arcade but removed due to licensing; so will you be double dipping on these tables? Yes, all three were previously released. However, I did find the Zen Studios team to have done a much better job emulating the tables than Far Sight Studios, and they also gave them the signature Pinball FX bells & whistles. If you’re a pinball fan you probably shouldn’t pass these up.
Beholder 2 (PC/Switch) – I’m feeling lazy today, so I’ll just be posting Steam synopsis’s for all of these, “You are a newly employed department officer within the Ministry of a totalitarian State. While you are poised to have an illustrious career and possibly become Prime Minister someday, the way up won’t be easy. So, how high up the career ladder will you climb? The choice is still yours to make!”
Override: Mech City Brawl (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – “No gears, no glory! Control gigantic robots and duke it out in this 3D mech brawler! Epic battles await in local and online Versus mode, 4-player Co-op – where each player controls one part of a mech – and a single-player game mode. Each mech has its own gameplay style, special moves, and finishers”.
Battle Princess Madelyn (PC/PS4/PS Vita/Switch/Wii U/Xbox One) – Releases Dec. 6th. “You’re the princess! Battle Princess Madelyn to be precise, in this pixel perfect retro side-scroller, as you set off to defeat evil with your ghostly canine companion, Fritzy. Do you have what it takes to save your family, avenge your furry friend and become the ultimate battle princess?”
Jagged Alliance: Rage (PC) – Releases Dec. 6th. Apparently I got this release date wrong a couple months back. Here is what I originally wrote: Hey, remember the ‘90s, again? Back in 1995 a fun little tactical war game called Jagged Alliance came out for PC. I was too busy playing Warcraft II, but I’m sure someone was playing this. Enough people, in fact, that they made ten more of these things! Now they’re getting ready to turn it up to 11 with Rage, a game set 20 years after the original title (it’s been 23 years, but that’s okay), to fulfill all of your “X-Com in the jungle” needs. Do you like tactical, turn based war games? Are you not a fan of JRPGs? Then maybe get Jagged Alliance: Rage instead of Valkyria Chronicles 4.
Iris.Fall (PC) – Releases Dec. 7th. “Iris.Fall is a puzzle adventure game featuring striking visuals and a spellbinding theme of ‘light and shadow’” I think the marketing team for Iris.Fall was also feeling lazy that day.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
2008 and 1998 seemed to be in dry spells, as their respective games aren’t quite the household names that some of our other recent game releases have been. However, it’s always fun to look back and see what the trends of the day were, and what was hot in pop culture. Read on video game history buffs!
Defense Grid: The Awakening (PC) – Released Dec. 8th, 2008: Wiki Link
While flirting a bit with the genre in the early days of gaming with titles like Space Invaders, the modern tower defense genre originated in the early 90’s, with the game Rampart considered the model from which all others adhere to. After a few clones came out, the genre was mostly relegated to mini-games within larger titles, such as their inclusion in Final Fantasy VI and VII, it wasn’t until 2007/2008 that the genre made a comeback. The release of smartphones was seen as a major influence on the popularity of these games, and it was around this time you got PixelJunk Monsters, Savage Moon and our 2008 highlight, Defense Grid: The Awakening. What set Defense Grid apart from the pack was its use of the 3D space, pulling away from the 2D top down look (or should I say pushing into the 2D top down look). According to the developers, this was key, their ultimate goal was to create a tower defense game in the 3D realm, but also make it both affordable and easy to download digitally, a still relatively novel concept at the time. The game was met with commercial and critical success, with the 2009 Xbox Live version being hailed as one of the top downloadable games of 2009. The genre has waned in the ensuing years, with even the sequel to Defense Grid not meeting its Kickstarter goal in 2012, being later downgraded to an expansion. A sequel was finally released in 2014. Defense Grid, along with PixelJunk Monsters, was pivotal in bringing the tower defense genre back into the public consciousness, and perhaps even the mainstream, with games like Plants vs. Zombies, Dungeon Defenders and Orcs Must Die all being big success stories on their own. The genre may be dormant at the moment, but don’t count it out.
Animaniacs: Ten Pin Alley (PlayStation) – Released Dec. 4th or Dec. 1st, 1998: Wiki Link
Based on the 1996 game Ten Pin Alley, this licensed title, based on the animated series Animaniacs, was released less than a month after the final episode of the series aired on television (Nov. 14th, 1998). Whatever prompted someone to think that slapping an Animaniacs license on top of an existing bowling game is beyond me, except that perhaps Warner Bros. knew they would be ending the show and figured it would be a good way to make some money on the license before it was no longer lucrative. According to IGN’s original review, the game was deceptively difficult, making it a tough sell to the young audience that may have wanted the game. However, the difficulty was mostly due to the realism of the simulator, which was praised in 1996 for the original Ten Pin Alley, but IGN noted that these bowling sim fans would most likely be turned off by the license, as well as the games seemingly random changes to the physics in an effort to inject some of the Warner kids wackiness into the game. Overall it sounds like there is a pretty solid bowling sim in there and some enjoyment to be had if you like Animaniacs and their insufferable antics. I’m going to guess that most of the 10 year old’s who got this on Xmas morning 1998 were not too pleased.
Bionic Commando (NES) – Released Dec. 6th, 1988: Wiki Link
Any pre 1990 game with a solid North American release date makes me skeptical, but I got this date somewhere, so I’m sticking with it. The tale of Bionic Commando is a funky one, originally released in 1987 to Japanese arcades under the title TOP SECRET Hittorā no Fukkatsu: Toppu Shīkuretto (translating to Hitler’s Resurrection: Top Secret) the game was ported to the NES a year later, and while the Japanese version kept all the references to Nazis, the North American version omitted this, replacing swastikas with eagles, and changing the “Nazis” to the “Badds”. Another change was the end boss, which in Japan was a reanimated Hitler, but in North America it was the nefarious Master-D! Startlingly, the end scene in the game was kept intact, with Master-D’s head exploding, the type of violence that was uncommon for the NES. The game itself was unique at the time as you were not able to jump, but you instead had to use your character’s bionic arm and extending claw to move up to a higher platform and swing across gaps. A remake was released for the Game Boy in 1992, with a Nintendo produced sequel to that game in 2000. A second remake was released on multiple platforms 20 years after the original NES game’s release in August of 2008, subtitled Rearmed, that enhanced the graphics and game play for the 21st century. That title was followed up by a third person action-adventure game that is a sequel to both the NES game (not to be confused with the sequel to the Game Boy game that was a remake of the NES game) and Rearmed, to average reviews (although the mothership gave it an A-, praising the action movie quality of the game). It was a flop, selling only 27k units and for all intents and purposes, put the series on ice. The only other game to come out in the series since then was 2011’s Rearmed 2, which takes place between Rearmed and Bionic Commando (2009). This was also one of the many NES titles to receive a World of Power adaptation, which apparently skips most of the middle of the game, taking most of its plot from the very beginning and the very end (while also making a bunch of stuff up). With poor sales in Japan, and poor sales in the U.S., we probably shouldn’t expect any more titles to come out for this strange series, and that’s too bad(ds).