Things are looking X-TREME this week, with hardcore releases that will have you slicing and dicing your enemies, doing sick bird tricks, basking in 90’s baditude, and taking things to the DANGER ZONE!!! Don’t forget to check out this week’s great ports/re-releases, smaller titles, and of course the x-treme radness of the games of yesteryear!
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes (Switch) – Releases Jan. 18th
Almost 11 years to the date (Jan. 22nd, 2008) we were treated to Suda51’s bonkers third person adventure game No More Heroes. In that game you played as a Johnny Knoxville-esque anti-hero named Travis Touchdown; an assassin on a quest, against his will, to be the best killer in the world. In the game you kill a character named Bad Girl, who apparently has a very devoted father, Badman, who wants to take out his revenge on Travis. According to the trailer and other materials, the two fight but are eventually sucked into a video game world through a strange console called the Mega64…er the Death Drive MK-II. As Travis, you must defeat Badman in a series of different video games that are all variations on existing genres, like top down brawlers and side scrolling platformers. The main story is told in the style of a visual novel, and is also how you gain new games to play on your Death Drive MK-II. As with most Suda51 games, expect plenty of over the top violence and surreal moments/characters.
This indie game was developed by Friend & Foe, a small team in Japan comprised of people who, according to their website, worked on The Last Guardian and Killzone. In Vane, you play as a young boy who can alternate between human and bird form, using your unique powers to explore the land around you. Based on the website’s description (or lack thereof), the game seems to be purposefully, almost frustratingly, vague. It looks beautiful, and I can’t wait to play it. If you’ve ever wanted an even more stripped down and bare version of Ico then you may have just gotten your wish.
YIIK: A Post Modern RPG (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Jan. 17th
With only one year left in this decade, the time to cash in on the 20 year old nostalgia of the 90’s is coming to an end. Enter the tongue-in-cheek weirdness of YIIK: A Post Modern RPG. This oddball of a game looks to be trying to grab the attention of us 30 something gamers who grew up on SNES RPGs, particularly Earthboud, as it seems to borrow heavily from that game’s style. I’m always up for some irreverence, but this might be a bit too much. However, if the game is solid then it might be worth checking out; I’m a sucker for RPGs.
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4/PSVR/Xbox One) – Releases Jan. 18th. Will come to PC next month.
The long running jet fighter series Ace Combat gets a new entry this week, which continues the series’ tradition of being both a real-world simulator and arcade style shooter. This is also the series return to the PlayStation console since part 5, as part 6 was an Xbox 360 exclusive. Set during the events of a war between the fictional entities The Osean Federation and The Kingdom of Erusea, you must pilot your jet through various combat missions in the Second Usean Continental War. Also, in a first for the series, VR support is being added to the game, with the PlayStation VR getting the launch exclusive. Since this is coming out on Friday, it seems you may still have time to get the pre-order bonus; a copy of Ace Combat 5 on PS4 and a copy of Ace Combat 6 on Xbox One.
Ports and Re-releases:
Onimusha: Warlords (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One). When I was a young lad, a very pretty girl at the video game store batted her eyelashes as me and got me to pre-order this game for the PS2; so I did. I played it for a little while, thought it was pretty good, but eventually sold it for gas money. Now this early PS2 game is being remastered for digital release on multiple modern platforms. Originally designed as a kind of “Resident Evil with samurais”, the game evolved to be more action oriented, through the guidance of director Jun Takeuchi, and famed producer Keiji Inafune (Mega Man, Dead Rising, Mighty No. 9). The game would spawn three sequels, a tactics game, and a fighting game; no word on if any of those will also be remastered.
Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force (Switch) – Releases Jan. 17th. This JRPG was originally released in North America for the PS3 in 2014, and got a remaster for the PS4 in 2016. Now that same PS4 remaster is coming to the Switch, adding yet another JRPG to the console’s already pretty robust library. Grab your furies, fencers! Time to save the world from the war between the gods!
Gunman Clive HD Collection (Switch) – Releases Jan. 17th. Swedish indie developer Hörberg Productions wild west side scroller is making its way to the Switch. Originally released on mobile phones and PC, the game eventually found its way to Nintendo systems, first on the 3DS and then the Wii U. Now the game is heading to Switch with a re-release of the HD collection. According to Wikipedia the game was praised almost universally, with people comparing it favorably to games like Mega Man and Super Meat Boy.
Battefield V: Tides of War Chapter 2 – Lighting Strikes – Releases Jan. 17th. It seems that Battlefield V’s next set of in-game content starts dropping this week, with the start of the Tides of War Chapter 2, Lightning Strikes. According to the official website, the new chapter will feature a focus on vehicle warfare and rapid infantry movement. You can also join up with three friends in Combined Arms, which is a series of combat strike missions across several maps. Plus, you can also enjoy the revamped Rush Mode, as well as a classic Team PvP mode called Squad Conquest.
The Walking Dead: The Final Season – Episode 3 (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One). After the closure of TellTale, the future of their Walking Dead series seemed to be dead and buried; but like Glenn under a dumpster, it inexplicably lived! The series was picked up by Robert Kirkman’s Skybound Entertainment, who hired back most of the original staff, and have stated they are committed to finish the story of Clementine. I haven’t played this game since the second season, so I can’t say I’m up to date on the story, but if, like me, you were hoping to see it continue, you’ll finally get your chance to see what horrors and moments of despair befall our favorite post-apocalyptic teenager for two more episodes!
The Grand Tour Game (PS4/Xbox One). Well here we are, Amazon is now a game publisher. In The Grand Tour Game, you will not just race cars, you’ll do whatever it is Jeremy Clarkson and his buddies do on the show, literally, as this game is episodic, with new content releasing every week that coincides with the Amazon show. A brilliant bit of corporate synergy. As mentioned, the game is episodic, but that does not mean you buy each one individually. The $30 price tag gets you all content for the game as it becomes available. Buy it early and you’ll get it in piecemeal; buy it after the season is over and you’ll get all the content at once. This is a pretty interesting idea, and first game I can think of with a straight television show tie-in since the MMO Defiance.
Feudal Alloy (PC/Switch) – Releases Jan. 17th. A side scrolling action game with some lovely looking, hand drawn graphics. You play as a fish in a bowl, wearing a robot man suit and carrying a sword; hijinks ensue.
Hellwarders (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jan. 17th. Currently in early access on Steam, this third person tower defense game looks like it could be a lot of fun for some weekend with your friends. There are shades of Orcs Must Die with a bit of Dungeon Defenders, but with less humor and more realism.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Like this week, things got x-treme in mid-January for the gamers of yesteryear, with the release of a modern skateboarding classic, and two wrestling titles that were, let’s say lacking.
Skate 2 (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Jan. 21st, 2009: Wiki Link
In 2007, EA and their Black Box studio released Skate, a modern skateboarding game that aimed to be more realistic, as opposed to the arcade style of the Tony Hawk games. The game garnered enough praise and fans that a quick follow-up was made for the Wii, DS and mobile devices that had people scratching their heads at what seemed to be backward progression. Thankfully we wouldn’t have to wait long for a proper sequel, as Skate 2 was released on January 21st, 2009. Continuing the original game’s focus on realistic skateboarding, the sequel was also a continuation of the story told between the original game and the follow-up Skate It, which found your home city of San Vanelona hit hard by an earthquake while you were in prison (WTF?). Critics praised the way the game felt, concluding that the controls had improved to a degree that made this entry more enjoyable than the first. One more Skate title would come out after this before EA closed down Black Box and put the series on hold. In 2018 there were rumors that a new Skate title would be announced at E3, and during the Microsoft keynote it appeared that fans may have gotten their wish, only to have the rug pulled out from under them when it was shown that the game was called Session and had no ties to Skate whatsoever. Oh well, maybe one day it’ll come out of retirement.
WCW/nWo Thunder (PlayStation) – Released Jan. 15th, 1999: Wiki Link
Despite the poor critical reception of THQ’s 1998 wrestling title WCW Nitro, the game sold more than enough copies to warrant a sequel; the PSX exclusive, WCW/nWo Thunder. As with the original game, this new entry was widely panned for its below average graphics, level of difficulty, and piss poor controls. Yet again, like the original, this game still proved to be a hit with audiences despite the critical drubbing. Selling over 1 million copies, it was so well received that THQ combined both of their games into one package and released it later in the year for Nintendo 64 and PC (both of those were, once again, critically savaged).
WWF WrestleMania (NES) – Released Jan. 1989: Wiki Link
In 1989 the NES got its first officially licensed WWF game (and only the second to game to ever feature the license) with Rare/Acclaim’s WWF WrestleMania. Created in the heyday of the 80’s wrestling boom, the game was meant to be a tie in to the upcoming WrestleMania V (it probably also helped that Royal Rumble also happened in January), however, it featured the tagline from WrestleMania III, “Bigger. Better. Badder”. Despite a respected developer, the game was, surprise, critically panned when released; gaining average to poor reviews. That didn’t matter though, the game was a huge success, leading to a long and lucrative, ten year licensing deal between the WWF and Acclaim. Rare would make one more WWF game for Acclaim, 1990’s WWF WrestleMania Challenge, before they lost the deal and it shifted over to another developer.
As promised, here is another journey into my past as it pertains to the historical games from this week. I mentioned last week that I used to sing in a band, well one of our biggest inspirations were The Aquabats, which led to us dressing up in costumes and occasionally engaging in fake fights. Here I am dressed up as Mexican wrestler, El Oso de Muerte:
On our website, which I had total control over, I created profiles for each of our stupid characters; here’s the bio for El Oso de Muerte:
El Oso de Muerte began as an eradicator of all things un-sexy, but his main job for the past two years has been novelist. His recent book Dangerous Examples spent 2 hours on the New York Times bestseller list. With that success he was able to start work on another book, The Examples of Danger. That book was even more successful, spending more than 4 hours on the bestseller list. El Oso de Muerte is now in talks to have Dangerous Examples turned into a movie starring Tom Cruise as the man who has no left hand, and Dame Judy Dench as the woman he loved, then hated, than loved again, when she was turned into a robot. Excerpts from his book will be posted on the site eventually.
Sadly the “excerpts” were never posted. Please feel free to post your own favorite “passages” from Oso’s “books”, in the comments.