After two big weeks in a row, the first full week of February is a bit subdued. There are certainly some interesting titles coming out this week, but I’m not sure any of them particularly warrant a day one purchase (then again, do any of these games ever justify their day one purchase). Until things get hot again, here are the smaller, niche titles you can occupy yourself with if you’re a die-hard fan.
Etrian Odyssey Nexus (3DS)
Despite the continued dominance of the Switch, there are still a handful of 3DS games slated for release this year. The majority of them are long running franchises that have a presumed install base, so it’s not totally surprising, or perhaps they were already too far into development to make the leap to the latest console. In any case, don’t throw away your 3DS just yet, as Entrian Odyssey Nexus arrives today. Billed as the final entry on the 3DS (presumably to move to the Switch), this first person dungeon crawler has been delighting DS owners since 2007. Create a party from a plethora of classes, explore dungeons and either draw your own map by hand or allow the system to auto-generate one as you move through it, and fight monsters. What’s the game ABOUT, though? Well, I have no idea, but I bet it’s NUTS.
Away: Journey to the Unexpected (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 5th on PS4, Feb 7th on Switch, Feb. 8th on XBone, and Feb. 13th on PC
I wouldn’t blame you if you took a look at this game and immediately thought, “This is a Japanese game”, it certainly looks like one with those Anime style character models, but in reality, this game is from French developer Aurélien Regard over at a studio called Playdius. According to their Twitter account, the game is “A feel-good first person adventure game”, which could really mean anything, right? What is this game actually about (I’m having déjà vu)? It looks like you will, once again, partner up with a large assortment of characters to go on some kind of quest to…do stuff? Find treasure? Save the world? Both? It’s really hard to say. Despite the somewhat bland premise, the game looks really pretty. Let’s hope there’s some substance to this candy-colored romp.
God Eater 3 (PC/PS4) – Releases Feb. 8th
Capcom has Monster Hunter, Tecmo Koei has Toukiden, and Bandai Namco has God Eater. As with Monster Hunter, God Eater 3 is an action RPG that finds you roaming around a giant map fighting massive monsters, in this game referred to as Aragami. The plot, again, is probably not the main draw here, but instead it is all about slaying huge creatures, gaining experience, playing with your friends, and having a bad ass God Arc. God I want that God Arc! I hope there’a a great story arc to how you get your god damn God Arc.
Monster Energy Supercross 2 – The Official Video Game (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 8th
Hey, it looks like people still enjoy dirt bikes, or maybe it’s just one of those things that only elementary school kids are into. Sadly, even though “monster” is in the title, there are no massive, God Eater style, creatures in this game, just the bad ass, 100% bro-tastic Monster Energy Drink; boo-yah!! I’m also very happy to report that this the official video game, and I bet you’re thinking exactly what I was thinking…how did they make that book into a video game (I stole this joke from David Cross, probably NSFW…)
Yo-Kai Watch 3 (3DS) – Releases Feb. 8th
Well this was supposed to be the next Pokemon, but instead it’s just the next Digimon. Originally released in Japan nearly three years ago in two volumes, Tempura and Sushi, a third version was then released a few months later called Sukiyaki, and it is this one version of the game that will finally make its way to North America on the 8th. It features all of the updates and changes the studio made from the original Japanese releases (as well as a handful of new content). For those not familiar with the game and series, in Yo-Kai Watch you play as Nate Adams, a young boy who is able to collect spirits that resemble small monsters and store them in his Yo-Kai Watch. Nate then takes these little monsters and fight battles with them; sounds familiar, eh? In this game you also get to play as Hailey Anne, a young girl who is also keen to the existence of Yo-Kai. For those of you who want to find the super rare Yo-Kai, apparently you can link this game with the different versions of Yo-Kai Watch 2 and Yo-Kai Watch Blasters. If anything I just wrote out made any sense to you, perhaps you’re spending too much time around seventh graders.
Ports and Re-releases:
BlazBlue: Central Fiction Special Edition (Switch) – Releases Feb. 8th. Continuing their bi-annual release cycle, Arc System Works is bringing the PS3/PS4/PC fighting game BlazBlue: Central Fiction to the Nintendo Switch for their first title of 2019 (for the curious, their second game Granblue Fantasy Versus will arrive later this year). I feel like I just got done playing Under Night: In-Birth and BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, do I really need another one of these so quickly? I suppose that’s the point though, isn’t it? Just like we have annual sports and military shooter releases, we can always count on Arc System Works to release a new fighting game. Okay, so what’s the reason to get this? Well, it’s still more great fighting with a bunch of characters you know, plus a (I assume) totally convoluted anime story that struggles to make a modicum of sense. What if I already own it, what’s the reason then? Well, for one, it’s on the Switch, which means you can take the game anywhere and play it. If that’s not reason enough, well, it’s got all of the previously released DLC from each version of the game, as well as all of the updates. What if I already have all the DLC? Well, I guess see my point about the Switch’s portability. What if I don’t play my Switch undocked? Sigh…
Odallus: The Dark Call/Oniken: Unstoppable Edition (Switch) – Releases Feb. 8th. I wanted to highlight these two games from JoyMasher because I think they look absolutely stunning. Okay, okay, I know that 8-bit pixel graphics are starting to become a little passé, but I can’t help myself when the games look this cool! Already available on PC, these two games are throwbacks to those old NES platforming games like Ghouls and Ghosts, Ninja Gaiden, Mega Man, Contra, and Castlevania. Both games have very high favorability ratings on Steam, with most of the complaints stemming from the difficulty, as well as the repetition required to get through it, and the sense that we’ve kind of seen all of this before. I don’t care, this is a day one purchase for me and I have NO REGRETS!
Reverie: Sweet As Edition (Swicth) – Releases Feb. 7th. Since I’ve started doing this weekly column I swear we get an Earthbound style RPG almost every week. Reverie appears to be one of the most egregious. I mean, is it going to be bad? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. Is it going to be good? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. While there have been plenty of attempts to play on our nostalgia to get us to buy stuff (shut up about Oniken and Odallus), there are times were this actually brings us a good game. Remember The Messenger? That game had such strong shades of Ninja Gaiden that if you put a screen shot of that game in Nintendo Power in 1992 you’d swear it was Ninja Gaiden 4. Yeah, they were banking on your nostalgia, but the game was a perfect execution, becoming one of 2018’s best games. Now, I can’t say with any certainty that Reverie is going to be as good, but you just never know.
Spike Volleyball (PC/PS4/Xbox One). This is an indoor volleyball simulator; don’t all rush up at once to get your copy.
The Stillness of the Wind (PC/Switch) – Releases Feb. 7th. We’ve got another mysterious indie game with hauntingly beautiful graphics to add to the pile. In this game you play as Talma, an old woman who lives alone and tends to her goats. Everyone in her small town have packed up and moved on, but she keeps getting disturbing letters from her family who all now live in the big city. What is going on? Is it aliens? It’s aliens. Oh, maybe ghosts?
Food Truck Tycoon (Switch) – Releases Feb. 8th. In what I can only assume was a failed attempt to make an app, we’ve got the very bland looking Food Truck Tycoon. Using either your controller or the touch screen, you make ever more complicated food orders for your demanding guests in what appears to be a solo version of Overcooked. This might be a fun little time waster, but perhaps you should read the “waster” part of that description, and just move past it. If the games doesn’t bring you joy then thank it and move on to the next one.
Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey (PC) – Releases Feb. 8th. Take it away Steam, “Help Mother Bilby, as she struggles underground to find her children, in this magical indie, 2.5D puzzle-platformer game. Macrotis: A Mother’s Journey is an unforgettable adventure for those who love being challenged”.
Stunt Kite Party (Switch) – Releases Feb. 8th. According to the Nintendo eShop product page, this game features “4 idyllic levels to kite”, so take that Red Dead Redemption 2. I didn’t see any kite flying in your game.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
This week we get to talk about three games that all strike terror in gamer’s hearts that range from legitimate terror, to the terror of losing your friendships, to the terror of having to play something so awful that you’d rather just watch the terrible movies.
F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (PC/PS4/Xbox 360) – Released Feb. 10th, 2009: Wiki Link
I’m afraid I don’t know much about this game or series, other than the fact that one guy who I worked with at the video store had crazy nightmares after playing it. This game is the sequel to the original F.E.A.R., a first person shooter, survival horror game about a young psychic named Alma who was responsible for multiple murders. In the sequel, Project Origin, you learn more about the titular project that helped bring Alma’s powers to fruition. She still blames the various scientists, soldiers and government workers for her treatment, and you spend much of the game fighting supernatural soldiers who apparently have some of Alma’s powers. I’ve always overlooked these titles, but maybe it’s time I jump in and see what all the fuss was about. There were multiple expansions for this title, and then a third entry, F.E.A.R. 3 came out in 2011. A free to play, online only game, F.E.A.R. Online, was released in Oct. 2014, but shut down 7 months later in May 2015 due to lack of public interest.
Mario Party (Nintendo 64) – Released 8th, 1999: Wiki Link
In the pantheon of Mario spin-off titles the top has to belong to Mario Kart, but a close second is probably Mario Party. I’m not sure what prompted Nintendo to create a digital board game based on the Mario franchise, but the genre wasn’t new. You can go back as far as the NES to find digital board games from Japan, including Bakushou!! Jinsei Gekijou (similar to The Game of Life), Fortune Street, which even featured Mario Bros. characters in its Wii release, and the Hudson Soft title Momotarou Dentetsu. Why then did Nintendo decide that they wanted in on this digital board game market? Well, with the four controller ports on the Nintendo 64, making games that could be played by many people was now much easier. Instead of head to head matches that the two controller ports gave you, suddenly a whole family could play together. The premise of Mario Party is that four players move around a board after rolling a die. At the end of a round, depending on what color circle you land on, you will be placed into a mini game that consists of either 4v4, 2v2 or 1v3. Winners receive coins which can be used at shops placed around the board for items or to buy stars, the currency required to win the game. What makes Mario Party so fun, and so vicious, is how cut throat the mini games can be, as well as finding ways to screw your opponents out of getting a star. You can do this be either stepping past them due to a lucky die roll, or sometimes you can fuck them over with something that happens on the board and may cause them to deviate from their path to the star. One of the more interesting tidbits about the first Mario Party was the dreaded paddle rafting mini game. Players would have to work together to row a raft down a river using paddles, and in order to move you would need to spin the thumbstick on your controller. Well, Nintendo didn’t think this out too well as one of two things would happen to most people. The most common, apparently, were massive blisters that would appear on the palm of some player’s hands. Some people got so nuts that their skin would break and they’d bleed all over the controller. To combat this, Nintendo was forced to create a special glove that players could request, free of charge, from Nintendo to protect their hands. The second thing that could happen was that you’d be spinning the thumbstick so fast that you’d snap the mechanism inside of it, rendering the thing useless. My home definitely had the broken thumbstick on at least one of our controllers. God damn Mario Party.
Friday The 13th (NES) – Released Feb. 1989: Wiki Link
From Atlus, yes, the same Atlus that makes Shin Megami Tensei, came this travesty of a video game. Regarded by several as one of the worst games to ever be released, Friday the 13th was a nightmare, and not just because of Jason. The game was, as most licensed titles, below sub-par, featuring several things that were never seen in any of the movies, including killer animals and zombies. The game is also notorious for having a very convoluted progression system in which you must light fires in the fireplaces of every cabin in order to do…something? Another point of contention was the game’s perspective, with a very confusing cave area with pathways that don’t look like pathways, and third person, behind the shoulder views in the cabins, making them incredibly hard to navigate. Finally, when attacked in the cabins, Jason was dressed in a purple jumpsuit with a blue hockey mask, bringing many to the question, had anyone who made this game even seen a Friday the 13th movie? As a kid I was really into this game, but I didn’t know what was going on. It made me feel as futile as the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake, and I would just succumb to my fate as another victim to Jason over and over again.
In 1989, Friday the 13th Part VIII was released in theatres, and being am 8 year old kid, I wasn’t allowed to watch it, but I remember being really intrigued by the title, Jason Takes Manhattan. “Hey”, I thought, “that’s just like the title of one of the Muppet movies. I have an idea”! It wasn’t long after this that I decided I was going to write a play (I didn’t know what a screenplay was at the time), about Jason and the Muppets BOTH taking Manhattan. My parents went out for a date night, so my grandma came over to watch me. I asked her to bring some lined paper so we could write a story. At first she was really into it, she loved the Muppets just as much as me, but she wasn’t quite sure who this Jason guy was. When I finally started to have Jason murder some of the characters (pretty sure he killed Scooter first, because fuck Scooter), she must have had her eyes pop out of her skull. I don’t remember her being mad at me or anything, but she was like, “Well, what if Jason just buys them ice cream”, or something like that. I don’t remember her exact words, but she was trying to steer me towards a more wholesome outcome and I was like, “No, no, no, Jason is a bad guy, he kills the Muppets”, but eventually she just kind of said we should do something else and I think we played Chinese Checkers. What I wouldn’t give to see some of what we wrote, but I am almost certain she threw that away, but I’ll never forget the time I wanted to write Jason and The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Play, and I know what you’re thinking…how did they turn that book into a play?!
This is me and my cousin at Comic-Con in, probably, 2002? I don’t know, when did Freddy vs. Jason come out? The Summer before that. Anyway, as you can see, my love of being murdered by Jason did not subside with age. With any luck I’ll be brutally murdered by a psychopath in a hockey mask in my late 90’s. Why my late 90’s, because I have shit to do before I die, that’s why!