After one of the largest game dumps in recent memory last week (21 if I remember correctly, I could look, but eh…), we’ve come to a much more manageable ten. I can’t say I’m terribly excited about anything coming out this week (even though I pre-ordered one that may turn out to be total trash), and am actually way more interested in the games from 10, 20 and 30 years ago.
Devil May Cry 5 (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 8th
You’ll have to forgive me, most of this information I have about this game is coming from Wikipedia as I have basically zero experience with this franchise. However, in typical fashion, I actually own every game in the series (HD Trilogy on PS3, Part 4 on Steam, and DmC also on PS3) but they’ve sat on the shelf for years collecting dust (or in the case of 4, chillin’ in the Valve servers). I do love the Bayonetta games, which seem to be a spiritual follow-up (director Hideki Kamiya created both series), so I bet I’d really like these games as well. Alright, so what’s the deal with this game, why go from the rebooted DmC to the original series and make a Part 5? Well, despite the love that DmC got from certain corners of the internet (particularly from our favorite defunct website, The Gameological Society), fans didn’t really warm up to this new edgy, in your face Dante, and wanted a different type of edgy, in your face Dante, you know, the one they grew up with. It’s old Coke vs. new Coke, except that was a soda and this is a video game character; got it? In Devil May Cry 5, the original Dante is back, as well as another character named Nero, who are both running separate demon hunting businesses. Dante meets a new character named V, who hires him to do what Dante does best, kill demons. Soon Dante, V and Nero start to unravel some kind of fiendish plot that will bring about the end of mankind, and the only thing that can stop it are hot dudes with swords and guns.
Left Alive (PC/PS4) – Releases Mar. 5th
Set in the Front Mission universe, Left Alive is a tactical shooter that brings to mind Valkyria Chronicles and that X-Com cover based squad shooter The Bureau. Initially I was very excited for this game, based in part on the stellar artwork from Metal Gear Solid artist Yoji Shinkawa, the Front Mission connections and the interesting looking tactical game play. However, the game was released in Japan on Feb. 28th and while it got a decent Famitsu score (31/40), they did mention that Left Alive was incredibly difficult, with a sense that it was made only for advanced players who were familiar with the Front Mission universe. Players seem to rally hate it, with the game currently sitting at around 1.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon’s Japan store, most likely due to the difficult nature of the game, which also includes a very unforgiving learning curve, and dearth of save points. Square Enix seems to be quietly burying the title as well, dropping the price by a staggering 44% only three days after launch, and banning all streaming of the game. Your favorite New Game Releases writer did pre-order this title, which if it sucks, would be the second major disappointment of 2019 that I foolishly jumped into (the other dubious pre-order was Anthem). Remember kids, don’t do what Donny Don’t does.
The Occupation (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 5th
Fans of heavily story driven games can rejoice, as The Occupation looks to be a strong entry in the genre. This is the, I believe, second game from White Paper Studios, who previously released another first person story driven game called Ether One. That game currently has “mostly positive” reviews on Steam, praising everything from the emotional story to the clever (but very difficult) puzzles. In The Occupation, you play as a journalist in 1980’s England during a time of major civil unrest. An explosion has occurred and you must interview people who have some connection to it, attempting to piece together what really happened, despite each telling you a different version of the events.
R.B.I. Baseball 19 (Android/iOS/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 5th
Ah, the smell of fresh cut grass, chalk, dirt, hot dogs, peanut dust, and overpriced beer, it must be baseball season! For most die-hard baseball fans, Sony’s MLB The Show is the go to title for deep simulation, but if you are a casual fan looking to just hit some balls and steal some bases, the budget conscious R.B.I. Baseball series is what you’re looking for.
Ports and Re-releases:
Kirby’s Extra Epic Yarn (3DS) – Releases Mar. 8th
This delightful platformer was originally released on the Wii back in 2010 to positive reviews (damn, it doesn’t feel like nine years ago…). I remember seeing the trailer for this during Nintendo’s E3 presentation and being instantly hooked. The graphics are charming, beautiful even, and while I found the difficulty to be somewhat lacking, it was still an absolute joy to play. I’m not sure why this wouldn’t get a Switch port, but it does keep with the spirit of the 3DS, since Nintendo has pretty much come out and said that the system is kind of a gateway console for younger kids to play before graduating to the more sophisticated Switch. For those of us who have already played the game, there is new content featuring Meta Knight and King Dedede, as well as a new “Devilish Mode”, which makes the game much more challenging by no longer making you invincible.
GACHIMUCHI The Card Game (PC) – Releases Mar. 8th
Steam has long been a home for the weird and obscure, it’s one of the reasons we all both love and hate the platform. GACHIMUCHI The Card Game is basically blackjack, but you get to see very, VERY, crudely drawn images of men in various states of undress. I had to look up what GACHIMUCHI meant, and according to Urban Dictionary, the term is of Japanese origin and means “muscular chubby”. I can’t find any info on the developer M♂NLY, so I’m not entirely convinced that this game won’t install Russian spyware on your computer if you buy it.
Eternity: The Last Unicorn (PC/PS4) – Releases Mar. 5th
This is a rather generic looking fantasy game, like a video game version of one of those harlequin romance novels you see in bargain bins at your local
Borders Barnes & Nobel. This is an RPG based on Nordic mythology, where you play as two characters, an elf and a Viking, both working to protect the last living unicorn.
ETHEREAL (PC) – Releases Mar. 7th
Are you ever too stressed out to play puzzle games? Does the constant ticking clock give you a panic attack, leading to an anxiety flare up? Well the team over at Nonsense Arts has put together a low stress puzzle game called ETHEREAL, where you move your little ball avatar around a strange and mysterious word that is basically a giant maze, as you use a multitude of game mechanics to reach the end.
Tick Tock: A Tale For Two (Android/iOS/PC) – Releases Mar. 7th
Do casual puzzle games cause you to fall asleep? Have you ever been stuck on a brutally hard puzzle and thought “I wish someone could help me with this”, well the team over at Other Tales Interactive have a game for you! In Tick Tock: A Tale For Two, you and a friend must work together to solve puzzles, with the catch being each of you has a different view of the problem as you play the game on two different devices, including laptops, desktops, smart phones or tablets. Through either local or online co-op, you must communicate with one another in order to advance the story through the completion of puzzles.
Senpai Teaches Me Japanese Part 1 (PC) – Releases Mar. 8th
Hmm, the video on the Steam page says this game is called Sensei Teaches Me Japanese, which makes me a bit dubious about the quality of this game which is described as “the first visual novel to teach you Japanese”. In case you were curious, yes, this game is recommended for mature audiences.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
A brilliant debut, an arcade staple and an all-time great are this week’s notable releases; would you like to play?
MadWorld (Wii) – Released Mar. 10th, 2009: Wiki Link
In the mid 2000’s, several key talent from Capcom left the studio in a dispute over what games they could make; including Yoshiki Okamoto (Street Fighter II), Keiji Inafune (Mega Man), Atsushi Inaba (Phoenix Wright), Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry) and Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil). These last three, all part of the Capcom subsidiary Clover Studios, would go on to create the independent studio Platinum Games. After receiving funding from Sega, the three men were slated to work on their own individual titles; Kamiya on Bayonetta, Mikami on Vanquish, and Inaba heading up two games, the DS title Infinite Space, and the very first Platinum Games release, MadWorld. Like Suda 51’s No More Heroes, MadWorld used hyper violence as a way to satirize the gaming industry, and macho male tropes. Main character Jack is an unwitting participant in a violent game show in which he must kill his opponents in order to survive. Since this is a game show, there are several “fun” ways to kill your opponents, like having them be smashed between two giant, spike covered, steel plates, throwing them into two giant, rolling, spike covered cylinders, and of course, using them as darts that you launch onto a giant dartboard. Despite rave reviews from critics, the game did not sell anywhere close to the expectations that Sega put on it. This title, along with House of the Dead: Overkill, were released as a way for Sega to try and find success with mature rated title with the hardcore gaming crowd, but those players had moved on to the Xbox 360 and the PS3, leaving the audience for these types of games very low for the more casual/family focused Wii. Despite Sega’s insistence that they would continue to support the Wii with mature rated titles, they never again released a game with that rating on the system. Even though MadWorld did not sell well, Platinum was not done with the series, and released a quasi-sequel in 2012 called Anarchy Reigns on PS3 and Xbox 360 to average reviews. It’s too bad this didn’t do better, as the motion controls were some of the best on the Wii, and those stylized Sin City-esque graphics are some of the most striking that the Wii ever produced.
Hydro Thunder (Arcade) – Released Mar. 1999: Wiki Link
Having mastered the arcade street racing game with both Crusin’ USA and San Francisco Rush, Midway created an arcade boat racing game using high powered speed boats. Featuring the same over the top game play and locations, Hydro Thunder hit arcades in 1999, delighting kids and adults from Chuck E. Cheese to Dave & Busters. The game is probably most well-known for its large, immersive, cabinet that used a heavy bass to really give you a sense that you were driving a high powered speed boat. How this was achieved was that “…the regular play volume is usually set lower than the feedback volume for the subwoofer in the seat”, so all that extra power hitting you in the derriere was just a big ol’ bass drop, *BA-BOOM*. A few months after this came out in arcades, a home console version was released for the Dreamcast, and soon after that we got both PlayStation and Nintendo 64 ports. As the years went on Midway released two related titles, Offroad Thunder and Artic Thunder, but a true arcade sequel was never released. There was a spiritual successor called H2Overdrive, and in 2010 Warner Bros., who now owned the rights to the franchise, released a sequel called Hydro Thunder Hurricane on the Xbox 360. Head to any local arcade and you’ll most likely find some version of this game available to play.
Ninja Gaiden (NES) – Released Mar. 1989: Wiki Link
On the list of greatest NES games of all time, Ninja Gaiden easily sits in the top 10. Originally released in Japan in December, 1988, (called Legend of the Ninja Dragon Sword) we would get the game in North America just a short 4 months later (Europe would wait another 2 ½ years before they got the game, where it was titled Shadow Warriors). What makes and breaks Ninja Gaiden is the extreme difficulty. Hailed by hardcore players as one of the best in the genre, Ninja Gaiden is one of those games that is hell on your thumbs, requiring precise timing in everything from jumping to attacking. It was this extreme difficulty that drew in certain players, and alienated almost everyone else. However the game was still a massive success, and I believe it is because of the one thing that set this game apart from most titles of the day; cut scenes. “Wait, cut scenes”, you might be asking, “on the NES”? Yes, and they were glorious; observe (warning, there are spoilers in this video):
I would continually rent this game, borrow this game, play it at my friend’s house, and pretty much never make it past Act 2, and I didn’t fucking care. I could play through the first act over and over and over again, I love it, it’s one of the best times I’ve ever had with a video game. Ninja Gaiden is an absolute treasure of a video game, and has certainly earned its place among the all-time greats.
I’ve mentioned before that I used to be the singer of a band from 1999 to roughly 2006 give or take a year. From my time in the comments from The A.V. Club all the way to here, and in the columns I’ve written, you can probably tell that I really, REALLY, like video games (and pop culture in general). With that in mind it should come as no surprise that more than a few of our songs had references to my favorite games, movies and shows (Punch-Drunk Love, RoboCop, The Kids In The Hall, Bomberman, and The Simpsons are just a few that come to mind). If you thought I was going to be in a band and NOT have a reference to Ninja Gaiden then you don’t me very well, behold…Ninja Hut!
I also really liked Akira, so this was the splash image on the front page of our website for a couple years.
It’s funny, because I made myself the shortest guy, but I’m actually taller than everyone else!