Finally, we have a bit of a breather. I feel like I’ve been playing brand new video games, non-stop, since the beginning of January and I could use a break. Wait a minute…oh shit, is that a Dragon Ball CCG? Sigh, just when I thought I was out…
Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission (PC/Switch) – Releases Apr. 4th on PC, Apr. 5th on Switch
Digital CCGs (collectible card games) are having a moment, with bona fide hits like Hearthstone, Elder Scrolls: Legends, and Gwent (I think Valve also released one called…shit, I can’t remember. Anybody know the name?), but before these hot titles came out, we were getting digital card games based on anime like Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon and Dragon Ball, full games that didn’t require any extra dough to get good cards, just good old fashioned grinding. Now, with a (relatively) new CCG in stores, Dragon Ball is coming back with a brand new digital card game for Nintendo Switch and PC. With a staggering 1,000 cards to collect in-game, featuring 350 different characters, would-be card dueling masters will have more than enough options to choose from when building their preferred deck. The game promises to feature an original story for solo players, classic battles from the Dragon Ball series for you to participate in, and two player duels either locally or online.
Serious Sam: Tormental (PC) – Releases Apr. 2nd
The Serious Sam series has been one of the most delightfully absurd first person shooters since it appeared on the scene in 2001 as a throw-back to the hectic shooters of the mid 90’s like Doom, Quake and Duke Nukem, where as most FPS games had gone more serious and slowed down in the vein of Half-Life. While there hasn’t been a mainline title in the series since 2011’s Series Sam 3: BFE, there have been several small, indie style games released while we wait for a presumed fourth entry (Wikipedia says 2019, we’ll see…). This latest title fits in to that indie series, playing similar to other twin tick shooters like Smash TV and Robotron. Dodge hundreds of bullets, enemies and traps as they float around the screen, blasting your way through to the end.
Mechstermination Force (Switch) – Releases Apr. 4th
The creator of Gunman Clive is back with a brand new release, taking inspiration from Contra and Cuphead; a run and gun action game that is just the boss battles. You will climb your opponents, taking yet more inspiration, this time from Shadow of the Colossus, finding their weak points and blasting away at them until the giant mech falls to the ground. Playable either solo, or two player co-op, this one looks pretty fun, but might be too short and/or frustrating.
Dance of Death: Du Lac & Fey (PC) – Releases Apr. 5th
This is a point and click adventure game featuring two figures from the King Arthur stories, Sir Lancelot and Morgan La Fey who are, according to legend, immortal. They find themselves in 1880’s London, seeking clues as to the identity of Jack The Ripper. Eagle eyed viewers will, similar to last week’s Tropico 6 trailer, notice that it says this will be coming out in 2018; they obviously missed that date. This game also has Le Fey taking on the appearance of a talking dog, so GOTY?
Ports and Re-releases:
Borderlands: Game of the Year Edition (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Apr. 3rd
Just in time to capitalize on everyone’s excitement over the Borderlands 3 announcement, the original Borderlands is now being released on PS4 and Xbox One. Featuring updated graphics and all current DLC, this GOTY edition is also coming to PCs, with the upgrade being given for free to current owners of the game. There a few caveats to the PC version, however, as the game will not support HDR graphics, nor will it have the split screen co-op that the console versions will have.
Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (Switch) – Releases Apr. 2nd
Need to buy yet another copy of the first Darksiders? Don’t worry, because THQ Nordic has you covered, baby. Just buy it again, come on!
Bow to Blood: Last Captain Standing (PC/PS4/PSVR/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Apr. 3rd
This game features frantic, first person combat aboard flying machines who are on a reality competition show. As with most reality shows of this type, you must build alliances and get the audience on your side in order to advance to the next episode. I’ve seen a few articles that call this a potential sleeper hit, so maybe keep your eyes open on this one.
Islanders (PC) – Releases Apr. 4th
Steam says this is a “…minimalist strategy game about building cities on colorful islands”. In honor of that, this preview is also minimalist.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Each of our notable releases this week built strong legacies in their wake, helping to shape the future of the industry, both past and present; read on…
Ninja Blade (Xbox 360) – Released Apr. 7th, 2009: Wiki Link
Before From Software were known as the kings of brutally difficult exercises in pain and pleasure, they were just another weird Japanese game developer. Case in point, Ninja Blade is a hack and slash game with a heavy emphasis on QTEs (quick-time events) in which you play as Ken Ogawa, a member of an elite strike force made up of ninjas. Japan is being overrun by evil bugs that can mutate living creatures into giant, hideout monsters, so in classic action movie fashion, you air drop into the middle of the city, slicing and dicing your way through various encounters. Game play wise, this borrows heavily from titles like Ninja Gaiden and Devil May Cry, a style we’d continue to see used in Bayonetta and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I really enjoyed this title, and unlike the more masochistic entries of their later years, this game is a great balance between arcade fluff and trial & error precision. Funny enough, From’s next game would be the first title in their Soulsborne series, Demon’s Souls, a game that is about as far from this title as you could possibly get in terms of combat, difficulty and tone. Their latest title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice seems to fit in a place between these two, and while I enjoyed that title to a degree, it fails in its attempt to try and please both camps.
Team Fortress Classic (PC) – Released Apr. 7th, 1999: Wiki Link
1996’s Quake brought not just the first person shooter into the 3D realm for the first time, it also brought along a community of modders and armchair video game developers. Three college kids from Australia, Robin Walker, John Cook and Ian Coughley were some of those modders, who thought it would be fun to turn Quake into a class based, team deathmatch game. They released their mod in 1996 and soon found a huge following, creating a community almost as big, and just as engaged, as the Quake deathmatch community. Over the coming months they would continue to improve their game and gain more fans and notoriety in the business. Valve was one of those companies in the business who took notice, and offered to hire all three men, with only Coughley declining (something his two friends would tease him about for years). After working on Half-Life’s multiplayer mode, the two young men would go on to release a new version of Team Fortress that was a mod of Half-Life. Not long after its release, Valve announced that a proper sequel to the original mod would be released using Steam’s Source Engine. This title would go into development hell for several years, completely change its graphical style, and be released in 2007 as Team Fortress 2. As of 2018, Robin Walker was still employed at Valve, while John Cook left in 2016 to start his own company, Sodium Games. If you’d like a much more comprehensive history I highly recommend this article from Shack News: https://www.shacknews.com/article/103827/threading-the-needle-the-making-of-quake-team-fortress
Black Knight 2000 (Arcade) – Released Apr. 4th, 1989: Wiki Link
In 1980 the world was given a gift from pinball designer Steve Ritchie, Black Knight, a brutal journey through agony as you would try, usually in vain, to take down the titular Black Knight. Nine years later we would get a sequel table, Black Knight 2000 which brought the game into the next decade with some modern improvements, but still retaining that brutality, as well as the famous “Magna-Save” feature, in which players could control a magnet to try and keep their ball from going down the drain. Both Black Knight and Black Knight 2000 would be available digitally through Farsight’s The Pinball Arcade, but have since been delisted due to licensing rights (the currently reside with Zen Studios, makers of Pinball FX). Ritchie will continue the Black Knight series by designing a third table, named Sword of Rage, featuring even more modern pinball upgrades, as well as featuring music by Scott Ian of Anthrax and Metalocalypse creator Brendan Small, as well as the voice of Ed Robertson from…Barenaked Ladies?