Summer came and left without a big hit…
All at once I looked and the games were dumb…
And now you’re looking back at me…
Searching for a season that can have sick ass games like before
Fall’s almost back to give good stuff to you…
Somehow the games all look the same…
I’d give my life for one more night…
Of having sick ass games that are tight; oh, please!
Take me there again…
Telling Lies (iOS/PC) – Releases Aug. 23rd
The critically acclaimed Her Story was a breath of fresh air for a certain segment of players in 2015. Designer Sam Barlow, who was probably best known at that point for his work on two of the lesser regarded Silent Hill games (Origins and Shattered Memories), released an FMV game, a genre that had long been though dead, in which the player would go through police interview videos in an attempt to find a missing man. The game was notable for its lead actress Viva Seifert, a musician and former Olympic gymnast, who would carry the entire game on her performance; a performance so captivating that it led to her winning “Best Performance” at The Game Awards 2015. With a bona fide hit under his belt, Barlow’s next title has been highly anticipated, and from the trailer above it seems like he is taking the concepts from Her Story, and multiplying it. Instead of focusing on just one character, Telling Lies appears to focus in on four major characters, as well as some other side characters. Using a unique system in which players can highlight particular keywords and search for them, you must piece together another mystery using over two years of footage obtained by the NSA (in the game…not for real…) and determine why these people were under surveillance, and what our character’s role in this whole thing is. The cast is full of familiar faces, including Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus, Spider-Man: Homecoming), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse, Dark Phoenix), Kerry Bishe (Halt & Catch Fire), and Angela Sarafyan (Westworld). For those of you who may have thought the run time of Her Story was too short, Barlow has said that this game will be roughly four hours longer than that game, so that’s something.
Rad (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 20th
From Microsoft’s Double Fine Productions, and Bandai Namco, comes a 3D action game about mutation. Set in a 1980’s stylized version of the future, you must travel through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, beating up bad guy and gaining RAD new powers by mutating your body into various forms; like a strange, Cronenberg-esque wet dream. This is a roguelike game with procedurally generated levels, so no two playthrough’s will be exactly the same, so that adds a nice replay value. The overall goal of the game is to find “respirators”, large effigies that are supposed to be able to bring humanity back from the self imposed doom. Do we deserve to come back though?
Gears Pop! (Android/iOS/PC) – Releases Aug. 22nd
Sometimes an idea is so out there that it can’t help but be good, but honestly, who was asking for a Gears of War Funko Pop game? It’s not like these things aren’t popular though, in fact Funko made over $686 million dollars last year, with 82% of that revenue coming from the ubiquitous Pop figures. The idea, on paper, seems solid; take a successful franchise (Gears of War), take a successful product line (Fuko Pop), and put it on the most popular gaming device on the planet (mobile phones). Alright, so what is this game about? Well, if you thought it would be a Lego-esque beat-em up I wouldn’t blame you. The trailers seem to indicate this with its cute animations, but alas, it is not. From what I can tell, the game is a two player tower defense game, with you trying to send your army over to your opponents base to destroy it. Again, why this needed to be Gears of War meets Funko Pop is a baffling choice in my opinion, but then again, my favorite games are made by Japanese dudes, so what do I know?
Oninaki (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Aug. 22nd
Speaking of games made by Japanese dudes, the latest game from Square Enix’s Tokyo RPG Factory, the studio behind I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear, is coming out this week. JRPGs always spark my interest, but the problem is that they are so long, and my free time is so short, that I either never play them or start and stop a few hours in. What makes this one look a bit more promising is that it does not feature turn based battles, but instead is an action/adventure RPG, featuring fights closer to Secret of Mana than Final Fantasy. Set in a world where reincarnation is an accepted fact, the afterlife is full of people called Watchers. These Watchers are tasked with leading dead souls to their next destination, and now that I’ve written “dead souls” I can only think of Nine Inch Nails.
Ports and Re-releases:
Ape Out (Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 22nd
Ape Out is one of my favorite games to come out this year. It’s blend of hyper stylized graphics and violence is a poetic ballet of blood, bullets and jazz music. While PC, PS4 and Switch owners have been able to enjoy this title for several months, Xbox One owners can now join in on the fun.
Sega Ages: Space Harrier/Sega Ages: Puyo Puyo (Switch) – Releases Aug. 22nd
Continuing the celebration of their classic back catalog, Sega is releasing two arcade titles for the Switch this week; the faux 3D action game Space Harrier and the puzzle game Puyo Puyo. Finding versions of these games to play is not hard, as they are on just about every system and come in almost all Sega game collections, but now they’re on Switch, which makes them, like, ten times better.
Life is Strange 2: Episode 4 (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 22nd
Dontnod’s Life is Strange series continues to throw its super-powered coming of age protagonists through the gauntlet. Expect some laughter and some crying and then sit in stunned silence as you wait another few months for the concluding chapter in the tale of brothers Sean and Daniel Diaz.
Remnant: From The Ashes (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 20th
This is a multi-player monster hunting style game that appears to be trying to appeal to the Twitch/Mixer crowd. BTW, don’t forget to like and subscribe to this weekly columns, k THNX!!
Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution – Releases Aug. 20th
Would you do me if I said I pre-ordered this? I’d do me.
Mabel and The Wood – Releases Aug. 23rd
From Steam, “Hunt down massive beasts and, upon destroying them, shapeshift into their forms in order to use their powers to save or destroy the world. Players with less violent intent can find secret paths to complete Mable without killing anything, including bosses“. Seems like a platforming version of Undertale, and that isn’t bad at all.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
No new consoles released this week (that’s next week). Instead we’ve got a highly sought after collection, a forgotten rhythm game, and the most fun you’ll have time traveling outside of a Delorean.
Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii) – Released Aug. 24th, 2009: Wiki Link
Following the release of 2007’s Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Nintendo tasked Retro Studios with updating the first two games in the series to fit the play style of that game. Despite the Wii’s often abysmal motion controls, there were a few stand out titles that took great advantage of them, Metroid Prime 3 being one of them. Announced in May 2009, the trilogy bundle was finally released on August 24th in North America, followed later in Europe and Australia. One hold out, surprisingly, was Japan who got each game as separate releases. The game was a decent seller for Nintendo, but for some reason, by January of 2010 the game was discontinued in both the North America and Australia (but not Europe). This led to a huge mark-up in the secondary market, with copies selling for hundreds of dollars. In 2013, GameStop happened to come across a “significant stock” of “used” copies of the game (as well as another Wii rarity, Xenoblade Chronicles). GameStop decided to sell these used games at a sticker price of $84.99 due to what they said was significant demand. For a while, this was the only way to get this game, and frugal gamers would have to be content with likely never owning the collection. However, in 2015, Nintendo dropped a bombshell when they said that they would be selling Wii titles through the Wii U eShop, putting Metroid Prime Trilogy up as one of the earliest releases. This seemed to bottom out the secondary market almost immediately (similar to what happened with Earthbound when it was released on the virtual console). Now players who had held out on obtaining a copy could easily play the title on their Wii U’s, well, I mean, the twenty people who owned a Wii U.
Um Jammer Lammy (PlayStation) – Released Aug. 17th, 1999: Wiki Link
When Parappa the Rapper released for the PSX in 1996, the rhythm game genre was still in its infancy in North America. We were a long ways away from Guitar Hero, so the idea of playing music as a game wasn’t really on most people’s radar. Despite this, the game was a success for the young console and quickly made Parappa one of those characters you associated with the PlayStation brand. It’s no surprise then that a sequel would be made, but designer Masaya Matsurra and artist Rodney Greenblat decided that they wouldn’t make just a straight sequel (at least not yet anyway) to Parappa, but instead they wanted to focus on a new character, the hard rockin’, guitar playin’ Lammy. Similar to Parappa, Lammy is a young woman trying to figure out her place in the world. Fretting over her band’s first gig, Lammy must help various townsfolk with their problems, including putting out a fire, delivering a rabbit’s litter, flying an airplane, and building a guitar out of wood with a metal head lumberjack. This all culminates with Lammy and her band MilkCan, finally performing to a packed house that totally dig their sound. While the game did feature characters from Parappa the Rapper, it didn’t bill itself as a straight sequel, however, players who completed the game soon found out that they could replay the entire thing as Parappa, completely changing the style of each song from rock to hip-hop. This gave players not only two games in one package, but two versions of each song and a continuation of Parappa’s journey. A proper Parappa sequel would come out on the PS2 in 2001, and while Lammy and her band feature prominently in the game, there is not a Lammy version of those songs, making this title her only playable appearance (aside from an arcade version, I guess). Low sales of this title, and a decline in the rhythm game genre in general, means we’ll probably never get another Lammy or Parappa game, and a port to the PS3 is nigh unplayable on modern HD tv’s, making this a title that really is 100% of its time. If you slept on this, well, you missed out.
Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego? (PC) – Released Aug. 1989: Wiki Link
Released in 1985, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was a big hit for developer Broderbund, selling over four million copies over the course of a decade. Its mix of problem solving, historical/geographical trivia, and whodunit capering made it the perfect title for kids and adults, and was one of the earliest examples of how to use the video game medium to both educate and entertain. With any successful game, the sequels naturally followed, and after chasing Carmen around the world, the U.S. and Europe, players now had to chase Carmen and her V.I.L.E. henchmen across time. Using the patented Chronoskimmer, armchair sleuths would have to investigate various historical locations throughout time; feudal Japan, Mexico during the time of Pancho Villa, the Industrial Revolution in the U.S., just to name a few. As with the three earlier entries in the series, players would use the bundled in literature to help them, this time a mini-encyclopedia. The game received high praise from many in the entertainment industry, with outlets like Entertainment Weekly and Computer Gaming World calling it one of the best PC games of the time. Even the mother ship (The A.V. Club) sang the praises of this title, writing in 2014 that the game was a better Dr. Who video game than actual Dr. Who video games. While you can’t find a copy of the game for sale now, you can easily find copies of the game that will run either in your browser, or from various “abandonware” websites and playable through DOS Box. Your enjoyment of it now many vary, but for a group of computer literate kids in the late 80’s, early 90’s, these were masterpieces of educational entertainment.