We’ve hit one of those strange weeks where there isn’t really a major new release to speak of, but there are a ton of interesting smaller/indie titles coming out. These are the games you’re likely to get free with a Humble Bundle in three years, or buy during a Steam sale for $1.99, but if you like to see quality indie titles get made on a consistent basis then you should probably pick up one of these at full price. Just sayin’.
Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 8th
Trine is one of those titles that I know exists, but just can’t tell you much about. I have the first game, possibly the second, but in all honesty, I just don’t know what I can say about it. “Wow, what a ringing endorsement of this week’s featured title” you must be thinking. I’m sure the developer, Frozenbyte, would be really thrilled to hear that as well, since they’ve devoted 10+ years of their company’s life to this series. For those unfamiliar, you play as three separate protagonists, at the same time. There are puzzles to solve and enemies to defeat, and only by switching between each on the fly will you be able to succeed.
Indivisible (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 8th
From the people who brought you the fighting game Skullgirls, comes a brand new action RPG; Indivisible. The premise is slightly generic, a young girl must go on a quest to save her world from being destroyed, but the combination of side scrolling platforming and turn based RPG battles sounds promising. We also can’t talk about this game and not mention the gorgeous hand drawn art courtesy of illustrator Mariel Cartwright, aka Kinuko. I’m a big fan of her work, particularly the clothing designs she’s done for Mega64, and I’m happy to spend a few hours running through a world that she helped illustrate.
This also gives me an excuse to share one of my favorite Mega64 videos, The Cell Saga In Five Minutes, which features Cartwright in the role of Android 18.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 8th
The first Yooka-Laylee game, from former Rare developers, was a throwback to their N64 titles Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64, and its sequel, The Impossible Lair, is a throwback to an even earlier Rare game, Donkey Kong Country. With multiple 2D graphical styles, the team is really trying their best to make this not just an SNES nostalgia trip, but really celebrate where 2D side scrollers have gone in the last 35 years. With multiple outlets praising the game pre-launch, this title might actually be worth taking a look at.
River City Melee Mach!! (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Oct. 10th
Boasting itself as the original battle royale brawler (taking swipes, I assume at Fortnite and Smash Bros.), River City Melee Mach is the latest title in the Kunio-Kun series. Looking at video of the game, I’m not seeing a whole lot of difference between this title and 2017’s River City Melee: Battle Royal, aside from what is likely just new stage and characters. Boy, does it have a lot of characters, 180 to be exact; can you tell them apart?
Doraemon Story of Seasons (PC/Switch) – Releases Oct. 11th
The magical cat Doraemon has been delighting Japanese children for fifty years now, making his first appearance in a 1969 managa. Since then, the lovable blue cat has had several anime series and films, his own video games, been on countless merchandise, and was even portrayed by Jean Reno for a series of Toyota commercials…all in Japan. Even with the rise of anime in the U.S. with shows like Speed Racer, Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, Doraemon didn’t get a bit push stateside. While there are currently, and I’m not exaggerating here, 120+ games featuring Doraemon and his human buddy Nobita Nobi (or Noby), the most we’ve ever gotten are a handful of mobile (three, according to the Google Play Store), with not a single console release that I can see. Now, after releasing in Japan just a few months age, we are finally getting our first Doraemon console title in North America, Doraemon Story of Seasons. If you’re wondering why this looks very Harvest Moon-eqsue, well, that’s because it is Harvest Moon, as Story of Seasons is the title of those games in Japan. This crossover is a bit of a ‘best of both worlds’ situation, as we not only get our first(ish) Doraemon game, but we also get a brand new Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons game. It should be noted, however, that the game received a slightly lower than anticipated response for its perceived lack of Doraemon, so be warned super fans.
GRID (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 11th
THE CARS GO FAST IN THE CITY!!!!!
Ports and Re-releases:
Call of Cthulhu (Switch) – Releases Oct. 8th
Hey all you Lovecraft/Nintendo fans, had your fill of The Sinking City? Why not sink your tentacles into last year’s PC/PS4/XBone title Call of Cthulhu, a game that was met with a collective “meh”. Maybe one of these days someone will make a good Lovecraft video game. My favorite piece of Lovecraft gaming is still the board game Eldritch Horror, followed by Elder Sign.
Trine: Ultimate Collection (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 8th
Want all your Trine games on one system? Good news, there’s a collection coming that features all four games in one package.
Frostpunk (PS4 /Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 11th
This was probably my favorite PC exclusive title last year, a fantastic (and bleak) title from the creators of This War Is Mine. In Frostpunk, you take on the role of leader/mayor/god king of a small settlement following a worldwide catastrophe that has plunged the world into an eternal winter. As the weeks progress you must make tough choices about how to grow your settlement, who you allow to live there, how your society will function, and what parts of the wilderness to explore. Do a good job and your people will worship you with the utmost reverence, but do poorly and you’re likely to end up on the wrong end of a rope.
Burgertime Party (Switch) – Releases Oct. 8th
The classic arcade game Burgertime is back, but this time it’s a four player free for all, just like the original designers intended.
Chikara: Action Arcade Wrestling (PC) – Releases Oct. 8th
Hey, remember the 90’s, weren’t they sick? Grab a twelve pack of Josta and stay up all night with your friends playing this throwback wrestling title from VICO Game Studio.
Concrete Genie (PS4) – Releases Oct. 8th
It was difficult to decide what I featured up top versus the “Everything Else” section, so while Concrete Genie might be down here in the slums, it still looks like a marvelous little game. After his town is plunged into darkness, a young aspiring artist named Ash finds a magical paintbrush that he uses to bring his art to life. Using his newfound powers, he is determined to rid his town of darkness and bring light and joy back into the lives of the people around him.
John Wick Hex (PC – Epic Games Store) – Releases Oct. 8th
“I’m not sure if you’ve heard of this movie John Wick, but its pretty sick. There’s a video game coming out based on the movie, and I bet it’ll be pretty sick too“.
– Some guy in college talking to his girlfriend
Valfaris (PC/Switch) – Releases Oct. 10th
We’ve already had a metal themed side scrolling platformer, Slain: Back From Hell, but it kind of sucked. Now we have Valfaris, which is supposed to be a bit more like Castlevania, or Contra, or Hollow Knight. I think it looks pretty good, but I also thought Slain looked good, so I’ll be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach with this one.
I was too lazy to look up these last four game’s synopsis’, so uh, here we go:
Mistover (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Oct. 10th
Mistover has you taking on the role of a cloud of fog, where you must bring the morning dew to several lawns in a neighborhood. Failure to do so proves that Global Warming is a myth.
Pine (PC/ Switch) – Releases Oct. 10th
In this Chris Pine dating simulator, you must navigate the backlot of Universal Studios trying to score a date with the perfect woman. Is it Judy the tram tour guide, Wendy the female lead of the Waterworld stunt show, Drusilla the accountant, Becky the girl who serves butterbeer in Harry Potter land, or film director Ava DuVernay?
Reky (PC) – Releases Oct. 10th
This was supposed to be a game about the film Rocky, but they couldn’t get the licensing rights in time. Instead, Reky must fight Apocko Kreep for the title of world’s greatest kick boxer. I’m not sure why they changed it to kick boxing, it’s not like anyone owns the rights to the sport of boxing.
Tangle Tower (PC/Switch) – Releases Oct. 10th
This VR game has you untangling the wires behind a rack of servers in a Google data center. I think it’s pretty sick when VR games just have you doing menial jobs for fun, don’t you?
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
There were some pretty interesting titles released this week in years past; have you played them?
Brütal Legend (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Oct. 13th, 2009: Wiki Link
After the launch of Psychonauts it almost seemed like Double Fine might not get to make a second game due to its commercial failure; thankfully this was not the case, and Double Fine was able to continue moving forward, getting funding from EA (after an Activision deal fell through) to create their second title, Brütal Legend. The game was originally just a title that creator Tim Schafer came up with in the early 90’s. He was so enthralled with it that he knew he’d use it one day, so when it came time to pitch their second game to publishers he went with it. When first pitched he was told by some companies to switch the musical style to either country or hip hop, as it was perceived that metal music just wasn’t a popular genre, but with the success of Guitar Hero, which featured a plethora of metal and rock music, Schafer was finally able to see his vision come to fruition. Taking cues from 3D platformers, open world adventure games, rhythm games, and real time strategy games, Brütal Legend is a sort of an amalgamation of ideas that leaves the game feeling fun, but slightly half cooked. I don’t like to speak ill of Double Fine, or this game for that matter, because it really is a fun game to play, and their company does amazing work, but there’s just something missing here, with the focus of the game being pulled in too many directions you sort of lose track of what you need to be doing. Despite the lack of focus on the game play, there was a huge focus on the metal music genre. The game featured actor Jack Black who, as part of the group Tenacious D, plays some pretty wicked metal tunes, rounding out the cast of characters is a who’s who of metal; Lita Ford, Rob Halford, Ozzy Osbourne, and of course, Lemmy from Motorhead. As for the soundtrack, it has a whopping 107 tracks, all of which have been licensed for future releases (for now), and a free Rockband track pack was given out to players who purchased a copy of Brütal Legend at launch.
In typical Double Fine fashion as the Terry Gilliam’s of the industry, the game was almost shelved entirely when Activision came out and sued Double Fine, claiming they never gave up the publishing rights to the game. In a counter suit, Double Fine claimed that Activision was trying to strong arm them and hurt the release of the game, saying that they had cancelled it after a failed attempt to turn it into the next Guitar Hero game fell through (it suddenly makes sense why Warriors of Rock would come out about a year later). After overcoming this setback, EA put forth a massive marketing campaign, sending Jack Black and Tim Schafer to promote the game on late night television, hosting press conferences, and giving the game a huge presence at E3. However, despite all this marketing the game was met with a lukewarm reception from players. It is thought that EA spent too much time emphasizing the famous people and music in the game, and not enough time walking about, well, the game. It wasn’t really clear from trailers or marketing materials what you’d be doing in the game, and it’s rumored that EA downplayed the RTS elements of the game in order to sell more copies (the fear being that an RTS game wouldn’t sell very well). While critics were kind to the game, they too felt it was a bit half baked and lacked focus, which is a shame, because like I said, the game can be quite fun if you put yourself in the right mind set. Oh, one other thing, Uncharted 2 also came out that same day. That might have done something to the sales as well.
Thousand Arms (PlayStation) – Released Oct. 13th, 1999: Wiki Link
This hybird JRPG/dating sim is not one I hear a lot about anymore, likely because it never got any sequels. In this game you take on the role of Meis Triumph, a young womanizer who is suddenly thrust into the middle of a world ending catastrophe that only he can stop. Due to his skill at making weapons, Meis must find the five Sacred Flames before the Dark Acolytes do, lest they create tools that can be used to bring about the rise of chaos. That’s the JRPG part, the dating sim part comes in the admittedly gross sub game in which Meis must grow his relationship with various women in order to make his weapons stronger. I got through about 20 minutes of this and thought it had some really great looking cut scenes and voice acting, so maybe one of these days I’ll get around to seeing more of it; or not.
Prince of Persia (Apple II) – Released Oct. 3rd, 1989: Wiki Link
The popular Prince of Persia series got its start thirty years ago on the Apple II, delighting millions ever since. Featuring revolutionary, for the time, graphics and controls, the game was a big success for both creator Jordan Mechner and publisher Broderbund. Before Prince of Persia game characters moved a very mechanical and clunky manner, a limit of the game programming. What Mechner did instead was to use the animation technique of rotoscoping, filming video of his brother running, jumping, and doing all manner of acrobatic movements, and tracing them on screen. He stated that this was not a revolutionary “ah-ha” moment, but was actually to compensate for his own shortcomings as an animator. Nevertheless, players and critics were impressed with the incredibly life like movements of the characters and hailed the game as a groundbreaking achievement. With only a 60 minute game timer, players had to navigate the unnamed prince through a labyrinth full of enemies, traps, and other hazards, before finally dueling the evil Jafar and rescuing the princess. With an easy to learn, hard to master control scheme, players had to run through the game several times in order to memorize how to avoid certain traps and where to jump in order to clear a gap, among other things. The legacy of Prince of Persia was immediately felt in titles like Another World and Flashback, and due to its success would spawn two sequels with Broderbund, ending with the abysmally received Prince of Persia 3D, before then owner The Learning Company would sell its library to Ubisoft. It was here that Mechner got to make his final Prince of Persia game and revive the franchise with the universally acclaimed The Sands of Time. This would lead to Mechner being one of the few (if only) video game creators to have a say on the adaptation of his own creation, writing the first draft of the Prince of Persia film, and acting as a producer. It’s unclear what Ubisoft’s intentions are with the franchise at this point, but with no new console title since 2010’s The Forgotten Sands, I think it is safe to assume that the prince has saved his last princess for a while.