You would think that the release of a long anticipated sequel and a new gaming platform would put a lot of us in super hype mode, but this week honestly feels really hollow. It’s not going to get much better after this either, folks. It’s probably best if you try and play/finish as many 2019 games as you can, lest you be left out when it comes time to talk about the best and worst of the year.
Shenmue III (PC – Epic Games Store/PS4) – Releases Nov. 19th
After an 18 year absence, Ryo Hazuki is back in Yu Suzuki’s cult classic Shenmue series. Following the events of Shenmue II, part III finds Ryo leaving Japan and heading to China as he continues to search for Lan Di, the man who murdered his father. Originally announced during a dynamite Sony E3 press conference which also included the announcements of long rumored games like Final Fantasy VII Remake and The Last Guardian, Suzuki came on stage to say that Shenmue III would be crowd funded through Kickstarter, which had itself been the harbinger of success for other “forgotten” titles/genres like Broken Age, Pillars of Eternity, and Mighty No. 9. Initially only seeking $2 million dollars in funding, the game would raise that amount in just eight hours, eventually reaching a total of $6.3 million. While it would raise another ~$1 million post campaign, the game would still require more funding, leaving Sony and Deep Silver to pony up some extra cash. While it is unknown how much they ended up giving, it’s likely a far cry from the $47 million dollars the first game received. Pre-release chatter has been tepid, at best, with most people saying that it is mostly a game made for the fans, tying up the loose ends left by the first two titles. It’s a bit of a tragedy that a game series that was once so beloved, with a demand for a sequel so high that Sega and Suzuki were constantly given opportunities by both Sony and Microsoft to make one, is finally coming out to so little fanfare. The game is already discounted by $10 on Amazon, going for $49.99, and various retailers are already saying they will be discounting the game for as low as $34.99 on Black Friday. However, despite the subdued pre-release reception, if you loved the first two games then you better hop on your forklift and go to your nearest retailer for a copy, before all the sailors pick one up.
This should catch you up on the first two games:
Potential spoilers, view at your own risk:
Garfield Kart: Furious Racing (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 19th
The first Garfiled Kart was released on the 3DS and PC in 2013, now we finally have the…sequel…remaster…? Whatever, it’s that lovable orange cat we all can’t get enough of, from his musings on Mondays to his penchant for lasagna, Garfield has been delighting us for over forty years (holy shit, I just realized that I love lasagna because Garfield loves it). Join the grumpy gus and his many friends like John, Odie, that veterinarian lady, Nermal (probably), and the other ones. It should at least be better than Hello Kitty Kruisers, right?
Google Stadia – Launches Nov. 19th
We are continually being told that cloud gaming is the future of the hobby, particularly by the companies that want us to buy it. Sony does it, Microsoft will start doing it, and now Google is throwing their hat into the ring. The problem is, though, that while the concept of being able to play any game, anywhere, on just about any device, while great in theory, needs to be worth your time and money. Right now, Google Stadia is not worth your time or money, not really. Hardcore gamers need a reason to leave their PC or console of choice, and with no exclusive titles or killer app, Stadia has very little to offer them. You might ask, “what about casual players then“, okay, sure, this could be appealing to them, but let’s think about their choices. Right now they can play games on their phone, for free, or they can pay for Apple Arcade and play a bunch of games for only $5 bucks a month. Do you really think they’ll sign up for a new service and then pay $59.99 per game? Let’s also not forget that this service is likely to eat up just about every data plan on the market, and while it may tout 4K gaming and HDR, it is the typical “service only available in certain areas and with certain plans”situation. While the appeal of not having to spend a couple grand on a high end gaming PC is worthwhile, as is the prospect of not having to wait 30-60 minutes for a digital game to download or install, Google Stadia is not currently the answer. Finally, if you’re the type of person who gets annoyed when a game is removed from digital storefronts, what happens when Google (very likely) shuts Stadia down in 3 or 4 years? What will happen to your games? This is a dicey situation, folks; tread carefully.
If you’re still intrigued, though, check out this launch library that is already available on all modern consoles and digital PC storefronts:
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
- Attack on Titan: Final Battle 2
- Destiny 2
- Farming Simulator 2019
- Final Fantasy XV
- Football Manager 2020
- Grid 2019
- Just Dance 2020
- Metro Exodus
- Mortal Kombat 11
- NBA 2K20
- Rage 2
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
- Samurai Shodown
- Tomb Raider
- Trials Rising
- Wolfenstein: Youngblood
Narcos: Rise of the Cartels (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Nov. 19th
After a wonderful write-up on the Grand Theft Auto series for the recent Franchise Festival, there was some debate in the comments about the morality of the characters and your role in playing as them. For all the ills of GTA, there’s not much else more disgusting to me than playing a game as drug dealers. In any case, there’s certainly people out there who love this Netflix series and can’t wait to play as their favorite degenerate with a complex back story for why they do what they do. It’s a bit of an interesting choice to make this game in the RTS genre, so this at least gets some points for not halfheartedly throwing together some piece of shit FPS title.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts (PC/PS4/XboOne) – Releases Nov. 22nd
You can tell this game is deep because it uses quotes from the Bible. Here’s a Bible quote for you in relation to this game, “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.
Ports and Re-releases:
Civilization VI (PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Nov. 22nd
2K and Firaxis’ plan to turn the populace into mindless zombies is finally reach its conclusion as Civilization VI is now available for all modern gaming platforms. Feel your ass expand as you sit in front of your television set for an unprecedented amount of time, leading the Romans to world domination by making everyone become Buddhists that stockpile nuclear weapons and visit your wonderful landmarks like Big Ben, the Galapagos Islands, the Sphinx, and the Colossus of Rhodes.
- Football Manager 2020 (PC/Stadia) – Releases Nov. 19th
- Munchkin: Quacked Quest (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Nov. 19th
- Still There (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 20th
- The Touryst (Switch) – Releases Nov. 21st
- Lost Ember (PC/PS4/XBone) – Releases Nov. 22nd
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Pixels, polygons, and back to pixels. These are the games we all salivated over in decades past…
Bit.Trip Void (Wii) – Released Nov. 23rd, 2009: Wiki Link
Gaijin Games Bit.Trip series is a remarkable achievement for an independent studio. What would eventually grow into a two part, six game series ended it’s first half with the surreal Bit.Trip Void. Players took on the role of “the void”, a nondescript black circle that would grow in size every time it absorbed a black dot, and shrink down in size when it absorbed a white dot. As with previous and future games in the series, Void uses a mix of rhythm and movement to guide players through a ballet of beeps and boops. Initially conceived by the developers as a representation of series mascot Captain Video’s psyche, they eventually settled on letting players interpret the game in their own way, not committing to one story or another. It was almost universally acclaimed upon release, gaining high marks for its impressive audio and visuals, and is still looked upon today as one of the highlights of the now defunct WiiWare service.
Donkey Kong 64 (Nintendo 64) – Released Nov. 22nd, 1999: Wiki Link
While this was not Rare’s first Kong-centric title for the N64, that honor goes to Diddy Kong Racing, it was their first major platforming release in the DK franchise since 1996’s Donkey Kong Country 3. Work on Donkey Kong 64 began almost immediately after DKC3 was completed, and the title was initially going to be one of the flagship releases for the new Nintendo 64DD add-on. When plans for that were scrapped in North America, the team moved development over to the main N64 console, but a game breaking bug prevented it from working properly unless you had the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pack peripheral. To avoid player confusion/frustration, every copy of the game was shipped with an Expansion Pack; a great discount to the consumer, but a costly expense for Rare. Originally Donkey Kong 64 was going to continue the tradition of the DKC titles by being a side scrolling platformer, but with the genre out of style, and the success of Super Mario 64 and Bajo-Kazooie, the team went ahead and transitioned it into a 3D platformer. When it was released the game was a smash with both critics and players, with several award nominations, winning a few of them. Players were overwhelmed by the size and scope of the game, and despite early praise, over the years it has gained a reputation as somewhat of a stinker. While it had impressive graphics (for the time) and solid controls, there were some that did not care for all of the collecting, and thought Rare was relying too heavily on collectible items and scavenger hunts to pad out the game length. Donkey Kong 64 was even blamed for the glut of collect-a-thon 3D platformers that followed, creating a template that other games willingly followed despite the frustrating, chore like nature of collecting random knick knacks. Unfortunately the game has not aged well, feeling antiquated and irrelevant when compared to other titles in the genre. This would be Rare’s last Donkey Kong release on a home console, choosing instead to focus on their own properties, bringing an end to their tenure on a once ground breaking series.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Arcade) – Released Nov. 15th, 1989: Wiki Link
In December of 1987 the youth of America were introduced to four turtles with extraordinary ninja skills in a one-off xmas special. Ten months later their long running television would premiere, delighting young and old with their misadventures. Seven months later they would get their first NES game which was fairly divisive, and then in November of 1989 they would get what is likely their most popular video game of all time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game. The beat-em-up genre was steadily growing in Japanese and American arcades, and 1989 was a banner year for the genre, with Turtles as one of the true highlights. Unlike the NES game, which was clunky, dark, grimy, and just downright difficult, the arcade game was a bright, flashy affair that looked and sounded exactly like the hit cartoon. The game was an instant success when it launched in arcades due to its relatively easy learning curve, its sensational graphics, and its even more sensational soundtrack. Featuring the theme song to the hit TV show, as well as several other bangin’ tracks, the game was an audio/visual feast for arcade goers, and with the ability to play as all four turtles simultaneously it was almost never without a crowd. I’ll never forget the first time I saw this game in an arcade, I was probably eight or nine years old and my uncle took me to the local coin-op to hang out. All I talked about was the Ninja Turtles at that age because, like most kids, I was totally obsessed. He asked me if I had played the video game and I said no, so when he brought me to the machine my jaw dropped. The opening shot of the New York City skyline coupled with the instantly recognizable theme song was like a shot of pure adrenaline into my brain. He put a quarter in the machine, I picked my favorite turtle, Michelangelo, and was soon introduced to one of my very first cut scenes; the turtles standing on the rooftop looking at April’s burning apartment building, and guess what…THEY FUCKING TALKED! I had never before in my life felt like I was playing a movie or a TV show, but with those graphics and the entire presentation, I really felt like I was playing an episode of the show. I remember having a lot of trouble with the Robotic Unicycles, or Roadkill Rodney’s, and I couldn’t get past them, but over time I would keep playing, practically begging my parents to take me to Chuck E. Cheese or the local pizza parlor for a few games, getting slightly better with each play. Anytime I’d see it in the wild, be it at a 7-11, a restaurant game room, heck, even Disneyland, I’d have to play it. There were so many neat little touches, like the tv’s in the background that would show April screaming for help, the ability to hit fire hydrants to make water come out, and of course the genius move of having the turtles say a “who put the lights out” whenever they fell down an open manhole (complete with cute animation), which would almost guarantee that any child would do this over and over again, thus necessitating the need for more quarters to play. The game would eventually get ported to the NES and its engine would serve as the basis for almost all Turtles games to come, including an arcade sequel, Turtles In Time, that would be released in 1991 to even more critical acclaim. The game would appear as a secret unlockable bonus a few times here and there in various releases for the Game Cube, PS2, and Xbox, and would eventually receive a proper re-release for the Xbox Live Arcade in 2007. As is the case in our world of expiring licenses and corporate greed, the game has since been delisted, making finding a way to play this wonderful game quite a challenge for fans like myself who grew up on this wonderful classic.