Welcome to 2020, video game fans! I hope you got some good stuff over the holiday because there’s nothing very notable coming out this week.
What is coming out? Well, generally there are a ton of ports and shovelware that come out for the Switch every week, I just don’t highlight them because they’re, well, garbage. However, these are the only titles I can find, so here they are:
- Blackmoor 2: The Traitor King (Switch) – Releases Jan. 6th
- Invisible Fist (Switch) – Releases Jan. 6th
- 140 (Switch) – Releases Jan. 9th
- THOTH (Switch) – Releases Jan. 9thth
- Aborigenus (Switch) – Releases Jan. 10th
- Drunk-Fu: Wasted Masters (Switch) – Releases Jan. 10th
- Technosphere (Switch) – Releases Dec. 10th
Exciting, right? Aside from these games it’s pretty much a dry bone valley. Sorry folks.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Three action games were released this week 10, 20 and 30 years ago. One soared, one was neutered, and one might as well have never existed; check ’em out.
Bayonetta (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Jan. 5th, 2010: Wiki Link
After Capcom shuttered Clover Studio, developers Shinji Mikami, Atsushi Inaba, and Hideki Kamiya (along with a fourth partner Tatsuya Minami) created the company Platinum Games. Each former Clover Studios developer had their specific pet project that they worked on, following a publishing deal with Sega. Their first two games were Inaba’s MadWorld and Infinite Space, with their third game, Bayonetta, coming from Hideki Kamiya. Taking inspiration from his Capcom series Devil May Cry, Bayonetta stars the titular heroine, who like Dante, spends her time killing creatures from the afterlife, but instead of fighting demons, Bayonetta fights angels. Using a combination of magic and gun play, Bayonetta is able to pull off dazzling moves that allow her to slow time, dance around her enemies, and blast them in the head with deadly precision. Using her hair, Bayonetta is able to call upon the denizens of hell to help her in the fight against heaven, making this one of most fun times you can have while being sacrilegious. Religious tear downs were just one of the controversies surrounding the game upon release, with the other being Bayonetta’s unbridled sexuality. When performing the summoning attacks, Bayonetta uses her hair to do this, but the hair is also her clothes, meaning that parts of her body are suddenly exposed, giving the player the thrill of partial nudity. Couple that with her voluptuous figure, bombshell looks, and flirtatious personality, and you have the trappings of fan service. The same old tropes against women were on full display in the game, and while one could argue that Bayonetta was a powerful, confident female protagonist, she was still dolled up and presented as a sex object for men to drool over. When it released the game was very well received by critics with many praising the bold new direction that Bayonetta took the action genre. With it’s grandiose set pieces and hyper stylized combat, the game was a breath of fresh air in a genre that was starting to feel a bit stale. In fact, famed Japanese magazine Famitsu gave the Xbox 360 version of the game a 40 out of 40, a rare perfect score, solidifying the game as an all time classic. Some critics, however, were not so drawn to the game, feeling it was a bit over the top and lacked realism, and of course there were some that were put off by the overt sexual nature of the character. The game would eventually get ports to the Wii U and Switch (with console exclusive rights to the sequel), and a 4K remaster would arrive on PC in 2017. Currently the game is slated to release on PS4 and Xbox One later this year, along with Platinum’s fourth game, Shinji Mikami’s Vanquish.
Silhouette Mirage (PlayStation) – Released Jan. 5th, 2000: Wiki Link
Like Platinum Games, the company Treasure was also founded by former members of a popular studio, this time it was Konami. While working on titles such as The Simpsons, Contra III, and Super Castlevania IV, developer Masato Maegawa became disillusioned by the corporate structure at Konami and left the studio with few key members of his team and founded Treasure. Their first title, Gunstar Heroes, which began as a project for Konami, was released for the Sega Genesis in 1993 and gave the studio it’s first hit with many outlets praising the game was a ground breaking achievement in the action game genre (much like Bayonetta was praised for it’s unique gameplay). With this success, and some lucrative licensing deals, Treasure was able to continue making games throughout the ’90’s, their most prolific decade. Silhouette Mirage was originally released in Japan in 1998 for the Sega Saturn, but didn’t make it west on the PSX until 2000 due to localization efforts that changed not just the game text, but also the game play. While the original Japanese version was notable for its frantic pace, the game was slowed down by publisher Working Designs, and made harder, overall, which is a bit rare for a Japanese release. For those not familiar with the game, you play as a witch named Shyna Nera Shyna who must use her unique abilities to repair the world after a catastrophe split a system called Edo into two separate entities. With this system damaged, all of Earth’s inhabitants have been either turned into silhouette’s or mirage’s, and in order to defeat an enemy your character must be facing one direction or another, making this one of many Treasure games to employ this style of gameplay. This isn’t one of Treasure’s most well known games, and after playing about an hour of it I can’t say that I really love it, but there’s still some decent fun to be had with the game if you can find a copy. Treasure has gone kind of silent these last few years, with no new game since 2014’s Japan only Gaist Crusher God, but maybe one day we’ll see them make a big comeback, but maybe not with a sequel to Silhouette Mirage.
Mystic Defender (Genesis) – Released Jan. 1990: Wiki Link
In the early days of the Sega Genesis we saw the company struggle a bit with finding a killer app. While it had solid arcade ports like Altered Beast and Golden Axe, they were still churning out generic titles that did little to inspire confidence in the console. Case in point, the action game Mystic Defender, a sequel to the Master System game Spellcaster (though no reference seems to be made to it in this title). Mystic Defender, based on a manga/anime called Kujaku Ou, or Spirit Warrior in North America, is a run of the mill side scroller in which you take the protagonist Joe Yamato (Kane in Spellcaster, Kujaku/Akira in Kujaku Ou) and fight your way through several bland looking levels fighting various demons and monsters. Despite the generic premise, title, and hero name, these enemies are surprisingly detailed and unique. Not only that, but they are are fairly gory and grotesque, showing again that the Genesis was trying to appeal to an older market that Sega felt was under served on the NES. Suffice to say, Mystic Defender did not set the world on fire or cause a huge upswing in Sega Genesis sales, nor has it been re-released in subsequent years from what I can tell, so you’ll need to resort to more nefarious methods to play this game today (but I wouldn’t recommend it).