New Game Releases 01/21/20 – 01/27/20

It’s another slow week folks, and with all of the game delays it’s not looking to get any better in the first half of the year. Take your time getting through Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, ain’t nothing going on here.

Kingdom Hearts 3: ReMind (PS4) – Releases Jan. 23rd (Comes to XBone on Feb. 25th)

When we last left the group at the end of Kingdom Hearts III, Sora looks down at the blood covering his hands, unable to cope with the events that drove him to such madness. King Mickey’s lifeless body sat in the middle of the throne room as Donald and Goofy kneel next him, wondering how they could have not seen the signs of evil. “Your blind devotion to King Mickey was the cause of your clouded judgement, Donald and Goofy!” screamed Buzz Lightyear, propping himself up with the Sword of Eternal Flame after losing his right leg. With a soft whimper, Goofy lifts his head, “Gwarsh, I’m really sorry Buzz. If Donald and I hadn’t been tricked you would still have your leg. When Wreck It Ralph pulled out that RPG and shot you, while under Mickey’s mind control, I thought he was the real culprit, uh-yuck“. He lowered his head again, solemnly. Donald, visibly shaken, stands up and grabs Sora’s Keyblade. He closes his eyes and takes a breath, “We…trusted…you…WE TRUSTED YOU!!“. Donald, in his rage, begins pummeling the already dead Mickey, turning red and spouting gibberish like he did in those old cartoons. Goofy begins to sob uncontrollably, while Sora falls to the ground in the fetal position. “I wish we could just forget this whole thing“, Sora says, “but instead it’ll always be on my mind, and these blood stains on my hand will always…ReMind me!” *END CREDITS*

You’re giving me too many things…
Lately you’re all I need…
You smiled at me and said…

Okay, you got me, I haven’t played KHIII all the way through, but this is probably close to what happened, right? In any case, if you needed more story then the next chapter arrives this week, and it has Final Fantasy characters!

Psikyo Shooting Stars Alpha (Switch) – Releases Jan. 21st

While all of these shoot ’em up titles are already available on the Switch eShop individually, it is always nice for game preservationists and collectors to have a physical copy to hold on to. As already seen by the closing of the Wii’s online store, digital games do have a potential shelf life, and once a company decides that it is no longer financially viable to keep a digital storefront open (or they lose the licensing rights), those games are gone. If you’re a fan of old school arcade SHMUPS then you can’t do much better than the Psikyo library of games. In the Alpha collection you get six titles; Strikers 1945, Strikers 1945 II, Strikers 1945 III (Strikers 1999), Sol Divide, Dragon Blaze, and Zero Gunner 2. All classics in their own regard, and each just as brutally difficult as the next. If you’re looking for even more action, the Bravo collection will release next month, or like I mentioned, you could just buy each game individually on the eShop today.

Rugby 20 (PC/PS4 – UK & AUS only?/Xbox One) – Releases Jan. 23rd

Hey all you rugby fans out there, it’s that time of year to once again show your devotion to the Glasgow Warriors or the Leicester Tigers as you head for the…goal, endzone, net? I know nothing about rugby, but if you’re a fan then this is probably a big deal. It does seem that the PS4 version is not coming to North America, so if you’re a fan in the U.S. you’ll need to either own an Xbox One or PC.


Ports and Re-releases:

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD (Switch) – Releases Jan. 23rd

Originally released as an Xbox exclusive in 2005, Switch owners are now getting a chance to play this classic fifteen years later, nearly to the day (originally came out on Jan. 25th, 2005). The fourth game in the Oddworld series, Stranger’s Wrath is a first/third person shooter set in a western themed world starring the titular Stranger, a bounty hunter with a dark secret, in search of a lot of moolah. While the original Xbox game received high critical praise, it was a financial disaster, selling very poorly. Subsequent releases on PC, PS3 and PS Vita helped bolster sales a little bit, and by 2014 the game had sold roughly 1.2 million copies. A Wii U version was announced a few years ago, but has been quietly shelved with the focus, it seems, being placed on a Switch port instead. This is a wonderful game that deserves your attention, so if you’ve been sleeping on it for these past fifteen years then please do yourself a favor and give it a look.

Sega Ages: Fantasy Zone/Shinobi (Switch) – Releases Jan. 23rd

Sega continues to give the Switch a heaping dose of arcade goodness with their Sega Ages series. This week we are getting two phenomenal titles with Fantasy Zone and Shinobi. While Shinobi is probably the more popular of the two, Fantasy Zone is a classic in its own right, taking inspiration from titles like Defender and giving inspiration to subsequent SHMUP games. As is the norm for these releases, expect a few new bells and whistles, including some brand new costumes and moves in Shinobi.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf (Switch) – Releases Jan. 23rd

If the only two constants in life are death and taxes, then the two constants in video games are Switch ports and Warhammer. I feel like I talk about a new Warhammer game every few weeks, so someone must be buying them. I enjoy the series, and am intrigued by the tabletop game, but at what point does it become overkill? We get one Madden every year and even then people are like “Woah, slow down with all the Maddens“. Alright, so is this one worth your time? Based on the Steam reviews, which come in as “mixed”, probably not, but I’ll give a brief summary if you’re still interested. Space Wolves was originally released as a F2P game on mobile devices back in 2014, and was eventually ported to PC as a full priced game with no need to buy the content with real money. However, with this being a collectible card game you still needed to chase after the best cards, and so, with the ability to earn in-game currency, you will grind match after match against the enemy AI on your journey to get a slightly better version of a card you already have. It sounds painfully dull, but if you are a fan of the series, and don’t mind grinding, there might be some fun to be had with this.



Shenmue III: Battle Rally (PC/PS4) – Releases Jan. 21st

Hey, do you like Shenmue and Sonic R? Cool, this is for you.

Mortal Kombat 11 – Joker (PC/PS4/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jan. 23rd

The klown prince of krime is summoned to the Netherrealm to kompete in the klassiest kompetition of karnage since the gladiator fights in the Roman kolosseum. Kan you dig it!!


Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:

This week we have a trio of sequels to discuss, including one of the greatest games of the 2010’s; read on…

Mass Effect 2 (PC/Xbox 360) – Released Jan. 26th, 2010: Wiki Link

The amount of text needed to adequately discuss Mass Effect 2 is so much more than I generally devote to these write-ups, so let me just say off the bat here, this is probably the best science fiction RPG of all time. After the release of the original Mass Effect, BioWare would quickly begin work on its sequel. With the second game continuing the story of your character from Mass Effect, the developer had to come up with a way for Commander Shepard to lose their abilities, crew, and ship. After being attacked by an unknown ship, Shepard ends up sacrificing himself/herself, and in true sci-fi fashion, is brought back to life through dubious science, allowing the game to wipe the slate clean. It is also necessary to “reboot” Shepard, to allow you to choose a different path if you so choose, since the character is now, technically, a “new” person. With a new cast of characters to befriend (and romance), as well as a few returning favorites, Shepard must work with the aptly named Illusive Man (played brilliantly by Martin Sheen) to determine why colonies of humans are being kidnapped. Without getting too far into the plot, let’s just say that there’s more to this than meets the eye, and Shepard begins to suspect that the Illusive Man might not be the most trustworthy person in the galaxy.

Thane with the female version of Shepard, colloquially known as “Femshep”.

BioWare had a really big task at hand in following up the first Mass Effect, and after playing through part 2 you can see that they really put their best effort into making this game something that would surpass the original. The writing was better, the characters were more complex, the controls improved, the RPG character elements, while scaled back, were improved, and, most of all, the combat was improved. While the first game was still a monumental achievement, there were parts of it that dragged, like driving around an empty planet looking for materials, replaced by a (also tedious) planet scanning mini game. Hey, you gotta pad the play time somehow. When critics got a hold of the game they were unanimous in their praise, and if the first Mass Effect was a crowning achievement, then Mass Effect 2 was an outright masterpiece. However, while the first game had been a joint venture with Microsoft, Mass Effect 2 was co-funded by EA. While this initially meant that Mass Effect had a good chance of coming to other platforms (it would appear roughly one year later on PS3), this also meant that the typical EA bullshit might follow. It would take some time before EA completely bungle BioWare and ultimately destroy the franchise, but at least we still have Mass Effect 2, a near perfect game that once again showed the power of storytelling that video games can bring to a mass audience.

Mario Party 2 (N64) – Released Jan. 24th, 2000: Wiki Link

After a successful showing with its first outing, it didn’t take long for Nintendo to release Mario Party 2, making it another flagship title in the Nintendo library. Despite the fairly convoluted premise, the unbridled joy/anger felt while playing the first game with friends and family was just too fun, and with those original 50 minigames starting to get a bit stale, players were ready for a whole new batch. This time the barest of plots was stamped onto the game, with Mario and his friends each vying for control of their own land, and unable to come to a consensus they decide that whoever can beat Bowser in Mario Party is the winner. The big gimmick in this game is that each character dresses up in a costume themed to the map they are in, like pirates in Pirate Land, to cowboys in Western Land. After paying out the nose due to various lawsuits stemming from the first game, Nintendo did not include any minigames that required the player to rotate the joystick on their Nintendo 64 controller. It did, however, introduce battle minigames in this entry, a long time staple of the series. While the first game was pretty well received by critics, the second game was slammed a bit by critics who didn’t think the sequel did much to iterate on the original, and continued to be unimpressed by the single player aspect of the game, which basically non-existent. I skipped this one when it came out, not sure why, just figured one was enough. Now we’ve got eleven or twelve of these damn things, what has life become?

Double Dragon II: The Revenge (NES) – Released Jan. 1990: Wiki Link

Developer Technos Japan had a pretty big January/February with three titles all getting U.S. ports. While we talked about River City Ransom last week, and discussed how it was basically ignored by all but the hardcore due to it’s non-linear gameplay and RPG elements, the sequel to the immensely popular Double Dragon was a smash success. The game continued the strong gameplay of the first title, while adding in a tighter level design, a more engaging story, and allowing for a second player, finally making the game true to its name on the NES. With the NES entering its fifth year in North America, you were really starting to see games on the console start to push the boundaries of what the machine could do, with titles becoming more engaging, putting just as much value on the story as the gameplay. While considered barebones when compared to a modern game, the steps taken to make Double Dragon II: The Revenge a more “cinematic” experience was part of a larger wave of groundbreaking titles in the late 80’s/early 90’s. For fans of the series, or if you’re just curious and want to give it a try, the game is currently available on the 3DS and Wii U as part of the virtual console, and can be played on your Switch if you pay for the online membership.