This Valentine’s Day, give your loved one the game they deserve. Whether that’s fulfilling their wildest game designer dreams, being a tennis super star, finding epic loot FTW, beating the snot out of a self proclaimed god, or selling their personal data to China, they won’t be disappointed.
Dreams (PS4) – Releases Feb. 14th
After a roughly eight month early access period, Dreams is now ready to be fully released. From the creators of Little Big Planet, Dreams is another game builder, but where LBP was centered around creating side scrolling platforming levels (although some of the more creative users out there found other game styles to emulate), Dreams will allow would-be game designers to create just about any genre they want. Using easy to follow tutorials, players will learn the ins and outs of game design, allowing them to build the game of the dreams either alone or with a group of people online. Like Little Big Planet, there is a full game in here to help inspire you and to also unlock the various assets. While Super Mario Maker has the advantage of being able to create games using iconic characters and settings, Dreams allows you to build anything your imagination (and the constraints of the game) desires. What will you dream up?
AO Tennis 2 (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 11th
After releasing earlier this year on PC, AO Tennis 2 is coming to consoles this week to help you live out your wildest tennis fantasies. Set in the Australian Open (AO, get it), you have the choice of playing as one of several real life tennis players, or create your own, on your way to winning the big prize. Reviews of the PC version have been slightly mixed, with some praising the depth of the career mode and the character customization, while others can’t seem to get past the generic nature of the title, as well as various performance issues across the consoles (the Switch version is apparently rough) Still, there aren’t a lot of options out there for authentic tennis simulators, so perhaps this will whet your appetite until Sega gets off their butts and makes another Virtua Tennis.
Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold (Switch) – Releases Feb.14th
From Level-5, famed developer/publisher of such titles as Dark Cloud, Professor Layton, and Yo-Kai Watch, comes a remaster of their 2017 Japan exclusive 3DS title, Snack World. Created as a multimedia franchise, there is also a manga, an anime, and a toy line based on the series. Taking a page out of the Pokemon playbook, you are a dungeon crawler who collects two things, small creatures named ‘snacks’, and unique equipment called ‘jaras’. Playing either alone or with friends, you will take on various quests in your pursuit of epic gamer loot, and while most JRPGs can be a bit self serious, Snack World is more of a tongue in cheek, lighthearted affair. This might be the perfect title for that little brother/sister/cousin/niece/nephew out there who likes JRPGs, but hasn’t branched out past Pokemon.
Street Fighter V: Champion Edition (PC/PS4) – Releases Feb. 14th
Another game finally coming out of early access is Street Fighter V…I’m sorry? It’s already been released as a full price game? Are we sure that wasn’t just a practical joke? No? Wow, okay, um, well, this isn’t really a re-release, and it’s not quite an expansion, so I’ll just put it up here. If you’ve been sleeping on this title then maybe now is the time to finally pick it up, or wait until the inevitable “Ultra Hyper” edition, or whatever they inevitably call it.
Corruption 2029 (PC – Epic Store Exclusive) – Releases Feb. 17th
From the developers behind Mutant Year Zero comes Corruption 2029. Releasing exclusively on the Epic Games Store, this is yet another XCOM style tactical shooter that has you fighting in a war that takes place in a post apocalyptic United States. If murdering people while doing Destiny cosplay is your bag, well, have at it.
Ports and Re-releases:
Yakuza 5 Remaster/Yakuza Remastered Collection (PS4) – Releases Feb. 11th
After this week, the PS4 will be host to the entire Kazuma Kiryu saga with the release of Yakuza 5 Remastered. To further make this occasion so special, Sega is also releasing part 3, part 4, and part 5 on physical discs for all you collectors/preservationists out there. Plus, anyone who buys the remastered collection will receive an empty PS3 case for Yakuza 5 to…look at…put on their shelf…I don’t know, it doesn’t matter. The good news here is that PS4 owners will be able to play the entirety of the Yakuza series from 0 to the upcoming 7 (well, not Dead Souls, or that samurai one), finally giving life a purpose. A friend of mine just announced that they’re having a baby, but do they have a PS4 and all the Yakuza games in a physical format? Nope; point Andy.
Daemon X Machina (PC) – Releases Feb. 13th
The giant robot Switch exclusive Daemon X Machina is coming to PC this week, courtesy of Xseed Games. When rogue AI threatens all life on the planet, a group of pilots must take them out using super powered mechs with really, REALLY, big guns. This one kind of came and went back in the later part of 2019, so if you’ve been holding off on checking it, now might be the time to finally give it a look since things are a bit slow right now.
Florence (PC/Switch) – Releases Feb. 13th
Originally released on mobile devices in 2018, the interactive story Florence arrives on Switch and PC to help get you in the Valentine’s Day spirit. Players follow the story of a 25 years old woman named Florence, witnessing her relationship with a man named Krish grow and blossom into a full fledged romance. I didn’t read any plot details past this point so as to keep from being spoiled, but I’ve seen plenty of young adult romance movies to know that things are likely not going to turn out well, but who knows! Pop open a bottle of wine, turn the lights down low with your sweetheart, and press the A button to watch a couple of twenty-something’s fawn over each other.
Darksiders: Genesis (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 14th
Getting a late 2019 release on PC, the latest entry in the Darksiders series comes to consoles on Valentine’s Day. Is the romantic angle of Florence too cheesy for you? Need something a bit more hardcore? Well open up a bottle of mountain dew, turn on the colored LEDs of your sweetheart’s gaming keyboard, and frag the shit out of a bunch of monsters in this Diablo clone.
Warriors Orochi 4 Ultimate (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 14th
Like Street Fighter V above, the latest entry in the Warriors Orochi series is getting its “defnitive” edition, or “ultimate”, as the title suggests. Featuring new characters, sub stories, game modes, musou actions, and game play elements, the ultimate version of Warriors Orochi 4 should reignite the love and passion you had for the game when it first launched in 2018. I, for one, cannot wait to play this on Valentine’s Day, cracking open a nice tall bottle of Kirin, lightning some candles, and telling my wife and kid to go the fuck to sleep so I can mash buttons on my Switch all night. Ain’t love grand?
Dead Cells: The Bad Seed (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 11th
After multiple free updates, indie darling Dead Cells is finally releasing its first paid expansion. What does your hard earned dough get you; three new stages.
Metro: Exodus – Sam’s Story (PC/PS4/Stadia/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 11th
Well, we’ve finally made it folks, it’s been a year since the Epic Games Store started grabbing up major releases as PC exclusives, kicking off a torrent of unnecessary tribalism in the PC gaming market. Okay, so, on February 14th, Steam loyalists will now be able to pick up the “just okay” Metro: Exodus, and hopefully validating their choice to completely ignore it out of some kind of sick loyalty. However, three days earlier, Epic Games Store/console version owners can experience the second (and I assume final) piece of story DLC, Sam’s Story. Taking on the role of a United States marine who has been trapped in Russia since the bombs fell (that probably means something to someone who knows the story), you embark on a journey to return home, a terrifying quest full of danger that will test his skill and endurance. Can you make it home before Steam players have a chance to play it, just to rub it in their faces?
Fire Emblem: Three Houses – Cindered Shadows (Switch) – Releases Feb. 13th (or 12th?)
Just when you thought you had played through all three houses and maxed out your companionship levels in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Nintendo comes along and says “Wait a minute, I got a few more things for you“. The shackles are affixed once more with the inclusion of a brand new fourth house, the Ashen Wolves, with four characters to eat dinner with, have tea with, and force to sing hymns. On top of that, as if it wasn’t enough, there is a brand new side story to get through, a brand new location in the school to explore (yay?), and more quests, activities, and classes to experience. I guess it’s a good thing that FE: TH is so much fun to play.
- Azur Lane: Crosswave (PC/PS4) – Releases Feb. 13th
- Super Loop Drive (Switch) – Releases Feb. 13th
- Speedway Racing (Switch) – Releases Feb. 14th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
The 10 and 20 year old titles this week can only dream of being as huge as the 30 year old title. What did they lack that the oldest didn’t? Tanooki suits.
Dante’s Inferno (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Feb. 9th, 2010: Wiki Link
It’s a common trend in Hollywood to sometimes see two studios release movies that have the same theme; Volcano / Dante’s Peak, A Bug’s Life / Antz, Armageddon / Deep Impact, and the video game industry is no exception, take 2010 when we got the angel slaying witch game Bayonetta and the demon slaying templar game Dante’s Inferno. While neither of these games are straight copies of one another, it does seem that both had holy wars on the brain, just inverted. Coming off the smash success of Dead Space two years earlier, Visceral Games was looking to have a second hit franchise on their hands, but it wouldn’t pan out that way. Despite some early buzz, particularly for it’s slightly bizarre marketing campaign which saw reviewers being sent items related to the seven deadly sins, including a check for $200 that tested their greed, and a box that would play “Never Gonna Give You Up” non-stop until destroyed, showing their wrath, the game would only get slightly favorable reviews. While there was some promise shown with the combat and story in the early parts of the game, the end was criticized for feeling rushed and incomplete. Despite ending on a cliffhanger, lower than expected sales seemed to put any plans of a sequel on hold, keeping Dante forever in purgatory.
Ridge Racer 64 (N64) – Released Feb. 14th, 2000: Wiki Link
A Valentine’s Day Scenario, 2000: Another 12 hour day on the George W. Bush campaign behind you, and despite the good things you know about the best governor that Texas ever had, people still thought that John McCain was a viable choice. Luckily Rove had this bitchin’ idea on how to get the people in South Carolina to turn against the so-called “maverick”, but unluckily it meant long, loooong nights at the office coming up with the perfect lies and half-truths to come up. Tired as hell, you walk through the door and see your beautiful wife, the apple of y our eye, the woman you would do anything for. Seeing how distraught you are she grabs your hand and looks into you eyes, “Honey, I know things are getting crazy at work, and I just wanted you to know that I believe in you and what you’re doing. That’s why I went a little crazy this Valentine’s Day, and I got you a brand new sports car“. Tears welling up in your eyes you lightly touch her face and smile, “Oh darling, that is so, so, generous of you! I’ve been so busy with the campaign that I completely forgot about getting you a gift, I hope you understand“. Looking like she’s never been happier, your wife says, “I know dear, say, why don’t you go into the garage and see your new race car“. Holy moly, you think, “A race car? Oh my word, this is too much“, you say as you run to the garage. Opening the door you look in and…it’s empty, except for a single chair with a rectangle sized package. You suddenly feel cold, and as you walk towards the package you can hear your wife standing behind you, softly giggling with a giddiness of a school girl. You lift the package and unwrap it; she’s done it again, it’s no sports car, it’s a video game called Ridge Racer 64. Flashes of Valentine’s Day, 1989 come hurtling back to you, when she said you’d be golfing Pebble Beach, only to find out it was a fucking video game. It takes everything in you not to take the package and hurl at her in fit of unbridled rage, but like your hero, actor Kevin Spacey, a beacon of class and respect, you restrain yourself, and know that, like his character in American Beauty, you just need to find the happiness in the small moments (at least you think that’s what the movie was about). “Well,” your wife asks, “what do you think“? You walk up to her, kiss her softly on the forehead and say you love it. Retreating to the den you just had remodeled after getting a fat bonus from Enron for “helping” you pour out a glass of Maker’s Mark and unwrap the package. “At least she got me a game for the right system this time”, you say to yourself. Turning on the TV you change it to channel 3 and fire up the system…nothing. You check the connection and realize it isn’t plugged into the TV, but what’s this weird set of wires, and why are they red, white, and yellow? Where’s the coaxial cord? You splurged on the cherry oak floors and kept your old big screen television set thinking it was still state of the art, but it doesn’t have A/V hookups you need to play your Nintendo 64. “Nooooooo“, you scream into the night.
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) – Released Feb. 12th (or 9th, I guess), 1990: Wiki Link
By 1990, Mario was an international super star, on par with other classic characters like Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Ronald McDonald. It’s not really a surprise then that Super Mario Bros. 3 was a success, but it is interesting just how big the game made him. Following the success of Super Mario Bros. 1 & 2 wasn’t going to be an easy feat, so Shigeru Miyamoto and his team knew they had to do something groundbreaking, and it is this line of thinking that led to them trying, and using, several unique ideas. The game was initially conceived as a 2D isometric game, but the designers found it too difficult to jump, a core staple of the series, so this was quickly scrapped in favor of tradition side scrolling. Conceived as a stage play, Mario and Luigi would be summoned to the mushroom kingdom to help save the rulers of each land who had each been turned into animals. After rescuing these rulers, the two brothers would need to infiltrate Bowser’s castle and save Princess Toadstool again. With an emphasis on making the game accessible to players of varying skill levels, the game was made intentionally easier in the beginning parts of the game, with a greater number of power-ups and extra lives, and as you’d play the game you’d find those would occur less frequently. In an effort to differentiate itself from the first two titles (keeping mind that they were focusing on the Japanese version of part 2), Miyamoto and his team knew they needed a wider array of enemies. These would include new variations on the hammer brothers, like the ones that throw boomerangs, to brand new baddies like the chain chomp, inspired by a particularly mean dog that tormented Miyamoto as a child. Other new additions to the game would also go on to be used in subsequent Mario titles, things like the overworld map, the ability to fly, and suits that would transform Mario into various animals. The game was originally going to release much earlier, but a shortage of ROM chips kept the title from hitting its original goal, but this was a blessing in disguise, because someone in Hollywood had an interesting proposal for Nintendo.
Universal Studios was interested in making a film that they would describe as Tommy for the video game generation, and they wanted to feature Nintendo and their products in the movie. Seeing the potential marketing opportunity, Nintendo allowed Universal to use footage of Super Mario Bros. 3, touting as the first public reveal of the game (this was a bit of a lie, as the game was already available in Japan and had been covered by the U.S. gaming press). Releasing in theatres on December 15th, 1989, the film was seen by millions of kids who were now poised to play this vivid, incredibly polished looking title. When February finally arrived, the public and the press were floored. Super Mario Bros. 3 was the crowning achievement of the Nintendo Entertainment System. A perfectly balanced, meticulously detailed platformer that was as easy to pick up as all the previous games in the series, but refined enough that it felt like you were finding something new on every screen. One reviewer in particular called the game, “…the Mona Lisa of gaming…”, for it’s outstanding achievement as the highest form of art that video games had produced up to that point. Reviews weren’t universally positive, however, with some critics stating that the graphics and audio were inferior to those found on the Sega Genesis, which in hindsight, is almost ludicrous, but looked at from their perspective, would seem like a backwards step. In any case, no criticism could keep this game from being a smash hit, selling a quarter of a million copies in the first two days of release, and over 7 million copies in the U.S. alone through 1993. In fact, the game is so well beloved that when it was re-released on the Wii’s virtual console, it sold one million copies. The legacy of Super Mario Bros. 3 casts a long shadow over the series, and is likely a contributing factor to Nintendo’s continued success throughout the early 90’s, in which the NES was the biggest selling console of the era. While we would get the technologically superior (and in my opinion, much better) Super Mario World, it would not be able to match the sales of SMB3, and until 2011 would still be considered the best selling video game of all time (non-bundled and adjusted for inflation). As far as cultural touchstones in, not just the video game industry, but in all of pop culture, the release of Super Mario Bros. 3 stands up there with the best of them. It was a unique moment in time that would help Nintendo continue their domination of the video game industry.