Our long, national nightmare of boredom is still going strong as the game companies seem to be collectively uniting to put GameStop out of business by refusing to release any new games…or maybe they’re all just tied up making stuff for the PS5 and Xbox New. Hey, at least we’re getting a lot of great ports and re-releases!
Bayonetta & Vanquish (PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 18th
It really says something about the quality of new releases when the top pick is a remaster of two games that came out ten years ago, particularly when both games are still readily available in their original format, and one (Bayonetta) has already been remastered (twice) in the last six years. However, unless you’re a Nintendo player, you might have missed out on those Bayo remasters, plus this is upscaled for the PS5 and XBone, so it’ll probably look the best it ever has. Out of these two titles, though, I am much more interested in Vanguish due to the fact that I’ve never played it. While most of us likely see Shinji Mikami and think “horror”, Vanquish has a sci-fi, action vibe, in which the nations of the Earth fight over scarce resources. When the Russians take over a US space station and threaten to destroy New York City, one man will strap on a prototype super suit to kick the shit out of them and save America.
DCL – The Game (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 18th
Yet another game based on a book that will, most likely, not be very faithful to the source material. When will Hollywood learn?
Katana Kami: A Way of the Samurai Story (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Feb.20th
One series I was not expecting to still be releasing titles in 2020 was Way of the Samurai, but here we are, and there it is. Having missed out on, what I just learned, was a four game series (plus a fifth spin-off) should hopefully not detract from my enjoyment of this game, which looks like Diablo with a samurai. Featuring a slew of procedurally generated levels, the protagonist must venture deeper and deeper into the, underworld, maybe, fighting off evil spirits and demons on his quest to save a blacksmith’s daughter.
Lair of the Clockwork God (PC) – Releases Feb. 21st
One of our very own ‘guacs has made a game, or more accurately, has been making games. With Ben There, Dan That and Time Gentlemen, Please!, developers Dan Marshall and Ben Ward have been making games since 2008. While these first two titles were point & click adventures, this newest game, Lair of the Clockwork God, looks more like a platforming run & gun (albeit with some point & click elements). Show some love to these indie devs and pick up a copy on Steam!
Ports and Re-releases:
Devil May Cry 3 Special Edition (Switch) – Releases Feb. 20th
Originally released fifteen years ago on the PlayStation 2, Devil May Cry 3 was seen by critics as an improvement over the maligned part 2, but still with a few flaws. When the special edition came out a year later, which added Virgil as a playable character and saw a refinement to the difficulty level, you finally had a classic title on your hands. Switch owners, who are continually blessed with some of the finest ports and releases on a weekly basis, can now complete the PS2 DMC trilogy this week, because god knows there’s not much else out there. As an added bonus, if you’ve been sleeping on these titles, if you purchase Devil May Cry 3 you will receive a 50% discount on the first and second games (for a limited time).
Double Dragon & Kunio-Kun Retro Brawler Bundle (PS4/Switch) – Releases Feb. 20th
Hey look, another port/remaster for the Switch! I’m not really sure how many times I will re-buy Double Dragon and River City Ransom, and honestly, I don’t care. Put these two games on anything and I’ll pick it up. Thankfully we have an added bonus here, as this collection of Technos Japan NES titles comes with several we never got in North America. Yeah, I know the big ones are already available through the NES app for Switch Online subscribers, but they don’t have Nekketsu Fighting Legend from 1992, so…
Sega Ages: Puyo Puyo Tsuu/Sonc the Hedgehog 2 (Switch) – Releases Feb. 20th
Nintendo Switch port number three of the week comes from Sega and their continuing Sega Ages series. This week’s set brings us the much loved Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and the much unknown Puto Puyo Tsuu, which didn’t see a release in North America until 1999 when it graced the ill-fated Neo Geo Pocket Color. If you’ve played Puyo Puyo in the past, well, there’s not much to talk about here with Tsuu, aside from it being nostalgic and a piece of gaming history. What we’re all really excited about if yet another chance to buy Sonic the Hedgehog 2, a game that is almost perfect in every way, made even better, with the inclusion of everyone’s favorite red echinda, Knuckles. Originally made available with the release of Sonic and Knuckles in 1994, players could attach their Sonic 2 cartridge to the Knuckles cart and play through the game as that character. Now with modern technology all we need is the proper ROM file and we’re G2G. See, who said 2020 was going to be a bad year, eh?
Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[Cl-R] (PS4/Switch) – Releases Feb. 20th
Switch port number four is a fighting game with one of the stupidest naming conventions outside of Kingdom Hearts. When this was re-released for the third time on PS4 back in 2018 I had a great time with it, playing through the story mode, beating the game with every character, it was tons of fun! Do I want to do that all over again, with even more characters; no. However, if you didn’t pick that version up then I HIGHLY recommend giving this version a shot, as this is one of the best fighting games I’ve played in recent memory.
- Psikyo Shooting Stars Bravo (Switch) – Releases Feb. 18th
- Ciel Fledge: A Daughter Raising Simulator (PC/Switch) – Releases Feb. 21st
- Tower of Babel – No Mercy (Switch) – Releases Feb. 21st
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Shhhaaauuuunnnn fears the Batman in this week’s trio of historical titles. Hey, quick thought, we’re actually also 40 years out from a lot of Atari/Arcade games. Wonder if this should expand to include those; thoughts? One thing to keep in mind, it is sometimes really hard to find accurate dates on titles from 30 years ago, 40 might be near impossible.
Heavy Rain (PS3) – Released Feb. 23rd, 2010: Wiki Link
What happens when Microsoft rejects your game because it depicts child abduction? You go to Sony and release one of the most financially successful and critically acclaimed games of 2010; oops. Heavy Rain is an interactive adventure game, similar to developer David Cage’s previous titles The Nomad Soul and Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy). Players take on the role of several characters as they search for clues surrounding the disappearance of a young boy named Shaun who has been kidnapped by a serial killer named “The Origami Killer”. Through a series of quick time events, scripted video sequences, and traditional point & click style adventure gameplay, you start to unravel the sinister mystery. While critics were quick to praise the game for its attention to detail, emotional gravitas, and gripping story, it was criticized for kind of the same things; a poor attention to how story beats matched up together, emotional manipulation, and a story that, while engaging, was boring and confusing. This is kind of the dual nature of Cage’s games, where at first we all seem to be dazzled by the spectacle, but realize after some time that it’s kind of just smoke and mirrors and there’s not a whole lot special going on.
Obligatory Mega64 video.
Fear Effect (PlayStation) – Released Feb. 24th, 2000: Wiki Link
After finding some minor success with a trio of fighting games (Criticom, Dark Rift and Cardinal Syn), developer Kronos Digital Entertainment wanted to branch out into the third person action realm. Going to Eidos, creators of the Tomb Raider franchise, Kronos pitched them on a title that would see to combine the sexy, action/adventure heroine trope with Resident Evil, thus Fear Effect was born. While the game does share some similarities to the RE franchise, it is much faster, and the environment is a bit more user friendly, even with tank controls. One major factor that sets it apart from RE is that the backgrounds are not pre-rendered, but are instead a looping FMV, requiring zero, to few load times between sections. The game’s story is a bit convoluted, and has me wondering just what makes the characters redeemable; check it. Days before her 18th birthday, the daughter of a high ranking Triad boss is kidnapped, so he calls up a group of mercenaries to go find her and bring her back, but these mercenaries decide that instead of returning her, they’ll demand a ransom from the Triad boss. However, as events unfold they learn that the girl was to be sacrificed to some kind of demon, and the mercenaries are now caught between a ruthless group of Chinese gangsters, and the hordes of Hell. It’s an odd game, for sure. Critics were impressed though, and the game received great reviews, however many would point out that while the action and story were top notch, the controls were a hindrance, bringing down an otherwise stellar game. Fear Effect is also one of the few games to feature an LGBT protagonist, however with the caveat that the character must be female, super sexy, and also into dudes, this isn’t handled as tactfully as it could have been, but representation was few and far between back then, so, yay? I’m also not entirely sure this was even addressed until the follow-up title in 2001. The series went dark after Kronos went out of business following part 2, although a third entry, Fear Effect: Sedna, was released in 2018 to so-so reviews, failing to reignite any fervor for the franchise.
Batman: The Video Game (NES) – Released Feb. 13th, 1990: Wiki Link
“Hey Andy…”, you might be saying to yourself, “…that title screen says 1989, buddy. Why are you saying this came out in 1990“, with a wry smile on your face. First of all, thank you, you’re so observant, second, that’s when the game was released in Japan, December, 22nd, 1989; not so clever now, are ya? With that hypothetical burn out of the way, let’s talk about Batman: The Video Game, one of the better licensed titles ever made, and certainly one of the best games to grace the NES. Despite being based on Tim Burton’s 1989 film, the game shares very little similarities with the movie, with only a few story screens between stages to tie the game to the movie, as well as The Joker being the final boss (fought on top of a bell tower, to boot). I can’t really find any information on this, but my assumption is that Sunsoft was able to acquire the Batman license before the film came out, decided to make a game, then found out a movie was being made and shoehorned in just enough content to make it look like it was a tie-in. In the end, it doesn’t really matter, because the game is brilliant with or without anything to do with the movie. Featuring tight controls and a fair, but challenging difficulty level, this game is NES platforming at its finest. While Batman doesn’t use his trusty grappling hook, you are able to use a wall jumping ability, similar to the one found in Ninja Gaiden, which features prominently in the game, turning the platforming into a bit of puzzle solving as you try and determine the best path through each level. One thing that makes the game notorious is Batman’s color scheme; a vivid purple and blue. Now we all know that Batman is in full black in the film, so it is unclear why Sunsoft went the purple/blue route, but it is assumed that his color scheme was changed so that the character sprite would stick out from the dark backgrounds. In any case it was able to give us a fantastic toy from Neca, and is one of my favorite figures ever made. Sunsoft would continue to release Batman games for the next few years, even releasing a Sega Genesis version a year later that, with the luxury of time, eschews even closer to the plot of the film. We’ve had plenty of wonderful Batman games over the years, making it one of those rare licensed IPs that actually have worthwhile game adaptations.
The crew over at Cinnemassacre did a video on the game recently that I thought was really fascinating; I recommend checking it out: