There’s something for just about everyone this week, from brutally tough platforming to an anime fighting game; what are you picking up?
Ori and the Will of the Wisps (PC/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 11th
In this most recent console generation it is pretty safe to say that the Xbox One did not fare as well as it could have. With a botched launch it became difficult for the once titan of the industry to court quality exclusives, however in 2015 the XBone received one of its most critically acclaimed exclusives (until it got ported to Switch) of this generation; the metroidvania title Ori and the Blind Forest. With its mix of familiar gameplay elements, breathtaking visuals, and top notch story, Ori and the Blind Forest was a smash with critics and players. Now, five years later, we are getting the second game in the series, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Picking up where the first game left off, Ori goes on an adventure to explore the world beyond the forest of Nibel, and along the way will learn their true destiny. Expect more of the same in terms of gameplay, however there will be some changes to the game, including autosaves, as well as spending “shards” in order to gain upgrades and skills. Early buzz pegs this as one of the most difficult games to be released in a while, so make sure you have a few extra controllers around in case you toss yours against the wall.
Call of Duty: Warzone (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 10th
Hey look, a brand new Call of Duty game. This free to play battle royale game was sneakily revealed over the weekend, with a four hour exclusive access for CoD: MW players, before being available to the general public. With a whopping 150 players on the battlefield, you have two modes to choose from; your standard battle royale, akin to Fortnite, or “plunder”, in which players must grab cash and deposit it into bins, racking up points for their team. The game’s map is interesting, and features various climate zones and environments, from snowy mountains to lush forests to an urban cityscape. I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit unnerving to see this trailer glorify all of the various ways you can murder someone, and I know that studies have shown that violence in games doesn’t correlate with real world violence, but this trailer is just off the wall sickening to me. Yeah, I know these aren’t real dudes getting eviscerated by helicopter blades, but with increasingly realistic graphics, coupled with ever more impressive facial expressions, watching someone die in a video game is getting harder and harder to stomach.
Alder’s Blood (Switch) – Releases Mar. 13th
Fans of XCOM and Lovecraft are in for a treat this week with the release of Alder’s Blood. Set in a Victorian-esque wild west, players live in a world where *Trent Reznor singing voice* God is dead, and no one cares; if there is a Hell, I’ll see you there! Featuring art that is incredibly reminiscent of The Banner Saga, you must take your squad of Hunters and stealthily execute a smorgasbord of evil, Lovecraftian creatures before they do their evil stuff.
Langrisser I & II (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Mar. 10th
Originally released for the Sega Genesis in 1991, Langrisser, known in North America as Warsong, was a tactical RPG set in a medieval fantasy setting, not unlike Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series. A Japan only sequel would arrive in 1994, called Der Langrisser, with both titles made by Masaya Games, developers of the smash hit Shove It! …The Warehouse Game. While there have been fan translations online for Der Langrisser for years, this marks the first time the game has been officially released and localized for North America. These remakes, in my opinion, seem to suffer from a desire to make the graphics and menus look as shitty as possible, the “mobilefication” of classic JRPGs, similar to what Square Enix does with their games when they come out on Android and iOS. That doesn’t mean Langrisser I & II is going to play like shit, it’ll just look like shit, there’s a difference.
My Hero One’s Justice 2 (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 13th
Picking up after the events of All Mights fight with All For One, you will join Deku and his classmates as they try and grapple with a world where the most powerful super-hero of all time is gone, and what that means for humanity. New threats emerge, new heroes step up, and the first year students at UA are caught in the middle (as usual). Fight as your favorite heroes and villains in this follow-up to the 2018 brawler.
Nioh 2 (PS4) – Releases Mar. 13th
As I was watching the trailer for this game all I could think was “Where’s the guy from the first game?!!??!” Well, it turns out this is a prequel (thanks George Lucas for that wonderful word), set in the late 1500’s, a few years before the events of the first Nioh game. As before, players will create a character and spend the next several hours playing the same sections over and over, cursing at the screen and breaking a few controllers. If you aren’t familiar with the series, it’s basically Dark Souls, but set in 1500’s Japan…so I guess it’s like Sekiro. Whatever, you know what I mean.
Ports and Re-releases:
Borderlands 3 (PC – Steam) – Releases Mar. 13th
Hey, remember when you said you’d wait six months to play this game so you could show Epic and Gearbox what a true fan you are? Well, it’s been six months, so get on that.
- Bless Unleashed (Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 12th
- Hidden Through Time (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Mar. 12th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
We’ve got Kratos’ “last” game, Guts’ first game, and an Arc System Works “original” for this week’s jaunt through history.
God of War III (PS3) – Released Mar. 16th, 2010: Wiki Link
Touted as Kratos’ last outing (LOL), God of War III is the third and final chapter in the saga of..er…young Kratos, I guess? Before he grew a beard and moved to the woods, Kratos had one last job to finish, and that was to fuckin’ kick some Greek god ass. Featuring plenty of the blood and guts fans had come to expect from the series, but now in HD, the title was a huge success when it released. Garnering some of the best reviews in the series, critics and players were overtaken with the scale of the game, saying it redefined just how massive the scope of a video game could be. The graphics were very impressive for the time, with particular praise given to the team at Sony Santa Monica for creating what many believed to be the most expressive video game character ever made. Set just after the events of God of War II, as Kratos and the Titans scale Mt. Olympus, you end up in a fight with Poseidon, killing him, which floods Greece, allowing you to reach the summit. However, Zeus knock you back, and the Titans refuse to catch you, saying you were just a pawn in their quest for revenge. Now in the Underworld, Kratos must climb up out of Hell to exact HIS revenge on the Titans, as well as on the Gods at Mt. Olympus. It’s all very stupid, but it’s gorgeous to look at and experience. Back in 2007, series creator David Jaffe said his idea to end the series would be that the gods would only die when the people stopped believing in them (cue Trent Reznor again…), but with Jaffe out, the game’s second and third creative minds, Corey Barlog and Stig Asmussen, would usher in a more traditional ending where Kratos literally kills the gods of Mt. Olympus. While the story seemed to be over, a trail of blood after the credits would indicate that Kratos is still out there…somewhere. The game would appear on many “Best of the year” lists, and was even give the prestigious “Biggest Badass” award at the 2010 Spike Video Game Awards. It would also be nominated for Game of the Year, but would lose to another game that would redefine scope in video gaming, Red Dead Redemption.
Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage (Dreamcast) – Released Mar.16th, 2000: Wiki Link
If the Sega Dreamcast had any chance of standing out, it would need to not just have impressive visuals, but a diverse catalog of games. With two big titles already released in 2000, with Crazy Taxi and RE: Code Veronica, coming out with a hack and slash based on a manga not many people in North America had heard of seemed risky. While I can’t find any sales numbers, this isn’t one of those titles that you generally hear people talk about when they list all time great Dreamcast games. Was it bad though? I haven’t played it, so I can’t really give an opinion on that, but reviews were decent. Critics thought the controls were decent and that it had impressive visuals, but lacked a bit in gameplay. While it was mostly a hack and slash, it was also one of the earliest games to have quick time events (QTE’s). These QTE’s would determine the path that players would take, giving the game a high replay value as you could have the games outcome be different depending on well you did with the QTE’s. An interesting tidbit, following the release of this title, the developer of the game, Yuke’s, would go on to develop WWE wrestling games for the next 18 years, starting with 2000’s WWF Smackdown! and ending with 2018’s WWE 2K19.
Code Name: Viper (NES) – Released March 1990: Wiki Link
For arcade fans, one thing is immediately apparent when you start up Code Name: Viper; it’s basically a Rolling Thunder rip-off. Long before Arc System Works would be known for the fighting game series’ Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, the company was primarily known as a developer to go to when you wanted your game ported to a home console. Bringing titles like Double Dragon and Vigilante to the Master System, and Final Lap and Rolling Thunder to the Famicom, their first original title was Code Name: Viper, a game that essentially took their Rolling Thunder port and expanded on it. Despite being a rip-off of sorts, the game is quite fun and features much larger maps then Rolling Thunder. You can really see how this was a title built from the ground up for consoles, as it features a fairly robust story for a game of its era, with your character searching doors for a POW that will supply you with a bomb to escape the level. Between each stage you will meet with the POW and they fill in the gaps of a secret message, culminating in a shocking reveal at the end. The game is pretty tough and, without the aid of save states on modern emulators, would have likely taken you quite a bit of time to master and get through in 1990. No further games in the series were ever produced, making this game a mostly forgotten relic, but there’s a great time to be had here if you give it a try.