We’re almost a quarter of the way through 2020 and it only just now feels like we’re getting our first substantial releases of the year. I’d be much more excited about this, but since the world is on the brink of ending I’m not really feeling the joy, ya know? In any case, if we’re all stuck inside our houses and apartments then we couldn’t do worse when it comes to entertainment than a game about living a life of sedate luxury on a tropical island or one that is all about fighting off hordes of demons from Hell as they try and devour you. Gun sales are up, so we have that to look forward to.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch) – Releases Mar. 20th
Every other post on my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feed are people saying stuff like “OMG, can’t wait to quarnatine with Animal Crossing, weeewwwww!! I’m such a nerd and I love being inside already so I’ve been practicing being alone my whole life, hahahahahahaha!!!! Gonna be playing Animal Crossing everyday even when we run out of toilet paper and food, weewwww!!!“, so that’s fun.
Doom Eternal (PC/PS4/Stadia/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 20th
I kind of wish we could go back to the moment in time when the most you would hear about Animal Crossing and Doom on Twitter were the hilarious jokes about like, Doom Guy plays Animal Crossing and Isabelle plays Doom, and it’s funny because it goes against their character types. What a simpler time, I mean who would have thought a few months ago that it would be hard for senior citizens to get hand sanitizer and bread at the grocery store because some clod in their 40’s decided they needed 20 of each “just in case”?
MLB The Show 20 (PS4) – Releases Mar. 17th
The MLB’s opening day is
March 26th TBD, which means it is time for an annual sports title to panic! MLB The Show 20 is the latest entry in the long running franchise that started life on the PS2 back in 2006, long held to be the gold standard in modern video game baseball. Some competitors have tried to steal some fans away, but they’re garbage compared to this hot shit. If I continually hit the Astros players with wild pitches do I get a PSN trophy for that?
RBI Baseball 20 (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 17th
Ah, the smell of fresh cut grass, chalk, dirt, hot dogs, peanut dust, and overpriced beer…and WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING OUTSIDE??!! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT PEOPLE IN ITALY TOOK THIS FOR GRANTED AND NOW THE ENTIRE COUNTRY IS DEAD??!!! For most die-hard baseball fans, Sony’s MLB The Show is the go to title for deep simulation, but if you are a casual fan looking to just hit some balls and steal some bases, the budget conscious R.B.I. Baseball series is what you’re looking for, BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BE STAYING INSIDE AND PLAYING VIDEO GAMES. EVERYONEINSOUTHKOREAISDEADNOWAREYOUHAPPY?!!!?
Half-Life: Alyx (PC) – Releases Mar. 23rd
Survival in a dystopian world is exactly the kind of escapist art I need right now; thanks Valve!
Ports and Re-releases:
Exit the Gungeon (Switch) – Sneakily released on Mar. 17th
From today’s Indie World showcase from Nintendo, it was announced that the previously Apple Arcade exclusive Exit the Gungeon would release on the Switch on March 17th. This sequel/spin-off picks up immediately after the events of Enter the Gungeon, and tasks players with escaping the place they just fought so hard to get into. This bullet-hell run & gun title is the perfect couch co-op game to play with family and friends you are stuck indoors with until August.
LA-MULANA 1 & 2: Hidden Treasures Edition (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 17th
This is an old game about being an archaeologist or some shit, who cares.
Phantasy Star Online 2 (Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 17th
“OMG, I’ve been training to be self quarantined my whole life by playing MMOs, so I go this, lolololololol!!!! Weewwww!!!!“. I just have one question, where the fuck is my Switch version Sega of America?
Doom 64 (PC/PS4/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 20th
“I wish they would re-release Doom 64, I loved that game when I was a kid“.
“Pfft, it’ll be the end of the world before they ever release that piece of shit again“.
Shenmue III: Big Merry Cruise (PC/PS4) – Releases Mar. 17th
Spending time on a cruise ship is exactly the kind of escapist entertainment I need right now, thanks Yu Suzuki!
Total War: Three Kingdoms – A World Betrayed (PC) – Releases Mar. 19th
A game about Chinese warlords with the title “A World Betrayed” is just the kind of shit Hannity needs right now to stoke the flames of hatred. Snark aside, this is more content for one of the best games of 2019, and if you’re going to be stuck inside the house then I highly recommend giving this title a chance.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Things were just hunky dory back in the day, why we never had a single problem before this COVID-19 pandemic. Now, just relax you youngin’s and listen to old Andy T tell you about what we were playing a long, lonnnnng time ago with our tin cans and string…
Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS) – Released Mar. 23rd, 2010: Wiki Link
2010 was the year that H1N1 or “Swine Flu” was finally eradicated, a pandemic that started in 2009, and it was also the year that Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey came out. The SMT series was a slow build in North America, with the original titles on the NES, SNES, and Saturn locked to Japan only. It would take Atlus bringing over the Persona series in the late 90’s to finally get the title recognized in the West. In Strange Journey, the game focuses on a supernatural phenomenon happening in Antarctica, one that could potentially destroy Earth, so a UN task force is sent to investigate the situation and hopefully contain it. As is typical of the SMT games, technology and dark forces of the occult join hands in an effort to enslave humanity. Originally the game was going to carry the title of Shin Megami Tensei IV, but because of the setting it was decided to give this game a subtitle instead. Reception to the game was overwhelmingly positive, with many reviewers praising the gameplay, likening it to the recent release of Etrian Odyssey (which makes sense, as many of the people who worked on that game worked on this one too). An updated version of the game came out in 2018, Strange Journey Redux, that added a new character and story path. A brand new title in the series was announced for Switch when the system was first announced, but there has been little to no information about it since then.
Thief II: The Metal Age (PC) – Released Mar. 23rd, 2000: Wiki Link
The year 2000 of course had us surviving the dreaded Y2K bug, but it still had people freaking out, panic buying food, water, and of course toilet paper, but it came and went and then we all played Thief II: The Metal Age, that is if your computer wasn’t infected with the ILOVEYOU virus. Two years after the release of Thief: The Dark Project, players were treated to an ambitious sequel one that, according to the developers, was actually built from the ground up to be a stealth game (the first title was more of an experiment that accidentally required stealth gameplay mechanics). With a drift away from the more fantastic elements of the first game, which included monsters and zombies, the team had a stronger focus on human enemies. For developer Looking Glass Studios, Thief II was a bit of a hail mary for them. While previous games they released had been critical successes (System Shock 2, Flight Unlimited III), they weren’t really blowing up the sales charts. Couple this with some failed publishing deals, and the studio was in trouble. They needed Thief II to be not just a hit, but a massive one. Taking inspiration from the classic Fritz Lang films M and Metropolis, and Miyazki’s The Castle of Cagliostro, the team was inspired by the tone and art direction of each of the films, fusing the mad science of Steampunk with starkly bland castles. With the game now focused squarely on stealth gameplay, players were rewarded for taking a slow, methodical approach to each level; save scrubbing, studying maps, and making note of the guard’s patrol routes. As time marched on Looking Glass Studios financial issues were starting to creep up, causing the team to cut features and rush it to completion. Despite these issues, the game was still very well received by critics, and it was a strong financial success, however publisher Eidos was slow to pay royalties, and Looking Glass Studios was shut down shortly after Thief II shipped. Eidos would move development of the third game to Ion Storm after their successful game Deus Ex, and a reboot would be developed by Eidos Montreal, to mediocre reviews, putting the series on hold.
Phantasy Star II (Genesis) – Released March 1990: Wiki Link
While there wasn’t a viral outbreak in 1990, there was a massive outbreak of tornadoes in the United States, killing two and injuring 89. On that happy note, we got Phantasy Star II for the relatively new Sega Genesis! While a game of this caliber would likely move units in the modern era, JRPGs didn’t have the same cachet in 1990 that they do today. Still, size was a selling factor, with Sega boasting that Phantasy Star II was being released on a WHOPPING 6 mega-bit cartridge, making it the biggest video game ever released on a home console. Set 1000 years after the events of Phantasy Star (the most expensive game ever released on a home console), players find themselves taking on the role of government agent Rolf and his group of friends as the investigate why Mother Brain is malfunctioning (ask Samus Aran, hahahahaha). With RPGs still a niche genre, most of the critical acclaim came from people already familiar with them, garnering high praise in Dragon magazine, and being called the Genesis’ killer app by Wizardry designer Roe R. Adams. Even though the genre was still relatively new in North America, it had been gaining traction over the last couple of years on home consoles with titles like Ultima Exodus and Dragon Warrior on the NES, and Ys and the first Phantasy Star on the Mega Drive, but it still wasn’t reaching the sales heights of something like Super Mario Bros. 3. The game would feature many of the things that we come to associate with RPGs, particularly JRPGs, from random encounters, to the party layout, to an extensive, rich story. However it was still a bit rough around the edges, and it would take another RPG slated for release on the NES a few months down the road to really turn the genre on its head; a gamed called Final Fantasy.