24 new games this week, plus three notable titles. You can take a guess at how much sleep I’ve gotten over the last few days.
Wasteland 3 (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 28th
Before the world got Fallout, there was Wasteland. This groundbreaking RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world was hailed by critics when it released for multiple PC systems in 1988 for its engaging story, memorable characters, adult themes, and a brand new feature, persistent worlds that would change based on your actions. Developer Interplay was keen to create more games in the series, but publisher EA owned the rights to the Wasteland name, prompting Interplay to create the spiritual sequel franchise, Fallout. For years we played through the various Interplay and Bethesda developed/published titles while EA was content to let Wasteland go to, well, waste. In 2003, Wasteland’s producer/co-designer, Brian Fargo, had a new company called inXile, and he wanted his game back. He purchased the rights from Konami who had somehow gotten a hold of it, and began a Kickstarter to make Wasteland 2. This turned out to be a huge success for the team and they released it in 2014 to positive reviews, leading to the announcement of a third entry in the series. Originally set for release in Q4 of 2019, the game underwent a major development overhaul after inXile was purchased by Microsoft, allowing the team to add voice acting and motion captured cutscenes. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the game a bit further, but now here we are, finally able to play a game about an extremely tribal United States that are all hell bent on making the country fit their exact vision. Which side will you choose?
Kandagawa Jet Girls (PC/PS4) – Releases Aug. 25th
Yes, I know this is a sexy jet ski racing game, but I mean, how often do we get new jet ski racing games? Suffice to say, this was a day one purchase for me, with the $60 collector’s edition pre-ordered from Amazon and already shipped. I have no shame.
The Last Campfire (Apple Arcade and possibly PC and all consoles) – Releases Aug. 27th
What do you do when you release one of the most divisive and hated games of all time? You make a small indie that looks/plays nothing like your last title! From the developers at Hello Games, creators of No Man’s Sky, comes a brand new adventure/puzzle game. I’ve heard zero promises from them about the content of this game, so maybe don’t get all pissy at them this time, okay?
Surgeon Simulator 2 (PC – Epic Games Store) – Releases Aug. 27th
The indie sensation Surgeon Simulator looks to be taking the Portal approach when it comes to sequels; do it bigger and better. While the original title was a pretty simple affair of hacking and chopping your way through the innards of the world’s unluckiest patient, this new game seems to have you working with a full team as you complete tasks and generally run amok in what I can only assume is a hospital in America #topical
Tell Me Why: Chapter 1 (PC/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 27th (Series X TBA)
It’s not often we get to live through a historical moment, but with the release of Dontnod Entertainment’s Tell Me Why, all of us will be able to say we were around when video games got its first playable transgender character (aside from I guess Birdo, Poison, and the main character from Swery’s The Missing). I think that’s pretty rad. In Tell Me Why, twins Alyson and Tyler must return to their childhood home in Alaska to confront some past demons involving their mother. Players will learn their story through a series of visions and flashbacks, in what I assume will lead to more than a few “I’m not crying, you’re crying” moments. If you were annoyed by the release schedule for Life is Strange 2, Dontnod has “heard you loud and clear” and promise to have the entire Tell Me Why story wrapped up and released before the end of the year. *UPDATE* They weren’t joking, all three chapters will release one week apart, wrapping up on September 10th.
Captain Tsubasa: Rise of New Champions (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Aug. 28th
The manga Captain Tsubasa was first released in Japan on April 13th, 1981, nearly 40 years ago, and in that time it has had quite a prolific video game franchise…in Japan. Its first release was in 1988 for the Famicom, with a whopping 17 follow-up titles. Now with its 19th entry, North American players will finally be able to play a franchise that most 35-45 year old Japanese players already view as a nostalgic part of their childhood. No better time than now, I suppose.
Madden NFL 21 (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 28th (Pre-order’s get access on Aug. 25th. PS5, Stadia, & Series X in Q4 2020)
I’ll admit that I have no real connection to this franchise, as big as it is. The trailer above is slick and features some famous players, but it does nothing for me. Do any of you play Madden, or sports games in general? I haven’t played a football game regularly since Sega’s ESPN NFL 2K5, a series I found to always be vastly superior, so I almost take Madden’s release for granted. The best thing I can say about this series is that it brings non-gamers into the fold and helps to continue legitimizing video games as a whole. Plus you can have custom end zone dances; which button makes me dab?
Windbound (PC/PS4/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 28th
The tried and true tradition of game clones has been around since the invention of the medium, starting with Pong and the myriad games that came out that were, more or less, exact copies (and hey, if you want to get technical about it, Pong itself was a clone of a Magnavox paddle game). We’ve seen it happen over and over in gaming, Space Invader clones, Pac-Man clones, Street Fighter clones, Mortal Kombat clones, Doom clones, Comand & Conquer clones, Grand Theft Auto clones, Dark Souls clones, and now we’ve finally hit the Breath of the Wild clones. Now if you know anything about gaming, not all of these clones are bad, and in fact some go on to improve on their inspiration, or at the very least add something different/new to the formula. Will Windbound be one of these boundary pushing clones, or just a shameless cash grab? I guess we’ll find out on August 28th.
Ports and Re-releases:
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (Android/iOS/PS4/Switch) – Releases Aug. 27th
Hey kids, remember the early 2000’s? Well they’re back, because everything is on a 20 year nostalgia cycle, so get ready to play through all your favorite Game Cube, PS2, Dreamcast, and Xbox games all over again! In this semi-fondly remembered JRPG from 2004, and the first new Final Fantasy game on a Nintendo console since FFVI, players worked together in a co-op story mode that saw them traveling to various dungeons to find the precious resource myrr (like the stuff they gave Jesus). While the original game relied on local multi-player couch co-op, the remastered edition will not feature this, instead requiring players to connect over the internet if they want to play together. HMU if you want to play, my gamertag is xWE3D420619x.
Hypnospace Outlaw (PS4/Switch) – Releases Aug. 27th
One of 2019’s hidden PC gems is finally coming to consoles, with mouse and keyboard support! Explore the strange and wonderful world of 1990’s internet communities, with its plethora of animated GIFs, shit posting, animal pictures, religious fanatics, conspiracy theorists, and casual racism. Wait…
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure (Switch) – Releases Aug. 27th
In my video above I said this game came out for the Nintendo 64, when it fact it was originally released on the Sony PlayStation. If you’d like me to stop writing these I would understand.
Jump Force – Deluxe Edition (Switch) – Releases Aug. 28th
Now Switch owners can make the guy from Naruto, named Naruto, fight the guy from One Piece, who is probably named One Piece.
Control: Expansion 2 – AWE & Definitive Edition (PC – Steam debut/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 27th
If you’ve played Control then you have likely run across more than a few references to the video game Alan Wake. Initially seen as just easter eggs, it turns out that there was more going on than we thought, as the team at Remedy have created a tie-in DLC that has both games intersecting. Control was my favorite game of 2019, despite the technical issues that plagued the console versions. Good news, though, as there is now a definitive edition releasing, plus it’s also coming to Steam after a year long Epic Games Store exclusive run. One thing to note, if you want the upgraded PS5/Series X version of the game, you will need to buy this new definitive edition. Owners of the original release will not get the free upgrade, however those copies should still work through (presumed) backwards compatibility. It’s one stain on an otherwise wonderful game, and if you’ve been sleeping on it, well, get the definitive version.
No Straight Roads (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Aug. 25th
Over The Alps (Switch) – Releases Aug. 25th (Released on PC back in March 2020)
Roll For The Galaxy (PC) – Releases Aug. 25th
Street Power Soccer (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Aug. 25th
Milk Inside a Bag of Milk Inside a Bag of Milk (PC) – Releases Aug. 26th
Best Friend Forever (PC/Switch) – Releases Aug. 27th
Giraffe and Annika (PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Aug. 27th (Released on PC back in February 2020)
Struggling (Switch) – Releases Aug. 27th
Nexomon Extinction (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Aug. 28th
Project CARS 3 (PC/PS4/XBone) – Releases Aug. 28th
Shing! (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Aug. 28th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Metroid: Other M (Wii) – Released Aug. 31st, 2010: Wiki Link
The release of a new Metroid game is generally cause for much fanfare. Despite the popularity of the franchise, and the character of Samus, Nintendo doesn’t release entries as often as they do for Mario and Zelda, meaning everything that we get from Metroid is a bit of a treat, and also has high expectations. It’s for this reason, among others, that I think Metroid: Other M has a poor reputation, because we get so few games that if one is bad, that’ll be our only entry for several years. Now, here’s the thing, is Metroid: Other M actually bad? Ehhhhhhhhh, kind of. There’s two major things here that keep the game from reaching greatness, I’ll get the major one out of the way up front, and that is Samus’ personality. By 2010, players had been going on adventures with Samus for over twenty years, and in each title she had proved herself to be a stoic representation of courage, strength, and resourcefulness. A strong, independent character who the player could project their own identity onto, while also at the same time giving female players someone to look up to and aspire to be. What Metroid: Other M did was, in a lot players eyes, change Samus’ personality is such a drastic way that they no longer felt it was the same characters. This is another part of the problem with Other M, as it just doesn’t feel like it belongs to the same franchise. Let’s talk quickly about the plot; Samus awakens in a Galactic Federation facility and recounts her adventure on Zebes, including the defeat of Mother Brain and the fate of the baby metroid (as seen in the events of the SNES title Super Metroid). Continuing on as a solo bounty hunter, Samus leaves the facility and picks up a distress signal on a derelict vessel known as The Bottle Ship. Upon arrival she runs across a squad of Glactic Federation troops who just happen to be her old platoon, run by fer former mentor Adam Malkovich. Samus recounts her early days in the platoon through a series of flashbacks, and we discover that, despite her stoic nature, she has a desire to gain the approval and (non-romantic) affection of Adam, who is like a father figure to her. Even though Samus is a lone wolf, she decides to work with her old platoon and limit her abilities, at the request of Adam (the game’s way of taking away all your fancy power-ups). It’s a strange choice, taking this once strong, fiercely independent woman and turning her into a subservient church mouse. Defenders of the game point out that as you progress though the title, Samus regains her toughness, and that she does these things out of respect, but its just a weird thing to have happen to the character. For the second thing that brings the game down, well, the system it was released for should be a a big clue…motion controls! Since this is a Wii title, those pesky motion controls play a big part in the gameplay, and it’s not very fun. While previous Metroid titles had (for the most part) been FPS games, Other M took Samus into the third person realm, with players controlling her in a stiff, 3D environment that feels at times like an on-rails shooter, which gives this game a very arcade-like feel. Where the motion controls come in is when you need to search for hidden objects, find enemy weak points, and shoot your missiles. Yes, you do not have the option to switch your weapon, instead you must take Wii remote, point it at the screen, and the game will automatically shoot missiles depending on the situation. It’s a strange and frustrating design choice that makes fast, frantic battles come to a screeching halt that more often than not can lead to an untimely death. Another bizarre gameplay choice is the removal of collectible health and ammo, instead allowing you to hold the Wii remote vertically to recharge yourself. It’s sort of nice, but because boss fights usually involve flying projectiles, or fast moving enemies, finding a safe place to recharge your health can be difficult, leading to an untimely death. Personally, despite the flaws, I think Other M is worth your time if you can look past the problems. Unfortunately, because we get so few Metroid games, this is something we’re kind of stuck with, warts and all. Perhaps the upcoming Switch title being developed by the team who worked on the Prime series will bring this franchise back to glory, or at least make Samus the badass bounty hunter we all admire.
Mario Tennis (N64) – Released Aug. 28th, 2000: Wiki Link
Nintendo has a great knack for finding something familiar and turning it into something unique. By the year 2000, tennis games been around since, well, the very beginning in 1972 with Magnavox’s paddle game, and of course Atari’s much more successful Pong. Over the year’s you would see not just Pong clones, but more advanced tennis games like Nintendo’s Tennis on the NES, to Andre Agassi Tennis on the Genesis and SNES, to countless others. In 1999, Nintendo and developer Camelot Software released Mario Golf, the first in a long line of sports title collaborations between the two companies, and it was a total success. Taking another mundane/familiar activity, golf, and adding in some arcade fun with recognizable characters was a winning combination that kept players coming back for more. Their follow-up to this smash hit was, of course, Mario Tennis, featuring a large cast of characters each with various abilities and play styles. This wasn’t Mario’s first tennis game, however, as there was another title that came out in 1995 for the ill-fated Virtual Boy called Mario’s Tennis, a small, mostly forgotten, footnote on the whole Mario Sports franchise. Reception to the N64 Mario Tennis was through the roof, guaranteeing that it would not be so quickly forgotten, receiving high praise from just about every gaming outlet of the day for it’s accessibility, controls, solid gameplay, and large amount of content. It was so well received that it even won in the Console Family category at the 2001 D.I.C.E. Awards. These accolades aside, there’s still more to discuss, because this game is notable not just for its pedigree, but because of the characters it introduced. Gaming fans had been introduced to Mario’s opposite Wario in 1992’s Super Mario Land 2 and he was a big hit. Seeking to do the same for Luigi, Nintendo asked Camelot to give the world another opposite character, thus was born the lanky stud Waluigi, so if you’ve ever wondered why he pelts people with a tennis racket in Smash Bros., well, now you know why. Oh, and we can’t forget that this game was the world’s re-introduction to two more Mario mainstays, Princess Peach and Birdo. These two have appeared in several other Mario games over the years, from Party to Kart and everything in-between. Final fun fact, I had originally intended to talk about Valkyrie Profile this week, but thought Mario Tennis was a bit more notable. However, both games do share a common bond, as composer Motoi Sakuraba did the music for both games. This might make for an interesting listen, taking both soundtracks and putting them side by side to see if there are any matching motifs. Currently, unless you have the original cart, Mario Tennis is only available on the Wii U’s virtual console, but there is a Switch update called Mario Tennis Aces that released in 2018 (and was the top game of the week in my third column), so if you want the latest and greatest I recommend you check that out.
NARC (NES) – Released Aug. 1990: Wiki Link
Eugene Jarvis’ 1988 arcade game NARC is one of the first to feature excessive, “realistic”, violence, frequently brought up by concerned parent’s groups and politicians who were decrying the violence found in (supposed) children’s entertainment. It’s a wonder, then, that Nintendo would allow a port of the game on their notoriously conservative console. In the arcade game, players took on the role of two Narcotics Opposition officers named Max Force and Hit Man (the ’80s, amirite), as they cleaned up the streets of junkies, drug dealers, and other various criminal types. It was a 1980’s “war on drugs” wet dream that tried to bill itself as the world’s first “anti-drug” video game, by turning players into fascist overlords. By the time the 1990 port of the game hit the NES, a ton of content was cut out; oh, not the violence, silly, they cut out all the drug references! Literally blow a man apart with a rocket launcher and watch his body parts fly? Totally cool. Have the word “Krack” written on the wall? YOU BETTER FUCKING CHANGE THAT SHIT, THERE’S CHILDREN PLAYING THIS!! NARC is not a very good game on the NES, the arcade version is much better, but there’s still an afternoon of fun to be had here if you have nothing better to do, and if you really want to enjoy this game, get high first. I mean drugs are neat, you can buy them relatively cheap, and when you do them, people think that you’re cool.
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