Here it is, another week in 2020, the year that continues to pummel us with tragedy and despair. I guess we should try to stay positive, hope for the best, maybe light a candle or something? It’s probably a cliche to say this, but 2020 has been exhausting. I tried to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist but they’re fully booked for the next four months, and I’m like the 25th person on the waiting list to get called, so it looks like I’m not the only one in need of some kind of mental therapy in the year from Hell. Anyway, you want to know what the new games are, not listen to me ramble about my problems. LET’S ALL SMILE AND PRETEND WE’RE HAPPY!!
The video’s started as a Summer gimmick but I’ve grown to enjoy doing them so much that I’m going to keep it a regular part of this column moving forward. I’m still trying to figure out a new format for subsequent seasons/holiday’s, but that is going to require a higher level of work and commitment than I can give at this time. For the time being, I’ll still find a cool place to record and eat something, because I know that’s what the people demand. I’m happy to take suggestions for locations/food in the comments!
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (PC – Epic Games Store/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 4th
The late ’90’s/early ’00’s are back, baby! Put on your finest puka shell necklace, lace up those brand new vans, put gel in your spikey bleached hair, screw those trucks onto your favorite Birdhouse skate deck, and then sit down in front of the TV to play this game. I’ll head over as soon as my mom says it’s okay.
Crusader Kings III (PC) – Releases Sep. 1st
Strategy game fans are in for a treat this week, as Paradox Interactive is releasing the latest title in (arguably) their most popular series. Choose a royal house, nurture your family dynasty, conquer land that spans from Iceland to India, to the Arctic circle to central Africa, and choose to be a kind or cruel overlord. Sounds like the perfect kind of escapist entertainment we need right now. *Blank stare*
Spellbreak (PC – Epic Games Store/PS4/Switch/Xbox One – Releases Sep. 3rd
The new Overwatch looks great!!
Marvel’s Avengers (PC/PS4/Stadia/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 4th
Play as the The Avenger’s stunt doubles in this third-person action/adventure game in which M.O.D.O.K. is trying to take over the world. The game is playable solo or co-op, and features all of the really, really cool cosmetic trinkets we all love to buy! While the initial game will feature the characters of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Ms. Marvel, more will be added as
paid free DLC, including Spider-Man who is, controversially, only available to PS4 owners.
NBA 2K21 (PC/PS4/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 4th (PS5/Series X in Q4 2020)
Basketball’s shortened season is all but over for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend everything is A-okay! It’s the end of Summer which means we are still going to get a new entry in the long running NBA 2K series. Play as all your favorites, LeBron James, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry, etc. Dominate the boards, tell people “not in my house”, and do that dance from Fortnite after you score a basket. This is the NBA at its best; accept no imitators.
World’s End Club (Apple Arcade) – Releases Sep. 4th
The summer of Apple Arcade comes to an end with a new game from Danganronpa creator Kazutaka Kodaka and Zero Escape creator Kotaku Uchikoshi, one that sounds like a dream come true for fans of ultra violent visual novels. In World’s End Club (originally titled Death March Club), players take control of a group of elementary school students who are part of the “Go-Getters Club” for unusual children. While on a field trip, their school bus is in an accident and they awake to find themselves trapped in a spooky theme park where they must partake in a game that puts their very lives on the line. I couldn’t really find a proper trailer for this, but the above video has English subtitles if you turn on the closed captioning. It might contain spoilers, idk, so maybe don’t watch if you want to go in to the game unsullied.
Ports and Re-releases:
MX vs. ATV: All Out (Switch) – Releases Sep. 1st
Brrrpppp, brrrpppp. Rup-rup-rup-rup-rup-rup-rup, reoww, reowww. Budrrrrrrrrr……*THUD*…rrrrppp, scurrrrurchh. “Hey babe, how did that jump look? Pretty sick? Sick.“
Doraemon: Story of Seasons (PS4) – Releases Sep. 4th
Fans of Harvest Moon and Doraemon take note, particularly if you don’t own a Switch. I wasn’t overly impressed with this game on Switch, but I also got it like two days before Animal Crossing came out, so I haven’t really taken the time to really dive into it either. Critical reception is mixed, so keep that in mind.
Lair of the Clockwork God (Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 4th
Released earlier this year on PC, The Lair of the Clockwork God is the latest game in the Ben + Dan series, made by one of our very own Avocadians, Ben. In this point & click/platforming hybrid, lead the venerable Ben & Dan through a series of adventures as they try and stop the apocalypse(s) from happening.
Total War: Three Kingdoms – The Furious Wild (PC) – Releases Sep. 3rd
2019’s Total War: Three Kingdoms is one of finest entries in the entire franchise, so I’m absolutely thrilled to see that it continues to receive regular expansions and support from the team at Creative Assembly. In this latest paid DLC pack players will see the game map increase in size, with the southern Chinese jungles now available to explore. This region will add new factions and units, including some bad ass tigers. New missions and story lines will be available as well, giving veteran players something new to sink their teeth into.
Ary and the Secret of Seasons (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 1st
Iron Harvest (PC; PS4/Xbox One might be EU only?) – Releases Sep. 1st
Super Bomberman R Online (Stadia) – Releases Sep. 1st
Batu Ta Batu (PC/PS4/Switch/XBone) – Releases Sep. 3rd
Spinch (PC/Switch) – Releases Sep. 3rd
Tell Me Why: Chapter 2 (PC/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 3rd (Series X TBA)
WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 3rd
Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 years ago:
Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep (PSP) – Released Sep. 7th, 2010: Wiki Link
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep is considered Episode 0, or maybe Episode 0.1, but also a bridge between Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, maybe. Trying to explain the story of Kingdom Hearts is like trying to explain advanced calculus, except not as fun. Initially intended to release on the PS2, development began in 2005, but with the KH2 team wanting to be a part of the spin-off, the game was put on hold while Final Mix+ and Re:Chain of Memories. By the time work started back up on Birth By Sleep, the team decided to move development to the PSP. With an emphasis on a lighter tone, various elements were changed through development, including the level of violence and the relationships between the characters. Not only did they want the tone to be “lighter”, there was a heavy emphasis on the pure of heart, further developing the Princesses of Light and their connection to Maleficent (both of whom play a large part in the first Kingdom Hearts). The game was announced at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, along with two other titles in the series, 358/2 Days and Coded (the latter being a Japan only mobile game that wouldn’t release in the US until 2011, as a short film). Pre-release buzz was good, with many outlets expressing their enjoyment of the demo, hoping the full game would play just as well; critics weren’t disappointed, for the most part. While Birth By Sleep got high marks for its gameplay and graphics, there was a hollow feeling to the game. The world’s visited by the game’s three protagonists were nearly barren, with almost no one to talk to and very little to interact with. The camera was often criticized, making battles and navigation a bit cumbersome and confusing. These issues aside, the game still received an almost near perfect score from Famitsu, and was called a “must play” for fans of the series. I’ve been trying it out over the last couple weeks, playing a little bit here and there, and the game does feel like a portable title, with many of the worlds being completed in less than an hour. Most of my time is spent watching very, very long cut scenes that straddle the line between cryptic and outright enigma. It’s probably best to just roll with the punches here and not take things too seriously. Keep it light hearted and you’ll have a great time with it.
San Francisco Rush 2049 (Dreamcast/N64/Game Boy Color) – Released Sep. 6th & 7th, 2000: Wiki Link
Atari Games, formerly one of the biggest and most successful video game publishers in the world, were falling on hard times by the beginning of the 21st century. The arcade market was drying up due to the success of home video games, whose ports of arcade titles were becoming increasingly impressive when compared to the original product. When San Francisco Rush 2049 hit arcades in 1999, it would be the last title published under the Atari Games name, and one of the very last games that Midway itself would release to arcades. The third entry in the Rush series of games, 2049 catapulted players 50 years into the future, where cars, and buildings, looked like spaceships. When the title was ported to the N64 and Dreamcast it was a near perfect re-creation of the arcade title, however there was one new addition, gliding wings. The Rush games had a reputation for allowing crazy stunts, and the home ports would come with special stunt modes where players would gain points for doing neat trix. By adding in the gliding wings, players were able to get their cars to soar to heights previously unattainable, and in the process pull of some of the sickest stunts you’ve ever fuckin’ seen brah! The Game Boy Color version was a much less powerful version of the game, obviously, and while it did not contain the same tracks as the DC and N64 versions, it did feature all of the same cars. Played in a top down, isometric view, the game is decent enough for a handheld, but fairly unremarkable. The DC and N64 versions, however, were universally praised upon release for their graphics, sound, and controls. Midway would release one final game in the series, LA Rush, in 2006, before finally putting the franchise on ice. San Francisco Rush 2049 has not been ported to any modern consoles, with its last release being on the PS2 for the Midway Arcade Treasures 3 compilation. Perhaps your local arcade, Dave & Busters, or Chuck E. Cheese still has a cabinet set up in some dark, cobweb filled corner, otherwise you are pretty much SOL if you want to play this game (legally).
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (NES) – Released Sep. 1990: Wiki Link
After changing up the formula with 1988’s Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Konami brought the game back to it’s more linear action/platforming roots, abandoning the open world RPG concept. The change-up was welcome to both critics and players who lavished the title with heaps of praise upon its release in 1990. While the game did away with the open world, players still had choices to make that would affect the game play. At various points in the game you are allowed to choose your next level, with some pathways considered easier than others, and on these various paths you may run across new playable characters. Set a few hundred years before the events of Castelvania, players start off as Trevor Belmont, the world’s leading vampire killer, on his quest to find and slay Dracula. Then, depending on which pathways you take, you can be joined by the sorceress Sypha Belnades, the pirate Grant Danasty, or, in a shocking twist, Alucard, son of Dracula (you see what they did there). Each character comes equipped with their own special abilities, such as magic spells, projectiles, and the ability to climb walls or fly. These different paths and characters gave the game a ton of replay value, and allowed for different endings to be found, depending on your path and characters. Future Castlevania producers Koji Igarashi and Shutaro Iida would both cite Dracula’s Curse as their favorite game in the series, calling out the game’s beautiful graphics, art style, game play and music which, unfortunately, we did not get in North America. In Japan, Castlevania III was built with a special coprocessor chip that allowed for new audio channels, which the game’s audio team used to create a more convincing string instrument sound than had been previously seen on the Famicom. When the game was getting ready to be released for the Western market, this chip had to be removed as the NES was not built with the capability to use external chips, meaning the entire soundtrack had to be downgraded, leaving the game with two separate scores for the East and West. Currently Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is available on modern consoles through the Castlevania Anniversary Collection, and players who purchase the game also get the Japanese version, allowing them to hear that sweet, sweet music they missed out on the first time. An animated film was in development for several years, as well, and would eventually turn into Castlevania animated series on Netflix. The Castlevania series would release a few more standard platformers before making a dramatic turn back towards the open world concept in Symphony of the Night, a game we’ll certainly talk about in…2027, yikes.
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