It’s a very, VERY, hot holiday weekend, so thank goodness there aren’t a lot of games coming out. I think the only thing that could make this longer is if Capcom had released three notable games all in September of 1990, but they wouldn’t have done that, right? Oh no…
The Sims 4: Star Wars – Journey To Batuu (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 8th
#Nerds were supposed to be having the time of their life this Summer, basking in the one year anniversary of Galaxy’s Edge, Disneyland and WDW’s Star Wars themed land. Aside from this expansion for The Sims 4, you can find all kinds of Galaxy’s Edge merchandise in stores; from figures to comics, and even a cook book (that I bought…shut up), but of course our good pal COVID-19 decided that we wouldn’t be allowed to actually GO to Galaxy’s Edge (unless you live in Florida, but that begs the question…why?). Video games have always been a good way to escape reality and visit places you couldn’t otherwise go, so making Batuu (the planet Galaxy’s Edge takes place on) an explorable place in a video game is probably the best thing I can think of next to actually being there. I have personally held off on grabbing The Sims 4 because I’m that weirdo who only likes games bought on Steam, but with EA recently adding their titles to the platform I can now happily jump in there and give Valve their 30% of the profits.
The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 9th
It’s been roughly a year since the release of Obsidian’s Fallout-esque RPG The Outer Worlds hit consoles and to be honest, I kind of forgot about the game. It was a nice surprise, and a grim reminder that I had completely abandoned the game months earlier. Thankfully, you don’t need to finish the entire base game in order to take part in this new content, you only need to get through the main story missions on the planet Monarch, so that’s nice. The planet Gorgon will bring with it several new weapons, armor, story quests, side quests, enemies, and shady NPCs. You will apparently need a good level of diplomacy and cleverness to really take full advantage of the various story beats here, so get those skills up!
Borderlands 3: Psycho Krieg and the Fantastic Fustercluck (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 10th
You guys like Deadpool? Deadpool is sick. I might buy some Funko Pop’s later at Hot Topic, or Walmart. I’m thinking of getting an annual pass to Disneyland. Do I have kids? No, why?
Necromunda: Underhive Wars (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 8th
Based on the tabletop miniatures game, Necromunda: Underhive Wars has you leading your faction of troops in several tactical skirmish maps against a plethora of different foes. It looks like a rough and tumble kick in the pants, and could be a sleeper hit among the PC crowd.
Star Renegades (PC) – Releases Sep. 8th
The gorgeous looking RPG rouge-lite Star Renegades is coming out of nowhere, at least for me, and it has me intrigued. A lot of content looks to be crammed into this tiny package, with procedurally generated maps, missions, and enemies, as well as unique NPCs that you will forge lasting bonds with over the course of the game, then, do it all over again.
Bounty Battle (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Sep. 10th (XBone TBA)
What do you do if Sakurai won’t put your character in Smash? Just make your own crossover brawler! Featuring characters from a wide range of indie hits like Guacamelee, Dead Cells, Owlboy, Darkest Dungeons, Steamworld, and many more. It’s not Smash, it’s not Brawlhalla, it’s Bounty Battle, bitch.
Ports and Re-releases:
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 8th
THQ Nordic is back with yet another resurrection of a vaguely familiar property that will make you go, “Oh yeah, that existed“. This time they’re bringing us the MMO-esque Kingdoms of Amalur, a fantasy RPG with a story by R.A. Salvatore, art by Todd MacFarlane, and a legacy tied to Trump supporter, white supremacy apologist, (probably) Q Anon follower, and guy who once pitched at the World Series with blood in his sock, Curt Schilling. Thankfully, Schilling doesn’t seem to have any involvement with the game anymore, so if you want to finally pick this up guilt-free and see what drove Gamespot to say “…character advancement (is) fantastic enough to overshadow how bland everything else is“, then now is your chance. You could also just never play it; pretty sure your life will be the same either way.
RPG Maker MV (PS4/Switch) – Releases Sep. 8th
I wonder what happened to the DM/Witch from Darkest Dungeons?
Minecraft Dungeons: Creeping Winter (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 8th
Diablo for kids releases its first expansion this week featuring, you guessed it,
Frank Stallone cold environments.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Coteries of New York: Shadows of New York (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 10th
Oh, she became a vampire and moved to New York.
Bake’N Switch (PC/Switch) – Releases Sep. 10th
Tell Me Why: Chapter 3 (PC/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 10th (Series X TBA)
Inertial Drift (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 11th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Halo Reach (Xbox 360) – Released Sep. 9th, 2010: Wiki Link
By 2010, developer Bungie had been working on the Halo franchise for 13 years, with 7 of these years spent under the Microsoft umbrella, going independent in 2007. It was known in the industry that Bungie was working on something big in the background, the game we’d all know as Destiny, but to keep the bill paid and people working, the developer split itself into two teams to make 2009’s Halo 3: ODST and 2010’s Halo Reach. Set just before the events of Combat Evolved, Reach had players taking on the role of Spartan “Noble Six”, the newest member of “Nobel Team”, a UNSC special operations unit who are sent to the planet Reach to figure out why communications with the colony there have suddenly stopped. It is quickly discovered that the Covenant have attacked the colony and are in search of some religious artifacts. Part of what makes Halo Reach so interesting is the lore it brings to the games. Previously, fans of the series had read about the creation of the MJOLNIR powered armor by Dr. Halsey and the fate of planet Reach in the 2001 novel Halo: The Fall of Reach, but now they got to actually step foot on this world and see the events happen in front of their eyes. Bungie had felt that their story of Master Chief and Cortana was told and no no interest in moving the timeline forward, so taking players back to before the beginning was a simple choice for them to make. When the game released it was a hit with both critics and players, earning the franchise some of its highest praise and being called the best Halo game to date. Praise was given to changes Bungie brought to the game, including a protagonist that talked! Other changes were noticeable too, including an new engine that improved the game’s graphics, and behind the scenes Bungie was gearing up for its future by building an in-house motion capture studio, allowing them greater control, and time, in creating their cut scenes. Audio was improved as well, with series composer Martin O’Donnell able to take advantage of more advanced technology, allowing the music to change dynamically based on player actions in greater detail. Sound engineers on the game were able to use a more robust sound effect system as well, further showing how much Bungie was trying to accomplish with their own in-house tools and tech. It was a long journey for the team at Bungie, starting out at Apple, changing genres, moving to Microsoft, putting out one of the biggest franchises of all time, putting up with corporate masters, and finally going independent. It was a (seemingly) happy time for the company that Halo built, but things were simmering under the surface, and the development of their upcoming game Destiny would take its toll on the company and cause a rift with one of its most high profile employees…but that’s a story we’ll discuss in September of 2024.
Parasite Eve II (PlayStation) – Released Sep. 12th, 2000: Wiki Link
1998’s Parasite Eve was well regarded by critics and players when it released for the Sony PlayStation in both Japan and North America. Producer Hironbou Sakaguchi and writer/director Takashi Tokita took the popular novel by Hideki Sena and crafted a sequel that was a mix of action/adventure and RPG. When time came for a follow-up, Squaresoft decided they should create a spin-off to allow for more freedom in the gameplay. Capcom’s Resident Evil series was incredibly popular, and seeing dollar signs in their eyes, the executives hired Kenichi Iwao, RE‘s writer, to helm this spin-off. Bringing several Resident Evil staff members over to Squaresoft, Iwao and his team crafted a tale that centered on a protagonist named Kyle Madigan, a private investigator whose latest job would bring him in contact with the NMC menace from the first game. However, as time moved on, Square got a bee in their bonnet and decided it would be better to create a proper sequel to Parasite Eve, causing the team to halt work, shift gears, and scrap their new protagonist in favor of the first game’s heroine, Aya Brea (“Where’d you get that name?” “My mother is Japanese“). While Kyle wouldn’t be completely removed from the story, he would no longer be the main focus, allowing the team to contrast Aya’s rookie role in the first game with a more seasoned veteran role in the sequel. With Iwao and his team, the style and tone of the game would change. Gone was the more standard RPG style of gameplay, replaced with Resident Evil’s third person, survival horror style of game. However, the game did retain some of its RPG roots, with battles happening in a quasi-turn based fashion albeit with full control over your characters position, and there was still armor, weapons, and items to tinker with. Keeping with the Resident Evil theme, the game incorporated motion controls and pre-rendered backgrounds, as well as a penchant for jump scares. In fact, playing through the game and you get the sense that it is a lost chapter in the RE saga, complete with underground bunkers and shady corporations conducting questionable science experiments. While the idea to turn the series into a Resident Evil clone might have felt fresh at the time of conception, by 2000 its style of gameplay was seen as archaic and dated, particularly the clunk tank controls and limited inventory space. Despite these two criticisms, the game was generally well regarded, with critics saying that it felt more like the survival horror game that Sakaguchi seemed to want to make in 1998, but just couldn’t quite reach. For all you Kingdom Hearts fans out there, you might be interested to know that Aya’s design was a collaboration between Sakaguchi and Tetsuya Nomura, who initially had no involvement with Parasite Eve II, but after the game’s character artist quit, Nomura stepped in and worked on creating this newer, more grown-up Aya. Parasite Eve would receive one more installment, the 2011 PSP game The 3rd Birthday, before heading off to the franchise graveyard. You can still pick this title up, as well as the first game, through the PlayStation Network for play on your PS3, PSP, and PS Vita. Will Aya ever come back and grace our lives once more? We can only hope.
Capcom Cavalcade, featuring…Destiny of an Emperor, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, and Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (NES) – Released Sep. 1990:
As a kid, there were certain games that you knew would almost always be a good time based on their covers. Konami’s silver boxes, Ultra’s black triangles and striking logo, and, of course, Capcom’s purpleish-blue borders. Not everything was a slam dunk, obviously, but you at least knew there was going to be a quality product on the cart, something that wasn’t quite the case with many, MANY, games on the NES. With Mega Man 3 on the horizon, Capcom used it as a selling point for these three titles, promising stickers to all who purchased a copy of Destiny of an Emperor, Little Nemo: The Dream Master, and Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight.
With the RPG scene in Japan booming thanks to titles like Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, Capcom couldn’t rest on its laurels and let that cash pass them by. Taking inspiration from the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, prolific Capcom producer Tokuro Fujiwara and his team used their massive toolbox of skills to create a unique JRPG in which players would control Liu Bei and a motley assortment of peasants and generals on their quest to unite China under the Shu Han banner. Like other JRPGs, battles occurred in a turn based style, with actions selected for each of party members. A few differences did arise, however, with battles able to be played quickly using the “all-out” feature, HP being replaced with “army size”, and perhaps most interestingly, the ability to recruit enemies to your party. With this feature, players could have up to seven party members, with five available during battle, and generals released to make room for new ones would return to the battlefield and attack you once again. Largely ignored by players and critics when it released in 1990, the game found an audience in later years that would sing its praises, including former US Gamer and 1UP writer Jeremy Parish, and Kotaku writer Ethan Gach. Back in 2007, and fairly power hacking tool was created for the game, giving players the ability to create their own maps, characters, enemies, and graphics for the game. There is currently no way to legally play this game without owning the original cartridge, making it pretty expensive on the second hand market (I’m looking at you, $90 dollar, boxed copy at my local used game store).
After years in development hell, producer Yutaka Fujioka was finally able to release his dream project, an animated feature based on the Little Nemo story. With a 1989 release in Japan, the story of the movie’s creation is way more interesting than the game, with people like George Lucas and Chuck Jones passing on the project, to wildly out of left field names like Chris Columbus and Moebius writing screenplay drafts, to animation legends like Brad Bird and Hayao Miyazaki contributing art in some way, there is so much to dive into on this movie. Alas, here we are to talk about the game, one that tied into the film’s Japanese release, and served as a sort of introduction to American audiences for the film’s 1992 U.S. release. Little Nemo is a fairly standard platformer, but houses some interesting twists to the formula. Once again, mega producer Tokuro Fujiwara was at the helm here, using his team to create a unique game that felt familiar to Capcom fans, but added enough new content to make it feel fresh. Players take on the role of Nemo, a young boy who has been summoned to Dream Land to play with the princess. On his own, Nemo is rather weak, unable to defeat enemies or jump very high, so he must rely on a series of animal companions to get him through several treacherous levels. I’m not joking either, this game is incredibly hard, much more difficult than you would expect from a game that’s based on a children’s property. It received high marks when it was released, and has endured as one of the all-time classic NES titles. Unfortunately, most likely due to licensing issues, this game is also unavailable on any modern consoles, making it another gaming classic lost to the ages.
In what is probably the weirdest game out of Capcom’s three September releases in 1990 is the totally out there Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight. Now, you might be thinking, that the FUCK does this have to do with either Street Fighter or Final Fight, and the answer is…well…nothing. While the game uses the Street Fighter name in both Japan and the U.S., it was Capcom USA who decided to change the main character to be a cyborg version of Ken who has retired from street fighting to become a world renowned scientist (in Japan he is a cybernetic cop named Kevin Striker). The game bears very little resemblance to the Street Fighter arcade game, with…you gotta be kidding me…producer Tokuro Fujiwara and his team opting to go with a platformer style of gameplay. Most stages are restricted to one screen, or small area of connected screens, but there’s no opponent health bar to whittle down, instead players must defeat enough enemies to gain fuel to power their trans dimensional teleportation device to move on to the next area. You see, Ken’s good buddy Troy was murdered, and the cyboplasm they were working on creating together was stolen, but *SPOILERS* in a twist of fate, Troy faked his death so he could control the cyboplasm and turn the whole world into hideous, mutated creatures, for some reason. It doesn’t matter, it’s stupid. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Troy was named Dr. Jose in the Japanese release, and it turns out he actually created Kevin Striker with the cyboplasm, that’s the shocking twist in that version. The plot of the game is actually not all that different from Parasite Eve if you really stop to think about it, making us all wonder if author Hideaki Sena was playing this on his Famicom in his early twenties (or maybe Sakaguchi was a big fan…). In a bit of good news, unlike Destiny of an Emperor and Little Nemo, Street Fighter 2010 is available on a couple modern devices, as Wii U and 3DS owners can purchase the game through the Nintendo eShop. It’s actually not that bad of a game, but don’t go into it expecting to throw hadoukens and dragon punches.
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