Now that Microsoft has announced the release date for the Series S & X these lead up weeks feel more like a countdown to me. Nevertheless, Nintendo is gonna do what Nintendo do, and that’s release quality titles that will retain (or exceed) their value for years to come. In fact, this week’s Nintendo first party exclusive is going to be exceedingly rare in the future; read on…
Super Mario 3D All-Stars (Switch) – Releases Sep. 18th
Nintendo has a major hard-on for their first three consoles, re-releasing countless versions of classic (and some not so classic) NES, SNES, and N64 titles over the last 30 years. However, for some reason the Game Cube is often overlooked, especially one title in particular, Super Mario Sunshine. Well wait no longer, true believers, because Nintendo is finally giving us a part of their Game Cube classic…for six months. “But Andy, I buy all my games digitally, so there’s no reason to worry, that game will be available for me to purchase for several years“, FALSE! Nintendo, in some bizarre move, will be pulling the game not just from physical stores, but will also be de-listing it from the eShop on the same day. This incredibly stupid move is already causing a panic on physical pre-orders, with copies going on eBay in the hundreds of dollars before it has even come out. I love Nintendo and I think they bring a lot of wonderful and innovative ideas to the video game industry, however this is probably the most idiotic move out of a handful of dumb moves they’ve done in the past. Am I getting it? OF COURSE, I pre-ordered it from three different stores just in case some shit went down, and just so you don’t think I’m some kind of monster, if all three show up I’ll happily gift them to friends or family who don’t get a copy…or I’ll sell them on eBay. COME ON, the PS5 is going to be like $700 bucks, right? Papa needs that scratch.
Spelunky 2 (PS4) – Releases Sep. 15th (PC on Sep. 29th)
When Spelunky released on the PC back in 2008 it was a big hit with the PC crowd, particularly in the online indie programming community, the same kind of crowd that turned Minecraft into a hit. Over the last 18 years, developer Mossmouth, LLC have remade and released the game for the Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, and PS4, but a full on sequel has eluded the public, until now. With the game finally in a place that the creators are happy with, Spelunky 2 will again place you in the catacombs as you search for treasure in a procedurally generated world full of monsters and traps. With a rich and diverse cast of characters, as well as a near limitless world to explore, expect to get lost over and over again when the game drops on the PS4 this week (and on PC soon afterwards).
Welcome To Elk (PC/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 17th
Play as a disenfranchised, yet happy-go-lucky, yet anxiety riddled young person in yet ANOTHER indie game to use the popular art style of the day. Full of quirky characters that are all based on real people (apparently), you will play games with them and learn their stories as you explore the island of Elk. It’s also an Xbox exclusive, which is something you don’t see very often.
GORSD (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 18th
Konami’s 1981 arcade classic Amidar was the first game to use/popularize the “grid capture” genre of games. An off shoot of the maze genre made popular by Pac-Man, grid capture games require you to move around a maze, filling in lines with your color, capturing an area once you complete the line. It was copied dozens of times in the 1980’s, but hasn’t really seen much love in recent years, until now. Indie developer Springloaded have created a new take on the genre in their title GORSD, in which you capture areas while also trying to shoot down your opponent. It looks pretty fun, might be worth a look. If anything I’m just happy to give some ink to an indie developer.
WWE 2K Battlegrounds (PC/PS4/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 18th
These graphics remind me of those WWF toys that Playmates out out in the early 90’s. Stubby little caricatures of popular wrestlers that scream kid-friendly. With 2K taking some extra time to perfect the WWE2K series after it’s totally botched 2K20 title from last year, this is your only new WWE game for the year. I hope you like it.
Ports and Re-releases:
Crysis Remastered (PC – Epic Games Store/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 18th
“Hey, what are you looking at, pal?” the man in the strange suit asked. “Oh, nothing…” I said, laughing nervously. This guy was ripped, like totally jacked. I’m sure he could have ripped my head off with his bare hands if he wanted to. Those strong, muscular, hands gripping my throat, blocking the air just a bit, causing a bit of discomfort, but also a tinge of excitement. “Come on,” he said, “…the checkpoint is just beyond these trees. I don’t know about you, but I could use a little R&R“. I smiled slyly and nodded, “Yeah, a little R&R sounds good right now“. If only he knew…if only…
eFootball PES 2021 Season Update (PC/PS4) – Releases Sep. 15th
Okay, I’m slightly confused about the release of this game. It says it is a roster/team update to PES 2020, but it’s priced as a full game…that requires a separate download…but you can buy without owning PES 2020. Is it an expansion, a new game, a stand-alone expansion, who knows. If you play this series then maybe you can enlighten me. It’s nice to see Rakuten has a team, how do you think they’ll do against Swagbucks and Coupons.com?
THE HOLY QURAN VR EXPERENCE (Rift/Vive) – Releases Sep. 15th
Dog Duty (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 17th
Moero Crystal H (Switch) – Releases Sep. 17th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Civilization V (PC) – Released Sep. 21st, 2010: Wiki Link
Ah, Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise, is there another game series out there that is responsible for more late term papers, quarterly earnings reports, and family dinners? First released in 1991, Civilization is a game in which players take control of a nation and build it up from humankind’s first steps out of the cave up to their ascension to the stars. Its turn based style of gameplay, along with its near limitless choices, make it an easy game to pick up and a hard one to put down with you usually thinking to yourself, “I’ll just do one more turn…“, until it’s suddenly 2 am and you realize you haven’t eaten anything since noon. With each entry in the series you would have changes, with the most obvious usually being the graphical upgrades, but you would also get gameplay tweaks. With Civilization V, the big change here was the change to culture victories. Players would purchase social policies, building out ten separate trees, with the goal being to fill in five of them and complete the “Utopia Project”. Civ V also gave us the introduction of city-states. These small cities are not considered full-fledged nations that you compete with, instead they are there solely for trading, diplomatic relations, and if needed, military assistance. You can take over these city states if you’re goal is world domination, but it isn’t required. Now, with new content you will sometimes lose old content, and in Civ V’s case we lost the religion and espionage portions of the game, and combat was overhauled to no longer allow the stacking of military units. Reception to the game was overwhelmingly positive, as is generally the case with Civilization games, with critics calling it a masterpiece, and over time have even dubbed it the best in the series. It wasn’t completely perfect, however, with criticism being given to the lack of features present in Civ IV, as well as what many felt was a very poor AI for the various rival nations. The AI issue was so bad that the lead designer of the game brought it up in a retrospective interview on the game, saying that the rival nations were basically a slave to whatever situation the gameplay called for, and that their strategic decisions were so singularly focused that they would almost change their minds in unrealistic ways that made them seem like they didn’t know what they were doing or had no thought behind it. In any case, the game was patched over several times, and received multiple expansions that would bring back religion and espionage (miss a feature? Don’t worry, we’ll charge you for it!), as well as increase the number of nations you could play as. In 2016 Firaxis would release Civilization VI, putting an end to the life of Civ V, a brilliant gem in a crown already full of them.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 (PlayStation) – Released Sep. 20th, 2000: Wiki Link
If Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was skateboarding’s “coming out of the cave and making fire” phase, Pro Skater 2 was the title that launched it into the cosmos and solidified it as one of the greatest franchises of all time. While THPS 2 used the same engine as part 1, the graphics and controls were improved to give players a better looking and better playing game. The introduction of manuals was a game changer in terms of linking trick combos, letting players rack up some truly insane high scores. Hiring for the game began before the first Tony Hawk game was even released, with Activision clearly seeing that this was going to be a likely hit, with development starting up soon afterwards. The game was announced in April of 2000 and showed up at that year’s E3 as a video presentation, fueling the hype for what was to come. The game released on September 20th, 2000, but a Best Buy in Los Angeles got copies of the game a day early for fans who attended a special event hosted by Tony Hawk and local radio DJ Jed The Fish. The game was a critical smash, getting better scores than the first game and solidifying THPS as the premier extrem sports video game. By the middle of 2001, EGM had named it their pick for Game of the Year 2000, and Game Informer declared it the fourth greatest of all time, beating games like Doom, Metroid, Super Mario Bros. 3, Ms. Pac-Man, Final Fantasy VII and Ocarnia of Time, just to name a few. The more prestigious DICE awards honored it with nominations in the “Best Console Sports Game” and “Best Game Design” categories, but it would lose to SSX and Majora’s Mask. Within a year the game would be ported to the PC, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and Xbox, selling over 5 million copies worldwide by 2007, earning it the Guinness Book record for the best selling action sports game. As you should all know from reading this column, the game was recently re-released for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, giving older fans a jolt of nostalgia, and introducing a younger generation of fans to the smooth sounds of Joey Cape singing May 16.
Here’s some Millencolin too, because why not!
Maniac Mansion (NES) – Released Sep. 18th, 1990: Wiki Link
Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick’s 1987 point & click adventure game Maniac Mansion was a big hit for Lucasfilm Games, solidifying their presence in the games industry and showing that they were a true rival to Sierra in the genre. It’s mix of zany comedy, b-movie sci-fi tropes, and bizarre characters were instantly enduring, and profitable. By 1990 Lucasfilm Games (who would soon change their name to LucasArts) was ready to cash-in on their PC hit in two ways; by porting it to the most popular game console on the market, and in the form of a 30-minute sitcom written and created by Eugene Levy (who you may know and love from Schitts Creek). After a semi-failed attempt at porting the game to the NES in Japan by Jaleco, Lucasfilm Games decided to develop the American version themselves and just have Jaleco publish it, a decision that turned out to be the right one. This new Lucasfilm version was much closer to the original PC game, and had superior graphics to the Japanese version. Unlike today, where you can have games about shooting girls in the tits with a water gun and characters named “The Lucky Pervert”, Nintendo of America had a much stricter hand when it came to content in 1990. When the game was initially sent to Nintendo for review they had left several items in the game that Jaleco warned them would be problematic, and sure enough, they were. Nintendo objected to the words “kill” and “suck”, and were strongly against the use of nudity in the game. Nudity! Yes, well, there was a nude statue, a topless bikini girl poster, and a mummy in a playgirl style pose. Lucasfilm went ahead and removed these items, but not before images of these things appeared in Nintendo Power for their big cover issue, causing a 10 year old me to wonder where the hell that statue was. As far as the violence you can conduct against Weird Ed’s hamster, that was okay…until it wasn’t. When questioned about it, Maniac Mansion’s NES director Douglas Crockford said that he found it bizarre that Nintendo would be against the partial nudity and the couple of naughty words, but still allow you to microwave a hamster. Well, apparently they were unaware you could do that, so after reading the interview, Nintendo forced Lucasfilm to patch that out of all new copies of the game, womp womp. Perhaps the biggest contribution that the NES game made to the Maniac Mansion catalog was the music, which are some of the best tunes you can find on the system. Jaleco brought in a guy named George “The Fat Man” Sanger to compose a suite of original songs tied to each character. With each character kind of fitting a motif, they were able to use these to personalize the songs to their particular style; Razor got a punk rock tune, Bernard a Kraftwerk/Devo-esque electronic tune, Syd got a new wave track, Jeff got a surf rock song, and Dave, as leader, got a riff on Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town“. These songs were then re-imagined as chiptune tracks, giving me, and many others, a whole bunch of songs to hum along to. Shit, I can still hear them in my head to this day, from Michael’s electro-funk to Wendy’s classical fare…I could listen to these for hours and hours. DUNNNNNNN, duh-dun-dunnn-dunnn…
If you like what I’m doing here consider supporting me on Patreon: