*Two weeks until the new consoles arrive*
Happy Halloween everyone! We’ve got a bunch of frightfully good games this week that are sure to chill you to the bone and leave your wallet begging for mercy. With the new consoles arriving in just two weeks you can kind of think of this as the appetizer before the main course. My palms are sweating just thinking about the PS5 (and Series X, I guess), or maybe I’ve had too much coffee. Someone get me one of those kitschy signs from TJ Maxx that are like “You don’t have to be a coffee drinker to live here, but it helps“, oh, this is a good one:
Watch Dogs: Legion (PC/PS4/Stadia/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 29th (PS5/Series S/X versions will be out on their respective console launch days)
Like a lot of Ubisoft titles, the first entry in the franchise is a bit ho hum, but each one gets progressively better until they start to become a rigid formula that becomes boring and stale. That means with Watch Dogs: Legion, the third game in the franchise, this is likely about as good as the series will get, so it might not be a bad place to jump in if you’ve been ignoring it (like I have). With a mad hacker trying to take over London, a group of less mad hackers must band together to stop him or her from following through on their insane plot. To do this, they will use their skills to turn any ordinary citizen into a modern day Lex Murphy (I prefer to be called a “hacker”), creating a, you guessed it
Frank Stallone Legion. It might be tempting to wait for the PS5/Series S/X versions, but lest I remind you of the PS4/XBone launch release of Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate:
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV (PS4) – Releases Oct. 27th
While The Legend of Heroes RPG series isn’t as well known as Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior, it’s been going strong since the 90’s. In this latest entry we find ourselves at the end of the “Cold Steel” arc, but not the end of the “Trails” sub-series, apparently. If this means anything to you then I’m sure you’re very excited.
Pacer (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 29th
Seeing as how Nintendo is keen to let F-Zero languish in obscurity, we have to rely on other developers to get our futuristic death sled racing fix. Luckily the team at R8 Games was able to convince a bunch of people to crowdfund their spiritual successor to Wipeout 3. While early access reviews were fairly poor, citing an unfinished, bare bones product (which begs to ask what they expected from an “early access” title) the extra time to finish the game has hopefully addressed the issues people had with the game.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope & Volume 1 collection (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 30th
Hey, remember The Dark Pictures Anthology? Sure you do, you remember how Supermassive Games said they’d be releasing a series of horror games under that banner. Initially they had announced that the games would come out every six months, but delays and other factors have led to this prolonged 14 month break. Will this have any affect on sales, or will fans of the first game forgive this transgression and pick up Little Hope? Oh, and in case you missed out on the first title, Man Of Medan, you can purchase both titles together in what they’re calling the Volume 1 Collection.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe (Switch) – Releases Oct. 30th
Maybe the reason Nintendo won’t make a new F-Zero is because they’re too busy porting over every single Wii U game to the Switch. Anyway, Pikmin 3 is a phenomenal game that I’m happy to see is being made available to a wider audience. Pick this up.
Ports and Re-releases:
Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (Switch) – Releases Oct. 27th
There are a boatload of Switch ports this week, not sure why, but here we are. The first is Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, the remake of the 1997 PSX game, which first came out on the PS4 six years ago.
Sonic Forces/Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz & Sonic Mania/Team Sonic Racing (Switch) – Releases Oct. 27th
Man, this is a lot of money to spend on just Sonic Mania.
Day of the Tentacle/Full Throttle/Grim Fandango (Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 29th
Microsoft is flexing its library muscle by adding three classic LucasArts/Double Fine titles to Game Pass. While these certainly play much better with a mouse, these remastered versions have been updated for the modern gamer in mind, complete with smoothed out artwork instead of those hideous pixels, yuck!
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Stadia) – Releases Oct. 29th
The first boss of this game should be your own mind, for even having the idea that signing up for Stadia was a good idea.
Yuppie Psycho: Executive Edition (Switch) – Releases Oct. 29th
Here’s what I said about the PC version that released last year: “With just a few months left to cash in on the 90’s craze, we have Yuppie Psycho, a surreal indie game with an anime aesthetic, that has you playing as a character named Brian who is starting his first day of work. He works for a huge corporation that is not unlike Shinra from Final Fantasy VII (90’s!!!), and while things may look normal on the outside, he starts to realize that this job might just be too much for him. Did I mention it takes place during the 90’s??!!!?“. Apparently it takes place during the 90’s.
Angry Video Game Nerd I & II Deluxe (PC/Switch) – Releases Oct. 30th
Internet users from the early 2000’s are no doubt familiar with James Rolfe and his character The Angry Video Game Nerd. What they may not know is that he has not only continued to make content featuring the character, but has also had two video games made that let you play as the AVGN. More than just a straight port of the first two games, developer FreakZone Games have remastered both titles, including rebuilding the entire first game in the second game’s engine, and have made a bunch tweaks to gameplay, difficulty, and the overall presentation.
Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator (Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 31st
Time for a Halloween treat, as Switch and XBone owners can now enjoy the sixth entry in the Five Nights At Freddy’s franchise on their favorite console. While this does feature much of the same gameplay elements from previous entries, the big change here comes during the day when you get to actually build and decorate your own Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria. I have zero mileage with this series so I really don’ t have much to say except they look, um, shitty.
Later Daters Part 2 (PC/Switch) – Releases Oct. 29th
Just in time for Halloween it’s…OLD PEOPLE HAVING SEX!!!
Carto (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 27th
Ghostrunner (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 27th
Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 27th
Transient (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 28th
Crimzon Clover – World EXplosion (Switch) – Releases Oct. 29th
Legends of Ethernal (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 30th
Pixel Puzzle Makeout League (PC/Switch) – Releases Oct. 30th
Umihara Kawase BaZooKa! (PS4/Switch) – Releases Oct. 30th
Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 years ago:
Goldeneye (Wii) – Released Nov. 2nd, 2010: Wiki Link
Every console generation has its defining games, and few are more defining of a generation than the N64 classic Goldeneye 007. A staple of bedrooms, rec rooms, basements, and college dorms across the world, Rare’s FPS game is an all-time classic that likely spawns many happy gaming memories. It should be no surprise, then, that someone would try and capitalize on the nostalgia people had for this title, but how do you do that when the game is tied up in a legal nightmare…you remake it! With a failed start on the Xbox when Nintendo and Microsoft couldn’t reach an agreement, new franchise holder Activision was able to convince the Big N to let them bring a new version of the game to their smash hi console, the Wii. Seeing an opportunity to bring in a new generation of fans, Activision and developer Eurocom decided to have the game feature the current James Bond played by Daniel Craig. While the overall plot would remain roughly the same, the actors and some of their character’s backstories/motivations would be changed. Using the engine from the Wii game Dead Space: Extraction, Eurocom got to work on remaking the beloved classic, and got a lot of help from Craig himself. A self proclaimed gamer, Daniel Craig was more than happy to give suggestions about how the game played, getting as hands on as he could (much to the delight of the developers, I’m sure…), and giving his feedback on how things felt and played. Critics were mixed on their reception to the game, gaining praise as one of the Wii’s best titles, but also being called lackluster and not at all competitive with modern FPS games. One thing that everyone did seem to agree on was that it was a shot in the arm to the Wii’s more “serious minded” fans, with a heavy de-emphasis on motion controls (although you could still play with them), and a more mature tone than you’d find on most Wii games of the era. In November of 2011 an HD remaster would arrive on the PS3 and Xbox 360, and even included support for the ill-fated PlayStation Move controller. Craig would play Bond in the digital realm two more times, first with Bloodstone followed by 2012’s entry Legends, the final game in the Bond series to date. As for that N64 Goldeneye, well, you’re still going to have to find a cartridge somewhere, because that thing is lost to the ages.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask (N64) – Released Oct. 26th, 2000: Wiki Link
Like Goldeneye, Nintendo’s Ocarina Of Time is, hands down, one of the best games of its generation and his held up as one of the crown jewels of the N64. How do you follow up something so beloved and acclaimed? The answer would come from an unlikely place, an indie film from Germany called Run Lola Run. After the mass appeal of OoT, director Eiji Aonuma, producer Shigeru Miyamoto, and writer Yoshiaki Koizumi knew they wanted to do something different for the next Zelda game, and the repeating time concept from Lola was the creative spark they needed to get Majora’s Mask off the ground. Like Lola, the team at Nintendo experimented, trying out new ideas and concepts that hadn’t been fully explored in Zelda games of the past. It also struck a decidedly dark tone, making it a rather fitting release for Halloween in 2000. For those unfamiliar with the game, Majora’s Mask takes place not long after the events of Ocarina of Time, with young Link heading out into the world in search of his lost fairy, Navi. While passing through the land of Termina, Link is beset upon by a kid in a mask and his two fairies who scare away his horse and steal his ocarina, before finally transforming him into a Deku, one of the many enemies you encountered in OoT. Lost, alone, and looking for help, Deku Link makes his way to Clock Town, a bustling village in the heart of Termina that is home to a bevy of oddball characters who are preparing for the annual Carnival Of Time festival. After coming into contact with the Happy Mask Salesman, Link discovers that there is a specific song that can heal him if he’s able to retrieve his prized possession from Skull Kid, the naughty boy who assaulted him in the woods. Misinterpreting the Happy Mask Salesman’s words, Link only gets back the ocarina, not the mask Skull Kid was wearing, which causes the salesman to shake him furiously with anger. This might seem a bit over dramatic, but the problem is that Skull Kid is wearing a very power magical artifact called Majora’s Mask. With this mask, Skull Kid can cause even more mischief than normal, including calling upon the moon to come crashing down onto Termina, killing everyone. Remembering something Zelda told him about the Goddess of Time able to help him in a time of need, Link plays The Song of Time on his ocarina and is transported back three days to his first arrival in Termina. From there Link, and his new fairy friend Tatl, must summon four giants who will be able to repel the moon and send it back up into space.
This is where the Run Lola Run inspiration comes into play, as the driving mechanic of the game revolves around Link reliving the same three days over and over again until he can summon all four giants. This is trickier than it sounds, however, because each time you restart the cycle, everything you did is reset. People you met don’t remember you, pathways you cleared are back to being blocked, among other things that can make traveling through the land a chore. However, major items you collect stay with you, including the dozens of masks you can collect in the game. Yes, as expected of a game called Majora’s Mask, masks are a big component of the game as well. There are 24 masks, in total, with four of them that can transform Link; the Deku Mask, the Goron Mask, the Zora Mask, and the Fierce Diety’s Mask. The 20 other masks are all optional but will grant Link some great abilities including being able to move faster, explode like a bomb, and find secrets, while others are used to complete various side quests. Oh, did I mention side quests? There’s a TON of them in Majora’s Mask. Like I said earlier, this game is full of crazy characters, all of which seem to have some kind of problem that they need you to solve. To help you with this, the game gives you a guidebook that stays with you as you travel through time, giving you the location of every character during the three day period, what their problem is, and what kind of reward they gave you for completing their task. In many ways, Majora’s Mask plays like a point & click adventure game from the 90’s, and feels, somewhat, like a spiritual successor to King’s Quest (I’m sure that King’s Quest VIII being called Mask of Eternity while featuring sword heavy combat was just a coincidence). These side quests are what make up the largest part of the game, with the dungeons only really taking up a short amount of time in comparison. Like most RPGs, however, these side quests are optional and you only REALLY need to do all of them if you’re a completionist (although many of them lead to extra heart containers, and those awesome masks that can make playing the game a lot easier).
When it released, Majora’s Mask was met with overwhelming praise from critics and players alike. While some balked at the initial idea of the three day time cycle, it was eventually seen as wonderfully inventive, taking the puzzle solving aspects seen in previous Zelda games to the next level. Critics were quick to point out that the game faced a huge challenge in trying to live up to the legacy of Ocarina of Time, and were surprised that Majora’s Mask not only lived up to OoT, but surpassed it. Much was written about the darker tone of the game, with a story that was shocking, terrifying, and ultimately heartbreaking. Many of the characters you meet in the game in are in various states of anguish and despair, and the impending doom of a giant moon about to crash into them doesn’t make their anxieties any better. I would love to sit down with all of the writers of this game and find out what they were going through in the late 90’s that allowed them to go to such dark places. This surreal, brooding game is a true masterpiece in video games, one that deserves all of the praise it got, and should be a game that anyone who is serious about the medium needs to experience. While it’s difficult to find a reasonably priced N64 cartridge, Wii U owners can purchase the game through the Virtual Console. If you don’t mind not playing the original game, a remake came out for the 3DS in 2015 that cleaned up the graphics and changed some of the content, but is generally the same game. The fact that this game came out the same day as the PlayStation 2, and could still elicit such a positive response from players year after year is a true testament to the ingenuity and artistic risk taking of its development team.
Speaking of the Angry Video Game Nerd, he did a Majora’s Mask episode last year:
A Nightmare On Elm Street (NES) – Released Oct. 1990: Wiki Link
I can hear it now, “1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you. 3, 4, better lock your door…“, that chilling nursery rhyme immediately conjures up horrifying nightmares from my childhood. This video game, however, is far from terrifying, at least in the conventional sense. In A Nightmare On Elm Street, up to four players must work together to search the houses of Elm Street for the bones of Freddy Kreuger, the notorious child murderer. Initially the game was supposed to have players taking on the role of Freddy as he stalked and murdered a group of teenagers, but it appears clearer heads prevailed here. I don’t think parents in 1990 would have been ready for a game where you play as a mass murderer, as evidenced by their reaction to titles like Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, and Doom would elicit in the coming years. Reviews were mixed for the title, with praise being given to the graphics and sound, as well as the unique real world/dream world level swaps, but overall it was seen as just another platformer in a long line of them made for the NES. If there’s anything worthwhile about the game it is probably because it was developed by Rare, who we all know would go on to make such classics as Jet Force Gemini, Grabbed By The Ghoulies, and Kameo: Elements of Power.
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