Welcome back to New Game Releases, AKA Tuesday New Games, AKA Andy Tuttle’s Super Fun Vanity Project, AKA The New York Times. This week is pretty light, as is to be expected for the beginning of the year, but who knows, maybe one of these titles will be your favorite game of 2021; maybe?
Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story (Switch) – Releases Jan. 7th
Are you a Switch owner who envies your PC/PS5/Series X friends and their shiny new copies of Cyberpunk 2077? Of course not! However, that doesn’t mean other developers won’t try and cash in on the craze, so we now have the survival horror/adventure game Sense. Originally released on PC back in August, 2020, the developers of Sense have said that they took heavy inspiration from the titles Clock Tower and Fatal Frame; not sure which of those inspired the main character’s heavy…um…chest.
A Little Shop in Squirrel Town (PC) – Releases Jan. 8thth
Is this a future “hidden gem” in the 2021 Buyer’s Guide? It’s been available in early access on Steam for a few months now, so I’d imagine most of the bugs are worked out. Someone get it and tell me all about.
Wrestling Empire (Switch) – Releases Jan. 11th
Hey, remember the 90’s? Remember when 3D polygon games looked terrible? Do you want to go back to that? Really? Okay, then check out Wrestling Empire, a brand new wrestling game that is heavily inspired by all the various WWF/WCW games released for the N64. Some people really dig this aesthetic, myself, I can easily say “hard pass”. It is pretty neat that the whole game was created by one guy.
Charge Kid (Switch) – Releases Jan. 6th
Blacksmith of the Sand Kingdom (Xbox One) – Releases Jan 7th
Iris.Fall (PS4/Switch) – Releases Jan. 8th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
DC Universe Online (PC/PS3) – Released Jan. 11th, 2011: Wiki Link
In the early 2000’s, most MMORPGs on the market took place in a broad, high fantasy type setting with titles like Everquest, World of Warcraft, and Final Fantasy XI. However, in 2004 one title would buck the trend and go in a different direction, setting their game in a world of comic book superheroes; City of Heroes. While the game was well received by critics and had a devoted fanbase, its characters and setting were original creations, not based on any existing licensed comic book properties. In its waning days, a rival game would appear, one that had the full backing of one of the biggest comic book publishers in the world; DC. With a deep roster of characters to use, developer Sony Online Entertainment (renamed Daybreak Game Company, then again to Dimensional Ink Games) was ready to immerse players into the DC Universe, but what do you do when 5 million people all want to be Batman? With writer Geoff Johns on board, the team came up with a plot that involved Brainiac, Lex Luthor, time travel, and Nano machines. You see, sometime in the future, Lex Luthor (who is now a cyborg) starts a major battle with the Justice League, killing all of the heroes off through clever trickery and brute force. What he didn’t know was that he, and most other heroes and villains, were being mind controlled by Brainiac to fight one another to the death so that the alien menace could take over the Earth. Not content to let someone else rule the world, Luthor travels back in time and covers the planet in Nano machines that contain the DNA of various super heroes and super villains, turning average people into the newest crop of Justice League and Legion of Doom recruits…hence why you and millions of other new super powered people are now on Earth. While the game initially got off to a promising start, it was go free to play by the end of 2011, and has continually been one of the highest grossing games in terms of DLC and microtransactions on the PlayStation Network. While I didn’t jump into this game on day one, I did pick it up once it became F2P, and I’ll still play it every now and then. In comparison to other MMOs on the market, I think DC Universe Online is pretty weak, but it can be a solid diversion if you like playing games about super heroes. With almost 40 expansions the game is not light on content, however much of it is very repetitive. and since it continues to rake in dough, Dimensional Ink Games will continue to support the game with new content and patches. Maybe one day we’ll meet on the streets of Gotham and stop a jewel heist or two.
Mega Man Xtreme (Game Boy Color) – Released Jan. 10th, 2001: Wiki Link
Long before the arrival of the Switch, if you wanted to play your console games on the go then you’d need to buy a totally separate game; usually with a steep drop in quality. Fans of the Mega Man X games on the Super Nintendo found this out in January of 2001 with the release of Mega Man Xtreme for Game Boy Color. A sort of re-hash of the first two X games, Xtreme finds the Blue Bomber inserted into cyberspace as he attempts to defeat a program that has taken over the world’s Mother Computer. On his journey to fight this Maverick virus, X finds himself re-living the battles of his past, fighting old Mavericks like Chill Penguin, Spark Mandrill, and Flame Stag (to name a few). Of course Sigma is once again behind the whole thing and its up to X and his pal Zero to stop him. It’s all very par for the course here, and while it may have been neat to play this in 2001, the game has not aged well. The graphics are okay enough, but the controls are so out of whack that I can barely play through a stage without wanting to throw my 3DS across the room (the game is available on the Virtual Console). With very little new content, and shortened levels, there just isn’t enough here to make the game a worthwhile jaunt, no matter how big a Mega Man fan you are.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of the Lance (NES) – Released Jan. 1991: Wiki Link
Despite its popularity, it would take almost six years for a Dungeons & Dragons title to reach the NES. Perhaps there was a stigma associated with D&D that kept it from coming to the NES, or maybe there were issues with alcohol or religious iconography, who knows. In any case, for being the first D&D game on Nintendo’s massively popular console, they sure picked a terrible one. While the game had released on several home computers to great critical acclaim since its 1988 debut, the NES version is probably the worst of the bunch. Clunky controls, terrible hit detection, and an utterly confusing layout, traveling through the world of Heroes of the Lance is about as fun as finding your way out of a bag of rocks. Set in the Dragonlance campaign and based on the events of the novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight, players must enter the ruined city of Xax Tsaroth to retrieve the Disks of Mishakal from the evil dragon Khisanth. Along the way you will face off against bandits, trolls, vengeful spirits, small dragons, and other creatures, all while trying to avoid falling rocks, bottomless pits, and arrow traps. While the promise of a badass adventure seems to be told in that description, the actual journey is incredibly boring, one that I do not suggest you take without consulting some kind of walkthrough and either a emulator or a modern retro console like the Retron 5. Unlike the game it is based on, Heroes of the Lance is not an RPG, but instead a side scrolling action/adventure game where you defeat monsters by either hacking them to death with your sword, shooting them with a bow & arrows, or using various projectile spells to kill them. The menus are painful to use, particularly with a controller, and combat can be so quick and confusing that your entire party can be wiped out in a matter of seconds. On top of that, if you do not have certain characters or items when you reach the end of the game, well, you’re screwed against the final boss. While I think this game is certainly better than Mega Man Xtreme, that game is at least a coherent piece of entertainment. If I had received this game in 1991 I would have probably told my parents to immediately return it, as I would have had zero patience to try and figure out the proper order of my party, how to traverse the labyrinthine dungeons, and what I needed to do to beat the boss. Thankfully D&D would get much better games in the future (and it even had much better ones in the past), so unless you are absolute die hard fan, skip this title.
It’s good to be back in the swing of things after the holiday craziness. I truly hope that 2021 goes a lot better than 2020, but regardless of how things turn out I’m always happy to see everyone here week after week talking about games and giving me shit about typos and historical inaccuracies; and of course laughing at my jokes. Here’s to 2021!
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