Things are still pretty slow this week, but it’s a big step up from last week’s paltry offerings. Still, the top game of the week is a port of an 11 year old game, so maybe save up your money for Hitman III, The Medium or Atelier Ryza 2.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game – The Complete Edition (PC/PS4/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jan. 14th
Released the same week as the Scott Pilgrim film back in 2010, this side scrolling beat ’em up was hailed by critics for its beautiful graphics and outstanding soundtrack. Licensing issues would eventually force the game to be removed from digital storefronts, making the game one of those rare titles that only those lucky enough to have in their libraries still able to play. Fear not, true believers, because Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game has found and extra life and hit continue! This new “Complete Edition” contains the original game and its DLC, and for you collectors out there a physical version is being released by Limited Run Games. Tell those digital storefronts they’re sooooooo pathetic and own the game forever in a handsome collector’s edition package that looks like a Genesis case.
S.U.M. – Slay Uncool Monsters (Switch) – Releases Jan. 12th (PC in March)
Do you love video games but wish that it featured more math??? YOUR WISH HAS BEEN GRANTED!! In S.U.M., players will guide their party of stereotypical RPG characters through a series of dungeons where they will be forced into combat with a host of monsters, with one big twist. Instead of fighting them with swords and magic, you must solve various math equations to defeat them, giving eighth grade algebra teachers across America a way to connect with the students who throw bags of dog shit at their car in the faculty parking lot. Mr. Harris is a nice guy, he goes mountain bike riding on Saturday with his wife, and afterwards they pick up something from Tender Greens and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. He donates to PBS so that children can see episodes of Nature Cat and The Wild Kratt’s, and he even got that new Phoebe Bridgers album because of the glowing review it got on Pitchfork. What the hell is wrong with you, throwing shit at a man’s car? Fuck you.
Skellboy Refractured (PC) – Releases Jan. 13th
I think this is a port of the Switch release from last year, but if I can put Scott Pilgrim up here I’ll do it for Skellboy too. Featuring a bunch of new features, including new dungeons, graphics, and gameplay improvements, Skellboy has players taking on the role of Skippy the skeleton. With the kingdom of Cubold taken over by an evil magician, Skippy must face off against hordes of undead enemies on his quest to free the people. By swapping out his body parts, Skippy can gain new abilities and grow stronger, and with over 100 to choose from there is a ton of variety to try out.
Down In Bermuda (Apple Arcade/PC/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jan. 14th
If you’re a fan of whimsical puzzle adventure games then you should really give Down In Bermuda a look. Taking on the role of ace pilot Milton, players will find themselves trapped in the Bermuda Triangle, moving from island to island solving puzzles and trying to stay alive in this strange place. The game is made by the same team that created Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise which currently has an overwhelmingly positive user review score on Steam. Maybe give this title a look.
WRITHE (Switch) – Releases Jan. 15th
The retro inspired games continue to make a splash this week with the first person shooter WRITHE. Set in an alternate reality 1970’s Thailand, giant mutant worms have invaded Bangkok and it is up to you and your team to exterminate the creatures before they take over the world. Ultimately this seems futile as the game promises that the worm horde is endless, meaning that this game is really about racking up as high a score as possible for worldwide bragging rights; pure arcade action at its finest.
Ports and Re-releases:
Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Core Collection (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jan. 12th
If you don’t know what Five Nights At Freddy’s is by now then you aren’t paying attention to video games. One of the most popular game franchises in modern history, the entire FNAF series is being collected into one package for the hardcore fan to reminisce over, or the curious newcomer who hasn’t been in grade school for the last six years.
MXGP 2020 (PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Jan. 14th
This game probably sucks, but you know those graphics on the PS5 and Series X are going to be fantastic.
Rhythm Fighter (Switch) – Releases Jan. 14th
I didn’t highlight this back in May of 2020 when it came out for PC and I feel kind of bad because the game looks pretty awesome. Fighting in time to the rhythm of the music, players will embark on a rougelike adventure that is full of zany characters as they, quote, “dance to kill“.
Aquarelle (PC) – Releases Jan. 12th
Fantasy Tavern Sextet -Vol.2 Adventurer’s Days- (Switch) – Releases Jan 14th
Everspace 2 (Early Access) (PC) – Releases Jan. 18th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Little Big Planet 2 (PS3) – Released Dec. Jan. 18th, 2011: Wiki Link
Before Super Mario Maker, would be game designers were putting together their own version of Level 1-1 in Sony’s Little Big Planet. Seeing as the first game was a massive success it was only natural that a sequel would come out, but how do make a new game that doesn’t divide your already established community? You use backwards compatibility! While LBP2 added a slew of new features and game types, developer Media Molecule went out of their way to make sure that any level created in the first Little Big Planet would work in the sequel (as well as all previously released DLC). While the core game didn’t change much between the two titles, there were vast improvements made to the game’s engine that allowed for better looking graphics and special effects. As a level designer, you were also given a wider set of genres to use aside from the standard platformer, letting you make a game in the racing, puzzle, or RPG genre. The tools for LBP2 were so robust that Media Molecule declared that their title was more than just a platforming game, it was a PLATFORM for games. When Little Big Planet 2 came out on January 11th, 2011, players and critics were overwhelmingly positive towards the game, calling the tools simple and intuitive, leading to more than 8 million levels created by the end of 2013. Aside from the level creation tools, critics were also impressed with the gameplay changes, noting that the controls were better and that the changes to the engine helped the game feel and play better. One other major point of praise was the game’s music, being called one of the best soundtracks of the year, even earning a DICE Award nomination in the music category, as well as for Online Gameplay and Family Game of the Year. While you might think this 10 year old game would have its servers shut down by now, particularly because there was a third title released on the PS4 as well as their new title, Dreams, but the answer is no. You can still play the millions of levels made for the game, and even more surprising was that I actually had people try to join my game this past weekend while I was playing it, and there were a ton of players I could join games with. Maybe its getting a bit of a resurgence because of the 10 year anniversary, or maybe the game just has that dedicated of a fanbase. In any event, even if Little Big Planet 2 seems a bit generic at times, it is a still wonderful title that can easily delight players today just as it did when it was first released.
Mario Tennis (Game Boy Color) – Released Jan. 16th, 2001: Wiki Link
For regular readers of this column you might be thinking, “didn’t we just talk about Mario Tennis“? Yes, we did, back in November when the Nintendo 64 version came out, but now we’re back to discuss its follow-up companion title for the Game Boy Color, also called, you guessed it, Mario Tennis. Unlike the N64 version which is a more straightforward sports title, the Game Boy Coloe version of Mario Tennis features an RPG-esque story mode in which players take on the role of either Alex or Nina, a new student at the Royal Tennis Academy where they can train and take on other students on their quest to become academy champion. While the N64 game features multiple characters from the Mario universe competing against one another, your matches in the Game Boy Advance game are mostly against a generic set of characters that have zero ties to the world of Mario. In fact, you don’t see Mario in the game whatsoever until the final match in story mode, which will finally unlock him for free play. As promised by the red oval on the cover of the game, if you own a copy of Mario Tennis on both the N64 and the Game Boy Color (plus you have a transfer pak), you can unlock new characters in both games. The N64 game allows you to play as original characters Nina, Alex, Harry and Kate, while the GBC version lets you play as Yoshi, Waluigi, Wario, and Bowser…but not Mario. Yes, even though the game is named after him, you can’t just jump in and play a game as everyone’s favorite plumber in the red cap. You can play as Luigi from the start of the game, but Mario is an elusive specter, spoken about in hushed tones. Overall I can’t say I really loved Mario Tennis, but I didn’t hate it either. Matches take way too long to play for very, VERY, little reward, and trying to be accurate with the terrible GBC controls is an exercise in futility. With only a small amount of characters available in free play it’s not really worth the price of admission, but if you want a handheld tennis game, and you don’t own a Switch, then maybe give this a look.
Dick Tracy (Genesis/Master System) – Released Jan. 1991: Wiki Link
Sega of America’s Genesis version of Dick Tracy is a triumphant entry in the side scrolling arcade genre that, unfortunately, gets bogged down with repetitive gameplay and an increasing difficulty that both keeps kids form beating the game in one rental period, to the game’s detriment. Released at the beginning of 1990, a pivotal year for the Genesis, and follows in the foot steps of other “mature” side scrollers the console was known for, namely Altered Beast, ESWAT, Shinobi, etc., etc., it wasn’t really anything new, but it has a charm that makes it easy to keep playing over and over again. The gameplay in Dick Tracy is fairly unique, combining a side scroller with a shooting gallery, making players split their attention between two playing fields. In the traditional side scroller, players move Tracy to the left and right, shooting and punching crooks like you would in just about any video game made after 1985. However, with a second, upper plane of action, players must also occasionally stop and use their tommy gun to blast crooks before their bullets reach Tracy on the lower plane of action. This back and forth style of gameplay felt really unique when I was playing the game this past weekend, and I was wondering why more titles didn’t try this approach. While the melding of the two types of shooting was unique, their gameplay was pretty derivative, with the sidescrolling portions playing a lot like Namco’s Rolling Thunder, and the shooting gallery portion feeling a lot like LJN’s The Punisher for NES (a game that had just released a couple months prior). That being said, again, I can’t really stress enough how much I enjoyed doing both of these things. While there were parts that felt derivative, I was really happy to find that there was one portion that I hadn’t really seen before, and that is the high speed chase scenes. There are six levels in Dick Tracy, each divided up into three stages, and some of the highlights include these chase sequences. With Tracy holding onto the side of a moving police car, players will still shoot at their foes from a lower and upper plane, but with an added element of using cover to dodge bullets, while also having to aim high and low at enemies on the same lower plane as you, in their moving vehicles. It’s a wonderful addition to an already fun game. Like most licensed titles, Dick Tracy never got any kind of port to modern systems and his near impossible to find (at least in all of my local retro stores). eBay and other third party sellers list the game online, but it’s usually pretty expensive, I’d just stick to emulation here, that save states are crucial if you want to make it through a good portion of the game.
That’ll do it for this week but, as promised in my video above, here are some images of the guacamole being made; enjoy and I’ll see you next week!
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