For the ninth time this year, the top game of the week is a port/remaster. On the one hand it’s great that we’re seeing older titles given new life and a chance to be preserved for future generations, but on the other hand it says that the industry either doesn’t have that much imagination anymore or, more likely, we’re seeing the COVID content drought in video games that plagued movies and television in 2020. Still there’s about 20 games this week for you to choose from, so don’t get too worried that you won’t have anything to play. Besides, you should probably still be playing Resident Evil: Village anyway, right?
Virtua Fighter V Ultimate Showdown (PS4) – Releases Jun. 1st
Originally released in 2006 to arcades before hitting consoles in 2007, Virtua Fighter 5 is receiving a brand new coat of paint and a complete overhaul thanks to the team at Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio, best known for the Yakuza and Judgement series. Rebuilt from the ground up using the studio’s Dragon Engine (which ran Yakuza 6, Yakuza Kiwami 2 and Judgement) Ultimate Showdown is Sega’s attempt to reignite interest in the series for the competitive fighting game e-sports crowd. Will it work? Apparently the online matches will not feature “rollback netcode”, whatever that is, and I guess that’s bad. However, if you’re like me and don’t give a shit about any of that, this is probably going to be a great time. Even more good news for dorks like me, you’ll also be able to purchase day one DLC (I know, I’m groaning too) which features a ton of retro skins, stages, and music from the series’ history. This news is softened somewhat by the announcement that it is the free PS+ game for June (along with a couple other titles), but if you aren’t a subscriber, or just want to own it flat out, this is a cool $29.99, making it’s all in price tag of $39.98 much cheaper that your typical new release. I’m very excited!
Necromunda: Hired Gun (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 1st
Warhammer fans rejoice, because between last week’s Age of Sigmar and this week’s Necromunda, it’s a great time to be an enthusiast. Set in the 40K universe, Necromunda: Hired Gun is a first person action game that looks to be capitalizing on all of the Cyberpunk hype that we all assumed would still be going strong after six months. The visuals in this game look damn impressive, but you should be aware that this is considered an indie title, and one that isn’t getting a physical release, apparently, so take that as you will.
Operation: Tango (PC/PS4/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 1st
The other free PS+ game for June is the co-op spy game Operation: Tango. Apparently only playable in co-op (according to Steam at least), you and a friend must work together to solve puzzles and complete missions as “the hacker” and “the agent”. I’m sure this will grab some attention on Twitch.
Astalon: Tears of the Earth (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jun. 3rd
As much as I talk shit on games that use pixel graphics to mine nostalgia, Astalon looks right up my alley, promising the the kind of old school 2D platformer that I still love to play. While it may look pretty, the true measure of the game will be in its controls, because if those aren’t up to par then the entire thing will crumble like a house of cards. I’ll be looking at reviews and “let’s play’s” of this to see how the retro gaming community feels about it before I make my decision.
Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts 2 (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun 4th (PS5 in July)
While I’m a bigger fan of Sniper Elite’s “shoot the Nazi in the nut sack” aesthetic, Sniper Ghost Warrior still looks like a hell of a good time. There’s something very satisfying about sitting back and laying out a whole squadron of enemies from a far distance, like, there’s a real power trip to it. Like, they have no idea they’re about to die, and then you come along and just, poof, snuff out their light. Hmm? What? Yes, I’m okay.
Ports and Re-releases:
Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Jun. 1st
After releasing on Switch earlier this year, Ghost ‘N Goblins Resurrection is now making its way to PC, PS4, and Xbox One. This is fine, I’ve been looking for a reason to break my old PS4 controllers and buy new ones anyway. That gold one is $90 bucks on Amazon; WTF?!
The Elder Scrolls Online: Gates of Oblivion – Blackwood (PC/Stadia) – Releases Jun. 1st (PS4/PS5/XBone/Series X|S on Jun. 8th)
I guess this expansion came out back in March and features areas and themes seen in the old 2006 Xbox 360/PS3/PC game, and this is the second (or first) sub expansion or patch for it. Whatever, if you’re into this MMO then it’s probably old new to you, but you haven’t been playing ESO, and you were maybe on the fence about it, perhaps this new content will push you over the edge.
World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Classic (PC) – Releases Jun. 1st
For you old school MMO fans out there who have been enjoying World of Warcraft Classic, now you can experience its first expansion, Burning Crusade, in all of it’s grind-y, low polygon, glory.
Wasteland 3: The Battle of Steeltown (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Jun. 3rd
The Fallout but not Fallout series Wasteland 3 was one of the best reviewed games of 2020 according to Metacritic, so if you haven’t checked it out yet then I recommend you stop what you’re doing and give it a look. In this new expansion you’ll continue to roam a post apocalyptic Colorado wilderness at the behest of the Patriarch, but with a simple goal in mind, go to Steeltown and figure out why they’ve stopped all shipments to and from their small town. I’ll give you a few guesses as to what happened; go ahead and post them in the comments.
DreamWorks Spirit Lucky’s Big Adventure (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jun. 1st
Stonefly (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 1st
Everyday Today’s MENU for EMIYA Family (Switch) – Releases Jun. 2nd
The Magnificent Trufflepigs (PC) – Releases Jun. 3rd
Wing of Darkness (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Jun. 3rd
Basketball Pinball (Switch) – Releases Jun. 4th
DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power (Switch) – Releases Jun. 4th
The Last Kids On Earth and the Staff of Doom (PC/PS4/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jun. 4th
Mighty Goose (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 5th
Umurangi Generation (Switch) – Releases Jun. 5th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 (and sometimes 40) years ago:
Infamous 2 aka inFAMOUS 2 (PS3) – Released Jun. 7th, 2011: Wiki Link
Let me get this out of the way up front, I hated Infamous 2. The game is still a bug riddled mess that controls terribly and has one of the most boring, bland, and uninspired protagonists in all of video games. Set immediately after the events of the first game, super powered protagonist Cole MacGrath (a name so bland and stereotypical he might as well be called Whitey MacWhiteyson) is licking his wounds after being soundly defeated by a giant humanoid creature called “The Beast”. Leaving fake New York with his best friend Zeke and an NSA agent named Lucy, they take a boat down the east coast and end up in fake New Orleans. In typical fashion for these types of games, Cole loses a bunch of the powers he had in the first Infamous and needs to learn all of them back, but also some NEW more powerful moves because how else is he going to beat The Beast who, by the way, is making its way very, very slowly down the east coast in pursuit of Coley Cole and Funky Bunch. While in fake New Orleans, called New Marais, Cole must find the scientist who created the device that gave him his powers so that he can infuse him with those even better powers that I mentioned earlier. To do this, Cole will take on a series of open world missions that mostly revolve around him getting into fights with an anti-super powered militia that has taken over New Marais, led by a cliché of a fascist that the guy in music appreciation class who wears Boondock Saints t-shirts thinks is a “total dick”. I know it seems like I’m being overly negative to this game so let me remind you again, I fucking HATED this game. However, I’m mostly alone in this boat, because critics ate this shit up with a spoon and licked the bowl clean. They called it a vast improvement over the original, which if that’s true, holy shit, and gave special praise to the game’s setting, art design, and music. Granted, I can agree on that, New Marais looks very much like New Orleans and the way they laid out the city is beautifully done, but with an emphasis on parkour, getting around is a major pain in the ass. Taking obvious inspiration from Assassin’s Creed, Cole (who might as well be Desmond Miles in a different t-shirt) climbs, leaps, and slides around buildings and electrical wires instead of driving around in cars because, you know, you don’t want to rip of Grand Theft Auto. Taking even more late ’00s game clichés, the game also features a morality system that has you deciding if you want to play xxDarko_Fan_420xx as a good guy or a bad guy, giving you the option to either rescue citizens being taken prisoner by the fascists, or beat the shit out of cops and street performers (that’s not a joke). I don’t want to harp too much more on the protagonists gender and race, but Infamous 2 is a prime example of why we need diversity in gaming. I would much rather play as a woman, a Latino, any POC, a fucking robot with 15 glowing green eyes, anything, than a bland, milquetoast white guy with super powers. That’s inFAMOUS 2’s big problem, it’s so boring and played out. The fact that developer Sucker Punch was able to come out after this and release the masterpiece Ghost of Tsushima is remarkable, and I hope they continue down that path and leave guy who can’t eat hot sauce in the dustbin of abandoned franchises.
Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six (Game Boy Color) – Released May 30th, 2001: Wiki Link
This wasn’t a very strong week for releases in 2001, possibly owing up to the Memorial Day holiday or maybe game companies not wanting to compete with the powerhouse film star Rob Schneider and his gut-busting comedy The Animal. It could also be that game publishers were holding back in anticipation of the very soon to be released Game Boy Advance (more on that next week), so the closest I could find to anything notable was a fairly forgettable Spider-Man title for the soon to be replaced Game Boy Color. Billed as a sequel to 2000’s multi-platform Spider-Man game, The Sinister Six is a generic but competent side scroller that features everyone’s favorite wall crawler taking on his most famous set of villains. Critics were not overly impressed with the title, and it also seems that Activision wasn’t either, instead scrubbing the game from the canon of their Spider-Man franchise and calling the PSX game Enter Electro the true sequel, followed by the GBA title Mysterio’s Menace. With zero digital distribution for this title your best bet to play it now is through emulation, or if you’ve still got an old Game Boy Color or GBA you can try and find a cart online or in retro game shops, but I don’t think it’s worth it.
Battletoads (NES) – Released Jun. 1st, 1991: Wiki Link
Back in the ’90s there was a race to see who could come up with the best Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles clone. Street Sharks, SWAT Kats, Samurai Pizza Cats, Biker Mice From Mars, Stone Protectors, Bucky O’Hare, The Toxic Crusaders, they all tried to cash in on the mutant animal crime fighting craze, but over in the world of video games, the second most popular set of anthropomorphic animal crime fighters were Rare’s Battletoads. Conceived as a response to both Ninja Turtles and Tim Burton’s Batman film, Rare and publisher Tradewest were hoping to create a merchandising empire, with plans to put the Toads onto anything and everything. This didn’t quite pan out as they and hoped, however the game was a phenomenal success all on its own. Initially, Battletoads didn’t quite hit with most gamers, but after kids played it over the Summer and came back to school, Battletoads was one of the most talked about titles on the playground, seeing it rise dramatically on Nintendo Power’s Top 30 chart in the September 1991 issue. It would hold a spot on the chart for 17 consecutive months, and by the time Nintendo Power stopped ranking the top NES games in 1994, Battletoads was still holding strong. The 2D brawler was massively popular despite being known as one of the hardest video games ever made. Poor controls and hit detection make most levels a slog to get through, with terrible depth of field making precision jumps difficult to pull off. However, while most games of that era were left to right side scrollers, Battletoads mixed things up a bit by having vertically scrolling stages as well as a couple of notorious levels, the giant snake stage and the hoverbike racing stage. Back in the early ’90s when I was playing this game (only at friends’ houses) I don’t think we ever got past stage two, and still, to this day, I can’t get past that level. I don’t know if its childhood nerves getting the best of me, or if the game is truly that difficult. Even after an hour of playing it on my Xbox One through Rare Replay, I could not get past that vertical tunnel, it’s a nightmare. Critics loved the game then and they still do now, with Battletoads continually finding itself on “Best of…” lists like “Best NES games”, “Hardest Games Ever Made”, and “Best Ninja Turtles Rip Offs”. Today, for a lot of us, games are cheap enough that we can usually pick up multiple titles in a year, but back in 1991 a $50 game would be worth $100 today, so if you got this for Christmas you were playing it until at least your birthday when you got your next new game. That was plenty of time to learn how to get down the vertical shaft and memorize the location of the walls in the hover bike stage, nowadays, however, if a game pisses me off that much I’ll just move on to the next thing in my 5,000 game Steam library. If you haven’t played Battletoads, or you want to relive childhood nostalgia, it is available on Xbox One through Rare Replay, a fantastic collection of games that also includes other recent notable titles Banjo-Tooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. I know games like Sekiro and Dark Souls continue to challenge players, but there’s at least a feeling of progression each time you die in those games. If you die in stage 5 of Battletoads with no continues, you have to start the whole thing over again. Kids today don’t understand our pain, lucky bastards.
Centipede (Arcade) – Released Jun. 6th, 1981: Wiki Link
Video game powerhouse Atari was on a roll in the early ’80s. Asteroids, Battlezone, Lunar Lander, Missile Command, Red Baron and many others were major financial successes, and their flagship console the 2600 was doing well across the world. However, they were beginning to see that there was an untapped segment of the market that still hadn’t jumped into gaming; women. With the 1980 release of Pac-Man in North America, arcades started to see more and more women show up to play, but were turned off by some of the action shooters that took up a majority of arcade real estate. Seeing this problem, Atari tasked two developers, Ed Bogg and Dona Bailey, to create a game that could appeal to women, Atari figured it would be easy since Dona was, you know, a woman. Having little experience with games but a ton of programming experience, Bailey wrote half of the game’s code while Bogg worked on the design. Their idea was to have players control a small ship at the bottom of the screen, shooting upwards towards a fast moving centipede that was making its way down towards the player. As you shot the creature it would break apart into smaller segments, with it finally reaching ludicrous speed when there was only one piece left. As the centipede moved down the screen it would get caught up in mushrooms that could propel it down the screen faster if you didn’t shoot them too, and as if the big bug wasn’t enough, other creatures like spiders and fleas would try to take out your ship as well. Reception to Centipede was overwhelmingly positive and, much to Atari’s delight, the game was a smash hit with women, with polls showing that over 50% of the game’s players were female. Contrast that with the other big early 1981 title, Defender, which was only attracting about 5% of female players. Centipede’s legacy was as long as the creature itself, being ported to the Atari 2600, 5200, and 7800, as well as the Apple II, Commodore 64, ColecoVision, Intellivision, and many other systems. A sequel, Millipede, would arrive in 1982, adding a bunch of new enemy types and improving a bit on the gameplay and controls of Centipede. Dona Bailey would try to get one more game out the door at Atari called Weather War, but never finished it due to hardware limitations. After a few years working at Activision, Bailey would leave the video game industry, but not without first helping make strides to have the video game hobby become more inclusive and mindful of all players, not just men. Centipede is a stone cold classic, and one of the greatest video games ever made. Thankfully it is easily available on just about every gaming platform you can think of, and I bet someone even has a browser version you can play. Do yourself a favor and give Centipede a try, you won’t be sorry.
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