This week’s slate of games is pretty large, however most of them are smaller, indie titles. The most high profile non-indie stuff is probably the new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla DLC, but these indie titles really want you to love them; will your love ever come, or will it just waste away? You must have been tripping.
Road 96 (PC/Switch) – Releases Aug. 16th
Take a road trip through an alternate universe, authoritarian U.S.-esque country as you make your way towards the border. With a multitude of characters to meet and choices to make along the way, Road 96 promises to be a different experience ever time you play it. Will it actually be different? I guess we’ll see.
Lawn Mowing Simulator (PC/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 10th
**ALERT!!** XBOX CONSOLE EXCLUSIVE **ALERT!!**
Aren’t you glad you got the Xbox Series X?
Shadowverse: Champion’s Battle (Switch) – Releases Aug. 10th
Shadowverse, a free to play collectible card game for mobile devices, came out in 2016 and was a big hit around the world, haven’t you heard of it?! Anyway, they made an anime series about the game and NOW we’re getting a video game based on the anime…based on the game…and it’s not free, it’s fifty dollars…but it’s still technically mobile…I also like bananas.
Foreclosed (PC/PS4/PS5/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 12th
Hey look, it’s another cyberpunk game that was likely trying to ride on the wave of good will and excitement that was supposed to be generated by Cyberpunk 2077 but is instead now trying to show that it is probably better than Cyberpunk 2077.
The Plane Effect (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 16th
This game looks a lot like Limbo, but it isn’t, it’s The Plane Effect. What an exciting week for new video games.
Ports and Re-releases:
Hades (PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 13th
One of 2020’s best games is now coming to the “good” consoles, right, because Nintendo sucks and is for babies. Let’s drink Monster and play Gear of War online later.
Godfall: Fire & Darkness (PS4/PS5) – Releases Aug. 10th
Hey, remember the PS5 launch title Godfall? Yeah, me either, but it exists and there’s new content for it! In more news, the game is also making its debut on the PS4 this week as well, just in case you still haven’t been able to get a PS5 and you enjoy forgettable games.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: Siege of Paris (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 12th
Fuck you, Paris. This is Viking territory now!
Fantasian Part 2 (Apple Arcade) – Releases Aug. 13th
Even more indie titles to check out. I would show you pictures of all of them but I’m trying to save our lovely Avocado servers from having to hold a bunch of useless images. I guess I’ll feel really stupid if Fire Tonight or Ever Forward turn out to be two of the best games of the year.
- Button City (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 10th
- Black Book (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 10th
- Naraka: Bladepoint (PC) – Releases Aug. 11th
- Fire Tonight (PC/Switch) – Releases Aug. 12th
- Tetragon (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 12th
- Ever Forward (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 13th
- Paw Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls (PC/PS4/Xbox One/Switch) – Releases Aug. 13th
- Witch Spring 3 Re:Fine (Switch) – Releases Aug. 13th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Go! Go! Kokopolo – Harmonious Forest Revenge (Nintendo DS) – Released Aug. 11th, 2011: Wiki Link
Last week’s ten year old title was the endless runner Temple Run, a very popular mobile game that would make the developers millions of dollars. This week we’ve got another game about running, on a very popular mobile device, but that didn’t really make the same splash as Temple Run, despite being a vastly superior game. I’m of course talking about the obscure DSiWare game Go! Go! Kokopolo. Created by indie developer Tanukii Studios out of the UK, this game takes elements of endless runners, platformers, and puzzle games to create a really unique, really fun game that had me playing my DS all weekend. According to the game’s lead designer, Keith Webb, the concept for Kokopolo came from a white cat his family had as a child, which would scratch you and then frantically run away. This piece of childhood trauma is the key game play mechanic in Kokopolo, as you take control of the white cat and scratch your enemies, causing them to chase you around the maze-like stage, as you lead them to a creature that will devour them. Early stages are fairly easy, acting as soft tutorials that teach you the basic mechanics of the game, before later stages start to bombard you with pitfalls, traps, and hazards that make bringing creatures to your unholy plant god much more difficult. Before creating Tanukii Studios, Webb was known in the video game industry for his art skills, with his most high profile project being the concept artist for Crash Twinsanity. In 2008 he started drafting up the ideas for Kokopolo and had thought about bringing the game to the Neo Geo Pocket and/or Game Boy Advance, before settling on the Nintendo DS and its unique dual screen. Knowing that he couldn’t create the game all on his own, Webb contacted several publishers to enlist their help, with most turning him down, but was finally able to get a Hungarian publisher, Room 4 Games, to commit to Kokopolo. With two Room 4 Games programmers, and Webb as producer/designer/artist/animator, Go! Go! Kokopolo finally hit the DSiWare shop in Europe on Aug. 4th and North America on Aug. 11th. Critics were very pleased with the game, calling it a hidden gem among the multitude of titles on the DSiWare shop, but they were a bit turned off by the intense difficulty that the later stages presented. Still, this didn’t deter many outlets from calling it one of the best handheld titles of the year, with IGN putting it in their top 5 DS games of 2011, Nintendolife calling it the third best DSi game of the year, and Joystiq calling it one of their must buy games. A sequel, subtitled Space Recipe For Disaster, came out on the 3DS in 2017, and Tanukii Games has even announced a Switch port with a TBD release date. Maybe you caught this back in 2011 and have fond memories of it, or maybe you’re like me and are just now discovering this game. Whatever the case, Go! Go! Kokopolo is a fantastic title that deserves to be played by way more people than that Temple Run bullshit. Get to it!
Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (PC) – Released Aug. 21st, 2001: Wiki Link
After scoring a major hit with the groundbreaking Fallout in 1997, its three principle designers, Tim Cain, Leonard Boyarsky and Jason Anderson were deep into pre-production on Fallout 2 when it started to become apparent that their bosses at Interplay weren’t seeing eye to eye with the three of them when it came to the future of the team’s structure. Feeling jaded by the new culture at Interplay, the three men left and started their own studio, calling it Troika Games. Signing an exclusive deal with publisher Sierra Entertainment (a deal that would later fall apart…), Troika’s first game was this week’s notable title, the isometric, steampunk fantasy RPG Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura. In the game, players create their own character, and through a series of unfortunate circumstances, find themselves the only survivor of a zeppelin crash. From there, players can explore a vast, Tolkien-esque open world as they try to discover who was behind the crash, and what the perpetrators ultimate, nefarious, goal is. The game, like Fallout, is played in an isometric viewpoint and shares a very similar art style and interface. From what I can gather, development on the game was rather smooth; there’s no horror stories out there, no back stabbing or anything like that. Just a few dudes that left Interplay and made a really neat, really fun CRPG that was, well, full of bugs. Yep, like a lot open world games, Arcanum had a multitude of bugs, from trivial issues to big, game breaking ones. Some of the most frustrating bugs were compatibility issues, such as the game not working with a large line of graphics cards, to the game’s copy protection causing major issues with various sound cards and CD-ROM drives. These bugs were the only major criticisms against the game, because if you were able to get past all the imperfections Arcanum was a fantastic RPG that many outlets considered one of 2001’s best games. Multiple awards were heaped on the game, with Computer Games Magazine, IGN and The Electric Playground all naming it the best RPG of 2001, and PC Gamer saying that the game greatly exceeded their expectations and contained everything that is near and dear to the hearts of PC RPG fans. This high praise led to great sales, initially, but those game breaking bugs, as well as some pretty outdated graphics, saw Arcanum fall out of the sales charts rather quickly. Still, by the time Troika closed up in 2005, the game had made over $8 million in revenue, far exceeding the expectations of the developers. The game is currently available on Steam and is, I think, still a wonderful game. It’s a bit rough around the edges, but it sends you to a world you don’t often see in games, and allows for a really rich and deep character customization. If you haven’t tried out Arcanum then you owe it to yourself to give it a look.
Bonk’s Revenge (TurboGrafx-16) – Released Aug. 1991: Wiki Link
While the TurboGrafx-16 was very popular in Japan (where it was known as the PC Engine), in North America it was getting ravaged by the Sega Genesis. However, in 1990 the system got a bit of life when the game Bonk’s Adventure hit the console, a side scrolling platformer featuring a cute little cave kid with a giant, and lethal, cranium. Naturally, with the game being a big hit, NEC was going to make a sequel, so in (probably) August of 1991, Bonk’s Revenge came out, giving fans of the kid with the big head a bunch more stages to move through, as well as a host of new bosses to smash. As far as gameplay goes, there isn’t a whole lot different in Revenge compared to Adventure, and this is partly the reason why I think critics didn’t really love the game. When Bonk’s Adventure came out it was seen as a highlight for 16-bit gaming, setting a new standard for graphics and gameplay, but the sequel, which you’d expect to improve on things, was just what we’d now consider glorified DLC. Entertainment Weekly, who absolutely loved Bonk’s Adventure and called it the 3rd best game of 1990, was really lukewarm on Revenge, and while its “B” score might seem good, their review was a bit more scathing, saying the title, “…rates low…“, where, “…enemies are really a humdrum lot, the backgrounds are okay…and the music is tinny and juvenile“. To them, the only saving grace of the game was Bonk himself who they called, “…an endearing little thug…“. I spent a couple hours with this on the Wii U’s Virtual Console and I agree with EW that the game is really lacking in polish, but I can’t help but want to see Bonk succeed. NEC would make a few more Bonk games, but the series never really hit the same level of popularity that its original release did, and with the upcoming release of the Super Nintendo, it would only be a matter of time before the TurboGrafx-16 would fade into obscurity.
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