Last week I mentioned in the comments that I was really excited to be past the slow days of Summer as we headed into an action packed Fall. Well, this week is pretty light when compared to last week, but I promise that starting next week, assuming dates don’t change, there will be a huge, major release every week until the end of the year. Okay, so maybe you can think of this week as the calm before the storm, and maybe reflect on a somewhat subdued Summer. Still, despite the weak release slate, coming here every week and talking to you fine folks, who was having the greatest time? I was having the greatest time; talking about what we’re buying that the game companies are selling, falling to pieces.
KeyWe (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 31st
Based on everything that’s coming out this week, a co-op puzzle game featuring two kiwi’s wearing outlandish outfits, is probably your best bet for a good time.
Rustler (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 31st
Then again, Grand Theft Auto set in the middle ages is also probably going to be a good time, so what do I know? Oh, just to be clear, this is not a Rockstar game, this is made by an indie developer called Jutsu Games who were heavily influenced by the original GTA gameplay style and the series’ overall tone. One thing to note, this has been in early access since February of 2021, so hopefully they took that extra time to work out the bugs and polish it up a bit.
Lake (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 1st
*ALERT! XBOX CONSOLE EXCLUSIVE! ALERT!*
Get ready to spend eight weeks delivering mail in a quirky small town on your Xbox consoles or PC. Nothing says “the end of Summer vacation” better than going back to a tedious, hum drum job. Hopefully Lake has more going for it than just carrying the mail.
Kitaria Fables (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 2nd
This doesn’t look good, but I gotta feature something, so, here you go.
WRC 10 (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 2nd
VROOM!! VROOM!! Reeoerrr, reoooorrrr, reeerrrrrrr!! BEEP! BEEP! Reeuurrrrr, screeeeech…but on dirt.
Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 3rd
The last Creed film came out in 2018, so this is pretty timely…NOT! Got ’em.
Ports and Re-releases:
Prinny Presents: NIS Classics Vol. 1 – Phantom Brave & Soul Nomad (Switch) – Releases Aug. 31st
This week the ports and re-releases are far more interesting than the new stuff, so maybe pay more attention to these than you do to the stuff up there. Our first big re-release is a (sort of) Switch exclusive, with NIS putting out two of their older titles; 2004’s PS2/Wii game Phantom Brave, and 2007’s PS2 game Soul Nomad & the World Eaters. Both games are tactical RPGs with some really cute, really nice looking pixel graphics. The best thing about this release is that you can now grab both of these for an affordable price, as I’ve seen Phantom Brave cost in excess of $100 on the Wii, while Soul Nomad can still go for about $40, and require you to still own a working PS2. However, Phantom Brave has been on PC since 2016, and…
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters (PC) – Releases Aug. 31st
Soul Nomad is also coming to Steam on the same day as NIS Classics Vol. 1! You might be thinking, “well at least the Switch is portable“, but then you probably forgot that the Steam Deck is coming at the end of this year, so there’s not a lot of reasons to get the Switch version over the Steam version. I mean, unless you already own a Switch and don’t plan on getting the Steam Deck, but why? WHY?!!?? TELL ME YOU PIECE OF GARBAGE!!!
El Shaddi: Ascencion of the Metatron (PC) – Releases Sep. 2nd
Speaking of really expensive games on the re-sale market, El Shaddai is another title that I regularly see in the $100+ range, so it’s great to see it hitting Steam, allowing a lot more people to play it. El Shaddai is a third person action game in which players take on the role of a scribe named Enoch, who is looking for seven fallen angels, as he tries to stop the world form being flooded. I was also surprised to learn that the game The Lost Child, which came out in 2018, is a spin-off of El Shaddai. If you’re curious about this title then I’d recommend trying it out on Steam, might be a nice hidden gem.
Surgeon Simulator 2 (PC – Steam/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 2nd
After a year long exclusive deal with the Epic Games Store, the physics nightmare Surgeon Simulator 2 is coming to Steam, as well as Xbox consoles. Do people still like this series?
The Medium (PS5) – Releases Sep. 3rd
One of the big, Xbox Series X|S exclusives, The Medium, is now making its way to the PS5; that was quick. In this Silent Hill inspired horror game, travel between two worlds seamlessly with the power of a solid state hard drive.
Maneater: Truth Quest (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 31st
Just in case you didn’t think Maneater was bizarre and wacky enough, its new expansion Truth Quest is set to make things even more bizarre and wacky. Investigative journalist Trip Westhaven, played by SNL’s Chris Parnell, is back to narrate, as he investigates the government’s role in the creation of your bull shark protagonist.
State of Decay 2: Homecoming (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 1st
In this expansion for State of Decay 2, players will see themselves returning to the setting of the first game, Trumbull Valley, hence the Homecoming moniker. New bases, weapons, outfits, missions, and achievements abound for the player who has already done everything the base game has to offer or, conversely, to make it a richer experience for new players. The real question, though, is do people still like zombie games?
The Big Con (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 31st
Monster Harvest (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Aug. 31st
Rogue Spirit (PC) – Releases Sep. 1st
The Magister (PC/Switch) – Releases Sep. 2nd
ACTIVE LIFE Outdoor Challenge (Switch) – Releases Sep. 3rd
Golf Club Wasteland (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 3rd
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Dead Island (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Sep. 6th, 2011: Wiki Link
Almost ten years after the film 28 Days Later, a film that kind of ushered in the 2000’s love affair with zombies (itself inspired by 1996’s Resident Evil), the fad started to wane with the boring, limp, snooze inducing co-op first person action game, Dead Island. Oh, did I give away my opinion already? Sorry, but I can’t begin to think of anything very positive to say about Dead Island. A game that initially promised so much excitement, so much freedom, and so much to do, turned out to be a boring, fetch-quest-a-thon, with bad controls and nothing to do. The fetch quests wouldn’t be so bad, I suppose, if Dead Island was actually fun to play, but it wasn’t, and ten years later, it still isn’t. Why were we all dying to play this game when it first came out? Well, let’s start with the really breathtaking trailer they announced the game with:
Pretty great, right? I, along with many others, were really taken with this gut wrenching scene, and it set up the premise really spectacularly; you are at a resort on a tropical paradise that has been overrun with fast moving zombies. With no gameplay footage we were left to our imagination about what exactly this was going to be. The lush and beautiful setting was a really striking juxtaposition with the horrifying events that were unfolding in the trailer, and in our minds. When it finally came time to play the game, when we saw how it really worked, well, I, like others, were disappointed. Critics, who were already harsh on the trailer that didn’t feature any gameplay, didn’t take very well to Dead Island, giving it average reviews, and declaring that it didn’t live up to the promise or the hype. Still, hype can feed player interest and consumer spending, and Dead Island did very well financially, enough to warrant an expansion and two minor spin-offs. A sequel was announced for a 2017 release but it failed to materialize, with the game delayed indefinitely. It has been ten years since I played this game, and I can say with the utmost confidence that I could easily ignore this game for another ten years.
Stretch Panic (PS2) – Released Aug. 28th, 2001: Wiki Link
Developer Treasure has a somewhat cult status among modern gamers, thanks to their slew of classic games including Gunstar Heroes, Mischief Makers, Bangai-O, Sin and Punishment, and Ikaruga. However, their inability to release anything new (their last game was a 2014 Japan only exclusive on the 3DS) has kept them firmly in the cult status, and their low number of employees means that only their most popular titles get the re-release treatment. It’s rough, then, that more people won’t have the chance to play Stretch Panic, a wholly unique and mind-bending third person action game for the PlayStation 2. In Stretch Panic, players take on the role of a young girl named Linda, the youngest of 13 sisters, who must save her siblings from a group of demons who have possessed them. You see, Linda’s sisters are incredibly vain, valuing their beauty over anything else, and the demons took advantage of that. Linda, on the other hand, is not vain, so when the demon tries to possess her, it is instead trapped in the scarf she never wears, and that’s where all the stretching comes in. Using the power of the demon in her scarf, Linda is able to move it around and grab any object, stretching it to incredible limits. This is the core gameplay mechanic in the game, as Linda will need to grab enemies, stretching their skin and snapping it back at them, while also using the scarf to fling her across platforms and reach higher paths. In terms of how Stretch Panic plays, while most games consist of playing through multiple levels with a boss at the end, Stretch Panic has you fighting individual bosses, while only barely visiting any levels. Players, as Linda, find themselves in a colorless room surrounded by doors. In order to open a door you must collect stars from enemies, those enemies being bikini-clad women with some of the most comically large/grotesque breasts I’ve ever seen. Once you have enough starts (anywhere from 1 to 5) you can open a boss door and take on the demon inside, who each have their own strategies and weaknesses. Being Treasure’s first 3D game, Stretch Panic suffers quite a bit in the control and camera department, however, the gameplay itself is so fun, and so unique, that if you stick with it you’ll eventually start to learn the nuances of how everything works. Does that mean Stretch Panic isn’t above criticism? Absolutely not, the controls and camera are garbage and deserve to be criticized relentlessly, but if you’re able to look past that flaw, and even learn to master it, you’ll have a great time. Critics felt just about the same way I did, saying that there was a lot of really unique and interesting ideas presented in Stretch Panic, but actually playing the game was a nightmare of frustration and tedium. Stretch Panic never made it off the PS2, and is pretty tough to find, but not impossible. If you still have a working PS2, and the patience, I think Stretch Panic is worth your time, just remember what you’re getting into.
Here’s a nice 20 minute video that says just about all the same stuff I did above, but with nice shots of the ladies with the tig ol’ bitties:
Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods (PC) – Released Aug. 31st, 1991: Wiki Link
Gaming luminary Peter Molyneux became a household name (well, households with PC’s) after the release of his 1989 game changer Populous. Released in a time when the simulation genre was thriving with titles like SimCity and Railroad Tycoon, Molyneux and his team knew they wanted to keep their success going, releasing the follow-up sequel, Populous II: Trials of the Olympian Gods. While the first Populous was well received, it quickly becomes apparent that under the surface, there just isn’t a lot to do (something that will plague Molyneux throughout his career). Populous was built with the idea that you could do a lot, but like we discussed with Dead Island, after a few minutes you’ve probably seen everything you’re going to see in the game. Populous II was the game that Populous probably should have been, as it actually gives you a story to follow (sort of), has characters, gives you real motivation, and contains an actual suite of spells to choose from. Development on the game started before the first Populous even hit the market, making me wonder WHY they even bothered to release the first game, aside from needing to make money, I guess. Still, while Populous II is an improvement over the first game, there’s still not a whole lot to do. You still spend the majority of your time raising and lowering terrain, you still need to amass a huge number of followers, and you still need to wipe out your rival god’s followers. The main differences are that you now have more ways to screw over your opponent in the build phase. This is Populous II’s big problem, I got so bored with it after only 30 minutes. I kept thinking to myself, what did people see in this twenty years ago? Honestly, it’s just so different in comparison to everything else that was on the market at the time that it stood out. In our modern gaming world, I don’t think a game exactly like Populous II would survive, it would get eviscerated for being “unfinished”. Critics in 1991 were much kinder to the title than I would have been, calling it on of the best PC games of the year, however one critic (reviewing the SNES version) would call the game “repetitive”. Yeah, no shit. If you really want to give this game a try you can find it on GOG, but there’s not much of a point.
Populous (SNES) – Released Sep. 1991: Wiki Link
As a bonus I also wanted to discuss the Super Nintendo port of the first Populous. As you might expect from a game that is heavily reliant upon a mouse and keyboard, trying to play Populous with a controller is an exercise in frustration and confusion. Released about a week after the launch of the Super Nintendo, the game fails to transition from PC to console, unlike Maxis’ SimCity, which had a triumphant PC to console transition. I’ve already mentioned this above, but Populous has very, very little to do. It’s monotonous, raising land, lowering land, moving your cursor, raising, lower, moving some more. It’s a repetitive slog, but I have to admit, I spent a solid hour playing this over the weekend, so maybe I’m full of shit and this game really is fun…nah!
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