I’m on vacation again this week so I’m just going to speed through these. It’s not the best week for new releases, but it sure is one of the biggest in terms of output. Here we go…
New World (PC) – Releases Sep. 28th
After showing off three games at TwitchCon in 2016, Amazon Games cancelled one before it released (Breakaway), and cancelled another just five months after it released (Crucible). Third time’s the charm, right?
In Sound Mind (PC/PS5/Switch/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 28th
This game looks like it ripped-off, sorry, I mean was inspired by Silent Hill. Might be good for some spooky fun for the Halloween season.
Knockout Home Fitness (Switch) – Releases Sep. 28th
There’s probably nothing special about this fitness game, but it’s being published by XSeed and that means I have to feature it. Those are the rules.
Centipede: Recharged (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 29th
I’m a sucker for retro games, and Centipede is one of the best games of the 1980’s. That Asteroids remake from a few months ago was really good so maybe give this a look.
Astria Ascending (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 24th
One of the biggest voices in Japanese RPG’s over the last thirty years is Kazushige Nojima, who is the writer for the new game Astria Ascending. What’s that? You’ve never heard of Kazushige Nojima? That’s okay, neither had I, but he’s written the scenarios and stories for Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X, Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Final Fantasy XIII, and Final Fantasy XV, among many others (mostly only released in Japan). Maybe give this a look.
Melty Blood: Type Lumina (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 29th
It’s a fighting game based on a visual novel. Maybe one day we’ll get a visual novel based on a fighting game.
FIFA 22 (PC/PS4/PS5/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Oct. 1st
I’ve been watching a lot of Ted Lasso recently, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be great at this game.
Ports and Re-releases:
Ghostrunner (PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 28th
Here’s this game.
Darksiders III (Switch) – Releases Sep. 30th
Oh, and this one too.
Outer Wilds – Echoes of the Eye (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 28th
Maybe I should finally play this. Hey, I’m writing this on the Thursday before the Nintendo Direct; did the Switch version finally come out?
- AWAY: The Survival Series (PC/PS4/PS5) – Releases Sep. 28th
- G-Darius HD (Switch) – Releases Sep. 28th
- Lemnis Gate (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 28th
- Steel Assault (PC/Switch) – Releases Sep. 28th
- UnMetal (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 28th
- Dap (PC) – Releases Sep. 29th
- A Juggler’s Tale (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 29th
- Aeon Drive (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 30th
- Bonfire Peaks (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch) – Releases Sep. 30th
- Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 30th
- eFootball 2022 (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 30th
- Hot Wheels Unleashed (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 30th
- INDUSTRIA (PC) – Releases Sep. 30th
- Mary Skelter Finale (PS4/Switch) – Releases Sep. 30th
- Rogue Lords (PC) – Releases Sep. 30th
- Blaze and the Monster Machines: Axle City Racers (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 1st
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 (and sometimes 40) years ago:
Dark Souls (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Oct. 4th, 2011: Wiki Link
2009’s Demon’s Souls was a well received game but only a modest hit. Before Demon’s Souls, From Software were primarily known as the company that put out Armored Core games, and while they had a few fantasy RPG titles under their belt, none of them really made much of an impact. When it came time to work on a sequel to Demon’s Souls, the team moved away from Sony who owned the IP rights to the series, so to get around this they started a new franchise that would be considered a “spiritual sequel”, calling the new game Dark Souls. According to Miyazaki, the style and tone of Dark Souls took heavily from the manga Berserk, incorporating its dark, fantasy setting. Miyazaki’s design principal on the game was that it should carry “…a certain kind of refinement, elegance, and dignity.” To me, this almost sounds like how you would treat an elderly relative who is near death, and that’s kind of what the world of Dark Souls is like. With the light of the First Flame nearly extinguished, players must travel through a brutal world that is unforgiving, yet beautiful. Despite your efforts, there is still an impending feeling of dread and the game can, at times, feel meaningless and disparaging. Yet you press on, continuing to grind your way through the same enemies you’ve fought dozens of times in the past. Like Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls has players fighting enemies to collect their souls. As you accumulate these souls, you can take them to a bonfire and use them to upgrade your stats, repair and enhance equipment, and, if you’re able to find a merchant, you can purchase items and gear. If you die, the souls you have collected will be lost, however you can travel back to the spot of your death and reclaim those souls, but if you die again, those souls are lost forever. Dark Souls is not a game for the casual player or the faint of heart, it is a punishing, unfair slog that can leave you feeling incredibly frustrated when you’re doing poorly, but it can also give you the greatest sense of accomplishment when you do well. When it released, Dark Souls was a critical triumph, receiving perfect and nearly perfect scores. Critics were impressed with just how much fun the game could be, despite the frustration of trial and error. While they said that the difficulty of the game would likely turn off many players, they felt that Dark Souls lack of hand holding with endless tutorials and linear pathways was a key selling point, putting it in stark contrast with almost every other video game released in the previous decade. Last week we talked about video games as art with Silent Hill 2, and sometimes people would equate that to a “cinematic experience”, as if games needed to be exactly like films in order to be taken seriously, but critics felt that Dark Souls kind of reminded all of us that video games are video games. Dark Souls is a piece of art, but it didn’t need to be “cinematic” in order to be see as art, it could be “simple” and still evoke a sense of intrigue and wonder. Dark Souls was a massive hit and triumph for From Software and completely changed their course. The success of the game and its impact on the company led From Software to name Hidetaka Miyazaki its president, a stunning achievement for someone who had only been working in the video game industry for ten years. Dark Souls, and Miyazaki’s design principals, had a profound effect on the games industry, with multiple titles releasing in the coming years that were either inspired by the game, or directly ripped it off, with titles like Lords of the Fallen, Salt and Sanctuary, Titan Souls, Hollow Knight, and Nioh, just to name a few. Dark Souls would receive two sequels, and would be the inspiration for two other From Software games, Bloodborne and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. You can easily obtain a copy of the game on any modern platform, because if you haven’t played this game by now then you are doing yourself a disservice. I kind of want to stop writing this and go play it right now…but no, NO! I’ll finish this before I return to the bonfire.
Guilty Gear X (PS2) – Released Oct. 2nd, 2001: Wiki Link
Originally released in Japanese arcades in the year 2000, the fighting game Guilty Gear X would first be ported to the Dreamcast in December of that year (again, only in Japan), before coming to the PS2, and the West, in October of 2001. A sequel to the first Guilty Gear, the game continues the storyline from that game which might have you saying to yourself, “these games have storylines“? Yeah, they do. Anyway, this isn’t Tennessee Williams level of storytelling, okay, it’s a game about Holy Knights hired to kill Gears, living weapons of mass destruction. One of the characters uses the prize money to open a restaurant; heh, heh. You know what, who cares about the story, okay, because Guilty Gear X is a fantastic fighting game. With most the roster from the first game returning, including series protagonist Sol Badguy, the game also introduces new characters, including long time mainstays Dizzy, Jam, and Venom. Critics and players were positive towards the game, but it wasn’t exactly a commercial success. Still, that didn’t stop developer Arc System Works from cranking out new entries every couple of years, as Guilty Gear was a big hit in arcades. The most recent entry, Guilty Gear Strive, released in 2021, the seventh game in the series, and received high praise from critics as well. While the franchise likely won’t ever hit the levels of popularity that Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat have, its clout in the fighting game community is huge. Guilty Gear X, and its sequels, are well worth your time.
Rockin’ Kats (NES) – Released Sep. 1991: Wiki Link
The NES title Rockin’ Kats might look charming and easy going, but underneath that cute exterior is one of the toughest, most brutal video games you’ll ever play. The NES is notorious for having incredibly difficult side scrolling platformers and Rockin’ Kats is no exception. Played over five stages, with the first four done in any order, players take control of Willy, a young “jazz cat”, who must rescue his girlfriend from the local crime boss, Mugsy. To help him out, Willy uses a “punch gun”, a weapon that shoots out a giant fist, that he can use to take out enemies and also swing from platform to platform or to reach high areas. This swinging technique is core to the game’s overall playstyle, with multiple areas where Willy must get across hazards by swinging over them. After each stage, players can access a shop where there are multiple power-ups that they can purchase for Willy to use, including rocket shoes and a double bullet projectile. Developed by Atlus, the company behind Shin Megami Tensei and Persona, the game was originally called N.Y. Nyankies in Japan, but when it came West they dropped the pun and stuck us with Rockin’ Kats. I can’t find much info about the game’s development, but its designer would eventually work on the mini-game designs for Mario Party 2 on the N64, its programmer would work on many of the early Shin Megami Tensei titles, and its composer is still working today, with his most recent title being 2019’s The Caligula Effect Overdose, and is also notable for doing music arrangement for Super Smash Bros. Brawl and SSB for Wii U. Sadly, Rockin’ Kats is lost to time, with no way to legally play this game without owning the original cart (which is very, VERY, expensive). There are no modern re-releases or remake and, although I can’t prove it, I think it’s because one of the levels, a wild west stage, contains stereotypical depictions of Native Americans that some might find offensive. That issue aside, if you can find some way to play Rockin’ Kats then please do, it’s a fantastic game.
Galaga (Arcade) – Released Oct. 1981: Wiki Link
With the success of 1978’s Galaxian and 1980’s Pac-Man, developer & publisher Namco were itching to get another hit into arcades. They tasked one of their veteran designers, Shigeru Yokoyama, with coming up with two games. His first title was 1980’s King & Balloon, a fixed shooter with players controlling a cannon that shoots at falling balloons, protecting the king. It did okay, but it wasn’t an Earth shaker, however, his second game would go on to be an all-time classic; Galaga. Billed as the sequel to Galaxian, Galaga continues the fixed shooter format, with players controlling a ship at the bottom of the screen while trying to avoid enemy ships and bullets. In an effort to change things up between games, Yokoyama came up with two new features. The first one was the bonus stage, inspired by Pac-Man’s intermissions and Rally-X’s bonus stages, Yokoyama wanted to give players a brief respite from having to stay alive and challenge their reflexes. The bonus stages, which consist of waves of enemies flying into frame and then leaving the screen, was actually a bug that the programmers discovered, seeing that some enemies would not return to the playing field once they left the screen. The second new feature is perhaps its most controversial/well-known; the double ship. Taking inspiration from a film he watched, Yokoyama thought it would be an interesting challenge to have players avoid their ship being pulled into the tractor beam of the game’s Boss Galaga’s. Typically you would want to avoid this, as you’ll lose a life, however, if you are able to rescue the captured ship you will be rewarded with extra firepower, with your ships sort of being “kinged”, like in Checkers, combining into one large ship. This does, however, increase your hit box but it’s still a nice perk, being able to wipe out enemies much quicker with two shots instead of one. Namco ran tests of Galaga shortly before release and were worried about the results. Oh, not because people didn’t like it, they loved it. No, the problem was that people weren’t spending enough money on Galaga, it was too easy and people were able to play for long periods of time on only one coin. After an increase in difficulty to, um, make it better for players (right), the game was released to the public at large where it became one of the highest grossing arcade games of 1981 and 1982. Galaga is routinely mentioned whenever a gaming outlet talks about the greatest video games of all-time. Thankfully, this classic is easily available on just about every major console, including a backwards compatible Xbox Live Arcade version. 1981 was a great year for arcade games, it really did set the table for much of the games we’d get over the next 40 years, I’m always happy when I get to talk about one of these classic titles.