It’s another light week, but not because the holiday is almost here, it’s because the Advance Wars remake was supposed to come out, but it has been delayed until early 2022. Don’t fret, though, there’s still stuff to get! What, you think the game companies would let you get away without spending any money? Please, I’ve already bought at LEAST three of these games. #capitalism
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain (Switch) – Releases Dec. 3rd
Are you bummed about Advance Wars being delayed? Don’t worry, though, Nintendo still has something for you…Big Brain Academy…don’t look at me like that. Every kid wants Big Brain Academy for Christmas, right? I mean, I got Algebra Blaster for Christmas one year and I loved it…I think.
Solar Ash (PC/PS4/PS5) – Releases Dec. 2nd
Big Brain Academy might be the most well known release this week, but Solar Ash is probably the more important and prestigious release this week, and likely the one that “gamers” are the most excited for. From the creator of Hyper Light Drifter, Solar Ash is an adventure platforming game in which players take on the role of Rei, a young woman who is on a quest to save her planet. While Solar Ash does feature combat, the main gameplay mechanic is the way Rei traverses through the world, with a major focus on movement. Don’t be surprised if this shows up on a lot of “Best of” lists for 2021, or maybe 2022, depending on when various outlets assign their cut off dates.
Chorus (PC/PS4/PS5/Stadia/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 3rd
The galaxy’s top pilot, Nara, must protect us all from an evil cult called The Circle. To do this, she must partner up with a sentient space ship called Forsaken, and I’m already bored.
Danganronpa Decadence (Switch) – Releases Dec. 3rd
Now that we all have Squid Game on the brain, you should check out the Danganronpa trilogy either again or for the first time. While each game has been available on other platforms for several years, this is the first time they’re available on the Switch, which is clearly the best system of all time. There’s also a new game as part of this collection called Ultimate Summer Camp, which is kind of like a board game with RPG elements, though I hear it’s terrible.
Disney Magical World 2: Enhanced Edition (Switch) – Releases Dec. 3rd
This is an enhanced version of the 3DS game that came out five years ago. Disney Magical World 2 is a sort of Animal Crossing-esque game in which players build furniture and make clothes in a world populated with Disney characters. You can also ride on a boat, apparently.
Ports and Re-releases:
Beyond a Steel Sky (PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 30th
More than a year after its release on Apple Arcade and PC, the 3D adventure game Beyond a Steel Sky is coming to consoles. Solve puzzles in this narrative driven game, meeting oddball characters in a city controlled by a mega corporation.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination (PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 30th
Released on PC earlier in 2021, Evil Genius 2 is a base building game or, more accurately, a lair building game. Use your vast wealth to concoct the most efficient and well run evil lair as you try to take over the world.
Here’s the rest of the shit.
- MXGP 2021 – The Official Motocross Game (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 30th
- Archvale (PC/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Dec. 2nd
- Century: Age of Ashes (PC) – Releases Dec. 2nd
- Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani (Switch) – Releases Dec. 2nd
- Mechajammer (PC) – Releases Dec. 2nd
- Icarus (PC) – Releases Dec. 4th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Mario Kart 7 (3DS) – Released Dec. 4th, 2011: Wiki Link
If you remember our discussion on the launch of the 3DS back in March of 2021, the system didn’t do so well when it first came out. There was an initial hesitation to the 3D functionality with it being seen as a gimmick, and of course when the sales lagged, Nintendo immediately lowered the price of the 3DS, angering people who were the early adopters. How, then, would Nintendo drive sales of their new device? Oh, they’ll just release a Mario Kart game. Combined with the release of Super Mario 3D Land a month earlier, these two games would help skyrocket sales of the device over the holiday season, with a whopping 125% increase over the previous three months (it should still be noted that at 75 million units sold, this was Nintendo’s worst performing handheld device). Mario Kart 7 wasn’t too much of a departure from its predecessors, with players still racing around various tracks all themed around the Mario universe. However, this game did feature two tracks set on Wuhu Island, the fictional location seen in Wii Fit and Wii Sports Resort.
Most well known items returned, including red and green shells, the blue shell, and the banana peel, but other items such as the fake block, POW block, and thunder cloud were absent. New items in the game included the super leaf which would give the player a tanooki tail to whip their rivals with, a fire flower that allows you to shoot fireballs, and the Lucky Seven, which gives the player seven items to use at their discretion. Aside from the new items, Mario Kart 7 introduced hang gliders to the series, allowing players to float in the air for a short period of time upon exiting specific ramps, and a first person mode was introduced for the first time, allowing players to use the 3DS’ gyroscope to steer their kart. Critics were mostly positive, however the review at Destructoid was the most critical, stating that the series was starting to feel stale and formulaic. The review at Giant Bomb stated that the game was only as good as how much you enjoyed the Mario Kart formula. With over 14 million copies sold, the best selling 3DS game of all time, I wager a lot of people still liked the formula.
Super Smash Bros. Melee (GameCube) – Released Dec. 3rd, 2001: Wiki Link
I don’t really know what I can say about this game that Wolfman Jew didn’t already in his stellar Franchise Festival write-up on the Super Smash Bros. Series, so I won’t make this very long. Developed at HAL Laboratory (creators of the Kirby franchise) and produced by Masahiro Sakurai, Melee was the sequel to the N64 game Super Smash Bros., and was created to be the GameCube’s killer app, one that showcased the machine’s graphical and processing power. Development of the game was brutal, with Sakurai describing it as destructive to his life, working many nights, weekends, and holidays. This was Sakurai’s biggest game to date and there was intense pressure on him to deliver something spectacular. Multiple characters were not included due to time constraints, including Lucas from Mother 3 and Ayumi Tachibana from Famicom Detective Club. Surprisingly, Solid Snake from Metal Gear and Sonic the Hedgehog were also considered for inclusion during development of Melee but, again, due to time constraints they would not be included (both would later appear in Brawl on the Wii). The game was a smash hit when it released in the U.S. and Japan just days apart. Selling over 600k copies combined in just the first nine days of release in each country. By the time the Wii released in 2006, Melee had sold 3.2 million copies, with the game still going strong after the Wii (due to backwards compatibility), with lifetimes sales of 4.06 million copies sold, making it the best selling GameCube game of all time. It was so popular that it is estimated that 70% of GameCube owners had a copy of the game.
Critics loved the game as well, giving it very high scores, praising the game’s graphics, vast soundtrack, simple controls, huge roster, and its multiplayer, where it became a staple in dorm rooms, bedrooms, living rooms, rec rooms, and den’s across the world. By the end of the year, multiple outlets put the game on their “Best of” lists for 2001, IGN readers chose it as their Game of the Year, EGM called it the best multiplayer game of the year, and at the Interactive Achievement Awards (DICE) it would be nominated for Best Animation and Best Console Fighting Game, losing to Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee and Dead or Alive 3, respectively. I remember playing thig game for hours and hours with my family and friends, with the game taking up so much of our time that my grandparents moved a second television into the living room so we could play the game and they could watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Super Smash Bros., Pikmin, and Luigi’s Mansion are my Christmas, 2001, I had so much fun with these three games, and of course the excellent GameCube library would keep me engaged for its entire lifespan. I’m happy I get to finally come back and revisit these classics.
The Simpsons: Bart vs. The World (NES) – Released Dec. 1991: Wiki Link
This game sucks, go play Hungry, Hungry Hippos instead. Bart vs. the World is the second Simpsons licensed game to come out for the NES and in some ways it was an improvement, and in others it was made even worse. Unlike Bart vs. the Space Mutants, World is a much more straightforward platformer but, to its detriment, this meant it lost the kind of unique spin that Space Mutants had in collecting items. The controls were also not improved in any way and, I’m almost certain, they were made worse. If you’re still curious about this game then I guess here’s the plot; after appearing on the Krusty The Klown show, Bart Simpson is given the opportunity to travel around the world on a scavenger hunt where he can win cash & prizes. What Bart and his family don’t know is that Mr. Burns has rigged the game so that The Simpsons come in contact with many of Burns’ evil relatives who want to kill The Simpsons, for some reason. Bart visits four locations, The North Pole, Egypt, Hollywood, CA, and China, and this last one is of particular note because it features Fu Manchu Burns, a character that is just *chef’s kiss* so fucking racist. Bart vs. The World is a steaming pile of garbage, one that’s so bad I am almost glad that it’s impossible to find and play (outside of illegal emulation). If you run across this title at your local retro game store I would strongly recommend just skipping right past it and picking up a better NES game.