Last week’s Horizon: Forbidden West was the first game of 2022 to be a must own, but with it being tied to just two consoles, Xbox and PC owners were left out. Well this week changes all that, and while I’m sure Horizon is a great game, this week’s big release, Elden Ring, is likely going to overshadow that title, much like Breath of the Wild did to Zero Dawn in 2017. There’s also a bunch of other stuff coming out too if you’re into counter programming or you want to turn your nose up to Elden Ring for whatever reason. Let’s get to it!
Elden Ring (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Feb. 25th
Developed by: From Software
Published by: Bandai Namco
After years of waiting, the time has finally come for the latest epic from From Software, masters of the “Fuck You (An Ode to No One)” genre, a brand new entry in their Soulsborne series of games, Elden Ring. Gameplay is supposed to be similar to Dark Souls, slow and methodical combat that inevitably results in your death, but what really set Elden Ring apart from earlier entries is that the game takes place on a massive, open world map. Instead of moving carefully around labyrinthine maps that hold danger around every corner, massive monsters roam freely around an area, giving players ultimate control over how, when, and where they attack their foes. There has also been a lot of talk around the involvement of author George R.R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones, with all of the game’s lore and world building coming from his mind. If you’re looking for a story, though, well Martin didn’t write that, with the team at From Software plotting that out. All eyes are on Horizon: Forbidden West right now, but come February 25th, I think most of us will be entranced by the allure and wonder that Elden Ring promises to offer.
Destiny 2: The Witch Queen (PC/PS4/PS5/Stadia/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Feb. 22nd
Developed by: Bungie
Published by: Bungie
Hot off their recent sale to Sony, Bungie’s latest major DLC for Destiny 2, called The Witch Queen, is their sixth expansion in five years. Early buzz has called this expansion massive, with this being the closest thing to a Destiny 3 as we might ever see (although rumors abound that we’ll actually see that game in 2025/26). Like Final Fantasy XIV, Destiny 2 is one of those MMO’s that only gets better with age, seeing tons of support from their developers. The base game is free to play, so if you’ve been sitting on the fence all this time, contemplating if you should play Destiny 2, let me help you…YES, YOU SHOULD.
MONARK (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch) – Releases Feb. 22nd
Developed by: Lancarse
Published by: NIS America
Japanese developer Lancarse have been major players in the RPG market since 2007 when they created the Etrian Odyssey series. Since then, they’ve worked on several other games in the genre, including Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, El Shaddai, Zanki Zero, and Persona Q2. For their latest game, MONARK, a group of high school students must travel to a dimension filled with demons in order to save their friends. Yeah, it’s not reinventing the wheel here, but with a stellar track record it’s got to be good, right?
Sol Cresta (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Feb. 22nd
Developed by: Platinum Games
Published by: Platinum Games/Hamster
As if we didn’t already have three big games to play, here comes something from the team at Platinum Games. Well known for their tightly controlled action games, their latest title, Sol Cresta, is a vertical shoot ’em up in the Terra Cresta series. Originally released in arcades in the 1980’s, the Terra Cresta games used a unique “docking” system in which players could combine multiple small ships into one big ship. It has been 37 years since the last Terra Cresta game, I hope it was worth the wait.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Feb. 24th
Developed by: Gust
Published by: Koei Tecmo
Hey look, counterprogramming! If the grim dark world of Elden Ring isn’t your thing then why not run around with an atelier making potions and stuff! The sequel to 2015’s Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book, this latest entry promises even more fun and adventure. The game is basically the same as you’ve always known it, however there are a few changes. First is the new multi-link turn battle system which has you controlling two parties of three, a new puzzle game when synthesizing items, and the ability to control the weather, allowing you to access certain areas or cause unique and rare materials to spawn. I pre-ordered this as fast as I did Elden Ring, now if I could just figure out a way to clone myself so I could play both at the same time…
GRID Legends (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Feb. 25th
Developed by: Codemasters
Published by: EA
Auto racing fans should really be looking forward to next week’s Gran Turismo 7, but if they can’t wait, well, Codemasters and EA have you covered with GRID Legends. With over 130 race tracks and 100 licensed vehicles, GRID Legends will certainly keep you busy. Still not enough? Well then maybe you could check out the story mode, an hours long narrative called Driven To Glory. Codemasters typically know what they’re doing when it comes to racing games, I’m just not sure EA made the right choice in releasing it so close to Gran Turismo 7. I’ll probably buy it on clearance from Target in two years for $4.99.
Steam Deck – Releases Feb. 25th
Developed by: Valve
Holy shit, as if all these big games weren’t enough, we also have a new console coming out this week! I mean, you won’t be able to buy it, units are only shipping out to people who pre-ordered it, BUT, you can still order the device once its out, with Valve saying they’ll ship units once they’re ready. That’s a pretty neat idea, let people give you money for something and, once it’s ready, you can send it to them. IMAGINE THAT! The Steam Deck is, more or less, a handheld PC that will obviously draw many comparisons to the Nintendo Switch. Personally, I think it looks more like a Sega Game Gear, but regardless of looks, the machine is far more powerful than a Switch (and a Game Gear), promising to let you play games like Death Stranding and Control on the go, in fantastic frame rates. Does it ACTUALLY do that? Not sure yet, early buzz has been positive though, so I’m optimistic. Valve has had a few misfires in the past with hardware (Steam Link, Steam Controller), but their recent venture in VR with Steam Index has proved successful. Will they ever go back to making games? Does it matter?
Ports and Re-releases:
Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster (Android/iOS/PC) – Releases Feb. 23rd
The Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series is finally coming to an end this week, with part VI hitting PC and mobile devices. Hailed by critics as one of the best SNES games of all-time, Final Fantasy VI is a sprawling epic with a huge cast of characters, so many, in fact, that you can finish the game without even finding them all. Set in a world where magic is dead, an evil…er, clown…named Kefka is hell bent on reviving it so that he can rule the world. It is up to a former soldier named Terra, and her companions, to thwart Kefka’s plans. Along the way you’ll pilot mech suits, ride a raft down a river, bury a castle underground, take part in an opera, suplex a train, meet the abominable snowman, get eaten by a giant worm, and so, so much more. After this, Final Fantasy would enter the realm of 3D, it’s fitting that it’s last 2D game would be so magnificent. Whether you’re playing for the first or the fiftieth time, you’re in for a hell of a treat.
The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories (PC/PS4/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 23rd
Travel to the breathtaking paradise of Tartosa and get hitched in this latest expansion for The Sims 4. Concoct your Sims’ (or your own) dream wedding, starting with the perfect bachelor/bachelorette party, followed by an elegant rehearsal dinner, and finally having the most gorgeous wedding ceremony the Sim world has ever seen…or be a nightmare groom/bride with a fucked up party where someone catches on fire before you throw cake at your in-laws. It’s The Sims!
Our final four games are an interesting grab bag of genres, with a couple kinda/sorta narrative puzzle games, a new visual novel for the Switch, and a fun looking platformer starring a monkey on…huh…Apple Arcade; alright, good for you Apple Arcade.
- Ghost on the Shore (PC) – Releases Feb. 24th
- Martha Is Dead (PC/PS4/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Feb. 24th
- Variable Barricade (Switch) – Releases Feb. 24th
- Gibbon: Beyond the Trees (Apple Arcade) – Releases Feb. 25th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 – Released Feb. 28th, 2012: Wiki Link
In modern day Japan, three high school students find themselves in the middle of a horrific subway accident. Instead of dying, though, they’ve been protected by demons whom they can summon from their cell phones. Yes, folks, the “high school students meet demons” trope is a long and storied one in Japan, but at least if you see the name Shin Megami Tensei in the title, you can probably expect quality. Developed by Atlus for the DS, SMT: Devil Survivor 2 is a tactical RPG where players move around a square grid map, fighting against other demon summoners as they try to figure out why Japan has suddenly been attacked by, and infested with, demons. During development, the team at Atlus wanted to make sure that the game felt similar to its predecessor, but improved on all of the game mechanics and systems, wanting it to feel familiar but improved.
One of the major improvements to the game was the addition of the Fate System, a game mechanic that has the protagonist interacting with his party members outside of battle. During these interactions, players will answer a series of questions in an attempt to improve their friendship rank with that party member. As the relationship grows, various bonuses will appear during battles, making the game slightly easier. Critics were really happy with the Fate System, noting that it made an already addictive game even more addicting. However, most critics were quick to point out just how incredibly difficult the game was, calling the game unfair at times. Having played through it myself, I absolutely agree that the game is far more difficult than it needs to be. You will play the same fights over and over and over, gaining no experience, trying different strategies or maybe using different demons to fight with. Eventually you can fall into a groove and progress, but sooner or later you’ll hit a brick wall again and feel the familiar frustration. In 2015 a port/sequel came out for the 3DS called Record Breaker, which features both Devil Summoner 2 and new scenario called Triangulum Arc that takes place after the main game’s story. If you have a 3DS you can currently purchase the game as a digital download, but hurry, as the shop is set to stop accepting payments in May of 2022.
Jet Set Radio Future (Xbox) – Released Feb. 25th, 2002: Wiki Link
With the demise of the Dreamcast, Sega found itself having to release games for their major rivals at Sony and Nintendo. However, there was one company that they had partnered with in the past that had a brand new console and was in need of some exclusives, Microsoft. With a deal in place to publish eleven games for the Xbox, the first non-sports title to release on the console was a sequel to a cult classic Dreamcast game; the third person, graffiti and rollerblading game Jet Set Radio Future. Taking place, I guess, after Jet Set Radio, players find themselves in the hangout of a local rollerblading gang called The GG’s, who are trying to save Tokyo-To from the grip of an evil corporation. To do this, they spray paint their gang tags all over town and fuck with police, kind of like last week’s State of Emergency, only without all of the hardcore violence. I wish I could tell you more about the game, but I became so violently ill while playing it due to my motion sickness. In fact, I’m feeling sick just thinking about the game right now so, I’m sorry to say, I’m cutting this discussion short. Sadly, for those without any motion sickness issues, the game is completely unavailable on any modern console, including the XBone and Series X|S, making the original disc (or emulation) your only choice. Oh, fun fact, this game, along with Sega GT 2002, would be bundled with all Xbox consoles, meaning that you can find a plethora of these double discs at many of your favorite retro gaming stores. Now excuse me while I go throw up.
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja (SNES) – Released Feb. 1992: Wiki Link
In the video game world, localization is a very tricky, and very expensive, undertaking. To make sure it is worth the money and effort you need to know that your game can be embraced by an international audience. For some games this is easy, like Super Mario Bros., which is culturally agnostic, while others, like the Madden series, are hyper focused on American culture. In the West we would often not get game’s that were hyper focused on Japanese culture, case in point, the Gabare Goemon series from Konami. Originally released in Japanese arcades in 1986, the first game in the series was called Mr. Goemon, an action platformer that had players controlling the Japanese folk hero Ishikawa Goemon, who would rob from the rich and give to the poor. The arcade game was followed up with three Famicom titles in 1986, 1989, and 1990, before moving to the Super Famicom in 1991. It was this game, Ganbare Goemon: Yukihime Kyuushutsu Emaki, that would finally release in the West for the Super NES, renamed The Legend of the Mystical Ninja.
In The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, players control either Goemon or his partner Ebisumaru (renamed Kid Ying and Dr. Yang in the West), once again looking for treasures and running from the law. One day, they learn that strange, ghostly apparitions have been haunting their town late at night, scaring people and causing mischief. Kid Ying and Dr. Yang decide to investigate the situation and see if there’s anything they can do to help. When they confront the leader of the ghosts, a beautiful woman, they discover that she is actually a ninja cat named Kurobi. The ninja cat explains that the ghosts were a test to find brave warriors to help her defeat a great evil that is trying to take over Japan. Not content to let that happen, Kid Ying and Dr. Yang vow to help Kurobi and her army of ninja cats. Gameplay in Mystical Ninja is separated into two parts; town exploration and side scrolling platforming stages. While exploring the town, Ying & Yang can talk to people and gather intel, shop for items and gear, gamble, or play mini-games. Once they are fully equipped, the two then venture into a side scrolling stage where they must face off against not just enemies, but also hop across precarious pit traps and fight huge bosses.
The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a real treat to play, with bright, colorful characters and a wry sense of humor that ranges from giving you a subtle smile to side splitting laughter. Critics were very impressed with the game when it hit American store shelves in February of 1992, receiving nearly perfect scores from multiple outlets. Critics found the game to be charming, challenging, and very addictive but, alas, the game did not do well with audiences in America. Over in Japan it was a massive success, leading to two Super Famicom sequels, but out West we wouldn’t see Goemon again until the 1998 release of Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon on the Nintendo 64. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja is a fantastic game and should be in every serious gamer’s library. Aside from the original cartridge, the game is available through the eShop on both 3DS and Wii U, but those storefronts are shutting down soon, putting its availability into jeopardy. Of course, there’s always emulation, not that I’d condone such a thing…