Three huge games make up our top releases of the week and they couldn’t be more different from one another. No matter what you play games on, there’s something major for you to check out, let’s make sure these game companies have a great end to their fiscal Q4, they deserve our money, right?
Ghostwire: Tokyo (PC/PS5) – Releases Mar. 25th
Developed by: Tango Gameworks
Published by: Bethesda
Developer Tango Gameworks started out their life following in the creative footsteps of their founder Shinji Mikami, creating the survival horror series The Evil Within. Their next game, Ghostwire: Tokyo, continues to be part of the horror genre but is now a bit more action focused. Played in a first person perspective, Ghostwire: Tokyo is the story of a man named Akito who has been possessed by a spirit named KK. Using powers granted to him by KK, Akito must make his way through a ghost infested Tokyo, as well as deal with a hyena mask wearing cult, to try and figure out what’s causing this disaster and find a way to stop it. Reviews have been all over the place, with some outlets calling it one of the worst games of the year to others calling it one of the best games of the year, but what do you expect when you live in a world defined by hyperbole.
Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch) – Releases Mar. 25th
Developed by: HAL Laboratory
Published by: Nintendo
If you had “open world Kirby game” on your 2022 bingo card then holy cow, what kind of mystic soothsayer are you and why haven’t you used your powers for good?! Finding himself in a strange world where nature has overtaken civilization, Kirby must explore a vast, open world in search of kidnapped Waddle Dee’s. My six year old daughter is going FUCKING APESHIT over this release and has been asking me every day if the game is out yet.
Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Mar. 25th
Developed by: Gearbox Software
Published by: 2K Games
Featuring Borderlands 2’s either most annoying or most lovable character depending on your opinion, Tiny Tina. In Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands you play as a custom made vault hunter, a first for the series, and must go on an epic quest that all takes place in a table-top RPG world that Tina has created. You’ve got three big choices this week, a Japanese action-horror game, a family-friendly open world platformer, and an off the wall, science fiction-fantasy FPS. What are you going to play? We all used to be little boys, and girls, but now we’re so old in our shoes, so fuck it, what you choose is your choice. The gamer in me is the gamer in you. This is so dumb, I’m sorry.
Rune Factory 5 (Switch) – Releases Mar. 22nd
Developed by: Hakama
Published by: XSeed Games
After debuting in Japan in May of 2021, the latest entry in the Rune Factory series is heading West. Initially created as a spin-off of Story of Seasons/Harvest Moon, Rune Factory has grown into its own self contained franchise, though remnants of that series still remain, such as running a farm and falling in love with townsfolk. For the first time in the series players will now have the option to engage in same sex relationships which, hey, it only took them 15 years to get around to including.
A Memoir Blue (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Mar. 24th
Developed by: Cloisters Interactive
Published by: Annapurna Interactive
Here’s a new indie game from Annapurna, the kind of thing a smug, 21 year old me would probably call a masterpiece that the mainstream idiots who only play shit like Halo wouldn’t understand. Now I’m 41 and this kind of shit does nothing for me.
NORCO (PC) – Releases Mar. 24th
Developed by: Geography of Robots
Published by: Raw Fury
“NORCO is a Southern Gothic point & click narrative adventure that immerses the player in the sinking suburbs and verdant industrial swamps of a distorted South Louisiana. Your brother Blake has gone missing in the aftermath of your mother’s death. In the hopes of finding him, you must follow a fugitive security android through the refineries, strip malls, and drainage ditches of suburban New Orleans“.
Ports and Re-releases:
Zero Escape: The Nonary Games (Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 22nd
Frequent commenter Lovely Bones “…can’t fucking believe the Zero Escape games are coming to Xbox“. Her excitement is infectious, I can’t wait to play this myself.
Lost Judgement: The Kaito Files (PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Mar. 28th
More Lost Judgement is a good thing, you should be excited. Are you? ARE YOU!?
Here’s everything else; they look great…
- BYU Virtual Campus | Virtual Reality (PC) – Releases Mar. 23rd
- Relayer (PS4/PS5) – Releases Mar. 24th
- Aery – Calm Mind 2 (PC/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Mar. 25th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS) – Released Mar. 23rd, 2012: Wiki Link
Nintendo has so many franchises that it’s only natural for some to be neglected and forgotten. For every new Mario, Zelda, Fire Emblem, Kirby, and Pokémon game, there’s someone out there who wants a new Star Fox, F-Zero, Earthbound, or Donkey Kong game. In 2012, one franchise in particular had been completely ignored by the Big N for over two decades, Kid Icarus. The first game in the series was released on the NES in 1986/87, a 2d platformer created by Satoru Okada and the legendary Gunpei Yokoi. In Kid Icarus, players would guide the cherubic hero Pit through a Greek Mythology inspired world that was basically a gauntlet of pain and suffering. Incredibly difficult, Kid Icarus didn’t quite catch on with mainstream audiences and, as such, a follow-up game was never released in Japan. Meanwhile, over in the U.S., the character saw more popularity, likely due to his inclusion in the popular Saturday morning cartoon Captain N: The Game Master. This prompted Nintendo to release a sequel on the Game Boy that was only for the West. This title, Kid Icarus: Of Myth and Monsters, was seen as a major improvement over the NES game, although some reviewers were a bit disheartened to see that the sequel was far easier than its predecessor. Then, after that, 21 years would go by without a new game. Why, though, did Pit finally return after so long? Well, you can thank Super Smash Bros. for that.
In 2008, four years before the release of Kid Icarus: Uprising, series protagonist Pit made an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. His inclusion in the game reignited the public’s interest in the character and his game, and while Western audiences hadn’t seen Pit since 1992, Japanese audiences hadn’t seen him since 1986. Following the completion and release of Brawl, the game’s director Masahiro Sakurai sat down with then Nintendo president Satoru Iwata for dinner. Their conversation eventually led to Iwata revealing to Sakurai that Nintendo was working on a new handheld device that would be able to generate 3d images without the need for glasses. Iwata wanted Sakurai to personally create a brand new game for this system, eventually known as the Nintendo 3DS. Sakurai accepted the challenge and put together a team at his new company, Project Sora.
Initially, Sakurai’s game was going to be an original IP that incorporated elements of third person action shooter, a genre that wasn’t doing too well in Japan, but seemed well suited for the 3DS. In further meeting with Iwata, it was decided that Sakurai should base the game on an existing Nintendo IP, particularly one that hadn’t seen a release in a long time. Sakurai flirted with the idea of making a Star Fox game, but found that his control scheme didn’t quite mesh with that world. Instead, he decided to go with the franchise he revived in Brawl, Kid Icarus. Developed as a kind of entry way game, Kid Icarus: Uprising, as it would be called, featured simplistic controls that were easy to grasp for newcomers to video games. However, the game’s difficulty was sky high, being just as hard a game as its NES predecessor. Uprising is played in two modes, areal battles and ground combat. While flying, players can use the stylus to make Pit shoot energy beams at his enemies, while ground combat still consisted of shooting energy beams but included the option for Pit to use his melee weapons.
When Kid Icarus: Uprising released it was met with a warm reception by critics and players. While Nintendo had wanted the game to be a launch title for the 3DS, it ended up being delayed for nearly a year, but that extra time yielded a solid shooter that ended up being one of the rare games to receive a perfect score from the notoriously hard to please Famitsu. Still, while it gained high praise in Japan, not everyone out West was too thrilled about the game. Over at Game Informer, the reviews were far from perfect (though still a 7 out of 10), with their critic decrying the controls, seeing them as a major let down. The game was also criticized across the board for its difficulty, with many reviewers anticipating that most casual players, Nintendo’s bread & butter, would be turned off by it. In the end, Kid Icarus: Uprising was far better received by the Japanese press and public, where it would go on to increase 3DS sales dramatically, and end up being one of Nintendo’s best selling games of the year. Out West, however, the love affair with Kid Icarus seemed to be over, with sales not quite hitting their targets. Despite rumors of a follow-up, Sakurai stated that he didn’t plan on making a new game in the series, focusing instead on the Smash Bros. franchise. Poor Pit, let’s hope we don’t wait another 20 years for another one.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC) – Released Mar. 26th, 2002: Wiki Link
While you might assume that Jedi Knight II is the second game in the series, it is actually the third. You see, like Call of Duty and Modern Warfare, Jedi Knight was originally a sequel to the game Dark Forces, a first person shooter that was basically a Star Wars Doom clone. With Star Wars Jedi Knight – Dark Forces II, players took protagonist Kyle Katarn on a journey to become avenge their father’s death, and maybe become a Jedi. It was highly regarded by critics and players, leading publisher LucasArts to continue the series under this new subtitle. Hiring developer Raven Software to make the game, Jedi Knight II would arrive in 2002.
Set 8 years after Return of the Jedi and 2 years after the Mysteries of the Sith expansion, Kyle Katarn and his buddy Jan Ors are investigating an abandoned Imperial outpost. While there they are, surprise, attacked by Imperials who all seem to be studying a substance that resembles kyber crystals (used to power lightsabers). This leads to a galaxy spanning adventure that sees Kyle interacting with fan favorite characters such as Lando Calrissian and Luke Skywalker as they attempt to thwart an evil plot by the empire to use Jedi technology to take back control of the galaxy.
Critics heaped praise on the game, calling it the definitive Star Wars game and a triumph for PC gaming. Detractors, though, included X-Play and Eurogamer, who both thought the game’s controls were abysmal and that the level design was confusing. Despite the few negative reviews, the game went on to sell phenomenally well and was eventually ported to the Xbox and GameCube. A sequel, Jedi Academy would arrive a few years later before the series was put on ice. Both Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy have been ported to modern systems, letting audiences experience these fun, but flawed, games on their favorite console.
Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES) – Released Mar. 26th, 1992: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Basic Instinct – Starring Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas
Notable Album Release: Arrested Development – 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of…
After two very successful games on the NES, Konami’s Contra series finally made its jump to the SNES with Contra III: Alien Wars. Set…some time…after the “events” of Super C (as if these games had a coherent story), Contra III has players once again leading Bill and Lance, or as the kid in my apartment complex called them, the two cool teenagers, attempting to thwart an alien invasion of Earth by blasting the ever living shit out of everything. Taking over production duties on the series would be a man named Nobuya Nakazato, who would go on to lead production on just about every subsequent Contra game.
While a fan of the previous two games, he felt they were unnecessarily difficult, prone to becoming stale, and took themselves much too seriously. His goal was to change all of these things; the difficulty would be high but fair, the game’s stages would be broken up by challenging mini-bosses, and he would lean hard into humor. To Nakazato, Contra felt like a cheesy b-movie from America, to help foster this idea further, the game was given a more epic soundtrack, with the songs feeling more like a sweeping musical score than your typical chiptune soundtrack. This also lent to the game’s humor, as there were more comical looking enemies, similar to b-movie villains, and the inclusion of off the wall sequences, like holding onto a rocket as it speeds through a stage. While Nakazato worked to change the series, he would also consult with the first two game’s development teams and get their opinions and, luckily, they really liked what he was doing.
Releasing first in Japan in February of 1992, the game hit North America one month later in March, to high praise and high sales. As I noted earlier with the missile sequence, Contra III took steps to push the SNES to its limits, using just about every tool in the development kit to make their game stand out. According to critics, it was the most technologically impressive Super Nintendo game on the market (at the time), and was well worth player’s hard earned money. Contra III was also seen as a stark contrast to the type of game genres that were most popular in Japan at the time, RPGs and strategy games, perhaps that’s why Famitsu only scored it 28 out of 40. Modern critics have continued to hail the game as a masterpiece and it will continually appear at, or near, the top of the list whenever gaming outlets discuss the best Contra games (usually in a fight with 1994’s Contra: Hard Corps on Genesis). The game received several ports and remakes over the years, and has most recently been ported to modern consoles as part of the Contra Anniversary Collection.