For several months this week has had, pretty much, nothing coming out. Cue this past week’s Summer Gaming Fest and BAM; two big titles to sink our teeth into. Enough chit-chat, I have things to do, let’s just get to it, eh?
Things have been really busy in my life recently so I’m going to one of my tried and true cop-outs; posting a song that reminds me of the game. In honor of The Smashing Pumpkins album Oceania turning ten this week, all songs will be from that album (even though it kind of sucks).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jun. 16th
Developed by: Tribute Games
Published by: Dotemu
Neon White (PC/Switch) – Releases Jun. 16th
Developed by: Angel Matrix
Published by: Annapurna Interactive
Redout 2 (PC/PS4/PS5/
Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 16th (Switch version has been delayed to July)
Developed by: 34BigThings
Published by: Saber Interactive
Starship Troopers – Terran Command (PC) – Releases Jun. 16th
Developed by: The Aristocracts
Published by: Slitherine Ltd.
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard / Resident Evil 2 Remake / Resident Evil 3 Remake (PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 13th
In case you missed the news in the Capcom 2022 showcase, three most recent Resident Evil games (not including Village) are being re-released for next-gen consoles. The good news is that owners of the PS4/Xbox One versions can get the upgrades for free and, yes, you can bring your save data over. I’m very excited to see this, I still haven’t beaten the RE3 Remake, so this might be the perfect time to jump back into that.
OlliOlli World: VOID Riders (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 15th
Hey, ride your skateboard through the VOID and get…stuff…yeah.
Listen up, pal. If you aren’t down with Dadish then we’re going to have a problem, capeesh?
- Dadish 3 (PC/Switch…maybe?) – Releases Jun. 15th
- Skeleton Crew (PC) – Releases Jun. 16th
- Final Vendetta (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jun. 17th
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 (and sometimes 40) years ago:
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Android/iOS/PC/PS3/PS Vita/DS/3DS/Wii/Xbox 360) – Released Jun. 19th, 2012: Wiki Link
The LEGO games are almost like Call of Duty or Madden, you just expect one to come out every year, so what can I really say about this title that will blow you away? Nothing, really, right? I don’t think I’ve ever LOVED a LEGO game, nor have I ever HATED one either, they’re serviceable, offer a good amount of fun, and are typically dirt cheap after a couple of years. For LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, the caped crusader was kind of a big deal due to the release of the Arkham games. LEGO Batman 2leans into this even by making subtle jokes at those games expense, such as a line about how the plans for walling up a portion of the city to house criminals was a terrible idea and the city thankfully axed the idea. Perhaps, though, one of the biggest inspirations was that LEGO Batman 2 has an open world aspect to it, the first in the series to really explore that.
While previous titles had large hub worlds, like in LEGO Indiana Jones 2, LEGO Harry Potter, and LEGO Star Wars III, Batman 2 was the first to have a full world to explore with hidden areas, puzzles, and side quests to do. The levels were still stand-alone areas, but in-between them you could spend hours wandering through Gotham. Story wise, LEGO Batman 2 is okay, I guess. The Joker attacks a group of rich people giving out a “man of the year” award to Bruce Wayne, stealing their valuables. Batman gives chase and locks up The Joker, as well as a few other goons (Harley Quinn, The Penguin, Two-Face, etc.). Also in attendance is Lex Luthor who is intrigued by The Joker’s laughing gas. Using a kryptonite powered technology, Lex breaks The Joker out of Arkham Asylum and hires him to make some of his laughing gas. From there, Superman joins the party and players get to use him alongside Batman and Robin.
Critics were pleased with the game, though they thought the console versions were far superior to the handheld ones. A lot of praise was given to the open world aspect of the game as critics really enjoyed exploring the large game world with the multitude of characters you could unlock. However, perhaps because of the open world (or not), LEGO Batman 2 has a good amount of bugs and glitches, something that reviewers said were quite noticeable. Just this past weekend as I played it on my Series X (thank you backwards compatibility) I encountered two bugs that required me to restart the game as they were completely game breaking. If you’d like to play the game today then your best bet is, like me, to purchase the Xbox 360 version digitally on your XBone or Series X|S, or through Steam for your PC. It’s not the best LEGO game ever made, but it’s fun enough for the right price.
Neverwinter Nights (PC) – Released Jun. 18th, 2002: Wiki Link
Man, what I wouldn’t give to go back in time and play this game when it first came out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I can play it today, but it must have been so cool to be a part of this game in its heyday, talking with people about it, going on custom adventures with them, building out those quests, I’m very jealous of every one of you that were there from the beginning.
Developed by BioWare who were, at the time, re-dipping their toes into the RPG genre after trying their hand at action games. Unlike their previous Dungeons & Dragons effort, Baldur’s Gate, which used the Infinity Engine, Neverwinter Nights used the brand new Aurora Engine, seen as vastly superior. The idea behind Neverwinter Nights was to recreate the tabletop pen & paper D&D game as closely as possible in the digital space, including the role of dungeon master. Named after the AOL title Neverwinter Nights, this new game would also have an MMO component with players able to host 64 player servers and allow people to interact and play together.
A team of 65 worked on Neverwinter Nights, taking just about a year and a half to complete, costing several millions of dollars. As I mentioned above, one of the major highlights of the game was the ability to create your own adventures and then share them online with other people. Personally, I don’t think this replaces the core pen & paper D&D experience, but it’s pretty fucking cool to be able to take, you know, dungeons and town you’ve only written down on paper and put them IN A VIDEO GAME, letting you see your creation come to life and, hopefully, thrill other players.
The game isn’t just a dungeon building sim, though, there is a fully fleshed out single player campaign as well. Players create their character and then find themselves sent on a quest to recover four creatures that are key to creating a cure for a deadly plague that is ravaging the city of Neverwinter. Along the way the player meets several NPCs, adds people to their party, and slays a multitude of monsters and enemies, culminating in a big battle against an ultimate evil. If you’ve ever played a BioWare then you probably already know that the story in this game is well thought out and scripted. There’s not much of a morality system, though, that kind of thing comes into play in their later titles.
Critics and players, as you might expect, had overwhelming praise for Neverwinter Nights. Over 1 million copies of the game were shipped to stores around the world, with the price of the game retailing at $55 in North America, five dollars more than what was then the current norm of $50. This rubbed gamers the wrong way, as any price increase does, but it didn’t slow down sales too much as Neverwinter Nights went on to become one of the best selling PC games of the year, raking in over $18 million in revenue by December, 2002. Critics were very impressed with how well polished the game was and how well all of its systems worked together. It was considered to be a boundary breaking game, having mass cross over appeal to all demographics and players, being seen as an RPG that anyone and everyone could play and enjoy. Critics loved just about everything the game had to offer, graphics, story, sound design, music, it just checked off every box that critics look for.
During the end of year awards ceremonies and announcements, Neverwinter Nights did very well, winning multiple “PC Game of the Year” and “RPG of the Year” accolades from multiple outlets. Wherever it didn’t win, Bethesda’s Morrowind would take the prize, with Neverwinter Nights being the runner-up (and vice versa where NN did win). Three expansion packs would release for the game over the course of the next three years, and would be followed by a sequel in 2006, though this time the game was developed by the team at Obsidian. BioWare would sell their stake in the D&D licensing rights to Atari, using that money to obtain a license to make their next game, the seminal classic Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic which was built on a modified version of Neverwinter Nights’ Aurora Engine. An enhanced version of Neverwinter Nights would release in March of 2018 on PC and in 2019 on consoles, making this the easiest and best way to play and experience the game today. Perhaps one of the greatest computer RPGs ever made, Neverwinter Nights belongs in everyone’s video game collection.
Yoshi (NES) – Released Jun. 1st, 1992: Wiki Link
Hey, not every notable title is a winner, okay. We’ve already kind of slummed in mediocrity with LEGO Batman 2, but Yoshi is almost bottom of the barrel, at least for me. That’s not fair, maybe you have some really fond memories of this game when it came out 30 years ago and, honestly, the main reason I started writing about these old games is because of the feeling of nostalgia it invoked in me, so I get it if you love this game. I will say, though, that Yoshi, despite not being very good, is incredibly notable because of who it brought Nintendo in contact with; a studio called Game Freak.
A few years earlier, Game Freak approached Nintendo with the opportunity to publish their first game, Mendel Palace, a tile flipping action puzzle game with light combat elements. Nintendo passed, however they were impressed with Game Freak’s second title, an SNES game called Smart Ball, prompting the Big N to reach out to company with the opportunity to work on a new puzzle game that would feature Mario’s new pal Yoshi. If you’re wondering why Game Freak working on this is such a big deal, well, it’s because they would eventually partner with Nintendo on one of the biggest game franchises of all time, Pokémon. Even while developing Smart Ball, the team at Game Freak had the idea for Pokémon, but as it was a massive (for the time) RPG, they knew they would need funds to keep the company afloat while they worked on they hoped would be their crown jewel.
Designed and directed by Game Freak co-founder (and creator of Pokémon) Satoshi Tajiri, and produced by Shigeru Miyamoto, Yoshi is a puzzle game in which players move the character Mario around the bottom of the screen, using his hands to switch columns of tiles. Each tile contains a classic Super Mario enemy, and will occasionally have a bottom half and top half of a Yoshi egg. If players match three enemies in a row they will disappear, but if they are able to sandwich tiles between the two egg halves then those tiles will all disappear, regardless of what is on the tile. Simple at first, the game eventually starts to speed up and offers more randomized tiles and less eggs.
The game was a massive success for Nintendo, with half a million copies being sold in Japan, while in the U.S. it was one of the top selling NES games through the Summer of 1992 (also bolstered by a Game Boy Release in August). Critics compared the game favorably to Tetris (which was still fairly new at the time), welcoming Nintendo into the world of puzzle games. Modern critics, however, have a less warm feeling towards the game, calling it lack luster, boring, and incredibly dull. I tend to agree here, though I will say, I also agree with the 1992 critics because, even though I only played it once or twice, for one thing, the idea that Yoshi, a Super Nintendo character, was on the NES made me super excited, and two, puzzle games were the absolute SHIT back in 1992. Everyone was playing them and everyone was making them. If you want to play Yoshi today you are in luck! Nintendo has added the game to the Switch online NES library, and if you still have a Wii U then you can, for just a few more months, purchase a digital copy of the game. Again, 1992 you would be blown away, but 2022 you is probably not going to have a very good time with it. Proceed with caution.
Chopper Command (Atari 2600) – Released Jun. 1982: Wiki Link
Chopper Command is a kinda/sorta Defender clone designed by Bob Whitehead for the Atari 2600. Players control a military helicopter as it tries to defend a convoy of trucks on the ground from enemy fire. If enough enemies are defeated then the player is transported to the next stage where things get tougher and tougher until they get the “game over” screen. Honestly, there’s not a lot to this game, really. It’s very fun in that old school arcade way, I could play this for an hour just trying to get a better score than before, but after that there’s not much to bring you back. The graphics are pretty good for a 2600 game, particularly the pretty sunset colors on the horizon, kind of evoking Activision’s rainbow pattern that they used in their box art.
Critics were divided on the game. Some reviewers though it was too plain and too derivative, while others, like the staff at Computer and Video Games magazine, thought it was fantastic, even awarding it “Best Action Video Game” at the 4th annual Arkie Awards. If you want to try and play it today, well…that’s difficult. I played this a lot on Game Room, an old live service title for the Xbox 360 and PC, but that has since shut down and is no longer available to download. It was released as part of an “Atari mini” console called the Atari Flashback, but who knows if you can find those anywhere. Your best bet is probably emulation, and I do recommend giving the game a try, it’s decent fun for a little bit of your time.