IT’S THE NEW CAT GAME!!! AHHHHH!!! AHHHH!!!!! AHH!!!! IT’S HAPPENNING!!!!!!1!!! Frankly, if you aren’t excited about the new cat game then you can just get the fuuuuuuuuckk outta here, pal; because of Stray, I know that I am meant for this world, my life has been extraordinary.
Stray (PC/PS4/PS5) – Releases Jul. 19th
Developed by: BlueTwelve Studio
Published by: Annapurna Interactive
I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m very excited for Stray. Look at that cat, it’s so GD cute, I just want to shrink it down, put it in my pocket, and feed it little treats while it goes *mew* in a super tiny, little voice. Okay, okay, sorry, let’s talk about Stray. Set in a futuristic, cyberpunk city, players take on the role of a stray cat who is on a quest to return to his family. In order to do this, players will need to explore this semi-open world, completing tasks and solving puzzles, interacting with the city’s robot inhabitants. This game better not suck.
As Dusk Falls (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jul. 19th
Developed by: INTERIOR/NIGHT
Published by: Microsoft Game Studios
This art style is certainly an interesting choice. As Dusk Falls is an “interactive drama”, with players exploring the lives of two different families. Told over 30 years, the game starts off with a robbery gone wrong in a small Arizona town in the year 1998, with all of your choices following the incident shaping the overall outcome of the story. We’ve been promised things like this before and they usually don’t deliver, often ending the same, no matter what your choices were. Will As Dusk Falls buck this trend? I doubt it but, hey, prove me wrong.
Endling – Extinction is Forever (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jul. 19th
Developed by: Herobeat Studios
Published by: HandyGames
As if “Cute Cat: The Game” wasn’t enough, we’ve also got “Cute Fox: The Game” this week. In Endling, apparently everyone and everything is trying to kill you and your
fox cubs kits. Leave these foxes alone, you bastards!
Live A Live (Switch) – Releases Jul. 22nd
Developed by: Square Enix
Published by: Nintendo
Originally released for the SNES in 1994, this classic Square RPG is finally coming to North America, getting the 2D-HD remake treatment. With eight characters to choose from, players will embark on a journey across time as they play through each of their stories. The original game was developed by the internal Square studio Division 5, who were best known as the team who worked on the original Final Fantasy. Players in Japan have had nearly 20 years to enjoy this title, I can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about.
TombStar (PC) – Releases Jul. 20th
Developed by: Andy Sum/Marcus Grambau
Published by: No More Robots
With so few titles coming out this week I figured I would just share this up here. Reminiscent of other top down bullet hell shooters like ITTI, Nobody Saves the World, and about 500 other indie games, TombStar is a “space western rogue-like shooter”. Cool.
River City Saga: Three Kingdoms (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Jul. 21st
Developed by: APLUS Co., Ltd.
Published by: Arc System Works
I definitely did NOT already talk about this game back on June 21st, nope, no siree, I surely did not! River City Saga: Three Kingdoms follows the same formula as other River City games, a 2D brawler with chibi graphics and people shouting “BARF!”. The setting, however, leaves the streets of Japan and puts the characters you (probably) know into China’s Three Kingdoms period. I hope coins still fly out the bad guys when you beat them up.
Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Jul. 22nd
Developed by: Capcom
Published by: Capcom
Where the first Capcom Arcade Stadium focused on the early days of the company in the 1980’s, 2nd Stadium is a celebration of Capcom’s later arcade years, focusing primarily on the 1990’s. Many of these titles have already been released in other Capcom anthologies, like the recent Capcom Fighting Collection and Capcom Beat ‘em Up Bundle, but with the ability to pick and choose the games you want to buy, you can easily skip over anything you already own.
Ports and Re-releases:
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jul. 20th
After the re-release of the first Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance back in Dec. 2021, the game’s stellar sequel is now being re-released which is probably bad news for anyone still trying to sell the PS2/Xbox version for over $100 bucks (one person is trying sell it for $399.99, and still charging $6.00 for shipping). Thig game and its predecessor are two of my favorite dungeon crawlers of all-time, I can’t wait to dive back in.
Bright Memory: Infinite (PS5/Switch/Series X|S) – Releases Jul. 21st
Following a PC release back in November of 2021, Bright Memory: Infinite currently sits with a “very positive” rating on Steam. If you, like me, aren’t familiar with the game, Bright Memory: Infinite is a FPS game played at insane speeds. Aside from moving fast, combat is also hyper quick, with players able to chain their attacks into insane combos. This is a game made for a very specific type of player, I’m not one of them.
Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jul. 19th
Last week we had a new expansion for the Hot Wheels video game, and now we have a Hot Wheels expansion for a different video game; crazy! Forza Horizon 5 takes place in Mexico and, just like all of you, the first thing I think of when someone brings up Mexico is Hot Wheels…
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins – Trials of the Dragon King (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jul. 19th
I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a slate of new releases in a while. Up and down the board are games that I’m just dying to get my hands on, including this new expansion for Stranger of Paradise. Titled Trials of the Dragon King, this expansion adds new jobs, new weapons, new accessories, a brand new equipment type, all new areas to explore, new stories to uncover, and new challenges to make this game even harder than it already is. It looks like you will not be able to buy this as a stand alone piece of content, you will need to spring for the Season Pass (my favorite trend in modern gaming…not). I can’t wait to fuck up Chaos some more.
WWE 2K22 – The Whole Dam Pack (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jul. 19th
One of the biggest surprises of the year has been WWE 2K’s rise from glory after a disastrous release in 2019. July 19th marks the end of the game’s DLC season, with no indication that there will be any further additions, so let’s give it up for the wrestlers included in The Whole Dam Pack:
- Logan Paul
- Commander Azeez
- LA Knight
- Machine Gun Kelly
- Rob Van Dam
- Xia Li
Sea of Thieves: Season 7 (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jul. 21st
All the information you need about season 7 is in the image above, back when it was supposed to come out in June, I guess. You can look forward to seeing this again in September, maybe.
Notable Releases from 10, 20 and 30 years ago:
Orcs Must Die! 2 (PC) – Released Jul. 30th, 2012: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: The Dark Knight Rises – Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon Levitt and Morgan Freeman
Notable Album Release: Passion Pit – Gossamer
Following the success of the first Orcs Must Die!, developer Robot Entertainment went right back to that same well, releasing Orcs Must Die! 2 less than one year later. Picking up a few days after the events of the first game, players are shown a brief cutscene featuring the first game’s antagonist, the Sorceress, as she flees a mob of Orcs. Suddenly, a rift gate opens near her and she decides to jump into it. On the other side she finds herself in a dwarven mine where the first game’s protagonist, the War Mage, is working. Deciding that they must work together, the two unlikely bedfellows begin their quest to stop the Orcs from taking over their world.
Gameplay between the titles is nearly unchanged, with players laying traps along pathways in order to keep the Orcs from entering rifts into the human world. There are a few key differences, however, like the ability to upgrade your traps, with the biggest difference being the ability to play the game in co-op mode, with one player taking the role of the War Mage, the other the Sorceress. Critics were mostly positive towards Orcs Must Die! 2, saying that it was full of joy and mirth, bringing delight to anyone who plays it. They did, though, lament that the game was mostly unchanged from its predecessor, looking nearly identical. I agree, Orcs Must Die! 2 is a very fun game, but it doesn’t do enough to set itself apart from the first game. A free-to-play entry, Orcs Must Die! Unchained, would release in 2014 to decent reviews before shutting down in 2019, followed by a third entry, Orcs Must Die! 3, in 2020 as a timed exclusive for Stadia. That’s all I got, this one wasn’t very exciting.
The Mark of Kri (PS2) – Released Jul. 29th, 2002: Wiki Link
San Diego is a great city. We’ve got the beach, we’ve got the world famous San Diego Zoo, we’ve got Balboa Park, we’ve got carne asada fries, and we’ve got quite a few game studios. One of the more high profile ones is Sony 1st party developer San Diego Studios. Founded in 2001 as a merging of two other companies, Red Zone Interactive and 989 Sports, which were both staffed by former Sony employees. Both companies were well known for their work on sports titles, but for the debut game they would go a different route, releasing a third person adventure game.
Called The Mark of Kri, the game had players taking on the role of a Polynesian-influenced warrior named Rau Utu and his raven companion, Kuzo. The game opens with players hanging out in the town’s local pub/dining hall/hang out spot, and it is here were Rau will be given quests to undertake as well as where players will hear all of the story beats and move the plot along. Initially, players are tasked with fighting off bandits in the nearby jungles until they are eventually given a job by a mysterious hooded figure. It turns out that this hooded figure is evil (go figure) and has tricked Rau into obtaining an artifact that will help him in his conquest to take over the world, a parchment made of human skin called the Mark of Kri.
Along with a Polynesian-inspired cast of characters, The Mark of Kri’s art style was also highly influenced by Polynesian and Maori culture/mythology. With many of the game’s artists having extensive 2D animation backgrounds, the game featured striking had drawn art in cut scenes that gave The Mark of Kri a “Disney-esque” feel. There was, however, some controversy around the use of Polynesian and Maori culture, particularly in the country of New Zealand, where the game was decried by a 26 year old Maori activist named Kingi Gilbert, who wrote an open letter to Sony executives in Japan, the US, Europe, and New Zealand, as he felt that Sony was misrepresenting and exploiting Maori culture and art for the sake of making money. Nothing would really come of this, with Sony, and the gaming industry at large, ignoring the complaint.
Played in a third person perspective, The mark of Kri is basically a brawler, though the way you attack is not really straightforward. In order to attack enemies, players must first use the right thumbs stick to kind of “focus” on their foes. Rau can target three enemies at a time, with each one receiving a button assignment, X, square, or circle. Players then tap those buttons and will attack enemies with that assignment. If the player is only facing one or two enemies they can use unassigned buttons to do extra damage and pull off special attacks. For example, if only one enemy is focused on with X, players will start their attack with X then combo into stronger attacks by pressing either circle or square. Another unique gameplay mechanic is the use of the raven Kuzo, which players can use to scout ahead to see any upcoming enemies, as well as collect far away items.
When The Mark of Kri was released it received very favorable reviews from critics. EGM named it their game of the month for August, Entertainment Weekly graded it with an A, and even Weekly Famitsu scored it 32 out of 40. At the Interactive Achievement Awards (now DICE Awards), The Mark of Kri was nominated for Outstanding Character/Story and Outstanding Animation, though it would lose to Eternal Darkness and Sly Cooper. The game would sell almost 500k copies in the US and Europe, though I can’t find any sales numbers for Japan, so it may have surpassed that. The Mark of Kri would see digital re-releases on the PS3 and PS4 and would receive a sequel in 2005 called Rise of the Kasai. Despite being a first party Sony game, The Mark of Kri franchise has gone dormant, with no signs of coming back, and San Diego Studio is mostly tied up with the MLB The Show franchise. I liked The Mark of Kri, but it’s got some control issues that would annoy modern players, and the graphics aren’t that sharp, but I think you should check it out if you ever see it for a nice price on PS4/PS5.
Defenders of Dynatron City (NES) – Released Jul. 1992: Wiki Link
In the early 1990’s it seemed that every PC gamer knew the developer LucasArts. With a slew of well received point & click adventure games under their belt, they had built up an immense amount of good will with players. Over on the console side of things, LucasArts was also making headway there with a couple platformers based on Star Wars and Indiana Jones, and even had a well regarded port of one of their earliest point & click adventures, Maniac Mansion. Created by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, Maniac Mansion was notable for its humor and 1950’s science fiction b-movie feel. Anything these two men worked on next would generate intense interest. Ron Gilbert went first with The Secret of Monkey Island, and created one of the most well regarded PC games of all time. Winnick continued to work on multiple projects where he would contribute his art talents, but he was ready to lead another game, one based on a group of characters he was creating, calling it Defenders of Dynatron City.
Winnick’s group of heroes were, as you might expect, a bit wacky, a bit manic, and not what you would typically expect (for the early 90’s). There was Jet Headstrong, a muscular dude who would make his head fly off like a rocket; Buzzsaw Girl, a woman who has a giant buzz saw in place of her legs and feet; Toolbox, a robot with a hammer for a head; Radium Dog, a flying canine who can lift heavy objects in his mouth; Monkey Kid, a blue monkey who uses exploding bananas; finally, the most normal one, Ms. Megawatt, who has a normal human body and the ability to shoot lightning from her hands. Defenders of Dynatron City was also more than just a video game, it was planned to be an entire multi-media project, which included a six-issue comic book series, as well as an animated TV special that would eventually become its own Saturday morning cartoon.
The hype and pre-release buzz for Defenders of Dynatron City was big, with many of the gaming outlets of the day giving it extensive coverage and talking up all of the great things associated with it. The comic book would be written by Steve Purcell, an on again/off again LucasArts employee who is best known as the creator of Sam & Max. The animated special aired on the Fox Kids block of programming and had a fairly notable cast, including Pat Fraley, who was the voice of Krang on the TMNT animated series, David Coburn, who was the voice of Captain Planet, as well as film stars Tim Curry and Whoopi Goldberg. With the comics wrapping up in July and the animated special airing just before the release of the game, the excitement was palpable…then the game came out.
All of this build up may have tipped off where this is going; Defenders of Dynatron City was awful. Ugly graphics, a confusing map layout, confusing objectives, items that you could barely see in the background, no rhyme or reason as to what these items did, and, the worst thing of all, terrible controls and a broken hit box on every enemy. I’m not joking, I honestly believe it was broken and shouldn’t have shipped like that. You can be standing directly in front of an enemy, fire your weapon and them, see the projectile hit them, and nothing will happen. The hit boxes are so small, so precise, that you must be in the exact correct spot to take out enemies. Not only are these things bad enough, but the game is just so, so, SO boring. You basically move from screen to screen fighting whatever enemy populates that stage. Then, as if moving through these ugly, boring streets wasn’t enough, each had, what seemed like, 12 buildings on them, each of which you could enter and each full of enemies that you could only kill with the precision of a sharpshooter. Then, MAYBE, there would be an item inside that was most likely useless.
I don’t know what happened to make Defenders of Dynatron city so bad, maybe Winnick was just best and being a writer and an artist, maybe the game was rushed, whatever the cause, the game turned out awful and the entire franchise was D.O.A. As you might have guessed, Defenders of Dynatron City isn’t available on any modern consoles and, technically, nobody owns it, or at least LucasArts doesn’t, they let the copyright expire in the early 2000’s, meaning you could probably make your own Defenders of Dynatron City game and show those lousy fucks what a real game looks like, yeah…yeah. Gary Winnick would leave LucasArts about a year after the release of Defenders of Dynatron City, after contributing to the story and dialogue of Day of the Tentacle, working at Spectrum Holobyte, then starting his own company, then joining a couple of other game companies when that didn’t work out. He most recently did story and art for the point & click game Thimbleweed Park with his old collaborator, Ron Gilbert. You might be curious about playing this, but let me assure you, it is not worth your time or effort. Best to leave this one alone.
This video has a pretty concise recap of the entire Defenders of Dynatron City franchise, it’s worth a watch: