There are SO MANY games coming out this week, my goodness. Let’s just get right to it, shall we? Doesn’t matter what you want, so…yeah.
Kirby’s Dream Buffet (Switch) – Releases Aug. 17th
Developed by: HAL Laboratory
Published by: Nintendo
It seems like Kirby games can be separated into two categories; one is your typical action/adventure game while the second are unique titles that range from mini-game collections to a “Kirby” spin on an existing genre. Kirby’s Dream Buffet is in the latter category, with four players competing against one another in a race to see who can eat the most strawberries before reaching some kind of goal line or time runs out. It’s always fun to see HAL play up Kirby’s never ending appetite, and seeing the pink puff ball all gorged out and massive is often hilarious. It’s probably not the biggest game of the Summer but for many kids, including my daughter, this might as well be the next entry in the GTA series as far as hype levels go.
Rollerdrome (PC/PS4/PS5) – Releases Aug. 16th
Developed by: Roll7
Published by: Private Division
I guess there was a sale on Moebius art books at Barnes & Noble recently, because Rollerdrome is at least the second game in recent memory to copy his art style. Rollerdome is described as a third person action shooter, with high octane thrills and chills. Developed by Roll7, the creators of the OlliOlli franchise, Rollerdrome swaps roller skates in place of skateboards, with players pulling off insane tricks and hella sweet combos as they zip and zoom around various arenas, shooting people. I’m intrigued here, Rollerdrome gives off some really interesting vibes and I can see this being a game that gains fans throughout the rest of 2022 based on word of mouth.
RPG Time: The Legend of Wright (PS4/Switch) – Releases Aug. 11th (PC Sep. 13th)
Developed by: DeskWorks
Published by: Aniplex
After nine years of development, the labor of love RPG Time: The Legend of Wright is finally here to hopefully delight and enchant players around the world. In RPG Time, players embark on a journey through the drawings and cardboard cut-outs of an aspiring young game designer named Kenta. This hits pretty close to home for me, as I remember being in the 5th grade and getting several large pads of paper for Christmas. My buddy Doug and I would take these pads and create our own 2D platformers, including our takes on video games for Bobby’s World, Danger Mouse, and Bart Simpson vs. Zombies. Anyway, this game speaks to me, I hope it’s good.
Cursed to Golf (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 18th
Developed by: Chuhai Labs
Published by: Thunderful Publishing
The charming indie parade continues with Cursed to Golf. From the team at Chuhai Labs, founded by former Nintendo programmer Giles Goddard (Star Fox, 1080 Snowboarding, Steel Diver), Cursed to Golf is an action game in which players must escape purgatory by playing golf. It looks zany and cute, hopefully it plays well.
Slaycation Paradise (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 18th
Developed by: Affordable Acquisition
Published by: Merge Games
Slaycation Paradise is a twin-stick shooter/tower defense game. The graphics are also awful.
Thymesia (PC/PS5/Switch – Cloud/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 18th
Developed by: OverBorder Studio
Published by: Team17
It’s the latest “looks like Dark Souls but is probably not nearly as good as Dark Souls” game, although I’m sure it’s still pretty fun.
We Are OFK (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch) – Releases Aug. 18th
Developed by: Team OFK
Published by: Team OFK
It’s interesting that two years ago, almost to the day, we got the music game Teenage Blob from Team Lazerbeam and The Superweaks, and now here we are with a similar, this time from the electro pop virtual band OFK. In We Are OFK, players will embark on a narrative journey through the lives of OFK’s band members, with each song on this new album/game being released on a weekly episodic basis. I’m a sucker for music games so I’m sure I’ll check this out as some point. Oh, and if you still haven’t played Teenage Blob then stop reading this and go buy it on Steam RIGHT NOW.
Madden NFL 23 (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 19th
Developed by: EA Tiburon
Published by: EA Sports
I’ll admit that I have no real connection to this franchise, as big as it is. The trailer above is slick and features a lot of really cool buzzwords and shit, but it does nothing for me. Do any of you play Madden, or sports games in general? I haven’t played a football game regularly since Sega’s ESPN NFL 2K5, a series I found to always be vastly superior, so I almost take Madden’s release for granted. The best thing I can say about this series is that it brings non-gamers into the fold and helps to continue legitimizing video games as a whole. Plus you can have custom end zone dances; which button makes me fancy dance?
The Ascent: Cyber Heist (PC) – Releases Aug. 18th
Last year a pretty cool looking cyber punk style game came out called The Ascent, did you play it? Yeah, me either. Here’s an expansion for it.
I told you, there’s a lot of games coming out this week, is the next hidden gem of 2022 going to be one the the titles listed below?
- Blossom Tales II: The Minotaur Prince (PC/Switch) – Releases Aug. 16th
- Way of the Hunter (PC/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 16th
- Little League World Series Baseball 2022 (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 15th
- Lost and Hound (PC) – Releases Aug. 17th
- A Tale of Paper: Refolded (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Aug. 19th
Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 (and sometimes 40) years ago:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Aug. 21st, 2012: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: The Expendables 2 – Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Liam Hemsworth, Jet Li, Terry Crews, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger
*Click for trailer*
Notable Album Release: Yeasayer – Fragrant World
*Click to see album*
One of the biggest PC games of the end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st was the online shooter sensation Counter Strike. Developed by a couple of friends as a mod for Half-Life, Counter Strike, with its team based deathmatches, became a massive overnight success. Online gaming had been around since the early 1990’s but by the late 90’s high speed internet was becoming much more common and Counter Strike was able to tap into the growing online gaming market. Valve took a keen interest in Counter Strike, likely due to it being a Half-Life mod, offering the two developers, Minh Le and Jess Cliffe, jobs at Valve and for the rights to the Counter Strike IP. They agreed and continued to work on the game with Valve’s resources. In 2004, an enhanced version called Counter Strike Source would come out, and for eight years that was the premier way to play Counter Strike, but change was coming.
Where Counter Strike Source was a remake of the first Counter Strike, this new entry in the franchise would be a full on sequel that would, hopefully, take the game in a new direction while also retaining what made it so fun in the first place. Led by a fairly massive team at Valve, as well as support from the company Hidden Path Entertainment, development on this new title, called Counter Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO, began in 2010, with the game being publicly announced a year later in August of 2011. For those of you who may not be familiar with the series, Counter Strike is an online only, first person shooter with players placed into two teams; one as terrorists and the other as counter-terrorists. A typical Counter Strike match is one of two types, plant the bomb or rescue the hostages. Players can either complete their objective to win, or, more often than not, they ignore the goal and just murder the opposing team.
In the 2000’s, you started to see the influence Counter Strike had on games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Gears of War, and Halo. These were, however, console games, and in the 2000’s they were much more widely used for gaming that PC’s were, but by the end of the decade, and moving into the 2010’s, PC gaming was starting to come into its own, being seen as on par with modern gaming consoles, with games running on PC more often as good as their console versions. I believe this was a big factor in the creation of Counter Strike: GO, Valve could finally reclaim their dominance of the online shooter genre.
With Counter Strike: GO, Valve decided to release the game free-to-play, wanting to emulate the success they saw with Team Fortress 2. To make up the costs, Counter Strike: GO uses a loot box system, where players are occasionally granted a weapon case that requires the purchase of a key to unlock. These weapons are, mostly, just reskins of existing guns, allowing players to customize their guns with unique paint jobs. Upon release, CS:GO was well received, becoming one of the highest grossing games in Valve’s history. However, the game was a bit bare bones at launch, with Valve making it clear that CS:GO was a work in progress, almost a live service game. In the years following its release, Valve would add new maps and new game modes, including a recent “battle royale” mode, called “Danger Zone”, to compete with Fortnite and PUBG.
While I typically don’t delve too deep into the history of these games after release, Counter Strike: GO is a bit unique as it was, like I said, more of a live service game. As the years went by, CS:GO became one of the most popular games to stream online through platforms like Twitch and YouTube, with a lot of its popularity due to the loot boxes and its kind of slot machine, roulette wheel divvying of prizes. Opening these loot boxes would attract thousands of viewers to various channels, with streamers going ape shit when they’d pull an ultra rare weapon. While a typical player would just take the new gun skin they got and use it in the game, some players began to trade these skins like they were currency.
With the rise of eSports in the 2010’s, CS:GO became one of the hottest games on the circuit. While gambling on sporting events is nothing new, watch dog groups began to notice that players were betting on professional CS:GO matches with skins instead of cash. This, they claimed, led to multiple underage players gambling illegally, as it cost money to buy the skins that they were using for currency. The gambling was the byproduct of a loophole in Valve’s Steamworks API, prompting Valve to step in and patch this exploit, nearly ending the entire CS:GO gambling industry altogether. This issue, as well as others in multiple other video games, led to further scrutiny of the loot box practice, with countries like Belgium and the Netherlands banning them altogether.
After ten years, Counter Strike: GO is still one of the most played games on Steam, with over one million concurrent players. If you want to jump into a match today you can easily find a group online and start shooting to your heart’s content. I spent a good portion of my weekend playing CS:GO and just having a great time, despite being mercilessly slaughtered just about every round. With CS:GO still remaining so popular I can assume Valve has no plans to release a follow-up anytime soon, as they appear to be happy releasing new content for the game. Online shooters aren’t for everyone, I get it, but it’s hard to deny the cultural impact that Counter Strike as a franchise has had on our culture, for better or worse.
SOCOM U.S. Navy SEALs (PS2) – Released Aug. 27th, 2002: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: One Hour Photo – Starring Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Gary Cole, and Eriq La Salle
*Click to see trailer*
Notable Album Release: Interpol – Turn On The Bright Lights
*Click to see album*
Speaking of Counter Strike inspiration, our notable title from 20 years ago is the tactical military shooter SOCOM Navy SEALs. Well, maybe Counter Strike isn’t the most obvious inspiration for SOCOM, that might actually belong to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (and perhaps some early looks at an upcoming Clancy game, Ghost Recon). SOCOM is a tactical, third person shooter with players controlling a four person squad of Navy SEALs. Your goal varies by stage, but the main point of the game is using stealth, making sure to get the job done quickly and quietly. If you make a mistake and get spotted, the remaining tasks become much more difficult to complete and you will, probably, have to start the mission over.
SOCOM was a unique game on the PS2 in that it was one of the few to offer online support. In the game’s online mode, players would compete in two teams; one as terrorists and the other as counter-terrorists (sound familiar). There were three game modes online, elimination, basically team deathmatch, and two more that will probably sound familiar again, plant the bomb and rescue the hostages. Hey, I mean, there’s only so many things terrorists can do, it’s not like Counter Strike invented these scenarios, but I mean…come on. In a fairly major milestone for the PS2, SOCOM was the first game on the console to allow for voice chat during online play, even bundling a headset with some copies of the game.
When it was released, SOCOM was well received by critics who praised the game’s visuals, storytelling (yeah, it had a story) and, above all else, its addictive online modes. Speaking of Counter Strike, in Gamespot’s review of SOCOM they specifically mentioned that PC players had, for years, been playing games like Counter Strike online. They viewed SOCOM as the first game to bring the online shooter genre to consoles and predicted that it would be one of the biggest gaming trends of the decade (they were not wrong). Now, how does it stack up today? Well, for starters, you can’t play it online anymore (you can still play the original Counter Strike online, LOL), and the game is incredibly obtuse. In my playthrough this weekend I tried in vain to find some kind of tutorial, but there was nothing to help me, and there are so many GD controls that require multiple button inputs that I gave up because I was starting to get a headache. Instead I just played more Counter Strike: GO. SOCOM isn’t available on any modern consoles, and the franchise is basically dormant, with the last release in 2011 on the PS3. With Sony recently dipping their toe into PC gaming, now might be the time to bring this series back.
Evander Holyfield’s “Real Deal” Boxing (Genesis) – Released Aug. 29th, 1992: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Single White Female – Starring Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Steven Weber
*Click to see trailer*
Notable Album Release: Come – 11:11
*Click to see album*
As part of their push to attract teenage males and their dads, Sega of America made a big push to get sports games on their system that were endorsed by actual stars. Tommy Lasorda, Joe Montana, Pat Riley, Mario Lemieux, and Mario Andretti (the Mario brothers…) already had games featuring their names and likenesses so, for boxing, Sega went to one of the top boxers of the era, no, not Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield. This game was supposed to be the “next level” of boxing video games, with Sega hoping that the “cool teens” market would see Holyfield Boxing as being way above that kiddie shit Punch-Out on the NES.
While Punch-Out was played from a kind of behind the back, over the shoulder view, Holyfield Boxing was played from a sideways view, similar to a fighting game, perhaps inspired by the recent success of Street Fighter II. However, like a lot of the SFII wannabes, Holyfield Boxing controls very poorly, I found it very difficult to land punches and dodge effectively in my playthrough. While the graphics and presentation were top notch, the fun factor just wasn’t there, as opposed to Punch-Out which is an absolute joy to play. Critics mostly agreed with my take, great graphics, not so great gameplay. Still, Holyfield Boxing did very well, with enough copies sold to justify a sequel in 1994. Like almost any game featuring licensed content, Holyfield Boxing is not available on any modern game consoles or Genesis collections. It’s okay, though, you’re not missing out on much here.
Pitfall! (Atari 2600) – Released Aug. 20th, 1982: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, and Ray Walston
*Click to see trailer*
Notable Album Release: George Thorogood and the Destroyers – Bad to the Bone
*Click to see album*
Before Super Mario Bros. took the world by storm with it’s side scrolling and platforming, David Crane, a programmer at Activision, put together a little demo of a stick figure running, eventually turning into one of the earliest side scrolling action games, Pitfall!. In 1979, just after the creation of Activision, David Crane put together a rough demo of a stick figure running left to right. Not knowing what to do with it, Crane shelved the demo and moved on to other games. In 1982, however, Crane pulled the demo back off the shelf and started tinkering with it. In a 2003 interview with Edge, Crane discussed the process of creating Pitfall!. He said that he took out a piece of paper and stared at this stick figure he drew on it. If he’s running then you need ground, where is he? How about the jungle, so he drew some trees. Why is he there? To collect treasure, so he drew some gems and gold bars, but who was guarding the treasure? How about scorpions and crocodiles, so he drew those too.
Crane stated that it took him roughly ten minutes to come up with the idea for Pitfall! and nearly 1000 hours of programming to complete the game. What he came up with was revolutionary at the time. Most video games of this era took place on one screen with players reacting to some kind of enemy or obstacle coming towards them. Pitfall! took the player out of the screen and put them into a living world, a space that was larger than just their one screen, it was a world of many, MANY, screens. Atari had experimented with this concept before with the 1980 release Adventure, having players move their little box person from screen to screen. Pitfall!, however, blows Adventure away in terms of size, scope, and graphical power (for its time).
If you’ve somehow never played Pitfall! or seen footage of the game, the premise is very simple. Players take on the role of an explorer named Pitfall Harry who has come to the jungle in search of 32 lost treasures. The catch, players only have twenty minutes to complete this task and achieve a perfect score of 114,000 points. To stop Harry from finishing, several obstacles and creatures will hinder him. There are water pits to drown in, crocodiles to be eaten by, scorpions to be stung by, fire to be burned by, tar pits to fall into, and logs to run you over. In another unique twist, Pitfall! is divided into two sections, the top layer being the jungle, with the bottom layer being caverns. While in the jungle, if players move to the next screen they will move over one screen on the game map. However, if you travel in the caverns and move to the next screen, you will be moved three screens on the game map. This warp, if you will, is crucial to finding all 32 treasures in the time limit, however, there are obstacles and enemies to hinder you.
When Pitfall! released in August of 1982 it was an absolute mindblower. Nobody had EVER played a game like it, particularly on a home console (arcades has some stuff like it). It quickly became the best selling game on the Atari 2600, shattering expectations and blowing every other titles that year out of the water (including Atari’s $21 million “killer app” E.T. the Extra Terrestrial). By 1984, Pitfall! had sold 3.5 million copies, a staggering number for a video game. Aside from the Atari 2600 version, Activision would port the game to numerous other consoles including the MSX, Commodore 64, ColecoVision, and Intellivision. A sequel would come out in 1984, also programmed by David Crane, called Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, which even had an arcade port by Sega.
Following that game, a handful of other titles bearing the Pitfall! name would come out, but none of them were as groundbreaking as their predecessor. Pitfall! received several accolades in its time, and was named “Best Adventure Game” at the 4th annual Arkie Awards. Every modern video game genre can be traced back to its roots, if you’ve ever played a platformer, a side scroller, a collect-a-thon adventure game, or a game with a named protagonist with actual features, then you can thank David Crane and Pitfall!. In an odd twist, despite being so influential, Pitfall! is kind of hard to play today on modern consoles. The game would be bundled in various Atari collections over the years, but nothing recent (that I can find). You best bet to play Pitfall! on a modern console is to find a copy of Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War and find the secret arcade. Hats off to you Harry, you kickstarted an entirely new genre and left a lasting legacy on video game history.
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