New Game Releases 09/06/22 – 09/12/22

Phew, it’s been a hot one in southern California this past week with, at least, one more week of high temperatures, so excuse me if I come across a bit delirious. There’s one very exciting game coming out, followed by a bunch of stuff that looks just okay. Here we go, too late to turn back now, I’m running out of sound and if we died right now, this fool you love somehow is here with you.


Top Releases:

Splatoon 3 (Switch) – Releases Sep. 9th

Developed by: Nintendo EPD
Published by: Nintendo

This is it folks, your major release of the week, Nintendo’s exciting arena shooter, Splatoon 3. Set in the desolate Splatlands, a sun-scorched desert, you will, once again, fight against other squid kids as you attempt to control as much turf as possible. Tons of new moves and weapons should help keep the series fresh for its third outing, including the new bow & arrow-esque weapon. There’s also a single player story mode with players taking on the Mammalians, as well as the return of the Salmon Run co-op mode.

Rocksmith+ (PC) – Releases Sep. 6th

Developed by: Ubisoft San Francisco/Osaka/Pune/Bucharest
Published by: Ubisoft

Temtem (PC/PS5/Switch/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 6th

Developed by: Crema
Published by: Humble Bundle

Have you ever played Pokémon and thought, “pfft, thees guys don’t know what the FUCK they’re doing“? Well apaprently the developers behind Temtem thought that and made their own game. I’m just speculating here, but I’m pretty sure the devs at Crema sent boxes of human feces to Game Freak in a show of dominance. Again, just speculation.

Train Sim World 3 (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 6th

Developed by: Dovetail Games
Published by: Dovetail Games

Everyone knows that the music choice of all train enthusiasts is nu-metal.

Kaichu – The Kaiju Dating Sim (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 7th

Developed by: Squiddershins
Published by: Top Hat Studios

I didn’t think the world needed a kaiju dating sim. After seeing this trailer, I still don’t; got ’em.

NBA 2K23 (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 9th

Developed by: Visual Concepts
Published by: 2K Games

Basketball is back, baby! It’s the end of summer which means it’s time for a new entry in the long running NBA 2K series. Play as all your favorites, LeBron James, Steph Curry, Nikola Jokić, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, etc. Dominate the boards, tell people “not in my house”, and do that dance from Tik Tok after you score a basket. This is the NBA at its best; accept no imitators.


Ports and Re-releases:

Arcade Archives: Champion Wrestler (PS4/Switch) – Releases Sep. 8th

champion wrestler

Did everyone catch the three pay-per-view wrestling events this weekend? There was some really great stuff out; Solo Sikoa, Macintyre singing Oasis, MJF’s return, CM Punk’s press conference, the crowd chanting Simon Miller’s name on a live Up’s & Down’s, it was magical. I guess this is a wrestling video game from 1989, I’ll probably play it.


Everything else:

090622 Else

  • Mozart Requiem (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Sep. 6th
  • Circus Electrique (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 6th
  • Nine Noir Lives (PC) – Releases Sep. 7th
  • Roadwarden (PC) – Releases Sep. 7th
  • Steelrising (PC/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 8th
  • Tower Princess (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Sep. 8th
  • Broken Pieces (PC) – Releases Sep. 9th


Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 years ago:

FTL: Faster Than Light (PC) – Released Sep. 14th, 2012: Wiki Link


Notable Film Release: The Words – Starring Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons, Ben Barnes, Dennis Quaid, J.K. Simmons, and Olivia Wilde
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: NOFX – Self Entitled
*Click here to listen to the album*

Created by a two man team at Subset Games, FTL is one of the defining releases in the “rogue-lite” genre that exploded in the early part of the 2010’s. Matthew Davis and Justin Ma, two employees at 2K Shanghai, became fast friends over their love of board games, especially ones that involved space, including Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars: X-Wing. After they both left 2K, Davis and Ma agreed to start their own small studio, agreeing to make one game and then dissolving if that game failed. Picking up on their love of spaceships, the two created a small game where players would have to route power to various systems in the ship, giving priority to whichever system was most in need, i.e., shields, weapons, oxygen, etc. Their idea was to make the player feel more like a ship captain than a ship pilot, which tied directly into the types of resource management board games they liked to play. With their new game in hand, called FTL: Faster Than Light, Davis and Ma took the game to indie festivals, receiving a lot of attention.

After being nominated for “Best In Show” at the GDC’s IGF China festival, Davis and Ma began to submit FTL into as many indie game competitions as they could. Each time, FTL would gain more and more attention, so much so that the two decided to begin a Kickstarter campaign to make FTL a full game. With Double Fine having just wrapped up their very successful Kickstarter, David and Ma were optimistic that they’d hit their $10k goal, but after luminaries like Ken Levin and Notch sang FTL’s praises, interest in the game skyrocketed and they ended up with over $200k in donations. With this extra money, Davis and Ma were able to improve FTL across the board, with better art, a more stable game engine, professional writing from Tom Jubert (Penumbra, Driver: San Francisco), and a score by this Google datacenter technician named Ben Prunty. Prunty’s score for FTL was so well received that he was able to quit his job at Google and move into video game scoring full time, a passion he had been harboring since childhood.

Once Davis and Ma, as well as their new co-horts Jubert and Prunty, were finished with this updated version of FTL, they released it to the public and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Critics were blown away by the simplistic, yet brutally difficult, game, comparing it favorably to other recent “rogue-lite” titles Spelunky and The Binding of Isaac. Critics were excited to be the captain of a ship, rather than just a pilot, and felt that FTL did a good job of making the player feel as if their choices mattered, both the good and the bad, which is exactly what Davis and Ma had wanted. Over the next couple of years, FTL would win numerous “Best of” awards, with Davis and Ma being even being listed in the 2013 edition of Forbes “30 Under 30” leaders in gaming.

FTL would receive an iOS port in 2014 that improved on the gameplay, with some critics calling it the definitive version of the game. As for Davis and Ma, with the extra Kickstarter funding they were able to put some of that towards their next game, Into The Breach, another rogue-lite that had players fighting giant aliens on a grid-based battlefield. FTL is a landmark game in the modern indie game revolution. It is easy to find on Steam and is absolutely worth your time, so play it!

Animal Crossing (GameCube) – Released Sep. 16th, 2002: Wiki Link

animal crossing

Notable Film Release: My Big Fat Greek Wedding – Starring Nia Vardalos, John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, and Joey Fatone
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Tsunami Bomb – The Ultimate Escape
*Click here to listen to the album*

I have a feeling that when historians talk about the most important video games to come out at the turn of the 21st century they’ll bring up games like GTA III, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, The Sims, Dark Souls, and this week’s notable title from 20 years ago, Animal Crossing. Speaking of The Sims, Animal Crossing is kind of a kindred spirit; players purchase a home and decorate it with furniture they receive by doing jobs. While it’s not as robust of a life simulator as The Sims, Animal Crossing beats that game in one area, a real time calendar. In The Sims, you could breeze through an entire day in a matter of minutes, but Animal Crossing wouldn’t change to the next day until, literally, the next day. This made collecting furniture a bit more of a chore, but also felt more rewarding. Planted trees took several real time days to grow as would fruit if you picked them off the trees. You could send letters to your villagers and they’d respond, again, after a few days. You might not have had as many gameplay options as The Sims, but it felt more like a second life than Maxis’ game ever could.

Development on Animal Crossing began after the 1997 release of Yoshi’s Story on the N64, with most of that team coming back together to make this strange new game. Originally slated for release on the 64DD, this new “life sim” game was perfectly suited for the console as it contained a real-time clock and could allow players to read/write data, making the ability to give players new items on a regular basis very easy. However, the 64DD was a massive failure for Nintendo and the game, called Dobutsu no Mori, was instead made for the aging N64, with a real-time clock built into the cartridge, the only one to have that feature. Released in 2001, the game was very well received by the Japanese public, but with the GameCube on the horizon it was decided that a port of the game to that system would be the best course of action for North America & Europe. Thus Dobutsu no Mori+, or Animal Crossing (or Animal Forest) was born.

Animal Crossing was conceived of by Katsuya Eguchi, Hisashi Nogami, and Takashi Tezuka. Initially, the team wanted to create a role playing game with multiple dungeons to explore and find items in. They thought that the 64DD would be a great console to do this with, as players would be able to come to stores and download the new dungeons and items. With the move away from the 64DD, Eguchi began to focus more on the “life sim” aspect of the game, wanting players to feel like they were living in a real virtual community with people they cared about. Through the use of the real-time clock, the team could match whatever season it was in real life, changing the landscape to match. Winter came with snow, Spring introduced new bugs to catch, Summer contained bright green grass, and Fall saw the leaves in your trees turn brown. Not only would the seasons change, but all of the major holidays were accounted for and would often contain special games to play, characters to meet, and unique furniture to collect.

When it came time to localize Animal Crossing for North America, the job went to NOA’s famous Treehouse division. The project was massive, with thousands of lines of text to be translated. Not only that, the team also had to create content and items for the holidays that were popular in the U.S. and cut out some of the ones more popular in Japan. This new content was so well received by the development team in Japan that it was decided to bring it over to the next Japanese version of the game, Dobutsu no Mori e+.

I assume many of you reading this have played Animal Crossing or are at least familiar with its gameplay, however, I’ll go over it anyway, just in case. In Animal Crossing, players first find themselves on a train going to some unknown destination. A kind anthropomorphic cat named Rover sits next to you and starts asking you questions. This is the game’s way of letting you choose your name, gender, and the village you are going to. Copies of Animal Crossing came bundled with its own memory card as a single town took up an entire card’s worth of data. Once you arrive to your village you will find a procedurally generated map with your home in the center and several other structures spread around the map.

After arriving you are greeted by a racoon named Tom Nook who runs a nearby shop. He is also the one who has sold you your hose and, upon learning you are broke, asks (forces) you to work for him. This acts as the game’s tutorial as it teaches you how the core functions of Animal Crossing work; changing your outfit, placing furniture, planting flowers & trees, writing letters, and meeting your neighbors. Once you finish the job/tutorial then you are left to your own devices and can play the game in any way you like. You can build grand gardens, dig up fossils, talk to your neighbors, design clothing patterns, decorate your home, and catch bugs & fish. There are also two unique ways to play Animal Crossing, one is by connecting your Game Boy Advance to the GameCube via a link cable, allowing you to visit a tropical island where you can collect coconuts to plant in your village, meet a special villager, and also dig up rare furniture, including NES games.

The second unique way to play Animal Crossing is by visiting other players towns. While you might think, oh, over the internet? Hahahaha, no, not over the internet. In order to visit another players town you would need to have their memory card inserted into the second slot on the GameCube. Once the card is inserted, players would walk over to their train station and a new menu option would appear, letting them take a train to the neighboring village. While visiting a friends village you can do, well, just about everything you could in your village. Part of the fun in doing this, however, was that you could collect fruit that your village didn’t already have, letting you plant them, building up your orchard. This was also a way to get new villagers, as one of your would move away to whatever town you visited. Unlike New Horizons, you actually can’t stop them from going, so it was always a bit of a risk that you might lose a villager that you really liked.

Enter this code for a coconut.

With digital distribution not an option on the GameCube, players would need to get special items by using codes. Typically, these codes would be distributed through Nintendo’s website, or sometimes in gaming magazines and gaming stores. What made this interesting, though, was that the codes just unlocked something already in the game’s data, meaning that your copy of Animal Crossing was full of all this unique furniture, just locked behind a code. This also included content that was never supposed to be available. I mentioned earlier that you could find NES games in Animal Crossing, in fact, players who purchased the game had two NES titles preloaded on the pack-in memory card. Others were found randomly or, if you had the code, you could have the games delivered. Most of the offerings were smaller titles like Balloon Fight, Golf, Baseball, Clu Clu Land, etc., but also in the game’s data were emulated versions of Super Mario Bros., a Japan exclusive, and The Legend of Zelda, which was not officially made available, making the cheat code the only way to get it.

Reception to Animal Crossing was very positive, with most gaming outlets calling it a fantastic title and one of the best games of 2002. At the 2003 Interactive Arts & Sciences (DICE) awards, Animal Crossing received multiple trophies, including, Innovation In Console Gaming, Outstanding Game Design, and Console RPG of the Year, also being nominated for Console Game of the Year, Outstanding Gameplay Engineering, and Game of the Year. Gamespot also named it Console RPG of the Year and called it the second best GameCube game of 2002, after Metroid Prime. Despite the accolades, some reviewers found issues with Animal Crossing, calling the graphics and audio painfully outdated. My professional opion is that those people are idiots. Animal Crossing was also a huge financial success for Nintendo, selling over 2 million copies around the world by 2006 when the GameCube left the market, not bad for a new IP.

On a personal level, Animal Crossing is one of the most important games in my life. I wouldn’t say I was losing interest in video games, but Animal Crossing changed the way I looked at and thought about video games. Like other disruptors to the industry, Zelda, Final Fantasy, Mario Kart, Doom, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Metal Gear Solid, Counter Strike, etc., Animal Crossing showed you what the future of video games was going to be. The level of interaction that Animal Crossing allowed, while minimal compared to today’s standards, was amazing at the time it was released. I had never, EVER, seen a game that knew not only what time it was, but what day it was, literally. If I went into the game on Christmas, there’d be presents. If I went on New Years Eve, there’d be fire works. If I went on Halloween, there’d be candy, and every villager was celebrating it. I have so many memories of my village and its inhabitants. Not just the animals, but also my family.

I shared the game with my cousin and my two brothers and each of us would talk about how, “Oh, I planted some flowers over here” or “I caught a new bug and added it to the museum” or “I dug up a new NES game today“. I still have my Animal Crossing memory card, somewhere, in a box, and one of these days I’ll have to dig it up and return to Happy where Rasher, Bob, Scoot, and many other of old friends are just hanging out. I wish I could see the golden statue for paying off my house, and my cousin’s silver statue for coming in second, and him being SO FUCKING MAD ABOUT IT. God, I love Animal Crossing, it’s such a joyful game and, nearing the one year anniversary of 9/11 in 2002, it was such an amazing way to remember what life was all about, and how happy it COULD BE. That’s why I name every single one of my towns in these games Happy, because god dammit, we should all be happy. We should all be kind to one another and we should strive for joy rather than despair. Excuse me, I need to go digging through some boxes…

Super Mario Kart (SNES) – Released Sep. 1st, 1992: Wiki Link

super mario kart

Notable Film Release: Honeymoon In Vegas – Starring James Caan, Nicolas Cage, Sarah Jessica Parker, Peter Boyle, and Pat Morita
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Screaming Trees– Sweet Oblivion
*Click here to listen to album*

Being on the ground floor when something big breaks is pretty cool, and I can proudly say that I lived when Super Mario Kart hit the SNES. While the concept of racing wasn’t new, nor was the game’s use of Mode 7 graphics, it put Mario on an entirely new trajectory that saw his star power and appeal skyrocket, and would go on to be start of one of the greatest video game franchises of all time.

The origins of Super Mario Kart begin with the SNES launch title F-Zero. Another racing game, F-Zero was a single player game that had players moving at incredibly high speeds around complex tracks that could, if they weren’t careful, kill them. Desiring to make a two player racing game, producer Shigeru Miyamoto and directors Tadashi Sugiyama & Hideki Konno took the programming from F-Zero and made the tracks a bit less complex to allow for two players to drive on it simultaneously. They opted to use go-karts as vehicles and initially used generic characters as the racers. During play testing, one of the developers looked at the screen and saw his opponent pass him up. He wondered what it would look like to have Mario pass you on the course, and the rest is history. Soon, every racer in the game would turn into a character from the Mario series, giving this title its name, Super Mario Kart.

Super Mario Kart featured eight characters, Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, Yoshi, Toad, Bowser, Koopa Troopa, and Donkey Kong Jr., and had tracks that pulled in locations from the most recent Mario game, Super Mario World. I’m pretty certain that most of you reading this have played a Mario Kart game before but, just in case, here’s how you play. Players begin at the starting line, waiting for the green light to go. Once the race begins, players can collect coins to keep them safe from being knocked around, as well as powerups that they can use to hinder opponents, like turtle shells and banana peels, or gain an advantage, such as mushrooms and invincibility stars. In the game’s GP mode, players must finish in the top 4 in order to advance to the next track, gaining points along the way. With each track being part of a specific “Cup”, players who gain the most points by the end of the cup are crowned the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.

Aside from the GP mode, players can also take part in time trials, attempting to get the best solo time. However, one of the most popular modes in Super Mario Kart is the battle mode. The team wanted to incorporate a one-on-one mode that didn’t involve racing, so the idea came up to have players drive around an arena, picking up items, and using those to defeat their opponent. In battle mode, players have three balloons tied to their kart and each time they are hit by an item one of the balloons pops. It’s frantic and has probably led to many, MANY, arguments and fights over the past 30 years.

Reaction to Super Mario Kart was overwhelmingly positive from both critics and players. Super Mario Kart would sell over eight million copies over its life span, making it the fourth best selling SNES game of all time. Critics were blown away by the mode 7 graphics and praised Super Mario Kart for its outstanding technical achievement. Critics also praised the game’s high replay value and addictive gameplay, calling it one of the best games on the Super Nintendo. Some critics had initially wrote off the game as a cash grab with Mario characters, but completely changed their minds after playing the game, seeing that Nintendo put an incredible amount of care and attention to Super Mario Kart.

Before Super Mario Kart, Mario and his friends were mostly just seen in side scrolling platformers. While Mario would make cameos here and there, Super Mario Kart was the first game to let players do something with Mario that wasn’t just running and jumping (eh, I guess NES Golf might have been first, whatever). It was the success of Super Mario Kart that prompted Nintendo to start making more unexpected Mario games, like Mario Party and Mario Golf, among the many others we now have. Thankfully, Super Mario Kart is very easy to play today. If you still have a Wii U or 3DS, the game is available to purchase on the Virtual Console (for now), but if you have a Switch you can play the game from the SNES online library. Perhaps seen as a big gamble back in 1992, the success of Super Mario Kart can not be understated, as it not only created an entirely new genre, the kart racer, but it brought video games closer to the mainstream, laying the groundwork for the future.



Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

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