It’s a pretty light week for releases, not a whole lot here to get super excited for, unless you’re a die hard JRPG fan. It’s about the same as the last couple of weeks, honestly. A kinda sorta big title and a bunch of indie/niche games. Technically FIFA 23 is the most high profile release of the week but if you think I’m going to call a sports game the top pick of the week then you don’t know anything about me. Like, I bet you didn’t even know that your strength is my weakness, and your weakness, my hate. Think about that, the secrets of your dreams.
Valkyrie Elysium (PS4/PS5) – Releases Sep. 29th (PC on Nov. 11th)
Developed by: Soliel/Square Enix
Published by: Square Enix
First released on the PlayStation in 2000, the action RPG series Valkyrie has been flying under the radar for over 20 years now, putting out sporadic installments and remakes, with the last new game coming out on mobile devices in 2016 (though service has ended). Continuing with the series action roots, Valkyrie Elysium is a hack & slash game with some RPG elements, allowing players to customize and upgrade their weapons, skills, and divine arts. I’m all in on Square Enix going ham with these releases, it’s such a blast to see all these interesting, quasi RPG titles come out, I haven’t felt this way since 1999/2000.
Dome Keeper (PC) – Releases Sep. 27th
Developed by: Bippinbits
Published by: Raw Fury
Are you already bored with Shovel Knight Dig? Why not check out Dome Keeper! Build your dome, start digging, find treasure, kill aliens, and try to stay alive in this roguelike action game.
Grounded (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 27th
Developed by: Obsidian Entertainment
Published by: Microsoft
It’s been over two years since Grounded released in early access, Obsidian’s co-op action game. Shrunk down to the size of a bug, players must survive in the wilderness of their backyard in order to uncover the truth about who shrunk them and why.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero (PC/PS4/Switch) – Releases Sep. 27th
Developed by: Nihon Falcom
Published by: NIS America
Fans of the Trails series have reason to rejoice as the long anticipated Trails From Zero has finally reached North America. The first of two games in the “Crossbell Arc”, Trails From Zero tells the long awaited story set between Trails in the Sky and Trails of Cold Steel. Personally, I’ve never played any of these games, but I know there are absolutely people out there who can’t wait to get their hands on this.
Deathverse: Let It Die (PS4/PS5) – Releases Sep. 28th (PC on Oct. 5th)
Developed by: Supertrick Games
Published by: GungHo Online Entertainment
2016’s Let It Die is an always online, free-to-play action game where players must climb a tower, fighting monsters along the way. This spin off game, Deathverse, takes place several years in the future and is a battle royale game. I’ve got a headache, need to stop writing.
Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous (PC – Released on Sep. 2nd/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 29th
Developed by: Owlcat Games
Published by: META Publishing/Owlcat Games
Just gonna half ass it from here, a cold just came on and I feel like a truck hit me. Pathfinder is an RPG series that was supposed to continue the D&D d20 system once they switched to 4th edition. Now they make video games based on it; to quote my daughter, “that’s nifty“.
FIFA 23 (PC/PS4/PS5/Stadia/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 30th
Developed by: EA Canada/EA Romania
Published by: EA Sports
Trent Crimm, The Independent. Do you really think that by adding Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond to the latest FIFA game that you would, somehow, get people who don’t typically play sports games to go out and pick it up? Is this shameless cross promotion or have Coach Lasso and his team actually endeared themselves enough to be thought of as a selling point?
Here’s some other shit that’s coming out.
- The Fridge is Red (PC) – Releases Sep. 27th
- Moonscars (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Sep. 27th
- Windfolk: Sky is just the Beginning (PC/PS4) – Releases Sep. 27th
- NeverAwake (PC) – Releases Sep. 28th
- Airoheart (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 30th
- PAW Patrol: Grand Prix (PC/PS4/PS5/Stadia/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Sep. 30th
- UNDETECTED (PC) – Releases Sep. 30th
Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 years ago:
Resident Evil 6 (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Oct. 2nd, 2012: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Pitch Perfect – Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Anna Camp, and Brittany Snow
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Flying Lotus – Until the Quiet Comes
*Click here to listen to the album*
For its sixth major installment, the Resident Evil franchise took a nose dive off a cliff, landing on the ground below, a puddle of blood and viscera. After a solid string of really great games, the franchise seemed to reach its peak with the brilliant Resident Evil 4. That game took the series out of its slow, methodical pacing into something more action oriented. However, RE4 still retained that survival horror feeling, that sense of dread and the constant worry that you weren’t going to have enough supplies to make it. It was a beautiful mix of styles that, unfortunately, was overused in their next two mainline games, with RE6 becoming one of the worst in the series.
Resident Evil 6 was conceptualized soon after the release of RE5, but proper work on the game didn’t begin until 2009. Initially, the idea for RE6 was to bring the game closer to its roots, playing up the horror elements and bringing back traditional zombies as enemies, with Capcom wanting RE6 to be the pinnacle of the horror genre. However, as development went on, Capcom decided that in order to achieve their lofty financial goals they would need to abandon the horror genre as it was “financially limited”. Their market research indicated that the action genre was far more popular, meaning that their potential revenue could be enormous, not to mention the potential for new fans to the series. Capcom put over 600 people on the project, the largest team for a single game in the company’s history. They were ready to usher in a new area of action oriented Resident Evil games and change the world.
Resident Evil 6 did return to its roots, in a way, by having the game split up over multiple characters. However, unlike 1 & 2, RE6 did not have these characters move through the same place, splitting the four protagonists up across the globe. Three of the protagonists were franchise staples, Chris Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy, and Ada Wong, while the fourth was a young, rough & tumble newcomer named Jake Muller, son of Albert Wesker. Jake was created specifically for the “younger generation” so that they could empathize more with him. Each protagonist also comes with a partner, similar to RE5, controlled by either AI or a second human player. These companions were mostly new, with Ada’s even just being a generic “agent”. However, one familiar face was present, Sherry Birkin, daughter of William Birkin, was Jake’s companion.
Before the game’s release, while the hype was still fresh, Capcom had incredibly high hopes for Resident Evil 6. They were convinced that they would sell 7 million copies in the first 6 months, and stores like GameStop were promoting the title heavily as one of the biggest launches of 2012. I vividly remember the manager at my local store telling me I HAD TO pre-order RE6. I told him that I hadn’t played part five yet and his response was “That’s great, because 5 has nothing to do with 6, it’s a brand new story, plus Leon is back“; I politely declined and probably bought a five dollar Wii game. However, early reports were coming back to Capcom that things might be as rosy as they anticipated, causing them to lower their projections to 6 million in 6 months. During the first month of release, RE6 sold a little over 800k copies but this proved to be front loaded. By April of 2013, 6 months after release, the game had only sold a little over 4 million copies, not chump change, but not what they expected.
It would take nearly a year for Resident Evil 6 to reach its initial 7 million projection, but the game had been through the ringer, being lambasted by both critics and fans. The move from horror to action was not well received, particularly since Capcom still tried to market the game as “dramatic horror”. According to critics, there was hardly any horror to be found, except for how bad the game was. Critics found RE6 to be tedious, confusing, and way too long, with particular disdain for the multiple, branching storylines, as well as the new character, Jake Muller. These multiple scenarios varied in quality, while most critics praised Leon and Ada’s stories, Chris’ story was seen as an incredibly bland, nearly “on rails” shooter, while Jake’s story failed at just about everything.
In February of 2013, Capcom noted that Resident Evil 6 had failed to live up to the expectations the company put on it. They claimed that RE6 had inadequate collaboration within the company, and ultimately blamed the failure on several, last minute changes being made. Remember how I said they decided to switch from horror to action? That decision was made in March of 2012, seven months before the game was scheduled to come out. However, despite the poor initial sales, RE6 was still one of the best selling games of 2012 and was, by 2020, the fifth highest selling Capcom game of all time, with over 10 million copies sold (For the curious, 1. Monster Hunter World, 2. Resident Evil 5, 3. Resident Evil 4, 4. Resident Evil 7). Resident Evil 6 is easily available today on all modern consoles, including the Switch. Why would you play this though? Curiosity, maybe? Well, you know what they say curiosity did, fool me once, shame on…shame on, the cat. Fool me twice…you can’t fool a cat.
Star Fox Adventures (GameCube) – Released Sep. 23rd, 2002: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: The Tuxedo – Starring Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, and Peter Stormare
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Good Charlotte – The Young and the Hopeless
*Click here to listen to the album*
The promise of a new Star Fox game on the GameCube was an attractive prospect to many players hoping to see the famous Fox McCloud and his crew take part in dogfights on Nintendo’s newest console. What they got instead, though, was a 3D adventure game that cribbed liberally from the Legend of Zelda playbook.
After the release of Diddy Kong Racing in 1997, developer Rare was eager to begin work on their next two games, hoping to have them completed before the N64’s lifecycle was over. They split the company into two teams, one would work on the title Jet Force Gemini and the other would work on a game called Dinosaur Planet. This game was conceived as a Zelda-like, with Rare creating brand new, anthropomorphic animal characters, and using their Timber the Tiger character as the main protagonist since he was booted from the starring role in Diddy Kong Racing by Nintendo. They envisioned Timber as a time traveler, with the character moving between periods of time throughout the game, similar to Ocarina of Time. However, as development continued they found that the cute and cuddly Timber wasn’t the right fit for Dinosaur Planet’s tone so they shifted, swapping Timber for another established character, Sabre the Wolf.
The idea for Dinosaur Planet was to have dual protagonists, with players taking on the role of both Sabre and a new character named Krystal the fox. Each would also have a sidekick, Tricky and Kyte, each with their own set of special abilities that could aid Sabre and Krystal on their quests. Development on the title was going really well and Rare was all set to show Dinosaur Planet at E3 in 2000, however, when Rare sent an update on the game to Nintendo things changed. In a retrospective interview, Shigeru Miyamoto commented that the characters in Dinosaur Planet had very striking similarities to the animal characters in Star Fox. Nintendo contacted Rare and said to hold off the presentation and instead come in for a meeting. It was here that Nintendo, once again, used their upper hand to demand a change; turn Dinosaur Planet into a Star Fox game.
Initially, the team at Rare were dismayed at the change as they had grown really fond of both Sabre and Krystal, however, they quickly realized the potential for sales and exposure if they changed it to a Star Fox game. Rare would replace Sabre with Fox, as well as update Krystal’s look in order to bring her closer in line with the characters in Star Fox. The time travel aspect was removed and the story was tweaked slightly to incorporate Star Fox elements and bring it into the canon. The game play was mostly untouched, though new flying stages were added in, with players flying the Arwing between the various planetoids circling Dinosaur Planet. Perhaps the biggest change was that Nintendo suggested that Rare stop developing the game for the N64 and begin development on the GameCube.
This new game was first going to be called Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet, before being shortened to just Star Fox Adventures. Pre-release hype was fairly high, with early looks at the game showing off absolutely gorgeous graphics and some outlets calling it the GameCube’s “killer app”. Set eight years after the events of Star Fox 64, Star Fox Adventures opens on a young vixen (female fox) named Krystal, attacking an airship as she rides on a pterosaur. She lands on the ship and has a fight with the evil General Scales, a humanoid reptile with sharp claws and teeth. Krystal is knocked off the ship, caught by her pterosaur friend, and heads down to the surface of Dinosaur Planet, stumbling upon an ancient temple that has been ransacked by General Scales and his SharpClaw army.
A distress beacon is sent out and picked up by the Cornerian Federation, prompting General Pepper to contact the Star Fox team. Desperate for money, Fox agrees to investigate the distress call and heads for Dinosaur Planet (later renamed Sauria). Upon arrival, they find that multiple pieces of the planet have been separated from the surface and are orbiting Dinosaur Planet. Fox takes his Arwing down to the surface and discovers a mysterious staff, one dropped earlier by Krystal. Upon picking up the staff, a message from Krystal plays out, giving instructions on how to use the staff’s magical abilities. With staff in hand, Fox embarks on a journey across Dinosaur Planet, along with his sidekick, Prince Tricky, in an attempt to bring the pieces of the planet back together and stop the SharpClaw invasion.
Critics were mostly favorable towards the game, with particular praise being given to the game’s graphics, with some critics noting that Star Fox Adventures pushed the boundaries for real-time fur rendering on the two main protagonists. The game’s on-foot combat was also praised for its simplicity, but some critics eventually found it to be tedious, felling more like a chore than a fun game mechanic. Critics were also quick to point out the obvious inspiration that The Legend of Zelda had on the game, a large, interconnected world with items to find, dungeons to explore, and puzzles to solve. There was some negativity, with a few critics feeling that Star Fox Adventures was painfully lacking in any actual “Star Fox” content, with Fox himself feeling more like a stand-in for another character (because he was).
Sales were decent enough, for a GameCube game, with over 800k copies sold over the lifetime of the console. The character of Krystal would become a staple of the series, appearing in two subsequent Star Fox titles. As for Rare, this would be their last new release on a Nintendo home console as they were purchased by Microsoft, literally one day after Star Fox Adventures was released. As you may have surmised, Star Fox Adventures is unavailable on any modern console as Nintendo seems to have very little interest in revisiting their GameCube library, not to mention that Rare is the property of a rival company. Your best bet to play this game is through emulation, though it’s illegal and I’d never condone such a thing. If you still have a GameCube (or Wii) and are able to find a physical disc, pick it up, it’s a great game. Flawed, but fun. When you do find it, make sure to stare at it in awe, jumping slowly in the air with your fists raised.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES) – Released Oct. 5th, 1992: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: The Last of the Mohicans – Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, and Jodhi May
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Stone Temple Pilots – Core
*Click here to listen to album*
Despite their creation in the early 1980’s, RPG video games hadn’t really set the world on fire with excitement. Wizardry and Ultima were doing well enough on PC, but that was an already niche market. Console RPGs had been coming out with some frequency from the Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy franchises, with Final Fantasy IV on the SNES doing very well with its fanbase. Still, the numbers weren’t good enough and Square knew that if they wanted the genre to grow they would need support in the U.S., so it was decided to make an RPG specifically for Western markets.
Having already released somewhat “easy” RPGs on the Game Boy with Final Fantasy Adventure and Final Fantasy Legend, Square opted to use Final Fantasy Legend III as a template for this new SNES game, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. To make the game simpler and more appealing to fans of action games, Mystic Quest does away with many of the conventions found in a typical RPG. Players do not have the ability to roam the overworld freely, battles are not random and are instead triggered when the player walks into an on-screen monster sprite, players can jump, they must solve puzzles using their weapons, there is no armor or weapon management, spells do not increase in strength, there are no magic points, and lastly, there’s no party management, with all other characters controlled by AI.
As for the plot, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is very bare bones. Players take on the role of Benjamin, a young farm boy who dreams of going on adventures. One day, while climbing to the top of a hill, he meets a mysterious old man who tells Benjamin that he must fulfill the knight’s prophecy. Benjamin is resistant to the idea, at first, but soon starts to believe in his own abilities as the old man takes him on a journey to fight monsters. Eventually, Benjamin learns that the knight’s prophecy entails a young hero vanquishing the “vile four”, a group of monsters that want to separate the world and control it. This is pretty much it, there’s not a whole lot that goes on in-between. Benjamin accepts the challenge, meets a few people along the way, beats the vile four and saves the world.
When FF: MQ hit North America in October of 1992 it did pretty good, sales wise, likely because the game was sold at the bargain price of $39.99 (or around $84.99 in 2022) when most SNES games cost $59.99. However, fans of Final Fantasy IV were quickly dismayed by the simple nature of Mystic Quest. This was NOT a Final Fantasy game, in their opinion, and it was seen as kind of a cash grab. Critics weren’t too thrilled with the game either, receiving middling scores in Nintendo Power and EGM. The game would eventually release in Japan a year later as Final Fantasy USA: Mystic Quest, then a few weeks later in Europe where it was just Mystic Quest Legend. A fun fact, this was the first Final Fantasy game to arrive in Europe, it’s a wonder the franchise even survived there.
Now, you might be asking, “Can I play this anywhere?“, the answer; why? This game is awful, and I mean AWFUL. If you want to give this to a child and have them learn the basics of RPGs, knock yourself out. If you’ve never played an RPG and think that this might be a good jumping on point, don’t do it, it’s not. It’s so, so, so basic that you’ll get bored after an hour, play any of the Final Fantasy pixel remasters instead, not this garbage.