New Game Releases 10/04/22 – 10/10/22

There’s not a lot coming out this week, likely because nobody wants to try and compete with Overwatch 2. I know you don’t have all day so let’s just get right to it. Come to me, let me hold you still. I’m so tired, just as tired as you.

 

Top Releases:

Overwatch 2 (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Oct. 4th

Developed by: Blizzard Entertainment
Published by: Blizzard Entertainment

Twitter’s favorite video game company, Blizzard Entertainment, has closed the book on their world-wide phenomenon Overwatch in order to make room for what they hope will be its even bigger follow-up, Overwatch 2. Technically an “early access” release, Overwatch 2 is a free-to-play “hero shooter” where players group up in teams of five (down from the original six) to obliterate the other team. With a move to the free-to-play model, Blizzard have removed the controversial loot boxes that were all the rage just a few short years ago, and have incorporated the now very popular “Battle Pass” system, with players needing to grind through several matches in order to unlock various characters and cosmetics. Don’t worry, if your pockets are deep enough you can just buy everything at an inflated price! Another change in going free-to-play is that new players will not have the ability to join competitive matches until they have won 50 quick play matches, existing players will not have this handicap. It’s going to be interesting seeing how Overwatch 2 evolves over the next couple of years, one thing I’m certain of, the servers will crash on day one.

Dakar Desert Rally (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Oct. 4th

Developed by: Saber Interactive
Published by: Saber Interactive

VROOOM, VROOM! BuuuuuurrrrrrAAPPPP, reOWWW, *beep, beep*. RUMMM, RUMMM, RUMMM, RUMMM. BUHkrrrrrrrK!

Yum Yum Cookstar (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Oct. 4th

Developed by: 1st Playable Productions
Published by: Planet Entertainment

Remember that Cooking Mama game that came out a couple years ago, was then pulled from the Nintendo eShop and everyone thought it was because the game was doing backdoor crypto data mining? Well, it wasn’t pulled for a crypto scam, it was pulled because publisher Planet Entertainment apparently didn’t have the legal rights to the Cooking Mama name, so it was pulled from the store and then re-released by a different publisher. Anyway, that long story was to set up that this brand new cooking game that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with Cooking Mama is being made by the same developer and publisher as the ill-fated game we were just discussing. Their trailer even throws shade at Cooking Mama, though this looks like complete dog shit, so maybe be careful where you throw that shade, Planet Entertainment.

Maze Blaze (PC/Switch) – Releases Oct. 6th

Developed by: Revulo Games
Published by: Revulo Games

Wow, this games look repetitive. Like, it’s amazing how repetitive this game looks. Honestly, how repetitive is this game? I bet it’s a very repetitive game. If you like repetitive games, pick up this repetitive game!

Ultra Mega Xtra Party Challenge (Switch) – Releases Oct. 7th

Developed by: Break First Games
Published by: Just For Games

Oh look, the new WarioWare game is out. Hmm, what’s that? It’s NOT a WarioWare game? Then why does it look like that, hmm? Then WHY does it look like THAT?!

 

Ports and Re-releases:

NieR: Automata The End of YoRHa Edition (Switch) – Releases Oct. 6th

After five years, the modern classic NieR: Automata is finally making its way to Switch.

No Man’s Sky (Switch) – Releases Oct. 7th

After six years, the modern cautionary tale of hubris and hype No Man’s Sky is finally making its way to Switch.

 

Everything else:

Based on the names of these games, I’m not entirely sure they even exist. Pretty sure these were made up from a Madlib.

  • 1428: Shadows over Silesia (PC) – Releases Oct. 4th
  • The Plague Doctor of Wippra (PC) – Releases Oct. 5th
  • Rivalia: Dungeon Raiders (PC) – Releases Oct. 5th

 

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

XCOM: Enemy Unknown (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Oct. 9th, 2012: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Frankenweenie – Starring Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, and Winona Ryder
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Converge – All We Love We Leave Behind
*Click here to listen to the album*

After purchasing the XCOM IP from Atari in 2005, 2K Games reached out to their newly acquired studio, Ken Levine’s Irrational Games, and asked them to come up with an idea for a modern XCOM title. They went through several different pitches before settling on an idea from Irrational’s Australian branch, now called 2K Australia, to make a stealth focused first person shooter where players would take snapshots of aliens. This idea was eventually scrapped and 2K Marin were handed the reins, ditching the stealth aspect and moving to a third person, squad based cover shooter, calling it simply XCOM. Announced in 2010, this game was almost universally panned by the gaming press and fans of the original, saying it looked nothing like the 1994 PC classic. Eventually this game would come out, called The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. However, that’s not the game we’re talking about today, we’ll get more into that title next year. What we are talking about was the absolute surprise, from out of left field, second, secret XCOM game; Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

Announced in January of 2012, XCOM: Enemy Unknown seemed to appear out of nowhere. The promise that it would also release that year was quite a shock, particularly to the team working on The Bureau (again, more on that next year). Programming began at Firaxis in secret in 2008, only being referred to as the “very, very big budget” project. For their take on XCOM, Firaxis aimed to create a modern remake of the classic 1994 original, X-COM: UFO Defense. Their original prototypes were an almost 1 to 1 copy of the original game using a modern engine. The team then took this prototype and fleshed it out, giving the game it’s now well known look and feel. To further test their ideas, the team also built a physical version of the game so they could playtest scenarios in real time, getting instant feedback.

For those unaware, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a tactical strategy game in which players move units on a grid in an attempt to eliminate an opposing force of aliens. After each mission, players return to XCOM headquarters and mange their base. Dubbed the “art farm” view, players build various sectors of their base and then research upgrades that will help their units on the battlefield. They can also recruit new units to the team, a necessity as you will, very often, lose your units in the field. Like the original game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown employs a permadeth system, meaning that if your unit dies, they’re gone forever. This makes battle far more intense and makes you really think strategically about where to send your units and what to upgrade them with.

While 2K Marin’s XCOM was met with scorn, Firaxis’ game was met with universal acclaim when it was announced. The wave of goodwill from an excellent E3 showing caused a massive amount of hype to surround the game upon its release. Just before release, multiple critics praised the game after playing their review copies. Many of them called it, undoubtedly, the best game of the year and an instant classic. Many of these critics had grown up with, and loved, the 1994 X-COM and were highly impressed by how faithful XCOM: Enemy Unknown was to that original game, but also how much it surpassed it with its modern upgrades. it would go on to win several end of year awards including, Game of the Year from Giant Bomb, Kotaku, GameTrailers, and GameSpy, winning “Best PC Game” at the Spike VGA’s, and at the DICE Awards it would win “Strategy Game of the Year” and “Outstanding Gameplay”, as well as getting a nod for “Game of the Year”.

Sales wise, the game did okay. It failed to break a million copies on any particular console, but has sold, over the course of its lifespan, almost 2 million copies worldwide, with PC being the dominant format. A sequel would arrive in 2016, as well as a spinoff, Chimera Squad, in 2020. Today, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is easily available on PC or your Xbox consoles through backwards compatibility. It is, arguably, one of the greatest video games of all time. If you’ve somehow overlooked this game over the past ten years, stop reading, go to Steam or the Microsoft Store, and buy it, RIGHT NOW. You’ll thank me later.

Burnout 2: Point of Impact (PS2) – Released Oct. 3rd, 2002: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Red Dragon – Starring Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Philip Seymour Hoffman
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Hot Hot Heat – Make Up the Breakdown
*Click here to listen to the album*

Founded in 1996, the UK based Criterion Games had been making waves in the gaming industry, putting out solid titles that typically centered around vehicles and combat. Their breakthrough came in 2001 with the release of Burnout on the PS2. While it was a racing game on the surface, the big draw of Burnout were the spectacular car crashes you could get into, satisfying everyone’s desire to just destroy the shit out of something. It wasn’t surprising, then, to see Criterion go back to this well for their next game, Burnout 2: Point of Impact.

Like its predecessor, Burnout 2 is a racing game where players must complete laps in various city settings. In order to beat the competition, though, players must drive recklessly in order to fill up their “boost” gauge. This is accomplished by driving on the wrong side of the road, having near collisions with other cars, drifting around corners, and getting some air time as you drive over bumps and hills. As in the first game, if you drive too dangerously and crash, you are witness to a spectacular cacophony of sight and sound, watching your vehicle be smashed to smithereens, as well as all of the unlucky passersby who happen to be in your path of destruction.

Knowing that these car crashes were the most fun element of their game, Criterion opted to put in two new modes that capitalized on this. The first was a “pursuit mode” in which players would drive a cop car and attempt to ram a suspect vehicle and cause, you guessed it, a major pile up of vehicles. Each successful completion of a wreck will unlock that car for use in the game’s racing mode. The second new mode would go on to become one of the series most beloved, the “crash mode”. In crash mode, players would, as the name suggests, crash their car in an attempt to cause the most destruction and earning the most points. This added a puzzle element to the game, as all vehicles and obstacles were in the same set position each time you played the level. Through trial and error, players would have to figure out the best possible point of impact to cause the highest amount of damage, making Burnout 2 highly replayable.

Critics showered Burnout 2 with heaps of praise, calling it one of the best racing games of the year. It was a solid improvement over the already fantastic Burnout and could stand shoulder to shoulder with Sony’s own racing juggernaut, Gran Turismo. Critics did concede that Gran Turismo 3 might be the better made game, Burnout 2 was far more fun to play due to its high speeds, arcade style driving and, of course, its car crashes. By the time the third game in the series came out in 2004, their original publisher Acclaim would go bankrupt and dissolve. Criterion would partner with EA for Burnout 3, beginning a long a fruitful relationship between the two companies. Burnout 2 would arrive on the GameCube and Xbox in 2003, adding new cars and tracks, as well as online play for the Xbox version. Burnout 2 is only available in its original format or through emulation, though there are multiple modern entries that are even better, so give those a look and witness the carnage.

Mortal Kombat (Arcade) – Released Oct. 8th, 1992: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: The Mighty Ducks – Starring Emilio Estevez, Joss Ackland, Lane Smith, and Joshua Jackson
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: R.E.M. – Automatic for the People
*Click here to listen to album*

Arcade juggernaut Midway needed to do something about Capcom. The Japanese developer had, in 1991, released arguably the biggest arcade game of all time, Street Fighter II. They tasked two of their young employees with creating a combat game of some kind that could be released within a year. The two men, Ed Boon and John Tobias, had only worked on a few games at Midway, including the popular Smash TV and its follow-up Total Carnage, so they knew they had to impress. They intended to make a ninja fighting game, similar in vein to the Data East title Karate Champ, but wanted to use digitized actors for the characters instead of traditional pixel sprites. Midway wasn’t sold on the idea and told Boon and Tobias to instead focus on a game for the upcoming film Universal Soldier, using a digitized Jean-Claude Van Damme as the main character. That was the end of their fighting game and the two developers went into obscurity. Come on, I’m joking of course.

The proposed Universal Soldier game failed to materialize after Midway learned that Van Damme was already under contract with another game studio. Boon and Tobias were then given the green light to pursue their ninja fighting game. Using martial arts films as their inspiration, as well as Van Damme himself, John Tobias came up with the art and concept for each of the game’s characters; Liu Kang, Kano, Raiden, Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Kano, Sonya Blade, and Johnny Cage (a Van Damme parody). Tobias then came up with the idea for the game’s setting, a martial arts tournament that is fought to the death and run by the supernaturally powered Shang Tsung, taking major inspiration from the film Bloodsport. As for the game’s title, it came fairly late in the development process. The Team had tried several, including Kumite, Death Blow, and Fatality, until one day someone wrote the word “Combat” on the white board. One of Midway’s pinball designers happened to walk by a said, “Why not call it Mortal Combat“, which the team loved. Midway’s legal department couldn’t clear the title Mortal Combat, prompting the team to change the C to a K; Mortal Kombat.

Surprisingly, Mortal Kombat was not initially intended to be an ultra violent game. According to Tobias and Boon, the violence grew gradually over the course of development, culminating in what is probably the most controversial move in the game, fatalities. The idea for fatalities came from Boon’s hatred of the “dizzy” effect that appeared in Street Fighter II. He liked the free hit, but hated that it happened during the middle of a match. His solution, make players dizzy after the winner has been determined and allow the victorious player to land one final move against their opponent. Requiring a complex set of button and joystick commands, players could perform a special attack that effectively kills their opponent. These movie vary, but include things like ripping off heads, tearing out hearts, and burning alive. It was these moves that would give them game it’s most attention, good and bad.

When Mortal Kombat hit the arcades in October, it topped the charts until February of 1993. The game was a smash success with players for its realism and violence. Critics were a bit divided, with most agreeing that the graphics were impressive, but that Mortal Kombat failed to beat Street Fighter II’s gameplay. However, the game would continue to build a solid reputation and even critics began to come around on the title. One group, however, that didn’t like the game, was the U.S. Government. Led by senators Joe Lieberman and Herb Kohl, the two men were very concerned with the level of violence being seen in “children’s” video games. While they seemed to be okay with cartoon violence, several new games, including Mortal Kombat, Lethal Enforcers and Night Trap (soon to be discussed) featured digitized images of real people. Their concern, so they say, was that this would lead to children becoming violent themselves and want to commit the same atrocities they saw on the screen.

The influence that Mortal Kombat had on the video game industry was monumental. Just like Street Fighter II had done a year earlier, game companies were now clamoring to make their own ultra violent, digitized fighting game Mortal Kombat clone. The level of violence seen in the game was also starting to become a more common occurrence in subsequent games, including in another ground breaking title, 1993’s Doom. Perhaps, though, Mortal Kombat’s greatest influence on the video game industry was the creation of the ESRB, a ratings board that would classify all video games, assigning them a rating that would be placed on the game’s cover. With its massive success, Mortal Kombat would receive multiple sequels over the years. The franchise has had up’s and down’s, and is currently in an “up” period. The original Mortal Kombat is, surprisingly, a bit hard to come by, with a Steam version of the game being your best bet to play it. I spent countless hours playing the home console version of Mortal Kombat with my friends when I was a kid, it always brings me happy memories of simpler times. Grab a friend, scream “Get over here” and let the good times roll.

 


 

Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

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