I hope you like farming video games because we’ve got two of them this week! Farming isn’t your jam? That’s okay, there’s also a couple of scary games to help extend the Halloween season, a racing game, and a weird action typing game, not to mention all the ports, expansions, and shovelware titles! Don’t you just love the Fall? I want to stay inside where it’s warm, wrapping myself in you. It’s outside, where I’m torn in two.
Harvestella (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 4th
Developed by: Square Enix/Live Wire
Published by: Square Enix
Dang, Square Enix, how many games are you going to release this year? Did your entire team just come up with ideas the entire time we were locked down during the COVID pandemic? Whatever the reason, we are living in one of the most prolific JRPG years in recent history, so as a fan, thank you. In Harvestella, players take on the role of Ein, a local farmer in a small town. One day, the Season of Death, Quietus, starts killing crops outside of their normally scheduled time. This causes a panic among the townsfolk so Ein takes it upon themselves to find out what’s causing the disruption and hopefully put an end to it. To fund their quest, Ein will perform a series of farming chores, using the wealth generated to purchase weapons, armor, and supplies. From there, players will enter dungeons and fight a slew of monsters and other baddies, hoping to restore nature to its proper balance.
Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom (PC/PS5/Switch) – Releases Nov. 2nd
Developed by: Marvelous
Published by: Bandai Namco
Can’t get enough of farming sim games, then why not check out the latest Story of Seasons game featuring the lovable cat robot thing Doraemon. In this sequel to the first Doraemon Story of Seasons game, players once again take control of that dork Noby as he helps someone bring their farm from dilapidated to thriving. There’s really not much else to say, this is, by all accounts, just another Story of Seasons game (previously known as Harvest Moon), so if that does anything for you then maybe check this out. If you aren’t into farming sims then you can probably just skip right past this one.
Shatter Remastered Deluxe (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 2nd
Developed by: PikPok
Published by: PikPok
Hey, remember the 2009 game Shatter? No, it was like Breakout but, you know, crazy. No? Really? It was very well received by critics, being called one of the most innovate games of the year. Wow, I can’t believe you still don’t remember. Well, if you’d like to know more then check out this new version, it’s been remastered so you KNOW that means it’ll be sick, right? Tight.
The Chant (PC/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 3rd
Developed by: Brass Token
Published by: Prime Matter
Have you even thought about going on that 30 Seconds To Mars spiritual retreat on a private island? Well, now you can in The Chant! Okay, it’s not EXACTLY the 30 Seconds To Mars thing, but I assume this is fairly accurate to the experience. Players take on the role of a young woman, Jess, maybe, as she attends a spiritual retreat on a private island. While there, she discovers that this retreat is actually a gathering of cultists who plan to awaken an ancient being. Jess, I think, must search the island for clues about this cult and see if there is any way to stop their plan. You thought Halloween was over, didn’t you? Well it isn’t, mother fucker, welcome to hell, bitch, and other tough sounding things.
Ghost Song (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 3rd
Developed by: Old Moon
Published by: Humble Games
Well, someone’s played Metroid before, haven’t they.
Outshine (PC) – Releases Nov. 3rd
Developed by: Fishing Cactus
Published by: Fishing Cactus/PID Games
You know what I thought was always missing from Bit.Trip Runner? Typing. Well, thankfully the team at Fishing Cactus were reading my thoughts, because Outshine is exactly that.
WRC Generations (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 3rd
Developed by: KT Racing
Published by: Nacon
Vroom, vroom. Screee, ber doooooon. Reow, reow, uurrrkkkk! Brum, rum, rum, rum. BAH-rum, rum, rum. Beep, beep!
Ports and Re-releases:
LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga – Galactic Edition (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 1st
Did you miss out on picking up LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga back in April? Well your procrastination has paid off as you can now purchase the Galactic Edition which contains the base game plus the next six DLC packs that are scheduled to release over the next few weeks, how exciting! Critics are a bit divided over the game, saying that the only DLC that seems to be coming out are character packs instead of new missions/levels. I mean, they cover the entire Star Wars saga here, what else would they want? MORE flying levels on Hoth?
It Takes Two (Switch) – Releases Nov. 4th
The highly regarded co-op game It Takes Two is finally making its way to Switch, a console that seems to be tailor made for co-op games.
OlliOlli World: Finding The Flowzone (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 2nd
You know what two things don’t really go together? Skateboarding and water. Oh well, don’t tell that to the developers of Olli Olli World as they are taking players under the sea as they look to pull off sick tricks in the lost city of Radlantis. Has anyone played this? I’m intrigued, but not sure I want to commit to a purchase.
I guess Bratz are back; yay?
- Danger Forever (PC) – Releases Oct. 25th
- The Past Within (Android/iOS/PC) – Releases Nov. 2nd
- Wandering Duelist (PC) – Releases Nov. 2nd
- The Entropy Centre (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 3rd
- From Space (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 3rd
- Horse Tales: Emerald Valley Ranch (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 3rd
- Space Tail: Every Journey Leads Home (PC/Switch) – Releases Nov. 3rd
- Bratz™: Flaunt Your Fashion (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Nov. 4th
Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 (and sometimes 40) years ago:
Halo 4 (Xbox 360) – Released Nov. 6th, 2012: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Wreck-It Ralph – Starring John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, and Alan Tudyk
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Aerosmith – Music from Another Dimension!
*Click here to listen to the album*
I could tell you all about Halo 4, but I think this Clueless Gamer segment from Conan is sufficient enough.
Alright, I’ll talk a bit about Halo 4. Wow, I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this game. Yeah, it’s incredibly linear but the game is just so much fun to play. I rarely got frustrated, the combat felt really nice and I enjoyed the story very much. I feel like this got a lot of heat from fans when it came out because of the switch from Bungie to 343 Industries, but the team clearly had a reverence for the original games and wanted to pay their respects while also putting their own stamp on it. I highly recommend Halo 4, it’s quick, it’s fun, and you can probably get a used Xbox 360 copy from eBay for like $2.99.
Ratchet & Clank (PS2) – Released Nov. 4th, 2002: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: The Santa Clause 2 – Starring Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, David Krumholtz, Eric Lloyd, Spencer Breslin, and Liliana Mumy
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Justin Timberlake – Justified
*Click here to listen to the album*
After finding great success on the original PlayStation with their Spyro the Dragon series, developer Insomniac was ready to jump into the next generation, but they also wanted to go independent. Following their creation in 1994, Insomniac was financed by Universal Interactive Studios with the company signed to a multi-game deal, which also gave Universal ownership of whatever IP Insomniac created while in said deal. With their commitment over and Spyro no longer in their hands, Insomniac began brainstorming ideas for their first next gen title for the PS2, settling on a Zelda/Tomb Raider-esque adventure game known as “Girl With A Stick”. This third person adventure would star a female protagonist who would hit things with a stick, such as when solving puzzles or bashing enemies. “Girl With a Stick” was intended to be a PS2 launch title, but after a few months into development the team started to fall out of love with the game. Not wanting to see his team slave away at something they hated, Insomniac’s leader and founder, Ted Price, began to solicit ideas for a new game that the team could feel more passionate about. Developer Brian Hastings had an idea that involved a reptilian alien traveling around various planets, collecting crazy weapons and gadgets on his journey. This seemed to resonate with the team and soon the ideas started flowing.
The team quickly scrapped the reptile concept and changed the character into a sort of caveman Neanderthal looking human. This, however, begged the question, how does a caveman explore space? To answer this, a second character was created, a co-protagonist, a small robot that would arrive on the caveman’s planet and then take them around the solar system. Still, the caveman idea wasn’t quite working with the team so, after a few more design changes, artist David Guertin created a new anthropomorphic species, called the Lombax, thus was born the character Ratchet who would go on an adventure through space with the loveable little robot Clank.
All of this happened in about three weeks time and the team was PUMPED about the concept, the only problem, they had no funding and no engine. Quickly throwing together a demo that showcased some amazing rendered backgrounds, the team at Insomniac reached out to their contacts at Sony to see if they had any interest in funding this new game called Ratchet & Clank. The Sony team loved the demo and quickly signed on as publisher and financier. With one problem solved, the next stop Insomniac made was to their former Universal colleagues, the developer Naughty Dog, who had just had their own Sony published hit with Jak & Daxter. Naughty Dog agreed to let Insomniac use their Jak engine and soon enough, Ratchet & Clank was in full development. As an aside, it was believed for some time that both games used the exact same engine, which isn’t quite the case. Insomniac claims that while the Jak engine is the foundation, Insomniac created their own technologies to bring it in line with their expectations and needs so, to them, it was a completely different engine. Does it really matter?
For those who haven’t played the game, or any of the titles in the franchise, Ratchet & Clank is a 3D, third person action/adventure platforming game. Players control Ratchet as he moves around various areas, fighting enemies and collecting stuff. Initially, players only have two weapons, a wrench and a bomb throwing glove, but eventually the player will come across increasingly powerful & outlandish weapons, including standard fare like rocket launchers and machine guns, but also oddities like a weapon that turns enemies into chickens, or another that sucks the enemy up and shoots it back out as a projectile. The plot is a kind of typical “save the world” story, with Ratchet and Clank trying to stop an evil corporation from destroying planets in the soloar system.
When Ratchet & Clank hit store shelves is was a hit both critically and commercially. Critics were very happy with the gameplay, praising Ratchet & Clank’s focus on combat instead of relying on puzzle solving, backtracking, and endless collecting of trinkets, all things that plagued most 3D platformers since the dawn of the genre. Of course the weapons were a big part of the game’s appeal, elevating above your standard melee attack that every 3D protagonist always had. Critics also praised the graphics, calling out the beautifully rendered backgrounds, the same ones used to impress the Sony team when they made their pitch. Some criticisms against the game included poor AI, particularly compared to Jak & Daxter, problems with the camera, a lack of character development and a generic, overdone story premise, though it was given points for its humor. Criticisms aside, this was still a very well regarded game, even winning “Best Graphics” from GameSpot at the end of the year. At the DICE awards, Ratchet & Clank would receive 6 nominations, including “Game of the Year”, “Animation” and “Art Direction”, while winning the award for “Console Platform Action/Adventure Game of the Year”, beating both Sly Cooper and Super Mario Sunshine.
This was the first of several Ratchet & Clank games released over the years, all on PlayStation consoles. There were four on PS2, seven on PS3, one on the PSP, one on the PS4, and currently one on PS5. Insomniac would branch out into other genres on the PS3, creating the Resistance franchise, and would even partner up with Microsoft on the Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive. More recently, Insomniac has continued their partnership with Sony by developing Spider-Man, it’s follow-up Miles Morales, and an upcoming game centered around the Marvel character Wolverine. Despite the critical acclaim, Ratchet & Clank is not available on any modern consoles, with the most recent release being a PS3 collection of the first three PS2 games. For whatever reason, game companies love to abandon their old titles and force players to just enjoy the newest entries, which is a shame. Maybe one day we’ll get a re-release of this game (there was a remake on the PS4, but it’s kind of “meh”). Until then, scour your local retro shops and keep your PS2 in good condition.
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – Released Nov. 2nd, 1992: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: Pure Country – Starring George Strait, Lesley Ann Warren, Isabel Glasser, and Kyle Chandler
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine
*Click here to listen to album*
The character Wario is so beloved and used is so many video games that it is hard to imagine that he wasn’t there from the beginning, but, of course, he wasn’t. Wario made his first appearance in the Game Boy title Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins as the primary antagonist. Set immediately after the events of Super Mario Land, Mario returns to the Mushroom Kingdom to find out that his nemesis Wario has taken over his castle and locked the door, requiring 6 golden coins to open it.
Developed by the team at Nintendo R&D1, led by Gunpei Yokoi, the team wanted to take a step away from their efforts on the first Mario Land game and make something that was a bit more unique. They came up with the idea for Wario after deciding that the idea of Mario saving someone one or doing a task for other people was getting a bit stale, they wanted to have Mario do something for himself for a change. Wario’s name is, of course, a play on Mario, with the W being an upside down M, but in Japanese the meaning goes a bit further, as the word “Warui” basically means “Bad”, making “Wario” mean “Bad Mario”.
The Wario character is all about rebellion and selfishness and that wasn’t an accident. The team at Nintendo R&D1 were not happy about being given the task of making the first Super Mario Land game as they didn’t feel a strong connection to the Mario character. Mario was created by Shigeru Miyamoto and his team over at Nintendo EAD, but that team was busy working on Wave Race and Super Mario Kart, so the Mario Land titles went to R&D1, who would have much rather been making Metroid games or other titles with new IPs. Wario’s persona and attitude was borne out of this animosity that the team had for Mario, and we all got one of the best characters in Nintendo history.
Unlike the first Super Mario Land game which stuck to the Super Mario Bros. format, 6 Golden Coins eschews closer to Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World with players able to move Mario around a map and selecting the level you want to play. Levels must mostly be completed in order, though you can move between worlds. After completing a level you do have the ability to go back in and replay it, looking for any potential secrets (of which there are many). Graphically, the game looks much better than the first game in the series, with large, detailed sprites. As far as sound, with less power on the Game Boy, the R&D1 team decided to change up the typical powerup noises you would hear in an NES/SNES Mario game so as to mask the shortcomings of the Game Boy itself.
After completing development in September of 1992, Super Mario Land 2 hit store shelves in Japan in October of 1992 and in the U.S. and Europe in November. The game was a smash hit around the world, selling over 2.5 million copies in Japan alone, while in the U.S. it was Babbage’s top selling Game Boy game for three months straight. Overall, Mario Land 2 sold an impressive 11 million copies worldwide, becoming the fifth highest selling Game Boy title of all time. The game was also a huge hit with critics who called it an improvement over the first Mario Land, complimenting its superb graphics and tight controls. Later on, Super Mario Land 2 would pop up on several “Best of” lists, including being named the 44th best Nintendo game ever made, and on multiple “Best Game Boy Game” lists.
Your options for playing Super Mario Land 2 are quickly fading, with only the 3DS Virtual Console version being your best chance to check it out. Unfortunately, that service is shutting down in March of 2023, so if you want it, get it NOW. I love this game, it’s a fantastic platformer and is vastly improved over Super Mario Land, not that the original is a bad game, it just didn’t look or feel like a Mario game to me. Of course the biggest thing Mario Land 2 gave us was the character Wario who would go on to become the star of the series, beginning with the release of Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, then branching out into other franchises like Warioware. This is a great game, I really hope Nintendo brings these titles to the Switch one day as I can’t imagine a world where you can’t play this title, it’s just too good to be forgotten.
BurgerTime – Released Nov. 1982: Wiki Link
Notable Film Release: First Blood – Starring Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, and Brian Dennehy
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Dead Kennedys – Plastic Surgery Disasters
*Click here to listen to album*
Sometimes a video game concept is so bizarre you just have to wonder what the developers were thinking. BurgerTime from Data East is certainly one of those titles. Originally released in Japan as Hamburger, the title was changed in North America to mitigate any potential lawsuits that may have arisen over the name. It was distributed by Bally Midway but also by the developer itself, putting two versions in arcades, with the only differences being the cabinet art and the copyright screen. I really wish I could have found information on WHY the developers decided to create a game about a chef who creates giant hamburgers while avoiding giant dogs dogs and sunny-side-up eggs, but there’s nothing on the internet about it. I guess some things deserve to remain a mystery.
In BurgerTime, players take on the role of a chef named Peter Pepper who must make his away around of maze of ladders and platforms, walking across giant hamburger ingredients, dropping them to the level below. Once the player has completed all of their hamburgers they will move on to the next stage. However, enemies wander the maze as well, attempting to stop players from finishing their task. To protect themselves, players have a limited amount of pepper that they can use to momentarily stun enemies. To kill an enemy, players can drop a burger ingredient on top of them, crushing the enemy.
BurgerTime is, for better or worse, an arcade game. It is brutally difficult and revels in making players die and spend more of their money on it. The scarcity of pepper makes each throw incredibly strategic, and the way the enemies move around must also factor into your movements, with one wrong move costing you a life. At the November 1982 AMOA convention, BurgerTime was named the fourth best game of the show by Video Games magazine, who called it the stupidest & silliest game at the convention, as well as highly addictive, with very long lines to play it. Other critics would also praise BurgerTime for its unique gameplay, with Computer and Video Games magazine comparing it favorably to Donkey Kong for its use of colorful sprites, its level structure, and controls.
Several home console ports would arrive soon after the arcade version, to varying levels of quality. There would eventually be an NES port, a Game Boy port, and an even more bizarre version featuring The Flintstones for the Game Boy Advance in 2000. Following the bankruptcy of Data East in 2003, most of their assets were sold to a Japanese company called G-Mode, who were keen to make games for the burgeoning mobile market. This acquisition of Data East’s library allowed them to port their classic titles to mobile phones, while also putting them on the various consoles, including the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3. Most recently, G-Mode partnered up with XSEED to release BurgerTime Party! for the Switch. If you want to play the original game today, well, you can, it’s available as a digital download on PS4 & Switch. Certainly a product of its era, BurgerTime is a classic title with high replay value and surprisingly deep strategy, if you’ve never played it I would highly recommend giving it a try.
Of course, anytime Mega64 can be shared, it will be. Please enjoy this gem of a video from 2005 (warning, audio may be LOUD):