New Game Releases 12/06/22 – 12/31/22

Well, everyone, we’ve done it; we’ve successfully made it through another year of brand new video game releases! Give yourselves a big round of applause, you deserve it. How many terrible shovelware games did we have to glance over, how many different motorcycle games came out, and just what the hell were the developers at Square Enix taking in order to pump out, roughly, 1.6 trillion new games this year? Since we won’t have regular coverage here for the rest of the month, this week’s column covers from Dec. 6th all the way to the 31st. Will a few games come out and not get highlighted, yeah, probably, but will they even be worth talking about? No, no they won’t. Now, dear reader, drift off into the Holiday slumber land. I won’t be giving any commentary on these games while I mentally prepare myself for the upcoming special coverage, I hope you don’t mind. Instead, I just want to say, goodnight, may your dreams be so happy, and your head light with the wishes of the Sandman and a night light. Be careful not to let the bedbugs sleep tight, nestled in your covers. The sun shines, but I don’t. A silver rain will wash away, and you can’t tell; it’s just as well.

 

Top Releases:

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 – Reunion (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 13th

Developed by: Square Enix/TOSE
Published by: Square Enix

Dragon Quest Treasures (Switch) – Releases Dec. 9th

Developed by: Square Enix
Published by: Square Enix

Hello Neighbor 2 (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 6th

Developed by: Eerie Guest/tinyBuild
Published by: tinyBuild

The Rumble Fish 2 (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 8th

Developed by: Dimps
Published by: Sega

Samurai Maiden (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch) – Releases Dec. 8th

Developed by: SHADE Inc.
Published by: D3 Publisher

High on Life (PC/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 13th

Developed by: Squanch Games
Published by: Squanch Games

Blacktail (PC/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 15th

Developed by: The Parasight
Published by: Focus Entertainment

Sports Story (Switch) – Releases Dec. 2022 (maybe?)

Developed by: Sidebar Games
Published by: Sidebar Games

 

Ports and Re-releases:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition (PC/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 14th

Akai Katana (PC/PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Dec. 15th

Resident Evil VII (Switch – Cloud Version) – Releases Dec. 16th

Sky: Children of Light (PS4/PS5) – Releases Dec. 2022

 

Expansions:

Far Cry 6 – Lost Between Worlds (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 6th

Mario Kart 8: Booster Course Pass – Wave 3 (Switch) – Releases Dec. 7th

Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Malta (PC/PS4/PS5/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Dec. 8th

 

Everything else:

 

Notable Releases from 10, 20, and 30 (and sometimes 40) years ago:

Street Fighter X Mega Man (PC) – Released Dec. 17th, 2012: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Django Unchained – Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, and Walton Goggins
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Green Day – ¡Tré!
*Click here to listen to the album*

Name just about any profession artistic medium and you will inevitably run into people who participate as fans. Hobbyists exist everywhere, from amateur filmmakers to writers who create fan fiction to, of course, amateur sports leagues. Everybody wants to be a part of something bigger and, maybe, find themselves on the professional side of their favorite hobby. For one young man, Seow Zong Hui, after spending years making fan games he was given the opportunity to work with two of Capcom’s most well known properties, Mega Man and Street Fighter.

Making a fan game must be incredibly nerve wracking. You can spend a lot of time and give a great amount of effort on your project, only to find that the rights holder does not sanction your project and forces you to shut it down, jettisoning all of your hard work. This happens pretty often, projects based on Metroid and Streets of Rage were shut down by Nintendo and Sega, so the prospect of getting your fan game out to the public was challenging. To help mitigate any potential legal shutdown, Seow took an early build of his latest fan game, Street Fighter X Mega Man to the 2012 EVO tournament and met with Capcom’s Senior VP of consumer software, Christian Svensson, hoping to get the company’s approval. Svensson was impressed with what the young developer had done and decided to show this early version of the game to his colleagues at Capcom. They too were impressed with what they saw and, uncharacteristically for the video game industry, they agreed to let Seow continue working on the game and, not just that, they would pay for the game’s funding, help with QA & marketing, and publish the title.

With just a small three person team, Seow (as programmer, designer, and artist), George Papapetrou (artist) and Luke “A_Rival” Esquival (music), Street Fighter X Mega Man began full production around July of 2012 and was slated for a December 2012 release. Since Seow did not have a license to develop on consoles, Capcom decided to only distribute the game on PC. This decision was also made for two other reasons; one was to help in the game’s very short production schedule, and two, Capcom intended to give the game away for free in order to celebrate the anniversary of both franchises. Yes, if you can believe it, in 2012 Mega Man and Street Fighter were celebrating their 25th anniversaries, so what better way to celebrate then to mash them up.

The gameplay in Street Fighter X Mega Man is exactly what you might expect. Players guide Mega Man through a series of levels that tests their platforming and shooting abilities. Once the player reaches the end of the stage they take on a boss character which, in this case, just so happen to be characters from Street Fighter. Bosses are pulled from all across the series, with SF2 veterans like Ryu, Chun Li and Blanka, as well as characters from new entries like Rose, Rolento, and C.Viper. When Mega Man defeats a boss he is able to take their power for himself, allowing the little blue guy to shoot hadouken fireballs, use the super fast lightning kick, throw Rolento’s grenades, shoot Dhalsim’s fire, etc., etc. Once Mega Man defeats all eight world warriors, he is sent to a series of stages where he fights Balrog, Vega, all eight fighters (again) and finally has a showdown with the evil M. Bison. When players beat the game they are treated to a simple cut scene of Mega Man and Ryu walking off into the sunset.

Critics were a bit lukewarm on Street Fighter X Mega Man, calling it a watered down version of classic Mega Man NES games, but still serviceable for new and old fans. The game seemed to gain the most praise for its concept and charm, being seen as a cute little experiment. Players were more than happy to play it, though, as the game would be downloaded over 1 million times, shattering Capcom’s expectations. However, players often remarked that the game was a buggy mess that would crash unexpectedly and, with no save or password feature, cause them to lose their progress. In January of 2013, Street Fighter X Mega Man would receive an update, fixing the game’s numerous bugs and adding in the classic Mega Man password feature.

You can still download Street Fighter X Mega Man from Capcom’s website, and it is still free. Console versions were teased but, for one reason or another, it never left PC, sadly. According to MobyGames, only Seow and Esquivel continued working in the video game industry (or more accurately, they are the only ones with further game credits). Equivel has done music for a few indie games, with 2022’s Born Punk being his most recent at the time this was written, while Seow is currently working for Arc System Works where he was a designer on Guilty Gear: Strive. Fan games might feel the wrath of copyright holders more often than not, but every once in a while you might find yourself on their good side and go from being an amateur to a professional.

Dragon Ball Z: Budokai (PS2) – Released Dec. 3rd, 2002: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, John Rhys-Davies, Christopher Lee, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, and Orlando Bloom
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Nas – God’s Son
*Click here to listen to the album*

It had been over five years since the release of a Dragon Ball video game, but it was certainly worth the wait as Dragon Ball Z: Budokai was a big hit with fans (though not with critics). Over in Japan, the DBZ series had ended in 1996, making this release a bit of a throwback, but in the U.S., DBZ was only about halfway through its final season, making the release very relevant, selling a staggering 2.04 million copies, nearly four times as many as were sold in Japan.

DBZ: Budokai is, for the most part, a fighting game. Players can tackle several game modes; Story, Duel, Practice, World Tournament, and The Legend of Hercule (Mr. Satan). In Story mode, players are guided through three DBZ story arcs, The Saiyan Saga, The Android Saga, and The Cell Saga (specifically the Cell Games). After completing each saga, players then view a “what if” scenario from the view of the antagonist. For example, in the Cell Saga “what if”, players, as Cell, find themselves accidentally absorbing Krillin instead of Android 18. In the aftermath, Cell is shrunk down to Krillin’s size and becomes considerably weaker, having to defend himself against an attack from both Yamcha and Tien, finally waking up to find that it was all just a bad dream.

As I mentioned earlier, Budokai was not a critical success. Sub par graphics, repetitive gameplay, and less than optimal controls seemed to be the most common complaints. Magazine Entertainment Weekly was particularly savage, basically calling the game a piece of garbage because it was exactly like the TV show, full of grunting and screaming that made little sense (fuck you, Entertainment Weekly). As I also mentioned, this didn’t matter to players who happily gobbled up Budokai, making it a financial success for the fairly small Japanese developer Dimps. The success of Budokai led Dimps to create two sequels, a spin-off called Shin Budokai, and finally end it with an HD remaster of the first three games on PS3 and Xbox 360 (it should be noted that a follow-up series, Budokai Tenkaichi was developed by another company, Spike).

While the Budokai series has ended, Dimps has continued to put out video games based on the Dragon Ball franchise for the last 20 years, with the most recent being Dragon Ball: The Breakers. If you’d like to play Budokai today, well, sorry, it’s not really available, unless you have a physical copy on PS2/GameCube or PS3/360 (yeah, a GameCube port came out about a year later). It’s okay, you can find better DBZ fighting games on the market today, but Budokai will certainly hold a special place for all of the early 2000’s Toonami fans out there.

Mega Man 5 (NES) – Released Dec. 29th, 1992: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: A Few Good Men – Starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Pollak
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Dr. Dre – The Chronic
*Click here to listen to album*

Less than a year after Mega Man 4 hit store shelves in North America, its sequel, Mega Man 5, would arrive in stores just a few days after Christmas (a perfect way to spend those Sears gift certificates from Grandma). Set directly after the events of part 4, Mega Man 5 finds the blue bomber working with previous antagonist Dr. Cossack, learning that he was only doing evil things in order to save his daughter from Dr. Wiley. Once again, Wiley is not the main antagonist, this time that duty falls to Mega Man’s brother, Proto Man. However, once again Dr. Wiley IS the main antagonist, creating a robot to imitate Proto Man. Mega Man is able to defeat this imposter with the help of the real Proto Man but, in order to save his creator, Dr. Light, Mega Man must let Dr. Wiley escape, of course.

While fan submissions for robot masters had been coming in since the release of the first game, getting a few in here and there, most of the bosses were Capcom creations. Yet in Mega Man 5, all of the robot masters were based on fan submissions. Series artist Keiji Inafune said he had to work several, long-hour, days drawing and re-drawing the characters in order to get the higher ups at Capcom to approve them. The only character they approved right away was Mega Man’s new bird ally, Beat. Similar to Rush, Beat helps Mega Man during the game, with players able to use the little robot as a powerful weapon. Beat was initially going to appear in Mega Man 3, along with Rush, but was scrapped due to time.

Critics were mostly pleased with Mega Man 5, calling it yet another solid entry in the franchise. However, it was, for better or worse, yet another entry in the franchise. There wasn’t a lot to differentiate Mega man 5 from previous entries, with stages and bosses feeling interchangeable with just about any of the previous games. Beat was a big hit but critics lamented the lengthy process of unlocking the character, which required players to find eight hidden objects. Critics also noted the relative ease of the game as well, with both contemporary and modern critics calling it perhaps the easiest entry in the Mega Man franchise. If you’d like to play the game today then you are in luck as it is part of the Mega Man Legacy Collection, available on all modern consoles and PC. Put on your orange scarf and whistle a little tune, Mega Man 5 is calling you, even if it’s just to tell you the same story you’ve heard four other times.

River Raid (Atari 2600) – Released Dec. 13th, 1982: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Tootsie – Starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Dabney Coleman, and Bill Murray
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Ric Ocasek – Beatitude
*Click here to listen to album*

Two big titles released on the Atari 2600 for Christmas in 1982. The first was the absolute garbage pile, E.T., and the second was one of the best 2600 games of all-time, Activision’s River Raid. Designed and programmed by Carol Shaw, River Raid is a top down, vertically scrolling shoot em’ up game in which players must pilot a jet behind enemy lines, below the radar, in order to defeat the bad guys, whoever they are. Shaw was heavily inspired by Konami’s arcade game Scramble, a horizontally scrolling shoot em’ up, in which players pilot a helicopter, shooting bad guys until they get to the end of the game; it was a simpler time.

While River Raid looks and plays archaic in comparison to today’s games, that doesn’t detract from just how fun it is to pick up and play. As players navigate their jet up the river, they must avoid enemy aircraft, keep from crashing into the shoreline, and make sure they have enough fuel to stay in the air. Players only have the ability to move their jet left to right, however they can boost or brake, allowing them to artificially move up and down. Each level is ended by shooting a bridge and acts as a check point if the player crashes their jet.

River Raid was extraordinarily complex for its time, with a standard Atari 2600 cartridge not containing enough space to fit the entire game map. To compensate for this, Shaw came up with a design in which the game would randomly generate the terrain as the player moved forwards, a deleting the old spot, thereby giving the map room to grow. However, they did not want the map to be different each time the player entered the game, as they wanted them to memorize patterns and repetition, so Shaw hard-coded the starting value of the “random” terrain generator, ensuring that the same design would be built every single time the game was played. Enemy aircraft, on the other hand, were truly random, meaning that players couldn’t tell with any degree of accuracy how they would react in any given play session.

Some of the original River Raid source code. This is the kind of stuff I go ape shit over.

While E.T. ruled the marketplace with it’s staggering 2 million copies sold, River Raid wasn’t any slouch, selling over 1 million copies to much, much happier children. Critics were in love with the game too, calling it one of the best games of 1982 and noting that it was, perhaps, one of the finest war games ever made (up to that point). At the 5th annual Arkie awards, River Raid took home the award for “Best Action Game”. The game wasn’t beloved by all, though, as the German government banned it out right, claiming it was harmful to children (shrug). Retrospective critics also hailed River Raid as one of the best video games of all-time, with Next Generation magazine noting in 1996 that the Atari 2600 itself was a poor system with poor games, but River Raid was a step above all the other for one thing, it’s fantastic level design. Getting a chance to play River Raid today is fairly difficult, though you can find dubious ways to play it if you’re into that sort of thing.

 


 

Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

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