New Game Releases 01/10/23 – 01/16/23

Well okay, this is more like it, some actual games to talk about this week! Still, probably not a lot here to make you run out to the store and break someone’s leg to get a copy, with only ONE fairly major game being released (if you like anime). Now that I’ve properly set your expectations, let’s get the show on the road.


Top Releases:

One Piece Odyssey (PC/PS4/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Jan. 13th

Developed by: ILCA
Published by: Bandai Namco

The long running anime series One Piece has been adapted into a video game so, so, so many times now. A lot of these have been Japan only releases, and typically it’s either a fighting game or an action/adventure brawler. One genre it doesn’t do very often is RPG, with only two released in the past 22 years (and only one in North America). Well this week we can put that number at three because One Piece Odyssey is a full blown, turn based JRPG that is probably just as long and convoluted as every other JRPG you’ve ever seen (maybe more so). Honestly, I’m not sure how much appeal this game has for people who aren’t fans of the anime, I know it isn’t doing anything for me, but JRPG fans should be able to find something to appreciate here. If anything it’ll give us all something to do until a better game comes out.

Children of Silentown (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jan. 11th

Developed by: Elf Games/Luna2 Studio
Published by: Daedalic Entertainment


Breakers Collection (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jan. 12th

Developed by: QUByte Interactive
Published by: QUByte Interactive

There were A LOT of fighting games in the 1990’s thanks to the success of Street Fighter II. One of those was the game Breakers, an arcade/Neo Geo title from Visco Corporation (who also made Puzzle de Pon). The game wasn’t a major success by any means, only gaining a small cult following among fighting game devotees. Still, everything old can be new again, so QUByte Interactive is bringing Breakers and its sequel to modern consoles for everyone to ignore all over again!

Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider (Luna/PC/PS4/PS5/Switch) – Releases Jan. 12th

Developed by: JoyMasher
Published by: The Arcade Crew

Please enjoy this trailer for January’s Hidden Gem in the 2023 Buyer’s Guide – Part 1.

Aurora’s Journey and the Pitiful Lackey (PC/PS4/PS5) – Releases Jan. 13th

Developed by: the Not so Great team
Published by: the Not so Great team

Aurora’s Journey and the Pitiful Lackey is, apparently, a “run & gun” style game. Hmmm, okay.

UnderDungeon (PC/Switch/Xbox One/Series X|S) – Releases Jan. 13th

Developed by: Josyan
Published by: RedDeer.Games

If you add the word “Under” to the title of your game it will instantly sell 100k copies from people who assume it is related to Undertale; another 100k if it’s in black & white pixel graphics.


Ports and Re-releases:

Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Jan. 13th

Two years after releasing on PS4 and Xbox One, the action/adventure game Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot is heading to PS5 and Series X|S. It’s a fun game, certainly made with DBZ fans in mind, though I can’t imagine it looks/plays any better as a PS5 title than it did as a PS4 title.


Everything else:

The rest of this week’s games are an RPG, a Stardew Valley/Minecraft clone, and an isometric bullet hell title; enjoy!


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

DmC: Devil May Cry (PC/PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Jan. 15th, 2013: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Gangster Squad – Starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Nick Nolte, Emma Stone, and Sean Penn
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP
*Click here to listen to the album*

Founded in the year 2000, developer Ninja Theory, then known as Just Add Monsters, was a small British studio that wanted to make a kung fu based party game. This title, Kung Fu Chaos, would be picked up by Microsoft and become an Xbox exclusive. However, sales weren’t that great and Microsoft declined to fund Kung Fu Chaos 2. Dejected, the team soldiered on and began working on a new kung fu based action game but, after some market research, found out that people didn’t want kung fu games, they wanted more broad action titles. The team pivoted and came up with Heavenly Sword but, running out of money and tethered to a parent company that nobody wanted to work with, Ninja Theory bought themselves out and entered a publishing deal with Sony, making Heavenly Sword a PS3 exclusive (much to their chagrin). Heavenly Sword, like Kung Fu Chaos, underperformed and Sony also had no interest in continuing their work with Ninja Theory. While Sony wasn’t interested, another Japanese company was.

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Oooo, so edgy!!!!!

Despite its most recent entry being a major commercial success, the team at Capcom were starting to become unhappy with the direction that the Devil May Cry series was going in, lamenting that it wasn’t selling as manyh copies as some other action titles, particularly those in the West. To help bring the series more in line with what the mainstream, “modern gamer” wanted to play, the Japanese staff at Capcom reached out to Ninja Theory to see if they would be interested in making the next Devil May Cry game. The Capcom team were big fans of what Ninja Theory had done with Heavenly Sword, particularly with its combat, which they felt was very DMC-esque. Once again nearing bankruptcy, the team at Ninja Theory were more than happy to make the game.

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Instead of making Devil May Cry 5, the team at Ninja Theory decided to reboot the franchise, calling it DmC: Devil May Cry, and take Dante in a whole new direction. One of the first things they did was change his look, losing the long white hair and replacing it with short, spiky, black hair. Ninja Theory co-founder and DmC writer Tameem Antoniades, along with novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland, re-wrote Dante’s origin story and completely changed the tone of the series. While Dante had been a kind of laid back, ladies man with an attitude in the previous games, DmC turned Dante into a hard drinking, hard partying, threesome having, bad ass who doesn’t fuckin’ care about anyone, man. Dante doesn’t need help from anyone, bro, he just wants to fuck and party and be sad, even though he looks happy. Grrr, so much grit, urghhhh!!!!

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The late 2000’s, early 2010’s were the age of “gritty realism” in pop culture. 2005’s Batman Begins was kind of the catalyst for this stuff, taking things that used to be seen as “campy” or “cheesy” and adding a gritty layer of “realism” to them, in order to make it more palatable to audiences. In video games, you saw this trend with titles like Gears of War where, suddenly, everything was drab, gray, and had so many F-bombs, because we all know how fucking sick it is to fucking cuss, ya’ fucks. DmC falls into this trap, though I believe we were starting to come out of this pit by 2013, and there was some major backlash to the changes being made. In particular, the team at Ninja Theory began receiving criticism, and even death threats, about changing Dante’s appearance. In response, Antoniades said that Devil May Cry was all about being “cool” and that Dante’s ten year old design was no longer “cool”. While fans of the series may have been upset with Ninja Theory for the design change, it was actually a mandate by Capcom themselves, with Ninja Theory even originally giving the character white hair. Capcom was adamant about changing the look as they wanted to appeal to a younger, Western audience. Dante’s final look was (surprise, surprise) heavily influenced by Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

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A lot of Capcom’s fears about Devil May Cry going stagnant appeared to be a direct result of the release of Platinum Games’ Bayonetta. Made by DMC’s original creator, Hideki Kamiya, Bayonetta was a balls to the wall, over the top, hack and slash fest with wowed critics and audiences. Capcom seemed intent on answering Bayonetta’s success with something that they hoped would blow it out of the water. What better way to differentiate yourself than by having a completely different viewpoint for your long running franchise.

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I don’t really want to get into game play here, it’s fine. The combat system is decent enough but the entire game falls into this trap that modern, mainstream game developers like to do which is, basically, to make you play a three hour tutorial instead of, you know, actually letting you play the game and learn on your own. This was praised by critics and was a direct answer to how “difficult” the original Devil May Cry games were for new players to get into. Market research showed that new players were upset that they couldn’t pull off the same crazy combos that long time fans of the series could, so Ninja Theory made sure that the combat was very easy to pick up and was explained, in great detail, over and over, to help train new players in how to play it.

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While I didn’t care for the opening cut scene of DmC, and I found all of the characters to be insufferable douche bags, the dialogue and pacing was just phenomenal. Alex Garland is a premier writer, so gone were the days of stilted dialogue, cheesy one liners, and poor acting; at least DmC has that going for it. Honestly, I was very drawn in by the story and, if this was an original video game property or a film adaptation, I would have been down with it. It’s everything in-between the story, as well as the nose turning at the previous entries, that made me dislike DmC so, so much.

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Critics praised DmC: Devil May Cry, talking about it like it was the glorious rebirth of a beloved franchise. Many of the critics were happy with the change to Dante’s look, agreeing with Antoniades that the old Dante just wasn’t “cool” anymore. They were also happy to see that Dante had lost some of his more “annoying” personality traits from the previous DMC games (what those were, I have no idea). The combat and story also received major praise, as well as the art direction and overall design (gotta love those gray and brown tones). Despite how much critics loved the game, DmC was not as big of a hit with players. Although the game sold a respectable 4 million copies, sales in Japan were abysmal, with the country almost universally rejecting the game. This was in comparison to the roughly 5 million copies that Devil May Cry 4 sold worldwide, so clearly there was a contingent of players that didn’t want to see the franchise rebooted.

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Following the release of DmC, Capcom put out a definitive edition for PS4 & Xbox One, selling another 400k copies, but player sentiment and weak sales in the East forced Capcom’s hand and they decided to pivot back to the original series, releasing Devil May Cry 5 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One in 2019, selling over 6 million copes worldwide. The team behind Devil May Cry 5 were quick to point out that this was no slight against Ninja Theory and they all still really love DmC, it just didn’t meet their expectations, sales wise. I’m no Devil May Cry devotee. I LOVE the first game and I’m a bit lukewarm on the second (never played 3, 4, or 5), but even I could see that changing the formula was a bad move. DmC: Devil May Cry is not a bad game, it’s pretty good. I just can’t get over how much it holds your hand, treats you like a baby, and then bombards you with grim and gritty bullshit. I don’t ever need to play this game again, and neither do you.

Devil May Cry 2 (PS2) – Released Jan. 25th, 2003: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Just Married – Starring Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: The Exies – Inertia
*Click here to listen to the album*

Following on the huge success of the first Devil May Cry, Capcom immediately set out to make a sequel and, less than a year and a half later, we got Devil May Cry 2. You might have thought that series creator Hideki Kamiya would be heavily involved in the sequel, you’d be wrong. For whatever reason, Capcom executives didn’t want Kamiya to continue work on Devil May Cry, instead they wanted him to spearhead a brand new title for the Nintendo GameCube, the action brawler Viewtiful Joe, as a way to challenge him creatively, as well as to keep him confined to a smaller development team. We’ll get into it more in a few months, but Kamiya felt so miffed about his treatment at Capcom that he’d base all of the Viewtiful Joe bosses on Capcom executives. With Kamiya moved to a new project, the reins of DMC 2 would fall to another team, one that didn’t have much experience with console gaming.

At the turn of the century, Capcom began to reevaluate their contribution to the arcade market. With the release of the PlayStation 2, it started to become clear to Capcom that home consoles were on par with what could be done in arcades. Capcom started to see a decline in revenue from their arcade fighting games and were keenly aware that their most successful titles were console staples Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. Since they needed DMC 2 to be quickly released, the decision was made to pivot an entire team of arcade fighting game developers into console third person action game developers. You can guess how that went. The game’s first director was Noritaka Funamizu, who would consult with Hideki Kamiya fairly often to get his feedback on the game’s development, though he was still very busy with Viewtiful Joe. With a new team come, of course, changes to the game, some good, some bad.

One of the producers on Devil May Cry 2 really hated the one liners and wisecracks that Dante would make in the first game. To rectify this, DMC 2 was said to take place ten years in the future, explaining to players that Dante had “grown up” and found some maturity; okay. The game’s story was rushed to meet deadlines and, as a consequence, there was very little dialogue spoken in the game. Dante’s kinda/sorta love interest from the first game, Trish, was removed and replaced with a new female character, Lucia. This new character was also made playable, with disc 1 of the game featuring Dante in 18 missions, and disc 2 featuring Lucia in 11 missions. This was done to placate fans of the original who had lamented that Trish was not a playable character. However, there wasn’t much difference in the gameplay, leading some critics and players to react negatively, seeing the second disc as purely filler to justify a high price for a (very) short game.

Unlike the first game, which featured a demon-god thing as the main antagonist, DMC 2 featured the CEO of a major corporation as the villain. This change would be carried over in subsequent releases as well, allowing Dante to frequent more urban/modern settings, instead of continually trying to come up with interesting looking areas of the underworld (very cool…). Like we would see with DmC: Devil May Cry ten years later, Capcom was heavily influenced by market research surveys when creating Devil May Cry 2. They found that players enjoyed the first game but had “problems” with it, namely the fixed camera angles, which players found disorienting. DMC 2 still features fixed camera angles, but an effort was made to make sure that transitions between areas felt more seamless. Players also felt that the game was too hard, so the new team decided to make Devil May Cry 2 a fairly easy game to beat, only unlocking harder difficulty levels the more times players went through the game; fun!

What players DID like about the first game was, first off, how COOL Dante was, followed by all of the action packed gameplay. The team leaned hard into these two points, changing up Dante’s look a bit, and made his personality a bit slicker, a bit more suave, and a bit more sexy. As for the action, the team felt they could improve on this in two ways, eliminate pretty much all of the puzzle elements seen in the first game, streamline the missions to eliminate backtracking, and make the environments bigger, allowing for more, and bigger, enemies. These larger play fields were also received poorly among fans of the original, as it made pulling off combos much more difficult due to the distance between enemies.

Production on DMC 2 had begun before the release of the first game, in the Summer of 2001, and the developers had initially wanted to set the game in New York City. However, the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 caused the team to scuttle that idea, switching it instead to the vaguely Western European setting of Vie de Marli, an island nation overrun with demons. Despite the guidance of Kamiya and the team’s gung-ho attitude, development on Devil May Cry 2 began to go off the rails. Pivioting from the fighting genre to the action/adventure genre was proving far more difficult than anyone expected. There was a sense that the team was straying too far from the original DMC, with attitudes feeling more like the team was creating an original property instead of creating a sequel that only existed because the first game was a success. It was time for change in leadership.

Six months before the team had to meet their deadline for launch, Capcom decided to replace original director Noritaka Funamizu with another fighting game veteran, Hideaki Itsuno. Itsuno had just finished wrapping up Capcom vs. SNK 2 and was in the middle of creating his pitch for an original property that would eventually turn into Dragon’s Dogma. Assuming he had nothing to do, Capcom executives thrust him into the role of director on DMC 2, demanding that he get a finished product out in six months; sounds like a great work environment. Itsuno was furious at being put in charge of Devil May Cry 2 that he contemplated scrapping the entire project and making it so far detached from the first game that it would, arguably, not even be a DMC title.

Of course, this wouldn’t fly, there was no way the team could have created an entirely new game in just six months, so Itsuno worked with what he had. For Dante’s Devil Trigger transformation, very little had been worked on, with only the “Stinger” function working, so that was all he got. Cutscenes hadn’t been created so they threw together what little dialogue they had and padded the rest with whatever cool shots they could muster. The story was barely written and, oh well, cobble together an ending and put it in there, nobody will notice. In the final weeks of production on Devil May Cry 2, the relatively small team that had been working on the game ballooned into a massive one, with people being pulled off of projects left and right in order to make DMC 2reach its deadline.

The game’s planner, Bingo Morihashi, was initially brought in to help craft the story as he was already a successful and established novelist. Eventually more and more responsibilities were foisted upon him. Morihashi recalls that, in the final weeks of production, he would often spend almost a full 24 hours at the Capcom offices, only leaving about once a a day for a couple of hours to go home, change his clothes, shower, and have a quick bite before returning to Capcom to keep working. The stress on his body was so intense that he claimed it caused him to cough up blood on multiple occasions; again, what a great work environment! Despite their best efforts (as well as forfeiting their health & well being) the team would not meet the six month deadline, causing Capcom to push the release up by four months, but even that wasn’t enough time, with the team needing another 1-2 months to complete the game.

Devil May Cry 2 was one of the most anticipated games of the year, receiving a big push from Capcom’s marketing department and being seen as a tentpole title for the fiscal year. Initial sales were strong, with DMC 2being one of the best selling games in the first half of 2003. However, the game was savagely eviscerated by critics and left players feeling lukewarm. Sales would stall on the title and Capcom would, ultimately, call it a failure. Capcom’s approach to making games, and it’s horrific working conditions, just weren’t getting the results that they were hoping for. In the wake of DMC 2’s failure, Capcom reorganized the company, cancelling more than 18 games in the process. They would also implement stronger pre-development vetting of a project and have a mid-project evaluation to ensur that the game was still on track, needed more time, or should be cancelled.

I wrote a lot here, and all of this jawing really just comes down to this; Devil May Cry 2 is a “just okay” game. It’s not as bad as the critics said it was, but it’s not that great either. Capcom made a lot of mistakes in this game’s development and they, rightfully, changed the way they worked afterwards. It should come as no surprise, though, that many of the people who worked at Capcom would begin to exit, starting their own companies, most famously Hideki Kamiya & Shinji Mikami with Platinum Games (Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101) and Noritaka Funamizu & Katsuhiro Sudo with Crafts & Meister (the Gundam Breaker series). Devil May Cry 2 is easily available today on any modern console as a digital download, though I wouldn’t recommend it as a starting point. Play the first game instead then, if you like it, try out part 2, at least Dante’s story, you’ll be able to easily finish both in a weekend.

The Simpsons: Bartman Meets Radioactive Man (NES/Game Gear) – Released Dec. 1992: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Leprechaun – Starring Warwick Davis and Jennifer Aniston
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Denis Leary – No Cure for Cancer
*Click here to listen to album*

The term “bad video game” is synonymous with “The Simpsons”. Just about every single Simpsons game that comes out is an absolute turd with almost no redeeming value; Bartman Meets Radioactive Man is no different. Developed by Imagineering Inc., the same team that also made the previous Simpsons NES titles, Bartman Meets Radioactive Man was yet another generic licensed side scroller that did nothing to push the envelope.

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The premise of the game is simple, but requires a certain level of acceptable disbelief, even for The Simpsons. One night, as Bart reads Radioactive Man comics in his tree house, he notices that Radioactive Man is missing from most of the book. Starting to worry that his role model is in trouble, Bart is suddenly greeted by Fallout Boy, Radioactive Man’s sidekick. Fallout Boy tells Bart that Radioactive Man’s powers have been stolen by Brain-O the Magnificent and distributed to three of Radioactive Man’s most fearsome foes; Dr. Crab, Swamp Hag, and Lava Man. In order to get his powers back, Bart must journey into the comic book as his superhero alter ego, Bartman, and defeat the villains.

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Players then take control of Bartman, moving him around a series of levels that alternate between platforming and horizontal shoot ’em up’s. On the surface, the premise and game play sound pretty good, however once you start to play the game you quickly realize that you’re in for a rough time. Terrible controls, poor hit detection, and hideous graphics make your time with Bartman Meets Radioactive Man feel like some kind of punishment. Critics panned the game, also noting the poor controls as well as a lack of any save feature or password system.

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In hindsight, why exactly did Imagineering and publisher Acclaim decide to make a game based on Bartman and Radioactive Man? Both characters had only appeared on the show once or twice, and while the Bartman character had seen popularity in merchandising, Radioactive Man was hardly a household name. My thought is that there was a push to get these characters in the public eye because Matt Groening and his team were busy coming up with their own comic book imprint, Bongo Comics. While the issues wouldn’t debut until late in 1993, two of the launch titles were Bartman and Radioactive Man, it makes sense to me, then, that they’d want to get kids talking about the characters and why there was so much lore for Radioactive Man, despite only being a (very) minor character on The Simpsons.

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Bartman Meets Radioactive Man is, like most licensed titles, completely unavailable in any shape or form on modern consoles. Your best bet to play this game is through emulation or, if you feel like wasting a lot of money, you can find an original cartridge at your local retro game store (please don’t). This game is bad, and no amount of Simpsons fandom is going to make it any better, trust me.

Everyone’s favorite gaming curmudgeon The Angry Video Game Nerd did an episode on the Bartman Meets Radioactive Man; enjoy…


Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

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