New Game Releases 02/14/23 – 02/20/23

I don’t know about the rest of you, but this week is a fully stacked for me. I am dying to play just about everything being released, particularly Labyrinth of Galleria. I’m giddy with excitement, let’s get to the games!


Top Releases:

Theatrhythm Final Bar Line (PS4/Switch) – Releases Feb. 16th

Developed by: Indies zero Co., Ltd.
Published by: Square Enix

The 3DS series Theatrhythm is making its way to home consoles with the release of Final Bar Line. With 385 songs included in the base game (with even more on the way through paid DLC), players will guide their favorite Final Fantasy characters through each song, fighting monsters to the beat. Well, that’s a bit kind to the game, you don’t really do much real fighting or anything like, it’s simply a “tap the button in time” style of rhythm game (at least the 3DS one’s were). I haven’t seen much in the trailers to suggest that Final Bar Line isn’t much different, though I wager most people who buy this are doing it for the love of the music and not necessarily the gameplay.

Wild Hearts (PC/PS5/Series X|S) – Releases Feb. 17th

Developed by: Koei Tecmo
Published by: EA

Wild Hearts, not to be confused with Sayonara Wild Hearts, is a monster hunting game from Koei Tecmo that isn’t to be confused with Monster Hunter, nor their previous monster hunting game, Toukiden. Aside from hunting monsters, players can also craft items and objects that can aid them in battle and exploration. I’m a sucker for these types of games, however I feel like I can get to stuck in a rut with them. There was a recent Hard Drive article with the headline Guy Who’s Into Three Different Live Service Games Right Now Hasn’t Had Fun in Months, and while I’m not sure Wild Hearts is a live service game, it likely has those trappings where you need to constantly do chores and stand by a schedule to make sure you get such and such thing, blah, blah, blah. Anyway, it should be fun.

Blanc (PC/Switch) – Releases Feb. 14th

Developed by: Casus Ludi
Published by: Gearbox Publishing

When it comes to prestigious indie titles, the first publisher to come to mind is almost always Gearbox…right? Well, regardless, the new indie adventure game Blanc looks so damn cute. In Blanc, players will guide a deer fawn and a wolf cub through the harsh wilderness as they search for their families. It promises to be an emotional rollercoaster, so have those tissues ready.

Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society (PC/PS4/PS5/Switch) – Releases Feb. 14th

Developed by: Nippon Ichi Software
Published by: NIS America

2017’s Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk was one of my favorite games from that year, so I really hope its sequel (maybe?) Labyrinth of Galleria lives up to the hype I am personally placing on it. For those not familiar, these two Labyrinth games are first person dungeon crawlers where players guide a group of living puppets around a labyrinth, searching for treasures and unlocking mysteries. I can’t wait to play this.

The Settlers: New Allies (PC – Epic Games Store) – Releases Feb. 17th

Developed by: Ubisoft Blue Byte
Published by: Ubisoft

Apparently Ubisoft owns a city-building series called The Settlers and it has been out long enough that they can reboot the franchise. I’m sure someone out there who plays a lot of PC games is going to lose their shit over this game; I am not one of them.


Ports and Re-releases:

Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.1 (PC) – Releases Feb. 14th

Shoot ’em up fan’s (like me) have a spectacular new collection to add to their libraries with the release of Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol. 1. Featuring four games, Zero Wing, Truxton, OutZone, and Twin Cobra, this is a collection made for the niche fan. While these games may not be household names, you almost certainly know about Zero Wing’s infamous, “All your base are belong to us” scene, so come check out 2001’s most hilarious internet meme.

Returnal (PC) – Releases Feb. 15th

I feel like I’ve played this before…

Tales of Symphonia Remastered (PS4/Switch/Xbox One) – Releases Feb. 17th

Man, I don’t know what to do; continue playing my emulated GameCube version of this, where I’ve put in about 25 hours, or start over with this remastered version. Oh god, why is my life so hard!?


Everything else:

I want to punch that guy in the face. He looks so smug and sure of himself, what an asshole.


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

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3/Xbox 360) – Released Feb. 19th, 2013: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: A Good Day to Die Hard – Starring Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away
*Click here to listen to the album*

Shortly after the release of Metal Gear Solid 4, Hideo Kojima began coming up with ideas for the next entry in the series. His initial plan was to set the next game in the past, before the events of Metal Gear Solid 3, with a focus on the character The Boss and her comrades, Cobra Unit. Kojima’s team at the time were relatively young and new to the video game industry and, despite their best efforts, just couldn’t bring this version of Metal Gear to life, causing the project to be scrapped. However, one of the team members suggested that they revisit the idea but have it centered around the character Raiden, Metal Gear Solid 2’s protagonist and supporting player in MGS 4. This game would be set just prior to the events of MGS 4, showing how Raiden was transformed into cyborg. In an effort to set it apart from previous Metal Gear games, there would be less focus on stealth and more focus on hard boiled action, specifically through Raidne’s swordplay. Kojima approved of this new approach and let the team run itself autonomously (mostly by necessity, as Kojima was deep at work on Peace Walker for the PSP).

The first mention of the game came at Hideo Kojima’s keynote address at the 2009 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. At the conclusion of his speech, an image appeared on screen showing Raiden standing next to the title of the game, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, with the traditional “Tactical Espionage Action” tagline being replaced with “Lightning Bolt Action”, a reference to both the new game play style and that Raiden’s name means “thunder and lightning” in Japanese. Progress would continue for the next two years, with the Rising team showing off trailers at E3 in both 2009 and 2010. The game’s development team mentioned that, despite the action, stealth would still be present in the game, as would players ability to play as a pacifist. When questioned about this pacifism angle, the team stated that Raiden could kill as many cyborgs as he wanted and still be a pacifist, so long as he didn’t kill any of the human enemies.

By late 2010 things were not looking good for Rising. The young team’s inexperience was starting to show, as they were having trouble getting the game’s main mechanic working; Raiden’s swordplay. The idea behind Raiden’s use of his sword came from a desire to see him move and act like he did in MGS 4’s cutscenes. With his sword, Raiden would be able to slice and dice enemies and objects with pin point precision. Unfortunately, the team just could not get this mechanic to work and, in an effort to conserve manpower and resources, the game was quietly cancelled. In early 2011, after a chance meeting between Kojima and Platinum Games’ co-founder Atsushi Inaba, in which he inquired about the status of Rising, Kojima decided that it would be best to outsource development of the game to another studio, and who better than Platinum. Kojima had flirted with the idea of asking a Western studio to take over production (an increasingly popular option at the time), he felt that a Japanese company would be better suited to produce an action game based on ninjas.

Inaba himself would act as the game’s producer, while Platinum’s Kenji Saito would take on the role of director. Once the game was in Platinum’s hands they put it through several changes. First they decided to change the title to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, removing “Solid” and adding “Revengeance” at the request of Kojima’s team that they somehow incorporate the words “revenge” and/or “vengeance” into the game’s title (cheeky). Next, Platinum removed the stealth aspect of the game but, after playing through the game without it, Inaba found the basic gameplay to be dull, and asked the team to reincorporate it. Another change was the setting, with Platinum asking that it be changed to a location of their choosing, so as to not limit their creative process. Cutscenes were shortened, in comparison to previous Metal Gear games and the game’s story was re-written, placing the game four years after the events of MGS 4, with Raiden working as security detail for the prime minister of an unnamed African country. Finally, all human enemies were removed from the game to get past censorship laws in Japan.

The news of a change in developer had some in the gaming press a bit worried, prompting Konami’s PR director Martin Schneider to release a statement touting the great relationship that Inaba and Platinum had with some of their team members, including veteran Metal Gear team member Yuji Korekado. Whatever reservations the press had with Platinum’s involvement all went away once they got their hands on the game, giving Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance very positive reviews. Japanese magazine Famitsu scored the game 39 out of 40, while Western critics were just as excited about the game, gaining near perfect scores from just about everybody (except IGN who scored it 8.5; WHY…WHY!!!???). Players were just as excited, pushing the game well past one million copies sold around the world and giving Platinum Games another feather in its cap.

The game is easily available today on PC through Steam (where it runs beautifully on the Steam Deck), as well as on Xbox consoles through backwards compatibility. For PlayStation, well, despite being built from the ground up on the PS3, the game is not available on either the PS4 or PS5, which is a shame. Rumors of a sequel have been floating around since the game’s release but things don’t look good due to the relationship between Kojima and Konami. I absolutely adore this game and hope that each and every one of you has the chance to play it; I think you’ll adore it too.

Dark Cloud 2 (PS2) – Released Feb. 17th, 2003: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Daredevil – Starring Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Colin Farrell, Jon Favreau, and Joe Pantoliano
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: The Postal Service – Give Up
*Click here to listen to the album*

Dark Cloud 2 or, as it is known in Europe and Japan, Dark Chronicle, is a spiritual sequel to the early PS2 release Dark Cloud, featuring the same basic gameplay and mechanics but with an entirely new story and cast of characters. Developed by Level-5, Dark Cloud 2 was only their second game, but showed the promise of what they would eventually become, one of Japan’s leading RPG makers in the modern video game era.

In Dark Cloud 2, players control two protagonists; a young inventor named Max and a young princess named Monica. Both characters are being pursued by an evil emperor named Griffon, who is hell bent on destroying the world. To do this, Griffon must obtain two pieces of a stone called atlamilla, with both Max and Monica possessing one half of it. After attending a circus in his town, Max gains the attention of Griffon’s henchmen, causing him to flee. He eventually runs into Monica and learns that she is from 100 years in the future. Together, they learn that Griffon destroyed most of the world already but, in need of the stone, kept Max’s town intact. Max and Monica discover that the atlamilla can allow them to rebuild parts of the world that were destroyed by Griffon and set out on an adventure to do just that, all while knowing that they must stop Griffon from achieving his ultimate goal.

Dark Cloud 2 was a big hit with critics, where it received very favorable reviews at launch. The team at GameSpot went so far as to call the game a masterpiece, full of intricate details and attaining a level of polish that only the most refined games of all time manage to achieve; wow. Some critics, including those at GameSpy, knocked the game for its story, noting that it didn’t really make much sense, nor was it very interesting. However, the gameplay more than made up for whatever shortcomings the story might have had. When it came time for the end of year accolades, Dark Cloud 2 was named Best PS2 Game by GameSpot, received a “Silver Award” from EGM, and a “Bronze Award” from PlayStation Magazine. Dark Cloud 2 received several nominations as well, including Best RPG at the DICE Awards and Best Adventure Game at the British Academy Games Awards.

Dark Cloud 2 sold reasonably well, though it didn’t manage to break the one million mark. Playing the game today is fairly easy, as long as you have a PS4 or PS5 where you can purchase a digital copy of the game. I didn’t get to spend as much time with this as I would have liked to, but the couple hours I put into it were a lot of fun. I had just unlocked the camera feature which, I’m sure, would have opened up a ton of gameplay possibilities. Will I go back and give it some more of my time, eh…I don’t know. It’s a solid enough game, but comes with a 50+ hour run time and I’m not too keen on that these days. Still, you can’t deny that Level-5 made something special and its minor success helped them continue to make great games for the next 20 years and counting.

Super Valis IV (SNES) – Released Feb. 1993: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: Groundhog Day – Starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: 2Pac – Strictly For My N.*.*.*.*.Z…
*Click here to listen to album*

If you’re wondering why there was no Super Valis I, II, or III, that’s because Valis IV is the only title in the franchise to appear on the Super Nintendo, which I guess meant that it had to have “Super” in the title. Originally released only in Japan for the PC-Engine CD-ROM, Valis IV was the fourth and final entry in the side scrolling series from developer Laser Soft, which follows the story of the sword Valis and its use in either protecting or destroying the world (I think). The original version of the game picks up immediately after the events of Valis III and has three playable protagonists. For the Super Nintendo port, significant changes were made to the game’s story and roster of playable characters, namely making it only ONE playable character. Funny enough, the first three Valis games were available on the Sega Genesis, meaning that long time fans would have to jump ship to a rival console to see the ending (though I can’t imagine there was much consistency between the four games’ North American releases).

Critics weren’t terribly impressed with Super Valis IV, calling it fairly bland and easy. Some highlights of the game included its multiple weapons, it’s graphics & sound, as well as its speed in comparison to other side scrollers of the day. However, some critics actually though the game was too hard, was painfully slow in comparison to other side scrollers of the day, found little to no joy in its weapon system, and thought looked & sounded like garbage…so I don’t know what to tell you. If you want to try out Super Valis IV you can find it on the Super Nintendo app on the Switch, just make sure you have a current online subscription. I won’t say that I loved Super Valis IV, but I didn’t hate it either. Having the rewind feature on the Switch will certainly help you get through this bland, beautiful, ugly, really easy, super difficult game that has nothing to do with the other Valis games, but only on the Super Nintendo. Got it?

Xevious (Arcade) – Released Feb. 1983: Wiki Link

Notable Film Release: The King of Comedy – Starring Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, and Sandra Bernhard
*Click here to watch the trailer*
Notable Album Release: The Ramones – Subterranean Jungle
*Click here to listen to album*

Chasing success has been a staple of video games since its inception, so with the success of Konami’s 1981 game Scramble, a team at Namco was tasked with coming up with a similar game. The team initially came up with a helicopter game called Cheyenne, which took place during the Vietnam war, however, there was a shakeup at Namco and several team members were moved to other projects. This left the development of the Scramble-like to a young developer named Masanobu Endo.

Endo was a big fan of of science fiction so he decided to move the game out of Vietnam and into the future, with players piloting a ship named the Solvalou. For protagonists, Endo created a race of evil doer’s from space, calling them the Zevious. These Zevious forces have come to Earth in order to conquer it, leaving the fate of the planet in the hands of players. After a bit of time, the title was changed to Xevious, as the “X” made it seem more exotic. For the Xevious fleet, the ships were designed to “pay homage” (not steal) to the designs seen in several popular science fiction films & shows, including Star Wars, Star Trek, and the original Battlestar Galactica.

In Xevious, players pilot their ship as the screen scrolls vertically from top to bottom. Players will need to dispatch enemies in both the air and land, similar to Scramble, with a fast shooting gun for airborne enemies, and slower moving bombs for ground forces. To drop a bomb, players must use an aiming reticle to designate where it should fall. Stationary targets are easy to hit, while moving targets pose a greater challenge, requiring a bit of skill and planning to make sure you don’t miss.

Xevious was well received by critics and players when it hit arcades in 1983, being compared favorably to both Konami’s Scramble and Sega’s Zaxxon, with most critics going so far as to say it replaced both of those games in terms of quality. Xevious was one of the most graphically intensive games of its day, with sprite work being done by the famous Hiroshi “Mr. Dotman” Ono. In Japan, Xevious shattered records, becoming one of the most profitable games on the market, prompting Atari to quickly grab up the North American distribution rights. It received a pretty big media blitz by the company (who were likely stinging from the E.T. debacle) with ads promoting it as “the Atari game you CAN’T play at home).

Xevious would go on to be ported to several home consoles and PC’s, including the Apple II, the Atari 7800, the Atari ST, the NES, and the Commodore 64. Today, Xevious is easily available through the Arcade Archives line and can be found on all modern consoles. A sequel would arrive in 1984 called Super Xevious, which was just more of the same. As for the game’s lead designer Masanobu Endo, he would go on to create another Namco classic, Tower of Druaga, before leaving to start his own company called Game Studio. They would release a few Japanese only titles over the next few years, as well as work on the NES ports of Wizardry I, II and III. Endo would get in early on the mobile gaming market, and today is mostly working as a guest speaker and consultant.



Andy Tuttle
Andy Tuttle

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