RE-HEAT AND RE-RELEASE

You stand in your local Ice Cream Shop and there’s nothing to eat. As the most consistent regular at this location, you know the score. You’ve tried all the meal combinations, all the seasonal flavors, all ten of the secret menu items. There is little you haven’t tried and of those, most are foods you don’t know exist. You’ll try anything, but you can’t try what you don’t know.

Of all the treats your local Ice Cream Shop provides, ice cream is of course your favorite. Though nothing stands out tonight, you’re nonetheless compelled to choose a flavor or two from the menu. After staring at the selection for about twenty minutes, you start making a list of the ten ice cream flavors that are most appealing tonight. Meanwhile, the teenage cashier with a sour expression on his face waits patiently for you to make your choice. Searching your brain for the two out of ten flavors that interest you the most, you finally make your decision. You begin telling the cashier your order.

Except, just as you finish saying your first flavor, the teenager behind the counter stops you. He says that that particular flavor is out of stock – a shipment got delayed at the last minute. So now you’re hard pressed to find a replacement, and a second flavor to go along with it. Your best option, you realize, is to just go with two of the basics. It’s the only way this night can be saved now. You went in with less than a clue of what you wanted, and walk out minimally happy with second and third choices.

You’re fickle. You hate the lack of exciting flavors, but you know you’ll be back to your local Ice Cream Shop in no time. Plenty of spectacular treats lay ahead.

This is essentially what my experience creating this list was like. The games below are mostly ports and re-releases. There are a couple of exceptions, but overall it’s a great month to tackle your backlog. Or to keep playing what you bought in January until something better comes along.

Anyway, see you in March!

AKA: The Dark Crystal AORTA.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics
(Mac/PC/PS4/Switch/XB1)

Publisher: En Masse Entertainment | Developer: BonusXP | Release Date: 2/4/20


What is it?
Based on the movie The Dark Crystal and its recent Netflix sequel show, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is a strategy RPG set during the war between the Gelfling and the Skeksis. Stylistically, it looks similar to other members of the genre, like Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics, but it has a neat figurine aesthetic that gives the character models and environments a little visual flair. It looks kind of like playing Warhammer 40K with some friends, but digitally.

Why is it important?
Though I’ve never seen anything related to The Dark Crystal, I do like strategy RPGs, and it tickles me that a licensed property is getting this kind of game adaptation. A strategy RPG isn’t the type of game most license holders usually set out to make, so I applaud the effort. I just hope it has the meaty tactical gameplay that fans of this style crave. Nothing’s worse than a strategy RPG with no need for the strategy.

Plus The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.

Life is Strange 2: Complete Season
(PS4/XB1)

Publisher: Square Enix | Developer: Dontnod Entertainment | Release Date: 2/4/20


What is it?
Life is Strange 2 has been my Game of the Year two years running, so I feel some obligation to follow this title to the end. Here is the game’s retail release, bundled together with The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. With not a ton coming out this month, I’ll definitely be buying and playing it again. I’m curious to see if playing on a different console will change my opinion at all, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.

Why is it important?
It might be too soon to write any kind of retrospective on Life is Strange 2, but I think I might do that. I’ve followed this game for the majority of this blog’s existence, and would like to send it off in as big a way as I can. On a separate note, I’m curious if this new release will pull in people who wanted to play Life is Strange 2 but never got around to it. If it can’t garner more attention in a month as slow as this one, I don’t know what to say. Maybe it was born to live in its own niche.

Literally Sniper Elite with Nazi zombies.

Zombie Army 4: Dead War
(PC/PS4/XB1)

Publisher: Rebellion Developments | Developer: Rebellion Developments | Release Date: 2/4/20


What is it?
Zombie Army is a spinoff of the Sniper Elite series that keeps the same third person shooter watch-a-bullet-explode-a-brain-in-x-ray-vision action, but swaps out the real life Nazis for Nazi zombies. Not many games go for the mid-20th century World War II aesthetic anymore, but if the recent Wolfenstein games aren’t doing it for you, then here’s another less-serious take. Just with less story nuance and more brutality.

Why is it important?
I always thought Zombie Army Trilogy was some kind of twin-stick shooter or pinball game. Now that I’ve seen what Zombie Army 4 is about, here’s a PSA from me to you: I was wrong. At a certain point it clicked for me that this is more Sniper Elite with a different skin. That’s not a review, but an acknowledgement of what these games are, and the dumb fun they provide. If you’re looking for the big shooter of the month, here it is.

Kind of like Game Boy-vania.

Kunai
(PC/Switch)

Publisher: The Arcade Crew/Gamera Game | Developer: TurtleBlaze | Release Date: 2/6/20


What is it?
A self-proclaimed “Ninja Metroidvania” with an old school aesthetic, Kunai is a new title from the publisher behind Blazing Chrome and Dark Devotion. The main character is a happy-looking robot tablet with a ninja soul, and the color scheme reminds me of a mix between the art style of Sin City and a dot matrix Game Boy game. From the screenshots and trailers it looks really nice, but is it enough to make a difference?

Why is it important?
I’ll admit, Kunai was a late addition to this list, chosen after the delay of Iron Man VR. I thought about choosing another port, but Kunai looked interesting enough to mention instead. I’ve never really heard of The Arcade Crew or TurtleBlaze before, but seeing this game makes me curious. This is the perfect time of year for an indie game like this to make it big, but unless it’s got some really unique mechanics, it’s just as likely to get lost in the Metroidvania shuffle.

Have some rest, get great sleep, and hopefully you’ll have sweet…

Dreams
(PS4)

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Developer: Media Molecule | Release Date: 2/14/20


What is it?
Dreams is more than just a game. It’s a development tool created by Media Molecule (LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway). It gives users a wide berth to create whatever game or art piece they want and share it with the rest of the community. They can simply be for show, or fully interactive; whatever the artist wants, Dreams will try to provide. You can license other creations, use Playstation Move controllers for a more hands-on approach, and eventually craft in VR. Running at full speed, this could be the genesis of a new generation of game creators, with a host of weird, offbeat ideas that’ll only get bigger and brighter as time goes on. To be hyperbolic, it could be the new frontier for digital community content.

Why is it important?
Coming so late in the PS4 lifecycle, Dreams needs as much support as it can get to fulfill its promise. Even if PS4 games are fully backwards compatible on PS5, I think there’ll be a stigma against playing old games on new hardware that will ultimately cut Dreams‘ ambition. Ideally, this PS4 version will bring people into the fold, and the eventual PS5 and PC ports will provide the long tail this game deserves. After 7+ years of development, I’d think the last thing Sony would want to do is sabotage their own projects for the sake of starting fresh in a new console generation, but then again – does anyone remember Puppeteer?

With perhaps a hint of Yo-kai Watch

Snack World: The Dungeon Crawl – Gold
(Switch)

Publisher: Level-5 | Developer: Level-5/h.a.nd. | Release Date: 2/14/20


What is it?
Originally released on the 3DS in 2017, Level-5 launched Snack World in Japan with the intent of turning it into their next multimedia franchise. Though this is a huge goal to set for a new IP, Level-5 has done it before with Professor LaytonInazuma Eleven, and Yo-kai Watch to varying degrees. Already, there’s a lot of potential should this Switch version of Snack World gain traction, with a fifty-episode anime to dub, and a mobile MMORPG from South Korea to localize. All of this, though, is contingent on Level-5’s ability to market the game.

Why is it important?
I like Level 5. Founder and president Akihiro Hino is a secret gaming legend, partially responsible for underrated gems like Overblood, and for several of the company’s greatest hits like Dark Cloud. But, I don’t know if I believe they can just release a game like this in the West and have it be the hit they’re expecting. Maybe I’m wrong and roguelike RPGs aimed at kids represent a huge, untapped market, but neither Yo-kai Watch nor Inazuma Eleven made as big a splash here as they did in Japan. Unless there’s a significant marketing push I’m not seeing, Snack World is in danger of being yet another Level-5 series to fade into obscurity. Just like White Knight Chronicles. And Little Battlers eXperience.

“Maybe we should’ve ported Street Fighter IV after all.”

Street Fighter V: Champion Edition
(PC/PS4)

Publisher: Capcom | Developer: Capcom/Dimps | Release Date: 2/14/20


What is it?
The latest game in Capcom’s premiere fighting franchise gets its (likely) final iteration in Street Fighter V: Champion Edition. After a four year struggle to both connect with fans and make a case for Capcom’s place in the modern fighting game scene, this is how it ends. In the dead of February. With new consoles on the horizon. Whether we’ll see more Street Fighter anytime soon is an open question – if anything, it’s slightly more likely this game will just get ported to PS5 at launch.

Why is it important?
I’m not a big fighting game guy, but I’ve been curious enough about Street Fighter V over the years to consider giving it a try. Jumping on now probably won’t do me a ton of good, but I want to follow what Capcom does next more closely. Will they take a break like when they wrapped up the Street Figther III saga? Will they bring back something else like Street Fighter Alpha or Darkstalkers? If they did that, would a new title appear soon, or just get teased until people have moved on from Street Fighter V? I need to know.

No love for MadWorld?

Bayonetta & Vanquish: 10th Anniversary Bundle
(PS4/XB1)

Publisher: Sega | Developer: PlatinumGames | Release Date: 2/18/20


What is it?
Despite Bayonetta being mostly a Nintendo franchise now, the original game is coming to PS4 and Xbox One alongside Vanquish with standard 60fps and 4K support. They’ll be available on digital storefronts individually, but I like the extent Sega is going to for this retail edition. Putting both games on one disc in a steelbook case that looks this cool is a great deal. It’s also a good olive branch to fans, who’ve been waiting on news about a new game in either franchise for some time.

Why is it important?
It’s a slow month, and I think PlatinumGames is worth supporting. They’ve been working hard recently on games like Astral Chain, Bayonetta 3 (assumedly) and Babylon’s Fall, which makes a look back at the young, upstart developer they were more interesting. This collection is also one of the better remaster ideas I’ve seen, even if the “10th Anniversary” label is slightly questionable (Bayonetta came out in 2009, Vanquish in 2010).

No Re:Mind DLC here.

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r]
(PS4/Switch)

Publisher: Aksys Games/Arc System Works | Developer: Ecole Software/ Soft Circle French-Bread | Release Date: 2/20/20


What is it?
Since I wrote about the latest version of Street Fighter V, it’s only fair to mention the other big fighting game getting updated this month: Under Night In-Birth. This is an anime fighting game/visual novel that dates back to 2012, and has slowly gained traction over the years in the fighting game community. It made its main stage debut at EVO in 2019, and is of a style developer French-Bread has cultivated since it started making doujin games in the early 2000’s.

Why is it important?
This game’s slow crawl towards recognition in the fighting game community is impressive to watch from the outside. I hope this feels like some sort of vindication for both the fans and the folks at French-Bread, who previously cut their teeth on even more obscure anime fighters like Melty Blood and Dengeki Bunko. It’s also on Switch, which as far as this month goes, gives it a decent advantage over Street Fighter V.

Might we eventually see a modern port of Rockman & Forte Mirai kara no Chosensha too?

Mega Man Zero / ZX Legacy Collection
(PC/PS4/Switch/XB1)

Publisher: Capcom | Developer: Capcom | Release Date: 2/25/20


What is it?
Put the GBA Mega Man Zero games and the DS Mega Man ZX games together and release it in the vein of previous Mega Man collections. I’m a little surprised we got these over the Battle Network series, but it makes sense. These games follow the classic Mega Man formula more closely, while Battle Network games are RPGs with their own set of rules and mechanics. I do hope that series returns one day, though.

Why is it important?
Capcom could make this list several times over if I wanted to talk about every port they put out, but I try to limit myself to the most interesting ones. Hopefully, they have bigger plans for Mega Man when new consoles are out, but it’s impossible to tell with that company. Here’s a scary thought: it’s been almost nine years since Capcom cancelled Mega Man Legends 3 and Mega Man Universe. Considering where the franchise is now, I’m glad things turned around.

Bayonetta 3… that should be coming eventually, right?

Ten Games to Look For is a series that rounds up some of the most interesting releases of the coming month and explains why they’re worth your time. Not every month is a rousing success, but there’s always new games to play if you look hard enough. After all: every game in interesting. If you’d like to leave a comment, the comments section below is always a good option. You can also get in touch with me on Twitter, and by email too: dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios(dot)com.