PORT MANAGEMENT SHODOWN

Now that we’ve hit a year of “Ten Games to Look For” articles, we have a chance to directly compare how the releases for this year stack up to last year. Looking back, June 2018 was a surprisingly well-rounded month. Though summer is usually thought of as barren and slight, but we ended up with titles as diverse as Lumines RemasteredSushi Striker: The Way of SushidoVampyr, and Mario Tennis Aces. When E3 came around we got even more surprises; like Nier: Automata coming to the Xbox One, and Dontnod’s The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit launching ahead of Life is Strange 2.

June 2019 isn’t quite as exciting. Part of it is no doubt because of the new console generation looming ahead, but it’s also just how summer goes, sometimes. If you like remasters and ports, there’s plenty on this list to look into. If you want new experiences, some highlights include Judgment and The Sinking City, two investigation-based open world games launching just days apart, and Super Mario Maker 2, which releases at the end of the month.

If you don’t like detectives, or making Mario levels for the suffering of others, I should also mention that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is out this month as well. I’m eager to see how it does, but since I was a Kickstarter backer for that project back in the day, I’ve chosen not to cover it beyond this article. I hope you understand.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this month’s list, and I’ll see you in July!

If you ever want a JRPG recommendation from me, just go play a Nihon Falcom game.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II (PS4)
Publisher: Xseed Games
Developer: Nihon Falcom
Release Date: 6/4/19

What is it?
This release of Cold Steel II is just a port of the PS3/Vita version Xseed put out in 2016, but if you haven’t tried The Legend of Heroes, or Nihon Falcom’s other big series, Ys, you really should. They’re both fantastic, storied franchises with fun gameplay and are important to the overall development of the genre. Cold Steel II might not be the best place to start, but I wanted to highlight this series because of how little attention it gets. Xseed has done a great job localizing Falcom’s games for years, and if you’re interested, they also released a PS4 port of the original Cold Steel just months ago. Cold Steel III is slated for 2019 in the States as well, so realistically if you wanted to get caught up, now is the time.

Why is it important?
NIS America has pretty much taken over as the primary localization team of Falcom’s games, and will be publishing Cold Steel III when it comes out here. As much as I like NISA, I’m kind of bummed out by this. Not only have I always valued Xseed’s work on the series (their work with Falcom was why I bought a PSP back in the day), but the last big Falcom game NISA released, Ys VIII, had a rather infamous and unfortunate launch on every platform it came out for. I hope Cold Steel III‘s localization will be a lot better, but there’s a reason why I’m choosing to highlight Cold Steel II now.

A cute, fitting farewell.

Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth (3DS
Publisher: Atlus USA
Developer: P-Studio
Release Date: 6/4/19

What is it?
This could be it, folks. Barring the release of Shakedown Hawaii, Persona Q2 could be the last major release on the 3DS. Following up on the last Persona Q, this new title stars the crew of Persona 5, and brings them together with various characters from Personas 3 and 4 in a new journey through a fictional movie landscape. I imagine that exploring the new environments and plotting out dungeons on the in-game map will be as fun as ever, but I suppose we’ll know for sure once my review hits later this year.

Why is it important?
If my blog has been working towards anything, it’s been the final days of the 3DS. I know I’ve fallen behind on reviews for some of the RPGs that have come out, but I plan on catching up soon. I really want to give this system the send off it deserves and will work to make it happen. Once I’m done playing the original Persona Q, I’ll be focusing on Yo-Kai Watch 3Etrian Odyssey: Nexus, and this title as much as I can. Then I can die happy – or move on to the next thing, whatever that may be.

A Switch/3DS exclusive joins the PC crowd.

Blaster Master Zero (PC)
Publisher: Inti Creates
Developer: Inti Creates
Release Date: 6/14/19


What is it?
Blaster Master Zero is a remake of sorts of the NES Blaster Master that features the same 8-bit aesthetic, and a familiar split between tank and on-foot gameplay. It comes to us from Japanese developer Inti Creates, and it originally released on the 3DS and as a Switch launch title in 2017. This new port falls in line with other Inti games, like their Gunvolt series and Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, in that they always seem to make their way to the PC at some point. If you’re interested, the game is pretty cheap at $9.99. If you’re looking for more thoughts on the game, the Switch version got pretty respectable reviews, too.

Why is it important?
With the release of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night later this month, I can’t help but wonder if this release is some kind of counter-programming. Or, if it’s just that Inti is using an otherwise dead E3 week to give their game the best window possible. Whatever the case may be, it’s good to see an indie developer branching out when they can, even if it makes me doubt that other Switch exclusives like Dragon: Marked for Death and Blaster Master Zero 2 will remain that way for much longer.

I really like Kid’s design. She looks great.

198X (PC/PS4)
Publisher: Hi-Bit Studios
Developer: Hi-Bit Studios
Release Date: 6/20/19

What is it?
Just over a year ago, the Kickstarter campaign for 198X launched with the expectation that the game would be out by March 2019. The project ended up taking a few more months than anticipated, but that’s still pretty good compared to the years it’s taken other crowdfunded games to see a release. Billed as a coming of age story soaked in the 80’s, there are five games built into 198Xa racing game, a shoot ‘em up, a beat ‘em up, an RPG, and a “ninja game.” This is the first project from Swedish-based Hi-Bit Studios, and I think their release trailer absolutely nails the neon aesthetic they’re going for. 198X launches first on PC and PS4, with Switch and Xbox One versions planned for a later date.

Why is it important?
People have grown very cynical with the state of crowdfunded games. Titles once celebrated for their independence end up taking much longer than expected and disappointing in major ways. I would like to believe that’s not always the case, and last year I highlighted Distress as an example of a crowdfunded game turning out really well. I believe 198X has the ability to live up to that standard and, should it prove successful, show that there are still trustworthy projects out there people can help fund. I just hope no last minute delays get in the way.

Team Sonic Racing, Crash Team Racing… I’m sensing a pattern here.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled (PS4/Switch/XB1)
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Beenox
Release Date: 6/21/19


What is it?
Nitro-Fueled is a remake of Naughty Dog’s original Crash Team Racing, but also includes content from the whole Crash racing series, kind of like a modern Mario Kart title. The graphics look sharper, everything’s updated for 2019, and it’s essentially as new as any kart-racing sequel can be. If you love these games and want the chance to pick one up on a current generation system, this is your chance. Dig in while you can.

Why is it important?
This is the biggest AAA release of the month. It’s developed by Beenox, an Activision studio that was at one time known for making licensed games like the Bee Movie Game and Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions before being absorbed into the Call of Duty machine. I like seeing their name attached to a project as a lead developer again, as it reminds me that Activision still puts out other games from time to time. I don’t think Nitro-Fueled will ever be as big a project as Call of Duty, but the success of the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy proves there’s still an audience out there for kid-friendly nostalgia trips like this.

Nine years can change everything.

Heavy Rain (PC)
Publisher: Quantic Dream
Developer: Quantic Dream
Release Date: 6/24/19

What is it?
The stories about Quantic Dream and David Cage have muddied the waters in the years since, but once upon a time, Heavy Rain was a critical darling when it launched in 2010. Since then, there have been court cases filed over a toxic and racist work environment, while interviews with Cage make it look like he’s got nothing to say and hours of gameplay to say it. Plus, the less said about Beyond: Two Souls, the better. Now that Quantic Dream is free from Sony and they’re releasing their recent titles on the Epic Games Store, it’ll be interesting to see if people still care enough to check out these new ports, or whether they’re best left forgotten on Sony’s consoles.

Why is it important?
With Sony no longer in the picture, it’s sink or swim time. Can Quantic Dream get their act together, treat their employees better, and come out with a new game? Or is it simply too late? I’d like to think it’s not, but it’s as they say – change has to come from the top. There’s no point in dolling up a corpse when the head is just rotten to the core.

Can I get an objection?

Judgment (PS4)
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Rya Ga Gotoku Studio
Release Date: 6/25/19

What is it?
Judgment is a spin-off of Sega’s Yakuza series that focuses on the life of Takayuki Yagami, a private detective. While employing the systems found in Yakuza, Judgment sets itself apart with copious amounts of investigative work and hard-boiled legal drama. Launching a new IP this late in the generation is always risky, but as someone who really loves Ace Attorney, I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. I don’t think it’ll quite match Capcom’s series in tone, but video games legal dramas have so far been great. I want to see more of them.

Why is it important?
Since its release in Japan last December, Judgment has had quite the journey. Despite strong sales, the game was pulled from shelves in March when one of the actors in the game, Pierre Taki, was arrested on drug charges. The game proceeded to sell even better with the controversy, but Sega committed to redoing the voice work and motion capture with a new actor, kind of like what Ridley Scott went through when he recast Kevin Spacey’s role with Christopher Plummer in All the Money in the World. A big difference with Judgment however, is that the original version of the game is out there. It will never be completely erased. I’d be interested to see a side-by-side video of the two versions, should one ever surface, but I doubt it’d stay up long if Sega got wind of it.

Last year was BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle; this year is Samurai Shodown.

Samurai Shodown (PS4/XB1)
Publisher: Athlon Games
Developer SNK Corporation
Release Date: 6/25/19

What is it?
Samurai Shodown is one of SNK’s biggest fighting franchises, but it hasn’t had a new entry since the XBLA Samurai Shodown Sen in 2008. This new title is a reboot, and comes at an interesting time, as e-sports continue to grow, and tournaments cycle through fighting games often. We need more games like this popping up to keep the scene (and genre) interesting. Does calling it Samurai Shodown hide the fact that it’s actually the twelfth game in the series? Maybe to the layperson, but those who care, know. And those who know, know that franchises like this likely won’t die any time soon no matter what it’s called.

Why is it important?
SNK was acquired by Leyou Technologies Holdings in 2015, and since that time they’ve slowly crawled their way back to relevancy. They’re no longer the same SNK that made the Neo Geo, but they’ve had a steady stream of fighting games coming out in the last few years. This includes new entries in older franchises, like Shodown, and new titles like SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy. I would love it if they also tried bringing back franchises in other genres, like Ikari Warriors and Metal Slug, but patience is key. I get the feeling that if they move too fast, the entire operation could come crumbling down and we won’t get anything we want until a new company picks up the licenses.

Detective games are one of 2019’s coolest ongoing trends.

The Sinking City (PC/PS4/XB1)
Publisher: Bigben Interactive
Developer: Frogwares
Release Date: 6/27/19

What is it?
Made by the developers behind several recent Sherlock Holmes titles, The Sinking City is a way for Frogwares to try something slightly different. Shifting over to a setting inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and featuring a new open world, this game is not only more ambitious than their adventure titles, but it comes a number of months after the somewhat similar Call of Cthulhu game from Focus Home Interactive and Cyanide. The two games aren’t related, but they share the same source of inspiration and provide a sense of continuity for audiences that will likely be transitioning from one title to the next.

Why is it important?
Ever since the launch of FromSoftware’s Bloodborne in 2015, Lovecraft has periodically popped up as a source of reference in different games of this generation. The man may not have been great in his personal life, but the way people get excited about stories based on his work make me think that this game has a chance to do pretty well. I just hope the open world and new mechanics don’t come off as clumsy and tacked-on, and instead feel like a natural evolution of the design Frogwares has been working with for years.

This time, it has that angry sun. And 3D World skins.

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Release Date: 6/28/19

What is it?
Like Splatoon 2, Nintendo has elected to bring one of the best Wii U titles to the Switch in the form of an enhanced sequel. This makes sense, because there’s really no point in just porting the game to another system when there’s so many other Mario games to draw influence from. So far, the trailers for the game have shown off some cool new ideas like hill slopes, on/off switches, a 3D World skin, and online co-op, but I just wish Nintendo didn’t make it weird by saying you can’t play online with your friends. I’d rather avoid teaming up with random people if I can help it.

Why is it important?
Mario Maker 2 kicks off a summer of Switch titles, including Astral ChainFire Emblem: Three Houses, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order. Seeing all of these franchises, spin-offs, and new IP come under one roof is cool, but I wish it was more consistent. There are some things about this title in particular, like the lack of a stylus and being unable to play online with friends, that make me hesitant to think it’ll come away as being undoubtedly better than the first title, but I hope I’m wrong. I just feel less excited about it than I should be.

Mood.

If you’d like to contact me, you’re always free to leave a comment below. You can also talk to me on Twitter, or email me at dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios.com.