THE NEW OLD

It’s time once again to turn to the summer months. Though 2020 has thrown us plenty of curveballs, there is hopefully some comfort to be found in the relative lack of exciting new games coming out this month. As the world around us continues to churn in scary ways, there’s still stuff to play, but it’s pretty likely you’re going to either have to try something new or dip back into an old favorite if you’re dying for a new release this month. Unless you’re just waiting for The Last of Us Part II which, now that I think about it, is probably a good majority of interested people out there.

The importance of The Last of Us Part II cannot be overstated. Though it would take some time to unravel the controversies and leaks that have come out about the game in recent months (more time than I have here), it’s hard to deny that the circumstances surrounding the game’s development has erupted into yet another discussion about proper workplace practices and the elimination of crunch and overworking. Beyond that, the game is one of the largest thus far to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also one of the first major releases that was being worked on as countries around the world went into lockdown. While the game was far enough along to make it doubtful the strain of the pandemic would show in-game, I am curious to know if Sony can pull off this launch without a hitch. It’s easy to imagine delays in physical copies getting out to fans, as well as potential PSN-related issues plaguing the first days of release. This hopefully doesn’t happen, but I would be prepared for it, personally.

In other news, one unsurprising trend this month is delays of games well under the radar. Without major game sites circulating the news, it can be difficult to be aware of when a game like No Straight Roads gets delayed. In the case of Justice.exe (a game I wanted to cover last month), it’s a matter of checking the Steam release date over and over until that new “TBA” date slides into place. There’s still stuff to check out for now – including the obscure PS1 RPG Brigandine‘s sudden Switch sequel – but everything’s up in the air.

Anyway, see you in July. We’ve got Ghost of Tsushima and Paper Mario: The Origami King to talk about, so it’s sure to be more exciting.

Delays: During the course of last month, it was announced that Ninjala, which was supposed to release on May 27, has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will now launch on Jun 24. The PS4/Switch port of Star Wars: Episode I Racer was also delayed – for who knows how long.

51 games? What a deal!

Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics
(Switch)

Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: NDcube / Nintendo | Release Date: 6/5/20


What is it?
There isn’t much to explain about Clubhouse Games that isn’t in the title itself. It has nine more games than the original 2006 edition and seemingly taps into the casual market that games on the DS captured well. I will say, given how Nintendo reinvented their fitness game offerings with Ring Fit Adventure, I’m surprised they didn’t try to do something similar with a compilation like this.

Why is it important?
I’m tempted to just list all 51 games and leave it at that, but I won’t. Really, it’s worth mentioning that this is Nintendo’s first big release since Animal Crossing: New Horizons that isn’t a remaster (like Xenoblade Chronicles), but this isn’t even that big of a deal itself. Some people might be quick to blame the pandemic for Nintendo’s slow release schedule, but it wasn’t that robust to begin with. Don’t forget, their big January release was Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore

Time to put on some Machine Head and get to work!

Command & Conquer: Remastered Collection
(PC)

Publisher: Electronic Arts | Developer: Westwood Studios / Petroglyph Games | Release Date: 6/5/20


What is it?
Command & Conquer, Red Alert, and a number of expansion packs are back and remastered in 4K. Longtime fans are sure to remember Electronic Arts’ uneven treatment of the franchise since its acquisition – not only was original developer Westwood Studios closed by them, but there’s been about one cancelled project for every one that gets released. The new developer, Petroglyph, reportedly has many members from Westwood working on the remaster, but the question I have is: is it enough? It’s been seventeen years. Does that association mean anything anymore?

Why is it important?
Command & Conquer is a classic RTS franchise, right up there with the Starcrafts and Age of Empires of the world. Electronic Arts is doing right by fans by bringing it back, even if the genre itself has grown more niche in recent years. If this remaster does well, that leads us to two potential routes EA could pursue: one, development of a new Command & Conquer game that won’t get cancelled and also pretends the mobile game Command & Conquer: Rivals never existed. Two, a remaster of Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun and Red Alert 2, and maybe even Command & Conquer: Renegade if they’re feeling ballsy enough. If they bother to follow up this release with anything, my guess is they’ll stay safe – Command & Conquer Remastered 2 in 2022 baby!

The Sims, reminding us to care for the environment.

The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle
(PC/PS4/XB1)

Publisher: Electronic Arts | Developer: Maxis | Release Date: 6/5/20


What is it?
I didn’t think I’d be back to talk about the next Sims 4 expansion. I didn’t even think there’d be one. But now that I’ve reported on one, the “all or nothing” part of me wants to keep going, drawing me back to this series like an episodic adventure that never ends. Anyway, this expansion moves from Discover University to Evergreen Harbor, a world where environmental choices have more of an impact on the game than ever, leading to the use of wind turbines and solar panels. You know, typical environmental advocacy stuff.

Why is it important?
In my previous write up on The Sims 4, I openly speculated that Discover University would be the last expansion based on the series’ timeline. However, I was wrong, and this leads us to another expansion pack six months after the last one. “The Sims get environmental” is a great idea for an expansion, I have to admit, but now I’m curious – will they go for a tenth expansion by the end of the year? Will we hear about a Sims 5 by then? Who knows – maybe EA is waiting on the next generation of consoles before releasing a new generation of Sims. Whatever a brand new Sims may be, my bet is still on it being an online service.

Is Adol even old enough to drink in this one?

Ys: Memories of Celceta
(PS4)

Publisher: Xseed Games | Developer: Nihon Falcom | Release Date: 6/9/20


What is it?
Though NIS America has taken over as the primary localization house for Nihon Falcom’s games, Xseed Games isn’t one to give up. Here is the console port of their release of Ys: Memories of Celceta, which started on the Vita all the way back in 2012, before hopping to Steam and then the PS4. Interestingly, this title is a proper remake of Ys IV, which was outsourced and made into two different games, Ys IV: Mask of the Sun and Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys, in the early 90’s.

Why is it important?
There isn’t much importance to this release other than to say “hey, it’s finally on console.” Still, I’ll take most opportunities to talk about Falcom games, so this is my official recommendation to play an Ys game if you haven’t already. It’s one of the oldest action RPG franchises around and a lot of entries are simple to play and fun to experience. A bunch of them are on Steam already – Ys: The Oath in Felghana is one of my favorites, and the updated remakes of Ys I & II are still worth seeing. As for Memories of Celceta – I dunno what else to say. Maybe a Switch version will happen eventually?

Pay no attention to the fact that three of these titles are all iterations of the same game…

Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection
(PC)

Publisher: SNK/Digital Eclipse | Developer: Digital Eclipse | Release Date: 6/11/20 (EGS) / 6/18/20 (Steam)


What is it?
Samurai Shodown is back once again with some exciting news. This new collection includes all of the SamSho games that were on the Neo Geo, including one that was finished but never released: Samurai Shodown V Perfect. Once planned to be the final Neo Geo game, it disappeared for fifteen years before finally (one ill-fated location test aside) making a proper debut here. This is perhaps an inconsequential piece of gaming history for most people, but anytime a game like this comes back from the dead, I find it exciting. Preserving art from being lost in the ether of time is always a worthwhile endeavor, and I’m ecstatic someone held on to this game for so long.

Why is it important?
I’m not a big fighting game fan, but I’ve certainly been aware of SNK for a long time. Seeing them crawl back into relevancy with their recent King of Fighters games and last year’s Samurai Shodown has been fun for the gaming historian in me. Seeing this company come back decade after decade is really inspiring – and this time they appear to be laser-focusing on the fans, as the trailer makes certain to point out that all seven titles in this collection not only have online play, but also “state-of-the-art rollback netcode.” Perhaps V Perfect, technically being a new game, will feature at EVO next year?

God’s on the battlefield.

Disintegration
(PC/PS4/XB1)

Publisher: Private Division | Developer: V1 Interactive | Release Date: 6/16/20


What is it?
Disintegration comes from Marcus Lehto (Halo), and represents the first major game from his team at V1 Interactive. It’s a mix between real time strategy and first person shooter gameplay, and takes place in a future where the world has been ravaged by climate change. While the climate change angle helps separate Disintegration from Halo, I can’t help but be reminded that the quintessential Xbox FPS killer-app was at one time meant to be a RTS game for Macs. Now, Disintegration is here to prove you can have both styles – in one game!

Why is it important?
Published by Private Division, a boutique label under Take-Two Interactive, Disintegration is one of the bigger releases of the month, facing small competition. There’s no better time for this game to develop a following, unless of course audiences decide to just get Command & Conquer Remastered and The Last of Us Part II instead. Those two titles admittedly don’t exactly match what Disintegration is going for, but audiences can be fickle. Maybe they’ll recognize Private Division’s name from The Outer Worlds and trust that they know a quality game when they see one.

But I’m already home.

Burnout Paradise Remastered
(Switch)

Publisher: Electronic Arts | Developer: Criterion Games / Stellar Entertainment Software
Release Date: 6/19/20


What is it?
Burnout Paradise made its Remastered debut on modern consoles a few months before I began Ten Games to Look For, and I completely ignored it when it came to PC later in 2018. So, here I am to correct those wrongs by talking about it now. Though Paradise is the entry that got rid of the dedicated Crash Mode, it’s still the quintessential Burnout game. It’s one of the most memorable open world racers of the early 360/PS3 era, giving players license to just cruise around and take on races and uncover secrets at their own pace. Amazingly, despite Paradise‘s legacy, Electronic Arts never made a proper follow up – 2011’s downloadable Burnout Crash! aside.

Why is it important?
Electronic Arts’ strong presence on this list happened pretty much by accident. Other games I wanted to covered got delayed, and I had to scramble to fill those slots. Still, their presence is intriguing here in that they continue to operate like there isn’t a global pandemic affecting the industry. It’s probably because two of their three titles this month are remasters and the third is a Sims expansion Maxis could crank out in their sleep. Even still, I hope EA staff isn’t anxiously trying to meet these hard deadlines even while working from home. If they need to delay something, I hope they’d do it without a second thought.

Cue the Nine Inch Nails musical sting.

The Last of Us Part II
(PS4)

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Developer: Naughty Dog | Release Date: 6/19/20


What is it?
The Last of Us Part II is the sequel to 2013’s The Last of Us. It’s a game that launched when the PS3 was roughly in the same state the PS4 is now: with a new console looming on the horizon, and just a handful of exclusives remaining. This sequel continues the same story – following Ellie a few years after the first game as she tries to survive the post-apocalypse. Due to leaks, there is a more detailed plot synopsis out there, spoilers and all, but if you care about this game, I doubt you’d seek it out.

Why is it important?
It’s tough to judge how difficult it must have been to finish this game in the middle of a pandemic, not to mention the several years it took to develop the game on its own. As news stories, like Jason Schreier’s investigative piece at Kotaku reveal, before the pandemic, Naughty Dog developed a crunch culture, overworking staff and hoping that no one would talk about it and everyone could focus on the end result. It’s increasingly hard to do that in a society where crunch is being frowned upon more and more, and to be clear: I don’t think it’s ever worth it to push people to the brink, no matter how good the game is. I can only hope the game has been worth the wait for fans. Looking at it positively, perhaps Naughty Dog can learn from this exposure and work on improving their development culture for their next project on the PS5 – but, we’ll see how that goes.

If this is coming back, can Arc the Lad come back too?

Brigandine: The Legend of Runersia
(Switch)

Publisher: Happinet / Limited Run Games | Developer: Matrix Software | Release Date: 6/25/20


What is it?
Few people may remember the PS1 game Brigandine: The Legend of Forsena. Published by Atlus in 1998, it’s a strategy RPG where players control one nation in Forsena with hopes of controlling the entire continent. This belated sequel, Legend of Runersia, largely takes the same idea and transposes it to the continent of Runersia. Though the original developer, Hearty Robin, has long since disappeared, development has been taken up by Matrix Software – makers of the DS RPG Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, as well as Groove Coaster.

Why is it important?
The random resurgence of a 22-year-old franchise aside, this game is notable because it’s the first game Kenji Terada has worked on in over 15 years. Best known as the scenario writer for the first three Final Fantasy games, Terada’s influence in JRPGs is largely underappreciated. However, it’s worth noting that his last credit before Legend of Runersia was from the infamous flop, Batman: Dark Tomorrow. Talk about returning to your roots.

Something cute to round out the month.

Mr. Driller Drill Land
(PC/Switch)

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment | Developer: Project Driller | Release Date: 6/25/20


What is it?
Mr. Driller Drill Land originally released on the Gamecube in Japan in 2002. Though an English version never materialized, its sequel Mr. Driller Drill Spirits launched first in North America just after the launch of the DS in 2004. Here we are, nearly two decades later, and without much provocation, Bandai Namco announced in March that Drill Land would be coming to PC and Switch with a targeted worldwide release of June 25. Though not the most random HD remaster out there, it certainly ranks among the most surprising.

Why is it important?
With Bandai Namco plumbing the depths of their catalogue and the mainstream success of the Switch, it’s great to see random games like this get an HD-facelift. I imagine people hankering for some puzzle action (or any game with a hint of Dig Dug DNA) will jump onboard and the game will wind up doing pretty well. Though Bandai Namco, if I may: if you’re looking for another game to remaster, could I suggest Namco X Capcom? Like Drill Land, this PS2 game was never localized but its successors, the Project X-Zone games on 3DS, were. I think fans of those games would love to see where its ideas originally came from.

I wonder how it’ll rank against Samurai Shodown 2019?

Ten Games to Look For is a series that breaks down the most interesting releases of each month (according to me, anyway) and why they’re worth your time. For more articles from A Gaming Life Pt. 2, you can head here. If you’d like to respond to this article, please leave a comment below, or –  get in touch with me on Twitter, or by email: dcichocki(at)tiltingwindmillstudios(dot)com. Thanks for reading!