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Backlog: The Embiggening - October, 2013

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 10/05/13 at 03:22 PM CT

Welcome to another look into the near future. 2013 seems to be following a suspicious trend: Each month leading up to the Christmas Spendstravaganza, one massively-overhyped, overbudgeted, and underwhelmingly mainstream “AAA” release is coming per month, destined to overshadow anything and everything else releasing alongside it. In October, the elephant in the room is “Battlefield 4,” a franchise that essentially serves as the hipster version of ‘Call of Duty.’

Like last month, however, the developers of shovelware have no fear of the month’s dominant release, and are continuing to churn-out incredible quantities of excrement. Superheroes seem to be the dominant theme for licensed games this month, with a “LEGO Marvel Superheroes” game, a tie-in for the rebooted “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie, and yet another Batman game in the ‘Arkham’ series. Aside from superheroes, there are also plenty of licensed games coming based on cartoons, including Spengbab Squorponts, Naruto, the cracked-out waking nightmare known as “Regular Show,” and a toonified version of the wholesome family spectacle of testicles being crushed by an obstacle course, ‘Wipeout.’ Outside of dumb entertainment for kids, dumb entertainment for middle-aged men brings us new annual releases in both basketball and wrestling, plus some ‘Cabela’s Hunting’ for those gun nuts who draw the line at shooting simulated humans in games like ‘Battlefield’ and would rather blow away some endangered species instead. And not to be sexist, the shovelware industry is also providing dumb entertainment for women with, not one but TWO ‘Just Dance’ sequels and a new “Zumba Fitness” game to keep ‘em lookin’ purty.

Are there any “real” games that dare to face “Battlefield 4” on the… err… battlefield? There are a few, and since the audience that eats up military FPSes is divided in half, while the audience that ate up “Grand Theft Auto 5” last month was a single, homogeneous block, there’s room for the ‘Battlefield’ haters to buy some games while they await their precious annual ‘Call of Duty’ release next month. Yet, strangely, it seems that many of the game-games we’re getting in October are compilations. There’s Capcom, continuing to thrash away with their broken and splintered lumber at a blob of protein that has long since become unrecognizable as the equine cadaver it once was. Then there’s Konami joining the festivities and thrashing at their once-beloved ‘Castlevania’ franchise, seemingly in the hope that if they expose the gaming public to 3D ‘Castlevania’ enough, we will eventually start liking it (here’s a hint: we won’t). The folks at Team 17 have also decided to grace the world with a compilation of their ‘Worms’ comedy/strategy franchise, whole the “Angry Birds” Guys have provided a compilation of their ‘Star Wars’ themed games (it’s a tough call whether this is shovelware or not).

Besides “Battlefield 4,” the other guaranteed hit coming in October is the Nintendo 3DS exclusive (boo) release of “Pokemon X/Y.” Showing no fear of this juggernaut of monster catching/training, Activision is releasing a new ‘Skylanders’ game at nearly the same time, perhaps in some ridiculous attempt to show that the Big 3 Western Publishers are more popular than Nintendo (here’s a prediction: “Pokemon X/Y” will sell a hojillion more copies than the entire ‘Skylanders’ series). But what other new, non-compilation releases are there in October? Well, there’s a new ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ a new ‘Pac Man’ platformer (WTF? WHY?!), a new version of “Rocksmith” (I’m not even sure whether this is a distinct game or just an update.), an interesting-looking Indie release called “Two Brothers,” and a new annual release in the ‘F1’ racing series, that gets to be Steam exclusive for a month before also hitting the Xbox 360.

Then there are the exclusives… which are looking unfortunately unimpressive for October. Of course, for once the Xbox 360 is getting the NOTHING it deserves, so that was a pleasant surprise. Maybe Microsoft is ‘pulling a Nintendo’ and completely axing support for their current hardware in anticipation of their upcoming XBONE disaster. Regardless, Sony’s PlayStation 3 is getting a new entry in the ‘Disgaea’ franchise of super-grindy TRPGs with lolis, as well as a new super-serious-I-wish-I-was-a-movie-instead game, “Beyond: Two Souls.” The WiiU is getting a couple of semi-exclusives, one, a brand-new ‘Sonic’ game, “Sonic: Lost World,” that looks to follow the “Super Mario Galaxy” theory of 3D platforming (and thus has a chance of being another one of Sega’s rare good ‘Sonic’ games), the other, a barely-enhanced port of the greatest 3D ‘Zelda’ game ever made, “Wind Waker HD.” While ‘Sonic’ is shared with the 3DS and ‘Zelda’ is shared with… the Gamecube, both of these games look like solid purchases for depressed WiiU owners who have been doubting their early adoption of Nintendo’s latest console.

Handhelds are also getting a handful (*rimshot*) of new exclusives. And by ‘handhelds,’ I mean the 3DS. While the Vita is only getting the delayed release of “Valhalla Knights 3” (a sequel in a horrible, horrible franchise that was supposed to befoul us with its stench last month), in addition to “Pokemon X/Y,” the 3DS is getting a new ‘Rune Factory’ game (with lolis), a new ‘Etrian Odyssey’ game (with lolis), and a non-sequel item shop simulator (with lolis), “HomeTown Story.” Ehh… nothing there really looks all that impressive, and wouldn’t even interest me if it was available on a non-handheld platform.

October looks pretty dismal from pretty much every perspective. Perhaps this situation is being caused by non-shovelware developers and publishers slowing down their 7th Generation work in order to focus on the 8th Generation hardware launching next month. Lack of new releases makes my backlog happy, but there are still plenty of things I’m interested in coming this month. I’d give “Pokemon X/Y” a shot if Nintendo released a 3DS player for the WiiU, but I will otherwise pass on that franchise that has already eaten so many of my hours. I’ll definitely be grabbing “Sonic: Lost World” for WiiU, and will probably pick up “Zelda: Wind Waker HD” when I can find a copy for dirt cheap, as it is one of my favorite games in the franchise. I don’t know which platform I should choose for “Two Brothers,” as the PC version doesn’t seem to be coming to Steam, but the WiiU version would force me to deal with the Nintendo eShop (*shudder*). Everything else seems to be a part of a franchise that I either have no interest in or have been soured on after trying. The two new IPs, “Beyond: Two Souls” and “HomeTown Story” are like polar opposites of the gaming taste spectrum, with neither one offering anything that appeals to me.

Backlog Embiggened: +2.5 (“Wind Waker HD” counts as 0.5, as I’ve already played the original version and would move the remake to a position in my backlog that’s lower than sedimentary bedrock)

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View Chris's Profile


Wrote on10/06/13 at 12:33 PM CT

Final update - Castlevania Collection has been pushed back on week to November but don't worry, Nintendo is getting an exclusive: Monster High 13 Wishes - make sure you reserve your copy today!

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View Chris's Profile


Wrote on10/06/13 at 12:01 PM CT

And although they do not warrant a separate game entry, both Borderlands 2 and Dishonored are being re-released in their "Game of the Year" Editions next weed (Oct. 8th). So anyone who held out this long (and doesn't want them on Steam) can finally be happy.

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Wrote on10/06/13 at 11:47 AM CT

Fixed - for anyone who hasn't played Deux Ex Human Revolution yet, it's probably a good time to start.

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View Jonzor's Profile


Wrote on10/06/13 at 12:34 AM CT

Missed one. Granted, the official MJ release date is wrong.

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