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Backlog: The Embiggening - February, 2014

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By Nelson Schneider - 02/02/14 at 06:07 PM CT

Welcome to another look into the near future. Like last year, February is proving to hold a bumper-crop of new releases after a disappointing and austere January. Also, miraculously, both licensed shovelware and multi-platform M-rated shooters are in short supply. So, with all the new games coming this month, surely my backlog will grow? Don’t count on it.

Two pieces of licensed trash still managed to appear this month: One, a tie-in to a movie that is itself a tie-in to the world’s greatest building-blocks; the other an annual release in the official religion of Rednecks (no, not Evangelical Christianity, the other one).

Outside of shovelware, the multi-platform releases don’t look particularly inspiring. First, there’s the PS4 and XBONE port of “Rayman Legends,” which was originally intended to be a WiiU exclusive before Ubisoft hedged their bets against the struggling 8th Generation pioneer and released the game on EVERYTHING. Then there’s the creatively-named 4th entry in the ‘Thief’ franchise, which started way back in 1998 on PC, simply called “Thief.” I’m mildly interested in this reboot, since it is the first entry in the franchise to appear on consoles, and the first to be from a generation in which polygonal graphics aren’t eyesores. Yet, since “Thief” is a first-person game and NOT coming to the WiiU, I’ll be keeping it on its native PC platform so I can get my Hydra on. Rounding out the multi-platform releases in February are three sequels nobody asked for: A D3 published sequel in the ‘Earth Defense Force’ series, a new 3D ‘Castlevania,’ and yet another goddamned ‘Final Fantasy 13’ game. Considering the hatred with which 3D ‘Castlevanias’ and “Final Fantasy 13” have been greeted by gamers and critics alike, it is mindboggling that Konami and Square Enix – once two (three) of the greatest companies in the history of game development – keep trying to shove this crap down our throats. More exposure to poop will not make us suddenly start liking poop!

As for exclusives, Sony looks to be hedging its bets, with some of their exclusives appearing on multiple Sony platforms. While this does little to bolster the value of the PS4, it does make the PS3 and Vita look more like companion hardware than competitors (Nintendo, are you paying attention?!). In February, all current Sony hardware is getting an incredibly low-budget abomination that looks like SNES-era shovelware, “Putty Squad.” Furthermore, the PS3 and Vita are sharing “Monster Hunter” knock-off, “Ragnarok Odyssey ACE.” To keep exclusivity going to some extent, though, the PS3 is getting two compilations of older franchises – ‘FarCry’ and ‘Tales of Symphonia’ – while the Vita is actually getting two exclusives (two more than usual!) – another “Monster Hunter” knock-off called “Toukiden: The Age of Demons” and a “Battle Royale” style Japanese survival horror thing (okay, maybe it’s not like “Battle Royale,” but when I think ‘murder amongst Japanese school children,’ I can’t think of anything else).

Microsoft is doing little to help support the foolish decision to buy an XBONE. Indeed, the only Microsoft exclusive (appearing on the Xbox 360, XBONE, and Windows) is a new ‘Plants vs. Zombies’ release. Then there’s a re-release of “Fable,” which originally appeared on the first Xbox, for the Xbox 360. Of course, it’s not like PC has any great non-MS releases on the schedule (hooray for stealth Steam releases!), with only a rally racing game to keep PC players busy (Racing with a mouse and keyboard? Yeah, have fun with that…).

Nintendo also doesn’t seem to be putting much effort into their 8th Generation hardware in February. At least, however, the first of their promised 2014 first-party WiiU games is coming this month: “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.” Aaaaand… that’s it for the WiiU! The 3DS is getting some second-party and third-party support in the form of a new ‘Professor Layton’ game and probably the most interesting-looking, in-demand Square Enix game in the last decade, “Bravely Default.” Yes, that is a stupid name, but at least the North American release has an abbreviated title that doesn’t involve flying fairies.

And that’s it! All those games, and the only ones on my radar are “Thief” and “Bravely Default.” Alas, Nintendo’s refusal to build 3DS support into the WiiU, and Square Enix’s refusal to port DS/3DS games to the WiiU means “Bravely Default” won’t be finding its way into my backlog anytime soon. Likewise, as a PC purchase, I won’t be grabbing “Thief” until it’s down to around $10 on Steam (maybe 6 months after release?).

Of course, I’m still curious how Sony and Microsoft intend to defeat the WiiU when they’re playing the exact same no-releases-after-launch game. Not even the multi-platform releases that have been passing over the WiiU are actually good, leaving Sony and MS on the hook, trying to sell devices that, without worthwhile exclusives, are ultimately useless.

Backlog Embiggened: +1

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