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Backlog: The Embiggening – November, 2016

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By Nelson Schneider - 11/06/16 at 03:29 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future! Now that Halloween is over, once again, Americans will look forward to that next great commercial holiday. No! Not Thanksgiving, as most Americans don’t have anything to be thankful for (as illustrated by the election travesty that is currently going on between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton). Black Friday and Christmas will be here in but a few short weeks, forcing game publishers to rush things out the door, regardless of their state of readiness, in order to meet arbitrary deadlines. The result is, as usual, a LOT of game releases. But many of them will suffer quality control issues.

The shovelware is relatively tame for November. Someone made a ‘Digimon’ MMO, Nordic Games is channeling Ubisoft and releasing yet another unwanted/unneeded “We Sing” karaoke ‘game,’ and “Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers” seems to be a ‘Smash Bros.’ inspired Beat ‘Em Up. There’s another ‘Sword Art Online’ game based on the anime/manga series, as well as Volume 1 (so you KNOW there are plans to make more of them) of “Marvel Pinball: Epic Collection.” Soccer fans can look forward to yet another annual release of ‘Football Manager,’ this time with a touch option. Finally, the PC-like consoles are getting a port of last year’s PC release of “Star Wars: Battlefront.”

Segwaying nicely into ports and remasters, every 8th Gen console (even the WiiU!) is getting the ‘Warmastered’ edition of “Darksiders” and the PS4 and XBONE are getting another (or maybe the same one with a delayed release date, I don’t know or particularly care) compilation of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ games. Two digital-to-physical conversions are coming this month: Both the delayed release of the most-definitely-good “Steamworld Collection” and the disc-pressing of budget, B-rate comedy cooking title, “Overcooked.” Overall, it’s going to be a fairly innocuous month compared to the rest of the 8th Gen in its entirety.

Legit (non-shovelware) multi-platform releases are looking… healthier?... than they have in months. And by ‘healthy,’ I don’t necessarily mean ‘good,’ I just mean that there are a large number of them and that the releases fall into a number of different genres/styles. Actually, November’s multi-plats can be easily divided into three layers of strata.

The top layer of November multi-plats features a predictable annual release of a new ‘Call of Duty’ PvP FPS, this time dubbed “Infinite Warfare” (So, what? It’s named after the United States’ foreign policy?), as well as the long, long, long time coming release of “Final Fantasy Versus 13 15,” which looks like the worst entry in the series since “Final Fantasy 8” (yes, I will be skipping it, even if it eventually comes to Steam). Regardless of quality, those bitterest of enemies, the FPS fanboys and RPG fanboys, will be out in their respective tribes buying-up these games and fighting about them all over the Internet. I expect both games to move a LOT of units… and to be crap.

The middle layer of November multi-plats features two sequels for crappy 7th Generation games nobody really asked for: “Watch Dogs 2” and “Dishonored 2.” Maybe those sad souls who started gaming last-gen have some fondness for these IPs, so they might move some copies… but they won’t gain a lot of mindshare.

At the bottom of the November multi-plat barrel there lies some Indie/retro/arcade stuff that will face impossible odds releasing against juggernaut names like ‘CoD’ and ‘FF.’ “Super Dungeon Bros.” looks like a stylish, modern “Gauntlet” clone, but it does support 4-player local and cross-platform coop, so it’s likely I will end up playing it out of desperation, despite my lack of love for “Gauntlet.” “Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 + Arcade Collection” looks to bring more of the modernized arcade experience from “Pac-Man Championship Edition” to the table… and little else (if you love ‘Pac-Man,’ it’ll be a must-own). Then theres… “Stern Pinball Arcade.” Yes, let’s release a no-name Pinball game against the new ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Final Fantasy!’ Clearly if someone isn’t interested in those games, they will love some crappy Pinball! No. Finally, the PS4 and XBONE will be sharing custody of “Earth’s Dawn,” a no-budget, no-name title that, from what I’ve heard and seen, seems to take unfortunate inspiration from “Salt and Sanctuary,” and therefore from ‘Dark Souls.’

November’s exclusives are looking relatively numerous as well, though PC is the only platform getting the goods, with “Owlboy,” “Tyranny,” and “Xanadu Next,” all of which will find their way into my backlog once they go on sale. Sony is getting mostly Visual Novels up the butt, with “Root Letter” (which I think was delayed from a slated release a few months ago) and the next part of the ‘Steins;Gate’ series. Both VN’s will be on PS4 and Vita. Sony will also be getting a new J-Fighter for the PS4 and PS3 (LOL), but it’s just another ‘BlazBlue’ sequel, so there’s nothing to get excited about. Microsoft’s Xboxen are getting… NOTHING! All is well in the world! The WiiU is getting one miserable third-party release in “Runbow Deluxe Edition,” while the 3DS will be bringing the thunder with the newest and greatest (more likely samiest) ‘Pokemon’ iterations: “Sun” and “Moon” (which will likely cause Niantic’s “Pokemon GO” to hemorrhage even more users). The 3DS will also be bringing the rain, with new, samey iterations of both ‘Mario Party’ (WHY WON’T IT DIE!?) and ‘Harvest Moon.’

November’s VR releases have, expectedly, begun to taper-off after the launch of the PSVR. PC VR platforms (namely the Vive and Rift) are getting a fair number of unimpressive-looking titles, including “Lifelique VR Museum,” “Staircase of Darkness,” “The Diner Duo,” “Above,” and some Dorito’s-themed shovelware. PSVR is getting “Robinson: The Journey” and “Eagle Flight.” In other words, VR isn’t worth buying yet… on any platform.

There are a large number of extant videogame franchises where I feel that, if you’ve played one, you’ve played them all. ‘Pokemon’ falls into that category, but it has been some time since I last played “Diamond/Pearl/Platinum,” so I’d be game for another run… if “Sun/Moon” is also a launch title for the Nintendo Switch. Other than ‘Pokemon,’ the presence of “Owlboy,” “Tyranny,” and “Xanadu Next” as PC exclusives just reinforces why I was willing to give PC gaming another try after hating on it for so long. I go where the games I want to play are, and right now, they are mostly on PC.

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