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Backlog: The Embiggening – December, 2017

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By Nelson Schneider - 11/26/17 at 02:37 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future! Yule, and all of its syncretic Abrahamic holidays are just around the corner. What last-minute releases can we look forward to before the end of the first year of the Trump Administration? Let’s see!

What’s this? NO SHOVELWARE for December?! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Well… I guess I do have one correction to make from prior months. Remember “Battle Chasers: Night War”? Well, it’s getting ported to the Switch… and it’s apparently based on an obscure comic book/graphic novel. Therefore, it must be shovelware, despite the fact that it actually looks decent. There’s also a port of an annual “WWE” wrestling release on the Switch… so there’s that.

Of course, even that one barely-laden shovel this month is full of ports, because ports seem to be all we get anymore. The Switch is leading the way again this month, with ports of a butt-load of Indie titles (which are apparently being called ‘Nindies’ by marketing), including “The End is Nigh,” “This is the Police,” “Azure Striker Gunvolt” (which was supposed to release in both October and November of this year, but didn’t), and “Ultimate Chicken Horse.” Interestingly, most of these Nindie ports mark the games’ first physical releases, which is interesting in and of itself. Outside the Switch, both of the PC-like consoles are getting mass compilations of TellTale’s “The Walking Dead” VN, ports of last year’s Warhammer 40K FPS, “Space Hulk: Deathwing,” and 2006’s best Action/Adventure, “Okami HD” (PC is getting in on this last one as well). Meanwhile the PortStation is still trying to live up to its negative reputation, and will be getting “Raiden 5” and “Dead Rising 4,” while the XBONE(X) will be getting a port of the abysmal almost-shovelware PvP cash-in, “PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds.”

Legit multi-platform releases are looking incredibly sparse and questionable for December. There’s only ONE GAME, “Steep: Winter Games Edition,” which I believe is a sequel to last year’s “Steep.” If it isn’t actually a sequel, then it’s the most blatantly greedy shovelware port ever conceived…

There are a large number of exclusives releasing in December, but oddly enough, most of them seem to be digital Nindies coming to the Switch’s Nintendo Network. Normally, these things don’t provide enough warning before they just abruptly appear on their respective digital storefronts (hence why Steam is also rarely listed in these articles as producing massive quantities of new things when it adds dozens of titles per week). Unfortunately for Nintendo fanboys, most of these Nindies are just timed exclusives that will appear on Steam and maybe PSN/Live in 2018, but are hitting the Switch first, probably to take advantage of its novelty and the fact that 2017 will be its first holiday season. Anyway, Steam will be getting a miserable batch of exclusives to bolster PC haters’ ‘NO GAEMZ’ arguments, including “ChemCaper Act 1,” “RoboTraps,” “Space Leprechaun,” and “Solitaire Mystery: Stolen Power.” (Wow, that all looks awful…). Sony isn’t accomplishing much, merely porting “Tokyo Xanadu,” a low-budget ‘Persona’ rip-off by Falcom, from the Vita to the PS4 (It’s still Sony exclusive, though!). Microsoft still has no idea what they’re doing, but at least they’ve got one game coming that can only be played on their platforms: “Hello Neighbor,” in which the player attempts to investigate Mr. Belvedere’s murder dungeon, will be hitting both XBONE and Windows. Then we come to the Nintendo Network timed-exclusive Nindies I mentioned above: “Wargroove,” “Runner3,” “Flipping Death,” “Dandara,” and “Celeste” aren’t really the types of games that inspire rabid fanbases… perhaps they’re not just relying on the Switch’s novelty, but also its still-rather-small library to sell units to desperately bored owners (who have somehow already blown through the Switch’s massive first-party titles). In addition to those Nindies, though, erstwhile second-party developer, Monolith Soft, is bringing a new ‘Xenoblade’ game to the Switch. While not a direct sequel to either the Wii’s “Xenoblade Chronicles” or the WiiU’s “Xenoblade Chronicles X,” “Xenoblade Chronicles 2” promises more of the same open-world RPG-ness from the prior two titles in the franchise.

VR isn’t quite dead this month either. The struggling alternative platform will end the year with a bang, with the rebooted “DOOM” by id/Bethesda Softworks making an appearance. While I can’t stand ‘DOOM’ in any of its iterations, this is, again, at least the type of game that deserves to be played in VR, instead of the samey rail-shooters and stationary Adventure titles VR kept pushing last year.

All-in-all, December will be another fairly crappy month, riddled with ports and old stuff being sold as new stuff. Honestly, we’re at the point where having discrete platforms is pointless, if every game is going to be shoveled around like a 10-cent whore. At least “Xenoblade Chronicles 2” adds another reason for me to buy a Switch (once I get over my very rational fear that Nintendo will release a NEW Switch XXL as soon as I find/purchase a vanilla one), and “Okami HD” will find its way into my Steam library once it hits bargain basement prices (though it won’t actually hit my backlog, because I already played “Okami” a decade ago).

Backlog Embiggened: +1

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