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Backlog: The Embiggening – November, 2018

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By Nelson Schneider - 11/03/18 at 04:31 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future! Now that the month of fright and horror is in the rear view mirror, it’s time to crank-up the Holiday Season for 2018, with evergreen trees, fat men in pagan elf costumes, and a variety of cheerful music with obscurely dark lyrics – all to get American consumers in the mood to spend their money. And why not spend some of that money on videogame gifts for the kiddies?! Christmas is only 50-some days away, you know!

After the terrifying deluge of shovel-ready crap last month, this month seems positively sedate. There are only 5 shovelware titles, and nearly all of them are Sports garbage. Of course, the mind-numbing minigames of the ‘Carnival Games’ franchise are back for another crack at the current-gen leader (PS4) and next-gen leader (Switch), but everyone should already know to avoid it by now (though I can imagine clueless grandfolks buying it in droves for the kiddies). Then we’ve got a new ‘PGA Golf’ game, a new ‘NBA Playgrounds’ game, and not one, but two competing titles in the hotly-contested field of little girls riding horses: “My Riding Stables: Life with Horses” and “My Little Riding Champion.” I’m nearly speechless… There must be some sort of collusion involved when two companies release two similar titles in such a niche area in the same month.

Guess who’s leading the pack in ports again for November? If you said, “SWITCH,” give yourself a pat on the back. Yup, once the third parties decided they don’t hate Nintendo anymore, all of them have been tripping over themselves to throw ports a the latest hardware out of Japan, with “Psyvariar Delta,” “Diablo 3,” “ARK,” “Moto Racer 4,” “Civilization 6,” “Minecraft: Story Mode – Season 2,” and a compilation of 40-year-old SNK games all hitting that platform. The Switch will also be sharing some titles with the former King of Ports, with a remaster of “Flashback” and ports of “Moonlighter” and “Trailblazers” hitting the PS4 as well. In a lovely show of reciprocity, the PS4 will be getting “Soldam” from the Switch. “Project Highrise” is making its way from PC to all of the platforms, while “Wreckfest” makes its way to most of them, and “World of Final Fantasy” is finally making a sad, late debut on the XBONE. Lastly, the PS4 and XBONE are sharing the remastered “Spyro Reignited Trilogy,” which seems kind of tone-deaf, as the only people who still care about 3D platformers are Nintendo fans.

With all those ports, there’s barely room in the release schedule for anything else, as is obvious from the pitiful amount of new multi-platform releases. For fans of fast-moving vehicles, there’s “Ride 3” and “GRIP: Combat Racing,” while for fans of slow-moving vehicles, there’s “Farming Simulator 19.” There are four sequels in big-name franchises too: “Hitman 2” and “Darksiders 3” are more niche, while the budget busters of “Battlefield 5” and “Fallout 76” will surely rake in huge sales and profits, despite neither providing what their established fanbases want. I’m honestly surprised to see a third ‘Darksiders’ after such a long time without one, but apparently anyone with an IP will try to exploit it to death.

With mult-plats looking that grim, exclusives are guaranteed to look worse (they always do). Microsoft’s got nuthin’, as usual, while Sony has a late-to-the-party Halloween-themed Fighting game, “Omen of Sorrow,” and a VR-optional take on ‘Tetris’ in “Tetris Effect.” Nintendo’s padding their exclusives with the one-game-in-two release of “Pokemon: Let’s GO!” with an Evee Version and a Pikachu Version. Lastly, VR fans (at least PlayStation VR fans, but we’ll see how long it stays that way) can look forward to a ‘Gungrave’ sequel exclusively for headset owners. That’s an IP that hasn’t been dusted-off since the PS2 era!

Yikes! That’s a horrible month to lead into the Holiday Season. The only releases that were even on my radar were “Fallout 76” and “Pokemon: Let’s GO!” but I can’t say I’m particularly interested in either of them. I’d far rather wait for a more in-depth ‘Pokemon’ game on Switch, and the ability to interact with “Pokemon GO!” on mobile doesn’t interest me. “Fallout 76” is the type of thing the MJ Crew would probably like to play as a group if it weren’t for the fact that public play is going to be compulsory for a long while. Oddly enough, Bethesda seems to be bending over backwards to combat griefing asshats and is promising private server functionality somewhere down the line… but I can’t help but wonder why public games are necessary in the first place.

Backlog Embiggened: +0 (maybe +1)

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