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Backlog: The Embiggening – November, 2019

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By Nelson Schneider - 10/27/19 at 04:31 PM CT

Alas, in this world of corporate corruption where our government by-and-for the People is railed against by our own politicians, who inform us that “private” ownership puts things in the hands of the people, whereas “public” ownership puts things in the hands of some evil, bureaucratic entity (when, in reality, that’s the exact opposite of the Truth), it’s no surprise that November is known primarily for the phenomenon of Black Friday, rather than the day that comes before it. Indeed, there is often so little to be thankful for…

But this year, Black Friday is destined to be a non-entity, as the corporate retail machinery started to panic-grind into high gear a month earlier, moving the official start of the Winter Holiday Shopping Season to mid-October. What’s next? I’ll be getting X-mas gifts for my birthday in August?

Much like the Spice in the world of ‘Dune,’ the shovelware must flow. And flow it will in November. There are no unnecessary annual releases in this particular category this month, but there are plenty of licensed swill titles and a couple bits of super-casual trash. We’ve got “Race with Ryan,” a Kart game based on… some annoying YouTube kid?! We’ve got a new ‘Star Wars’ title by EA, an obligatory tie-in for the next Olympic Games by Nintendo, a tie-in for the ‘Jumanji’ movie franchise (And let’s just be clear, videogames based on non-video games are typically NOT shovelware – stuff based on Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer, Shadowrun, Battletech, Settlers of Catan, and whatnot – but ‘Jumanji’ is a movie about a board game. Any actual ‘Jumanji’ board game is ALSO licensed shovelware based on the film IP.), a ‘Garfield Kart’ sequel based on the long-in-the-tooth comic strip, and some sort of Disney thing about ‘Tsum Tsum,’ whatever the hell that is. Then we’ve got “Zumba: Burn it Up!” and “Just Dance 2020” for the non-gamers out there who somehow own game consoles.

Over of half the remaining November releases are ports, remasters, remakes, or otherwise rehashes of old material that publishers are desperately trying to squeeze to see if a few more pennies will trickle out. As has been par for the course lately, the Nintendo Switch is at the forefront of this dismal behavior, with 6 ports all to itself, “Soccer: Tactics & Glory,” “WRC 8,” “My Friend Pedro,” “Super Lucky’s Tale,” “Layton’s Mysterious Journey,” and “A Hat in Time.” The Switch is also colluding with the other consoles to ensure vast quantities of old crap are mistaken as new by the less informed, sharing ports of “Valfaris,” “Raging Loop,” “Dusk Diver,” “Stranded Sails” with the PlayStation 4, and sharing ports of “Slay the Spire,” “Children of Morta,” and “Close to the Sun” with both the PS4 and the XBONE. The PS4 is showing weaker portage than usual in November, with just “Truck Driver,” “Astroneer,” “VR Ping Pong Pro” (which was delayed twice now), and “Mars Odyssey” (also PSVR) coming down the pipe from elsewhere. The XBONE, on the other hand, is showing surprisingly renewed portage, with “Narcos: Rise of the Cartels” and “Northgard,” as well as three ports it’s sharing with the PS4, “Civilization 6,” “Citadel: Forged with Fire,” and “Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts.”

With all the crap and old stuff out of the way, we didn’t quite manage to crack double-digits for legitimately new multi-platform releases in November. It’s a fairly diverse lot, though, but lacking in titles with significant name recognition or pre-built hype. There’ Strategy game “World of Warships: Legends;” a Driving sequel in “Need for Speed Heat;” vile Roguelike sequel, “Risk of Rain 2;” and some sort of tongue-in-cheek Sim, “Bee Simulator.” “Sparklite,” which I’m mildly excited about, was postponed to November from last month. Lastly, the big hype-generating machine of the month is the long-awaited (by its insane fanboys) and heavily Kickstarted (by those same insane fanboys), “Shenmue 3,” which looks just as pointless and terrible as the first two ‘Shenmue’ games when they debuted on the Dreamcast and Xbox OG.

Exclusives did manage to crack double-digits, though just barely, and with a whole lot of miserable stuff destined to go multi-platform in the future in an attempt to break even. PC is getting the timed exclusive release (for a whole month) of 1950’s noir-style Adventure, “Blacksad: Under the Skin.” PlayStation 4 is getting “Train Sim World 2020,” “Tokyo Ghoul,” “Conception Plus” – a breeding RPG seemingly developed to ‘inspire’ the Japanese citizenry to boost their birth rates – and, lastly, Hideo Kojima’s latest mind-fuck, “Death Stranding.” Switch is getting mostly real no-name Brand-X nonsense, with “Instant Sports,” “Farm Expert 2019,” “The Unicorn Princess,” and “Super Street Racer.” Though it’s also getting a new Survival Horror sequel, “Deadly Premonition Origins,” as well as the first mainline ‘Pokemon’ game(s) to be playable on something that isn’t strictly a handheld, “Pokemon Sword/Shield Versions.” And to prove that this crazy, mixed-up world isn’t completely insane and upside-down, the XBONE is getting nothing – and all was right in the world.

Yikes, what a dismal month of ports! I’m still keeping an eye on “Sparklite,” and will snag it whenever it’s cheap – release dates ultimately matter little to me compared to discounts. I’ll also pick-up either “Pokemon Sword” or “Pokemon Shield” if I ever find them for reasonably cheap. It’s been ages since I’ve played a real ‘Pokemon’ RPG (“Pokemon GO” does NOT count), and I don’t think I’ll be quite as bothered with the formulaic nature of the series after skipping all of them since “Pokemon Diamond.” Plus I’ll be able to play it on my TV without emulation or an extra gimmicky adapter like the Super Game Boy or the Gameboy Player!

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