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Backlog: The Embiggening – March, 2020

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By Nelson Schneider - 02/23/20 at 03:15 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future. With the onset of March, we bid farewell to the misery of Winter and begin to look forward to the rebirth ceremonies associated with Springtime and the Spring Equinox, representing the long-fought victory of warmth, light, and life over cold, darkness and death. March is also the month that traditionally “comes in like a lion and out like a lamb”… but it looks like both of those animals had chronic diarrhea, based on the games being released this month.

As per the usual, we’ve got three piles based on kids’ TV coming in March, two based on anime and one based on something far worse. The anime games are based on the grammatically-torturous “My Hero Ones Justice” and the questionably-drawn “One Piece,” while the non-anime game is based on something called “Gigantosaurus,” but conveniently includes “The Game” in the title, calling itself out as shovelware for those who might just think “Gigantosaurus” is a genus of sauropod. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we’ve got a licensed game based on a TV show that is emphatically NOT for kids: “Narcos: Rise of the Cartels.” Other than those, there are some rare delights coming in the form of shovelware from first-party developers! Yes, both Nintendo and Microsoft are digging deep into the bottom of the barrel, releasing a new super-casual non-game in “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and a cynical PvP Arena Shooter in “Bleeding Edge.”

There are *only* 8 ports, remasters, remakes, compilations, and otherwise-named repackaging of old content as new. And that fact that *only* 8 seems like a small amount compared to the norm is kind of frightening. Anyway, the Switch is, naturally, still leading the charge, as the “new” hot market, with ports of “Railway Empire” and “Pokemon Mystery Dungeon,” as well as a port of “RPG Maker MV,” which it’s sharing with pretty much every other platform. The Switch and PlayStation are also getting compilations of aggravating exploration-based ‘La-Mulana’ games and ‘Langrisser’ Tactical RPGs, the latter of which is being shared with PC as well, while the PS4 is getting a remaster of “Ys: Memories of Celceta” all to itself. Meanwhile, the PS4 and XBONE are sharing ports of both “Torchlight 2” and “Remnant: From the Ashes,” which both have been exclusive to PC for a while.

If it wasn’t for the overwhelming amounts of shovelware and ports, industry watchers might be concerned about the dearth of releases within the games industry. There are only 2 legitimately new multi-platform releases dropping in March, and neither of them is particularly confidence inspiring. There’s a B-rate offroad Racing title, “Overpass,” and yet another ‘DOOM’ sequel. Whee…

Platform-exclusive releases aren’t looking particularly stellar in March, either. There’s a timed-exclusive PC release of “Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2,” a sequel to an ancient PC game based on a tabletop RPG (and therefore, not shovelware) that will be hitting PS4 and XBOX in December. There’s a garbage Souls-like sequel coming exclusively to PS4 in “Nioh 2.” Lastly, Microsoft is pushing out an “Ori and the Blind Forest” sequel, in “Ori and the Will of the Wisps.” Yeah…

It may be a repackaging of old stuff, but I’m planning to pick up “Langrisser I & II” on Steam, since the last time those games were available for purchase was on the Sega Saturn in 1998… in Japan, and it’ll be nice to have an official localization. Other than that, I’ll keep an open mind about “Ori and the Will of the Wisps,” even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the first game, since sequels are so often better than originals due to the developers’ ability to refine their concept and knock off some of the spurs.

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