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Backlog: The Embiggening – July, 2020

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By Nelson Schneider - 06/28/20 at 03:15 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future. Here we sit in July, right at the height of the Summer Game Drought Season, with COVID-19 showing no signs of relenting and “going away with the Summer heat,” as our Dear Leader promised – in his infinite ignorance – that it would. So we’re all still stuck at home with nothing but our (huge enormous) backlogs to keep us company. Yet, surprisingly, this year’s annual Summer Game Drought has been remarkably mild, with a large slug of titles slated for release in July… and it’s not all crap!

Of course, we will start with the crap. Get your shovels ready, folks, because it’s getting a little deep in here. We’ve got two upcoming anime-based games in “Fairy Tale” and the Junk-Latin titled “Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris.” We’ve got two upcoming annual releases in two officially licensed Racing series, “NASCAR Heat 5” and “F1 2020.” Shockingly, VR (specifically PlayStation VR… the all-but-dead add-on for the all-but-dead PS4) is getting a new exclusive, but it’s, unfortunately, a licensed ‘Iron Man’ game based on Marvel’s/Disney’s IP. Lastly there are two bits of shovelware that are also ports (my favorite), the licensed ‘Ghost Busters’ game and a no-name knock-off of HGTV’s house-flipping shows, creatively entitled “House Flipper.”

Speaking of ports… there will always be ports, it seems. Though July’s port flood is looking like more of a trickle. Of course, the Nintendo Switch is still the biggest offender, with no-account developers and publishers alike trying to horn-in on a slice of that sweet, sweet Nintendo Tax. Every single port releasing in July will hit the Switch, though a few will also hit other platforms. There’s “Ancestors Legacy,” “Catherine,” “Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town” – which is, for those not in the know, a port of the Game Boy Advance title “Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town – a compilation of the two ‘Cat Quest’ games, and “Warhammer 40K: Mechanicus” is finally hitting consoles two years after its initial Steam release.

There are a handful of legit new multi-platform releases coming in July, and they run the gamut. There’s a 2D Beat ‘em Up sequel in “Streets of Rage 4” (Chris is really excited about it for some reason, so I assume we’ll coop it once the COVID goes away), an artsy Indie platformer in “Spirit of the North,” and a ‘Smash Bros.’ knock-off starring Indie game characters (that totally isn’t “Brawlout”), “Bounty Battle.” Things go downhill quickly from there, though, with a PvP Hero Shooter, “Rocket Arena,” and a word-salad Visual Novel by Nippon Ichi whose title is so borked I don’t even want to type it.

There are a pathetic 3 exclusives coming in July, which is still a remarkable number compared to how few there have been across the board in recent years. Sony is releasing “Ghosts of Sushi,” its historical samurai-themed knock-off of “The Witcher 3,” which also sounds like the gaseous anal emissions that appear after going to an all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet. Meanwhile, Nintendo is releasing a new ‘Paper Mario’ RPG that actually looks good (especially compared to the last several entries in the series) and is getting the exclusive release of the second official entry in Rising Star Games’ ‘Deadly Premonition’ series (though it might not stay that way).

Sifting through the sludge of July’s releases reveals a few nuggets I wouldn’t be afraid to try. “Streets of Rage 4” is not really by cup of tea, but if Chris (and/or Nick) wants to couch coop through it, it would be far better than most of the other couch coop choices we’ve got waiting. “Ghosts of Tsushima” looks somewhat ambitious, but it’s definitely not the type of game I’d buy (or borrow) an end-of-life console for. If it comes to PC like “Horizon: Zero Dawn” and some of Sony’s other first-party titles, I’ll give it a second look. “Paper Mario: The Origami King,” however, is my cup of tea, and I’ll be very interested in playing a new ‘Mario’ RPG for the first time in a decade, while also blowing the dust off my Switch.

Backlog Embiggened: +3

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