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Backlog: The Embiggening – October, 2020

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By Nelson Schneider - 09/26/20 at 05:00 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into… some sort of whirling physics vortex where time has no meaning. I mean, yeah, the constant wearing-down of our spirits upon the grinding wheel of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can no doubt cause many of us to go a little loopy, but I’ve been living that Quarantine Life since before it was cool, so I thought I’d be unaffected. Yet, October is bringing more than the horrors of an airborne plague and the dark Wiccan rituals of Samhain, it’s bringing shovelware by the shovelful and ports by the boatload, and all of this feels like déjà vu all over again.

I am… sooooo confused! In shovelware, we’ve got licensed swill based on ‘Karate Kid,’ ‘G.I. Joe,’ ‘Transformers,’ ‘Star Wars,’ and ‘Zoids’… so we must have traveled back in time to the ‘80s? But there’s also shovelware coming based on ‘Power Rangers,’ ‘Blair Witch,’ and ‘Nickelodeon’… so it must be the ‘90s? But, hold on, there’s also a game based on ‘Ben 10’ coming, so… it’s the ‘00s? But alas, the 2021 versions of the annual Sports titles in Hockey and Soccer reveal that we never really left the present, it’s just that shovelware developers have gone off the deep end!

Non-licensed shovelware is specifically homed-in on the poor, poor Nintendo Switch this coming month, with a glut of garbage that wouldn’t look out of place on the Wii. There’s “Instant Chef Party,” “Supermarket Shriek,” “Home Sheep Home,” “Hidden Objects Collection,” and a sequel to the ‘My Universe’ series, “Fashion Boutique,” which looks to helpfully reinforce gender norms for little girls in a world where deranged Leftists insist that scientific facts are social constructs and social constructs are inviolable rights. *shrug*

Another month, another boatload of old garbage being unloaded at the port-port… Some of these will seem familiar to regular readers, since the port developers can’t be bothered to make deadlines, even when dealing with aged, desiccated code. There’s vile Roguelike “Monstrum” hitting the consoles after half a decade of PC imprisonment (I apologize to console peasants on behalf of PC gamers everywhere for this atrocity.), a 2018 PSN game hitting other platforms in “The Persistence,” and “Cloudpunk” hitting consoles after 6 months of PC exclusivity. Oh, and the PortStation 4 is apparently really going to get “Earth Defense Force 5” this month. Honest Injun. The rest of the port deluge is hitting – say it with me now – THE NINTENDO SWITCH! Nintendo’s poor hybrid system is getting dumped on by “Pikmin 3,” “Descenders,” “Truck Driver,” a compilation of ‘Prinny’ games, “Iris Fall,” “Maid of Sker,” “Robbie Swifthand and the Orb of Mysteries,” “Worbital,” and “Ministry of Broadcast,” the last three of which are ports of Steam Droppings that never would have seen the light of day were it not for Lord GabeN’s foolish hands-off approach to curation. I’d like to apologize on behalf of PC gamers once again…

Seeing as it’s October and the cute little kiddies are all back to school and swamped with homework – in spite of the fact that lumping them all together into massive herds again before COVID has been ironed out is one of the dumbest things our leaders could have possibly chosen to do – the Games Industry has, naturally, opened the floodgates and released a large number of honest-to-goodness new games on a variety of platforms. Of course, just because they’re new – instead of rehashed, remastered, retreaded crap – doesn’t mean that they won’t be crap as well. And, in fact, despite quite a bit of genre diversity, there’s not a single multi-plat I want to play! For those who love Rhythm and terrible titles, there’s “Mad Rat Dead” by Nippon Ichi (I swear, their titles just keep getting worse). For those who love low-budget Lovecraftian horror, there’s a ‘Dark Pictures’ sequel, “Little Hope.” For those who love Ubisoft’s special brand of sprawling Sandbox, there’s “Watch Dogs: Legion.” For those who love terrible, terrible RPGs, there’s “Trails of Cold Steel 4” (I really can’t believe they’ve dragged out that toilet paper plot for FOUR games…). For those who love PC-style Strategy on consoles, there’s “Spacebase Startopia.” For those who love Survival Horror, there’s a ‘Remothered’ sequel, “Broken Porcelain.” For those who love banal Visual Novels, there’s a compilation of never-released-outside-Japan stories in “Robotics;Notes.” For those who love Racing, there’s “Ride 4.” For those who pine for the days of anthropomorphic animals in iffy 3D Platformers trying to steal Nintendo’s thunder, there’s “Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time.” (I love the subtitle on that last one… but I hate ‘Crash’ games.) Lastly, for those who don’t love anything except self-abuse and misery, there’s Soulslike knock-off, “Mortal Shell.” Nope, nope, and nope!

Alas, with new consoles on the horizon for both Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo’s the only platform holder getting any exclusives. But should raving Nintendo fanboys begin the process of loosening their anuses now in preparation to soil themselves throughout October? Nope! Out of the whopping THREE Nintendo Switch exclusives dropping in October, one is a Visual Novel, “Piofiore: Fated Memories.” Another is a budget slot-car style Racing game, “Tabletop Racing: World Tour.” The last one is actually a Nintendo first-party game, and it’s a sequel to the wildly popular ‘Mario Kart’ franchise… but it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve seen Nintendo do in a while: “Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit” sees Nintendo doubling-down on the expensive ‘toys-to-life’ fad they tried to corner with Amiibos, only now they’ve created a ‘Mario Kart’ game that requires players to buy remote controlled toy cars and track kits in order to layout meatspace karting courses in their homes. Really? A company whose home country has largely given up on PC/console gaming in favor or portable /mobile gaming because their tiny crackerbox apartments don’t have room for a TV and console… expects their customers to fill their crackerbox apartments with ‘Mario Kart’ tracks? Sure, the Western market by and large lives in bigger, suburban homes, but, YIKES, this is one super-duper-ultra niche product!

Eww, yuck, nope, and donotwant aptly describes my feelings towards October’s releases in four words.

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