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Backlog: The Embiggening – December, 2020

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By Nelson Schneider - 11/29/20 at 05:46 PM CT

Welcome to the final look into the future for the Plague Year of 2020! It’s been a long, tiresome, awful ride of a year across the board, not just for Games Industry watching, and it’ll be good to start fresh in 2021 with a new President, a new COVID vaccine, new consoles… and the same old gridlock, polarization, and crappy game releases. Some things seem like they will never change.

With the Holiday season coming up, of course there’s shovelware, as publishers frantically scramble to push licensed trash out the door in time for ignorant gift shoppers to be bamboozled by name recognition. But this month, the licensed shovelware looks a little different than it usually does: We’ve got games based on the TV show “Peeky Blinders” and the choreographed-violence movie franchise, ‘John Wick.’ Usually, licensed shovelware is targeted toward kids and based on whatever shonen anime or educational pre-school show happens to be ‘popular’ at the time. But these two IPs are definitely NOT for kids…

In the ‘too casual to live’ shovelware subcategory, we’ve got… a lot of really weird stuff. KORG is pooping out a new noise-making thing for the Switch, apparently as a successor to the one they made for the DS. Good-Feel (which used to make good games like “WarioLand: Shake It!”) is releasing a SHMUP called “Monkey Barrels,” Aksys is publishing a dress-up game called “Pretty Princess Party,” Nintendo themselves are pushing a second ‘Fitness Boxing’ game, and Scott Games is continuing to flog the ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ meme.

Once again, there are gobs and gobs of old games getting shuffled around onto new hardware in the name of making a buck. And, of course, as it has been since the hardware launched, the Nintendo Switch is getting the lion’s share of these older titles dumped on it. Microsoft is giving Nintendo fans access to both “Ori and the Blind Forest” and “Ori and the Will of the Wisps,” while other outfits are bringing “Indivisible,” “Commandos 2” (maybe this time?), ‘Smash Bros.’ knock-off “Bounty Battle,” and compilation “Space Invaders Forever” (which is shockingly the product of Taito and ININ, with Atari (delenda est) having nothing to do with it). Xboxers will finally have the opportunity to play “Dragon Quest 11” (though I doubt they have the capability of appreciating it), while the most mindlessly fanatical Sony fanboys (who were given the ‘privilege’ of pre-ordering PS5 systems at launch) will also be given the ‘privilege’ of re-buying “Devil May Cry 5” and “Spirit of the North” for their new hardware. Oh, and anyone with a 9th Gen non-hybrid console also can have the privilege of re-buying “Warhammer: Chaosbane.” Gosh, if the libraries are all going to be the same, wouldn’t it be nice if both of these consoles just allowed people to stick their old discs in their new systems and play these cross-generation games? At least Microsoft seems to agree with me…

With all the crap out of the way, we once again come to new releases. Are you all excited about the new exclusives you can play on your brand new (impossible to find or purchase) hardware? Well, don’t be, ‘cause there ain’t any! But we do have a diverse array of multi-platform releases that will satisfy both those with taste and those without. Starting at the bottom, with the crappiest crap, we’ve got “Chronos: Before the Ashes,” a deplorable Soulslike prequel to “Remnant: From the Ashes.” Next, there’s a cut-down mafia simulator in “Empire of Sin.” Moving into the range of ‘someone sane might want to play this,’ we’ve got “Puyo Pyuo Tetris 2,” which I can’t imagine is appreciably different/better than its predecessor. Then there’s “Override 2: Super Mech League,” a sequel to “Override: Mech City Assault.” Unfortunately the MJ Crew hasn’t gotten around to playing the original “Override” yet, but the concept of multi-pilot mechs in a Fighting game is, at least, interesting. Lastly, we’ve got the two end-of-year heavy-hitters: Toon “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey,” “Immortals: Fenyx Rising” and the oft-delayed open-world FPS, “Cyberpunk 2077.” I’m really interested in both of these game, though I absolutely loathe the new title that Ubisoft slapped on “Gods and Monsters” after the dipsticks at Monster Energy Drink sued them for trademark infringement. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO MISTAKE A GAME REFERENCING THE GODS AND MONSTERS OF CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY FOR A GROSS-TASTING ENERGY DRINK?! At the risk of sounding anti-Semitic, we really do need to start killing-off some lawyers. There are too many of them, and this is the type of nonsense that happens when they’re allowed to come up with their own ways of staying occupied.

Wow, it looks like December will be another surprisingly-okay month! I’m really looking forward to “Gods and Monsters” “Immortals: Fenyx Rising” (Couldn’t they have least spelled it ‘Phoenix’ or ‘Phoinix’?!) and “Cyberpunk 2077”. I’m also considering the possibility of playing “Override 2,” provided the first game is actually fun when we finally get around to coop-ing it.

Backlog Embiggened: +3

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