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Backlog: The Embiggening – February, 2021

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By Nelson Schneider - 01/30/21 at 05:47 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future! February is the shortest month of the year, but with even the new Biden Administration at the reins, COVID doesn’t look to be going away anytime soon, and is, in fact, getting WORSE in some ways, with new variants that are more contagious and (possibly) more fatal. With worldwide industry and logistics severely hobbled by the virus, it’s probably too optimistic to expect to see good videogame releases this early in 2021 (in spite of the fact that videogames should be one of the least impacted industries due to largely digital distribution and the ability for coders and digital artists to work from anywhere). On to the crap!

We’re light on shovelware again in February. Two of the three titles are, unsurprisingly, also ports (but we’ll get to that in a moment), and both fall into the ‘Too Casual to Live’ category of shovelware, as they are the Gender Role Simulators targeted at little girls who no longer have feminine role models, thanks to the antics of Third-and-Fourth-Wave Feminism: “My Universe: My Baby” and “My Universe: Pet Clinic: Cats & Dogs.” The third piece of shovelware is an annualized Sports title: “Maximum Football 2020” (which sometimes has Doug Flutie’s name tied to it).

Unfortunately, the creeping menace of ports, remasters, remakes, compilations, and other methods of re-selling the gaming audience a lot of old crap under the guise of new crap remains unabated. As yet more evidence that 2021 is going to be “2020: Remastered,” most of the damage dealt by the scourge of ports is hitting the Nintendo Switch, but, at least at this early point in the year, the PlayStation 4 is taking a beating too… wait… PlayStation FOUR? We’re in the era of the PlayStation FIVE! Anyway, the Switch and PS4 are getting clubbed with mostly year+ old Indie and/or budget titles that originally launched on Steam: “HyperParasite,” “Azure Lane: Crosswave,” “Cthulhu Saves Christmas” (a couple months late on that one, guys…), “Hotshot Racing,” and “Hellpoint.” There are also a couple less-lazy remasters hitting the Switch: “Gal*Gun Returns,” a remastered version of the original lusty SHMUP; and “Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury,” an ‘enhanced’ port of the sub-par WiiU ‘Mario’ game with some new DLC bundled in to make that $60 price tag look more acceptable (Pro Tip: It doesn’t!). Lastly, the PlayStation 5 is actually getting one compilation: “The Nioh Collection,” which makes sense, seeing as the PlayStation ecosystem is infested with the highest concentration of Souls Trolls.

New multi-platform releases aren’t looking too hot, once again. There’s “Spacebase Startopia,” which looks a bit like a more fleshed-out version of the final chapter of the ancient “SPORE” (the part with all the 4X gameplay). There’s “Persona 5 Strikers,” which has nothing to do with Soccer, but is a ‘Dynasty Warriors’-esque spinoff of the ‘Shin Megami Tensei’ spinoff that is ‘Persona.’ “Fallen Legion: Revenants” is a sequel to the under-the-radar “Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory,” a ‘Valkyrie Profile’-esque Action/RPG that just doesn’t quite look compelling enough to bite on. There’s “Little Nightmares 2,” a sequel to the 2017 stylized Horror game. Lastly, there’s a new RPG in the ‘Werewolf: The Apocalypse’ IP by White Wolf. “Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood” is not by the same studio that made last year’s “Werewolf: The Apocalyse – Heart of the Forest,” but is instead by that no-budget Eurojank developer, Cyanide, so clearly the tabletop RPG IP that is aimed straight at the hearts of goths, edgelords, and angry Furries is struggling in the cRPG space.

Unlike January, February is bringing with it a whopping two exclusives, one for Nintendo and one for Sony. Sony is getting the timed-exclusive release of “Ys 9,” which will be hitting the Switch (and probably other platforms) later this summer. Meanwhile, Nintendo is getting “Bravely Default 2,” a sequel to an original RPG that was supposed to be a return-to-form for the struggling Square-Enix, yet turned out to be pretty friggin’ banal. I gave the original “Bravely Default” an entire evening of my time, and the experience completely drove me away, essentially being a tired retread of “Final Fantasy 1,3,5” and “4 Heroes of Light,” only with super-cringey dialog. Now, it’s entirely possible that “Bravely Default 2” will actually be good instead of ‘good*’ (* provided you’re desperately thirsty and this tainted mud hole is the only water in a 1000 mile stretch) like its 2014 predecessor, since Square-Enix (especially the Square part) has always had a reputation of weak starts with new IPs that gradually get better… but I’m not going to hold my breath OR pay the Nintendo Tax for the privilege of finding out first hand.

If someone held a gun to my head or threatened to breathe on me without a mask, I’d say I’d be willing to try both “Fallen Legion: Revenants” and “Bravely Default 2,” but I have very little faith in either title.

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