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Backlog: The Embiggening – March, 2022

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By Nelson Schneider - 02/20/22 at 05:02 PM CT

With the coming of March, Spring is officially sprung. You know that that means: The crappy games will start replicating like rabbits. Let’s take a look at what Fiscal Year 2022 is going to lead off with from our beloved corporate overlords in the Games Industry.

There is, unfortunately, some shovelware popping up above the soil as the Winter freeze bleeds away. Four such titles are assaulting us in March, with half of them falling into both the Licensed Swill and Annualized Swill buckets: The (in)gloriously-titled “Monster Energy Supercross – The Official Videogame 5” (at least Monster is attaching its name to a videogame, after suing Ubisoft out of using “Gods and Monsters” as a title for a completely unrelated game) and “WWE 2k22” are both set to rape the wallets of the ignorant. Meanwhile, two 2Cazual2Live titles are getting ported from their original platforms to offend a wider audience: “Instant Sports Paradise” and “Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach.” Seriously, listen to M.C. Hammer and don’t touch any of those!

The flood of ports that started a few years ago still isn’t slowing down, even a little. Since 2018, when it became immediately obvious that the Nintendo Switch wasn’t going to be another flop like the WiiU or 3DS, everyone and his dog has been desperately porting their stuff – both good and… not – to the hybrid platform. And, naturally, it’s leading the port count in March again, with 6 “new” games: “Crystar,” “DARQ,” “Skul: The Hero Slayer,” “Stranded Deep,” “Grow: Song of the Evertree,” and “Pillars of Eternity 2.” Not to be left out, both of Sony’s most recent consoles are getting dedicated portage of their own, with the obsolete PS4 getting “After the Fall” and “Street Outlaws 2,” and the impossible-to-find PS5 getting “3D Mini Golf” and “Panda Hero Remastered.” Strangely enough, Xbox users who also happen to love RTS games (not really what I perceive as a big crossover on the Venn Diagram) are getting a LOT of options all of a sudden, with “Crusader Kings 3,” “Spellforce 3: Reforced,” and “Iron Harvest” all making their way to Xbox (among other consoles). Could this be a sign of a resurgence of the flagging genre, which was nearly cannibalized to death by MOBAs a decade ago? And on consoles no less, where the fanbase can scream and cry that the controls aren’t any good? Regardless, I’ve been wanting to play “Iron Harvest” on PC, but have been waiting for better coop options to be patched-in… so now I’ll also have to wait for the console version’s controller support to be backported.

With all the shovelware and ports out of the way, we can finally look at new releases! Are there even any? Yes! There are 7 new releases competing for gamers’ hard-earned cash. It’s a pretty diverse set of titles too… but, honestly, most of them are crap nobody wanted or asked for. Starting off, there’s “Ikai” a new Survival Horror/Adventure game in the same vein as… all the other ‘meh’ Survival Horror/Adventure/Walking Simulator titles out there that really only exist to illicit overdone reactions from “professional” streamers, who then make obscene amounts of money. “Ghostwire: Tokyo” is coming to PlayStation AND PC, but I didn’t think this game looked like anything good when it was shown off at E3, and I still don’t. “Babylon’s Fall” was another E3 hype-generator, but, again, it’s a new Live Service game from Square-Enix… sooo… Moving on, “The Cruel King and the Great Hero” is another new NIS game (so it’s almost guaranteed to suck) with a title that makes it sound like a ‘Zelda’ rip-off. Then there’s “Elex 2,” a sequel nobody asked for to a clunky-as-hell THQ “Akshun/ArrPeeGee” that nobody liked. Next, we’ve got another E3 show-off, “Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins,” which not only looked horrible in every conceivable way, but also spawned “CHAOS!” memes aplenty with its abysmal writing. Last, and definitely not least, is “Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands,” a ‘Borderlands’ spinoff featuring a blend of post-apocalyptic sci-fi and High Fantasy tropes, within the framing device of a tabletop RPG narrated by a complete lunatic. Plus it has coop, so we’ll all definitely be snagging this one when it gets cheap.

At last, we come to exclusives. Once again, only Nintendo and Sony have anything resembling exclusive titles, with both showing off some more impressive efforts than usual in March. Nintendo is bringing a new ‘Kirby’ game in “Kirby and the Forgotten Land,” which is also the first 3D Platformer in that long and storied series. Even though none of us really cared for “Kirby: Star Allies” when we cooped it a few years ago, I can’t help but be interested in this new title. Next, Square-Enix is bringing another “Octopath Traveler”-style exclusive to the Switch in “Triangle Strategy,” a new TRPG that will attempt to invoke the glory days of the original “Final Fantasy Tactics,” but no-doubt will fail miserably to do so. It’s also almost guaranteed to break exclusivity to go multi-platform on PC within a few months of release, so I’m gonna pass on this one. Lastly, for Nintendo, the 5th entry in the ‘Rune Factory’ series is coming to Switch, and like the preceding title, may or may not remain exclusive for very long, depending on Publisher, Xseed’s, desire to actually make money. Moving onto Sony, both the PS4 and PS5 are getting the same Sony Ecosystem exclusives in March: Some sort of Puzzle/Adventure thing called “In Nightmare” (which is all but guaranteed to go completely unnoticed) and the biggest feather left in Sony’s threadbare cap, “Gran Turismo 7.” If only Nick wasn’t so cravenly addicted to “Destiny 2,” he could hunt down a PS5 (or just buy a second-hand PS4) to play the latest and greatest in his one-time favorite Racing series!

One would think, knowing my proclivities and predispositions, that I’d be climbing the walls in excitement over “Triangle Strategy”… but I’m not. Square-Enix’s repeated demonstration of their lack of ability when it comes to recapturing the magic of the RPG Golden Age of the ‘90s has me incredibly leery of pretty much everything the chimaeric abomination that was once my two favorite Publishers does. Instead, I’m looking forward to cooping through “Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands” with the Crew and seeing if “Kirby and the Forgotten Land” will actually have HAL Labs bringing their “A” game, instead of phoning it in like they did with the last ‘Kirby’ game.

Backlog Embiggened: +2

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