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Backlog: The Embiggening – May, 2022

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By Nelson Schneider - 05/01/22 at 03:49 PM CT

April showers are supposed to bring May flowers, but with the drought affecting so much of the U.S., that’s kind of tough. Actually, as May rolls in, it’s finally starting to feel like it was supposed to in April, leading me to believe that, with climate change, we’re seeing the seasons shifting away from what’s traditionally been expected… Just like the Games Industry, which, thanks to the cataclysmic changes wrought during the 7th Generation, has changed from a monthly cycle of new releases to a predictable cycle of re-releases and ports. How big a proportion of this month’s release schedule with be consumed by the old instead of the new? Read on!

We’ve got an eclectic mix of shovelware coming in May. Of course, there’s licensed swill based on non-game IP: “My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure,” based on an IP that primarily appeals to middle-aged male Furries (dubbed “Bronies”), and “Evil Dead: The Game,” based on a hoary old horror movie franchise… and you know it’s going to be great when it has to put “The Game” in the title of the game. There’s also an officially licensed sequel in the ‘MTV vs ATV’ series, which not only comes out (nearly) every year, making it an annualized franchise, but the release for May is a PlayStation port, since the game is already out on Xbox. Lastly, there are a couple of odd-duck shovelware titles that might not be deserving of the onus, but I’m laying it on them anyway: “Equestrian Training” is a horse-riding… thing… that seems to be aimed at teaching little private school girls how to do horses, via mini-games and Edutainment. Then there’s “Touken Ranbu Warriors,” an attempt at legitimizing a Freemium mobile Gachapon game with a retail release on a real platform (as of now, it’s a Switch exclusive!). Unfortunately, I can see through the veil, here. “Touken Ranbu Warriors” is a Tecmo-Koei ‘Musou’ game… and it’s still based on a F2P macrotransation engine! This is shovelware, no matter how the publisher tries to hide it!

In spite of my rant in the intro, the portage of old stuff masquerading as new stuff is fairly light for May… of course, the release schedule IN GENERAL is pretty damned light for May, so the lack of ports isn’t as positive an omen as one might be inclined to believe. Of course, the Nintendo Switch is still the preferred port dumping ground, as it’s getting “Eastward” (formerly a PC exclusive ‘Earthbound’ spiritual successor), a “Prinny Presents” compilation of (crap) NIS games, a remaster of one of the few well-reviewed SNES games I haven’t actually played in “Pocky & Rocky Reshrined” (which it is sharing with the PlayStation 4), and a “Pac-Man Museum” (which is, honestly, the only place ‘Pac-Man’ belongs) that is also coming to the PlayStation 4 and XBONE instead of the current Sony and MS platforms. I guess the publishers are planning to port it again once the last-gen userbase withers-away (or Sony and MS cut-off access to last-gen digital stores). The only no-Switch-involved port coming in May is “Edge of Eternity,” which is getting its PlayStation 4 port shined-up to re-sell on the PlayStation 5. Gotta love (read: hate) Sony’s current stance on backward compatibility!

After a disastrous April in where there were no new game releases outside of shovelware, it’s good that the Industry got its doo-doo scraped together into a little pile and actually has some new multi-platform releases slated for May. Are any of them worth getting excited about? … I’m gonna go with ‘no.’ There’s “Time on Frog Island,” a cartoony Sandbox/Survival game that… doesn’t really look any more interesting than anything else in the subgenre. There’s “Sniper Elite 5,” which I suppose is exciting for ‘Sniper Elite’ fans, but not so much anyone else. There’s “Dolmen,” a new IP that just looks like crappy Soulslike melee combat in a sci-fi setting, and is published by Eurojank purveyor, Deep Silver, so it’s guaranteed to be trash. There’s another ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’ RPG, with the subtitle, ‘Swansong,’ so probably (hopefully) the last one. Lastly, there’s a new Cute-Em-Up (e.g., a SHMUP with adorable Japanese character designs) in “Cotton Fantasy.”

There is, actually, one, lone exclusive coming in May: It’s the Sony-backed “Sifu,” a martial arts Beat ‘em Up in which the titular character has to train for years and visibly ages upon each defeat… which just sounds like a new annoying way to punish players for not being instant prodigies.

Yuck! What a crappy month! The only thing coming in May that I’d even consider spending time on is “Pocky & Rocky Reshrined”, since I never played the original, and Chris and I can always use a new 2-player coop experience… but I’ve got RetroArch and a ROM of the original game sitting right there on my PC, so unless Chris and I are feeling like graphics whores or achievement whores, there’s no reason to bother with the remake.

Backlog Embiggened: +0

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