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Backlog: The Embiggening – December, 2022

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By Nelson Schneider - 11/27/22 at 03:40 PM CT

Welcome back, once again, to another look into the near future! The End is Nigh! That’s right, 2022, is rapidly approaching its Swan Song. December’s release schedule is usually a mess of rushed projects that have been delayed multiple times, but whose publishers are desperate to get them out the door before the end of the year in order to – dubiously – get some black ink on the ledger. December also provides the final opportunity of the year to trick and deceive consumers into buying the wrong products as Winter Solstice Holiday gifts to help loved ones get through the longest and coldest nights of the year. Let’s see if any of this December’s releases are worth getting excited about, or if they’d be better off burnt as Yule Logs.

Shoveware is quite a bit lighter than it has been for the past few months, and decidedly non-existent compared to this time of year, historically. But there’s still some, and it falls into two out of the three major categories. In Licensed Swill, we’ve got yet another game based on a Marvel Comics IP, “Midnight Suns,” which I both know and care nothing about. The only other licensed game coming in December is another ‘Lord of the Rings’ (movie) property-based game, only this time focusing on one of my personal favorite characters (besides Gandalf, but who doesn’t love Gandalf?), Gollum, a.k.a., Smeagol. Thus, “The Lord of the Rings – Gollum” is the first single-player Licensed game I’ve been interested in for a loooooong time. The other category of shovelware represented in December is 2Caz2Live trash, which I’m broadening to include Streamer Games – that is, trash that barely qualifies as a game, but Streamers love to ‘react’ to it and feed the resulting digestive sludge to Zoomers, who will actually pay (their parents’) good money for it. So, we’ve got “Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach” and the completely unnecessary ‘Mr. Belvedere’ simulator sequel, “Hello Neighbor 2.” The other piece of Casual Trash is another one of those ‘My Universe’ games for little girls, only this one is showing a bit more imagination than usual, giving the little darlings the opportunity to take care of a “Baby Dragon.” I’m sure the video adaptations of George R.R. Martin’s books have something to do with this…

Unfortunately, the flood of ports is never ending, and with true Backward Compatibility on the chopping block across all of the console ecosystems, shows no sign of letting up at any point during the 9th Generation. Naturally, the Nintendo Switch remains the undisputed favorite dumping-ground for old games masquerading as new ones, with an egregious 9 ports hitting it this month. These include: “Mighty Goose,” “Sheepo,” “WRC Generations,” “Death’s Door,” “Jitsu Squad,” “Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent,” “Redout 2,” “Unpacking,” and “Othercide,” so, yeah, nothing for Nintendo fanboys to get excited about. Not to be left in the dust, Sony has a somewhat less robust slate of ports hitting their PlayStation consoles as well, with the “Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap” remake from 2017, “Battle Axe,” and two Warhammer 40K games, “Shootas, Blood, and Teef” and “Inquisitor – Martyr” coming to the latest PlayStations at the latest full prices. Shockingly, Xbox is actually getting a pre-announced port in December, as the XBONE (not the SeX, for… reasons) is getting the “House of the Dead Remake.” Lastly, no one can escape Square-Enix’s blast of flak, rusty nails, broken glass, and used hypodermic needles in “Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 Reunion,” which is about the only game I could actually be less interested in than a new Soulslike out of From Software.

Moving onto new releases that are actually, you know, new, we’ve got a handful of multi-platform games scheduled for December that… really don’t do anything for me. There’s a new 3D Platformer called “Kukoos – Lost Pets,” which almost got dumped into the shovelware category, but actually appears to have some effort put into it. Fans of the genre can’t really be picky these days. Next, there’s “New Joe & Mac: Caveman Ninja,” a sequel to an ancient IP from the 16-bit era that… I never played or had a desire to play after reading Nintendo Power Magazine’s excessive coverage of the first game in the series. Racing fans can look forward to “Need for Speed Unbound,” but, again, this is neither a genre nor series I’m invested in. Lastly, “The Callisto Protocol” has been getting some word-of-mouth buzz… but ultimately it’s just another one of those Survival Horror games in space. Chris might like it, but I’ll pass.

Finally, we come to exclusives, those rare fruits which grow only upon the branches of a chosen and blessed platform. For December… Nobody has any exclusives coming except Nintendo. The Switch is getting a Visual Novel by Idea Factory (that’s all you need to know in order to start running the other way) called “Lover Pretend.” The Switch is also getting a new ‘Dragon Quest’ spinoff by Square-Enix called “Dragon Quest Treasures.” I didn’t particularly like Erik in “Dragon Quest 11,” but this spinoff featuring him has as much potential as any other ‘Dragon Quest’ spinoff, so I’m looking forward to it.

Overall, December looks like it’s going to end 2022 on the same mostly-dismal note as it began: An unrelenting flood of ports that are desperate to reach a wider, more tasteless audience, and/or convince dedicated fans to double-dip. At least the shovelware isn’t as bad as it has been, with “The Lord of the Rings - Gollum” actually holding potential to be a decent game set in Middle-Earth. Of course, the December release that has me hopeful is “Dragon Quest Treasures,” but as a brand new spinoff, its potential is still unknown. And as a Square-Enix game published in the 2020s, it’s exclusivity status is also unknown. Will it eventually make its way to Steam as so many other recent Square-Enix releases have?

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