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Backlog: The Embiggening – April, 2023

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By Nelson Schneider - 04/02/23 at 05:06 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future! The old saying is that “April Showers bring May Flowers,” but when it comes to the Games Industry, it’s either a torrential downpour of liquid fecal matter or a withering drought of nothing. It looks like we’re in for an April downpour, once again… though I doubt there’s anything in here that’s worth seining out.

Classifiable shovelware is fairly light on the ground for April. There are only two of the major categories present, in Licensed Swill and Annualized Releases. Chris will be happy about the Licensed Swill, since most of it’s in IPs he’s obsessed with: “Star Wars: Survivors,” “The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2,” and … “DNF Duel,” which Chris doesn’t obsess over, likely because the anime that inspired the games was released after he had aged-out of his most marketable period. The only Annualized Release is a ‘PGA Golf’ game by EA… what a surprise!

You know, that ‘DNF’ game from the shovelware category is also a port… and it’s NOT ALONE! April will shower us with a seemingly-endless deluge of ports, remasters, remakes, and ports of remakes the likes of which haven’t been seen since the “Epic of Gilgamesh” (which was totally ripped-off by the Hebrew Bible). And, as usual, there’s one platform that’s particularly guilty/victimized in this crimewave of rehashes, and that’s the Nintendo Switch, which will be getting “Always Sometimes Monsters,” “Aztech: Forgotten Gods,” “The Pathless,” “Fabraz Presents Vol. 1” (which is a compilation of Nintendo Network games that originally released ON THE SWITCH), “Tiny Troopers: Global Ops,” “Catlateral Damage: Remeowstered,” “Advance Wars 1 + 2: Re-Boot Camp,” “Alchemic Cutie,” a complete collection of ‘Clea’ games, a legacy collection of ‘Mega Man Battle Network’ games, a remaster of “GrimGrimoire” (which demonstrates that VanillaWare may finally be willing to branch out from PlayStation exclusivity, but still don’t have the sense to release their games on Steam), “Arum’s Afterlife Adventure,” Boomer Shooter “Prodeus,” and “Nuclear Blaze.” The latter seven of those are also spreading elsewhere than the Switch in April, mostly to PlayStation. The only two ports that don’t have ANYTHING to do with the Switch are “Sifu,” which is going to Xbox, and “Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion,” which is going to PlayStation… of course, both of those games are already on the Switch.

Fortunately, after eliminating all of that old stuff, there’s still a reasonable amount of new stuff to pick-through… and it looks like there’s quite a bit of genre variety too! People who are sad that the plastic musical instruments fad ended can relive the glory days in a new Rhythm IP, “God of Rock.” “Dead Island 2” is a ChrisWouldLoveThat game about zombies on an island… again. “Labyrinth of Zangetsu” is a delayed Dungeon Crawler that looks like it wants to be Edo Era ‘Wizardry’… but it has the Roguelike tag on Steam, so it probably belongs in the dumpster. “Dredge” is a… Lovecraftian Fishing Sim… I don’t know what to think about that. “Minecraft Legends” is a bizarre attempt at turning one of the archetypal Sandbox IPs into a Strategy game… and also a demonstration of why Xbox has no exclusives, since Microsoft is also releasing it for the Switch (they know the target demographic well). “Process of Elimination” is a Nippon Ichi Visual Novel… so NOPE! “Trinity Trigger” is yet another alleged homage to classic RPGs from the Golden Age, but looks like it will completely miss the point and end up stuffed to the gills with Weeb Stuff, button-mashing, and needlessly convoluted mechanics. “Bramble: The Mountain King” is some sort of Cinematic Horror game that draws from my own cultural heritage, so, on one hand, I want to support it, but on the other hand, I don’t really want to… play it. Lastly, there are two new Metroidvanias, continuing with the oversaturation of the subgenre: “Curse of the Sea Rats” looks to take the concept in a Furry, hand-drawn, pirate-themed direction, while “Afterimage” takes visual inspiration from VanillaWare and mechanical inspiration from FromSoftware… I’ll be skipping both.

Alack and alas, there is but ONE exclusive release coming in April. It is for the Switch… and it is anything but a System Seller: “Spooky Spirit Shooting Gallery.” *sigh*

Son of a bitch, April is looking dreary. All of those releases, and the only bits of good-ish news revolve around ports. “Advance Wars: Re-Boot Camp,” and “GrimGrimoire Once More” are both re-releases of games that deserve a second chance. “GrimGrimoire” on the PlayStation 2 is still my favorite RTS title… but I won’t be re-buying it, considering I can just play my PS2 disc in an emulator, with upscaling and all the niceties one would expect. The two ‘Advance Wars’ games on the GBA were interesting, and really the only other thing like them to come out since is “Wargroove”… but none of those titles really tickle my fancy, as they all come off more as Puzzle games with fixed solutions than Strategy games. And I can emulate those games too, but it’s even easier, since the GBA emulator will run on a potato!

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