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Backlog: The Embiggening – January, 2024

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By Nelson Schneider - 01/14/24 at 03:52 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future! We’ve officially survived another year of Games Industrial-sized Fails, disasters, and debacles. With a New Year, we have yet another new opportunity to change our ways and STOP encouraging the Big Publishers to be such trash. Let’s take a look at what the Corpos are going to try shoving down our throats as 2024 rolls in.

We’re off to a… tolerable start with regard to shovelware quantities. We’ve only got three, they’re all the same type (Licensed Swill), and one of them was supposed to come out last year, but got delayed. We’ve got the Switch port of last month’s “Walking Dead: Destinies,” the delayed console versions of a game based on an ancient Mecha anime called ‘UFO Robot Grendizer,’ and lastly we’ve got a new game based on the European ‘Tintin’ comic strip… which I can’t believe is still relevant to anyone anywhere in any world.

Moving onto my favorite category of old stuff being peddled as new stuff, we come to ports, remakes, remasters, compilations, and various other rehashes. And, sadly, the trend of these things absolutely DOMINATING the upcoming release schedule hasn’t changed with the New Year. Indeed, very little about the portage has changed in general, as the Nintendo Switch is still the biggest target for publishers to dump these things, receiving an incredible/abysmal NINE games in this category in this first month of the year. Man, I wish we had 9 legitimate NEW releases each month… But, yeah, the Switch is getting “Opus,” a compilation – cleverly called the ‘ReCollection’ – of ‘Another Code’ Visual Novels, “The Vagrant” – under the new title “Sword of the Vagrant,” a trilogy of ‘Apollo Justice’ Courtroom Adventures, “Saga of Sins,” a compilation of ‘Skautfold’ Alt-History titles, “Heart of the Woods,” “Revita,” and “Arcade Game Zone.” That last one deserves special attention because it isn’t actually a ‘port’ of old Arcade games, but is rather an attempt at stylistically re-creating (read: ripping off) those old Arcade games without having to pay the associated licensing fees (I almost put this one into Shovelware, honestly). Outside of the Switch, PlayStation is still flexing some of its portage muscle with a completely unnecessary remaster of “The Last-er of Us,” along with ports of “Skautfold: Usurper” and “Mayhem Brawler” from Steam. Indeed the only portage that doesn’t even touch upon Nintendo this month is “Paradise Killer,” which is hitting all of the other consoles, while the remake of “Alone in the Dark” is hitting Steam a couple days before it gets ported everywhere else in February.

Is there any room in January for NEW games? Yes, a bit. Legit, new, multi-platform releases manage to make up slightly over half the number of ports and rehashes, with quite a bit of variety in there. If you like terrible word-salad-titled Visual Novels, there’s “Under Night In-Birth 2 Sys: Celes.” If you feel like punching every face in range after reading such a title, you can take out your aggression in “Tekken 8” instead. If you still remember Ubisoft’s 3D reinvention of the crusty old ‘Prince of Persia’ IP, you’ll be glad that “The Lost Crown” is the first sequel in 14 years. If you can’t get enough of Sega’s take on ‘GTA’-style open-world Crime Sims, “Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth” has you covered. Finally, if you’re into the generic Fantasy Anime flavor of the ‘GranBlue Fantasy’ series AND wish you could subject your friends to it, there’s “GranBlue Fantasy: Relink,” which aims to blend Character Action Games (like classic ‘God of War’ and ‘Devil May Cry’) with Action-Role-Playing and four-player online coop… so I’m guessing something like ‘Musou’ but less bland and repetitive?

Are there any exclusives coming in January to help Console Warriors justify their purchases this late in the Generational life cycle? Nope! Unless you want to get into the constant stream of garbage being dumped onto Steam every single day… but, trust me, you really don’t!

Eesh! All in all, it’s a pretty weak start for 2024. Out of the titles released, there are a few series entries that I’m just not into, and not much else. Though I did go ahead and add “GranBlue Fantasy: Relink” to the MJ Crew’s Comprehensive Coop Gaming spreadsheet (yes, such a thing exists). It could be a breath of fresh air in our generally stagnant Hack ‘n Slash and Looter-Shooter scented virtual HQ.

Backlog Embiggened: +1 (for coop only)

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