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Backlog: The Embiggening – April, 2024

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By Nelson Schneider - 03/31/24 at 04:23 PM CT

Welcome back to another look into the near future! It turns out that Christopher would have seen his shadow if he wasn’t staring so intently at his phone, so we’ve been saddled with 6 more weeks of Wintry weather. April is upon us, and I still have to keep my furnace turned on at night… so… thanks, Global Warming?

Sadly, videogame releases have become far more predictable than the weather in recent years. Let me don my Carnac-style turban as I look through this list of crappy games that has been buried under Funk and Wagnal’s porch in a mayonnaise jar since NOON TODAY: Crap, old stuff, a handful of stuff I don’t care about, and maybe one or two titles I’m interested in… like it’s been every month for years.

The direct-to-dumpster stuff in the Shovelware category is fairly light in April. There’s a new ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ game, “Wrath of the Mutants”… which really isn’t ‘new,’ but it is a port of an arcade machine to home consoles and PC, so I’ve made the executive decision to classify it first as a Licensed game and second as a port. There’s also a Licensed Driving game in “MX vs ATV Legends.” In the Why Does This Exist category, Compile Heart and Idea Factory are porting the latest entry in the I’d Hoped It Was Dead ‘Neptunia’ series of parody RPGs (that stopped being funny almost immediately), to Xbox, in “Neptunia: Sisters vs. Sisters.” Lastly, there’s an official (and soon to be Annualized, if it sells) Tennis game in “TopSpin 2k25.”

Urg… you know the port overload is bad when half the shovelware intersects with it… But, yeah, we’ve got another month of old crap being paraded out in public again for another go-around to see if it will sell. I understand porting GOOD games to new platforms so new generations of gamers can enjoy them (and so old fans can have their arms twisted into double-dipping), but why do developers and publishers of CRAP think that it will suddenly become a success? Anyway, we do have a bit of a surprise in April, in that the Nintendo Switch isn’t the Primary Port Pit for a chance, with the Sony PortStation reclaiming the crown. The Switch is getting “Castle of Shikigami 2” and “Sanabi.” The PortStation is getting “As Dusk Falls,” “Happy Funland,” “The Talos Principle 2,” “ArcRunner,” “Pacific Drive,” “Vagante,” “Revita,” and a compilation of old-ish ‘Class of Heroes’ handheld games (the latter three of which are also hitting the Switch). Shockingly, Xbox is also getting in on the portage in a bigger way than usual, with “Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle” and “Construction Simulator.”

There are only a handful of new multi-platform releases, even fewer than usual. However, there looks to be some interesting stuff in there. First, and worst, is the Atari (delenda est) published sequel to an ancient SHMUP, “Lunar Lander: Beyond,” which I wouldn’t touch even if it was handled by a different publisher. But things get much better from there with a new IP, and the last project by the late, great manga-ka, Akira Toriyama, better known as ‘the ‘Dragonball’ guy.’ I’ve heard nothing about “Sand Land” before, but it looks like it could be a pretty great Sandbox game, with plenty of things I personally like… like customizable mechs! Then there’s the final project of another departed fixture of Japanese game development, “Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes,” the spiritual successor to Yoshitaka Murayama’s ‘Suikoden’ series, which I’ve been looking forward to for years now.

Lastly, we come to exclusives… and there’s not much here that will be selling systems anytime soon. As usual, Sony and Nintendo are really the only players even attempting to move hardware via software lock-in anymore…and they’re not doing a stellar job of it. Speaking of ‘stellar,’ Sony is publishing Shift Up Corporation’s new vaguely-defined Action/Adventure game, “Stellar Blade,” which is really only noteworthy due to the levels of retardation the ailing Games Journalists and social media are displaying in regard to the design of the female lead character. I mean, she’s a woman AND a non-White minority, so they’re going to complain that’s she’s ‘unrealistically attractive’ in spite of being modeled practically 1:1 off the studio head’s wife? Okay. Sony’s other claim to fame is a PlayStation VR2 Survival Horror title (which is also hitting Steam VR, but I’m generous with allowing console games that also hit PC to still ‘count’ as exclusive… because I’m so nice) “Madison,” which is the type of thing that seems designed to watch other people play on Twitch. Then there’s Nintendo and… wow, they’ve got some real duds lined up: A Visual Novel in “Tengoku Struggle: Strayside” and a Board Game spinoff of the ‘Demon Slayer’ IP, “Kimetsu no Yaiba - Sweep the Board!

If Sony has the cojones to port “Stellar Blade” to Steam, I’d pick up a copy just to stick it to the snowflakes who hate attractive women in gaming… but it’s not enough to make me go out and buy a PS5. “Sand Land” and “Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes,” on the other hand, both have me fired up to experience them, I just hope they don’t disappoint and do their late creators proud.

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