Games Corner - Jan 2017

That's right y'all - Games Corner is back! This year, I'm going to (try) and do a round up each month, covering the important stuff - what's happened in the games industry, what games have been released, and and what I've spent the month playing. I hope you enjoy the new format!

News Blitz

Each month I’ll be breaking down the biggest stories that have spread across the gaming industry, covering launches, events, announcements, scandals and any other interesting tidbits.

Nintendo Switch Livestream Debut

Thanks to a proper announcement trailer late last year, we already knew the basics of what the Switch was, but on January 13th Nintendo had it’s big blowout to announce features, price, games and release date. Turns out March 3 is the worldwide launch we’ll be looking at, with a set price of US$300 (which means $469 for us Aussies). The system will have at least 5 games to launch alongside the console - 1-2-Switch, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Bomberman R, Just Dance 2017 and Skylanders Imaginators.

As the months roll on, a significant chunk of games will be released for the system - Mario Kart 8 will get a deluxe package port, Splatoon 2 will land in the summer, as will Nintendo’s new IP fighting game Arms, while Super Mario Odyssey hits for the holiday sales. There are a bunch of other games announced without dates, such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Dragon Quest 11, Fire Emblem Warriors, A full fledged Fire Emblem game and much, much more. Switch players will be more than covered for at least the 12 months after the console’s release it seems.

High Profile Xbox Exclusive Scalebound Canceled

After being announced way back in 2014 as a AAA Xbox exclusive title made by PlatinumGames and being shown at several E3 press conferences, Scalebound has officially been canned by Microsoft themselves. Very little is known about the reasons why the game was outright canceled, but speculation and independent reports put the game as not being up to Platinum's high standards of quality and alleged creative differences between developer and publisher. Questions as to what happens with the assets, story, style and work put in to the project remain unanswered - whether the game is owned in full or part by Microsoft or PlatinumGames is anyone's guess.

Is there hope for another publisher to come along and fund the remainder of development, in the same way Bayonetta 2 was for the Wii U? Can Microsoft give the rights to a different developer down the road, salvaging what's left and finishing off the game in some capacity? Nothing is known for certain, and it's likely it will be a long time before we hear anything more (if ever) regarding this unfortunate cancellation.

Game Releases

While I can’t possibly cover every game that releases, I can at least list the major ones that you might want to pay attention to.

Gravity Rush 2 - PS4

An expanded sequel to the Vita launch game, the reactions to the open world and story of this game has ranged from GOTY to terrible critically. The mechanics seem like great fun though, so is probably worth at least checking out.

Dragon Quest 8 - 3DS

Another typical Dragon Quest game, remade for the 3DS and finally released in the west. A JRPG ass JRPG.

Resident Evil VII - PS4, Xbox One, PC

Word is that this game is a return to form for the series. If horror is your thing, definitely worth jumping into. Also playable from start to finish in VR, if you’re the kind of person missing the parts of the brain that deal with fear and reason.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue - PS4, Xbox One, PC

What a damn name. Anyway, this package comes with a remaster of some past games as well as a new chunk of game that is meant to lead in to the eventual Kingdom Hearts 3.

Yakuza 0 - PS4, Xbox One, PC

Yakuza is such a whacky series sometimes, which makes it’s open world shenanigans great fun. If you've been waiting for a good point to jump into the Japanese open world brawler series, this is it.

Tales of Berseria - PS4, Xbox One, PC

One of the better ones for the series, the story is darker and the characters more interesting than previous titles. I personally had some issues with the demo and it's apparent depiction of women, though I'm not 100% on how that conversation fits in with context. The demo is definitely worth checking out gameplay wise though.

Gameplay

As much for a record for myself as for you guys, this breakdown of games I've played during the month gives me a chance to share some brief thoughts on the games I've spent playing recently. For January, the holiday break (which I’m counting this month) gave me a good opportunity to plough through some games I’d skipped over in 2016, as well as dip into some older games from the pile.

Uncharted 4 - PS4

Having never played an Uncharted game before but being curious about the series (particularly after The Last of Us) It took some time for me to really get into U4. I had already played up to chapter 7 earlier in the year then put it down, as I wasn’t finding the gameplay that compelling - in all honesty, the only reason I finished it was to be able to delete it off my hard drive. After pushing through a few chapters and not overly enjoying the gameplay but digging the story, I dropped the game’s difficulty down to “explorer” so that I could just breeze through and see the best parts. Tell you what - best decision I made during playing that game. I ended up completely engaged and really falling for the characters. By the end of the game, I was so happy I’d continued to play it. Uncharted 4 offers probably the most human characters I’ve ever seen in a game, even despite the mass-murder nature of the gameplay.

SUPERHOT - PC

SUPERHOT was.. pretty good. I don’t think I got right into it’s schtick the way some do, but the puzzle like nature of the gameplay is real cool, if a little frustrating at times. Another game I’m glad I played, though I don’t see myself coming back to it.

Titanfall 2 - PS4

Even though I’m not really an FPS sort of guy, Titanfall 2 really was a fantastic campaign to play through from start to end. The raving reviews were right - this game is incredible. I can definitely see myself coming back and playing through it from time to time, which is something I wouldn’t usually do - it just feels so good to play. If you’ve slept on Titanfall 2, you really are missing out.

Virginia - PS4

An interesting experiment in game design, like many others I still am not 100% on it’s story but it is a bold experiment nonetheless. The smash cuts are clever and work well to build tension and keep the story moving at a good clip, while the wordlessness - while seeming like something that would completely hinder a game - was used to great effect. I still find myself thinking about it weeks later, which is a good sign that it was worth playing.

Mafia 3 - PS4

I’ve already said my piece on Mafia 3, but damn if it isn’t great. The acting/directing/animation is top notch, the gameplay is fun and hanky in the best ways, and has a fantastic story to wrap itself up in. It’s a game that’s passion from the devs shines through. After coming back and playing more a few weeks after finishing it, I came to an interesting realisation - Mafia 3 is an adults open world. Don’t get me wrong, GTA is definitely not for children, but Mafia 3 is mature in a way that no other open world game has been to date. It’s just great.

Titan Souls - PS4

I don’t like twitch games, boss rush games, or really difficult games. Well, that’s what I thought, anyway. I should have hated Titan Souls, but the art was cool enough to draw me in (plus the price tag of “free” for Jan on PS+, admittedly). What followed were 5 or so per intense hours, where I hunted down every titan and stayed them with my single arrow. It’s frustrating in some aspects, but at the same time, extremely satisfying when you hear that arrow connect. Definitely recommend.

Agent A - iPad

Agent A is an adventure game that has been sitting on my iPad for years now, but I finally took the dive and played through it. The humour was great, the game was meaty in a way I didn’t expect, and the puzzles were clever without being obtuse. Quite enjoyable.

Tales From the Borderlands Episodes 1 & 2 - iPad

Telltale series' are ones I’ve pretty much steered clear of, but as a part of Games Club this month we finally decided it was time as a group to give the first episode a shot. I'm happy to say the writing and story are quite clever, enough that I’m intrigued and want to keep playing. If you’re curious as to whether you would like a Telltale game, the first episode of any finished season is always free - definitely worth checking out to see if it’s your thing.

Banjo Kazooie - Xbox One (Rare Replay, Xbox 360 backwards compatibility)

I've already played through Banjo Kazooie a number of times, but I found myself jumping in and smashing through it 100% again this month. I will say this - the first 8 levels are great, the last 2 are frustrating as fuck. Still a good game.

TIMEframe - PC

An indie steam game that I nabbed on sale for cheap, it's a 30-60 minute wandering sim that is all about it's lore. Which is a good thing, because that lore is interesting - though even for a walking sim I was pretty keen to have it finished. An interesting little experiment though, and am glad I played it.

Other games I played a bit of: FTL, Ratchet & Clank, The Last Guardian, Super Mario Run, Guitar Hero 3, Pokemon Moon, Rocket League

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And that's it for January 2017! Are there any particularly good games from Jan that I missed mentioning? What games have you been sinking your teeth into for the last month? Sound off in the comments!