Some Games of That Last Year, In Case You Were Curious

I do hate lists like this partially because it’s impossible to play every single game one would like to play each year. But hey, let’s call this an experiment in terror minis the terror unless I left off this list a game you like. That’s likely a case where I didn’t get a review code, haven’t bought the game outright because I tend to wait for sales for AAA games I don’t get codes or retail copies for (hey, I’m on a budget these days, folks). Anyway, twenty-one games are better than ten, so here’s that number of titles I tended to gravitate to the most over last year.

Red Dead Redemption II (PS4)
Dead Cells (PS4)
Moss (PS4/PSVR)
Forgotton Anne (PS4/Switch)
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PS4)
Hyper Light Drifter – Special Edition (Nintendo Switch)
Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise (PS4)
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life (PS4)
Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PS4)
428: Shubuya Scramble (PS4)
Earth Defense Force 5 (PS4)
Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)
Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PS4)
Diablo III Eternal Collection (Nintendo Switch)
Moonlighter (PS4)
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Switch)
SEGA AGES Phantasy Star (Switch)
Coffee Crisis (Switch)
TANGLEWOOD (PC/Sega Genesis)
Reverie (PS4/Vita)
The Shapeshifting Detective (PS4)

Yeah, there were a few more titles I really liked, but I decided to stop here or else risk making this list closer to or perhaps exceeding 50 games. Eh. I’ll note some of those games in the not too distant future because a lot are indies made by smaller teams still pumping out titles, many of which are recommended.

Back in a bit.

-GW

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Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain Trailer 3 – April Showers, Ant-Ride Powers

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Well, I knew way back when it was announced that Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain (set for a worldwide April 11, 2019 release as a PS4 exclusive) was going to be a big departure from the Sandlot-developed games, but that new Ant riding class? Nice… and kind of really weird at the same time. Anyway, veteran developer YUKE’S is on the case with some gorgeous Unreal 4-powered visuals, character customization for a player’s chosen class and a few other features geared to a wider audience that may want all the series hard-core bug, beast and ‘bot battles with a more serious story. In other words, it looks as if the campy dialog is possibly getting put to the side for this new game. Even if this isn’t completely the case, this interview over on the official PlayStation blog with series producer Nobuyuki Okajima makes for an interesting read.

 

 

Oddly enough, while the Sandlot-developed games are well known known for their intense action and incessantly, intentionally inane dialog (delivered via some oddball voice acting), the games are all fiercely difficult as the missions throw hundreds of enemies at you and ask you to take care of the swarms as you see fit. There’s also a deadly serious undertone to the games as the Earth always seems to be at the end of its rope and your character(s) are the sole means of stopping the aliens from exterminating what’s left of humanity. Seriously, if it weren’t for the dopey commentary in the last few EDF games, you’d have a really dire story line where millions are annihilated around the world every few years and you and what’s left of the EDF are the world’s last best hope every single time.

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Vixen 357: Super Fighter Team Surprises Yet Again

vx-productWell, this came out of left field, folks. Super Fighter Team is localizing and publishing developer Masaya’s 1992 turn-based strategy/RPG Vixen 357 for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive.I actually have the import Japanese version here, but other than about an hour of messing around with it many years ago, I haven’t really dove into the game because my Japanese is quite terrible and usually involves a lot of looking stuff up and figuring things out as I go. Well, it looks as if sometime later this year I’ll be able to fully enjoy this somewhat unknown tactical gem thanks to SFT’s Brandon Cobb, who I should probably interview again at some point on they hows and whys of this latest production.

Pre-orders for the game will run you $63 in the US and $70 everywhere else and yes, that cost includes shipping. Oh, and the game cartridge, manual and a sturdy cardstock box. Yes, I did place a pre-order and if you’re interested, so should you, as this one’s guaranteed to sell fast. I can think of a few folks who’ll also be on this newest SFT release in a heartbeat, so I’m hoping we’re all happy campers in front of out respective TV’s when this sly Vixen finally ships out sometime this year.

-GW

Review: Gear.Club Unlimited 2

Yeah, yeah. I’m not a big Mario Kart fan these days. So sue me. Granted, I do like the series a lot and yes, it’s fun as heck and all that. But when it comes to racing games or in this case, pure driving games, I tend to prefer a bit more realism these days or at least something that works as a hybrid of simulation and casual play where you can dip in and enjoy a game that has actual cars to mess around with. On my other consoles, it’s been a wealth of choices for quite some time and I’m more than pleased with the selection I have. On the other hand, we have Nintendo’s last two home consoles (Wii U and Switch) that up until late last year, had a grand total of three GOOD titles that featured licensed cars, one on the Wii U from 2013 and two which came out in 2017 and 2018. That’s just plain nuts.

 

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That versatile Unity engine sure does a car body good in this game.

gcu2_boxartAlthough both have a few issues that keep them from being as great as they should be, I’ll still recommend Microïds and developer Eden Games Gear.Club Unlimited ($44.99) and Gear.Club Unlimited 2 ($59.99) because warts and all, they contain a decent amount of actual licensed cars and are quite lengthy racing experiences when all is said and done. Yes, the load times are somewhat long (grrr!) and the handling can be squirrelly (and more so in the sequel even with the patches). But there’s a certain cool factor when you take a an actual licensed domestic or foreign car out for a test run from the dealership or can afford to add it to your digital garage and full-on race it whenever you feel that need for speed.

Speaking of garages, should there be a third game in this series, Eden should trim and simplify the garage function in order to give players a speedier means of car management between events. Keep the paint and sticker customization, but relegate everything else to a slick menu that’s faster to navigate. Also, adding the ability to drive freely on any unlocked course as a means of learning the handling model would be an excellent addition (as well as bringing back fond memories of the best parts of Eden’s Test Drive Unlimited games from the late 2000’s).

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(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Slipstream (1989)

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This one’s a real woozy-doozy, folks. But an innnnteresting woozy-doozy.

Welcome to this latest installment of VSAH, folks! Definitely check out this month’s other reviews from Todd at Cinema Monolith, Mike at Mike’s Take on the Movies, and Sir Wolf (you’ve been knighted, pal) over at Wolfman’s Cult Film Club.

slipstream 1989Ambition can be a weird and wild thing at times, particularly when it comes to film production whether it be a big deal studio film or tiny independent flick. Taking a pack of awesome ideas and turning them into reality (well, of the cinematic kind) while keeping an audience hooked into the world you’ve created it a risky business, specifically when it comes to fantasy and science fiction.

Granted, the actual “science” in most sci-fi is at best, suspect and at worst, more than enough to yank a viewer clean out of the experience and leave them scratching their heads raw (ow!) while they try and figure out what the hell is going on in some scenes as they miss an important plot point or three in the process.  On the other hand, a film like Steven Lisberger’s (TRON) absolutely ambitious 1989 film Slipstream isn’t going to be one where you question the science all that much (if at all) because you’ll likely be questioning a few other more important things from parts of its plot to some offbeat cameos that may add to the star power, but come off a bit too much like stunt casting or a few folks popping in for a fast paycheck.

 

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Bill Paxton, doing his best Bill Paxton doing Christian Slater look, circa 1989.

 

The film certainly kicks off ambitiously enough with a properly bombastic Elmer Bernstein main theme and a wonderfully shot flying sequence using one of a few of the custom made aircraft created specifically for the production. That plane is carrying the somewhat cantankerous “peacekeeper” Will Tasker (Mark Hamill) and his able-bodied assistant Belitski (Kitty Aldridge) and said plane is chasing a man in a nice suit (Bob Peck) running away from them to no avail. He’s caught up with and captured by the pair who plan to take him to some faraway location to be tried and executed for the murder he’s committed. Unfortunately for them, their nattily dressed prisoner is swiped by Matt Owens (Bill Paxton), a genial illegal arms dealer looking to make a big score when he discovers how valuable that prisoner is before he decides to try his hand at kidnapping.

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Clock Simulator: Seconds Count in This Addictive Oddity

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This little piggy’s maybe gonna run out of time… unless you can help out  a little bit.

cs_boxSo, yeah. There’s a new game called Clock Simulator for the Switch, it’s a port of the PC version, that adds two mini-games to the mix, it’s a mere $3.99 and you should give it more than a few minutes of your time because it’s strangely addictive, that being a clock thing. No joke here, this is a pretty impressive variant on the rhythm game where you need to be even more precise with your button pressing than usual. Perfection is not an overrated thing at all, at least as far as this deceptively basic time sink goes.

It’s also a very cool way to learn a specific skill (pressing a button exactly one second at a time) that may not seem as if would come in handy at all, but in fact, is quite helpful if part of your job is clock-watching. Granted, if you work at any job with a clock nearby or are one of the many who constantly check their favorite timekeeping device, this game may either cone in quite handy or make you wince a tad. Either way, just don’t tell your boss about it (unless you’re the boss, of course).

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“Time enough, at last…” but don’t stop pressing that button, pal.

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Random Film of the Week: One Good Cop

one_good_cop_xlgI think it was sometime back in 1990 when I was living in a somewhat crappy apartment building on the corner of 112th Street and Manhattan Avenue in Harlem, NYC when a bunch of people rolled up in a few vehicles and started cleaning up the street directly across from me. Weeds were pulled, the basements in the two or three abandoned buildings on the corner were cleared out and if I recall correctly, there was even some exterior and interior painting done that made it seem as if those buildings were going to be fully renovated at some point. All that work also chased away some of the drug trade on the block (a good thing) and at some point I felt things were looking up for the area.

Not too long afterwards, I was going to work and saw a film crew taking up space in the area and it seemed those buildings were going to be used for a movie shoot and not fully renovated after all. Drat. It turned out that scenes for a film called One Good Cop were being shot and despite the somewhat ratty condition of the area, people started popping up to watch the filming. That was in part due to Micheal Keaton being on the set for a few days filming a key action sequence that required a rat wrangler and a whole lot of rats, a few other actors and stuntmen and a panel truck that was key to the scene’s finale.

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Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen on Switch: The Fifth Time’s (Still) The Charm

Gransys in the spring is a wondrous place to be – just don’t mind the constant monsters trying to snack on your bones.

So, I’ve played a Dragon’s Dogma game on my PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and PC, so seeing this finally coming to Switch is making my poor wallet tingle. No, scratch that, it’s in the corner setting itself on fire. Eh, no worries, though. I’m just going to sell off some stuff in the library to pick this up as a retail purchase and try to carve out some quality time (which sadly, can’t be bought for all the spare loot in the world). Anyway, Thanks very, very much to Capcom for this seemingly timeless gem I’ll be purchasing once again. I kind of knew it was coming (it’s the closest thing to a Monster Hunter game but with more user-friendly controls and a more unusual “online” element), but this trailer was indeed a thing of wonder to behold.

-GW

Update: Vague, With Purpose

Er, Happy New Year, belatedly. Well, 2019 isn’t over for a while and it’s still early enough where I can get away with using that greeting a few days late, right? Good. I kind of didn’t realize it was THURSDAY until I turned the news on earlier and the guy reading the teleprompter said it was. I actually laughed because I though he was about two days off. Oops.

(Thanks, AndreaDudette!)

Anyway, the condition my condition is in is kinda not stellar, but I’m abiding. I’ll say no more about that, but yeah, it’s something that’s been lurking about and of late seems to be keeping me from being a bit more… shall we say, optimal. Eh, I’m going to dip into the pile of drafts and notes I have here and post some stuff to keep me less consumed by one or two things and more distracted by other (and more enjoyable) stuff. Hmmm. I think that’s vague enough for today. Off to stare at some pending articles and go finish a couple. I’m not much of a resolution guy these days, but I may as well make a few and surprise a few folks, no?

Back in a bit.