There are a lot of exciting games coming to stores soon, so you might want to start work on your own shopping list...
Posted by Jason Venter (August 24, 2013)
Every year around this time, I find it helpful to make a calendar for myself, outlining which games are arriving next and for which platform. The timing is right, because a lot of the holiday season's big games have at this point been announced and release dates are near final. There's also less in the way of distraction, because the big marketing blitz won't begin for probably another few weeks and that makes it easier for me to take note of titles that otherwise I might allow to become lost in the shuffle.
This year, as I put together my list of retail titles that I would like to add to my collection, I realized that I'm looking at a rather unique variety of games. People tend to expect stuff like Call of Duty and a new Need for Speed each year, and certainly those are coming in November like always, but there's also a lot of exciting stuff ahead of then, content that reminds me the industry is alive and well, if you're willing to do a bit of digging as a consumer.
Everyone's tastes will change, but I thought you might enjoy a quick rundown of some of the titles that I'm most excited to play, along with brief thoughts as to why. As you look over the list, I think you'll agree that the industry does have a lot to offer besides just the obvious fare, and maybe you'll learn something about how your taste in games and mine may differ.
I'm naming the titles and their release dates in bold, and I'm providing explanations below. If you're in a hurry, scan the titles and then skip to the end. Here goes, in approximate order of release...
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F (PS3) - August 27
I've preordered this one, actually, because I'm not sure about the quantity that SEGA will produce. This is the first title from the franchise to arrive in North America, and it carries an MSRP of $49.99. It will be available in physical form, and also as a download on PlayStation Network. It's a music/rhythm game that requires players to press the face buttons and move the analog stick in time with prompts on-screen, which are accompanied by imagery of various anime-style characters dancing around and putting on musical performances. Apparently, the music was all produced by Japanese consumers who use special software that was actually just designed for music creation, but with the accompanying anime girl persona. SEGA found some of the best of that and mixed it with fan made art design and put together this promising game, which seems at a glance to be designed in a manner somewhat similar to something like Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy (which I liked). This is a risky retail title from a big publisher and I'm excited to see how it goes.
Killer is Dead (PS3) - August 27
This title is coming from XSEED Games and comes from Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda-51, the team responsible for the No MOre Heroes and Killer 7 games. I actually haven't put a lot of research into this one, but it does feature the stylized art. The hero has a blade and a cybernetic arm, and it looks to be violent and such. I think it will be an exciting niche action title and I look forward to it.
Rayman Legends (Wii U) - September 3
I love a good platformer, still. Some of my favorite games in the early days were platformers, and that old love dies hard. Rayman Origins was a lot of fun, and Rayman Legends is by any accounts I've heard more ambitious. It was originally supposed to arrive much sooner (for a long time, it was slated for release this past March), but then Ubisoft delayed it and announced editions for systems beside the faltering Wii U. However, I believe the Wii U version will still have additional content, and it's the system for which the game was initially being optimized, so that's the version I'll be getting. I really hope that Rayman doesn't find himself lost in the shuffle yet again. The September release date is smart, because at least now Rayman won't be going up against the new Assassin's Creed. That did him no favors the last time around...
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (PS3) - September 10
I know, I know... Kingdom Hearts is not niche. This is one that most people have on their radar already, and me mentioning it here is mostly a waste of time. It's the ultimate mix of the original Kingdom Hearts, though, with beautiful HD graphics and some concessions to the improvements that Kingdom Hearts 2 made. There's also Re:Chain of Memories or something. Look, I don't know my Kingdom Hearts very well, but I thought the original was pretty cool in places and the updated visuals have me ready to give it another shot. If nothing else, at least I'll be able to play it on a new PS3 without plugging in my dusty PS2. The price tag is $40, so that's doable. Hopefully.
Pupeteer (PS3) - September 10
I know almost nothing about this game, except that it features stylized art and platforming. It looks vaguely like the LittleBigPlanet style of platforming, which worries me because I'm not a fan of the loose controls that game offered, but apparently you're a puppet instead of a sockboy. Sony is not hyping this one much at all, in keeping with its recent trend of failing to tell gamers about some of its most promising projects, and the MSRP is $40. I'll likely take a chance with it.
The Wonderful 101 (Wii U) - September 15
PlatinumGames does good work, and this game looks like a pleasing clash of funky and Pikmin, with very Japanese flavor. It's a Wii U exclusive, and people who have played the demo seemed to love it. I don't play demos, because too often they've only turned me off games I wound up loving, but I love the art style and the action looks intense. Do want.
Grand Theft Auto V (PlayStation 3) - September 17
This follows a short time after The Wonderful 101, and I figure it's the title that most gamers will be picking up that particular week. I hope to be among that number. The return to the San Andreas region is welcome--for many people who loved the PS2 title--and the game is split among three protagonists/anti-heroes. There looks to be a ton of stuff to do, and an ambitious online mode that should become available a few weeks after launch. I could see this game hogging all of a person's free time for most of a year, and you can bet I'll wind up owning it eventually, even if I'm too broke during launch week. Like some other people, though, I'll probably spend more time just playing around in the huge sandbox world than I do actively working to complete the story campaign.
Hakuoki: Memories of the Shinsengumi (3DS) - September 24
I have only read enough about this title to get interested in it, not enough to sell you on it. Basically, it is a story-based game told largely through text. There's apparently a lot of blood, but the real focus is on romance. You can play through the game in several different ways, trying to win the affection of any number of different guys while a central narrative arc keeps everything fresh. The game is already available for PSP, but I missed it then and I don't want to miss it again, now that Aksys is publishing a 3DS version. This sounds like it will be unlike most of what you can find in North America for virtually any platform, and it could be awesome.
Scribblenauts Unmasked (Wii U) - September 24
One of the most enjoyable launch titles for me was Scribblenauts Unlimited, which offered a comfortable interface and a neat little story while players used words to solve enjoyable puzzles. I'm a big fan of the Scribblenauts license in general, though I have some reservations this time around because the superhero motiff isn't a big hook for me. Still, it should be a blast for kids and kids at heart, and I definitely fall into the latter category. Plus, even though super heroes don't turn anything to an instant sell for me, it's not like I don't appreciate them...
Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl (3DS) - October 1
From what I can gather, this is a remake of the first Etrian Odyssey game. Someone on Twitter recently noted that each Etrian Odyssey game is better than the last, and I can't really disagree with that. This will be the second title in the series to arrive on the 3DS, which is the perfect platform for a game of this sort. I love a good first-person romp through dungeons, and Atlus has been on fire with those lately, plus sometimes the games can get a little difficult to find if you wait to snap them up while they're on store shelves. I don't plan to make that particular mistake, and I recommend that you don't either.
Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness (PS3) - October 8
This is another game that I want without doing much research on it, but really, how much research does a person need to do? You probably know at this point whether or not Disgaea appeals to you or not. Me? I like the series very much. I've played 1-4 already, and I'm excited about this one because it is a direct follow-up to the first one. Laharl remains my favorite anti-hero from the series, so I'm anxious to find out what adventures he'll have next... and slightly apprehensive. The series has been less consistently great as of late (I thought 3 was relatively lackluster), but 4 was good enough that I will make a solid effort to get this one. I just might not have time to play through it right away.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (Wii U) - October
Nintendo hasn't yet nailed down a release date for this one, but my guess is October 13. I say that just based on the other stuff coming out around the same time. If Nintendo is nice, it won't compete with SEGA's release around the 22nd, and it won't want to put anything out too early in the month because then that will give The Wonderful 101 less time to shine. Anyway, Nintendo will release this one at some point in October, and there's even all but official confirmation that a special bundle will be available, for those who haven't picked up a Wii U just yet. As for the game itself, it's an HD remake of the GameCube classic, which has grown more popular since its release. There's talk of new dungeons and even a new viewing perspective (I'm not sure on the latter), plus the visual style should look gorgeous on HD sets. The stupid item hunt at the end has apparently also been further streamlined, so this could easily wind up being the definitive version of one of the best titles in the series.
Sonic: Lost World (Wii U) - October 22
I know that Sonic can be a bit hit-or-miss, but he has had pretty good luck with Nintendo platforms, I think. This game is the first of three Sonic titles that Nintendo and SEGA announced would be exclusive to Wii U, at least anytime near their initial availability. Its design has been compared to Super Mario Galaxy, and to an old Sonic title for Saturn (I think it was) that never actually got released but may have inspired Super Mario Galaxy. Confused yet? The design looks very cool to me, with a good focus on speed and some of the abilities that were enjoyable in Sonic Colors (my personal pick for the best Sonic platformer in years). This one could easily bomb, but for now I get a good vibe from it and I am approaching it with optimism.
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (PS3) - October 29
I might pick up the PS3 version of this one, to go with my collection of all the past titles to hit that platform, or I may pick up the Wii U version in support of that platform and the fact that I played through Assassin's Creed III on Wii U. I really do love Assassin's Creed, probably more than a lot of my peers. It does some really interesting things with open worlds, plus the focus on ships and sea ports could make for a truly interesting change of pace. The ship segments in Assassin's Creed III were wonderful, and Disney Infinity--despite its numerous flaws--reminded me how much fun it can be to sail a ship on the open seas, now that games' visuals have come so far. I may skip the PS3 version, though, since the platform I really want to play it on is the PlayStation 4. Do I expect nothing but win from the series at this point? NO, I do not. Ubisoft has proven surprisingly adept at dropping the ball here and there, but overall the franchise remains one of the most exciting in the industry and I will support each new update until that changes.
Have you made a personal calendar to keep track of all the exciting stuff that's coming? If so, is there a lot of crossover between our two calendars or none at all? I'd love to hear what you're looking forward to the most, if only so I know what games I should spend the most time writing about in the coming months. If you have a moment, please weigh in below.
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