By Jared Cornelius
Welcome back to Sweet Release! Bleeding Cool’s look at the newest games coming to store shelves and digital platforms. In last week’s column I declared April to be the month of downloadable titles and we’re continuing the trend this week with another slate of mostly non-physical games. While the lack of big box games has been noticeable it’s another release calendar where the quality of the smaller titles is top notch and I’d say better in most cases than the retail releases. We do have one odd man out with a single retail release that’s more for the PC community but downloadables rule as a couple of long awaited Kickstarter projects finally reach the finish line. One of my favorite games gets released…again, and big men pretend to hit each other in their underwear on PC.
With a few exceptions, the isometric tactics genre has mainly belonged to the Japanese role playing game community. Titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, Ogre Battle, and Disgaea have all but monopolized grid based tactics gameplay. It’s only been in the last few years that successful western based games like X-Com and Shadowrun Returns have been showcasing how a different setting and tone can help a game succeed outside of the traditional tactics community. Case in point the fantastic Chroma Squad from Behold Studios, who took their setting and inspiration from the wacky and kung-furious world of super sentai. Super sentai refers to the popular form of Japanese television where some plucky teenagers get transformed magically into an elite fighting squad, see Power Rangers, Big Bad Beetleborgs, Masked Rider etc.
Chroma Squad doesn’t just represent the fighting aspect which uses traditional grid based tactics, but also puts players in control of actually managing the show. This includes hiring actors, creating sets, and even marketing. It sounds in depth, but Behold Studios have successfully pulled this off before with their first hit game Knights of Pen and Paper a great Dungeons and Dragons style fantasy game that includes the real world non-fantasy party aspects. Chroma Squad uses a pixelated art style that amps up the games charm and has a catchy soundtrack as well. It even has giant robot fights to complete that childhood joy of men in rubber suits stepping on tiny cardboard towns. Chroma Squad was another successful product of Kickstarter and in full disclosure I did back it, but that being said, I received early access to the game and can tell you it’s really good. Chroma Squad releases Thursday on Steam.
Let’s keep this revival train rolling with Double Fine Studio’s long awaited finale to their 2012 Kickstarter, Broken Age. The classically styled point and click adventure, originally known as “Double Fine Adventure” was one of the first big successful Kickstarter campaigns launching an incredibly profitable era of crowdfunding. The story revolves around two children, Vella Tartine and Shay Volta, “two teenagers in strangely similar situations, but radically different worlds.” Broken Age features Double Fine’s unique art style and has an all-star voice acting cast that includes Jack Black, Jennifer Hale, and Elijah Wood. While the first act of Broken Age has been out on PC some time, the release of its long awaited second act marks the end of its historic journey. Broken Age released Tuesday on PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita. Full disclosure as I backed the Broken Age Kickstarter as well.
Rejoice Xbox owners as you’re not getting left out in the cold for long on the best retro experience of the last few years. Shovel Knight is making its way to Xbox One and Xbox 360 this Wednesday. Play as the noble and valiant Shovel Knight as he takes on the Order of No Quarter and their evil leader, The Enchantress. The 2D platformer from Yacht Club Games takes some of the finest 8-bit era gameplay and adds elements from NES stalwarts like Castlevania, Mega Man, and more for a refreshing and modern take on old school side scrollers. It has almost all the content of the PlayStation versions that were released last week sans the Kratos boss fight. Instead you’ll be treated to a showdown with Microsoft’s most recognized franchise….The Battletoads! Yes the titular Shovel Knight throws down with Pimple, Rash, and Zits from the iconic NES beat’em-up. Weird boss fights aside, it’s an amazing game and well worth a look. Shovel Knight releases on Wednesday on Xbox One and Xbox 360, with versions available on all PlayStation platforms, PC, Wii U, and 3/2DS handhelds.
Are you a pro-wrestling fan? Do you own a PC? Well good news friend, 2K Games has finally seen fit to grace you with their poorly received WWE 2K15. The actual bright side of this release is it does include all the games downloadable content, the bad news is it’s still not very good. Just go ahead and save $30 and get the WWE Network, if you’ve ever had even a passing fancy with wrestling it’s well worth $10. Oh yeah, video games….just wait for the inevitable WWE 2K16 that has more match types, more wrestlers, and better graphics. WWE 2K16 is likely out in October, if I still haven’t dissuaded you. WWE 2K15 is available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.
Rounding out the releases this week is our one and only retail game, Tropico 5. The strategy dictator simulator takes place on the fictionalized South American island of Tropico where you are cast in the role of El-Presidente! You’ll decide the fate of the country through your style of leadership, will you be benevolent and give to the people? Or do you rule with an iron fist? The big hook of Tropico 5 is the Dynasty mode that allows players to appoint family members to the country’s government and play through the eras using character legacies to prop up their reign. Tropico 5 has been available on PC for almost a year now, but if games like Civilization Revolution or Sim City do it for you, this may be worth a look. Tropico 5 is available Tuesday on PlayStation 4, with PC and Xbox 360 versions currently available.
That’s all for this week folks, but why not keep the party going with the “Adventure Issue” of Bleeding Cool Magazine. I have a lovely chat with IDW’s Editor In Chief, Chris Ryall about his new series Onyx hitting shelves later this summer. You can also check out my other regular column, Typing on The Dead, where I recap and dissect the latest issue of The Walking Dead.
Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who can’t believe Memorial Day is three weeks away. Astonish at the summer season with him on Twitter @John_Laryngitis.