November is finally here, and it is expectedly the craziest month of the year for game releases. And that would be the case even if we didn't have a brand new console coming out, thanks to huge debuts like Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, but come November 18 (Nov. 30 in the UK) we'll see an absolute slew of Wii U launch titles popping up alongside the system itself. (Some will actually ship before the system is out, but we've listed them all for the 18th to keep things easy to read.) Whatever your purchasing plan for the month, we've got the lowdown on the month's offerings. Just remember to save a little money for spending on holiday gifts. Or don't; your call!
Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations, Alive!
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo's opening salvo in November is Freakyforms Deluxe: Your Creations, Alive!, an expanded retail version of last fall's 3DS eShop release. Available at a less-robust price, Freakyforms Deluxe maintains the core approach of the original, letting you sketch out and craft animated creatures to navigate through worlds of your own design. The retail release contains more than 600 forms to use for your "formee," plus StreetPass and QR code support to share your oddball characters with the world. We're most curious to see whether a cheap eShop offering can hold its own on store shelves this season, however.
Platform: Xbox 360
EU: November 6
Hard to believe it's been five full years since Halo 3. Of course, that span was filled with the likes of Halo Wars, ODST, Reach, and last year's Anniversary re-release of the debut, but now it's finally time to push Microsoft's headlining FPS series forward with a full-fledged sequel – the first to be developed by 343 Industries in place of franchise originator Bungie. Reason for concern? Unlikely. Everything we've seen and played thus far has impressed, from the slick-looking campaign to the enhanced online multiplayer and brand new Spartan Ops mode, which will be supported with free missions through the end of the year. Suit up, Spartans. The year's biggest Xbox 360 exclusive is finally here.
Platform: PlayStation 3
EU: November 9
Much like the romantic comedy that launches alongside a blockbuster action flick, it's probably safe to call LittleBigPlanet Karting a fine bit of counter-programming to Halo 4, different platforms and all. Look, we've all played a fair number of arcade-style racers spun off from series that had no business supporting a four-wheeled romp, but Sony's stab at putting Sackboy in a customizable craft holds a lot of promise. Not only does the campaign support four players, but the same kind of level and game design tools from LittleBigPlanet 2 are here, and in a full 3D space. We expect to see the same kind of insane user creativity as in past LBP entries, which should have all fans pumped for this fresh path.
NASCAR The Game: Inside Line
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii
By the time NASCAR: The Game – Inside Line ships next week, we'll be only two races away from the culmination of the 2012 Chase for the Championship – which Activision no doubt hopes will fuel interest in its second take on the blazingly popular motorsport. Unlike Codemasters' F1 series, Inside Line realizes that many of its fans may not be die-hard car nuts, and as such eases new players into the nuts and bolts of the NASCAR racing experience via a friendly career mode. Of course, those who already know an alternator from a restrictor plate can find ample depth to the action, though kudos to Activision for not leaving casual fans out in the cold here.
Mass Effect Trilogy
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
EU: November 9
There's no doubt that getting the entire Mass Effect Trilogy in one package for a mere $59.99 is an incredible, incredible deal for those who have somehow missed out on BioWare's celebrated sci-fi role-playing opus. It's all wrapped up in sleek new packaging with exclusive artwork and apparently even newly-pressed discs, but to be quite honest, the biggest bit of this announcement doesn't pertain to November 6 at all. The Trilogy is also coming to PlayStation 3 at some undisclosed future date, which will be the first time the original title will be on the system – plus it'll be sold separately for $14.99 from PSN. For everyone else, though, it's one hell of a budget bundle. Stocking stuffer!
Sega Vintage Collection: ToeJam & Earl
Platform: PSN, XBLA (11/7)
EU: November 6 (XBLA: 11/7)
If you're looking for a platform blast from the past this November, look no further than Sega's downloadable re-releases of ToeJam & Earl and sequel ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron. Available separately on PlayStation Network for $5 a pop or either separate (400 MS points) or together (800 MS points) on Xbox Live Arcade, the Genesis classics come with the requisite Achievements and Trophies support on their respective platforms, along with the welcome addition of co-op play. It's unclear why it's taken years to get these games on HD platforms after being on the Wii's Virtual Console for ages, but fans are probably just stoked to finally get them.
Let's be honest: it's probably a little late to be launching a Wii-exclusive karaoke experience, seeing as the Wii U is out in a couple weeks and Nintendo has all but abandoned support for its former cash cow. But at least Konami is legitimately trying something new here, and it has little to do with the actual singing of licensed tracks. While the disc comes pre-loaded with 30 songs, you can access loads more by buying a 24-hour, 3-day, or 30-day pass with Wii Points and just sing to your heart's content. It's not cheap – that 30-day pass is $30 – but if you're a karaoke nut, it might be cheaper than actually purchasing a ton of DLC in other games.