Welcome to the summer doldrums. The season started strong, but as usual, the release quantity is drying up as all the publishers prep for the onslaught of incredible releases this fall. August is still a remarkably strong month, though, and we're excited about the vast majority of its releases. We're deep into the Summer of Arcade on Xbox 360, too, so we've got some sweet downloadable stuff in the near future to accompany the biggest sports game of the year and some RPG geekery.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
EU: August 3
A bizarre adventure game in the vein of Super Metroid, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet casts us as a UFO with oodles of unlockable abilities. We’ve seen bits of this, and what we came away with was a slacked jaw – Shadow Planet is beautiful to the point of being silly. It’s a colorful 2D game with a simple but brilliant use of silhouettes to accentuate its outstanding art. We’re looking forward to puttering around in a space ship and messing up fugly alien things. Physics plays a big role in navigation and puzzle-solving, of which most of the game is made up of. Shooting at things happens, too.
Fruit Ninja Kinect
EU: August 10
The lone $10 entry in this year's Summer of Arcade celebration is the Kinect port of the unreasonably addictive Fruit Ninja. Slashing fruit in half with our thumbs to score points has some sort of unexplainable pull we can't get enough of, and reluctant though we are to dig out the Kinect, we want to punch and kick some watermelons. You'll also see this game bundled with The Gunstringer when that hits retail shelves later this year, if you'd rather hold off for now.
El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3
EU: September 1
Well, this is awkward. We told you last month Ignition's wackjob action game would release in July. They've since delayed it until August 16 in North America. We're going to tell you it's hitting then, but don't take our word for it. Those cats at Ignition are wily. If you missed our thoughts last month, here's a recap:
"We’re going to go ahead and recommend you check out the El Shaddai demo right about now. It looks stunning, its combat is cool and, really, we can’t get enough of just how bizarre it is. Its religious themes, specifically revolving around angels (obviously, if you’re into religion), present some cool opportunities. We didn’t expect it to go 2D at times, nor were we prepared with how ball-crushingly difficult it can be, but we’re behind Ignition’s latest in a big, bad way. It’s got a lot of familiar ideas, but it really isn’t like anything we’ve seen, so we’re absolutely in when this hits at the end of the month."
All of this still applies.
Toy Soldiers: Cold War
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
EU: August 17
Toy Soldiers ruled. It was a stellar tower defense game that let us take a more active role in the defending—taking control over machine-gun turrets, artillery and airplanes let us squash enemy forces with a bit of offense. It was what the genre needed, and now it’s slowly becoming the norm. Trenched and South Park had the same idea. We’re down for more of Toy Soldiers, especially since Cold War is so open about its adoration for 80s toys and action movies (the best era for both, let’s be real). Apaches, AC-130s and John Goddamn Rambo are in this game, man. If we could pre-order we would have done it 25 years ago.
No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise
EU: May 20
A story of an otaku just trying to get laid, Heroes' Paradise is an HD remake of the original No More Heroes. Despite its faults (boring-ass mini-games, annoying open world) we couldn't help but fall in love with its absurdity--when it wasn't a wildly fun sword-fightin' brawler, it was brilliant satire on, oh, boring-ass mini-games and annoying open worlds. It fell victim to its own ideas, but there's something uniquely satisfying about No More Heroes' combat. The PlayStation Move (or right stick) approximates the Wii waggle this time around, and it's uncensored--slashing about and spilling copious guts all over the ground should keep us into NMH again. The added levels from the second game beef it up, too, and fast travel should keep the impatient pleased. We won't comment on the sexy-lady-viewer mode. It's there. But now you're curious: Will we or won't we?!
Age of Empires: Online
EU: August 16
The free-to-play sequel to one of the most well-loved RTSs may have a painful pricing structure--the more you pay the more likely you are to win, while smaller transactions net you, um, plants and stuff--we can't help but get a little giddy about it. It's AoE! It's free! It's another PC-exclusive, haha, suck it you console jerks! Ahem. Anyway. It's looking good, and its beta period is winding down, where word on the street is AoEO is lookin' pretty good. Hopefully that's not just hype-goggles making things look nicer than they actually are.