Happy weekend to all of you who are presently reading this post. We’ve come to the end of another gaming week. I did not get to The Legend of Zelda’s 35th anniversary last week so I will definitely have some thoughts on that in this edition of the wrap-up. Also, the news this week was more about game announcements, such as Diablo IV and a new Pokemon open world game, as well as another video game related show being developed for a streaming service. Let’s get to it.
A REMASTERED AND A NEW DIABLO
Diablo II Resurrected is a remastered and upgraded edition of Diablo II that was recently announced by Activision Blizzard. But that isn’t the only new Diablo that has a planned future release. Blizzard has also officially brought Diablo IV to the forefront as well with a reveal trailer that dropped at this year’s online BlizzCon. The last Diablo game to be released was Diablo III back in 2012 along with its subsequent expansions.
The action role-playing franchise is considered to be the gold standard of the genre. Its influence is seen in games such as Path of Exile, Torchlight, Pillars of Eternity, and Grim Dawn. Diablo II is no doubt the most beloved game in the franchise, as both critic and user reviews have indicated over the years. After the backlash the company received due to changes and unfulfilled promises concerning the Warcraft III remake, I believe that Blizzard will take extra care to not sour its core Diablo fanbase with Diablo II Resurrected.
I’m late to the party when it comes to the Diablo series. I’ve actually had more experience with the games influenced by Diablo than the Diablo titles themselves. Path of Exile is an excellent game that is free-to-play and offers a wealth of content for those who wish to grind and build up a character. I recently purchased the Diablo III Eternal Collection on the Nintendo Switch and enjoyed the hour that I spent with it so far. I’m interested in seeing where the story takes me and the gameplay was responsive, fluid, and engaging. Based on my first impressions of Diablo III, I also purchased Diablo II Classic to see for myself what all the hype is about.
LINK AND COMPANY TURN 35
On February 21st, The Legend of Zelda reached its 35th year of being in existence. The original game launched on February 21, 1986 on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Since then, Link, Zelda, the Tri-Force, and the kingdom of Hyrule have all become iconic fixtures for Nintendo. Every system since the NES has included multiple Zelda games and the characters have even been featured in other titles such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Only the Super Mario Bros. cast may be more prominent when it comes to Nintendo’s most featured characters.
With that anniversary happening this month, I now can see why many gamers were expected a major announcement regarding a new Zelda title at the latest Nintendo Direct. But instead, all that was revealed was an HD version of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I wonder why it seems that Zelda fans are more celebratory about the franchise’s 35th birthday than the company that has published its games over the years?
When I think of The Legend of Zelda, I immediately envision the gold cartridge that was nothing like I had ever seen. It made the game seem special and playing it, indeed it was. The original Legend of Zelda was a dungeon crawling, exploring adventure that featured puzzles, the ability to buy items from shops, challenging battles against dungeon bosses, and one of the most memorable tracks in gaming music history. It was one of the early gaming masterpieces that I remember from my childhood.
Speaking of Zelda games, I’ve been playing Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and this is now my favorite Zelda game of all-time. I know it’s the second Zelda game to incorporate the Dynasty Warriors system but the collaboration has been fantastic. It’s great for gamers like me that have longed to see Link, Zelda and the crew just go bonkers on enemies without having to worry about exploring an open world or solving a bunch of puzzles. Expect a gameplay video on the TVGA YouTube Channel in March.
‘FROGGER’ BECOMES A GAME SHOW
NBC’s Peacock streaming service plans to turn Frogger into a game show, according to Yahoo. This past Tuesday, NBC revealed the scoop on the new show, which will consist of 13 episodes that will run one hour each. The premise of the program will be contestants having to overcome various obstacles to make it from one side to another in a similar way that gamers had to guide the frog from the bottom of the screen to the top in the old arcade game. A “huge cash prize” will be awarded to the winner.
This is a very interesting concept to turn a video game into a game show. I am intrigued to see what becomes of this. Because retro gaming is a growing interest in the gaming community, I wonder if the show creators are looking to provide something for that demographic. I would imagine that the show would mainly appeal to people who are familiar with Frogger (which came out in the early 1980s) and are gamers. If produced well, this could be a fun show.
VALHEIM CONTINUES INSANE GROWTH
Another week, another million. Norse-influenced open-world survival game Valheim reached four million units sold this week and the indie title continues to captivate Steam users worldwide. The game was just released earlier this month and is still in Early Access. But if you read the “Overwhelmingly Positive” reviews on Steam, many users believe the game is already polished enough to be considered a full release. Keep in mind that more than 87,000 users have reviewed the game on the platform.
Valheim seems to be giving gamers grand experiences regardless of their usual personal tastes. I’ve read players praising the game both in experiences as single players and in multiplayer. Gamers who normally wouldn’t play survival games have discussed how Valheim was still able to draw them in. It’s really an amazing achievement what the developers at Iron Gate Studio have done. I recall that the development team only consisted of five members.
Because my focus has been on other games lately, I haven’t gotten around to Valheim myself. But I do plan to give the game some time in March. What I’m most curious about is how the procedural generation in the game works, as it is interesting that aspect was implemented in the first place. But what a great story about an indie-developed game to start 2021. I would not be surprised to see Valheim getting “Game of the Year” recommendations.
UPCOMING FREEBIES FOR PLAYSTATION, XBOX OWNERS
Sony announced the return of the Playstation “Play at Home” initiative, which will begin in March and last four months, according to the news release. The initiative made its debut last year due to COVID. It involves free game giveaways, discounts, and perks. March’s highlights include a free download of the PS4 version of Ratchet & Clank, as well as extended access for new subscribers of Funimation. No content has been revealed for April, May, or June.
The Playstation Plus games for March were finally announced yesterday with some heavy hitters in Final Fantasy VII Remake and Remnant: From the Ashes for the PS4. Playstation VR receives Farpoint and PS5 owners will be able to download Maquette. The games will be available for PS Plus subscribers beginning March 2. The games are free to keep as long as you have an ongoing PS Plus subscription.
Games With Gold for March includes Warface Breakout (3/1-3/31) and Vicious Attack Llama Apocalypse (3/16-4/15) for the Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One, as well as Metal Slug 3 (3/1-3/15) and Port Royale 3 (3/16-3/31) for the Xbox 360. You must have a current Xbox Live Gold membership to claim the games. Like the Playstation Plus setup, you must remain a member of the Xbox Live Gold service to keep the games in your library.
In my opinion, Sony is dominating Microsoft when it comes to the monthly games that are being offered in their online subscription services. Already in 2021, PS Plus subscribers have been able to claim Control Ultimate Edition, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Greedfall. The main Xbox Live Gold highlights have included Gears 5, Resident Evil, and Little Nightmares. Hopefully Microsoft will add more notable titles to their list for the remainder of the year.