HELLO! HI! ALOHA! Welcome back, friends and chimps that have learned how to use the Internet. It’s time for another Weekend Whammy where I ramble on about what I’ve been playing and what I plan on playing, plus I’ll also be covering some Star Wars and Indiana Jones news before wrapping it all up with a quick discussion about the best selling consoles and games of 2020!
I’ve been playing a variety of games lately, bouncing from title to title. First, I’ve been playing Helheim Hassle which is coming to PS4 very soon, having launched on PC and Xbox last year. Basically, it’s a platformer/puzzle game featuring a viking who is brought back to life and wants nothing more than to get to Helheim, the viking version of Hell, because Valhalla kinda sucks. Oh, and he can separate his limbs and his head from his body and control them all independently, leading to cool puzzles where your disembodied hand hurls your head onto a platform. I’m a few hours in and so far it’s a fun, enjoyable game with a cast of wacky, zany characters. Its humour won’t be for everyone, though.
And now that it has returned from the black void where digital games go when they are removed from sale, I’ve been playing Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Video Game. Yes, after ten years Ubisoft have brought back the official Scott Pilgrim video game and I’m uber-happy about that because I fucking adore the movie and the books, but I never got to play the game before some sort of licensing dispute banished it to the digital graveyard. In that time, Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Video Game has become the poster child for potential pitfalls of digital only games. If you don’t know, the game is a side-scrolling brawler with a pixel-art style and a kicking soundtrack. It ain’t the best brawler around (that’s still Streets of Rage 4) but it’s solid. It is a shame, however, that the story is non-existent, so if you’ve never heard of Scott Pilgrim before I’d recommend watching the film or reading the comics first, otherwise you won’t have a clue what’s happening.
I’ve also been playing some Mortal Kombat 11 and enjoying its PS5 upgrade that lets the brutal action run at a smooth 60FPS and with barely any load times between matches. I just woke up one morning and felt the need for some seriously gory fighting, and since it’s typically frowned upon to don a ninja costume and perform Fatalities in real life the only option was to re-download Mortal Kombat 11. I upgraded my version to the Ultimate Edition as well, so now I have a huge roster of new characters to mess around with (loving Spawn, so far) and the Aftermath expansion to beat. I’m looking forward to it, although I’ve come to the realization that I have zero muscle memory for MK11 and I’m getting my arse handed to me over and over again right now. Even in defeat, though, Mortal Kombat offers catharsis, a way to vent frustration that goes all the way back to my childhood where I’d take out my anger about my Cystic Fibrosis by playing Mortal Kombat 3.
I’ve gotten back into the joyous explosion of colour and music that is Peggle 2, and introduced my older niece to the satisfying feeling of watching a little ball bounce around the screen. It’s such a simple game, such a basic idea that nevertheless can capture my attention for hours at a time if I’m not careful.
As I finish writing this we’re a day away from Hitman 3 launching and. I. Am. HYPED! I’ve reinstalled Hitman 2 just so I can get back into the swing of things. I can’t wait to see what’s changed, what’s been improved and to explore every nook and cranny of the new levels. IO Interactive really nailed the clockwork design of the levels in Hitman 2, making it immensely fun to just amble around and tinker with things, so quite frankly if all they do is put out basically the same game but with a bunch of new locations I’ll probably still be happy.
Disney has been making some interesting moves in the gaming space with the announcements of a new Star Wars title and a new Indiana Jones game. Ubisoft Massive, the team behind both of The Division games, revealed that they are working on an open-world Star Wars game. While details are thin on the ground, we can perhaps safely assume the game won’t launch until at least 2023 because the Star Wars game license is still held by EA who signed a deal in 2013 so that only they could make Star Wars game for 10 years. So far, EA have published only four Star Wars games which probably isn’t what Disney envisioned when they handed over the license.
It always felt a little odd to restrict the Star Wars name to a single publisher. To my mind, it makes more sense to let developers from around the globe come and pitch a Star Wars game. With EA being the only ones allowed to make Star Wars titles they had no competition, no reason to really push out quality games for fans to enjoy. And yet somehow despite having zero other developers to compete with, EA still managed to mess things up, cancelling multiple Star Wars projects and only managing to release 4 games in the nearly eight years they’ve held the license. Of those 4, one was not well received, one was crap at launch but is now quite good, and only the final two were solid.
As for the new Star Wars game, I’m fairly eager to see it. Massive’s work has been mixed over the years, but The Division 2 is quite good. They’ve shown they can create a third-person shooter with solid combat and a detailed, interesting world. Of course, there’s genuine concern that since Massive have been working solely on live-service games for years now that could mean a Star Wars game from them will also be a live-service title. It’s a valid concern. Personally, I’m not huge on live-service games, although they can come in a lot of different forms. Mortal Kombat 11 is basically a live-service game in a lot of ways, and I bloody love it. With that said, just because Massive’s recent work has been The Division, that doesn’t mean they must follow the same template.
The new Indiana Jones that was revealed will be coming from Machine Games, the guys and girls responsible for the recent Wolfenstein games. Of course, Machine Games are part of Zenimax who are in turn going to be part of Microsoft, assuming that huge deal doesn’t fall apart. That’s interesting; was the new Indiana Jones deal made prior to Microsoft’s offer being accepted? If it was Microsoft will probably have to honour that deal and publish the game on multiple platforms. If the deal has only just been made then Microsoft will be free to publish it where they want, perhaps even opting to make it an Xbox exclusive.
Personally, I think the game will probably follow a young adult Indiana Jones because there’s a huge period of time between The Adventures of a young Indiana Jones and Indiana Jones: And The Raiders of the Lost Arc. That’s a good amount of room for Machine Games to play around in if they want to make a game that fits in with the existing canon, which I assume is the plan. Whatever route they go, though, I’m quite excited to see Indiana Jones return. I love the Indiana Jones trilogy (the 4th one doesn’t exist) and while stuff like Tomb Raider and the Uncharted games capture some of the spirit of Indy, there’s nothing quite like the original.
I’m not sure why they bothered putting out this trailer for the new Indy game, though. Like, what was the point? Just wait until you actually have something to show, for crying out loud.
Right, now on to the part that many of you may fund duller than your friend’s holiday photos: STATISTICS! The NPD Group has released its data on video games in America during 2020, meaning lots of fun little stats to pour over. Obviously the pandemic has been a bit of a downer, but gaming industry has benefitted massively from so many people having more time on their hands, despite many people also having a lot less free cash to spend. In total, NPD tracks an increase in spending of 27% on videogames in 2020, reaching $56.9 billion. 86% of that is from software sales, with software sales up 26% from 2019.
The biggest news is that 2020 was a year of Nintendo domination, even despite Sony and Microsoft stealing headlines with the launch of their new machines. Not only was the Nintendo Switch the best selling console of 2020, but three of Nintendo’s games were in the top ten selling games of 2020, and that’s without even including digital sales numbers which Nintendo never publish. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was third, while Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D All-Stars took 8th and 9th respectively. Even as we move into a new era of powerful consoles it looks like the Switch is going to keep going strong, already having sold nearly 70-million consoles since its launch back in 2017. That’s more than the Xbox One (a little under 50-million) has managed in seven years, and only 40-million or so less than the PS4 which has also been around for 7 years.
VGChartz provides a good breakdown of console sales throughout the year. According to their data the Nintendo Switch managed to shift 28.2-million units, a good jump up from the 19.7-million in 2019. The PS4 came next with 8.7-million consoles sold, with the PS5 coming in 3rd thanks to its 4.6-million. Microsoft were trailing far behind everybody else with only 3.1-million Xbox Ones sold and 2.5-million Xbox Series S/X consoles sold.
Sony did quite well for themselves, then. On top of that, Sony have three Playstation exclusive titles in the top ten selling games of 2020. The Last of Us Part 2 ranked 6th despite what people on Youtube would like you to believe, and Ghost of Tsushima claimed 7th. It’s worth noting that Ghost of Tsushima was the only new IP to get into the top ten. Outside of the top ten, Sony also have Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales in 12th. I’m actually a little surprised Miles Morales didn’t rank higher considering how spectacularly Marvel’s Spider-Man sold, but it did arrive fairly late in the year, so that probably explains that.
Delving further into the best selling games of 2020 reveals some more interesting data. Proving that brand recognition can be a huge deal, Marvel’s Avengers took 11th place, despite the lukewarm reception. Perhaps the biggest thing to take from Avenger’s, though, is that even being the 11th best selling game of the year was still not good enough for Square Enix who deemed it disappointing. I think that says a lot about companies and their unrealistic expectations when it comes to budget and profit. Square Enix are the same company who branded Tomb Raider a failure after it sold 6+ million copies.
Other games I wanted to mention are Mortal Kombat 11 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. MK11 just keeps on selling copies, claiming the 16th spot even though it was actually released in April of 2019. Earlier in 2020 it was reported that MK11 had surpassed 8-million copies sold, so that’s pretty impressive. And I’m happy to see Tony Hawk’s 1+2 claiming the 20th spot on the list, hopefully proving there’s life in the franchise yet and that a sequel would be worth everyone’s time and money.
And then, of course, there’s Cyberpunk 2077. Though it released mid-way through December it still managed to claim the 19th spot on the list. The controversy surrounding it continues to swirl and whirl, and I have mixed feelings about its success. On the one hand, I feel happy for the developers who sunk huge chunks of their life into the game because at least their work is being rewarded, especially because CD Projekt RED provide bonuses based on yearly income. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to see higher-ups in the company seeing financial success despite launching a game that was so clearly not ready for market.
It kind of goes without saying that a Call of Duty took the top spot, but not only did Call of Duty sell the most in 2020, it sold the second most as well! What the fuck, CoD? You greedy bastard.
|1||Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War (Activision Blizzard)|
|2||Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Activision Blizzard)|
|3||Animal Crossing: New Horizons* (Nintendo)|
|4||Madden NFL 21 (EA)|
|5||Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla (Ubisoft)|
|6||The Last of Us: Part II (Sony)|
|7||Ghost of Tsushima (Sony)|
|8||Mario Kart 8: Deluxe* (Nintendo)|
|9||Super Mario 3D All-Stars* (Nintendo)|
|10||Final Fantasy VII: Remake (Square Enix)|
|11||Marvel’s Avengers (Square Enix)|
|12||Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales (Sony)|
|13||NBA 2K21* (Take-Two Interactive)|
|14||Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* (Nintendo)|
|15||FIFA 21 (EA)|
|16||Mortal Kombat 11 (Warner Bros)|
|17||Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (Bandai Namco)*|
|18||MLB: The Show 20 (Sony)|
|19||Cyberpunk 2077* (Warner Bros)|
|20||Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 (Activision Blizzard)|
* Digital sales not included
That will do it for now, folks. I’d appreciate it if you considered chucking some spare change my way because it helps get games in for review, such as the upcoming Hitman 3 that I couldn’t snag review code for.
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