Welcome one and all to 2019! It’s a brand new year and we’re just barely shaking off the magic dust left of 2018. We’re in the early stages of January and unless you own some kind of international hotel chain for cats or whatever, you know that it’s the poor month. We all made it rain with presents, gaudy Christmas meals and buying games with the intention to “eventually” get to it in December and the after-effects are surely being felt. To make matters worse, January is also a massive month for gaming this year with highly anticipated games finally getting their release. The start of the month obviously didn’t have much, but as you can see, it picks up hard. Let’s see what’s in store for us:
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – PS4, Xbox One – January 18
Who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned dogfight? I’m not talking about the seedy back alley pitbull fights either, I’m talking about marvels of aerodynamic engineering battling it out in the endless sky above. Blistering speeds, targetting multiple bogeys with some heat-seeking missiles and weaving in and out of the clouds. It’s an adrenaline-filled extravaganza and the Ace Combat series is, well, the ace at this kind of thing.
There isn’t much to be known about Ace Combat 7 except that it looks beautiful, frantic and exciting. There hasn’t been a proper jet flying game in years and it’s nice to see one of the OGs of the admittedly small genre coming in to revitalise our love for pure flying mayhem. The game will also include a VR mode on PSVR with special missions being assigned to the virtual reality experience. That will be quite a journey, especially for us prone to motion sickness because pulling off barrel rolls might just be an easy way to evacuate your stomach at Mach 2.
Prediction: I’m not massively clued up on the Ace Combat series, having only played a couple of them briefly throughout the years, but it seems they’re ramping up the tech and creating a jet fighter game we wanted. Really hoping for an 8/10 or beyond on this one.
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes – Switch – January 18
Suda51 is an absolute madman. His games are always a trip of the senses and a rollercoaster of absurdist comedy. Even his relatively straight-faced titles have this undeniable charm and strangeness to them which makes him quite an alluring auteur. His No More Heroes trilogy has been this surprisingly obscure franchise filled with all kinds of meta weirdness and a major reliance on geek culture. This will be the third game in said trilogy and will obviously be off the handle like we expected anything less.
Travis Strikes Again is a top-down hack ‘n’ slash game (which is a major shift for the franchise) featuring the titular character and will continue the crazy story that Suda51 has created. The first line of the plot synopsis from Wikipedia tells you everything you need to know: “Seven years after the events of No More Heroes 2, a former professional baseball player turned assassin named the Badman seeks revenge on Travis Touchdown for murdering his daughter, Bad Girl.” If that isn’t a synopsis that titillates you then you, my friend, are dead inside.
Prediction: I’m entirely unfamiliar with this franchise due to never owning a Wii in my life. However, from everything I’ve heard, these games are a cult favourite and Suda51 has always displayed this fractured and often crazy sort of genius that will be interesting to see on a new console. I’ll be safe and go 7/10 due to how unpredictable the man can get, but I’m hoping for a lot more.
Resident Evil 2 Remake – PS4, Xbox One, PC – January 25
Fans of this storied horror franchise have always cited Resident Evil 2 as one of the very greats and one of the peaks of the entire horror genre. Obviously, the game hasn’t aged quite as well, since it released when I was 5 years old. Low poly graphics and an ancient control scheme hold this masterpiece back quite a bit. Cue the remake treatment and we have something worth paying attention to in the modern era.
This ain’t your grandad’s remaster, this is a top-to-bottom remake of the game all the way from the visual style to the controls. It looks modern, it feels modern and it’s an entire rebirth of a concept. It’s quite a big deal because this game was a cornerstone of an entire genre and, I’ve been told, way ahead of its time. To see such a valuable piece of gaming’s history reimagined entirely for a new generation is a considerable feat.
Prediction: I’m going with a 9/10 on this one. They have the base of an already classic game and all they’ve done is improve on it in any other possible way. This has to be good at the very least.
Kingdom Hearts III – PS4, Xbox One – January 29
E3 2013 was when this game was announced. 2006 was the year that Kindom Hearts II released. This game is an extremely long time coming. The franchise hasn’t vanished in that time with more and more bizarrely named games being released that serve as stories inbetween the two major titles. However, the mainline series has been in development for so long and been delayed for so long that many of us regarded Kingdom Hearts 3 as vaporware.
However, the time has come and they can’t do another cheeky delay. The game is looking gorgeous with Disney characters being brought to life so wonderfully that they’re practically indistinguishable from their theatrical versions. The combat looks absolutely wild and the story… well, let’s not even get into it. It’s a wild game filled with many wild promises and considering the marathon development cycle, some obvious hesitations arise. However, Kingdom Hearts 3 has been a long time coming and I’m sure they won’t let a golden goose like this run around with its head cut off.
Prediction: It’s always hard predicting how games that have been in development for longer than some kids have been on this planet, but I’m throwing everything out the window and going with yet another 9/10. Call me optimistic, but I know that if this game isn’t good, there will be people in Donald Duck suits rioting in the streets.
Here are some more games releasing this month:
Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story – 3DS – January 11
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – Switch – January 11
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition – PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC – January 11
Onimusha: Warlords – PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC – January 15
2019’s January gives the illusion of a slow month with the small number of releases, as you can see above, but the games releasing are major cultural events and games that have been anticipated for years. This month is as big as any other month filled with major releases and it’s just the start. To be fair, many of these games have niche fanbases and if you’re not heavily invested into the respective franchises, there isn’t much for you. But still, January isn’t messing around and aims to make you even broker than you are now. Which game are you excited for this month and which kidney are you going to sell for food? I’m leaning towards the left one.