There are so many high-profile games coming out in 2013 — some look great, others not so much — that it’s easy to lose track of the titles that won’t have their logos plastered all over magazines and websites. Some will have pretty good development budgets, but ultimately will need to rely on word of mouth to get positive buzz going.
So that’s what this list is about — just five really promising games for you to think about while you pine away for blockbusters like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V.
The Kickstarter funding drive for Shovel Knight ends today, but it’s already a rousing success. It’s well past its modest goal of $75,000 — and the game was looking mighty fine even in its initial pitch video — but with nearly $300,000 to play with, Yacht Club Games will be able to implement a number of great features into their 8-bit action adventure when it hits Nintendo’s Wii U and 3DS this summer.
Shovel Knight began simply as an homage to classic NES titles, drawing gameplay inspiration from games like DuckTales, Mega Man and Castlevania. Even Dark Souls has been thrown around. With the extra funds the game will also include new game plus, 4-player battle, and challenge modes. Most impressively, though, original Mega Man composer Manami Matsumae has confirmed that she will be contributing two songs to the game’s soundtrack.
Dragon’s Crown is a beautiful game to look at, but with Vanillaware — developers of the gorgeous Muramasa: The Demon Blade on Wii — handling development, we wouldn’t expect anything less. With side-scrolling action-RPG gameplay reminiscent of Capcom’s classic Dungeons & Dragons arcade game in which up to four players can join up online, there’s a lot to like here.
When Dragon’s Crown releases this summer on PS3 and PS Vita, about the only thing missing will be cross-platform online play, although save transfers will be supported. However, with the PS3 and Vita versions retailing separately at $50 and $40 respectively, perhaps it would be best to choose one version over the other.
Puppeteer was announced at Sony’s Gamescom conference last year, and everything that we’ve seen so far has been encouraging. Developed by Sony’s Studio Japan, Puppeteer is a 2D platformer in which you’ll play as a puppet that’s lost his head, finding and swapping different ones along your journey as you go along. You’ll also wield a magical pair of scissors that not only attack your enemies, but can also cut into the game world to reveal secrets.
Puppeteer releases on September 10th for the bargain price of $39.99 on PlayStation 3. While some may find pause when dealing with so-called budget titles, remember that the excellent Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time also released at that price earlier this year, even including cross-buy and cross-save functionality. With Studio Japan’s pedigree, gamers should rest easy knowing their money will be in good hands.
Media Molecule’s Tearaway seems to be an evolution of their work on LittleBigPlanet, with an papercraft aesthetic and an expansion into full 3D platforming. Tearaway lays on the charm pretty thick, although it seems to eschew the creation aspect of LittleBigPlanet in favor of telling a better story, in this case that of a messenger making what Sony calls a “very special delivery.” Players will also be able to take full advantage of the Vita’s hardware to manipulate the world in different ways.
Despite all the whimsy and wonder, Tearaway will need all the help it can get when it releases on PlayStation Vita on October 22nd. As it turns out, Batman: Arkham Origins will be releasing later that week, and few properties anywhere have the kind of sales power that the world’s greatest detective do. Speaking of which…
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate
Buried within the hooplah of Warner Bros. Interactive announcing the prequel that everyone saw coming was that not one, but two versions of Batman: Arkham Origins were releasing later this year. The awkwardly named Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate on Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita ditches the full 3D action setup for the tried-and-true Metroidvania formula, a first for the license. With Batman’s wide array of tools and gadgets, it’s a wonder that it didn’t happen sooner. Blackgate will even feature the detective mode and freeflow combat of the full console games.
Batman or no, Blackgate is competing against its more fully-featured console brethren on October 25th, and even Tearaway might rob a few of its potential Vita-only customers. Perhaps the game will sell well regardless, just as Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation did alongside Assassin’s Creed III, but it’s just as likely that Batman: Arkham Origins will cannibalize its sales.