While it’s true that January is a quiet time for the gaming industry, it’s not exactly a non-event either. EA was fond of January launches during the last generation, seeing the potential of being the biggest fish in a small pond, and Capcom also found success with launching big-name games at the beginning of the year.
This January, both Nintendo and Bandai-Namco are keen to capitalise on this quiet spell.
Nintendo believes the time is right to bring Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training to Switch, hoping it will strike a nostalgic chord as well as appealing towards a more casual crowd. Launching for around £25 on 3rd January, with the retail release including a stylus, it features both classic mini-games and new exercises that use the Joy-Con’s IR Motion Camera to detect hand motions.
Judging by the screenshots, we can expect a Dr. Mario-style mini-game and a motion-controlled rock/paper/scissors exercise. Alex Kidd be damned.
On 17th January, Switch owners can expect an enhanced conversion of the acclaimed Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE. New features include an additional story, an extra dungeon, more allies, new outfits (including some inspired by Fire Emblem: Three Houses), and new music tracks. It’ll be interesting to see how this one sells considering it wasn’t the most renown of Wii U titles.
From Bandai-Namco comes Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot on PS4 and Xbox One, which hopefully isn’t as bland as the box art suggests. This open-world RPG will allow you to “fight, fish, eat, and train with Goku, Gohan, Vegeta and others” (to quote the press release), using the character’s flight ability to get around. Bandai-Namco struck gold with DB FighterZ. While the jury is still out on Kakarot, Bandai-Namco would be daft to stop the momentum.
Jumping back to Switch, we can also look forward to a HD re-release of Rune Factory 4 Special, the return of the fan favourite Oddworld entry Stranger’s Wrath, the turn-based strategy Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf – which includes a new Switch co-op mode – and the JRPG duo Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk DX and Dusk Sea DX.
These are just some of the bigger Switch releases due – there’s a wealth of smaller indies line-up throughout the month, including Blackmoor 2, Drunk-Fu: Wasted Masters, Technosphere, Maitetsu: Pure Station, Super Crush KO, and Prison Princess.
Big Ant’s AO Tennis 2 heads to all three formats, meanwhile, featuring a new narrative-driven career mode. Rugby 20 also carries the flag for spots sims, arriving on PS4 and Xbox One at the end of the month via BigBen.
As for indie releases, Funcom’s well-received Moons of Madness – a first-person, story-driven cosmic horror game – makes the jump from PC to console, while Hovership Havoc on Xbox One offers top-down twin-stick shooting with a side-line of third-person boss battles.
Then towards the end of the month Journey to the Savage Planet and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – Ultimate Edition both make their way to retail and the download services.
Journey to the Savage Planet comes from the director of Far Cry, set on a colourful world teeming with alien flora and fauna to find and catalogue. It’s your job to discover if the world can sustain human life. Pillars of Eternity II needs no introduction, gracing the PC some time ago and delivering another dose of Obsidian RPG goodness. It’s out on all three formats 28th January. A good fit for the Switch, we reckon.
This leaves us with Kingdom Hearts III: ReMIND, an add-on expanding KHIII’s final moments which also adds new playable characters. Siliconera explains it better than we ever could.
Failing that, the trailer can be found below: