In seemingly the blink of an eye, July is upon us. Even though we’re only halfway through the year, we’ve already seen a ton of high-profile releases across all platforms — MAG, Heavy Rain, God of War III, Final Fantasy XIII, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Red Dead Redemption all immediately come to mind.
That’s seven games with large-to-massive levels of hype and anticipation from both the gaming press and the all-mighty consumer within a pretty short period of time. So while those were all successful games, there were plenty of other great games that came out within the past six months that were either overlooked or downright ignored.
So take a look, as some of the entries may surprise you.
January – Bayonetta
However, the game barely made it into the NPD’s top 20 in sales for the month of January. The Xbox 360 version scraped by at number 17, with the PS3 version nowhere to be found. Even for a buggy game, which was eventually patched to allow players to install it to their PS3’s HDD, such horrendous sales were shocking to say the very least.
Even though they botched the PS3 port of what should have been an entertaining game, it’s simply a continuation of bad luck for the folks at Platinum Games, a studio made up of key members from the ill-fated Clover Studios under Capcom. Their critical darling Okami also sold terribly, as did Platinum’s sole Wii effort, MadWorld.
Is it worth picking up? For the right price, I’d say so. I mean, someone’s gotta throw these poor saps a bone. Though it’s still in your best interest to buy the 360 version if you have the choice.
February – BioShock 2
Considering how many Game of the Year awards the original game picked up in 2007, who would’ve thought that a sequel would sell so underwhelmingly? While the game sold well on Xbox 360, debuting at number one with over 560,000 units sold in February. However the game sold a relatively anemic 190,000 units at number twelve on the PS3. When March rolled around the game had dropped out of the top 20 altogether.
Perhaps the game’s mere existence is to blame. After all, many fans of the original BioShock, myself included, thought that the game stood perfectly well on its own and didn’t need a sequel. Having completed BioShock 2, however, I felt that the game was as good as, if not better than, the original. Playing as one of the original Big Daddies your main objective throughout is locating your now-grown Little Sister. This story gave the game something the original didn’t, which was an emotional attachment to character, one that you cared for.
The game retails for $40 now, so really — why haven’t you played it yet?
March – Yakuza 3
This one is Sega’s own damn fault.
The game released in Japan in late February of 2009, with seemingly zero intention of releasing the game elsewhere. Fans of the previous games were understandably upset about this, as the first two installments were excellent games. Sega persisted, until they could apparently take no more and announced that the game would soon see worldwide release.
So which date did the geniuses at Sega pick to release the game? March 9, 2009 in the United States, the same day as a little game called Final Fantasy XIII. To compound the problem, the next week saw the release of God of War III. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m some sort of marketing or sales expert (Michael Pachter does enough pretending for all of us), but wouldn’t you want to keep you somewhat niche game as far away as possible from some of this gen’s most anticipated games?
Needless to say, the game did not chart in the month of March.
April – Super Street Fighter IV
It’s a bit of a stretch to say that this game was overlooked because of the marketing blitz that accompanied it, but the game’s sales tell a different tale.
Street Fighter IV sold nearly a million copies across both the PS3 and 360 upon its release in February 2009, and had the staying power to crack the top 20 in sales for March. Of course, this was a game that seemed to be going back to its roots of accessible yet deep gameplay, something that wasn’t present since Street Fighter II. Anticipation was through the roof, to say the least.
Just like SFII, Capcom went back to the well for a Super release. With SSFIV Capcom added new characters and rebalanced the game, while also offering the game at $40. However, people were left wondering why they didn’t just release the new content as DLC; we’re no longer in the early ’90s, after all.
So despite what’s actually an excellent value at just $40, especially for those that didn’t buy SFIV initially, the game saw rather slow sales. The PS3 version of the game snuck into the number 10 spot for sales in April 2010 (143K sold), with the 360 version debuting at 14 (108K).
So while the game was Super, the sales … no so much.
May – 3D Dot Game Heroes
After a lengthy delay because of “a significant upgrade to the [NPD Group’s] IT architecture,” the sales numbers for May 2010 are finally out, and news for 3D Dot Game Heroes is pretty grim as it failed to crack the top 10.
There was plenty of buzz surrounding it when Atlus announced that they were publishing the game for release outside of Japan, and for good reason. The game was the biggest homage to the 8- and 16-bit era ever, playing almost exactly like the original Legend of Zelda on the NES and filled to the brim with a crapton of reference to other games. It might just be the most charming game this generation.
Then again, when was the last time you heard anyone talk about it? Since it’s release it simply got buried by the busiest month for games this year. It released on the same day as Skate 3 and Lost Planet 2, with the following weeks featuring games such as Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Split/Second, Alan Wake, Red Dead Redemption, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Blur, ModNation Racers, and UFC Undisputed 2010.
Red Dead and SMG2 combined to sell over 2 million copies, and 5-10 on the list failed to sell even 200,000 copies each. It’s pretty depressing to think of the kind of numbers 3D Dot did.
So if you cared anything for video games in the last 25 years, give this game a shot.
June – Singularity
This game came out just this week, so who knows how it will sell. However, we’ve not heard a damn thing about this game from Activision except when it was delayed. Twice. Then we got a trailer in April telling us that it would release on June 29th.
Now that that date is past, does anyone still care? As it turns out, maybe you should — reviews out of the gate are quite positive. After all, the game was developed by Raven Software, the guys that brought us the excellent X-Men Legends games, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. So when Activision (yes, that Activision) gave them the freedom to create a fresh IP, they ran with it.
It’s an alternate-reality World War II shooter, which are pretty rare as far as WWII shooters are concerned. The big gameplay hook is that you can manipulate the age of enemies and objects — turn a hostile to dust by forwarding time, make a crate disappear by reversing it — to traverse a mysterious island.
Why Activision isn’t marketing this game better is really beyond me, and it seems that it definitely deserves better. Don’t let it take a permanent place on this list.