Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Watch Dogs is almost here at long last, and Mario Kart returns

Out This Month is a roundup of some new games that are coming out this month.

Watch Dogs
PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One—May 27

“Why does he sound like Batman?” asks one YouTube user in the comment section for this trailer, presumably in regard to Watch Dogs’ hero, Aiden Pearce. Well, YouTube person, he probably sounds that way because Aiden Pearce pretty much is Batman. See if this premise sounds familiar: Pearce was nothing but a hacker-for-hire until mobsters killed his daughter, but once the requisite tragedy of his origin story was complete, Pearce became a hacker-for-hire… who happens to spend his leisure time firing pistols into the stomachs of alleged bad guys at point-blank range. On second thought, that’s a little more Punisher than it is Batman, but let’s not split vigilante hairs here.


PC, PlayStation 4—May 20

Even after playing some of the game, chatting with its creators, and watching this trailer about 27 times, I can’t confidently say I know all that much about Transistor. Supergiant Games has kept its sophomore effort wrapped up tight since announcing it last year. The trailer’s few expository sentences sum up what we know about the game’s premise: Someone is stealing the voices of a sci-fi city’s most influential citizens, and a red-headed lounge singer is their next victim. Then she finds a talking sword that sounds a lot like the old narrator guy from Bastion, Supergiant’s debut title. Also, it has robots, stunning artwork, and at least one killer tune on the soundtrack. But forget all that. Did I mention it’s from the studio that made Bastion?

Wolfenstein: The New Order
PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One—May 20

There’s a tonal dissonance in the marketing for Wolfenstein: The New Order. It’s largely being sold on its more lighthearted elements—like ’60s pop songs recorded with German vocals to fit the “What if the Nazis won?” premise. Here, a trailer uses John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” to add some Tarantino-esque flair, laying down a jaunty German alternate-universe version of the tune as it cuts away from an apparent torture scene. But the rest of the video is your typical self-serious action trailer bombast: explosions, shooting two guns at once, and a song that sounds vaguely like the part of the Terminator theme that’s all “DUN-DUN-DUN-DU-DUN” but super intense, bro.


PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4—May 6

Listen, Anthony John Agnello, we don’t need a wacky sports games revival that adheres to the structure of those hoity-toity real-world sports. Why limit ourselves? What we need are more invented games like the ones in Sportsfriends. All four of the entries in this suite of competitive multiplayer projects capture the quality that made arcade sports games like NBA Jam so much fun: They’re fast, simple, and made to be played alongside friends. And one of them, Johann Sebastian Joust, even encourages you to slap your friends in real life. Whether those friends will stay your friends is another story.  


Always Sometimes Monsters
PC—May 21

The writer of Always Sometimes Monsters, Justin Amirkhani, says the game is a product of a backpack trip around North America, which he spent hitchhiking and riding Greyhound buses between cities—and visiting video game companies. Yet Amirkhani derives his inspiration less from those studio visits and more from the people and stories he encountered in between. So even though it sounds like it would be some fantasy role-playing game with dungeons full of beasties, Monsters is a game about real people and the choices they have to make from day to day. Like Amirkhani, your main character is traveling across America, chasing a lost love. The so-called monsters are the people you meet along the way, and also yourself, because you were the real monster all along. Sometimes. Always.


Mario Kart 8
Wii U—May 30

This is the eighth main-series Mario Kart game. We don’t really need to expound on it. It’s Mario Kart. This one looks shiny and new and quite fun, except for the fact that the blue shell will probably still be in it. Instead of dwelling on shininess, let’s talk about how this trailer is a welcome reminder of just how great the “Rainbow Road” theme from Mario Kart 64 is.

They say your favorite Mario Kart is whichever one you played first (God help you if you started with the Wii version), but even the snobs who cling to the Super NES original can’t deny the majesty of this tune. It’s the perfect mix of a galloping bass line, soaring melodies, and disco beats, the kind of combination that might play over the final scenes of any cheesy ’80s movie looking to uplift you. The Mario Kart 8 trailer above updates the classic song with more authentic-sounding instruments, including a nice trumpet and a guitar harmony that’s good enough to send nostalgic chills down the spine. 


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