It’s not hard to argue that the beginning of the year is generally on the slow side when it comes to game releases. Many will thank the wallet gods that the Steam sales are over, appreciating the brief respite before the onslaught that is the quarter one release schedule, catching up on titles missed from the previous year and saving a few pennies. Still, there are some that possess a constant hunger for games, and we have to say, we’ve managed to scrounge up quite an eclectic serving of niche games for this month. From the sequel to 2011’s spine-tingling Corpse Party to a free app that gamifies waking up, we’ve got plenty of good reasons whip out those wallets for these January 2013 niche game releases.
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable | Sandlot | January 8th
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable is the PS Vita port of the delightfully obscure 3rd person shooter by the same name for the Xbox 360. While the game still suffers from some of the same issues of its home console counterpart, such as choppy frame rates and last-gen graphics, it’s hard to resist the appeal of gunning down hords of giant alien insects. The port adds a number of updates to distinguish it from the 2007 Xbox 360 release, such as online co-op and versus to make up for the lack of split-screen multiplayer, an unlockable playable jetpack-sporting solider, and multiple new weapons and levels. As any good Earth Defense Force fan knows, much of the series’ charm lies in its B-grade movie-esque lack of polish, but anyone looking for some frantic multiplayer action for their PS Vita would do well to pick up Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable.
Haunt the House: Terrortown | SFB Games | January 9th
Rarely do PlayStation Mobile games come to our attention, but Haunt the House: Terrortown stands out due to its awesome art direction and Ghost Trick-esque gameplay. The game started as a flash browser-based title, and marks the developer’s first foray into console gaming. As a ghost, its your job to go from house to house, possessing objects in order to scare humans away from the town. Different objects have different spooky actions that can be executed when possessed, and each room of each house is filled with a myriad of different items to use, giving players the freedom to decide the best method to rid each house of its worldly inhabitants. Anyone looking for a bite-sized, charming title for their PS Vita or mobile device should look no further than this little gem.
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows | Team GrisGris, 5pb | January 15th
The original Corpse Party was one of our favorite unexpected hits of 2011, so when XSEED Games announced that they would be localizing its gruesome sequel, we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Featuring segments that take place after the events of Corpse Party and as well as those that act as a “what-if” retelling of the horrors that occurred in the Heavenly Host Elementary School, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows promises all of the thrills its predecessor. Now 100% 2D adventure, Book of Shadows promises a number of improvements to streamline the experience while retaining what made Corpse Party so memorable in the first place. If you thought a handheld game couldn’t possibly be scary, you’re in for one hell of a surprise!
Wake-up Club | SCE | January 15th
Own a PS Vita? Have a hard time waking up in the morning? Well, the free app Wake-up Club is just for you! That’s right, Sony has officially gamified waking up in the morning with its new alarm clock app. This is how it works: when you set your alarm at night, you’ll randomly be matched up with 12 other people waking up at the same time. When your alarm goes off, your PSN icon will begin bouncing across the PS Vita’s screen. Touching it alerts the other members of your club that you’re awake and, of course, forces you to actually wake up rather allowing you to roll over immediately after turning the alarm off. Genius, right? You’ll be able to see how long it took you and your comrades to wake up, as well as tap on others’ icons to help them wake up faster. Since it’s free, why not give it a go? And who knows, it may become a new part of your daily routine!
Tokyo Crash Mobs | Mitchell Corporation | January 17th
Tokyo Crash Mobs probably takes the cake for being the weirdest-looking release this month, but for all its “pedestrian-tossing pandemonium,” the action puzzle game is actually very similar to Puzz Loop and Zuma. Players must throw residents of Tokyo adorning brightly-colored suits in order to match three and help protagonists Grace and Savannah… cut lines. We’re sure there must be some kind of insight to be gleaned from the fact that the game is about two foreign women throwing Japanese people at one another, but suffice it to say this wacky eShop-only puzzler definitely deserves a place on any niche game fan’s SD card. We sincerely hope Nintendo continues with their recent trend towards bringing more crazy and obscure eShop titles westward.