It’s The State of Gaming Podcast for April 2021, Popzara’s in-depth look at what’s shaking up the gaming landscape delivered on a monthly basis. Our hosts Cory Galliher and Nate Evans guide you through the best, worst, and everything else making headlines and headway in the fine world of interactive entertainment. Let’s begin!
The Games of April 2021
April 2021 proved to be an interesting month for gaming as there’s no real single “blockbuster” occupying all our time (and money), but instead lots of interesting smaller releases that equally demand your time (and money). Personally, we prefer that, so here’s a look at some of the best and brightest for the month.
Square-Enix’s Outriders got an honorable mention last month, but a few weeks after a slightly rocky launch, People Can Fly’s ambitious shooter hopes to avoid the curse of so many other highly-anticipated games that never lived up to their lofty expectations. So far, so good, but let’s see how well those server issues and bugs get righted before we settle in for the long haul.
Oddworld Inhabitants’ delightful Oddworld: Soulstorm continues the winning strategy began in 2014’s Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty!, which remastered the original PlayStation game for modern hardware, proving you can’t keep a hapless hero down.
Speaking of remastered PlayStation classics, Square-Enix rejiggered, improved and finished (!) the original PlayStation cult classic SaGa Frontier Remastered for a new generation to discover on practically any platform they choose. But that’s not all! Square-Enix also spent some time rejiggering, improving, and finishing the 2010 PS3/Xbox 360 classic Nier with the confoundingly named Nier Replicant Ver.1.22474487139
Once a Sony exclusive, MLB The Show 21 goes multiplatform for the first time, the latest PlayStation exclusive to slip the surly bonds of console exclusivity and share the love of baseball across platform limitations. One exclusive that isn’t going anywhere else is Nintendo’s New Pokémon Snap. the surprise sequel to the Blockbuster Video-printing Nintendo64 game reborn in the age of smartphones and Switch consoles.
Granzella (created from mostly ex-Irem developers) has their long-awaited, once thought impossible, shooter sequel on the way with R-Type Final 2, proving once again that any game with the word “final” in the title isn’t the final anything. It’s the latest sequel to the shooting series where you’ll die more than Dark Souls and Ghosts and Goblins Resurrection combined.
And speaking of dying, Sony’s hopes to cement their next-gen dominance with the PlayStation 5 exclusive Returnal, a new first-person roguelike from developer Housemarque. It looks fast! It looks furious! It’s not about family… but you will die – and keep dying until you stop dying because that’s what roguelikes are all about.
NPD: March 2021
NPD is still our best and most reliable snapshot of videogame sales in the US, though even their tallies should be taken with a grain of salt. For March 2021, however, that’s a lot of salt as sales of new gaming hardware and software gathered a record-breaking $5.6 billion, a big 18 percent increase over last year’s pandemic starting month. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are selling as many Switches, PlayStations (4+5), and Xboxes (Ones, X / S) as they can get on shelves – good luck snagging one!
On the software side things were a little more interesting as NPD pointed out a few milestones worth mentioning. Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 became the best-selling racing title in US history, while brisk sales of the Switch version helped Activision’s Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time return to the Top Twenty in fifteenth place. The second-best seller for the month is another Switch-exclusive, Capcom’s Monster Hunter: Rise, which quickly becomes the second-biggest money maker in the franchise’s history (after Monster Hunter World).
A whopping eight titles published by Nintendo – and thus Switch exclusives – helped the developer / publisher dominate the Top Twenty, and that’s not counting third-party hits that helped make the hybrid console so ubiquitous. Notable entries include Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury in fourth and Super Mario 3D All-Stars (likely its last appearance before it disappears down Nintendo’s drain pipe) in ninth place.
In non-Nintendo news Square-Enix’s Outriders debuted nicely in third while Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War continued its dominance in first place – the second appearance of the franchise with the previous entry, Modern Warfare (2019) coming in eleventh.
While the bulk of interest lay with the glut of great new games worth playing. a few odds and ends managed to squeak by that get their own honorable mention. Apple is set to unleash their new Apple TV 4K player, complete with a host of next-gen capable tech and gaming-friendly specs, that should help make playing titles like Mistwalker’s Fantasian a lot easier than it currently is.
And did you know there’s a new Mortal Kombat movie out in the wild? And did you hear that it’s…not terrible? While not a flawless victory, there’s a better-than-decent new adventure waiting for you in cinemas and streaming on HBO Max when you’re done, you know, playing Mortal Kombat 11 for the thousandth time. Fight!