April’s New Video Games: Jedis, Zombies, and SPORTS

By on April 18, 2022

In a now rare example of a high-profile gaming studio coming through in the face of massive hype and pressure, FromSoftware’s Elden Ring continues to captivate video game audiences nearly two months after release, and doesn’t show any signs of that going away any time soon. Those who enter the open, captivatingly unguided realm of the Lands Between remain immersed in both the quality and frustrations of the fantasy dungeon crawling, so much that attention largely fell away from other releases in March … and will likely continue to do so in April. Instead, the spring month embraces the arrival of baseball season and sports activities, as well as a remake of a classic rail horror shooter and a full gathering of arguably the most popular of the LEGO releases to date.  Let’s take a look at the games.

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga — April 5 (PS4,5; XBox O/S/X; Switch; PC)

Most people remember the first time they saw or played the new generation of LEGO games. Sure, other LEGO-themed titles were released prior to this, but it’s hard to forget what it was like seeing the block versions of Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the rest of the cast of the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy come to life through a straightforward, family-friendly, yet exciting and fun game. Regardless of how one feels about those movies, the pure joy of LEGO Star Wars became a staple among gamers who interact with younger players or those who just don’t play a lot of games, to such a degree that the folks at Traveller’s Tales have turned the concept into a template for dropping countless other franchises into the same third-person action gameplay.

After a long wait from numerous delays, Traveller’s Tale is finally releasing The Skywalker Saga, completing the series of films in the LEGO format with adaptations of The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, while also revamping the other seven installments into an entirely “new” game. The studio has also juiced up the gameplay, adding more interesting lightsaber and force battle commands to liven up the game for those who’ve likely already hammered through it before. The Skywalker Saga also allows for players to start at whichever cluster of Star Wars movie adaptations they liked to play at, so if they want to begin with the Original Trilogy – or even straight up avoid the Prequel Trilogy – they can do so. Skywalker Saga seems engineered to be more of a gamer’s game without sacrificing its accessibility.

Order LEGO Skywalker Saga at Amazon

MLB The Show 2022 — April 5 (PS4,5; XBox O/S/X; Switch)

For many years, one of the surprising and enduring sports exclusives across video game consoles was the officially licensed baseball simulator and its home on PlayStation. While other, arguably superior baseball games emerged on the other consoles – Super Mega Baseball gradually transformed from a riot bobblehead baseball game to a surprisingly deep and engaging sim – there was only one way fans could play with the stars of the MLB. That is, until 2021 and the lapsing of the exclusivity agreement, which finally brought The Show to Xbox One an Xbox Series X. There was freshness and excitement there, and with that also came new aspects to the game, like stadium creation.

Now that the shock and enthusiasm has settled, MLB The Show 2022 has to show that they can keep the energy going by adding and improving upon the formula instead of letting it grow stale and repetitive. For starters, this iteration comes with brand new play-by-play commentators, with Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton from MLB on ESPN Radio taking over duties, and it also receives interface changes to the stadium creation feature and expands the non-Franchise career mode, March to October, to last multiple seasons. There’s little denying that on paper, MLB The Show 22 isn’t a dramatic change over the previous year’s version, so it’ll be up to gameplay stability and the minor tweaks to earn its keep.  

Order MLB 2022 The Show at Amazon

House of the Dead: Remake — April 7 (Switch)

Ever since 1996, the folks at SEGA have kept a steady stream of titles coming out from the House of the Dead franchise, whether it’s the arcade-based rail lightgun games or spinoffs that include the fast-paced, oddly popular Typing of the Dead reimagining of the core titles. While there’s something resembling a narrative connecting the game and driving the players through the experience, the fun obviously rests in the blitzed action of the on-rails shooting, though alternate endings do crop up based on how many zombies the player’s killed and what pathways they decide to take throughout the titles. Interest in the House of the Dead franchise saw some revitalization with the compilation of House of the Dead 2 and 3 released on the Wii, which made ample use of the Wii-Mote motion controls and the Wii Zapper.

Since, however, the House of the Dead franchise has stagnated – partially due to the lack of interest in on-rails shooters – leaving the world without a new proper game for about a decade. The optimistic designers at Megapixel Studios aim to rejuvenate interest in the concept with a hard remake of House of the Dead, and it remains to be seen exactly how successfully it can be reconstructed AND appeal to modern gaming audiences. Part of that will largely fall on the success of the motion controls: obviously the graphics will be overhauled to such a degree that the game will be near unrecognizable, but the fluidity of the aiming and shooting in the modern era of VR and motion controls will make or break it.

Order House of the Dead: Remake at Amazon

Nintendo Switch Sports — April 29 (Switch)

The Wii ended up being one of the more unique video game console success stories: it released numerous popular games that used its innovative motion controls across heavy-hitting franchises, yet the most essential of them all came with the system itself at launch. Regardless of the games that were either bought with the system or given as gifts during that chaotic holiday season, every Wii came bundled with Wii Sports, and that alone proved to be enough for many. From baseball and golf to boxing, tennis, and the ever-popular bowling, the game managed to get people moving and redefine what party games were like, positioning the Wii as a console everyone wanted to own alongside their other hardware.

Obviously the Switch has been out for a long time now and has built its own popularity, so it’s not likely that the newest version of the motion control sports compilation, Nintendo Switch Sports, will capture quite the same popularity. It does, however, know what it’s doing in terms of capturing the original enthusiasm generated by Wii Sports and adding innovations with new sports. Those looking to get in some frames of bowling and volley the tennis ball around will once again be able to do so – unfortunately, boxing isn’t making a comeback – while the addition of a leg strap makes soccer possible alongside new Joy-Con motion games volleyball and badminton. It’ll take some real mistakes with the motion controls to keep Switch Sports from once again becoming immensely popular.

Order Nintendo Switch Sports at Amazon

Also available this month are a number of under-the-radar ports of some classic games, such as Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition for Xbox, PS4, Switch, and PC on April 7 and The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe for just about every current modern console on April 27. The Switch continues its theme of Star Wars and zombies this month with ports of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on April 20 and Zombie Army 4 on April 26, while the Switch and PlayStation finally gain access to the unexpected hit action-fantasy dungeon crawler Nobody Saves the World on April 14. Finally, those starving for new horror titles will be able to check out the survival title Chernobylite on April 21 and the battle royale tabletop adaptation Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodhunt on PS5 and PC on April 27.

About Thomas Spurlin

Film, home-media, and videogame scribe who digs green tea and walking his dogs.

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