April this year is a bit of a dry spell for gaming... which is needed considered how many great releases that came out in March. With what seemed like a deluge of fantastic triple-A and niche titles, gamers need time to get through their bulging backlog... and their empty wallets! Gamers may have Injustice: Gods Among Us and Pandora's Tower to grab this April, but for the most part they can continue to work through their numerous March purchases.
I have to wonder, though... has the fourth month of the year, and the start of the second quarter, always been like this? This looks like a time to take a trip down memory lane!
If you think this April is light on the releases, it has nothing on April 2003! I'm not quite sure how it happened, but the only notable release at all was Siren, a PS2 horror game that got a slightly warm reception on its release. Siren featured an interesting plot set in a secluded village, and is probably fortunate that it didn't have any competition so that horror fans could sit down and enjoy it.
Other notable releases - ...There really wasn't anything else this year.
A lot of MMOs certainly look a lot alike, and certainly seem to play the same way... that is, except for City of Heroes. This superhero MMO hit the market in April 2004, in an MMO market that, while not as over saturated as today, comprised of many similar looking games.
Instead of playing in a fantasy land with generic fantasy races, City of Heroes let you create your own superhero, and take on missions such as saving citizenry and battling super villains. It's unfortunate that the game's servers permanently went down late last year. Rest in peace, City of Heroes.
Other notable releases - Painkiller
April 2005 wasn't a big month for gaming, either. There were a few small releases, but nothing that trumps one of Double Fine's most famous games... Psychonauts. Many people have said everything there is to say about this game, but with its unique and dark setting, how could one not rave about it? Psychonauts has earned quite the cult following over the years because of it, so what's stopping you from trying it and joining the cult ranks?
Other notable releases - LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game, Guild Wars
Is it bad that April 2006's biggest release is a game that some people don't even consider a game? Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Just Minutes A Day! is a little hard to label as a 'video game' per se, but it certainly is a great tool. Being able to flex that grey mass between your ears (and getting better at doing so) is a great reason for a game to become a hit!
Other notable releases - Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
The original Guitar Hero brought a plastic guitar and fresh wave to the rhythm genre, and April 2007's release of Guitar Hero II continued to build on its success. Bringing more hit songs to the table, the series' second entry sated the fans that needed more more songs to rock out to.
Other notable releases - Super Paper Mario, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl Versions, Penumbra: Overture
April of 2008 had some great releases, but none of them topped Ubisoft's new IP. Assassin's Creed hit gamers with a new and neat open world game. Mix that with a crazy story and killing people, and you know you have the beginnings of a great series on your hands... even if the constant sequels released since have taken away some of the magic.
Other notable releases - Okami (Wii version), Valkyria Chronicles, Grand Theft Auto IV
The fourth month of 2009 may not have had any big releases, but it was pretty busy on the indie front, and one of the most memorable April indie releases was most definitely Braid. It offered fun and puzzling time-travel mechanics and a disjointed, thought provoking story. Even four years after its release, it's still very much worth playing today.
Other notable releases - Zeno Clash
In Japan, the April 2010 release of Monster Hunter Tri would be met with huge fanfare. Of course, Japan actually got the game many months past, and while the West may not be so obsessively crazy about the series, the Monster Hunter series' new release was the biggest game of the month. It also brought a whole new wave of fans into the series, with its online functionality and fun skill-based gameplay.
Other notable releases - NieR, Super Street Fighter IV
The fourth month of 2011 was the month of sequels. All of the major releases of the month had a number at the end of their names... and the biggest sequel to the bunch? Portal 2. The original Portal is considered a modern classic, so the sequel had a lot to live up to, and met all expectations brilliantly. There's a neat single player story and a fantastic multiplayer co-op; what's not to like in this puzzling sequel?
Other notable releases - Patapon 3, Arcana Heart 3
Last April was a pretty big month for some people. There may not have been any triple-A release, but that didn't matter to the RPG fans waiting years for Xenoblade Chronicles. This year, the first of Operation Rainfall's campaign games finally reached North American shores to ecstatic gamers and critics alike... and since it's such a long RPG, Xenoblade Chronicles buyers didn't need anything else!
Other notable releases - Fez, Legend of Grimrock, The Walking Dead: Episode 1
There's been some great years and bad years, but one thing's for sure: Games are still released in April! It isn't always the 'catch up' month like it is this year, but many times April is not as jam packed with releases like March is. Is that a good thing? Well, that's up to you to decide!
What are some of your favorite April releases? Any games I missed that you think are important? Let me know in the comments below!