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  1. August: A month of summers ending, scholarly duties beginning again, and the tail end of intense heat. This particular August with jam packed with fantastic releases that'll make any kid wish the summer just lasted one month longer... with big triple-A releases such as Saints Row IV, Nintendo exclusives like Pikmin 3 and Mario and Luigi: Dream Team, and even more nostalgia driven releases like Duck Tales Remastered is enough to keep any gamer busy and wanting more gaming time. Of course, while August of 2013 might be one of the biggest release months we've seen in a while, how was the eighth month of the year like in the past? Well, there's only one way to find out... let's go down memory lane to find out! 2003 In 2003, August was a good month for fans of more niche genres. There wasn't a deluge of releases, but the ones that did come out were bound to keep most hardcore gamers happy. However, Soul Calibur II goes a little beyond that. The 3D fighter made a release on all three consoles, and started the series' 'different exclusive characters dependent on the console' feature. Also, the game was easy to jump into but complex enough to take a while to master, giving casual and veteran gamers alike a title to enjoy. Other Notable Releases: F-Zero GX, Silent Hill 3, Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution 2004 It's sort of funny that, almost exactly nine years after the release of Pikmin 2, we would get the next title in the series. It's almost like Nintendo planned it! Okay, probably not... but anyway, August 2004 gave us Pikmin 2, which was of course the sequel of the original Pikmin. This second entry to the series gave us two captains to control, new Pikmin to use, and got rid of the daunting 30 day timer from the original. For fans of the original, Pikmin 2 offered plenty more for gamers to get into. Other Notable Releases: Doom 3 2005 Alright, I understand that Nintendogs may not be the first game you think of when you think of a list like this, but this DS series was seriously important to the console in its early life. Released in August of 2005, Nintendogs gave casual gamers to pick up the portable before there were any truly killer apps for the system, helping to introduce the portable--and in some cases, gaming in itself--to a whole new crowd. Also, those puppies were gosh darn adorable. Other Notable Releases: Dungeon Siege II 2006 Much like Nintendogs was to the Nintendo DS last year, Dead Rising was a release set to really put the Xbox 360 on the board in August 2006. Dead Rising is from a time before zombies were an overplayed plot device, and offers a real-time way to explore the infested mall and beat the crap out of the rotting foes. With multiple endings and a relatively open ended experience, this zombie title really gave a lot for gamers to have fun with. Other Notable Releases: Saints Row, Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra 2007 August 2007 was a fantastic month for every type of gamer. So many great titles and new IPs alike came out this month, but nothing, and absolutely nothing, could beat the release of Bioshock. This title made huge waves in the gaming industry in 2007, with a riveting plot and rewarding gameplay. Exploring the fallen city of Rapture and making difficult moral decisions is just a few of the many things that make this title a modern classic in most gamers' eyes. Other Notable Releases: Mega Man Star Force, Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption 2008 The end of the summer in 2008 wasn't too bad for the Xbox 360. At least, not for RPG fans on the Microsoft console. This particular August brought the release of Tales of Vesperia to US shores. The first Tales game to be released in the West on the (then) next generation, the title offered enhanced graphics and gameplay, and a plot that touched a little more on darker aspects than previous iterations. Tales of Vesperia ended up doing well for itself in the West, helping to anchor the series' popularity and future releases for the RPG series. Other Notable Releases: Too Human 2009 The eighth month of 2009 was a little light on the releases, but few cared as the droves of Final Fantasy fans dove into Dissidia: Final Fantasy. This unlikely crossover fighting game featured heroes and villains from all across the series and threw them into an alternate realm where they can duke it out for sake of the universe. The story might be crazy, but the combat is interesting and holds up well, melding traditional Final Fantasy aspects with frantic combat. Other Notable Releases: Metroid Prime: Trilogy 2010 August of 2010 was surprisingly light on the release front. Thankfully, a fun brawler in the form of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game came to fill the empty end of summer gap. The game with made with a retro feel in mind, but with plenty of modern touches to keep the game fun and fresh. You could level up to get new combos, and buy items to increase various stats, all in the name of beating up ex-boyfriends. Alone or with local co-op, many gamers found this beat-em-up to be a blast to play. Other Notable Releases: Metroid: Other M 2011 2011 had a bit of an unexpected release. The next entry in the much loved Deus Ex series, Deus Ex: Human Revolution debuted in August and faced very little real competition during the month. A prequel to the original, Human Revolution focused on open-ended gameplay and a plot that focuses on many interesting social issues. Fans of the series found the title to be a great continuation of Deus Ex, while newcomers were able to enjoy the series for the first time. Other Notable Releases: Rock of Ages, El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron 2012 August 2012 was a surprisingly big month for releases, much like this very August is. The biggest of these multitude of releases was Persona 4 Arena, a fighting game that's a bit of a sequel to Persona 4. Fans may not have expected their RPG game to continue in another genre, but the transition was well-done. The title had an in-depth Story Mode for Persona 4 fans to enjoy, while having deep gameplay that fighting game fanatics could get into without even playing the series before. Other Notable Releases: The Last Story, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Guild Wars 2, Mutant Mudds, Dust: An Elysian Tail That's all for the ten past August releases! September and October are known for being the 'calm before the Holiday storm', so I wonder how the releases of the past reflect those supposed droughts? We'll start to find out next month! What were some of your favorite August releases? Any that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!
  2. July: One of the hottest months of the year... but it being hot temperature wise doesn't mean it's hot gaming wise. We have a few pretty big releases like Shin Megami Tensei IV and Dragon's Crown, but there are no triple-A releases, nor are there any releases that don't cater to a specific audience. In other words, this July is a somewhat odd month for game releases... but with so many huge releases coming just around the corner, it's somewhat expected that we have a dry spell before the deluge. Are other Julys like this, though? Are they more about quality than quantity? Let's take a leisurely stroll through memory land to find out! 2003 Starting off, July of 2003 may not have had too much, but one release of this month is still lauded as the start of one of the greatest RPG series. Star Wars: The Knights of the Old Republic is the game that put Bioware on the map, cementing them as a developer of sprawling, living worlds to explore and plenty of things to do. Based off of the Star Wars franchise, but not being directly connected to any of the films helped to give this title a life of its own, giving you a Jedi that could shape the universe as they saw fit--for good or for evil. Other Notable Releases: Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne 2004 The GameCube was always a bit short on RPGs, but in July of 2004 Nintendo fans got a killer RPG app in the form of Tales of Symphonia. Still thought of by same fans as one of the best in the series, this GameCube game took the battle system into the third dimension for the first time, offering a new way to dispatch foes. Couple that with a great plot and a lot to do, and GameCube RPG fans had plenty to keep them busy. Other Notable Releases: There... wasn't anything else. 2005 Oh, Killer7. July 2005's greatest release is popular, but not the easiest to describe. This is the game that put Suda51 on the map as an unique and somewhat odd developer. Heck, it's pretty hard just to summarize this title! There's shooting, and assassins, and an absolutely crazy plot that gamers theorize about... it's a game you have to play to (probably not even) understand. Other Notable Releases: Facade 2006 July of 2006 was a very slow month... the only real release to speak of was Prey. This first person shooter had a very interesting plot and gameplay mechanic: The main character has spiritual powers, and can even spirit walk through obstacles to help advance the game. A very different type of FPS, fans of the genre certainly got a great game this July. Other Notable Releases: There really wasn't much going on this year, either. 2007 When July of 2007 rolled around, hardcore gamers were given another challenging game to overcome. Ninja Gaiden Sigma was released early in the month, and kept many players busy with its tough learning curve and its skill based gameplay. It may have been an enhanced port of the Xbox original, but this new entry in series had plenty to offer to old and new fans alike. Other Notable Releases: Mario Strikers Charged 2008 July of 2008 was quite different from most of the July's on this list, simply because of the amount of quality titles that were released, triple-A titles or otherwise. Out of all of these, none of them made a bigger splash than Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. The sequel to the well-recieved Persona 3 took the series' popularity to a whole new level, getting a whole dearth of new fans wondering what this whole Shin Megami Tensei series was about and asking themselves why they didn't give it a try before. Other Notable Releases: Rhythm Heaven, Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride, Soul Calibur IV 2009 The seventh month of 2009 was very light on releases... but at least there was Trine! Trine was an indie title released with a fun mechanic... with the ability to control three different characters, you could find a bunch of different ways to defeat the undead hordes and solve the myriad of puzzles presented to you. With many solutions available and never any one 'right' answer, it's no wonder so many gamers took well to the game. Other Notable Releases: Little King's Story, ARMA II 2010 July of 2010 was actually a decent month for gamers, with great indie releases and good games released for consoles and portables alike. However, the greatest release of the month was a boon to fighting game fans, and that was BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. The sequel to Arc System's fighting series introduced new characters and balanced the old ones, and continued the in-depth (albeit convoluted) plot that the original started. Other Notable Releases: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, Limbo, DeathSpank 2011 If there's one thing we can see about more recent Julys, it's that a lot of big-name indie titles are released. Another big indie title in July was Bastion, an action RPG with an interesting world and well presented plot. Bastion made a big splash with both indie fans and even the non-indie crowd, making it a huge July release. Other Notable Releases: Catherine 2012 Last July had a few anticipated titles coming out... even if they catered to specific audiences. One of these titles is Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy, a music game dedicated to the Final Fantasy series and its great soundtracks. Obviously this is a title made for fans of the series, but with such a wide following, it was bound to do well on the 3DS. With the inclusion of a wide variety of tracks via DLC, everyone was bound to find their favorite track and be able to play it. Other Notable Releases: Spelunky, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time There you have it... the past ten years' worth of July releases! It looks as this this July isn't too different from the past... for the most part, there have been interesting and exciting releases, but rarely so chock full of them that we have trouble deciding what to buy and play! What are some of your favorite July releases? Any that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!
  3. 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! 2003 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. 2004 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 2005 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 2006 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 2007 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 2008 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 2009 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 2010 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 2011 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 2012 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!