My kids need to be back in school. Thanks to Mother Nature dumping snow on us here in th..."/> My kids need to be back in school. Thanks to Mother Nature dumping snow on us here in th..."/>

New Game Releases: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Strider, Earth Defense Force 2025 And More


My kids need to be back in school. Thanks to Mother Nature dumping snow on us here in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on a regular basis, I think I figured out that my kids have only had one complete five-day week of school (meaning no delays or cancellations) in the last nine. That’s not good.

On the plus side, they’ve used the snow days to become a lot better at the video games they have, meaning they might need some new ones soon.  As luck would have it, the video game industry is starting to rise from its winter hibernation and get back to giving us multiple noteworthy new releases. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

So if you’re anticipating being snowed in again this week (the forecast here is calling for more snow tomorrow night, naturally), and you can tear yourself away from the “Titanfall” beta, here are some new games to look out for this week, listed in chronological order:

“Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag — Freedom Cry” (PS4, PS3) – February 18

Set 15 years after the story of “Assassin’s Creed IV,” the focus in this spin-off is on Adéwalé. As a former slave, how do you think he’s going to handle running into some folks he meets while shipwrecked who are also trying to escape from slavery themselves? Here’s a hint: someone is getting assassinated!

Previously released as DLC, it’s pretty cool this is getting a standalone release. It’s downloadable only and is just $15, which seems like a fair price considering the word is that the storyline isn’t very long.

“Earth Defense Force 2025” (Ps3, Xbox 360) – February 18

It seems like a lot of sci-fi movies and shows have come to the conclusion that if aliens invaded Earth, the nations of the world would band together and fight them off. Me, I’m not so sure. We can barely get it together on much less important issues most of the time.

Anyway, “Earth Defense Force 2025” assumes I’m being too cynical, and after the first invasion was repelled in 2017, the Ravagers are back with new threats to fight off. Take control of four different classes of troops and a bunch of vehicles in this third-person shooter to battle both biological and mechanical enemies. And you’ll be doing it beside your fellow man, regardless of where he’s from, apparently.

“Strider” (PS4, PS3) – February 18; (Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC) – February 19

There’s always a certain amount of nervousness that I feel when it comes to remakes, reboots, or anything of that nature — particularly when the IP being remade is a good one. I have fond memories of the original “Strider” arcade and NES games, so I’m preparing myself for some disappointment here.

Except … this actually looks good. It honestly seems like Capcom might have made something that is an homage to what came before but updated for modern times. Yes, that’s what any good reboot should strive to do, but not all of them do. Really, I just want to use the Cypher to kick some butt again. Fingers crossed.

“Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze” (Wii U) – February 21

Could this be the game that wakes the Wii U out of its doldrums? Probably not, but there does seem to be an air of excitement around this, and that’s more than Nintendo’s semi-current gen console has going for it most weeks.

With Donkey Kong Island invaded by decidedly cold villains called the Snomads, it’s time for the gorillas to unite and reclaim what’s rightfully theirs. Cranky Kong is playable character for the first time, which is cool if you think games need more “Get off my lawn!” attitude. And that’s all I’m going to say about this game, since we’ve got our very own Gamesided review coming as soon as the embargo lifts. Which is soon.

Also releasing this week: “Rayman Legends” (PS4, Xbox One) – February 18; “Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return” (PS3, Vita, PSP) – February 18; “Banished” (PC) – February 18