Sweet Release! Skullgirls Encore, Battle Fantasia, Yatagarasu, July's Free Games

By Jared Cornelius

Welcome back to Sweet Release! Bleeding Cool's look at the new game releases on store shelves and digital platforms.  There's not a ton to talk about in the venue of games releases, like I said last week we're in for kind of a slog for a while as the summer tends to be a dumping ground for niche titles.  However niche doesn't mean bad, and this is a big week for those with a taste for 2D fighting games, with no less than three hitting various platforms this week.  We also have the roundup on free games if you subscribe to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, so let the fighting festivities commence with…

SKULLSkullgirls Encore from Revenge Labs and Lab Zero Games.  The independently developed 2D fighting game made a big hit last generation by catering to the hardcore fighting community and incorporating gorgeous hand drawn art.  Originally intended to be a riff on the popular Marvel vs. Capcom series, Skullgirls generated enough positive buzz to warrant releases across multiple consoles and PC along with a crowdfunding effort to add extra characters and more settings.  The story is about what you'd expect for a fighting game, weird. Taking place in a fictional kingdom with allusions to post World War II America, where 13 characters fight for an object called the "Skull Heart" that grants a single wish.  You could do a lot worse as far as fighting games go and it supports a smaller team trying to make niche games so no guilt trip here.  Skullgirls Encore released Tuesday for PlayStation 4 and is currently available on PlayStation 3Xbox 360, and PC.

BATTLEFANTASIAOur next fighting game released way back in 2008 on the Xbox 360 and for some reason is getting revived this week on the PC.  Battle Fantasia: Revised Edition is another 2D fighter from legendary fighting game developer Arc System Works.  If you read this column with any regularity you might recognize them from a number of properties, including Guilty GearBlazBlueArcana Heart, and almost every other 2D fighting game that comes from Japan not named Street Fighter.  Battle Fantasia features standard set of fighting mechanics and modes you've come to expect, including single player, online, and story mode. Pick from 12 characters with anime aesthetics and a medieval twist.  This one shows its age a little more than Arc System's more recent work like Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, but Battle Fantasia has a unique feel and if nothing else was an interesting experiment.  Battle Fantasia: Revised Edition released Tuesday on Steam.

YATAGARASUTo finish out our triple threat of fighting games we have another independently developed 2D fighter, Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm from the aptly named Yatagarasu Development Team.  This 2D fighting game is the most untested and Japanese of the three,  Taking place in 1925, the fighting takes place around an attempted coup d'état in the Japanese government.  Select from 11 fighters and do battle across single player, training, and a very fleshed out online with integrated commentary.  The pedigree on this one sounds pretty good with art from people who've worked on the King of Fighters and Shin Megami Tensai series.  It's got a real Neo Geo vibe, which is always a selling point for me!  Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm released Tuesday on PC.

If you subscribe to any of the premium services a new month means new games.

MOUSECRAFTPlayStation Plus subscribers get the brand new mash up of soccer and racing in Rocket League and medieval goblin themed stealth game Styx: Master of Shadows on the PlayStation 4.  PlayStation 3 users get invisible boy puzzle game Rain.  Finally PlayStation Vita owners get twin stick shooter Geometry Wars 3.  For the Sony faithful with more than one console you'll get mouse based puzzler, Mousecraft along with music rhythm game Entwined, cross buy on all three.

PLANTSVSZOMBIESStarting this month Microsoft has pledged to start releasing two Xbox One games every month.  So we kick off the duel game festivities with the fantastic 3rd person stealth adventure/pirate game  Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, free until the 15th.  On the 16th it'll be replaced by puzzle platformer, So Many Me.  360 users get a great month with the modern tower defense classic, Plants vs Zombies free until the 15th, where 3rd person shooter Gears of War 3 will take over until August.

That's it for me folks, batten down the hatches and prepare for San Diego Comic Con.  Also I'll have a new edition of Typing on The DeadBleeding Cool's Walking Dead review and recap this week.

Jared Cornelius is some guy from the Jersey coast who's glad the 4th of July is over.  Join him for the countdown to Labor Day on Twitter @John_Laryngitis.

About Jared Cornelius

A miserable little pile of secrets...also a writer, definitely not an android