This Week in Games - Pokemon Uranium

by Dustin Bailey,
Nobody's told me about any fires in the Anime News Network offices, so I'm going to go ahead and call the inaugural instalment of This Week in Games a success. That means it's time for another one! This week we've got a sudden delay for a massive game, the return of a cancelled Game Boy RPG, and the sad, shambling corpse of a thing I once loved.

Opinion: Pokemon Uranium

Last week's big news was the release and immediate destruction of the Metroid fangame, AM2R. Another home-built game called Pokémon Uranium was released around the same time, and that also got pulled down after some attention from Nintendo's lawyers. The story is basically the same as last week's, so I won't beat it into the ground here, but it does raise some big questions about fangames.

On one hand, the owner of an intellectual property has a legal responsibility to protect their trademarks and copyrights. You could argue that AM2R isn't competing with Nintendo's products, since God knows the company isn't putting out an actual Metroid game, but Pokémon Uranium is providing a pretty similar gameplay experience to what Sun and Moon will deliver in just a few months.

At the same time, it's becoming easier than ever for some kids who were inspired by a game to go out and make their own. Granted, producing a game requires a metric ton more work than a piece of art or fan fiction—AM2R and Uranium were both in development for the better part of a decade—but the barrier to entry is practically non-existent. These works are coming from the same place of love that brings us all those other tributes, yet they're just a little too close to the originals to be allowed to continue existing.

But that's the conundrum of any piece of derivative work. You can spend years toiling on a project with just as many creative challenges as something wholly original and end up with a product that doesn't truly belong to you. You could have spent that time developing something of your own, but who knows if it would have turned out as well without the spark of a game you love driving that development.

If nothing else, the folks behind AM2R and Pokémon Uranium have some excellent resumé samples if they want work in the game industry. And for us, the folks who just talk about video games on the internet, there's the knowledge that both these games were finished before they became widely known and got hit with copyright claims. After all, nothing truly dies on the internet.

Let's get to the news!

NEWS

YOU'VE WAITED A DECADE FOR FF15, AND YOU CAN WAIT TWO MORE MONTHS
Remember when Square Enix had a giant, hours-long event filled with gameplay reveals and celebrity guests to announce the release date for Final Fantasy XV? Yeah, turns out that their initial date of September 30th was a little optimistic. They've delayed the game's worldwide release to November 29th.

Director Hajime Tabata appeared in a pretty sincere Youtube statement to discuss the reasons for the delay. The game is done and ready to go to manufacturing, but some last minute fixes would require the team to work on an online update to go out alongside the title's release. That's “it's ready to go gold but would need a day one patch” in slightly less layman terminology.

Final Fantasy XV has been in development for over a decade now, so really, what's two more months? A massive, hour-long gameplay video showing off the game's opening areas also went out this week, and it looks—in the parlance of the kids these days—hype af. If it takes a couple extra months to ensure it turns out alright, that's fine by me. After all, it might just be the last chance Final Fantasy has for a mainstream, AAA release.

KONAMI IS ALREADY A DEMON, KAZ
Konami spent a lot—no, really, a LOT—of money developing the Fox Engine for Metal Gear Solid V, and by the Boss, they're going to get that money back. If not through a lavishly recreated Metal Gear Solid 3 pachinko machine, then through a cooperative zombie game. Because the iron is hot on zombie games here, now, in 2016.

Some Mother Base soldiers get sucked into wormhole to fight crystal biomorphs or something and I just can't. I thought I didn't care—I thought that pachinko trailer had knocked the capacity to love right out of me—but the pain of the franchise we've lost stays with me, like the lingering agony of a phantom limb.

Metal Gear Survive will be out in 2017.

A LONG DEAD GAME BOY RPG RISES FROM THE GRAVE
Hey. Look. You've never heard of Infinity. Until this week, I'd never heard of Infinity. The game was under development for the Game Boy Color in 2001, built by a bunch of teenagers as part of a company they called Affinix. They were indie developers before independent game development was even a thing, which meant they needed to find a publisher to actually release it. The game was mostly done, but its position so late into the GBC's life meant that the search for a publisher was in vain.

Now they've released a nearly finished ROM with some extra fixes recently implemented. It currently cuts off about a quarter of the way through the title, with a variety of relatively minor features and content left to implement throughout the rest of the game. The developers estimate that Infinity is 90% complete, and it might be possible to finish off that remaining 10% and release a new, functional Game Boy Color title over fifteen years after that system's death.

I hope they do get the chance to finish it, because the game is surprisingly good. It's a full-on RPG with tactical, positional combat, and while I could only spend about half an hour with it, it seems like a solid foundation for some 8-bit slime-slaying. The really shocking thing is the strength of the writing, which effectively conveys some poignant moments even with the platform's minimal technology. You can grab the ROM at the developers' website.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

KING OF FIGHTERS XIV
Developer: SNK
Publisher: Atlus USA
Platform: PlayStation 4
Release Date: August 23rd
MSRP: $59.99

I'm bad at fighting games, but I still get excited by every major release because it means I'll get to see the folks on the tournament scene do something new and crazy. King of Fighters XIV is sadly doing away with SNK's gorgeous pixel art in favor of some decidedly less inspired 3D visuals, but it holds onto the 3-on-3 fighting system and massive roster of playable characters.

And hey, Terry Bogard still has his sick baseball cap, so that's gotta count for something. I'm not nearly versed enough in KOF to break down the changes to the fighting system, but the buzz I've been hearing from folks in the know has been pretty positive.

METROID PRIME: FEDERATION FORCE
Developer: Next Level Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform: 3DS
Release Date: August 19th
MSRP: $39.99

It's time for the game nobody wanted, and everybody's excited to loudly announce their angry apathy! I liked Metroid Prime Hunters more than most—which is to say I liked it at all—but the notion of this follow-up has even me feeling completely cold.

Metroid Prime: Federation Force will have you in the role of a marine employed by the Galactic Federation, and you can buddy up with friends to take on missions in four-player co-op. Samus will make some kind of appearance, somewhere, if only to shake her head and give a polite but emphatic thumbs down to authority.

There's also the Blast Ball mode, which is like Rocket League but with shooting, so it's actually more like Overwatch's Lucioball. A free demo of Blast Ball came out a while ago. I tried it, but I couldn't find a game. Not a single person was playing. Not one.

Federation Force could be totally fine on its own merits, but in a world where Samus' last appearance was Other M and it's been over 12 years since the last traditional 2D entry in the series, the thought of anybody receiving this title warmly is a far-off dream.

ALSO AVAILABLE:
Next week's big Western release will be the continued adventures of Adam Jensen in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on August 23rd, which looks to further refine the already great fundamentals of the stealth-shooter-RPG-thing.

Also up next week is Style Savvy: Fashion Forward on August 19th, which lets you do fashion things, I think? Okay, look, I actually keep hearing that Style Savvy is secretly a super-awesome management RPG with way more depth than anyone would ever expect and I'm honestly super curious about it and might just play it for myself.

See you for next week's column, where I might just heap upwards of a thousand words of praise upon the excellent Axiom Verge ahead of its Wii U release!


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