This Week in Games
Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak

by Dustin Bailey,
The Tokyo Game Show took place over the past weekend, and like most recent years for the show, it didn't provide a ton of huge announcements. That's generally reflective of the past decade of AAA Japanese development, which has obviously gotten much smaller. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as digital distribution has meant that making—and localizing—niche titles is far more reasonable an endeavor. With that in mind, the lineup of trailers and announcements actually seemed pretty healthy.

The few big things there looked pretty cool, too! I've never been a huge Final Fantasy guy, but I'm kind of in love with everything they've shown of FFXV so far. And yo, that Yakuza 6 stuff looks dope. Shark punching! Ukulele playing! Infant saving! I've been playing through Yakuza 5 recently, and the degree to which Kazuma has become a superheroic boy scout is hilarious. The Dragon of Dojima has a sidequest in that game where you have to collect money to buy Christmas presents for the kids back home at the orphanage he runs. Then, of course, it's time to knock the teeth out of more gang members. You should play Yakuza.

First Impressions: Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs!

I've also been playing a bit of Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs!, which just released this week on PS4, PS3, and Vita. Daybreak: Special Gigs! is a revised and expanded version of last year's game, featuring an additional scenario, expanded story, and improvements to the battle system. I'm not familiar with the original release, but even without an appreciation for those changes I'm digging what this thing has to offer.

You're a high school student turned ghost hunter, interacting with fellow exorcists by day and trapping ghosts by night. The game dips heavily into 70s retro-chic aesthetics, with old cars and lots of references to classic rock songs, which oddly feels inspired by the US TV show Supernatural. Half of Tokyo Twilight is a visual novel, and it's one with a fair bit of production value. Character portraits sway and move to communicate actions, giving a bit more animation to otherwise static scenes.

The other half is an abstracted, turn-based strategy thing where you actually do your ghost hunting work. You monitor a map of a haunted location, placing traps and detection devices to control ghost movement, then maneuver your team of exorcists to dispatch the specters. Ghost movement resolves before your attacks do, meaning that your strategy is all about predicting where the phantoms will go and covering potential escape routes.

It's an interesting system, but I haven't dug in deep enough just yet to see the full limits of where it goes. Depending on the complexity of later scenarios it could turn either very fun or very frustrating as you manage the AP of your squad and chase slippery phantasms around the map. Your team levels up as they exorcise, and you can equip them with new weapons and items between ghost-hunting sessions. It's as much RPG as VN.

The cast has been pretty fun so far, though your method of interacting with them is poorly explained. Any time you're prompted for a response, a disc pops up with five icons representing emotions. Pick one, and a second disc appears with five senses. When you meet a new character, “friendly” and “touch” is a pretty obvious way to shake hands. But what do you do when you're asked to join a club? “Curious” “sight”? “Angry” “smell”? And sadly, all my “romantic” “taste” attempts have been rejected.

Despite—or maybe because of—that weirdness, I've enjoyed my time with Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, and I'll likely stick with it for at least a bit longer. It's an interesting blend of visual novel and strategy-RPG.


You know what TGS didn't bring? Any announcements regarding Nintendo's next console. Even when TGS was huge Nintendo never had a real presence there, but that didn't stop certain corners of the internet from wondering if an announcement regarding the NX might come. (It didn't.)

We did get a bit of NX detail this week, albeit from a non-gaming source. The Wall Street Journal had an interview with the head of The Pokémon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, where the chief of Pikachu said “the NX is trying to change the concept of what it means to be a home console device or a handheld device.” The Pokémon Company isn't part of Nintendo proper, as overly eager investors learned following the explosion of Pokémon Go earlier this year, but the close relationship between the two entities means that this is the closest thing we've had to an official announcement about the nature of the NX. Hey, guess what? The NX will be a portable/home console hybrid.

Ishihara also said “We will make games for the NX.” That's no shocker, but given what the NX will be it does mean that we'll likely see a “real” Pokémon for the first time on a home console, which is something I've been dreaming about since 1998.

Metal Gear Survive may be ditching a lot things that made the series great, but it's not getting rid of the lengthy gameplay demos that made up so much of MGS5's marketing. A 16-minute video made its way out of TGS—complete with English subtitles—and if I'm totally removing myself from the baggage of that game, it looks pretty neat. MGS5 dropped a lot of the storytelling that made Metal Gear, well, Metal Gear, but it still managed to be one of the finest 3rd-person action games ever created, with perfect controls and some incredibly fine open-world gameplay systems.

Survive builds on those excellent systems. It won't be terrible. It won't be Metal Gear, but it won't be terrible. Kojima himself took a break from making vaguely erotic comments about Norman Reedus to address the game at a Q&A session, where he made it very clear that he had nothing to do with Survive. After all, it doesn't have espionage, political fiction, or a bipedal robot!

Metal Gear has been full of bizarre nonsense from the very start, with everything from ghosts to bisexual vampires to a woman who breathes through nudity. One thing it's managed to avoid so far, however, is cribbing from stream-friendly survival games in an effort to draw in new players by simply imitating what's popular on social media. I'm not saying that's what Metal Gear Survive is doing, but that's totally what it's doing.

It's time for my favorite bit: the historical curiosity of the week! I'm not quite old enough to remember the days before GameFAQs, but one of the fascinating curiosities of flipping through old Nintendo Power issues and early NES marketing is the hotline to Nintendo's Game Counselors. You couldn't just Google how to get past that boss, and instead had to pick up a phone to find the answers to your gaming questions. Truly, our past was a nightmare.

Some documents from the Game Counselors' office recently found their way into the possession of prolific retro gaming Youtuber MetalJesusRocks. The most interesting bit is a massive tome featuring hand-drawn and annotated maps for games ranging from the Adventure of Link to Willow. Have a look, it's a fun thing.


Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: September 29
MSRP: $14.99

You're likely to know the developer and publisher, Inti Creates, as the studio behind Mega Man Zero, and that pedigree should give a pretty good idea of what Azure Striker Gunvolt is—a 2D action-platformer with a whole lot of robotic enemies to shoot. Our hero, Gunvolt, tags enemies with his bullets, causing his lightning powers to home in and take out the bad guys.

This sequel features the playable return of Gunvolt's rival, Copen, who specializes in midair dashes that allow homing missiles to lock onto enemies. Hot tip for you physical collectors: a retail edition featuring both the first and second games will be released on October 4th.

Developer: Arc System Works
Publisher: Natsume
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: September 27
MSRP: $29.99

Yep, that's “River City” as in River City Ransom, the RPG-ish brawler on the original NES. We've occasionally gotten titles from the Kunio-kun series in the West, localized into such varied things as Crash ‘n’ the Boys, the Game Boy version of Double Dragon II, and the arcade slash NES brawler Renegade.

Tokyo Rumble is actually a loose remake of the game we know as Renegade, featuring a similar setting and bosses, though greatly expanded with more RPG elements and a wider world. This is primarily a digital release, but a limited physical edition is coming as well. I think. I can't actually find any place that's taking preorders for it.

Developer: Sanzaru Games
Publisher: Sega
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: September 27
MSRP: $29.99

I really want to just leave this description as “it's another Sonic game,” but I'm afraid that might leave a little too much room for optimism. This is part of the Sonic Boom sub-franchise, which spawned such incredible hits as the abysmal Wii U exclusive, Rise of Lyric, a game so terrible that it lowered the bar for modern Sonic the Hedgehog games.

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice comes from the same studio that made Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal, a game not quite so terrible as Rise of Lyric, but still one that nobody likes. Nobody. I haven't played Fire & Ice. It could be great. But that's not very likely.

Sonic Mania will be out next year.

Sports men (and I think sports women now too) will do sports things in FIFA 17! I kid, I kid. In all seriousness, the new story mode stuff looks cool, and folks more knowledgeable about soccer than I are pretty positive about this year's features. I'm personally a bit more interested in Forza Horizon 3, which has been getting excellent reviews ahead of its release.

If you like turn-based strategy and don't have a gaming PC, you should absolutely check out XCOM 2 when it releases on September 27th. The Dead Rising 2 remaster is already available digitally, but you can grab a physical copy on the 27th as well.

That's all for this week! See you next time.

discuss this in the forum (11 posts) |
bookmark/share with: short url

this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history

This Week in Games homepage / archives