This Week in Games
Fall Gaming Preview
by Dustin Bailey,
It's a slow news week. There aren't a lot of games out. So what do we game fans do when there aren't a lot of current events? We certainly don't catch up on our back catalogs! No, we look to the future. Now that we're entering the fourth quarter of the year—you know, the time when video games come out—it seems like a good opportunity to take a look at what's coming for the remainder of 2016.
It's looking like a solid release list, particularly for fans of Japanese development. Even with the NX looming Nintendo's still got a few titles to put out, and Square-Enix even is even managing to release a few games besides the biggest JRPG of all time. Add to that a sequel to a cult classic Vita title and another title a decade in the making, and it seems that this holiday will be a good one.
We'll gloss over the Western titles because hey, there's only so much space in this column, but there's certainly no shortage of big games there. Civilization VI is sure to suck away countless hours of productivity, Watch Dogs 2 seems to finally be making good on the promises of the first game, and Titanfall 2 has giant robots. Also Dishonored 2 seems real cool.
2016 Fall Gaming Preview
October 7 - Paper Mario: Color Splash - Wii U
I liked Sticker Star just fine, but I'm definitely an outlier on that front. So when it became clear that Paper Mario: Color Splash would be following in the 3DS game's streamlined footsteps, it came as a disappointment to fans who were hoping for the more in-depth RPG action of something like Thousand-Year Door. Yet early impressions of the game have been very positive. It's still a stripped-down RPG system with items used for attacks and no leveling, but it seems to be filled with life and personality, which is certainly the main thing I'm looking for out of a Mario RPG. It also looks absolutely gorgeous.
October 11 - Dragon Quest Builders - PS4/PSVita
You might think this is just Dragon Quest meets Minecraft and, well, yeah, it's Dragon Quest meets Minecraft. But Dragon Quest Builders offers a far more compelling promise than just that. You explore a blocky world, collect materials, and craft new items while building whatever you please. However, you're also tasked with building towns and restoring kingdoms, going on quests for NPCs and fighting monsters. It's a far more structured take on a building sandbox, and one that's drawn more than a few comparisons to Dark Cloud. There's a demo up on PSN right now, and while it doesn't go far beyond the tutorial, it shows a lot of promise.
October 25 - World of Final Fantasy - PS4/PSVita
A certain other Final Fantasy title might be the bigger story this year, but World of Final Fantasy has the potential to be a terrific tribute to the franchise's legacy. It's got traditional Active Time Battle combat and a lighthearted story featuring a pair of siblings wandering their way into a magical world where all the characters and monsters of Final Fantasy live together. You'll capture those monsters to do your battling in a system borrowing from Pokémon and adventure alongside everyone from the Warrior of Light to Cloud and Tidus.
November 18 - Pokémon Sun and Moon - 3DS
Pokémon Sun and Moon are taking some chances with a well-worn franchise, and the possibilities are pretty exciting. Yes, you're still capturing elemental creatures and attempting to become the greatest trainer in all the land. But in the island-filled Alola region, it doesn't seem that you'll have gyms to conquer. Instead, you'll take on island challenges with various quests to complete before you can do battle with a powerful Totem Pokémon and the island's Trial Captain. Then there's Z-moves, Alola forms of existing Pokémon… It's actually setting itself apart from previous games in the series, and that is a very appealing prospect.
November 29 - Final Fantasy XV - PS4
There's a lot riding on Final Fantasy XV. It's been in the works for a decade, and its success or failure will have a profound effect on Square Enix, the Final Fantasy franchise, and the future of AAA development in Japan. So, you know, no pressure. Thankfully, FF15 seems to be taking the right lessons from both JRPGs and Western games, blending plucky characters into an open world full of possibilities. Final Fantasy XV looks like a big, beautiful game with a lot of heart, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.
December 2 - Gravity Rush 2 - PS4
Despite some flaws, Gravity Rush was one of the Vita's standout games, and it deserved a larger audience than it was capable of finding on Sony's handheld. The first step to reaching that bigger audience was the release of a Remastered edition on PS4 earlier this year, and now we're getting a full sequel in Gravity Rush 2. An open world more than twice the size of the previous game is promised, along with a massive new story and all the gravity bending action you can imagine.
December 6 - The Last Guardian - PS4
The only title that can outshine Final Fantasy XV's lengthy development is the Last Guardian, the latest from Team Ico and Fumito Ueda. You're a kid. You're buddies with a griffon. You'll work together to explore a massive, ornate world ruined by some mysteriously evil forces. Something bad will happen to the kid or the griffon and it will be very sad. We know what to expect. After more than a decade, I just want it to be here.
December 6 - Dead Rising 4 - Xbox One/PC
Dead Rising 4 is a source of cautious optimism from me. The third game sanded away the rough edges of the originals, at the cost of their unique flavor and stress-inducing time crunch. Dead Rising 4 returns us to Willamette, CO in control of wartime photojournalist Frank West at the height of the Christmas season. Frank back in Willamette with jingle bells in the background sounds like such a great time! Yet it sounds like the time system has been done away with completely and the black humor of the original is replaced with straight-up goofiness. I hope it's great. Please be great, Dead Rising 4.
SOME CRAZY PERSON THOUGHT THEY COULD SELL AN N64 EMULATOR ON THE XBOX STORE
File this one under "What? No! Who told you that was a good idea?" You might have heard earlier this month about a misguided attempt to get an NES emulator on Microsoft's platform, but at least that thing was free. The makers of Win64e10 were attempting to charge $9.99 for the software for the brief period it was available on the Xbox Store.
As you probably know, hardware emulation is itself mostly legal--it's the distribution of copyrighted software that calls things into question. As you can see from the above screenshot, there's a totally oblivious advertisement that "Hey, you can play Super Mario 64 on your Xbox!" Microsoft didn't care so much for that.
The Universal Windows Platform that is making self-publication easy on Microsoft platforms is also allowing bizarre things like this to happen. Is it a bad thing? Nah, not really. Emulators are just going to get unceremoniously removed from the service. If you want to play N64 games on your Xbox, then why not try some Blast Corps in the Rare Replay collection?
ENJOY A LOOK INSIDE JAPANESE ARCADES IN 2016
I don't want to turn this into a "fun Youtube clip of the moment" bit, but like I said, it's a slow news week. And this is a valuable insight into a side of game development that's quickly being forgotten. Super Bunnyhop took a recent trip to Japan, and like any good nerd on vacation, spent a good portion of time checking out the nation's digital delights. You tend to get the impression that the arcade business has been entirely replaced by pachinko parlors, but it seems that's not altogether the case.
Arcades still exist in Japan, and they're not just fighting game dojos. More varied arcades feature games, especially Vs.-style multiplayer games, with leveling systems and microtransactions and cards that you take home to track your progress. The other side of that are giant amusement gimmicks, everything from a three-screened Gundam cockpit to a racing game that you play from inside a car mounted on hydraulic lifts. Truly, we live in strange days, where you can drive a virtual car from inside a real one.
There's also VR, which is slowly invading the world of digital amusements. It makes perfect sense--VR is too expensive to be widely available at a consumer level, yet far less expensive than many of the ridiculous contraptions that fill modern arcades. The limited movement options afforded by virtual reality are also perfect for the short, fun but gimmicky experiences that casual arcade explorers are drawn to. There results are, well... Just watch the video.
NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES
YO-KAI WATCH 2: BONY SPIRITS AND FLESHY SOULS|
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: September 30
Yo-Kai Watch is growing into a multimedia empire in Japan, with its popularity and creature collecting components giving it a more than passing resemblance to Pokémon. Yo-Kai Watch 2 takes those comparisons a step further with a split between two bizarrely-titled versions, Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls, each featuring their own exclusive Yo-kai.
The Level-5 developed RPG launched in Japan in 2014, and this sequel kickstarted the franchise's success there. Like the original, the game has you travelling and battling with the ghostlike creatures of Japanese folklore using the titular Yo-Kai Watch. The sequel takes the action back and forth between present and past in a time-traveling adventure.
There's a demo available on the eShop that should give you a solid taste of what to expect.
Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pass hits 3DS on October 4th, giving you both Azure Striker titles in one fancy retail package.
That's it for this week! See y'all next time around!
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