This Week in Games: Nintendo Gone Wildby Heidi Kemps,
THIS WEEK IN GAMES: NINTENDO GONE WILD!
When I write this column, I usually begin by writing an outline on Tuesday morning, working on it Tuesday and Wednesday, and then submitting it Wednesday evening for publication early Thursday morning. This usually allows me to catch any lingering under-the-wire newsbits that happen on Wednesday for inclusion so I don't look like I'm completely out of the loop. It works pretty well most of the time… except, of course, when Nintendo decides it's time to drop a surprise Nintendo Direct at the exact same time your article goes live, making all of the speculatory comments you just wrote look completely stupid.
Me, bitter? Nahhhh.
But somehow, dropping a mini Direct bombshell with a bunch of new announcements isn't the strangest thing Nintendo's done since last week! Hoo boy, where do we start…
NINTENDO SURE ANNOUNCED A WHOLE LOT OF NEW SWITCH STUFF
Let's just briefly run down what last week's Nintendo Direct contained, because it packed a lot of surprisingly big announcements in a tiny little package. There was talk about Mario Odyssey and Pokken Tournament DX DLC, along with some cool-looking indie stuff (Celeste looks rad), but the brunt of it was game announcements and additional details on upcoming titles.The World Ends With You Final Mix: There may never be a true sequel to TWEWY, and honestly, I'm fine with that: the game's a delightful, unique adventure that stands perfectly on its own. And while I'm not totally sure if there will be any new additons, it looks like it'll be adopting a lot of the hi-res graphics and gameplay adjustments of the smartphone port with considerations given to the Switch's control capabilities.
Kirby Star Allies:Definitively, more Kirby is good. Kirby on Switch will probably be real good. Oh, and it has multiplayer too, that's gonna be- wait a sec. Computer, enhance.
Hyrule Warriors Definitive Edition: Well, I guess it's high time to give some of the better Wii U games a second lease on life. I mean yes, technically, Hyrule Warriors is also a 3DS game, and this will have both the Wii U and 3DS content, but let's not kid ourselves: this is getting repackaged because Breath of the Wild sold gangbusters and now Nintendo has a console that's actually popular.
Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze: Another Wii U repackaging of what's a pretty great platform game that's also really, really hard. I get the feeling Nintendo took a look at Wii U user data, saw how few folks actually finished this thing, and decided it was time to add NEW FUNKY MODE where you're literally too cool to fail. And thus, new memes were born.
Mario Tennis Aces: This is what you get when Nintendo's not desperate to prop up a dying console: a Mario Tennis game that looks like it has actual effort involved, unlike the hilariously rushed Mario Tennis Ultra Smash. Still, part of me wonders if Camelot will ever again be allowed to escape Nintendo sports game purgatory to create another Golden Sun. (Probably not.)
YS VIII: If there's one game I regret not talking about on the year-end ANNcast I was on, it's this one – it's a beautiful, musically astonishing action-RPG with a real soul to it that should scratch some serious itches for anyone looking to fill a Breath of the Wild-shaped void. I'm glad it's headed to an even bigger audience on Switch.
SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy: I can honestly say that a spiritual sequel to the Neo Geo Pocket game SNK Gals Fighters was something I never expected to happen, but man, am I ever glad it's happening! This looks like it's not going to be a particularly serious fighter, as it's got an optional simplified control scheme and an emphasis on playing dress-up, but that's fine – not every fighting game has to be geared towards EVO, y'know? Now the big question is: Will Miss X be coming back?
Dark Souls Remastered: Rumors had been swirling about this one for a while, and it's a relief to see it finally unveiled to the public. And it's on the Switch, too! It's like a portable Dark Souls! Wow!
DETECTIVE PIKACHU IS ON THE CASE
Besides the bombardment of Switch announcements, Nintendo took the time to reaffirm that it's still supporting the stalwart 3DS hardware by announcing a localization of the Detective Pikachu adventure game. Yes, it's exactly what it says on the box: a sleuthing adventure where you team up with a talking Pokemon to solve mysteries.
It also releases alongside a ginormous Amiibo. I'm not sure how it compares in size to that huge yarn Yoshi from a while back, but it does look quite sizable from some of the comparisons to regular Amiibo. I'm one hundred percent down with a gruff gumshoe Pikachu lording over my Nendoroid horde.
NINTENDO LABO WANTS YOU TO GET CRAFTY
Well, uh, Nintendo Labo sure is a thing. I'm not entirely sure how to describe it, but I'm going to try. So you buy these cardboard kits, okay? You build them, kind of like a papercraft-type deal, except they're also expressly designed to interact with the Switch JoyCons in strange and interesting ways. Look, maybe you should just watch the video announcement instead:
As out of left field as this announcement is, it does seem like the sort of thing Nintendo would do. They're all about expanding their audience and developing new ways to control and engage with video games, and this is certainly a better idea than whatever that weird canned health monitor thing for the Wii was going to be. Let's just hope the cardboard is resilient.
BORDER BREAK IS COMING TO PS4, WITH A CATCH
A lot of modern Japanese arcade games aren't well suited to home ports: in order to get people to keep coming back to the game centers (instead of gacha'ing away on smartphones) they offer unique networked experiences, player data tracking, and big bombastic cabinets you couldn't get at home without spending a small fortune. One such game that looked to remain an arcade exclusive was Border Break, which a lot of people probably know from being in that one episode of SeHa Girls that also had Sonic in it.
Border Break is a team-based third-person mech action game where you and a gaggle of squadmates battle against another team while trying to defend your energy reactor core. The team whose core gets crushed loses, so a nice mix of strategic offensive and defense is required as your customized mechs (and customized pilots) run amok all over a variety of maps.
The catch? The game's going to be F2P. While that's good for people outside Japan with a dummy Japanese PSN account who just want to try it out, it's unknown just how Sega will twist your arm into spending cash if you really seriously want to get into it. Will there be lootboxes? (This seems likely, given that the arcade game has random drops after each match.) A stamina system? Subscriptions with perks ala PSO2? We'll have to wait and see.
FINAL FANTASY XV GETS THE ROYAL TREATMENT
It doesn't seem like FFXV released all that long ago, but perhaps that's the result of Square-Enix's push to keep the game in the public eye through all matter of DLC and spinoffs. The latest of these is a complete edition that coincides with the upcoming PC release. Entitled Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition, this package includes all of the major DLC expansions, plus a new dungeon, new gear, new bosses, the “Armiger Unleashed” mode, a first-person POV mode, and perhaps most importantly, A FRIGGIN BOAT.
You can buy all of this in a nice packaged version, but the Royal Edition will also be available to download for existing FFXV owners for an as-of-yet unspecified price.
I really liked what I played of FFXV, but I haven't gone back to it in a while – I kept hearing about what a mess that one part of the game was and that they would eventually fix it, so I said “ehhh, maybe I'll wait to finish the game, then.” I suppose now I don't really have an excuse anymore. But do I start fresh or go back to my old file? Hmmm.
FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE IS ALSO GETTING A PC VERSION
Final Fantasy XII is probably my favorite game of the series, though that varies depending on which day of the week you ask me. The PS4 reissue was quite the sumptuous remake, and I'm happy to hear that PC owners will soon get their hands on it as well. It's also coming with a bunch of new features: widescreen and multi-monitor support, 60 FPS, even a built-in trainer to max your license points and gil if you want to be a filthy cheater. No matter how you choose to play the game, though, one objective fact will always be true: Fran is best FF waifu.
OUT NOW: STREET FIGHTER V ARCADE EDITION
I probably don't need to describe what Street Fighter V is at this point, but some of you are likely wondering just what Arcade Edition entails. Basically, it's a free upgrade to SFV that rebalances the game, introduces new V-triggers , and finally adds an honest to god Arcade Mode. Yeah, remember how barebones SFV was at launch? Two years later, you now have something resembling a complete package!
Arcade Edition also makes room for the Season 3 characters to be added to the roster, the first of which, Sakura, was released alongside the game. No word yet on the timing of other characters like Cody, Sagat, and the mysterious G, but hey, there's already a pretty slick Sakura combo video. Also, I'm glad her music remix is actually listenable, which is more than I can say for basically every other bit of remixed theme music in SFV.
Arcade Edition dropped earlier this week, and the fighting game faithful have been eagerly trying to decipher what Capcom's hilariously vague patch notes mean when they say “adjusted hit/hurtbox.” It'll be interesting to see how much of an effect these changes will have on EVO Japan next week (which I'll be attending!) And in case you were wondering, Sakura really does want to have Ryu's babies.
JAN 19: KIRBY BATTLE ROYALE
As Detective Pikachu proves, the 3DS is still kickin', though it's a fair bit less feisty than it used to be. This month's big 3DS release is Kirby Battle Royale, a multiplayer-oriented party game that feels like a little bit of Mario Party tossed in alongside those various minigames that seem to come included with every modern Kirby game ever made. The multiplayer focus could be either a boon or a turn-off, depending on your tastes – while there are single-player modes, the presence of the Amazing Mirror Kirby clones should tip you off that Nintendo and HAL really, really want you to bring your buddies along. Fortunately, if you're on the fence, there's a free demo version, so give that a whirl before you buy.
That's all for this week! Next week, I'll be attending EVO Japan, but I'll still be doing my reporting from overseas. Hopefully we'll get a Virtua Fighter 6 announcement. Hopefully.
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