This Week in Games
Marvel vs. Capcom's Seemingly Infinite Problems
by Heidi Kemps,
Well, I'm finally back from my EVO Japan trip, and jetlag's hitting me like a pound of bricks. Or maybe it's just residue from the nasty cold I got that knocked me out for a while. Much fun was had pre-, during, and post-EVO: many retro arcades were visited, many interesting little retro game stores were visited, and I got to see an absolutely gorgeous two-and-a-half-story-high Final Fantasy XIV snow sculpture at the Sapporo Snow Festival, which you also will get to see very soon!
But even though EVO Japan's a wrap, the Stateside EVO we're more familiar with has just begun ramping up, and boy do I ever have some things to say about that! (If you don't care about fighting games, feel free to skip down to the news… which immediately talks about more fighting games. Oops.)
EDITORIAL: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY OF THE OFFICIAL EVO 2018 LINEUP
I was flying back home while the announcement of the official EVO 2018 games selection was happening, but boy oh boy did I ever catch the fallout online! Seems like everyone has an opinion about the games that will be featured during this year's event, and what it means for various communities and developers moving forward.
Of course, Dragon Ball FighterZ made it in to absolutely nobody's surprise: that game's been blowing up sales and stream numbers and drawing huge crowds at local tournaments since its release. Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear Xrd R2, Tekken 7, and Smash 4 were also no-brainers for inclusion. The rest of the lineup is where things get a little controversial.
Super Smash Bros. Melee is back for another year, and while some folks speculated it might get cut in favor of highlighting Smash 4, it still draws the sort of crowds and stream viewership that warrant bringing in a dump truck's worth of old CRT televisions to the EVO venue. To the surprise of many, Injustice 2 is also making a return, throwing a bone to the smaller but very intense community that's formed around NetherRealm Studios’ games. (Also, the recent Ninja Turtles character trailer is pretty darn good. They're just as delightfully corny as you'd expect!)
The biggest surprise in the roster, however, is Blazblue X Tag Battle, which releases a scant two months before EVO begins in August. It's an extremely controversial pick for many reasons: the game isn't out yet, the level of play won't have developed much in such a short time, and the game's DLC scheme has been garnering some very negative attention. In fact, the general pre-release negativity for BBXTB reminds me a lot of what happened with Street Fighter X Tekken and Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, two games that had some serious backlash before release and suffered greatly as a result. My gut feeling is that if this game doesn't look amazing during its finals play, EVO and developer Arc System Works might wind up with egg on their face.
But even more surprising is the biggest game not on the roster: Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Having released just last September, the game is still fresh, and it pulls solid – though not amazing – numbers at local events and tournaments. As far as being a spectator/eSports game, however, it's been a complete dud. Long gone are the halcyon days when Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the hype game everyone wanted to see at tournaments: the official Capcom MVCI: Battle for the Stones tournament barely made a blip on anyone's radar. I could write an entire column's worth of text on how badly the ball was dropped with MVCI in so many ways, but it all comes down to three things: hubris, expecting the MvC legacy alone to carry the game in an eSports capacity, and being subjected to the whims of a parent company licensor that didn't have the best interests of its fans in mind.
Though the general sentiment that MvCI was in serious danger of not making it into EVO has been around for a couple of months at least, the confirmation that it's not going to be a featured game still feels like a bit of a shock. While some have speculated that the main reason for the game's exclusion was stream viewership numbers, a series of tweets from EVO spokesman Mark Julio hinted that it might be more complex and/or involve licensing permissions. (While your local fighting game stream doesn't have to be asking Disney or Toei to stream MvCI or DBFZ, something as huge as EVO definitely does. Remember when Nintendo almost shut their Melee stream down?)
In any case, I feel like EVO is not to blame here, nor are the players who have invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into playing and getting good at MvCI. It all comes down to Capcom – though, I feel a bit bad saying that, because I know there are people at Capcom who wanted this to be a better product but found their hands tied in various ways. Let's just say “it's the fault of particular shortsighted individuals at Capcom (and also probably Disney)” and call it a day.
MvCI wasn't the only snub, either: King of Fighters XIV and ARMS, both of which were at EVO Japan, also didn't get an invite this year, making me wonder if EVO Japan will become the official tournament for supporting games with smaller and/or more Asia-focused scenes moving forward. The lack of Dissidia also surprised me a bit, though I can see that game being an organizational nightmare, needing dedicated three-person teams and all.
Anyway, to close this out, I hope EX Fighting Layer gets in next year. That game's rad.
MORE RWBY CHARACTERS ARE CROSSING OVER TO BLAZBLUE X TAG BATTLE
I was just talking about this game, but it's already in the news again. As if to offset the annoyance over half of the game's characters being DLC, Arc System Works announced that RWBY’s Blake Belladonna and Yang Xiao Long will be joining the game's cast as DLC characters – but for free!
I mean, sure, free stuff is great, but it's still a real head-scratcher. The game's still not out for a while, why not just… have them on the disc? Is it because you know they won't be done by the time you need to go gold, or because you plan you turn them into paid DLC eventually? If you're really cynical, you might even accuse Arc of turning what was planned to be paid DLC into free DLC after internet backlash about breaking up the RWBY crew. A lot of folks are trying to give Arc the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this game's DLC, but they need to be a lot more transparent about things like pricing and release plans to assuage peoples’ fears, and stuff like this isn't helping as much as they seem to think it will.
PUYO PUYO TETRIS IS WOBBLING ONTO PCS
One of last year's biggest sleeper hits was Puyo Puyo Tetris, a mashup of two classic puzzle games that works out better than it has any right to. It's a delightful game with a dedicated and very passionate competitive scene, and while it's dropped onto several different consoles, it hasn't seen a PC release – until now, that is! The game now has a Steam page and will be available later this month.
Of course, the fact that one really good and fun Sega game is coming out on PCs has drawn out the legions of people on said Steam page and in various announcement articles screaming “why is this coming out on PCs and not Yakuza/Valkyria Chronicles 2/Persona 5/PSO2/etc. I have two things to say to this:
#1: Are you just, like, incapable of being happy that a game somebody wants is coming to PC? Why not say “Cool, I'm glad to see more PC support, I hope it means more Sega titles in the future?”
#2: Puyo Puyo Tetris is good, shut up and play it
YAKUZA 6 GOT DELAYED :(
It's coming out April 17th now. DAMMIT.
But hey, there's a demo on the 27th of this month. Maybe that makes up for it? Sort of? Look I just want to be a badass middle-aged ex-yakuza dude running a cat café :(
OUT NOW: SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS (PS4)
It's worth noting that this is actually the second HD remaster of the PS2 classic. While the first was more of a texture upscaling of the game, this version of Shadow of the Colossus has basically been completely visually rebuilt by outside contractor Bluepoint Games (who also worked on the PS3 remaster). As one of the three games that make up the Fumito Ueda trilogy (the other two are ICO and The Last Guardian), SotC is perhaps to most well-known and regarded out of the bunch.
Shadow of the Colossus is a classic tale of love and loss with a sinister undercurrent: your beloved appears to be dead, but somehow killing these ginormous, hulking beasts will bring her back to life… maybe. The minimalist storytelling relies more on atmosphere and action than wordiness, which is always something I appreciate. In any case, you're going to have to find and figure out how to murder a series of creatures much, much bigger than you for reasons that seem increasingly dubious the further along you go.
The remake is solid all around: it understands what made the original game so beloved and works to enhance that experience for a more powerful system, rather than adding too much extra fluff. Go play it, if you haven't already. And maybe if you have.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS: KNIGHTS OF BRITTANIA (PS4)
The Seven Deadly Sins is one of those anime and manga series that is really, really popular in Japan, but just hasn't caught on North America in a significant capacity. (The fact that it was a delayed-release Netflix exclusive probably didn't help there). Nevertheless, Bandai-Namco Games believes that there's enough of an audience for this game in North America for a physical release. At this point, they probably know better than I do what sells and what doesn't in terms of localized anime games, so I'll trust their judgment.
Anyhow, the game adaptation of The Seven Deadly Sins is mostly a retelling of the anime/manga series, presented through story scenes, voiced dialogue, and third-person arena combat that seems to be the hot genre for anime-based games these days. It's also got online competitive 1v1 and 2v2 play, so if you need a break from DBFZ but gathering a three-person Dissidia party seems too daunting, well, here you go!
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK: Dragon Quest Builders, the construction-oriented spinoff set in the original Dragon Quest Alefgard universe, hits Switch this week. If you can get past the snorting derision of how very clearly it takes inspiration from Minecraft, you'll have a very good time with it – it's got a lot of heart and humor that makes it more than Just Another Minecraft Clone. (I also like that it builds off the “what if” premise of the hero accepting the Dragonlord's offer at the end of the original DQ.) Under Night In-Birth:EXE Late[st], the most recent edition of the fabulous fighting game with the funny name (and soon to be part of Blazblue X Tag Battle), also hits PS4, PS3, and Vita.
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