This Week in Games
Nintendo's Monkey Business
by Heidi Kemps,
Hey all! Hope you're enjoying May so far. It's been another slow-ish week, which is good, because I've been busy with a bunch of personal stuff. I've also been playing some Super Robot Wars X, so look forward to a review of that sometime in the near future. That game's, uh, really long! It's also my first full-fledged experience with “mainline” SRW games. (I've only ever really played the OG titles until now.) Thus far, I'm really enjoying it, though I wonder how much is being lost on me not being a big mecha anime dork.
Then again, SRW has expanded out from robot anime to just anime with mechanical stuff in general, presumably to increase appeal to people like me. SRWV introduced Yamato’s spacecraft to the mix, and this game has various vehicles from Nadia. I really do wonder why they haven't gone whole-hog on introducing classic Namco titles to SRW yet: it'd be neat to see the likes of Xevious, Ace Combat, Xenosaga, and others in the mix. It's not like licensing would be a huge bottleneck there, given that Bandai-Namco already owns all of them.
Actually, I think my ideal game of this sort would be a crossover that's just exclusively video game mechs and vehicles. Get Taito for the Silver Hawk from Darius and the Inter Gray from Night Striker, Capcom for the Tech Romancer and Cyberbots mechs, Sega for Virtual On and the Koubu from Sakura Wars; hell, reach out to EA and get some Titanfall stuff too. (I'd say “bring Konami in for ZOE” too but haha, that's not happening.)
Though maybe I just want this to happen because it'd be an opportunity to see the Organizer from Raimais in another game. I can dream, right?
NINTENDO AND CYGAMES SITTING IN A TREE
A few years back when Nintendo partnered up with DeNA to release mobile games, it felt like a stunning announcement. Had the monolith of Japanese gaming finally admitted defeat? Were they abandoning the console space for good?
Of course, that was when the Wii U was flailing in the marketplace and everyone was predicting gloom and doom for Nintendo. Flash forward a few years later, and Nintendo's sitting pretty on heaps of cash from both the Switch's success and all the poor shmucks rolling for waifus in Fire Emblem Heroes. Yeah, Nintendo's doing pretty well.
They've also been hinting for a while that they're looking for mobile partners beyond DeNA. I'm not privy to all of the politics involved there, but Nintendo, despite seeing a lot of press for games like Super Mario Run, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, and FE Heroes, didn't seem entirely satisfied. (It should be noted that Miitomo, their first effort with DeNA, is closing down in a week.)
Knowing that, it wasn't terribly surprising to hear this week that Nintendo's partnered with Cygames, makers of mobile monster-hits Granblue Fantasy and Shadowverse. (They also made early smartphone success Rage of Bahamut, which nowadays is essentially a well to draw new Granblue Fantasy characters from.) What's more surprising is that the two companies aren't adapting an existing IP, but instead making something completely new and original: it's an action-RPG called Dragalia Lost due to launch in Japan this summer, and worldwide at an unspecified later date.
Of course, if the game does well in the mobile market, you can be sure that Nintendo will be on hand to produce another game in the franchise exclusively for the Switch. That's how these things work.
NINTENDO'S GOT A NEW BOSS
Satoru Iwata's tragic passing left a need for an executive reshuffling at Nintendo. The first person to fill the role was Tatsumi Kimishima, a man who had cut his teeth helping to market Pokemon abroad and managed Nintendo of America for some time. However, last week he announced plans to retire, leaving the position of president to Shuntaro Furukawa.
So who is Furukawa? Chris Kohler over at Kotaku (who's one of the most knowledgeable folks about Nintendo out there) did a profile of the man. He's a guy who grew up playing Famicom games, has a ton of respect for the history and legacy of Nintendo, and has worked in Nintendo's European branch. Interestingly, he has some familial ties to the anime industry: his father is animator Taku Furukawa, who currently heads up the Japan Animation Association. Sounds like an interesting guy, and certainly the type who would be good to helm a creatively-focused company like Nintendo.
Not coincidentally, Furukawa also mentioned to the Nikkei Business Review that he really, really wants a big mobile game hit, which ties in nicely with that announcement of the Cygames partnership. Remember that “really big” in mobile game standards is in the realms of millions of dollars coming in each day. FE Heroes is doing well, but it's no Monster Strike or Fate/Grand Order, and that's the level of success Nintendo is actively aspiring to.
PSYVARIAR DELTA IS COMING WESTWARD
You probably haven't heard of Dispatch Games, but if you love niche Japanese stuff, you'd probably do well to pay attention to them. Dispatch is essentially the Western publishing arm of City Connection, a Japanese publisher who holds rights to several old videogame properties, most notably Jaleco's entire old library. They've already published the puzzle game Soldam on Switch, and are gearing up to release an update to the arcade and MSX classic Penguin Wars very soon.
I did a little newsblurb not long ago about Psyvariar Delta, which was just announced for a Japanese release on Switch and PS4. Well, Dispatch Games wasted absolutely no time in confiming a Western release, so now you don't have to worry about importing for your Psyvariar fix. Hooray! No word yet on whether or not the game will be getting a limited-edition physical release like Penguin Wars is, but given that small-run versions of games with variant covers and extra goodies seem to be the trend du jour, I would almost expect it.
Anyway, Dispatch Games is releasing cool stuff and you should pay attention to them if you like fun Japanese arcade-style games. That is all.
FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: TAKI BOUNDS INTO ACTION IN SOUL CALIBUR VI, VEGITO FUSES INTO DRAGONBALL FIGHTERZ, TWO NEW SNK HEROINES DEBUT, AND MORE FIGHTING EX LAYER NEWS
Another longtime favorite from the Soul series is making her return in Soul Calibur VI. Taki is back to wield her brand of flashy ninjutsu, and she looks remarkably less… uh, cold… than she has been in previous games. Still, the world's most accurate wiki page holds true.
The DBFZ character announcements continue to come in at a fevered rate, with Vegito (SSGSS). For those of who aren't super knowledgeable about DBZ, that's the blue-haired fusion of Goku and Vegita who got screentime in, like, one episode of DB Super. Not to knock him or anything, I'm actually impressed that ASW is putting that kind of fanservice in the game.
Meanwhile, in a game featuring a very different kind of fanservice... SNK Heroines has shown off footage of Sylvie and Zarina, who are the two latest additions to the cast. Sylvie was expected (she's been popular since her inception and weird costumes are kind of her thing), Zarina is more of a surprise. Still, they're both welcome additions to the cast... and probably saving SNK some cash through asset reuse.
Arika, meanwhile, is continuing to showcase Fighting EX Layer. FLEX (anyone who abbreviates it any other way is a cop) will be debuting in both $40 and $60 configurations with, with the higher-priced package offering more onboard content and the character Hokuto as part of the deal. The game will also see various performance enhancements on PS4 Pro, as seen in this tweet-trailer.
DONKEY KONG COUNTRY: TROPICAL FREEZE (Switch)
This is a rerelease of one of the Wii U's best platformers. It's mostly the same
well, okay, there's some new stuff. For starters, it's up to 1080p from 720p, and
load times are faster too – one of the benefits of not using disc-based storage
that's about it though, you're basically getting a perfect but slightly improved port of one of the best Wii U games and that's perfectly fine
oh and funky kong too I guess
OTHER NOTEWORTHY RELEASES
There's a lot of small releases hitting Steam this week that might be worth a look. Soul Smith of the Kingdom is a doujin game that looks like a little bit of Atelier and Reccetear mixed together: you play a blacksmith arming various adventurers. Another doujin game, Monmusu * Fight, recently hit Steam: as you might guess, it's a one-on-one versus fighter where everyone is monster girls. I'm sure it's not a super great fighting game, but it might still have some fun janky bits. (If fighting games are the right kind of busted, they can be fun in their own way.) One of the selling points is that the game offers easy inputs for special moves and attacks, which makes me think that the reason Fantasy Strike didn't get funded was a severe lack of monster girl fanservice.
That's all for this week! Oh yeah, look for some cool updates coming very soon on my personal website, gaming.moe. We've got some great things cooking.
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