This Week in Games
E3 Part 2: Game Announcements Ahoy!
by Heidi Kemps,
And we're back with the second part of our E3 news extravaganza! Except that, as I write this, the internet is losing its mind over something totally unrelated to E3: a tease by Studio Trigger that it's working on something with Arc System Works. The though of The Kill la Kill Guys working with The Dragonball FighterZ guys has, of course, inspired much speculation.
There's very little to go on right now, so rather than waste everyone's time writing a bunch of paragraphs on what this could be, I'll just take the wait-and-see approach and write about whatever gets announced next week. It'll probably be a news drought anyhow.
OVERALL THOUGHTS ON E3
Honestly, I thought this E3 was disappointing. There were far fewer big press conference announcements, and while I'm glad that there's less babbling about hardware horsepower and sales figures, it's hard to hold my interest at a press conference with overly prolonged demo sessions and trailers focusing on your game's lore. Show me snippets of cool and exciting stuff on its way and give me a little taste of an upcoming title – just enough to make me curious to try it for myself. Both Sony and Microsoft spent way too much time with lengthy demos and trailers at their events.
What made it worse is that a lot of the overwrought trailers and demos were for games we already knew about and had seen in some form before. The Last of Us 2, Kingdom Hearts III, Spider-Man… dangit, I want to hear about new announcements, not all the games I already know about and have seen before!
Even Nintendo, whose Nintendo Direct presentations are usually one of the strongest parts of E3, went and dropped the ball by focusing a bit too much on Smash Bros. Now, I do greatly enjoy seeing the crazy amount of love and attention to detail Masahiro Sakurai pours into Smash, as I respect him greatly, but when people are clamoring for more details about Yoshi and Metroid Prime 4 and where's the next Pikmin Miyamoto said it was almost done dammit, you kinda need to throw them a bone!
And while the Smash presentation wasn't bad, it was perhaps a smidge too technically-focused. Seeing Ridley, Daisy, the Inklings, and the return of old favorites was great, but remember how the Smash 4 reveal began? With friggin’ Megaman, that's how! Something impactful like that would have made a big splash – but while Snake's return got some fun reactions, he's not a new face, and fans want to see more new along with the old.
But while there wasn't too much that totally floored me, there was still plenty of interesting upcoming stuff showcased. Let's look at some of it.
THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, WE'RE GETTING THAT FIST OF THE NORTH STAR GAME BY THE YAKUZA TEAM
Personally, this was my favorite announcement of the whole show. It's Fist of the North Star filtered through Yakuza with the absurdity ramped up to 11. Pump this thing straight into my veins.
While the international title, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise, loses the Yakuza connection, it feels like Sega want to market this as more of its own thing. Sega's going all-out with this one, too, offering both English and Japanese voice tracks and even more crazy over-the-top violence than the Japanese release. Hopefully they do a lavish special edition for this, too – they've killed it on the Yakuza limited editions, and Kenshiro and company deserve something completely ridiculous.
Of course, now I'm left wondering: Are they going to localize the version of Sega Master System Hokuto no Ken in-game as Black Belt?
ALSO, YAKUZA 0 AND YAKUZA KIWAMI ARE COMING TO PC
DEAD OR ALIVE 6 HITS THE SCENE
2018 is shaping up to be a banner year for 3D fighting games. Soul Calibur VI is on the horizon, Tekken 7 is still getting updates, and now Koei-Tecmo's returning to the ring for a new Dead or Alive game.
We can see a few familiar faces set to return: Hayabusa, Kasumi, Zack, Jann Lee, Hayate, and Helena. Interestingly, Tecmo is saying that they're actually toning down the series’ notorious jiggling and skin-flashing. It already felt to me like DoA5 had toned down the fanservice element a fair bit (well, until all the DLC started coming) to try and have it be seen as a more serious fighter and not just “that boob game.” Though, let's be real, they're probably saving the melons for another half-assed DoAX game they'll use to milk fans out of DLC money.
I'm quite curious as to what Koei-Tecmo plans to do with guest characters this time, too. DoA5 had some faces from Virtua Fighter (and, later, Mai from King of Fighters), but now Tekken’s in on the guest character game, and they've done it with incredible style. Can Koei-Tecmo top the likes of Geese and Noctis? I at least expect William from Nioh to pop up in some form.
now where the hell is VF6 Sega
GUNGHO IS DEVELOPING A NEW SWITCH PVP GAME WHERE YOU KICK ASS AND CHEW LOTS OF GUM
If you're familiar with GungHo, you probably know them either from their massive mobile hit Puzzle and Dragons or their PS4 cult hit Let it Die. Basically, they make a lot of games that utilize the F2P model… but they also own storied developers like Game Arts and Grasshopper Manufacture, so they publish traditional games from time to time too.
Their big announcement for E3 was a new Switch-exclusive PVP game, Ninjala.
At first glance, Ninjala looks like it owes a lot of its aesthetic to Splatoon… and honestly, getting style tips from Japan's best-selling Switch game is probably not the worst idea ever. Instead of squid kid teams, however, you play multiplayer battles as fashionable ninjas with amazing powers centered around bubblegum. The trailer showcases fun ninja skills like wall-running and a variety of wacky weapons to wallop people with, but what I'm most curious about is that Babymetal song playing behind it. Guys, I could totally get into a colorful PvP game with a Babymetal soundtrack.
While GungHo hasn't given out many details yet, I suspect that Ninjala will likely be another F2P title. It seems like the sort of game that you'd sell lots of virtual T-shirts and shoes in. The concept is neat, and I dig the aesthetic, so I'm interested in seeing what GungHo manages to pull off with this one.
NINTENDO SURPRISES US WITH ARCADE PORTS WE THOUGHT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN
Nintendo Direct this year was a bit disappointing, but the Treehouse Live segments from E3 were all quite good, showcasing live gameplay from stuff like Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Party, and the (now released) Splatoon Octo Expansion. One thing I wasn't expecting, however, was a segment showcasing two ports of old Nintendo arcade classics to the Switch.
Porting the arcade Donkey Kong seems like a no-brainer, right? Everybody knows and loves that game, and it's a crucial piece of Nintendo history. It's always been in a messy legal spot, however, as it was the subject of a lawsuit between Nintendo and a contractor named Ikegami Tsushinki. Long story short: Nintendo didn't have inhouse programmers so they contracted the coding work out to Ikegami, and when Donkey Kong was a hit they basically stiffed Ikegami on royalties by making more DK boards without telling them and reverse engineered their code to make Donkey Kong Jr. Basically, a court ruled in 1990 that Nintendo didn't actually own the DK code.
So how are they able to release DK Arcade on Wii? Beats me, but I think the fact that it's not Nintendo themselves releasing it -- it's classic arcade gaming purveyor Hamster -- might play into it. Hamster's doing a bang-up job, too, including all the game's various revisions in the package. Yes, there are significant differences in each. There's also the five-minute Caravan mode that's standard in Hamster's arcade ports, where you try to get as many points as possible in a five-minute time limit. (Let's see if Billy Mitchell manages to find a way to cheat in that mode.) It's out now, so go grab it!
The other game getting released is significantly more obscure, but still an important part of Nintendo history. Sky Skipper is one of the rarest Nintendo games in existence: only four Sky Skipper PCBs are known to exist, and one of those is in the Nintendo of America archives. It was briefly tested and shelved in favor of Popeye, and most known PCBs were converted to that in much the same way Radarscope boards were converted en masse into Donkey Kong. It's a very interesting little game, though, and is yet another early project that Shigeru Miyamoto had a hand in.
That PCB that was in the Nintendo of America archives got sent over to Hamster at some point, as they're releasing an arcade-perfect port of Sky Skipper on Switch later this year. As someone who loves gaming history, this is incredibly exciting news – one of the most obscure things Nintendo ever made is now finally getting an official release. There have been a few old arcade enthusiasts who have been singing the praises of Sky Skipper for many years, and now the world at large can finally see more of what Nintendo were doing before the Famicom made them really, really big.
METAL WOLF CHAOS IS FINALLY COMING STATESIDE
Long before From Software was one of the most beloved developers on the planet, they were an outfit mostly known for their mech games like Armored Core and Chrome Hounds. One such mech game attained near legendary status among fans of the company: a bizarre oddity called Metal Wolf Chaos.
Metal Wolf Chaos was noteworthy for numerous reasons: it was an Xbox exclusive in a country that did not care for the Xbox at all, it's voice (over)acted entirely in English, and it's a game where the President of the United States is at war with the evil Vice-President and they fight each other using mechs while slinging around phrases like “let's party!” and “believe in your justice!”
It's pretty great, and for reasons unknown, was never released Stateside. What the hell?
Thankfully, Metal Wolf Chaos is now getting a port to PS4, Xbox One, and PC as Metal Wolf Chaos XD later this year courtesy of rogue indie publisher Devolver Digital. I'm hoping that, in the current political climate, people are still willing to accept this game for what it is: a very silly Japanese look at the Oval Office through the lens of action movies and mech anime. For a game about politics… yeah, you're not getting any profound political statements here. Just embrace the weirdness and have fun with a very enjoyable mech action game.
Phew! That's it for this week. Even if E3 2018 was underwhelming overall, there were still plenty of interesting things to talk about. Tune in next week where… I'll probably talk more about game announcement stragglers from E3, honestly. Enjoy your E3-free weekend!
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