This Week in Games
The End of Final Fantasy XV
by Heidi Kemps,
Hey again all! I'm on my way back from Japan as I write this. The doujin event was great, and it was an amazing experience overall. I have a whole lot to write about it, and I'll probably do that over on my personal site rather than vomiting it all here.
I was initially a bit relieved this week that there didn't seem to be a lot of major news coming down the pipe because I knew I'd have to submit TWIG during a layover in Shanghai. Then everything with FFXV and Square Enix happened and… welp.
I still want to take a moment to talk about a game I've been playing a lot on my trip, however. Yoshiro Kimura, creator of such delightful gaming oddities as Million Onion Hotel, recently released a game called Black Bird for Switch and PCs. It's an arcade-style shooter that's heavily influenced, gameplay-wise, by Fantasy Zone (you free-roam through looping stages and take out enemy bases), which is enough to make me interested – but man, did Kimura absolutely nail it with the game's downright unsettling look and sound.
Don't get me wrong, the sprite art in Black Bird is gorgeous, and even cute in a way… but from the outset you can feel that there's something really, really distressing beneath it all, much like in Million Onion Hotel. The sound is excellent, too: the operatic background music seems an odd choice at first, but then you notice the way enemy formations and other events time to the music and it turns into brilliance.
Black Bird, like many games of this sort, is short – though the lack of continues will help serve as a challenge if you're not super-experienced with arcade shooters. This is the kind of game that's built to be replayed, as you feel away the layers of its gameplay nuances and scoring secrets like an onion. Hey, wait, it's made by Onion Games! How appropriate! Anyway, if you enjoy these sorts of games you absolutely should buy it, but it's also worth a look even if you just like the creepy visuals and the oppressive mood it offers.
DRAGONBALL FIGHTERZ IS REMOVED FROM DREAMHACK FOR REASONS THAT LIKELY START WITH “T” AND END WITH “OEI”
Not too long ago, fighting game community hypeman and tournament organizer Alex Jebailey posted a surprise announcement on Twitter: The Dreamhack Dragonball FighterZ tournament that he was helping to organize would be cancelled.
So, what's the deal here? When the announcement hit, I made a rather snarky tweet about the source of the problem probably being Toei, and immediately after that I got a few messages from anonymous sources I trust that, yes, the problem is very probably Toei.
Scuttlebutt has been that Toei didn't quite realize how big Dragonball FighterZ was going to be as a stream game. I mean, we all know here that big fighting game majors get tens or hundreds of thousands of viewers worldwide on Twitch, and that Dragonball FighterZ was practically guaranteed to be a huge thing. Toei, however, apparently didn't do their homework. So, like many an old Japanese media company that doesn't get the internet and especially doesn't get the global internet, they're now saying, “hey, what the heck, why aren't we making mad bank every time SonicFox and GO1 throw down?” Thus, they're now throwing their legal weight around and mucking up DBFZ events.
While most smaller events have been safe from Toei's wrath, a few other tournaments were already threatened with having to pull DBFZ from the lineup. Dreamhack is perhaps the highest-profile: while the tournament itself wasn't that big, the Dreamhack name carries a lot of weight in the eSports and streaming world, so that's more than likely why they were targeted.
And once that reticule's aimed, there's not much you can do except beg these companies to change their minds. Remember how Nintendo almost shut down Melee at EVO that one year? Remember how it was implied that Marvel was at least somewhat responsible for Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite's EVO presence? Yeah. Hopefully other big tournaments can work something out with the forces behind the scenes, but I have a sinking feeling this won't be the last DBFZ tournament casualty we will see.
FINAL FANTASY XV IS TWO YEARS OLD AND HOLY MOLY IS A LOT HAPPENING
Can you believe it's been two years since our bro-tastic journey with Noctis and his harem of yaoi partners pals? Time sure flies! And hey, there were a whole slew of announcements related to Final Fantasy XV for the anniversary! First off – a whole slew of the planned DLC's been cancelled!
… wait, what?
Yep, Episode Aranea, Episode Lunafreya, and Episode Noctis are no longer happening, though Episode Ardyn is still on track for March 2019. Boy, uh…. It's pretty darn ballsy to use an anniversary stream to announce cancellation of planned content!
The cancellation ties into something bigger and messier, though. See, a lot of the FFXV team formed into a studio within Square-Enix called Luminous Productions, headed by FFXV director Hajime Tabata. They were the ones in charge of the FFXV DLC, and they've also been working on an as-of-yet-unannounced game for next-gen consoles.
Well, as it turns out, the night before the FFXV announcement, Squeenix said that it was posting a substantial loss on Luminous Productions and shifting their focus to AAA game development. Reading between the lines, it's not hard to see what likely happened here: they were working on FFXV DLC to diminishing returns (I mean, the game's two years old at this point), some bean counters said “you know, this time and effort might be better spent on this new game project,” and the planned FFXV DLC went into the traaaaaaash.
Even more surprising: Hajime Tabata is out of Luminous Productions. In fact, he's out of Square-Enix entirely. He offered up an official statement about how he's glad for the fan support and he's moving on to bigger and better things, blah blah, but given the circumstances around Luminous we can only guess whether his “resignation” deserves multiple air quotes.
Anyway, there's some other stuff like a standalone version of Final Fantasy XV Multiplayer: Comrades and a FFXV-related event in FFXIV, but Tabata's departure and the mass DLC cancellations are obviously the big newsbits here. Sad thing is, we're probably going to see whatever it is that Luminous is working on next before we see the Final Fantasy VII remake. Tabata could at least finish and ship a damn Final Fantasy game, which is more than we can say for Nomura.
Hey, speaking of Final Fantasy, World of Final Fantasy Maxima is out this week on Switch, PC, and Xbox One! It's an enhanced edition of World of Final Fantasy with some extra content, so if you haven't played it before… well, honestly, I kinda found WoFF rather dull beyond a pretty inspired localization and some cute fanservice moments, and Tama can die in a fire. But still, it's out!
For non-Final Fantasy releases, there's Rabi-Ribi, a cute Metroid-style adventure game starring some bunny girls. It's been out on PC and Switch for a little while, but now you can also play it on PS4 and Vita! Arcade shooter fans will also want to check out Astebreed, a port of a very well regarded doujin shooter. Finally, Data East's bizarre horror-themed beat-em-up Night Slashers comes to Switch just a smidge too late for Halloween, which is a shame. People either seem to love or hate Night Slashers, but if you're a beat-em-up fan, why not pick it up and see for yourself if you dig it?
And that's a wrap on another TWIG. See you all again when I'm back in the States!
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