This Week in Games - Sony's Not-So-Pleasant Surprises

by Heidi Kemps,

Hey all! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving. Last week, Zac basically came up to me, pat me on the shoulder, and said “You've been working hard, Heidi, take the week off and enjoy Thanksgiving!” Which I did by joining a co-op stream showcasing SNK 40th Anniversary Collection and some co-op arcade games. It was a fun time!

I was a little worried about not being able to cover some of the news that hit that week, but since it's been a fairly slow news week for gaming stuff (in contrast to anime news, which has absolutely EXPLODED THE INTERNET), we can rewind a bit and look at a couple of the news stories that hit around then that I still think are worth discussing.

A few other announcements, however: I'll be attending MAGfest again next year, and I'm going to be either running or contributing to a whopping THREE different panels this year: two with LordBBH (who I was playing with in the clip above) and one with my longtime internet pal slowbeef. We'll have lots of weird as hell arcade and console games to show off! I'll also be giving a talk at Belgium's 1UP Conference in February, so if you live across the pond, you can see me talk about why I think bad video games are important to play and preserve. I'm psyched for both of these events, so if you're attending, feel free to say hi!

Now, onto the news…

SONY SAYS SAYONARA TO E3 2019

E3 2019 is happening, but at least one big player in the console wars isn't bothering to attend the festivities this year. Sony is not holding a press conference or having a big company booth at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo for the first time in… ever. That's a pretty big hole in the show lineup!

Anyway, let me tell you guys a secret: E3 actually kinda sucks. Seriously, it's an event that stopped making any real sense once livestreams became a thing, and everybody involved knows this. But they keep on trying and failing to find ways to make the millions upon millions of dollars spent on the bloated show by exhibitors and attendees feel worth it. While it does provide a way to get hands-on time with pre-release versions of games, there are many other, less expensive ways to let people do that in places where you aren't competing in an overblown peen-waving contest for everyone's short attention spans. Last year was the first E3 in over a decade I didn't attend, and I feel like I missed absolutely nothing for not having been there.

So look at it this way: Sony's in preparation mode, focusing less on their own PS4 exclusives and instead working on the PS5 hardware. They can promote the likes of Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding elsewhere and get plenty of attention, so why waste the time and money to put on a press conference and run a big booth when Nintendo's going to just put on another, cheaper-to-make Nintendo Direct and probably steal everyone's attention with Metroid Prime 4 and maybe the rumored Skyward Sword remake?

Of course, this sort of thing happened before back in 2006, when EA and other companies pulled out of E3 because they didn't feel they were getting their money's worth. This led to a downsized E3 in 2007 and 2008, but before long it was back to its big bloated pre-2006 self again. We'll have to see if Sony yanking support causes a similar effect of other companies bailing, because right now the show's a goddamned mess and it needs some serious rethinking. But speaking of a goddamned mess…

SONY'S PLAYSTATION CLASSIC PALS AROUND A LITTLE TOO MUCH

I was getting on some planes to go overseas when the PlayStation Classic lineup was announced, so I pretty much completely missed that bit of news and its reaction. Since then, every bit of news about the console makes it less and less appealing: for starters, it's using the open-source emulator PCSX to run games, which has rubbed a few folks the wrong way: Sony can't be bothered to make their own emulator? I mean, it makes financial sense, but still.

Then we got to see some screen and video of the interface and… yeah, the PS1 BIOS is one of those things that has aged exceptionally poorly over time, and the nostalgia grab really doesn't work in the platform's favor. But perhaps the biggest – and most utterly inexplicable – gaffe Sony has made so far is that several of the games on the system are the European PAL versions. The likes of Jumping Flash, Tekken 3, and Grand Theft Auto are among the games affected.

Why does this matter? Well, it means the games run slower at a lower framerate. European and Australian gamers have suffered through games being given lazy PAL conversions for years, and when HDTV provided a new global standard, well, that was supposed to the end of that nonsense.

If you want a more detailed explanation of PAL and why so many games suffered under PAL conversion, The Nostalgia Nerd did an excellent video explaining the subject using the original Sonic the Hedgehog as an example:

So yeah, 6 out of the 20 games are going to be slowed-down versions with lower framerates for inexplicable reasons. As far as I'm concerned, this thing's a wash. Go spend that hundred bucks somewhere else.

SMASH ULTIMATE LEAKS AND SPOILERS ARE ABOUND

Yes, everything related to Smash Ultimate is out there. Apparently, a store in Mexico leaked early copies, and with people hungry for Smash-related details, the game got datamined pretty much overnight. Tread carefully, as spoilers have invaded numerous online spaces.

No, I'm not spoiling myself on story mode or anything else. I did, however, listen to the soundtrack, and can say it's nothing short of phenomenal. I do not condone piracy or spoiling the game for those who don't want to be spoiled, and I'm sad that a bunch of stuff got leaked early. On the other hand, Takenobu Mitsuyoshi singing F-Zero music was exactly what I needed earlier this week when my back pain was flaring up, so…

SUPER ROBOT WARS IS LOOKING T-RIFFIC

It's time once again for the king of crossover games to deliver a new installment, and boy, does Super Robot Wars T look hype as hell.

Besides longtime favorites like Aura Battler Dunbine, Gunbuster, Z Gundam, and Getter Robo, we've got a bunch of exciting new series in the mix: Expelled from Paradise, Cowboy Bebop, Arcadia of My Youth, and Magic Knight Rayearth are all joining the mecha fiesta. Jeez, I can't believe it's taken this long to get Harlock in SRW… though I think Bebop and Rayearth were the big surprises, given that neither is really focused on mechs.

Oh, and an Asian English release is already confirmed! Yippee! Anyway, I still want my “Super Robot Wars but it's all videogame mechs” game. Someday it'll happen. Someday…

KADOKAWA GAMES IS GOING LIVE (ACTION)

Ah, yes, it's finally time to discuss the live-action adaptation every fan of Japanese media is in a tizzy about. I am, of course, talking about the recently announced live-action Hollywood adaptation of Kadokawa Games’ Root Letter.

Yeah, this is… unexpected, to say the least. Kadokawa is seemingly intent on trying to get a live-action version of the visual novel adapted by Hollywood. They established a new production company, but there's no script yet, so… I mean, it could happen, but most of the time these odd adaptations seem to either fall into development hell, vanish off the face of the earth (Remember the Lost Planet movie?), or get a low-key release that nobody notices.

Still… Root Letter? Out of all the visual novels you could try to adapt, that's the one you pick? It didn't even do that well in Japan, and those who did play it don't seem to think terribly fondly of it.

But it makes more sense when you hear that, for some reason, Root Letter actually did really, really well overseas. I was surprised to hear this! I mean… I know a lot of visual novel fans, and I don't think any of them have played Root Letter. Or, at least, they haven't admitted it. That's probably why they're aiming to get this made through Hollywood: they think the West is more receptive. Then again, the live-action-photography-remake Root Letter: Last Answer is coming out in Japan soon, so maybe this all has convinced them to try and make it a proper Thing over there too? I don't know, it's all really bizarre.

FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: NO BLAZBLUE OR GUILTY GEAR NEWS AT ARC REVO JAPAN :(

But that's okay, because we've got Jeanne from World Heroes in SNK Heroines now and that's fantastic.

And hey, Fighting EX Layer hits Steam this week! The PS4 version's getting some tweaks as well. Plus, we've got Sharon teased in the official trailer as an upcoming character! No new news on Terry yet, though.

Finally, we've got some Dead or Alive 6 news. Lisa and Kokoro are returning alongside Nico, a young scientist character who fans seem to either love or hate. Given that Marie Rose is Japan's favorite DoA character, it's easy to see that they're appealing to that same, uh, type with Nico, but making her even more fanciful.

NEW RELEASES

Besides the aforementioned Steam release of Fighting EX Layer, there's a lot of arcade shooters coming out this week. I'll be looking at a few of these more in-depth in a shooter-centric column next week, but here's what we've got:

  • R-Type Dimensions is coming to Switch and PC, so if slower, more memorization-heavy shooters are your thing, you are in luck!
  • If you want a fast-paced, two-player competitive experience in the vein of underappreciated Neo-Geo classic Twinkle Star Sprites, Rival Megagun is exactly the game you want to play.
  • Game Tengoku: Cruisin Mix Special is finally, officially out on US PSN and Steam this week, allowing you to go through a wacky arcade-game world filled with obscure Jaleco characters even nerds like me have to look up to know exactly where they came from. There's also a Tuff E Nuff callout.
  • Finally, if you're willing to adventure onto Japanese PSN, you can obtain M2's phenomenal enhanced port of Ketsui called Ketsui Deathiny, which is one hell of a great pun.

There are also a fair few games of interest seeing Switch editions: visual novel fault Milestone One, Touhou spinoff Gensokyo Defenders, and, uh… Neo Geo Cup ’98. 20-year-old soccer games, woo!

That's a wrap for this week. Tune in next week for a visit to bullet hell and back!


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