This Week in Games - Granblue Goodness

by Heidi Kemps,

Hey everyone! I'm back from my surgery and I'm feeling… well, maybe not one hundred percent yet, but better. Thanks for all the well-wishes, and thanks to Todd for filling in for me last week.

As we draw ever-closer to Christmas and New Year's Day, the releases and news tend to slow down. I say “tend to,” because this week brings us a surprising amount of quality newsbits worth talking about… mostly related to fighting games, but a few other nifty surprises as well.

I rather doubt there will be much to chat about next week, though, so I'm planning on preparing a few entertaining bits, including a look at Game Tengoku Cruisin Mix Special. (Of course, I say that and then something completely bonkers will happen, like Nintendo announcing Earnest Evans for Smash.) For now, though, let's go through the last bits of pre-Christmas gaming news.

GRANBLUE FANTASY EXPLORES UNCHARTED GAMING TERRITORY

Cygames Japan, the company behind hit titles Shadowverse, Dragalia Lost, and Granblue Fantasy, held a massive event called Granblue Festival over the past weekend. As you might guess from the name, it was a heavily Granblue-focused affair. Besides giving out a lot of details about upcoming events and updates for the pioneering mobile game, Granblue Festival gave us another glimpse at PlatinumGames's upcoming PS4 action/RPG Granblue Fantasy Re:Link. Here's a big ol’ chunk of juicy gameplay straight from the source.

But wait, there's more! As if having a AAA action game developed by a studio beloved for action games wasn't enough for Granblue faithful to salivate over, there was also the surprise announcement of a team-up with Arc System Works! That's right, the busiest people in fighting games are working with Cygames to make Granblue Fantasy Versus, a one-on-one fighter in the same graphical style as Guilty Gear Xrd and Dragonball FighterZ. Only a handful of characters have been revealed so far, but damn, the only thing that could cut deeper to the heart of the anime fighting game community would be a proper Fate/Grand Order fighting game.

One thing that I'm sure is going to be a sticking point with GBF Versus, though, is the “no waifu no buy” crowd. People get very passionate about favorite GBF characters, you see, and there are lots of them. I'm sure you can expect a top-tier favorite like Narmaya to make the cast, but what about, say, chuuni doujin artist Lunalu? You can bet that character reveals for this are going to involve plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Anyway, I'm pretty psyched for both of these games. I've played the mobile game a fair bit, and… honestly, I've come to realize that I like everything about Granblue Fantasy except actually playing the game. I love the setting, the characters, the art, the music, but holy hell is the game way, way too grindy for my tastes. Getting to enjoy the things I like about GBF combined with gameplay that I find fun sounds great to me!

STREET FIGHTER V GETS A FOURTH SEASON AND A NEW CHARACTER

So hey, who watched CAPCOM Cup this weekend? Between some really awkward musical interludes and cringe-inducing SPONSORED CONTENT, there were actually good Street Fighter V matches between the world's best players, including a really fun final set between Japanese players Gachikun and Itabashi Zangief.

But, of course, you can't have a CAPCOM Cup without news of some sort. While some people were hoping a new fighting game announcement might drop, the actual reveal was a lot more predictable and safe: there will be a fourth season of new Street Fighter V characters.

Unlike last year, they didn't reveal the year's upcoming cast additions all in one go, instead hoping that the internet leak machine wouldn't do its thing. Unfortunately, the surprise reveal of the newest character, Kage, was blown earlier on Sunday when an early game update dropped the character into some players’ SFV data hours before the announcement. Can't have an anonymous internet person leak your new characters if you do it yourself!

Anyway, Kage continues the fine CAPCOM tradition of giving their evil Street Fighter characters names that sound like a teenage fanfiction writer was rifling through a Japanese-to-English dictionary. Not only is the name kinda lame (and already associated with a different fighting game character), but the character design is… well, lacking. It's Ryu, but you can tell he's really evil because now he has horns and teeth and stuff! I bet he kicks puppies, doesn't use the recycling bin, and drinks his water with a TON of ice!

You can buy Kage right now if you're so inclined, but unlike previous character seasons, you won't have the option to get a prepaid Season Pass for Season Four. Why? Who knows. Here's hoping they won't make you tattoo a CAPCOM Pro Tour logo on your forehead to get whoever they decide to reveal next.

EVO JAPAN 2019 IS HAPPENING, BUT SOMETHING'S MISSING…

Speaking of fighting game tournaments, EVO Japan announced their lineup of games for this year. There are a few surprises – such as King of Fighters XIV making a return – but what's most surprising is what's not on the game list this year. Can you spot them?

Yeah, remember a little over a month back when I pointed out how Dreamhack had to cancel a Dragonball FighterZ event and it was likely Toei's fault? Yeah, that's happening again: Toei's throwing their weight around, and since the hoops you need to jump through to get permission to officially broadcast a game are different in Japan, they can throw their weight around more easily. Jeez, I'm honestly a little worried about seeing DBFZ in EVO proper next year. Yes, it did amazing view numbers, but that just gives Toei an excuse to make absurd demands of tournament streamers and organizers.

Who knows what's going on with Smash Ultimate, though? It could be that Nintendo wants to focus on their own Smash promotions in Japan for the time being, it could be that they feel it's too early for the game to have such a big tournament… or it could be issues with one of the many companies that now have their fingers in the Smash crossover pie. We can only make a guess.

YS IX IS REVEALED, IS MYSTERIOUS

Falcom just announced the return of our favorite terminally lost hero in the hysterical new fantasy adventure, Ys IX Monstrum Nox! Uh oh, looks like Adol's meandering is about to get him into yet another kuh-razy situation! How are he and his lovable goofball buddy Dogi going to get themselves out of this new predicament? Wackiness ensues!

…Yeah, uh, actually, Ys IX Monstrum Nox looks pretty darn dark and gloomy, at least from the teaser images that have been revealed. The story sounds a bit grim as well: It's set in a place called Prison City (any relation to Crime City, I wonder?) where people called “Monstrum” possess supernatural abilities. As with Ys VIII, it'll be a 3D action/RPG with big boss fights and a rockin’ soundtrack.

Will it come to the west? Undoubtedly. Ys is Falcom's best-known series globally, and the games are always are a critical and commercial success. Who will publish it? Hard to say, as Falcom have been quite mercenary in handing out licenses to Western publishers lately. I know a lot of folks are hoping for XSEED over NIS, but there is a significant chance for a company like Sega/Atlus or even Sony themselves to swoop in and snag it as well.

JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE GETS A NEW ARCADE GAME

And no, it's not a sequel to the CAPCOM fighter everyone loves until they have to play a Petshop matchup. It's a Bandai Namco Games joint, and it's… a battle royale game?

Well, that's a little bit unexpected… I mean, I guess Eyes of Heaven was kinda battle royale-y, though that was more of a team fighter mixed with terrible fanfiction.

But yeah, Jojo's getting the PUBG/Fortnite treatment in arcades with JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Last Survivor as Bamco aims to capitalize on a genre that's become the worldwide hotness. You can see in the trailer that there's a custom controller built into the cabinets, similar to what was done with Pokken Tournament in arcades, but as of yet we know very little about the gameplay. We'll likely learn a lot more at the upcoming JAEPO arcade show in a couple months, where I'm sure we'll also see more of that announced Sword Art Online arcade game. (And, much like the SAO game, I feel like the odds of it coming to arcades outside of Asia anywhere besides Round 1 locations is quite slim.)

Just remember, Bamco: while it might be OK in Japan for Araki to use band names for stands, you'll get in trouble if you have Okuyasu do the Carlton Dance.

MOSTLY FIGHTING GAME NEWSBITS: MORE DOA6 ANNOUNCEMENTS AND 2B'S FIGHTING GAME DEBUT

Who wants a new DoA6 trailer featuring Eliot and Brad Wong? I do, and so do you!

Meanwhile, if you own a copy of Soul Calibur VI, you can download 2B from NieR Automata into your system right now! Why, you can even tweak her model and make her look completely honking ridiculous through the magic of character edits!

And for those of who are eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of Kingdom Hearts III next year, here's one last official trailer to get you all excited for that sweet, utterly nonsensical Kingdom Hearts Lore.

Anyway, not much in the way of releases this week… oh, right, Sega Ages Phantasy Star is out on Switch! You should definitely grab that, M2 did a swell job of making a very difficult late-80s RPG more accessible to a modern audience. London Detective Mysteria is out on Vita as well, adding another game for die-hard Vita fans to add to their collections before the system fades away. That just about does it, though, so I'll see you next week for some post-Christmas gaming featurettes. Enjoy your holiday gaming!


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