This Week in Games
by Heidi Kemps,
Well, howdy everyone! Hope you're having an okay week. I'm currently running on far less sleep than usual because I tend to work (read: game) pretty late into the night, and for the past three days, my apartment has been having new roofing installed. Always fun waking up at 9 A.M. to THUNKTHUNKTHUNK after staying up until two or three the previous day. Oh, and my parents are visiting next week, too, so I'm also trying to shelve my doujinshi/game/manga collection that's been sitting in boxes and on the floor to try and make this place presentable. No, I don't take Marie Kondo's advice because all my piles of dumb nerd crap bring me joy, dammit.
Yeah, I'm kind of rambling angrily here. I have an excuse to fill column space, though: there hasn't been much big news on the Japan side of gaming stuff this week and I'm still digging into some of the shooters I want to highlight. I did recently review an indie platformer called Double Cross over on GameSpot if you want to check that out. In the meantime, how about we look at some of the big Western gaming newsbits?
STAR WARS GAMES ARE STILL CURSED
If there's one nerd subject I dread talking about, it's Star Wars. Nothing seems to summon the worst, most obnoxious opinions and arguments in nerdery like talking about Star Wars does. Frankly, my interest in Star Wars has never gone far beyond “yeah those first three movies are pretty entertaining,” which makes it even worse in a way: me talking about Star Wars brings people to my doorstep spouting impassioned opinions about something I simply don't care about.
However, I feel like if there's one thing everyone can agree on, Star Wars fan or no, it's that Electronic Arts’ handling of the Star Wars license has been a goddamned trainwreck. And, if a recent report from Kotaku is accurate, it just got even worse!
Long story short: Former EA studio Visceral Games (who both made Dead Space and eventually destroyed it under EA corporate pressure to MAKE IT MULTIPLAYER DAMMIT) was making an open-world Star Wars game with Amy Hennig (formerly of Naughty Dog) directing. That game was cancelled after an extremely messy development period, and development on a different, open-world Star Wars game moved up north to EA Vancouver. A little over a year after all that went down, the EA Vancouver game is now also reportedly cancelled.
It feels like Star Wars games have been seriously cursed for quite some time now: Knights of the Old Republic II was notoriously unfinished, The Force Unleashed I and II sold well but didn't get high marks from press or players, the promising looking 1313 and First Assault died when LucasArts went kaput, Kinect Star Wars was… well…
EA picking up the rights to the license in 2013 gave fans a new hope (ho ho), and while Star Wars Battlefront seemed like a promising – though rough and unfinished – start of things to come, EA and their fervor for CONTENT gave us a sequel packed with pay-to-win lootboxes and grinding. Yes, they attempted to remove all that nonsense early on after backlash, but they certainly didn't “fix” the game very well.
EA is assuring fans that EA Vancouver is still working on a smaller Star Wars project for 2020, but given what they've done with the license so far, it's hard to be optimistic. Respawn's announced Star Wars game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, could carry the torch… though nobody would be surprised if that also gets sacked at this point.
ACTIVISION AND BUNGIE ARE BREAKING UP, BUT EVERYONE'S FINE
When Bungie split from Microsoft and handed them the keys to the Halo franchise, it was big news. When Bungie signed with Activision to make a new IP, it was big news. And now, nine years and two Destiny games later, Bungie is now taking back its game and sailing the ship on its own terms.
The breakup seems to have been pretty harmonious looking in from the outside (although who knows what's happened behind closed doors and mountains of NDAs). It always seemed like Activision never really knew what to do with Destiny, and recent reports suggest they haven't been entirely happy with the performance of Destiny 2's most recent expansion. (But, let's be real here, corporate AAA game expectations are almost always ludicrous.)
Destiny 2, from this point on, will be entirely in Bungie's hands, and the tradeoff will hopefully go smoothly. I am curious to see how the game going fully independent will affect current and future content. Many have speculated that some poor design decisions made early in Destiny 2's life were due to Activision's influence, and that Bungie can do its fans better free of a corporate yoke… but there's also the fact that Chinese internet company NetEase has invested in Bungie, and those guys are no stranger to controversy and exploitative game mechanics.
Looking further out, one also has to wonder what Bungie will create besides destiny. Perhaps Oni 2 is finally on its way? Yeah, not likely, but weirder things have happened.
MORE DRAGONBALL VIDEOGAME STUFF IS IN THE WORKS
Show of hands, how many of you reading this went to go see the Broly movie in theatres? Yep, that's what I thought. I love you nerds.
But hey, if you crave more Dragon Ball, here's some good news: Bandai-Namco games has more coming! Woohoo!
Unfortunately, we don't know a lot of details, but we do have a teaser image that pretty plainly spells out what type of game we should be looking forward to in the future.
Hey, does anyone remember the Dragon Ball Origins games on DS by the sadly defunct Game Republic? Those games were a lot of fun, and if you missed them, I highly recommend giving them a look. They do a great job of translating the early Dragon Ball material into action/RPG format. Anyway, just thought I'd point that out, because I certainly hope the action-RPG Bamco is working on would be at least as good as those titles.
Oh, and in the same tweet where this was teased, they talk about a new character for Dragon Ball FighterZ, to be revealed later this month. Excite!
In 2019, the project of a New Game! focusing on the World of Dragon Ball Z begins!— Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe (@BandaiNamcoEU) January 16, 2019
And more news coming to DRAGON BALL Fighter Z! The Warrior from Universe 11 is joining the fight!
More information to be revealed at the DRAGON BALL FighterZ World Tour Finals in January 26th ~ 27th https://t.co/K8tc4BvnZa
If that's not enough to raise your power level, Super Dragon Ball Heroes: World Mission is coming to Switch and PC on April 5th. It's a card battle game where you, uh… play as a character named Beat in a world where everyone's obsessed over a Dragon Ball card game. Jeez, why do all these card-battle anime and games take place in societies where everyone's daily life revolves around cards? Is this the gacha dystopia we're heading towards? Anyway, if CCGs are your cup o’ tea, this might be your thing, but don't be disappointed because you can't play as Goku.
After what seems like years of development, Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown is finally launching on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this Friday. (Hey, when did Bandai-Namco switch to Friday launch dates? Are they trying to out-Nintendo Nintendo?) This one's been quite a long time coming – the last numbered Ace Combat game came out in 2007! – and while I'm not a big fan of the series, I know plenty of folks who are. It's worth noting that the PS4 version includes exclusive VR missions that utilize the PlayStation VR unit, so if you've got one of those, you can put it to good use on something besides Tetsuya Mizuguchi's games.
What I'm personally more interested in, however, is Travis Strikes Again, a new Switch exclusive game in the No More Heroes universe that looks like a twisted mashup of various game genres. Early reviews for Travis Strikes Again are all over the damn place, which makes me even more interested – games with extreme love-or-hate reactions fascinate me because I want to understand why people feel so strongly about them. Also, creator Suda51's output seems to have a habit of splitting opinions, making them the sort of things you have to examine yourself. I'll be eagerly doing just that!
The HD remaster of Onimusha: Warlords is hitting PS4, XBOne, Switch, and PC as well, so if you like early-PS2 adventure games but hate all the blurry textures and jaggy polygons, you're in luck! Fairy Fencer F: Advent Dark Force is also hopping its way to the Switch, the first of likely many Idea Factory ports on the platform to come. Also, if you like weird fighting games and want to play something where Zeus, Odin, and Jesus throw down, Fight of Gods is now available on the Switch. It's not exactly a good fighting game, but it's certainly more entertaining and competent than you'd expect.
That wraps it up for this week's column. Grab a nice cup of hot cocoa, your favorite game console, and stay toasty this weekend!
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