This Week in Games
Persona Royal with Cheese

by Heidi Kemps,

I thought I was going to have an easy week by foisting last week's column onto Todd while I was at GDC. My dastardly plot to mesmerize you all with alt tags on images and stories about forgotten Dream Factory games while also reporting the bulk of the news from GDC, so I could just spend this column rambling about all the cool stuff I saw there!

The problem? Everyone decided to save a bunch of news until after GDC. Dammit! Foiled again!

So yeah, this week is going to be pretty news-heavy. I do want to talk a bit about GDC, though! As I'm sure you've heard by now, the big thing from the show was the debut of Google's long-rumored game streaming service, Stadia. Everyone's had their hot takes on this thing rolling around since last week, and personally, I can safely say I have zero interest in game streaming. These streaming services have been kicking around for a while, and they've never really taken off in the way anyone has hoped. A big reason why is because internet infrastructure in a lot of North America is really bad to the point where streaming a game is just completely unfeasible. I have no idea how Google plans to deal with that particular roadblock. Even if streaming was perfect, however, I still feel like I'd rather own my games, either physically or digitally.

I attended a few preview events at the show, as well. There are a few cool things I saw that I can't quite talk about yet (look for future columns!), but I was definitely impressed by the lineup Spike Chunsoft had this year. Kotaru Uchikoshi of Zero Escape series fame gave me a demo of his next creation, AI: The Sominum Files, and that one has definitely shot up my list of anticipated titles for this year since I saw it in action. Crystar was another surprise I didn't expect: it's got the feel of a doujin game with a significantly bigger budget, which has me quite intrigued.

Now, onto the news…

PERSONA 5 IS GETTING THE ROYAL TREATMENT

Atlus is a big ol’ tease. We've finally got some new information on what the “R” in the announced Persona 5R is: it stands for The Royal. Much like how Persona 4 The Golden was slightly retitled in the West, I expect this to be called Persona 5 Royal when the English version hits – and you bet an English version's going to hit, because Atlus likes money, though when is a mystery.

The trailer announcing the new title also includes the glimpse of an unnamed, mysterious new female character. People are heavily speculating that she might be an alternate female lead, much like how Persona 3 Portable had an option for a female protagonist. (That is the only P3 canon I accept, don't @ me.) She's standing in the Shibuya scramble crowds as the male MC did in all of the early P5 trailer reveals, she's got the school uniform on… yeah, that seems to point in the direction of her being a new protagonist, but who really knows?

Thus far, PS4 is the only confirmed platform – though again, we've been promised more details on April 24, when the Persona Super Live happens. Which, it might be worth noting, is also around the period when Joker's supposed to drop into Super Smash Bros Ultimate.

FINAL FANTASY XIV GETS ANOTHER NEW RACE, ANOTHER NEW JOB, AND SOME ANGRY BLOWBACK

The Final Fantasy XIV Fanfest in Tokyo last weekend made plenty of waves among the playerbase, though perhaps not for the best of reasons. There were two big announcements of what's to come in the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion. We learned about the rabbit-eared Viera back at the Paris event, but there's another furry race joining the lineup: the Ronso-like Hrothgar.

There's also a brand-new job joining the mix: Dancer! It's a combat-oriented class with some support functionality, and the reveal trailer shows off the stylish chakram your disco queens and/or kings will be using to put blood on the dance floor.

Of course, these reveals haven't come without controversy. Some players are unhappy that Dancer isn't a healing/support-oriented class, as their Final Fantasy XI counterpart was. More contentious, however, is that male Viera and female Hrothgar… well, they don't exist. Both races are locked to one gender. I can't understand how Square-Enix fails to realize that people really, really don't like that, especially after they previously had two other gender-locked races in the original, disastrous FFXIV launch. They eventually offered both male and female versions of both once they wiped the slate clean with A Realm Reborn, so hopefully it won't be long before they relent and give fans the bunny-boys they crave.

KENICHIRO TAKAKI IS LEAVING MARVELOUS, KIND OF, IT'S WEIRD AND MESSY

It was reported earlier this week that Senran Kagura series producer Kenichiro Takaki was leaving Marvelous Entertainment. He discussed it in a recent Famitsu interview, and it was summed up by Gematsu:

Takaki's biggest reasons for leaving Marvelous were restrictions on the depiction of sexual content. He felt that a thread had snapped within him. He said that while sexual content is often criticized, there are many that enjoy it. Takaki believed that such variation was one of the things that supported the games industry, but when it was so easily broken, it made him think about various things.

I'd really like to read the official explanation for this in Famitsu proper – I love Gematsu plenty, but they're going off a summary of an article here – and a lot of what Takaki's saying here seems really… vague. He's not giving a lot of specifics, and despite his dissatisfaction with recent console content policies, he's… still making console games. And he's still producing Senran Kagura games, and also games that aren't fanservicey in nature.

So let's sum this up. He's unhappy with not being able to make fanservicey games on consoles to his expectations, but is going to Cygames to make… a console game that's not fanservice-driven. And he's still producing another “respectable” console game with Marvelous. And he's still involved with Senran Kagura.

Yeah, uh, having seen a lot of high-profile company departures over the years, I feel like we're not getting the whole picture here. Of course, there are plenty of NDAs in the mix, I'm sure, but a gut feeling tells me rude tiddies weren't the main reason why he sort-of-left, and he's just taking this opportunity to vent while he can. Which he's perfectly entitled to do, of course. But if boob games are his primary passion and he wants to give Sony and Nintendo the finger, I would think he'd run off to join Illusion Soft or something, not continue doing console games. I'm very confused.

SUDA51 IS MAKING HIS COMEBACK TO FIRE PRO WRESTLING

Suda51's gaming career has been long and strange, but one of his first works that caught everyone's attention was his scenario for Super Fire Pro Wrestling Special, one of the many installments in the long-running, fan-favorite wrestling series. The story Suda51 penned stood out because it was a much darker take on the “rise to the top” sports story than anyone expected, complete with an extremely bleak ending. I'm not going to spoil it here, you can look it up if you really want.

“But Heidi!” you say. “The game is 25 years old! Who cares?!” Well, you just might care, because Suda51's going to be back in the writer's chair for a brand-new story scenario in Fire Pro Wrestling World on Steam and PS4. Even more interesting is that this is going to be a direct sequel to that old scenario from over two decades ago.

It remains to be seen if Suda's going to tie this in with his other games through subtle and strange means, but given that he seems intent on making his own elaborate little Sudaverse, it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest!

FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: SAMURAI SHODOWN SHOWS OFF MORE CHARACTERS AND GAMEPLAY, BLAZBLUE X TAG BATTLE GETS MAY UPDATE, SHARON AND TERRY HIT FIGHTING EX LAYER

Hey! Did you get Fighting EX Layer? You should, it's good! And it's also got two new cast additions as of this week: Sharon, one of the Arika Originals from the Street Fighter EX series, and SNK's beloved sort-of-mascot hero Terry Bogard as a guest! Terry's reason for being in the game? He woke up one day and was there. Maybe not quite as exciting as waking up as the opposite gender, but I'm fine with it.

Speaking of SNK, we're finally starting to see some really meaty gameplay of the new Samurai Shodown from various sources, and boy oh boy does this game look great. Recently released trailers and gameplay footage shows off more stages, fierce (and suitably bloody) battles, and our first glimpse of returning femme fatale Charlotte, who isn't the best Samurai Shodown waifu but definitely high-tier. (Cham Cham is top, FYI.)

I know some newer fighting game players look at the damage on these hits with fear and awe – and they should! Samurai Shodown seems follows the template of mid-90s arcade fighters: if you make a mistake, you should be absolutely, violently punished for it by a skilled opponent. That's a design philosophy that's fallen out of favor in fighting games as time has passed, but I know plenty of folks who long for that kind of high-damage risk/reward play.

And finally, we've got a new date for Blazblue X Tag Battle's latest roster additions! Aino Heart and company join the tag extravaganza sometime in May, which will be shortly after the arcade version of the game hits arcades in Asia (and Round 1s Stateside with Nesica access). Here's some footage of the new girl in action!

NEW RELEASES

Oh boy! As if the flood of news wasn't enough, we've also got a lot of interesting stuff releasing this week. There's plenty here to catch the interest of anyone who likes Japanese games.

Nelke and the Legendary Alchemists is out on PS4 and Switch, and I was intrigued by what I played of it at a preview event – it mixes the traditional Atelier series formula with a city-management element that adds some pleasant freshness to the series. The Princess Guide is also out on PS4 and Switch: an interesting-looking strategy/raising/action-RPG hybrid where you train four princesses in the art of war. If you've been eager to play Trails of Cold Steel but insist that you must enjoy it exclusively on your PS4, you're in luck, because that port is also out! It's got a turbo mode, all of the DLC, more voiceovers, and 4K support for that expensive TV you just bought with your tax refund! And hey, if you missed them all the first time around, a collected Danganronpa Trilogy pack is now available on the PS4 to deliver many hours of pink-blooded murder mysteries.

If text-heavy games aren't your thing, maybe you'd prefer Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, a team-based fighting game for Xbox One and Switch (PS4 hits next week). Early reports are that the game is… well, perhaps not the best balanced, but people are finding some fun stuff in it. (Also, it launched with a bug the prevents you from blocking low in online play, which is kinda bad.) And hey, if you enjoy Japanese action and sci-fi homages, you'd do well to check out Galak-Z: The Void, a Switch version of the 70s-anime-styled 2D spaceship action/exploration game.

You want retro re-releases? We've got retro re-releases! Alex Kidd and Gain Ground are coming to the Switch as part of the Sega Ages series of remasters. I'll tell you right now, honestly, as a Sega fan: Alex Kidd has always been kinda bad and no amount of Sega nostalgia goggles can change that. Gain Ground, however, is definitely a more acquired taste: You either like its unique time-traveling, overhead action/puzzley gameplay, or you don't… but everyone agrees that the main theme music absolutely slaps.

How about obscure doujin-style games? Fan favorite action game Croixleur Sigma is coming to Switch for the first time, while colorful free-roaming overhead shooter Snow Battle Princess Saiyuki also graces the eShop with its presence. But if you like your action a little softer, a bit fuzzier – don't forget that Yoshi's Crafted World debuts on Switch tomorrow!

Finally, if you're craving some sort-of closure for the Final Fantasy XV saga, Episode Ardyn is the final DLC for the game, focusing on the villain's backstory. Oh, I heard some old-ass Final Fantasy game recently released on Switch, too, but pffffffft nobody cares about that 22-year-old mess, right?

And there you have it, a surprisingly big Week In Games! Anything on that new releases list catch your eye?


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