This Week in Games
Home Arcade Hell
by Heidi Kemps,
Know what I love writing about? Bad ideas and trainwrecks! And boooooy howdy, do we have a spectacularly hot mess to talk about this week… along with other interesting news. But first, a few things!
For starters, I'm going to be at Seattle's Sakura-Con this weekend helping ANN out a bit. I'll also be doing a panel at Chelan 4 at 8:30 PM on Saturday! It's about publishing doujinshi in Japan, and it'll be fun and informative! If that's a subject you're interested in, drop on by and say hi!
Secondly, the lineup for AnimEVO, a loosely-connective collective of EVO side tournaments, was announced on Monday, and there are more games than ever!
There's a lot of weird and interesting stuff in the mix -- the Sailor Moon S fighting game is absolutely fascinating, and this will be the debut of the Kill la Kill arena fighter at a tournament – but I want to bring special attention to the tournament for the Neo-Geo cult favorite Fighters History Dynamite, because I'm helping to run it! If you're coming to EVO and want to throw down with some Karnov BALLOON action, be sure to join us! De33333
JOKER'S ALREADY WILD IN SMASH ULTIMATE
By the time you read this, the latest batch of Smash Ultimate DLC will be out, which includes the first paid DLC character (Joker) as well as a new level (Mementos), new Spirits, and the custom stage builder. I don't need to say too much about those because I'm sure that if you're interested, you're already summoning Arsene and making dong-shaped arenas. If the servers have actually come back online, anyway.
I do want to highlight just how much Sakurai and the Smash team absolutely nailed the Persona content, though. Joker is a unique and distinct character with interesting mechanics, and the Mementos stage changing to Persona 3 and 4 theming along with the music is fantastic. (Some folks want the stage to be tournament legal with hazards off just for that reason!) Even the win screen for Joker is slick as hell. When the third parties loaning characters to Smash let the team go wild, they produce amazing results that make fans truly happy.
Seeing Persona represented so well really shows how Square Enix's control has hampered potential Final Fantasy-related content in Smash. Cloud's inclusion and Midgar could have been far better, and we could have had a bunch of other cool Final Fantasy bits included.. I'm kind of dreading those rumors of a Dragon Quest character coming to the game, because not only would the iron hand of Squeenix likely restrict what they could do, they'd have to deal with Koichi Sugiyama's controlling BS when it comes to music…
THERE'S A LOT OF CONSOLE NEWS HAPPENING, TOO
Microsoft's got a new Xbox coming! No, not an Xbox One successor, it's a revamped Xbox One S that doesn't take any physical media at all! That's right, it's all downloads and streaming! Here's hoping that's not a sign of Microsoft making its future consoles depressingly all-digital.
Meanwhile, Sony's revealed quite a few things about the console that's basically the PlayStation 5 but isn't officially called the PlayStation 5. In an article over at WIRED, engineer and game industry legend Mark Cerny explains a bunch of the system's planned features in-depth. For starters, backwards compatibility is back, which is super rad, as is support for enhanced lighting through the use of realtime raytracing. There are also plans for a new 3D sound technology to be implemented. Perhaps most interesting is severe reduction in load times through the use of a solid state drive rather than a typical hard disk, which I'm totally down with.
Then there's Nintendo, who can't seem to shake those ever-present rumors of a new Switch coming. Esteemed Japanese financial journal The Nikkei recently reported on Nintendo's plans for different Switch models. Basically, the article contends that there's going to be both an “upgrade”-style Switch (similar to the New 3DS) and a slimmer, sleeker Switch coming sometime in the nearish future. We won't know for sure until Nintendo says something themselves about it, but the more reports we hear, the more likely it seems.
And then there's weird rumblings of the Neo-Geo 2 and 3, something mentioned at SNK's recent financial meeting. There could be something interesting here, but the info we've heard is so vague that it's hard to get excited right now. At least we know SNK's presold enough copies of Samurai Shodown to make a profit already!
THE CAPCOM HOME ARCADE LOOKS LIKE A HUGE, UGLY, OVERPRICED PLUG-N-PLAY FIASCO
Early this week, CAPCOM dropped a mysterious trailer showing various arcade games reflected in the plexiglass of an arcade control panel. That's a pretty neat way to do a teaser, but it was some of the games being shown there that really got people interested: folks could clearly see the likes of Aliens vs Predator and Progear, two beloved CAPCOM arcade games (before you correct me, I know Progear is developed by Cave) that, up to this point, have never been ported anywhere else officially. Retrogaming circles were abuzz, excited for the announcement of some sort of new CAPCOM arcade collection for their console that had some of the company's most coveted arcade releases on it.
Unfortunately, that's not what we're getting. What we're getting is perhaps the most stupefying addition to the plug-and-play classic game device market out there. See for yourself:
So what all is wrong with this monstrosity? Let's go down the list.
For starters, the game list is ill-conceived aside from the obvious fan favorites. There's some good stuff: people have wanted a home port of AvP and Progear for years, Giga Wing is a solid shooter with great Kei Toume art, Final Fight and Captain Commando are good brawlers, Strider is… well, Strider, and both Armored Warriors and Cyberbots have a cult following. But then there's a bunch of stuff that feels like it could have easily been replaced by something better. There's Darkstalkers – the original, janky-as-hell Darkstalkers, not Night Warriors or Vampire Savior. There's Mega Man: The Power Battle, which was iterated on and improved significantly in Mega Man: The Power Fighters not long after. Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting doesn't have the tournament cred of Super Street Fighter II Turbo. And then there's crap nobody wants, like CAPCOM Sports Club.
But then you stop and think about the controls. Remember how a lot of those CPS2 beat-em-ups are actually three player games? Yup, you're going to be stuck with only two players to go through AvP, unless there's an as-yet-unmentioned feature to plug another stick in.
And speaking of the stick, holy hell is this the ugliest stick I have ever, ever seen, and this takes into account the cobbled-together cardboard box sticks people will create in emergencies or as a goof. Nobody wants two chained-together, inseparable sticks shaped like a giant CAPCOM logo that only play a handful of included games and nothing else, even if they use real Sanwa arcade parts. Besides being ugly as sin, the stick is an ergonomic nightmare, forcing you can your partner to sit side-by-side and giving the poor shmuck on the player 2 side the fear of scraping their wrist on some odd edges during a heated mashing session.
So what does this cost? Well, it's only up for pre-order in Europe so far, but the cost of this thing is in the two hundred-fifty dollar range. Yes, it's absurd. I mean, you can get almost any current-gen console for that price! Most folks are saying the price is going into the controller hardware, but I'll let you in on a little secret: buying arcade parts wholesale isn't that expensive.
With a price like that, who exactly is this thing targeting? Micro-classic-plug-and-play consoles are designed to bundle a bunch of beloved games together in a fun form factor that appeals to nostalgia fiends and budget-conscious consumers alike. This totally-not-micro plug-and-play appeals only somewhat to the former and, with that price tag, not at all to the latter. If people want to have a thing in their house that looks impressive and players arcade games, for just a bit more they can buy one of the Arcade1UP machines at Wal-Mart, which plays fewer games but actually looks like a real arcade cabinet. It's a lot cooler in the living room than giant CAPCOM letters, that's for sure.
And to top it all off, the games are running on the Final Burn Alpha emulator rather than something made in-house. There are some arcade purists who have issues with Final Burn Alpha, but perhaps more concerning is the fact that one of the FBA team licensed it to CAPCOM and didn't tell anyone else working on the emulator, raising ethical questions since FBA's license states it's not for commercial use and possibly uses other code with a similar license restriction.
everyone: "CAPCOM probably didn't even license FBA lol"— Golden Boy 007 (@notrevenant) April 17, 2019
single FBA dev: "don't worry, we licensed it to them"
other FBA devs: "uhh what"
MAME dev: "...are you sure" pic.twitter.com/RExvaBR5rm
Yeah, it's a huge goddamned mess, and seeing this just makes me eager for more news on the MegaDrive Mini. I hear the 2-controller model's basically sold out in Japan now!
HEY, WE FINALLY GET TO SEE PIERRE TAKI'S REPLACEMENT IN JUDGMENT
Throughout Yagami's investigation, he'll have to collaborate with, and occasionally face off against, some of the most powerful individuals in Kamurocho.— RGG Studio (@RGGStudio) April 16, 2019
Meet Kyohei Hamura, the intimidating captain of the Matsugane Family.https://t.co/wAlKs3Jrm8 pic.twitter.com/AVLyFbqwgt
Yeah, this really feels like a few facial tweaks made into ORIGINAL CHARACTER MODEL DO NOT STEAL, but as long as the game's on track for June I'm perfectly fine with that.
Joker may have stolen the spotlight this week, but there are still some releases worth talking about. Final Fantasy X and X-2 HS Remaster hits both Switch and Xbox One this week, letting you relive one of the most beloved JRPGs of the early aughts in glorious HD quality on non-Sony platforms. Visual novel fans have some titles to check out, too: both Our World is Ended and Nurse Love Syndrome are releasing this week. The former is coming to Switch and PS4, while the latter is coming to Steam and the PS Vita. Cuphead’s coming to Switch, too, so give that one a go if you've missed it.
Well, that sure was a weird week, huh? I really want to give the Smash update a bit of time, but I've still got some prep-work to do before I make my roadtrip three-and-a-half hours north of here to Seattle. Be sure to say hi if you see me!
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