This Week in Games
Revenge of the Phantom Thieves

by Heidi Kemps,

Hey there, game folks! I made it back safely from Sakura-con, and I had a lovely time! Thanks to everyone who came out to the panel, or just dropped by to say hi!

As most folks who go to conventions know, there's an odd phenomena where you're so engaged with what's going on that weekend that all outside news just seems to be lost in a massive void. I've been playing a fair bit of catch-up with what's been going on since Wednesday of last week – seems I missed some interesting announcements, a few more revelations of awful corporate crunch culture at big developers, and drama over who lost the seemingly easy but surprisingly difficult game of “don't say a slur on Twitch.”

Upon my return, I noticed that I'm already getting invites to various press conferences and meetings at E3, even though I'm probably not going this year. Microsoft and Square-Enix have already announced their events, and I'm willing to bet that MS will talk about whatever the Xbox One successor will be at some length at their shindig. Square-Enix, meanwhile, will hopefully drop more surprise details on The Quiet Man 2: Hush Harder. I'm sure we can expect even more announcements-of-a-bunch-of-announcements in the next few weeks!

Even though I spent a lot of time trying to catch up on what's been going on, the biggest news in gaming this week dropped yesterday and today, so let's get right to what you probably came here for.

PERSONAAAAAAAAA, LET'S GO AWAY~

Persona Super Live 2019 just happened, and those announcements that Atlus has been teasing for what feels like forever finally happened! First off, we have Persona 5 Royal for PS4, due out October in Japan and sometime next year in the West.

What all do we know about P5R? For starters, the female character we saw teased in those trailers a couple weeks back is Kasumi, a new member of the Phantom Thieves. I know, I was hoping for a new female main character too, but she does look pretty badass.

There's also a new confidant character (the school counselor), additional story content in the third school semester, a New Year's event, an entirely new city area to explore (Kichijoji), and a whole host of quality-of-life improvements, including the ability to revisit past events through your in-game smartphone, various gameplay assist features, even a bit of a graphical upgrade on PS4 Pro. And new music, of course.

Oh yeah, what's likely human Morgana was revealed, and Twitter collectively lost its goddamned mind. Seriously, he was trending all morning long.

Given the series’ history, I think we all expected P5R to be this sort of substantial upgrade over the original, but some of these additions make for quite pleasant surprises. Given that the release date of P5R is 2020, I feel like Atlus might finally take the time to streamline the game's oft-criticized localization. Given that all the voice actors will have to come back and record new dialogue anyway, they might as well fix famous lines like “he is a scum.”

But WAIT! There's 1 more! We've got the Switch Persona 5 announcement, and… it's not what anyone expected, but depending on your gaming tastes, that's either good or bad.

Yes, Koei-Tecmo's Omega Force team continues to be some of the busiest people in gaming, and they're pairing up with Atlus to make Persona Musou! Er, excuse me, Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers.

I know some folks will be quite disappointed that this isn't a pure P5 Switch port, but I'm honestly quite interested to see how Omega Force works some of Persona’s quirks into the Musou formula, as they have for series like Zelda and Dragon Quest. I'm not one of those people who outright dismisses Musou-style games (hell, I wrote an article about anime-themed Musou games for this very website a while back!), but the quality from game to game definitely varies, so here's hoping this is one of the better ones.

Also, given that Musou games always have like a bazillion characters, how many of you are betting that some older Persona cast members (and maybe even some general MegaTen representatives) turn up? It'd be interesting to see how they slot into whatever story the game gives us.

THERE'S BEEN A BUNCH OF WEIRD AND INTERESTING GAME ANNOUNCEMENTS WITHOUT A LOT TO BACK THEM UP, BUT I STILL WANT TO TALK ABOUT THEM

Jeez, it's felt like I've spent all of 219 so far talking about Persona in some form. How about we discuss a few other oddball games that were recently announced to exist?

First off, we've got one I'm honestly extremely excited about: River City Girls. It's another game in the long-running Kunio-kun series, originally developed by Technos and now in the hands of Arc System Works. From the title, it sounds like the focus will be on the women of the Kunioverse, meaning hopefully we get more really cool sukeban girls beating the crap out of each other. Hey, have I ever talked about how much I like the sukeban archetype? Honestly, it saddens me to no end that sukeban are so neglected in modern Japanese media. Who doesn't see the appeal in a bunch of powerful, take-no-crap schoolgirls who can pound the everloving hell out of—

…Yeah, sorry, I can literally talk for hours about how cool sukeban are. ANYHOW, what's really interesting about River City Girls is that it's being developed in collaboration with Western 2D game powerhouse WayForward, who you most likely know from the long-running, fan-favorite Shantae series.

This isn't the first time ASW and WayForward have worked together – Arc actually published that odd 2D Bloodrayne game WayForward did a good while ago in Japan! – but as someone who generally likes the output of both of these companies, I'm eager to see what they can do working together. Especially if sukeban are involved. Ahem.

(Also, let's take a moment to imagine the possibility of Shantae and friends in Blazblue X Tag Battle.)

Meanwhile, we've got another, very different new game from a series whose original creators went bankrupt! So, who here remembers Burgertime?

Burgertime was a very early international hit for Data East, and odds are you'll still find plenty of old arcade junkies who fondly remember the trials and tribulations of Peter Pepper in his war against mutated meats and veggies. Anyhow, there's a new Burgertime coming from G-Mode, the owner of (some of) the rights of Data East's catalog. And… we know almost nothing about it, save for the fact that it's called Burgertime Party and Peter Pepper is sporting a hip, modern look.

Given the “party” element of the title, I have little doubt that this is likely going to be multiplayer-focused… which could either be really good or really bad. I mean, dropping giant hamburger buns on your buddies sounds super fun in principle, but there are so many ways a multiplayer game can turn into a big mess.

PUYO PUYO IS HEADING WEST, MINUS THE ESPORTS

Hey! Do you like Puyo Puyo? Well, if I'm being 100% honest, I think I like the characters and world more than the actual game. I'm more of a Magical Drop girl. But I still respect the hell out of Puyo, which is why I'm glad that Puyo Puyo Champions just got announced for a Western release!

This is a localized version of Puyo Puyo eSports, which was recently released in Japan, and is primarily geared to local and online competitive play. You can pick between the rulesets of Puyo Puyo Tsu and Puyo Puyo Fever, battle against your friends, and climb the rankings on your console of choice, because this game will be on everything! And cheaply, too – the Japanese release was budget-priced, and the Western version will follow suit: only ten dollary-doos to humiliate your friends by dropping a literal landslide of nuisance Puyo on them! Unless you suck at Puyo like I do, then you just learn to enjoy your inevitable crushing death.

Puyo Puyo Tetris found a bit of a competitive niche here in the West, so I'm hoping this'll get the competitive Puyo scene going a bit stronger here. I'm a little sad they dropped eSports from the title, but let's face it: the only puzzle game that's truly eSports is Yoshi's Cookie.

NEW RELEASES

So the two big, big new releases this week are Western-developed games. There's Mortal Kombat 11, the latest in the legendary, hyperviolent fighting franchise… and yesterday on Twitter some ex-Netherrealm Studios contractors were talking about how bad working conditions were at the company, so, uh… yeah, that dampens the excitement a bit, doesn't it? Ugh. And then there's Sony's much-hyped Days gone, which, going by early reviews, is looking eerily similar to The Order 1886 in not living up to the hype. But hey, if you don't love it, GameStop will give you a full refund in 48 hours, and I get the idea they're going to regret that idea real fast.

Besides, that, the love-it-or-hate-it Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen is getting a Switch port this week. You can also get the standalone Arcade Archives release of SNK's mid-80s arcade classic Psycho Soldier on Switch and PS4… or you can get the SNK Anniversary Collection that has that, a bunch of other games, and some nifty play features. Finally, we have the digital-only Switch release of Moero Chronicle Hyper, which… I honestly know very little about it save that it's bursting at the seams with fanservice, but it's another Compile Heart RPG, so you probably have an idea of what to expect there. If you like those games, you're probably already buying it!

Anyway, that wraps things up for this week. I'm going to relax, pet my cat, and finish off some lingering work from Sakura-con. Hopefully you all have a nice April weekend!


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