This Week in Games
Honey, I Shrunk the Switch
by Heidi Kemps,
It's a brand-new Week in Games! And we've got news! Lots of news! AX gave us a lot of announcements, but the big, big thing everyone's a-Twitter about today comes to us from our friends at Nintendo. Let's just jump right into it!
THE SWITCH MINI IS A REAL THING
Hey, remember when Nintendo was emphatically denying that they had new Switch hardware coming? Ha, just kidding! Here's the Switch Lite! It's like the Switch, but Lite-er!
Well, actually, it's a bit more complex than that. The Switch Lite is designed as a self-contained, handheld device, so it's missing a bunch of the features of the regular Switch: no removable JoyCons, no HD Rumble, and no way to dock and connect it to a TV for big-screen gaming. You do, however, get longer battery life out of the deal… along with a cheaper price tag and a real D-pad, none of that segmented-button garbage. The Switch Lite will go on sale for $200 sans-taxes, a full Benjamin cheaper than its more fully featured big bro. Plus it comes in multiple colors! But sadly, no Gameboy-throwback shades. (Remember Atomic Purple? That was some good stuff. Clear plastic housing really needs to make a comeback.)
Some of you might be wondering “Why would anyone buy a portable-only Switch?” Well, I think the Switch Lite actually makes a lot of sense. Nintendo wants to phase out the 3DS hardware, which is almost a decade old at this point. Part of the reason the 3DS sold well and survived for so long was due to how affordable and (relatively) rugged the hardware was – families could more easily afford to have one (or more) to give to their kids. The Switch, at $300, is relatively pricey and has a lot of stuff that can break or get lost. Selling a Switch with some non-essential features cut puts it in the realm of “affordable enough for everyone in the family to have their own.”
Plus… remember when the lower-priced 2DS hit back in 2013, and it didn't have 3D functionality? It did very well at its lower price point, but I feel like its sales were at least partially thanks to games that released around the same time: Pokemon X and Y. Pokemon is a proven system-mover, and when that system is made more affordable, you move more systems and games. And guess what's releasing close to the Switch Lite's launch?
Hell, there's even a Pokemon-themed Switch Lite already announced. Nintendo knows damn well what they're doing here. I think the Switch Lite will be in the hands of many a preteen this holiday season.
Of course, what of the rumored Switch Pro? Nintendo's still mum on it, but perhaps they're saving the details on that for the holiday season. We shall just have to wait and see what we get with the next Nintendo Direct.
AND SPEAKING OF POKEMON…
We got a few new announcements pertaining to Sword and Shield. Some new collectacritters were revealed: Alcremie, a whipped-cream fairy; Yamper, an extremely good boy; Rolycoly, a coal Pokemon; and Duraludon, a steel dinosaur-looking monster who seems designed for action figures.
In past Pokemon installments, GAME FREAK has tried to make version differences amount to a bit more than “exclusive Pokemon,” such as the different areas seen in the Black and White games. Black and White also had a different gym leader for the Opelucid Gym depending on which version you were playing. That idea is now coming back, as Sword and Shield will each feature different, version-specific gym leaders, making which one to buy an agonizing choice for the Twitter populace that seems extremely thirsty for Pokemon trainers. (Bea definitely seems to be waifu du jour.)
Finally, there's more to Dynamaxing than just getting really, really big. Certain Pokemon can Gigantamax, which not only makes them tower over everything, but also changes their form similar to Mega Evolutions. They also get access to a special G-Max move that varies by Pokemon. Boy, that… sure sounds like a combination of the new gameplay additions of the last two generations, huh?
You're still not going to get a full PokeDex on release, though. Sorry. You just gotta make peace with that fact. I've already accepted that Misdreavus (aka the best Pokemon) probably won't be in this and I'll need to find another creature to get attached to. Full Dex or no, it'll still be a Pokemon game, which you'll play and probably enjoy.
ANIME EXPO ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUND
So yeah, Linecon… er, Anime Expo happened last weekend, and boy oh boy were there ever announcements! Not just anime, mind you, but lots of game stuff. Let's take a look!
Aksys has typically used Anime Expo to announce upcoming titles, and this year proved to be a veritable bonanza for otome game fans. With the PS Vita dying a slow, prolonged death, the company is shifting much of its otome localization focus to Nintendo's platform, and among the first games to make the switch (har har) are the fan-favorite Code Realize titles. Both Guardian of Rebirth and Future Blessings will be released within the next year.
Collar X Malice and its fandisc, Collar X Malice Unlimited, are both hitting Switch as well. The latter title has never been released in the West before, so fans will have something new to sink their teeth into. Here's hoping they manage to make the Switch font for the original game readable, because that original English Vita release… hoo boy.
Two more Switch otome titles are also crossing the ocean for the first time: Café Enchante and Piofore, both due out in 2020. Aksys really is going in hard on the otome market for the west, and that makes me very happy to see, as it's been severely underserved for quite some time now. But if your preferred gaming experience involves fewer hunks and more scares, you'll be happy to hear that the semi-sequel to Death Mark, NG, is also getting the full localization treatment courtesy of Aksys.
Spike Chunsoft is still a relatively new publisher to the West, but they've been knocking it out of the park with releases like 428 and Steins;Gate Elite. Fortunately for Science Adventure series fans, they have announced that both Robotics;Notes Elite and Robotics;Notes DASH will be hitting Switch, PS4, and PC sometime next year. Several of the Steins;Gate staff are involved in Robotics;Notes, which is part of the somewhat-linked Science Adventure series of visual novels, so if you enjoyed your time-travel screwery you should look forward to fun times with AR robots. We also got to see a bit more of A.I.: The Sominum Files, which looks rad and dammit I want to play that game like right now.
Meanwhile, Bandai-Namco is continuing their Play Anime game initiative with some new stuff. Digimon fans will be happy to learn that Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete Edition is coming to both PC and Switch. This edition includes the original game plus all of the DLC that was originally made available for the PS4 and PS Vita versions. Unfortunately, the survival isekai adventure Digimon Survive has been moved to 2020, but that just gives you more time to whittle down your to-be-played pile.
Free-to-play team-based tactics game Gundam Mobile Operation 2 is also headed Westward. An English version of the game has been available in Asian territories for a while, but now the rest of the globe will be getting a chance to fight six-on-six battles on land or in spaaaaaaaaaaace.
The biggest announcement from Bamco was easily One Piece Pirate Warriors 4. This is another Musou-style collaboration with KOEI-Tecmo's Omega Force team, and among the best game announcements to come out of AX, in my opinion – Pirate Warriors has consistently been one of the best licensed Musou games, as the outlandish, strangely-powered One Piece cast slots perfectly into a game style where you're mowing down countless numbers of dudes with crazy attacks. If you like One Piece, Musou games, or both, this is worth getting excited about.
Also I guess Bakugo is coming to Jump Force, does anyone care that much anymore?
There were a handful of other scattered game announcements, too. CyberConnect 2 showed off more of their furry strategy wargame Fuga: Memories of Steel while also announcing its delay into 2020. Smartphone otome game developer Voltage is bringing the Star-Crossed Myth game series to Switch. Level-5 intends to bring over Yōkai Watch 4 to the west, even though there are apparently elements in the game that will seem weird unless you've seen some of the (non-localized) Yōkai Watch films. I'm kind of amazed they're still going at the Yōkai Watch localizations, honestly, but maybe it's just dogged stubbornness at this point. CAPCOM launched Teppen, a quick-play mobile collectable card game featuring their stable of beloved characters in collaboration with GungHo. (Man, that name kinda sucks. I'm not sure it's a great idea to have a competitive game that's two repeated letters off from another well-loved competitive game, as it looks like you just made a typo somewhere.) Finally, the long-in-development zombie romance dungeon crawler Undead Darlings: No Cure for Love is finally coming to consoles courtesy of Sekai Games.
Phew! I think that's everything. Well, mostly everything… there were quite a few adult game localization announcements at AX, too, though I plan to talk a bit more about those at a later late. Rest assured, I'm not going to ignore the smut – in fact, I want to take a closer look at some of these upcoming ero-games when there's less news competing for attention.
Well then, that's all the news for a very eventful Week in Games! Do any of the AX announcements have you particularly excited? Did you get a chance to try anything at the show that you liked? Are you planning on getting the Kill la Kill game later this month? Discuss away!
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