This Week in Games
Trying to Look Ahead

by Heidi Kemps,

I need to be real with you all for a sec. It's really, really hard to write a chipper, semi-snarky game news article considering what just went down at Kyoto Animation.

I'm hearing that this could be considered the worst mass murder in postwar Japanese history. Most of us reading have watched and enjoyed at least one series, movie, or short that they've made, so despite KyoAni being halfway around the globe, this awful, senseless act really hits home for all of us.

I know folks want to help out the KyoAni staff affected – I sure do! – but the only sort of fundraiser I've seen so far that seems to have a shred of legitimacy is Sentai Filmworks’ GoFundMe. Several folks on Twitter have also suggested that buying digital goods on the KyoAni store will help. With all of the joy KyoAni has brought to us over the years, they deserve our help in this extremely sad time.

So yes, please forgive me if I don't seem like I'm really into writing about Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz HD right now. This awful event affects more than just anime – an act like this strikes to the very heart of the fan culture we all love. My heart and mind's currently with all of the Kyoto Animation staff dealing with an unspeakable tragedy, and with the whole of Japan for having to face such a senseless loss of life.

THERE'S ANOTHER NEW SWITCH, SAME AS THE OLD SWITCH, KINDA

We finally got confirmation of the Switch Lite model last week, but what about the oft-rumored Switch Pro to go along with it? Well, that's still something of a mystery, but there is going to be another new Switch model. Thing is, it's basically the same thing as the older Switch with one key tweak: better battery life performance.

This new Switch, which doesn't have a fancy name, is replacing the current-standard Switch model at the same price. The current Switch model gets about 2.5-6.5 hours of battery life, depending on how power-intensive the game being played is, while the new model gets about 4.5-9 hours on the same charge. Plus, it's no different externally, so you'll be able to use all of the same accessories as the normal Switch, such as these fancy new color JoyCons!

So yeah, if you were considering a Switch Lite due to more battery life, you may want to rethink that. The only issue is determining whether the thing on store shelves is the older or newer Switch model. The big giveaway will be the design of the box: the newer Switch will feature the below design and start appearing in stores sometime this August. But is this revision the rumored "Switch Pro"? Did the rumor mills get wires crossed somewhere and confuse a fairly routine hardware revision with a souped-up model? We probably won't know until much later.

Also, Nintendo casually dropped that Luigi's Mansion 3 is hitting this Halloween, forcing you to decide between pretending you are much younger that you actually are to go trick-or-treating for free candy or spending quality time with Gooigi. Decisions!

STREETS OF RAGE 4 IS GETTING SOME EXTRA HOT JAMS

Ever since Streets of Rage 4 was announced, publisher DotEmu and developer LizardCube have been quiet about the music. Seeing as how Streets of Rage as a series is famous for its kickin’ beats courtesy of ace game music composer Yuzo Koshiro, many fans were understandably worried. A lot of folks – myself included – can't really consider a Streets of Rage game real unless you've got a Koshiro FM synth beat running under the beat-em-up action.

Well, it turns out we're not just getting a Koshiro soundtrack for Streets of Rage 4… we're getting a collection of tunes from some of the most legendary names in game music, courtesy of Brave Wave Productions. (Disclosure: I'm buddies with a lot of the folks at Brave Wave, but even if I wasn't, this would be cool as hell.)

Besides Koshiro's contributions, we'll be hearing tracks from Jet Set Radio's Hideki Naganuma, Kingdom Hearts’ Yoko Shimomura, and Ninja Gaiden's Keiji Yamagishi, among many others. We've even got a new mini video interview about the game, though I'm going to link it rather than embed it because those subtitles are way, way too small. Enjoy!

EVO REGISTRATION NUMBERS ARE IN

It's only a few weeks until the biggest fighting game event on the planet! Are you excited? I am, and not just because I'm helping to run a side tournament at AnimEVO. Going by the official final registration numbers EVO just released, the amount of people playing and competing in this year is massive.

The biggest game out of the nine showcased is, unsurprisingly, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with almost 3500 entrants. Smash always brings the numbers, especially a new Smash where the meta is still somewhat shaping up. There have been some rumors that the Dragon Quest Hero DLC character might be coming fairly soon, too, so perhaps there will be a bigger reveal of some sort planned? I mean, EVO's the prime place to drop your “and this new character is available… NOW!” announcement.

Street Fighter V is the second-place finisher, though it's not even close. What's more interesting are the games in the middle, particularly things like Mortal Kombat 11 and Samurai Shodown. MK11 is one of the best-selling games of 2019, though its competitive scene has always been small compared to its casual-play audience… but 1500 entrants is nothing to sneeze at. 1700 competitors for Samurai Shodown is far more of a surprise, given that the game only just came out and many people were initially skeptical of its inclusion in the lineup. Reaction to the game on a competitive level right now seems incredibly positive, and I really hope it has the legs to stick around for years to come.

Under Night In-Birth's official inclusion on the roster this year has brought a wave of attention to the game, as well – I don't think anyone expected the anime fighter with the nonsensical game to get over 1000 competitors, but here we are. I'm really looking forward to seeing to how that tournament plays out. Generally speaking, all of the games featured are looking very healthy in terms of competitive playerbase, as even the lowest-entry game, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle, has 640 participants.

So yes, EVO's looking like it's going to be a great time this year. Even if your game isn't on the main stage, there are plenty of side tournaments and streams happening, so you'll undoubtedly be able to see high-level play for your favorite fighting game. (Unless it's Ultra Vortek.)

That wraps up an unfortunately short and somber week in games. We'll likely get a few interesting announcements out of San Diego Comic Con over the weekend, so there will be more to talk about then, and I should have some new game impressions… but at this moment, I think we all need a bit of cheering up from all this awfulness, so might I recommend Dragon Quest Builders 2? It's a delightful game that's all about rebuilding and showing kindness to others, and I think that's the sort of thing we could all use right about now.


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