This Week in Games
Planet Pokemon

by Heidi Kemps,

I had a feeling there wasn't going to be too much news this week. Right now, Japan's smack-dab in the middle of the Obon holiday period, so there's really not much happening there… though we have a few interesting retro-flavored announcements from overseas publishers, which we'll get to in a sec. For now, let's talk about Pokemon!

This weekend marks the 2019 Pokemon Worlds event in Washington DC, where players from across the globe will compete in the Pokemon Trading Card Game, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, and Pokken Tournament. It runs until Sunday, and it's all going to be streamed!

Now, I'll admit that I don't really know much about the Pokemon TCG – I was a few years beyond the target audience for hologram Charizard cards when those first hit, and I've never felt compelled to look at it in the years since. I've played plenty of the Pokemon video games casually, though, and I must say that watching serious Pokemon competitive play is fascinating. The metagame is completely different: you're not trying to efficiently blitz through a series of maps with your chosen gang of critters, you have to devote an incredible amount of time to getting just the right combinations of stats and movesets. And a lot of those skills are things you probably wouldn't bother with in the main game, but take on incredible importance when you're up against another human player. I definitely recommend watching it if you're curious – if you're like me, you'll get way too excited when some crazy-damage attack completely misses and turns the tables on a close Poke-slugfest.

Oh yeah, Pokken’s a fun watch, too. You should at least catch the finals of that.

Anyhow, there's more to discuss on the Pokemon front, so let's get to it!

MORE DETAILS ON POKEMON SWORD AND SHIELD COME TO LIGHT

Around this time last week, we had a few Sword and Shield related announcements that didn't quite make the cut for the last column – but with Worlds just around the corner, now seems like a much better time to look at some of the newly revealed info.

Hey, remember those alternate forms old favorite Pokemon took in the Sun and Moon games? I mean, everybody loved Alolan Exeggcutor, right? Well, good news: Galar's got its own regional variants, and they're pretty great, like the beautifully stereotypical British gent edition of Weezing.

Of course, I'm the only one actually seeing that, because apparently everyone besides me sees a huge Poke-bong instead. I know the internet's full of weed jokes, but… really?

There's also Zigzagoon and Linoone, who have a different color scheme in Galar. But something about that Galarian air adds a third evolution to the chain: Obstagoon, who looks like he's ready to rock n’ roll all night and party every day.

Yes, the KISS-esque look of Obstagoon has not gone unnoticed, and Gene Simmons himself has even commented on it. That's one way to get a game some free publicity.

We've also got an all-new Pokemon in Morpeko, a hamster-like Pokemon (complete with an electric running wheel skill) who goes from happy to very mad depending on how hungry it is. The typing of its unique skills changes with its form, too!

A pair of new rivals, Bede and Marnie, take the stage as well. We don't know much about their personalities yet, but I have had this intense urge to just punch the everloving hell out of Bede since I laid eyes on him. God, he looks so unbearably smug.

Perhaps most importantly, we've got a name and look for the team of baddies in Sword and Shield. They're called Team Yell, and they're not-so-subtly modeled after stereotypical soccer hooligans. Man, they're really running with this whole Pokemon-battles-as-footie-analogy, aren't they? I think it's kind of adorable, honestly. (Although now I want somebody to redo the infamous Animal Soccer World cinematics with Pokemon characters.)

Will any more info be revealed during Worlds? I kinda doubt it, but you never know, they might show off a new critter design or something. Just don't be disappointed if nothing happens.

THE PSIKYO SHOOTING COLLECTIONS ARE COMING STATESIDE

Back in the mid-late 90s and early aughts, Psikyo (pronounced “sai-kyo” – it's a stylized romanization of their kanji name) was an arcade company that specialized primarily in two things: shooters and strip mahjong. You may know them for games like Gunbird, the Strikers series, and Sengoku Blade, aka “that shooting game that has the miko girl with the ginormous ta-tas.” They died off around 2002 after being acquired by another firm, though they were basically kept alive as a husk so their IPs could be milked by outside developers.

Recently, Psikyo's IP was picked up by a company called ZeroDiv, who was then acquired by City Connection -- the firm that owns rights to a whole bunch of Jaleco's old games. They've since been putting out a bunch of Psikyo arcade ports on the Switch eShop, where they seem to be doing well enough. However, if you're one of those types who absolutely must have everything on physical media, you're in luck, as NIS America has just announced that they're bringing over the two Psikyo Shooting Stars bundles as physical releases.

There are six games on each Shooting Stars set, and most of the series are kept together: the first set has all of Strikers and some standalone stuff, while the second focuses on the Sengoku and Gunbird series. In typical NIS fashion, there's going to be a special limited edition with plenty of goodies available exclusively online. Alas, there's one thing we're not getting: The Koyori mousepad that came with the Korean limited edition. (Link mildly NSFW.) Maybe it's a little too much? After all, I don't think that Agarest War package with the booby mousepad from several years back exactly sold gangbusters…

Also, it's worth noting that these are basically just packaged versions of the eShop ports, meaning that some of the ports have… issues, ranging from “a smidge of input delay” to “this feels completely off and I'd be better emulating it on PC.” I'm looking at you, Zero Gunner 2.

FOUR PLAYER BUBBLE BOBBLE IS COMING TO BUST UP SOME FRIENDSHIPS

Taito's really going all-in on the Switch as a platform for some of their IP revivals. The Ninja Warriors Once Again hit the Japanese Switch eShop last month (and is coming internationally very soon under the trademark-lawsuit-avoiding title “The Ninja Saviours”), but not even a month after that game's launch, we know what Taito's next Switch offering is: Bubble Bobble! Four player Bubble Bobble, at that! Yes, we have more than just 1P-Bub and 2P-Bob, we have at least two more as-of-yet-unnamed bubble-blowing buddies to get poppin' with!

Unfortunately, there's not too much to go on from this brief trailer for Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, but we do know that Taito themselves are doing development internally. That's reassuring, because for the past twenty-some years since Bubble Memories hit arcades, Taito's been outsourcing and licensing out Bubble Bobble to absolutely disastrous results, such as a retail game that you can't actually finish. I think they've finally realized that Bubble Bobble needs that Taito Touch™ to capture even a smidgeon of the original's magic.

As the title and trailer indicate, the big selling point of 4 friends is that, well, you can get four friends together and play multiplayer, co-op Bubble Bobble – after all, classic game revivals with a party angle are all the rage right now. Of course, as “co-op” as this claims to be, we all know that Bubble Bobble can be very cutthroat, what with people doing devious deeds like stealing shoes and candies and claiming the huge 64,000 point bonus from popping a huge bubble mass somebody else made. (Not that I've ever done something like that.)

Bubble Bobble 4 Friends is releasing in North America and Japan in 2020 but dropping in Europe a bit earlier in late 2019. The reasoning is that Bubble Bobble is most popular in Europe, and from everything I've seen and heard about Bubble Bobble's global reach, that's certainly not an incorrect assumption! By the way, if you're sad Nintendo canonized a Zelda timeline and you can't argue about it anymore, try deciphering the timeline of the Bubble Bobble series. It's nigh impossible.

Alright! That's another Week in Games in the books. I'll see you all again next week with a bit more juicy news to discuss, hopefully. Happy gaming!


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