This Week in Games
Takin' the Piss

by Heidi Kemps,

Greetings from Germany! Okay, I'm not actually in Germany right now, but a lot of people are, and I can't resist a dumb meme. Gamescom, Europe's biggest gaming event, is currently underway, and with it has come a plethora of announcements – buyouts, guest appearances, and, um, pee. Let's look at some quick news first.

So I haven't really been covering Mortal Kombat 11 here since I try to mostly focus on Japanese-style games, but it is the best-selling game of 2019 so far, and it just announced some guest characters that have nerds of all stripes talking.

Joker might not be wholly unexpected, given that WB Games is the publisher of Mortal Kombat and NetherRealm Studios also worked on the DC Comics-based Injustice games. But the T-800? Now that's a seriously cool addition. Movie cameos aren't exactly new for MK – previous games have given us Freddy Kreuger and the Predator – but in the ongoing bizarre guest character arms race going on in the fighting game world, it feels like MK definitely has a leg up on a lot of other titles. That's the benefit of being owned by a major media company, I guess!

Also, Insomniac Studios, maker of last year's critically-beloved Spider-man on PS4, was just bought outright by Sony Computer Entertainment. I know a lot of folks are like “Wait, didn't Sony already own them?” because many of their games (such as Rachet & Clank and Resistance) are PlayStation exclusives. They did, however, try to go multiplatform several times!

Remember FUSE? No? I only remember it because I went to Insomniac's headquarters to see a prerelease version of it way back. There's also Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive, which is a pretty underrated game in my opinion! Heck, Insomniac even made an Oculus Rift game! But… none of these attempts to branch out really paid off, so it looks like they just shrugged and said “well, Sony's obviously where people think we should be.” I assume we'll be seeing more Spidey and pals from them in the future. (Let's not get into the whole eye-rolling MCU spat here.)

Anyhow, onto more Gamescom news!

DEATH STRANDING SURE IS A THING

It's not a major game showcase without Hideo Kojima bringing out another trailer for Death Stranding! We're just a few months away from this game's release, and the trailers are still being quite cryptic. And you know what? I think that's fine. Sometimes I prefer to avoid trailers and pre-release coverage for games I'm interested in so I can be surprised, and trailers like these that don't really spell out too much about the game are perfect for that.

Anyway, if you haven't seen it yet, here you go. It's more gameplay-focused that previous trailers, but still rather ambiguous about what exactly is going on.

Now let's talk about the pissing, because this was all the entire internet was talking about on Monday. From very early on in the trailer, we see Sam (Norman Reedus's character) unzipping and, uh, watering the foliage. With his (not visible) donger. For a very long time. And yes, they've made sure you can't pan the camera around.

It's not just for show, either: Sam can do real whiz-ardry with his golden elixir. It can attack enemies, make mushrooms grow, and, uh… probably some other stuff we don't know yet. Pee! It's amazing!

Of course, Death Stranding is far from the first game to provide urine-derived benefits. Let us not forget Kazuma Kiryu's groundbreaking Toylet's exploits. Truly, user-controlled micturition is the gameplay mechanic of the future.

The trailer also shows off a cameo by frequent industry event host (and longtime Kojima buddy) Geoff Keighley. Geoff won't be the only familiar face to pop in briefly, either, as Kojima himself confirmed. That means die-hard Kojima faithful are now speculating who might be popping up in Death Stranding based on Kojima's Twitter selfie history, ranging from industry figures like Masahiro Sakurai and Shūhei Yoshida, celebrities and directors like Conan O'Brien and Edgar Wright, even bands like CHVRCHES. Yeah, Kojima's got a lot of pals, and I don't think any of them would be like “No, I don't want to be in your big new AAA game!”

Anyhow. Death Stranding! Still looks fascinating, and I'm sure it will dominate The Discourse come this November. But for now, all we can think about is urine.

KIRYU'S KICKIN’ ASS IN 1080P, NOW WITH MORE MAHJONG AND HOSTESSES

Hey! Remember those Yakuza remasters announced a while ago? Well guess what, Yakuza 3's remaster is out to download on the PS Store RIGHT NOW! And it's got all the content that was cut from the original Western release for reasons unknown! What are you waiting for? Go get it!

… Oh, you want a physical version? Well, you're going to have to wait for that. See, Sega's staggering the releases of the Yakuza 3, 4, and 5 remasters into early next year, so they physical edition containing all three games that's planned won't hit until Yakuza 5 shows up on the PS Store. But to make up for it, you're going to get a pretty sick box set, which includes a physical PS3 case for the formerly digital-only Yakuza 5! No, there's not a game in there, it's just so your shelf looks nice and complete. Still pretty cool.

Yakuza! It's good! Buy it, and maybe those localizations of spinoffs Issin and Kenzan will happen! That would rule!

HEY, IT'S MORE POKEMON SWORD AND SHIELD DETAILS, HOW ABOUT THAT

Like clockwork, the moment I write about an upcoming Pokémon game is when Nintendo decided to immediately outdate my column by revealing even more details about an upcoming Pokémon game. Sigh. Well, let's take a look at what we've learned about our forthcoming adventures in not-England.

This new trailer shows off more of the games’ combat additions. Remember Galarian Weezing from last week? Well, it's got a pretty neat combat ability: Neutralizing Gas, which renders all other abilities moot. It could be a game-changer: you see it here disabling things like Rotom's Levitate, which normally makes ground attacks whiff. There's also a new Room Service item that lowers speed during Trick Room, a favorite move among the competitive Pokémon scene that favors low-speed behemoths. Also new is Eject Pack, which allows a Pokémon to yeet itself out of combat if its stats are lowered. Oh, and the armored bird Corviknight can also reflect status debuffs with its new hidden ability, Mirror Armor. Tricky!

And how about new moves? Well, there's the attack-lowering Breaking Swipe, which can hit more than one target at once. (I do, in fact, love my Flygon and its attack-lowering multi-target attacks.) But a lot of the really good stuff shown here happens in Dynamax mode, such as being able to smugly shrug off attacks that would normally make your critter flinch and lose a turn. Max moves also give stat boosts or debuffs to one or more Pokémon on the field, making them extra-beneficial.

The other trailer recently revealed is a bit more low-key, showing off the cozy Galarian hamlets you'll be roaming to throughout the game. Most importantly, we learn that Wooloo say “Doh doh doh,” which is adorable as heck.

SHIN SAKURA WARS IS ALSO GOING TO JOLLY OLDE ENGLAND

Okay, this news isn't from Gamescom, but I know we have a bunch of Sakura Wars fans here who are just as interested in the new game, Shin Sakura Wars (aka Project Sakura Wars), as I am. The latest YouTube broadcast of Sakura Wars-related news has aired, and we've got another new international Combat Revue, this time based out of London!

The theming for these new cast members is based around Camelot, that most British of legends that Japanese media simply can't stop appropriating in new and fascinating ways. First off is the London Combat Revue's leader, Arthur! There might be more to this young-looking fellow's nickname than mere symbolism: apparently his family's been the steward of the legendary sword Excalibur for ages. He's a gentleman on the stage, but an arrogant arse on the battlefield.

There's also Lancelot, one of the London Revue's women soldiers, and she's no slouch in a fight. Nicknamed the “Black Knight,” she actually dual-wields and is downright obsessed with battle, so much that she seems like a ditz that can only comprehend combat complexities.

The character designer behind the London crew is BUNBUN, aka abec, who did the original illustrations for the Sword Art Online light novels. But they're not the only guest character designer who was announced!

Gekizou is the mascot of the Imperial Theatre, whose form our poor hero Seijuro is forced into when it's time to shuffle folks into the theatre. Apparently there will be sequences where, in Gekizou form, Seijuro will be able to learn valuable tips and intel from crowdgoers, though there aren't many details on how this works. Is he in the Gekizou suit? Is it a remote-control Cait Sith-from-FF7 kind of thing? We'll have to wait and find out.

Interestingly, Gekizou was actually designed by GAME FREAK's own Ken Sugimori, who is best known for his Pokémon designs. Sugimori is a really, really big Sega fan (I mean, his Twitter handle is @SUPER_32X), so I'm sure he absolutely jumped at the opportunity to do something for a new Sakura Wars.

There were a few other bits, too – more character combat uniform reveals, and a longer look at the new action-based combat, which Yakuza series producer Toshihiro Nagoshi is helping out with. Oh, and there will be a big Sakura Wars push at Tokyo Game Show this year, but that probably isn't surprising, given the juggernaut of otaku merchandise the previous games were.

Okay! I think that just about wraps up everything for this week. Any Gamescom news in particular get you sad or excited? Do you have a dream cameo in mind for Death Stranding? Head over to the forums and chat away!


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