This Week in Games
Temper Your Expectations

by Heidi Kemps,

I was doing my Twitter rounds today when I came across a very concerning tweet. This individual, who apparently worked on some of the Rance series translations, posted about why they are no longer working with publisher MangaGamer. Basically: they claim their contracted employees are generally being exploited.

I must do my usual journalistic “these claims are unverified and clearly this person has a bit of an axe to grind” disclaimer here, but honestly, a lot of it lines up with what I've heard through the grapevine about many of the well-known English visual novel localization companies.

Visual novels are a very small niche. That's hardly news. Adult visual novels are an even smaller niche,  due to the restrictions on advertising and distribution those games face. Most of the games considered “hits” are only really moving a few thousand copies in sales, perhaps more if they can get the game out on Steam – but that's a big “if,” and it doesn't always help significantly. Because of the generally low sales across the board – and small profits on stuff that does succeed – staff tends to be overworked and underpaid, leading to quick burnout and lots of turnover.

I'm not sure what can be done at this point. I want to say “buy and support these games and companies that publish them!”, but even if sales do improve, there's not a big incentive to change the way things operate – it's worked until now, and there are still plenty of eager fans who want to get their feet wet in “the industry” to replace the ones who flame out, so why fix it?

Of course, this assumes that all the rumors and stories I've heard are 100% true. Which they might not be. But when you hear the same thing, again and again, from different people, there's probably some veracity to the claims…

IT'D BE SUPER COOL IF OKAMI 2 HAPPENED, BUT MAYBE DON'T GET TOO EXCITED JUST YET

After the success of Devil May Cry 5 and Resident Evil 7/2 Remake, CAPCOM announced that they were looking to “utilize dormant IP,” as mentioned in a recent investor report. Not long after this statement came out, PlatinumGames figurehead Hideki Kamiya and E3 superstar (and new Platinum transplant) Izumi Nakamura took the opportunity to deliver a message on Twitter:

Of course, Twitter got out its Jump To Conclusions mat and went OMG OMG OMG!!!! PLATINUM IS GONNA MAKE OKAMI 2!!!!!!! which… is not confirmed. At all. All the pair said is that they'd like to make Okami 2 with CAPCOM. Heck, it's almost happened before. But just because you really want to make a thing happen and have an opportunity to make it happen… doesn't mean it'll happen. There's still a whole mess of hoops to jump through.

Still, if Kamiya and Nakamura planned this to show CAPCOM that demand for Okami 2 is there, well, mission accomplished! Just… y'know, keep your expectations in check.

PERSONA 5 SCRAMBLE NOW HAS A TRAILER AND A RELEASE DATE

Persona 5 Royal hits Japan a week from now, but Atlus certainly isn't planning to sleep after their crown jewel game launches. They're already revving up the hype engines for the forthcoming spinoff, Persona 5 Scramble. And now we've got a release date: February 20th, 2020! 20/2/2020! That's one cool-looking date. Unfortunately, we're probably getting it in the West a few months later, on a significantly less awesome unannounced date.

But hey, there's a new trailer, too! Let's check it out!

It looks like the team at Omega Force is trying its best to marry the social/RPG aspects of Persona with their usual Musou-style action. Implementing key elements of the base games in a way that gels with their action gameplay isn't new to them, either; Omega Force has done it well with games like Dragon Quest Heroes and Fire Emblem Warriors. It'll be interesting to see if the action elements will entice a crowd that is reluctant to commit to the lengthy Persona RPGs -- maybe this will be the Persona game I can make my boyfriend play!

Atlus also announced they'll be livestreaming the game with several staff onhand on November 4, at 8 PM JST on YouTube and Twitter. 8 PM JST is… 4 AM PST. Eep! Well, you East-coasters can wake up at 7, which is a bit more reasonable. Me, I'm gonna take Morgana's “advice” and sleep.

SUDA51 AND SWERY65 ARE DOING A HORROR THING TOGETHER

Jeez, Suda51 and Hidetaka Swery (aka Swery65) are two extremely busy individuals. Suda51's doing No More Heroes III and new Fire Pro Wrestling scenario, while Swery's got Deadly Premonition 2 and The Good Life on his hands. It's hard to imagine that these two have any free time at all.

And yet, somehow, they're working on a new game together, as announced on a recent IGN Japan livestream.

While details on the project, called Hotel Barcelona, are sparse, we do know that it's a horror game with an indie feel. According to the Gematsu summary of the livestream the project was announced on, “In 2018, the pair decided to make a game together, but would forget the ideas they discussed after getting drunk.” Yup, that sounds like the Suda and Swery we know and love!

Also, Suda was texting Siren creator Keiichirō Toyama during the livestream, asking him if he wanted to be involved as well. He apparently said “yes.” So who knows, Hotel Barcelona could yet be the product of three lovable creative weirdos!

MORE MUV-LUV IS COMING

I say I'm a fan of visual novels, but I'll admit: I still haven't played Muv-Luv. It's sitting in my Steam library, all ready to start, and I know it's considered an influential genre classic beloved by many the world over, but… just the knowledge that I'm going to have to slog through a dumb, tropey high school love comedy in order to get everything out of the actual Muv-Luv story makes me hesitate. Someday, I swear!

Even though the game is well over 15 years old at this point, there's still plenty of Muv-Luv media being created. At the 20th anniversary livestream event for Muv-Luv publisher age, they announced a new Muv-Luv Alternative follow-up: Muv-Luv Integrate. Interestingly, age hasn't decided if this is going to be a traditional visual novel, or even a game – it could be anime, manga, novels, even a live-action film at this point. No release date was given, so it's probably a ways off.

But if you are jonesing for more Muv-Luv on your PC, you're in luck: there's a browser and smartphone game called Project Mikhail coming, and it's not a gacha game! Here's some footage of the game from the livestream, kindly captured by Gematsu:

Also, age announced a remake of another of their older visual novels, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. Given how long it takes age to release finished games… anyone want to place bets on whether this or the Tsukihime remake releases first?

FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: OH HEY, ANOTHER SAIYAN FOR DBFZ, COLOR ME SHOCKED

It's Broly! Again! Except it's Broly from the more recent Dragon Ball Super movies! Here's a screenshot. Trailer and release date forthcoming!

Not much more to say here. Keep on fightin’.

Alrighty, I think that'll do for news this week. So here's a question: What dormant CAPCOM IP do you want to see revived, and who do you want to do it? I've seen Mike Z (head of Lab Zero Games) talking on Twitter about how much he'd love to do a new Darkstalkers, and honestly, I can't think of better folks for the job.

Personally, I want to dig deep into the CAPCOM catalog. Give me a new adventure/platform game set in the Chariot/Midnight Wanderers universe. That visual style would look amazing on modern platforms. How about you? Post your ideas in the forums below!


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