This Week in Games
Games for Good Boys and Girls
by Heidi Kemps,
Hey all! I just got back from a trip to KOEI-Tecmo America's HQ to get some hands-on time with the upcoming Fairy Tail RPG for PS4 and Switch. My impressions will be up very soon, so I hope you'll give that a read if you're interested in the game!
The general public will begin to get their hands on Death Stranding later today, and the inevitable Online Discourse will result. Whether you do or don't enjoy the game, remember not to be an aggressive jerk to people online who feel differently about it, okay? Hideo Kojima doesn't need your defense, nor are his feelings going to be hurt because somebody else dislikes his game.
There's a lot that's happened in gaming news over the past few days, particularly in the world of fighting games, so let's power up and check things out!
TERRY BOGARD IS SMASHING IT UP
It was announced at the start of the week that there would be a special Super Smash Bros presentation from none other than Masahiro Sakurai himself early Wednesday morning. It would be 45 minutes long, feature new Smash Ultimate guest Terry Bogard, and not feature any announcements of any upcoming characters.
“Pfft!” said the internet. “There HAS to be some new announcement. There's no way Sakurai could talk about Terry and SNK for 45 minutes.”
So on Wednesday, Sakurai fanboyed over SNK and SNK history for forty-five straight minutes.
Yeah, in the SNK vs. CAPCOM fighting game wars of the 90s, it's not hard to tell which side Sakurai's tastes fell on, is it?
Anyhow! As of me writing this, Terry is now fully playable in Smash Ultimate, and he's friggin’ awesome. He's got rising tackles! He's got cancels into specials! He's got super moves out of rage mode! He's got weird SNK inputs for those super moves out of rage mode! (Thankfully, you can use a simpler execution if you want.) Terry really does feel like he's a labor of love for the team.
There's also a new King of Fighters-themed stage with plenty of cameos from Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, and KoF as a whole. Well, except for one very prominent omission…
Alas, Mai Shiranui's not in Smash. Nintendo wants a family-friendly rating in all of their markets, and Mai Shiranui is a bit too much for that. I guess if the choice was between “tone Mai down (or use one of her alternate outfits fans hate) and get people all up in arms about censorship” and “omit Mai entirely and instead use sexy but less egregious characters like King and Blue Mary,” the team figured the latter was probably a better option. At least Sakurai didn't feign ignorance.
Well, we can't have Mai cameos, but we can have a whole lot of SNK music! Apparently when the team made a list of SNK songs to include in Smash, they got approval for almost all of them, including music from games like Athena, Metal Slug, and ASO. There are some amazing remixes throughout the massive tracklist, but Yuzo Koshiro's very 70s-sentai-show inspired Psycho Soldier arrangement is the most talked about:
I'm rather sad that no Garou tracks made the list, but a lot of people have noticed riffs from that soundtrack may be “inspired” by other songs… so maybe SNK just wanted to avoid any awkwardness.
Besides all this new stuff, we get some new SNK-themed Mii outfits, along with costumes from Virtua Fighter. It still kills me that those VF outfits don't come with music to use in-game like Sans did.
Anyhow... yeah, that's a hell of a Smash update, huh? I guess it's time to make predictions for guest number five!
GUILTY GEAR 2020 SETS THE INTERNET ABLAZE
The stunningly beautiful Guilty Gear 2020's playable public debut at the Arc Revo tournament is only a little over a week away. To give players a little taste of what to expect, developer Arc System Works decided to stream a very early build of the game – and announce two more characters.
First off is everyone's favorite presidential ninja, Chipp Zanuff, followed by Guilty Gear's eternally-struggling token grappler, Potemkin:
These two combatants round out the six characters that will be playable in the demo. All the characters are longtime Guilty Gear favorites who have been around since day one, so fans trying the game out will be able to come in with at least a little bit of knowledge about them. Still, I'm a little sad there's not at least one brand-new character in the mix for folks to play around with.
As for the gameplay itself… I will readily admit to not being the most super-knowledgeable person about the minutiae of Guilty Gear gameplay; thus, I shall defer to some analyses by longtime players regarding what they observed, gameplay-wise, from the stream. Keep in mind that this is still an early build, and Arc will no doubt be taking notes during the demo at Arc Revo in order to make changes, so nothing's set in stone. But if you're not going to Arc Revo, like most folks reading this, you still have a chance to try GG2020 out during a closed beta scheduled for spring of next year, likely with more characters and further gameplay refinements.
THERE'S STILL MORE FIGHTING GAME NEWS: AN OLD FAVORITE RETURNS TO THE STAGE OF HISTORY
I say “favorite” with extreme airquotes because, man, remember Hilde in Soul Calibur IV? Good lord did players absolutely hate her. And for good reason, because she was a wee bit broken.
Well guess what, Hilde's back! But I'm pretty sure Project Soul isn't going to repeat the mistakes of the past, so she's not going to be the ring-out beast of her past incarnation. Thank god.
Also, the Japanese arcade version of Samurai Shodown seems to have accidentally leaked the existence of Sogetsu, Kazuki's moister, mopier brother, as a DLC character. So there's that.
PERSONA 5 SCRAMBLE REVEALS ITS NEW FACES
Atlus and KOEI-Tecmo's Omega Force team streamed the first bit of live gameplay from Persona 5 Scramble on November 5th as promised, revealing a lot of new details about the game in the process. Gematsu has done an excellent, lengthy breakdown of the gameplay features, so I do suggest hopping over there if you want more details on some of the battle and social elements of the game.
Much like the numerous Persona 4 spinoffs, P5S introduces new characters into the Persona 5 canon. The events of Scramble take place sometime after P5's conclusion, as the Phantom Thieves find themselves in a strange new world where Shadows are taking the desires of humans and Shibuya 705 has transformed into a twisted castle ruled by a figure known only as “the King.” (Is it just me, or does this sound a bit like Persona 3's premise? Hmmm…)
The new characters introduced so far are Sophia, a firey-haired amnesiac girl with a suspiciously Western name (and who appeared in the teaser trailer), and Zenkichi, a police officer, pictured above. Damn, he looks smug. Just looking at that face makes me want to knee him in the unmentionables.
P5S's release date is still a few months out, so there will no doubt be more information coming – and, of course, I'll be here to share it all with you!
POKEMON SWORD AND SHIELD SHOWCASES NEW TRAINING TOOLS
As the date for our departure to Galar draws near, Nintendo and GAME FREAK continue to drop the occasional bit of new info to keep us on a pre-release hype rush. It was hinted a little while back that training Pokemon in Sword and Shield would be considerably less tedious and time-consuming, and now we know exactly how the process has been improved.
For starters, you can now change the nature of a Pokemon with mints. Pokemon natures used to be immutable, and since they had a direct affect on a critter's stats (granting bonuses to one parameter at the expense of another), getting an ideal nature on a Pokemon becomes crucial in the competitive metagame. After all, you don't want a Snorlax with a lower-than-normal Defense stat, do you? Rather than going through the laborious process of trying to catch or breed Pokemon of specific natures, Sword and Shield just let you give a Pokemon a mint to change it, which is a really good thing.
In addition, Pokemon have a whole mess of hidden stats called Effort Values that increase when fighting against other Pokemon. These are also important for raising a competitive Pokemon, because some enemy fights will raise some stats, but not others, and you want to min-max Pokemon builds for versus fights. You could also use a limited number of vitamin supplements to boost specific EVs, and in certain games, train Pokemon through optional mini-games. Now, however, you can opt to instead fill out a Pokemon's EVs completely through pills, rather than a combination of pills, battles, and minigames.
Finally, do you like rare candy? Pokemon of all stripes sure do love that oh-so-infrequent sugar rush that raises them one level at a time. Sword and Shield offers something even better, though: EXP candies! These work kind of like EXP boosting items in your mobile game of choice: rather than building up Pokemon one level at a time, they give a set amount of EXP, resulting in potentially several levels gained in one go. You can also feed Pokemon a bunch of candies and vitamins all at once, speeding up the process considerably.
That's all swell, but what if you want to breed Pokemon the old-fashioned way? Well, you might still want to do that, since it allows Pokemon access to skills they might not get otherwise. Getting the right moves onto an egg-hatched Pokemon previous involved a complex process, but now, a parent of the same species as the egg can simply pass the egg move onto its offspring.
Honestly – this all sounds fantastic. These changes remove a lot of the barriers that prevent players from hopping into the player-versus-player element of Pokemon titles. I'm not sure if it makes all Pokemon competitive, as previously claimed, but it certainly helps.
Well! I think that just about does it for this week. What are you all playing this week? Are you getting Death Stranding, practicing Terry in Smash, or playing something else? Chat away in the forums, and I'll see you again next week!
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