This Week in Games
Optic Blast from the Past
by Heidi Kemps,
Boy, am I ever glad that there's been big, interesting videogame news to distract from everything else that's been going on the world this week! Hey, did you see that a bunch of formerly unlocalized Famicom Kunio-kun games are going to be released in a big collection on PS4 and Switch? In English? And Double Dragon games are in there too?
Yeah, that's pretty awesome! Definitely picking this one up, though I have no idea when I'd be able to play through everything on there.
Anyhow, there's plenty more news this week, so let's get rolling!
THE WONDERFUL 101 ARE PREPARING THEIR COMEBACK – ON KICKSTARTER
We're only one month into 2020, but PlatinumGames is already announcing some big things!
Well, okay, there's only one real announcement so far. The others are merely being hinted at on a special webpage. Still, four new games from Platinum this year! That's great!
And that first announcement? It's a doozy.
I don't think anyone ever expected that P* would try their hand at Kickstarter, but this business is just filled with surprises. Yes, Hideki Kamiya wants to re-release his Wii U cult classic, The Wonderful 101, on current platforms: Switch, Steam, and PS4. (The conspicuous lack of Xbox One does make me wonder if Kamiya has some leftover bitterness over Scalebound…) The Kickstarter began with a comically low, sure-to-be-hit goal of about $50,000 and has demolished that several times over already. As I write this, it's almost at $1.4 million.
While W101 sales didn't set the world on fire when it first launched, it's since become one of the most beloved games among the PlatinumGames fanbase, and was generally regarded as one of the Wii U's best exclusives. With a multiplatform release guaranteed, it's sure to reach a far bigger audience now than ever before.
Also, the Kickstarter comes with one of the best backer perks I've ever seen:
“But I can get that for free!” you might be saying. Indeed, Kamiya blocks a lot, but Kamiya dragging someone publicly on Twitter before blocking them has been a privilege for only a very select few so far. Who wouldn't want the man behind Okami and Bayonetta to mock them in front of everyone before cutting off all contact?
I have seen some concern about this campaign, however. This and other big gaming Kickstarters like Shenmue III set some very low initial goals to guarantee success, which might lead some uninformed backers to think that you'd only need $50,000 to do a port of a game to the Switch. Which is, of course, extremely wrong. Many of these Kickstarters have already secured additional funding from other sources (in this case, likely Tencent, since P* inked a deal with them), but don't disclose it. Backers (and even some inexperienced developers) could have a skewed idea of game development costs as a result, making them balk at funding Kickstarters with higher goals but no outside funding. It's good to keep that in mind when you're looking at game projects to back.
Anyway, PlatinumGames probably doesn't need your funding as much as you might initially think they do… but if you want to give The Wonderful 101 a second chance at finding success, I certainly won't stop you from dropping some cash.
THE EVO 2020 LINEUP IS ANNOUNCED WITH SOMETHING NEW AND SOMETHING VERY OLD
EVO 2020 is still half a year away, but if you're going to play seriously at the world's biggest fighting game tournament, you need ample time to train! That's why they announce each year's game lineup several months in advance: so folks can decide what games they're going to be focusing on this year. We got the lineup earlier this week, and here's what it looks like!
So that's Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Tekken 7, Street Fighter V Champion Edition, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Samurai Shodown, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r], Soul Calibur VI, and Granblue Fantasy Versus. Oh, I should mention -- Granblue Fantasy Versus finally has a US release date: March 3rd! It's out in Japan already, but if you want the most out of the RPG mode you'll probably want it in English. Here's a new trailer:
There's also something surprising in the center of that grid. As it turns out, Marvel vs. CAPCOM 2 is 20 years old this year! MvC2’s importance to the North American fighting game scene (and in building up events like EVO) cannot be overstated: it was the main event for fighting game tournaments for years before Street Fighter IV released. In its heyday, MvC2 kept many a local arcade hangout alive, was burned on countless CD-Rs with custom soundtracks (usually anime theme songs), and inspired oh-so-many long-running, legendary fighting game memes (language warning):
This isn't a standard tournament, however. It's an 8-man invitational among some of MvC2’s best players, with four slots reserved for former EVO MvC2 champs (including Justin Wong and IFC Yipes, the voice in the famous video above) and four slots TBD: three decided at other regional tournaments taking place before EVO, and a last chance qualifier at EVO itself. It's an interesting idea, and I hope it leads to more classic fighters getting a prominent showcase at the event.
To sum it up: the EVO main games list looks pretty similar to last year, albeit with Granblue Fantasy Versus in place of Blazblue X Tag Battle and that oddball MvC2 event. But there's one other conspicuous absence…
That's right, Mortal Kombat 11 – one of 2019's bestselling games – isn't at EVO this year, despite its appearance last year. I've heard numerous rumors floating about as to why MK11 was “snubbed”, but the most plausible explanation I've heard is that the EVO team and WB Games couldn't hash something out this time around.
As time has passed, having a game in the main EVO selection has become promotional tool to build interest. For some of these games, being on the EVO main stage can have a dramatic effect on sales and playerbase: niche fighter Under Night In-Birth had a tremendous surge in interest when it got in last year. That won't happen with Mortal Kombat 11 – the game's already sold a bazillion copies, and the hardcore competitive players make up just a tiny fraction of those who've bought it. Hell, WB could run its own MK11 tournament series and the core competitive MK fanbase likely wouldn't miss EVO at all. So no, I don't think this is as big a thing as some folks are making it out to be – it's likely WB Games corporate deciding their time and promotional effort is best spent elsewhere.
So yes, EVO should be a fun time again this year. Will this be the year I try to run a Fighting Vipers 2 side tournament finally? Hmmm….
Also: since we brought up Marvel vs. CAPCOM, it's worth mentioning that Tatsunoko vs. CAPCOM and Marvel vs. CAPCOM 3 producer ryota Niitsuma has departed from CAPCOM. No word on what he's doing next, but he didn't seem to be doing a whole lot of note at CAPCOM recently (he didn't touch Marvel vs. CAPCOM Infinite), so it's probably for the best that he's going elsewhere. I wish him luck in his endeavors!
STRATEGIC DRAGON QUESTING IS GOING MOBILE
You likely weren't aware of it unless you were living in Japan (or following a bunch of Japanese Twitter accounts), but Square Enix's mobile title Dragon Quest Walk was a smash success last year. It's basically the Pokemon GO-fication of Dragon Quest, and given how culturally ingrained Dragon Quest is in Japan, that concept couldn't possibly go wrong unless Squeenix totally dropped the ball (they didn't). With DQ Walk a hit and Hoshi no Dragon Quest still kicking along, free-to-play Dragon Questing looks like it's here to stay. But just to make sure, Square Enix has yet another new Dragon Quest mobile game coming.
Titled Dragon Quest Tact, this game puts the menagerie of Akira Toriyama-designed Dragon Quest beasties into armies and has them fight grid-based, strategic battles against each other. So, Fire Emblem Heroes but with Dragon Quest monsters, then? Sign me up! The game will be free-to-play with “paid items” – not sure if that means “helpful items for use in battle” or “premium currency with which you'll try to roll for a SSR King Metal Slime.” Then again, we don't even know if an English version is coming, and Square Enix seems to have problems marketing F2P mobile games that don't have a Final Fantasy brand outside of Japan. Hopefully it does – this definitely seems like the most internationally-marketable of the F2P Dragon Quest titles. (Let's face it, the AR games market here is pretty saturated.)
Speaking of Fire Emblem Heroes, that game is getting a $9.50-a-month subscription plan to get various perks. I've seen other F2P gacha games do subscription/VIP stuff, and compared to others, FEH's definitely feels a bit scummy. Getting a couple of discount 5*s each month isn't too bad, but things like paid stat boosts and locking away some quests and features just feels icky.
Well, that's another TWIG for the books. Have any burning opinions about The Wonderful 101, Kickstarter games, gacha game subscriptions, or the EVO lineup? We've got forums for that, so come join us! Thanks as always for reading, and I'll be back again next week!
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