This Week in Games
Shiny New Hardware

by Heidi Kemps,

Hi. Uh. It's sure been a week, huh? I guess one good thing about work getting called off and everyone being asked to stay home is that we have an opportunity to start (or finish) all of those really long games we never got around to! Like the game I'm playing that you're probably going to see a review for in a couple of weeks…

It seems like a lot of folks are turning to gaming in these strange times: Steam's concurrent users are reaching all-time highs, online fighting game events are drawing lots of entrants, and pretty much everyone's looking to Isabelle, Tom Nook, and the froggy chair to whisk them away. Animal Crossing New Horizons was already going to be one of 2020's biggest titles, but its release timing could not possibly be better than it is right now. I think a lot of people who were on the fence about grabbing it right away (myself included) are now staring at the eShop, counting down the hours until ACNH unlocks.

HERE'S ALL THE NEWS WE WERE SUPPOSED TO GET AT GDC 2020

Hey, remember that GDC was originally scheduled for this week? Yeah, it's… pretty easy to forget, actually. But the good news is that we're still getting all of the planned announcements!

Nintendo ran its Switch Indies presentation, and there was a lot of good stuff: Exit the Gungeon! Sky Racket! Pixeljunk Eden 2! Dicey Dungeons! Bounty Battle! And perhaps the best news, Hidetaka Swery's The Good Life, a game I'm very much looking forward to, is now Switch-bound! Even if it's got a lower framerate or some graphical downgrades, I'd be very happy having a game like that on a portable platform. Now, I wonder if there's any truth to that Nintendo Direct happening next week? We could all use something to get really hyped about right now, though Smash news might not be forthcoming:

Meanwhile, the specs of the Xbox Series X and the PS5 have been revealed! Microsoft dropped their tell-all about the new console first, with a flurry of coverage across multiple websites on Monday. I don't really want to just post a bunch of out-of-context hardware specs here, so I'll just link a few relevant articles that explain this stuff better than I could. And a YouTube video, too.

Sony, on the other hand, did their presentation about the PS5 hardware capabilities that they had planned for GDC. If you ever wanted to have Mark Cerny talk at you for an hour accompanied by a greenscreen background and a bunch of fake silhouettes meant to simulate an audience, you're going to LOVE this!

Look, I love Mark Cerny, he is an incredibly important figure in gaming history (We'll forgive him for Kid Chameleon) and a very, very capable hardware designer, but good lord is this painful to sit through unless you're the biggest hardware-performance dork out there. I'm sure it's meaningful to devs, but from a typical consumer standpoint, there's almost nothing here. This tweet was pretty good though:

I'd say that Microsoft definitely had the better reveal, but honestly, they were both pretty lackluster, because where are the damn games? Don't just tell us what a console could theoretically do on paper, show us how all of this stuff is going to make for interesting games! Microsoft had a couple of tech demos featuring last-gen games in the various previews – which, admittedly, was better than the nothing Sony showed – but as of right now I have nothing to get excited about. I'm here for games, not for hardware power pissing contests. When will we actually see more than the teasers shown at The Game Awards last year? Who even knows at this point!

THERE MIGHT BE A SHORTAGE OF PHYSICAL FFVII REMAKE COPIES, BUT DOES THAT ACTUALLY MATTER RIGHT NOW

Yeah, I know, there are a lot of folks who prefer physical copies of their games. That's cool. But, y'know, we're kind of in a situation right now where we've been asked not to go outside, and GameStop are flailing about trying to operate in a bad environment and also treating employees badly, so maybe buying physical games should be less of a priority if possible?

Anyway, here's another reason you should probably just plan on downloading your games for a while: shipping snags and stock shortages! In fact, Square-Enix is anticipating a shortage of physical Final Fantasy VII Remake copies, as reported on Twitter:

It's not specified if this applies to all versions of the game -- limited edition packages can be subject to delays when some of the extras get held up in shipping and manufacturing, so if you have one of those pre-ordered you may want to keep your ear to the ground. But if you were just going to get a standard edition or hadn't preordered at all, it's probably best to go the digital route – you'll get the game, and you won't have to go outside. It's a win-win!

A MINI-GUIDE TO COOL DEMOS YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD RIGHT NOW

If there was ever a time to work through your gaming backlog, it's probably now… but there are also plenty of future-minded folks who want a little taste of what's coming soon… right now! Well, you're in luck, because there are some noteworthy game demos hitting virtual shelves right now!

Perhaps the biggest demo at the moment is that of the Resident Evil 3 remake. This one has just dropped on PS4, Xbox One, and PC as of this writing, and it's pretty fantastic, offering a good taste of just how drastically this game's been revamped over the PSOne original. In addition, there will be an open beta of the multiplayer Resident Evil: Resistance coming on March 27th. This should hopefully tide you over until the game's full release on April 3rd. Honestly, who doesn't want to gleefully destroy a company that unleashed a horrific virus on the world right now?

If action-RPGs are more your thing, though, you may want to go grab the Trials of Mana demo on the PlayStation Store, Steam, and the Nintendo eShop. Trials of Mana is a full-on remake of the famously never-localized Super Famicom game Seiken Densetsu 3, and oh my goodness does it ever look absolutely beautiful. You have the ability to form parties with all six characters in the demo, so play around a bit and figure out your team before you embark on the big journey. You'll even have the ability to transfer your save data to the full game once you're done!

Finally, there's a big, BIG collection of indie game demos on Steam right now. Numerous event cancellations, particularly GDC, have left indie developers without a venue to showcase their games to players and publishers. Fortunately, we now have the Steam Spring Festival, with over 40 playable game demos originally planned to be shown at GDC and surrounding events. The games showcased range from hardcore retro action to visual novels to roguelikes to story-driven experimental games to a game about a tiny bird on a rad skateboard. For the next few days, all of these games are 100% free to test-drive, and the developers are also taking turns showcasing their own projects via livestream. If you want to play a bunch of nifty stuff and perhaps find your new favorite indie gem, you should *absolutely* check Steam Spring Festival out while it's still going.

Anyhow! Not too much news happening this week for obvious reasons, but hopefully Nintendo delivers us the hype we need in the coming days. I have a couple of mini-reviews planned of that new Record of the Lodoss War Metroidvania on Steam and Bubble Bobble 4 Friends, so if a Direct doesn't happen you can at least look forward to those. What are you playing (or planning to play) over the next couple of weeks? Have you moved your near-future game-buying plans over to digital? Let's enjoy each others’ virtual company while practicing responsible social distancing in the forums! See you again soon here at TWIG!


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