This Week in Games
by Heidi Kemps,
Hey folks! It's April, finally! Time for… well, more gaming seems to be the plan for a while, huh? As I write this, it's that most high-larious of days, April 1st, and the divide between pro-yuks and anti-yuks folks this year feels particularly pronounced. Even esteemed game director and lovable weirdo Yoko Taro felt the need to weigh in.
In the end, some companies and development teams went ahead with jokes while others abstained, and the jokes that were put out there garnered generally mixed reactions… though there were a few standouts.
I particularly like when developers take the time to make an actual game or new play mode for April Fools, small or unpolished though it might be. To the delight of many, CAPCOM's Street Fighter team put out a little browser-based puzzle game called Neco Drop that has you clearing Bejeweled-meets-Candy-Crush type stages to earn food and befriend cats that are modeled after Street Fighter V characters. It's very cute and very playable, though not particularly deep. It's a charming little game that I hope stays online for a while past April 1st, though I've heard collecting all of the cats lets you download Neco Drop as its own app.
Fate/Grand Order always goes above and beyond for April Fools, especially in Japan: this year sees a limited-time app called Fate/GO Mycraft Lostbelt, an AR-augmented physics combat game that you look at and go, “they did all this just for April Fools?” The FGO crew also re-released Fate/GO Gutentag Omen, an AR riff on Pokémon GO where you control a Space Harrier-ified Gudako enlisting Servants by blasting them with piles of Saint Quartz.
This is also the first year English FGO got an April Fools’ bonus in the form of Fate/GO Pinball, a very simple web-based pinball game that I admit I spent an embarrassing amount of time with to see all the goofy Servant descriptions. It's not as polished as Japan's FGO game jokes, but hopefully if reception is positive we'll get localizations of the other April Fools’ apps.
Meanwhile, Arika showed off a trailer for something called Prayer to Death. Arika's shown teases of upcoming projects on April 1st in the past, and this looks like it could be another Fighting EX Layer situation: put something out, observe the reaction, figure out where to take things from there.
If you want a comprehensive list of gaming-related gags, Gematsu has you covered. And even if we can't always tell what's fake and what's real on April 1st, one fact is always true: Randy Pitchford is absolutely the worst.
Anyway, there's a fair bit of news to talk about this week, so let's look at some of the bigger stories!
RUMORMILL: MARIO MANIA'S COMING BACK IN A BIG WAY
Numerous sources across the internet are citing rumors that Nintendo is planning a big ol’ shebang for Mario's 35th birthday. Well, technically he's older than 35, if you go back to the likes of Donkey Kong and the original Mario Bros., but for many, Mario As We Know It definitively begins with the 1985 release of Super Mario Bros. on NES.
The plan, it's said, involves releasing remasters of many of Mario's post-16-bit outings. Among the rumored games to be getting a digital spit-shine: Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy, along with a significantly enhanced release of Super Mario 3D World and a new Paper Mario game.
While none of this is officially confirmed, it makes a lot of sense: 64, Sunshine, and Galaxy all have a great deal of nostalgia tied to them and would be big sellers on the Switch to old and new gamers alike. (I just hope they'd package in Mario Galaxy 2 THE BEST 3D MARIO GAME along with the original.) Super Mario 3D World is a wonderful game that was trapped on a platform that never took off, and it deserves a second lease on life. Paper Mario... I wonder if that would be all-new or a remaster of, say, Color Splash or Thousand Year Door? I'm sure we'll hear more soon, probably around the time E3 was supposed to happen.
Oh, also on the subject of Mario: Viz is going to be releasing an English best-of collection of the absolutely bonkers Super Mario-kun comics that have been running in CoroCoro Comic for the last 29 years. It's definitely one to grab if you want to see a significantly weirder Marioverse.
NIER IS RETURNING WITH A LOT OF NUMBERS I DON'T WANT TO TYPE
It's the tenth anniversary of the original NieR’s release! Wow, it seems like only yesterday when I was playing the game to review at GamePro (RIP) and saying to myself “this game has problems but oh my goodness do I ever love it.” It's one of those games that got middling reviews at the time, but developed such a devoted fanbase that NieR Automata got greenlit years later. And we all know how that turned out!
But since NieR Automata sold many, many, many more copies than the original game did – and NieR’s lore does flow directly into Automata – folks who jumped into the NieRDrakenVerse with 2B and company are likely missing a big part of the story. Enter NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139… (which I'm just going to call NieR ReReplicant from now on, thanks), a remaster of the original NieR that debuted during the official NieR 10th Anniversary Livestream. It's coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC, and I'm so very happy about it.
As devoted NieR nerds are no doubt aware, the Japanese release of the original NieR came in two flavors: NieR Replicant on PS3 and NieR Gestalt on 360. In Replicant, the main story duo was a brother and sister, whereas in Gestalt it was a father and daughter. Here in the West, the Gestalt version was all we got. Thus far, it looks like NieR ReReplicant is going to go primarily with the brother/sister duo, as that's all we're seeing in the promotional material. But what about those who like increasingly sad dads? I'm hoping there will at least be a DLC option for the Gestalt duo, as a lot of fans do have some memories tied up with those two.
Mostly, I'm just excited that NieR’s coming back and more people will be able to play it. I'm hoping there will be some quality-of-life gameplay tweaks to match the graphical overhaul, because even the most devoted NieR fans know that there are some problems with it.
Oh yeah, there's a mobile game that looks to feature young Kaine too. Rad!
MAGES is a developer whose name you might not immediately recognize, but if you're into anime and/or Japanese games, you'll immediately recognize their most popular and beloved property: Steins;Gate. Yeah, MAGES has released a lot of other stuff that's not Steins;Gate (like other semicolon-abusing visual novels Chaos;HEAd and Robotics;Notes), but you can't deny that the time-travelling adventures of Rintarou and its many spinoffs are the crown jewels of their lineup.
About half a year ago, MAGES (which was formerly known as 5pb., further complicating things) was spun off from its parent companies, Dwango and Kadokawa through a buyout by Chiyomaru Shikura, who was also a producer and planner for many of their visual novels. Either Chiyomaru found out being and independent business was really hard or he was offered an insane deal he couldn't pass up, because MAGES is now owned by Colopl!
Who's Colopl, you ask? They're a pretty successful company specializing primarily in mobile games. Their biggest hit is Shironeko Project, a game that consistently performs well in Japan but absolutely tanked when they tried to export it. There are numerous reasons why it flopped, but I can't get over the fact that the title of the English version was Colopl Rune Story. Generic fantasy name and extremely awkward company branding? Oof. OOF.
Anyhow, much like Cygames, Colopl's been looking to expand out of mobile gaming a bit – they've done some work with VR, but MAGES is more grounded in traditional platforms like consoles and PCs. Of course, given that Colopl's big money is mobile gaming – specifically gacha stuff – there's some trepidation among the fanbase that Colopl is going to milk Steins;Gate dry. Which… yeah, that's definitely something of concern. Still, a VR tour of the Future Gadget Lab would be pretty swell, right?
- Active development of content for Dead or Alive 6 is apparently stopping after the mid-month release of version 1.22. I definitely get a sense that KOEI-Tecmo wanted to sell lots and lots of DLC costumes, characters, and cosmetic stuff like they did with DoA5 and DoAX3, but it definitely feels like they have passed the point of diminishing returns. You can only sell people $90 DLC packs alongside $1 hair-color changes so many times before they grow a bit weary. Shame, too, because the game itself is solid.
- Trails of Cold Steel IV, which finishes off the Cold Steel sub-series of the Trails series of the Legend of Heroes series, has been announced as coming to Switch, PC, and PS4 in 2021. I know a lot of folks really love this series, but 2021 seems so far away… if you haven't played the previous games, though, you now have the perfect opportunity!
- Sadly, more COVID-19 event cancellations: Quakecon, the Play! Pokémon World Series and The Pokémon World Championships 2020 are no longer planned for this year. The Arc World Tour, an Arc System Works-specific global fighting game tournament series, has been called off for 2020, as has beloved Midwestern fighting game event Combo Breaker. Is EVO 2020 going to be next…?
Okay! That wraps things up for this week. I'm still plugging away at Persona 5 Royal (long game is very long) and hope to have a review for you all quite soon. Did you pick it up, or are you waiting for Final Fantasy VII Remake? We've got the forums below to chat all the goings-on in the gaming world! Take care of yourselves, and I'll see you again soon!
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