This Week in Games
Worlds of Fun

by Heidi Kemps,

Hey folks! I had planned to talk a lot this week about the Guilty Gear Strive beta, which took place over the weekend, but… well, if you also got into the beta, you probably know that it was a bit of a mess. I'm a total noob-fraud at Guilty Gear to begin with, so I wasn't going to be able to provide much in the way of detailed gameplay analysis, but just getting matches at all was generally an exercise in futility: versus-player sessions were fraught with problems. Arc System Works probably wasn't expecting most of the world to be trapped at home and eager for entertainment when they planned the beta, and it shows.

Here's what I can say about Guilty Gear Strive, though, mostly from beating up on the braindead-AI CPU that was provided:

  • This game looks really, really good
  • I mean, GOD DAYUM, this thing is just flippin’ gorgeous
  • Overall damage seems a lot higher across the board
  • These cinematic elements look really cool but are a bit distracting and I wonder if they're in the game to make viewing it more “esports friendly”
  • Oh god these online lobbies better be placeholders because they are a trainwreck, please fix this ArcSys because absolutely nobody on God's green earth has a positive thing to say about them

We know from the Granblue Versus beta that Arc does take a lot of feedback into consideration, so they're definitely looking at player response to gauge how the game will change as they continue to work on it. And given how COVID-19 is lingering, they'll likely have plenty of time to get things right before the tournament circuit revs up again.

NINTENDO UNLEASHES BIG UPDATES FOR BIG GAMES

The Nintendo Switch continues to sell like hotcakes across the globe thanks to the siren song of a Nook Inc getaway package. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little here – there are a plethora of great reasons to get a Nintendo Switch, and everyone has a whole lot of free time on their hands right now to fully enjoy them! Fortunately for adopters both old and new, two big game updates are hitting this week: one for a beloved title from last year, and one for the new hotness everyone's infatuated with.

The first major update is for Super Mario Maker 2, and it just dropped last night, so folks are still learning their way around it right now. It's planned to be the last major update for the game, and it's a doozy! The biggest thing it adds is the ability to organize your created stages into themed worlds – a feature which a lot of serious Mario Maker-s have been clamoring for. Now you can subject your favorite Twitch personality to a gauntlet of your personally crafted hells for maximum misery!

New items and enemies are also coming to the assorted game styles. Super Mario 3D World will be getting a plethora of new power-ups like Boomerang Mario, an artillery mask, a propeller helmet, and even a goomba disguise that allows you to blend in with enemy groups. Super Mario Bros 3 will be getting the Frog Suit for easier navigation over and under water, Super Mario Bros. U gets the Flying Squirrel suit for aerial adventures, and Super Mario World gets the Power Balloon, better known as “that power-up everyone forgets exists until they replay the game and then they're like ‘OH MY GOD I HATE THIS STUPID THING SO MUCH.’” (I'm still not sure if it's better or worse than Spring Mario, though.)

However, the new addition I'm most excited for is the Super Mario Bros 2 mushroom, which changes the mechanics of Mario and co.’s movement and object interaction to be more like that of the NES classic. I'm a super proponent of SMB2, and I'm glad to see this… but I'm also rather saddened by speculation that a full game mode for Super Mario Bros. 2 was planned, but development was cut short due to COVID-19. You all have no idea how much (and how long) I've been wanting a proper SMB2 followup.

More new stuff! Obstacle-wise, we've got on/off switch-based trampolines, a key that summons Phanto to pursue you once collected (another sign a SMB2 style was likely scrapped, sigh), mechakoopas with various attack properties (who might be just what I need to finish the epic post-apocalypse course I started making and then abandoned), and the seven bratty Koopalings as additional boss encounters. All in all, a very substantial update, even if I personally find it a bit disappointing that this is the end of further SMM2 content.

There's also a big, big update coming to Animal Crossing: New Horizons which, by the time you read this, should be live. This update marks the return of a lot of fan-favorite stuff from previous titles, along with some new activities. First off is the return of Leif, the goofy-looking sloth guest NPC first introduced in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. He'll be selling a bunch of plant-related goods, such as flowers and shrubbery you can use to liven up the island in place of boring fences. Hopefully now I can finally get my damn roses that nobody's Nookling store seems to carry.

Longtime Animal Crossing players definitely noticed that the Art wing of the museum had been missing up to this point, but post-update, the newest display area will be open for business – as will Redd, the shady fox visitor who may or may not have a really sick deal on some great works of art for you. Your knowledge of art history will be put to the test as you look over the paintings to determine if they're real or forgeries – some fakes are much easier to spot than others.

Those of you who “time travel” in Animal Crossing have likely learned by now that many events are activated by a game update rather than by simply setting your clock ahead. The latest update will add three new timed events: a “Nature Day” promotion starting today to earn extra nook miles for your tarantula-hoarding trips, a special May Day Tour which seems looks like a mystery island (and, unfortunately, not a rebellion against the oppressive Nook overlords), and a museum stamp rally in late May that brings a Japanese event tradition to Animal Crossing's world.

Oh yeah, we got an unannounced Splatfest in Splatoon 2 as well, long after that game's new content was supposed to be done. Rad! We can't be friends if you're a mayo supporter, though.

Nintendo's killing it at the moment, that's for sure, but I'm worried about their momentum as the year goes on, mainly because COVID-19 is causing all manner of game development and production delays everywhere. When will we know more about those rumored Mario re-releases, or the ARMS Smash competitor, or the Breath of the Wild followup? I mean, yeah, there's typically a BIG Nintendo Direct around E3 time, but… is it even safe to film a Direct right now?

TO NOBODY'S SURPRISE, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE IS SELLING GANGBUSTERS

Hey, have you heard of this Final Fantasy VII Remake thing? Apparently it sold 3.5 million copies (physical and digital) globally within 3 days of its worldwide launch! At least 1 million of those were in Japan, which means FFVII Remake automatically ranks among the top-selling games for the PS4 in that territory.

I mean… yeah, that sounds about right. A beloved game that received an extensive remake, releasing during a time when a lot of people are playing videogames? Sounds like a surefire recipe for success. I think everyone's Twitter feed is ablaze right now with FF7R memes and art of Tifa, Aerith, and Jessie smooching. Well, actually, that's probably just my Twitter feed, but I'm sure you've also seen plenty of FF7R art of varying degrees of horny on assorted social media outlets.

We probably won't know how hard FF7R killed it in North America until the release of April's NPD reports (in case you were wondering, Animal Crossing: New Horizons destroyed everything else in March, as expected), but it's safe to say that sales are going to be brisk and likely stay brisk throughout 2020, especially if more stuff gets delayed into 2021. Seeing these numbers, is it any wonder why CAPCOM is rumored to be planning a Resident Evil 4 remake? Classic game status + remake on modern platforms = CA$$$$$$$$H.

ASSORTED NEWSBITS

  • Granblue Fantasy has suspended new voiceover recording temporarily. One of Granblue’s big selling points is its fully-voiced event scenes, which many comparable mobile games (and even console games) tend to lack, but at this point I doubt that the many, many Granblue faithful out there mind all that much.
  • Spike Chunsoft have opened a new website for the 10th anniversary of the Danganronpa There are a handful of announcements, but so far, the most interesting is that Danganronpa 1, 2, and V3 will all be coming to iOS and Android mobile platforms. No word on if English versions of these ports are in the works, but it seems logical.
  • Death Stranding for PC has been delayed a bit to July 14th, as Kojima Productions is currently closed to weather the pandemic. I feel like we're going to see a lot more delays over the coming months -- fallout from temporary studio closures.
  • If the trailers for Gungho's team-based versus action game Ninjala looked interesting to you, then good news: the open beta can be downloaded on Switch now for play on April 28th.
  • Who here loves old-school arcade shooters? (I do! I doooo!!) Well, you're in luck, because ace porting house M2 just detailed some of their plans to port dearly departed arcade developer/publisher Toaplan's catalog to as-of-yet-unspecified modern platforms. Twin Cobra, Truxton II, Flying Shark, and Out Zone are the first four games to get ports. Hopefully, we get the amazing beat-em-up Knuckle Bash sooner rather than later.

Well then, I think that about wraps up everything newsworthy this week. Were any of you folks more fortunate than me with the Guilty Gear Strive beta and getting reliable connections/matches? What did you think of the game? Tell me about it in the forums – I'd love to hear it! And any other thoughts you might have about this week's news, of course. See you again next week!


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