This Week in Games
Warmer Days Ahead

by Heidi Kemps,

I may be a writer by trade, but there are times when I just feel completely lost for words.

Like most of us who write for ANN, the sudden passing of Zac Bertschy came as a complete surprise to me. I had a nagging feeling that day that something wasn't right, that something was in fact very very wrong, but I still felt completely blindsided when I got the news.

Was I upset and sad? Of course I was… but I just had no idea what to say.

Seeing so many folks on social media -- people who interacted with Zac on a personal level far more than I did – writing amazing, heartfelt tributes to him made my own abilities to do so feel woefully inadequate. I'd only met him a few times at conventions, sent him emails and DMs on Twitter, guested on a podcast with him once or twice. What could I possibly say about Zac that couldn't be said better by other people who were closer to him?

… Well, maybe I don't have to write up a big tribute. Maybe I can just reflect on something small he did that really stuck with me.

In 2018, I went to Japan to publish and sell a doujinshi at a small convention, which I mentioned in a small blurb here in this very column. Zac always did a cursory look-over at the column before publishing it to make sure everything looked OK and give feedback. When he read that I was making a doujinshi, he wrote me an email saying, “Holy shit, are you seriously publishing a doujinshi? And selling it in Japan? God, that's the coolest thing ever. You are unbelievably rad.”

…I don't know why that stands out in my mind so much, honestly. Maybe he knew that I was fulfilling a life goal and wanted to encourage me. Maybe he was impressed that I managed to put in the legwork to make a project like that happen. Maybe it was both. Regardless, his words of encouragement were just what I needed to hear during a time when I was still uncertain whether or not I'd actually have any success selling a thin book about an obscure-as-hell game.

I still feel guilty that I don't have more strong memories of Zac, like many on this site do, and that I can't write more about him. But maybe I don't need pages and pages of good memories of him to appreciate who he was. Maybe I just need that one.

It's understandably hard to write about games this week with Zac's passing still fresh in my mind, but if he were here, he'd be like “we can't delay the column unless there's a Nintendo Direct or something else big,” so, as they say, the show must go on.

STREET FIGHTER V IS WRAPPING UP WITH ONE FINAL SEASON'S WORTH OF CONTENT

2020's been a near-complete bust for fighting game events of the offline variety, but that's not stopping CAPCOM! As developers like Arc System Works and SNK prep new fighting games for a 2021 debut, CAPCOM is choosing to stick with supporting Street Fighter V for the near future.

On a recent development blog, CAPCOM revealed that Street Fighter V's fifth and final season is currently in the works. This is expected to include five new characters and three new stages, plus the usual round of tweaks and balance adjustments that come with substantial fighting game updates. More information will be revealed “this summer,” which is probably “around the time EVO was supposed to happen,” so I'd wager late July.

Alright, folks, place your bets – who's going to be in the final five? Frankly, Edi E and Damnd deserve better fighting game representation than they got in the miserable Final Fight Revenge, and seeing as how CAPCOM loves bringing back obscure Final Fight personalities, one of them has to be returning, right? Also, let's be real, Retsu's been left in the annals of Street Fighter history as a throwaway first opponent for far too long. And who can forget Colonel Sawada? CAPCOM owns everything related to the Street Fighter movie, so I think it's about time he took his proper place in CAPCOM canon. (Capcanon?)

SAMURAI SHODOWN COLLECTION RE-EMERGES WITH A SURPRISE

It's been a while since we've heard anything about the Samurai Shodown Neo Geo Collection announced last year. Without much being said about the game, I had been wondering if the developers were perhaps trying to add the Neo Geo 64 installments, or possibly even the load-tacular Samurai Spirits RPG. (Seriously, I played the Saturn import back in the day, it was absurd how long load times were. Like, Sonic 2006 levels.)

So, as it turns out, there will be an incredibly unique addition to this set… but it's neither of the things I mentioned above. In fact, it's infinitely cooler: A completely unreleased game!

Samurai Shodown V Perfect has one of the most bizarre development stories I've ever heard. See, back around the time Samurai Shodown V and its follow-up Samurai Shodown V Special debuted, SNK was in an extremely weird place. The parent company had gone bankrupt, the rights for various games, characters, and series were spread out amongst a bunch of different publishers and developers, and Playmore (which would become modern SNK) had only just been established by ex-SNK folks in an attempt to get the Neo-Geo band back together and save the orphanage.

Samurai Shodown V was one of the SNK IP titles that had been developed by an outside company called Yuki Enterprises (who would later become EXAMU and have their own complicated history and eventual death and rebirth, but that's another story!). During the competitive lifespan of Samurai Shodown V, the developers at Yuki kept on wanting to tweak things as the versus metagame evolved and changed. They were able to do some changes with Samurai Shodown V Special, but even that had some serious balance issues and a lack of a single-player story mode – issues that Yuki Enterprises’ development team wanted to address. Thus, they began working on Samurai Shodown V Perfect.

The problem was that, thanks to the development and IP mess the SNK bankruptcy had left behind, the left hand (Yuki Enterprises) didn't know what the right hand (Playmore) was doing – and Playmore were already beginning work on Samurai Shodown VI. They didn't want a new revision of SS5 to cut into hype for the new game, and development on Samurai Shodown V Perfect was halted mere hours after the game launched on location test.

Brandon's tweet thread up there talks a lot about how they recovered the game, what's new about it, and other fascinating factoids, and I do recommend that you check it out – or read this fine Kotaku writeup about the now-found game. Few things make me happier than seeing cancelled games preserved for everyone to play, and it's even better when it happens officially, so mad kudos to SNK and Digital Eclipse for saving this awesome piece of history. You just gained another customer! (Also, if you're willing to brave the Epic Games Store's launcher, you can actually get it for free!)

JUNE IS GOING TO HAVE WAY, WAAAAAAY TOO MANY GAME ANNOUNCEMENTS

Summer Game Fest keeps on adding to its schedule! Now Twitch is hosting its own mini-event-within-a-bigger-event within SGF, teasing announcements from a variety of big-name publishers: CD Projekt Red, Blizzard, Square Enix, and several others. There's also going to be an award show featuring viewer-driven voting, which may or may not be a complete disaster. I'm leaning towards “ugly mess,” but I'm a cynic.

Meanwhile, IGN's got their own round of streaming events and announcements happening! The IGN team just posted the schedule for their Summer of Gaming series of streams, which begins next Friday. Among the highlights are a Guilty Gear Strive character reveal, the debut of a 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim English trailer, and a live Yakuza: Like a Dragon English gameplay showcase interview with as-of-yet-unnamed staff. And there's a bunch of unannounced stuff, too!

NEWSBITS

  • Anime Expo is doing the whole “online convention” thing now, and it's already got folks in a tizzy thanks to one of the promotional images showing characters from The World Ends With You. TWEWY has seen its share of re-releases and remasters, but an official sequel eludes fans more than a decade later. It's probably just a “hey, remember THIS game?” tease, and honestly, Square Enix's constant teasing of the TWEWY fanbase is bordering on cruel at this point…
  • Hey, have you all downloaded English Phantasy Star Online 2 for your PC yet? Probably not, because it sounds like it's a total mess! I appreciate that PC Gamer headline telling it straight -- you can only download the PSO2 launcher through the Windows Store on Windows 10, and if you've ever tried to use a PC-based Microsoft online store interface you know how miserable it is. Hopefully shit gets fixed soon because lots of folks I know are dying to play this.
  • Dragon Quest: Dai no Daibōken, the famous Shonen Jump manga spinoff of the famous RPG series, is coming to arcades, mobile phones, and consoles in game form! This was hinted at late last year, but now we have details. The arcade game is a card battler and unlikely to come out anywhere besides Japan, and the mobile game (a DeNA joint) is an RPG with grid-driven combat and almost certainly some sort of gacha monetization.

    Anyway, the console game, titled Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest -Dai no Daibouken-, looks like far and away the most interesting of the bunch. Since it's an action-RPG and those are easier to sell than a turn-based trek, I think we'll likely be getting this one in the west.

It's been a long, weird, and sad May, but we've made it through, and we'll keep on going. Thanks for reading, as always. Summer awaits us.


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