This Week in Games
Back to Schools

by Heidi Kemps,

Hey all! It's TWIG time again. Are you folks playing anything interesting? Right now, I've been sucked into gacha hell thanks to the Fate/Grand Order summer event. FGO always goes all-out with making its seasonal events exceptionally goofy, and this year's has been a lot of fun so far, with the story reaching maximum self-awareness as the Chaldea gang is forced to make and sell doujinshi in a Groundhog Day-like time loop. Forget the Singularities, I want an anime adaptation of this.

It's also got a swimsuit version of best girl, Ibaraki Douji, who used up a lot of my stockpiled quartz to get. It's such an easy marketing tool to mock, but PNGs of favorite characters in swimsuits is just so difficult to resist. Sigh.

Anyhow, much of this week's noteworthy news is about fighting games… which is great, because I love talking about fighting games! First off, let's look at announcements related to the most famous fighting game series out there…

STREET FIGHTER V PROVIDES A ROADMAP FOR THE NEXT YEAR (AND THEN SOME)

With most big fighting game events shelved for 2020, CAPCOM decided to make their own Street Fighter V announcement stream to deliver news on the previously-announced Season 5 to their fans. While the character reveals weren't quite as impactful as they would have been in the middle of a hype tournament of killers, one reveal in particular was quite a surprise.

So who all is joining the roster? First off is Dan, who is… certainly a choice, yes.

See, fans love Dan because he's a completely incompetent dumbass who thinks he's much better than he actually is. The problem is when you play him and figure out that he is very deliberately made to be a garbage character compared to everyone else. He's the kind of DLC character I'd hope CAPCOM would have the good sense to give out for free because, while people like him being around in Street Fighter, nobody except the most masochistic low-tier heroes likes playing him. But this is CAPCOM, so I'm sure Dan will be taking your real or virtual fight money and laughing all the way to the bank.

Next up is Rose, one of those characters who never seems particularly widely used but whose fans are very, very devoted. Unlike Dan, she's so early in development that she doesn't even have anything for the developers to show beyond concept art, which is also the case for the next couple of characters. I'd love to talk here a bit about how she has been changed up from her previous incarnations, but there's really not much to go on, I'm afraid!

Third is Oro, the Methuselah of Street Fighter who has only been seen a bit in story bits since he last showed his baggy, saggy mug in Street Fighter III Third Strike. Oro has always been very eccentric both in design and playstyle: Story-wise, he might be the most powerful being in the Street Fighter universe, but he artificially limits himself most of the time to keep from absolutely annihilating the other guys. I'd imagine he'd have a V-Trigger that ups his abilities but dragging the other arm out, but we'll see, I guess.

Also, here's a bit of trivia: going frame-by-frame through Oro's crouching roundhouse animation in Street Fighter III gives you a cheeky one-or-two frame peek at Oro's...uh, third arm. I'm 100% serious, this is actually in the game and CAPCOM has never spoken of it. Obviously the SFIII animation team was having some fun and figured this would never get caught, and if it did, it'd be dismissed. It's like rumored frames of Jessica Rabbit's nether regions in the old Who Framed Roger Rabbit Laserdisc release, only significantly less appealing. Anyway, this easter egg needs to be in SFV, or at least in the character model data people will inevitably rip. No Oro dong, no buy, says I. It's just the principle of it. (Kidding. Maybe.)

And now we come to the most interesting inclusion. Hey, remember when CAPCOM made fighting games that weren't Street Fighter or media crossovers? I sure do! And those of you who are big into CAPCOM's back catalog might remember a 3D fighting game called Shiritsu Justice Gakuen, aka Rival Schools United by Fate.

Rival Schools wasn't exactly Street Fighter in terms of popularity, but it gained a strong fanbase thanks to outlandish characters and attacks combined with gameplay that could be easily enjoyed on both casual and competitive levels. Alas, after Dreamcast follow-up Project Justice, Rival Schools was shipped off to the Island of Misfit IPs, with CAPCOM only dragging main character Batsu out every few years for a random crossover.

So it was a bit of a surprise when CAPCOM announced Rival Schools representation for Street Fighter V, and even more of a surprise as to which character it was.

Now, Street Fighter and Rival Schools aren't total strangers to each other – SF's Sakura has appeared in Rival Schools games. She's also apparently friendly with Akira… which is why Akira's now coming to Street Fighter V. Neat, huh? Even so, it's a little sad, because it's CAPCOM mining an IP that people dearly miss. I think the current fighting game market could really use a game with solid mechanics and unabashedly goofy shonen-manga appeal like Rival Schools right now, but CAPCOM's all in on SF5. Alas.

And finally, we have ???, the fifth character. Yeah, they're holding off on announcing whoever this is for a while, so either they haven't decided yet or they're hoping this one will be absolutely earthshaking. Could it be Dan's father reanimated for revenge? I mean, weirder things have happened in Street Fighter.

Unfortunately, we might be waiting a while for that reveal, because this particular DLC roadmap is a long one. We'll see Dan being added in winter of this year, alongside a new balance patch. Rose, Oro, and Akira will be coming in spring and summer of 2021. Finally, the last character will debut in fall of 2021, meaning we won't be playing whoever they are until well over a year from now. CAPCOM really wants to drag SFV as far as it will possibly go, it seems – hey, it worked for Street Fighter IV, right? Makes me wonder if we'll see a quick-n-dirty SFV port on PS5, too. Seems likely, given another fighting game announcement that just happened… so let's get into that.

FIGHTING GAME DEVELOPERS’ ROUNDTABLE, OR: LEARNING HOW TO DODGE

August has only just begun, but it's been an interesting month for fans of fighting games. Over the weekend, we got to see a Japanese fighting game developers roundtable broadcast live on Twitch. It was about two hours long and split into two parts: developers from SNK, CAPCOM, Arc System Works, Bandai-Namco, Arika, and KOEI-Tecmo shootin’ the shit about fighting game development related topics for an hour before getting into various game announcements. If you want to hear the general discussion, it's archived in several places, and there are some interesting and funny moments scattered throughout. Honestly, though, most folks were watching for the announcements.

…However, with development still disrupted thanks to COVID-19 and the roundtable stream having been assembled rather hastily, not everyone there had something substantial to show. But we'll go through everything anyway!

SNK's Nobuyuki Kuroki and Yasuyuki Oda talked a bit about Samurai Shodown, and revealed that, yes, a Season 3 of DLC content is on the horizon. There's hope for Cham Cham yet, hooray!

A bit later, Oda was asked about “that game,” aka King of Fighters XV, to which he lamented that they didn't have something they could show onstream at the moment, but that news about the much-anticipated follow-up would be materializing “very soon.” Yeah, it might be frustrating for the KoF faithful, but remember how thoroughly roasted KoFXIV was upon its first reveal? I really don't blame them for taking their time to make a good first impression.

Bandai-Namco had a few announcements for its flagship fighters. First off was the announcement of a new balance/upgrade patch for Soul Calibur VI, followed by the re-introduction of the heavily-fan-requested Setsuka back in the game as DLC. Both of these are available right now, so grab them if your soul continues to flame on.

Meanwhile, Tekken’s Katsuhiro Harada, in his usual troll-ish fashion, dropped some announcements related to ongoing developments for Tekken 7. Season 4 and an accompanying balance/quality-of-life patch for all versions of Tekken 7 are scheduled for release sometime this fall. This patch will include “improvements to the online experience,” which is welcome to hear. There's also a character tease at the end of this trailer that many people think could be long-absent kunoichi Kunimitsu, but given that this is Harada we're talking about, it could very well be Roger in a ninja suit.

Harada had hoped some Tekken 7 season 4 content would have dropped by now, but 2020 kinda threw a wrench in those plans. Not surprising.

Also, there's a stream for Dragonball FighterZ related content scheduled for sometime later this month. Details forthcoming!

Arc System Works revealed that an online version of their yearly international ArcRevo tournaments will be replacing the in-person events this year, accompanied by some really cool art to promote the events. While the artists aren't credited, I'm fairly sure that's the work of Granblue Fantasy's Hideo Minaba and the left and Blazblue’s Yuuki Kato on the right. Fantastic stuff.

Anyway, character trailers! We've got two new announcements for Guilty Gear Strive, and who might they be?

Leo Whitefang, who, along with Ramlethal, are among the few returning faces that aren't OG Guilty Gear cast members.

The second reveal is the first all-new character, and one we first saw in Strive’s reveal trailer almost a year ago. Meet Nagoriyuki, the vampiric samurai! Two designs that I think are both pretty darn rad. And hey, whaddyaknow? Guilty Gear Strive will be coming to both PS4 and PS5! Makes me wonder if crossplay will be possible for those who don't want to buy a new console right out of the gate.

While there was some cool discussion and interesting announcements, there was a general feeling that the developers were dancing around an elephant in the room. Netcode was only very briefly mentioned, even though it's become a serious concern for fighting game fans in the COVID-addled hellscape we're now in. Even when it was brought up, the subject didn't stick around for very long. It was pretty disappointing, especially for fans of games saddled with bad netcode who were praying and hoping that their games would get an update to improve online play.

(Also, Harada claimed Tekken 7 already has a form of rollback netcode, but didn't really go into specifics. I mean, Street Fighter V has some rollback netcode, too, but it's implemented quite badly, and if Harada is telling the truth – and I have no reason to doubt him – it feels like it's similarly poorly handled. Here's hoping his “improved online experience” – one of the few announcements in the stream related to online play – actually does improve things.)

Anyway, I think a lot of folks went into this stream with expectations that couldn't possibly have been met – this was “let's just get together and do a stream,” not a long-planned-out PR stunt. Remember, all of these devs are working under the pressure of a global pandemic, and deserve your patience and respect. There's still no excuse for shitty netcode, though.

PIKMIN IS BACK! NO, IT'S NOT PIKMIN 4

Remember when Shigeru Miyamoto said Pikmin 4 was happening? I kinda sorta do! But it's always seemed like one of those things Nintendo's working on in the background. Like… “hey, maybe we'll actually ramp up production on this someday.”

Anyway, here's a Pikmin 3 port for Switch, called Pikmin 3 Deluxe.

For those of you who never owned a Wii U (and believe me, owning one is less and less justified by the day), you can now experience the color and charm of one of its earliest must-have games. Pikmin is a very Nintendo take on a real-time strategy game, tasking you with controlling a little spaceman and braving a dangerous planet with only the aid of a small colorful, plant-like Pikmin creatures to aid you in exploration and combat.

Pikmin 3 Deluxe includes all of the DLC from the Wii U version in the package, alongside several new missions and co-op play. Neat! I'm glad all of these Wii U games are getting a second life on the Switch, which has a significantly larger audience… though I know plenty of folks are grumbling that the game isn't “new.” Understandable, I suppose, but again: stuff's being delayed, easier-to-make ports are being prioritized, and we just gotta deal with it for a while.

Alrighty, I think that about does it for this week. Do any of the recent fighting game announcements have you excited? Any hopes for upcoming DLC characters in your favorite games? And hey, did you hear CAPCOM renewed a trademark for “Darkstalkers”? (I wouldn't get your hopes up.) Gush about your favorite fighting waifus/hazubandos in the forums – we won't judge. Hope you're all enjoying the summer – I'll see you again next week!


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