This Week in Games
Poorly Kept Secrets

by Heidi Kemps,

Well, I might be in the midst of the apocalypse right now, but before I try contracting any demons to serve me in the war for the new world, I should probably get at least one This Week in Games out! It's a crazy week filled with plenty of news, but before we even get started, holy crap another huge Nintendo leak just dropped!

I'm not going to spend too much time on the new leak this week, since people are still going through it and finding stuff, but it looks like the big discovery here is a bunch of unreleased Game Boy and Game Boy Color games, including Pokemon Picross, unseen localizations of X and the Game Boy Gargoyle's Quest II, and, uh… Rap Quest Starring Cool Q, which was originally a Vanilla Ice game before getting reskinned and then canned altogether. (No, not the cool Vanilla Ice who is undyingly loyal to Dio and has a distractingly prominent package, the other Vanilla Ice.)

Anyhow, I'm sure I'll be discussing that more at a later date. For now, let's take a look at this week's news… which is mostly confirming things we already knew about from leaks and rumors.

THE XBOX SERIES S IS A LITTLE SLICE OF NEXT-GEN POWER

There's a second model of the next-gen Xbox! Color me positively SHOCKED! SHOCKED, I tell you!

Yeah, this has been one of the worst-kept gaming secrets of the past year or so. The Series S is a smaller, lower-spec version of the Xbox Series X. It's digital-only (saving money on optical disc hardware), but comes with a 512GB SSD. While the CPU inside of the Series S is similar to the Series X, the biggest sacrifices are in the graphics department: Series S has only 10 GB of RAM compared to the 16GB of faster RAM in the Series X, and the GPU power is considerably lower. If you want the full spec sheet comparison to nerd out over, you can check it here.

Essentially, though: The Series X is for the person with a ginormous 4K TV who wants to take full advantage of their setup. The Series S will be fine for the vast majority of folks who are still gaming on their standard HDTVs.

What really makes the Series S a potential killer is the price, though. The Series X will retail for $499, while the Series S will retail at a mere $299. For the majority of folks who don't need the most cutting-edge graphical performance and are willing to go all-digital, that price point is very sweet. I wasn't impressed with the Xbox One this generation, but if Sony's PS5 models aren't comparably priced to these consoles, I might just snag a Series S to start my next-gen journey with.

The Xbox Series X and Series S launch on November 10th. The ball's in Sony's court now to announce price points for their disc-based and disc-less PS5 models. Will they make the shot, or drop it? It shouldn't be too long before we find out.

COME ON, IT'S TIME TO GO DO THE MARIO (BEFORE THE END OF MARCH)

Nintendo, you did it AGAIN! You dropped a huge gaming newsbomb on a Thursday morning just as this column went live with NO WARNING! You need to stop that, because I hate looking like I'm posting news that's outdated the moment it hits!

At least we sorta knew what was coming – rumors that Nintendo was working on 3D Mario game remasters has been making the rounds for the past few months. That was confirmed here– along with a handful of other surprises.

So, what all are we getting to celebrate Mario's big three-five? A package of three beloved Mario games (64, Sunshine, and Galaxy) in a bundle, an updated Switch re-release of Super Mario 3D World with a new, mysterious Bowser's Fury mode, an online-only 35-man battle royale Mario game in the vein of Tetris 99, a weird phone app you can use to control a toy Mario kart, Mario merch, Mario-themed stuff in other Nintendo titles, and… a new Mario Game and Watch?!

Okay, this is most definitely a pointless nerd gimmick device I really want. Yeah, they probably could have tossed SMB3 or Dr. Mario on there, too, but… a Game and Watch! In 2020! I need to snag one before it gets scalped to hell!

Speaking of getting scalped to hell, how about that Super Mario 3D All-Stars? Aside from Mario Galaxy, I'm a little disappointed in how the visuals look – we know from the Gigaleaks that Nintendo holds onto an incredible amount of development material, so I can't help but feel like they could have given Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine a few higher-res textures and a framerate boost. Super Mario Galaxy sure looks gorgeous in HD though, wow! We don't really know much about gameplay tweaks, either – the infamous backwards long jump in Super Mario 64 is probably gone, but personally, I care more about the ability to skip the Super Mario Sunshine cutscenes.  

 But hey, three great Marios on your Switch, right? Well, if you want Super Mario 3D All-Stars, you'd better be willing to get it pretty soon after release, because Nintendo's not shipping any more after March 2021. And they're going to delist it on the eShop. I sure do love artificially-induced scarcity of retro collections! If you pre-order to get the physical version at launch next week, you probably won't have to worry about missing out. After that? Who knows!

Even more bizarre is Super Mario Bros. 35, which is a free download game that will deliberately go dark at the end of March 2021. Why launch a game only to let people know you're going to be killing it off at a specific date? Why say you're going to be ending the game on a specific date before even seeing how popular it is? It's just going to make people angrier when it dies. The logic behind this one makes no sense at all. That's our Nintendo, all right!

Well, at least Super Mario 3D World isn't subject to any limited-edition restrictions. And it's a fantastic game you should definitely play if you didn't own a Wii U (which is a lot of you, probably!). With 3D World getting ported to Switch, the list of games worth keeping a Wii U for grows smaller and smaller...

But wait!

ALSO: MORE HYRULE WARRIORS

Nintendo be like, “oh hey, I heard you all were complaining we weren't making announcements. Well, even though we just dropped all of that Mario stuff, we've got some Zelda here too! But, ah, it's not the Breath of the Wild follow-up… but still, Zelda! You're happy now, right? Right?”

Anyway, Nintendo's back in bed with Koei-Tecmo -- who have been co-developing a lot of Switch games as of late – and we're getting another Hyrule Warriors game!

Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity is due to launch on November 20th. That's… really soon! As you may have guessed from the title, this Hyrule Warriors is about the period of time a century before Breath of the Wild, depicting the Great Calamity as it happens. Since we already know how it ends, hopefully the developers can find some way to make the story interesting…or, at the very least, give us some new fanart fodder.

It seems to me that Hyrule Warriors is among the more divisive Zeldas: You either hate that it exists, or you have invested hundreds upon hundreds of hours into playing it. Your reaction likely depends on how you feel about Musou/Warriors games as a whole and whether or not you feel Musou gameplay ruins the Zelda series’ “sanctity.” But we can all agree it's not the worst Zelda, right?

Right.

WHY IS THERE A SHENMUE ANIME

…okay. Shenmue fans. Are you all interested in this? Like, seriously? Knowing the track record of game-based anime and knowing that it will only cover a bunch of material you've seen several times before? You really want to watch this?

I'm rather… befuddled here, honestly. An anime that cuts out a lot of the weird mundanity of Shenmue to compress and adapt the story simply doesn't sound like a particularly great idea, especially if it doesn't show anything new. I mean, yeah, it could keep the weird mundanity and feature episodes where Ryo feeds a kitten and plays Lucky Hit all day… but while that sort of thing can be amusing to play, it's excruciating to watch. Just... buh? This somehow makes even less sense than Dragon's Dogma getting an anime adaptation. But hey, I'm not the one throwing money around, and clearly Crunchyroll and Adult Swim (who are both co-financing this) see something I don't.

One thing that I would want to see: Ryo and the warehouse workers racing awkward CG forklifts that contrast hilariously with the rest of the animation. Like, Initial D anime style. Even if the rest of the show was terrible, we could at least have that awesome sequence to remember.

NEWSBITS

  • Every time there's a new Taito-related game announcement, I am here at the ready to report on it! And this time, it's a new Kikikaikai game co-developed by the Wild Guns and Ninja Warriors Once Again team at the confusingly-named Natsume-Atari (with no corporate ties to either company with those names)! And unlike the aforementioned titles, Kikikaikai: Kuro Mantle no Nazo is a brand-new, all-original title!
    If the name Kikikaikai isn't familiar, you may remember it better as Pocky and Rocky, the name Natsume USA gave to the localized SNES Kikikaikai The games are a series of top-down, free-roaming shooters where a miko named Sayo and her tanuki pal have to fight off a whole host of yokai creatures. While Kikikaikai began in arcades, the series came into its own thanks to Natsume-Atari's SNES sequels. Maybe the previous games will crop up in the Nintendo Online library as this title approaches release?
  • No More Heroes III has been delayed into 2021. Can't say I'm surprised, given the state of everything.
  • Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate will be launching on Switch and Steam on December 2nd. If you're looking for a very in-depth and engrossing roguelike game, I can't recommend this one enough – I played the hell out of it on the PS Vita, and will probably play the Switch release even more.
  • A retailer in Hong Kong is listing a Ninja Gaiden Trilogy for PS4 and Switch. Assuming the listing is real (and they usually are!), this is probably the modern Ninja Gaiden Which, well… let's be honest, it peaked with that first game and then fell off hard.
  • Street of Rage 4 sold really, really well! It's been downloaded over 1.5 million times, which makes me want to go to Sega HQ and yell WHY DID YOU PEOPLE KEEP SLEEPING ON THIS IP?! Well, anyway, there's a new balance patch out that tweaks a lot of stuff. Most notably, it makes default Axel suck a lot less. Also, more DLC is coming, so maybe Roo will finally make his return.

Okay! Phew, that was a lot of big news. So, are you considering an Xbox series X or S now that you know the price? Are you going to pick up any of those Mario releases? Will you watch the Shenmue anime? Join us in the forums for discussion about all of this week's hot topics! I'll be back again next week to talk more about gaming news (and, in all likelihood, unreleased Game Boy games). Later!


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