This Week in Games
Scramble Spirits

by Heidi Kemps,

Hey hey! It's the middle of November, and that means… uh, nothing! It's not quite The Holidays yet, but also past the Spooky Season, leaving us sitting here in an odd state of limbo as the days get darker faster and temperatures get colder and colder. Will Thanksgiving collectively bring us into that state of winter elation known as the Holiday Spirit™? Hard to say, seeing as how 2020 is… well, 2020.

But even if Thanksgiving is cancelled, there's no escaping the specter of consumerism that is Black Friday. Black Friday is always a special kind of hell, but it's going to be even more so this year, especially for folks going game shopping. Everyplace I know of is sold out of PS5s and Xbox Series systems, and they're unlikely to have enough to meet demand next week. I've already seen notices posted in a few big box retailers here that the systems will only be available for online orders, as they'll be getting none in-store – which is reasonable, given the pandemic that's still happening. Somehow I doubt that's going to quell the angry mobs on the 27th, though.

Speaking of the new consoles, I had fun reading your forum responses last week. A lot of you indicated that you planned to wait a while before purchasing one of the new systems, which is the exact some boat I'm in. It's like the exact opposite of my social media feeds, where I see people falling over themselves to try and get in virtual lines to buy PS5s. (FOMO is a hell of a drug.) And interestingly, the people I do see with PS5s and Xbox Series S/Xes are, for the most part, just playing older PS4/Xbox One games on them with the various little enhancements the new platforms offer. Makes sense, considering how lacking in new software the launches have been.

Of course, I'm not here to pooh-pooh anyone who wants to buy a new system right this minute. You do you, go have fun! I just personally don't think it's worth the agony of trying to get one right now.

Anyhow, with Sony and Microsoft still busy patting themselves on the back for next-gen launches right now and Nintendo busy promoting Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and winter Animal Crossing New Horizons content, there's not too much big news to talk about. But there are still some interesting smaller stories to examine, so let's do that!

A COUNTDOWN UNTIL THE WORLD ENDS… WITH YOU

Well, it appears that, once again, Square-Enix is hinting at a thing. And it's very obvious what game this announcement is related to if you've played it.

Go to the website linked above, and you'll see the famous Shibuya skyline with the 109… er, excuse me, 104 building featured prominently in profile. This countdown started on the 15th, and is set to reveal on the 22nd… a seven-day countdown… why, it could be nothing else than the longtime fan favorite The World Ends With You!

Of course, we already know that there's an anime based on TWEWY in the works, and this could very well be related to that. After all, TWEWY fans have been used to disappointment every single time Square-Enix seems to remember the game exists, only for it to be a port or Neku cameo in another game. Still, there's reason to have some hope with this one: that Twitter account up there is the official account for Square-Enix's 1st Production Department. It would make sense to announce a new game while an anime tie-in is airing, right?

Still, given the history of TWEWY-related announcements, there's good reason to not get too excited just yet. Hope for the best, but brace for disappointment.

PERSONA 5 SCRAMBLE'S ENGLISH RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT MAY BE IMMINENT

Where the hell is Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers? The Musou-style action spinoff/sequel of Persona 5 released in Japan at the start of the year, and there's been nary a peep about an English edition so far. Fans have become so paranoid that some are thinking it won't be released at all, citing the apparently low sales of the Persona 3/5 Dancing spinoffs as a cause. Because Atlus not wanting to release a game in their crown jewel franchise makes complete and total sense in the overly paranoid fan dimension.

However, it appears that an announcement is likely to happen pretty soon. A few game retailers based in Southeast Asia have listed the PS4 and Switch versions of the game for preorder, releasing on February 23rd. That's not as far off as it seems – just a little over four months away, which means localization has probably been underway for a while.

Given that the release date listed here is fairly soon, and a Western version would likely hit around the same timeframe, an official announcement is likely within the next couple weeks or so. There is always the possibility that this is a weird Asia-only English edition, but I highly doubt it. And even if it was, you'd still be able to buy it.

But what's been the reason for the English release holdup? If I had to wager a guess, it's probably because Sega/Atlus have been remarkably busy this year with localization work. Persona 5 Royal, 13 Sentinels, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon are all massive localization undertakings, and that whole COVID thing didn't make that work any easier. I can also see Atlus wanting to space out their Persona releases a bit so as not to take the spotlight off their other stuff. Makes sense, right?

THE GAME AWARDS NOMINEES ARE LIVE, AND THINGS ACTUALLY SEEM BETTER THIS YEAR

Yeah, I know, I've made plenty of jabs at The Game Awards in the past. I still feel like the award ceremony itself is more of a vehicle for WORLD PREMIERE trailers and corporate propaganda, and the games that win tend to be the stuff that sold the most and/or had the highest internet profile. But seeing the stuff that's been nominated for awards this year gives me a little sliver of hope that The Game Awards genuinely wants to be more interesting.

For example, we've got 13 Sentinels nominated for Best Narrative, which… like, has any visual novel-ish adventure game ever been nominated before? And Streets of Rage 4 in Best Action Game, dang! Innovation in Accessibility is a great idea for an awards category, too – opening games up to as many players as possible is a cause I highly support being recognized. And Hades, man, Hades is cleaning up! It's featured in almost every non-genre-specific category, including Game of the Year. It should certainly win something, because Hades is fantastic. Though there's still some questionable stuff, like… can Among Us be an anything-of-the-year when it released in 2018 and only got huge recently? And man, they really had to reach for fighting games beyond Granblue Versus and Under Night In-Birth this year.

Unfortunately, since a lot of the winners are user-determined, we're going to have coordinated internet ballot-stuffing. But if you're so inclined and feel like supporting your favorite titles, no matter how futile the struggle may be, go vote for good-ass video games!

Well then, I think that'll be a good endpoint for this week's column! Are you all planning on doing any game shopping this Black Friday, either online or in-person? Have any leads on upcoming red-hot deals you want to share? Talk in the forums below with your hot retail ProTips… or just discuss this week's gaming happenings. See you all again next week for Turkey Day and plenty of thanks!


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