This Week in Games
by Heidi Kemps,
Hey folks! It's another week with lots of news worth discussing. February and March aren't typically busy news months for games, but 2021 is just full of surprises! And, once again, it's a mix of good news (Announcements! New consoles!) and sad news (Delays! Company departures!). So buckle yourselves in, we've got another rollercoaster news week.
Before we start, though, I'd like to drop a link. Onion Games, the folks behind games like Rule of Rose, Chulip, Black Bird, and the recent re-release of moon on Switch, are running a survey about potentially porting and re-releasing their games to new platforms. A lot of their games have become cult classics in the years since their release, particularly the psychological horror trip Rule of Rose, which is now one of the rarest and most valuable PS2 releases out there. Go fill it out if you're interested and have a moment to spare!
Now, onto everyone's favorite target of rumors and speculation: Nintendo!
RUMORS ABOUT AN UPGRADED SWITCH ARE CIRCLING AGAIN, AND THESE SEEM PRETTY PLAUSIBLE
Ahhh, another week, another batch of rumors about a Switch Pro model! We've been hearing these for years now, and despite Nintendo continually insisting that they have no plans for such a thing, history has proven that when there's money to be made for Nintendo with an enhanced console, they will absolutely take it. We got the Switch Lite a little over a year ago despite there “not being plans for a new Switch model,” so a Switch Pro makes perfect sense.
Those rumors got extra-charged-up this week thanks to a report from Bloomberg that goes into detail about a new business deal Nintendo appears to have struck. According to the piece, one thing we can expect out of a likely Switch Pro model is a 7-inch, 720p OLED screen. Nintendo, the article alleges, has been in talks with Korean electronics megacorp Samsung to buy these displays in bulk.
Nintendo is also mulling the idea of adding some extra oomph to the Switch's computing power to give it the strength to display in 4K resolution when docked, which would definitely be a nice little bonus. I usually play my Switch undocked, so I'm cool with just a nicer screen and better battery life, but a bit of extra horsepower so more stuff can run nicely in portable mode would make me happy too. Yeah, I can totally see myself buying a Switch Pro in the next year if the price is good. And, of course, if it exists. (Which it probably does.)
Now, which will happen first: PS5 supply issues being resolved, or the Switch Pro coming to market?
NEW GAME+ EXPO BRINGS A HOST OF LOCALIZATION ANNOUNCEMENTS
New Game + Expo 2021 was broadcasting on Thursday with a bunch of announcements regarding Japanese and Japanese-inspired games from niche-oriented publishers. While there weren't as many big announcements as last year, there were still quite a lot
- The Silver Case 2425, which collects all of Suda51's The Silver Case series, will debut in English on July 6th. I was just about to grab the Steam version, so this is pretty nice. (I prefer visual novel/adventure games on Switch – it's nice to be able to relax in bed with these kinds of games.)
- Mary Skelter Finale, the concluding entry in the Mary Skelter horror/dungeon-crawling throwback RPG series, will come westward sometime this fall from Idea Factory.
- But that's not the only old-styled dungeon crawler we're getting, either: NIS will deliver a re-release of Stranger of Sword City for the Switch, while Aksys will bring us Undernauts: Labyrinth of Yomi. Both of these games come from developer Experience Inc, whose specialty is Wizardry-inspired dungeon crawlers.
- For those of you craving more hunky hotties, Aksys is also localizing Dairoku: Agents of Sakuratani. This is another game from the Otomate line of women-oriented visual novels with an urban occult theme.
- Inti Creates will be finishing off its Blaster Master trilogy with Blaster Master Zero III on July 29th for PS4, PC, and Switch. A physical compilation set of the three games will be available in Japan that includes fully voiced dialogue. But don't despair, cartridge collectors, I'm sure Limited Run or another of the boutique indie publishers are already preparing to launch a premium version in North America.
- Inti Creates also showed a new trailer for Azure Striker Gunvolt 3, though that one's still a ways off – we won't be seeing it until next year.
- Neptunia ReVerse, the re-remake of the first Neptunia game, will come to PS5 in English on June 8th in North America and June 11th in Europe.
- NIS America is looking to re-issue some of its back catalog on Switch and PC, two platforms that have been very kind to them in recent years. The collection is called Prinny Presents NIS Classics, and will kick off with Phantom Brave and Soul Nomad and the World Eaters, two games that could not possibly be further apart from each other in terms of tone. (Seriously, Soul Nomad gets extremely You've been warned.)
- Finally, we have more solid release dates for a couple of already-announced titles. Disgaea 6, which recently released in Japan, will visit our shores on June 29th. (Still no word on an English PS4 release, though. Meanwhile, the newly-christened Pocky and Rocky Reshrined (which is a very good title) has had its release window narrowed to fall of this year.
Okay! I think that's most of the relevant news. Boy, I had to figure out a lot of synonyms for “getting localized” there… but that's hardly a bad thing. More great games coming here! Yay!
VIRTUAL ON'S MASTERMIND LEAVES SEGA, SERIES FUTURE IS UNCLEAR
A bit of sad news for Sega and mech fans this week. Juro Watari, the force behind Sega's long-running Cyber Troopers Virtual On series of mech action games, has retired from Sega.
Juro Watari, most known as the face & shepherd of the Virtual On series, has resigned from Sega🇯🇵 in the thread, he emphasises that there's nothing scandalous about his sudden departure, and for those wondering what this means for VO, he's sad to say he doesn't have answers https://t.co/US9yLvmnfU— GSK | https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ab_mn (@gosokkyu) March 1, 2021
Watari clarified that there weren't any behind-the-scenes issues that led to his resignation, and thanked fans for their support – but also mentioned that he doesn't really know what's going to happen with Virtual On from this point forward. Which, to me, sounds a lot like a polite way of saying “Sega doesn't know what to do with Virtual On at the moment and I'm not sticking around to beat my head against the wall trying to keep it relevant.”
Honestly, if we look back on the history of Virtual On as a whole, Sega's spent almost two decades trying to make Virtual On a big mainstream thing to disappointing results. Most will agree that the arcade/Dreamcast release of Virtual On Oratorio Tangram was the series’ apex, and everything after that didn't have the same magic. Shifting the series’ focus from arcade to home ports and originals has also proved problematic. Part of what makes Virtual On so appealing is the feeling of controlling a mech, with special arcade cabinets and twin-stick controllers. Said custom controllers are ridiculously expensive to release on home platforms and only appeal to the hardest of hardcore nerds, since you can only really use them for Virtual On… but without them, the game doesn't feel the same.
The last all-new, non-port Virtual On release, the anime/light-novel tie-in A Certain Magical Virtual On for PS4, failed to move the needle much and was eventually delisted from PSN. If VO can't even appeal to the larger otaku market by associating with a well-known series like Index/Railgun, the unfortunate reality is that it's hard to justify continuing to support it. I'm not happy about it, but that's just how things work in the modern games market.
I do hope Watari lands on his feet and manages to continue making games – he's obviously a great ideas guy and I'm sure he's got a lot of great work in him still. And pour one out for Virtual On, which will likely be mothballed for a while.
FOREVER ENTERTAINMENT IS SET TO REVIVE SOME SQUARE-ENIX IPS
Odds are you're looking at that headline and saying “Forever Entertainment… sounds familiar, but I can't recall why.” Well, this Polish studio has been busy snapping up a bunch of IPs to give the remake-and-re-release treatment in the past few years. They're the guys behind the Panzer Dragoon remake (PD Zwei is also still due to be out this year), and they've got the rights to do revamped versions of House of the Dead and the Magical Drop puzzle game series, along with a bunch of original titles.
That sounds like a pretty full plate already, but it was announced that Forever is also going to be working with Square-Enix to create “multiple game remakes” of “one specific Square-Enix IP.”
So, here's the question: which IP do you think it could be? Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are the big ones, but Square-Enix tends to be very choosy about outsourcing those for revamps. Going from what's been said, it's a series with multiple entries, so… hmmm. I'm going to guess Front Mission, personally – it's an IP Square-Enix seems to still hold dear, but they have no idea what they want to do with it, so it'd make sense for it to be farmed out. Then again, the last few times they had other folks handle Front Mission, things didn't go well, so they might be cautious. I dunno, what do you all think?
FIGHTING GAME NEWS UPDATE: THE LOBBIES NEED RENOVATION
If you've been planning to set aside time in April to dig deep into Guilty Gear Strive, you may want to change your plans – we've got another delay, this time to June 11th.
Well, it sounds like they'll be addressing a few problems like the lobbies everyone hates, at least. Though honestly, they should have done that after the first beta test. Two months isn't going to hurt too much, and if it means a better experience on launch, then I have no problem with it. (Watch me say this and then discover that nothing about the lobbies was changed in the release version.)
Well, at least we've got our weekly dose of KoFXV footage to offset the disappointment. Though how effective it will be depends on how much you like Andy Bogard.
Dayum! Andy was always the prettier Bogard bro, but he's been super-bishiefied to never-before-seen degrees for this go-around. I want to put banners of him all over my Geocities shrine! I'm sure his sibling Terry will step in soon to fill out Team Fatal Fury in the next week or two, so don't expect Andy to be a lone wolf for long.
Well, I think that's most everything I wanted to talk about. How're you all doing? Excited at the possibility of a new Switch? Sad about Virtual On's future? Eager to see more of the recent slate of localization announcements? Curious what Squeenix IP will be revived? Hopeful that Arc System Works will iron out GG Strive's remaining wrinkles? Bring your thoughts and reactions to the forums through that link below! Maybe I'll finally get that break from news next week and be able to talk about Cotton Reboot or something. We'll see! Until then, stay safe and keep on gaming!
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