This Week in Games
by Heidi Kemps,
Every once in a while, I expand the scope of this column beyond anime- and Japanese-inspired games, usually in the context of covering broader industry-wide happenings. But sometimes an announcement hits involving a property (or properties) that appeals to much of the same geeky demographic as anime does. Usually, I can tell if something's worth discussing if my Twitter timeline begins losing its mind over it. And boy oh boy, did anime and gaming Twitter just EXPLODE when Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl's trailer dropped!
Even from the trailer, it's hard to simply write this one off as just a Smash Bros clone cash-in. Developer Ludosity is no stranger to Smash-like games, having developed their own indie platform fighter in Slap City. As soon as the announcement was official, they were making efforts for community outreach and eagerly talking to people curious about the game – which is going to have rollback netplay “when possible” – so yes, there is clearly some forethought being given to competition here. Some of the deep-cut character reveals in the trailer, like Hey Arnold's Helga and Ren and Stimpy's Powdered Toast Man, were getting my fellow millennials plenty excited.
Of course, it could go even deeper. Did you know just how much anime Nickelodeon showed in its formative years? A lot. If you want to dig deep into the history of anime on the channel, I highly recommend the Nick Knacks series on YouTube, which is an ongoing, very detailed chronological history of every show that the network ever aired. (Did you know Inspector Gadget was born out of a failed American Lupin III pitch? I didn't!) If we really, really want to invoke the iceberg meme, just think about reps from Mysterious Cities of Gold being in a Nickelodeon fighting game and how that's a thing that could feasibly happen if the stars align correctly. Which has been happening recently, because…
SUPER ROBOT WARS 30 IS GETTING AN OFFICIAL RELEASE IN NORTH AMERICA AND EUROPE
Holy crap, Super Robot Wars 30 can be pre-ordered right now! On Steam! In places we'd never ever expect to be able to buy Super Robot Wars in! It's a Christmas in July miracle!
For the unfamiliar, Super Robot Wars is a very long-running series of strategy-RPGs that are essentially crossover fanfiction made manifest. Basically, take a lot of robots from popular anime (and, on occasion, other sources of media), toss them all together, write a story around them, add a handful of original characters and BAM! You've got yourselves a Super Robot War!
Of course, when you have a bunch of anime series crammed together into a single software package, you have a whole mess of licenses to potentially clear. The tangled web of licenses has always been seen as the biggest hurdle to getting Super Robot Wars released anywhere outside of Japan and Southeast Asia – the time and money most assumed it would require to get all of the licenses sorted out would be prohibitive for a game that is honestly pretty niche here. Yet somehow, through some unspoken sorcery, Bandai-Namco has made it happen for Super Robot Wars 30.
This isn't the first-ever mainline Super Robot Wars release in English – localized versions of the games have been available in Southeast Asian territories for a few years now – but this is the first time you can simply buy a Super Robot Wars game, in English, using a local credit card, without having to go through an importer or using workarounds.
There is one caveat, though – it looks like only the Steam version is available in North America and Europe. If you want a Switch, PS4 version, or a physical copy, importing is still necessary. Perhaps being PC-only is a licensing restriction? Or maybe it's Bandai-Namco testing the waters to see how the game does before committing to releases on other platforms? Whatever the reason, it's still a damn fine sight to see, and everyone who's even remotely interested in seeing more Super Robot Wars cross the pond needs to put money down on this.
Now, let's talk about a game that won't be on Steam, if the rumors are correct…
JUDGMENT MAY BE CAST OFF PREMATURELY
A lot of folks are excited for Lost Judgment, and for good reason: It looks really good! Folks are hungry for more games set in the bigger Yakuza-verse, and the original Judgment left plenty of room for improvement and expansion. However, if current rumors hold any truth to them, there's a chance the second Judgment game may also be the last.
Okay, so, who here is familiar with Johnny's and Associates? If you follow the wider Japanese entertainment business, that name probably filled you with immense dread. See, Johnny's is one of Japan's biggest talent agencies, known for creating and promoting some of the biggest male supergroups out there – including SMAP, the supergroup Lost Judgment lead actor Takuya Kimura was in for many, many years. When SMAP collapsed a few years back, most of its members left the Johnny's agency, but Kimura stayed on.
Why did they leave Johnny's? Well, if I had to wager a guess, it's because Johnny's is the literal worst. The amount of control Johnny's wields over its talents is notorious for causing headaches for the outlets who want to work with them and the people under them, and because Johnny's is so big and powerful there isn't much that can be done. They've been accused of some absolutely heinous abuse of current and former members of their talent stable, and have had numerous controversies; just search “Johnny's Jimusho controversy” on Google and see how many different stories you get. Even after the death of its founder “Johnny” Kitagawa (who – BIG CONTENT WARNING – apparently abused some of its young stars), its awful and controlling nature still persists.
Anyhow, according to reporting on Japanese source Nikkan Taishu, a bit of a row has emerged between Sega and Johnny's. You've probably noticed that Sega is making a pretty significant push to get a lot of their games on PC recently, which is great! You can play almost the entire Yakuza series now… except for the Judgment games. If this report is accurate, there's a reason for that: Johnny's, which is known to be very controlling of image rights for its stars – to the point where it will demand they be removed from group photographs – is worried about what people might do to Takuya Kimura's likeness on PC, like ripping and modding the character model. This has put the two companies at an impasse: Sega wants a PC release, Johnny's doesn't, and so the series might not continue if an agreement can't be reached.
So, what now? Hard to say, since this is all rumor – though very believable rumor, given the track record of Johnny's being shitty. All we can do is wait and see at this point. Hopefully we get a series continuation and PC releases of the Judgment games, but I'm not holding my breath.
PERSONA IS 25, AND ATLUS IS THROWING A YEAR-LONG PARTY
Persona is 25 years old! I know, it doesn't seem like it, but that might be because for a lot of folks Persona began with Persona 3. (Meanwhile, I'm old enough to remember my college friends banding together to work on a web-based fan translation of Persona 2 Innocent Sin.) Since then, Persona has absolutely exploded, becoming one of the most beloved JRPGs on the planet and eclipsing the popularity of the series it spun off from, Shin Megami Tensei (Much to the chagrin of SMT diehards).
To celebrate the occasion, Atlus has opened a Persona 25 website, which has a list of to-be-revealed Persona-related announcements spanning the course of a year. We know that there's a new Persona mobile game in the works, but what could all those other announcements be? New games? Anime? Persona 5 Arena? Maybe… Persona 6?
…Yeah, I'm pretty sure the last announcement's gonna be Persona 6. I mean, it makes sense to have a year of build-up for something really big, right? And with game development schedules the way they are, next year sounds about right for the initial batch of P6 reveals.
Well, we won't have to wait too long for the first announcement, which is due in September. The color scheme on the image with the reveal date is yellow – perhaps something Persona 4-related? Place your bets, ladies, gents, and non-binary folks!
Well then, that's most of the big news for this week. Yeah, I guess there was some chatter about a Final Fantasy X-3, but that all seems extremely speculative. (Seriously, Square Enix likely has a lot of spec scripts for potential Final Fantasies lying around – doesn't mean they're going to happen.) And that portable Steam machine… I'd have to see more of it to comment, myself. But yeah, pretty interesting things happening this week! Are you excited for more Persona? Worried about Judgment? Itching for some Super Robot Wars on your PC? Starting a Twitter campaign to get Olmec in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl? We got forums for that, so pop on in at the link below! Thanks as always for reading, and I'll see you again soon!
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