This Week in Games
The End of Smash Ultimate
by Heidi Kemps,
Hello, and welcome back to This Week in Games! This time around we blah blah blah look, I know what you're here for, so let's just get into it.
Boy howdy, that new Bandai-Namco Games logo sure sucks, huh? I can't believe – OKAY OKAY, sheesh, we'll talk about Smash
SUPER SMASH BROS ULTIMATE IS COMPLETE WITH ITS FINAL CHALLENGER.
And so it ends. Years of event-level online reveals, obnoxious fan infighting, and people taking everything Sakurai posts or says as a coded hint have finally concluded. At last, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is in its complete form.
So what better way to close out the “this is never gonna happen” crossover game than with the ultimate “this is never, EVER gonna happen” crossover character?
Yes, that absolute madman Masahiro Sakurai has somehow worked his influence again, and got friggin’ Sora, the character people really wanted but everyone assumed would be roadblocked to hell by the House of Mouse. And judging by how he talks about it in his Sakurai Presents video, it was not easy getting clownshoes boy in at all.
If you look carefully, though, you can see how Nintendo managed to get family-friendly Sora in a game where M-rated representatives Solid Snake and Bayonetta are cavorting around. Basically, they had to de-Disneyfy Sora's appearance as much as possible: a limited soundtrack, no supporting characters appearing besides Tetsuya Nomura's creations, and not even a reference to Mickey beyond the dangly bit on his keyblade. You gotta compromise when you're dealing with a megacompany as image-conscious as Disney. I don't hear too many people complaining about the lack of Disney iconography, though, as they're happy Sora's in there at all. Which is the right attitude to have, I think.
Alongside Sora comes a handful of new Mii character costumes, as well. Two of them – Octoling and Judd – hail from Splatoon, but the third is what got folks talking:
It's Doomguy! Aka Doom Slayer, but even Sakurai acknowledges that Doomguy is what most Western fans call him. Remember all that art around the time New Horizons and Doom Eternal came out showing them being BFFs? Now you can live out your fanfiction fantasies!
And that's it! Barring any spirit/costume/balance additions, Smash Ultimate is done, and Sakurai can finally take his extremely-deserved break. But let's take a bit of a look back at the DLC characters.
The first set consists primarily of fan-favorite character requests across various regions. Dragon Quest Hero from Japan, Banjo-Kazooie from the Americas and Europe, Joker from… well, globally. Byleth feels like a Nintendo request to help market Fire Emblem: Three Houses. But Terry? Terry absolutely feels like he's the character Sakurai personally requested. I mean, Terry's introduction video is mostly Sakurai talking about SNK fighting game history. You just know this character meant a lot to him.
The second set is “characters Nintendo requested,” and looking at the entire assembled roster, that's pretty clear. You've got characters promoting Nintendo-owned IP (Min-Min and Pyra/Mythra), a character from a game that sells absolute gangbusters on Switch (Minecraft Steve), and three others who have massive global recognition and are highly marketable (Sephiroth, Kazuya, and Sora). Frankly, I don't think characters like Reimu, Arle, Crash, or Spyro ever stood a chance of being part of this batch. And with DLC characters all wrapped up, well, that's that.
Thus ends Smash Ultimate's cast reveals. We gasped, we cheered, we generated enough salt to supply Frito-Lay for the next decade. Will any massive crossover like this ever happen again? Who knows – it would take someone with immense respect in the industry to even attempt something on Smash Ultimate's level. But I'd certainly like to see someone else try. Go take a vacation, Sakurai, you've earned it.
SQUARE-ENIX'S TOKYO GAME SHOW WAS RATHER INTERESTING
Of all the companies exhibiting at Tokyo Game Show this year, Square-Enix had the most announcements to share. Well, less announcements and more news on games that were already announced. Most notably, Final Fantasy XVI and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.
In a streamed interview with Famitsu (where longtime Final Fantasy producer Hironobu Sakaguchi was also notably present), FFXVI producer Naoki Yoshida commented that the main game's scenario is done and development is progressing well. Currently, they're working on polishing up visuals and numerous substories and sidequests. The game also has a skill tree system for its characters, though few details about this particular gameplay element beyond that were mentioned. Still no release date, though.
Meanwhile, Stranger of Paradise had more details about its story, characters, and setting revealed – but, most importantly, it got a brand-new demo that immediately delivered more meme fodder to an internet that still hasn't stopped screaming about killing Chaos yet.
WHAT DID I JUST WATCH?????????? pic.twitter.com/nEdAzwfD40— 🍂🍁🦇🎃Kacy ⟣ 👻🖤💜🧡 (@sumnnine) October 1, 2021
Dragon Quest X Offline was showcased again, and now has a Japanese release date of February 22nd. Still no word about it coming westward, which is baffling given that we seem to be the exact market for this game.
There was a brand new title announced, as well: Dungeon Encounters, a heavily pen-and-paper and Wizardry-inspired labyrinth-crawling adventure spearheaded by longtime Final Fantasy director and Active Time Battle system creator Hiroyuki Ito. You won't have to wait long to play this one, either, as it drops next week. Between this and Voice of Cards, Square-Enix really wants to capture the emerging “we want to feel like we're playing a tabletop game with buddies but we're stuck at home” market.
And I guess there's the mobile Battle Royale cash-in Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier, but do you really care? Really?At least Echoes of Mana is looking nice.
KONAMI RUMORS ARE A-RUMBLING AGAIN
Ah, Konami. The Japanese publisher we all love to hate! When the company pivoted to mobile and pachinko games last decade, many longtime fans were understandably upset, and a string of missteps (P.T., forcing Hideo Kojima out) only made their image worse.
But that might be changing, if current rumors are to be believed. Several outlets are reporting that Konami is ramping up for a big return to high-profile console gaming with fresh revivals of some of its most famous series.
Castlevania’s profile has been pretty high lately, with representation in Smash Ultimate, multiple re-releases, and a well-loved, heavily-anime-inspired Netflix original animated series keeping the quest to slay Dracula alive in the public's mind. According to these reports, Castlevania is being rebooted internally by Konami Japan themselves, with bits of development being outsourced to other studios (as is typical for most mid- and big-budget games these days). The last Castlevania reboot (the MercurySteam-developed Lords of Shadow) started off well but nosedived after the sequel, so I could understand Konami being potentially wary about shipping it off to an outside developer again.
Another franchise being mentioned is Metal Gear. A remake/remastering of one of the older MGS games is in the cards, and there is supposedly a studio attached: Singapore-based VIRTUOS, who have built a reputation for ports and remasters. This one feels like the most likely of the rumors, since anything Metal Gear basically prints money, especially if there's a nostalgia element attached. Some have gone so far as to speculate that this project is a remaster of MGS3 Snake Eater, which I'm sure would make plenty of folks happy.
Finally, there's Silent Hill. Ever since P.T. was canned, the Silent Hill fandom has been… how do I put it… on edge? Basically, Silent Hill fans have been looking for any shred of reassurance that a new Silent Hill game is A) happening, and B) actually good this time. If you followed the whole saga of speculation around Abandoned, you saw just how fervent (and desperate) fans are for Silent Hill anything right now.
According to these reports, several external developers are working on Silent Hill games right now. Silent Hill has been outsourced before (to mixed results), so I find that info to be pretty believable. Gematsu, however, has gone one step further, saying that sources have told them one of the firms working on a new Silent Hill is none other than the new, independent Kojima Productions and financed by Sony. Which, if true, would be the most awkward breakup-makeup in game industry history since Square started publishing on Nintendo consoles again.
Is there any truth to these rumors? I'd wager that at least Metal Gear is happening, but overall things do sound plausible. Kojima Productions Silent Hill… still not onboard with that, but we'll see eventually, I guess. Hopefully we learn more soon.
- Atelier Sophie 2 was indeed confirmed at Tokyo Game Show. Enjoy the trailer!
- Several Kingdom Hearts games are coming to Switch alongside Sora's appearance in Smash Ultimate. These are cloud games, meaning that they don't run natively on Switch and will require a good online connection to play.
- Pui Pui Molcar is getting a Switch game in Japan and Asia. The Asian version will be fully localized in English. If you're looking for cute guinea pig vehicles in game form, better contact your favorite importer.
- Mobile Suit Gundam Battle Operation: Code Fairy was also announced. Very little info for this one exists beyond a brief animated trailer, but more information is promised on October 19th.
- Tales of Arise is getting Sword Art Online-themed DLC. I doubt that's going to sway most folks’ opinions on the game's egregious DLC, but if you want a battle with Kirito and Asuna, knock yourself out.
We'll close out the column with some very recent news. Dragon Quest composer Koichi Sugiyama passed away at 90 years old. Besides scoring one of the most important RPGs ever made, Sugiyama also composed songs for classic anime series like Cyborg 009 and Space Runaway Ideon. He was very famous and well-respected. And he parlayed that fame, respect, and fortune earned from Dragon Quest becoming a blockbuster into some absolutely abhorrent political causes.
It's a complicated legacy: the man whose music provided joy to many and inspired every game music composer in Japan also supported terrible things. The reaction in Japan right now is “leave politics out of it for a bit, give people time to mourn,” and while I understand that sentiment, I can't get behind it 100%. Sugiyama made great art but supported awful causes and people, and that shouldn't be glossed over.
Anyhow, that's a wrap for this week. I'm going to be away for family business next week, so hopefully nothing too earth-shattering happens during my absence that I'll need to catch up on. (Anyone in Denver have recommendations for good pizza places?) You know how it goes – forums below, chatter away. Take it easy!
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