This Week in Games
by Heidi Kemps,
So you know how 90% of the coolest E3 announcements happen in the days and weeks before E3? Well, right now, it feels like the same thing is happening with next week's Tokyo Game Show. Sony already had a big conference where a couple of big, big games got announced, and even more hot upcoming titles have dropped from other sources. Plus, we've got the delayed Nintendo Direct to catch up on! Phew, I'm glad it's a subdued release week, because we've got a whole lot of news to talk about…
YOUR BLAZING JUDGE EYES
Last week, we heard Yakuza series producer and literal golden boy Toshihiro Nagoshi tell us that the next game from his Ryu ga Gotoku studio would be “something completely different.” Well, we now know exactly what he was talking about: A new game set in the universe of the Yakuza series but featuring a very different protagonist and gameplay style.
Judge Eyes (or “Project Judge” for its tentative international title – I'm just calling it Judge Eyes for now) is a detective drama. Takayuki Yagami was once a well-respected defense attorney who managed to get his client, Shinpei Okubo, acquitted of murder in a previous trial. All eyes were on Yagami as a rising star in the legal world... until Okubo murdered his girlfriend and burned down her house.
After that day, Yagami's life as an attorney was over. He's since become a private detective in Yakuza series homeland Kamurocho, and now there's a new case: a string of grisly murders. Yagami's going to have to use a combination of wits and skill to investigate these killings – and maybe deliver some good old-fashioned beatdowns in the process.
The trailer above does a good job of showcasing the general mood and feel of the game. There's an even longer 51-minute video presentation if you want to hear from folks involved with the game's creation, though you have to deal with some awkward-feeling English overdubbing. If you really want a full taste of Judge Eyes, though, you can always hop onto Japanese PSN and download the free gameplay demo… though there's going to be an obvious language barrier.
It's also worth noting that Judge Eyes continues the recent Yakuza tradition of using the images of real-life Japanese celebrities to portray its characters. In fact, its lead character is a gigantic get: Takuya Kimura (aka Kimutaku), perhaps the most well-known member of Japanese musical and entertainment group SMAP. As tempting as it is to just call SMAP a “boy band,” they were honestly much bigger than that: they became well-loved actors, entertainers, and comedians as well, and have continued to be big public faces even after SMAP's messy 2016 dissolution.
Unfortunately, I have a revulsion to most things SMAP related due to the trauma of a miserable ex-roommate who would play Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana on endless loop day in and out. Maybe this will be the game that will make me hate Kimutaku less. We shall see…
THE LAST REMNANT ON PS3 FINALLY HAS A RELEASE DATE! HEY, WAIT A MINUTE-
Remember a couple weeks ago when I noted that The Last Remnant was being pulled from Steam? It seemed like an odd move at the time, but we finally know why it's happening: The decade-late PlayStation version of the game is finally coming out!
Okay, it's on PS4 instead of PS3 like Square-Enix originally wanted, and it's got a big ol’ “Remastered” slapped onto the title. But hey, if you're a true-blooded Sony loyalist who will not touch any gaming platform unless it's been personally blessed by Kaz Hirai, you can now finally play The Last Remnant!
In all seriousness, details on what the “remaster” of this game will entail (besides an expected visual upgrade) are sparse. I honestly hope they don't overhaul the game's systems to make them more like a “typical” JRPG: the weird quirks of The Last Remnant are what really makes it special, even if they turn off some folks to the game.
Still, I feel like yanking the old versions off other platforms’ storefronts for what appears to be a PlayStation-exclusive version is kind of a dick move, y'know?
TOO KYO GAMES ANNOUNCES TOO MANY KOOL NEW TITLES
This week's “unexpected but friggin’ awesome” news involves a brand new developer from Japan. A whole mess of folks involved with the Danganronpa and Zero Escape series have branched off on their own to form Too Kyo Games. Staff members include Kazutaka Kodaka, Kōtarō Uchikoshi, artist Rui Komatsuzaki, and composer Masafumi Takada, all of whom have played significant roles in creating some of the most globally-beloved visual novels out there.
Not only did Too Kyo Games announce their studio, but they also announced three games and one anime project in development:
- An untitled game with both Kodaka and Uchikoshi contributing to the scenario, themed ‘limit’ X ‘Despair’
- A title about a “children's death game” with Uchikoshi on prime scenario duty
- A cyberpunk-flavored title that Kodaka began work on before leaving Spike Chunsoft, and will be published and co-developed with them
- An anime series with Studio Pierrot with Rui Komatsuzaki designs, a Kodaka-penned scenario, and influence from great 90s action films
Jeez, they've got a lot on their plate already, don't they? However, some fans immediately expressed concern since Uchikoshi was slated to be involved with Spike Chunsoft's upcoming AI: Somnium Files, but fear not: Uchikoshi stated on Twitter that he's still involved with that game up until its release.
Man, it's a good time to be a visual novel fan, isn't it?
CYGAMES WAKES UP TO THE CONSOLE MARKET, AND WE KNOW PROJECT PRELUDE RUNE EXISTS… BUT NOT MUCH ELSE
Two big teaser trailers were showcased at Sony's press event earlier this week. The first is Cygames’ first major in-house console effort (via their Osaka studio), titled Project Awakening. It certainly looks like a big game, but the initial trailer doesn't tell us too much just yet.
Outlets like Gematsu have reported that some folks have seen gameplay behind closed doors back at E3, but it sounds like what was shown was a lot like the trailer we just saw. Yeah, it's pretty clear that this one's still got a lot of time left to cook.
The other “Hey look guys, this exists!” announcement of note from the event is Project Prelude Rune from Square-Enix and Studio Istolia. This is the studio's first project: the leader of the team, Hideo Baba, is best known for working on a whole mess of Tales games. (“Istolia” even sounds like a “Tales of” game name, doesn't it?) At the event, Square-Enix gave us a trailer for the game, which certainly looks nice, but doesn't tell us a whole lot beyond “this is pretty” and “that hero has a rad ponytail.”
It's quite rare for Japanese game developers to showcase stuff that's super early in development unless they have a lot of confidence in the games, so both publishers must be expecting these games to do big things. We can also expect both games to dump “project” from their title at some point, because jeez, we've got way too many projects going right now.
FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: SAMURAI SHODOWN SLASHES ONTO CONSOLES… BUT WILL IT BE ANOTHER SERIES BUST?
Hey Cervantes is coming to Soul Calibur VI blah blah that leaked last week. There's a different weapon-based fighter hogging the spotlight right now: SAMURAI SHODOWN IS BACK BABY! WOOOOOOO!
Man, these visuals look good. SNK's 3D modeling has come a long way since KoFXIV, huh? …Either that or they outsourced the character modeling, which happens a lot more frequently in games than you probably think. And hey, look, there's plenty of blood flying! These are gonna be hardcore, old-fashioned fights to the death with characters everyone loves!
Of course, there's precedent for tempering one's excitement here: Samurai Shodown is probably the most inconsistent fighting game series in SNK's library, having some extremely high points and some absolutely dire low points. Every Samurai Shodown game with 3D graphics so far has been… well, they haven't been good, that's for sure. (Samurai Shodown Sen is easily in the running for the worst fighting game of the previous console generation.) It's better to wait until we see proper gameplay before getting too Debbie Downer, though.
Oh yeah, Dead or Alive 6 had some big news as well. Honoka, Bayman, Ayane, and Marie Rose are all joining the cast, and Nyotengu and Phase-4 will be (sigh) pre-order DLC incentives. There will be some classic outfits, including Kasumi's old getup. There will also be a limited edition released in Japan that features, uh, lots of fan goods:
Yeah, I think everyone can STFU now about not getting enough fanservice. A lack of uncanny wobbly Jello boobs does not deprive a game of sex appeal. DoA6 hits in February of next year, making the first couple months of 2019 look like even more of a madhouse than they are already.
HAS PUYO PUYO GONE ESPORTS?
I don't like to report on trademark- and ratings board-derived rumors too much, but this one caught my eye: Apparently the Korean ratings board has given a rating to something called Puyo Puyo eSports for PS4 and Switch published by Sega. If you've never seen competitive Puyo Puyo, it's absolutely mesmerizing. Watch a bit of this first-to-50 (!) endurance run between two skilled Japanese players and I'm sure you'll agree.
What's so interesting about this? Well, there was another attempt to take Puyo Puyo into the eSports sphere long before Japan's whole eSports licensing deal happened, and it was a complete disaster on numerous levels. There's an article I co-wrote about it here, if you want all the tragicomic details.
HERE WE GO: NINTENDO DIRECT NEWZAPALOOZA
- Luigi's Mansion 3! It's coming to Switch! No word on the developer, but I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo's working with Next Level Games again. The original Luigi's Mansion is also returning to 3DS and adding two-player co-op support. It's interesting to see how a game considered a lackluster launch title back in the day is now a beloved franchise for Nintendo. Time changes perceptions, I guess!
- Splatoon 2 is getting a new version! Nintendo didn't show much besides a teaser trailer, asking folks to visit the official website for updates. I wonder if there's going to be a new release of the game with all the DLC included? Considering Splatoon 2 is still moving thousands of copies in Japan each week, it'd be a nice way to get new buyers caught up.
- Mario Tennis Aces is getting new playable characters like Birdo and Petey Piranha along with new gameplay modes, and updates for the game are gaming up through June and next year. I'm glad to see Nintendo support this game, though I feel like it would do even better with a real big push into competitive gaming circles.
- CAPCOM Beat ‘Em Up Bundle packages a whole mess of CAPCOM's late 80s and early 90s arcade brawlers into a single package. The obvious star here is Final Fight, but there are some other noteworthy games among the bunch: Warriors of Fate, a very popular Three Kingdoms-based mainstay of Japanese arcades, Armored Warriors, which is actually a Cyberbots prequel, and Battle Circuit, a very colorful and goofy game that's among the last arcade beat-em-ups CAPCOM made. It's out next week, too, so you won't have to wait long to enjoy King of Dragons and Captain Commando. Alas, The Punisher and the D&D games aren't on there (licensing, of course), but it still looks like a solid set.
- Katamari Damacy's getting a HD revision, so prepare for that theme song to never ever leave your head for several months after it launches in Winter 2018.
- To coincide with the launch of the Switch online service and its library of NES games, Nintendo's releasing NES-style wireless controllers. If you pine for the bygone days of the edges of square controllers digging into your palms, you're in luck!
- New Super Mario Bros U is getting a port (along with its brother game, New Super Luigi U to Switch, continuing the trend of "making the Wii U games people care about available on a platform that people have actually bought."
- GAME FREAK's making a non-Pokemon RPG that takes place in a town. You also never leave said town – the entire world is the town. Fittingly, the tentative title is Town, but like all the Project games, that's probably not going to stick.
- Daemon X Machina looks siiiiiiiiiiick and do I really need to say more than that? I can't help but see some Kazuma Kaneko influence in the character and battle suit art, though.
- The Yoshi game on Switch is now called Yoshi's Crafted World. Considering how strong the Wooly World games were, I'm eager to see this one.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition are both coming to Switch, but both of these announcements managed to sneak out a bit early. Still, people have been pining for a more convenient way to play Crystal Chronicles for a long time! There's also a port of World of Final Fantasy coming, along with the roguelite Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy.
- But that's not all! Switch isn't just getting the Final Fantasy spinoffs: Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age is coming to Switch, meaning I must buy Final Fantasy XII again because Fran on the go is more than enough to open my wallet. Ports of FF7, FF9, and FFX/X2 HD are also on the way, likely based on the PC versions.
- It wouldn't be a Nintendo Direct without a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate reveal, and the newest addition is a character a lot of people were predicting: the fluffy, lovable Isabelle from Animal Crossing. Try not to feel bad when you beat her up. (Thank god she didn't die in the trailer.)
- And, to top it off: There's a new Animal Crossing coming sometime next year. Hooray!
…Are we done? I think we're done. Phew! That's a wrap for this week. Will Tokyo Game Show's impending opening bring more big news? Tune in next week to find out!
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