This Week in Games
by Heidi Kemps,
Well, hi there! If you missed it, you should check out This Week in Anime, where I guested to talk about the action-packed fanservice fiesta Fatal Fury: The Motion Picture! This was a lot of fun to rewatch and discuss, and I'm hoping I can talk about more game-related anime on here in the future.
However, I can't dwell on the globetrotting adventures of Terry and Mai Shiranui's Breasts for too long, because something big happened. Yes, after almost two years, Nintendo delivered another full-length Nintendo Direct to the world, and the internet's attention turned once again to the house of Mario to see what sort of joyous surprises they would unveil.
So, yes, it's time to dissect a Nintendo Direct again. It's been a while…
PYRA AND MYTHRA DEBUT IN SMASH ULTIMATE
Of course Nintendo's going to get the Smash announcement out of the way ASAP. I mean, when they announced that a Nintendo Direct was happening earlier in the week, they said upfront that there would be new Smash info. That's the only game they mentioned by name, so it was clear that the next character reveal was in the cards.
This time around, Nintendo is pulling the newest addition from their own ranks. And it's a two-for-one deal!
Pyra and Mythra come to us from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and they embody a character style that's fallen out of favor from Smash since the Wii U edition: a character who can swap between two different movesets. Characters like Zelda and Samus have done this in the past, but were eventually split into separate characters altogether, so it's a bit of a surprise to see this gimmick come back. (Then again, Pokemon Trainer exists in Ultimate, too, so perhaps it's not that shocking.)
The duo will be coming in March, and I'm sure there will be a big video from Sakurai giving a detailed play and design analysis to accompany them. Four season passes; 2 fighters down, two to go…
SURPRISE! FAMICOM DETECTIVE CLUB COMES WEST
Now this is one out-of-left-field announcement I find supremely cool. Nintendo announced a while back on one of their Japanese Direct broadcasts that remakes of two Famicom Tantei Club games would be coming to Switch. Famicom Tantei Club was a Famicom Disk System text adventure/mystery game series with some serious talent behind it, including Gunpei Yokoi and Metroid maestro Yoshio Sakamoto. At a time when most adventure games were confined to expensive PC systems, these games (along with Yuji Horii's Portopia Serial Murder Case) really helped bring the genre a lot more mainstream acceptance.
And guess what? We're getting them in English. Hot damn!
MAGES (of Steins;Gate fame) is remaking these games with tons of new animations and visual flourishes, along with a very prolific Japanese voice cast that includes heavy hitters like Megumi Ogata, Tomokazu Sugita, Akio Otsuka, and Shinichiro Miki. No word on if an English dub is in the cards, but since the official Nintendo website only mentions English text, I'm thinking no. But that's fine – I'm just glad folks will get a chance to experience these historically important titles. Do check them out if you enjoy things like the Ace Attorney series, as they're very much an influence.
MARIO GOLF SUPER RUSH LOOKS LIKE A RAUCOUS TIME
People love the hell out of Mario Golf, and for good reason: it's a fun, colorful, accessible golf game with a lot of charm. So it's rather puzzling that there haven't been a lot of Mario Golf games in the past decade or so. Hell, the last console Mario Golf game was all the way back on the GameCube with Toadstool Tour. (You would have thought that the Wii would be the ideal platform for a Mario Golf game, right?) There was a 3DS game back in 2014, but beyond that, the mushroom crew's adventures on the green have been strangely lacking as of late.
So, yes, a new Mario Golf is extremely welcome. Bring on the swing!
The big draw here, though, is the Speed Golf mode. Like golfing, but hate waiting for others to take their turns? Well, boy howdy, does Speed Golf have exactly what you want! In this mode, you don't wait for everybody to make their plays – you smack the ball and then dash over to it to get the next hit, smacking aside any opponents or obstacles in your way!
Longtime Mario Golf fans have also enjoyed previous series’ RPG modes, and will no doubt be glad to see that making a return here as well. This time, you'll be able to better customize your character using a created Mii avatar. Finally, a chance to put the often-ignored cast of Neo Geo classic Neo Turf Masters into the Mario universe!
SQUARE-ENIX IS GETTING ANGULAR
The crew that brought you Octopath Traveler is working on something again! Since they've already tackled a traditional RPG, they're going to try their hand at a strategy RPG instead. Enter: Project Triangle Strategy (tentative title that will likely become permanment)!
So hey, who here is a fan of Tactics Ogre? Because I am certainly not the only one feeling that Yasumi Matsuno's beloved but criminally underplayed classic is a huge influence here, what with the strategy-RPG gameplay and the politics-heavy story fraught with difficult, game-altering decisions. This is probably going to be the closest thing to a new Ogre series game we'll get for the time being. I mean, if you're going to draw inspiration for a new game from something, it may as well be an all-time classic, right? (Also, please port the Tactics Ogre remake to a platform besides PSP, I beg you.)
If you're curious, there's a demo out right now, and a user survey will be coming in a few weeks. I really like this approach of giving general players the sort of “vertical slice” gameplay demo usually reserved for press and getting feedback well before a game's release, and I hope more companies follow Square-Enix's example.
Speaking of Square-Enix, they're also bringing a Legend of Mana remake to the Switch, and it looks… messy. You might recall a while back that people were criticizing some of the mobile Final Fantasy ports (particularly Final Fantasy VI) for having a bunch of mismatched, chaotic-looking art. Legend of Mana's reissue seems to have similar problems: Some of the art elements, like text and character portraits, are extremely high-res, and while the backgrounds look to have been upscaled and smoothed out a bit, the sprites are still quite pixelly. It looks extremely off-putting overall. Then again, I've never been a big Legend of Mana fan – it's very unfocused and introduced a lot of elements that dragged down the series in later installments. (Like Dudbears. Dudbears are the worst.) SaGa Frontier doesn't seem to be suffering that problem, though, so… I dunno!
NO NEW ZELDA NEWS, BUT SKYWARD SWORD IS BACK
Oh crap, it's Eiji Aonuma in his Zelda duds!
… to tell us they can't show us more of the Breath of the Wild followup yet. Womp womp. But he's not going to leave you all sad and Zelda-less, because he's got another old Zelda made new, just for you!
It's Skyward Sword, the “origin story” of the series, now with less mandatory motion controls! Yes, you can still fling around the Joycons to play, but the team behind the remake has quite mercifully given you the option to control sword swipes and other motions with the right analog stick. THANK GOD.
Skyward Sword is also getting a nice HD upscale, which sounds good in theory… but, honestly? The higher resolution shows how much the game suffers from a washed-out color scheme and an overall lack of detail in the environment. Wind Waker's toon-shaded graphics and abstract designs aged beautifully and worked wonderfully in HD, but a higher resolution exposes the flaws in Skyward Sword's more “realistic” visuals. A full texture and color rework would probably benefit the game immensely, but I doubt they're going to do that much.
Somehow I doubt this and the Hyrule Warriors expansion are the last Zelda releases this year, since it's the franchise's 35th anniversary. A crazy fantasy suggestion for Nintendo that will never happen: Get Vanillaware to remake Wand of Gamelon and The Faces of Evil, making them gorgeous and completely redeeming them. Wouldn't that be amazing?
SPLATOON 3 EMERGES FROM THE WASTELAND
It's surprisingly easy to forget that Splatoon is set in a world where humanity screwed itself over with global warming and left a bunch of bipedal squids and octopi to take over the earth. So when this reveal opened with a ruined Eiffel Tower and a bunch of wrecked buses, folks were understandably confused!
But then we saw the Inkling and said, ah, that makes sense now. Splatoon 3, coming in 2022!
It does lead to some questions, like if Splatoon 3 is going to show us more of the world beyond the fashionable cities that our newly-amphibious squid kids live in. The Octo Expansion hinted at more plot developments involving extinct human society, and being able to explore the ruins would be a neat new addition. I'm sure we'll learn more when the time comes, but for now: Splatoon 3! Woooooo~!
OTHER NINTENDO DIRECT ANNOUNCEMENTS
- It's been a while since the last Samurai Warriors game, huh? As soon as this trailer loaded I turned to my partner and said “oh, this looks KOEI as f***.” Right on the money! It'll be appearing on other platforms, too, so if you love pretty Warring States boys but are Switch-less, you'll be just fine.
- No More Heroes 3 has a release date of August 27th. Definitely looking forward to this, so I'm glad it's got a date attached now.
- World's End Club's period of Apple Arcade exclusivity has ended, so it'll be hitting Switch super soon. Being a fan of both Kazutaka Kodaka and Kōtarō Uchikoshi, I'm really looking forward to playing through this!
- Ninja Gaiden: Master Collection is coming to Switch (and other current-gen platforms.) It contains one really good game, one game that feels like it was trying too hard to top the original really good game, and one game that's just kind of a mess. Also, no Yaiba, but who cares?
- Star Wars Hunters is… a game… that exists… about Star Wars… yeah! That's about all we know!
- Fall Guys is coming to Switch as well, which isn't really surprising – that game has a lot of broad appeal, and will assuredly do well amongst the Switch-owning crowd. Really, I'm shocked it didn't happen sooner, given how fast everyone scrambled to get Among Us on there.
- Miitopia is getting a Switch port. I'm here to tell you that Miitopia is, honestly, pretty mediocre and not really worth playing, but I'm sure Nintendo's marketing will push it pretty hard to casual players.
FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: IT'S THE BOY
It's him! The King of Fighters boy! He's in a trailer!
Meanwhile, the Guilty Gear Strive open online beta is happening, and people seem to be raving about how good the netcode feels – though, as I write this, the servers are currently down, which is a bit of a bummer. Better now than at launch like with Street Fighter V, I guess… though I remember the betas for that having problems, too. Hmmm. (Also, not having access to training mode while the servers are down is kinda inexplicable!)
Whew! Okay, I think that's everything. Man, Nintendo Directs of any form always make for a busy TWIG. Did you have a favorite announcement out of the bunch? Are you happy or salty about the new addition(s) to Smash? What would you want to see in Splatoon 3? Talk about your favorite (and least favorite) parts of Nintendo Direct in the forums!
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