This Week in Games -The New Testamentby Heidi Kemps,
Heyo! We're finally exiting the doldrums of winter to enjoy the abundant foliage of spring. Even so, many of us don't feel compelled to go outside after two months’ worth of massive game releases, capped off by Kirby and the Forgotten Land dropping today. This weekend, I'll be balancing playing that alongside spending quality time with my new precious baby.
Hello my precious I am glad you are finally home pic.twitter.com/jiiuf7YlXF— H.K // デビル零 @ thinkin' bout Taito games (@Zerochan) March 22, 2022
News-wise, this week's got a lot of announcements related to fighting games, which are going to take up the bulk of the column this week… but first, let's talk about those gacha games everyone hates to love. Specifically, Dragalia Lost.
DRAGALIA LOST IS DEPARTING TO THE GREAT GACHA-GAME MEMORIAL IN THE SKY
Nintendo and Cygames announced earlier this week that they will be wrapping up the story and ending service for Dragalia Lost, their co-produced original mobile RPG. For folks that follow the gacha-game scene, this isn't much of a surprise: while Dragalia Lost did decently around its initial launch, it never reached the momentum that either Nintendo or Cygames hoped for and has continued to fall off as the years passed.
We'd like to share information about the future of Dragalia Lost. After the main campaign has ended, service for the game itself will end at a later date. Please see the message linked below for more details, and thank you for playing #DragaliaLost.https://t.co/6fZpHIP7Im— Dragalia Lost (@DragaliaLostApp) March 22, 2022
After initially being very gung-ho on bringing its properties to mobile during the Wii U era (when they weren't making much money on hardware and software), Nintendo's attitude towards mobile has shifted considerably during the Switch era (where they're making TONS of money on hardware and software). Aside from Pokemon titles (which are co-owned with other companies) and the recent Pikmin Bloom, Nintendo's barely done anything with mobile in the past couple years. Seeing that the overwhelming majority of their mobile revenue comes from a single game – Fire Emblem Heroes – it's not hard to see why Nintendo is halting their push into the format.
But why did Dragalia Lost have to die? The outpouring of support from fans at the closure announcement – a surprising number of whom played Dragalia as their first gacha game – shows that there were a lot of fans. But things have been tough for Dragalia for a while now. For starters, being a wholly original IP meant no brand name recognition to draw people in – and they needed new players to replace those who dropped Dragalia to play newer, shinier gacha games like Genshin Impact. On top of that, those who were playing simply weren't spending. In February, it's been reported that Dragalia Lost only brought in $200,000 in revenue, which pales to the millions of dollars megahits like Genshin make each day. Plus, that meager income – after covering expenses for servers, bandwidth, art and music production, etc. – has to be split between Cygames and Nintendo. It just wasn't feasible to continue like that.
Alas, this is the unfortunate nature of live-service games: when the money stops coming in, there's no reason to keep things going. Dragalia Lost will be a lot of folks’ first live-service-game shutdown, but sadly, it won't be the last. There's a bit of hope, though: an offline version (without content updates) could potentially be made so you can keep on playing, but it still won't be the same. Ultimately, there's nothing that can be done at this point, so cherish the last days of the game and its community. (And perhaps look into other gacha games if you've still got that itch. May I recommend World Flipper?)
FABULOUS FASHION ANNOUNCEMENTS ABOUND AT LAST WEEKEND'S FIGHTING GAME TOURNAMENTS
Arc System Works held the North American finals for their ArcRevo tournament series over the weekend, showcasing some top-class Guilty Gear Strive gameplay while also teasing a big announcement at the end of the event. That big announcement turned out to be the final Season 1 DLC character for Guilty Gear Strive. The DLC characters so far have all been pretty fantastic, but I don't think any got quite as big of a reaction as this one did.
Here's the Good News from Daisuke Ishiwatari: Testament has made a glorious return to Guilty Gear.
The trailer's great, of course, but what really got social media buzzing is Testament's stunning new design, which emphasizes an important point: Testament is now officially regarded as non-binary. Androgynous fashion, they/them pronouns, and their English voice is provided by amazingly talented transgender voice actress Kayleigh McKee.
Testament's non-binaryness has been confirmed on both the English and Japanese sides of Arc System Works, which unfortunately hasn't stopped some internet reactionaries from pitching the usual fits about “pronouns.” After all, Guilty Gear is a series free of “woke” nonsense that's never had any kind of gender-non-conforming characters before...
So, Testament is Testament, they look great, and the outpouring of glee and fanart at their announcement shows that ArcSys definitely did a good job with the redesign. Gameplay-wise, they're quite different from their last appearance in Guilty Gear X Accent Core Plus R, but depending on who you ask that's a good thing. If you want a gameplay breakdown, ArcSys has once again uploaded a detailed how-to-play-this-character video. (Seriously, more publishers need to put out stuff like this.) Season Pass holders will be able to play Testament on the 28th, while the general public will be able to buy them as DLC on the 31st.
Also, DNF Duel now has a set release date of June 28th. I'll bet on at least one more open beta before launch.
Meanwhile, another announcement came later that same day at the official Japanese Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown tournament season-ender. No, it wasn't new characters… but it does involve fashion. And a very big crossover.
Holy crap, you've got Tekken in my Virtua Fighter! Yes, VF5US is getting another set of costumes, and like the Yakuza series set before it, it will likely come with more music, extra customization items… and, as we can see from the trailer, a Tekken 7-styled HUD. We haven't even seen most of the special character outfits yet, and already the attention to detail is looking phenomenal. I'm long since past my teenage EWW TEKKEN days of Virtua Fighter fandom, so I'm glad to see Sega and Bamco working together and hope it leads to more cool things for both series in the future.
But that's not the end of fighting game news!
JAPANESE FIGHTING GAME PUBLISHERS ROUNDTABLE EXPOSES AMAZING FINDS AND A TERRIFYING BOSS REVIVAL
It's been a while since the last Japanese Fighting Game Publishers Roundtable – an irregular live event where representatives from several major developers and publishers of fighting games meet up to discuss the state of the fighting game scene. A lot of these broadcasts are the reps talking about dev- and business-related topics – discussions that are interesting to folks like me, perhaps less so to others – but there are always some silly bits and announcement to go along with it. This time, we had the usual hour-or-so of discussion, followed by a unique “battle” and then announcements. Most of the announcements this time around were things that had been revealed the day before, but there was a least one big surprise. (Well, maybe not if you follow character reveal leaks…)
If you watch any part of this presentation, make it the “Treasure Appraisal Team Battle,” where everyone participating was asked to bring something unique and interesting related to their games or company to be judged by the host. There's a lot that happens here: ARIKA's Akira Nishitani showing an absurdly rare version of Street Fighter EX most folks don't know exists, Seiji Aoki digging up famed artist Katsuya Terada's hand-drawn Virtua Fighter designs from the Sega archives, Daisuke Ishiwatari misunderstanding the instructions (but still winning), and Katsuhiro Harada showing off some of the earliest concepts for what would become the original Tekken, which featured some truly amazing character designs. Like WALRUS MAN.
I'm not sure if Harada has realized this yet, but now everybody is going to ask for Walrus Man in Tekken going forward. You can't just show a buff dude in a walrus suit and not expect the public to immediately demand his in-game implementation.
After that, SNK used the roundtable as an opportunity to drop some news related to King of Fighters XV. Good news, everyone: We're getting beloved bossman Rugal as a solo DLC character… for free! The bad news, however, is that we're also getting Omega Rugal as an optional boss battle. If that sentence didn't send chills up your spine, you likely haven't played many SNK games.
The new Boss Challenge Mode is exactly what it says: you get to try and beat Omega Rugal, a madder and meaner Rugal. This will be extremely not easy to do, because Rugal boss fights have traditionally been a place where your hopes and dreams of beating the game go to die a death by a thousand Genocide Cutters. (Perhaps this is SNK's way of “apologizing” for how easy the Re:Verse boss fight was?) It's a neat idea for a challenge mode, and a gift for YouTube content creators who are preparing their faux-scared faces and HARDEST BOSS EVER??? text for clickbait thumbnails as we speak. Both Rugal and the Omega Rugal boss fight DLC will be available on April 14th, so get your signs ready.
There is a reason why Rugal needs to come back in King of Fighters 15— Rooflemonger (@Rooflemonger) October 18, 2021
Rugal brings a certain flavour you can't find anywhere else pic.twitter.com/eE5nycC13m
THE ONLY NEWSBIT THAT MATTERS: GOTTA PROTECTORS IS COMING TO SWITCH
Witcher 4? Pffft. We're talking Gotta Protectors! Oh man, I love Gotta Protectors, and I am so hyped to see that an English release is confirmed! Gotta Protectors is an 8-bit-styled tower defense game developed by Ancient, the family-run company of famed composer Yuzo Koshiro and his sister Ayano Koshiro. You know, the folks behind the original Streets of Rage trilogy. I played the hell out of the 3DS version, and the new Switch edition looks even better. And there are so many stupid jokes for retro game nerds! Ahhh!
The base game will launch later this year, and various DLC packs containing extra maps and music remixed using various retro console and PC sound hardware will materialize shortly afterwards. (A physical edition from Limited Run Games will include all DLC on the card.) Seriously, Gotta Protectors is great, and you should play it ASAP.
Sure was a lot of cool news over the weekend! …if you like fighting games. But obviously I like them a whole lot, so the column was pretty fun to write this week. How about you? Are you digging Testament's new style? Reliving nightmares of King of Fighters 94 Rugal? Setting up a gimmick social media account to demand Walrus Man's inclusion in Tekken? How about Dragalia Lost – did you play it at all? How do you feel about the game ending? Give us your thoughts in the forum, linked at the bottom of the page. Take it easy, and we'll have plenty more gaming news soon!
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