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This Week in Games
We Finally Arrived At The Sony Factory

by Jean-Karlo Lemus,

Welcome back! I hope you guys had a great week! Progress was halted on Xenoblade this week because of a number of projects that came my way. We also had a freak snowstorm in my city! Being from the tropics, snow and hail amuse me, even though I hate the cold. I tried to make a snowman after I did my landlady the favor of shoveling for her. But sadly, the snow wasn't sticky enough to properly form, so this was the best I could manage:

A real shame—I wanted to try making a tokusatsu snowman. But with a little wish, some leftover Christmas magic, and in court-mandated cooperation with the FBI, we can—

Oh God, oh God no

This is...

Saami People Criticize Outfit in Final Fantasy XIV

You'd be forgiven for not knowing who the Saami (or "Sámi") are. Outside of appearing in the fantastic animated film Klaus, there isn't much discussion of them. The Saami are the native peoples of Sápmi, which covers a wide territory including Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. There are also Saami populations in Ukraine and some immigrants in the U.S. If you've seen them in Klaus, you'll know the Saami wear a particular kind of traditional outfit, the gákti. Square Enix has created a fashion set for Final Fantasy XIV based off of the gákti, called the "Far Northern Attire." And the Saami aren't happy about this.

The Saami Council has referred to the use of the Far Northern Attire as "infringement upon their cultural rights," and has requested Square Enix take down the set from its store. Council president Áslat Holmberg explained that the gákti isn't just a fashion preference but represents "specific elements of Sámi identity with meaning, content, and context." By offering the outfits as just an aesthetic choice, Holmberg explained that players "clothe themselves in the Sámi identity without our consent, and contribute to the erosion of our culture."

I understand where Holmberg comes from in this regard. For one thing, the Far Northern Garb removes any reference to the Saami people outright. It would be one thing if the garb referred to the gákti by name, like how kimonos and hanboks are referred to. For another, Square Enix owns the look of the Far Northern Garb, which means it could potentially claim ownership for anything that just looks like a gákti, even if it's an actual gákti.

There's a precedent supporting the Saami in this; way back in 2001, the Maori people successfully sued LEGO over the use of Maori terminology in Bionicle. LEGO was compliant enough to accept the wrongdoing and even draft a new code of conduct to avoid mining actual cultures for terminology in its toyline.

Some would argue that the use of cultural iconography or terminology isn't inherently offensive, and can do a lot to help educate people on the existence of foreign cultures. And I agree with that! I had no idea "Toa" was an actual Maori word for ages. But that's part of the issue: it's easy to divorce these terms and images from actual peoples who still live to this very day. Trademarking it without their involvement is, well, the definition of "appropriation"—especially if you're making money without giving back to the community you're referencing. The use and education of these cultures shouldn't be divorced from the originating cultures; I hope that the Saami people are able to get their proper treatment.

Goddess of Victory: Nikke Features Chainsaw Man Collab

Goddess of Victory: Nikke quietly released in the U.S. this past autumn. I've been enjoying it. I mean, the Auto mode mostly plays itself (the AI is possibly a bit too smart), and the Live2D animations are as jank as Live2D will always be, but if you need a game about anime women in outlandish outfits armed with fancy firearms, it's a darn solid choice.

Is Nikke successful? I really don't know, I'm a terrible judge for these things. The most I can say is that it's done well enough to earn itself a branded collab, and it's a serious doozy!

I'm not at all sure how they managed to swing by this collab, but I'm not about to complain, because Power and Makima are big enough disasters to fit right in with the rest of the Nikke cast. I like that the Chainsaw Man-themed characters are even classified as their own "brand" of Nikke. While most Nikkes come from either the Missilis, Tetra, Elysium, or Pilgrim companies, Power and Makima are classified as "Aberrations," which looks to be the category that any crossover characters will fall into.

I hope this brings a lot of new fans to Nikke. I hate Live2D, but a lot of people are impressed by the animations, and the writing for a lot of the events is genuinely good. The Christmas event was a heart-wrenching story about struggling with a family member dealing with dementia and the hope in miracles. It was a lot more than I expected from an event where the limited-edition costume for one of the characters was a white BDSM leotard. And hey, it'll be nice to see Nikke get other collabs!

EVO 2023 Announces Its Lineup

We have some surprises!

...Well, some, but not many. Street Fighter 6 at EVO? To be expected. It should be out by the time EVO rolls around, so it'll be the current "thing" for folks on the Capcom side of fighting games. We also see the return of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.

Now, I'm one of those few people who think that Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite was a good game. It had a rough development and Disney's interventions are very obvious, but Capcom managed to get the fighting mechanics to work. But you don't get a second chance at a first impression, and UMvC3 is still tons of fun. The tourney needs a Marvel vs Capcom.

Guilty Gear -Strive- and Dragon Ball FighterZ! Not much to say. These games are rock solid fighters and stellar examples of how to utilize 3D graphics to simulate 2D animation. Guilty Gear is still getting updates too. Same with King of Fighters XV; there's DLC planned for the game for a good while from now.

Tekken 7 and Mortal Kombat 11 are also due back, though not without some consternation. They're good games, but they're also quite long in the tooth these days. And Tekken 8 is on the horizon. As for Mortal Kombat 11, there hasn't been anything new added to the game in ages, and the meta for that game is pretty solidified at this point. Part of why Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is getting some excitement is because in the years since its last appearance there have been some new discoveries in terms of strategies, while MK11 hasn't seen that kind of invigoration. Folks are definitely clamoring for the next big Neverrealm Studios fighting game, and I can't help but hope we get that soon. Even if it is another edgelord-y Injustice.

And that leaves us with the biggest surprise appearance at EVO 2023: Melty Blood: Type Lumina.

Melty Blood has long since been an unofficial staple of EVO, with memes abounding of pugilists meeting in the wildest of places to enjoy matches with each other. Its popularity was wholly grassroots in the most heartwarming of ways that you don't see a lot from fandoms anymore. With Melty Blood: Type Lumina's release, it seems EVO wants to throw a bone to the many inhabitants of EVO's beloved Melty Blood Salty Suites. And hey, the EVO stage is probably a lot more sanitary than the parking lot of the nearby Denny's.

It's nice to see Melty Blood attain such fame among the fighting game community, even though it's a fighting game sequel to the Lunar Legend Tsukihime visual novel. It's chock full of Type-Moon in-jokes and the fighting game community has embraced them all, even if many don't really care about Type-Moon at large. And hey, all it takes is a few moments to learn why many come to fear... la criatura

If I have any strong disagreements, it's that Skullgirls isn't back as a main event. And I get it—on a technical level, Skullgirls is basically a more refined Marvel Vs Capcom. But I have a lot of love for the Future Club folks, and it warms my heart to see them still adding new characters to the game after all of these years.

Some might also object to there being a lack of Super Smash Bros. as a headlining event.

...In other news!

Minecraft To Get Mega Man X DLC

Lots of folks prefer to play Minecraft on PC, purely for the sake of modding it. The console ports miss out on a lot of that customizability. At least there are official skin packs players can purchase, many of which are based on existing games like Final Fantasy XV or Halo. But it looks like Minecraft's getting a particularly extensive one for Mega Man X!

The offerings are pretty extensive. First up: there are 10 new skins on offer, including Mega Man X and Zero. There are a number of exclusive pre-made stages offered, which recreate the original stages from Mega Man X, including the destroyed highway, Chill Penguin's Antarctic base and Sigma's castle. You can also battle the original Mavericks in these stages as bosses. There are unique weapons available, all based on the original weapons in Mega Man X. Finally, the classic songs from these stages are also available! Mega Man X is known for its legendary bangers, and it wouldn't be the same traipsing through recreations of Sting Chameleon's base without those classic tunes.

I am a little worried, given that all of the stages are 3D recreations of 2D stages. While no doubt the engineering and construction of these stages has been modified to accommodate a 3D space, I can't imagine that Mega Man X's original levels would make for particularly fun stages to have to jump around in with a Z-axis. Something like Storm Eagle's Airfield with its treadmill platforms seem like they'd be exercises in frustration in 3D.

But other than that, it's awesome to see things like Sigma's first final form bursting out from a wall, Contra-style, to recreate his old boss fight. This is a fun, creative addition to Minecraft and I can see a lot of older gamers bonding with their kids over it.

Two Classic JRPGs Hit PS+

This past weekend, I went and got myself a PS5 for work. The exclusives I pine for on that console can be counted on one hand, but the exclusives I can't cover for ANN weigh on me, so I caved in. And it looks like it was fated to be, because two very special games just landed on Sony's PlayStation Plus service.

First up is Legend of Dragoon. I have very fond memories of this game; it was one of the many games I read about in my very first issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly (September 2001 issue!) and a classmate in grade school was nice enough to lend it to me for a while, even though I never made it past the first disc. It's a fun JRPG: you and a troop of warriors battle against a white-haired misanthrope who wants to eradicate humanity and give rise to a whole new life form.

But Legend of Dragoon never became the massive hit Sony hoped. It suffered from the reputation of being a Final Fantasy VII wannabe, and not without merit given the game's scope and ambition. Reviews were middling, citing the bad voice acting, and many people felt like the idea of Dart and his friends turning into armored magic-warriors empowered by dragon souls was too "Power Rangers-y."

And yet, weird as it was, Legend of Dragoon really struck a chord with some people. Sony never did make a second one, so like all of its other first-party experiments like Parappa the Rapper, Vib Ribbon, Gravity Rush, and Patapon, Sony said "Screw it!" and chased other trends until it wound up where they are now: re-releasing The Last of Us for the umpteenth time. So it's nice to see Sony give the game some love, and anyone interested in classic JRPGs owes it to themselves to give it a look. Better yet: anyone who already owns the title on PSVita or PS3 can just download it for free!

There is a downer note to this party, sadly: it runs pretty badly. There are some graphical glitches, audio glitches—and worst of all, a game-breaking bug wherein using Dragoon spells locks up the game. I'm currently praying they can fix those bugs.

The other title that caught my eye was Wild Arms 2. Like Legend of Dragoon, it was also a JRPG from the PS1 era of JRPGs. Wild Arms was unique by virtue of its setting, taking place in a post-apocalyptic world infused with the vibe and aesthetics of a spaghetti western. Even now, there aren't too many games based on Westerns, and even fewer of them are JRPGs.

There hasn't been a new Wild Arms in a very long time, but the upcoming Armed Fantasia is a spiritual successor made by some of the old members of the Wild Arms team—it's worth looking into if you're nostalgic for those games. In the meantime, definitely pick up Wild Arms 2 if you have PlayStation Plus. As far as old turn-based JRPGs go, it's a fun one.

Sony's Feburary 2023 State of Play

I swear, I did not plan to get a PS5 the very week a State of Play was announced. But it happened, and we have some fun stuff to look forward to... I think? Yeah, I think.

The stream started with a series of announcements focused on the PSVR2. Besides being a smattering of letters, there wasn't much buzz on social media about this for a simple reason—a lot of people weren't even aware that there was a newer model of PlayStation's VR kit. Ignoring how VR itself is expensive and requires a lot of space to work, there just haven't been many killer apps to really sell people on the device.

The biggest surprise from this slate is probably Journey to Foundation. Isaac Asimov's Foundation books are pillars of science fiction, but they're a rather unsexy kind. Rather than laser swords or nanomachines, they're about a mathematician who's calculated the decline of the Galactic Empire. I'm not sure how fitting Foundation into a shooty-shooty FPS game will work out, especially since the likes of Caves of Steel are more about tension and intrigue than shootouts with ray guns, but I'm interested in seeing this one pan out. Call me a nerd, but I wanna see my boy R. Daneel Olivaw get a shout-out.

I also think Before Your Eyes is promising. Your only means of interacting with the game is by looking. You play as someone who is being shown their entire life; every time you blink, you jump forward a few years. This is a novel, potentially-heartwrenching concept, especially since the game can tell if you're intentionally skipping parts or trying to avoid certain scenes. It's very experimental, but I'm a sucker for this kind of character study.

Zipping ahead to the anime game news, CyberConnect 2 is working on Naruto X Boruto Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections, the biggest entry to the series to date. I'm extremely behind on my Naruto lore, even as my nerdy butt sits on a Secretlabs Akatsuki chair, but I won't lie—seeing so many of the major beats in Naruto's history represented in this trailer makes me want to go back and read some of the series. Two new characters are added to the roster, for a full roster of 124 characters. If that's not enough Naruto for you, there's no helping you.

"Capcom presents..." a look at three more fighters coming to Street Fighter 6. Zangief is back, and he's bigger and burlier than ever! It's a shame that Capcom wussed out and gave him full pants instead of his trademark briefs or trunks, but our favorite Russian bear is looking as beefed out as ever.

We have a glimpse at a new character, Lily. She's Mexican, like T. Hawk, but with more of an Aztec bend: she has a spiritual connection to the wind, her stage has a giant Aztecan sun mural in the background, and she appears to be wielding a pair of Mesoamerican clubs as weapons. For a minute, I thought they were jai alai cestas, but the orbs on the tips don't launch—they're clubs, alright. Lily's cut from the same cloth as Kimberly, albeit without Kim's urban-ninja flavoring. She's got this energy to her and her design that makes me think of Third Strike. I bet she'd be great buddies with Elena.

But the real star of the show was Cammy White! While some folks gnashed their teeth that Cammy traded in her trademark green leotard for gymwear (come on guys, they're just gonna sell the outfit as DLC later!), Cammy is honestly looking amazing. There's a lot of thirst for her at the moment, what with that limber stretching she does.

There's way more than just purient fanservice with her, though. As many sharp-eyed Street Fighter fans have pointed out, her new special (the Killer Bee Spin) is a reference to one of her scenes in Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie from 1994! I also like how the belts on her leather jacket bring her big braids from her Street Fighter II look to mind. They do a lot to help her silhouette.

Way to go for the deep cut, Capcom!

Speaking of Capcom, we also have another look at Resident Evil 4's upcoming remake. It... looks great? I mean, I'm still mostly worried about the dialogue, but it looks like the quietly goofy elements might still be in there. Leon still suplexes Ganados. I dunno if he'll have his famous "Where'd everybody go? Bingo?" line, but the game looks good. We also get to see Luis Serra's new look. He's a bit stringier-looking, but he's still the charming scoundrel he was in the original.

And to round things out, we have a glimpse at Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. And... woof, this one looks rough. The gameplay appears to be bog-standard Live Service co-op shooting with some aerial elements, the enemies are generic, and even the story itself is rather hackneyed: the bigwigs in the Justice League are under mind control from Braniac, and the only way to free them is to kill them. Mind you don't cut yourself on that edge. Also, why the heck is Captain Boomerang using guns instead of freaking boomerangs?

And that's the State of Play. I'm definitely interested in more than a few of the developments here. Can't say I'll be playing too many of them soon, 'cuz... y'know, Xenoblade, but count on me to be all over Tchia and Goodbye Volcano High when those come out!

Let's wrap up with some quick tidbits:

  • Dragon Ball: Kakarot is set to gain a new DLC based on the "Chaos at the World Tournament" arc—look forward to recreating Adult Goku's dramatic battle against Junior/"The Namekian we came to know as Piccolo." It's the one where Piccolo turns giant!
  • For everyone disappointed by the Chrono Cross remaster, there's good news! A recent update has been sent out, upping the game to 60fps, fixing a smattering of minor bugs, and slightly rebalancing how the character Pip levels up.
  • I think that'll do it for this week. As you read this, there should be a preview going up for Atelier Ryza 3. I'm really not ready for delving into that game, characters waxing nostalgic about their own lives hits kinda hard. But hey, now that I have a PS5, I can look forward to trying out some Sony games! I definitely need to check out Final Fantasy VII Remake, but I'm especially keen on the games the PlayStation Plus service offers for free... if only it was easier to find them. That storefront's website is harder to navigate than Nintendo's. At any rate: be good to each other, I'll see you guys in seven.

    This Week In Games! is written from idyllic Portland by Jean-Karlo Lemus. When not collaborating with AnimeNewsNetwork, Jean-Karlo can be found playing JRPGs, eating popcorn, watching v-tubers and tokusatsu, and trying as hard as he can to be as inconspicuous as possible on his Twitter @mouse_inhouse.

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