• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

This Week in Games
Games Are Our Business... And Business Is Restructuring

by Jean-Karlo Lemus,

Welcome back, folks! You know, it's always nice to discover old stuff from a franchise you love that you didn't know existed. For example, I didn't know that the old Captain N: The Game Master cartoon had an episode that featured the world of Dragon Quest (then known as Dragon Warrior). You gotta squint to see it because they call it the world of "Dragon's Den," but Dragonlord (a.k.a. Dracolord) is there—including the famous and beloved Slimes, who suffice to say do not resemble the in-game art as designed by the belated Akira Toriyama. I learned this because someone was also tweeting about an old Dragon Quest LaserDisc that had come out in Japan to promote the game, featuring animatronic slimes. In-game, slimes are threatening (they're monsters, after all), but they're also very adorable and have become the mascots of Dragon Quest. In live-action, they're horrifying!

If I have to see a Slime's bloodshot eyes as it's being boiled alive in a frying pan, so do you.

This is...

Art by Catfish

Cotton Reboot Continues Unabated, Witch Demands Her Snacks

We talk a lot about Success around here, not as a vague concept, but as a Japanese studio responsible for several cult-favorite titles. Nintendo DS fans might remember them for the Touch Detective games. That Bitch™ remembers them for making the Izuna rogue-like games (with a third game currently in development, which we haven't heard of in almost a year). But they're also known for the Cotton games: a long-running series of cute-'em-up shooters about a pink-haired witch and her fairy partner as they set out in search of a snack called "Willow." The Cotton games have seen a major push in the US in the past few years (as much as a cult series like this will ever see, anyway); the series saw a reboot a few years back, along with an old classic of the series getting an updated re-release in the US. We also have Rainbow Cotton, a remake of the Sega Dreamcast title of the same name, which was finally released in the US late last week after missing the US market for 20 years. What with Cotton Reboot, Cotton: Superlative Nights Dream, and Rainbow Cotton, the series is seeing Success enough that it continues to encourage Success to make more. So it is that Cotton Reboot! is getting a new sequel: Cotton Reboot! High Tension!.


We don't know much about Cotton Reboot! High Tension! yet, given that it has only just been announced. It'll also be a bit before we see it: Success won't release it on PS4, PS5 and Nintendo Switch until 2025. But that's okay; we know how this yarn goes. Cotton the witch feels snacky, she tracks down the nearest willow supply. We know two new characters will join Cotton: a playable witch named Macaron and a villainous witch named Willow. Success is also auditioning for the roles of Macaron and Willow and searching for an influencer to serve as the "official" spokesperson for Cotton Reboot! High Tension! in Japan. Who knows, they might get Korone to do it for them. Wouldn't that be a trip?

There is no word yet on an American release for Cotton Reboot! High Tension!, but I wouldn't bet against it. For such an obscure series, we've been seeing all of the Cotton games getting released in the US. Evidently, someone is buying those games (besides me). We'll keep folks posted.

Shin Megami Tensei V Slated For Delisting

Regarding the remakes of their titles, Atlus isn't going to be beating The Allegations™ anytime soon. The optics on Shin Megami Tensei V already weren't the best. Don't get me wrong, I love that they're taking a second crack at what was already a great RPG with an expanded story, new demons, and a ton of other new features (I especially like that newly added demons from African folklore—I can't believe it took this long for Anansi to be in a Shin Megami Tensei game). I already loved Shin Megami Tensei V; as far as I care, this is just a sweetened pot for when I beat Xenoblade Chronicles 3. But many people feel like this was just another Atlus Remake, with the added rub of being created to "restore" content cut out the first time around—a factor not helped by many feeling like Shin Megami Tensei V didn't have much in the way of a satisfying story arc. But now there's an added wrinkle to the whole thing with the news that the original Shin Megami Tensei V (and its DLC) will be delisted from Nintendo's eShop.

As I said, this isn't going to help Atlus beat The Allegations™ anytime soon; players have come to expect that their major RPGs will have a redux sooner or later down the line. It used to be that these reduxes were fairly significant, a "greatest hits" version of the game that added new events or cutscenes and rebalanced certain details to keep players on their toes (see, Persona 3 FES). You could also point to these games being darn useful for porting older games to newer hardware, expanding the audience (see: Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux and Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclock). But now it's just expected that an Atlus RPG will get a remake with a new girl added to serve as the linchpin for the new stuff in the game. These are allegations for a reason—by all accounts, Shin Megami Tensei V is more like the first two cases mixed. The impetus was to add in many ideas cut out during the planning stages while also porting SMTV to all of the other consoles besides just the Switch. Vengeance will even include the game's original version as an option. And I guess, in that light, I understand why they wouldn't want a redundant copy of Shin Megami Tensei V on the eShop, especially since they'd hate for folks for pay $60 for an outdated "version" of a game...

But part of me also feels like the older version of the game should be made available for archival purposes. I mean, Atlus can't go out and track down every last remaining physical copy of Shin Megami Tensei V to destroy them, it makes sense that sooner or later it'll just go out of print. But the elephant in the room here is, if the original SMTV is so redundant, why not give all people with a copy of V a free upgrade to Vengeance? Again, the reasoning is simple: there are significant graphical or behind-the-scenes upgrades to SMTV that wouldn't be compatible with it, but again: The Allegations™.

The upside is Atlus will make the four DLC packs for Shin Megami Tensei V available as baseline content for Vengeance; this includes the "True Demon" DLC that allowed players to fight Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne's Demi-Fiend. Also, you can recruit Demi-Fiend after beating them! In the meantime, anyone still playing Shin Megami Tensei V's DLC will be available until January 13.

Shadow Hearts Spiritual Successor In Dark Trouble

It's been a while since we covered Penny Blood, the spiritual successor to the fan-favorite PS2 Shadow Hearts RPGs. Created by Matsuzo Machida and Studio Wildrose, the game followed in its predecessor's footsteps, featuring a protagonist that can merge with demons to fight occult entities in a 1920s-esque world. There was also a minor rhythm element courtesy of the game's battle system, depending on timed button presses for maximum effect. The game has been in development for a while, especially after the Success of its paired Kickstarter campaign with Armed Fantasia (a spiritual successor to Wild ARMs).


Sadly, it looks like development has halted on Penny Blood. It's not the money; they've still got their funds; the team simply can't find a publisher for their game. Currently, the team at Studio Wildrose has been pitching publishers, but progress is slow on that front. It's a sad time when a game with such pedigree behind it can't find a publisher; usually, this would've been a shoo-in for someone like Atlus. The game even has Nobuo Uematsu contributing to the game's music, along with noted composers Yoshitaka Hirota (of the Shadow Heart series) and Akari Kaida (a noted CAPCOM composer who's worked on Okami, Dino Crisis and Earth Defense Force: World Brothers).

The upside is that Studio Wildrose is working on another game in the meantime: Penny Blood: Hellbound, a rogue-like that serves as a prequel to Penny Blood, starring the villains. For worried folks: Hellbound wasn't developed with any of the funding from the main Penny Blood game and was developed so that the devs had something to work on while Penny Blood is in publisher-limbo (also, potentially earn Studio Wildrose some extra income). Think of it as Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising.

I wish I had a happier ending to this one; there is not much we can do but hope for the best for Studio Wildrose and Penny Blood.

No More Heroes Sees Vital Bug-Fixes On PC

Normally, I would have relegated this story to the Quick Tidbits section, but I feel like this one merits the eyeballs, short as it might be. I've never played No More Heroes—I never had a Wii, and that whole era of gaming between 2012 and 2017 was one where I was financially incapable of doing much to enjoy then-current games. But I know folks love it, and for good reason. Travis Touchdown is an icon to us all, Suda51 has done an amazing job of mixing weeb culture with his curious blend of Tarantino-esque ultraviolence, and criticism of former EA Games CEO (and current Unity CEO) John Riccitiello. Marvelous and XSeed were kind enough to compensate me with a copy of No More Heroes 3 back in 2022; it has a treasured place in my backlog. The original No More Heroes is also on Steam, but fans had reason to be disappointed with it. There were many bugs in that copy, especially a bunch that prevented players from obtaining several in-game achievements. No More Heroes 2 is similarly bug-riddled, sadly. Well, no more! No More Heroes has been patched!

The corrections are pretty extensive. In addition to the achievements being fixed, players can properly utilize a keyboard and mouse, the controls can fully be rebound, and a certain crash was corrected. The reason we're spotlighting this patch is that we have a name we can associate with it: on top of other people, the patch was developed by Sara Leen, a programmer and VTuber who's also loaned assistance to the Ys and Trails games. We don't often hear many of these big "fix" stories, and less still are the times we have a name or face to pin onto them. Thanks to Sara and her team for the hard work on No More Heroes! Reportedly, they're working hard to fix No More Heroes 2. Best of luck to them! We're looking forward to the good news!

Executive Shake-Up at Sony

This week, we had a major shake-up at Sony Interactive Entertainment, better known as "PlayStation". Longtime CEO Jim Ryan announced his departure at the end of March; we finally know who will replace him, and uh... it's going to be two dudes: Hermen Hulst will be the CEO of Studios, while Hideaki Nishino will be the CEO of Platforms. The two of them will report to Hiroki Tokoi, the chairman of Sony. Two CEOs for the price of one, am I right?


Jim Ryan had been a controversial figure at Sony, shall we say. His long term as president was dotted with a lot of moments when people felt alienated by the brand. This was very noteworthy back during the days of the PS3; with a $600 console leaving many people out in the cold, Ryan's take on the matter didn't do much to make things more palatable for fans. The PS3 was infamously the console that made people feel like Sony "had no games" for its console, a sentiment that has returned with a vengeance with the PS5.

Meanwhile, Sony as a brand has grown a ton since the PS3 days, regardless of people's misgivings about their game output. So I can kind of see where they're coming from with needing two CEOs to manage the PlayStation brand. One CEO to focus on the general direction of the PlayStation platform at large—which could theoretically include any matters about, say, turning established PlayStation IP into multimedia projects, like the Gravity Rush movie that's in production—while the other CEO manages the first-party studios at Sony and their game projects. This makes sense, especially since Hideo Kojima is currently working with A24 to adapt Death Stranding into a film. Video games will likely replace comic books as the new IP farm for adapting potentially lucrative film projects. I sure can't wait for the melodramatically-serious Ape Escape film with a trailer set to Harry Belafonte's Banana Boat in a minor key...!

Of course, this could also be plain old Sony excess at work. At any rate, Nishino and Hulst will officially take their seats as CEOs this June 1.

Square Enix Establishes Three-Year Plan

Square Enix also decided to drop some complicated business-style news this week! The house that Dragon Quest built has been on some shaky ground for the past few years and has decided to establish a three-year plan that will hopefully right their floundering. The three-year plan does not mention anything about diminishing their efforts with regards to "Web 3.0" (read: crypto) or generative AI, so I'm not sure how effective it'll be as a plan, but my Master's Degree isn't in Business so what do I know?

Anyway, Square Enix's Plan involves four main parts: "[Enhancing] productivity by optimizing the development footprint in the Digital Entertainment segment" (read: "make fun games only we can make"); "diversify earnings opportunities by strengthening customer contact points" (translation: no more Sony exclusives); "roll out initiatives to create additional foundational stability" (read: rebuild Square Enix's business abroad), and "strike a balance between shareholder return and growth investment when allocating capital" (read: investing in stock buybacks). It's planned that through these four main efforts, Square Enix can "shift from quality to quantity" and "deliver "fun" all over the world." Yeah, they put "fun" in quotations. They're executives; they do that; one has to imagine they've never ridden a slide at a playground.


Square Enix's reasoning behind this is pretty simple. For starters, Final Fantasy XVI and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth infamously sold below expectations. With the kind of effort that went into production, it's easy to see that these were titles that suffered from the "sold well, but not well-enough" problem that a lot of these major AAA releases tend to suffer. There was also the very public failure of Foamstars, Square Enix's attempt at capturing Splatoon's lightning in a bottle. But Square Enix also "has been relying too much on an individual's creativity". I think this is referring to how so many of Square Enix's major projects, like Final Fantasy XVI, tend to be headlined by the "bigger" creatives at Square Enix like Yoshi-P. So, they want to establish more institutional knowledge. Which sounds like a good idea? I hope it doesn't mean we lose out on the Team Asano games. Especially since this new plan comes with plenty of restructuring. That means—yes—more layoffs! Instead of slashing the exorbitant wages of their CEOs, Square Enix will be laying off staff in their American and European branches, specifically in publishing, IT, and Square Enix's Collective indie games division. Don't you love saving money by ruining the lives of your staff?

Square Enix's new plan starts in the fiscal year ending in 2025. We'll see how it goes, especially since they seem to still want to dump money into stuff like their NFT art project/game Symbiogenesis.

Let's wrap up with some quick tidbits

  • A Love Live! visual novel is in the works: Love Live! The Exciting Future Map is currently in development for the Nintendo Switch, featuring a lineup of 12 high school idol singers. More to follow, but you can track its progress on its Twitter page. This will be the first Love Live! visual novel ever made.

  • Koei Tecmo has just released Samurai Warriors 4 on Steam. Gotta love those stealth releases.

  • Needy Streamer Overdose is getting a special-edition physical release in the US. The Premium Edition includes a reversible chipboard standee of both Ame and OMGKawaiiAngel, glittery stickers and a download code for the soundtrack. The Collector's Edition includes all of those, and a spinning acrylic charm, a Happi Coat featuring Ame and KAngel, and a plushie of KAngel.

  • Yokō Tarō and Yosuke Saito are currently working on a new project! Says Yokō Tarō, "It might be NieR, it might not be NieR." React accordingly. (I wonder how Robin is taking the news over in Germany...)

  • That'll do it for this week, I think. We're past the halfway mark in May, so Summer Games Fest is right around the corner—along with Nintendo's June Direct. We're passing the big first hill on the roller coaster; enjoy the easy-going weeks we have now because the news will ramp up in the latter half of the year. As always: be good to each other, I'll see you in seven.

    This Week In Games! is written from idyllic Portland by Jean-Karlo Lemus. When not collaborating with Anime News Network, Jean-Karlo can be found playing JRPGs, eating popcorn, watching v-tubers, and tokusatsu. You can keep up with him at @mouse_inhouse or @ventcard.bsky.social.

    discuss this in the forum (18 posts) |
    bookmark/share with: short url

    This Week in Games homepage / archives