Rundown (9/10-9/16) Video Games Can Hurt Sometimes

So, I recently picked up Metroid: Samus Returns, and while I enjoy the game quite a bit, I have one resounding problem with the game that is not the fault of the game.  It’s that the original model of the 3DS is downright horrible for action intensive games.  Maybe I am just clenching the system too hard, or not distributing my fingers properly, but after less than an hour with the system my hands started getting sore as the system dug into my palms and my fingers contorted themselves into an awkward claw so I could press the miniscule shoulder buttons.  Maybe I’m just getting old, seeing as how it has been almost 4 years since I played an action game on the 3DS, but… wow does it feel bad to use.

Retail leaks happen to be among the more reliable and frequent ways of a game’s announcement, and it should come as no surprise that online retailers from Czech Republic and Slovakia accidentally put up a listing for two unannounced games from Sega.  Well, maybe it is surprising, but it makes total sense to me.  These two titles are coincidentally two two-packs of remastered titles.  With the first being a bundle of Bayonetta and Vanquish, likely based on the recently released PC ports, and the second being a bundle of Shenmue 1 and 2, after people have been waiting nearly a decade for them.  Both of these were listed for PS4 and Xbox One, and have no proper release date, though Sega will likely release both of them sometime soon.  

Following a similar retail-based leak a few weeks ago, Capcom have announced that Okami HD will be releasing on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on December 12th in North America and Europe.  For the most part, the game is based on the PS3 version by the same name, which is to say a largely untouched rendition of the PS2 game with better resolution, including a 4K mode for PS4 Pro and Xbox One X.  As somebody who never completed the game, mostly on account of the finicky controls of the Wii version, I am rather looking forward to revisiting this title on PC, and should hopefully get to it before too long.

Oh, but there is one more leaked announcement.  On the company’s NicoNico page, Atlus posted a banner to pre-order the limited edition of the unannounced Dragon’s Crown Pro for PS4.  This would likely be a remastering, or perhaps just a visual update, to Vanillaware’s beautifully drawn exaggerated fantasy brawler, one that will bring it to native 1080p and possibly even 4K resolutions.  Considering the circumstances around the banner, and when it appeared, it is likely that the game will be announced sometime during Tokyo Game Show, which is happening next week.  

After its closure was announced back in 2015, Microsoft have confirmed that the Xbox Live Indie Games storefront will be shutting down on September 29th, 2017.  An end to a diverse and notorious storefront that bizarrely enough mirrors the current state of Steam to a certain extent.  A free market where aspiring game developers could put out interesting, bizarre, or shameless games that, while mostly bad, had a certain charm to them.  I personally remember browsing through the market very fondly, occasionally finding gems like Breath of Death VII, Fatal Seduction, or Miner Dig Deep, while also stumbling onto an enjoyable breed of hot street trash.

As I said, the end of this storefront was initially announced in 2015, and in that announcement I recall how a Microsoft representative claimed company is looking into ways to preserve the games.  Saying that they would be working with game conservationists and creators to preserve the legacy of XBLIG content.  However, I do not see any word about how these games, which exceed 3,000 titles, will be preserved.  Instead, it seems like this lovable misfit of a storefront is simply going away.  But at least the games can still be downloaded indefinitely and the online will still work.  So there’s at least that.

After the wildly successful release of Journey back in 2012, I’m sure that many have wondered which artistic title Thatgamecompany was working on, and their next project was unveiled as Sky.  Set to release on iOS and Apple TV sometime “soon” there was not much shown about the game, and what was shown looks like Journey, but in a cloud kingdom instead of a desert.  The characters are robed and faceless people who travel through a vast and pretty landscape, partnered up with others who will assist them on their quest to reach a tower in the distance.  It is a perfectly valid premise, but after five years I’m guessing that some expected something a little bit different from this acclaimed developer.  Even though Sky will likely prove to be thoughtful, captivating, emotional, and et cetera.

With the SNES Classic Edition looming over the horizon and a level of cynicism looming over the gaming populus, the company offered two announcements to ease fan’s worries that this would be a repeat of the NES Classic Edition.  Firstly, more units of the SNES Classic will be released at launch than there were NES Classics released during the system’s entire lifespan, or more than 2.3 million.  Secondly, the previously discontinued NES Classic will be made available again in 2018, where the system will hopefully become a mainstay product that will likely maintain modest sales for years and years.  

These are both pieces of overwhelmingly good news, but they really should not be. It should be expected that a company like Nintendo should be able to keep up with demand so long as they can get the resources necessary and that they should not discontinue successful products.  Their handling of physical media and fondness for scarcity are both beyond perplexing to me, and the entire lineage of this Classic Edition line that Nintendo is pushing will likely be forever smeared by the disastrous launch of the NES Classic Edition, wherein thousands of systems were scalped by by jerkwads looking to make a quick buck.  All while rumor circulated that this was all manufactured scarcity, for that is easier to believe than Nintendo being that incompetent.

Speaking of the Nintendo, they hosted a 45 minute Nintendo Direct this past week, and, it was a long yet oddly insubstantial one with few new announcements that seemed particularly striking.  With no word about the Virtual Console or any captivating game announcements for the Switch.  However, this Direct did serve as a capstone for the 3DS, at least I hope so, by running through the list of games that would sure look and probably play a lot better if they were released on the powerful hardware that people care about, instead of a device that was dated at launch, and was only marginally improved through a surprisingly late hardware revision.

Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon continues to look like a rather rushed and insubstantial successor to Sun and Moon, featuring only loose variations and improvements compared to the game that came before it, despite efforts made by GameFreak to push what seemingly little new content there actually is.  But with 3 new Pokemon forms and 2 new Ultra Beasts, I suppose I am obligated to check it out on November 17th.

However, that was not enough for Nintendo’s first party holiday line-up, as they intend on creating a best-of collection of Mario Party minigames entitled Mario Party: The Top 100.  It appears to be a straight mini-game collection, with minigames only from the 10 numbered entries in the series, and none of the board game tomfoolery that exists otherwise.  I suppose that the game could still be a good larf, and is easy to play with friends due to the presence of single cartridge download play, but what is Mario Party without the broken board game bits, I ask you?  Anyways, the game is due out on November 10th.

Another previously announced title for the 3DS was a multiplayer focused Kirby game meant to celebrate the pink puffball’s 25th year on this earth.  That was finally revealed as Kirby: Battle Royale, an overhead multiplayer brawl where players assume different copy abilities that function as unique characters.  It is an appealing enough premise, but much like many other anniversary titles as of late, the game is actually coming out the year after, with a release date of January 18th 2018.

Beyond that, there were a few other games shown, such as a version of Minecraft for New 3DS, which will surely cause some confusion due to the system’s horrible naming structure.  Layton’s Mystery Journey, the first game in the puzzle game series starring Professor Layton’s daughter, which released for iOS and Android a few months ago, and looks better on those platforms.   Along with a brief blitz of the games Atlus will be publishing on the system, including Alliance Alive, Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux, and Etrian Odyssey V.  I honestly hope this is the last Nintendo says about the 3DS in one of these directs, and continues to spend more time and effort on titles that do not look like utter tripe even in trailer form due to the abhorrent resolution.

The Switch’s line-up was unsurprisingly more impressive in comparison.  Following the success of the co-operative launch puzzle game, Snipperclips, it is unsurprising to hear that the game is receiving an update in the form of Snipperclips Plus, which will introduce new levels, themes, and challenges to the existing game, while also boosting it up to a full retail release due out on November 10th.

Meanwhile, third party support was represented as Bethesda once again showed off their latest port of Skyrim running on the system, but also announced that they would be bringing over other titles.  The acclaimed Doom 2016 to the system, allowing people to enjoy the series’ trademark frantic and brutal action on the go, which is due out sometime during the fourth quarter.  Similarly, the publisher is also bringing over the upcoming Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, with a simple piece of promotional art and a 2018 release window.  Presumably because Nintendo did not want to show off the first person shooting of humans.  

Square Enix’s upcoming Switch title, the predictably bizarrely titled Project Octopath Traveller was shown off in more detail, explaining what exactly the game is, and presenting more of its world and combat.  Essentially, it is a sprawling RPG where the player can follow eight separate characters, all with their own abilities, and ways to solve problems that come up in their stories.  It genuinely looks promising, but for some reason the game makes use of a lot of photographic effects, including depth of field, excessive bloom, and manipulating focus.  The game features some lovely sprite art, but it is all being drowned out by an overzealous amount of lighting effects.  This is a petty issue of mine, but I hope things are toned down, or at least an option to disable all of that visual fluff is introduced before the game releases next year.

As part of an announcement that I thought was for the Virtual Console for a moment, Nintendo announced that several of their classic arcade games, such as Mario Bros., the original Punch-Out! and numerous games from the Nintendo VS. System will be coming to the Switch under the banner of Arcade Archives, a series of faithfully remastered emulated arcade titles that have been coming out for quite a while now.  While this is welcome, I cannot help but wonder why this is not just part of the Virtual Console, and why the Virtual Console is not already up.  Seriously, how hard is it to emulate a bunch of ROMs on a vastly more powerful piece of hardware?

Beyond that, Nintendo showed a lot of games that were previously seen at E3.  Xenoblade 2 still looks to be a promising addition into what has proven to be both an ambitious and high quality series, even though some of the designs look a bit underwhelming.  The newly renamed Kirby: Star Allies still looks like a joyous romp, as most Kirby games are, while also combining many of the best elements of prior entries.  Fire Emblem Warriors still looks like a quickly developed title, lacking polish and likely to be usurped by an updated version or successor that will likely release one or two years later.  Super Mario Odyssey still looks like it could be one of the greatest games of all time.  

As a whole, the Switch is looking to have a strong first party line-up going forward, and I would love to check out many of its games, but medical expenses are a rowdy little bastard and Natalie needs to express fiscal responsibility… so she can afford to pay a man to shave off parts of her skull in order to get a pretty face.

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