Games Roundup – Mario Pancakes

Hello! Welcome to the Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, Activision, Mario pancakes and popular Chinese games! Plus, all the latest releases!

Activision Cuts More Jobs, Is Not Losing Money Though

Activision Blizzard is closing the French Blizzard office in Versailles, as part of a corporate restructure.

It’s not clear what has motivated this move, which will see the loss of roughly 400 jobs, as Activision’s management had boasted of record results in Q2 of this year. There were plans to relocate half the office to London, but due to Brexit and Covid-19, the plans were shelved, and so too was the French office, it seems.

You’d think with record results in Q2 they’d be able to maintain an office that handles a big chunk of their European marketing and customer support, but apparently not. But with their vastly overpaid CEO (an opinion shared by shareholders for Activision, it should be noted), perhaps maintaining his wealth is a much greater priority for them than the employees who help make and distribute their actual products.

The Mario Café is Real, You Guys

Universal Studios Japan have confirmed that the new Super Nintendo World portion of the park will open in spring next year. Pictures of the site have emerged and it looks like a Mario-themed paradise that gives me another reason to go back to Japan (like I needed another one).

To tide fans over until then, the park will see a new pancake shop opening next week selling Mario themed items. This includes cream-filled pancake sandwiches resembling Mario and Luigi’s hats, moustache straws and exclusive merchandise. And now I just want to go and I’m sad. Even if I don’t fully understand the odd “whose cap?” nonsense they’re putting on everything.

The Impact of Genshin

Genshin Impact, the Breath of the Wild style adventure with gacha mechanics that launched last week, has taken off in a big way. It’s got 110,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch, and has grossed $1.84m on iOS, not bad for a free-to-play game, although it’s not clear how well it’s fared on PC or PS4. This has made it the largest international launch for a Chinese-developed game in history.

But it’s not without controversy. Some players have discovered the game censors the words “Taiwan” and “Hong Kong” in chat functions. This is somewhat unsurprising, as Chinese developers are bound by law to maintain standards that don’t “threaten China’s national unity”, and many Western and Japanese developers releasing in China have to alter their games to meet these standards. MiHoYo, Genshin Impact’s developers, are based in mainland China, and therefore it’s unlikely they’re even allowed to make an international version that doesn’t feature such censorship because they’d be doing so on Chinese soil. It’s one of the many challenges that games face with strict content laws in China.

Other News

The Steam Game Festival has launched anew this week, with plenty of limited-time demos to try out for hundreds of games. You can find the full selection here: https://store.steampowered.com/sale/steamgamefestival?tab=3

Nintendo have shut down a hacker group responsible for Switch and 3DS hacking tools that were used for piracy. Hilariously, one of the perpetrators who has been charged is Gary Bowser, presumably unrelated to Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser or professional fire-breather and princess-kidnapper, Bowser off of Super Mario Bros. If the court case didn’t end with the judge saying “so long, Gary Bowser” I’m disappointed in the entire legal system.

Details on a new and rebooted Resident Evil movie series have emerged. An origin movie, set to release theatrically next year, will be set on “a fateful night in Raccoon City in 1998” which sounds a lot like the stories of the original trilogy moreso than Paul W.S. Anderson’s looser interpretation of the franchise so far. The cast will include Hannah John-Kamen as Jill Valentine, Robbie Amell as Chris Redfield, Kaya Scodelario as Claire Redfield, Avan Jogia as Leon Kennedy and Tom Hopper as Albert Wesker. No idea if it’ll be good, but has to be better than the original movie series, surely.

New Releases

The Uncertain: Light at the End is a sequel to a game from 2016 entitled The Uncertain: Last Quiet Day, about a robot in a machine-dominated world getting curious about the extinction of humanity. In this sequel, it appears that humanity is still around to some extent, as you play a human survivor trying to figure out the mysteries of this post-apocalyptic world. Has the potential to be pretty interesting.

I know you’re all excited for Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2, in which Spongebob Squarepants and friends race each other Mario Kart style, with favourites from Ren & Stimpy, TMNT, Hey Arnold, Rugrats rounding out the roster, with a special appearance from…Jojo Siwa, who I’m informed is some kind of celebrity popular with kids these days. It’s bog-standard licensed fare, to be honest, so if you want to keep the kids entertained, get them Crash Bandicoot 4. When they’re bored of that, I guess you could get them this.

The Solitaire Conspiracy is the latest game from Mike Bithell and friends, best known for Thomas Was Alone and John Wick Hex, and this short surprise release is a mixture of solitaire and a dystopian spy thriller. Look, they mixed Metal Gear style VR missions with Robin Hood in Volume, so this isn’t the first time they’ve done something delightfully weird.

I Am Dead is the story of a man who died, unsurprisingly. A museum curator in life, he now discovers that his island home is at risk of destruction, and he uses his newfound supernatural powers to uncover mysteries around the island. It’s got a charming art style and promises to be a relaxing puzzle adventure.

The Survivalists is from the team who brought you prison break simulator The Escapists, and this time you’re trying to survive on a deserted island. Building villages, battling wildlife and befriend monkeys in this cute little survival title.

It feels like a long time coming, but Baldur’s Gate 3 launched in Early Access this week. The latest in the Dungeons and Dragons inspired RPG franchise. Details have been fairly scarce on this, but we do know the game will based on the rules of 5e and will follow on from the Descent into Avernus module. If you don’t play DnD none of that will mean anything to you, but it is from the developers of Divinity: Original Sin, so maybe that will! All I know is there was a Mind Flayer in the reveal trailer, which looked cool.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week this week is Ikenfell, an RPG set in a school for witches, as a young girl named Maritte heads off to search for her sister Safina, who is a student there. Upon arrival, it’s clear something strange is going down as the school is on lockdown, magical creatures are getting aggressive and Maritte, previously lacking in magic abilities herself, gains the ability to shoot fire about.

I’ve played a little bit of this as it’s been released on Game Pass, and so far it’s a charming little RPG with a cute visual style, some potentially interesting combat that uses spacing and positioning along with Mario RPG style timed hits, and most importantly, the save points are cats. So if you’re looking for a new magical school to visit and fall in love with

It’s out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch.

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