Hello! It’s the weekly Geeky Brummie gaming roundup. It’s a bit delayed this week as I’ve been feeling a bit ill the past few days, but it’s here at last!
This week, so much happened! We’ve got Apple going into gaming, we’ve got some major announcements, a Japanese crime drama has found itself wrapped up in drug troubles, and Sony attempted a Nintendo-style Direct. All that and the new games of the week! Let’s go!
APPLE ENTERS THE FRAY
After Google’s big announcement with Stadia last week, an Apple event this week showed they’re not the only tech giant looking to get in on gaming. Among the announcements of credit cards and TV services, Apple also announced Apple Arcade, a gaming subscription service.
Unlike Google’s announcement last week, this is not a streaming service. Instead, you have access to a vast library, but the games are downloaded to your device instead. It’s pretty much what Microsoft are doing with the Xbox Game Pass. The games will work on any device you’re logged into the service on, and there will be cross-save and cross-play elements, as is standard these days.
Also unlike Google, Apple also announced a bunch of games that would be coming to the service. These included Sonic Racing, Lego Brawls, Oceanhorn 2, Overland and Fantasian, along with one more that’s got me very excited (see below). They’ve boasted of more than 100 exclusives, but it remains to see what they are and if they’re any good.
My main criticism of this is that it’ll likely be exclusive to Apple devices, and as someone who doesn’t like Apple devices, it’ll be a shame I’ll not get to check it out. Otherwise, it sounds like Apple are moving towards quite a solid service. If they get the subscription price correct, then this might be worth keeping an eye on.
BENEATH A STEEL SKY SEQUEL
But the most important announcement surrounding Apple’s news was the reveal of Beyond a Steel Sky. It’s a sequel to 1994’s Beneath a Steel Sky, an old DOS point and click adventure from Revolution, the developers of Broken Sword. It’s a bit of a cult classic, and personally, was one of the first point and click games I got really into and still remember fondly. It was a dystopian adventure that blended tricky puzzles, an oppressive atmosphere and a distinctly British sense of humour. I highly recommend that people get onto GOG and experience it for themselves, and best of all, these days it’s completely free!
Not much is known about the sequel yet, but we do know it’s going to lean more towards the modern adventure game in its style. Think something like Gone Home but in a cyberpunk future. It has also been confirmed that while this was announced at Apple’s event, it is not one of the exclusive games. It was confirmed on Twitter that it would also be coming to PC and consoles (although which ones weren’t detailed).
More details will be released over time, and you better believe I’ll let you know when those details are out.
Speaking of games coming back after a stupidly long absence, news came out last week (just in time to miss the roundup, of course) that Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines is getting a sequel after 15 years. This is a huge announcement, because while the original Bloodlines wasn’t a commercial success, it’s gained a devoted cult status. This is a sequel that is bound to have certain people salivating.
Set in Seattle, the game looks set to be a bit more chaotic than the first game, with clans vying for power over the city. It’s not known how many elements added to the latest edition of the original tabletop RPG will make it into the game, especially following the controversy that led to Paradox severely reining in White Wolf’s writing team.
Clan choices have been expanded this time around. In the original game, character creation was shaped by a clan choice, and this determined your appearance for the most part. However, this time there’s more flexibility, and your character’s appearance isn’t tied to your clan. You can also hop around clans and change loyalties a lot more this time around. No news on which clans will be in the game, but this will likely be announced closer to release.
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2 will be released in 2020 for all good PC storefronts, as well as PS4 and Xbox One.
And the announcements continue! Borderlands 3 was announced recently at PAX through a teaser trailer. Not much is known right now, but it’s clear that the trademark humour of the series is still present. They’re also promising over a billion guns (which I imagine is a slight exaggeration), although the promise of a gun with legs was proven correct in the trailer. There is indeed a gun with legs.
More details are supposedly coming next week, so if they do, you can be sure they’ll be here.
PERSONA R AWAKENS
But the game announcements don’t stop there. Atlus announced a new Persona title. Entitled Persona 5: The Royal, this appears to be another RPG set in the same universe as the excellent Persona 5. It’s not clear if it’s a side story or a sequel, but more details will be known at the Persona Super Live concert in Tokyo in April. Possibly around the time Joker will be released for Smash Bros, I’d wager.
As with Borderlands, I’ll keep you updated once the news is out.
SEGA PULL GAME AFTER DRUG CONTROVERSY
Speaking of highly Japanese franchises owned by Sega, the latest title in the Yakuza series has found itself facing some controversy. A spin-off of the series, Judgement, set on the other side of the law, has already released in Japan and set for a Western release in June.
However, actor Pierre Taki, who plays a yakuza boss in the game, has been arrested on drug charges. He’s alleged to have taken cocaine, although this has yet to be contested in court. However, Japan looks down on celebrities who get involved in drugs and so the game has been pulled from sale. This has led to concerns over delays with the Western release, but Sega Europe has confirmed the June release date is still in place. The game will be seeing some changes though. Taki’s voice and likeness are set to be replaced before the game gets re-released in Japan, with the changes carrying over to the Western versions.
Taki’s other works are also affected. His music work with the band Denki Groove has been pulled, NHK have edited out his appearances from various dramas he’s worked on, and Disney are recasting the voice of Olaf in Japanese releases of Frozen and Kingdom Hearts 3. Yes, the jokes about white powder write themselves with that last one.
It seems extreme, particularly as the series centres around organised crime in Japan, but the country has a track record of this. The Yakuza series has had to deal with this before, in fact. Yakuza 4 actor Hiroki Narimiya’s voice and likeness has been stripped from the remaster for PS4 due to similar drug charges. His character was a police officer, so maybe Sega need to just avoid storylines involving the police in the Yakuza universe from now on?
SONY ATTEMPT TO BE DIRECT
Sony announced a little while ago that they would be pulling out of E3 this year, and also cancelled their own PlayStation Experience event which many thought would replace it. For a while, many wondered exactly what Sony were doing, but this week we got a glimpse of their new strategy. They’re copying the Nintendo Direct format.
State of Play, or PlayStation Direct as my brain insists it’s called, is Sony’s brand new equivalent. Announced on Friday last week and held on Monday, it showed great promise. Just like Nintendo’s offerings, State of Play was a rapid-fire series of trailers with a bit of voiceover and flair, lasting a quick 30 minutes while showing off a bunch of stuff.
It’s just a shame that the content wasn’t there to back it up. There was a little too much focus on VR titles, there was the announcement of a bog-standard looking dungeon crawler called Ready Set Heroes and some trailers for Days Gone and Mortal Kombat 11, which didn’t really say much more than we already know. It’s a disappointing showing, with no major surprises or anything that is likely to get people talking.
There will be more of these events as the year goes on, apparently, so let’s hope Sony learn from this and throw in a few bigger announcements here and there. They have the format, now they just need the substance.
Limited releases this week, but there were two brand new games out on Friday that might be worth your attention.
The first is Tropico 6, which is the latest in the banana republic simulator series. It’s pretty standard stuff for the series so far. Build your island paradise, manage the finances and crush dissenters with your iron fist. It’s always a fun time, so if you like your city management games and you have an authoritarian streak you wish to exercise, it’s out now on PC.
And then over on Switch, Nintendo have released their latest Yoshi game. Following on from the Wii U’s Woolly World, the woollen aesthetic has been replaced by craft materials. Yoshi’s Crafted World places a felt Yoshi in a world made of cardboard and sticky-backed plastic, and it’s an adorable adventure that looks a lot of fun.
And that’s it for this week. I’ll see you next week, possibly with some more Borderlands news if speculation is true, along with whatever other news crops up in the meantime.
Until then, you can find me on YouTube, and on Twitter. I also highly recommend you check out our screening of the Batman 1966 movie, which will be a lot of fun, and we want all of you to be there to revel in some Adam West camp with us. See you around!