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Gaming Roundup – Direct State of Show Expo

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, we are getting all the upcoming release news at once.

Nintendo Direct

The most significant of all of the past week’s showcases has to be the Nintendo Direct. Strap in, we’ve got a lot to get through.

First up, let’s talk ports. It Takes Two, Tunic, Factorio, Ib, Resident Evil Village (plus 7 and the remakes of 2 and 3), Sifu, Radiant Silvergun, Tales of Symphonia and Life is Strange were all confirmed as coming to the Switch. In addition, upcoming titles Endless Dungeon, Lego Bricktales and Crisis Core Final Fantasy VII Reunion will also be coming to Switch. Unsurprisingly, so is Just Dance 2023.

We got updates on a few already confirmed titles. Mario & Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Bayonetta 3, Harvestella and the remake of Front Mission all got new trailers. In addition, new content was confirmed for various existing titles – Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is getting a new playable character, Pauline and Diddy Kong are coming to Mario Strikers: Battle League, Mario Kart 8 is getting a course from Mario Kart DS, Splatoon 3’s first Splatfest has been confirmed to take place later this month, and finally, the golf portion of Nintendo Switch Sports has been delayed.

Farming sims got a good focus, with the aforementioned Harvestella showing up alongside Rune Factory 3 Special, Fae Farm and a remake of Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life (formerly Harvest Moon), and a few additional anime styled RPGs are on the way as Various Daylife hops over from Apple Arcade and Atelier Ryza 3: Alchemist of the End & The Secret Key dared to have a title that long.

And of course, there were much bigger announcements. A sequel to Octopath Traveler was revealed and already has a February release date. Another edition of baffling Final Fantasy rhythm game Theatrhythm is also on its way. Kirby’s Return to Dream Land (terribly renamed Kirby’s Adventure Wii here in the UK) is getting an enhanced remaster for Switch. The Danganronpa team are working on a surreal dimension-hopping detective game called Master Detectives Archives: Raincode. And a new Fire Emblem, subtitled Engage, is releasing in January.

But there were quite a few surprise announcements too. Shigeru Miyamoto showed off Pikmin 4 existing despite pretending he didn’t first mention it back in 2015 as being “close to completion”. A new Fitness Boxing game got announced, this one based on the anime Fist of the North Star, and it’s as bonkers as that description sounds. And classic Bond shooter Goldeneye is coming to Nintendo Switch Online’s N64 selection, in what must have been a nightmare of licensing agreements.

And finally, the surprise announcement that I’m still not sure really happened, Tecmo will finally be releasing Project Zero: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse (aka Fatal Frame) in the West with a remaster coming early next year. As a fan of the camera-based Japanese horror series who’s been endlessly sad about the lack of an official English version of the Wii title, this shocked me to the point where I actively yelled “WHAT” at my PC.

And of course, the show ended with more news of Breath of the Wild 2, which is now officially titled The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Which may have been why the Direct wasn’t shown live in the UK, as that title is a little on the nose considering the Queen’s death and all. Trailer was still pretty vague on details though.

Other Showcases

Let’s not forget the other showcases that happened this week. Disney’s D23 Expo happened and featured a games-focused showcase for the first time. Most of it was mobile games or live service updates, but there were a few notable announcements too. We got to see more of the Firaxis Marvel game Midnight Suns along with more Return to Monkey Island, and a new platformer was announced starring Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy called Disney Illusion Island. A visual novel based on Tron is in development from Bithell Games, developers of Thomas Was Alone and John Wick Hex.

And there was the reveal of a WW2-set game starring Captain America and Black Panther directed by Amy Hennig, best known for her work on Uncharted and Legacy of Kain. While details are slim right now, I reckon Marvel fans should be excited for this one. Hennig has a reputation for consistently excellent story-driven action games, so this is likely to follow suit. I don’t have any interest because superheroes are tedious but Marvel fans, I feel excited on your behalf.

Sony also held their own State of Play showcase, tied loosely to the start of Tokyo Game Show, which had a few neat announcements. We got a new trailer for the excellent-looking God of War: Ragnarök, and the first look at some of the digital collectibles (which we assure you are NOT NFTs) you can unlock through the PlayStation Stars loyalty program, which includes models of old PS hardware and dioramas of games such as Ape Escape and Doko Demo Issho, and a model of failed ad mascot Polygon Man. Okay then.

This was all alongside the reveal of a strange mech game called Synduality and a mysterious spooky driving game called Pacific Drive which has definitely caught my attention. We also got another look at Korean sci-fi Bayonetta-like Project Eve, now officially titled Stellar Blade, and Team Ninja confirmed a samurai game called Rise of the Ronin for 2024.

Speaking of samurai, Sega weren’t content to let Tecmo have all the excitement of “look at us finally localising a Japanese game from years ago” by confirming that a remake of Yakuza spin-off Ishin is on the way. It’s set in feudal Japan and stars the standard Yakuza cast as Japanese historical figures. Sega also confirmed that the Yakuza series will now be known as Like a Dragon in the West, the literal translation of its Japanese name, Ryu Ga Gotoku, as they separately confirmed that Like a Dragon 8 and a side game starring Kiryu during the events of the last main game are also on the way alongside Like a Dragon: Ishin. It’s clearly the best time to be a fan of this series.

In addition, the State of Play confirmed the existence of Tekken 8, as Jin Kazama and Kazuya Mishima fought each other in a volcano. You know, standard Tekken things. Which is all very well and good, but I will not be happy until I see confirmation of my girls Xiaoyu or Kunimitsu.

And finally, Ubisoft showed off some things. A million Assassin’s Creed games are on the way, with the next main game being titled Mirage and taking place in Baghdad, promising a return to the style of the older games. In addition, future games will be tied into the live service plans Ubisoft have for the franchise, but the way it was talked about made it sound more like this “live service” is just another launcher like Uplay, but specific to the AC franchise. Because everyone loves Uplay, right?

Future games include a spooky one they’re being vague about, a bunch of mobile games, a multiplayer game named Invictus, and finally, AC Red, which finally answered fan requests to take the series to Japan. Even though Assassin’s Creed in Japan was already done with Ghost of Tsushima and was better than whatever Ubisoft might put out. Wasn’t made by abusers, for a start.

Because oh yes, we can’t talk about Ubisoft without talking about the ongoing controversy of how they protected sexual predators for years. While their behaviour was somehow surpassed by Activision, we’re not letting these guys off the hook yet, not least because the director of this Japanese Assassin’s Creed is, surprise, one of the accused mentioned when all this came out.

Should also be noted that an article emerged around the time of the Assassin’s Creed announcements where staff from the company are stating, publicly, that the abuse is still ongoing, HR initiatives to “fix” the problem are understaffed, underfunded and frequently weaponised against the abused instead of the abusers, and that numerous alleged abusers have simply been moved to different teams instead of being punished. The full account can be read here: link

Extra News Roundup

It hasn’t all been an avalanche of showcases though. There has been other news. Such as the fact that Babylon’s Fall, Square Enix and Platinum’s failed live service game, will be closing down exactly one year after it launched. Add it to the ever-growing corpse pile that is the live service goldrush. (link)

There have been a few high-profile departures within the industry this week. Former Treyarch director Jason Blundell has left Deviation Studios, the new studio he founded to work on a PlayStation exclusive new IP. (link) We have also seen departures from Halo developers 343 Industries, with the confirmed departure of Bonnie Ross (link), who had served as the studio’s head and public face for years, and the reported departure of David Berger, who has been technical lead since Halo 4. (link) The reasons for these departures are not clear.

Speaking of Microsoft, a second investigation into their purchase of Activision has been launched by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, after Microsoft failed to comply with a request for further evidence to address concerns from the first investigation. It’s also been confirmed that the EU will be launching a similar investigation. (link)

In sales news, an increase in production has led the PS5 to now become the year’s best-selling console so far in the UK. Its sales increased by 56% thanks to stock increases, while the second-place holder, the Switch, has seen sales increase by 4% in August. The Xbox Series X/S remains “steady”. (link)

However, Nintendo are unlikely to be upset by slipping to second, as they’ve just seen themselves achieve the biggest game launch of all-time in Japan this week. Splatoon 3 sold 3.4m copies in a single weekend, beating out previous record holder Animal Crossing by a significant margin. (link) Which is impressive, although it makes sense because…well, we’ll get to that.

New Releases

New Releases

Let’s cover releases from the past two weeks, starting with a couple of wholesome indie titles. Melatonin (PC, Switch) is a rhythm action game about dreams blurring into reality, Kaichu: The Kaiju Dating Sim (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a visual novel where you play as a mighty Godzilla just looking to smooch other kaiju, and Onsen Master (PC, Switch, Xbox) is a hot springs management game combining the chaos of Overcooked with the setting of Spirited Away.

If you’re looking for action, there are a few options. Circus Electrique (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a tactical RPG set in a steampunk Victorian London where circus performers must save the day. Linked Mask (PC) is a tricky 2D platformer throwback to the days of the Game Boy, as you traverse a series of six great towers. Tower Princess (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a comedic roguelike 3D platformer about saving a series of princesses. And Jack Move (PC, coming to PS4, Switch, Xbox One on the 20th) is an old school RPG with a cyberpunk flavour as a young hacker tries to track down her kidnapped father.

In adventure games, Roadwarden (PC) is a text adventure with intricate pixel art illustrations, as the player ventures into uncharted lands in a moody fantasy story. Wayward Strand (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a narrative adventure about a young girl wandering a flying hospital ship discovering the stories of its residents on a constantly ticking clock. Finally, Nine Noir Lives (PC) is a comedy point and click where you play as a cat detective investigating a murder and wondering what’s appropriate to lick at every turn.

If you’re looking for something darker, Broken Pieces (PC) is a psychological thriller that takes clear inspiration from classic survival horror games with fixed camera angles and obscure puzzles. SCP: Secret Files (PC) is a series of vignettes based on the SCP Foundation website, taking in many genres and styles, all with a horror feel. And Gloomwood (PC) is a horror-tinged immersive sim where stealth and ingenuity are key to survival in a cursed Victorian city.

The Wandering Village (PC) is a city builder with a twist: your new village is entirely on the back of a gigantic creature that’s journeying across the land. It’s a quirky concept, and hopefully one that really plays with the idea that you’re all on a giant creature quite significantly.

Metal Hellsinger (PC, PS5, Xbox X/S) is the next game that dared to ask, what if the music was even more essential to Doom than it already is? It’s an FPS in the style of the classics, where you battle demons at a rapid pace, but with the twist that you perform all your actions to the rhythm of a rad metal soundtrack.

Little Orpheus (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) finally sees a full release after being delayed due to the Ukraine conflict. You play as a Russian cosmonaut who ventures into the centre of the earth, encountering magical landscapes and lost civilisations in a gorgeous little platformer.

Steelrising (PC, PS5, Xbox X/S) is a Soulslike from low budget French studio Spiders. You play as a robot named Aegis in a steampunk world of kings and rebellion battling all sorts of automaton nonsense in a similar brutal way to what we’ve come to expect from Fromsoft’s work.

Disney Dreamlight Valley (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is Animal Crossing for Disney nerds. You play as an avatar character who finds themselves transported to a magical land full of Disney characters, infected by a curse that’s left dark thorns everywhere. Bring joy back to the land with friendship, magic and by giving money to Scrooge McNook…sorry, McDuck.

Games of the Weeks

Due to a lack of a roundup last week, we have two Games of the Week this week. This week’s Game of the Week is You Suck at Parking (PC, Xbox), a racing game where the goal is to stop. It’s a top-down driving game similar to something like Micro Machines, but your objective is to stop as perfectly as possible on the parking space at the end of the course in a strict time limit.

I played a bit of this at EGX last year, and it’s exactly the kind of over-the-top challenge game that’s bound to become horrendously addictive, with courses getting progressively sillier as the game continues. A lot of fun.

But last week’s Game of the Week, and one we’ve already mentioned twice in this roundup, is Splatoon 3 (Switch), the latest in Nintendo’s wacky multiplayer shooter series.

As with all the previous games, you play as humanoid squid or octopus creatures engaging in Turf Wars, competitions where they shoot ink all over the stage in a fight for territory. Two teams of four battle to get the most ink of their colour on the stage in 3 minutes, all while trying to disrupt each other along the way.

In addition, there is also a comprehensive and challenging single player campaign, a horde mode about collecting salmon eggs from increasingly angry enemies, and even a card game to keep things interesting. I’ve been playing this constantly since release and have been thoroughly enjoying it. It’s not a huge step up from the previous game, but it’s so full of quality of life improvements that it feels worth it.

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