Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, IKEA aren’t pleased, Japan don’t like Callisto Protocol and Sonic is a billionaire
IKEA Deny Being a Non-Euclidian Space
IKEA have issued a cease-and-desist notice to an indie developer making a horror game about a furniture shop. (link)
This is going to need some explanation, isn’t it?
The SCP Foundation is a website that collects files from the titular organisation who track down and contain supernatural horrors, protecting the rest of us from their effects. It is, of course, all a work of community fiction that has attracted a cult audience. It’s me, I’m the audience.
One of these, SCP-3008 (link) is known as “A Perfectly Normal, Regular Old IKEA” and describes an IKEA that’s the living embodiment of the joke that the company’s locations are non-Euclidian hell portals beyond human understanding.
The entry describes an IKEA that truly is that – a store that goes on forever, beyond its external boundaries, with no sign of an exit, populated by staff members who attack during the night. Communities of people who’ve wandered in unexpectedly try to fight to stay alive, subsisting off an endlessly replenishing supply of meatballs and building forts out of flatpack furniture pieces.
Jacob Shaw, a solo developer based in the UK, was so inspired by this entry that he decided to turn it into a survival horror game, The Store is Closed, which has just finished its Kickstarter campaign (link). The player is one of many survivors trapped inside a gigantic furniture shop, clearly inspired by IKEA, trying to avoid being killed by the staff.
Despite Shaw changing much of the branding, including naming the shop “Styr” and all the furniture being straight out of a Unity asset pack rather than based on actual flatpack products with quirky Scandinavian names, Ikea have caught wind of the project and are not happy.
Lawyers for IKEA in the US claim the game is trademark infringement as it uses elements such as blue, yellow and Scandinavian-sounding words, all of which are quite obviously exclusively used by Ikea and nobody else, as we all know. What’s interesting about the case is that it’s the US arm issuing this cease-and-desist, despite US trademark law having a reasonable defence that works in the game’s favour; under Fair Use, parody and satire can be valid uses of trademarks without permission. And considering that Shaw has not used any actual IKEA branding, such as product names or, indeed, the name “IKEA”, it strengthens his case.
Shaw has agreed to change some colours to reduce similarities with IKEA, but we all know the real inspiration, and that’s what matters here. Also, I’m sure that Shaw is grateful for the increased exposure it’s brought him.
The Callisto Protocol is Too Much for Japan
Upcoming space horror game The Callisto Protocol will not be releasing in Japan this December. (link)
For those who are unaware, The Callisto Protocol is a game headed by Glenn Schofield, a producer on the Dead Space series, and it shows. It’s set in space, it’s gory as heck and likely features a vast amount of cosmic horror. I’m personally very excited for it.
But sadly, anyone in Japan who was excited for it will now be missing out, as the game will no longer be releasing there. Since its formation in 2002, CERO, basically the Japanese equivalent to PEGI, has cracked down quite heavily on violent content released in the country, and while other games have often censored themselves, the developers of The Callisto Protocol were unwilling to make the necessary cuts, resulting in a ban.
Other games to encounter problems releasing in Japan include The Last of Us, Grand Theft Auto V, The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077. Interestingly, it’s also a problem for Japanese developers, as the Western releases of Resident Evil games tend to be gorier than the Japanese ones.
PEGI and ESRB are less concerned, however, so The Callisto Protocol is still launching next month in Europe and the US.
Sonic the Hedgehog is a Billionaire
The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has sold a collective 1.5 billion units as of March 2022, a recent report from Sega confirms. (link)
Naturally, this includes all games released since 1991, but it does show the enduring popularity of Sega’s blue blur, even when the games aren’t always of a stellar quality. It seems to overshadow most of Sega’s other franchises, which also got sales data in the report. For instance, Total War has sold 40 million copies, while Football Manager has sold 25 million.
Persona 5, in all forms, has sold 15 million units, and what’s interesting here is that 77% of its sales came from outside Japan. For a game that’s very Japanese, that’s impressive. And as someone who owns both the original Persona 5 and Persona 5 Strikers, I contributed to these sales and can confirm it’s worth it.
Due to complex circumstances that involved my YouTube channel and Halloween (specifically this), I didn’t post a roundup last week, so this week’s release selection covers the last two weeks, so buckle up.
Two prominent games came to Switch. Factorio, the complex factory builder where you increasingly automate your own processes until the landscape is a horrible industrial nightmare of your own creation. And It Takes Two is the award-winning co-op adventure about a warring couple who’ve been turned into dolls.
In building games, Against the Storm (PC) is a city builder about rebuilding society in a world ravaged by apocalyptic storms, while RoboCo (PC) is sadly not a typo of an 80s dystopia about a super-powered police officer, and instead is a game about what it’s like to be Simone Giertz.
In wholesome games, Lonesome Village (PC, Switch, Xbox) is a wholesome life sim about a cute little village with a mysterious secret. A Walk with Yiayia (PC, Switch) is a narrative adventure game about helping your grandmother regain her confidence after a nasty fall. How to Say Goodbye (PC, Switch) is an artsy puzzle game about helping spirits to move on. And Horse Tales: Emerald Valley Ranch (PC, PlayStation, Switch) is Animal Crossing for horse girls.
Finally, in more action-packed indie games, Beneath Oresa (PC) is a fantasy roguelike deckbuilder, which is neat because we don’t have enough of those. From Space (PC, Switch) is a cartoony co-op twin-stick shooter about blasting hordes of glowing pink aliens. And Ghost Song (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a grim Metroidvania set on a dark moon full of cosmic terror.
Remember Arkanoid? Well it’s back for some reason. Arkanoid: Eternal Battle (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is an updated modern version of the game for people who really missed bashing blocks, only now with a retrowave aesthetic.
Doraemon Story of Seasons: Friends of the Great Kingdom (PC, PS5, Switch) is the second collaboration between farming sim franchise Story of Seasons and iconic manga cat Doraemon, where the game plays out much like a typical SoS game but with Doraemon gadgets to make the process easier. Aiming for a very specific audience, this one.
Victoria 3 (PC) is an empire management sim where you build a thriving society in the 19th century. There was a lot of buzz around this one, although user reviews do suggest some degree of disappointment among fans, unfortunately.
The Past Within (PC) is the latest from the enigmatic Rusty Lake developers. It’s another point and click puzzle game like their previous efforts, but this time it’s co-op, where you and friend need to team up in order to solve the mysteries within.
The Chant (PC, PS5, Xbox X/S) is a survival horror game with emphasis on the survival, all set on an island where a terror dimension has been unleashed on our world. Expect elements of 1970s cult horror and survival games as you battle supernatural creatures.
Signalis (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a pixel art sci-fi horror that’s best described as a top-down Resident Evil with androids. This one’s been getting a lot of buzz, not least because it released just before Halloween.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is the latest in the Star Ocean series of JRPGs, and while I’d love to tell you all about it, most of the official descriptions focus exclusively on the ability to move in three dimensions. So thanks for that, Square Enix! Very useful information.
Also from Square Enix, Harvestella (PC, Switch) is a farming sim with a twist – there’s a fifth season in the year, one that brings death and destruction so in between tending your crops you have to occasionally fight off horrors. Neat.
Also, a new Call of Duty launched if you’re into that sort of thing.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is The Entropy Centre (PC, PlayStation, Xbox), a puzzle game that looks like it’s taking a lot of gameplay inspiration from Portal, and some visual design cues from Control. And hey, I love both those games!
Set in a research centre on the moon, you play as Aria, a woman who’s woken up to find the facility in ruins and a talking gun that can affect time for anything it’s fired at. The goal is to rewind time to fix a destroyed Earth.
Unlike other Portal clones that have done the rounds over the years, this one seems a bit more aware of the reasons Portal was as successful and beloved as it was. It features an intriguing story and a cast of quirky robots full of personality, and those elements make this an especially interesting prospect.
But also, because I missed last week’s Roundup, I have also to give Game of the Week to Bayonetta 3 (Switch) because hell yeah, it’s more Bayonetta.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, this is Platinum’s iconic combo-heavy action game where you play as a sexy witch battling the forces of heaven and hell. It’s stylish, exciting and always a fun, campy time.
I’ve enjoyed the first two games a lot, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the latest one, and therefore it has to be Game of the Week.
And that’s all for this week! See you again soon with more gaming news and releases!