Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, get a mouthful of the KIRBY CAR
KIRBY CAR (And Other Nintendo News)
Nintendo held another Direct this week, promising to show off a bunch of stuff coming up on the Switch in the first half of 2022. And they held a pretty good showcase, with a lot of new reveals, a lot of pleasant surprises and, of course, Mouthful Mode.
To clarify that last point, part of the showcase demonstrated a new mechanic of that name in Kirby and the Forgotten Land, which releases next month. Basically, if Kirby inhales something much larger than his gaping maw can handle, he changes shape to accommodate the abilities he gets from it. This included a car, which Kirby inhaled to create the Kirby car. The most ridiculous moment of the entire showcase, and I am here for it.
Square Enix brought their A-game too, with A LOT of old 90s RPGs seeing remasters and remakes. Remakes of mech battler Front Mission and the previously Japan-only, generation-hopping epic Live a Live are both getting remakes – the latter in the style of Octopath Traveler – and Chrono Cross is getting a remaster which includes its prologue episode Radical Dreamers, previously only available through Nintendo’s bizarre Satellaview service. Here’s hoping Square Enix continue this trend and the UK can finally see an official release of Parasite Eve. It’s literally all I ask of you, Square. That and a new Tomb Raider, of course.
Speaking of old, obscure RPGs, EarthBound and EarthBound Beginnings have made their way to the Nintendo Switch Online service for the SNES and NES respectively. There was an awkward pause that made it seem like a surprise Mother 3 announcement would follow, but sadly that remains a Japan-only GBA game. For now.
Bandai Namco also felt like joining in the “bring back beloved old games” party as a Klonoa collection was also announced, with both of the main games getting remastered for the Switch as the “Phantasy Reverie Series”, proving that it’s not just Square who can give us slightly pretentious titles.
Surprising ports to the Switch include No Man’s Sky, which got announced early in the showcase, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, seemingly based on the Wii version of the original, and the Portal games, which legitimately came out of nowhere. Sony-developed baseball game MLB The Show also got its first showing in a Nintendo presentation, presenting the jarring imagery of a Switch box with a PlayStation logo on the front.
Announcements from Nintendo themselves included a sequel to Fire Emblem Warriors, drawing from Three Houses in the same way the second Hyrule Warriors drew from Breath of the Wild, a new Mario Strikers game, and a new Wii Sports, now renamed Nintendo Switch Sports to reflect that the Wii is officially in the past.
There was also the reveal of Xenoblade Chronicles 3, a sequel that will set out to bring the two disparate worlds of its predecessors into something that makes sense. Hopefully.
And finally, after weeks of rumours claiming that Mario Kart 9 is just around the corner, Nintendo decided to pull the most Nintendo move possible. Mario Kart 8, five years after its original release on Switch, will be getting DLC for the next two years, filling out the track roster with a bunch of returning courses from across the series, 48 in total.
There were a number of other titles covered in the Direct, so if you would like to check out the whole thing, here you go.
Surprise! NFT-Supporting Companies Are Bad In Other Ways
It should perhaps surprise no one, but it turns out, the kind of companies that would lean into selling NFTs around video games are also pretty bad in other ways. This should have been obvious with Konami, who notoriously go hard on gambling machines and seemingly have fired all QA when they do decide to release a new game. It should also be obvious with Ubisoft, who aside from forcing NFTs onto an unwilling public also protect sexual predators.
Well after last week’s Team 17 Worms NFT debacle, Eurogamer went on an investigation and spoke to employees at the publisher’s Nottingham and Wakefield offices and SURPRISE! They too have a poor work culture.
The NFT announcement was just the latest in a series of cultural issues at the UK indie publisher, with staff expressing disappointment when the NFT reveal was about to go live. In response, the company chose to threaten staff with disciplinary action if they said anything negative about the scam publicly. Hilariously, part of this was down to “concern” that the negativity could impact their contractual partners, the same partners who instead felt being connected to NFTs at all was what would impact them.
Other issues within the company, however, include concerns around low pay, mistreatment and overwork. As Team 17 have expanded over the past few years, management have seemingly signed on more games than the teams can feasibly contend with in their current state, leading to long hours and rushed QA leading to worse releases.
This is compounded with low pay, with staff often reporting that Team 17 pay roughly £10k less for similar roles at other studios. QA staff especially report a push for collective pay rises that appears to have fallen on deaf ears with upper management. Bonuses have also been slashed despite the company’s increased profits, while CEO Debbie Bestwick was criticised by multiple staff for parading her wealth around the office. Bestwick is one of the richest people in the UK games industry, with a personal wealth of £200m.
Several stories of poor treatment by upper management include a visit from an external developer where the whole team were brought in for photographs except the QA team (some reports claim they weren’t “photogenic”), Bestwick demanding employees wrap her personal Christmas presents for her, and of course, a few incidents of harassment directed at female employees that have been downplayed by the company.
There is a sense from Team 17 employees that they would prefer to push for change and improvement, as they believe in the company’s original vision, enjoy working on the titles they’re assigned to and get on well with their immediate colleagues. But if changes can’t be made, then departures may be imminent.
Other Snippets of News
In shorter news this week, Microsoft have confirmed that Call of Duty, and maybe other Activision franchises, may continue to see releases on PlayStation and Nintendo following current contractual obligations. It’s not clear how many franchises will continue to see multi-platform releases, however.
Indie storefront itch.io have come out swinging in response to NFTs, calling them a scam and telling those involved in them to “reevaluate your life choices”. There was much rejoicing.
The Wolf Among Us 2 got a proper reveal trailer at long last, with confirmation that it will be releasing sometime next year.
Much busier week than we’ve been used to recently, so let’s go! Diplomacy is Not an Option (PC) is an Early Access title where you take on the role of a feudal lord defending their castle against hordes of enemies with catapults and soldiers. Letters: A Written Adventure (PC, Switch) is a gentle game about growing up, where you play as a girl wandering through a world made of her penpal letters and chat messages. This week also sees the release of Kingdom of the Dead (PC), but I reviewed that yesterday, so go read that for more info!
Getsu Fuma Den: Undying Moon (PC, Switch) got a surprise release following the Nintendo Direct. It’s the sequel to obscure Japan-only action platformer Getsu Fuma Den, which is often linked to the Castlevania franchise. The new title brings the original into a modern roguelike style with flashy artwork inspired by traditional Japanese paintings.
OlliOlli World (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is the latest in the OlliOlli series of skateboarding action platformers. Essentially an endless runner, OlliOlli World sees you doing sick tricks and grinds across a bold, colourful landscape. Looks rad!
Crossfire X (Xbox Series X/S) is Korean developer Smilegate’s attempt to bring massive military shooter Crossfire to the West, with assistance from Microsoft and a campaign developed by Control and Alan Wake developers Remedy. Time to see what 1 billion players across Asia see in the original game, I guess!
Lost Ark (PC) is another Smilegate IP coming to the West, this time via Amazon. And unlike Amazon’s previous attempts to launch a live service game, people are actually paying attention to this one. It’s an MMORPG full of large-scale battles and sea exploration, and is already proving popular in Korea.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Sifu (PC, PlayStation), a stylish as hell martial arts action game from indie developers Sloclap.
When this game was first revealed, it showed a fight scene that echoed the iconic hallway fight from Oldboy, and that’s pretty much what to expect from this game. It’s an action game based heavily around kung fu which pits you against crowds of enemies, chaining moves together to take them out. It also features a mechanic where you are revived after death with less health but higher strength, representing the concept of “mastery through practice”.
It’s a kung fu movie that you control, and it comes with plenty of challenge and excitement that is bound to win a lot of people over.
And that’s all for now! See you again next week with more from the world of gaming!