Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Perfect Dark development troubles, healthy games and major Japanese devs honoured.
Losing The Initiative on Perfect Dark
Microsoft’s attempt to revive an FPS classic may have hit a few snags lately. A few years Microsoft announced the formation of a new studio, The Initiative, and then later revealed that the studio would be working on a revival of the N64 title Perfect Dark, which Microsoft acquired as part of their purchase of Rare many years ago.
However, this week it’s looking like there’s not much of The Initiative left. According to VGC (link), it appears that almost half the studio has left at some point in the last year. This includes senior figures such as director Dan Neuburger, design director Drew Murray, lead level designer Chris O’Neill and principal world builder Jolyon Myers. But many others have left besides these key people.
It’s generally not a good look when this many senior members disappear from a team, and it appears development of the game may be in turmoil right now. There have been reports that there may be a culture issue at the studio, one where new ideas are thrown into the mix on a whim, and communication is generally poor. It’s suggested that this may be why Tomb Raider developers Crystal Dynamics were brought on board, in an attempt to plug the holes created by the high turnover.
I really hope that this is merely a bump on the road and that the final game will turn out to be excellent because the original Perfect Dark was excellent and I’d love more of that.
Devolver Co-Founder Forms New Health-Focused Studio
One of Devolver Digital’s co-founders has teamed up with the former CEO of Nextern, an international medical device company, to build a new studio. DeepWell Digital Therapeutics aims to produce games focused on bringing health benefits to the players. (link)
After a lot of criticism claiming that video games are detrimental to one’s health and wellbeing, Wilson was looking to form the studio to break away from that narrative and create games with the purpose of bringing the medium’s therapeutic benefits to the forefront. The team will be supported by a board containing veteran game designers and medical professionals, designed to bring the best of their respective knowledge bases to the forefront.
I personally find this extremely exciting, as I also believe the mental health benefits of games need to be discussed more. Don’t believe me? I made a video on my YouTube channel about the therapeutic value of puzzle games (link), and you should also check out a recent video from another YouTuber, Daryl Talks Games, goes into how Dark Souls of all things has proven to be a powerful tool in helping players overcome real life struggles (link). Not to mention the work of charities such as Safe in Our World in highlighting how games can be beneficial to mental health.
The benefits of games as a medium deserve to be highlighted, and to see a company so focused on this is excellent. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.
Hideo Kojima and Masahiro Sakurai Win Awards
The Agency of Cultural Affairs in Japan has awarded Hideo Kojima the Award for Fine Arts in their annual ceremony that honours the great artists of Japan. Kojima, best known for creating the Metal Gear franchise and Death Stranding, has been awarded it for his 36-year career in games, and is only the second game developer to receive the award after Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto. (link)
Meanwhile, Mashahiro Sakurai, best known for being the director of the Smash Bros franchise, has received an award of his own. Not quite Japan’s highest cultural award, admittedly, but he did win Most Valuable Creator at the Dengeki Game Awards held by beloved Japanese magazine Famitsu. Voted for by fans and industry peers, Sakurai beat the likes of FF14’s Yoshi-P and the teams on Resident Evil Village, Lost Judgment and…uh…Uma Musume: Pretty Derby, showing the love that fans still show for him even with Smash Bros Ultimate finally complete with all its DLC. Nintendo Life has all the other awards here if you’re curious: https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2022/03/sakurai-wins-most-valuable-creator-at-famitsu-dengeki-game-awards-2021
In new releases, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax gets a port to modern systems, releasing on Steam, Switch and PS4. The second fighting game inspired by the Persona franchise, this is a big flashy anime fighter similar to BlazBlue or Guilty Gear. Which is unsurprising since it’s developed by the same people.
Wales Interactive released another of their trademark FMV games this week. Who Pressed Mute on Uncle Marcus? (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a murder mystery set around a family Zoom call. Uncle Marcus has been poisoned by another family member, so you have to speak to all of them to discover the truth. Looks interesting.
Anno: Mutationem (PC, PlayStation) is a stylish cyberpunk adventure game that looks like it’s trying to cram everything it can into a gorgeous pixel-art package. 2D side-scrolling with fast-paced combo action, plus a bunch of RPG elements all in a world blending 2D and 3D visuals, it’s an impressive piece of work that I can see myself trying out.
Shredders (PC, Xbox Series X/S) is a new snowboarding game that bills itself as a love letter to the sport. Set around an invitational attracting all pro riders to make the raddest sponsor video possible. It’s an open world snowboarding title full of other players to challenge, and should be a fun time for everyone who’s been desperate for something new since Steep.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is yet another Square Enix release because they’re apparently determined to release a game a week this year. This one is…something. Ostensibly a retelling of the first Final Fantasy game’s story, with development from the team behind Nioh, it’s certainly got people talking. You play as Jack, a generic protagonist from a mid PS3 era game who’s stumbled into a fantasy world populated by animes and is now determined, for some reason, to kill Chaos. This fervent Chaos hatred and his penchant for storming out of rooms while playing nu-metal off his phone has turned Jack into a meme for his edgy 2000s vibe, and given people the feeling this game might be a glorious disaster in the best way possible. We shall see.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Tunic (PC, Xbox), an absurdly adorable Zelda-like developed by a single developer: Andrew Shouldice.
You play as a cute little fox who’s travelled to a ruined land in search of a great hidden treasure. You battle your way through creatures and solve puzzles, uncovering secrets. These secrets include the game’s own instruction manual, whose pages can be found throughout the world, which is a really neat way of packaging the game’s tutorials.
The game looks adorable, and exactly the kind of cute little adventure I’m excited to jump into. Keep an eye on my YouTube channel in coming weeks for a first impressions review.
And that’s it for this week! See you again soon for more news and releases!