Hello! Welcome to the Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Nintendo, Blizzard, Avengers and some free stuff, plus all the latest releases!
There’s a bunch of Nintendo news this week. First up, Bowser has been found guilty of pirating Bowser and now must pay out to Bowser. If that makes no sense, let me explain.
Last year, Gary Bowser, a member of a group of hackers known as Team-Xecuter, was arrested. Last month, he and another member of the group appeared in court over his arrest, concerning charges around devices made by the group. These devices allowed machines such as the Switch, 3DS and SNES Mini to be circumvented to play illegal ROMs, something that Nintendo didn’t take too kindly to. Since games featuring the Mario villain Bowser could now be pirated.
Bowser has pled guilty to two of the 11 felony counts he was charged with, and all other counts have been waived on the condition that he pay $4.5m to Nintendo (whose North American President is Doug Bowser) and assist the company with tracking down other members of the group.
Hope this clarifies all the Bowsers.
Meanwhile, Nintendo have now shipped 92m units of the Switch (in original flavour, Lite and OLED form), placing it hot on the heels of its current best-selling home console, the Wii, which sold 101m units in its lifetime. However, despite this success, Nintendo have revised their predictions for the next financial year, citing the worldwide chip shortage that’s also affected production of the PS5, Xbox Series X/S and various graphics cards.
Nintendo’s sales report also mentions that the best selling games on the system so far are Super Smash Bros Ultimate (25.71m copies), Animal Crossing: New Horizons (34.85m) and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (38.74m), which is now the best-selling game in the Mario Kart series too. Animal Crossing also looks set to get a bunch of renewed interest this week, with the new patch dropping a few days earlier than expected.
Also, just as the confusion around the Mario movie casting decisions were beginning to die down, movie news site Giant Freakin Robot have claimed that we can also expect a solo Donkey Kong movie, with Seth Rogen once again taking the role of the barrel-chucking ape. For some reason.
Blizzard’s Co-Leader Steps Down
In the latest news in Activision Blizzard’s ongoing troubles, Jen Oneal is stepping down from her role as Blizzard’s co-leader. This news comes only three months after her appointment alongside Mike Ybarra following the departure of J Allen Brack over his involvement in the discrimination accusations currently levelled at the company.
The reason for her departure is down to a desire to seek improvements to diversity across the games industry and will be heading out to pursue that. It does raise questions of her ability to do so within Blizzard, a concern not helped with the lawsuits hanging over them, but she insists she still has hope for the company. Her departure is accompanied by a $1m donation from the company to the Women in Games Foundation, which is welcome but merely a sticking plaster over what they’re alleged to have done in the past.
Good luck to Oneal in her future efforts!
Square Enix Acknowledges Avengers Disappointment
For the first time, Square Enix have finally acknowledged the poor performance of last year’s Avengers game from Crystal Dynamics. A live service title often mocked for its character models looking like stunt doubles of the MCU cast, Avengers was widely panned for its limited content and technical issues, and more recently came under fire for adding paid XP boosts in an update not long after the game’s appearance on Xbox Game Pass.
Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda stated in a recent shareholder call that the publisher has a lot of lessons to learn from the game, chief of which was better matching skillsets of its developers with more appropriate titles, ie. perhaps instructing the company best known for Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain to make an online live service game was not the best match.
Thankfully it doesn’t seem that Square Enix are placing the blame at the feet of Crystal Dynamics, who are currently gearing up to provide development support on Xbox’s Perfect Dark sequel and are in the early stages of the next iteration of the Tomb Raider franchise. Hopefully they’ll be allowed to continue focusing on follow-ups to 5th generation games with sassy female protagonists and left alone to do that in future.
Bunch of free games to report on this month. Speaking of Tomb Raider, as part of Square 25th anniversary celebrations, Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the free games on Amazon’s Prime Gaming service. Alongside that is another personal favourite starring a female protagonist – Control – a game that I may have talked about once or twice in the past. Accompanying these two games are Dragon Age Inquisition, Rogue Heroes, Liberated, Puzzle Agent 2, Demon Hunter 2: New Chapter, Brakes are For Losers and Secret Files: Sam Peters. I have heard of none of these past Liberated, to be honest.
Then over on PlayStation, November’s PlayStation Plus games are multiplayer titlers First Class Trouble and Knockout City for PS5 and PS4, and remastered underappreciated RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning for PS4. There are also 3 VR games – The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, The Persistence and Until You Fall – but if you’re like me and simply cannot stomach using VR, that’s 3 free games this month, not 6.
Over on Xbox Game Pass, this month’s additions include It Takes Two, Kill It With Fire, plus new titles Forza Horizon 5 and Unpacking (see below for more on this one). One Step From Eden joins them, but won’t be coming to the cloud, while PC players exclusively get Minecraft and Football Manager 2022, while console players will be exclusively getting the remaster of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas when it launches.
A lot of stuff to play with there!
Time Loader (PC) is a puzzle-platformer with 90s stylings all about a tiny homemade robot. Looks set to feature a bunch of physics puzzles and a storyline all about changing the past.
Demon Turf (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a pseudo-3D platformer where all the characters are 2D sprites, featuring a bunch of momentum-based challenges and a story all about a girl setting out to become the Demon Queen.
To the Rescue! (PC) is a cute, chill game all about running an animal shelter. Look after dogs and find them new homes while also keeping them healthy and cared for. If this sounds like the game for you, you may also be pleased to hear that 20% of developer profits will be donated to Petfinder Foundation, a US charity helping to keep shelters up and running and their dogs safe.
The Legend of Tianding (PC, Switch) is a side-scrolling action adventure based on the true life story of Liao Tianding, an outlaw in Japanese-ruled Taiwan in the late 19th century. Expect lots of fast paced martial arts action and a visual style inspired by classic Chinese comics.
Where Cards Fall (PC, Switch) is a chill little puzzle game full of challenges based around cards. Use cards to create structures and build a story all about examining personal choices and the nature of memory.
Conway: Disappearance at Dahlia View (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a narrative-driven mystery game heavily inspired by Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Retired detective Robert Conway sets out to uncover the disappearance of a little girl, all from the confines of his wheelchair, studying the residents of his building from his bedroom window.
Tunche (PC, Switch, Xbox) is a side-scrolling beat em up set in the Amazon rainforest, as you play a group of characters setting out to save their home from destruction. Also, the main character of A Hat in Time is here too for some reason.
Unpacking (PC, Switch, Xbox One) is a chill game about unpacking boxes and placing them in a room. No, that’s it. It literally is a game about unpacking. There’s a story in here too, all of it told through environmental storytelling. Looks like a really unique experience.
Game of the Week
Let’s Build a Zoo! (PC) is this week’s Game of the Week. A pixel-based zoo management sim, this has all the standards trappings of your typical tourist trap building and management game.
But there’s one major twist – DNA splicing. Not content with just building the park, the game also allows you to build the animals too. Any combination is allowed, meaning your zoo can be full of magnificent creations such as the crocoduck or the owlybara.
Let’s Build a Zoo looks like a delightfully silly take on the park management genre, so I have to make it Game of the Week.
And that’s it for this week! See you again soon with more from the world of gaming!