Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Sony, speedruns, and Smash Bros, plus all the latest releases!
SONY WON’T BE AT E3
For the second year in a row, Sony won’t be at E3. Last year this was believed to be due to them having limited news as they prepare to launch the next gen. This year that looks less likely since that next gen launch will be happening within the coming months, with E3 expected to be the centre stage of the battle between Sony and Microsoft.
Or perhaps not, as while E3 generates some hype around new console releases, the last console to be explicitly revealed AT E3 was the Wii U, which as we all know was a resounding success. The PS4 was announced early in 2013, long before E3, the Xbox One was announced a week before E3 that same year. More recently, Nintendo launched the Switch in March 2017 after a series of trailers in the previous two months. Even now, the Xbox Series X* was revealed properly at the Game Awards, six months out from E3.
In other words, E3 isn’t really much of a factor in console launches anymore, and Sony seem more content to step out into the wider world to promote the PS5, most likely planning a separate event to show off the system and then pursuing other marketing angles such as their State of Play presentations. Or the most effective marketing tool of them all: shoving the new console into a bus and driving around shopping centres in major cities everywhere.
Whatever Sony’s plans, it does raise questions about E3’s relevance. Nintendo have always treated it as an amusing sideshow to their summer Direct and livestream festival since 2011. EA have moved into a theatre next door to make their own trade show with blackjack and hookers. And now Sony can’t be bothered at all for two years running. And with E3 promising new “experiences” and “activations” this year, which is more than likely a larger booth for Monster Energy, it makes the show look about as useful for industry and press as a refrigerator in the Arctic. Plus with Norman Reedus gleefully chugging down Monster in a PS4 exclusive game recently, have Sony really got no presence? Think about it.
Oh, and the ESA leaked the personal information of every journalist and influencer who attended the show last year and to date have still not properly addressed that gaping security hole. So not only is it increasingly useless to press, it’s also downright dangerous for press too, it seems. That probably doesn’t help.
The next few months, E3 included, are going to be an interesting ride, it seems. And naturally, I’ll be here to cover it all in painstaking detail whether you want me to or not. No, the doors are locked, you can’t leave.
*Side note: I initially wrote Xbox One X here, which doesn’t exactly bode well for brand recognition…
AGDQ RAISES $3 MILLION
With E3 struggling to find its place in a world of social media and direct presentations to customers, other events are thriving. Awesome Games Done Quick, or AGDQ, is the winter arm of the bi-annual celebration of speedrunners everywhere, with records aimed to be broken and newly released titles seeing new challenges being set.
But while the speedruns are fun, and the enthusiasm for great games is always good to see, there’s another purpose to AGDQ. It’s a charity event, and this time around the event was raising money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, an organisation dedicated to efforts to catch and prevent cancer in its early stages on a wider scale.
The good news? AGDQ raised a hefty $3.1 million dollars for the charity, breaking the previous AGDQ record by roughly £700k. This is excellent news, and the perfect end to a fun event. Who says video games can’t be a force for good?
EVERYTHING IS DELAYED
We’re seeing a few things getting delayed already this year. First up, the Final Fantasy VII Remake, originally scheduled for March, is now landing in April. Helpfully it’s now a week before Cyberpunk 2077, so now people are struggling even more to find the potential time for two massive RPGs one after the other.
…Oh wait, I’ve just been informed that Cyberpunk 2077 has now received its own delay, pushing it back to September. Which is helpful for RPG fans, but it now rubs up against Square Enix’s other delayed title, which is that Avengers game from Crystal Dynamics. Originally scheduled for May, it’s also seen a hefty shift to the other side of summer, now coming out in September, a little while before Cyberpunk’s revised date.
That crowded spring schedule is starting to look a lot quieter now. Thank god.
SMASH BROS: NOW WITH ADDED FIRE EMBLEM
The final Smash Bros Ultimate Challenger Pack character has been revealed as Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Yes, really. Another Fire Emblem. Rejoice.
Honestly, it’s not a great choice. Considering that the Challenger Pack so far has consisted of big, surprising third-party characters, the fact that the last character is from a franchise that many feel is already over-represented is a bit of let-down. Three Houses was admittedly a good game according to all the reviews, but under the circumstances it feels like an odd choice, especially considering how Smash fans already feel about the franchise. Sure, Mario and Pokémon have more characters than Fire Emblem, but those two franchises are also much more iconic and the characters much more distinct from one another than Fire Emblem, so the latter’s heavy representation continues to baffle many.
It’s also telling that the Mii Fighter costume announcements were more exciting, with the addition of an Assassin’s Creed Altair costume, completely out of nowhere, and a Cuphead outfit, complete with a music track. Why neither of these were the actual character choice I will probably never understand. Cuphead would have been awesome, and while I’d prefer Ezio, I wouldn’t complain about an Assassin’s Creed character. I’d be surprised, but I wouldn’t complain!
Still, six more characters have been confirmed for inclusion in future updates. All of them are already decided, so don’t bug Sakurai on Twitter about them. Hopefully another Fire Emblem game doesn’t get released in the meantime, or we’re all doomed.
Let’s kick off new releases this week with a couple of ports. First up, Stories Untold, a first-person horror that’s already seen some success on PC, now available on Steam as of this week. It’s a four-episode story combining Amnesia-style horror with text adventures and it’s an intriguing concept. There’s also the PC release of Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, a port of a Japanese spin-off to the legendary RPG series.
In smaller titles this week, there’s Orangeblood, an anime-style RPG with hip hop influences set in a funky futuristic city. Lightmatter is a creepy first-person puzzle title all about navigating using the shadows, and the opening of the game can be played for free if you wish to try it out. Finally, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV, the latest in the strategy game series that inspired Dynasty Warriors, although it’s currently lacking a Western localisation. All three games are available now through Steam.
The biggest release this week is Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, out for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. It’s a big RPG retelling of Dragon Ball Z, with a few additional scenes and a battle system based on the Xenoverse games. I admittedly know nothing about Dragon Ball, so I’m the worst person to try and sell this to you, but if you like Goku and co, then this might be worth looking into.
GAME OF THE WEEK
My latest Game of the Week is Lenna’s Inception, from Bytten Studio, a two-man operation with ties to Chucklefish. The game is a procedurally-generated Zelda-style adventure with a unique twist – the corruption of evil is represented as glitches within the world itself.
And it cannot be overstated just how clearly influenced by Zelda this game is. As someone playing through the Link’s Awakening remake at the exact same time, I’m finding it hard not to spot the direct influence of the Nintendo classic on Lenna. From the shorter dungeons to things like an item that facilitates a simple jump, Lenna’s Inception wears its influence on its sleeve, while also provided a few twists of its own with its glitchy, corrupted world, and an excellent sense of humour.
I’ll have a full review of the game up very soon, but for now, I recommend Lenna’s Inception as my Game of the Week. It’s out now on Steam.
And that’s it for this week! I’ll see you next week with more from the world of gaming!