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Gaming Roundup – Switching It Up

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, Nintendo did some stuff! EA bought Codemasters! Plus more! Also the latest releases.

Nintendo Direct News

Bit of a quiet one this week, but there was at least a Nintendo Direct (the first in over a year!) to provide a bunch of news. So here we go!

The next Super Smash Bros DLC character is Pyra/Mythra! If you’ve never played Xenoblade Chronicles 2 that announcement likely means nothing for you, but as someone who played that game, I’m…indifferent. Mainly because I didn’t find Xenoblade 2 all that great, but Pyra has a cool design and likely a good moveset so that should be fun.

Meanwhile, Animal Crossing is getting some Mario-themed items, so that’s nice.

A bunch of games are coming to Switch as ports or remasters. Outer Wilds is getting a port, which is surprising because for some reason I thought it was already on Switch (maybe I confused it with The Outer Worlds, which definitely IS already on Switch…). And last year’s smash hit, Fall Guys, is unsurprisingly getting a Switch release too (and an Xbox port too, but this was not announced in the Direct, you might be shocked to learn).

Other re-releases include Telltale’s Tales from the Borderlands, the Xbox Ninja Gaiden trilogy, Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, and in a surprising turn, obscure OG Xbox title Stubbs the Zombie is rising from the grave on Switch too.

Nintendo themselves are also porting Miitopia over from the 3DS, which is a fantasy RPG where you can cast all your Miis as characters in the adventure. But more surprisingly, Famicom Detective Club is returning in the form of a remake. A duo of detective visual novels released exclusively on the Famicom in Japan in the 80s, they’re now back and getting a full English localisation out of nowhere.

EA showed off a game called Knockout City. My reaction on Twitter was “oh no this looks obnoxious” and the trailer was highly misleading. It’s Overwatch crossed with rugby, I think, and does not feature genre-hopping shenanigans like the trailer first suggests, which is highly disappointing.

But rejoice! Because Geeky Brummie staples of superheroes and Star Wars are getting Switch games. However, those games are DC Super Hero Girls: Teen Power, a game aimed squarely at 12-year-old girls (although it looks great for said 12 year old girls, so I can’t be too harsh), and Star Wars Hunters, a free-to-play game of some kind made by Farmville publishers Zynga, which is always a sign of quality, I’m sure we all agree.

More appealing was a selection of third party titles including Koei Tecmo’s Samurai Warriors 5, the latest in their ridiculous Warriors franchise, World’s End Club which is what happens when everyone in Danganronpa gets to go home early, Neon White which is all about demon hunting and parkour, and finally, a release date for the much anticipated No More Heroes 3 (it’s coming in August).

Cartoon sports fans will be pleased to know that Mario Golf: Super Rush has been confirmed, and features more of what to expect from a Mario Golf game, with an additional Mii-based story mode, and a chaotic mode where everyone plays golf at the exact same time. Presumably it’s Golf With Your Friends but there’s a Yoshi now.

Square Enix had quite a lot to show. Aside from a reminder of Bravely Default 2’s imminent release, they also announced a remake of Legend of Mana and confirmed a release date for SaGa Frontier Remastered (15th April, the only date from this Direct I can remember off the top of my head because it’s my birthday). The real star of the show was Project Triangle Strategy, a game that looks set to do for Final Fantasy Tactics that Octopath Traveler did for traditional Final Fantasy. It’s got the same gorgeous art style as Octopath, but now it’s a tactical RPG where choice is a major part of the storyline and it looks excellent. Let’s hope that terrible name gets changed before its release next year though.

There was a Breath of the Wild 2 announcement, telling us that there is no news about Breath of the Wild 2. There is a Skyward Sword remaster coming though, which is releasing in July, and best of all, you don’t have to use motion controls now! Not a lot else Zelda-related beside an update for Age of Calamity though, which is weird because this week is the franchise’s 35th anniversary and everything. Maybe there’s more on the way?

The final announcement was the reveal of Splatoon 3, and as a lover of that franchise I’m very interested. There seems to be a larger world to explore outside the turf war and a customisable little buddy to join you. Not much was shown, as the game won’t be here for another year yet, but count me intrigued.

Splatoon is arguably the closest I get to esports, so that’s why it’s time to hand over to Mat Lovell for news in that arena!

EA Buys Codemasters

Thanks Leigh!

Electronic Arts have completed their acquisition of UK game developer Codemasters – the team behind several leading games in racing esports. They are the publisher of racing games including Dirt, Grid, OnRush and, most famously, F1; which stepped up in 2020 to fill the gap following the suspension of the grand prix due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The news has been met with mixed feelings from the community, because, well, it’s EA. For context on what this means, EA have Need for Speed and the Burnout franchises, but the Codemasters buyout adds many high-profile racing brands to their arsenal giving them a monopoly over the racing genre.

Codemasters recently secured the rights to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) and in 2019 it acquired Slightly Mad, the developer of the Project Cars series and Fast & Furious Crossroads – now all under the EA umbrella.

However, what this means for racing esports remains to be seen. EA are a powerhouse with seemingly unlimited resources, and they have already stated that the purchase is part of their ambition to grow in the racing side of their EA sports brand. They are the biggest esports game publisher around right now – and games like FIFA have been going from strength to strength with the likes of FIFAe and the ePremier League gaining significant traction in mainstream sports in recent years. Codemasters have been experiencing similar success in esports with their Virtual Grand Prix and the F1 Esports Series so this acquisition makes perfect business sense.

So, what does it mean? With this acquisition we can probably expect more tournaments across Codemasters’ brands and more resources to support those tournaments. It could also expand the audience for esports like F1 and Dirt by tapping into EAs already obscene player base. In short, while I think not all Codemasters’ fans will be stoked about their new EA overlords, I do think on an esports level this could be a positive thing for the genre (I know, I feel dirty typing this…)

BBC to Broadcast FIFA 21 Global Series

Firstly, I am not being paid by EA – I swear. However, this does reinforce my point that they are the esports powerhouse I mentioned in the previous story. Football and FIFA fans rejoice! BBC will be broadcasting the EA FIFA 21 Global Series European Qualifiers this weekend (20th – 21st Feb) live on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport Online.

The tournament sees top esports players from around the globe play their favourite teams for a prize pool of $3m and secure a spot at the FIFAe World Cup.

BBC have ramped up their coverage of esports events in recent years, particularly since the pandemic, with their coverage of top esports like League of Legends, Dota 2, Rocket League and CS:GO. This will be the third football esport tournament after the overwhelming success of their broadcast of the ePremier League last year.

Personally, FIFA isn’t my bag, but this is still really awesome news as this is something both FIFA fans and Football fans can enjoy from the comfort of their sofa this weekend. Full coverage of the qualifier can be watched on iPlayer and BBC Sport online starting from 5.15pm on this Saturday to Sunday.

DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Coming to Netflix

Seemingly out of nowhere Valve and Netflix broke the Dota 2 community this week with a surprise announcement of DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, a brand-new anime set in the Dota universe.

The announcement came with a teaser trailer which gave fans of this leading esports MOBA a sneak peak of what to expect. The teaser introduces Davion, the Dragon Knight – a melee tank/carry hero in the MOBA on a quest that becomes much larger than he anticipates.

The blurb itself reads “After encounters with a dragon and a princess on her own mission, a Dragon Knight becomes embroiled in events larger than he could have ever imagined.” The princess in question is Mirana – a versatile carry / off lane hero in the game and the “events” imply the wider eternal conflict between the Radiant and Dire ancients that the 5v5 MOBA is based on.

This is the latest anime adaptation of a video game to come from Netflix following the hugely popular Castlevania and Dragon’s Dogma series. While I was completely taken by surprise by this announcement, I am absolutely buzzing for this to arrive. Dota 2 has an absolutely insane amount of lore supported by a myriad of cross media such as comics, game trailers and in-game items, new heroes, events and sets all adding to this monolith of modern storytelling.

From an esports perspective this will be interesting to see what impact (if any it has). The anime has potential to meet new audiences outside of the Dota community, which in turn can result in more player base, more pros and more Dota 2 esports fans. It will also be interesting to see how this and other media feed into the tournaments, which are often “themed” with snippets of lore.

DOTA: Dragon’s Blood is coming to the Netflix streaming platform on 25th March. For now you can watch the trailer.

New Releases

Hello! Leigh again! Time for some releases! Lemon Cake (PC) is a cute little game about running a bakery, building up an abandoned building into a thriving café. Growing food in your greenhouse, crafting recipes and serving up customers in an adorable setting.

Couple of fantasy titles for you now. Shattered: Tale of the Forgotten King (PC) is a Soulslike action RPG with a painterly art style and platforming elements to shake up the formula. Ultimate ADOM: Caverns of Chaos is an Early Access revival of 1994’s Linux-based roguelike ADOM, bringing much of the classic sensibilities of a traditional roguelike with some modern pizazz, such as graphics.

How about some side-scrollers? Gravity Heroes (PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch) is a shooter with the ability to platform across walls and ceilings as you battle rampaging robots. Speed Limit (PC, Switch, PS4, Xbox One) is a fast-paced arcade shooter that rapidly turns into a dogfight, a car chase and various other over the top action scenes. And finally, 30XX (PC) is Mega Man, if Mega Man was a roguelike.

Fallen Legion: Revenants (PS4, Switch) is the followup to 2017’s Fallen Legion. A sidescrolling RPG with anime-style graphics, you play as a charismatic politician as a ghost as you fight off monsters in a world covered in darkness. You know, standard stuff.

Capcom Arcade Stadium (Switch) is an arcade collection of classic Capcom titles that you will see new releases added over time for to pick and choose your favourites. The initial release contains 1943: The Battle of Midway.

Game of the Week

Mutropolis is this week’s Game of the Week. A point and click adventure about space archaeologists, you play as a man named Henry Dijon as he discovers a lost city on an abandoned Earth far in the future.

I’ve played a little bit of this one (courtesy of the publishers) and so far there’s a great art style and the writing is top notch. If this holds up for the full game, it’s looking like something special that could rival even the best LucasArts titles. Will get a full review of this out in the next week or so.

And that’s it for this week! Thank you for joining us and we’ll see you next week with more!