Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, the Amiga is back, Activision are still terrible, and more. Plus all the latest releases!
My memories of the microcomputer phase of the UK’s gaming history is minimal, so my reaction to this particular story isn’t as strong as previous retro revival systems, but here we go. The Commodore Amiga is getting a mini system.
The A500 Mini is a miniature replica of the 1987 computer system, the Commodore Amiga 500, and is taking pre-orders now. It comes with a retro-style two-button mouse and a controller based on the Amiga CD32’s controller. It will also come bundled with 25 games, including classics such as Worms, Zool, Another World and Speedball 2.
It also comes with USB slots, partly because you might need to plug in a keyboard as the keyboard on the actual unit is non-functional due to being far too small. But also, these USB slots can be used to plug in a flash drive loaded with Amiga ROMs that can be comfortably installed, allowing you to expand and customise the library to your liking.
Again, as someone who only really saw this side of the UK’s gaming history from the sidelines (I owned a NES and SNES and played games on the home IBM PC before the PlayStation arrived), I don’t have much of an opinion on this, but I’m sure there are plenty of people going nuts over this right now. Especially with the installation option, which is a neat feature that, say, the PlayStation Classic could have done with.
Continued Activision Issues
Activision Blizzard have seen a few major departures in the past week. Jonathan LeCraft, senior designer on World of Warcraft, along with two key team members working on Diablo 4, Jesse McRee and Luis Barriga, have been let go. In addition, game designer Cory Stockton has been placed on leave, although he is still officially with the company.
While reasons have not been provided for the departures, it’s not hard to see a possible connection with the recent lawsuit alleging serious abuses of staff, including sexual harassment and discrimination. This follows the resignation of Blizzard head J Allen Brack and seems to be part of a major reshuffle of management within the company.
All good changes then? No, at least not according to shareholders. SOC Investment Group, who own shares in Activision, have sent a letter to director Robert Morgado stating that CEO Bobby Kotick’s recent statement did not go far enough in addressing the company’s issues, and stronger actions are needed. Their requests are adjustments to the hiring practices for the board and upper management – implying that while it’s good they’re removing problem people in management, there’s no transparency on who they plan to replace them with.
The letter also criticises executive pay, and demands to see a halt to bonuses for this year, and clawing back compensation for executives engaged in abusive behaviour. It also takes aim directly at Kotick’s choice of law firm, who they directly accuse of having no record of tackling abuse but do have a record of protecting the “wealthy and connected”. It’s a damning letter, and it remains to be seen if Activision’s board respond to it in any meaningful way.
Take-Two has confirmed in an investor presentation that three new unannounced remasters of their past titles are coming.
The games themselves are unknown, but speculation has been rife. A Grand Theft Auto trilogy seems likely, however, with the three PS2 GTA titles getting a polish. Or maybe a Bully remaster instead? Max Payne is a possibility too, especially as the series recently celebrated its 20th anniversary (resulting in Remedy writer Sam Lake retweeting images of his own face for a whole day). Or maybe the game everyone’s clamouring for – Rockstar Presents Table Tennis.
It’ll be interesting to see what gets announced, but for now, feel free to speculate wildly on which Rockstar, 2K or Private Division titles will see a glow-up.
UPDATE: This got announced between writing this and editing this, so I will add that a GTA trilogy remaster is looking very likely.
Xenoblade 3 Accidentally Revealed by Dr Who Actress
Speaking of speculation, Xenoblade 3 may have been accidentally leaked by Jenna Coleman.
Those of you who know Coleman from Doctor Who might be questioning her involvement, but she was in 2011’s UK-based dub of the first Xenoblade Chronicles as party member Melia, who is seemingly going to be making an appearance in the third numbered instalment of the series.
The news of this came from a fan chat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcVjf-DuygM) through an online convention, where Coleman was asked about her involvement with Xenoblade. She talked about how she got the role through her voiceover agent, followed by “I think they’re making another one” and “I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that”
This sent ripples through social media when the video showed up in June, but now an article in Fanbyte (https://www.fanbyte.com/news/xenoblade-new-game-true/) claims to have further information through their sources that the game is in development and will be set in a far-flung future well after the first two games. Coleman’s character is of a race that lives for centuries, so there’s a chance she will show up, which is why she seemingly knows of the game as (presumably) she will have done voice acting for it.
No formal announcement has been made by Nintendo yet, however, so much of this remains speculation.
Knock Knock It’s Idris Elba
Production continues on the second Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and this week, the voice actor for Sonic’s echidna pal Knuckles has been revealed.
It’s Idris Elba, off of Luther, Pacific Rim and Suicide Squad.
Elba himself announced it on Twitter with an image of Knuckle’s fist and the phrase “knock, knock”, a clear reference to Unknown from M.E., his infamous rap theme from Sonic Adventure.
I approve of this casting choice, just as long as Elba gets to retain his natural British accent the entire time. I want to see Cockney Knuckles.
In new releases this week, last year’s indie breakout hit Hades is now arriving on PlayStation and Xbox after storming PC and Switch last year. It’s a roguelike. You’re trying to escape the underworld. You and your dad have a complicated relationship. You know, standard stuff.
In completely new releases, Black Book (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a Slavic themed RPG with deck building and witchcraft. You play as Vasilisa, a young sorceress who has lost her beloved and now seeks the titular demonic book while also battling demons and performing exorcisms. I played a demo of this a while ago, and it seemed very intriguing, so likely worth a look!
Cyberpunk is still in, baybeeeeee. Glitchpunk (PC) is cyberpunk GTA, and by that I mean 1997 GTA with a topdown view and everything, but now with added VHS filters. Meanwhile, Foreclosed (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a story-driven shooter about a man trying to protect his identity. Two intriguing cyberpunk games there, so give them a look if you’re still disappointed by CD Projekt Red.
For something more wholesome but still kind of throwing back to the 80s, Button City (PC, PS5, Switch, Xbox Series S/X) is a game about a cute fox trying to save his local arcade, presumably with the power of friendship judging by the art style.
Fire Tonight (PC, Switch) is a game about romance in the apocalypse. As people disappear and the city goes up in flames, Maya heads out to Devin’s apartment due to a broken phone line. Solve puzzles and avoid being caught by police to prove love can conquer all. I assume.
One of three surprise drops during this week’s Indie World Showcase from Nintendo, Garden Story (PC, Switch) is certainly the most Nintendo of the three. You play as a little grape friend who must venture on a quest to rebuild his little community. Expect Zelda-style dungeons with Animal Crossing life sim content and you’re in the right area. It looks very cute.
Another surprise drop was Boyfriend Dungeon (PC, Switch, Xbox), a dungeon crawler crossed with a dating sim. Battle your way through dangerous locations, and then date your weapon afterwards. Yes really. It’s a bizarre concept, but it looks like it’s leaning into the absurdity of it, so that’s excellent.
And finally, Axiom Verge 2 (PC, PS4, Switch) ALSO surprise-dropped. The first Axiom Verge was Metroid if they’d let the Giger art style run wild. I was a little disappointed with the first game, which had some frustrating combat, but the world and use of glitchy powers were excellent. Here’s hoping this sequel addresses the issues while retaining all the excellent bits of the first.
Naraka Bladepoint (PC) is a 60-player battle royale with a twist – it’s all melee-based. Imagine Fortnite crossed with Bayonetta with some additional parkour mechanics and you’re on the right track. Visually the game draws from a lot of Asian influences (the team is Chinese) and has a whole bunch of flashy combo moves to work with, so it looks interesting.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Atrio: The Dark Wild (PC), largely based on the trailer above. A cross between Don’t Starve and Factorio, Atrio puts you in the shoes of an android tasked with restoring a place called Station 3.
To do this, you must build supply lines, keep them powered and harvest the woods of natural resources. The woods are also painfully dangerous, especially in the dark, so expect a lot of hostility from the local wildlife as you try to capture them. Sounds easy, or at least the trailer seems to suggest so.
And that’s it for now! See you again for more next week!
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