Gaming Roundup – Updates from the Island

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, Animal Crossing and some other stuff, plus all the latest releases!

Apologies for last week, by the way. Literally nothing was happening. News was barren and an already sparse release schedule became empty when my Game of the Week got delayed into May at the last minute. Fortunately, we’re back this week!

Animal Crossing is All That Matters Now

I’m finally playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons just like everyone else right now, thanks to my birthday last week, so now my life exists entirely within that game and nothing else matters. So I’m going to talk about Animal Crossing, namely because it’s all anyone else is talking about too.

This is mainly because Animal Crossing: New Horizons has sold more copies in the US than any Mario or Zelda title since records began. There are only two titles with bigger launches – Super Smash Bros Brawl and Super Smash Bros Ultimate. There’s a pattern to those two, see if you can spot it. It’s perhaps unsurprising as AC allows people to go outside, go shopping frivolously and visit friends in a real world where none of those things are allowed anymore.

With so many new people on board, it’s a good time to release a major update. It was initially leaked in a datamine, but then confirmed by Nintendo on Tuesday and released on Thursday. This all ties in with the game’s latest event, Nature Day, the game’s version of Earth Day. This will involve a bunch of Nook Miles objectives related to nature-focused tasks, such as planting trees and bushes. It also sees the arrival of Leif, a seed seller, who brings with him the aforementioned bushes. He’ll also buy weeds at twice the price, which is excellent for someone like me whose island is still mostly weeds.

Leif’s not the only returning face, as Crazy Redd, a shady fox who sells paintings that may or may not be legitimate, will be arriving on a player’s secret beach in a pirate ship. This will result in an expansion to the museum for artworks, but Blathers will only display the legitimate art and not the forgeries.

Nintendo’s announcement also confirmed additional events coming to the game in coming months. May Day starts 1st May, and features a special island tour that sees the return of fan favourite Rover. Museum Appreciation Day starts on 18th May and sees a special sticker-gathering quest at the museum. Finally, the month of June is Wedding Season, and sees the return of Cyrus and Reese, and there are challenges where you get to become a wedding photographer on the questionable Harv’s Island.

If you want even more new stuff to add to the game, then perhaps some new custom designs could be of interest to you. Especially if you like art. The Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which is currently closed due to lockdowns, has decided to make its entire collection available to scan into Animal Crossing with QR codes. That’s 70,000 pieces, by the way, so you’ve got plenty to choose from.

I love this though, because it encourages people to visit the Getty’s collection online, and allows people to show off their art chops in the game of the moment. Everybody wins!

Also, Elijah Wood visited a random person’s island and it was incredibly sweet.

The Switch Is Worth More Than Oil Right Now

With Animal Crossing proving so popular, you might not be surprised to learn that Nintendo Switches have become a rare and valuable commodity, as people rush out (online) to get their island life escapism faster than Nintendo can provide. The company are seeking to ramp up production, it seems, but the success of this largely depends on the state of supply chains in a socially distanced world, so there are no guarantees right now.

To make matters worse, these situations always bring out the worst examples of people exploiting the situation for profit. And not only are limited stocks being snapped up before most people can buy them, it’s seemingly impossible for anyone to get those stocks before the scalpers jump in because they’re using bots now. Entitled Bird Bot, this bot scans shop websites for new stock of the Switch and immediately buys up the whole stock without human involvement. These units then end up on eBay for up to twice as much as the RRP.

Hopefully as Nintendo get more stock in, this practice can be stamped out fairly quickly, or the situation will never improve.

Selena Gomez Sues Game Company

We don’t talk about big pop stars here on the Gaming Roundup because first of all this is about games, but also because I’m nowhere near cool enough to really know who’s popular right now. But today, we’re talking about Selena Gomez. Yes, really.

There’s a mobile game out there right now, called Clothes Forever: Styling Game, and if that hasn’t tipped you off to this being a cheaply-made and exploitative app, poorly translated from Mandarin, then you haven’t seen enough of the mobile game market.

It is, indeed, a shoddy fashion “game” which promises you a virtual career as a fashion designer to big stars like Beyonce and Taylor Swift. The only problem is, none of the advertised celebrities have approved for their likenesses to be added to the game, and one of those celebrities who noticed is Selena Gomez.

She and her team are now suing the catchily-named developer, Guangzhou Feidong Software Technology Co, and British-based publisher MutantBox Interactive, for the unauthorised use of her likeness.

She also had some choices words against the game’s use of microtransactions, referring to them as “unsavory” [sic] and “luring” users into “imaginary spending”. As someone who hates the concept of microtransactions and believes their overuse in mobile games is what’s made that market such a cesspit, I am all for a celebrity going after a company like this. Drag them, queen, is what I believe the kids would say.

Doom Eternal Composer Rips and Tears Released Mix

Doom Eternal’s soundtrack was recently released, following some delays that meant it didn’t release alongside the game itself. Many fans were excited to listen to the pounding metal riffage that is your average Doom soundtrack, but it was obvious that something was off with the recordings.

Turns out, composer Mick Gordon was not consulted during mixing or mastering, and the final product was a victim of the eternal loudness war that’s been plaguing music for the best part of two decades now. If you’re unaware of the loudness war, it’s basically mixing engineers ramping every single instrument up in a song so it sounds “louder” but in the process it tends to remove dynamic ranges between instruments and make everything sound like a loud, muddy clutter.

Evidence of this can be seen in one particular track, BFG Division, which is also on the soundtrack for 2016’s Doom title. That version is mixed in a cleaner fashion, with the dynamics ranges present within the instruments, while the Eternal version is much more muddied.

Gordon is reportedly not happy, both with the final mix and with the fact he was left out of the process in the first place. Hopefully this can be rectified soon and his original vision can be restored.

RIP Paul Haddad, Keiji Fujiwara

This week has seen the passing of two veteran voice actors with video game credits under their belts.

First up, Paul Haddad was reported to have died from developer Invader Studios, who had been working with him on throwback survival horror game Daymare: 1998. Haddad has an extensive acting career but is best known in the gaming world for being the original voice of Leon Kennedy way back in the original Resident Evil 2.

Over in Japan, Keiji Fujiwara’s talent agency confirmed his death from cancer. He was a prolific actor in anime and video games, with some of his best-known work in games being with Square Enix. Most recently, he had reprised his role as Reno in the Japanese voice over of Final Fantasy VII Remake, but he was also famous for frequently providing the Japanese voice for Tony Stark in Marvel media.

Thoughts go out to the families, friends and fans of both of these talented men.

Xbox Series X Has a Logo

Yep. The next-gen Xbox sure has a logo. Microsoft revealed this week. That’s it up there. That’s the story. Haven’t really got much to add to that, but I covered the PS5 logo, so it’s only fair I do this too.

It does look a bit like a trainer logo, mind.

New Releases

Here are some smaller releases from the past week. Fort Triumph, which left Early Access on Steam last week, is a tactical RPG with environmental hazards you can exploit in your strategies. Help Will Come Tomorrow (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a survival game set in the Siberian wilderness where a group of train crash survivors have to survive the elements and each other. Filament (PC) is a complex and testing puzzle game set on a deserted spaceship. EleMetals: Death Metal Death Match (PC) is a loud, brash multiplayer game about battling your friends in various hell realms and features headbanging as a central mechanic.

One small release we need to give a bigger focus is Disobedient Sheep, which launched this week on PC. It’s a cartoony sheep-herding game for two players where you have to keep your sheep from getting crushed by boulders and falling anvils or exploded by dynamite thrown into the stage. It’s a load of chaotic fun, and it may also be familiar to regular Geeky Brummie fans, as we interviewed the developer back at Insomnia last year.

Continuing the theme of April remake releases, Trials of Mana came to PC, PS4 and Switch this week. If you’ve not played the original Trials of Mana, don’t worry, because this followup to Secret of Mana used to be called Seiken Densetsu 3 and was never released outside of Japan. This is a full 3D remake of the original game, now gaining a Western release as well as a bunch more polish.

Releasing on PC and PS4 is Sony’s Predator: Hunting Grounds, an asymmetric multiplayer title based on the popular film series. Either team up as marines setting out to achieve their own objectives or play as the Predator that’s trying to hunt them down.

Announced in a surprise reveal last week, XCOM: Chimera Squad is a spinoff to the XCOM series, set in the future of the game’s settings where an alliance has been made between human and alien forces. Chimera Squad is a smaller scale game where you control the titular squad as they keep peace in a futuristic city. It’s an interesting twist on the formula, and has been released for a cheaper price point, so that should help if you’re curious.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week this week is Cloudpunk, a story-driven game about being a delivery driver in a cyberpunk city in the sky. It’s your first night on the job and it’s your job to deliver packages of questionable repute around. Don’t ask questions about what you’re delivering, but do make choices that could affect the outcome of the story.

This game looks gorgeous with its neon cityscape in the clouds, and you get to explore it fully as you make your deliveries. I’m really fascinated by the prospect of this game, so I just had to make it Game of the Week.

And that’s it for this week! I’ll see you again soon with more!

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