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Gaming Roundup – Vita No Longer Means Life

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, Sony shutdowns, Activision, Gaming for Good, and all the latest releases!

PlayStation Store Shutting Down on Old Systems

The PlayStation Store on PS3, PSP and PS Vita will be closing down this summer. The PS3 and PSP will see their stores shut down on 2nd July while the Vita’s gets to stick around a little longer until 27th August.

It’s a decision that feels tragic, especially with the number of games that exist exclusively on these stores due to PlayStation exclusivity, no physical release and no ports or remasters on later systems. This includes games like Tokyo Jungle, a fun little game about animals taking over a human-free post-apocalyptic Tokyo, and some editions of the Lumines rhythm game franchise on PSP. This will also include a bunch of PS1 classics that are rare (and expensive) to track down these days, such as Alundra or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

It does make sense that the servers would be shut down. Sony have been out of the handheld game since the failure of the Vita, and the PS3 is now surpassed by two later generations. But Sony are seemingly unwilling to preserve these titles in any way, something that’s notable with the inability to play anything prior to the PS4 on the PS5. It’s especially odd since games like Fat Princess and Pain, also PSN exclusives, are referenced in PS5 pack-in game Astro’s Playroom, so you’d think they’d want to keep those about so people know what they’re referencing. But apparently not.

Essentially, if there’s anything digital-only you desperately want to play on these systems, now’s the time to get them.

Activision Are Still Scum

It was all looking up for Activision. After reviving Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Crash Bandicoot last year, there was a hope they were going to improve from their increasingly terrible behaviours.

And then it was announced that Activision Blizzard will be shutting down offices across Europe, taking countless jobs with them. This follows an announcement that 50 people in their live events and esports businesses had been let go. It seems like Activision are in a precarious financial position perhaps.

Except they’re not. Activision have also reported record numbers of revenue and profit, with the net profits equalling $2.2 billion. If this situation sounds familiar, it’s because the company has previously celebrated past record numbers by firing a whole bunch of staff.

And, naturally, CEO Bobby Kotick will be seeing the most of this, with a $200 million additional payout. This has drawn criticism from investment firms, who state that Kotick has missed performance targets and the company’s success in the past year can partly be attributed to the pandemic, a situation out of Kotick’s control.

So once again, Activision are putting CEO pay over worker’s jobs. Stay classy, Activision.

Ikumi Nakamura Returning with New Studio

If you watched E3 2019’s stage presentations, you may remember Ikumi Nakamura, a developer for Tango Gameworks, on stage for Bethesda. In awkward English she sheepishly talked about how good she thought her game was and gestured wildly to the teaser trailer, a moment of genuine joy and excitement in a show that frequently can get cynical.

And then a few months later, she mysteriously announced that she would be quitting Tango Gameworks. The game she was creative director for, Ghostwire Tokyo, has not yet come out, so this was a surprise. No one knew the reasons for this until this week.

In a new interview with the YouTube channel Cutscenes, which creates documentaries about Japanese creatives, Nakamura talks candidly about her experiences at Tango, and how she was excited to complete the project, but health concerns got in the way. It seems that the stress of her first role as creative director had taken its toll and she had to take a break.

But she has spent the intervening time resting and speaking with professionals at other studios, with the aim of setting up her own studio to work on a new IP. She’s quiet on many of the details right now, but she promises something spooky and full of dark jokes. Based on her past work at previous studios, it’ll be exciting to see what’s she got planned.

Meanwhile, her previous project, Ghostwire Tokyo, will still be released later this year, as it’s finished under a new creative director.

BAFTA Winners

Sneaking in at the last minute, the BAFTAs were held last night and while we covered the nominees a few weeks back, here are all the final winners.

The big winner of the night was Hades, the roguelike that garnered acclaim from across the industry for most of last year. It picked up Game Design, Narrative, Artistic Achievement, Performance in a Supporting Role for Logan Cunningham, and naturally, the big one, Best Game overall. As you can imagine, the Last of Us 2 obsessives took it well.

Speaking of The Last of Us 2, that didn’t do too shabby either, picking up the viewer-voted EE Game of the Year award, along with Animation and Performance in a Lead Role for Laura Bailey.

Two of last year’s most wholesome games picked up two awards each. Animal Crossing New Horizons won Multiplayer and Games Beyond Entertainment, both in recognition to its importance at bringing people together during the initial stages of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Sackboy: A Big Adventure won Family Game and British Game.

Sackboy’s home studio Media Molecule were nominated in a ton of categories for their creation tool Dreams, but only won one of them – Technical Achievement. However, their studio head Siobhan Reddy was honoured the Fellowship Award, recognising her achievements within the industry, and allowing me to point to my love of LittleBigPlanet and say, look, it’s as important as Mario now, stop making fun of me.

Other Sony successes came in the Audio category for Ghost of Tsushima and the Music category for Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Elsewhere, delightfully savage monster-em-up Carrion won Debut Game, the weird narrative adventure Kentucky Route Zero won Original Property, and Sea of Thieves won Evolving Game.

The BAFTAs continues to be an excellent show that reminds just why I love games, and the variety of work on show proves the vast diversity of ideas on show in the medium. Congratulations to all the winners!

And now, Mat brings you the esports news!

League of Legends Charity Showdown

Hey friends! LDN UTD are going head-to-dead with London Esports in a League of Legends exhibition event called London Showdown in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.

This friendly is a best-of-three match up in the popular MOBA, which will be livestreamed on London Showdown’s Twitch and later uploaded to their official Youtube channel.

Both teams are in a really good position right now. Last week I reported on LDN UTD high profile sign-ups as they expand their roster of esports and online brands. London Esports also finished runners up in the UKLC League of Legends Championships in an intense best-of-five against rivals Resolve, progressing to the international Telia Masters Cup.

The exhibition match was organised by students from Staffordshire University London, and announced on Esports News UK. Staffordshire was one of the first universities to pioneer the Esports degree in the UK, which has since been adopted by many of the major universities alongside a serious investment in esports teams and Uni leagues.

This looks to be a really exciting match up and a great way to kick off the Easter Bank Holiday in aid of a great cause raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. It’s also great to see esports teams collaborating with university students to help grow the grass roots scene in the UK.

You can catch the London Showdown live on Twitch on Friday 2nd April from 6pm GMT. It will then be available via their Youtube channel afterwards.

Gaming for Good Launched

End Youth Homelessness (EYH) have launched “Gaming for Good”, their first ever national gaming festival which aims to bring together the gaming community across the UK in a bid to level the playing field for homeless young people.

The festival takes place across two weeks from 2nd to the 16th April. It encourages the public to come together and get their game on to raise awareness and vital funds to help vulnerable young people into housing and employment.

All you need to do is pick your game of choice and set up fundraisers via Just Giving and invite friends and family to join you and donate. This could be a charity stream, setting up your own charity tournament or a tag-team 24-hour stream with you and your friends.

The event will culminate in a grand finale on Saturday 17th April where they will be celebrating successes, sharing stories of your impact and hearing from those that have taken part. There will also be an exclusive prize draw and the chance to get your hands on some fantastic goodies.

This event is already gaining traction online with several high profile streamers and influencers including popular DOTA 2 personality PyrionFlax, Total War and Grand Strategy Streamer, Lionheartx10 and Youtubers Rose and Rosie.

Youth homelessnes has skyrocketed over the last few years. Last year 121,000 young people faced homelessnes in the UK, and it is predicted that 2021 could see an even worse homelessness crisis. EYH website states that £121 could equip a young person with the home essentials they need to make a new home.

Gaming for Good starts on 2nd April and ends on 17th April. To sign up please head over to their website here: https://www.eyh.org.uk/en/gaming-for-good/

New Releases

Thanks, Mat! And now, the releases.

In ports and re-releases, Overcooked! All You Can Eat is an enhanced and repackaged edition of the first two Overcooked titles. Originally released on the next-gen systems, this is now releasing on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch, so there are even more options for you to cook with, and subsequently fall out with, your friends. Also Tales from the Borderlands is now on Switch too, so you can now engage with Telltale’s narrative spinoff on the toilet if you must.

Lots of smaller releases this week. Paradise Lost (PC, PS4, Xbox One) is a walking sim set in a post-apocalyptic world, bringing in elements of Slavic mythology and spooky looking bunkers. The Fabled Woods (PC) is another exploration game set in some mysterious woods, and aims to be an interactive short story.

Strategy fan? Oh boy this is your week! Black Legend (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a dark fantasy strategy game centred around pirate types and a mysterious deadly fog. Spacebase Startopia (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S) is an RTS with empire building mechanics set on a cartoony space station. Dorfromantik (PC) is a tile-placing strategy game that can either be played as a relaxing toy or a strategic city builder. And finally, Arkham Horror: Mother’s Embrace (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a turn-based strategy game based on the Lovecraftian board game, where you need to uncover supernatural mysteries without succumbing to Eldritch madness.

Oh? You want platformers? Good news! There are two this week! Kaze and the Wild Masks (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a retro throwback 2D platformer that will appeal to those who loved Freedom Planet or, you know, the platform series that inspired that, Sonic the Hedgehog. And speaking of Sonic, his original creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Oshima are behind Balan Wonderworld (PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S), a 3D platformer from Square Enix. Set in a magical world, the player characters are instructed by a mysterious being called Balan to journey through the world and collect special costumes that grant new abilities.

We’re not done, because there’s a new Story of Seasons as well. Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town (Switch) is the latest in the classic farm sim series that began as Harvest Moon. It’s basically more of the same, with a few new features to shake things up. Chances are, if you’re into the genre, you’re probably already playing it.

Also exclusive to Switch this week, Monster Hunter Rise is the latest title in the esteemed Monster Hunter franchise. Now adding verticality to its dragon-bashing gameplay, and more importantly adding dog companions in addition to the existing cat companions, Monster Hunter Rise promises more of what the series has delivered for years, and has been getting some excellent reviews.

Finally, a game that was close to getting Game of the Week, Genesis Noir (PC, Switch, Xbox One). A weird and wonderful “jazz odyssey” telling both a film noir tale and a story about the Big Bang at the same time. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but it’s bizarre and creative and that’s good enough for me. But what actually got Game of the Week?

Game of the Week this week is It Takes Two (PC, PS4, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S), the latest co-op adventure from Hazelight Studios, the creators of A Way Out.

Set in a quirky world of sentient books and toys, you control an estranged couple as they try and fix their relationship while working together to navigate this strange place. The game looks to be a wonderfully inventive mixture of mechanics backed with a focus on co-op.

It’s a visual treat too, and with all this, I have to make it Game of the Week.

And that’s all for now. See you again next week!

 

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