Over the past week Sonic Forces came out, and the general reception of the game has been… pretty darn poor to be honest. From criticisms levied towards the barren level design, a story that does not properly take advantage of its premise and characters, and various underlying gameplay/technical issues that make the game less refined than Sonic Generations, which came out six years ago. It is a genuinely confusing state of affairs, especially because of how much time Sonic Team has had to invest in this game.
Seeing as how Sonic Lost World came out in 2013, there is reason to assume that Sonic Team has been working on this game, in some shape or form, for four years. Which is crazy long for a Sonic game. So, how could the final product come out so short and unpolished? I have absolutely no idea. Even looking into the credits does not raise any particular alarms, with the director, producer, lead level designer, lead programmer, and lead planner all being veterans of the series who worked on multiple titles before Forces. Oh, but the other two level designers (yes, there were only 3 level designers) have no history with the mainline Sonic series, so that is probably a big reason why things turned out the way they did. I have not played the game, and won’t until it is on sale, but my expectations are low to say the least. At least the soundtrack’s pretty wonderful and edgy from what I’ve heard.
It is no secret that, despite Nintendo trying to convince others that the Switch had a strong amount of third party support from the start, the lifeblood of any system depends on how it does after a few months out on the market, and the Switch has been doing rather well, selling out routinely and serving as the home for a steady stream of high quality and polished titles. Because of this, many third parties, particularly Japanese ones, did not have plans to support the Switch early on, and as such, it is currently believed by Japanese gaming industry insiders that the Switch will not host a sleuth of Japanese third party titles until 2019.
This entire situation is rather understandable considering how much worry there must have been when the Switch was just starting off, and how poorly the Wii U did. I mean, just looking at the quantitative data these companies had, they did make the right decision, and did not want to add additional risk to their business practices. Still, some publishers, such as Capcom, are trying to get new titles out before then, with an Ace Attorney game among others due out in the 2018 fiscal year. So at least that’s good news.
Speaking of the Switch, developer Greezo, best known for their work on the versions of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask for the 3DS and Ever Oasis, are currently recruiting staff to “[make] a legend together.” A very deliberate and bold statement that implies that the developers are working on a Legend of Zelda title, which they would deserve after being close to the franchise for the past 7 or so years. Though, it is also entirely possible that this is simply an original project. The job requirements seem fairly standard for the industry, with few points that imply what the game is like. Regardless, they are a talented developer, and it will be interesting to see what they do next.
The next bit is very minor. In a recent interview the president of Compile Heart, they claimed that, “A new Neptunia project that will 1,000-percent exceed everyone’s imaginations is in motion. It won’t betray your expectations!” Which is obviously some preliminary hype building fluff, but I just couldn’t ignore it. The Neptunia series is one that I feel has so much potential to be something special, but has routinely been underwhelming due to the developers behind it. While the games can be a humorous and endearing lot, their game design was always in need of some polish, and based on the developer’s track record, I have doubts that Compile Heart will be the ones to ever exceed the relatively low expectations I have for the series.
Although, I will give Compile Heart one thing. I don’t expect them to be shut down or die anytime soon, which I cannot say for Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment, which is currently set to be acquired by Electronic Arts. I already went on about how EA is historically a bad publisher, with their unreasonably high sales goals and horrible tendency to shut down game studios due to managerial mishaps that are at least partially their own fault. So based on their track record, I have no reason to expect that this situation will work any differently, and am fully anticipating Respawn to be closed within a decade, if they are lucky.