Rundown (3/04-3/10) Stop Everything! Press-Switch is Out!

So, a new build of Press-Switch came out, utterly surprising me, and as is always the case with releases of this game, or its sister title Student Transfer, it shot straight up on my priority list.  Except this time I am actually going to review this latest build V0.5a, even though it is largely a revision that does not have most of the content, as, due to coding issues and a desire to change the introduction, the game needs to basically be remade.  That would be enough to dissuade me in most cases, but screw it, I’ve wanted to review this game for almost 4 bloody years, and I’m gonna do it! At least, after I put out this massive Rundown.

During the elongated development of Duke Nukem Forever, the game underwent a wide array of different renditions over the span of a decade before coming out as a lopsided and uneven little mess of a game that was just kind of unfortunate.  Though, the version released to the public was not the only one that significant progress was made on, as the Unreal Engine version of the game, shown off in 2001, was actually 90% completed, and offered a very notably different structure, story, and tone compared to the game that was actually released, including RPG and horror elements.  Normally, that would be the end of things, but the developer 3D Realms maintained the files of this build, and they still exist to this day in a playable form.  

In fact, with a bit more development, the game could be finished and released, all they would need is some funding and the go ahead from Gearbox, who now own the Duke Nukem IP.  Oh, but the company’s president, Randy Pitchford, is not interested in pursuing something like this due to certification costs and the like.  Well, that’s what he said, but based on his previous demeanour, he really just does not want anybody else to do anything Duke Nukem related.  Just look at what happened to Duke Nukem 3D: Reloaded, which was cancelled for looking too good compared to the version of Duke Nukem Forever that they shipped.

Then again, this sort of behavior has been the norm for Gearbox for quite a while.  I mean, the entire Aliens: Colonial Marines fiasco was one of the worst to come from last generation.  It was a story of lies, deception, and outsourcing to a studio that really was not equipped to develop a game like this, that all ended in a class action lawsuit that failed due to vaguely defined terms and only went to boost the already wildly inflated ego of the Randy Pitchford.  Part of me is actually a bit upset that Gearbox was not shut down due to the abject failure of Battleborn, because I know that they are going to do something particularly nasty when their next project, presumably Borderlands 3, comes out.  Call it… intuition.  

Like clockwork, Activision announced Call of Duty Black Ops 4, as anyone could have guessed, and many have.  It was only unveiled through a brief sizzle reel of sorts and a logo that featured a 4 stylized as IIII, because I guess IV doesn’t look cool enough.  Honestly, having gone through my adolescence during the time of the big military shooter boom of the seventh generation of systems, I developed a particularly potent distaste for this series and all it represents.  I know that Activision will keep on milking this cash cow until it stops producing supple milk, and find it difficult to be anything but immensely apathetic this series at this point. So I can mutter little more than feigned and slight irritation as I say that this is a thing that exists.  

Around the same time during the same day, Ubisoft actually managed to announce something that did not leak well ahead of time, as the publisher announced that they are currently working on a sequel to their popular Live Service, The Division, with the predictably named The Division 2.  No real details were unveiled, as the game’s debut is being saved until E3 2018, though I do hope it manages to do away with the unfortunate baggage that came with the first title.  

As a sort of pre-emptive announcement before this week’s Nintendo Direct, versatile niche game publisher Nicalis announced that the 3DS fantasy beat ‘em up Code of Princess will be coming to the Switch as Code of Princess EX, an updated version of the game with better graphics, better balance, and a few new extras, such as a co-op mode.  While this is good news, particularly because I really enjoyed the 3DS original, the process of how this happened is rather complicated, and I am not entirely sure I understand it.

In 2012, the original game was developed Studio Saizensen and published by Agatsuma Entertainment in Japan, while Atlus USA handled the international release.  In December 2015, Agatsuma shut down, which resulted in several digital titles they released being removed from their appropriate storefronts. In January 2016, Degica, another versatile niche game publisher, picked up the rights to some of their titles, and also published a PC port of Code of Princess, which was being worked on before Agatsuma shut down.  Then, in June 2017, it was announced that characters from Code of Princess will appear in Blade Strangers, a fighting game developed by Studio Saizensen and published globally by Nicalis.  

Now with Code of Princess EX being put out by Nicalis, I really need to ask who actually owns the rights to this game, as it seems as if Degica simply transferred or sold them to Nicalis, though I can find no actual evidence to back that up.  But regardless of who owns what, I am still both confused and a little miffed at how much better this looks than the poor PC port that came out in 2016, which somehow looked than the 3DS version. What? Just because I’m getting a Switch doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t prefer to have games on PC.

Moving onto the main topic of this Rundown, the always eventful Nintendo Direct, and there was quite a lot revealed and shown here.  Naturally, I will not cover every little thing, as there is quite a lot to talk about, and I do not want to simply ramble off release dates and some uninspired comment about every game shown.  But before I begin talking about the Switch games I should discuss the 3DS news, and the system, for what I really hope is the final time.

At this point, I am downright giddy at the thought of the 3DS dying and Nintendo putting it, and the entire DS line behind them.  That may sound rather radical and harsh, but I do have my reasons, and I should restate them here. Broadly speaking, I think that the DS was something of a mistake as its dual screen nature makes its games difficult to experience on other systems, unlike the GameBoy titles that came before it.  Meaning that the many great games that came out for the DS and 3DS are locked behind increasingly archaic systems.

Though, specifically honing in on my issues with the 3DS, I have many:  The system is not comfortable to hold with its sharp corners, flimsy analog nub, and tiny shoulder buttons.  The system was underpowered at launch, leading to the stupidly named New Nintendo 3DS, and many games underperforming.  The 3D gimmick is just that, a gimmick, and banking on it it was a mistake. The system’s lack of a second analog nub was a major mistake, see the whole nubaggedon fiasco.   The screen’s 240p resolution is inexcusably low. The glossy finish is far less appealing to touch or look at than a matte finish. The system is notorious for having improper color balancing.  It feels really bloody cheap for something I paid $250 for. Also, Nintendo 3DS is a really stupid name, and every game still being made for it represents resources that could be put towards the Switch, the objectively better system.

All of the 3DS games shown were fairly low cost affairs from a development point of view, with the announcements being enough title to keep their 2018 lineup alive and active, but not with any unique titles that people would feel bad for skipping.  WarioWare Gold is a collection of WarioWare Microgames with some new designs and voicework for the cast of characters along with a few newly made microgames, amounting to a total of 300 of the things.  While it is nice to see the series be revived like this, its late August 3rd release date makes me think that nobody is really going to go back to play this game.

Following the release of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions last year, it is not surprising to see AlphaDream remake yet another title in the series, yet they chose to opt over the lesser Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time in favor of making Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey.  While I do really enjoy the first and third games in this series, I once again need to reiterate that I do not like the look the series adopted with the 3DS, as I find it to be vastly less appealing than the excellent sprites that defined the series for me on the GBA and DS.  So seeing a remake of this game with this new style only makes me upset, as I fear that the original will start to look worse in the eyes of future generations. Though, seeing as how this game is due out in 2019, I’m hoping that it winds up being ignored.

Though that is not the only remake coming to the Switch, as Nintendo is also bringing over the original GameCube launch title Luigi’s Mansion to the platform.  While that is a rather odd choice made at a rather odd time, Luigi’s Mansion was used by Nintendo to experiment with 3D displays way back when, so I guess they may as well finally make a version of the game that can be played in 3D.  Shame it is not coming out until the very end of the system’s life though, as it is not debuting until an unspecified 2018 release window.

Moving over to the Switch news, things began with Kirby: Star Allies, and with the gameplay of the title being well demonstrated, the new trailer instead showcased the introduction of “Dream Friends” that will join Kirby in this co-op adventure.  The game will launch with the return of a playable Meta Knight, King Dedede, and best boy Bandana Waddle Dee, while even more buddies will be added to the game over time through post-launch updates.  The first of which is due out March 28th and will including the animal buddies from Kirby’s Dream Land 2, Rick, Coo, and Kline, along with the return of Dream Land 3’s Goopy and the Super Star antagonist Marx.  I would say that Kirby: Star Allies’ March 16th release date could not come soon enough, but I won’t get my Switch until this summer.

In late April, Splatoon 2 will receive its version 3.0 update, which will introduce new gear, stages to keep the game feeling fresh, and a new rank to aim for with Rank X.  While that was all well and good, I found myself wishing for a more single player oriented piece of content to drop and, much to my delight, that’s just what is happening.  In the summer, the game’s first piece of paid DLC will be released in the form of the $20 Octo-Expansion, which will introduce a new single player campaign along with the ability to play as an Octoling instead of a Squidling in multiplayer.  While I am still not interested in multiplayer with random people, the trailer for this expansion looks dark, stylish, and slick in a way that left me kind of stunned that I was looking at a first party Nintendo title.

Mario Tennis Aces was presented as the key title of this Direct, and I have to say, it looks far more interesting than I would have assumed it to be.  While the game does support traditional tennis matches, and Joy-Con motion controls, the main gameplay mode is pretty wild. The game is both about scoring points and inflicting damage on your opponent’s rackets as part of a battle of endurance and points.  

Players must weigh their options well, make use of their limited energy meter by launching precise and powerful Zone Shots, countering hard to reach strikes with the temporal altering Zone Speed, build up meter with delicate and flashy trick shots, while building up their meter to the maximum to unleash devastating special shots!  All while trying to keep your racket in good shape and properly blocking and countering each strike your opponent lobs your way! It sounds like a goldarn fighting game but with easier inputs, and will hopefully impress when it launches on June 22nd! Also, the game includes a playable Chain Chomp. Hell. Yes.

The Switch exclusive Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes was given its gameplay debut and it was clarified that the game would be a sort of overhead hack and slash with genre shifting gameplay, as the game balances between 7 different play styles that all culminate with a respective boss.  It ultimately looks like a stylish little action game, albeit one with a clearly smaller budget than what came before it, and it will hopefully be a welcome return to the series when it comes out later this year.

As for ports, quite a few were shown, though their showings were typically brief, and not much of a surprise.  From the recently released South Park: Fractured But Whole, the horror platformer Little Nightmares, the formerly Playstation exclusive Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, and the cult classic Okami HD, which is a pretty perfect fit for the system.  Dark Souls Remastered received its gameplay debut, and it looks like one would expect, but the Switch version will have the unique bonus of being compatible with an amiibo of Solaire of Astora, a fan favorite character of the game, and the most realistic looking amiibo ever.  While Undertale is coming to the Switch by way of a collaboration between YoYo Games and Nintendo to allow people using GameMaker 2 to directly export their games to run on the Switch.  Which is just wonderful to hear!

Aside from Undertale, none of those were a surprise, unlike the announcement that Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker would be coming out on the Switch as its own retail title.  This new version will contain two player split Joy-Con co-op, where one player alters the environment and the other plays as Captain Toad, along with the introduction of new stages based off of Super Mario Odyssey assets.  While I personally expected this game to be bundled with Super Mario 3D World, the game itself is a praised little puzzle game, and deserves to be on a more successful system, which it will be on July 13th.  The same day that the Square Enix RPG Octopath Traveller (final name) is launching on the system.

That was all well and good, but the event came to a close with an appropriately cataclysmic and epic reveal trailer for none other than the latest entry in Super Smash Bros.  Now, nothing was revealed from it other than how series staples will return, and how the Inklings will join the fray.  It is unknown if this is just an updated and revised version of the fourth entry, not dissimilar to another version of a Street Fighter title, or an entirely new entry, though I am guessing it is more likely the former, and that it will still be momentous upon launch when it comes out in… 2018!

This was ultimately a really great Direct that made me utterly giddy at times, even though some of the leaks I was anticipating did not prosper, but leaks are a very tricky game to play, and it is easy to be misinformed.  Though, there was one extra bit of tangentially good news related to this Direct.

In 2016, Square Enix released SaGa: Scarlet Grace as one of the last efforts from a major studio to support the Vita, and it was widely praised despite reaching only a small audience.  In the Japanese version of this Direct, a Switch version of the game was announced, followed by an announcement that the game is coming to PS4, Steam, and mobile as well.  Now, the game was never localized outside of Japan, but if a game is coming out on Steam, you better believe that it’s getting a western release.  

As one final bit of news, Compile Heart recently announced the next Neptunia spin-off game, and it is perhaps the most interesting sounding one yet, simply by the virtue of its origin.  Brave Neptunia is a 2D action title being developed by the Canadian independent developer Artisan Studio, who technically do not have any titles to their name, so it can be difficult to determine just how things will play out, especially since all that was shown is some development footage and a Japanese logo.  Regardless, the game is due out sometime this year for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC, with no release date being given. As I am with all neptunia games, I am cautiously optimistic about how this one will pan out, and am looking forward to see how this fares, especially because it is a Japanese game series being handed over to a western developer.

Also, new flowchart for v0.5a.

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