Rundown (3/18-3/24) Break Time is Work Time!

Ever since I started working part-time in 2014, that part time work quickly became full time, or at least close to full time, whenever I happened to have a break from school.  Spring break has meant that I work for a full week, winter break rounds out to a full month, excluding holidays and half days, and summer amounts to, well, near full time work for several months, where the projects just keep on coming.  I’m not complaining about this, I just find it odd how a “break” to me now means that I wind up working more than I would otherwise.

Starting off with a story I narrowly missed from last week, Sega has announced that the latest entry in the illustrious Yakuza series, Yakuza Kiwami 2, will be released in the west on August 28th as a PS4 exclusive.  This comes after the Yakuza series went from being one so niche that Sony had to foot the bill for the next numbered title to get a digital only release to being a rousing success after Yakuza 0 provided an ample starting point for a new generation of fans that were further serviced with Yakuza Kiwami only a few months later.  

Considering this entry is a remake of the second game in the series, which is also a fan favorite, there is a lot of reason to be excited for this release, but I have never actually played any entries, so I can just hope that fans are serviced.  I mean, I know that I would love this series if I tried it, but there is no way I am going to pick up a PS4 this generation, and Sega has yet to announce PC ports for this series, even though I think they’re all but inevitable at this point.

Over the past few years, media giant and scumsack Vivendi has been attempting to take over Ubisoft by slowly buying up more and more of its shares in an attempt to regain control of the video game market after Activision Blizzard bought themselves free about 5 years ago.  But that future has thankfully been averted.  To keep things simple, the stake Vivendi had in Ubisoft was effectively bought back by the family of Yves Guillemot and Chinese gaming juggernaut Tencent, who plan to enter a strategic partnership with Ubisoft to help expand their reach into the Chinese gaming market.  It is ultimately a positive move that frees Ubisoft of outside meddling, and it could have ended far less favorably if recent successes like Ghost Recon Wildlands and Assassin’s Creed Origins did not give Ubisoft the capital needed to stop this hostile takeover.

Since Nordic Games rose to prominence upon acquiring the unsold assets of THQ, they have been trying to transform themselves into better and more idealized version of the defunct AAA publisher that bit the dust at the end of the seventh generation.  From renaming themselves THQ Nordic to remastering and porting games from their massive back catalog of small AA titles. But now they have gone completely bloody crazy, as THQ Nordic announced the “revival” of several games based around Nickelodeon properties from the 90s to the mid 00s.  Meaning that they are likely going to rerelease licensed games released around that time period, even though only a few of them were any good from what I heard.

I do admire this precedent and THQ Nordic’s gusto for trying to make the most of their acquired intellectual property and rights to games, and it is unquestionably a positive for the industry for games to be revived like this.  However, I am still kind of stunned by the dedication they must be putting into these projects, and am a little amazed at how they are managing to turn in such a sizable profit by having one of the most diverse revenue streams of any modern game publisher.  Even if they only make $50,000 a year off of each IP they own, that’s still about $5 million a year.

As was announced last month, Spike Chunsoft had a number of announcements and updates to make at GDC this year, showcasing just what they and their newly formed international branch will be putting out over the upcoming year. A lot of this was already known about, such as the localization of 428: Shibuya Scramble, their 2008 FMV multi-protagonist visual novel adventure game.  Which still seems like one of the most bonkers things to ever be localized this long after its initial release, and it is set to release on PS4 and PC on August 28th.  

Others were rather predictable, such as Steins:Gate Elite, a “remastered” version of the original game that replaces the well drawn sprites and CGs from the original game with scenes and stills from the anime, because that’s an improvement.  Yet it will be the only version of the game to release on Switch and PS4 when it launches later this year, also landing on PC. Oh, and this game’s sequel, Steins;Gate 0 is releasing on PC via Steam on May 8th, as Spike Chunsoft acquired the JAST translation used in the game’s initial 2016 western release of this title.

Though, that is not the only western release of games belonging to the Science Adventure series that the publisher will be handling, as Spike Chunsoft also announced a localization of 2012’s Robotics;Notes, while not giving a definite release period, or platforms, though PS4 and PC seems like a safe bet.  Personally, I would be more interested in seeing a localization of 2008’s Chaos;Head if only because the anime adaptation of the title was such a bizarre blend of nonsense and pseudo science that I still regularly think about it.  They clearly are willing to go back to games that are that old, but if that just is not in the cards, then they’ll probably at least bring the PQube published western version of Chaos;Child, the spiritual successor to Chaos;Head, to PC.

Though, the big piece of news was something of a blowout of information on the company’s next major project, Zanki Zero: Last Beginnings.  The game was announced early last year, but here is where the first concrete details were provided and they are… really weird.   It is a dungeon crawler action RPG set in a post-apocalyptic world where the eight protagonists are the only remaining humans and must survive in the water drenched remains of human civilization, scavenging supplies.  Each of the protagonists are based around the seven sings, along with the original sin, and they are all clones who go through a typical human life cycle in 13 days, and upon dying they are revived thanks to the Extend TV, which is operated by a sheep mascot character.  

While I am unsure about the details of the combat, as it looks just like a Vita dungeon crawler, it is such an oddball and bizarre premise that I could not stop myself from keeping an eye on this game.  Combine this with the pedigree of Spike Chunsoft, who made two of my favorite game series of all time, and I am both incredibly interested in this game, and rather excited to learn more about it. Zanki Zero: Last Beginnings was not given a proper release window, but it will come out on PS4 and PC, presumably because the Vita is genuinely dead in the west.  

Oh, and they also announced that they will weirdly be serving as the publisher for the fully 3D PixelJunk Monsters 2, which is apparently some sort of digital tower defense game, and I cannot say I have any interest in it based on the debut trailer.  It’s coming out for Switch, PS4, and PC on May 25th. Yeah, I’d have rather heard about a western PC version of Banshee’s Last Cry.  I mean, a new PC version of the game came out for Japanese PCs on February 23, 2018, literally one month ago, so there has to be plans for a western release using the Aksys localization, right?  I mean, without the changed names because those were, well, stupid.

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