Rundown (7/01-7/07) Natalie is Nuts

So, I recently did a log of all of the stories I wanted to write, coming up with the basic concepts, and telling myself that I should be able to put one out a year.  Or in other words, the thing I did back in 2015 before I had a change of plans, yet I am trying it again now, a mere 3 years later, and after I spent two years on a single novel.  It is because of this that I am utterly nuts, and to prove just how nuts I am, I made a simple little schedule of what I am going to try and write and when. It’ll only take me a decade or so to get through it…

In a very odd story, Japanese game publisher and developer FuRyu released a statement early this week announcing that they would freeze their investments in gaming, likely as a result of many of their titles underperforming by their metrics.  However, the company later went on to clarify that this is merely a temporary suspension on mobile game releases for the remainder of this year, so that the company may focus on maximizing profits from their existing titles.  Meaning their console and handheld efforts, the things that most people care about, will continue as usual.  In fact, they even announced a new title for PS4 a few days later.  Which goes to show you how a mistranslated or misinterpreted statement can easily dissuade people into believing in falsehoods.  

Back in January, Swedish game developers Image & Form and Zoink Games were united under a parent company by the name of Thunderful, which was itself overseen by the Nordic distributor of Nintendo products.  However, the parent company is seemingly expanding with the acquisition of niche publisher Rising Star Games who will join with the publishing branch of Thunderful, with the Rising Star Games mostly being relegated to the publishing of “strong titles from Japan”.  I actually find it somewhat refreshing to see smaller game companies this band together like this, becoming a collaborative force capable of filling in the gaps that were established last generation, and gaining the resources to put out an increased number of interesting titles.   Especially when the alternative so often involves studio closures.

Moving on, this week was home to Anime Expo, and as has become a trend in recent years, this also means that a number of publishers of niche Japanese titles announced the existence or localization of a number of titles.

Starting off, NIS America announced that the most recent iteration of the RPG Maker series, RPG Maker MV will be making a console debut for PS4, XBO, and NSW in 2019.  A move that I cannot help but bear some cynicism towards due to how I have not heard very good things about this latest iteration, and how RPG Maker is RPG Maker, and it is an inherently limited engine, often to the detriment of otherwise great games.  There do exist workarounds for many of its shortcomings, but they would not work for consoles, which I feel makes this an inherently inferior product right ouf of the gate.

The Princess Guide, known as Your Four Knight Princesses Training Story in Japan, is an action strategy title from the Nippon Ichi Software team behind Penny-Punching Princess, an overhead brawler that is partially centered around bribing enemies into being your minions.  This title however is a bit harder for me to place a finger on it, being an overhead brawler centered around raising, befriending, and training one of four princesses into becoming a warmonger whose performance is based around how much she is praised or scolded.  Combined with an art style that I find far less appealing than the chibi styled sprite art of the team’s previous efforts, I cannot say that I am too interested in this title. Regardless though, the game will be out in early 2019 for PS4 and NSW.

Also from NISA comes an enhanced remake of The Caligula Effect, a Vita RPG centered around a group of teenagers trying to escape from the false high school paradise constructed by a sentient vocaloid, and was formerly published by Atlus, weirdly enough.  This new iteration, The Caligula Effect: Overdose set to improve on that subparly received title through revised story elements, improved combat, updated visuals, and a female protagonist.  I have something of a soft spot for contemporary Japanese RPGs like this, especially ones with an oddball premise, so I will likely check it out sometime after it releases in early 2019 for PS4, NSW, and PC.  

From Inti Creates comes Dragon Marked For Death, a fantasy action RPG centered around four humanoid dragons on a quest of revenge against the ruling kingdom for, well, genociding their people.  The game features four player co-op, an expansive sounding quest system, and a visual presentation in-line with what one would expect from the people who made the Mega Man Zero and ZX titles.  The game overall looks quite enjoyable, with uniquely built characters and a lot of detailed sprite art, so I could easily see myself checking it out when it launches exclusively for Switch this upcoming winter.

Meanwhile, JAST USA, not wanting to be upstaged by larger scoped rising all-stars, announced that they picked up Kimi to Kanojo to Kanojo no Koi, or Totono as it is called for some reason.  For those unaware, it is a visual novel where the game and its characters are self aware of the player’s actions, which exists in the context of a traditional dating sim, which inevitably results in one character becoming vindictive and spiteful of the player, sending the game on a downward spiral of hatred, sorrow, and blood.  Or in other words, imagine if you will something in a similar vein as Doki Doki Literature Club from the same developer who brought the world Saya No Uta.  No release date was given, and it will be a PC exclusive.

The Kill La Kill game announced last month was formally revealed as Kill La Kill The Game: IF, a 3D fighting game that, despite having the Arc System Works name attached to it, seems to lack the same polish in its presentation as seen in games like Dragon Ball FighterZ and Guilty Gear Xrd.  With the game not encapsulating the linework seen in the show or even the overall lighting as well as it probably should, resulting in a brief reveal trailer of a game that honestly looks as if it is either still quite early on, or one that will almost assuredly disappoint, at least regarding its visual fidelity.  The title is set to release on PS4 and PC via Steam in 2019.

Moving over to Aksys, the publisher announced that they picked up Death Mark, a horror adventure game that centers around a group of characters who were inexplicably marked for death trying to discover the mystery behind their affliction while avoiding the monsters that haunt them throughout their journey.  The game is developed by Experience Inc (Stranger of Sword City and Demon Gaze), who have a mixed track record, but it will be interesting to see how this title fares when it comes out for PS4, Vita, and Switch during an unspecified release window..

The second title was also a horror game in the form of Ghost Parade, a side scrolling adventure game about a young girl who gets lost in a forest before befriending a number of ghosts who set her off on a quest to protect their home from the humans who seek to destroy it.  While I find that idea to be very charming, and found it interesting considering the title is coming from an Indonesian developer, I cannot say that I was too interested in the gameplay footage I saw, which looks rather underwhelming and has an paper doll animation style that I simply do not think looks particularly good.  Regardless, the game is due out for PS4, NSW, and PC in 2019.

Shifting over to Spike Chunsoft, they made two rather expected announcements.  First was the announcement of the localization of the 5pb. developed remake of the PC-98 classic visual novel YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love at the Bound of this World.  A science fiction title centering around a distraught young man travelling through a multitude of parallel worlds that supposedly delve into some interesting concepts and seemingly served as a cornerstone to the genre with its original release.  After playing through Steins;Gate, I am rather confident in the abilities of this developer, and being a fan of visual novels with more ambitious stories, this seems like it would be right up my alley, as it were.  YU-NO will release in 2019 for PS4 and PC, with a Switch release being likely due to how the Japanese version is coming to the platform.

Though the bigger announcement for me personally was the reveal of the next project from Kotaro Uchikoshi, best known for his work on Zero Escape, Punch Line, and the Infinity series.  This was revealed as AI: The Somnium Files, a detective adventure game set in a slightly futuristic Tokyo involving a series of bizarre murders and the traversal of memories, which the protagonist solves by entering the memories of people connected with these murders, and traversing these dreamlike landscapes for clues.  It is an appropriately weird sounding premise for me to be interested in this title, as if the pedigree was not enough. The game is due out in 2019 for PS4, NSW, and PC.

Also, if everybody can stop stomping their heels into the tormented anus of Zero Time Dilemma with a barrage of passive aggressive frustration whenever Kotaro Uchikoshi is brought up, that would be very appreciated.  Seriously, if you are going to be going into a tizzy like that, at least ask for something constructive. Like a re-release of Ever17.  That would be pretty neat.

That about covers it, or it would until I caught wind that somebody managed to take advantage of a data leak on Steam’s behalf, which resulted in the player count for over 13 thousand games to be leaked onto the internet, and accessible in a convenient spreadsheet.  Now, this is not a list of every game on the platform, only about half of them, but it is still very interesting and legitimate data that I honestly hope that Steam makes public for the betterment of both customers, developers, publishers, and analysts.  I mean, I doubt they will, but I can hope at the very least.

Also, I got curious and checked out the sales figures for some of the games I reviewed.  A lot of them were in line with what I expected, but other things jumped out at me. Such as how Remember, Remember, garnered just over 500 players or Xanadu Next only got ~8,000.  Getting super nerdy, I found it very odd that Cyberdimension Neptunia, the one Neptunia game that my PC refuses to run properly, saw ~80,000 players, Megadimension Neptunia VII has ~75,000, while MegaTagmension has ~50,000, Hyperdevotion Noire has ~42,000, and Superdimension Neptune only saw ~25,000.  

Oh, and speaking of Idea Factory and Compile Heart in what I swear is just a freak last minute coincidence, Idea Factory International recently announced that they are bringing Death end re;Quest to the west in early 2019, where it will launch for the PS4 before inevitably getting a PC port, one that hopefully works this time.  Along with this announcement came a trailer that broke down the game’s premise and mechanics. I honestly do not think it will be very good, but its general premise, some genre mixing elements, and a few interesting gimmicks, like summoning defeated bosses and some dual world elements, do leave me interested in this title.

 

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