Rundown (1/20-1/26) The Next Level In Graphical Technology

As someone who did not grow up with CRT displays, or at least they were phased out so early in my life that I genuinely cannot remember gaming on them, I developed a fondness for older games being emulated as sharply as they could be.  Or in other words, I like older games to have big, chunky, and clean pixels or smooth blocky anti-aliased polygons, all projected in HD resolutions (without stretching). However, one of the problems with up-resing 3D games like this is the fact that most textures are very low resolutions, and remaking textures is a very intensive process.  Yet just this past week I discovered of what could easily be described as witchcraft, as it is an AI neural network that can be used to recreate and remaster video game textures.  

For a while I have been big into how emulation can make older games look absolutely amazing if the tools are developed enough, and now this is an easily accessible tool that can turn muddy busted looking PS1 background textures and turn them into what is either a vastly more detailed image, or something resembling concept art!  It is immensely impressive, but I think this may also start a president where older 3D games now need to be presented with new textures rather than the blurry meshes that adorned their original releases.  Either that, or the textures could just be left as is, unfiltered, which I actually think looks pretty good most of the time.

So, last week I mentioned how the major downside of any form of digital distribution is how easy it is to simply press a few buttons and remove content.  Whether it be articles, images, videos, or games. While I ultimately understand games being delisted due to licensing reasons, the closure of dedicated gaming storefront will forever remain a sore spot for me, as even if I realistically was never going to buy any more PSP Minis, WiiWare titles, or Xbox Live Indie Games, they deserve to be preserved in some form.  Which is exactly what someone is doing, well, kinda.

Indie Gamer Chick recently announced that they will be compiling a collection of the very best Xbox Live Indie Games to be released on the Switch, PS4, and Xbox One in late 2019 or early 2020.  While no exact games were mentioned, this is intended to be a love letter to the forgotten storefront that was rife with both garbage and some genuine gems from small developers before the digital floodgates truly opened  Though part of me is a bit irked that Xbox Live Indie Games are not being preserved in a more definitive manner, this is far better than the future I assumed for these titles, and I am genuinely excited to see how this collection will shape up.

I was also looking forward to the PC release of Punch Line, but then publisher PQube just stopped talking about it, and, well, nobody raised any questions after it launched with just the PS4 and Vita versions last year.  But then they slyly put up a Steam page for the game, as I guess the project was just delayed.  I bring this up mostly for historical purposes, as this is just a very odd way of handling any kind of game launch, and represents a lack of communication with one’s audience that I find to be just… bizarre.  Regardless, I am still going to be giving this game a fair shake eventually given how it was written by Kotaro Uchikoshi of Zero Escape fame, and I thought the anime adaptation that came out a few years back was pretty good.

But that all is small potatoes next to the news that Metroid Prime 4 has restarted development at Retro Studios.  Yes, Nintendo very directly announced that Metroid Prime 4 was not shaping up to the pedigree they desire and believe is necessary to continue the Metroid Prime series.  It was a bizarrely personal message from the game’s producer, Shinya Takahashi, that struck many off guard given how nothing had been shown of the title since its announcement at E3 2017, and Nintendo never even formally announced its developer.

As to be expected, more information unsurfaced after the story broke, with a few people commenting on the development of the game.  According to Game Informer Senior Editor Imran Khan, the project was being developed by different studios all over the globe, and progress was not going smoothly, leading to development being restarted, and Retro Studios was handed the project after having prepared a demo that Nintendo liked.  While this is a bit unfortunate, this is a far better outcome than Metroid Prime 4 coming out as a compromised or clunky project, even if it is probably a good 3 years away.  Now I just hope that the already completed Switch version of Metroid Prime Trilogy is not significantly delayed because of this, as I really want to revisit that series sooner than later.  Oh, and Khan also claimed that another Metroid game is in development, so that’s good to know.

Durante, the wacky space wizard known for making Dark Souls work on PC, fixing Little King’s Story on PC, and so forth, has proven himself to be the guy when it comes to PC ports of games, and now he has announced his very own studio meant to help companies, namely publishers of niche Japanese games, develop their own PC ports, citing his work on the Trails of Cold Steel titles and Rez Infinite as major references.  This new studio, PH3 Games, will hopefully be receiving an influx of work from studios looking to reap the benefits of a PC release. Not only is a quality port more or less guaranteed, but it could even serve as some form of promotion given how revered Durante is among PC gaming enthusiasts.

Anything else?  Well, I probably should talk about the HBomberguy stream that involved him enduring his way to 101% completion in Donkey Kong 64 for a charity that helps transgender children, ultimately raising over $300,000.  While I really was not aware of the livestream as it happened (I was focusing on homework and housework at the time), it is still an incredibly pleasant thing to see that speaks highly of the gaming community as a whole for banning together for a positive cause that I have some obvious affiliation with.

That’s all for this week.  Next week I will not be reviewing a game, but will instead start what may go on to be a new segment on this site and will finally release my fourth novel, The Saga of Vincent Dawn on January 31st!  Until then, seeya!

Header image is an enhanced screenshot from Kirby’s Epic Yarn provided by ResetEra user Why Would You Do That?

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