Rundown (3/10-3/16) Crack the Mind into the Bowl!

This past week I’ve been wrapping up my review of Student Transfer V4.1, and in doing so I noticed just how much of this update deals with mental alterations and the chaotic events such changes can lead to.  This in turn caused me to realize that, despite never really seeking this sort of thing out, I am actually somewhat fascinated by the concept of information being added, removed, or replaced in one’s mind, and seeing the ensuing results.  While I have seen a fair share of media depicting identity death or mind breaks, a lot of ST’s more mental focused content has a tinge of uniqueness to it that honestly gets my creative juices flowing, and is something that I hope to eventually work into some of my future novels… which I really ought to get back to working on.  Oh life, why do you insist on keeping me so gosh danged busy?

NIS America held their now annualized showcase of upcoming games this past week, and brought with it new details on previously announced titles, but most notably some new game announcements.  However, I decided a while ago that I should lay off discussion of games I am apathetic towards unless I have a discernible point to make, as otherwise I am simply mentioning them for the same of mentioning them.  Which is a sentiment that can by in large be applied to most nearly everything presented in this showcase.

Though I was quite privy about one title that received a Japanese announcement last week, The Alliance Alive HD Remastered.  Yes, that late-era 3DS title from the people behind Legend of Legacy will be arriving to more systems.  However, from looking at what little footage was revealed, the game does not appear to have undergone a significant HD upgrade, and instead looks slightly worse than what somebody could manage with Cemu.  Though for those with less quibbles about this presentation, the game will debut sometime this fall for the expected trifecta of PS4, Switch, and PC.

On the subject of higher resolution ports, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was announced for PC via PC and Steam in a move that helps cement the idea that the Xbox One is more or less irrelevant to anybody with a decently powerful gaming PC.  Now, this is not really a pertinent announcement to me, as I am very much indifferent to this series, and my experience with it is limited to a single afternoon that I spent playing the beginning of the campaign of Halo: Reach, which I received a copy of as part of a promotion.  Yet, it is precisely because of how Reach is being handled that I chose to bring up this story.

Basically, the original release of The Master Chief Collection did not include Reach, and it is only being added in now, 4.5 years later.  On PC, the collection will be updated and released staggered throughout a length of time, and the first title to debut on the system will be Reach.  An approach that I assume was adopted to generate more headlines and keep people coming back. On Xbox One, the multiplayer of Reach is free, but the base game will be a separate transactions.  This is just one more example of the trend where spreadsheets are becoming mandatory to figuring out when games are coming out, and it’s a bit funny to me that what should be a mere port cannot even escape this cruel fate.  But hey, people like Halo, people like PC ports, and people like how Halo is coming back to PC.

On that note, people also have this slightly bizarre fascination with playing PC games on a TV screen, presumably due to a fondness for couch cushions, and a reluctance to shill out for Eurostyle bungee chairs (which I would strongly endorse).  While devices like the Steam Link have tried to satiate these desires, and the option of a dedicated living room PC does exist, Microsoft plans on appealing to this niche by allowing PC players to stream their PC directly to their Xbox Ones, and navigate things with a controller via the Wireless Display App.  It’s a minor feature, yet assuming the functionality is optimal (meaning it passes the fighting game latency test) it goes to make the Xbox a more feature rich platform, assuming Microsoft plans on carrying everything forward for their next generation of systems.

Moving over to something with absolutely no relationship to the prior story at all, Judgement, the latest game from Sega’s Yakuza team, has recently had its sales halted and promotional tweets deleted following the arrest of Pierre Taki, whose likeness and voice were used for a central character within this extravagant crime drama action game.  The reason behind this arrest comes from an alleged use of cocaine, an acquisition that is considered fairly minor in most western countries.  But Japan, and many other Asian countries for that matter, take the subject of illegal drug use very seriously, and it is considered a common practice for people accused of using these substances to have their names shunned and careers concluded.  

Sega is currently in discussions about how to proceed from here, but they encountered a similar situation when remastering Yakuza 4, where they simply chose to recast a character, replacing their likeness and voice with that of another actor.  This most likely will be the case for Judgement, and due to the circumstances at play here, will likely result in the game’s western release being delayed while the developers take the steps needed to rework the game before eventually releasing it in the west, and re-releasing it in Japan.  I mean, they put so much time and money into the localization that I doubt they are just going to just not release it.

That all being said, I would like to highlight how… extreme this entire situation is.  I can understand the differing cultural priorities here, but no matter how many times I go over this story in my head, it just seems like a genuinely baffling and bizarre more.  While I personally do not think that a product or project should be looked upon negatively for having involved somebody who allegedly did some very nasty things, I do understand why some people would be uncomfortable with it, and why companies would want to perform damage control to avoid negative association.  If the game was not released in Japan yet and simply delayed, it would make perfect sense to me. But recalling it just seems like an outlandish move when they could have simply announced measures to address this situation. Like Square Enix have with Kingdom Hearts III.

Hyper Light Drifter was a much anticipated and much beloved title back when it released in 2016, and while I really was not a fan of it for various reasons, I still respect the title and admit it did some nifty things.  I bring this up because the developer of the game, Heart Machine, have announced their next project, Solar Ash Kingdom via a brief in-engine trailer that exists mostly to show off the game’s environments, which are unsurprisingly reminiscent to the neon hued world of Hyper Light Drifter.  While I certainly have hopes for this game, as its developers have proven themselves to be competent in numerous regards, there’s not a whole lot to say about this game other than how it will seemingly debut on the Epic Games Store, and presumably stay there for a year.  Which conveniently brings us to the next story!

So, some savvy technically included sleuths have done some digging and discovered that the Epic Games Launcher reads and collects users’ Steam information.  This is an undisclosed example of information gathering, and is the sort of thing that can get companies in big trouble nowadays, but Epic did this nevertheless, and people, myself included, are not happy.  While I admittedly do not care too deeply about certain details at play here, the principle nevertheless irritates me, and I have openly given up on using this platform until Epic shapes up. Yes, those free games are tempting, but I’m not going to subject myself to this kind of rubbish.  And to think, 3 months ago there were articles on how Epic will revolutionize the market for the better. Ha!

Meanwhile Valve have been preparing upgrades to Steam Link in order to allow people to stream their games from their PC to any device, has made significant improvements in latency by improving the Steam network around the world, and is working on a system to monitor user reviews that involves genuine human action.  Sure, their store is still a cluttered mess that allowed a rape-centered visual novel on it, but they were not brushing up against digital rights violations… I think.

Header image comes from the doujin comic Zodiac Beast Ranger Tiger Red ~A Path of Justice, Warped and Corrupted~ by Kouji.

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