Rundown (6/11) E3 2019: Hyper Bursting!

Woo!  E3 is mostly over, and the hype has undoubtedly causes every audience member to burst with powerhouse excitement, and things may have gotten more than a little messy in the process.  Anyways, the main conferences are done, the actual E3 event, where people try to get work done in a loud, crowded, and smelly convention center, is underway, and the only press conferences of the day was Nintendo’s.  So let’s cut all pretense and jump right into the gooey center of the E3 Claire eclair.

Oh Nintendo, dearest sweetest, hardiest, and most succulent Nintendo, the dearest fruit of them all, and the plumpest of all the— I should probably stop there.  Nintendo’s past year has been something of a disappointment to some, their lack of a Virtual Console is frustrating, but they are still the hype god-masters of the industry, mostly on account of their IP and consistent high quality.  Personally, I have been enjoying my Switch quite a bit and am interested in hearing about what new hotness is coming out for the doodad, even though I’ve only blasted a total of 5 games on the blasted thing. Which I hope to remedy soon, but seeing as how I’m just now going through Breath of the Wild, it’ll be a hot minute before I get to anything they showed here.

Starting with Smash, because what better place is there to start, the numerous leakers and data miners were proven correct as The Hero from Dragon Quest was announced as a fighter.  Yes, a multitude of renditions of the beloved blank slate protagonist are coming to the game, specifically the variants from III, IV, VIII, and XI, with the rest being relegated to a Final Smash.  As to be expected, the character moveset seems to be rife with creative applications, namely a magic menu that allows The Hero to freely use a number of iconic spells from the series in addition to their usual sword and shield strikes, amounting to a somewhat familiar yet nevertheless distinct character that I’m sure will be fun to play around with.  

However, I cannot help but voice a muffled grievance at how it appears that only the male variants of this character are being included here, when Smash Bros. has been very good at equal representation with these things in the past.  I mean, Robin, Corrin, Inkling, Pokemon Trainer, Wii Fit Trainer, and Villager all have variations like this, so not The Hero from Dragon Quest?  I mean, how can you not look at this design and think, yeah, that should be an alt.  But I guess I’ll just stew in my upset leading up to this character’s release this summer.

Oh, but they are not the only third party newcomer as, following a delightful follow-up to the King K. Rool reveal trailer, Banjo & Kazooie are coming to smash it up with the best of them, boasting an updated take on their classic design and a moveset overflowing with fanservice and references to moves learned in the first two games.  As a fan of the original two titles, or at least their HD counterparts, I am quite pleased to see the duo be given such blatant tender love and care from the Smash development team, and honestly hope that this decision leads to something a bit… more, in the future.  I mean, they announced Super Lucky’s Tale for Switch later on in this presentation, so maybe Banjo Kazooie and Tooie could be ported as well?  Anyways, Banjo and his b-word of a bird will debut sometime this fall.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 was given another more detailed showing, explaining the lose storyline, revealing that Luigi can now slam ghosts to the floor like it’s nobody’s business, and that the game will involve a dual protagonist gimmick in the form of Luigi’s goo clone, in addition to a series of 8 player co-op missions.  Resulting in a game that looks to be more designed in-line with the GameCube original over the more pessimistically received 3DS successor, while interjecting a bit of Pikmin 2 into the affair with its dual protagonists.  But the thirsty fans of this subseries will assuredly blabber about how it does not appeal to their hyper specific sensibilities when it launches later this year.  

Speaking of mid 90s overhead action games with RPG elements, Link’s Awakening was shown off once more, offering a slightly better look at the toy-like reimagining of the GameBoy classic that seems to adhere to the original very closely while modernizing things in the right way.  Thank goodness they removed that “equip your power bracelet” message. But this version also contains a new feature in the form of chamber dungeons, miniature dungeons made using connectable rooms unlocked throughout the game.  A move that extends the overall playtime of the title while providing the player with a few extra items. It’s a nifty idea that has been around since the first Zelda game, so it is nice to see it be reprised here.  Though I am a bit irked that this mode lacks any online connectivity or dedicated creation tools.  Regardless, the game looks great, and will be available to the world on September 20, 2019.

The much beloved Japanese exclusive Seiken Densetsu 3 is set to receive a remake much like the period two games in the series, being retitled Trials of Mana, due out on PS4, Switch and PC in early 2020.  While I have not heard great things about the recent string of Mana remakes, this iteration looks to be something of an advancement, revising the camera placement and some of the gameplay mechanics to forge a more dynamic looking action RPG that lacks the same low budget look of Secret of Mana or even Adventures of Mana, which never did leave mobile and Vita now did it?  But those who want the raw and original deal can get just that in the recently localized Collection of Mana, available right now for the Nintendo Switch.  Well, the western eShop that is. This came out in Japan in 2017.

Following the somewhat tepid release of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, which is still coming out for PC and PS4 in the foreseeable future, it was announced that No More Heroes III, the game people actually wanted, is in development and will be released in 2020.  Few details were provided beyond a sequence where Travis Touchdown can now henshin into a Masked Metal Hero and is just as crass and self-aware as ever, but whatever gameplay was shown appeared to be simulated, as, well, development likely just started a few months ago.  Hope that the hype train is given oodles of coal with a re-release of the first two games of some sort, but with Grasshopper being a very small studio nowadays, who knows how plausible that dream is.

Shifting over to something absolutely unprecedented, Konami announced a new game!  Oh, but what franchise are they reviving this time? Well, it is none other than Contra, which marks its glorious return with… a very crass, irreverent, and western looking overhead 3D twin stick shooter that… I doubt anybody specifically wanted.  The title is apparently is being developed by Konami internally after they gathered up a scattering of former Contra developers to work on this bold reimagining of the series that… actually does not look that bad when examining the game broadly, but is not the Contra 5 that diehard Contra fans (whatever those are) likely desired.  Contra: Rogue Corps is set to release on September 24 for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.  

The formerly announced Panzer Dragoon remake, simply entitled Panzer Dragoon, was given its first debut trailer, and… it looks really good.  The dragon-based rail shooter has been given a positively gorgeous new coat of paint that naturally heavily reimagines certain elements of a rough looking Saturn game, but the beautiful locales and intuitive action gameplay both look more than sufficient assuming the developers adhere to the original game design, and allow this *insert praise and reverence here* title to be made readily available to a new generation, since Saturn emulation is still a load of rotten horse apples.  The title will be available this winter for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was given its first detailed look, and it continues to be a detailed love letter to both series built around one of the most absurd yet grounded concepts imaginable, which just results in a final product that I find kind of funny.  This is a game where a scattering of world famous cartoon characters can surf, skate, ride horses, do karate, box, do the 100 meter dash with a blatant disregard for physics or continuity, and play a variety of other popular events in a mini-game sports game hybrid package that actually seems pretty fun if you are into that… and assuming that Dream Events return.  The game will serve as one of Nintendo’s holiday titles, and is poised for a launch this November.

People have been going utterly crazy about the lack of Animal Crossing news over the past few months, and in order to shut these people up, Nintendo gave a detailed run through this latest iteration, dubbed Animal Crossing: New Horizons.  A sort of evolution of the series that shifts the setting to a non-tropical island that serves as the player’s designated town, a self contained community managed by real estate shrew Tom Nook, who has expanded his operations by forging condensed micronations where they own everything, and trap people on there with no other source of income or goods beyond those he provides for them.  But it’s cool because he gives you a house, a smartphone, and sells you a proprietary currency in exchange for pillaged resources.

Jokes aside, the title does take a more involved stance to town building, crafting, resource collecting, and general control.  As far as I can tell, players can freely revise, move, and manage most things on the island as they like, rearranging trees, pathways, and place furniture out in the open, while also developing things from a temporary tent home to a proper permanent settlement.  It could lead to each island feel more catered to each person, and the general game loop has undergone a notable change with the introduction of small activity based rewards in the form of Nook Miles, which function as a secondary currency. Actually, a lot of the game does strike me as feeling more like a premium mobile game, and while that idea may make some people cringe, it does make a lot of sense given the casual and grindy flow of Animal Crossing, which is often implemented in a lot of the more successful mobile offerings.  

I am still a bit concerned about some minor details, such as the fact that harvestable resources take up one of the few limited inventory slots, but this is also an Animal Crossing game that supports couch co-op, so I guess everybody’s qualms or worries can just be thrown in the garbage because that, that right there, seems like an innovation that will cause this game to become a 10 million unit seller or something like that.  But I suppose the sales numbers will have to wait to be tallied until the end of the fiscal year, as Animal Crossing: New Horizons launches on March 20, 2020.  

While that was big news, it was not the megaton that Nintendo chose to end this Direct on… nor was the announcement of Banjo in Smash.  Instead they concluded things by revealing the existence of a sequel to one of their highest selling games of the past decade, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  A game revealed with an eerie sequel depicting Link and Zelda as they travel throughout the recesses of a mysterious tomb, uncovering the remnants of a long forgotten force (possibly Demise) and releasing it upon the world, calling the duo to action once again.  I think anyways. Now, my thoughts on BOTW are… complicated, and I will detail them in about a month, but hearing that there is a narrative successor to this game does manage to get me both excited, and fills me with the motivation needed to try and see this title through to the end.  No additional details were provided, but everybody is naturally hyped as all hell.

Oh, and immediately after that a 30 minute gameplay walkthrough was provided for Pokemon Sword and Shield, delving into the minutia centered around this entry in the series, with the end result being impressive in every way imaginable… other than three persistent quibbles I will not give up.  Namely how type advantages are no longer as clearly conveyed to the player, the lengthy transition before each battle, and the worry that Pokemon movesets will not be easily customizable, as that seems more important now than ever before.  But what was shown, and what has me excited, was a Wild Area, a large and contained environment that serves as an online hub where players can seemingly seamlessly run into each other, while also being able to uncover a wide array of Pokemon throughout a very segmented environment that, not dissimilar from a Xenoblade game, contains a wide spectrum of Pokemon of various levels, meaning that you can go from fighting a level 7 Wingull to getting creamed by level 26 Machoke.  

It all seems a lot freer and more in line with what I heard people whine about amongst the community, offering players a more freeform experience with integrated online functionality and also regular opportunities to engage in raid battles, which really do come off as imposing bosses given their massive HP bars, hearty barrier-backed defenses, and ability to deal multiple moves in a given turn.  I like a lot of what was shown, including the emphasis on weather effects, and feel that the ability to run into higher level Pokemon so easily will cause some people to enjoy the game far more than they would otherwise. But then things ended with the announcement that only Pokemon from the Galar Pokedex would be transferable to Sword and Shield, which is very… what?  

You mean to tell me that some Pokemon will simply not be available in this game?  That kind of defeats the whole purpose of forwards compatibility in this series and, well, is generally very foolish.  I get that supporting so many characters is hard, and these games are becoming more daunting to develop, but if you’re trying to tell Billy that he can’t play a Pokemon game without Manectric in it, then maybe you should reconsider your priorities.  Though so long as I get Metagross, Hydergion, and Haunter, I’m probably not going to be too bothered by this omission.  Also, two new Pokemon were found in the E3 demo, and electric corgy and dark-fairy wacky imp.  Not much to say other than they’re pretty cute.

There were also some ports announced, including The Witcher: Wild Hunt, Super Lucky’s Tale, Alien Isolation, and Spyro Reignited Trilogy.  While new trailers were shown for Astral Chain, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Daemon X Machina, all of which continue to look great, and will make for a lively third quarter.  Yet as a whole and taking everything as one cohesive whole… this was a great showing, made me really hyped and happy, and offered a nice look at the rest of the year for the Switch, while showing a few impactful surprises.  Where the others falter, Nintendo delivers a jam packed showing that left me reeling with emotions and wanting for little more beyond the Metroid Prime Trilogy.  Seriously, when can I buy that from you for $60?

Moving onto the other tidbits of news, following a bizarre omission from the Xbox briefing, maybe they didn’t want to have a dedicated Bandai Namco section, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered was announced for PS4 and PC, and the original version of the game will also be coming to Switch.  This is not too surprising given how this 2013 was relegated to the prior generation due to a lack of backwards compatibility, and Bandai Namco likely put a whole lot of money into it, so why not sell it again, and make it forward compatible to provide them with a nice bit of extra revenue as the years go by.  The game still looks like a magical Studio Ghibli infused adventure, and I’m actually quite keen on checking it out sometime after its September 20th release date. I mean, I’ve been waiting for a PC release since the Level-5 CEO teased a port back in 2017.  

2064: Read Only Memories was a title I really wanted to like but just… didn’t.  The world, story, and characters simply did not gel with me, I found most of the adventure game mechanics and very presence of choice to be more irksome than anything else, and felt that the presentation was pretty reserved for a game that shelled out to have full voice acting.  But it was a success and the developers have been working on a sequel entitled Read Only Memories: Neurodiver, a somewhat disconnected sequel that casts the player in the role of a powerful telepath/esper by the name of ES88 as they hunt through people’s memories, repairing, deleting, and changing them while hunting for the eccentric mind-terrorist known as the Golden Butterfly.  

The premise, presentational upgrades, and general composition of the trailer are all enough to get me to immediately jump on board on their own, but… I really did not care for the first game, and I have doubts that this game, with its veniere of moral ambiguity when there is obviously going to be a designated “best ending,” would be something I would particularly enjoy.  But I guess I’ll make my final decision after the title launches for PC in 2020 and I am able to take in the residual buzz about it.

That covers it for today, but hopefully some obscure hotness will rise from the ashes, so I actually have something to talk about this Sunday.

Header Image comes from Silicon Magic ~Umareru Mae Kara Anata Sen’you?!~

…Also, the introductory paragraph of this post reminded me that I never showed the world this delightful image I paid ONATaRT to make for me, based on Final Fantasy XIII’s Eclair “Claire” Farron.  Also known as Lightning. Enjoy!

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