Rundown (9/08-9/14) I Stan My Stand

In my reviews of The World Ends With You Final Remix and Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee I mentioned the difficulties I encountered when trying to play both these titles in handheld mode, and how I sought to remedy this through the use of the Nintendo 3DS Stand that came bundled with Kid Icarus Uprising.  It was something I was quite happy with, and cut forward about a year I am still using this stand regularly.  Yet rather than playing oodles of Switch games, I’m instead using it to prop up my smartphone so that I can play games without needing to hold something for extended periods of time.  Part of me feels that this is antithetical to the very idea of handhelds, since I am not holding them with my hands. Another part of me recognizes that I am enjoying games more by playing them my special way, so I’m going to keep doing that.  

This week was home to Tokyo Game Show, an event that was once the home for major news and announcements, yet has since become something of a paltry event wherein new details are revealed, rather than new titles.  A move that is probably done to warrant more attention and curb leaks, but nevertheless makes the event lack the pomp and energy that have come to define E3 and Nintendo Directs. I mean, even when everything leaks from those a few hours before the streams start, there is still some palpable excitement in the air.  

Prior to TGS, Capcom revealed hazy details about a new Resident Evil title dubbed Project Resistance, and they naturally revealed a number of details once the show kicked off.  The title is a four versus one asymmetrical multiplayer shooter that tasks four players to survive and escape through assorted areas and challenges, using the pre-determined team’s synergy and unique abilities to achieve victory against the fifth player, who controls the Mastermind.  Basically a character who places traps, views happenings from security cameras, summons or even controls zombies, and generally tries to impede player progress as best as they can.  

All of which sounds interesting mechanically, though I have to question to appeal inherent to making things hard or annoying for other players, who likely just want to engage with the progression systems and goof off with their buddies.  Whether or not this title falls in line with previous Resident Evil multiplayer shooter spin-offs like Operation Racoon City and Umbrella Corps has yet to be seen, but will likely be indicated by the closed beta release next month.  However, a guess could be hazarded based on the developer assigned to this project, which is a company by the name of NeoBards Entertainment.  A Taiwanese studio established in 2017 from a number of globally sourced industry veterans that has previously worked on a number of ports for Capcom and, likely as part of a beneficial multi-game deal leading up to them working on a fully fledged Resident Evil title.  Or in other words, it’s anybody’s guess how good or bad things could get.

Speaking of previously teased reveals, last week Nintendo followed up their Nintendo Direct by releasing a very Wii-like advert showing a person playing around with a hoop apparatus and exercising while playing a Switch game.  A Switch game that was revealed as Ring Fit Adventures, a fitness adventure RPG that requires the use of a leg strap, a flexible plastic hoop, and two Joy-Cons in order to go through a variety of stretching, aerobics, and strength building activities.  All of which are built around a narrative about some humanoid creature with a head that emits flames battling against a buff dragon man and their assorted cohorts in an RPG that requires players to run in place, perform motions accurately, and generally exercise through what seems like a fairly simple JRPG affair, but with a distinctive art style and a gameplay gimmick that has players do something active.

It’s a bit surprising to be honest, as I initially pegged this as a return of sorts to Wii Fit, and instead it seems to be targeting a subset of Nintendo fans in order to make the act of exercising more enticing.  Which is certainly a commendable goal, but… I have doubts that many people will stick with this game for very long, and that even less will remember it about a year later.  Kind of like the Labo Peripherals, where people had fun putting them together and then shoved them in a bin somewhere. These are fun, neat, and Nintendo-y concepts that unfortunately seem to lack much longevity… at least as far as I can tell anyways.  Oh, and Ring Fit Adventure is coming out on October 18th where it will retail for $80, so… yeah, I don’t see this doing very well at all.

Japense developer and publisher Level-5 is in something of a rough patch at the moment from what I have casually gathered.  Their latest multimedia project, Snack World, launched successfully in Japan and will be launching in the west sometime next year, while the Ni No Kuni film was a box office bomb, and their once reliable cash cow, Yo-Kai Watch, has seemingly been slipping with regards to sales.  This was evidenced in the sales of Yo-kai Watch 4, which underperformed from what I heard.  With all this in mind, their decision to remaster the first Ni No Kuni and Yo-kai Watch are rather sensible, as is their decision to bring Yo-kai Watch 4 to PS4.  A curious move considering how this series was so strongly associated with Nintendo, but hopefully this works out well for them, and puts this game in a better position to succeed in the west whenever it’s finally localized.  Because if positive import previews are to be believed, this game could be quite successful, especially considering how much salt is in the air over Pokemon Sword and Shield.

That covers the traditional news, but Kotaku and Jason Schrier recently put out an article detailing a number of unsavory details about Nicalis, a small publisher best known for putting out titles like The Binding of Isaac and Cave Story.  However, just about every negative thing levied towards the company directs back to its owner, Tyrone Rodriguez.  Naturally, I encourage you, my dear readers, check out the article for yourself and make your own impressions of these claims and the company as a whole… so I’m not even going to really bother with a summary and will just jump right into my thoughts on this enlightening little article.  

Niacalis is a company led by an individual who holds power with no constraints and quickly managed to rapidly accumulate enough clout to drawn in incredibly talented people.  Clout that was abused by the company’s owner who placed unreasonable demands on employees, pressured them into unfavorable social situations, and accumulated far too many deals and projects for a publisher of this scale to work on at once.  Thereby causing a number of projects to be put to the side in favor of more profitable endeavors, costing their would-be partners precious time and resources. Oh, and because Rodriguez answers to no one and sees little reason in restraining himself or adapting to modern cultural standards, spewing off a number of racially charged ‘jokes’ while speaking to employees.  Because that’s what you want to see from a company well known for localization work… and a company in the early 21st century.

Over the years I have heard second hand recollections and assorted unsavory murmurs about Nicalis, such as unreasonable project delays and some “issues” regarding the rights to Cave Story, so I cannot say that this is that much of a surprise.  However, it is an unpleasant situation nevertheless, and I am left not with a burning desire to, say, cease purchasing or enjoying any of the games Nicalis released over the years, and am instead hoping that three productive things happen after this information spreads around.  

The removal of Tyrone Rodriguez from any position of power, as he has abused it in the past.  The end of all future business dealings with Nicalis, thus causing the company to declare bankruptcy.  And the liquidation of their intellectual property, hopefully returning the rights to the original creators, or at least a more agreeable publisher.  Normally requesting closures is a faux pas, but the poor working conditions, talent possessed by the employees, and small scale of the operation leaves me convinced that this would be for the best in the long run.

That’s it for this week, and I hope you enjoyed this nice look at my poorly applied Switch screen protector, $20 keyboard, 20+ year old desk, and the audio extension cable for my headphones.  Until next time, seeya.

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