On Monday November 18th I am turning 25, an event that may warrant celebration for some, but I am very much not a festive person, preferring to avoid the stress of parties, obligations of gifts, or really any social traditions like giving or receiving cards. Hell, I don’t even like acknowledging holidays most of the time, and I make it a point to not inform people of my birthday lest I be subjected to the trite conversations that come with making that knowledge public.
I suppose that the celebration of my birth, and meeting a landmark date such as this, does give me an opportunity to reflect on my life, which has been going pretty swell thus far all things considered. Plenty of savings with no debt, a promising future career, and no pressing health issues are all things to be thankful for, yet I generally do not approve of that line of thinking, as one’s life could almost always be worse than what it currently is.
Vapid musings aside, let’s kick things off this week with a follow up to a story dating back to May or this year, when Universal revealed their attempted film adaptation of Sonic The Hedgehog, and it was one of the most universally mocked things I have seen in my life. People made a meme of it all, the studio making the film suddenly began to regret the design they approved and mandated, and the whole affair was subsequently delayed so the visual effects team could basically redo everything about the title character of this film. And what they came up with is… actually pretty good. It is not a direct adaptation of Sonic’s design over the past decade, they made sure to split his eyes into two distinct entities and gave him blue arms, but it is at least immediately recognizable as Sonic, unlike the deformed buff rodent man that we were graced with six months ago.
However, and this is just because my brain had 6 months to stew over the movie design, I feel that by introducing this better design, the film became far less interesting than it was shaping up to be. Based on the first trailer, the film looked like a marvelous trainwreck. Now the film looks middling at best, like it will be a bad movie, but not bad enough to warrant genuine infamy. However, I could always be wrong, and the final product could be anywhere along the quality spectrum, and we’ll just need to wait and see where when the movie debuts on February 14, 2020.
Moseying on over to straight gaming news, Microsoft held their semi-regular X0 conference with X019 this past week, which was home to an information blowout that I parsed through after the fact, because I really didn’t expect this event to see any significant announcements, and they announced three Xbox Game Studios published titles. Everwild was revealed as the latest title from Rare, and was introduced to the world with a trailer that offered a glimpse into a beautiful stylized forest with creatures who are like normal animals, but with different colors or features, and a group of humanoids trying to form a connection with these creatures. I like what the team is doing here artistically, but… I have no idea what to expect from this game as no genre was mentioned and no gameplay was shown. Which is never a particularly good sign in my book. Buy hey, I guess it’s just too early to show anything of that sort.
Grounded is thankfully more direct with what it is, being a multiplayer first person survival game by Obsidian Entertainment where the core gimmick is that the player characters are a bunch of kids traversing throughout a suburban backyard filled with assorted rubbish strewn about, and assorted insects to fend off. I have a soft spot for the idea of exploring a fairly small world from the perspective of a small character, it’s part of the reason why I loved the first two Chibi-Robo games so dang much, but I doubt I would find much to rave about with Grounded, both due to its genre, and an art style that I just find a bit off-putting. Yet I’m sure that the game will find an audience of some scale when an early version of the title launches in spring of 2020
Tell Me Why thankfully seems to be more my speed, being a collaboration between Xbox Game Studios and Dontnod, the developer of Life is Strange, who unsurprisingly whipped up a game that could easily be accepted as another entry in that series based on its general premise. The title centers around two twins, one male and one female, visiting their small-town Alaskan home in order to help piece together the memories of their troubled yet loving childhood by recounting each other’s experiences, and likely encountering some magical oddities of unexplained origins, because that’s kind of Dontnod’s thing.
All of which sounds very promising, but they also very openly dropped that the brother character, Tyler, is a transgender man. A tidbit of news that presumably perked up a lot of irked Life is Strange fans who were disappointed by the second installment and how it did not incorporate many of the themes and concepts they liked so much about the original game, namely the closed setting, a female lead character, and the general queerness. Tell Me Why will be distributed as 3 episodes, all of which will be released sometime in the summer of 2020, exclusively on Xbox One and Windows 10.
With the release of Google Stadia just days away, it’s launch lineup being incredibly underwhelming, and many key features missing at launch, they incidentally have left the door open for someone to one-up them at this streaming gaming thing, and Microsoft took this opportunity to build upon their ongoing Preview event for their own streaming service, xCloud. These include announcements that applicants will be granted access to over 50 titles via their mobile devices, that people will be able to play games using more bluetooth controllers in 2020, including the DualShock 4, and that the entire Xbox Game Pass library will be available through the service as it heads towards its proper launch sometime next year.
Speaking of which, Microsoft has continued to expand and develop Game Pass into something incredible over the past year, offering a great deal of value that is seemingly only growing with time. Which is nothing new, and I personally would be all over Game Pass for PC if the Windows Store worked with my PC (I’ll try again when I build a new one), but they are now seemingly addressing a commonly addressed deficiencies with the service, a lack of Japanese games. So to remedy this, Yakuza 0, Kiwami, and Kiwami 2 will be ported to Xbox One in early 2020 and arrive on Game Pass on launch. Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, X/X-2, XII, XIII, XIII-2, XIII-3, and XV are all coming to the service immediately. While the Kingdom Hearts HD compilations will be arriving on Xbox One sometime next year, and presumably will come to Game Pass at some time.
Overall, the Xbox division is continuing to make great strides, and is looking to be in a rather excellent place for the beginning of the next generation. All by catering to player’s desires, refining their brand, making wise investments into more studios, and generally appointing people who actually know what they are doing, unlike the chodes who handled the disastrous reveal of the Xbox One back in 2013.
That’s all for this week, as I most certainly do not want to discuss the excruciatingly embarrassing exploits of the Pokémon community, and the amount of doo-doo that has been dripping from their mouths. I’ve talked about the games enough these past few weeks, have a 10,000 word Ramble all about Pokémon ready to go up later this month, and already Rambled about these fanatics back in July. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play Pokémon Shield, as I’d rather get my review out sooner than later.
Oh, and my latest novel, Psycho Shatter 1985: Black Vice Re;Birth, will be released on Monday, and I’ll be posting a chapter onto Nigma Box every Tuesday and Friday for the remainder of 2019. If you could check out this thing I put hundreds of hours into, I’d appreciate it. But until then, seeya.