Wherein I discuss my quest for dope Dutch beatz, the worrisome MENA acquisitions, the posthumous return of Gattz and the Griff, the return of a leaked remaster, Nintendo’s next disaster, rudimentary game compilations, a ‘bad’ game getting re-re-mastered, and the diet E3 alternative that’s sweeping the nation of Earth!
I am by no means a musical aficionado, but I enjoy a fair bit of music and am happy to add new stuff to my musical library. Normally, this should be a fairly straightforward process. I Google the thing I want, and it provides me with either a store page where I can purchase the album/soundtrack, or a download link. But something that I routinely run into when searching for more obscure stuff is simply finding it.
This recently happened when I decided I should try bimpin’ some Valensia while enjoying my Saturday Morning Funnies (TSF hentai comics). But I couldn’t find a non-shady way to buy the artist’s early work. Yes, Apple Music has some stuff post-2000, but when an artist numbers their work, you are supposed to start at the beginning. And while he has an official website, I did not see any store where I could buy his work. So I had to dig through some obscure Russian and Indian websites to find 50 kb/s download links.
I wanna give you money so I can listen to your work, ya Queensome codger, so why you gotta be like this? I ran into a similar issue with Fantastic Plastic Machine’s earlier work, as I could not find anything from the 90s on official channels. I think I had to rely on a YouTube to MP3 export for The Fantastic Plastic Machine (1997) for cripes sake…
This sort of anti-preservationist garbage is why I utterly loathe the influx of DRM-based solutions for file-based media, such as e-books. Because the people who are in charge of selling and preserving these things do such a crap job of it, and the only way I can access these works is through piracy. I don’t even want to pirate this stuff, as I can afford to dump $50 on music every month.
In all fairness, Valensia does have a lot of YouTube music videos. But I don’t want music videos. Music videos piss in the face of imagination and are limited by reality. Also, I tend to treat YouTube to MP3 exports as a last resort.
…Anyway, because I couldn’t find some dank Valensia MP3s in time, I just listened to Music for TV Dinners: The 60s while reading the latest batch of comics, looking for something remarkable. I didn’t find anything that I’m fixing to plug… though I did flip through a lolicon lesbian comic, Hyoui Osen de Yuri Ecchi (Yuri Sex by Contaminating Possession: I’m Going to Rape You Until You’re Dripping Wet) by Hairu Nukemichi, which featured an outfit that I intend to plagiarize… repeatedly. It looks good on both lolis and busty onee-chans!
…Also, the Gaia by Valensia download I got was for a single-track FLAC file that I still need to convert into something more efficient. I thought Audacity would do the trick, but it doesn’t compress files well. File issues aside, Gaia was AWESOME! It is everything I loved about Queen when I got into them a decade ago, but more Dutch!
Any acquisition news? …Yes, and not the kind I am really politically versed enough to discuss. Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has been investing into other industries to make the country less reliant on oil. And crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has been particularly interested in video games, having bought the overwhelming majority of SNK back in April of this year. A story that I somehow missed. This was in addition to a $3 billion investment in Activision Blizzard in 2020. More than $1 billion in Capcom and Nexon. A 5% stake in Nintendo. And probably more, less high profile, investments.
Now… I feel that it is about time for me to restate my views on acquisitions. I don’t really mind acquisitions that do not give a party significant influence over another company. With my accountant definition for significant influence being 20% ownership. From what I can tell, the crown prince and Saudi Arabia do not own more than that in any company… except for SNK, who they own 96% of, so every dollar you give to SNK, you’re basically giving that to Saudi Arabia. Meaning that if you dislike Saudi Arabia… you might not want to buy SNK games anymore. But Activision Blizzard, Capcom, Nintendo and Nexon are all so minor that I cannot justify a protest.
Okay, but I am a geopolitical dummy and don’t know squat about Saudi Arabia. Are they good folks there? Well, the two bits I keep seeing around this story were the ‘history of human rights abuses’ by Saudi Arabia’s government, and how the crown prince ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. …Those are both bad, and I’m probably not going to talk about new SNK games going forward because of that. But why am I bringing this up now?
Well, Saudi Arabia recently made a $1 billion stake in the Embracer Group, granting them an 8.1% ownership of the company. Based on my 20% rule, that should mean there is nothing to be worried about… unless Saudi Arabia keeps buying shares, which they might. However, Embracer clarified the nature of this acquisition and stated that they hope to establish a regional hub in Saudi Arabia in order to make investments in the MENA region. Which is expected to become a major market for the games industry in the next 5 to 10 years.
So, do I think this is a good thing? …No. While Saudi Arabia is spreading out their investments, they are still profiting off of the games industry and, by becoming an increasingly bigger player, they will have more sway over the industry. It is the same reason why I was cautious about all of the Tencent investments from a while back, before Tencent started outright buying studios. Now, Saudi Arabia is a government, so I do not think that they will buy up game studios in other countries. That’s a bit far-fetched. But if Saudi Arabia does something really bad, then their investment in the industry might urge certain companies to remain quiet on political issues, remove political messages in-game, and avoid depicting Saudi Arabia in an unsavory light..
Or in other words, I am currently just paranoid about this stuff, but I don’t like what I’m seeing here!
Also, Netflix bought another game studio. This time it was the Texas-based Boss Fight Entertainment, who are best known for Dungeon Boss. A mobile live service that I have never heard of. Which just goes to show how serious Netflix is about getting into mobile gaming… even while undergoing their own sort of decline. Because, let’s be honest, everybody knew that Netflix would get bad and make big mistakes, eventually. It is the nature of all big companies. …And why you should never stan them Grand Oppressive Directing Syndicates. …I need to work on that acronym.
Typically, early June is home to E3 season in the dimension of Gamindustri. However, due to various factors, including the ease of streaming, COVID, the bad decisions of the Entertainment Software Association, the poor security of the Entertainment Software Association, and the high fees of the Entertainment Software Association, E3 has been canceled, and I doubt it will ever return. Instead, we have what I am coining as the Segmented Summer Showcases, or S3. A collection of livestreams hosted by various game publishers and organizations during early June, with the goal of announcing new titles and showing closer highly curated looks at upcoming releases.
Things have spilled over between this week and the next, meaning that I’m going to have oodles of stuff to talk about next time, but this week is no slouch either. But before recapping bits and pieces of the showcases/advertisements, let’s go over a few more pungent stories I happened across.
Starting with something unrelated to the world of video games, Berserk still stands as one of the most influential and greatest works of dark fantasy in the modern era. Which is why the death of its author, Kentaro Miura, in May 2021, was so impactful to so many people. I talked about this last year, and mentioned how unfortunate it was that the future of Berserk now hung in limbo. The final chapter was finished posthumously by Miura’s assistants, but it ended on a massive cliffhanger, something that fans were waiting literal decades for. It would be a bittersweet ending, but an ‘ending’ nevertheless, which begged the question if Berserk even should continue.
This past week, it was announced that Berserk will resume serialization. The publication for the series, Young Animal, along with Kouji Mori, a fellow mangaka and close friend of Miura, released a pair of statements discussing this decision. Young Animal’s policy on this matter is that they will continue the series, while strictly adhering to the original vision of Miura. This project will be supervised by Mori, who was friends with Miura for nearly 40 years and, nearly 30 years ago, Miura showed Mori the completed storyline of Berserk. A storyline that Miura continued “with almost no changes.”
With this knowledge, and continued insights Mori has learned of over the past 30 years, Mori and Miura’s apprentices created a completed manuscript of Berserk. In creating the completed work, they intend to only adhere to what Miura provided and wrote, keeping their own interpretations to a minimum. It is an incredibly noble goal, and while part of me thinks that some interpretation is needed to make a truly complete or satisfying work, I am more than happy with even an abridged version of this series.
Also, this whole story brings up a great point that really should be expressed to every creator: Please don’t store all of your ideas in your head. Take notes, make outlines, and write things down, because you never know when a minor medical complication will explode into something lethal.
Back in 2007 and 2008, Rare was working on a remaster of the much acclaimed GoldenEye 007. A title that revolutionized console first-person-shooters and paved the path for generations of couch-based FPS deathmatches. But due to the licensing issues around the title, between Microsoft, Nintendo, and Eon Productions, the title was never finished or released. At least until 2021, when it was leaked online.
Now, 14 years later, people stumbled onto an Xbox social page, which listed achievements for GoldenEye 007. …And not the 2010 game of the same name. This strongly suggests that either another remaster was made or the Rare remaster was restarted and finalized, and that the title is set to be revealed at the June 12th Xbox showcase. …But Microsoft’s security just wasn’t good enough to prevent people from finding it.
For the sake of posterity, I think it would be great to have this title, this quintessential part of video game history, preserved and enhanced with modern technology. I mean, if Quake got a fresh console port, and new expansion, then surely GoldenEye deserves the same level of love. Even though Quake is probably the better and more influential game.
On the general subject of the XBLA GoldenEye project, canceled or abandoned projects are pretty common. And not just due to rights issues. Making a good game is tricky, and while there is a point where you should just immortalize the work of developers with a release, sometimes it’s hard to do that when the game is crap. Which is allegedly what is happening with the oft-rumored successor to 1-2 Switch. According to Fanbyte, the original title, a blasé party-based 2017 tech demo, was a sales success for Nintendo. This encouraged EPD Group 4 to work on a successor that aimed to be a bigger and more ambitious party game experience. However, when it came to test the title, things didn’t go as planned.
Testers were not too fond of the title, found it boring, did not want to finish rounds, and gave generally negative feedback to the developers. This was not what Nintendo was expecting, and now they are seemingly at odds with this title. The successor, named Everyone’s 1-2 Switch by Fanbyte’s sources, is currently in a state of limbo, where box art has been made, cases assembled, but Nintendo is unsure what to do with the title. If they should make it an expansion pack to the original launch title, free for Nintendo Switch Online+ subscribers, or try to sell it as a $60 title.
I think it is interesting to see an in-house Nintendo title like this fumble, and hearing this makes me wonder just how often this happens at Nintendo. Because while they do publish some crap, most of it was made by outside studios. Like NdCube, Vanpool, or Camelot. Though, honestly, I think the only redeeming quality of this game will be the fact that the host of this party game is a man wearing a rubber horse mask… named Horse. I really need to have more characters with horse heads. There was Gregg Vava Darn in Return of Mighty Terra: 2052 – The DNApocalypse, but he was barely even a character.
Something that I feel compelled to cover is when re-release compilations are announced and older games are brought to new platforms. Mostly because I feel the need to highlight and celebrate every major instance of this happening, as the state of gaming preservation is… maybe not quite abysmal, but not good.
At this point, I just wish that emulators were open source ‘codecs’ that every major game console could read, so rights holders could just submit ROMs and people could play/buy them on a system-level. That way, these more elaborate re-releases would not be necessary, and it would be easier to buy more obscure titles without just downloading ‘illegal’ ROMs. Remasters and full remakes can still happen, but basic collections would be wholly unnecessary if this was the case.
I bring this up because Limited Run Games recently held a showcase where they announced several new re-releases or ROM compilations they are either publishing, or simply producing a few thousand physical copies. These include A Boy and His Blob Retro Collection and Rendering Ranger: R2. Two cult classics of the 80s and 90s. But also well-known kusoge such as Bill & Ted’s Excellent Retro Collection, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition, and Prize Fighter: Remastered. As I looked over this list, I could not help but fathom why, in the name of all that is good or just, these titles were not only brought back, but outright remastered in some cases.
Well, the answer stems from how re-releasing games is ultimately a business and, even if a game is known to be crap, it might still be a name that people recognize or remember. I mean, the AVGN videos on Bill & Ted and Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties got over 6 and 8 million views respectively, so they are known quantities that people might buy as a $20 lark. That, and licensing older games can be such a laborious task with such limited returns that you sometimes need to take whatever you can get. Which is why you have folks like Ziggurat pumping out retro games like mad… while only sometimes taking the time needed to make sure they play as they should.
…It sucks that unofficial emulation is superior to official emulation, even by people who should know what they’re doing.
On the subject of bringing back ‘older’ games, back in April 2021, Bloomberg reported that Sony was developing a remake of The Last of Us. This garnered a series of bemused to exasperated reactions from all around. Because not only was The Last of Us released in 2013, it was remastered for PS4 a year later, and has sold tens of millions of copies. While others pointed out that the remake might be several years away, and how this actually is not surprising considering the HBO adaptation is coming out soon.
A year and two months later, and a mere six days after Sony’s upcoming game showcase, they decided to reveal this remake as The Last of Us Part I. A title that I honestly could have mistaken for the 2014 remaster, given how similar they look. The blurb provided by Sony says that this is a “total overhaul of the original experience” with “modernized gameplay, improved controls and expanded accessibility.” Despite this, the game still looks like The Last of Us, and matches my hazy 9-year-old memories of playing the original game in the summer of 2013. Though, looking at them side-by-side, you can pretty clearly tell the differences.
When I first heard of the project, I assumed it was going to be a more ‘creative’ remake, whereas this looks to just be a secondary remaster. One that overhauls a lot, moves things to a new engine, and does a lot of work behind the scenes. But if something like Mass Effect Legendary Edition is considered a ‘remaster’ as opposed to a ‘remake’, then I think the same should apply to The Last of Us Part I. This is more of a terminology issue though, and if there is one subject that I know is pointless to discuss on… well, not ‘on the internet,’ but life in general, it’s terminology.
Accordingly, since it falls into what I consider to be a remaster, as opposed to a ‘creative remake’ or a ‘direct remake’, I’m kind of indifferent towards it. Because it seems like it will just be TLOU, but a bit less good looking (I think colors are more important the graphics) and maybe a bit smoother. Which might be a good enough excuse for some people to replay it, but I’m still salty over how The Last of Us ended, and think that it makes the game, and the entire duology, morally repulsive.
Why do I feel this way? Well, it stems back to my original playthrough. During the final sequence, I avoided harming or killing any foes (it took me about a dozen tries to stealth past them) and instead made it to the destination, where the game prompted me to do an evil deed. I refused to do such a deed, even if it meant that I would not be able to complete the game, because I don’t support genocide. …And no, I’m not misusing that term. Directly preventing the development of medicine is a form of genocide..
Afterwards, the game played a cutscene where the protagonist, Joel, was apprehended by the guards who were chasing him. The game then loaded a checkpoint, and the doctor guarding the Joel’s objective was dead. I, as a player, did not fire a bullet during this entire section of the game, and refused to kill anyone. Because what Joel was doing here was wrong on such a deep and fundamental level that I view him as a character of incalculable evil. Someone who did something so bad, and for such selfish reasons, that he ceases to retain the rights to be treated as a human.
And this is me we’re talking about. My latest novel, Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 had a class of characters literally called The Genociders, but I still loved those four child-killers and nuke-lovers. Because at least they are honest about their evil. Joel thinks he is still a good person, when he isn’t. He isn’t even a person at the end of the first game. He’s just a beast who couldn’t bare to let his paternal dick get flaccid again. If you wanna make a character like that, fine, but remember that people are naturally stupid and will probably think that ‘being a beast is good’ unless you throw sublety down the drain. I mean, shit, it took me years before I put two and two together on this subject.
…Anyhow, The Last of Us Part I is set to be released for PS5 on September 2, 2022, with a PC port also being in the works. …I would love it if somebody manages to make a conversion of The Last of Us Part 1 to turn it into The Last of Us Remastered. Not because I want to replay the game, but because I think that would be hilarious.
Ahead of their showcase later today, Xbox revealed a few new details regarding their plans to shift Xbox into being a gaming service in addition to a platform. This was seen with the introduction of an Xbox app coming to Samsung smart TVs on June 30th. It will allow players to stream Game Pass titles to their TV, but it will, interestingly, also allow people to play Fortnite even without a Game Pass subscription. Probably because Epic gave Microsoft a couple million bucks.
This sort of widespread integration is something of an endgame goal for Xbox, and likely Sony as well. Consoles are selling about as fast as they can be produced. And while the console audience is and has been growing, especially in markets like China, there is an untapped market of more casual game-likers. People who are interested in console games, but might not want to invest hundreds of dollars into a console and library. Instead, they might prefer to treat games like they treat all their other subscription services and get access to a streaming library for about $15 to $20 a month.
Something that will let them play many of the latest games with their friends, and allow them to indulge in gaming wherever they have a decent internet connection. Admittedly, I don’t personally ‘get’ people like this, as I am a weird house goblin who spends her nights working on spreadsheets and evenings writing commercially unsaleable novels and novellas for fun. But they are a person who I can hypothetically understand.
Also, following the lead of the new tiered system of PlayStation Plus, Microsoft announced that they plan on releasing curated demos for Xbox Game Pass members. All via a program called “Project Moorcraft.” …Do they put something in the water at Microsoft HQ that makes people incapable of giving projects decent names? Seriously, this has been a joke for over a decade, but now it seems like they are trying to make their project names bizarre.
Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest kicked off the first ‘major’ showcase, and… it focused way too much on bringing devs onto the stage to let them advertise their game. It felt especially forced, made this feel like even more of a series of commercials, and the worst example of this was when they had Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on to advertise the upcoming Black Adam movie.
I have pretty much nothing to say about most titles shown, especially the more western, dark, dramatic and gun flavored titles. Including Aliens: Dark Descent, The Callisto Protocol, Call of Duty Modern Warfare II (2022), Witchfire, Fort Solis, Routine, Stormgate, Tencent’s Metal: Hellsinger, The Quarry, Tencent’s Nightingale, Warhammer Darktide, Bloober Team’s Layers of Fears, and others I’m probably forgetting.
They all looked like they have big numbers in the graphical departments, but I honestly was only half-watching and half-listening to these trailers. I was busy looking for chibi CGs from hentai games, for header image purposes, on my other monitor. And I was listening to Gaia by Valensia while these trailers played at half volume. Is that disrespectful? Yep! Do I care? Not really.
The only title I had anything ‘substantial’ to say anything about was Flashback 2, the ‘sequel’ to the 1992 PC classic Flashback. A cinematic platformer that acted as a successor to the more acclaimed Another World (1991), and the title was popular enough to warrant a sequel in the form of 1995’s Fade to Black. Which ditched the 2D action platformer in favor of being an early 3D shooter. The series was set to continue from there, with another 2D game in the early 2000s, but the developer went bankrupt, and the series fell into… not obscurity, but into the realm of being a ‘cult classic,’ I suppose.
There was a 2013 remake directed by the original designer, Paul Cuisset, and several other original development team members, but the remake was met with a mixed reception. To me, this implied that it was best to leave the IP as is. However, Microbes picked up the IP and was willing to try their hand at a ‘proper’ sequel to Flashback, which takes the form of a shooting-based 2.5D platformer… I think. The trailer focused too much on borders and CG and not enough on gameplay.
Something about this just seems like a bad fit… but it really isn’t harming a legacy or anything, and is at least an original entry, so even if it is unnecessary, it’s pretty harmless. Flashback 2 is set to release in Winter 2022 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series and PC.
Beyond that multi-paragraph tangent, there were a few stragglers that I feel like mentioning.
Highwater is a game by a bunch of people with anxiety about the future of the world due to the rampant disinterest from the wealthy elite, who do have the power to save the planet, but choose not to. Which they explore in the form of a strategy adventure game in a flooded world that, while desolate, is at least colorful. I feel like there are a lot of these sorts of games nowadays, and while I admire the dedication to spread a positive message like this, part of me cannot help but look at this as an ‘indie game designed to be an indie game.’ Whatever that means.
American Arcadia is… remember what people thought We Happy Few would be before it turned into a bad survival game? A game that explored how ‘western culture’ defended itself during the red scare of the 1950s and 60s by being set in a seemingly happy yet deeply messed up world? Yeah, American Arcadia is that, but with the cinematic platforming of Inside, and a story that explores the concept of social worth.
Goat Simulator 3 doubled-bamboozled me! First by making me think there was a Goat Simulator 2, when there wasn’t. And secondly, the trailer tricked me into thinking that it was a re-announcement of Dead Island 2, given how blatantly its CG trailer homaged the E3 2014 trailer for Dead Island 2. So good on you, Coffee Stain. You tricked me with a parody of an 8-year-old trailer of a game that most people have forgotten about! Though, I guess that is fitting. After all, the launch trailer for Goat Simulator parodied the acclaimed Dead Island re-reveal trailer.
Holoverse and MiHoYo continued to boil my broth with some flashily cut trailers for Honaki Star Rail and Zenless Zone Zero that both look so freaking cool. Seriously, can someone please make a game with this level of style that isn’t a live service? Because knowing the true nature of these games makes me wince whenever I think about them.
Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium was announced, preserving more ROMs of Capcom arcade titles..Good on them, this is more akin to what I want to see when it comes to the preservation of older games… though, I’m not sure why they are presenting this as a new product, instead of adding more DLC to their downloadable title… where every game is purchased as a piece of DLC.
I reserved this space to go over any announcements that caught my eye from the ‘low tier’ showcases held around this time. Stuff like Guerrilla Collective, Wholesome Direct, and Future Games Show. …But most of it was the usual indie flavored stuff. Now, that’s not to say that I am completely disinterested in many of the games shown here. Based on just a casual post-show sift, most of them looked pretty good.
However, as my review output shows, I barely play games nowadays, so I feel the need to be selective with what titles I do check out. Which is why the only game I really remembered from my post-show siftings was PalWorld. A game that I’ve talked about in the past, but has continued to impress me. Not only because it is fulfilling the twenty-year-dream of ‘a Pokémon game with guns and slavery,’ but because it actually looks really good. Both visually and mechanically.
After being previously revealed via a leak, Deadly Premonition 2: A Blessing in Disguise was stealth released on PC. An release that would inspire joy within me, as it would be an opportunity to finally go on another quirky adventure with Francis York Morgan… if not for the problematic stuff. Shortly after release, many people pointed out that the game had some problematic elements with how it handled its sole transgender character. In response, the director, SWERY, said that he was going to rewrite things and remove the transphobic elements. Well, he didn’t wind up doing that.
I try to be an incredibly forgiving person and like to assume that, even if someone says something problematic, wrong, or generally bad, they probably have good intentions. And I have a pretty strong stomach for transphobic stuff. Hell, just wait until you see what I have cooking for TSF Series #006-3 (coming June 23rd) and TSF Series #014 (coming July 27th).
However… SWERY actively harassed Laura Kate Dale, a transwoman who I’ve been following for a few years, for wanting the transphobia of this game to be addressed, and that… is a really bad look that I cannot defend. I like to think that SWERY was just misled and programmed by some bad actors, but I cannot justify supporting or covering this release in detail… unless someone mods out the transphobic elements. Then I’d give it a whirl, while discussing the problematic content in its own section.
That’s it for this week! I’ll see you all tomorrow with another Rundown, as there should be enough from Microsoft’s showing to warrant another installment. In the meantime, keep gaming, stay powerful, and it’s pride month, so remember to get your gay on.
Header image comes from Ren’ai X Royale by ASa Project.