Welcome back, everyone! It looks like we’re all having fun with the Resident Evil 4 remake! I must be honest; I didn’t think CAPCOM could pull it off—but they did. It’s entirely debatable and ultimately down to preference whether you prefer the original Resident Evil 4 or the remake, but the fact that they make such a stunning lateral upgrade is both a testament to the quality of the original while also a testament to the remake’s dedication to maintaining the spirit of the original. In a lot of ways, it’s much like the success of the similarly lateral upgrade of the Dead Space remake—fitting, considering how much Dead Space owes to Resident Evil 4 in terms of design, tone, and atmosphere. Also: Leon S. Kennedy is still a total cherry-boy desperate for a crumb of affection from Ada Wong. And most importantly, people have made sure to keep the tradition of Leon being the ultimate babygirl alive.
modders move fast, damn pic.twitter.com/2fRQ1FZynT
— Ethan ⛧ 𝖈𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖓 𝖉𝖊𝖛 (@GatorShins) March 26, 2023
This was way more important than Leon getting cat ears (though that’s fitting for him) or Ashley’s amazing scene-girl outfit. No Xenoblade news because we’ve got a review in the works, so let’s get into this week’s news! This is…
RIP to the 3DS and Wii U eShop
By the time you read this, the 3DS and Wii U’s online storefronts will have gone offline. After just a hair over a decade, these two consoles will finally be put to pasture—and with them, scores of digital titles will be forever barred from the gaming public. Folks smarter than me have pointed out the tragic loss from this. It’s a bit of an exaggeration to claim it’s along the lines of the burning of the Library of Alexandria (especially since this is such a tragically-common occurrence in gaming). Still, tons of titles are now lost to the aether. Most of the mainline Nintendo games will be alright (we’ll get to this later). But so many third-party titles are now just… gone. Level-5’s Guild series, including such inspired indie titles like Liberation Maiden and Aero Porter? Gone—and with them, Guild‘s crowning jewels, Yasumi Matsuno’s fantastic tabletop-RPG-inspired Crimson Shroud, and Attack of the Friday Monsters!, a lovely ode to 1960s rural Japan, childhood, and kaiju fandom. Dillon’s Rolling Adventure, a creative tower defense crossed with an action RPG with a lovely Western-inspired aesthetic? I sure hope you got a chance to get that before the stores went down. Gotta Protectors!, the 8-bit-inspired hack-and-slash with an amazing soundtrack from beloved FM-Synthesizer composer Yuzo Koshiro? Well, there’s a new one on the Switch, but the 3DS entry is donezo. WayForward Technology’s Mighty Switch Force titles are now deprived of their intended gaming experience: stereoscopic 3D. Their tile-swapping mechanic was brilliant to see in action. And let’s not forget the even smaller fly-by-night titles like Zara the Fastest Fairy. Even if a game isn’t conventionally “good,” someone worked on it—it deserves to be remembered. And even Zara the Fastest Fairy deserved the spotlight.
What about the unique services on the console? StreetPass was a sheer delight. Sure, it worked way better for people in Japan, but part of the fun of going to a convention in the 3DS days was seeing the hundreds of people popping up in your Mii Plaza, filling out the many states from the US or even countries around the world or granting you fun puzzle pieces to collect. Miiverse was a fascinating experiment, letting people talk about individual games, share screenshots or make the weirdest little doodles at each other. And the Wii U took advantage of it with the Splatoon games, letting any ambitious artist communicate in memes. The 3DS menu had charming little dioramas representing each installed game or cartridge. Also: the 3DS menu themes, delightful themes with unique songs and animations that, for some crazy reason, haven’t been adapted to the Nintendo Switch. What gives, seriously?!
But even ignoring all that, the fact remains that now a ton of actual first-party Nintendo games are missing whole swaths of content—no more Pokémon Dream Radar (and with it, certain exclusive Pokémon). No more Xenologues for Fire Emblem Awakening and Fire Emblem Fates, which means no more DLC characters. And heck, this one hits Fates especially hard as you can purchase either the Nohrian or Hoshidoan routes as cartridges but the third “Revelations” route—with its exclusive “good” ending—is forever lost. Like Atlus games? You’re losing a ton of great DLC for Shin Megami Tensei IV and Etrian Odyssey. And don’t get me started on the Virtual Console’s loss—Nintendo Switch Online doesn’t offer Game Gear titles, so we’re missing out on unique fare like Shining Force: The Sword of Hajya or rare Gameboy titles like the Gameboy Donkey Kong or Studio ASMIK‘s Catrap.
I know, I know, “It’s actually very easy to hack the 3DS”—and I don’t care. It shouldn’t have come to this. We shouldn’t have to go through this constant bullshit of games being oh-so-precious to protect on the IP side, but totally fair to toss in the bin after a few years. The many attempts on gamers’ behalf to preserve these titles are noble, and many people like Girard Khalil have gone through tons of hoops to make sure these games are saved somehow in the name of preservation. Goodness knows the powers that be didn’t make it easy.
It’s a shame the 3DS went out the way it did. I have a ton of affection for it. It was released when I was still struggling to let myself enjoy things—my mother had to seriously assure me that it was okay to get one. When I retired my Nintendo DS Lite, it felt hollow. I’d gotten my money’s worth and then some. Even with all of the Nintendo 3DS titles I loved, it still felt like the 3DS was oddly unfulfilled. It was Nintendo‘s life raft for a while there. I loved it deeply, and it came out in that era when anything from Japan was a problem that needed to be solved. The next time Nintendo wants to talk about how much they love their titles, we should remember how inelegantly Nintendo tossed their console to the curb.
E3 Bleeds More Game Studios
It’s dire times for Electronic Entertainment Expo. More and more developers are abandoning the once-hallowed event in favor of hosting their own presentations. Where Nintendo once looked downright foolish at taking a miss at the event in favor of its then-newfangled “Nintendo Directs,” now almost every major player has decided to follow in its footsteps. The constant controversies coming out from the Entertainment Software Association can’t help. That they’re all jumping ship in favor of the Game Awards Show is a sour taste in my mouth, but we can handle that one step at a time. For now: just this past week, we learned of more game studios that won’t appear at E3.
First up was Ubisoft. While Ubisoft had confirmed its presence at E3 earlier this year, it suddenly shifted course and decided it would simply host its own event in Los Angeles. Named the Ubisoft Forward Live, it’s scheduled for June 12th. No further explanations have been offered. But following that was the news that Sega, Tencent, and Devolver Digital wouldn’t attend E3 either. Again, these publishers have yet to give any reasons for this. This is on top of Nintendo and Microsoft also refusing to appear at E3 this year.
The bleeding was such that E3 went so far as to simply cancel the event wholesale; after having announced the event last year, E3 simply pulled the plug before it happened. Never mind the people who suddenly have to restructure their summer now that there’s no point for them to fly out to Los Angeles, this bodes fairly ill for the event. Industry clown Geoff Kighley is already celebrating; as mentioned earlier, the Game Awards Show is already the main event of the year for showing off the biggest trailers for upcoming titles.
Is there a point to E3? Honestly, probably not. E3 had a certain mystique in the late ’90s to early ’00s, partly because the only way to know anything about it was via second-hand accounts in game magazines or websites, and partly because the whole thing looked like a big party for gamers—but it wasn’t. It was a press event. There wasn’t any kind of massive party in the back where you got to play the real Daikatana before the crappy one came out, it was just way too much alcohol and way too many crowds and lines to play 15 minutes of a buggy demo of a game. Once streaming became more commonplace and people could get a simulacrum of the on-the-floor event, they would learn that E3 wasn’t really the big party they thought it was.
What was left was just… a bunch of smoke and mirrors. Bullshots of “target projections” of what the next trumped-up AAA title should look like, which it inevitably wouldn’t. Tons of shouting and hype for games that would ultimately line the bargain bin. It’s worse if you’re like me and liked the weird Japanese RPGs: you’d never learn about Riviera: The Promised Land or Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer at E3, you’d learn about them in squashed bits at the bottom of pages of game magazines under the gloating statements of developers talking about the Quake engine.
People will really miss E3, for sure, especially the community that was there for its “golden age.” But I think it’s fine if it just dies off. It’s an aspect of gaming culture that just doesn’t fit anymore. I’m not here for “just sit down and consume content” lifestyle, and you’re not gonna get me interested in your game by tossing Keanu Reeves on stage to spout memes. But that train has left the station, and I’m fine with missing it. I’m still working on Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and I still have two Izuna games to play.
Surprise, Multiversus Was “Just In Beta!” Game To Go On Hiatus Until 2024
In the category of scummy moves on behalf of developers! Multiversus, Warner Bros. attempt at a Smash Bros-killer utilizing all of their myriad IPs from the DC Universe to Game of Thrones, has been out for a bit—so long, in fact, that there was fairly-extensive DLC for the game, from two season passes to unlockable characters. There was also a US$100 “Founder’s Pass,” which was supposed to be made unavailable in November of 2022 but only got taken down in February of 2023. This sounds great but hang onto that fact. Because this past week, developer Player First Games made an announcement… thanking people for participating in the “Open Beta” and asking people to look forward to the “full release” of the game in 2024.
MVPs, thank you for the support during Open Beta! The feedback and inspiration has been amazing. Open Beta will close on June 25 as we prepare for full launch in early 2024. #MultiVersus will be back better than ever with new content, features, modes & more when we return. pic.twitter.com/6NOCMRDBrp
— MultiVersus (@multiversus) March 27, 2023
Yeah, they kinda forgot to mention that the game was in an “open beta” when they hosted a $100,000 tournament at Evo 2022, I suppose.
Representatives from Player First Games explained that the game would be going offline starting in June, with the game’s “proper” release coming next year. Until then, most game features will be down: no buying in-game currency, no real access to offline mode, and only “limited” access to training mode.
This, I feel, is a real slap to the face to the community that Multiversus had acquired—such as it is, because Multiversus feels like it fell off the radar for a bit after its initial release. But even so, nobody who pays $100 for a game should lose access to it for six months because, surprise, they need to “rework” the title. They can’t all be Final Fantasy XIV, where the game is wiped clean from one update to the next because 1.0 was such an ungodly disaster that they needed to remake the game top-to-bottom and had to beg fans for a second chance—and even then, folks could play 1.0 up until the very end. It was even written into the game’s plot.
Many fans quickly allowed Player First Games a degree of leeway with this course of action, confident that this will result in a better game down the line. And on that, I can agree: as the old yarn goes, “a delayed game is eventually good; a rushed game is forever bad.” Nevertheless: it’s damned predatory to have an entire marketplace and economy set into your game when it’s not even finished. This isn’t putting the cart before the horse; it’s just wanting to sell something before you have anything to sell. People say not to pre-order games, but at least people who pre-ordered Fire Emblem: Engage got some cute tarot cards out of it!
There’s been a long discussion about the idea of “Early Access” titles and how it’s ultimately been used to shove incomplete software out the door to make as much profit from players as possible. I can understand Early Access for smaller dev teams that are still trying to get a game “right”—Ark: Survival Evolved comes to mind (and even then, folks griped about how that game handled its DLC—and rightfully so, in my opinion). Multiversus aggravates all that. It just feels like one big rug pull. It might have significantly worse net code, but you know what you can play for those six months where Multiversus is offline? Smash Bros. Ultimate. Heck, you could even try picking up Rivals of Aether—it has Shovel Knight (which Smash Bros. should have done too).
Congress Claims Sony Is Too Powerful In Japan
In what certainly feels like the result of the constant battle between Sony and Microsoft over Microsoft‘s attempt at purchasing Activision-Blizzard, 11 members of Congress have written a letter to President Biden demanding action be taken over Sony‘s alleged dominance of the gaming market in Japan, claiming that Sony‘s overwhelming presence in the Japanese market is hurting American companies (read: Microsoft). The letter claims that Sony owns 98% of the “high-end video game console market in Japan,” which allegedly hurts the exportation of America’s entertainment software. The letter also alleges that this potentially violates Japanese anti-trust laws.
The whole affair is just… weird. The obvious elephant in the room is that the letter only alleges Sony holds far too much of the market—nowhere do they mention Nintendo, whose offerings currently lap both Sony and Microsoft. Famitsu has revealed before that Nintendo has dominated the top-selling software charts in Japan… since 2004. It was only last month that PS5 sales managed to outdo the Nintendo Switch. That… doesn’t sound like “dominating 98% of the market” to me. Of course, the exception could be the whole “high-powered console” claim, but even then… what constitutes a “high-powered console”? Will we suddenly cut out Nintendo‘s presence because Nintendo‘s consoles don’t have 4K graphics? Are we to pretend that Pokémon isn’t the highest-grossing multimedia franchise of all time?
The other part of the claim is that Sony gets too many exclusives for its console in Japan, whereas the Xbox has famously struggled to get any in the decades since its launch. Again, this one is weird. There are no doubt all kinds of contractual matters that would be factors, but the long and short of it is that Microsoft hasn’t done the best job courting Japanese developers. Remember, the Xbox and Xbox 360 came out during the height of the “Japanese Games Are A Problem That Needs To Be Solved”-era, where “JRPG” was a dirty word. The Xbox was a huge factor in that era, not only tossing the weight of its then-massive FPS franchises like Halo and Gears of War but also actively courting the kind of audience that would sneer at anything that wasn’t a gunmetal-grey shooter featuring hulking slabs of beef growling at each other while occasionally mugging for the camera about their dead wives. And Xbox did try to have some Japanese games—Hironobu Sakaguchi‘s Mistwalker Studios is a noted example. But considering that their biggest releases were Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, two RPGs that, while beloved in their own circles, never reached the acclaim of Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, I feel it’s pretty safe to say that Microsoft didn’t do more than toss their Japanese efforts out the window.
Oh, yeah, I forgot one—I had to Google this one. There was also 2006’s Enchanted Arms, from pre-Dark Souls FromSoft. Again, it’s hard to gauge the quality on this one. I mostly remember people criticizing it for “being a Final Fantasy rip-off,” but this was back when people were still laughing at Final Fantasy XII because Vaan was “so feminine.”
Now, I am glossing over Xbox’s collaborations with Sega, which gave us the fantastic Jet Set Radio Future and Panzer Dragoon Orta. But these collabs didn’t last long. Again, once Halo became Microsoft‘s killer app, Microsoft leaned into that market hard and didn’t come up for air. And to their credit, Microsoft has been improving their presence in Japan in recent months, going on a hiring spree in Japan and locking down promos with the VTuber Shishiro Botan. And it’s not like Microsoft was totally devoid of hits in Japan, either—it was a long time ago, but once upon a time The [email protected] was a killer app for the Xbox 360 in Japan. But regardless: the whole affair sounds like political cloak-and-daggers on Microsoft‘s behalf, activating some politicians on their payroll to take jabs at Sony while Sony tries blocking the Microsoft/Activision-Blizzard merger. Again, the complete omission of Nintendo‘s dominance of the Japanese market speaks volumes. Where this will go, we don’t know, but the slap-fest between Sony and Microsoft goes on.
Metal Max Spin-Off Starring Series Dog Released, “Release The Hounds Of War”-Pun Merited
Is anyone here a fan of the Metal Max games? A long-running series of post-apocalyptic RPGs from Japan that pre-date the Fallout games, Metal Max lets you and a crew of survivors hop into tanks, customize the crap out of them, and run around shooting down biomutants and sentient man-killing vehicles as you eke out a livable niche for humanity in the wastelands of Tokyo. PS2 fans might best recognize one of their spin-offs, Metal Saga. One conceit that has stuck with the series is that, uh, there’s a playable dog: an adorable Shiba Inu named Pochi who can help out in battles with the massive gun strapped to his back. It’s time to let the dog have his day: Pochi’s very own spin-off title is now available on PC in the US!
First made available in the US on March 8 via a Nintendo Switch port, Metal Dogs has you play as either Pochi or two of their friends in a top-down shooter. Players will gun down waves of enemies from the Metal Saga series, including the infamous WANTED enemies worth a significant bounty. Bounties can be used to upgrade your lethal pooches further. This game version features a Hardcore Mode, where players will die after just one hit, and bonus levels will unlock after the main game has been beaten. Also, the dogs are voiced by Hiro Shimono. Gamers might recognize him as the Japanese voice of Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but anime fans might know him best as Connie Springer from . And yes, he really is just ruffing and woofing into the mic.
The game is currently available on Steam; in honor of its release, it was available for 30% off until March 30—which, uh, was yesterday, as of the publication of this article. Um… at least the dogs are cute? Lethal doggies? Yes?
Eiji Aonuma Pulls Back The Curtain On The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
Tears of the Kingdom sure has been a long time coming! While the good old 2020 Pan-Demi Lovato certainly couldn’t have helped matters with its development, Nintendo (as per usual) made sure to take its time making sure that the follow-up to the beloved Breath of the Wild is a worthy follow-up. Breath of the Wild put the open-world genre on its head with its creative decisions, and it really does look like Nintendo wants to blow everyone’s minds again. Eiji Aonuma hosted a short Nintendo Direct this past week, where he went over a few innovations in Tears of the Kingdom.
So, first off: Tears of the Kingdom doesn’t seem to re-invent the wide wildlands of Hyrule all that much. No doubt the map has been changed somewhat, with some new shrines placed in new areas, but I don’t imagine the game to be horribly different. But the biggest change is verticality: now there are areas called “Sky Islands” floating above Hyrule. No doubt there will be plenty of ways to reach them, but for now, the central ability to climb up to them is “Recall,” which can be used to ride boulders that fall off the Sky Islands. Recall rewinds an object’s position, so you could use it to send the boulder you just rode in on pioneer-style back to wherever you found it.
Going with the theme of verticality is the “Ascend” ability; using it, Link can warp up and through the ceiling of certain areas to climb up onto the floor above. In the video, we see Link meld through the ceiling of a gazebo to stand on the roof, but it’s also possible to use it to go from a cave inside of a hill to the top of the hill. Aonuma emphasized that this gives players more options to scale mountains and hills that don’t require them to expend stamina. No doubt it’ll also be used to deviously hide secret rooms in ceilings.
Another fascinating ability that gave me a giggle is the “Ultrahand” ability: Link can mix and combine objects around him to create… well, all kinds of things. Aonuma walked us through sticking three logs and two fans together to make a rudimentary raft, but the possibilities are endless. Not since Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts have I seen such a greater, more free-form system at work to allow players to make all kinds of wild vehicles out of detritus. This not only expands on the rafts from Breath of the Wild (which were only available in certain areas) but also allows you to have fun with stuff. We also see several flying vehicles; people will make amazing aircraft in this game. Also: it’s worth pointing out that “Ultrahand” is yet another of Nintendo‘s cheeky references to the belated Gameboy inventor Gunpei Yokoi’s Ultrahand toy. Nintendo loves tossing in random references to the Ultrahand in any game they can; it’s amusing to see it referenced in a Zelda game for once. I’d like to think old Yokoi would be amused by it. Fun fact: Splatoon 3‘s Harmony can be seen playing with one!
However, the ten-million-dollar question on many people’s lips is what Tears of the Kingdom will do about weapon durability. It’s the single most contentious aspect of Breath of the Wild and about the only thing people will talk about when it comes to that game (besides Zelda’s dumpy). And… it’s still in Tears of the Kingdom! Which I think is fine. I’ll vouch for weapon durability in Breath of the Wild when Souls-like fans agree to easy modes in FromSoft games. (Hey, maybe it was Nintendo‘s artistic intent that your weapons break? Maybe it’s part of their narrative vision?) Now, one alternative that people have presented is the ability to repair weapons by combining identical weapons. Again: Nintendo tied that idea to the train tracks like they were Popuko and Pimimi, but in its place is a much better idea: the “Fuse” ability. Using Fuse, Link can combine objects to create improvised weapons. The basic idea would be to fuse a rock with a stick to make, well, a rock on a stick. Not only is this a far stronger (and more durable) weapon than just a stick, it’s very satisfying on a primal level. But this has many fun ramifications that completely change how combat works in Tears of the Kingdom. For example, putting a spear on an already-long stick is possible, making an even longer spear for thrusting at an even greater distance. And it’s not just basic weapons that can be combined: you can also combine items in your inventory with your weapons. For example, combining a Keese Eye with an arrow will create a homing arrow that zeroes in on targets. This is also a good way of making elemental arrows without using wands. There are also other off-the-wall ideas, like fusing a puffshroom onto your shield; when enemies attack the shield, it’ll explode into a cloud of spores, allowing you to evade the enemy to deliver a sneak attack. I like this approach. Simply focusing on the durability of items and letting you repair them is so close-minded by comparison; by fusing weapons, you’ll not only be able to have fun and create all kinds of atrocities against Hephaestus. It’s the video game equivalent of stacking all of your markers together into one big stick. Forget the sword of evil’s bane; we’re gonna be out here making the weapon to surpass Metal Gear.
Finally, we got a glimpse at the limited-edition Tears of the Kingdom-themed Nintendo Switch OLED model. It even comes with a themed Joycon Pro, and as with all limited-edition Zelda-releases—it’s done up in shiny gold paint. My heart goes out to everyone hunting after a complete collection of gold Zelda titles. The Switch OLED itself will release on April 28, with the Joycon Pro and a fancy carrying case to be released later on May 12. Meanwhile, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom will release on May 13. I’ll likely still be playing Xenoblade 3 by then!
Let’s wrap up with some quick tidbits:
That’ll do it for this week. I’m not the biggest fan of April Fool’s jokes, so you guys will forgive me if I didn’t sneak anything in this year (also, I completely forgot that this week’s column is the very day before April Fool’s anyway). Could you do me a solid and remember to show your favorite creators that you love their stuff? It’s tough times out there, and everyone’s stressing over the fate of Twitter; folks need a reminder that their work matters. In the meantime, I’m stoked over Tears of the Kingdom and hope everyone else is too! Only a few more short months until that one comes out! Feel free to share anything else you guys might be excited about in the comments, too; contrary to popular belief, stuff is easy to pass me by. Be good to each other; I’ll see you in seven.
This Week In Games! is written from idyllic Portland by Jean-Karlo Lemus. When not collaborating with AnimeNewsNetwork, Jean-Karlo can be found playing JRPGs, eating popcorn, watching v-tubers and tokusatsu, and trying as hard as he can to be as inconspicuous as possible on his Twitter @mouse_inhouse.