Now let’s take a dive into this week’s bee’s wax.
It Happened! The Nintendo Direct Actually Landed
After weeks of rumours suggesting a new Direct was coming, the time finally arrived for Nintendo to have their scheduled blowout, this time concentrating on nothing but Switch.
We got a demo drop for Yoshi’s Crafted World and Marvelous’ mecha-anime-looking Armored Core-style action title, Daemon x Machina, some footage of the previously announced Switch exclusive, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 (with X-Men, take that MCU), a co-op mode for Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker with new Mario Odyssey inspired levels, a new entry for first-party puzzler BoxBoy, in BoxBoy + BoxGirl, which also brings local co-op, Toby Fox’s sort-of-sequel to creative RPG Undertale, Deltarune with a free first-episode coming, a cryptic non-message about Smash’s next update with an April window for Persona 5’s Joker, and a timely trailer and Summer release window for Iga’s Kickstarted Castlevania spawn. Oh and with Final Fantasy 9 out now and Final Fantasy 7 out next month there’s a lot for Switch players to sink their teeth into.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Bloodstained looks to be shaping up well in my view, and with Way Forward also being involved in development, there’s reason for optimism.
We were treated to a lengthy segment on Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which is shaping up to be a unique FE experience. The turn-based, grid-based tactical battles are still in place, the weapons triangle present-and-correct, but the combat action sequences play out with far more flair, displaying the surrounding armies in great detail. The military school life sim elements look like a perfect fit and it all comes together to give promise to a great evolution of the 3DS’s Awakening/Fates era.
Dragon Quest is in full-force on Switch with Dragon Quest XI S having decent exposure. The Switch version brings the Japanese-exclusive 3DS’s 16-bit mode in addition to the PS4/PC style version. Dragon Quest Builders 2 now has a Summer release date.
Ubi’s better-than-Star-Fox-but-not-Star-Fox, Star Fox space shooter Starlink: Battle for Atlus is getting a DLC update with tonnes of extra Star Fox content. It’s no longer sold at a comparably extortionate rate in the UK, so it’s a great time to pick this one up.
So what else does 2019 have in store, beyond what we already knew about (Animal Crossing, Pokemon, not Metroid etc)? Quite a lot actually.
What, There’s More?
Square Enix’s Tokyo RPG Factory have their next game lined up and with a more vibrant looking effort than previous titles I am Setsuna and Lost Sphere. Taking an action-RPG approach to the 16-bit JRPG golden era with an interesting looking shingami angle. Oniaki looks, on the surface, to have a bit more depth in presentation than either of the studio’s previous titles.
Ubisoft, for reasons known only to them, decided to supply footage of a very janky-looking port of Assassin’s Creed 3; an odd choice. It looks utterly under-cooked at this stage and it isn’t exactly a fan-favourite though it’s nice to see the third party support continue.
On a more positive note, a surprise port from now-owned-by-Microsoft, Ninjas Theory. Yes, the lauded Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice with all its gloriously heavy subject matter is also Switch-bound.
Add this to the announcement Platinum Games’ latest action-RPG, which had me thinking it was something from Monolith Soft for most of the trailer. The hyper cyber mecha police-em-up, Astral Chain has you playing as a special police unit, fighting some ungodly beasts in a very cool a looking urban Japanese setting. Bayo 3 is still in works, in case you were wondering.
Nintendo also made good on their promise to bolster their online service by dropping a new Tetris game out of nowhere. Tetris 99 is barebones Tetris where you face off against 98 other players. Yes, this is Tetris Battle Royal. The speed at which you can get a game filled with 99 players is staggering, people are clearly loving it and I’m one of them.
Did I miss anything? Probably, because there was a lot. Now, for the stuff we really didn’t expect…
There’s Even More: Super Mario Maker 2?!
A nifty looking UI has done plenty to ease a few of my initial concerns as to how well Mario Maker would translate from the exceptional control method of the Wii U’s gamepad. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this one, having spent in excess of 150 hours with the original.
There are many questions to be answered here but one thing’s certain; this game will print money. With the unusual decision to throw in a Super Mario 3D World/Land theme (in 2.5D) coupled with the objectively best power-up in Mario history, the Cat Suit, this is shaping up to be a worth successor.
Oh and it has slopes! Mario Maker 2 has slopes. Yes.
The Big N always like to stick a nice surprise in the end of their Directs. This one was something extra special. A lot of people were expecting a ‘2D Zelda’ (generally defined by the top-down style and NES/SNES era style gameplay), but the shock choice of Game Boy classic, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was something very few saw coming.
A game perhaps not underrated, as such, but certainly underplayed, Link’s Awakening was a masterclass in handheld level/puzzle design and contains some of weirdest characters the series has ever produced.
A polarising toy-like art style evokes the memory of the infamous Wind Waker reaction. People got over that and will get over this, I suspect as, in my eyes, it looks perfect.
Activision Blizzard, Despite ‘Record Results’, Lay off Hundreds of Staff
From the excitement of the Direct, to the excrement of big business, it’s important to note this hasn’t been a great week for the industry. As reported, last week, Kotaku have followed up their previous report with confirmation of the reported staff layoffs beginning. A ‘comprehensive settlement package’ has been promised to those affected.
Be sure to spread the word if you know of any opportunities in the industry – given the record results, these people are presumably great at their jobs. Business. [via Kotaku]
Respawn Talks Bug Fixing, Cheaters – Bans 16,000 Apex Legends Players
In an unsurprising report posted by Respawn Entertainment on Reddit, around 16,000 Apex Legends accounts have been banned following cheating (you know the sort, auto-aiming, shooting through walls, etc). It wouldn’t be surprising to learn which platform most of these hail from (PC, it’s obviously PC).
With no mechanism to report problems within the game itself, you do wonder how much is getting missed in terms of bug reports and cheats, fortunately, Respawn plans to add the feature shortly, and have vowed to continue the conversation with the community to ensure they’re on the same wavelength. We all know cheaters aren’t going anywhere though; where there is multiplayer, there is cheating. Most bans are easy to sidestep where new accounts can be created with ease.
It’s fair to say they couldn’t have expected the sort of player count they reached, especially considering the tepid public response to Titanfall 2, so the fact the game provides, in my experience, a solid, smooth, reliable game almost every time is ever more impressive.
People cheat, the question is why? Do they enjoy being on the (faux) top of the digital world? In line with 15,999 other people, no less. Honestly, this bemusing-yet-predictable story is a stark reminder that people will do pointless things entirely to annoy others. Well done. [via Official Respawn Entertainment Reddit Account]
References / Sources:
https://www.reddit.com/r/apexlegends/comments/ar55zj/2152019_an_update_from_respawn/ (viewed 17/02/19)
https://www.destructoid.com/wayforward-tapped-to-assist-with-development-on-bloodstained-533097.phtml (viewed 17/02/19)
https://kotaku.com/activision-blizzard-begins-massive-layoffs-1832571288 (viewed 17/02/19)
https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Misc-/Nintendo-Direct/Latest-Nintendo-Direct/Nintendo-Direct-698557.html (viewed 17/02/19)