Hey, remember last week when there was a bunch of news? Pffft, that was nothing. This week we've got big ol capital-letters NEXT GEN CONSOLE NEWS. Which is why I'm using the opening paragraphs to highlight this week's cool retro announcements!
M2 is one of the most beloved names in retrogaming: their ports and remasters are among the best in the industry. They're responsible for the Genesis and TurboGrafx Mini consoles, every Sega Ages re-release on Switch and 3DS, and the recent Castlevania and Contra collections. But their big passion project is M2 Shot Triggers, a collection of mega-enhanced ports of classic scrolling arcade shoot-em-up games. Despite all of the next-gen chaos happening, M2 decided now was a good time to make a bunch of new classic port announcements, and I love them for it.
On their recent livestream, M2 announced that they plan to port a handful of obscure titles from late, great arcade publisher Data East at some point in the future. When I say obscure, I mean obscure: I doubt many of you have heard of Zaviga, B-Wings, Metal Clash, Last Mission, and Psycho-Nics Oscar.
What might be more familiar to some folks, though, is the Aleste shooter series. Several Aleste titles were released on early Sega platforms: If you've played Power Strike, MUSHA, or Robo Aleste, you're familiar with at least part of the series. M2 is not only developing a new Aleste game from the ground up called Aleste Branch, but will be releasing an Aleste collection for the Switch, PS4, and… Game Gear Micro?
Yes, they're making a special white-shelled Aleste Game Gear Micro for you to play Aleste, the two GG Aleste games, and the formerly Europe/Brazil exclusive Power Strike II on. It's ridiculous and I love it. Retrogaming sure is rad.
Anyhow, enough of that. Time for THE FUTURE!
Sony had another PS5-centric livestream this week. While a lot of what got shown was first revealed in previous streams, there were some big, big announcements we'll get to shortly. Rather than go through everything shown again, let's get to the most important announcement: Pricing!
The “standard” PS5 model with a disc drive comes in at $500 US dollars, with the disc-less version at $400. It's not quite the magic $299 price point of the Xbox Series S, but it offers the same specs as the standard model PS5, just… without a disc drive. (The Xbox Series S, as you may recall, has a fair few compromises in the graphics department to keep cost down compared to the Xbox Series X.) You'll be able to buy a PS5 starting on either November 12th or November 15th, depending on where you live! And with that, the next-gen wars have well and truly begun!
So now it's time to weigh everything in our upcoming purchasing decisions. Folks were quick to point out last week that a disc-less Xbox Series S meant they couldn't play their existing Xbox library. To that, I would be prepared to point out that Xbox Game Pass has a lot of great stuff and a Series S + Game Pass would be plenty for a good chunk of the game-buying audience. However, news came out earlier this week that if you are playing a game that was enhanced for Xbox One X on Xbox Series S through Game Pass or somesuch, you won't get the Xbox One X enhanced version, just the regular Xbox One version! But you will get “improved texture filtering, higher and more consistent frame rates, faster load times and Auto HDR.” Yeah, confusing, I know.
Well, clearly Sony has seen the positive response to Game Pass, as they're launching something similar of their own: PlayStation Plus Collection. This is a library of some of the hottest PS4 hits, playable on PS5 through backwards compatibility, and includes the likes of Persona 5, God of War, Final Fantasy XV, Monster Hunter World, and more. It's free for existing PS Plus members, too, unlike Game Pass, which is a separate thing from XBox Live. Besides offering up a counter to one of Microsoft's biggest selling points, PS Plus Collection also helps make that disc-less PS5 a bit more appealing: Rather than stuffing your SSD with disc images, you can just download stuff instead!
Of course, Xbox Game Pass still has an edge in that it offers up a lot of new and old games, including some new releases, but I think Sony has been experimenting on that front a bit, too – hell, one of the reasons Fall Guys is so big right now is because they just gave it away to everyone who had PS Plus last month.
So after the PS5's price was revealed, Geoff Keighley started tweeting about pre-orders. And then all hell broke loose. I guess pre-order openings were supposed to begin today, but some retailers either didn't get the memo or were just like “screw it, get those pre-order bucks while everyone's saying ‘shut up and take my money’.” A bunch of online PS5 pre-orders went up in various places, and then sold out almost immediately, leaving folks turning to the tried-and-true method of “calling your local store to see what they're doing and hoping there's still a spot open.” As of the time of writing, lots of people who want to preorder the PS5, with or without disc drive, are pretty SOL.
Let's look back two months for maximum irony:
One thing that also wasn't mentioned was that the average price point for PS5 software is going to be in the $70 USD range – an increase of about $10 over what we're used to. I assume the Xbox Series games will be in the same boat. Given both inflation and the rising cost of making big AAA games, this was inevitable, and I'm hoping it'll mean less predatory microtransaction/DLC schemes as a fallback to offset costs this gen. Key word hoping. Depending on where you live, however, you could see a much higher price spike this gen. (I'm afraid to even look at what the Latin American prices are going to be.)
So, what was shown on the livestream that made people so eager to toss money at the PS5? WELL,…
FINAL FANTASY XVI EXISTS, IS BLOODY AND COMPLICATED, AND IS BEING MADE BY SOME BIG NAMES
Well, that's a good thing to start your console presentation with, huh? Yes, Final Fantasy XVI is announced, and you can see the very first-ever trailer right here!
The trailer is heavy on cool imagery and light on story specifics, but best as I can figure out: the main character is one of a group of warriors, he's entrusted with protecting a Little Lord Fauntleroy type, there are a bunch of new variations on classic Final Fantasy eidolons, betrayal and politicking are afoot, and somehow crystals are involved but they're bad. Well, as long as it looks cool and pretty, folks will be happy, but I would have liked more story details, personally.
The other big news about FFXVI besides it existing is that it's a PlayStation Console Exclusive, or at least that's what it said during the presentation, leading folks to assume a PC version will happen at some point. Hell, it even said that the footage was running on PC emulating the PlayStation Console Experience™. This has led to some hilarious backtracking with various folks at both companies saying “PC version? Nope, don't know nothin’, PS5 only!” when pressed. Sony really wants you Final Fantasy nerds to buy a PS5, dammit!
So… I can't be the only person getting strong Ivalice vibes off of this, right? I mean, Final Fantasy Tactics and (half of) FFXII director Yasumi Matsuno is known for his tales of fantasy mixed with political intrigue. A lot of folks were making Game of Thrones comparisons, but let's be real here: Matsuno was doing all of that stuff (minus the incest) long before the GoT TV series hit. The dialogue also reminds me of famed localizer Alexander O. Smith's sublime work with Matsuno in the past…
It might just be me, though, because Square Enix has confirmed some key staffers for the game. Ryota Suzuki, who last worked as battle director on Devil May Cry 5 (which, hey, get ready to buy that again for next-gen), looks to be adding a bit of an action-y touch to combat based on the trailer. (Going in a more action-based direction wouldn't be too surprising after FFXV and FFVII Remake's combat – FF's been heading that way for a while now.) The director is Hiroshi Takai, who has been with Final Fantasy and the SaGa series for a while and also directed the supremely underrated The Last Remnant.
Finally, the producer is Naoki Yoshida, aka Naoki-P, aka the man who managed the herculean task of remaking Final Fantasy XIV from a notorious failure into what's probably the best MMO on the market right now. Somehow, he is working on this while continuing to work on FFXIV, which is a workload I can't possibly comprehend. This man and Masahiro Sakurai need to be sequestered together in a vacation house for their own health and sanity, for real.
Anyway, since Naoki-P knocked it out of the park with remaking FFXIV, Square Enix has given him the keys to the next single-player installment. Maybe that's where I'm getting the Ivalice vibes from, seeing as how Yasumi Matsuno is also involved with FFXIV now. I've heard it rumored that the art designer is Akihiko Yoshida, too. Hmmmm! Well, anyway, knowing who's making this has got me more excited than the trailer did, because these folks have proven they know how to make good shit.
As for when FFXVI will release… who knows? 2020 isn't likely, and given the series’ history with delays, 2021 isn't looking so hot, either. Sony is gambling here, hoping that revealing FFXVI will sell PS5s now based purely on anticipation. Will it work? Seems like it!
Anyway, most of what Sony showed besides FFXVI was stuff that was either already announced or will be out pretty soon, so I don't think we really need to go over that. I mean, I've already written 1,000-some words about Sony's showing, and we haven't even touched Nintendo yet!
ANOTHER ITTY-BITTY NINTENDO DIRECT WITH SOME BIG OL MONSTERS
Early this morning, Nintendo delivered another of their Nintendo Direct Mini broadcasts, this one focused heavily on third-party offerings. This time around, the focus was clearly on a specific 800-ton lizard of a licensee franchise… but there were certainly a few nice little surprises relating to some longtime fan-favorite series, as well. Let's take a look!
First off: Disgaea 6! We've heard about this being in the works for a while, but we've finally got our first glimpse of what it looks like. It's not quite what I expected, but in a good way: the character models are in 3D for the first time, but they still convey a lot of the goofy, brightly-colored charm of Takehito Harada's artwork. I love 2D artwork as much as the next old-school gaming nerd, but I'm totally OK with this. I also like the main character designs: the lead is Zed, a zombie whose goal is to become absurdly powerful by dying and reviving, and he's accompanied by a cute young demon lass whose name and background we don't know much about yet, but demon girl sidekicks are always great.
Disgaea 6 is a Switch exclusive – Nintendo likely cut a quiet deal with Nippon Ichi to help fund some of the game's development in exchange for exclusivity – and I think that's perfectly fine. Disgaea has always been more enjoyable on portable platforms where you can just dig the game out for a quick level-farming run. Also, if you have a Switch Online membership, you can get Disgaea 5 for free for a limited time, so why not check that out?
So, who here likes Rune Factory? It's one of those series with a relatively small fanbase, but that fanbase is nothing short of ravenous. Well, good news for all of you: Rune Factory 5 is coming to Switch in 2021, and it looks great.
Seriously, I am loving the visual style in this. Lots of color and detail, really nice character models, dynamic-feeling RPG combat with varied camera angles. There are a couple of shots in the trailer that seem relatively bland, though, but I'm willing to extend the benefit of the doubt due to the game still being in development. The gameplay overview sounds similar to previous titles, though, so I'm hoping we get more details on what's new and improved later. The farming-RPG-romance hybrid genre is surprisingly competitive these days, so we need all the details we can get!
Finally, we come to the reason why this Nintendo Direct Mini exists. That's right, folks, it's Monster Hunter time! This Mini gave of announcements for two new Monster Hunter titles: Monster Hunter Rise and Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin. Let's begin with Rise: this is a new Monster Hunter spinoff that looks to focus more on story and setting... and your fuzzy companions!
Yes, Monster Hunter Rise has both doggie and kitty buddies, and that rules. Riding the doggo uses less stamina, lets you get around faster, and gives you some unique attacks, so expect to spend a good amount of time with your canine pal. The world is also more open to free exploration, so I expect folks will be spending plenty of quality time with their Very Good Boys visiting all of the picturesque scenery. Don't forget to pre-order for your Golden Retriever costume DLC!
Monster Hunter Rise looks to be a good ways into development, and is currently scheduled to launch in March of next year. But that's not all: Monster Hunter Stories 2 is also set for a Switch release. Monster Hunter Stories is a kinder, gentler take on the series where it's less about killing monsters and more about hijacking their eggs and raising monsters from birth to be your BFFs to fight alongside you in turn-based combat. So, y'know, you're still kinda screwing with the natural order of things, but at least fewer monsters have to die, right?
So yeah, a good day for Monster Hunter fans globally! With Monster Hunter's status as a mega-tier franchise in Japan, these games will help ensure that the Switch remains the country's top-selling platform for a good while, even in the face of the PS5 launch.
Alright, so now that all the cards are on the table, what are your personal plans for the next console generation? Me, I think I'm going to wait it out a bit – I rarely buy consoles at launch, and I see no immediate reason to change that habit, especially with the Switch still looking so good for upcoming games. Are you excited for Final Fantasy XVI? How about the new Monster Hunters? Are you going to comment angrily on how I didn't talk about the new RWBY game even though we barely know anything about it yet? Join our forums below for lively discussion about all of this week's big gaming revelations! See you all again soon!