Hey all. We're a little bit late this week. Our household suffered the loss of a very dear companion on Wednesday.
Ricki had been developing breathing issues that took a turn for the worse this week. Given the choice of subjecting her to a series of invasive, difficult, and possibly futile treatments to detect and remove the cause of the problem (likely cancer) and letting her pass away peacefully, we chose the latter. It sounds like an easy choice to keep her from needless suffering, but it's so hard to sign those papers and say goodbye so suddenly to a beloved pet. It was even tougher for my partner, who had lived with her for over seventeen years. We know she's better now, but we still miss her terribly.
Love you always, Ricki.
This happening right before April Fools’ Day didn't do much to put me in a mood for tomfoolery. I'm not one of those crotchety “grrr I hate April Fools phooey” types, but suffering a household loss before a famous joke day sucks a lot of fun out of the proceedings no matter what your opinion of the quasi-holiday is. Even so, there were a few pranks (and genuine announcements) that managed to make me smile a little, such as an [email protected] fighting game, made by the Tekken team, that suddenly appeared in the mobile game [email protected] Million Live! Theater Days (Good thing Iori's not in this game or Katsuhiro Harada would have made her top tier.)
CAPCOM also made a browser-based sequel to last year's cats-meets-Street Fighter puzzle game Neco Drop called (unsurprisingly) Neco Drop 2. As of this writing it's still available to play. It's pretty similar to last year's game with a few new additions, including a mode where you can earn prizes by betting cat food on Street Fighter V matches. It's a nice (and free!) little browser game on its own merits, so if you like color-matching puzzle games, give it a play. You might just encounter this little fella:
Yes, that's a cat based on Captain Sawada from the infamous Street Fighter movie. His inclusion in Neco Drop 2 has fans speculating that Sawada might be the as-of-yet-unannounced final character in Street Fighter V's fifth season. If that's the route CAPCOM's going, they have my wholehearted support – folks have come to love the Street Fighter movie in the decades since its release as a ridiculous, campy action flick, and giving the film an acknowledgement in “real” Street Fighter would make a lot of folks happy.
ALSO, SOL CRESTA IS A REAL GAME NOW
Around this time last year, PlatinumGames did an April Fools’ prank of their own, announcing a new arcade game called Sol Cresta. This would be a follow-up to Moon Cresta and Terra Cresta, two early shooters made by the pioneering arcade company Nichibutsu in the golden age of arcade gaming. I say “would be” because LOL, April Fools!
Classically-minded folks who know about Platinum boss Hideki Kamiya's eternal affection for 80s arcade games had a good chuckle, though the majority of the comments on Sol Cresta were some variation on “where's Bayonetta 3.” Fast forward to a year later! Sol Cresta is real, being made right now, releasing this year on PS4, Switch, and PC, and is being advertised as the first in a “NeoClassic Arcade Series.”
Going by the video, “NeoClassic” means making an all-new game modeled in the style of arcade titles of the 80s and early 90s. My goodness, that's my exact favorite period of arcade history! I think I have a new line of games to get really excited over. Thanks, Platinum!
…But the “C” in that logo really looks like a “P.” Also, there's still plenty of folks in the comments of Sol Cresta-related media still complaining about Bayonetta 3. Now I understand why Kamiya wants to go back and undo that announcement until there's something to show.
THE SONY JAPAN EXODUS CONTINUES
Things are really weird for Sony right now. The PS3, PSP, and PS Vita store shutdown was indeed confirmed (though you can still continue to download already-purchased games, which is nice), PlayStation Studios has published a game that's free on Xbox Game Pass but full price on PlayStation, and more staff are leaving Sony Japan after they decided to consolidate most of their in-house Japanese development into a studio called ASOBI.
This week saw more announcements regarding high-profile departures and future projects of former Sony Computer Entertainment Japan staff. First is Masami Yamamoto, a producer who helped bring us titles like Bloodborne, Soul Sacrifice, and (one of my personal favorites) Tokyo Jungle. He's forming a new studio called EPIGRasm. No word on what they're working on yet, but this is definitely another case where I'm like “you really need to consult with a native English speaker before naming your company.”
Artist and character designer Shunsuke Saito, who is perhaps best known for his work in bringing the world of Gravity Rush to life, also announced that he's leaving Sony. He's joined by Kentaro Motomura, who has been with Sony Computer Entertainment since the early days of the PS2 and helped turn that system into an all-time sales juggernaut. The two intend to continue working in games, but where they'll go is anyone's guess.
Finally, producer Gavin Moore, who helped lead the recent Demon's Souls remake to fruition, is leaving Sony after almost a quarter-decade.
After 24 years at Sony and 18 of those in Japan, yesterday was my last day at #JAPANStudio. I will miss the great creative spirit and camaraderie of the studio that was a huge part of my life. Time to seek out new and exciting opportunities!! pic.twitter.com/XOW0XytYd4— gavin moore (@GavinmGavin) April 1, 2021
It's hard not to be upset seeing all of this talent leaving Sony. These folks made a lot of memories for people, and seeing them scattered to the winds is really the end of an era. It's hard to really understand what Sony's plan is right now – PS5s are still impossible to get, they're killing off access to older games and platforms, and they don't really have an answer to the increasing popularity of Xbox Game Pass and Microsoft's aggressive acquisitions. I feel like Sony gutting their most historically-important development teams is probably not a solution to the issues they're facing and a generally bad PR move overall, but maybe there's something I don't know…
FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: KING, OF KING OF FIGHTERS
We talked a lot about Melty Blood's comeback last week, but all we had at the time were screenshots. Now… behold! HD Melty Blood in all of its widescreen glory!
SNK's been keeping up on the weekly KoFXV reveals, and recently, they're also doing a thing where they'll tease a silhouette of the next to-be-unveiled character on Twitter a few days in advance of their full trailer.
I'm pretty sure they've been picking some deliberately ambiguous silhouettes to whip (ha ha) fans into a frenzy. Last week's silhouette could have very well been Ryo Sakazaki, but it turned out to be Yashiro. From a glance at this week's teaser, I could have sworn the reveal would be Ash Crimson, the love-him-or-hate-him pro/antagonist of KoF2003 through XIII. There was a fair bit of back and forth on Twitter on whether it was Ash or King. Spoiler: It was King.
(Honestly, though, I'd be surprised if Ash doesn't show up on KoFXV.)
Also there's some Virtua Fighter-related news, courtesy of a leak from the Korean game ratings board. I'm hesitant to report on this as there's very little here to report, but know that there's a little voice in me screaming aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa right now and waiting eagerly some sort of official reveal from Sega. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
"Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown" for PS4 has been spotted on a Korean ratings board, and the ratings application lists "Virtua Fighter eSports" as an alternate title... https://t.co/l68avNWjJH— GSK | https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ab_mn (@gosokkyu) April 2, 2021
Well, I think that's all for this week. That's all I really have the energy to talk about, anyway. My apologies, it's been a stressful few days and I've had to play catch-up on a lot of news. Did you have any favorite gaming April Fools’ pranks from this year, or perhaps one that really got you steamed? Maybe a game announcement that you really, really wished was real? Come join us for a chat about the most and least funny hijinks from April first. Also, please hug your pets. I'll see you again soon.