Hi again! It's another interesting week of gaming news… though, if I really wanted to, I could probably just write a whole column about the Epic vs. Apple court proceedings that are happening right now. It's a case that will have big implications for the industry, so while I'm not listening in to the courtroom proceedings each day, I am keeping tabs on daily summaries and live-tweet synopses of what's going on.
Want to know how much $ the devs of those 'free' Epic Games Store games got, & how many copies were grabbed? Here's the first 9 months to September 2019. 👀 pic.twitter.com/5hkLb1VEjj— Simon Carless (@simoncarless) May 3, 2021
What I've found especially amusing is that, because this case has a tremendous amount of material being submitted into evidence by both parties, we've seen a bunch of assumed-confidential communications that have revealed some rather embarrassing stuff, like the abysmal conversion rate of the Epic Games Store and Epic trying to cajole Sony into allowing crossplay. We've even learned that Wal-Mart wanted to get into cloud gaming at one point. This means that now companies that have dealt with Apple and/or Epic – which is roughly 98% of the game industry – are scrambling to make sure these two firms don't accidentally leak stuff while they engage in their courtroom slapfight. Comedy all around!
And hey, today is Resident Evil Village launch day. The cropping of tall images on mobile Twitter was removed this week. Coincidence? I think not.
MADE IN ABYSS IS BEING MADE INTO AN ACTION-RPG
I'll confess, I haven't yet watched Made in Abyss. Lots of folks have told me it's great, but they've also told me that it will crush my soul and tear out my emotions, leaving me a soulless husk. You have to be in a proper place to take in something like that, y'know?
However, there's some great news from those of you who have been swallowed up by Made in Abyss. This week, Spike Chunsoft announced that they're adapting the series into an action-RPG for Switch, PS4, and PC. It's called Made in Abyss: Binary Star Falling into Darkness, due for release in 2022. The press release states that we “can relive the experience of the anime in story mode as well as explore an original story supervised by the series author, Akihito Tsukushi.” I assume that means the game's story will consist of a story adaptation with some new, original content thrown in.
Also, if you're wondering if the game will be as dark and grim as its source material, it's apparently already got a CERO Z rating, which is the harshest rating that can be given to a piece of consumer console software in Japan. (It's still less permissive than the North American M rating, though!) The North American website is also age-gated. It'll be interesting to see what kind of rating and marketing this gets outside of Japan…
GAME BUILDER GARAGE IS HERE TO MAKE CODING ACCESSIBLE AND ADORABLE
Nintendo released earning reports the other day, and as expected, the Switch is absolutely killing it. Part of what makes the system so well-loved is its broad appeal, which Nintendo has worked to cultivate through titles like Ring Fit Adventure, Mario Kart Home Circuit and the Nintendo Labo series – stuff that offers something to experience beyond the standard boundaries of a “traditional” video game. The Big N's latest major game announcement is in the same vein of non-standard gaming as those titles… though without the physical aspect. Or the game.
Game Garage Builder is a framework by which you can build your own, functioning games through a simple, graphical programming language. By linking attributes to visual, adorably anthropomorphic objects, you control their functions, building a small video game step-by-step. While other “make your own game” titles like Little Big Planet, along with Nintendo's own Super Mario Maker and WarioWare DIY, have tread similar ground before, Game Builder Garage leans more towards being an educational tool. It's meant to be a simple introduction to programming that's easy enough for young kids to handle and understand, but strong enough to build a decent-playing mini-game -- if the samples shown in the trailer are anything to go by. And hey, I think that's swell! I'd love to see some of the awesome, crazy stuff people are going to build with this thing. I hope there will be an online sharing system, because nothing's sadder than making a big game that nobody can play. I would think Nintendo wouldn't overlook that, but… this is Nintendo we're talking about, so…
EXCUSE ME, SIR, YOU SEEM TO HAVE LOST YOUR JUDGMENT
The countdown to Judgment Day has ended, and the result is what we all knew was coming: the Yakuza spinoff Lost Judgment! That doesn't make the reveal any less awesome, though, as Lost Judgment was introduced with grandiose flair, including a nearly five-minute trailer (!) complete with a full English dub (!!). (Warning, this one is kinda graphic.)
Takuya Kimura once again reprises his role as detective Takayuki Yagami, who finds himself once again embroiled in a complex (and particularly gruesome) case. As the earlier teaser clips hinted, he'll be investigating in Yokohama this time around, visiting both familiar places from Yakuza: Like a Dragon and new areas like a high school. Will he be grabbing some delicious snacks from Ichiban Confections’ flagship store or helping a certain scientist document the weirdoes of Yokohama in his spare time, I wonder?
Of particular interest is that Lost Judgment will be getting a simultaneous worldwide release on September 24th for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series. This marks the first time that a Yakuza series game will get a global simu-launch, which is a monumental feat for a game with this much written and spoken dialogue: when you don't have additional buffer time to edit translated dialogue and work with voice actors and things about the in-development game could potentially change at a moment's notice, it can be absolute chaos. (I'm also assuming that the Chinese and Korean localizations will be simu-launches as well, which makes things even more daunting.) The Yakuza localization team has been knocking it out of the park so far, but this will be a true challenge – especially during COVID times -- so I wish them the best of luck.
Series maestro Toshihiro Nagoshi also commented on the future of the series, saying that from this point on, the Judgment games will retain the action focus that the series was built on while the “mainline” Yakuza/Ryu ga Gotoku games will be turn-based RPGs. That makes me wonder what could come of any future spinoffs and what sort of genres they might embrace. After all, we've already had strategy and management sub-games appear in the series… would you buy a full-on hostess club management sim? I know I would!
FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: A TWO-FER THIS TIME
It's that time again, time for more King of Fighters XV character reveals! This time, it's a two-for-one deal, as we get both Ryo Sakazaki and Robert Garcia together in a single trailer!
I kinda dig that little throwback to the Art of Fighting 3 intro when each character is introduced. Not digging sleazy KoFXIV design Robert, though. He looks like he belongs in a role of the slimeball in a random telenovela. Ryo, Robert, and King make up the Art of Fighting team, which makes me think Takuma might be out of the roster. Also, with King on the AoF team and Yuri and Mai already revealed, who would be slot #3 on the women fighters' team, I wonder?
Meanwhile, the crew at Future Club games are still working hard on making new content for Skullgirls: 2nd Encore and its associated mobile game. The next character to debut is Umbrella, and she'll be coming to all platforms later this year!
So, I think that's just about everything. I guess it's worth mentioning that E3 2021 got some additional virtual exhibitors at around the same time that Konami decided to bow out for a generic “we're still working on stuff” excuse. Konami gonna Konami. (I wouldn't get your hopes up that they're coming back to major AAA development, just sayin’.) Anyhoo! Are you interested in exploring the darkness of Made in Abyss in game form? Planning on building some games with Game Maker Garage? Looking forward to Lost Judgment? Eager to master the Art of Fighting in KoFXV? Come chill in our lovely forums to chatter about this week's gaming news. We'll be back soon with another This Week in Games, so thanks as always for reading!