This Week in Games – The Floodgates

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Hi again, folks! Apologies for my absence last week, but I think I have a pretty good excuse: between surgery and my second COVID shot, I was really not feeling it. (Waking up post-surgery and being told that “actually the operation was more complex than we expected, also you need to stay overnight now” is not the nicest surprise to get!) Much of the big news was FFXIV-related, of course, and while I tried to keep up on it from my hospital bed, I mostly just remember turning on the Twitch stream, falling asleep, and waking up to see Naoki Yoshida onscreen talking about something before drifting off again. Yeah, probably for the best that I didn’t report on that.

I’ve been recovering fairly well so far, mostly thanks to my ever-supportive partner and trying not to overexert myself. I did have an odd stroke of luck, though: on a trip to a slightly-out-of-the-way Fred Meyer store to pick up some food and meds, I strolled into the electronics section to see a disc PS5 just chilling on the shelf. I know I said before that I wanted to wait to get a PS5, but being told that stock shortages are likely to continue for a long time was enough to kill any hesitancy to buy it that I may have had. I’m all set to play some Scarlet Nexus next month, hooray!

Enough about me, though! There’s a lot of news happening this week, mostly in the form of announcement streams. Let’s start off with one of Square Enix‘s crown jewels.

DRAGON QUEST RINGS IN ITS 35TH ANNIVERSARY WITH A WAVE OF ANNOUNCEMENTS

As promised, the Square Enix Dragon Quest 35th Anniversary livestream was broadcast with realtime English interpretation, and… man, live, realtime interpretation is hard, especially when it comes to banter between two personalities. All things considered, the interpreter did a hell of a job with extremely difficult material, and I salute her.


Anyhow, let’s take a look at the announcements! There’s a lot!

First off: more Dragon Quest X! Sadly, not really relevant to Western audiences since the online-only game hasn’t been released outside of Japan. But there’s another Dragon Quest X-related announcement that’s much more intriguing:


Folks, you’re looking at Dragon Quest X Offline, a retelling of much of DQX’s story beats in an offline format! Dragon Quest X is among the lower-selling numbered DQ games due to its online-only nature – a lot of fans of the series are simply hesitant to commit to a big MMORPG. Dragon Quest X Online seems tailor-made for these folks… and for the Western market, where DQX is nonexistent. Yet strangely, the post-event press release I got didn’t mention DQX Offline as confirmed for a Western release, even though it seems like a foregone conclusion. I doubt it’ll stay Japan-only, but it’s still kinda weird to just gloss over it in favor of… Dragon Quest Keshi Keshi?


Yeah, it’s another DQ mobile game, and a pretty simple-looking match-3 puzzler. Nowhere near as exciting as, y’know, a numbered Dragon Quest game. But speaking of numbered Dragon Quest games, there’s a big remake in the works!


Did you like the visuals of Octopath Traveler? A lot of folks really warmed to the 2D/3D HD visual hybrid, and Square Enix has taken note: If those visuals work well for NEW games, why, they’ll work even better for beloved OLD games! Like, say… Dragon Quest III, one of the most popular games in the series to this day. Just… dang, y’all, this thing looks GOOD. (I’d usually put a disclaimer here like “no idea how it plays though” but I won’t because it’s Dragon Quest, we all know how it plays.)


But maybe you want to skip all the turn-based fighting and go straight for the loot. That’s what Dragon Quest Treasures is for! This game focuses on Erik and Mia from Dragon Quest XI. Info on this one is sparse, though it’s said that it’s “not a traditional RPG.” Perhaps something more action-oriented? What is shown doesn’t have the quasi-turn-based progression of a Mystery Dungeon game, so it’s likely not that. We’ll see soon enough, I suppose!

Of course, you can’t have a massive Dragon Quest anniversary celebration without one big, BIG announcement, right?


Yes, Dragon Quest XII is definitely in the works, and already has a subtitle: Flames of Fate! DQ creator Yuji Horii mentioned that he wants this to be a more “adult” Dragon Quest game… whatever that means, but the brief trailer definitely gives off a bit of that “gritty reboot” energy. I doubt it’ll be too different in tone from previous games – stuff like Dragon Quest V got pretty dark at times! – so I wouldn’t fret too much about DQ losing its way. No platforms announced yet, but I’d say Switch is probably a given, as it’s the most popular console out right now and DQ prides itself on mass-market appeal. They’re also aiming for a simultaneous global launch, which is going to be a series first.

All in all, lots of great stuff here! I’m not a DQ megafan, but there’s plenty here I’m excited to see more of, so I’d say this presentation was quite a success!

Dragon Quest wasn’t the only massive, company-defining franchise to have an anniversary stream, however…

SONIC’S GOT SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING OLDER, SOMETHING NEW, AND LOTS OF BLUE

Sonic the Hedgehog is 30 years old this year! Despite a legacy of games that is… uneven, to put it kindly, Sonic is still an extremely big deal. Sega actually wanted to make lots of Sonic-related announcements last year in the lead-up to 2021, but then things happened, so now we’re getting a huge dump of Sonic news all at once in a video presentation. Fine by me!


Most of the early newsbits of the presentation are fairly minor: Sonic outfits in a few other Sega games, a free Sonic music concert to be broadcast online, Sonic the Fighters as a playable sub-game in Lost Judgment, and so on. But we’re mostly here for new game announcements, and that’s what we’re getting… sort of.


Here’s Sonic Colors Ultimate! Sonic Colors released on Wii about a decade ago, and is one of the 3D Sonic games most everyone will agree is extremely good: it’s got excellent stage design, fantastic music, and a charming space-amusement-park theme that gives it a lot of variety. I’m very psyched to play through it again in HD at 60 FPS on PS4, Switch, and… Epic Game Store? Ahhh jeez, not you too, Sega! There will also be a new series of online animated shorts to go along with the game’s relaunch, entitled Rise of the Wisps. Looks pretty cute from the clips shown!

But what if you prefer Sonic games that are even older? Worry not, Classic Sonic fans, because Sega has you covered with the Sonic Origins collection! This set has Sonic 1, 2, 3, + Knuckles, and Sonic CD, all packaged together in a set with “enhanced features” — meaning that these are probably based on the various ports Christian Whitehead did (that Sonic fans almost universally adore). However, the interesting outliers here are Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles, which Sega has been reluctant to re-release for quite some time. They’ve never stated why, exactly, but speculation is that it has something to do with Michael Jackson’s heavily rumored involvement with the soundtracks and legal issues with his estate. Will these re-releases use the soundtrack we’re all familiar with, or the one from the recently discovered early development ROM? Place your bets now!

After some more news on Sonic media — Roger Craig Smith re-joining to voice Sonic, some chitchat about the new Netflix series that still doesn’t show us much of anything – we’re ready to wrap things up with another teaser.


Not much to go on here, but the fans are eating it up: there are already plenty of dedicated Sonic fans doing frame-by-frame analyses of it and trying to figure out what those weird scribbles at the end mean. Rumor has it that the working title is Sonic Rangers, which seems plausible – looks mighty forest-y to me! I’m sure more will be revealed later in the year, perhaps around the time Sonic Colors Ultimate hits to keep the hype train rolling.  

THE SWITCH PRO RUMORS THAT WON’T DIE ARE MANIFESTING AGAIN

There is absolutely no denying that the Switch has been a tremendous success for Nintendo. The strategy of ignoring the tech arms race between Microsoft and Sony in favor of making games fans and casual players alike adore has worked out incredibly well for them once again. However, it’s impossible to completely ignore the march of technology, and some elements of the original Switch are looking rather long in the tooth. Nintendo knows this, and rumors of an upgraded “Switch Pro” model akin to the New 3DS from a while back have been making the rounds for something like two years.

And, once again, Bloomberg is here to give us some juicy details on the system Nintendo isn’t talking about but that we all know probably exists. The console will begin assembly in July for shipping in fall of this year, according to sources. The big features will be a new 7-inch OLED screen and 4K display capability when docked thanks to a new NVIDIA chip. It will phase out the current “standard” Switch model, but the Switch Lite will continue to exist in its current form.

The Switch is easily the platform that I give the most playtime, so I’m definitely buying whatever this thing winds up being called. Thing is, with the current semiconductor shortage and Nintendo fans being absolutely ravenous, will the new Switch be as big of a pain in the ass to obtain as the PS5 or Xbox Series? I sure hope not, but given current trends, I have a sinking feeling this launch is going to be messy. Better get used to those online queues, folks.

FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: I CAN BARELY CONTAIN MYSELF

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Virtua Fighter 5: Ultimate Showdown is REAL! It’s coming NEXT WEEK! It’s got updated graphics, music, and interface courtesy of the Ryu ga Gotoku Team! And if you have PS Plus, you get it for free!


While the game is PS4 exclusive (and in arcades, provided you live in Japan), dataminers have found traces of other console and service logos on the official website data, so odds are that this is a timed exclusive. At least, I hope so, because I want as many people to be able to play Virtua Fighter and see Vanessa’s glorious new character model as possible!

There’s a lot more I want to say here – a LOT more – but, uh, I might be working on a review of this right now for somebody, so I need to dial things down a bit. I have feelings and opinions, you see, but I’m not sure how many of them I can really share right now, so…

Maybe we should talk about KoFXV instead? I missed last week’s trailer, which unveiled the Ikari Warriors Ralf and Clark.


… though, going from their background, SNK really wants to re-establish the Ikari Team as Metal Slug cast members, huh? It is a really fun background, though, I dig it. I’m kinda hoping for more non-fighting-game SNK callbacks throughout. Give us that Cyber-Lip tribute we’ve all been craving!


This week’s reveal was another longtime fan favorite, Blue Mary. If you look closely, you can also see a few little gameplay elements being revealed (which my partner had to explain to me since I’m not super knowledgeable about some KoF particulars). I’m liking this slow-drip-feed of character information with little bits of gameplay info woven in approach to keep fan interest high, though some might disagree! At least it means we get funny Twitter memes each week.

Anyhow, that’s gonna do it for now. Phew, a lot going on here – I didn’t even touch on things like the new Horizon gameplay that got shown, but I’m sure there’s plenty of impressions on that floating around the interwebs. What announcements are you most psyched for? I’d love to hear what you think in the forums, so come join us there for some fun conversation! Thanks for reading, as always – we’ll be back again soon!



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