Hey, did you all see that new Shining Force mobile game announcement? I’m not inherently anti-mobile, so I was curious to see what it would look like. And it actually looks… pretty darn good! But there’s something I see there that really bothers me.
Something I’ve noticed recently with a lot of mobile games and modern games that use a lot of half- or full-body 2D art assets (like visual novels) is how nothing stays still anymore. The graphic team got Live2D (or a very similar animation program), and by God, they are going to make use of it whenever possible. Common thinking seems to be that it’s bad to have 2D art of a character that’s motionless at any point – something must be moving at all times, no matter how weird it looks. The home screen of SINoALICE is a prime example of this — can these characters just sit still for a bit?
You can see the issue in this trailer as the character portraits jiggle and wobble in weird, unsettling ways that feel forced and unnatural, especially when compared to the traditionally-animated attacks shown later in the video. The need for mobile games to have these kinds moving illustrations is so common now, and I hate it. Just have the nice art stay still so I can appreciate it and not be distracted by bizarrely wibbly ears and hair bits and shifty clothing! Argh!
Other than that, the gameplay actually looks pretty faithful to the OG Shining Force games, and the combat sequences are particularly nice. No word on whether or not it’s a gacha game, but let’s be real, there’s like a 99% chance that it is. As an old-school Shining Force fan, I’m eager to see more, and I’m hoping an English localization comes to pass.
Well, enough of that. Let’s look at the news this week, which is very Pokemon-heavy.
POKEMON PRESENTS TAKES US BACK TO SINNOH – WAAAAAAY BACK
It’s time for a new Pokemon Presents! No big new announcements this time – well, not unless you count Pokemon Café ReMix as “big” — but lots of new info on games folks are looking forward to. Let’s take a look!
Awwww yeah. This trailer for Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl hits every sweet spot for players with fond memories of Sinnoh, showcasing all the stuff that made that particular generation unique. Ball decorations! Union Rooms! Super Contests! The underground! Hell yeah, I’m going to make a sweet secret base and mine all the best stuff, just you watch! There’s also new stuff, like costume changes and Pokemon hideaways, but overall, it doesn’t look like these games will be veering too far from the originals in terms of gameplay.
Interestingly, GAME FREAK themselves are not working on Pokemon BDSP. Development duties this time around have been given to a company called ILCA, which apparently stands for “I Love Computer Arts.” They started off as a computer graphics and modeling outsourcing house, but have since expanded into game development proper. The list of games they’ve contributed to is pretty reassuring – it includes standouts like Yakuza 0, Dragon Quest XI and NieR Automata, among many others. They’re also working on The [email protected] Starlit Season along with another game we’ll get to soon. From what I can see, these remakes are in very good hands!
You won’t have to wait too long to return to Sinnoh, as both Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will be available on November 19th of this year. Also releasing alongside Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl is a new, limited-edition Switch Lite model! Its design evokes the old Pokemon Diamond/Pearl DS Lite model from many moons ago, with shining outlines of Dialga and Palkia contrasting against an onyx black base. It’s pretty cool, but… well, all of my friends were like “I’m going to hold off on ordering an OLED Switch, I just know there’s going to be a really cool Pokemon SDBP limited edition OLED model coming soon!” Yeah, uh, whoops.
If GAME FREAK‘s not making Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, what are they working on? The answer is Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which had its first gameplay showcased during the presentation. In this game, you’re being taken to Sinnoh long before human civilization came, when the land was still called Hisui, and the untamed wilderness held many mysterious Pokemon.
Well, after seeing the trailer, I can say that Pokemon Legends certainly looks intriguing. It looks like a hybrid between Monster Hunter and turn-based combat, with the action parts being focused on exploration and Pokemon catching and the turn-based parts coming in when it’s time for Pokemon-on-Pokemon battling.
(Also, am I the only one a little bothered that Pokeball technology apparently existed hundreds of years ago? We know from the Pokemon Ranger games that there are alternate ways to catch and tame Pokemon, so it feels a little anachronistic. Then again, I’m not exactly a Pokemon loremaster, so maybe old-timey Pokeball usage was established already.)
Interestingly, there will also be some new Pokemon variants in the game, along with some completely new species. Growlithe and Braviary have new looks in this game, while Stantler gets a new evolved form in Wyrdeer.
Then there’s Basculegion, who is an evolved form of Basculin and another one of those Pokemon whose origin is incredibly disturbing. Basculin, like salmon, swim upstream — but some perish on their journey, and their angry souls possess others and fuel them with rage, turning them into Basculegion. Damn, that is HARDCORE. Of course, with new Pokemon comes the question, “If this game’s in the past, why aren’t the new Pokemon also in the future?” I honestly hope there will be an unflinching “humans made them go extinct” plot point to hammer home the point to kids that this is a thing that happens, but I suspect the new critters will also appear in the remakes like they were always there.
Pokemon Legends Arceus will be releasing early next year on January 28th. I’m honestly a bit more interested in Pokemon Legends than the remakes, personally, because I’m very eager to see novel new gameplay twists applied to the concepts of Pokemon. As a whole, though, there’s plenty for both casual and devoted Poke-fans to be excited for in these titles.
ACE COMBAT PREPARES TO TAKE OFF ONCE MORE
Ace Combat is 25 years old! Actually, it’s 26 years old, but we get a mulligan on 2020 as a whole. Seems like only yesterday when we were collectively booting the strangely-retitled “Air Combat” up on our launch PSOnes and oohing and ahhing over polygon dogfights. (Well, “we” not including me because I was in the Sega camp. No regrets!) I’m still not sure why Namco dumped the “Air Combat” naming from Ace Combat 2 onwards, but it’s probably for the best that there’s international consistency.
…Oops, I’m rambling again. To celebrate Ace Combat’s 25th anniversary, Bandai-Namco uploaded a roundtable retrospective on the series to YouTube. (Japanese only with no subtitles, unfortunately.) While there was a fair bit discussed, the most important part is that a new Ace Combat project is in the works, and Bandai-Namco will be enlisting the help of an outside developer to aid in creating it. And that developer is… ILCA.
Yes, them again! Between this, Pokemon, [email protected], and their various other outsourcing work, those folks are extremely busy. Something tells we we’re going to start seeing ILCA prominently involved with considerably more projects in the next few years.
Anyhow, details on this new Ace Combat are still sparse, but simply knowing it exists should be enough for series fans to get hyped up. Given how long Ace Combat 7 was delayed for, I understand why the Project Aces team is bringing on some extra development help to hopefully get this one done in a timelier matter. Look forward to more details in the future!
FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: THE GEARS KEEP ON REVVING
The EVO Online Guilty Gear Strive North America finals happened over the weekend, and it was quite a watch! The high-level gameplay was the biggest draw, obviously, but there was another good reason to tune in: a new DLC character reveal! Well, maybe not “new,” since she’s returning from Xrd… but still, it’s good to see Jack-O back-o!
Jack-O will be available to Season Pass-holders on August 27th, while the piecemeal DLC plebs won’t be able to add her to the roster until the 30th. (I get incentivizing buying a season pass, but I’m still not a big fan of the early release thing, personally.)
But that’s not all of the Gear you’re getting this month! Samurai Shodown revealed its latest guest character, who we’ve known for a while would be coming to us from Guilty Gear. Who could it possi-yeah, it’s Baiken. Did anyone seriously think it could be anybody but Baiken?
You won’t have to wait much longer for Baiken to cross swords with Haohmaru and company, as she just dropped today! Unfortunately, she neglected to bring good netcode with her, so, uh… hope you have some local pals to play with.
That’s a wrap for this week. Are you all excited for the various Pokemon releases? (I didn’t even mention that Pokemon Unite is making its way to mobile next month – is anyone reading a serious player of that? I hear mixed things.) Who is the best Pokemon? (Answer: Misdreavus). Eager to play some more Guilty Gear Strive, or play Guilty Gear characters in different games? Everyone is welcome to join the conversation about this week’s news in the forums, linked below! Take care, play safely, and I’ll be back next week. Also, don’t ever harass voice actors about their roles for any reason, OK?