Rundown (4/09-4/15) Q1 2017 Was the Best Quarter for Video Games

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Recently, discussions have begun about how 2017 might just be one of the best years in video gaming, as the first quarter of the year was home to an excess of stellar titles. However, I can’t help but find any of those claims to be a bit overly presumptuous, as the year is still beginning. But if people were instead talking about how Q1 was the best quarter in the history of gaming, then that it both entirely justifiable, and those people are probably right considering the number of great games that came out in those 90 days. The only one of which I played was Dragon Quest VIII… Man, I am really disconnected from the cultural zeitgeist.

The first Nintendo Direct of the year was held this week, and accordingly, a lot of cool stuffs came from it. But before talking about their sparkly new console, nintendo chose to talk about some 3DS titles, as an effort to make the most of the system before it is shunned away, like most older Nintendo systems are. To the point where so much as caring about the games is actually not that easy for me to do. Because the games are so technically inferior to the Switch and by extension, every modern game console. Seeing as how that was my general reaction to most of the titles shown, I’ll just run through them really quickly.

Ever Oasis looks like a genuine effort for Grezzo, the people behind Ocarina of Time 3D and Majora’s Mask 3D, to come into their own as a game developer and move past the shadow they’ve been residing in for the past several years. Now fully equipped with experience from working on some of the most beloved game sin one of the most beloved series. Hopefully it will not all be for not or just go completely unnoticed when the game releases on June 23rd.

After a perplexing reveal, the 3DS Pikmin game, Hey! Pikmin, was shown in further detail, allowing for its 2D perspective to be shown in more detail and more resemble an enjoyable video game rather than a side project that was put together to make up for, presumably, several years of unseen and sporadic development. Whether or not the game actually holds up will be determined when it is plucked from one of Nintendo’s orifices on July 28th.

Monster Hunter Stories aims to offer a dramatically different take on the methodical and intense action game series by being something more akin to Pokemon with monster catching, breeding, raising, and turn-based battling. It looks like a novel and enjoyable game, but I would be more than likely to do poorly regarding sales, especially if the inevitable Monster Hunter game for the Switch is announced before its release in Fall 2017.

Following last year’s release of Yo-Kai Watch 2, it was announced that the third and expanded version of the game, Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Spectres, will be released in the west this fall, in a move that honestly just confuses me. First off, this is supposedly the “definitive” version of Yo-Kai Watch 2, so why exactly wasn’t it released in its stead? That would be better than releasing 2 versions to only fragment the series’s already fairly small audience and potentially alienate newcomers. Secondly, doesn’t this indirectly mean that Yo-Kai Watch 3, which released in Japan in July 2016, will not be released in the west until 2018? Because if the series was already having low sales outside of Japan, that will just do abysmally.

To celebrate Kirby’s 25th Anniversary, a series of games will be released on the Nintendo eShop. Namely two expanded version of subgames from Kirby: Planet Robobot, which I really should play at some point, and a third multiplayer focused title that will be Kirby’s major 25th anniversary game. While I see the appeal in this, part of me just wishes they would release a repackaged version of a bunch of handheld Kirby games for the 3DS. Actually, that would be pretty neat.

Switching over to the Switch, ARMS was shown in further detail, and looks to be a distinct and fairly enjoyable fighting game, but I’m slightly concerned over the game’s fixation on changing character loadouts by switching what kind of arms the handful of playable characters can utilize, as it seems like it would make matchups far harder to manage. Though, that’s just a slight concern, as Nintendo is clearly putting a lot of weight behind this game, and it looks like it will garner some sort of following when it is released on June 16th.

Splatoon 2 was shown off to the extent of a new horde-based multiplayer mode where players gradually increase their weapons powers in order to defeat more baddies and by extension, get more goodies to buy more fly clothing and dope ink guns. Amiibo support was also shown for the game, and once again acted as a grim reminder of how often it feels that gameplay features are being hindered by these blasted pieces of plastic. Regardless, the game looks like more of the first one, and considering how well that one did, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Hopefully it will delight many when it released on July 21st.

Shortly after releasing this Direct and showing how they would continue to truly support their aging hardware for the first time since the era of the GameBoy Advance, Nintendo of America put out a press release saying that they would be discontinuing the other piece of Nintendo hardware on the market right now, the NES Mini. Yes, after continuously selling out and making them a nice profit, the company has chosen to stop manufacturing the system. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because they are the people who initially refused to publish Xenoblade Chronicles, a game that was already localized and successful enough to warrant two sequels and a New 3DS port.

Moving to more sensible news, members of the Xbox Inside Program have found evidence of a self-service refund policy that Microsoft is intending to roll out for both Xbox One and their Windows 10 store. The policy has the familiar 14-day and 2 hour limitations as Steam, but with some odd restrictions applied. To refund a game, the the purchaser must wait one day after release, must have downloaded the game, and must have launched it at least once. All of which seem like needless limitations that nobody should need to abide to, and will likely result in less people requesting refunds because it is so much more of a hassle. When refunds should have little to no hassle involved.

To close things off, there is some PC port news regarding some niche Japanese games that I think look cool, but before getting into the announcements, I should bring up part of the reason why I shine such a spotlight on these fairly innocuous bits of news. Because for a while, Japanese games were not on Steam, and I am genuinely happy whenever a Japanese developer or publisher shows dedication and support towards the PC as a platform. PC Gamer actually recently wrote about this trend in more detail, and I would actually very strongly recommending it, as there is some interesting cultural and industry related stuff in there.

After being teased as part of an April Fools joke, Bayonetta has been announced for and released on PC via Steam. The game boasts numerous graphical options and is a supposedly quite good port that will hopefully lead to more of Platinum’s previous titles, and other games published by Sega, to come out on the platform, as I’m sure the game will rack up over 200,000 sales by the year’s end.

After being leaked via an online ratings board several months ago, the most recent western released Neptunia game, Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls, was announced for PC, with a release due sometime this summer. While I have spoken out about how irritated I have become with the Neptunia series after its lack of evolution and the fatigue that comes with playing 7 games in the series over the span of 22 months, I ultimately do love the series, and will be happy to see how things play out in this crossover with an anime about bunch of characters based on old Sega systems. Come to think of it, I really should give that show a watch.

Coincidentally, another Idea Factory game was announced for a PC release via Steam, with the idol RPG Omega Quintet coming to the platform by way of Ghostlight Games, who have an odd tendency to pick up titles that are among the niche of the niche, presumably because the licensing costs are low, and because Agarest: Generations of War did really well for them. Regardless, I was never interested in the game when it launched on PS4, and the critical reception was tepid, so I’ll likely just pass this one by.

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