Sometimes when travelling back between the standbys of home, school, and work, I pontificate about how few placed I typically visit in a given year, and how that number is realistically less than 30 unique locations. I suppose this is a sign that I should “get out” more, but I truly have little desire in going to places for the mere sake of leaving, especially when the process of getting from one place to another is such a dull affair for people without the ability to work, read, or mess around on their phone while in transit. Seriously, I went to two new places yesterday but my 6 hours out involved about 4 hours of setting up computers and another 2 of sitting in a hot car in silence. It, combined with how often paratransit is late in picking me up really does make me worry about the future and the transportation related woes it will contain.
But focusing on this past week, there has been a surprising amount of buzz centered around the next generation of gaming systems, clearly indicating that the next year will be a turbulent time for the game industry, though while everybody is getting overzealous over new hardware. This first instance of this came after Sony spoke with Wired to talk about the Playstation 5, which is boasting a number of impressive features including Ray Tracing, a specialized SSD to minimize loading times, 8K resolutions, something regarding a better streaming service, compatibility with Playstation VR, and backwards compatibility with Playstation 4 games.
Now, this is all pleasant, exciting, and generally positive, but something about that strikes me as a bit… odd, considering how much of a mess the last two generations were for both Sony and Microsoft, and how backwards compatibility had not been a priority of Sony’s since 2000. But I guess my assumption that there must be a downside, negative, or generally bad thing about new hardware stem from how disappointed I was by the Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One when they were initially released. Anyways, hopefully Sony can keep up the positives leading up to the launch of their new system in 2020.
This news unsurprisingly caused industry insiders to murmur about the next generation Xbox, and its power supposedly exceeding that of Sony’s latest system, potentially in a bid to win favor with performance enthusiasts who, while a niche audience, can drive the conversation. Combine this with the rise in streaming, it seems like the next generation will indeed be something of a paradigm shift, unlike this past generation which, in all honesty, has felt more like a refinement of the 7th generation more than anything. Well, excluding Nintendo.
Speaking of which, Japanese business publication Nikkei has reported that the long rumored less expensive and more portability focused version of the Switch is scheduled to release sometime this fall, while also mentioning that upon the completion of this model, work will begin on a “next-generation device.” No information was given on the more powerful Switch model previously reported, and it is no surprise that Nintendo is prioritizing a less expensive model, likely aimed at a younger and more casual audience that they previously snagged with the DS and 3DS, and at people who would get a Switch solely to play the latest generation of Pokemon.
It is all great news for the longevity and audience of the system going forward, and said audience will only get bigger now that the Switch is headed to the largest video game market in the world, China! Yes, Nintendo will be partnering with Tencent, who basically are gaming in China, to distribute the system across the nation. It will likely not be a ceaseless discharge of success due to the fact that individual games will still need to be approved and there may be some form of mandatory region locking, because China, but this nevertheless represents a new market, and it is nice when more people get to play more games they might have otherwise never had the opportunity to play.
The library will assuredly be limited for a while, but I’m sure that all the first party staples will find their way into the country, such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which had an impromptu 15 minute long deep dive that could have easily been a mini Nintendo Direct for version 3.0 of the game. As to be expected, this update introduces Persona 5’s Joker into the game, in addition to a new stage rife with Persona 5 fanservice and even some love for Persona 3 and 4 in the form of alternate colors and songs. This was accompanied by the first wave of premium Mii costumes and a few free updates coming to the base game.
Most notably a novel looking and far more detailed stage builder and a sort of Smash Bros. centered media sharing center for Mii fighters, custom stages, and also video submissions, which will also be available via the Nintendo Switch Online app, because everybody loves that. The update came out on Wednesday, but I have not gotten around to it, and probably will not get back to the game until all the newcomers are here, in which case I will probably just play it for a weekend or so… this game has very limited appeal when you don’t like competitive multiplayer.
Though the same thing can be said about most multiplayer games in general, and that’s as good enough of a transition as any to shift over to the recently announced Capcom Home Arcade System. A garish plug and play system with build in arcade sticks that contains a sample of 16 Capcom arcade titles, some of which have never received a proper re-release, will cost £200, and has a somewhat shady emulation situation. Honestly, this strikes me as a staggered attempt to jump into the mini classic console craze popularized by the NES Classic, but without an iconic design to rely on or enough business sense to keep the costs reasonable (under $100 at the very least). They probably should have just included these games in a multiplatform compilation package instead, like they did with the Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle or the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, but instead they felt that this project would have higher profit margins, I guess.
Shifting back to something I personally care about, over the years I have covered the Higurashi series, and while I was not head over heels for every entry, when it’s good, it’s an exceedingly entertaining psychological thriller with more than enough mystery, intrigue, and strongly detailed characters to make the story worth following… even if MangaGamer seems to insist on only putting out one chapter a year. Seriously, I get that Doddler is a busy guy, and that you are a niche company with very limited resources whose primary assets are your dedicated and skilled staff, but c’mon. You’ve already put out Umineko, the successor series to Higurashi, and that came out lightning fast for something that’s over 900,000 words.
Anyways, I bring this up because it was announced that the creator of these two visual novel series, Ryukishi07, is working on another title in a similar vein by the name of Ciconia When They Cry, which was recently announced for a simultaneous English and Japanese release this August. It’s a game set in a retro-futuristic war torn world child soldiers who have giant robot fists of justice that let them fly throughout the sky. That is all I got from the trailer, and that is all I genuinely want to know, much like how I want my knowledge of Umineko to be limited to how it involves an island full of murder and also an immortal witch before it gets that full English dub that was unfortunately delayed a while back…
Header image is from the PS3 version of Higurashi When They Cry, and was coincidentally also featured in Press-Switch v0.5b… Or maybe it was an alternative of this one. I forget and do not care enough to double check.