Over the past few weeks I decided to see what all the hubbub was about with Attack on Titan, and jumped into the manga, having previously watched the first season of the anime 6 years ago. I found the series to substantially improve following the first few arcs. I enjoyed the way the story routinely shifts from a political thriller to a high octane visceral battle manga. I was impressed by how the series managed to keep so many questions lingering, but gets to answering all of them eventually, and it answers them quite well. The art is detailed and distinctive the characters have some ingenuity to them, the writer clearly put a lot of forethought into the world building, and it’s overall quite riveting stuff. So yes, the popular thing is good, I like it, and I’m looking forward to it ending… within the next year or so.
Kicking things off with a follow-up, WayForward and Arc System Works have released a debut trailer for the previously announced River City Girls. Yes, the developers of Shantae are making their own entry in the long running Kunio-kun series, which is commonly known as River City in the west because that’s how localization worked back in the 1980s. This title is, unsurprisingly, a nonlinear beat ‘em up staring Kyoko and Misako, the female leads of the series, who must punch, kick, and suplex their way through waves and waves of good-for-nothing goons and colorful cronies in order to save their boyfriends.
The game itself looks promising mechanically, unsurprising given how this isn’t WayForward’s first beat ‘em up, and looks positively excellent visually, boasting fluid, vibrant, and personality rich sprite art and illustrations brimming with charm and character. I also cannot help but take particular interest in how this title chooses to blend the western and Japanese elements this series is known to possess, with the provided snippets showing something of a melting pot approach, which is probably for the best. Anyways, River City Girls will hit PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on September 5th, and while this genre typically is not in my wheelhouse, it’s undoubtedly going on the list.
Coincidentally, that is not the only niche Japanese game series with a sketchy localization history that resulted in a series known by two names… or in this instance three names. Basically, the Bokujō Monogatari series was localized in the west as Harvest Moon from 1996 to 2013 by Natsume, but then the developers were acquired by Marvelous in 2013, who had their own western localization branch that took on localization duties. But due to licensing reasons, Natsume still owned the Harvest Moon name, and continued it with new developers while the Bokujō Monogatari games became known as Story of Seasons in the west. This gets particularly confusing when remakes are announced, and this is arguably the most confusing instance of a remake announcement I can think of.
The second console entry in the series, known to the west as Harvest Moon 64, was originally going to be ported to the PS1, but the developers instead wound up remixing and reworking the game into something new, entitled Harvest Moon: Back to Nature. This title was then remade for the GBA as Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town and Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town. Those two games, which were only different in that the former had a male protagonist and the latter had a female protagonist, are receiving a full remake from Marvelous Entertainment entitled Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. So it is a remake of two games that themselves are remakes of a remix. Video games are absurd sometimes.
With that information in mind, the decision to remake this game with modern technology is admirable, but this entry also marks the first mainline title to come to an HD system, being pegged for a Switch release later this year, which is surprising for such a long-running series. However, the screenshots provided look rather… plain. This is quite surprising when compared to Doraemon: Story of Seasons, a game also developed by Marvelous that came out just last month in Japan, and has this beautiful painterly backgrounds making up its world, with well integrated 3D models. Whereas Friends of Mineral Town boasts some nice lighting effects, but an aggressive depth of field and exaggerated chibi character models that look like they were ported over from a 3DS or mobile game. I don’t want to say this game was a late era 3DS project that they shelved and spruced up while working on their licensed games… but that sounds pretty plausible. Also, a localization was announced, but no release window.
Continuing this trail of announcements involving niche Japanese series and localization snafus, Spike Chunsoft held a panel at Anime Expo this past week where they announced their latest exploits as a publisher, the first of which was the announcement that Conception Plus: Maidens of The Twelve Stars will be coming to PS4 and PC in the west on November 5th. The title, to reiterate upon an earlier Rundown, is a remake/remaster of a late-end PSP title that naturally was never localized, yet its sequel was, and even retained its number, despite the fact that when you localize a sequel, but not the original, you can typically get away with removing numbers. …Yeah, I have nothing to say about this conceptually interesting but, as I have heard, unremarkable JRPG, and just find its localization and release history to be a quirky and neat.
A far more noteworthy announcement from this panel was the localization announcement of the Robotics;Notes Elite, that Science Adventure visual novel about a bunch of robot loving dorks enjoying their carefree summertime teenage days in a contemporary sci-fi rendition of Japan that will inevitably spiral into absurdity involving real life giant robots, likely through a layered and intricate narrative rife with loss and hardships. This announcement was previously teased last year, and is due out for PS4, Switch, and PC via Steam in 2020. While the sequel, Robotics;Notes Dash was also announced, but is presumably still a ways off, so no details were attached. Steins;Gate alone was of a high enough quality to make me a dedicated fan of this series, and come to think of it, I should probably get around to Steins;Gate 0… *looks at schedule* …in 2020!
To add in yet another happy happy joyful localization news Yo-Kai Watch 4 received an official yet informal localization announcement at Anime Expo, meaning that the Switch exclusive multidimensional monster befriending action RPG will be coming to the west. The big factor that prevented me from getting into this series, aside from being bound to the 3DS, was the uninvolved gameplay, and while the gameplay I’ve seen looks a bit rough, I am still quite keen on checking this title whenever it comes out, and am preemptively loathing the comments that “this is what Pokemon should have always been”. Though I absolutely would not be opposed to a Pokemon spin-off in a similar style. In fact, that could be pretty great if the right developer is attached…
Moving away to something aside from localization announcements, the announcement that Shenmue III would be an Epic Games Store exclusive was immensely upsetting to a lot of people, and after many negotiations and meetings, Ys Net and Deep Silver have finally offered an update to this precarious predicament they knowingly fumbled themselves into. In short, they will be offering backers the ability to wait a year for a Steam key and request refunds, paid on behalf of Epic Games, if possible, but not offer people physical PC copies that are anything more than a code, because reasons. As for why they took the deal in the first place, they did not explicitly state why this was the case, but did illustrate that, thanks to the funding offered by Epic Games, they were able to implement certain features that were reserved for their $11 million dollar tier, when the Kickstarter ultimately earned just shy of $7 million.
Or in other words, the Shenmue III development team probably received at least $4 million for one year of exclusivity, and there is reason to believe that they received considerably more. I mean, Samurai Shodown was offered a deal worth several hundreds of thousands of sales, and if we conservatively estimate that as 200,000 copies for $40, you get about $8 million. When dealing with that kind of money, I honestly cannot really fault companies for taking these offers, especially if they are smaller developers who want to secure a future for themselves, like the people behind Untitled Goose Game.
That would about cover it, but somebody just had to announce something an hour after I got this post and this month’s Ramble ready for publication. Thankfully, this is an instance of incredibly good news. Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth Complete, a compilation of 2015’s digitally delisted Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth along with its sequel, Hacker’s Memory was announced for Switch and PC and is set to release on October 18th. I have been wanting to play these games for a while, bought a PS4 copy of the first game just in case it rose up wildly in price and never got ported forward, and while I was convinced these games would come to Switch after some retail leaks, it is great to hear that these games will be coming to my platform of choice. It is just a port, but one that I will most certainly check out… when I have the time for lengthy JRPGs.
…Yeah, that’s all for today folks. I’m heading back to the good old writing mines, which I’ve been hitting hard this past week. Also, for those who are a bit confused about the Rundown title this week, it is a reference to a fansub group that renamed Attack On Titan to The Eoten Onslaught, because they were being a bunch of silly goobers.