Rundown (4/05-4/11) The Panic Everywhere System

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Wherein I discuss prescribed pandemic panic, the greatest gaming fiasco of 2020, the hazardous and evil-some village, a sun-bleached reprisal, and a convoluted chunk of plastic.

As the quarantine goes on and the pandemic persists, a lot of people have been worried, a lot of people have been depressed, and a lot of people have been watching numbers tick up and see things get worse as the virus continues to spread. It’s scary stuff, but it has also given way to a contingent of people who believe that worrying about COVID-19, reading about it, and losing sleep over it, is somehow the right thing to do. That it is somehow wrong to not fixate on global matters that you cannot do much of anything about, that one should always know what the death tolls are on a routine basis.

This all strikes me as morbid and disrespectful, as it insists that worry about matters out of one’s control is a good thing, and that casually and comfortably waiting out the pandemic is in some way wrong. When it really isn’t. These are turbulent times, people are in hectic life situations, and while staying informed does have its virtues, fixating on the negative and intentionally digging deeper into a subject during stressful times is… destructive. It can and has broken people, and the last thing many people need is to be reminded of is how bad things are and how powerless they are to influence the machinations of society. Let people do as they please, mellow out, and wait out the quarantine while only leaving their homes for groceries. Because that is literally the best thing any common person can do at the moment.

Kicking the topical tirade away for a moment, the first video game news story to grab my attention this week was something of an oddball story. Back in August of 2019 it was announced that publisher Planet Entertainment and developer First Playable Productions were working on a new Cooking Mama title, dubbed Cooking Mana: Cookstar. An odd note considering how every other game in the series, both for mobile and dedicated game systems, have been developed by Office Create. The game received only marginal publicity and hype before releasing on March 31st as a Nintendo Switch exclusive that shipped out to select US retailers and was released on the eShop… for a matter of hours before disappearing entirely.

This raised a number of questions that many outlets, namely IGN, sought to answer, and what they found was very… odd. Between confusion about who actually developed the title, the publisher boasts themselves through unverified credentials, is located somewhere in rural Connecticut, and puts out shovelware for the Switch. It begs the question as to what’s going on with this game… and then I was reminded of an odd press release I saw back in February 2019. Where a “blockchain-powered” publisher by the name of Planet Digital Partners announced that they were creating a game called Cooking Mama: Coming Home to Mama, later retitled Cooking Mama: Cookstar which would use blockchain technology to differentiate each copy of the game, feature blockchain-based DRM, and use its infrastructure to reward players with in-game currency… all of which made it sound like this game was part of some dubious scheme.

These flames of suspicion were fanned as this Discord screenshot started circulating, but were disproven by various people who looked into the game and debunked the assertions raised by this screenshot, claiming there was nothing related to blockchain or cryptocurrency mining in this game. Which, in turn, begged the question as to what the hell was going on. The next answer was revealed a few days later when Screen Rant managed to snag somebody from First Playable Productions. The short of it is that Cooking Mama Cookstar was developed by an inexperienced studio who was unable to find out all the kinks related to the game, particularly its engine, Unity, prior to the March deadline, so the final product was prone to overheating and crashing systems.

There was never any true intention to incorporate blockchain elements into the game, as that was all a ploy for the publisher to garner investors. And the reason why the game was pulled so quickly was due to a dispute between Office Create and Planet Entertainment. Planet wanted to release the game by March, but they had not cleared things with Office Create, who halted production once they discovered what their partner had done. Because of this kerfuffle, Planet is now suing Office Create, and the game very well may never receive a proper release due to the complications surrounding it. …But then First Playable tweeted that said article contained “no accurate dev information” and Planet Entertainment started selling physical copies on their website so who the hell knows what’s going on.

Speaking of perplexing kerfuffles caused by a lack of direct information, albeit a strictly positive one, there have recently been rumblings about the next Resident Evil as of late, with rumors that were first circulated by Dusk Golem, an industry insider who has connections to Capcom, and were later verified by Video Games Chronicle. According to the two sources, Capcom was originally planning to release Resident Evil Revelations 3 in 2021 as a cross-gen title, but as development on that game went well and development on Resident Evil 8 staggered more than Capcom would have liked, a decision was made to revise and rebrand Revelations 3 into RE8.

Okay, but what sort of game would RE8 be? Well, Dusk Golem mentioned that the game is, or at least was, going to be another first-person affair staring RE7 protagonist Ethan, featuring Chris Redfield in a prominent role, complete with another redesign, and involving a more supernatural angle with hallucinations, occultism, insanity, and werewolves. Which has caused something of a stir, and inspired an individual to contact a Resident Evil fansite, Biohazard Declassified, with alleged details on the next game, set to be titled Resident Evil VIII: Village, or some variation.

From incorporating a witch-like character as a persistent antagonist with an insect motif, a European setting, and some ongoing experimentation regarding more finite and balance-based mechanics like the inventory system. Dusk Golem has seemingly agreed with the details discussed in this article, so chances are that it’s happening. Which is great for people who like Resident Evil… but I quite frankly cannot stomach that series, as it makes me too gosh darn anxious and paranoid because everything is scarce, and the games are designed to be played through fast. I tried 1, 4, and Revelations, but noped out of all of them pretty quickly.

With the generation culling down and developers looking for ways to put out titles before next-gen systems divert everyone’s attention, THQ Nordic has announced Saints Row: The Third Remastered. Yes, a remaster of the 2011 breakout title for the series that some people love, others think it was a bit of a misstep after SR2, but it’s generally well-regarded all around. As a remaster, it boasts very few notable features aside from a visual facelift of sorts, revising and updating models and textures while ditching the old lightning system in favor of something that drenches the city of Steelport in garish sunshine that, based on the trailer footage, turns the entire game into this sun-drenched orange mesh, rather than accentuating the colors and boosting the saturation of the more mundane locales.

It’s unsurprising to hear that this remaster was handled by a different studio, Sperasoft, a support developer, and one that was likely contracted to make the game look like a visual evolution rather than further the established art direction with the aid of new technology. I don’t think it looks particularly good, and I am not jonesing to return to this title when it launches on PS4, Xbox One, and Epic Game Store for $40 on May 22, but give it a few years, and I’ll probably pick it up on Steam for a fiver.

If this was Saints Row 2, then that would be a different story, but a remaster of sorts of that title is already in development. Back in late 2019, Volition obtained the original source code for the busted PC version made by CD Projekt, which led the developer to put two guys on the project, who have been diligently working on a significant update to the game. As of February 20, 2020, the update is about 70% complete, but it’s hard to gauge when it will be done, given how wonky the source code they’re fixing is.

…This has been a weird week for gaming news, but how can it get weirder? …Oh, I know, Sony can reveal the PS5 controller, the DualSense. Yes, after 20 years of iteration with the DualShock design, Sony has unveiled a slicker controller that honestly just looks like a third party variation of the DualShock 4, retaining the touchpad, unnamed share and menu button, while making the analog sticks look less like protrusions, and sucking out the color from the face buttons because I guess colored face buttons are a last gen feature. I suppose the biggest selling point of this controller is how it features haptic triggers that mimic the tension of certain actions and analog sticks that can tense up and loosen… but that all sounds like a scattering of gimmick features that nobody actually wants, and developers will stop supporting after a matter of months, not unlike the touchpad of the PS4.

…Alright, I’m all out of stuff to talk about this week. Until next time, see ya.

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