Rundown (7/05-7/11) Relaxing Summery Beats

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Wherein I discuss the return of a supposed classic, the return of Nina Struthers and friends, a curious international business investment, and a golden game bringing in golden results.

As anybody looking at the front page of Nigma Box will be able to tell when this post goes live, I am currently releasing the entirety of my 32,000 word novella Random #010: The Island of Doctor Bitz, a project I more or less stumbled into and finished in record time. It was a rewarding project to work on, but I only managed to work so efficiently because I had good music to listen to as I worked. Over the past few months, I have been enjoying royalty-free Japanese music as I wrote or did anything that requires some concentration. But just recently Tim Jacques, also known as Team Teamwork, released his latest mixtape, Go Ahead, Relax. It’s Summer (2020), which was the exact blend of something engaging, diverse, and unintrusive enough for me to write and edit a large scale project to, and it’s also something I found myself actively enjoying even after the third or fourth loop in a given day.

So, yeah, maybe give it a listen, and maybe give the rest of Team teamwork’s library a listen, as they have been a quintessential part of my musical rotation for years, and are partially responsible for the varied musical tastes I have developed over the years. But skip on Dude Whatever It’s Summer 2020. That one was released as something of a ‘joke’.

This week was home to the third summer E3-adjacent game showcase from Limited Run Games, a company best known for putting out small quantities of physical copies of popular indie games, often with other knick-knacks like stickers, figures, comics, or tiny art books. Or in other words, the sort of thing I typically have no interest in However, at this showcase they revealed that not only had they secured reproduction carts for WayForward’s 2002 GameBoy Color swansong, Shantae, but the title is also being re-released both physically and digitally for Nintendo Switch.

All of this is good to hear as it means this title to be made accessible to more people after being a notoriously rare game at launch and having been released on the 3DS virtual console in 2013. I would also say that now would be a good time for eager fans of the series to go back and play this mostly ignored originating entry, but as somebody who played the game for two hours back in 2019… maybe don’t.

While Shantae is an incredibly impressive title that pushed the GBC hardware to its limits, it is also emblematic of a lot of things wrong with classic GameBoy games. Namely, a low screen resolution that makes it all too easy for players to jump into danger, and controls that feel slightly delayed due to the intricate animation given to everything. The later games all improved upon it significantly, and I honestly consider the original to be more of a novelty than anything.

Devolver also held its annualized summer event in the form of Devolver Direct. As to be expected, it a prolonged serialized comedy skit that becomes increasingly convoluted and bizarre as things go on interspersed with jokes and observations of current trends of the games industry. …That is occasionally interrupted with trailers for some of the publisher’s upcoming games. Such as the adorable Fall Guys, gorgeous fast-paced shooters like Shadow Warrior 3, the stellar-looking horror game where you play as a mass of fleshy tendrils Carrion, and Devolverland Expo, a first-person-shooter that has the player go through a Devolver-themed convention hall

While Devolver’s showings were never really about the games, their inclusion honestly felt a bit arbitrary at this point, as there is enough personality and things of intrigue for the show to sustain itself without periodic cuts away to video game trailers, to the point where they almost started to feel like commercial breaks. I mean, this was an event that featured Shuhei Yoshida, Phil Spencer, Geoff Keighley, Bennet Foddy, SonicFox, and My Uncle Who Works at Nintendo. When up against a line-up like that, you’d need to announce something absolutely absurd for people to think about a video game when they walk away from this video game event.

In more boring business-type news, Sony recently announced that one of their wholly-owned subsidiaries invested $250 million in the gaming industry juggernaut behind Unreal Engine and Fortnite, Epic Games, acquiring a minority interest in the company. It is not entirely clear what Sony’s motivation for doing such, beyond the fact that Epic Games makes a lot of money every year, and Sony will receive a share of these profits, which just leaves the door open for rampant speculation as to what this investment will lead to.

Maybe something involving the Epic Games Store. Maybe it’s a way to secure a solid business relationship going forward. Maybe they plan on using a modified version of Unreal 5 for upcoming games because video game engines getting incredibly expensive to make. I certainly don’t know what their justification is, but I will definitely keep this story in the back of my mind as a sign of things to come in the continued development of the video game industry. And if these Rundowns are any indication, I love following the games industry and seeing what becomes of it. It’s like a TV show, except real life.

Following last month’s ‘surprise’ release of Persona 4 Golden for PC via Steam, the game earned itself a spot among the platform’s top sellers almost immediately, but due to how Steam shares user information, it is hard to gauge just how well a game did without the publisher releasing sales numbers. Which is what Atlus did, announcing that the game has sold over 500,000 units on Steam since its launch a month ago, which may seem like small potatoes when compared to a AAA title, but for Persona, this is a pretty big deal.

When Persona 5, a marquee PS4 title that people were ravenously excited about, sold 2 million units over a year after its Japanese launch, that was considered a huge success. This is a quantifiably old game that many people have played before, launching on a platform that the series has never truly been represented on (the Japan-only release of Persona 1 doesn’t count), and a platform that is not very popular in its home country of Japan. It speaks to how well the series, and Atlus as a company, could do by investing the resources into PC ports going forward. And with these numbers staring at them in the face, I’m sure that we’ll start seeing more and more of Atlus’s back catalog come to the platform over the ensuing months and years.

Yes, yes, I plead and plead for PC ports, and when I finally get them, I buy them up at a low price (or full price in the case of P4G) and immediately ask for more. I will continue to do so until every game I care about comes to the platform (excluding Nintendo’s titles, which I’ll just emulate instead) because that is the end goal I want. For everything to be available on a universal platform going forward and for video games to live on forever and ever. Unless they are always online service games, in which case they are born to die and will not be saved because game companies do not like releasing source code and letting the fans recreate games themselves.

…Yeah, I lost track of what I was talking about, so I’m just going to end things off here. Until next time, see ya!

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