Wherein I discuss my plights with upgrading my phone, a NEO flop, Epic expanding their empire, another frustratingly disconnected Neptunia spin-off, and another game from the Danganronpa folks.
Back in 2019, I got my first smartphone, as I needed a device to run two-factor authentication apps for work. Shortly after getting a $120 iPhone 6s, however, I began delving into the world of mobile games, and walked away with an ‘addiction’ to Dragalia Lost, which has become my most played game of all time, and by a country mile. About a month ago, right after my two year warranty expired, I ran into major battery issues with the 6s and had to make a decision. Either I could invest an extra $50 into repairing the old phone that will no longer be supported within a year, or upgrade to a new phone for… $400.
I went with the latter approach, and am now rocking a refurbished iPhone XS, and… its aspect ratio is weird, but quite nice actually, as it retains the same general form factor of the prior models, but without the borders. It does have the design problem where the screen is rounded, which is… wrong to me, but the device has been functioning quite well, and I hope to get another few years of use out of it. Especially after dealing with the transfer process, as this thing was a bastard to set-up.
I have probably set up nearly 200 Windows PCs over the past 8 years, so I am well versed in setting up electronics, and know the process pretty well. But despite trying to make the process of transferring data from one phone to another seem as seamless as possible, it took me hours to get everything right. Here are just some of the issues I ran into.
- My old phone was arbitrarily locked at the start of the transfer process, and remained that way for over two hours.
- The set-up process did not give me the prompt to connect to the correct wifi network.
- It took me two gosh darn hours to install a software update, only for me to realize that the update was not actually downloading.
- Apps were not downloading despite being transferred from the prior phone, requiring me to sign in and out of my Apple account so apps refreshed and actually download, instead of saying they are downloading.
Oh, and the SIM card was not working at first, because neither my phone nor my carrier gave me proper instructions while I was setting up the new phone. Meaning I had to call Verizon and figure out that I needed to disable wifi on both phones and turn them off for 15 minutes. Which is sensible, but I should not need to have a person tell me that. Oh, and don’t even get me started on just how terrible Verizon’s website is and how needlessly restrictive they are with someone who is not the account owner or manager. Ugh.
Following unexpectedly frustrating news with expected yet sorrowful news, Square Enix recently published their quarterly report for June to September 2021, and commented on the sales of NEO: The World Ends With You. A game I covered some months ago, and one of my top ten favorite games of all time.
However, being a sequel to a cult title like The World Ends With You, it was never going to do big numbers, especially with such a light marketing push. The game did notoriously poorly in Japan, pulling in less than 30,000 units in its first week, and Square Enix commented on the title by stating the following: “While NEO: The World Ends with You was well received by users, it has underperformed our initial expectations.”
While I kind of expected this after the game was announced, I am a twinge disappointed to hear this news, as it likely means that there will not be a third entry in the TWEWY series. I am content with this for story and lore reasons, NEO had one of my favorite combat systems of all time. So, naturally, I would have loved to see the developers at h.a.n.d. Refine and expand upon this foundation with a sequel that also introduced new enemy types and threw away things that did not work super brilliantly. Oh well. At least I can rest easy knowing that this game exists, and with its PC port, I will be able to play through the game again whenever I want in the ensuing decades. Unlike the original TWEWY, which is cursed to only be truly playable via hyper specific set-ups.
Moving onto acquisition news, Epic Games has been continuing to flaunt their Fortnite funbucks around by acquiring Harmonix. Yes, the developers behind Rock Band, Dance Central, DropMix, and… far more projects than I ever realized. According to the press releases by Epic and Harmonix, this acquisition will not dramatically affect how Harmonix operates or end the support for any of their current titles. Instead, the biggest change here is that Harmonix will potentially receive greater financial support, and will begin work on musical experiences for Fortnite, whatever that means.
Now, this all sounds well and good, as Epic likely only purchased Harmonix because they believe in them as a partner for Fortnite, future titles, and would like to have them continue doing what they do in order to bring in additional revenue. That should be where the story ends, but that is not the case. You need to remember that Tencent owns 40% of Epic Games, meaning they are entitled to a large portion of Epic’s profits. And what has Tencent been doing these past few months? Acquiring and investing in game companies across the world, thus spreading the sheer influence that China’s government has over the games industry.
As such, I cannot view acquisitions like this as positive in any way or form, and… it’s just crummy to hear that Harmonix took Epic up on the deal, even if it assuredly made the owners of Harmonix incredibly wealthy.
The Neptunia series is one of my… unfortunate pleasures. While I adore the concept and find something to like about nearly every game, the series has been on a bad streak as of late. The developers have been prioritizing spin-off titles over making new mainline entries, and the quality has been… poor to above average. Even though I believe the Neptunia series has ample potential to produce something truly great, the developers have consistently taken shortcuts, made questionable design decisions, or simply failed to optimize the quality in each game. Instead, they just up the quantity of piddling pablum for the player to partake in.
As such, the announcement of just about every new title brings with it some hint of hope that this will be the first genuinely good, or great, game in the series… and I do not think that Hyperdimension Neptunia: Sisters vs. Sisters will be it. The title, similar to Re;Birth2, focuses on the younger sisters of the main case: Nepgear, Uni, Rom, and Ram, after the main four go missing due to matters involving the previously undetailed PC continent. While they are away, the four younger sisters are sent into comas and discover that smartphones have taken over the land of Gamindustri. Conceptually, the game should focus on the plight of handheld consoles as smartphones have been continuously vying for the portable gaming market… But I doubt the developers will truly hammer in on this concept beyond general lip service.
Concept aside, based on 10 seconds of gameplay footage, Sisters vs. Sisters will feature real-time action combat in open-ish environments… And despite having four central characters, the party size is limited to three characters. Which is dumb for several reasons, the least of which is that more party members means more fun!
The title is currently slated to launch on PS4 and PS5 in April 2021 in Japan, and in typical Idea Factory fashion, I am sure that a fashionably late English localization is in the cards, paired with a PC release. Truly, I am not particularly interested in seeing how this plays out, as my gaming time has become limited due to work and time-intensive social relationships. But I guess it is good to see this series still live on in some capacity, instead of petering out before its potential can be unleashed.
Moving onto something that I will certainly check out, Spike Chunsoft and Too Kyo games announced Enigma Archives: Rain Code. A “dark fantasy mystery” game by former leads from the Danganronpa series, including writer Kazutaka Kodaka, composer Masafumi Takada, and artist Rui Komatsuzaki. Aside from a single piece of key art and a few screenshots (that could just be test footage), there is not much to infer about what the game is about, as a proper reveal will probably happen in the ensuing few weeks. However, it is clear that the game involves ghosts, murder, bodies that bleed pink, as is the Danganronpa tradition, and features a supernaturally-gifted, ahoge-sporting shota-kun and his… big titty goth GF as the central characters.
Based on that alone, I am totally down with whatever this game has to offer, and look forward to its eventual release on undisclosed platforms.