Wherein I discuss the progress of OPPAI 3, the Persona port puzzlement, Capcom’s subpar S3 showings, the continued Re;Birth of Final Fantasy VII, two HOT SPRG leaks, a possible niche revival, and a decompiled classic.
This past week, I have been focusing most of my free time on TSF Series 006-3: OPPAI 3 – Let’s Go To Hell! A project that I originally intended to be a 15k word short story, but my initial draft managed to exceed 29k words (which is basically 30k), because I have a bad habit of doing things like that.
While this ‘draft’ is done, that does not mean the project is finished. I still need to sit down with Nicole and PWA to edit this thing, write an afterword, and finish all 7 header images (which I ‘completed’ on Saturday). All with the rigid immovable deadline of June 23rd, 2022 (my 6th hormone-versary and Sonic’s 31st birthday). This means that, as of this morning, I will have four days to finish this project. While I do not like brushing up against deadlines like this, I’m actually super happy with how productive I’ve been when working on this project.
I wrote the 4,000 word outline for this story in 1 day. Wrote the first 29k word draft in 10 days. Re-edited the first two stories, TSF Series #006-1 and TSF Series #006-2, during my first day of writing. And will spend a maximum of 6 days on editing and asset production. Meaning, at most, this project would have taken me 17 days. Now, I do not know if that is a good pace for a professional writer, but I think it is a good pace for someone who is just doing this as a casual passion project. Because that’s what everything on Nigma Box is. A bunch of passion projects. The things I do for this site make me happy and they make me feel fulfilled. But these ‘creative writing’ projects are easily among my favorites, as I feel I can indulge in my skills and eccentricities in a constructive manner, while testing myself by working toward a manageable, yet narrow, timeframe.
…That is why people like NaNoWriMo! I finally get it! Damn, maybe I will finally participate in that— wait, no— Pokémon comes out in November, so November is never going to be a good time!
No acquisition news this week, possibly on account of the market crashing. Which I would normally not care about, except I lost $7,000 in my self-directed Roth IRA since January, so it’s hard for me to not be peeved about this…
Let’s begin with a follow-up to Sunday’s Persona news, when it was revealed that Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal were all coming to Xbox consoles, Microsoft Store, and Game Pass. This was the announcement that Atlus themselves echoed shortly after the showcase, and it took a few days for the full list of platforms to come out. Which I’ll summarize with a list:
- Persona 3 Portable is coming out for PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Microsoft Store, and Steam sometime before June 2023.
- Persona 4 Golden is coming out for PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Microsoft Store sometime before June 2023. It is already available via Steam.
- Persona 5 Royal is coming out for PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Microsoft Store, and Steam on October 21st. It is already available on PS4.
It only took five years, but this once PlayStation exclusive series is now on every major gaming platform… except for the Nintendo Switch. Which struck some people, myself included, as odd, and for a few perfectly good reasons.
- Nintendo and Atlus have a strong relationship— it’s why Joker from Persona 5 appeared in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and why Shin Megami Tensei V was a Switch exclusive. So not putting out more Switch games is an odd decision.
- The Persona games work well on portable gaming systems— it’s why Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden sold as much as they did.
- Even though the Switch is weaker than the PS4 and Xbox One, these games were originally released for PSP, Vita, and PS3. Meaning that they should run on Switch without too much difficulty.
- The home console market in Japan— the primary market for the Persona series— is basically dead, and the Japanese best-seller list is routinely dominated by Switch titles. So any Japanese company choosing to release games on any platform other than Switch is effectively selling their games to a western audience.
- Platform exclusivity is a pain in the rear, and unless you are being paid to not put your game on a console, you should try to put it out on as many systems as you can.
Much like last year, Capcom held another game showcase that was less focused on announcements and more on showing off their upcoming titles, and providing details on future content updates. A second trailer for Exoprimal, details on the Monster Hunter Rise expansion, Sunbreak, along with PS5 and Xbox Series releases and upgrades for Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, Resident Evil 2 Remake (2019), Resident Evil 3 Remake (2020). Though the biggest bit of news was a follow up on the previously announced DLC for Resident Evil VIllage, also known as Resident Evil VIII: Village, also known as Resident Evil VIII: Age, also known as RE8.
This includes the almost requisite mercenary mode where players can play as existing characters within environments from RE8. A third-person mode, which sounds like a massive developmental ordeal, considering how RE8 was designed around a first-person perspective. And Shadow of Rose, a sequel story to the events of RE8, following the protagonist’s daughter as she goes on her own psychological horror third-person adventure. Which I personally thought was going to be the premise for Resident Evil 9: Hell-IX (this is just a fake title I came up with a year ago).
All of this will be included in the ‘Gold’ release of Resident Evil VIllage on October 28, 2022, or as a single piece of DLC.
However, this Capcom Showcase was not the only source of Capcom-related announcements this week, as they had a Dragon’s Dogma 10th anniversary special a few days later. I reviewed Dragon’s Dogma a few years ago and had some rather… mixed feelings about it. While I admired the core of the game, the structure of it simply did not mesh well with me. It was a game where I accidentally failed quests constantly, with no way to remedy my mistakes (thanks autosave). Where I got bogged down with compulsory exploration to the point that I only remember the exploration.. And where I was so fatigued by the end of the main campaign, I just stopped playing.
Anyway, the special was effectively a developer diary discussing the inspiration and ideas behind the title, which I always find interesting, before announcing a sequel via t-shirts with the game’s logo. It was a cheap way to reveal the game was in production, but I actually liked it. It reminded me a bit of the legendary Resident Evil 2 Remake announcement video from back in 2015. To this very day, I still think of the phrase “we do it!” whenever I have a bout of overambition or complete a daunting task…
Anyway, no footage was shown, but I think that a new Dragon’s Dogma game, one with RE Engine visuals and next gen technology, could be utterly amazing. And I believe that the decade plus of gaming innovation could do a lot to work out the kinks of the original design. Because the game was great… once you got rid of all the crap, anyway.
…That’s another line that I’ve been quoting to myself for the better half of a decade!
Next up, the other big AAA Japanese game publisher, Square Enix, had a Final Fantasy VII themed showcase, which featured just about everything you could imagine. Petty tat for dorks and weebs to buy and fill their apartments with, because they will never own a home. A Steam release of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Another Ever Crisis trailer… which continues to look like a true Final Fantasy VII remake, but with gacha trash thrown in, because Square Enix. And not one, but two game announcements!
The first is for a full remake of the PSP spin-off, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. A prequel that was met with a generally positive reception from the FFVII fandom at the time of release, and garnered a reputation as one of the best PSP games for people who are not into slower-paced RPGs. Heck, my sister’s ex-boyfriend actually recommended it to me after he saw me playing a Vita back in 2014. The game had mechanical problems, some of the story and cast additions were met with a more mixed reception. Thoughm it was a largely welcomed addition to the series and, due to its problems, is actually a great candidate for a remake.
And I do mean remake, as the game is not just an up-ressed PSP game. Square Enix has tried to undermine this, saying that they are only changing the camera, UI, character models, environments, lighting technology, textures, voice acting, and more. Yeah, I’m sorry, but when you go that far, you are not doing a remaster, you are doing a remake. A ‘1:1 remake,’ but a remake nevertheless. I swear, this terminology has been so thoroughly ruined.
…I say that, not knowing the technical details, but the Crisis Core’s remake definitely appears to be using a modified version of the technology behind Final Fantasy VII Remake’s technology. I say modified, as the game does not look as good as the 2020 ‘reimagined remake.’ It still quite looks good, but more like a Switch game than a PS5 game… On that note, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core – Reunion is slated to come out in winter 2022 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC.
The second new title was none other than the second part in the Final Fantasy VII Remake series, dubbed Final Fantasy VII Rebirth. The title was revealed via a fairly subdued trailer, featuring ominous narration, new CG cutscenes of iconic moments, and gameplay footage of cloud and Sephiroth walking about in Nibelheim. Not particularly exciting, but it is nevertheless good to know that this installment is not lost in development hell and will come out in winter 2023 as a PS5 exclusive. …Meaning there will likely wind up being a 4 year gap between FFVII R1 and FFVII R2. I would say that’s a bit steep, but that’s just modern COVID-era game development for you.
Also, they confirmed that the Final Fantasy VII Remake series will be a trilogy, and the third entry is already in development. Which speaks volumes to how Square Enix has gotten better at managing their internal workflow, after years of bumbling with their proprietary engines.
Moving on to from S3 to L3 (Larry’s Leaky Loo), there were two sweet leaks this past week. The fist was another Square Enix title. As spotted by some craftly sleuths, a PSN page briefly went up for Tactics Ogre: Reborn. Based on the title and recycled key art, this appears to be some sort of retread of the original Tactics Ogre, but it’s not clear which breed of re;whatever it will be. It might be a ground up remake of the 1995 Super Famicom original, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. Or it might be a port/remaster of the 2010 PlayStation Portable remake, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together.
Personally, I hope this is not a remake, as I cannot trust Square Enix to push out quality remakes. When they are good, they’re great, but when they’re bad, they’re abysmal. And people love to say that the 2010 remake is one of the best SRPGs ever made while describing nothing about the game, so it would probably be best to just port it. Replace the artwork and logos, replace the PSP fonts with HD fonts, and ship it. Then do the same with the actual sequel, to Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics.
Moving on from one fantasy SRPG to another, a Reddit post did the rounds this past week, featuring Chinese screenshots of an early build of the seventeenth mainline entry in the frustratingly unnumbered Fire Emblem series. In addition to these screenshots, the poster echoed several statements made by industry insider Emily Rogers, who has connections at Nintendo.
These statements include how the game was meant to be an anniversary title, but those plans were scrapped. That the player can summon characters from prior Fire Emblem titles. That the game has been done for over a year (which I do not believe). And, most interestingly, that this game was a collaboration between Intelligent Systems, Koei Tecmo and Gust. Koei Tecmo is not a surprise, as they did most of the work on Three Houses. But Gust’s role here is surprising, as I know they have historically struggled with a lot of their titles, and only recently found success with the Atelier Ryza series.
Based on this amount of evidence, I am inclined to believe this game is real, and seeing this makes me think of how much I really need to get into Three Houses. But nowadays my time is split between work, writing, and Dragalia. And that’s not likely going to end until Dragalia is lost. Which will either be on August 31st or September 30th…
During the later 2000s and early 2010s, after the international success of No More Heroes, Grasshopper Manufacture decided to branch out and diversify as a studio. They took on a lot of smaller titles and a few more ambitious titles, such as Shadows of the Damned (2011) and Killer Is Dead (2013). But their most successful title during this period was 2012’s Lollipop Chainsaw, a linear comedy-driven hack and slash written by James Gunn.
Lollipop Chainsaw managed to sell over a million units, but the title was met with a mixed reception. Due largely to the inclusion of some pace-breaking or not-fun minigames, a 7 hour campaign, and a combat system that felt lacking when compared to a typical character action title. It is probably still considered a cult classic in some regards, but it’s not a particularly accessible title. Lollipop Chainsaw was only released for Xbox 360 and PS3, and it is neither backwards compatible with modern Xbox consoles, nor is it available on PlayStation Plus as a streaming title.
Anyway, the actual story I was building up to is that Dragami Games announced that they are going to revive Lollipop Chainsaw in some capacity. Now, who are Dragami Games? Well, they are a newly formed studio, barely a month old, headed by the former CEO of Kadokawa Games, with Kadokawa having served as the Japanese publisher of Lollipop Chainsaw. The studio itself is still very small, with only about twenty staff members from Kadokawa, though that seems to be about all that you need for a typical remaster.
As is always the case, I am glad that this game, or at least IP, is coming back, though I honestly would not expect much more than my standard HD up-res and port to the six currently relevant consoles. Which is not ideal, but with a niche game like this, that’s about the best you can really hope for, as its larger issues are a bit too hard to fix without doing some extensive work. Something that Dragami probably does not have the funds for. Heck, I’d be surprised if they could renegotiate the soundtrack rights, as the original featured 16 licensed tracks. All of which probably cost a pretty penny.
It irks me that so much work is required for games like Lollipop Chainsaw to be re-released on modern platforms. However, on the other end, it delights me that the gaming community is gradually getting to the point where people are able to decompile and port older games to PC. Which I consider to be ‘the place where video games are preserved.’ In 2020, Super Mario 64 got a native PC port, which is approximately 20 times better than the trash Nintendo put out as part of the Super Mario 3D All-Stars Collection. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time got a full PC port earlier this year. And now we have… Jak and Daxter: The Precursor’s Legacy.
Yes, the 2001 PS2 platformer hit and Crash Bandicoot successor has been decompiled by a small indie team. They managed to decipher the game’s unique programming language of the series and not only got the entire game playable on Windows, but plans on moving to the sequels, Jak II and Jak 3, next.
The sheer technical prowess and ingenuity of the people behind projects like this genuinely amaze me, and I am eternally thankful for them for doing their part to preserve gaming history. Because while emulation is wonderful and something that deserves to be championing, you can simply do more with a game when it is running in a native environment, and this versatility can give a game a second life. It makes it easier to mod a game, improve any shortcoming or issues, and provides a version of the title that is, at least in theory, better than the original in every way. Well, unless you are a historical dork who believes that old proprietary technology makes things more interesting. Which… I do not. Not at all. I like a bunch of old stuff, but the idea of playing something on original hardware holds negative appeal to me.
Header image comes from Ren’ai X Royale by ASa Project.