Rundown (9/11-9/17) Formatting Frustrations 2: Perpetual Aggression

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Wherein I discuss: My illiteracy. Nina Tendo’s Maple-some Autumnal Treat. Soh Nii’s Amber-some Autumnal Treat. The re;birth of Yakuza. Oodles of TGS-time video game announcements! And the (hopeful) demise of PSVR2.

Preamble Rundown Ramble:
The Superior Dialogue Format

When I started Nigma Box, my English reading and writing skills were pretty garbage. Currently, I would not say that they are good, but I have gotten far better over the past 10+ years. However, something I routinely ask myself is why I am like this. Why are my English and comprehension skills still (probably) not at a college level yet?

Well, a lot of it comes back to how I was not much of a reader as a child. I still read books of course. Books for classes, and independent reading books including the following: The 7-part Among the Hidden series. The first two Hunger Games novels. The wackadoo Willy Wonka sequel. A book about a kid with schizophrenia who got messed up in a restaurant robbery (and killed himself in the epilogue). A book about a kid who was a transforming alien who used his brain and alien tech to make his own friends and waifu. He also killed a horse-headed alien guy, who watched 24, by turning into a fly, flying into his ear, and then turning into an elephant. Two books about kids trying to survive during the Holocaust. And those are just the ones I remember.

Despite this, when reading as a child, I constantly felt like I was failing to understand precisely what was going on in a novel. Partially because I was a child, but primarily because I think the standard format for novels is… kind of bad.

I find justified margins to be incredibly difficult to read, as there is less non-textual information to help a reader keep their place in a text. If each line is a different length, it is easier to tell which line you are reading, and you don’t need to use a bookmark to read something. Seriously, that is the solution EVERYONE told me when I voiced this issue. And it was a bad solution!

The lack of space between paragraphs, and generally length of paragraphs, often makes for these imposing walls of text that can be hard to parse. And indenting the first line of a paragraph does not really make things better.

The font used for most novels just… does not look appealing to me. It reminds me of struggling to read as a child. And most novels have this obnoxiously tiny font size, making it hard to read a book when placed on a desk. Why don’t I use my hands? Because I have weak stick arms and don’t like to hold things up to my face for an hour or longer.

I also think that the traditional speaker tag format of dialogue writing is… limited. It is a standard format, works great for two character scenes, but it sucks for large group scenes. It can make the speaker obscured, ambiguous, or lead to them being identified after a paragraph of dialogue. And then there is the trend of using speaker tags before dialogue which… I think just looks wrong for some reason. 

Fonts and paragraph spacing are non-factors when publishing things electronically, because those things can be changed. But dialogue formatting? That’s a different story. In short, I got so frustrated trying to use this format that I decided to ‘make up’ my own damn format with TSF Series #011-2: My Master; My Suitor. Which I in turn carried to Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 and TSF Series #006-3: OPPAI 3 – Let’s Go To Hell!  

This format is sort of like the format for a radio drama, news broadcast, or playscript. Except I don’t bother with indenting, use bold names instead of capitalizing them, and… just try to make the presentation resemble the dialogue of a visual novel more than a typical novel. 

It is a bootleg-ass format that any semi-stuffy editor would look at and call wrong, but it is the format I am planning to use for most of my major future writing projects going forward. Including: 

  • Verde’s Doohickey 2.0: Sensational Summer Romp (8/15/23)
  • Psycho Shatter 1988: Black Vice X Weiss Vice APOLITICALGENOCIDE (11/5/24)
  • Psycho Shatter 2000: Black Vice Mania (12/12/25)
  • Psycho Shatter 2001: Weiss Vice Omake (December 2026).

No acquisition news this week, so let’s get onto a stupidly long game showcase summary!

Nina Tendo’s Maple-some Autumnal Treat
(Nintendo Direct – September 2022 Rundown)

As is the tradition, Nintendo held a September Nintendo Direct to announce their ‘winter’ releases, and boy howdy did they show a lot of games, so let’s jump right to it.

After being leaked back in June, the next game in the Fire Emblem series was revealed in the form of Fire Emblem Engage. A title that was originally meant to celebrate the series’ 30th anniversary, was pushed for several months, and still bears all the hallmarks of an anniversary title. Namely the crossover elements, which allow characters to channel the essence of heroes from prior games, granting them special skills.

Overall, I get the vibe that this game is meant to be a light reset to the series. Something to go back to the low-key, simpler, trappings of the GBA games after FE experienced such a boom in popularity. …And after experimenting with different aesthetics and structures with Fates and Three Houses. It is a straightforward return to saving the world from an ancient evil dragon, and I kind of doubt that it will feature a time skip or branching routes, given how direct it all seems. While that might be a regression in the eyes of some, I think it is actually kind of refreshing. Especially when considering how much content was recycled in Three Houses.

Visually, Engage is succeeding Three Houses which, despite its acclaim, was never considered much of a looker. While character models were detailed and expressive, the environments never looked quite right, being a bit too realistic in comparison to the characters, and not the highest fidelity in general. Here, the environments are notably less realistic, more vibrant, more anime, and generally look better. I would attribute this to Gust, who is allegedly co-developing this title, but that has not been confirmed, and I don’t know who did what.

Anyway, Fire Emblem Engage is coming out soon, with a release date of January 20, 2023.

While the three Operation Rainfall titles— Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, and the (comparatively forgettable) Pandora’s Tower were the big ‘unlocalized’ Wii games, there were other omissions. Such as the European-only remake of the second Fatal Frame game, or the Japan-only 2008 fourth Fatal Frame title, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse. As one would assume, the title is a remastered version of the 2008 original, and one that appears to replace models, textures, and the overall lighting system.

Based on the few snippets of footage, it looks like a quality remaster, and one that leaves me curious about where this series will go going forward. Will they do a similar treatment to the 2012 Project Zero 2: Wii Edition, the remake of Fatal Frame 2 only released in Japan, Europe, and Australia? Will they reach further back and remaster or remake Fatal Frame: Based on a True Story or Fatal Frame III: The Tormented? Or will they make a sixth entry, because it’s almost been a decade at this point? Who knows!

All we know is that Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse will be released for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, Switch, and PC as a digital-only title in Early 2023.

I am honestly a bit surprised that Nintendo has not veered more into marketing the Switch as an exercise device, especially after the success of Ring Fit Adventure during the pandemic. Especially in China… However, they have the Fitness Boxing series, which has proven to be rather successful. Or at least successful enough to warrant a crossover in the form of Fitness Boxing: Fist of the North Star. …It is stuff like this that reminds me of why I love video games. Precisely because dumb nonsense like this is allowed to happen. 

Nobody would consciously want a Hokuto no Ken boxing game, but it is such an extreme novelty that I cannot help but look at it and gawk. And while this should be a Japanese only novelty, it will be released worldwide in March 2023.

Forever Entertainment is continuing to push out more not-great-looking remakes of classic Japanese games, and during this Direct, they spotlighted the three Front Missions remakes they have in development. Including Front Mission 1st: Remake, which was delayed to November of this year, and likely for good reason. A mention of how Front Mission 2: Remake (which was never released outside of Japan) will receive numerous improvements from the first game when it releases in 2023. And an announcement of a remake of the first Front Mission released internationally (via Square Electronic Arts) Front Mission 3: Remake.

While I understand the justification behind the aesthetic departure, I think people would not care if these games did not have the Front Mission name attached. They have a certain cheap and generic look to them, and I find that to be, on some level, deeply frustrating. The original games were nothing to write home about visually, but they had a style that is not being carried over here. This lack of aesthetic cohesiveness is something that has persisted in all of Forever’s remakes, and… it just frustrates me. 

Front Mission 1st: Remake is coming out in October 2022, Front Mission 2: Remake will release in 2023. While Front Mission 3: Remake is coming, eventually. Currently, they are all Switch exclusives, but I’m sure they will hit other platforms a few months later.

Speaking of remakes with aesthetic departures, one of the most disappointing looking remakes in recent memory was Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town. A 2019 remake of 2003’s Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, which itself was a consolidation of ideas from the heralded Harvest Moon 64 and Back to Nature. It should have been one of the most impressive games in the series, but… it looked about as bad as Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl.  

However, the folks at Marvelous (a company 20% owned by Tencent) are trying yet again with Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life. A remake of the inaugural GameCube release in the series, Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. Like most GameCube exclusives, it has a niche but devoted following of people who played the games as children. Personally, I remember buying the game, but shying away from ever playing it after I learned that there was a romance option as part of the game. And child Natalie didn’t want to pursue relationships with people in a video game.

Visually, the game looks like what I would imagine a modern Story of Seasons game to look like. Everything is slightly deformed, with humans having giant heads and animals being cute instead of monstrous. The world is vibrant and about as detailed as one would expect from a third party Switch exclusive. However… I think the GameCube original looks a bit better. Its colors are more desaturated and earthy, and the texture quality likely is not as good on a technical level, but it has a vibe that I find more… welcoming. Things look grounded and cozy in a way that this remake just doesn’t. Seriously, just by watching a few minutes of footage, I can immediately understand why people remember this game so fondly.

Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life will be released as a Switch exclusive in 2023.

Speaking of remakes of classic GameCube titles, Tales of Symphonia Remastered was announced, which caught me off guard for a second. I distinctly remembered the game being released in HD before, and it turns out that I was thinking of two things. One was a PS3 port of Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World back in 2013. The second was a busted 2016 PC port that required numerous patches before it was at an acceptable level. But even then, battles are still demoted from 60fps to 30fps for some reason.

To me this indicates that Bandai Namco already has a workable HD version of the game in their archive, and could realistically port that forward onto modern consoles. Well, it took them 7 years to do so and… the game now looks worse.

The GameCube original looked a bit scrunkly with its thick black borders over characters and not-so-great faces, while the PC version made things a bit smoother. But this new remastered version aims to… combine the two looks. The end result just looks misdirected, lacking the same chunky charm of the original and also the smoothness of the 2016 version. It makes me question who is making these artistic decisions, but the more I think about it, I suppose such artistic dissonance is simply part of most remakes.

Tales of Symphonia Remastered will be released for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch in 2023. However… I think the Dolphin version is probably still the best version. …Yes, Dolphin is so established that I consider it a platform now. 

Octopath Traveler was a not unsurprising success for Square Enix. The title came out early in the Switch’s life and was heavily promoted by Nintendo. Then, once the buzz died down, it was brought to PC, and later nabbed an Xbox release spurred by some Game Pass cash. This was followed by the release of a successful (I think) mobile spin-off and now, four years after the original release, a sequel has been announced.

The creatively titled Octopath Traveler II aims to be basically another game in the series, but with a new setting, new characters, an interconnected story, and a day/night system. It overall seems like a pleasant evolution over the original, albeit one that stays true to what the original was, not rocking the boat, but trying to do enough different to warrant its position as a sequel. However, I do wish they carried over the 8-character combat of the mobile game. I love RPGs with more than 4 playable characters…

Octopath Traveler II is coming February 24, 2023, where it will come out for PS4, PS5, Switch, and PC. …Which is a very odd spread, as the original never released on PS4. The lack of an Xbox release is also odd, but I figure that Square Enix is just waiting for Microsoft to pay for a post-release Xbox port, where the title launches on Game Pass. That approach seems to work out pretty well for them.

The Switch has become the go-to system for rhythm games, likely because handheld devices typically have lower latency and rhythm games thrived on handhelds during the past generation. As such, I suppose I cannot be too surprised to hear that the 3DS hit Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is making a comeback. Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line… drops the Final Fantasy name from its title, and is pretty much what you would expect.

A rhythm game with a cute template-based doll aesthetic and oodles of some of the best music in video game history. With 385 different tracks in the base game, and oodles more as DLC (because Square Enix), I’m sure it will be a great time for those with the reflexes needed to enjoy games of this genre. And they will not need to wait long, as Theatrhythm: Final Bar Line will make its debut on February 16, 2023 for PS4 and Switch.

Going into this Nintendo Direct, I was fed the succulent knowledge that there was going to be a GameCube blowout of sorts. That remakes/remasters/ports/whatevers would be announced. But instead we are getting more crappily emulated N64 games for Nintendo Switch Online. These include Mario Party 1, 2, and 3. Pokémon Stadium (1999) and Pokémon Stadium 2 (2000), Pilotwings 64, Excitebike 64, and 1080 Snowboarding. All of which are… fine, but I feel like for a subscription service, games like these should have been added months ago, instead of staggered over the next… year or so? 

However, the big announcement regarding this service is that there will be a re-release of GoldenEye 007, with online play, on Nintendo Switch Online. This is an announcement that I have expected for… months. That GoldenEye would be re-released on Switch and a remastered version would come out for Xbox. And right as this announcement was made, Rare announced that they were bringing the beloved shooter to Xbox consoles.

When this re-release was rumored earlier this year, I questioned if they were going to include the scrapped remaster developed in 2007, or do an entirely new remake. Instead, they are just up-ressing the N64 game. Yes, the ugly 1997 original. Back in 2008, Rare had a mostly complete port of the game where, with a single button press, players could toggle between remastered and original visuals. It was shaping up to be a near perfect remaster but… I guess we can’t have that!

This means that the leaked build from 2021 is basically better than whatever Rare is cooking up, and… it sounds like this project might be even more of a dud right out the gate. The announcement for the Xbox release did not mention any online features, while the official 007 website said that online play would be exclusive to the Switch version. …If that is true, I have to ask why even bother if you are going to botch things up this hard.

Screw it. The leaked version is the real version, do not play these official versions, and just play the leaked build on your computer. I know you might think you want to play it on your Switch, but corporate interests don’t want you to have a good time.

Moving from one bout of confusion to another, Various Daylife is a Square Enix title that was released for the launch of Apple Arcade. However, due to the niche nature of the platform, it did not receive too much coverage. To the point where I never heard of it, and thought it was an entirely new game when it was announced for Switch via this Nintendo Direct.

The game itself is a mixture of a city builder and a standard class-based JRPG, and bears a distinct quality. The quality of a game was originally something much different. I could see it having once been a live service phone game or a 3DS game based on some gameplay snippets and the general fidelity. It also was not met with the best critical reception, with the game being criticized for being grindy, overly long, and nothing too special.

However, even if a game is crap, it still deserves to exist and live outside of a corporate controlled service platform. And now that Various Daylife is on PS4, Switch, and PC, it can… do just that. Exist forever.

After being teased on and off for… 7 years, Pikmin 4 was formally unveiled with a CG concept trailer and a single screenshot showing a more ground-level camera angle. As someone who has never played a Pikmin game, and finds the very concept anxiety-inducing, I have nothing to say. …Other than I’m glad that I don’t need to hear people ask ‘where’s Pikmin 4.’ Because it is coming to Switch in 2023.

Nine months ago, Spike Chunsoft and Too Kyo Games announced the next project from Danganronpa series writer, Kazutaka Kodaka: Enigma Archives: Rain Code. A title that I was conceptually quite interested in based on its pedigree, and now it was formally re-unveiled as Master Detective Archives: Rain Code. A title that… looks like a pretty natural evolution of the Spike Chunsoft adventure game canon.

Danganronpa, Zero Escape, and The Somnium Files are all part of the same family in my book, and all have the same basic structure and strengths. They are prolonged character-driven stories with both episodic and overarching mysteries. Pockets of puzzle-solving and set piece gameplay that are used to advance the plot both directly and indirectly. And a careful mixture of humor, absurdity, and conspiracy. 

All of which carry over to Rain Code, but it aims to ditch the first person investigation in favor of third-person navigation, in addition to upgrading the overall fidelity. Environments look lusciously detailed. Character models look like their concept art manifested into reality, and it is all lousy with this familiar yet distinct sense of style.

As for the game itself… Honestly, I cannot help but think that Kodaka looked at The Somnium Files and said he wanted to do something like that, but mashed up with Danganronpa. The game centers around a young amnesiac detective trying to solve the myriad mysteries that exist within a corporate-owned metropolis of perpetual rain. He is aided in his quest by Shinigami, a ghost friend who can also become a hot lady that the artists are basically begging cosplayers to bring to life.

This is a title that I will probably buy without reading any additional coverage, as I know I am going to like it. I loved Danganronpa 1, 2, and even V3. It is clearly taking cues from AI: The Somnium Files, one of my top ten favorite games. And I am not getting any of the warning signs that things might be amiss that I retroactively saw in World’s End Club. However, I probably won’t check it out when it launches in Spring 2023, as it is debuting as a Switch exclusive, and I would rather wait for the inevitable PC version.

Going from one banger to another, Kirby’s Return to Dream Land Deluxe was the capstone announcement of this show. As the title implies, the game is a remaster of the 2011 Kirby co-op platformer that started up its own little trilogy with Triple Deluxe and Planet Robobot. A game I never actually played beyond the bonus challenge stages in the 2012 Kirby Dream Collection, but is supposed to be one of the best Kirby platformers, especially with buddies. 

Immediately, it is obvious that the game has undergone a significant visual retooling over the original release, but this is one I approve of. While the original game was gorgeous in its own right, it was clearly designed around weaker hardware and co-op, giving the game a rather flat look. With Deluxe… they changed so much that I think it is hard to quantify. More details have been added to the environments. The lighting is more complicated and overall looks super pretty. Character models have been touched up or replaced and given this nice cel-shading style along with black borders (which are great for co-op games). 

There are also other changes, such the ability to play as four Kirbys, addressing the biggest criticism people have with co-op Kirby games. And they gave Dedede his Kirby 64 and Triple Deluxe design… for some reason. I like all Dedede designs, but this one with taller eyes makes him loom more villainous, and I prefer the cuddly baby penguin design of the original.

But regardless, Hal seems to know what they are doing, and I’m looking forward to seeing how exactly this remaster fares when it launches on February 24, 2023.

…Oh, and they showed off another few seconds of the next Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. It… looks like a video game that will be heavily praised, I guess.

For those not following the continuity here, I didn’t really like BOTW. Whereas some saw the game as a freeing experience, I saw it as a bizarrely restrictive one. One where the player needs to do X to do Y in the intended manner, and whose innumerous destinations and goals detracted from its sense of exploration. Such as how, in order to get certain armor, you need to farm dragon X at location Y at time Z. And while you can go anywhere, you should get the bomb upgrades ASAP and get the inventory upgrades shortly thereafter. Which, for me, meant I spent the first 20 hours or so doing these fetch quests…

Restrictions like these, and how every shrine only conferred one fourth of an upgrade, made for one of the slowest grinds I have ever experienced. So slow that by the time I amassed power, I didn’t even want it. By then, I had developed a strategy to get past any opposition, and it carried me throughout the rest of the game. Throw bomb one, detonate. Throw bomb two, detonate. Run away. Rinse and repeat, and occasionally use the Master Sword.

You might say that I was missing the goal of intention of the game here, and that is a fair point. But this is a topic I am so dispassionate about that I do not care to engage with others on it. I merely wish to say my piece and leave.

As a whole, I was expecting Wind Waker HD and Twilight Princess HD as holiday release stealth announcements, along with Metroid Prime Remastered. None of these were announced, and I would have bought all of them for $60, day one. So it is hard for me to not be a bit disappointed. However, there was a lot here, a lot good, but nothing I will buy for Switch aside for Kirby. Which is maybe possibly good actually, as less money spent on games means more money I can invest in an S&P 500 index fund… yay…

Double Direct Delight!
(State of Play – September 2022 Rundown)

A Nintendo Direct alone makes for a plump Rundown, but Sony decided that they should have a State of Play showcase of their own… on the exact same day!

Sony kicked this off by announcing the unsurprising Tekken 8. While Tekken 7’s original release was a bit staggered, having spent two years in arcades before hitting consoles in 2017, it has gone on to be a massive success over the years. As in, over 9 million units sold and three seasons of DLC. As such, a full successor was inevitable, and as revealed via a lavish trailer that illustrated the game’s absurd fidelity, it sure looks like it is trying to impress. 

Fighting games are difficult to judge with anything less than a hands-on session or undisrupted gameplay. But seeing as how Tekken 8 is coming to PS5, Xbox Series, and Steam in 2023, the wait should not be too long. 

I love how Bandai Namco is willing to throw out these one-in-done AA anime action games. Stuff like Code Vein and Scarlet Nexus speak to me in a way that really makes me wish that I could play gosh darn video games regularly, but I can’t. However, I can at least look at them and fill my head with ideas of how cool they could be, and stuff like Synduality makes my head go swirly swirlz!

Synduality is a game about a hot anime boy in a cute-as-hell little mech biped where he travels throughout an alien world, killing creeps and freaks, while his cyber waifu comforts him. There is something about this imagery. This pudgy Akira-Toriyama-ass metal boy, the detailed forestry, the barrage of lights that accompany shoot-outs, and the floating silver-haired girl. Something about that imagery just speaks to me and feels extra cozy in my head. 

In fact, everything about the description checks a box for me. It is a sci-fi dystopia where the world was plagued by “The Tears of the New Moon.” It is set in the year 2222. The glossary contains terms like Drifters, Enders, and Magus. …But then I read that the game features “PvPvE.” Multiplayer and fighting against other players has never been much fun to me, and if there is anything to kill my interest in a game, it’s that. However, much like with the Souls series, I’m guessing online is strictly optional. So, yeah, maybe this is something I could get into, but probably not. ‘Cos I got novels to write.

Synduality is coming out in 2023 for PS5, Xbox Series, and Steam. 

Project Eve was previously highlighted in last year’s September State of Play and, sticking with a weirdly specific tradition, the game once again made an appearance. For those who forgot, the game is a stunning-looking Korean character action game that is practically frothing with production values. The spectacle, scale, and general fidelity of it all are incredibly impressive, and it is a testament of what this next generation of hardware will really be able to do once it becomes the standard.

Here, the title was shown again, given the name Stellar Blade, and… everything about it just speaks to my inner 12-year-old’s ideas of what is cool. The locations are so vast and detailed, there is a sense of grandeur throughout so many shots, and the gameplay features so many diverse freak opponents. I mean, a lady uses a rail gun to attack a monster, while in space, before falling to the Earth! Even if it is just spectacle and kind of shallow beyond that, with spectacle this good, who needs anything else? Dishonest creeps, that’s who!

Stellar Blade will release on PS5 and PC in 2023.

Next up, we have a samurai game set in the 1800s with Rise of the Ronin, from Nioh and Stranger of Paradise developer Team Ninja. A title that… I honestly find it difficult to be enthused about. There are a few nifty feats of combat in the center of the trailer, such as a bayonet execution, aerial suplex, and a flaming Katana air slash. Yet it is all sandwiched between this dry narration that tells me that the game is supposed to be serious. 

It is hard for me to not compare it to other games following sword-wielding warriors in a pre-industrial Asian setting, such as Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. Another game by Team Ninja, and one filled with magic, monsters, and more distinct environments. Perhaps this is a publisher mandate, as this is a Sony published 2024 PS5 console exclusive, and Sony likes their dry drama. But I cannot help but feel that this interpretation is a bit…wasteful

…Or maybe I’m just salty because I thought this would be a new Way of the Samurai game for a moment. But no. It instead agrees to the tonal genre of Sony’s offerings. And I can’t say I blame them. Ghost of Tsushima did super well, so there is obviously an appetite for more serious samurai adventures. 

The News Strikes Like a Dragon
(Three New Yakuza Titles Announced; Series Renamed to ‘Like a Dragon’)

Oh cripes, this never ends. This past week, Sega held a presentation discussing the future titles from their illustrious Ryū ga Gotoku Studio. However, I think the biggest long-term announcement here was the decision to change the western name of their flagship Yakuza series into Like a Dragon. A translation of the series’ Japanese name, Ryū ga Gotoku

This is a bold, understandable, and probably good long-term move for the series, but it is one that I think will be a hard adjustment for a lot of people. Not because the new name is bad— Yakuza is not a very descriptive name and Like a Dragon has a certain poeticness to it. But because so many people internalized the old name… and the Like a Dragon titles currently available are all named after Yakuza

They do not appear to have plans to retroactively rename the series to prevent future confusion, when they pretty much could. Yes, changing old trailers and such is out of the question, but they could release cosmetic patches for all games and roll out title updates if they are truly serious about this new standard. That would be lots of work, and piss at least some people off, but… that’s what I would do. …And why I shall never own a company other than Nigma Box LLC. …I really should make Nigma Box LLC an actual company. It would be a disregarded entity, but it would be nice to say I have my own company.

Anyhow, let’s get on with the… four game announcements that came from this showcase.

Numero ichi relates to a story I talked about back in July 2021. In a report by Nikkan Taishu, it was revealed that Sega was unable to release PC ports of the Like a Dragon spin-off titles, Judgment and Lost Judgment. The reason behind this had to do with the outdated restrictions of the talent agency for Takuya Kimura, the actor for Judgment’s protagonist. The talent agency, Johnny’s, had bizarre restrictions about how their talents’ likeness is distributed. Something about how their likeness could not be ‘distributed on computers via the internet.’

However, over a year later, Sega stealth dropped Judgment and Lost Judgment on Steam. Well, they tried, but an ESRB rating spoiled the announcement a day before. Oops!

This means that an agreement was reached between Sega and Johnny’s, and implies that there may be a third Judgment game. In the same July 2021 story, the sub-series was supposedly ending because of this disagreement. But if Johnny’s is willing to let Sega release games on PC, then I see no reason why it would not continue, assuming the sales were strong enough. Which means that people can get more variety in their (basically) annualized Like a Dragon releases.

Numero ni, there are three major Like a Dragon games that have never received any sort of international release. Including the 2008 Sengoku-era spin-off, Kenzan! The 2014 Edo-era spin-off, Ishin! And the 2010 modern-era PSP spin-off, Black Panther. As such, if RGG Studio was going to remake/remaster a past game, it would likely be one of these. …And they decided to go with the easiest one to remake, Like a Dragon: Ishin!

Despite being a 2014 title that could possibly just be remastered, the game is actually marking the series’ debut with Unreal Engine 4. A move that reflects an experiment by the developers, who are considering ditching the Dragon Engine introduced in Like a Dragon 6: The Song of Life. While this could lead to certain hiccups in this transition, what was shown here looks to carry over everything that people love about the series into a new setting. Or at least, new to gaijin scum.

Regardless, it is going to be full of drama, action, and absurdity. From summoning a tiger friend during combat to exploring the politics of the black ships era. Which is one of the more interesting time periods in Japanese history for a good reason. It is the era where cultures collide and Japan fights back against those colonialist daemons!

Like a Dragon: Ishin! will release for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Steam on February 21, 2023.

Numero san is a side story by the name of Like a Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name. A game that follows goodest boy Kazuma Kiryu as he goes into hiding following the events of Like a Dragon 6: The Song of Life. Immediately, I feel the need to ask why RGG Studio feels the need to continue Kiryu’s story after it reached such a definitive conclusion. 

While I doubt anyone is opposed to him coming back eventually, it has been less than 6 years for Japanese players, not truly long enough for people to really miss him. However he is still getting his own dedicated spin-off, following him as he spends his years in hiding, going by a pseudonym, and getting into all sorts of adventures in the process. All of which will take the form of an action adventure game. So I guess it will be the Like a Dragon 7 that some JRPG-haters wanted.

…In fact, the game is called Like a Dragon 7 Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name in Japan. So I guess they really do want to appease the Kiryu fans with this one. 

Anyway, nothing beyond a cutscene has been revealed, but it will hit PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC in 2023.

Numero shi is the announcement of Like a Dragon 8. Another turn-based RPG in the vein of Like a Dragon 7, but this time with a dual protagonist system a la Like a Dragon 0. With part of the game following new boy Ichiban Kasuga and the other following a silver-haired Kazuma Kiryu. Silver meaning it was dyed, not that he got significantly older. Which is laaaaaame! If you are gonna give the children Kiryu, give ‘em grandpappy Kiryu, darn it! 

No details beyond that have been revealed, and how the game will be released for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and PC in 2024.

EA Originals Presents: A Triple-A Hunting Game
(Electronic Arts and Koei Tecmo are Developing “The Next Great Hunting Game”)

Jumping back a bit to Rise of the Ronin, Koei Tecmo has something of a penchant for making games set in feudal Japan. And this past week, it was announced that they’re making a new hunting game with EA. By hunting, I of course mean ‘monster’ hunting, a genre that Koei Tecmo previously experimented with the Toukiden series. Which aimed to be Monster Hunter for the Vita and PS4 before Monster Hunter World came out. 

…Wait, what did I just say? EA and Koei Tecmo, two companies who I think have no established relationship, are working on a game in a fairly niche genre together? Well, yes, but it is not as a traditional publisher agreement, as this is an EA Original, which is their label for independent projects such as Unravel and It Takes Two. That explains some things… but it raises a lot of questions about how this all came up. Maybe it was just a chance meeting with two executives who were at a conference together or some such thing, but regardless… this seems fine, I guess?

EA Originals are a good deal for the developers, EA promotes the games, at least sometimes, and this means that Koei Tecmo has some extra funding for the title. So… good news, I guess!

Babylon Has Fallen
(Babylon’s Fall Announces End of Service)

Assuming that anyone actually remembers it, Babylon’s Fall is going to be talked about quite a bit during the ‘worst games of the year’ discourse. Mostly because it was a beloved developer putting out a game that few people wanted and fewer people actually played. Live services are a hard sell for a lot of people, and this game… just looked rough since it was shown at E3 2021.

As such, I cannot say that I am surprised to hear that Babylon’s Fall will end service on February 27, 2023. For the record, the game launched on March 3, 2022. That means the game was just barely around for less than a year. 

The game is no longer available to purchase digitally, physical copies are going to be returned to Square Enix, and players can no longer purchase the in-game premium currency. The game’s second season will conclude on November 29, after which it will begin running additional and recycled events as part of its final season.

Now, I was originally planning on being bitter about this news, voicing how people did not like this game, and how it was a ‘waste’ of PlatinumGames’ talent. However… Babylon’s Fall did have an audience of sorts. A small devoted audience who found a game to enjoy despite its numerous flaws. And it had a dev team of hundreds who spent years bringing their vision, as dictated by Square Enix, to life. 

Just reading these closing remarks reminds me that all games, no matter how small or derided, have the right to exist. That a world where art is destroyed upon being unprofitable is a dire and dark one. And that… live services really are just the worst. Don’t play them. Because they will be taken away from you. And all you will have are your memories… and your archives of footage.

On that note, I have gathered/recorded all the story content I can in Dragalia Lost, and I am currently in the process of determining teams to use for (almost) every quest. My goal is to represent as many characters as possible, and choose the most appropriate characters I can think of.

Plundering the Dragon’s Strash for IP Growth
(Natalie Just Learned What Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai Is…)

While discussions of Dragon Quest are often focused squarely on video games, the series has a fairly large multimedia presence in Japan. And one of the biggest multimedia successes took the form of The Adventure of Dai spin-off series. It originally began as a Shonen Jump comic that ran from 1989, sold oodles of copies, got a year-long anime adaptation, and three movies. Hell, it was beloved enough for the protagonist to be in 2019’s Jump Force

Back in 2020, the series was revived as a multimedia project, led by an ongoing anime series, in addition to a new manga and some arcade/mobile games. However, at TGS, they showed off additional gameplay of a console game based on the series, Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai – Infinity Strash. An action RPG that… actually looks pretty solid based on the trailer. There is definitely a place for a Dragon Quest action game— that was one of the main takeaways from Dragon Quest Heroes— and this game has surprisingly high quality production values.

However, it is always best to look at the developer when gauging games like this, or rather, developers. Kai Graphics, who mostly makes Dragon Quest arcade games, and the creatively named Game Studio, a smartphone game developer. This does not inspire the best impression, but the project definitely has potential and might be worth keeping an eye on.

Infinity Strash will debut for PS4, PS5, Switch, and PC at some unspecified time for a simultaneous worldwide release.

Konami, That’s Too Many Words For A Title!
(Konami announces Suikoden I & II HD Remaster: Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars)

Hopping back to the remake/remaster discussions earlier, I have spoken at lengths of the fall of Konami. How the publisher is sitting on such a wide breadth of IP and past titles that it is, quite frankly, absurd that they are not pushing out one major re-release a year.

As such, I am delighted whenever they prove me wrong and announce a quality remaster, which is precisely what they did with Suikoden I & II HD Remaster: Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars. A remake of two highly acclaimed PS1 RPGs that… I know precious little about other than how my childhood friend played the second one on his PSP and thought the story was quite good. …So let’s talk about how these remasters look, because that is the biggest takeaway from a trailer like this!

Instead of being a direct re-release of the sprite-based original, Konami chose to invest a bit more into this game in order to give it a visual facelift. This is always a slippery slope, as sometimes games are mandated to have terrible new art styles that poop on the original. But Suikoden I & II HD Remaster are looking pretty dope.

Let’s start with the sprites. I do not believe that the sprites featured in this collection are all exact copies of the original. I compared the running sprite of the protagonist of Suikoden 1 and the overworld sprites to found on Spriter’s Resource, and it does not match the trailer. However, the colors appear to be the same, the style is the same, the battle sprites all look right, and there is no Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster uncanniness to the characters in this revision.

Meanwhile, the backgrounds have been completely redone, and I think this was a change for the better. The original backgrounds had a lot of noise and simulated texture to them, so they do not scale up as well as, say, Chrono Trigger. While the new backgrounds forgo the sprites and tile sets and are instead these painterly 2D backdrops for the overworld, and less impressive 3D environment for boss battles where things look strangely blurry. Not unlike the PS1 original, I suppose.

I would say that this is not a huge deal if you play the game on Switch or Steam Deck, but then you run into the issue of the font. While it is fine for dialogue and such, the battle UI is at least two font sizes smaller than it should be. It is a little thing, but one that seems so obvious to me that I cannot fathom how dozens of people failed to spot this potential issue. I’m sure that this can be fixed with mods, like Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster, but that is still a real crummy thing to get wrong.

Suikoden I & II HD Remaster: Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars will release on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam in 2023. 

…Also, I love how I heard of this news immediately before seeing a trailer for the Suikoden spiritual successor, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. It really makes you think about why Konami decided to remake these games now of all times… I kid, but I am super happy these games are coming back. It appeases my inner preservationist. 

One Step Forward, Two… Twenty Steps Back
(PS VR2 is not compatible with PS VR games

Oh, but you know what just poops all over my love of preserving the medium? Crap like expensive peripherals not having backwards compatibility. 

As revealed via the official PlayStation podcast episode 439, people who purchase a PS VR2 will not be able to use the device to play the… hundreds of games compatible with PS VR. What. A. Load.

I do not care about the technical reasons why this would not work due to the changes with the controllers and underlying technology. This is a niche product that Sony is selling to people and asking them to keep two separate headsets to access both old and new games is such a bad move. So bad that I find it hard to believe that this peripheral even has the potential to be a success. Backwards compatibility is part of the future of gaming and if you go against this trend, then… I hope your product fails, because screw you. Preservation is more important than innovation, and I will stay true to that concept until I’m dead and buried.

Ends & Updates: Stuff #TODO Before the Birthday

…I just spent the past summer writing over 170,000 words of fiction between the following: TSF Series #006-3: OPPAI 3 – Let’s Go To Hell, TSF Series #014: Satanica Intervention – What’s Yours is Mine, The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan, TSF Series #004-3: VoRE_EOS, and Verde’s Doohickey – Session Extra. I did this at the cost of playing games or producing reviews, and I had a wonderful time bringing all of these stories to life. However, writing is merely one part of what a writer does and the other part is spreading their writings around.

This is something that I have always been kind of clueless about. Where I should post and how I should distribute my works. I posted my first six novels onto ScribbleHub and created ePubs for them so I could distribute them on Amazon. I did this under the hope that more people would read these stories, as that is all I really want. I don’t want no money, no fame, no acclaim, and nothing close to a big following. Currently, I only know of… 4 or 5 people who read my novels and such. I am grateful to all of them, but I want more people to read my stuff. Like… 25 people or something.

Unfortunately, none of my stories did too well on ScribbleHub and I’m pretty sure some of my novels sold zero copies on Amazon. Probably because I put the books in the wrong category. You see, with Amazon, you need to contact support to put your books into more advanced categories. You can’t just select it yourself. And because of that, I have been putting this off for months.

So, now I’m thinking if there is a better platform for The Saga of Dawn and Dusk novels and TSF Series. I know of several other writing platforms I could try out. Smashwords, Wattpad, Royal Road— shit, most of my stuff would probably fit on TGStoryTime and DeviantArt.

I don’t want to go through the hassle of releasing all of my stuff on so many platforms. However, I also really like it when someone reads my stuff, so I just might need to go on a publishing blitz in order to find some place I can publish my stuff.

Now, this is not to say that I will stop releasing things on Nigma Box. Hell no. Unless I am under contractual obligation, everything I write will be released on Nigma Box, and it will be released on Nigma Box first!

Okay, okay, but what am I going to do about this? Well… I guess I’ll just make it a goal to release my stuff on two more platforms before the end of the year. One more by November 18th, my 28th birthday, and one before the end of the calendar year. In fact, while stating goals, lemme lay on some fresh goals for y’all, since I keep fudging them up by doing things out of order.

Stuff Natalie Needs to Do Before Her 28th Birthday on 11/18/2022:

…And all of this is in addition to my Dragalia Lost preservation project. The good news is that I have successfully mirrored all files from the communal archive project. The bad news is that I have quantified what I need to do… and I need to record… about 570 gameplay sequences. 

One of the bigger shortcomings of the communal archive project is the lack of raw high quality gameplay recordings, and I am determined to supply just that. It is true that a lot of YouTube videos have been made of things like the endgame bosses and certain quests, but I want to supply two things that are in short supply.

Raw gameplay of every single quest I can record (except hard and very hard difficulty of the 250 story quests). And a total of… 64 different Kaleidoscape runs! Looking through YouTube and their fickle search system, I do not believe that there is a non-livestream version of a full 60 floor playthrough of Enter the Kaleidoscape mode. I found recordings from ColbertPlaysGames, Duke, and iamflip ch. Among others, but this is insufficient for my purposes. I want something with more quality control.

Also, I have to say that this process has really caused me to start hating Apple devices. When they work, they’re great— because anything that is working as intended is great. But there is so much bullcrap that comes with transferring footage.

Problem 1: Massive Files – The built-in iOS screen recorder is a fine enough program, but when it records video, it does so using an H.264 codec. An older compression format that was outmoded by H.265 about a decade ago. While the camera of every iPhone starting with an iPhone 7 is able to record as H.265, the same luxury is not available for the native screen recorder. The end result of this are these massively large files that are, roughly, 1GB for every 7 minutes of footage.

Problem 2: iCloud Uploading – Apple wants users to transfer files via iCloud. They want all files to be backed up on their servers, downloaded from their website, and for users to pay them a monthly fee for data storage. …Though, their fees are pretty reasonable, at least for the US. I dislike this concept on principle, but when combined with the massive videos, this means that it can take hours to upload a single video. Oh, and when you have a backlog of videos, then you’re kind of screwed. Because you cannot prioritize uploads. I have no idea if it uploads one after the other, tries to upload all at once, or what. But the bottom line is that iCloud is virtually unusable for my purposes. I wanted it to be a third layer of a backup, but I guess I was just being too hopeful…

Problem 3: Transferring Files to PC – How do you transfer photos and videos from iOS to PC? You use the Photos app that… does not list any information about the photos/videos. You can navigate to the DCIM folder of the iPhone and pull out the media files, copying or cutting them. Or you could use the “import pictures and videos” plug in, to copy/cut videos. HOWEVER, all of these have a size limit of about 4GB. If you have a video that is more than 4GB, such as a 30 minute screen recording, then you are screwed… OR ARE YOU?

See, the trick here, which I only found in the comments section of a YouTube video with under 3,000 views. If you have iTunes open, then the 4GB limit is lifted and you can transfer files of any size from your iPhone to PC… WHAT???

Are you seriously imposing DRM-ass restrictions for MOVING FILES? Jeepers creepers, Apple. I would say that I’m not going to buy your products ever again, but I never intend on doing stuff like this after November 2022. Hell, I do not plan on using my phone for anything more than two-factor authentication, taxis, phone calls, and occasional web stuff after November 2022.

Problem 4: iOS 16 Ruined Do Not Disturb – On iOS 15, when I set my phone to Do Not Disturb, I received no notifications when recording. However, on iOS 16, I receive recording-related notifications while recording. Meaning if I want to record clean footage, I need to wait for the recording to process, for the notification to appear, and then start another recording. Bloody hell…

Last Minute Edit: Due to the permanent power increases of Dragalia Lost, and my desire to preserve good looking footage, I have made the decision to only record the Very Hard difficulty quests for the sake of most quests. My reason for this stems from how the footage for the first few chapters looks awful with level 100 characters. For the 20 ‘hybrid quests’ I intend on recording footage of both the Normal difficulty and the Very Hard difficulty, as the story scenes are not present outside of Normal difficulty. I may make changes as this process goes on, but I believe this is the best approach to capture what this game was.

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