This Week’s Topics:
- Tencent bought 20% of that anime booty game.
- The continued purging of HBO Max to avoid residuals
- A ‘remaster’ of 2005’s Ys: The Oath in Felghana
- The next retroactive adventure of Adol Christin
- Amazon’s next Tomb Raider game
- The END of the Pokémon anime (as we know it)
Rundown Preamble Ramble:
Expect A Hiatus!
As I have been saying ad nauseam over the past few weeks, I am going in for bottom surgery tomorrow, December 19th. Specifically, a zero-depth vaginoplasty. Point is that I will be away from my home and PC for several days as I recover in the hospital and then a rehab facility. Am I worried about this? Not really. This is a far less intensive surgery than a full-on vaginoplasty, and my surgeon has done hundreds of bottom surgeries. Plus, I will have my phone and a crappy laptop with me. So I can still do stuff while waiting and recovering.
I will provide more details about the surgery on the 25th when I (hopefully) release my next Rundown. For the time being though, I’m drinking chicken broth and Gatorade while downing medicine to empty my bowels prior to surgery. So that’s gonna be FUN!
Ten Cents For a Fifth O’ Dat Ass
(Tencent Acquires 20% of Shift Up)
Right before the year ended, Tencent went in for the metaphorical kill with one more ‘strategic investment.’ This time, they bought 20% of Korean game developer Shift Up. A fairly new company who is best known for the upcoming AAA action game, Stellar Blade. That Korean-looking-ass sci-fi game with that lady with swords and a perky ass. But you might also know them as the developers of Goddess of Victory: Nikke, that gacha game where you watch anime girls’ asses jiggle as they shoot guns.
All joking aside, the reason behind this investment is pretty clear. One, Nikke was published internationally by Level Infinite— a label created by Tencent to hide the fact that they are Tencent. Meaning there was an existing relationship between the two companies. Two, Nikke has been a massive success so far, seeing over 10 million downloads in its first week, and over $70 million in revenue.
With numbers like those, there’s a significant chance that not only will this title live a long life with a steady playerbase, but it has the potential to become more than a gacha game. It could easily become its own multimedia project with an anime series, various comics, and just oodles of merch. So naturally, Tencent would want to get in while the going’s good.
Now, do I like the fact that this is happening? No. More Tencent is not a good thing. However, this sale of stock was likely part of Tencent’s publishing contract with Shift Up, and it simply went into effect now. As such… I cannot get super mad about this. Because without Tencent, Nikke would not be rolling in dough and pleasing people all over the world.
Warner Discovery’s Wretched Delistings
(Two More Series Removed from HBO Max to Avoid Residuals)
During its brief existence, Warner Discovery has established itself as a prime example of everything wrong with corporate consolidation. Massive layoffs, the cancelation of major projects, and the delisting of shows from their streaming services. Thereby making them only available via piracy, because many shows no longer get physical releases. This was not a rights issue, as one might expect. Instead, it was strictly due to Warner’s desire to not pay royalties to people who took on these projects with the assumption of residual income. And this was also not a one-time thing.
Just this past week, Warner delisted another two series from their streaming service, HBO Max. The canceled Westworld reboot and The Nevers, a Joss Whedon production that was canned halfway through its initial season. Regardless of the quality of these shows, or the people behind them, this is an utterly shameful display by Warner. An act of corporate greed, disrespect to the creators, and disdain for not only their subscribers, but the medium as a whole.
It is a harsh reminder that the rights holders of various properties truly do not care for or respect what they own. That there are companies who are not worth supporting in any form. And that it is absolutely okay to just pirate anything they own.
The (Second) Best Ys Game Is Getting (Sorta) Remastered!
(Falcom Announces ‘Remaster’ of 2005’s Ys: The Oath in Felghana)
If you were to ask me what my favorite trilogy in gaming was, I would be hard pressed to give an answer. But one of my favorites is absolutely the three mid-2000’s Ys games released by Nihon Falcom. Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, and Ys Origin. The Ys ANOFO Trilogy as I like to call it. They are a surprisingly rare breed of overhead 2.5D action RPGs that have impressed me in… pretty much every regard. Their densely packed exploration, intense action combat, glorious boss battles, gorgeously textured yet geometrically simple environments, and legendary soundtracks have stuck with me for… about a decade.
I bring this up because, this past week, Falcom announced Ys Memorie: The Oath in Felghana. A ‘remaster’ of the original that appears to largely just be a port of the game to modern hardware, but with four changes.
- New character art that is not significantly better or worse than the original.
- New voice acting for Adol and the narrator, while the other voiced lines are seemingly recycled— the press release is not clear.
- The ability to increase Adol’s running speed by 1.5 to 2 times by pressing a button. Because I guess that makes the game easier.
- Players will be able to choose between an original soundtrack, the PC-88 soundtrack, and the X68000 soundtrack. Which is not technically a new feature, as this has been in the Steam release since 2020.
All in all, it sounds like a simple yet solid port with extras… which raises some questions. Namely, if they are going to the trouble of labeling this as a remaster, why are they still using the low resolution pre-rendered character sprites? These sprites, to me, are the worst part of Falcom’s output throughout the 2000s, and if there was one thing I would like to see changed here, it would be upgraded character and enemy sprites. Assuming they have the original 3D models used to create these pre-rendered sprites— and that is a big assumption— I would have liked to see them generate higher quality 2D exports of the models. I mean, Adol’s sprites aren’t even 90 by 50 pixels wide.
Oh well, at least they didn’t muck up the beautiful backgrounds with excessive filtering….
Ys Memorie: The Oath in Felghana will be released for Switch, PS4, and PS5 in Japan in spring 2023. A western release has not been announced.
Ys VIII+2: Now With Boats
(Falcom Announces Ys X: Nordic)
There are few things that would make me happier than a successor to the gameplay style of Felghana, but sadly the series decided to change directions with 2009’s Ys Seven. A title that traded the fast and frantic gameplay and imposing bosses for repetitive character switching and bosses with way too much health. This style has never really stuck with me, but for the past decades, it has defined what Ys is. Though, that will supposedly not be the case for the next entry, Ys X: Nordics.
I say this because it is ditching the three-person team approach from prior games in favor of featuring only a party of two and giving players two ways to control the game. By controlling one character and having the partner auto-attack, or by controlling two characters at once. However, the screenshots tell a different story, as the game looks highly derivative of Ys VIII, which is where the gameplay of Ys Seven went ‘full 3D.’
Also, the game has some of the worst placeholder UI I have ever seen, mostly due to how the health bar is centered along the right side of the screen, instead of being near the top. That is… almost like a parody of bad UI.
Ys X: Nordics will be released for Switch, PS4, and PS5 in Japan in 2023. A western release has not been announced.
Lara Croft’s Heading to the Amazon!
(Amazon Games Is Publishing the Next Tomb Raider Game)
One of the bigger acquisitions this past year was Embracer’s $300 million purchase of Eidos Montreal, Crystal Dynamics, and their lineage of IPs, including the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex series. Over the past year though, both studios have been awfully quiet, aside from some rumors about canceled projects and support work on the upcoming reboots of Perfect Dark and Fable.
This fixation on support work made me curious about how much funding both studios are getting from Embracer. While Embracer has a lot of money, they are still positioned as more of a AA company. One who does not put too many resources into any given title, and only occasionally ships a true AAA game.
As such, part of me is not too surprised to hear that Amazon Games is going to publish the next Tomb Raider game. This might seem… random and confusing, but I think this is merely Amazon’s next strategy for their gaming division.
As I have discussed in the past, Amazon Game Studios is one of the most aggressively mismanaged gaming companies in the world. The studios have been obsessed with creating hit games and have wasted hundreds of millions on developing titles that never got past a beta. Or, in the case of Crucible, only lasted a few weeks.
They finally managed to ship a ‘successful’ game with 2021’s New World. A premium MMORPG without a subscription fee that was met with a… modest reception, with the general consensus being that the game is fine. Not too broken, but also nothing too unique or groundbreaking.
However, Amazon Games recently started acting more as a publisher, having taken on the worldwide distribution and publishing rights for two MMOs. Smilegate’s Lost Ark and Bandai Namco’s Blue Protocol. …Which actually makes a lot of sense. Amazon Web Services account for about a third of the global internet, meaning they don’t need to pay a third party to host their data. Almost makes you wonder why they weren’t the ones who tried the mass market games streaming thing first. Also, pro tip, even if you suck at making games, you can make a lot of money by selling them if you have a big enough marketing budget.
Okay, that explains why they shifted to publishing, but why Tomb Raider? Well, I think the answer is clear enough to interpret. In addition to their gaming companies, Amazon has also been particularly thirsty for IPs for their streaming service. Hell, they just greenlit a God of War series this past week. It is highly likely that Amazon wants to become associated with an IP as popular as Tomb Raider, participate in licensing deals, and create a big budget TV series that is closely related to the game. That way, they can not only attract users to their streaming service, but can use it to promote a game that they directly profit off of. That’s some good synergy!
Now, I don’t think that Amazon will manage to buy the Tomb Raider IP. There is absolutely no way Embracer, owner of Lord of the Rings and Dark Horse Comics, is giving that up. But I think this has the potential to work out for the best for both parties. At least, assuming they both behave themselves.
After 25 Years, The World Will Turn To Ash Once Again
(The Ash Ketchum Saga Is Coming to a Close in the Pokémon Anime)
I have talked a lot about the Pokémon series over the life of this site, but I have seldom ever discussed the anime. Like with many, it was my first exposure to the Pokémon series, and something I loved long before I played the games.
I remember watching the third episode, Ash Catches a Pokémon, at my grandmother’s house back in autumn of 1998 and immediately being entranced by the series. Because it was this beautiful mix of adorable characters, intense action, and plots simple enough for a 3–year-old like me to sorta follow.
The TV series— the anime— is what got me invested in this series, and I made it a point to watch it as often as I could. I had a collection of VHS tapes covering the first half of the first season. I remember begging my mother to take me to see the first three movies in theaters. I remember hating the new voice actors after the series switched from the 4Kids cast with The Mastermind of Mirage Pokémon. And I remember watching it consistently from the ages of 3 to 13. Or from 1998 to 2008. Or from the Indigo League to the first third of Battle Dimension.
I stopped watching it because I thought I was done with Pokémon after being disappointed by Pokémon Diamond, Pokémon Battle Revolution, and Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time. Since then, I have never given the series another shot, and for three reasons: It is over 1,200 episodes long. I don’t want to challenge my positive memories of the series. And I know there is a lot of mediocre or bad stuff throughout certain seasons.
Now, why do I bring this up? Because after 26 years, the journey of Ash Ketchum is finally coming to an end. After becoming a Pokémon League champion in the latest season, The Pokémon Company had decided to end his journey with an 11 episode epilogue, Aim To Be A Pokémon Master. One that will see the return of Ash’s various partners over the years, and hopefully end his story on a high note.
Afterwards, in April 2023, an all-new Pokémon series will begin, following a new protagonist in the Paldea region.
This is… something that people have wanted for so long, and something that I thought would never happen. Ash has, in many respects, been the face of the franchise since the inception. So seeing them trade him out and trying something new is… well, bold is one of many words that come to mind.
It certainly makes me interested as to what this new series could be like… But knowing how The Pokémon Company is, the English dub will arrive 4 months late… Why can’t The Pokémon Company International be like
Funimation Crunchyroll and simulcast their dubs and make them feel more important? …Because it’s hard, I guess.
Header image is from the first volume of Chainsaw Man by Tatsuki Fujimoto. For the record, I’m not reading it because the anime is popular or anything like that. I don’t care about what anime is popular. I’m reading it because I started watching SuperEyepathWolf’s video on the series and got to the part where he talked about how “two teenagers kick a man in the dick until he dies.”