Ah yes, once again I am tasked with writing about videogames in the shadow of unimaginably awful bullshit happening in the world around us. It’s pretty tough, not only because the shadow of terrible things is weighing heavily in your mind, but it also feels extremely insensitive to be writing about “fun” stuff while people are out there suffering. I try to tell myself that if reading this column makes folks even a little bit happier in the face of misery that I’m doing a good thing, but perhaps I’m just in denial. I dunno. Shit sucks, man.
So, in my effort to try to stave off existential dread, how about we start off with Sega/Atlus news? Sega just surprise-dropped Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Megamix+ on Steam, making it the first official PC release of the long-running rhythm game series. It’s quite good! You can check ANN’s review by Jean-Karlo here, and my review over on GameSpot here.
On Thursday, Atlus shared a brief announcement video detailing their North American plans for Persona 25th Anniversary celebrations. Besides showingcasing a bunch of new merch (including, for some bizarre reason, a $500 Persona-themed record turntable) and promoting a streaming live concert (which you can get tickets for even outside of Japan, as our mascot hosts note), they also announced a series of live events and venues that will be taking part in the celebration. Unfortunately, they’re pretty much all based in Southern California, including a big joint Sega/Atlus booth at Anime Expo. Maybe if we’re lucky a few other big cities in North America will get something later this year, because Persona fandom certainly doesn’t revolve entirely around one massive metro area.
But perhaps more importantly – we’ve got a new Persona 5 game! Don’t get too excited, though, because these Phantom Thieves are out to raid your wallet in Persona 5 For Reels.
Okay, regardless of your feelings on a Persona 5 slot machine, we can all agree that the title is amazing, right? Given that it’s a video slot machine rather than the pachislot machines that are common (and more importantly, legal) in Japan, I suspect this is geared more towards the international casino market. Will 21-and-older Persona fans be able to resist the allure of the slots? (I hope so.)
IT’S DRAGON QUEST DAY, AND YUJI HORII HAS SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS
May 27th marks the date when the original Dragon Quest launched in Japan all the way back in 1986, which makes it a quasi-official gamer holiday. To celebrate, Square-Enix dropped a new video featuring series maestro Yuji Horii. And what would an anniversary be without a little bit of news? Here’s the YouTube video, which you’ll want to watch with captions turned on if you don’t speak Japanese:
To start off: Dragon Quest Builders has released on mobile platforms! You can download it on iOS or Android right now! If you haven’t played the Builders series, you should definitely give them a try: they’re very fun and charming spins on construction games with that signature Dragon Quest personality pledge.
We’ve also got a new trailer for spinoff treasure-hunting adventure Dragon Quest Treasures. No platforms announced yet, but at the very least Switch and PS4 seem likely.
While Dragon Quest XII is still under development (and likely will be for a good while yet), Horii reassures us that we’ll have plenty of slime-squashing goo-oodness to tide us over as we wait for more information. So hey, uh, about that Dragon Quest X Offline western release…
GODDAMN, THAT’S A LOTTA GUNDAM
Thursday afternoon saw Bandai-Namco games deliver the online Gundam Game Fest, a brief stream featuring a bunch of announcements related to videogame adaptations of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchises The video, complete with an announcer who gives off big “fifth grade class educational video” vibes, can be viewed in its entirety here:
We start off with an in-depth look at the upcoming SD Gundam Battle Alliance, a massive multi-Gundam-universe crossover action game starring adorably super-deformed versions of all your favorite mobile suits. The video goes into gameplay details pretty in-depth, so I probably don’t need to repeat them here, but it’s looking like a surprisingly solid bit of fanservice for Gundam megafans. You’ll be able to take these Doozybot-wannabes out for adventure on PC and consoles come August 25th
Next is Gundam Evolutionthe Gundam-themed hero shooter FPS which had a PC beta test last month. I heard a lot of people really liked what they played in that beta, which may bode well for the game’s future. But if you missed out on the PC beta test, fear not: A console beta will be launched soon, and you can sign up for it at this link.
Finally, after some updates about the ongoing free-to-play title Gundam Battle Operation 2there’s a brand-new announcement: SD Gundam G Generation Eternal. This is a mobile strategy-RPG featuring SD Gundam units for iOS and Android, and will encompass the whole of the multiple Gundam universes. It’s still pretty early in development, so details are scarce, but we’re likely to learn more over the coming months.< p>
FIGHTING GAME NEWS ROUNDUP: HAVE YOU HERD THE GOOD NEWS
Combo Breaker, one of the bigger not-EVO US fighting game tournaments, is happening this weekend, so it’s likely we’ll get some announcements there. New Guilty Gear Strive characters? More Street Fighter 6 details? Maybe more looks at Riot Games’ new fighting game? Could well happen! But even if it doesn’t, Combo Breaker is one of the most fun tournaments to spectate, especially the downright bonkers Mystery Tournament and the Character Auction Tournaments. I highly recommend checking the official schedule and streaming whatever catches your interest.
But even before Combo Breaker hits, we’ve got fighting game news! It’s been a year since launch, and Guilty Gear Strive is getting a major balance patch on June 10, which even the developers at Arc System Works are saying will introduce some pretty big overhauls for the entire cast. Which means Happy Chaos is probably getting some nerfs, to the relief of many. ASW has also announced a beta for cross-platform play sometime this summer. If you want to watch the presentation – which includes more details and information on the new DLC-included Guilty Gear Strive Starter Edition – you can watch the replay of the livestream here:
Meanwhile, cult fighting game favorite Them’s Fightin’ Herds is coming to consoles. This formerly PC-only fighting game began life as a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fangame before Hasbro lawyers brought out a cease and desist, forcing the devs to replace the ponies with legally distinct four-legged fighters. But that setback didn’t hurt the development team much — they’ve been working hard on the game for years, and have wound up making a surprisingly solid fighter with smooth rollback netcode (and, according to the trailer, cross-platform matches ) for online play. If you’re curious, I do recommend giving it a shot when it hits consoles.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All-Star Battle R has a release date: Sept. 2. Hey, that’s my birthday! Thanks, Bamco! The announcement is accompanied by a new trailer, which you can check out here:
Finally, we’ve got some Skullgirls news! Skullgirls is the fighting game that manages to keep on kicking no matter what, and its placement in EVO this year has brought even more of a spotlight to this fine game. Skullgirls 2nd Encore, the latest version of the game, has been announced for Xbox One and Xbox Series platforms later this year. A new character is also in the works: the arm-cannon wielding Black Dahlia. Check out her development trailer here:
On a stranger note, longtime Skullgirls character Valentine is getting a slight design change: all of the crosses on her nurses’ outfit are getting changed to be less… cross-y and more point-y. The reason? Likely the litigious nature of the Red Cross organization, who protects their signature iconography furiously. No big deal, really – it’s not a huge change, and I think the new design reflects her dual nurse-ninja nature a lot better anyway.
- Did Norman Reedus just accidentally reveal Death Stranding 2 in an interview? I think he did. Is anyone surprised Death Stranding 2 is happening? No, not really. Anyway, here’s Kojima “punishing” him.
- Kadokawa Games, the game publishing arm of one of Japan’s most storied media publishing dynasties, is divesting some of its business into a new company called Dragami Games. Current Kadokawa Games CEO Yoshima Yasuda will be stepping down and assuming ownership of the new company. Does this mean Kadokawa‘s starting to wind down its gaming business? Despite years of trying, they never really found success in that field, so it wouldn’t be terribly surprising.
- Raven Software’s QA division has officially thumbed their noses at Activision top brass and voted in favor of unionization. You did it, guys! Meanwhile, Activision-Blizzard continues to excel at finding new and exciting ways to suck.
I think we’ll call it here for this week. You know the drill – you got comments, we got forums, linked below. Remember to support your friends and loved ones – the news has been rough lately, and a lot of folks are only just hanging on, so your kindness can mean the world to them. Thanks for reading.