Let’s Talk About Kingdom Hearts – This Week in Games

Hi folks. Boy, uh… pretty big announcement this weekend, huh? But before we get into that, I want to touch on something very briefly: there’s some controversy going down among fans of the Tohou Project about recent requests to remove downloads of the original games in the series. I definitely want to write more about this in the very near future, but as I’m an extremely casual Tohou fan, I feel like I need to do a bit more research into the situation before I write a lengthy screened about preservation, piracy, creators’ wishes, and so forth. Just so you all are aware that I know things are happening in that particular corner of otakudom. We’ll get to it.

But right now, let’s discuss this weekend’s massive reveal.

LET’S TALK ABOUT KINGDOM HEARTS

There was a Kingdom Hearts 20th anniversary event over the weekend, and shit got real. On many different levels.


You have likely seen the announcement trailer for Kingdom Hearts IV by now, but here it is again in case you missed it, and boy is it over a curveball. I don’t think anyone anticipated that our first glimpse of a new numbered Kingdom Hearts would be set in the Uncanny Valley with a photorealistic-ish Sora in a place that looks a lot like Shibuya. (Tetsuya Nomura sure loves Shibuya, doesn’t he?)

Though it might look like Earth, it’s actually a place called the Quadratum. Meanwhile, Donald and Goofy are stuck back in the main Kingdom Hearts universe, wondering what the heck they’re going to do with Sora gone. This sets up a new story for the series, which the trailer calls the “Lost Master Arc.”

Of course, one thing everybody knows about Kingdom Hearts is that its story is hilariously convoluted, to the point that speculating about what’s going on in Kingdom Hearts is as important to being a Kingdom Hearts fan as actually playing the games. And to get everything about the plot, you have to play all the games and their DLC. Seriously. Not only is the girl in the trailer, Strelitzia, from the mobile game Kingdom Hearts Union Crossbut the whole concept of Quadratum was revealed in Melody of Memory and expanded upon in the Kingdom Hearts 3 Re:Mind DLC that builds on upon an in-universe video game called Verum Rex that’s based on Tetsuya Nomura‘s original design concepts for Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Did you get all that?

So, as expected, fans dissected the trailer within minutes, crafting all kinds of theories about where Kingdom Hearts IV is headed (and also figuring out where Sora’s apartment in Shibuya is located). You should have no problem finding articles and video essays about Kingdom Hearts IV predictions if you search, but perhaps the most interesting idea is that the new, real-world-ish setting of Quadratum might be a way to introduce more “realistic” (heavy airquotes) Disney-owned properties into the series, such as Star Wars and Marvel Comics. There’s already heavy speculation about the forest seen in the trailer being the wooded Endor from Star Warsand Marvel… well, Square Enix has already made a few Marvel games, haven’t they?

Don’t expect Kingdom Hearts IV anytime soon, though: it’s been made pretty clear that it’s very early in development, and we’ll be waiting a while for the next batch of information about it. Hopefully it doesn’t fester in the years-long development hell Kingdom Hearts III got trapped in. (Though, given some overt references to concepts of the afterlife in the trailer, maybe development hell would be thematically appropriate!)

But wait, remember what I said about needing to play everything Kingdom Hearts related in order to get the full picture of what’s going on in the story? Well, add another mobile game to that list. Here’s Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link.


I can’t deny that, from a visual standpoint, this game looks great. Gameplay-wise… it’s too early to say, though I have no doubt that the ugly spectre of gacha-gaming will no doubt reemerge here to siphon your money one roll at a time. But at least it looks good, right?

HOLY MOLY, WITCH ON THE HOLY NIGHT IS COMING IN ENGLISH

The big problem with being a Type-Moon fan outside of Japan is that while many derivative works – stuff like Melty Blood, Fate/Extellaand the juggernaut that is Fate/Grand Order – get localized and released, the visual novels and writings that have established the foundations of the Type-Moon universe have remained untranslated outside of assorted fan efforts. I assumed the Tsukihime remake would be a prime opportunity to correct this issue, but as of yet, we have heard nothing regarding a potential localization despite its closely associated fighting game spinoff Melty Blood Type Lumina getting a worldwide simu-release.

However, a surprise announcement from earlier this week has reinvigorated hope that we might see more important Type-Moon works in English in the future. Not only was a remaster of the visual novel Mahou Tsukai no Yoru announced for Switch and PS4, but it will also be launching with options to play in English and Simplified/Traditional Chinese. That’s kind of a big deal!

The official English title is Witch on the Holy Nightand it’s due out later this year with Aniplex handling the publishing. Witch on the Holy Night is one of Type-Moon universe creator Kinoko Nasu‘s earliest works – he originally drafted it back in 1996, and many of the ideas and characters established in it would be built upon in subsequent works like Tsukihime. It could well be considered the foundational work for everything Type-Moon would create afterwards.

So yes, we’re finally getting a crucial piece of Nasu’s history as a world-builder/storyteller and Type-Moon‘s history as a creative firm in English. That’s great! I have a suspicion that this might be something of a litmus test – depending on response to Witch on the Holy Nightmore localizations of Type-Moon visual novels (like the aforementioned Tsukihime) might be in the cards. So if that’s something you want to see, I would not hesitate to grab this when it launches.

Also, while we’re talking about Type-Moon stuff, Melty Blood Type Lumina’s getting some more DLC characters: Powered Ciel and Mario Gallo Bestino. They’re available today and they’re free, so go get ’em!



GRIMGRIMOIRE ONCEAGAIN MAKESA SURPRISEAPEARANCE

Hey, have you played 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim? It’s out on Switch this week, and it’s fantastic. It’s probably developer Vanillaware’s best game to date, their crowning achievement after years and years of releasing nothing but bangers like Odin Sphere, Muramasa the Demon Bladeand Dragon’s Crown. But there’s a particular vanillaware game that often gets forgotten when you look over their history as an independent developer: Grimoirea 2D realtime strategy game that the then-fledgling company made to stay afloat while they were prepping Odin Sphere for release.

Grimoire didn’t get quite the same marketing push from publisher NIS that Odin Sphere did under Atlus (and later Muramasa under Marvelous), so it’s remained as an odd little footnote in vanillaware’s history compared to their more commercially successful titles. But with their profile more visible than ever thanks to 13 Sentinels’ mega-success and the market for remasters booming, vanillaware and NIS got together again and said, “Hey, how about revisiting Grimoire?”


GrimGrimoire OnceAgain will be releasing for PS4 and Switch on July 28th in Japan. I think it’s safe to assume that a localization is in the cards, considering NIS America‘s sitting on a finished English script for the original and interest in Vanillaware’s works is at a peak. You’ll be getting the usual round of enhancements we expect from a remaster: improved visuals, gameplay/UX tweaks, more voice acting, and difficulty adjustments. But most importantly, you get to play a really neat (and really pretty) fantasy-themed take on the RTS genre on modern platforms. I’m certainly happy about it!

NEWSBITS

  • Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony, The heavily Castlevania-inspired Touhou fangame, will be making its way to Switch and PC on July 28th. It’ll support several languages ​​out of the box, including English, and it looks and plays wonderfully. Even if you’re not a Touhou fanatic, this is one worth checking out if you like Metroidvanias.
  • On the otome-game front, Taisho x Alice all in one is available… right now! Yes, a surprise drop on the Switch eShop! This fairytale-inspired romance has had… well, let’s just say a difficult history of English releases, so hopefully this compilation of all of the series’ episodes winds up being the definitive edition.

  • Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium has been announced as an expansion for the Capcom Arcade Stadium. No word on which games are included yet beyond Son and Three Wonders (which is also included as a preorder bonus for Capcom Fighting Collection), but 32 more titles in total are being promised. I’m hoping to see some of Capcom’s 3D efforts like Strider II and Tech Romancer.

So, here’s where I do my parting spiel about posting in the ANN forums. We had a fun time last week sharing our secret gaming shames. With this week’s news being dominated by Kingdom Hearts, I’d love to hear all of your thoughts and theories about what we’ve seen of KH4 so far. Maybe you’ve got a really obscure piece of favorite Disney media you want to see this time around – Flight of the Navigator deserves its time in the spotlight, says I! The forums are linked below, so don’t be shy – come hang out! As for me, I’m going to play Gotta Protectors all weekend before I head northeast to visit my family for a bit. Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll catch you all later.

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