What a week it’s been in video game news, eh? Scandal, announcements, reveals, trailers, a terrible paid online service from you-know-who – it’s all happened. There is genuinely no better pressure writing this column than having to choose what to omit. I’ll take too much news over scraping the barrel any day, and there’s no barrel scrapings in sight, folks. Strap in; it’s getting serious.
Telltale Games Are the Walking Dead
This column has been going on a while now – I think this is number 22 – and I’m struggling to remember a more shocking story I’ve had to cover than this. Telltale Games – the studio behind the interactive novel series of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Back to the Future, Batman, Game of Thrones, Borderlands, Minecraft, Guardians of the Galaxy and the recently announced Stranger Things – “[began] a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges,” on Friday.
The challenging year has included, last November, the company laying off 25 percent of the workforce and, in March, an exposé from The Verge that revealed the “toxic management” that was rife in the company and costing it its best talent. Following the downsizing in November, Telltale tried to ensure fans that it was “not expected to impact the release of any of the company’s previously announced projects.” Whoops.
Fast forward to Friday and the current move has seen 250 staff laid-off – with, according to Forbes, “[no] severance, health care that runs out in a week, and no idea how they’re able to stay in the Bay Area,” – the apparent cancellation of The Wolf Among Us Season 2 and Stranger Things, and The Walking Dead’s Final Season set to end after only its second episode. You can head around the internet and find a wide range of extra stories and rumors as to why this closure has happened: the company’s terrible money management, taking on of too many unsustainable projects, poor game sales, and how some employees had only been hired a week before they were laid off.
It seems that if you’d been following Telltale for the last twelve months, the writing may well have been on the wall, but it doesn’t make this story any less shocking. It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t enjoyed a Telltale game at some point – most likely a while ago now – but their transition to the current generation of consoles has not gone well. The quality of their game engine has been the subject of criticism for years, and hasn’t gotten better in any of the games I’ve played. It’s pretty understandable that gamers are less willing to pay for a game that runs about as well as a sloth with an ingrown toenail, and the fate of the final season of The Walking Dead could hurry forward the death of the episodic video game – especially if season pass holders aren’t refunded for the content they’ll now never receive.
The Devil’s in the Detail
The total shitshow unravelling at Telltale could easily distract from all the news bursting forth from the Tokyo Game Show, but not in this article it bloomin’ won’t. One game that seemingly can’t stop releasing new information is Capcom’s Devil May Cry 5. Capcom’s TGS trailer was a bit of a monster. Accompanied by a thumping metalcore soundtrack, we got to see grizzled, beardy Dante laying the smack down on numerous enemies with a host of cool-looking weapons. These included Cavaliere, a rideable motorbike that literally doubles up as a weapon when Dante rips it in half and starts swinging it about. Perhaps the most interesting moment of the trailer was the first unveiling of the new third playable character – simply named V.
That’s not all the news we got though, even if some of it wasn’t announced by Capcom themselves. In the spirit of modern gaming, listings on retail outlets have leaked some extra details. Steam, PSN and the Xbox Store all list ‘Network Players 2-3,’ clearly indicating an online multiplayer component. Bizarrely, Capcom has attempted to bat attention away from it. A Capcom spokesperson told Gamespot “With Devil May Cry 5, we are focused on delivering a complete single-player action experience. No multiplayer features have been announced.” Weird, right? I mean that’s basically a lie at this point because a product listing isn’t so much an announcement as much as it is an outright factual description of the game itself.
Gamespot also noticed an option to purchase in-game orbs with real-world money in the TGS demo, and of course director Hideaki Itsuno has clearly been fully briefed on the Corporate Bullshit Comeback for times like this. He said, “with giving people the ability to purchase Red Orbs, it’s something we want to give people as an option. If they want to save time and just want to get all the stuff at once, those people can do that.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but who plays video games to “save time”? Isn’t playing games supposed to be a way you choose to spend your time? Yet again another company is trying to act as if some of their game doesn’t need to, or shouldn’t be, played and is trying to cover over that with the mask of ‘player choice’.
This shouldn’t affect the quality of the game, which I had a great time with at Gamescom, and as long as the game isn’t made grindy or repetitive in order to persuade people to part with real money, it should be easy to ignore. Of course, one piece of equipment that will require extra real money is Nero’s version of Mega Man’s Mega Buster, which only comes with the Deluxe Edition of the game. A trailer came out for that, and let’s just say I really wish I didn’t want it. Stupid enticing nonsense.
Phoenix is Coming Wright to Current Gen
I’m going to say it. You know I’m going to say it. You’ve probably already thought it. I’m sure you, me and everyone else has no…objection to the announcement of the Ace Attorney trilogy coming to Switch, Xbox One, PS4, and PC. I’m glad we all got that out of the way.
Capcom announced the port at TGS with a trailer showing off the sharp look of the sprites, but there’s little information on any changes or updates to the gameplay, and it seems unlikely. To me, the most logical place to have the Ace Attorney series would be on the portable Switch, but I’ve only ever experienced the games on iPhone, and they all look and play perfectly (and cheaply) on mobile, so despite my initial and brilliant pun, it’s actually quite hard to see the justification behind the ports, unless they are setting console gamers up for a new entry in the series.
Hopefully, they will serve as the definitive way to experience the games and will be playable to a decent standard with a controller on PS4 and Xbox, as Ace Attorney is traditionally at home with some kind of touch screen involved on DS or mobile. Using a mouse seems like a good way to play, and hopefully, Switch’s handheld mode will incorporate the touchscreen. Of course, if you’ve never played the series, then you really have no excuse at this point. You won’t be sorry; it’s brilliant.
‘Death Stranding’ TGS Trailer Sheds Light on…Nothing
It’s still a mystery to me what Death Stranding is, but if the TGS trailer shows anything, it’s that acting talent is not somewhere it’ll fall short. Troy Baker will be lending his dulcet tones to Kojima’s latest…thing, and he’s on pretty top form as he introduces his giant shadow lion with a golden mask and a face like a bum hole.
There’s no doubt this game is going to be pretty much pure insanity, and that is definitely where Kojima excels. Of course, the more Sony shows, the less we know, but coming into a gaming experience not knowing what to expect and without any preconceived notions or plot beats you could predict from minute one is the kind of thing more games should have. By keeping things intentionally vague, things remain perennially interesting. I’d say I can’t wait to see more, but who knows if seeing more will mean anything to anyone.
This News Story is Classic PlayStation
It seems like ages ago that this was announced, but perhaps that’s because so much has happened this week, or maybe because a PlayStation Classic was always so much of an inevitability thanks to the success of Nintendo’s recent efforts with miniature versions of their own retro consoles. It’s definitely a movement the gaming industry seems to be going all in on, effectively working hand-in-hand with the genocide of emulation sites, but classic back catalogs need more exposure and availability, so it can only be the start of a good thing – it’s just a bit of a shame it’s tied to a physical medium at the moment. Baby steps, I guess.
You can read tons of detail about the new mini console in Rick’s article right here, but I’ll fill in some of the more pertinent points right here to entice you on to the main event. It comes pre-loaded with 20 games, with Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Wild Arms, Ridge Racer Type 4 and Jumping Flash! announced so far. It’ll output in HDMI, will retail at $99.99 USD and is set to release on December 3rd.
Sony are claiming the Classic is 45% smaller than the original machine, and hopefully, the wires for the controllers aren’t 98% smaller. The length of the wires on the NES Classic especially was the cause of much consternation thanks to the fact that you had to basically sit right in front of the console to use it, which just isn’t practical. Those shown in the trailer video look tiny, but a promotional image on the Sony site seems to show they have decent length, however, it’s still unclear.
That’s it from me this week, aside from a cheeky little plug for the first in my in-depth look at every main series Mega Man game. Speaking of which, I’m off to go beat the 3rd game and finish off my write up of the 2nd. I’ll see you as a broken and tired man in seven.