Today we look at reports suggesting that Blizzard Entertainment developers have been shown Diablo 4, we tell you why Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is the best Castlevania game ever made, and wonder: Could Sony be making a new Ape Escape game?
The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!
PC hogs Final Fantasy VIII Remastered enhancements
The PC version of the upcoming Final Fantasy VIII Remastered will be receiving the most enhancements, according to Square Enix’s Yoshinori Kitase. While all versions will feature options for triple speed, battle enhancements and switching off random encounters, PC gamers will also get options to acquire all items, abilities, special moves and Triple Triad cards; max out GF, gil and magic, as well as highly customisable settings.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 releasing on Next Level Games’ say-so
Nintendo isn’t bossing Next Level Games around with their work on Luigi’s Mansion 3. In fact, they’re waiting for the Canadian developer to let them know when it’s ready – and only then will Nintendo “solidify the release date.” The studio is “putting a lot of care into the game,” and they don’t want it rushed. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is expected to arrive on Nintendo Switch later in 2019.
GoldenEye 007 was created by noobs, defined childhoods
The cult classic GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64 was actually intended for the SNES, but got kicked over to the more powerful console. It was also supposed to be an on-rails shooter at one point, not the fully 3D room-exploring espionage thriller it eventually became. Additionally, the much-loved multiplayer that gave the game such lasting appeal was only added late in development.
Only two of the developers working on the project at the time had previous experience creating games! Everyone else on the team was just starting out in the industry, and GoldenEye 007 was their first project. This didn’t seem to cause any problems, since the game went on to become a headlining title for N64, and arguably redefined the first-person shooter.
It was widely regarded as one of the most influential and pivotal games ever made, selling over 8 million copies and paving the way for games like Halo: Combat Evolved.
The original game design was so gory they had to tone it down to correspond with Nintendo’s family-friendly image, and struggled to find ways to make the game less grim. Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto even suggested showing James Bond shaking hands with enemies he’d ‘killed’ throughout the game in a hospital sequence during the credit roll.
Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love
Time for another giveaway from your pals at Dailybits! Are you a fan of funny point-and-click adventures like Monkey Island, Sam & Max, and the Deponia series? Well, there’s a new one out now – comedy spy thriller Irony Curtain: From Matryoshka with Love – and we’ve got a Steam code to give out every day this week to one lucky winner on our active reader list!
“Take a look behind Irony Curtain in this satirical point-and-click inspired by the best works of LucasArts and Daedalic Entertainment! Experience the totalitarian Matryoshka through the eyes of Evan – a low-ranking, goofy journalist involuntarily pulled right into the middle of an espionage stand-off between two powers. Jump into the wacky spy adventure, uncover secrets of the bizarre communist country (and the powerful capitalist empire!), witness a story full of unpredictable twists and turns, and discover the true agenda of the mysterious Supreme Leader!”
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Sony follows curious Twitter account teasing Ape Escape?
It’s a real mystery, gang! There’s a new Twitter account doing the rounds and it has posted an image of a certain Pipo ape of the escaping variety, peeking out from behind a tree.
Its message is in Japanese, but Bing Translation seems to make sense of it: “Piposar (20 years since then. I’ve been running around, but i wonder if there’s anyone chasing me anymore.)” And guess what! It’s a little over 20 years since the first Ape Escape game was released for the original PlayStation, all the way back in 1999.
Why go bananas over a tweet?
The reason this matters at all is that none other than Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Studio is following the account, which is named 【Official】Sargesch 20th Anniversary. Since Ape Escape is called Saru Getchu in Japan, it’s unlikely that it’s just someone monkeying around.
Ape Escape has traditionally been developed by SIE Japan Studio, but no games have been released since 2011’s PlayStation Move Ape Escape, a party game rail-shooter using the PlayStation Move controllers. Perhaps a remake or remaster is in the works?
Le Monde Leaks Existence of Diablo 4
To everyone’s surprise – and probably the dismay of usually tight-lipped Blizzard-Activision – the French newspaper Le Monde has revealed that staff at Blizzard Europe have seen the next Diablo game!
From a translation: “What about the future? Teams at Blizzard Entertainment have already been presented with the long-awaited Diablo 4 and know that a new Overwatch game is in development. But neither of these two games will be released before 2020, at the very best, and employees at Versailles have no idea if they will still be around when they eventually release. “Activision Blizzard will be making less of a profit, but this will still amount to a lot of profit”, says a veteran employee.”
So there won’t be a surprise action-RPG stocking-filler from Blizzard this year, but maybe the next? Blizzard sure knows how to keep a secret, but even though we have no idea just how far Diablo 4 is into development, we can feel pretty sure we won’t be waiting another 7 years.
Oh, and don’t forget Diablo Immortal. While you may not be very happy to be reminded, Blizzard is also busy with a mobile title meant to bridge Diablo II and Diablo III. Its announcement to a rather nonplussed crowd at Blizzcon 2018 turned quite awkward, quite fast – and Blizzard suffered heavy blowback from their core PC gaming fans, to the point that Blizzard-Activision’s stock price took a tumble.
Sony patents ‘load boundary’ for reduced loading times
Those pesky loading times keep us waiting but Sony has another – now patented – method for reducing them. Basically the idea is to keep track of the player character’s position and begin loading the new area ahead of arrival.
“A load boundary associated with a game environment is identified. A position of a character in the game environment is then monitored. Instructions corresponding to another game environment are loaded into a memory when the character crosses the load boundary, such that game play is not interrupted,” reads the patent.
Sub-heading quip now loading – 83%
It puts new areas in a ‘standby state’ within memory which should help cut down on how long it takes to fully load up the new environment. This could help do away with loading screens or ‘transition areas’ like elevators or long corridors. Both the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Scarlett are expected to pack solid state drives, which dramatically increase read/write speeds for data.
Sony’s ‘System and method for dynamically loading game software for smooth game play’ patent doesn’t actually have a way of completely eliminating loading times, but could help make them negligible. Namco actually patented an idea for ‘auxiliary games’ during loading screens, which expired back in November 2015.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is the best Castlevania game ever
(ArtPlay/505 Games – PC/Xbox One/PS4/Nintendo Switch)
Feels like 2015 was a long time ago, right? That was the year a little Metroidvania called Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night was crowdfunded on Kickstarter to the tune of $5.5 million. Even back then, that seemed like a pretty crazy amount since there is not exactly a dearth of quality Metroidvania games.
However, the excitement was warranted because Bloodstained is spiritual successor to the vampire-hunting Castlevania games and was made by many of the same developers – including long-time series producer Koji Igarashi. The Castlevania series hasn’t had a proper 2D entry since Order of Ecclesia in 2008, unless you count Mirror of Fate – and Konami hasn’t exactly been a good shepherd of its franchises.
Fortunately, Bloodstained is here now, and it’s not just a good game, it’s one of the best Metroidvanias ever! For the uninitiated, Metroidvania is a term describing non-linear action platformers that present open worlds which gradually open up around you as you gain new powers and abilities. The foundational work is arguably Super Metroid, but Castlevania: Symphony of the Night contributed so many new ideas to the formula that the two series names got portmanteau’d together to name the sub-genre.
Bloodstained puts you in the shoes of Miriam, one of the last Shardbinders – subjects of mysterious experiments that enable them to steal and use powers from demonic creatures. The other Shardbinders were mostly killed off in a ritual that summoned the forces of Hell, and the only two survivors – Miriam and her friend Gebel – are now commanding the demons from a castle called the Hellhold. Yep, that’s the game’s setting, and it’s fantastic.
Bloodstained’s level design is perfect. Honestly, it is! It’s really tricky to make a satisfying Metroidvania world, because it requires the player to constantly backtrack and replay sections time and time again. How do you avoid that getting repetitive? You make sure that the graphics are gorgeous and the level design is great, then fill the game with compelling monsters, write excellent music, and make sure there are well-placed fast travel and save points. And that’s what Bloodstained does!
The levels evoke the best and most twisted Castlevania environments – a Cathedral, a train, a spike-filled death trap, a mechanical library, to name a few – and continue to be incredibly imaginative all the way through: you never know what the next room will hold. The level design has puzzle-like qualities too, as you’ll often have to remember key areas where you can’t progress – like a narrow passageway filled with mirrors, or a fountain of blood – and work out how to get past them later. Maybe. If you’re clever (unlike us, we got stuck forever on that fountain). It’s never less than incredibly satisfying, and you just keep exploring.
The game’s a challenge too, and not just the puzzles – you also have to deal with the awesome creatures infesting the castle. There’s more than a little Dark Souls to the combat, with emphasis on working out an enemy’s attack pattern before putting them down. It’s fun too, with a wide variety of weapons (all of which control differently) and cool magic spells to choose between. There’s a lot of choice!
While it’s pretty much a new Castlevania game, we haven’t had a decent game like this for over 10 years and that makes this one all the more welcome – especially since it’s fantastic. Honestly, the only thing you could possibly criticize about Bloodstained is that it’s just Castlevania by another name. And that’s not exactly a flaw, is it?
Turns out there’s a Risk of Rain for Nintendo Switch
Germany’s USK ratings board has slapped a 12 rating on the rogue-like shooter Risk of Rain 2 for the Nintendo Switch. Since Gearbox Publishing hasn’t mentioned a Switch version before, this forecast is quite pleasing. The 1.0 version for PC is scheduled to launch in spring 2020, and the game is currently in Early Access.
‘Days of Summer’ for Fortnite begins, to last a fortnight
Those clever marketing people have decided Fortnite’s Days of Summer would last 14 days, which is a fortnight. Get it? Huh? Well, there’ll be new items unvaulted every day for 24 hours in Battle Royale. There’s new daily challenges, a new daily LTM feature, and a new daily feature island for Creative. Save the World has a quest for Homebase to host “the hottest summer party around”.
Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?
When was the first Call of Cthulhu game released?
With The Sinking City due out this week, our quiz this week is inspired by the works on HP Lovecraft! There were a few games obvious inspired by the Cthulhu mythos, but the first game to properly bear the title of ‘Call of Cthulhu’ was Shadow of the Comet from 1993.
Okay, we’re cheating a bit – while it was released in 1993, it was only repackaged slightly later as Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet. That doesn’t matter too much though, as the next proper Call of Cthulhu game wouldn’t come out until 2005 – the FPS Dark Corners of the Earth. 1992 and 2002, on the other hand, were the years of awesome games inspired by the Lovecraft mythos – Alone in the Dark and Eternal Darkness!
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