Animal Crossing Direct Tomorrow…

TODAY: Shenmue 3 did ok, but didn’t set the world on fire — Studio behind World War Z and Witcher 3 Switch port acquired — Interview with Patrik Spacek on updating Amiga classic Waxworks for a new millennium

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Last DLC

Fighters Pass Vol. 2 is ‘last DLC’ for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Game director Masahiro Sakurai says Fighters Pass Vol. 2 is the last DLC the studio has planned for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and that it will make the game ‘complete’.

Other highlights from the Famitsu interview () :

  • The six new fighters were all picked by Nintendo
  • Nintendo and the team have no plans for the series’ future yet
  • Next Smash Bros. will probably be for a future console
  • Adding new content to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has extended its life

One last bout: While Masahiro Sakurai was working on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate he has been unable to work on any new ideas, but he’s ‘happy to make others happy’ right now.

Along with the team, he’s ready to throw everything they have into these last six fighters before moving on. Fighters Pass Vol. 2 is available to pre-order but no fighters are yet named.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which of the following is not a minigame in Yakuza 0?

  • Disco
  • Real Estate
  • Karaoke
  • Table Tennis

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today’s issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

Daily Fact

Nintendo World Championship carts are some of the rarest collectibles

Nintendo produced just over a hundred special game cartridges for the 1990 Nintendo World Championships organised by Nintendo of America.

90 grey ones were made for the competition finalists, while 26 gold ones were made for the Nintendo Power contest winners.

In 2007, one of the gold cartridges fetched $21,400 in an auction. The starting price was just $24, and was auctioned off by a father who was selling his son’s old possessions following his death in the Iraq War.

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today’s fact.

Shenmue Niche

Shenmue 3 a core niche product that did fine financially, says publisher

Shenmue 3’s sales have shown publisher Deep Silver that it’s a “challenge to see this as a mass market product.”

The long-awaited sequel from Ys Net did “fine” financially as an Epic Games Store exclusive. “This is a core niche product and I think that’s the comment I’d like to do on that game,” said Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors.

  • Shenmue 3 was Kickstarted in 2016
  • Raised $6.3 million from almost 70k backers
  • Biggest amount raised by a videogame in Kickstarter’s history
  • It’s a single-player adventure built with Unreal Engine 4
  • Launched for PC and PlayStation 4 on November 19th last year
  • Debuted at number 17 in the UK sales chart
  • Sold just 18,000 copies in Japan

Niche future: Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki said he’d love to complete the overall story of the series, and he’ll “never give up” the dream. This pledge was repeated in a thank-you letter displayed during the credits of Shenmue 3. A fourth game could be easier to justify with high sales, he said.

Embracer Group's Pac-man Effect

Embracer Group buys studio behind Witcher 3 Switch port for $525 million

World War Z developer Saber Interactive has gotten a nice hug from the Embracer Group. Worth around $525 million, the hug makes Saber the group’s fifth subsidiary.

  • THQ Nordic AB rebranded to Embracer Group in August 2019
  • Has acquired several studios in the last few years
  • Saber Interactive acquisition group’s biggest investment so far
  • Embracer will pay $150 million up front, and the remaining $375 million over three years
  • Becomes Embracer’s fifth subsidiary, the day-to-day management of the studios will not change
  • Saber Interactive has five studios with 600 staff

Studio shopping spree: “Saber has been on our radar for a very long time because of their deep history of consistently high-quality work,” said CEO Lars Wingefors of Embracer Group.

Adding Saber Interactive to their roster means Embracer now has over 2,600 staff across 31 studios globally.

Developer Sit Down

Returning to the creepy old Waxworks

Remakes don’t always live up to the legacy of the original, but there’s always something interesting about them. There are many ways to remake a game, from a straightforward remastering with higher resolution and uncompressed textures to a full overhaul like Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.

Earlier this year, Went2Play released the beginning of a remake from scratch of Waxworks: Curse of the Ancestors. The original Waxworks was a horror-themed dungeon crawler developed by Horrorsoft and released in 1992. You enter various wax exhibits and travel back in time to prevent a generation-spanning curse that affects twins in your family. It was notorious for gory death scenes and an oppressive atmosphere.

The remake reimagines the adventure in full 3D, and one level is finished in the Early Access version. We had a chance to talk to Went2Play’s Creative Director, Patrik Spacek, and asked him all about the developer’s origins, how they got the chance to remake Waxworks, and Early Access.

Daily Bits: Tell us about your studio, Went2Play.

Patrik Spacek: I created the name “Went2Play” in 2009 for the previous team I worked with back then. I worked there for 3 years, but the project was going nowhere and eventually got cancelled. But I liked the name and decided to keep it.

5 years later, while I was working in a commercial studio, I decided to remake Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. I started using this logo again. The project has been a great success and helped Went2Play come into light. Went2Play is now officially registered as a video game developer in the US.

DB: What led your team to remake Waxworks? Is this an official remake?

Patrik: Yes, this is an official project. We have signed a license agreement with AdventureSoft/HorrorSoft to create a Waxworks remake. I have been a huge fan of HorrorSoft since [the] Amiga 500 and Elvira along with Waxworks, so I gave it a try and contacted Simon Woodroffe. Couple days later, I talked to Mike Woodrooffe and he was kind enough to give us a chance to produce it.

There was no budget at all! Only a couple of skillful fans who wanted to make a great horror adventure game. No budget brought up lots of issues. The beginning of the development took a while because we were working on Waxworks only in our free time while also going to our day jobs.

The preparation phase was the most difficult. Creating art and animations for the Intro, Museum and Mine levels with just 2 people required a lot of attention, effort and testing. Then came the programming, writing scripts, dialogues, voice overs, music, etc. It’s a lot of work so I was forced to look for ways to finance the development!

DB: How will you modernize Waxworks? Are there parts of the original that translates well into Curse of the Ancestors?

Patrik: We have been reading through many reviews of the original Waxworks. There have been several complaints about the difficulty of the game and several missing features, but in the end, people loved it as it is. [The] original Waxworks is pixel art that we are translating to a real-time first person game. This makes it an ambitious project because of the quality requirements that current players expect.

We are slowly adding features that have been missing and listening to fans’ requests carefully. We try to keep all map structures and storytelling the same as the original game, so that players can easily navigate through the new levels. Since the game is a first person [game] now, everything had to be recreated from scratch. We are also adding new items, puzzles and trying to explain the story in more detail.

DB: Waxworks was notorious for its brutal violence, which was especially shocking in 1992. Do you think it’s still possible to shock players now that video game violence is no longer controversial?

Patrik: This has been our biggest issue. We had to figure out a way to make the game still “shocking” while also following all of the modern day restrictions placed on the horror genre. For example, when we first started the remake, the game featured many extremely gory scenes and the game was rated R. However, we decided not to include all of those scenes in the alpha version just yet. This topic is still up for debate.

DB: Why did you decide to release the game in Early Access rather than wait until it is finished?

Patrik: We have been working on the game officially since June 2019 with two full-time workers and four contractors. The programming has been done completely from scratch, as well as the graphics and everything else. This was a risky decision, because it would take a lot of time that we did not have. Basically, what you are playing since January 8th 2020 is only 6 months of hard work.

Why Early Access? There are many reasons, but there are two main ones. 1: We wanted to see and track the community reactions and suggestions, and 2: our investor wanted to see if the game had any potential at all early on in the process.

DB: Do you have any tips for getting into game development? What has been the most rewarding aspect of developing Curse of the Ancestors?

Patrik: It depends what genre that person wants to create. Do you want to make mobile games? AAA games? Do you want to be an employee or your own boss? Making games is a very ambitious job that costs a huge amount of money and time. But most importantly it’s about people and team effort.

Believe it or not, it’s very difficult to find the right people for the job, especially with such a low budget. If you take a risk and find the finances to cover the development, then it’s a dream come true. That’s the most rewarding aspect.

A huge thanks to Patrik Spacek for answering our questions. If you want to support Went2Play’s efforts in bringing the Amiga classic to the modern age, Waxworks: Curse of the Ancestors is now available in Early Access on Steam  for $19.99.

What Else Happened Today?

More Pokémon: Twilight Wings and a Nintendo Direct about Animal Crossing

  • ‘Training’, the second episode of Pokémon: Twilight Wings, is now available online in English! The web series is inspired by Pokémon Sword and Shield but is not part of the official series. Each episode is six minutes long, and there are seven episodes planned. ‘Letter’, the first episode, aired on January 15th.
  • Xbox Game Pass’ new game line-up for February:
    •  Ninja Gaiden 2 (Feb. 20)
    • Wasteland Remastered (Feb. 25)
    • Two Point Hospital (Feb. 25)
    • Yakuza 0 (Feb. 26)
    • Jackbox Party Pack 3 (Feb. 27)
  • PC Beta only:
    • Yakuza 0
    • Wasteland Remastered
    • Two Point Hospital
    • Reigns: Game of Thrones
    • Indivisible
  • Headup Games and Nicolas Meyssonnier has announced Pumpkin Jack, a 3D platformer for release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch in late 2020. If you like MediEvil and Jak & Daxter, then this tale about Pumpkin Lord who serves the devil should tickle your fancy. There’s a demo available right now on Steam.
  • There’s a new Nintendo Direct all about Animal Crossing scheduled for tomorrow. The live stream will last about 25 minutes and give an “in-depth look” at Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Switch. The broadcast starts on February 20th @ 6.00a.m. PT / 9.00 a.m ET/ 2.00pm BST.

Weekly Giveaway

5,000 Shadow Arena Beta Codes

We’ve got a special treat for you this week, with up to 5,000 Shadow Arena Closed Beta Codes to give away. Share DailyBits with your friends so they can join you in this 40 player fantasy battle royale experience! Grab your code here!

Countless will fall and only one will ultimately rise victorious in the Shadow Arena. In battles that pit 40 heroes against each other in fierce, action-packed showdowns, do you have what it takes to defeat your opponents and become the final survivor, the sole champion?

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which of the following is not a minigame in Yakuza 0?

Answer: Table Tennis!

Table tennis is not a minigame in Yakuza 0, only in Yakuza 4 and Yakuza: Dead Souls. That also means real estate was a minigame in Yakuza 0.

Sounds weird, but Yakuza is a notoriously odd series. Known as Real Estate Royale, the minigame concerns real estate speculation in Kamurocho and sees you build a real estate empire.

That’s not the only odd (or for that matter the oddest) minigame in the series. Yakuza: Kiwami 2 has a wave-based RTS game called Clan Creator (based on a minigame in Yakuza 6) where you protect construction equipment and successful missions are celebrated by your warriors singing a rousing jingle. Yakuza 6 lets you chat with cam girls to unlock sexy videos (it’s as awkward as it sounds).

If the Yakuza Xbox ports are your introduction to the series, get ready to be distracted by a load of weird and wonderful minigames!

Message From The Team

What Development Team would you acquire or bring back?

Following the news that Embracer Group has picked up Saber Interactive for $525 million, we got to thinking about what developers we would buy, or what ones we would bring back from the grave.

Here’s what the team came out with this time:

  • Bullfrog Productions – The first thing to do would be to get Peter Molyneux and Les Edgar back together, and then we would start plotting a third entry in the Dungeon Keeper series, where we would finally be able to bring evil above ground.
  • Pandemic Studios – An often overlooked studio despite bringing us Full Spectrum Warrior, the original Star Wars: Battlefront series, Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction, Destroy All Humans! and the surprisingly good WWII sandbox of The Saboteur. They’re sorely missed since closing back in 2009.
  • Deadline Games – While their games never reached mainstream appeal (their most renowned games being Total Overdose and Watchmen: The End is Nigh), the last game they were working on was a Bonnie and Clyde inspired shooter called Faith and a .45. Considering the lack of co-op games where you play as a couple, we’d bring them back to let that concept come to life.
  • Treasure Co., Ltd – This small Japanese developer has always punched way above its weight, producing classic shoot’em-ups like Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga as well as playful platformers like Gunstar Heroes and Contra Hardcorps. What could they accomplish today with a generous budget and a next-gen console?
  • Clover Studio – Sure, their legacy lives on at PlatinumGames and Tango Gameworks, but imagine if Capcom had just left Clover alone to do their thing! Mikami, Kamiya and Inaba would have made some crazy games to let off some steam, before turning their attention back to Capcom’s core franchises. They would definitely have resurrected Dino Crisis!

We’d love to hear what your ideal development team would be, and what you’d set them to work on first? Send in your answers to us via email or on Twitter and we’ll include our favourites in an upcoming issue.

Today’s issue of DailyBits was written by Simon Priest, Gavin Herman, Erlend Grefsrud and Jamie Davey