#59: Sony Catches Insomniac

TODAY: Nintendo brings retro pixel goodness to the Tokyo 2020 olympic games — Sega remasters old Yakuza games like a dragon — Microsoft’s new studios will probably be working on exclusives after all

Top Story

Sony acquires Insomniac Games

Sony Interactive Entertainment has signed the paperwork and cut a cheque for Ratchet & Clank creator Insomniac Games – a “long-time partner” of Sony – making it a first-party studio.

Insomniac – whose most recent game is the hugely successful Marvel’s Spider-Man – is now the 14th studio to become part of the Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios group, which produces titles exclusively for Sony’s platforms.

Insomniac shares a building with Naughty Dog

Famous for games like Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet and Clank, Resistance and Sunset Overdrive, the studio is now working on VR game Stormland for PC. Stormland will be published by Oculus, and the game is expected to launch sometime this year.

“Insomniac Games is one of the most highly-acclaimed development studios in the industry and their legacy of best-in class storytelling and gameplay is unparalleled,” said chairman Shawn Layden of Sony’s Worldwide Studios. Founder and CEO Ted Price of Insomniac is equally chuffed: “We’ve enjoyed a special relationship with PlayStation practically since our inception. Our partnership amplifies our potential, and Marvel’s Spider-Man was a testament to this.”

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

What major Star Wars character was introduced in Republic Commando?

  • Count Dooku
  • General Grievous
  • Ahsoka Tano
  • Snoke

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

Bonaire banned down under

Australia’s the home of deadly spiders, snakes and kickboxing kangaroos – not a place for the faint of heart, yet the Classification Board of the Department of Communications and the Arts has refused classification for the mysterious Bonaire from Rockstar Games.

Bonaire is an island in the Caribbean, and the fifth chapter of Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place on the tropical island Guarma, east of Cuba. Could Bonaire be a new Red Dead Online location?

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games going retro for Tokyo 2020

There’s nothing like a good 2D retro sequence, and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will feature some retro goodness in its events, according to Nintendo.

Shooting, volleyball, judo, kayaking, pole vaulting, marathon, long jump, 100m and 400m hurdles are among the games featuring that retro chic. Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Peach, Sonic, Dr. Eggman, Tails and Knuckles are all competing. Sonic tested negative for doping, but Chaos Emeralds remain a ‘prohibited stimulant’.

Daily Fact

The Legend of Zelda was the result of Shigeru Miyamoto’s cave spelunking

It’s thanks to Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto and his early love of exploration that resulted in The Legend of Zelda being the way that it is. He discovered a cave when he was a young boy and needed to summon the courage to explore. Armed with a trusty lantern he then set foot inside.

“The spirit of the state of mind when one kid enters a cave alone must be realized in the game,” Miyamoto-san told Rolling Stone. It was all about capturing that balance of trepidation, excitement, mystery and commitment. Which branch in the cave do you explore? Do you double back? Go work for Nintendo and become a legend within the video games industry? Tough choices.

Funnily enough he didn’t think people would like The Legend of Zelda all that much. He said it was “very plain” when making it, and that “a world of swords and magic really wasn’t considered mainstream” in those years. That ‘plain’ world of swords and magic went on to sell over 7 million copies. No wonder Nintendo banned him from riding a bicycle to work anymore just case someone clipped him along the way. Can’t imagine they’d be too fond of any more cave exploration either.

Daily News

Yakuza Remastered Collection out February for PlayStation 4

Awesome news for fans of the over-the-top fighting and crime drama that’s made the Yakuza series famous: SEGA is remastering Yakuza 3, 4 and 5 for PlayStation 4, and will hopefully bring them to PC eventually.

The truly impatient can buy a season pass that lets you play each of the remastered Yakuza games as they become available rather than wait until February 2020. Yakuza 3 is already available, while Yakuza 4 will follow on October 29th.

The next Yakuza is set in 2018 and follows a new character

According to VG247’s interview with series producer Daisuke Sato, we have Yakuza 0 to thank for the series’ sudden popularity in the west.

“These fans who joined Yakuza on the PS4 know Kiwami and Kiwami 2, they know Yakuza 0 and 6… so we decided to bring out Yakuza 3, 4 and 5 on PS4 for this fanbase as well, to allow them to experience the whole storyline of Yakuza and all of the main characters,” he continued.

The remastered Yakuza games will offer enhanced graphics running at 1080p and 60 frames per second – and will include content that didn’t make it into the PS3 version. The localization has also received some attention, and the team responsible for translating the series since Yakuza 0 is helping make sure the games are “more understandable, smooth and natural.”

How come Sega are releasing the remasters individually instead of just dropping them all in 2020? Apparently they just happened to finish Yakuza 3 already, while Yakuza 4 is almost ready – so why not? Daisuke Sato admits that the series’ release order in the West is “totally screwed”, but now western fans can finally enjoy the whole story to date. He adds: “…we’re very sorry to have kept you waiting for so long!”

Microsoft has “no plans to further expand” to other platforms

While Microsoft has been busy adding new development teams to their Xbox Game Studios, the newly acquired studios have honoured their prior commitments, such as launching games on Switch – and Microsoft has even had some minor collaborations with Nintendo.

So does this mean Microsoft is a multiplatform publisher now? Not really. They have no intention of releasing their strategic first-party content on Sony or Nintendo platforms in the future. Banjo-Kazooie’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was just fan service, and while Nintendo were happy to see Cuphead launch on Switch, the IP was never a Microsoft exclusive in the first place.

Good fences make good neighbours – now get out!

Microsoft has spent a lot of cash recently, gobbling up Obsidian Entertainment, Double Fine Productions and Ninja theory. Any existing multiplatform commitments will be honoured according to Microsoft, but the studios are going to focus on Xbox and PC in the future. “As these new studios transitioned in, we were aware of some existing commitments to other platforms and will honor them. However, going forward these new studios will focus on making games for our platforms,” according to Microsoft.

“We have no plans to further expand our exclusive first party games to other consoles. We continue to believe deeply in cross play and progression of games with the right flexibility for developers to insure a fair and fun experience.” Some games will be playable on other platforms thanks to their streaming service xCloud, and will bolster their support for Windows 10 with a Game Pass subscription service.

Indie Spotlight

Keep playing, exploring and improving

UnderMine (Thorium – PC)

Action-adventure roguelike UnderMine takes you on a journey through an underground world filled with strange relics, pesky enemies and tricky bosses. Every run will unlock new items, whether a relic that gives you special powers, garments that make you stronger or a potion that gives you a buff or removes an ailment.

Each time you play, you’ll discover new items that will inform your play style, one day culminating in a perfect run. While this is a game intended to be played over and over, you can also buy permanent upgrades using gold gathered on your adventures.

Navigate through the unknown depths, and defeat enemies like rats, flies, glomps (your friendly neighbourhood ball of slime) by swinging your pickaxe, or throwing it like a boomerang at distant foes.

Now and again you discover bombs, which can blow away rock walls to reveal items and relics, while swinging your pickaxe at glistening rocks may reveal nuggets of gold. But beware of Pilfers – these malevolent critters will try to steal your gold before you can collect it!

As you delve deeper, you will inevitably encounter bosses, which leave behind blueprints that allow you to craft items. There are also little shops dotted throughout the levels, where you can replenish your health and buy silver keys to enter locked parts of the mine.

How long will it take you to achieve the perfect run?

Eventually you always succumb to the mine’s dangers, but you fortunately you don’t end up empty-handed: Some of the gold you collected will be saved. Consequently, the end of each run feels more like a lesson learned, while the permanent upgrades means you get stronger over time and will have more tools to help you stay alive – you can also save NPCs that open shops for you! Even if you don’t get the hang of the game straight away, it slowly gets easier the more you play.

Overall, UnderMine feels very familiar and builds on the best parts of the many roguelikes released in the last few years, and it’s easy to recommend to fans fo the genre. It was just released on Early Access, and it’s already very solid – it’ll be exciting to see how the formula will be improved in the next months!

UnderMine is available on Steam now. Developer Thorium has already announced plans to release the game on the Xbox One and Switch in 2020.

News Bits

PAX West 2019 will host Homeworld 20th anniversary announcement

Something big is happening with Homeworld, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary later this month on August 30th at PAX West. Blackbird Interactive has released an invitation teaser for the upcoming event, which will happen at the Gearbox Main Theater Show.

V-shaped cooling solution for PlayStation 5 dev kit

Sony Interactive Entertainment has filed a rather striking patent. The patent appears to show a design full of cooling fins and exhaust vents, in the shape of a V – the Roman numeral for 5. This is presumably the PlayStation 5 dev kit design, meaning your average consumer will never lay eyes on one. It was filed by designer Yusuhiro Otori.

Weekly Giveaway

UnderMine!

Time for another great giveaway from your pals at DailyBits! Like the idea of an action-adventure rogue-likes that mixes Legend of Zelda, Binding of Isaac and Rogue Legacy? Then you’ll love exploring the rich subterranean world of UnderMine – launching tomorrow – and we’ve got 10 Steam codes to hand out to 10 lucky readers!

Please head here to enter this week’s giveaway – and at the end of the week you could be one of the lucky ones to receive a free Steam code!

“UnderMine is an action-adventure roguelike with a bit of RPG tossed in. Blending combat and dungeon crawling from traditional roguelikes like “The Binding of Isaac,” with the progression of roguelites like “Rogue Legacy,” UnderMine delivers a fresh new entry to the genre.

Mine gold on each run and increase the peasant’s power by finding powerful relics. Rescue NPCs and return them to the hub where they will open up shop and offer powerful upgrades for future runs. Delve deeper, exploring each new area, discover its many secrets and ultimately defeat its powerful boss. ”

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

What major Star Wars character was introduced in Republic Commando?

Answer: General Grievous!

Big news for Star Wars Battlefront 2 this week: Along with new modes like Instant Action and Co-Op, the Clone Commandos from cult classic Republic Commando will appear. The only really good game to come out of the prequel trilogy, Republic Commando was particularly notable for introducing a key character from the then-upcoming Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, namely General Grievous, the cyborg commander of the separatist droid army.

It was an early example of a character being established in tie-in media before appearing in a tentpole event. Since then, novels and comics have set up events and characters for movies like The Last Jedi and Rogue One – for example, Saw Gerrera from the Clone Wars cartoon appeared in Rogue One. Even Iden Versio, the star of Battlefront 2’s campaign, has his own introductory novel.

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