Sony’s Q1 Earnings, Pokémon GO Fest 2021

Today: New Pokémon Snap is here, and the critics have delivered their verdicts — Rome Remastered comes, sees and conquers once more — Got $300,000 lying around for a gold-plated Wii?

PlayStation 5 outsells PlayStation 4

According to Sony's latest financial report, PlayStation 5 has sold 7.8 million units which puts it ahead of the 7.6 million units PlayStation 4 sold in the same period after its launch.

Sales are strong and healthier than PlayStation 4

The strong performance is in spite of well-documented stock shortages and pressure from Microsoft's Xbox Series X/S, which launched nearly simultaneously. Sony's overall sales in the fourth quarter of 2020 was $20.3 billion, while total annual sales was $82.6 billion. Of that, Games and Network Services contributed $5.9 billion for the fourth quarter and $23.9 billion for the whole year.

  • First-party sales at 338.9m units, up from 276.1m previous
  • 65 percent of game sales digital, up from 53 percent
  • Ghost of Tsushima sold 6.5 million copies as of March 22nd

Great expectations: Sony measured a 20% increase in gaming time in 2020, and Sony expects another increase in first-party revenue in 2021. They are not expecting a great increase in the number of PlayStation Plus subscriptions.

Big exclusives: Sony is planning to spend $183 million on first-party PlayStation exclusives and R&D projects in order to “further strengthen our in-house software,” according to Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki.

Which Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon was referenced in Sonic Spinball?

a) Sonic Underground
b) Sonic SatAM
c) Sonic X
d) Sonic Boom

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.

Don’t mix tanks and time travel, kids

Traveller’s Tales’ time-travelling platformer Rascal for PlayStation was originally supposed to use directional movement, but publisher Psygnosis insisted on a tank control scheme more similar to the popular Tomb Raider, despite the two games having very little in common.

Traveller's Tales pleaded not to use tank controls

This was not a great decision, and critics were hardly thrilled by the game. Designer Jon Burton admitted he had not really been all that involved in the development process since he was busy with Sonic R, enabling Psygnosis to call the shots.

Join our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today's fact.

New Pokémon Snap review round-up

Pokémon Go Fest returns in July as a two-day global event on July 17th and 18th, but no real details have been revealed yet. The big news this week is New Pokémon Snap, which tasks you with tracking down and photographing Pokémon in their natural habitats, and is a follow-up to the Nintendo 64 game from 1999.

Trainers trade in their Pokeballs for a camera

Review round-up

  • EGM (Score 5/5) – ”New Pokémon Snap might be one of the most thoroughly pleasant games that’s come out for the Switch, if not ever. While the core gameplay is the same as it was in 1999, everything about the 2021 game is better. The environments are visual delights, the Pokémon are lovingly recreated, and the progression and pacing are just right…”
  • Game Informer (Score 8.5/10) – ”New Pokémon Snap delivers an experience similar to that of the original while expanding on the formula in ways that prolong the appeal of the expedition. In the two decades since the first game’s release, the Pokémon world has changed in innumerable ways, but the simple appeal of immersing yourself in this universe and taking pictures has remained unchanged.”
  • VG247 (Score 4/5) – ”…Even with the grind, I do adore this game, though. It’s a video game safari that manages to evoke the sense of wonder of the real thing. It’s a worthy successor to the beloved original; a comforting, gorgeous, lovely little thing that soars when it just basks in its core conceit and lets you at its content.”
  • IGN (Score 8/10) – ”New Pokémon Snap is a photography game with occasionally clunky progression, but which is eager to show off its delightful subjects and let them surprise you.”
  • Nintendo Life (Score 8/10) – ”…New Pokémon Snap brings back almost everything that made the original special and fleshes it out into a much more elaborate game…”
  • Gamespot (Score 8/10) – ”…20 years later, taking photos of Pokemon in the wild remains as fun and exhilarating as it always was, and though it's been a long time coming, New Pokemon Snap was worth the wait.”
  • Ars Technica”Still, after 15 hours snapping thousands of photos of hundreds of distinct Pokémon, I feel like there are plenty of secrets left to be uncovered in New Pokémon Snap's varied environments. What's more, I'm eager to uncover them in quick, five or 10-minute safaris whenever I happen to have a Switch handy.”
  • Eurogamer (Recommended) – ”New Pokémon Snap captures the strange joy of the original game without being derivative.”

Marvel Kombat from NetherRealms?

Rumours originating with one Daniel Richtman claims that Mortal Kombat developer NetherRealm Studios is working on a Marvel fighting game.

NetherRealm Studios used to be WB Games Chicago

The studio previously created the Injustice series of fighting games based on DC, and the new game is apparently targeting next-generation consoles.

Get over here: Ed Boon has said that he would love to work on a Marvel fighting game, and has apparently talked to Disney about it, so the rumour isn't exactly far-fetched. NetherRealm has operated on a fairly strict two-year interval for releases after launching Injustice 2 in 2017 and Mortal Kombat 11 in 2019 so it's quite possible that they will release something new this year.

After the Fall promises platform parity

Vertigo Games has confirmed that all versions of After the Fall will feature the same number of enemies, thanks to careful tuning of the level of detail for each platform.

Clean up the rainbow reactor this fall

Tunermaxx's Rainbow Reactor: Fusion puts you in charge of maintaining a weird power plant powered by line matching puzzles. Out this autumn on Steam and Oculus Quest Store.

Carmack excited by VR sickness research

id Software co-founder and part-time Oculus CTO John Carmack is excited by new methods for reducing simulator sickness in development at Facebook. He wants to develop a “systems-level approach” to mitigate simulator sickness, and free developers from having to invent their own methods for each game.

Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day

Total War has gone through quite a few changes over the past two decades, but no matter what experience you have with the series you will feel right at home in Rome Remastered. The control scheme is updated to bring the game in luine with the most recent titles, but if you want that authentic 2004 experience, you can enable a classic mode. Pretty much all new features can be toggled, making Rome Remastered ideal for purists.

There's even an arcade mode that disables morale and fatigue as well as granting unlimited ammunition to ranged units, which enables more hectic and fast-paced battles with less emphasis on strict simulation. In any case, battles play out much like you expect from a Total War game: First you deploy your troops, and then you control units composed of a varying number of soldiers.

The soldiers are a lot more detailed than you might remember, and there's a lot more variety between them including details based on where you recruited them. There's also a variety of options that allow you to decide what details you want to see during battles, all the way down to a level even more granular than what recent games in the series offer.

Our many horsemen will have good hunting today, as the enemy is weak in spearmen to counter them.

The biggest upgrade is the collision detection. The original Rome featured pretty clunky automatons that would rigidly hold their position in a formation while the soldier directly next to them was butchered by armored cavalry. Rome Remastered features a more fluid collision model, which produces messier and more authentic melee combat. Cavalry charges feel more powerful as a result, but your knights will also go down more easily than you might remember.

The campaign map presents a tile-based system that's less fluid than what more recent games offer, but it has its benefits and eliminates some micro-management. While tiles generally look rather simple, the transitions between them are elegant and the map still holds up well. There is also an option to toggle between the original's more vibrant color palette and a new, more subdued and realistic one. The map is easy to read and features loads of information, which can also be toggled. One of my favourite features is ambushes, which reward you for hiding forces in forests or other rough terrain.

On the grand strategy side, characters are born, they grow up to marry and eventually expire, whether from old age or in battle. No-one is immortal and characters can not be levelled up – although you can distribute their followers – and while that might feel a bit limited compared to more recent games, it's also a relief not to have to assign points and upgrades to your well-populated stable of lords and heroes.

A peaceful settlement prepares for war.

You don't strictly need generals to lead armies in Rome Remastered, although they have their advantages, so it's easier to build forces in multiple locations or break off part of your forces for some rest and recreation. City management is also straightforward: You can build whatever you like wherever you like, without needing to worry about securing a whole region first. All in all, Rome Remastered is pleasantly streamlined and straightforward.

That doesn't mean it's shallow, though: There's a lot of details to pay attention to, such as trade routes, accounting and family trees. There's a lot of depth, but you don't have to delve into it unless you want to. That's what makes Rome Remastered great: It's a new game built on the solid foundations of the original. It's less complicated and offers a pleasantly trim experience. It manages to evoke nostalgia without being consumed by it, and manages to play the way you remember it playing – rather than the way it actually played.

PROS:

  • Nostalgic but not old
  • Streamlined, refreshing gameplay
  • Excellently remastered art
  • New features are all optional
  • Unit collisions and dynamic battles
  • All factions playable

CONS:

  • Obviously feels dated compared to recent games in the series
  • Lack of true variety between factions
  • No dragons?
8/10Excellent

Total War: Rome Remastered is available now on the PC via The Humble Store and Steam. Publisher SEGA kindly provided a PC code to DailyBits for free for the purposes of this review.

Which Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon was referenced in Sonic Spinball?

ANSWER: Sonic SatAM!

Blue streak, speeds by

The Sonic the Hedgehog animated series, known as Sonic SatAM among fans, remains one of the most fondly remembered adaptations of the blue blur. The story was carried on in the Archie Sonic comic book, and became one of the longest-running videogame adaptations. It doesn’t really tie into the games, though – most likely because of copyright issues.

One game bucks the trend, though: Sonic Spinball! The first bonus stage involves breaking animals free from capsules, including characters like Bunnie Rabbot and Rotor. That makes Sonic Spinball the only game to include characters from the animated show, and probably the last since the Archie comics series finally ended and IDW’s new comic features new characters.

Today's issue of DailyBits was written by Gavin Herman, Nick Akerman, Erlend Grefsrud, Simon Priest, and Jamie Davey. If you have any feedback or news tips for the team, please email us!