Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Jun 302021
 

Today I woke up to the news that Konami had formed a “strategic partnership” with Bloober Games.

According to the official announcement, this partnership will involve “jointly developing selected contents and exchanging know-how.”

No specific details were given, but this is significant for two big reasons.

First, Bloober Team has developed several psychological horror games. I reviewed Layers of Fear 2, Blair Witch and The Medium for MonsterVine, and I previously played the first Layers of Fear. While I have mixed feelings on some of their games, I feel they’ve been getting better and better, with The Medium being my favorite Bloober Team game so far.

I also felt while playing Blair Witch that they really wanted to make a Silent Hill game, and The Medium made that even more apparent.

The second reason this news is significant is that there have been persistent rumors that multiple Silent Hill games are in development, with one of them being developed by Bloober Team. I was pretty skeptical of all Silent Hill rumors by that point, but this lends credibility to them.

Bloober Team and Konami are working together on something. Maybe it really is Silent Hill.

People’s reactions to the news today taught me that a lot of Silent Hill fans hate Bloober Team’s games and do not share my feelings that The Medium was a good game. So maybe I don’t have a lot of company in being intrigued by this news. We’ll see…

What are your thoughts on the partnership between Bloober Team and Konami, and the potential for a Bloober-developed Silent Hill game?

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Jun 282021
 

Over the past few days, I played the demo for NEO: The World Ends With You, watched the final episode of the TWEWY anime, and finished The World Ends With You: Final Remix.

After debating about how to cover all of these things, I decided to just have one big TWEWY extravaganza blog post!

Let’s start with the anime.

The World Ends With You Anime Adaptation

When I started watching the anime adaptation of The World Ends With You, I had concerns. The beginning feels very rushed as a result of cramming the entire game’s story into 12 episodes, although it was still incredible just to see a game I love so much in anime form.

However, the pacing improved dramatically after the first few episodes, and I ended up enjoying it overall.

The anime has its flaws. Some parts don’t come across quite right, and there are a few changes I wasn’t crazy about. Most of these changes are probably also the result of the fast pacing, although there was one near the end that I don’t know why they changed.

Click for major TWEWY spoilers
In the anime, Kitaniji is completely defeated before the encounter with Joshua. They still showed the flashback of him and Joshua agreeing to the Game, but I feel like it lost something by not having that final conversation between them.

Yet the anime also pulls off some scenes incredibly well. There are even a few parts that I’d say the anime did better.

I expected the anime to cover A New Day, the new epilogue added for the Final Remix version of the game, but it didn’t. Instead, it ended on the game’s original secret ending, expanded to include some more details in a way that I thought worked very well.

Meanwhile, I used the anime as a guide to keep my Final Remix playthrough in check, as I’d follow up each episode by playing up to the same point in the game.

The World Ends With You: Final Remix

My playthrough of the original The World Ends With You was absurdly long, since I wanted to complete everything. For the Final Remix, I was much more restrained and stuck mostly to the main story (and of course, A New Day).

I was a little worried about revisiting a favorite game, afraid that it might not resonate with me as much over a decade later.

My concerns were unfounded. The Switch controls are cumbersome, and I quickly decided to stick with the touchscreen controls since the Joy-Con controls are somehow even more awkward, and I forgot how some parts of the game require you to grind a bit for specific pin/material drops, but I was immediately sucked into the game just like I was when I played the original.

I love The World Ends With You. The story, the characters, the foreshadowing, the humor… and all sorts of little fun details I forgot about that all come together to make it a unique experience.

Comparing it to the anime after each episode provided extra entertainment as well, and I’m really happy that I decided to play through The World Ends With You: Final Remix after all.

And then I played A New Day.

You unlock the three “days” of A New Day by completing certain challenges in the main game. A New Day itself doesn’t seem to distinguish between days, however. I only knew I was on a different day by seeing that the menu screen said so.

Anyway, Neku and Beat find themselves back in the UG for a new Reaper’s Game, and they’re joined by a Reaper girl named Coco who is one of the most annoying characters I’ve ever seen. Neku is also having visions of destruction and a mysterious girl wearing headphones. Shibuya’s layout has been shuffled around so that the streets don’t go where they’re supposed to, and most paths are gated. Remember how I mentioned grinding for drops in the main game? That’s a core focus of A New Day, and it’s so tedious… I felt like it went out of its way to be as tedious as possible.

Meanwhile, the story is… strange. I dislike several aspects of A New Day’s ending, as well as their puzzling presentation.

Click for major A New Day spoilers
Was it really necessary to have Neku get shot at the exact same place again? I’m sure they intentionally mirrored the main game’s scene to have his visions of Joshua shooting make both him and the player question whether he was seeing the past or the present, but then to have Joshua hit Coco’s shoulder and have her run away in basically the exact same pose Minamimoto had in the original scene? Really?

And then she revives Minamimoto with a Taboo Noise sigil, basically mirroring his revival in the main game? Really?

And she needs Neku for some purpose, so is the implication that she shot him to use him as a pawn, mirroring his original death even more than it did already? Really?

In short, not only do I dislike Neku being killed again, I also dislike how it felt like a weird remix of ideas from the main game.

I’m glad I played the NEO: The World Ends With You demo before A New Day, because if A New Day was my only brush with new TWEWY content, I’d be very nervous.

NEO: The World Ends With You Demo

Fortunately, the same can’t be said for my time with the demo! The demo covers the first two days of NEO: The World Ends With You, and it’s fantastic.

Rindo and his friend Fret are going through what seems to be a normal day until they find themselves in the Reaper’s Game without much knowledge of what’s going on except that teams are competing for points and they need to fight Noise.

The characters introduced in the demo are likeable so far, but what really impressed me was how much NEO feels like The World Ends With You.

Scanning is back, although now you can move at the same time. You still use scanning to read people’s thoughts and start battles with Noise, and chaining encounters is back as well. I came across a Pig Noise, too!

Combat is pretty different now, since the game is 3D and uses ordinary controls, but – and this is kind of amazing to me – it still captures the feel of the original. Every character can equip one pin, and you use that pin’s button commands to switch to control that character in battle. This adapts the sense of controlling multiple characters at the same time to a 3D single-screen system, and you alternate back and forth to build your gauge for a powerful attack similar to how the light puck functioned in the original and the cross-combos work in Final Remix.

I am seriously impressed by how much the combat feels like TWEWY combat despite having such significant changes.

I almost regret playing it, because partway through, I had to remind myself that this was only a demo and I would have to stop. I’ll need to wait another month to play more NEO: The World Ends With You, and the demo was so good that I want to play more now.

Conclusion

That was a lot of TWEWY content to talk about, but what are you thoughts? How do you feel about The World Ends With You, its anime adaptation, Final Remix and A New Day, and the demo for NEO: The World Ends With You? Personally, I’m even more excited for NEO than I was before!

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Jun 252021
 

The Falcom 40th Anniversary live stream news turned out to be huge… although it was leaked ahead of time when the Epic Games Store decided to put all of the games’ store pages live in the morning.

Anyway, I decided to check it out after all.

The live stream was primarily a concert, and I avoided actually watching the concert parts after seeing warnings that spoilers were being shown on the screen behind the band. The music was great, though, with some excellent songs from both Trails and Ys.

But let’s get straight to the announcements.

Yes, the Crossbell games are being localized! Yes, Hajimari is being localized, too! And yes, even Nayuta is being localized!

(It would have been even more exciting if it wasn’t leaked ahead of time, since they casually followed up their performance of a Trails from Zero song with the English logo appearing on the screen before leading into the announcements.)

NIS America revealed the following release schedule: Trails from Zero will be released in Fall 2022, Trails to Azure will follow in 2023, The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails will also be released in 2023, and Trails into Reverie (the localized name for Hajimari) is coming out in 2023 as well.

That’s right, we got four localization announcements, and 2023 is going to be packed with three of them coming in the same year.

All four games will be available for PC (Steam/Epic/GOG all confirmed; they’re not EGS exclusive), PS4, and Nintendo Switch.

What makes this news even more incredible is that NIS America officially partnered with Geofront, the team behind the Crossbell fan translations, to make this possible.

For someone getting into the Trails series like me, this is fantastic news. If you’re a bit confused by all the games, Zero and Azure are the Crossbell arc and come in between the Trails in the Sky and Trails of Cold Steel arcs. Trails into Reverie is the most recent game, set after the Cold Steel arc.

So what about The Legend of Nayuta: Boundless Trails? You’ll notice that the title is structured differently and I didn’t list it above. Well, Nayuta is an action RPG spin-off that is not canon to the Trails series.

…Probably. Apparently it’s officially non-canon, but some fans feel there might be connections that could lead to it being retconned into the Trails series. We’ll see.

I’m thrilled by the recent Trails news (and looking forward to catching up ahead of Zero’s release), although a lot of fans are upset that Reverie won’t be out until 2023. Personally, I think it’s worth it to have official releases of the Crossbell games – and how can you argue when you get four localization announcements all at once?

(And since three of them only got a year, I’d say it’s not certain that Reverie will be late in the year and/or after Nayuta like most people assume.)

In news completely unrelated to Falcom, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse localization was announced last night, too. All of my video game hopes seem to be coming true! What’s next, Yakuza Ishin?

Are you excited for the Trails announcements?

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