Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Feb 102023
 

As I predicted, we’re talking a break from our romance celebration today because the Nintendo Direct on Wednesday was too exciting not to cover!

I won’t go over every game that was shown, but you can watch the entire Nintendo Direct here.

I went into the Nintendo Direct hoping for at least one of three things: the rumored Ghost Trick remaster, the rumored Baten Kaitos remaster, or Ace Attorney news.

Well, there hasn’t been Ace Attorney news yet, but otherwise the Nintendo Direct delivered more than I ever expected.

The first thing to catch my attention was the announcement of a February 15 release date for the third piece of Xenoblade Chronicles 3 DLC, along with a teaser for the story expansion that I tried not to pay too much attention to since I haven’t finished the game yet.

Then it happened: Ghost Trick.

Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is back! Capcom later released a full trailer confirming that Ghost Trick will be remastered for Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC (Steam) this summer. While largely the same as the original, this remaster includes a few bonuses (like sliding block puzzles for some reason).

If you’re unfamiliar with Ghost Trick, it’s a puzzle game from Shu Takumi, the creator of Ace Attorney. You play a ghost able to manipulate objects in the environment as well as rewind time to shortly before a person’s death, which you do while in search of answers about your own death.

It’s an incredible game and one of my favorites. Now that it’s coming to modern platforms, you definitely should play it.

(I was hoping to order a physical copy, but after mistakenly saying it would be available physically, Capcom corrected themselves and said it will be digital-only. Although I’m disappointed about that, I’m still getting it, of course.)

That was it, the Nintendo Direct was already won for me. I was so excited over Ghost Trick, I nearly missed the game shown directly after it, DecaPolice.

DecaPolice is an upcoming detective game, and it appears to be a combination of an investigation game and an RPG. Once I calmed down enough from the Ghost Trick news to pay attention, I realized it actually looks pretty cool.

What really surprised me was seeing the develop of DecaPolice. I actually missed it in the trailer (Ghost Trick hype), but then I saw people talking about it being a Level-5 game.

I’d more or less given up on Level-5 after their new content over the past few years consisted of unlocalized Yo-Kai Watch games, an unlocalized Megaton Musashi game, a couple mobile games, and an ever-lengthening list of delays for Inazuma Eleven. Things didn’t look good, especially with the reports that their North American offices had shut down.

So to see a new Level-5 game in the Nintendo Direct? That was quite a welcome surprise!

A few other interesting-looking games followed, including a narrative adventure game called Harmony: The Fall of Reverie, which I didn’t realize was from Don’t Nod until I wrote this post (and when did they change their name from Dontnod?), Octopath Traveler II and Sea of Stars, both of which look appealing to me as a classic turn-based JRPG fan, and a full-scale remaster of the first Metroid Prime game, which has me trying to decide if it’s worth playing over the Wii U version I already have.

The Direct included another trailer for Master Detective Archives: Rain Code, as well, which I’ve had preordered for a while now.

And then the trailer was shown for the Baten Kaitos I & II HD Remaster. That’s right, it’s real and it’s a collection of both Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean and Baten Kaitos Origins! I had a great time with the first Baten Kaitos, although I haven’t played Origins yet. I’m so happy to see these often-overlooked JRPGs return!

Who knows, maybe this will pave the way for the cancelled Baten Kaitos 3 to be revived?

Sadly, the Baten Kaitos remasters have been confirmed to have Japanese voice acting only. While this might be a good thing for the first game and its rather terrible English dub, I’ve been told the English voice acting in Origins was much better. Still, I’ll take no dub if it means a Baten Kaitos revival!

And then they immediately followed that with the headline “A New Fantasy Life Awaits,” and I spent half a second thinking, “No, they can’t possibly mean that Fantasy Life” before the trailer made it abundantly clear that yes, it’s that Fantasy Life!

Fantasy Life i: The Girl Who Steals Time is a sequel to the 2012 (2014 worldwide) JRPG life sim from Level-5. While it technically received a sequel before, Fantasy Life 2 was a short-lived mobile game that was shut down after a couple of years. Now this new game looks to be a full sequel worthy of the name and incorporates time travel into the gameplay.

Fantasy Life was a lot of fun, so I’m happy to see it get a true sequel at last (and disappointed at the number of online reactions I’ve seen where people see the title and dismiss it as just another farming game; you don’t even farm in Fantasy Life!) and hope it lives up to the original.

And then they followed that up a short teaser trailer that made me freak out the second I saw a top hat wearing silhouette… Professor Layton is BACK!

Professor Layton and the New World of Steam is a new entry in the series, and you know, despite my mixed feelings about the last game in the series, my excitement at seeing a new Professor Layton game announced was on the same level as if it was Ace Attorney.

(Maybe even more, since I’m not among the doomsayers who believe Ace Attorney is dead, but I did believe the Professor Layton series was probably dead outside of my faint hopes for a Layton Brothers remaster/sequel because of the manga.)

So yes, I’m thrilled beyond belief that Professor Layton is back… but since the announcement, my excitement has been tempered with caution.

A lot of fans seem to think that because this game stars Professor Layton himself (and Luke, as revealed by the official website), it will be a return to form. But I’m not so sure. Layton Mystery Journey’s problem was not the protagonist. Katrielle would have been fine if she had a better game around her. The low-stakes writing, lack of story, and weak puzzle direction were the game’s actual problems and won’t necessarily be fixed just because Hershel is back in the protagonist’s role.

But you know what? I want to believe. I want to believe they saw the mixed reception and sat down to write a solid Professor Layton story again. I want to believe they brought in a good puzzle designer to make this game’s lineup of brainteasers. I love this series so much that I want to believe in it again, with as much excitement as I felt when Layton’s Mystery Journey itself was first teased.

The Nintendo Direct continued after that and closed with The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but I don’t care about that nearly as much as the other games here.

Ghost Trick and Baten Kaitos remasters, Fantasy Life and Professor Layton sequels… I can hardly believe all of these things happened in the same Nintendo Direct. (Also, is it just me, or did this Nintendo Direct have an unusually large number of mystery/investigation games?) It was an incredible Direct, and 2023 is shaping up to be an amazing year of games.

What did you think of the games shown in the Nintendo Direct?

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Jan 182023
 

Nearly two years ago, we discussed the possibility of Baten Kaitos returning thanks to new trademarks filed in Europe.

What stood out the most about these trademarks was that Bandai Namco filed trademarks for both Baten Kaitos games despite Origins never being released in Europe.

Now it’s time to hope for Baten Kaitos news once again, because a new rumor claims a Baten Kaitos remake is in development.

Rumors from anonymous sources should always be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s worth noting that the person who wrote the article seems quite confident in these sources, saying they’ve seen evidence of the remake in development and that it is “one hundred percent happening.”

According to this rumor, it is a Switch-exclusive remake of at least the first Baten Kaitos (possibly a bundle with Origins), being developed by Monolith Soft for a summer 2023 release.

Baten Kaitos is niche enough that it would be an odd choice to make up a false leak about, though it’s not impossible. Still, I’m hopeful that this leak is legitimate.

Adding fuel to the fire, fans on Reddit pointed out that Baten Kaitos director Yasuyuki Honne seemingly moved back to Monolith Soft’s main office in Tokyo despite not working on Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Another fan noted that Baten Kaitos Origins scenario writer Koh Kojima is not involved with the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 DLC (mentioned in a developer interview) despite being a director for every other Xenoblade title.

So here’s what we have:

  • Baten Kaitos and Baten Kaitos Origins trademarks from two years ago, in a region where Origins was never released
  • A leaker claiming to be 100% sure a Baten Kaitos remake is in development
  • Two prominent staff members involved with Baten Kaitos who can be inferred to be working on something other than Xenoblade

None of this is proof, but when you look at it all together, I think we have a decent shot of actually getting Baten Kaitos remake news. Between that and the potential for a Ghost Trick remaster, I have my fingers crossed that the next Nintendo Direct will be an exciting one.

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May 122021
 

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, and its prequel Baten Kaitos Origins, are two JRPGs released for the GameCube and developed by none other than Monolith Soft (along with tri-Crescendo).

They’re turn-based RPGs, but instead of traditional combat, they make use of a card-based system in some pretty interesting ways.

We haven’t seen anything more from the series after that, but now it’s come into the spotlight once again thanks to fans discovering that Bandai Namco recently filed trademarks for both games in Europe.

I know, trademarks don’t necessarily mean anything. I used to get excited every time a game I wanted to see revived got its trademark or copyright renewed (like Eternal Darkness), until I finally understood that these renewals happen regularly just so that the company can hold it.

However, what makes this one stand out as potentially significant is that Baten Kaitos Origins never came out in Europe.

So despite never having been released in Europe, it’s now been trademarked there. That makes it feel like maybe, just maybe, they’re planning to do something with Baten Kaitos in the near future.

I enjoyed Baten Kaitos, but I still need to play Origins. Beyond hoping for Baten Kaitos ports or remasters just to make them easier for players to get, though, my thought is that any sort of re-release would make it easier to hope for a new game in the series.

The last time we talked about Baten Kaitos, it was in response to the news that a Baten Kaitos 3 was in development after Origins, but was cancelled. Fans were encouraged to show interest in the series if they’d like it to return, and nothing would show interest better than high sales of a Baten Kaitos re-release.

Monolith Soft has a lot going on right now. There’s good reason to believe they’ll make a new Xenoblade Chronicles game, they have that mysterious fantasy IP on their recruitment page, and they’ve also been contributing to The Legend of Zelda. But as much as I want to see a new Xenoblade and the unknown fantasy game, I can’t help but hope they’ll have Baten Kaitos news in store for us as well.

What do you think? Are these recent trademarks a sign that Baten Kaitos will return?

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