Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Nov 292023

Today had the potential for some exciting video game announcements, so I was looking forward to it, starting with Level-5 Vision 2023 II early this morning.

It began with a message from Professor Layton’s Japanese voice actor, who revealed that when he was first given the part of Professor Layton, he drew inspiration from James Bond. Not what I expected, but that’s a fun detail.

The first game they showed was Megaton Musashi Wired, which will be out on April 25, 2024.

Getting an actual release date for one of the games relieved some of my worries, even though I’m not interested in that one specifically.

Next up was a new trailer for Fantasy Life i: The Girl Who Steals Time, which I’m really looking forward to! The new trailer highlights changes from the first game as well as a summer 2024 release window. While that’s further off than I’d like, at least it gives me a chance to get through the rush of early 2024 games first!

They spent a good deal of time looking at the next Inazuma Eleven game after that. I’ve never gotten into that series, but since this game has been delayed over and over again for over 7 years now, it’s nice to see it finally making progress. While it didn’t get a release date, there will be a closed beta test for the online features in March 2024.

Now, you know I only watched this live because I wanted Professor Layton news, so I was thrilled when they showed Professor Layton and the New World of Steam next.

The new trailer shows a small section of the game, including a 3D cutscene and some gameplay. Watching them tap around for hint coins and encounter a puzzle might not sound like a big deal, but seeing that good, familiar Professor Layton gameplay make me so happy. Hearing narration during the puzzle-solving was a bit odd, so I think that might have been purely for the trailer (unless that’s the way hints will be handled in this game). It also appeared like they were using the touchscreen, which is interesting.

Unfortunately, Professor Layton and the New World of Steam won’t be out until 2025. With the other games all delayed to 2024, I was expecting it, but it was still a little disappointing.

I had expected them to end with Professor Layton, but instead they went on to briefly discuss the success of the Yokai Watch mobile game, and then they continued with Decapolice.

I’ve been interested in Decapolice since I love mystery games and it seems to have JRPG elements as well, but I was surprised to hear them describe it as an open world game. The showcase also said the release date had been moved to “post-2024,” although a tweet later clarified that they meant 2024.

The showcase ended with the announcement that the next showcase, titled Level-5 Vision 2024: To the World’s Children, will be held in April 2024, teasing an announcement implied to be a new Yokai Watch game. So that’s certainly exciting!

While it was mainly a showcase full of delay news, I was still thrilled to get a longer look at the new Professor Layton game. And the day wasn’t over yet, because Idea Factory’s otome-themed “just chatting” stream was coming up next with the promise of an announcement.

Indeed, Idea Factory kicked things off with the announcement that Cupid Parasite: Sweet and Spicy Darling, is being localized! This is the fandisc of Cupid Parasite, which I loved.

I’ve been hoping the fandisc would get localized, so that was a great surprise! It will be out in 2024, and a Limited Edition will be available as well.

All in all, it was a great day for video game news for me. And while the Level-5 delays might be disappointing, I’ve got plenty of games in my backlog to occupy me in the meantime.

How do you feel about the new trailer for Professor Layton and the New World of Steam? What about Level-5’s other announcements? Are you excited for the Cupid Parasite fandisc?

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Nov 102023

Following yesterday’s announcement that Fantasy Life i: The Girl Who Steals Time has been delayed to 2024, Level-5 announced Level-5 Vision 2023 II for November 29.

The first Level-5 Vision online event was back in March, when we got a few more details about the upcoming lineup of games they’d announced earlier in the year, most of which had 2023 release windows.

Now we’re here, nearly at the end of 2023, and none of them are out yet.

I have to say, it’s made me a little nervous. When Level-5 came out swinging in that fateful Nintendo Direct with three new announcements, it felt like their triumphant return after such a long period of silence. Then most of the year passed without any of those games even getting release dates.

Level-5 Vision 2023 II should help with that. Inazuma Eleven: Victory Road, DecaPolice, Fantasy Life i, Megaton Musashi Wired, and Professor Layton and the New World of Steam will all be featured. According to the Fantasy Life i delay announcement, release dates will be announced for at least it and Inazuma Eleven.

Since only a single month of 2023 will be left by that point, I’ll be surprised if Inazuma Eleven, DecaPolice, and Megaton Musashi all still have 2023 release dates, but who knows?

Meanwhile, the official Professor Layton account also confirmed that new footage from Professor Layton and the New World of Steam will be shown.

Professor Layton is likely the farthest out of all these titles. While the others were given 2023 release windows, it never was, with a presumed 2024 release window instead. If the other games are being delayed to 2024, that makes me worry that Professor Layton could be pushed to 2025. But again, we’ll just have to wait for Level-5 Vision 2023 II to see what Level-5 has to share with us.

The live stream will take place at 9 PM JST, which is 4 AM PT / 7 AM ET, so I doubt I’ll watch it live. Either way, though, I’ll be eager to see the new Professor Layton footage and potential release dates for their other games. Are you planning to watch?

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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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