All-New Saturday Summaries 2017-06-17

Well, that was E3. I'm still readjusting my sleep schedule after all those late shows, so I'm taking it easy this weekend. I'm also extra frazzled because of my choice to persist with an "Alternative to E3" series for another year running. More on that in just a moment.

While I joke about ignoring E3 - the last thing I need right now are more video games and consoles to buy, since this year has already given me plenty of wishlist items to consider - since becoming a moderator I've always been heavily involved with the site's E3 content, from modding the chats to checking on all the new wiki content for the announced games. My contributions pale in comparison to one Brad "@marino" Lynch, however, who has been diligent in the past week in getting every E3 trailer imaginable on the site. For the next week or so, I'm going to be putting together my usual E3 trailer blitz feature to honor his efforts. Well, and also so I can crack wise on a bunch of games I have no intention of playing (and many more that I do).

As for E3 itself, I summarized my feelings on the actual conferences on the ol' Twitter soon after the Nintendo Spotlight had concluded:

It's worth also noting in addition that, for all of Ubisoft's good faith gesturing, they quietly announced elsewhere that Assassin's Creed Origins's new ultimate collector's box set would be $800, and that's just one of many special editions they have lined up for the game's launch. I don't think they've learned their lesson at all, and it'll be hard to stifle my schadenfreude once they finally lose their corporate battle with Vivendi. For as much as I occasionally enjoy their games, even if they all follow the same blueprint these days, it's not generally a company known for treating its consumers with respect. Nintendo buried their lede, putting some of their more interesting announcements - like the remastered Return of Samus, and Super Mario Odyssey's gameplay - directly after their spotlight video where they were thrown in with their extended Treehouse streams. Nintendo have a lot of honestly very fortuitous buzz with the Switch, and while they have their first-party output machines running on all cylinders, it'll be the third-party support that determines whether the Switch will continue this surprising momentum or become yet another Wii U with a handful of desirable games and a similar fate of finding itself replaced halfway through a generation cycle. The Microsoft's new X.B.O.X. (they knew what they were doing there) will be a curious one to watch: how many people are going to spend an extra hundred dollars to get this over the PS4 Pro? Xbox diehards, surely, but those aren't the ones MS needs to win over. I can't help but feel that it'll be the 3DO of this generation: powerful, expensive, and mostly ignored. Sony's clearly enjoying being the market leader again, since they didn't make much of an effort for their mostly dialogue-free conference this year. I'm a little concerned that we're entering another age of "smug Sony", but I'll say that Sony's been rocking it with PSN sales and exclusives of late: as long as they don't get too complacent again, I imagine they'll be leading the pack for years to come yet. Finally, there's EA and Bethesda. I don't have much to say about either, since most of what they showed aren't games I'm particularly interested in. I do want to try A Way Out and Wolfenstein 2 eventually, but I can leave everything else.

The heat around this game is incredible. Can't wait to see all the new features Bluehole is working on.
The heat around this game is incredible. Can't wait to see all the new features Bluehole is working on.

On a final note: can we not focus so much on eSports? It's not that I find shoutcasting and preening teenage pro-gamers embarrassing (I do, though), but more because it has long since been established that the best candidates for big eSports events are those high-quality games that are able to make that competitive scene happen organically. You can't force your most recent big-budget multiplayer game to become a major contender in the eSports arena, no matter how much money you throw at it: it has to do that rare thing of fostering an audience of dedicated competitors first, and then the rarer thing of finding an even bigger audience willing to watch the former have at it. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a fantastic example of a scene like that occurring naturally: I could absolutely see that game played in huge competitions on TV, because it's just so engaging to watch. However, like the incongruously competent and focused teamspeak that was mercifully absent from the conferences this year, I don't think it's something the major publishers are going to drop any time soon despite us all mocking at every turn just how unnatural it feels.

Anyway, I was surreptitiously busy during E3 week, so let's see what I managed to send out under the radar:

  • As referenced above, most of this week was spent putting together this six-part screenshot LP series on Marvelous: Mouhitotsu no Takarajima ("Another Treasure Island"), a Super Famicom exclusive game from 1996 that Nintendo put out themselves and was directed by a much younger Eiji Aonuma, the current creative lead for The Legend of Zelda series. I wasn't sure what to expect beyond a few Zelda allusions, but I enjoyed my time with what turned out to be a much more low-key and puzzle-focused adventure game. You can also see a lot of ideas that would later make their way into Aonuma's Zelda entries, so in many respects it feels like a "missing link" for the Zelda franchise between when Shigeru Miyamoto was in charge to when those duties switched to Aonuma. A crying shame it never saw a localization in the day: it has a very western premise (boy scouts, pirates, cowboys, etc.) and sense of humor, and I bet it would've delighted many SNES owners.
  • I didn't let my usual weekly features atrophy in the meantime, with this special interstitial episode of The Top Shelf to follow last week's conclusion of the first round of eliminations. This one-off focuses on those PS2 games I wish were in my collection, but due to various availability issues have eluded me thus far. I'm hopeful that current backwards compatibility options, which for now only really includes the "PS2 on PS4" range on the PlayStation Network, will allow me to rectify those absences in due course.
  • The Indie Game of the Week this week is the slightly addicting first-person "rogue-lite" Ziggurat, which transplants Hexen's fantasy-based approach to traditional FPS games like Doom and Wolfenstein into a procedurally generated model that randomizes the maps to explore, the enemies you might face and the power-ups and weapons you'll come across. There are some mild RPG elements, as the player will gradually level up and acquire (also randomized) perks to help them survive against the hordes of the titular structure. I'm not sure how much longer I intend to play it, but it seems to have what counts for a game of that genre: a desire to keep pushing onwards even in the face of overwhelming defeat.

Between E3 and the Marvelous series, I haven't really had time to play anything else. I polished off Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc early in the week and have played Rebel Galaxy intermittently, but that's about it. My views on both haven't changed a lot since I last wrote about them, but I will say that Danganronpa's "School Mode", which was added to the remastered version in the Danganronpa 1.2 Reload PS4 compilation, has this weirdly engrossing team strategy mini-game where you get everyone searching the school for supplies to build new Monokuma robots. Playing through it once was enough for me, though if I wanted all the trophies I'd have to play it at least three more times. Yeah, I don't want the trophies that bad.

From next week until probably the end of the year I'll be playing a lot more PS2 games on top of my usual Indies, but I am planning to set a lot of July aside for those RPGs I've been talking about for a while: either Final Fantasy XV (if it stops getting patched with new content for just a moment), Tales of Zestiria or Trails of Cold Steel. Summer's usually the time for RPGs because they're often so quiet with regards to releases and other stuff going on, but this one's been surprisingly busy so far. Heck, Summer Games Done Quick is just around the corner also. Whatever I end up deciding to play I'll be sure to give you all the skinny next week, and thanks again for stopping by to read all the goofs I wrote.

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