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This Week in Gaming News: PS5, ‘Doom 2’ and Bad Boy Billy Mitchell

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Missed this week’s top gaming news? Been too busy gaming? Spent your entire time reading the crazy impressive God of War reviews? Don’t worry about it, I got you covered right here with a brief rundown of the five stories that piqued my interest the most this week, with a dash of my own glorious opinion thrown in for good measure. Let’s get to it.

PlayStation 5 is Real?

Where else to start but with the swathe of rumours about the console soon to make your brand new PS4 Pro obsolete – the PS5! Well, I say soon, but if rumours are to be believed, it won’t be releasing until 2020. Earlier this year, rumours surfaced that Sony might release the PS5 this year, but these seem to have been debunked, as Kotaku ran a report where they’d spoken to two unnamed developers who said they had knowledge of Sony’s plans for a new system. According to the site, these unnamed developers laughed at those older rumours about a release this year.

 

I can guarantee you right now that PS5 is not going to look like this. It’s going to be a black plastic box, not a fucking UFO.

The main bulk of the information seems to be around the purported fact that there are a fair amount of PS5 dev kits floating around the industry, but dev kits, as most people could guess, aren’t actual PS5 units – they’re usually just PC towers, or simply a custom motherboard. GoombaStomp’s very own John Cal McCormick produced an insanely detailed piece to run the rule over all the current PS5 rumours, as well as his own hopes and fears for the new system, so you absolutely have to check that out.

‘Lawbreakers’ Devs Jump on the Battle Royale Train With ‘Radical Heights’

Lawbreakers massively failed to gain an audience. At the end of the month it launched, the player count had dropped below 200, and is currently sitting ugly at an astounding 0. It was announced last week that the game will ‘only be supported in its current state,’ practically ending an abysmal 8 months for the FPS.

Having spectacularly ballsed up an attempt to cash in on the Overwatch craze, Cliff Bleszkinski’s studio Boss Key Productions has now released their attempt to potentially balls up cashing in on the current trend of Battle Royale games sweeping the industry in the form of Radical Heights. Some of you might be thinking, “Wait a minute – didn’t Cliff Bleszkinski leave Epic Games because they didn’t want to produce the games he wanted to make, and now his new studio has just released a complete rip off of Fortnite… which is developed by Epic Games?” Boy, you people are smart, because that really does seem to be exactly what’s happened.

BMXs are apparently relatively scarce right now. Not as scarce as female avatars though!

It’d be all good if the game improved on Fortnite and wasn’t a total shit show, but that really doesn’t seem to be the case right now. Billed as being in an ‘Extreme Early Access’ state, the game currently doesn’t even have a female character model, hilariously slapping a big ‘coming soon’ in its place. In fairness to the game, which apparently (or perhaps obviously) has only had 5 months of development to date, it does look to be at least trying to add something new to the Battle Royale formula – chiefly that you can deposit in-game cash to be spent on subsequent rounds, and that you can ride BMX bikes for some reason.

GoombaStomp’s Andrew Vandersteen has played through the game so you (and I) don’t have to, and you can read his full thoughts right here.

Did Bethesda Tease a Doom 2 Announcement for E3?

This one is less a big news story from the week, and more something that I would view as huge if it came to fruition. 2016’s Doom featured, in my humble opinion, the best first person shooter campaign of the last decade. In terms of pure, adrenaline-fuelled blasting brutality, Doom was incredible. It’s pretty much an inevitability that a sequel will be announced, but those readers who like to peruse between the proverbial lines have picked up on a potential E3 2018 reveal from comments made by Bethesda’s Pete Hines during a PAX East interview.

Disclaimer: Not Necessarily Official Doom 2 Art

According to powerup-gaming.com, Hines’ statement read:

“Whether or not folks realize it, this is the hell on Earth time for us with E3. We are in the midst of so much planning and work for all of that content but I’m really excited”

The link to a Doom sequel? Why, ‘Hell on Earth’ was the original subtitle for Doom 2 when it released back in 1994, of course! If this is a cryptic hint, then kudos to you, Mr Hines. If not, well we may have to settle for Elder Scrolls 6 instead. Life’s tough, eh?

Billy Mitchell: Officially a Cheater

This news brought me so much joy, as I’m sure it would to anyone else who’s seen the magnificent 2008 video game documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. For, you see, Billy Mitchell – the man with the first-ever Pac-Man perfect game and 1 million point score in Donkey Kong – has clearly always been a shit. Fear not, because comeuppance has reared its beautiful head with the news that Twin Galaxies – official high score verifiers for Guiness World Records – is stripping him of all his high scores and records because he’s a big, dirty, cheating bastard. Steve Wiebe FTW!

Basically, Billy Big Bollocks has been found to have been using emulation software to submit his high scores, rather than genuine arcade machines. Of course, anyone who’s seen the aforementioned movie will already have smelt some Grade A Bullshit when he ousted Wiebe’s live world record score simply by submitting a VHS (one that blurred as the score meter ticked over to 1 million) – a method previously not allowed by Twin Galaxies, but accepted from Mitchell because of his years of being such a trustworthy and brilliant bloke.

I seriously can’t believe this guy turned out to be a dick. No, really. Okay, not really.

It may have taken several years, but Twin Galaxies has finally grown a pair and removed all of Billy’s high scores. Variety quoted a spokesperson as saying:

“Twin Galaxies is Guinness World Records’ trusted adviser on video game high scores and as such we rely on it to monitor high score gaming records and handle any and all disputes that occur within its community. The Guinness World Records titles relating to Mr. Mitchell’s highest scores on ‘Donkey Kong’ have all been disqualified due to Twin Galaxies being our source of verification for these achievements.

We also recognize records for the first perfect score on ‘Pac-Man’ and Highest score on ‘Pac-Man. Twin Galaxies was the original source of verification for these record titles and in line with their decision to remove all of Mr. Mitchell’s records from their system, we have disqualified Mr. Mitchell as the holder of these two records. Guinness World Records will look to update and find the appropriate holder of these records in the next few days.”

Ah, that feels good. Cheaters never prosper, kids. Or they do for several decades and then eventually don’t.

Shenmue I & II Remastered Will Release on Modern Consoles and PC This Year

Never will those sailors have looked better than when The Shenmue I & II Collection releases later this year in glorious 4k on Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Sega revealed the game at its Sega Fes event in Japan on Friday.

Gamespot quotes the publisher as stating that the compilation comes with “fully scaleable screen resolution, choice of modern or classic control schemes, PC graphics options, an updated user interface, and the option to enjoy either the original Japanese or English voiceovers.”

It’s real! I mean, both games are already real, but now they’re real and also not unplayable (hopefully)

A remastered collection of the two original titles has been strongly rumoured ever since the announcement of Shemue III’s Kickstarter campaign, but it’s fantastic to finally have it confirmed with some much-needed improvements and to see it coming this year. You folks can watch the reveal trailer while I go renew my forklift driving licence, and I’ll speak to you again next week.

Crotchety Englishman who spends hundreds of pounds on video game tattoos and Amiibo in equally wallet-crippling measure. Likes grammar a lot, but not as much as he likes ranting about the latest gaming news in his weekly column.

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Let’s Discuss the Revamped Sonic the Hedgehog Design

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The internet has breathed a collective sigh of relief following the release of a new trailer for the upcoming Sonic The Hedgehog movie. Some leaks a few weeks back that turned out to be correct showed the design that we see but the trailer shows a lot more of the new redesign of the world renowned video game character. The movie has been the subject of much attention-mostly negative- after the initial trailer was released six months ago. The first trailer (which initially announced a release date of November 2019) was incredibly poorly received due to the odd design choice for the titular character. With small eyes, a tiny snout and human teeth, the original design was weirdly realistic and resembled an odd humanoid rather than the blue cartoon hedgehog that we all know and love.

The first design for Sonic looked a bit like a child in a Sonic the Hedgehog suit. Creepy to say the least.

The new trailer shows off a brand new look for Sonic which is far more in sync with what we already know for the character. He is definitely an animated character, with the exaggerated features that he has always had in every other iteration. The movie itself still looks cheesy as hell but it looks like a tolerable, even kind of enjoyable sort of cheesy.  The controversy surrounding the terribly received first Sonic design has been so prolific that some even argued that the whole thing has been a marketing ploy and that the character was never meant to look as bad as he originally did. Whatever the case may be in terms of what went down behind the scenes of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, it is clear that even if the film is terrible it will attract a substantial audience of people just curious as to how the whole thing is going to turn out. As a fan of Sonic since the 90’s when I was little, I’m probably going to be one of those people.

Sonic is now appropriately cute, fluffy and more in line with his usual style.

I’m still kind of hoping it can break the curse of the video game movie-like Detective Pikachu did- but alongside the aforementioned cheesiness, it looks like a pretty generic movie aimed at kids rather than diehard fans of the Sonic franchise. Flop or not, at least Sonic is looking far more adorable and less like he might murder you in your sleep. It also shows how the filmmakers were willing to listen to their audience and implement changes following feedback. Incredibly vocal feedback at that.

The comparison between the two designs shows just how much the animators have worked to create a brand new Sonic. Their hard work has certainly paid off.

Sonic the Hedgehog is due for theatrical release on February 14th, 2020.

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Anamanaguchi – [USA] (Album Review)

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Few acts boast such renown amongst uber-nerdy video game enthusiasts as Anamanaguchi. Unveiling their debut EP ‘Power Supply’ in 2009, the Chiptune pioneers have pushed their unique brand of 8-bit powered Rock and Pop across various releases, including 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game soundtrack, and 2013’s Kickstarter funded 22 track LP ‘Endless Fantasy’. And with ‘Endless Fantasy’ being their last LP (excluding their stuffed to the brim ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ compilations), to say fans have anticipated ‘[USA]’ is an almighty understatement.

Six years is a while, so has Anamanaguchi’s latest batch of tracks been worth the wait? Seasoned fans Harry and Kyle are on the scene to offer their takes, from how ‘[USA]’ stacks up against the band’s other offerings, to its effectiveness as an artistic whole.

Background With Anamanaguchi

I first heard Anamanaguchi around 2010. At the time I was neck deep in my Slipknot phase (a phase I’ve yet to grow out of judging by how much I replayed ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ this year), so their goofy electronic schtick didn’t tick my boxes. But as time passed I developed a stronger fondness of them, so much so that I enthusiastically backed their 2013 LP ‘Endless Fantasy’ on Kickstarter. Now I’ve seen them live twice, followed their progress over the years, and can proudly proclaim my superfan status. – Harry

The late 2000s saw a shift in pop culture: suddenly, geek chic was all the rage. G4 was at the height of its popularity, pixel art infested countless pieces of media, and video games were undeniably cool. Few other pieces of media encapsulate this cultural zeitgeist more than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Based on the popular comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley, the Scott Pilgrim game featured Anamanaguchi’s crunchy pixelated Rock sound, which melded perfectly with the colorful 16-bit beat-em’-up gameplay. Older Anamanaguchi albums are more than just music: they’re a trip back in time to a brighter, more innocent era of pop culture and gaming. – Kyle

Introducing [USA]

I was excited for ‘[USA]’, but that’s stating the obvious based on my prior words. The LP kicks off with its titular track, introducing affairs with an amalgamation of predictably glitchy bleeps ‘n’ bloops. It’s straight up Anamanaguchi, their Chiptune flair intact. This is good, as Anamanaguchi sans Chiptune is like spaghetti sans sauce (still awesome, but lacking a key ingredient). “USA” is chanted as instrumentation morphs stylistically, crescendoing in dynamics and tempo, and setting the stage for the lead single.

“Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is an LP highlight. Stepping out the gate with Vocaloid-y singing, an aesthetic of grandiose gorgeousness is speedily cemented. This later juxtaposes with the rapid-fire rhythms of Luke’s drumming and manic synthesizer arpeggios that run around like an 8-bit-ified (Sega Master System) Sonic the Hedgehog. This mental meld of melody, Drum and bass, and all manner of other musical magic finally sinks into a sea of atmospheric spookiness, concluding in an out of left field (yet utterly engaging) way. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” avoids predictability through each and every beat of its journey, but nails catchy accessibility to a tee. A masterclass in creative songwriting, it sets ‘[USA]’s’ bar sky high. – Harry

The weeks to ‘[USA]’ releasing were positive ones, marked by enticing singles like “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” and “Air On Line”. Anamanaguchi’s distinct Rock-flavored Chiptune style had undergone a stylistic shift in the band’s 2013 release ‘Endless Fantasy’, where the band shed off some of its punk flair in favor of dreamier synth tones. In the six years between LP releases, Anamanaguchi experimented with singles and EPs featuring sonic palettes characteristic of modern J-Pop (“Pop It”, “Miku”). While the band stretched its legs with poppier beats, it did mark a further departure from the traditional Rock-oriented sound that had defined much of their earlier work.

‘[USA]’ in many respects displays a return to Anamanaguchi’s roots. Tracks like “On My Own (feat. HANA)” and “Air On Line” boast driving guitar riffs, thumping drums, and fluidly complex intricacies. Yet, it’s more than clear that Anamanaguchi has evolved beyond their geeky beginnings to cultivate an airy soundscape of bright pastel colors and crystal clear tones. It doesn’t always hit the mark, but the highs that ‘[USA]’ can reach prove that the guys have still got it. – Kyle

Negative Bits

Unfortunately, said sky high bar is scarcely met again throughout the rest of ‘[USA]’. Plenty of tracks, like “The C R T Woods” and “Overwriting Incorporate”, are serviceable, but fall short of the laser focused compositional direction and melodic magnificence that Anamanaguchi are so super slick at. ‘[USA]’ suffers from banality, with tracks like “Tear” and “We Die” meandering noisily without focus, and big chunks (particularly the interlude-like tracks “Speak To You [Memory Messengers]” and “Apophenia Light [Name Eaters]”) feeling akin to ‘Capsule Silence XXIV’ cuts (i.e. decent demos, but not kickass LP standouts). – Harry

Much like Harry, I found a large chunk of the album rather dull to get through. Admittedly, Anamanaguchi has an undeniable talent for their synth instrumentation. However, what pushes their work beyond generic electronic music is their ability to anchor that instrumentation to a melodic through line built on catchy hooks and unexpected turns. “Lorem Ipsum (Arctic Anthem)” is one of the few tracks that manages to pull off this floaty, ethereal sound because it moves forward with purpose and constantly engages your curiosity. The same can’t be said for several of the other synth-heavy tracks, too lost in their own sound to offer anything truly engaging. – Kyle

Positive Bits

Nevertheless, there are flashes of brilliance here. “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)” is Anamanaguchi firing on all cylinders, delivering energetic poppy bombast in spades. Porter Robinson’s co production is evident in “Air On Line”, resulting in a smooth stomper of happy hooks. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” incorporates choppily glitched-out singing from the iconic Vocaloid, serving as a pseudo-sequel to the 2016 single “Miku”. “On My Own (feat. HANA)” sees Anamanaguchi’s Chiptune/Pop/Rock melting pot bubbling away again. And speaking of Chiptune, it’s wonderful to hear mountains of 8-bit eccentricity throughout ‘[USA]’, proving even as their sound matures, Anamanaguchi still celebrate where they came from with beaming pixelated smiles. – Harry

As a whole, ‘[USA]’ still deserves a place worthy of praise in Anamanaguchi’s discography. Porter Robinson only collaborated with the band for “Air On Line”, but his style bleeds wonderfully into tracks like “Up to You (feat. meesh)” and “Sunset By Plane (feat. Caroline Lufkin)”. The kawaii-infused J-Pop rhythms and hooks are infectiously catchy, but don’t let that fool you: Anamanaguchi haven’t lost their edge. “B S X (feat. Hatsune Miku)” and “On My Own (feat. HANA)” show that the band can reach back into their deep musical pockets and bring out their signature hard Chiptune Rock to surprise you with something intimately familiar. – Kyle

Final Thoughts

In typical Anamanaguchi fashion, ‘[USA]’ is ambitious from start to finish. ‘Endless Fantasy’ is bloated, but stylistically spot on, whereas ‘[USA]’ trims the fat, but gets a little lost in its journey. Glistening gold sits alongside stale pies, and that description is a fitting metaphor for elements of ‘[USA]’: it’s odd, and doesn’t make much sense (and perhaps that in itself is a metaphor for the real life USA?).

Still, when Anamanaguchi’s latest is good, it’s really good, and there’s bundles of genius in the 8-bit boys yet!

Check out, stream, buy or consume ‘[USA]’ in your preferred capacity by clicking HERE!

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Star Wars Fan Films Embrace the Essence of A Galaxy Far, Far Away

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There is no doubt that dedicated fans are capable of creating brilliant, fan-made content, but the Star Wars fan base has a habit of going above and beyond in making incredible works of art that often surpass official entries in the franchise. Two relatively recent short fan films — one released last week, the other released in March of this year — are great examples of this.

The first is a 1970s/80s-style cartoon from YouTuber Wilkins Animation called Dark Empire Episode One: The Destiny of a Jedi. This animated short is incredibly reminiscent of classic cartoons — so much so that it is difficult not to feel a pang of nostalgia upon watching it. The style gives off a He-Man vibe due to the quirky animation, stellar voice work, and vibrant colour scheme. The story is set after The Return of The Jedi as Han, Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO embark on a mission to save Luke and Lando, who are stranded on war-torn Coruscant. I won’t spoil anything in case you want to check it out for yourself, but the story is engaging, and I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to see more when it came to an end.

Have a watch below if you want to see more, and to check out Wilkins Animation’s Patreon to support their work, click here.

The second fan made film is a slightly older (from March 2019) one called Battle of the Dreadnoughts, by YouTuber EckhartsLadder. The film is significantly shorter than the 12-minute Dark Empire cartoon, clocking in at about three and a half minutes. It depicts a space battle between the New Republic’s Viscount Class Star Defender and the Empire’s most dangerous of all its weapons, the Eclipse Super Star Destroyer. Battle of the Dreadnoughts may be short, but it is astounding in quality. Upon my first viewing, I was certain I had accidentally clicked on a scene from the movies rather than a fan-made project. The accuracy, attention to detail, and sheer scale blew my mind and — as with the Dark Empire animation — left me wanting more from the content creators involved.

Check out EckhartsLadder’s Patreon here and their Twitch account here.

There is no doubting the talent of the Star Wars fan base, but these two films in particular are incredible works of art both in their own right and as Star Wars fan projects.

For more Star Wars, have a read of our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer breakdown.

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