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This Week in Gaming News: No More Tales to Tell



What a week it’s been in video game news, eh? Scandal, announcements, reveals, trailers, a terrible paid online service from you-know-who – it’s all happened. There is genuinely no better pressure writing this column than having to choose what to omit. I’ll take too much news over scraping the barrel any day, and there’s no barrel scrapings in sight, folks. Strap in; it’s getting serious.

Telltale Games Are the Walking Dead

This column has been going on a while now – I think this is number 22 – and I’m struggling to remember a more shocking story I’ve had to cover than this. Telltale Games – the studio behind the interactive novel series of The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Back to the Future, Batman, Game of Thrones, Borderlands, Minecraft, Guardians of the Galaxy and the recently announced Stranger Things“[began] a majority studio closure following a year marked by insurmountable challenges,” on Friday.

The challenging year has included, last November, the company laying off 25 percent of the workforce and, in March, an exposé from The Verge that revealed the “toxic management” that was rife in the company and costing it its best talent. Following the downsizing in November, Telltale tried to ensure fans that it was “not expected to impact the release of any of the company’s previously announced projects.” Whoops.

Video Game News Telltale

I think the notion of Telltale “releasing some of [their] best content this year” is a debatable one

Fast forward to Friday and the current move has seen 250 staff laid-off – with, according to Forbes, “[no] severance, health care that runs out in a week, and no idea how they’re able to stay in the Bay Area,” – the apparent cancellation of The Wolf Among Us Season 2 and Stranger Things, and The Walking Dead’s Final Season set to end after only its second episode. You can head around the internet and find a wide range of extra stories and rumors as to why this closure has happened: the company’s terrible money management, taking on of too many unsustainable projects, poor game sales, and how some employees had only been hired a week before they were laid off.

It seems that if you’d been following Telltale for the last twelve months, the writing may well have been on the wall, but it doesn’t make this story any less shocking. It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t enjoyed a Telltale game at some point – most likely a while ago now – but their transition to the current generation of consoles has not gone well. The quality of their game engine has been the subject of criticism for years, and hasn’t gotten better in any of the games I’ve played. It’s pretty understandable that gamers are less willing to pay for a game that runs about as well as a sloth with an ingrown toenail, and the fate of the final season of The Walking Dead could hurry forward the death of the episodic video game – especially if season pass holders aren’t refunded for the content they’ll now never receive.

The Devil’s in the Detail

The total shitshow unravelling at Telltale could easily distract from all the news bursting forth from the Tokyo Game Show, but not in this article it bloomin’ won’t. One game that seemingly can’t stop releasing new information is Capcom’s Devil May Cry 5. Capcom’s TGS trailer was a bit of a monster. Accompanied by a thumping metalcore soundtrack, we got to see grizzled, beardy Dante laying the smack down on numerous enemies with a host of cool-looking weapons. These included Cavaliere, a rideable motorbike that literally doubles up as a weapon when Dante rips it in half and starts swinging it about. Perhaps the most interesting moment of the trailer was the first unveiling of the new third playable character – simply named V.

That’s not all the news we got though, even if some of it wasn’t announced by Capcom themselves. In the spirit of modern gaming, listings on retail outlets have leaked some extra details. Steam, PSN and the Xbox Store all list ‘Network Players 2-3,’ clearly indicating an online multiplayer component. Bizarrely, Capcom has attempted to bat attention away from it. A Capcom spokesperson told Gamespot “With Devil May Cry 5, we are focused on delivering a complete single-player action experience. No multiplayer features have been announced.” Weird, right? I mean that’s basically a lie at this point because a product listing isn’t so much an announcement as much as it is an outright factual description of the game itself.

Gamespot also noticed an option to purchase in-game orbs with real-world money in the TGS demo, and of course director Hideaki Itsuno has clearly been fully briefed on the Corporate Bullshit Comeback for times like this. He said, “with giving people the ability to purchase Red Orbs, it’s something we want to give people as an option. If they want to save time and just want to get all the stuff at once, those people can do that.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but who plays video games to “save time”? Isn’t playing games supposed to be a way you choose to spend your time? Yet again another company is trying to act as if some of their game doesn’t need to, or shouldn’t be, played and is trying to cover over that with the mask of ‘player choice’.

This shouldn’t affect the quality of the game, which I had a great time with at Gamescom, and as long as the game isn’t made grindy or repetitive in order to persuade people to part with real money, it should be easy to ignore. Of course, one piece of equipment that will require extra real money is Nero’s version of Mega Man’s Mega Buster, which only comes with the Deluxe Edition of the game. A trailer came out for that, and let’s just say I really wish I didn’t want it. Stupid enticing nonsense.

Phoenix is Coming Wright to Current Gen

I’m going to say it. You know I’m going to say it. You’ve probably already thought it. I’m sure you, me and everyone else has no…objection to the announcement of the Ace Attorney trilogy coming to Switch, Xbox One, PS4, and PC. I’m glad we all got that out of the way.

Capcom announced the port at TGS with a trailer showing off the sharp look of the sprites, but there’s little information on any changes or updates to the gameplay, and it seems unlikely. To me, the most logical place to have the Ace Attorney series would be on the portable Switch, but I’ve only ever experienced the games on iPhone, and they all look and play perfectly (and cheaply) on mobile, so despite my initial and brilliant pun, it’s actually quite hard to see the justification behind the ports, unless they are setting console gamers up for a new entry in the series.

Hopefully, they will serve as the definitive way to experience the games and will be playable to a decent standard with a controller on PS4 and Xbox, as Ace Attorney is traditionally at home with some kind of touch screen involved on DS or mobile. Using a mouse seems like a good way to play, and hopefully, Switch’s handheld mode will incorporate the touchscreen. Of course, if you’ve never played the series, then you really have no excuse at this point. You won’t be sorry; it’s brilliant.

‘Death Stranding’ TGS Trailer Sheds Light on…Nothing

It’s still a mystery to me what Death Stranding is, but if the TGS trailer shows anything, it’s that acting talent is not somewhere it’ll fall short. Troy Baker will be lending his dulcet tones to Kojima’s latest…thing, and he’s on pretty top form as he introduces his giant shadow lion with a golden mask and a face like a bum hole.

There’s no doubt this game is going to be pretty much pure insanity, and that is definitely where Kojima excels. Of course, the more Sony shows, the less we know, but coming into a gaming experience not knowing what to expect and without any preconceived notions or plot beats you could predict from minute one is the kind of thing more games should have. By keeping things intentionally vague, things remain perennially interesting. I’d say I can’t wait to see more, but who knows if seeing more will mean anything to anyone.

This News Story is Classic PlayStation

It seems like ages ago that this was announced, but perhaps that’s because so much has happened this week, or maybe because a PlayStation Classic was always so much of an inevitability thanks to the success of Nintendo’s recent efforts with miniature versions of their own retro consoles. It’s definitely a movement the gaming industry seems to be going all in on, effectively working hand-in-hand with the genocide of emulation sites, but classic back catalogs need more exposure and availability, so it can only be the start of a good thing – it’s just a bit of a shame it’s tied to a physical medium at the moment. Baby steps, I guess.

You can read tons of detail about the new mini console in Rick’s article right here, but I’ll fill in some of the more pertinent points right here to entice you on to the main event. It comes pre-loaded with 20 games, with Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Wild Arms, Ridge Racer Type 4 and Jumping Flash! announced so far. It’ll output in HDMI, will retail at $99.99 USD and is set to release on December 3rd.

Sony are claiming the Classic is 45% smaller than the original machine, and hopefully, the wires for the controllers aren’t 98% smaller. The length of the wires on the NES Classic especially was the cause of much consternation thanks to the fact that you had to basically sit right in front of the console to use it, which just isn’t practical. Those shown in the trailer video look tiny, but a promotional image on the Sony site seems to show they have decent length, however, it’s still unclear.

That’s it from me this week, aside from a cheeky little plug for the first in my in-depth look at every main series Mega Man game. Speaking of which, I’m off to go beat the 3rd game and finish off my write up of the 2nd. I’ll see you as a broken and tired man in seven.

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



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)



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



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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