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This Week in Gaming News: The Greatest Hits of Erasure (featuring Nintendo)



Welcome, newshounds, to that time of the week where I observe the settled dust of gaming news, sweep it back up into the air and then complain about how dusty the air is. If I had to pick a standout theme for this week’s piece (and I don’t have to, I want to), it’d be hard to ignore the overwhelming intentions of certain video game companies to basically just do whatever they want regardless of ramifications, both in terms of customer goodwill and, it seems, the law itself. Time to get ranty.

Nintendo Direct: The Good Bits

There’s a lot to get to when looking at this week’s Nintendo Direct, and as I feel more strongly about the bad than I do the good, we’ll get this little lot out of the way first. It definitely can’t be suggested that Nintendo didn’t reveal any new games in the Direct, even if nothing was jaw-droppingly inspiring. It’s been a bit of a dour second year in terms of major releases on Nintendo Switch, and the near future isn’t exactly mouth-watering, but it’s certainly not barren.

Among the biggest announcements from Ninty was the reveal of Luigi’s Mansion 3, which is coming to Nintendo Switch next year. A third game in the series is welcome, but it will definitely need to be boasting plenty of new content to justify its existence above it merely being a gap-filler before something more important comes along. The other ‘major’ announcement was that of a Switch Animal Crossing also arriving next year. Again, not something that made me all jingly in my janglies, but a game that is tailor made for an appearance on Switch. Provided, of course, that you don’t expect to be able to connect to anyone else’s village on the train unless you’ve got some portable Wi-Fi of your own (or you’re on a posh train).

Elsewhere, you can list under ‘things that made me smile’ the reveals of Katamari Damacy ReRoll (I might even use the motion controls, but don’t tell anyone about that), the continuation of impressive trailers for Daemon Ex Machina, Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X ports, and, I guess, Animal Crossing’s Isabelle being announced as the next new Smash Bros. Ultimate character. Actually, that’s a shit character announcement, so scratch that last one. Although I’d quite like to punch her in the face. Ok, scratch the scratch.

Nintendo Direct: The Bad and Ugly Bits

Now to the meatier section: the bad stuff. I lectured you all last week on just how terrible Nintendo’s cloud saves service is, and yet I was still shocked to find this week that it’s actually worse than previously revealed. Although not in the Direct itself, it emerged afterwards through a Q&A section on Nintendo’s website that your cloud saves will be erased as soon as you stop your Nintendo Online subscription. Not just inaccessible – completely gone.

The official wording is “Save data stored with Save Data Cloud cannot be kept outside of the duration of your Nintendo Switch Online membership.” It’s important at this point to remind you all that your PlayStation cloud saves are kept for 6 months after your subscription ends, and your Xbox ones are free of charge and require no subscription anyway. This is such a worrying caveat to the feature that it’s close to being rendered completely useless. What’s the timeframe on the subscription ending and the saves being lost? What if I get a new bank card and forget to update it on my Nintendo account? I guess my saves are gone, right? It’s possible Nintendo may offer a grace period for this kind of scenario, but let’s not get our hopes up. Though I must give kudos to Nintendo for having the gall to try and introduce their terrible cloud save system as if they, and we, had only just discovered it was possible. The balls on these guys.

Gaming News Nintendo Direct

You already own the versions of these you care about, and the rest of them are pants. You know I’m right.

Cloud saves wasn’t the only nugget in the shit-pile of disappointment, though. It’s not really a revelation at this point, but NES games are rubbish. I don’t think I’d given it much thought for a while, but the offer of NES games gated behind a paywall is terrible. NES games in 2018 are actually worth nothing. Zero. I would not pay you for a NES game today. They do not carry a value at this point because they’ve been rehashed so many times, are available on so many platforms, and have been paid for by Nintendo fans over and over again. Destiny 2 is available on PS+ this month. That game is a 2018 AAA release. Some NES games aren’t even a 1988 release.

Fear not though, because those NES games of zero value can be played on some beautiful NES-style Switch controllers of $60 value. Yes, SIXTY dollars. Well, actually they cost $80 because you’re not allowed to buy them unless you subscribe to the Nintendo Online Service. Granted, there isn’t much you could use them on without access to the NES titles, but it’s still cheeky. There wasn’t much else in the Direct that was worth noting in terms of it being terrible – it was more that there just wasn’t very much that was truly exciting. It was, however, hilarious to see Nintendo actually try and persuade people that their App allowing ‘voice chat with friends while playing certain games’ is a genuine feature. Using your phone to talk to someone is not a feature of your service, Nintendo, it’s a feature of the fucking invention of the telephone.

EA – A Law Unto Themselves (and definitely not you)

Head on down to EA headquarters (make sure you wash the greed off your hands on the way out) and you’ll likely hear them blasting out some Judas Priest, because EA is breakin’ the law. They don’t even care either. Luckily, they’re only breaking the law in Belgium, and it’s only so they can keep gambling mechanics in their games, so at least they’re doing it for philanthropic reasons. The shareholders love it.

This week it was confirmed that the Belgian government is launching a criminal investigation into EA just deciding to ignore that silly little law about loot boxes being a form of illegal gambling, and keeping them in FIFA 18 and FIFA 19. It really says something when your level of greed outweighs not only your adherence to the law, but it actually outweighs that of Activision. Even those unscrupulous cads chose to follow the ruling and take them out of Overwatch. EA has less fucks to give, it seems.

Gaming News EA FIFA

The random nature of the cards in FUT could potentially mean you spend as much money trying to get Ronaldo as Juventus did

I suppose FUT packs, or whatever weaselly moniker EA gives to their FIFA loot boxes, are really the granddaddy of all in-game gambling. It disappointed me that they got away without scrutiny while the industry started to get pissed off with Mordor and Battlefront 2, and perhaps it’s this longevity that has EA sticking to their guns. Maybe they feel they’ve been around so long, they’re invincible at this point because nobody has made a fuss in the past.

EA themselves removed them from Battlefront 2 after a few weeks of fan backlash and a downvoted Reddit post, but FIFA ain’t letting go even when Johnny Law gets involved. I suppose the billions of dollars they make off the practice rules that decision, and probably ensures a pretty hefty legal team fighting this in court. I seriously hope they go in there with their excuse that FIFA coins or players can’t be exchanged for real world money, because we’ve all seen FUT coins on eBay before. Hell, there’s loads on there right now. Go on, EA, do it. I dare you.

We Can Take EA Down, I’ve Got Just the Guy

You know who would definitely take down EA CEO Andrew Wilson? Takayuki Yagami – the main protagonist in Project JUDGE, a new title in the Yakuza engine announced by Sega of America this week. In a nutshell, it’s Yakuza crossed with L.A. Noire (or maybe Phoenix Wright) and it looks fantastic. Seeing as it’s been developed in the Yakuza engine, the game will mix mystery-solving detective work with beating seven shades of shit out of scallywags, and that sounds like a good old time to me.

We got not one but two trailers for the game, scheduled for a 2019 release, this week – one for story, and one for gameplay. The story will almost certainly pack in the superb writing the Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios has become known for, but it’s the courtroom twist on the Yakuza formula that gets me in the mood for justice. Gameplay elements revealed in the trailer include tailing suspects and observing their behavior, donning disguises and lockpicking for infiltrations, sifting through clues on location, secretly taking photographs (including with a drone) of criminals for evidence, and I’d imagine much more. Yagami got moves, too.

Gaming News Project JUDGE

Fighting sequences look more balletic than ever, with spinning hurricanranas and nunchaku aplenty. Naturally, there will also be a suitable dose of mini game nonsense to top off the experience. The trailers made me laugh more than once, and that is all I need to prove I’m going to absolutely love this game. SEGA is knocking it out of the park so consistently right now with, dare I say it, not a loot box in sight.

Sekiro, Sekirooooo 

Speaking of hoping there are no lootboxes in sight, From Software released a pre-TGS trailer for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice this week, as the game continues to look more and more impressive with every new piece of footage. Seriously, Activision, please leave it alone.

The new enemies and bosses in the trailer look incredible, with a giant maiden-like figure wearing an Oni mask and a massive mutated albino ape sure to provide ample tests of our shinobi skills once we get our hands on the game come March 22nd. There’s not too much more to say about the trailer other than it looks beautiful and brutal, but if you want to read my thoughts based on the demo I played at Gamescom 2018, then knock yourself out. Spoiler: I bloody loved it.

Right, I’m off to try and get that platinum trophy in Marvel’s Spider-Man, and I’ll see you 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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