Y’know, I really feel for the people who have been working for four-odd years on Digimon Survive. This week, we finally got a release date for this constantly-delayed, incredibly cursed game. Digimon Survive will end its arduous journey to retail shelves worldwide on July 29th.
BUT THEN! Just a few hours later, Nintendo decided to surprise-drop a trailer of their own, for the highly-anticipated Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Guess when that game’s releasing?
Yeah, oof. The Digimon Survive team finally reaches the finish line, thinking that they’ll have the quiet summer month of July to themselves on the release calendar… only to be violently shoved out of the spotlight by Nintendo, who are launching Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on the same damn day. That has to be soul-crushing.
Speaking of Nintendo, we’re going to be talking about them a fair bit this week! And also Sega! It’ll be like gaming news in 1992, only with less in-your-face advertising and a lot more depressing stuff.
NINTENDO DID NOT HAVE THE BEST WEEK
Aside from “Surprise! Xenoblade!” the current news stories about Nintendo are not exactly great. For starters, it appears as though some in-development official Game Boy and Game Boy Advance emulators for the Switch leaked onto the internet. While there is an underground Switch homebrew scene that have been coding lots of stuff (including emulators), a lot of folks “in the know” about Nintendo‘s emulation development strongly believe that these leaked programs are the real deal.
The emulators, codenamed Sloop and Hiyoko, seem to bear the markings of NERD, the appropriately-acronymed programming team of Nintendo Europe Research and Development. NERD has done a lot of emulation-related work for both the Switch Online service and mini-consoles like the NES and SNES Mini, so them working on further console emulators makes sense. This leak may have tipped one of Nintendo‘s cards for the future of Switch Online, as the service does not yet support any Game Boy or GBA games. That wouldn’t be a terribly surprising development, but Nintendo does not like reveals like this, especially when console hackery is involved.
Anyhow, if you want to read more tech-y stuff about these two emulators speculating about their authenticity, here’s a tweet thread for you. Have fun!
Now for the less fun part: Nintendo‘s getting accused of union-busting.
NEWS: A worker says Nintendo of America violated their right to organize and has filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint against them and a hiring firm
Nintendo had largely avoided the industry’s labor scandals, but an investigation will followhttps://t.co/nDaIEBY25B
— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) April 19, 2022
According to this report from veteran journalist Stephen Totilo, an anonymous worker who worked with one of Nintendo of America‘s contractors (Aston Carter) filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing both firms of violating their employees’ rights to form a union through “concerted activities” and “coercive actions.” While specifics about these allegations aren’t known, they appear to have been serious enough to get the NLRB’s attention.
Regardless of whether or not Nintendo is engaging in union-busting activity, however, this story breaking drove quite a few former Nintendo fulltime and contract workers to talk publicly about their awful experiences there, corroborating claims of a hostile work environment.
As I’m no longer under their NDA anymore, I’ll happily sing like a damn canary to anyone interested.
And no, it’s not just NOA. It’s ALL Nintendo locations. Iwata himself frequently was there and saw this happening. We saw complaints from other locations constantly.
— 🍄 An Artsy Greeble 🍄🔞 (@_katerwaul_) April 19, 2022
we may have know each other — I worked in the ptd for ~5 years before quitting towards the tail end of the wii u era. it’s all true. shoutouts to mandatory two months unpaid time off every year, presumably to maintain contractor status and avoid giving us any benefits whatsoever
— caznode (@iamNode) April 19, 2022
Nintendo has, thus far, managed to evade much of the scrutiny and ire rightfully pointed at major companies like Activision-Blizzard, EA, and Ubisoft – but if these reports and the complaint are any indication, the house of Mario is definitely not the fun-n-games workplace most folks imagine. Nintendo has responded to the initial article, though they’re staying mum about the personal stories being shared on social media. Hopefully they’ll address these allegations… but, sadly, I doubt it. Sigh.
SEGA IS BRINGING BACK SONIC AND OTHER OLD FAVORITES… WITH CAVEATS
Hey, remember when it was rumored that Sega wasn’t speaking to the Sonic Mania development teams anymore? Yeah, well, it turns out that was a whole bunch of BS, because apparently many of those developers have been very busy working on a compilation package called Sonic Origins.
Sonic Origins contains all of the primary Genesis (and Sega-CD) Classic Sonic titles: Sonic 1, 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. These aren’t straight ROM-dump ports either, but remasters in line with 2011’s multiplatform Sonic CD re-release and later mobile versions of Sonic 1 and 2, featuring widescreen support, graphical enhancements, and, in the case of Sonic 2, a completely remade Hidden Palace Zone stage that can be seen in the trailer above. You’ll also be able to play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles across all of the games, and there will be new animated cutscenes, bonus challenges, galleries, sound players, all of that good stuff.
Headcannon Studios, who was heavily involved in Sonic Mania, is leading up development on Sonic Origins. Additionally, longtime Sonic hacker and fangame developer Stealth confirmed their involvement in the game through some tweets.
Notably, this is the first time since the PS2/Xbox/Gamecube generation that Sonic 3 & Knuckles is getting any sort of re-release. There has been speculation as to why Sonic 3 never got a remaster in the same vein as the other games – many folks believe that Michael Jackson and his producers were quietly involved with several of the games’ tracks, leading to legal issues in the current day. We’ll have to see if those are all ironed out now, or if this version of S3&K will be using alternative tracks from the recently discovered Sonic 3 prototype.
Anyhow, that’s great news! Everyone loves classic Sonic! Except there’s a catch: Sonic Origins has DLC. Very confusing DLC. And you might not get all of it even if you buy the premium-priced Digital Deluxe edition, either. Here’s a not-so-handy chart breaking it down:
Yeah, way to screw up what should have been a guaranteed slam dunk there, Sega! I can’t think of a game less suited to paid DLC than a Sonic compilation. But that’s not all Sega may be looking to aggressively monetize…
A report from Bloomberg is suggesting that Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi reboots/revivals might be in the cards. That should be great news, because those games were beloved by every Dreamcast owner on planet Earth, right? Well, the headline should be enough to instill some serious dread: Sega Reboots Crazy Taxi, Jet Set Radio to Chase Fortnite Riches.
Oh no. Ohhhhhh noooooooooooooooo
Yeah, remember that SUPER GAME initiative Sega‘s been talking about for a while? These reboots would be part of that program to “develop recurring revenue sources” and “build online communities around its software portfolio,” which is basically fancy corporate speak for “we’re making these games LIVE SERVICE now!” Hot damn, I can’t wait to gacha for Graffiti Souls and farm for part drops for my cab! Wait, no, I absolutely do not want to do that. Please stop.
Unfortunately, game company executives only see massive success stories like Fortnite and not the many, many online and live-service failures. I was hoping that the disastrous launch of Babylon’s Fall would make suits across the industry reconsider going all-in on live-service and microtransactions, but they’re either too blind or they’ve already committed a ton of money to these projects and are trapped in the sunk-cost fallacy. But maybe the negative online reactions might spur some change. It worked for the Sonic movie, after all!
(By the by, I recommend Nerdslayer Studios’ Death of a Game YouTube series to anyone interested in the hows and whys of online/live-service game failures. Watch a few of the vids and you’ll be hooked.)
- Hey, remember when Electronic Arts cancelled former Naughty Dog scribe Amy Hennig’s single-player Star Wars adventure game? They might be regretting that very soon, because…
- Owners of Guilty Gear Strive Season Pass 1 will be getting some new DLC next week in the form of “Another Story.” As the name implies, this is an additional story told from Ramlethal’s perspective and features many characters not seen in the main GG Strive story while giving you more of that sweet, sweet LORE.
- In recent “Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is a shitbag”-related news, there’s a new piece on the Wall Street Journal discussing how a former flame of his – who worked in a prominent position at Facebook (now Meta) – pressured a tabloid to not publish a story that one of his exes had a restraining order against him. It seems like Bobby just attracts other awful people to him, like how Stand users somehow attract other Stand users to them in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Woof, kind of a not-great week, huh? I mean, yeah, Xenoblade 3, but a lot of the other Nintendo news tempers the excitement for that considerably. What are your thoughts on the various leaks, stories, and DLC-ridden mishaps this week has brought us? Please do drop by the forums linked below – I’d like to hear your takes on everything that’s happening. Thanks for reading!