You Go, Big Guy! – This Week in Games

Welcome back, everyone! We had a busy week this past week; we had a review for EA and KOEI Tecmo‘s Wild Hearts go up earlier this week. Feel free to check it out! Sadly, it definitely got in the way of me being able to play a lot of Xenoblade Chronicles. But we’ve got some cool stuff to look forward to! This is gonna be a fun spring.

This is…

Like A Dragon: Ishin To Feature VShojo Cameo

So. VTubers! We’ve covered a few other collaborations between VTubers and video games in this column, from Inugami Korone’s voice being used for foley in Sonic Frontiers to the Hololive VTubers being made costumes in Among Us to last week’s news on the Nijisanji collab in Phantasy Star Online 2. While most of my time with VTubers revolves around one VTubers in particular, they hail from one of the newer agencies–the first American VTubers talent agency, VShojo. Started in 2020 by Justin “TheGunRun” Ignacio and adult VTubers Projekt Melody, VShojo and their talent have quickly established themselves in the VTubers space. They boast plenty of talent; all of their streamers had streamed to some extent before joining the agency. Because of their talent-first focus, many have even streamed under the same identity before and after joining. Including, quite famously, the subject of this story–a little pink cat…

This is Nyanners. Nyanners has been a figure on the internet in some capacity for about sixteen years. Getting her start as an amateur voice actress voicing off-color 4Chan memes on YouTube, Nyanners eventually broke into streaming and VTubing. She was part of VShojo’s starting line-up alongside IronMouse, Silvervale, Zentreya, and Projekt Melody and has set herself aside for inhuman dedication to some seriously Jerma-level bits. She’s appeared in concert with the beloved pioneering VTuber Kizuna Ai, she’s got her own Nendoroid–and she’s also a massive fan of the Yakuza games; nevermind her old videos featuring an instrumental of 24-hour Cinderella as her closer, her little ghost-cat mascot Goro is named after Yakuza-mainstay Goro Majima, the Dog of the Majima family. Ghost-Goro even has his namesake’s eyepatch. This has led to someone at SEGA deciding that Nyanners is to be inducted into Yakuza‘s hallowed halls as a cameo character; so now, the upcoming Like A Dragon: Ishin will feature Nyanners as an equippable Trooper Card. Using Nyanners lets you drain health from surrounding enemies (with the wisps of health looking like Nyanners’ pet Goro), which could make it an excellent asset for newbies and experts alike.

This is the part where I contemplate my navel about vaguely associated stuff. So! This isn’t the first time the Yakuza/Like A Dragon games feature wild cameos. The games have featured wild appearances from actors like Takeshi Kitano and Nana Katase to wrestlers like famed Kamen Rider-fan Hiroshi Tanahashi, all of whom loaned their real-life likenesses to their characters. Yakuza 6 also features LiveChat, where you can watch recorded real-life footage of ex-AV actress Anri Okita moonlighting as a streamer in exchange for your Super Chats. Extending a hand to a VTuber was just a natural course of action, especially since SEGA already worked with Hololive and Nijisanji. Nyanners’ fondness for Yakuza made her a natural, but it’s a shame Kiryu Coco isn’t around for this. A dragon girl who once worked for Hololive, Kiryu even received the nickname of “Kaichou” (“Chairman”) in honor of her balls-to-the-wall ladyboner for Yakuza protagonist Kiryu Kazuma. But with her retirement several years ago (I hate idol terminology in VTuber culture with a passion, I’ll be dead and buried before I say “graduation” or “oshi”), that dream is sadly gone. Even then–a bit of a shame SEGA didn’t spring for the two-for-one deal and bring VShojo’s Kson into the fray. Her shtick is being an actual yakuza member (she’s got the bosozoku to prove it), and her fans similarly refer to her as “Kamichou.” But I guess that’d be too obvious.

I’m still hoping my favorite VTuber gets their chance to cameo in a game in the future. But for now, you go, big guy. Way to make the Shinsegumi cringe.

While on the subject of Like A Dragon: Ishin, SEGA has also announced the Dragon of Dojima skin. Players who buy the Digital Deluxe game version can unlock Kiryu Kazuma’s trademark duds as an outfit in-game. It even appears in all of the cutscenes! Yakuza thrives off of bathos, even if it’s taking place in the Meiji era. This is the next best DLC you could get for this game. I wonder if Kiryu takes his shirt off to reveal his dragon tattoo…

“The Planet Is Dying, PowerWash Simulator!”

PowerWash Simulator is one of those games that’s taken streaming by storm. It’s totally an experience worth checking out on your own but also bizarrely captivating to see people go through. It’s all about the feel of it, man: the shush of water on concrete, positioning the spray just right to get into those nooks and crannies in the fences, seeing that perfect clean path cut through the caked-in grime on the pavement… it’s the perfect game to watch if your streamer of choice is, like, really good at nailing the “buddy on your couch” vibes.

Hey, you know what would be really fun to clean up? Shinra Electric Power Company.

A few weeks back, I made a minor blurb about Croft Manor from Tomb Raider being made as DLC for PowerWash Simulator. Square Enix, apparently, wasn’t done tossing more weird levels at the game because now there’s going to be a whole pack of Final Fantasy VII-themed DLC! Releasing on March 2nd for all versions of PowerWash Simulator, absolutely for free, the pack includes five themed levels for fans. You can clean up Tifa’s Seventh Heaven bar, the Scorpion Sentinel, the Mako Energy Exhibit, the Airbuster, and the Shinra Hauler. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be any plans for music to be included (that I can tell), but the promo image sure amuses me. Seeing the PowerWash guy re-creating the iconic Final Fantasy VII cover is just amusing to look at.

Again, look forward to the Midgar DLC dropping on March 2nd. PowerWash Simulator is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. And remember: the DLC is totally free. Anyone who buys PowerWash Simulator will not only get the Midgar DLC but also the Croft Manor DLC.

Higurashi Crosses Over With That Other Early-00s Series About Killer Schoolgirls

Higurashi is one of those properties whose enduring popularity continues to astound me–but it’s not undeserved. Initially a series of visual novels written by Ryukishi07, their story takes place in a town in rural Japan in the 1980s where a gaggle of friends is beset by mystery and the encroaching effects of the supernatural. Their town has plenty of skeletons in its closet, from claims of cannibalism during the war to unresolved murders involving protesters of the construction of a local dam. But most important is the looming threat of Oyashiro-sama, a mysterious figure whose influence lingers in every corner of the town. Higurashi is creepy, mysterious, and an excellent source of Japanese horror. The original VNs are totally worth tracking down; you can even purchase them off of Steam. But it was the anime adaptation from the mid-00s that really thrust Higurashi into the limelight: the creepy story and engrossing mystery hooked people in, and if that wasn’t enough the girls did crazy faces and would sometimes kill each other in disturbing ways (the series is told in arcs where the events differ, so nothing is permanent). Yeah, Higurashi was responsible for the development of that “yandere” shtick that I’m thoroughly bored by. You’ve seen one girl with a dead-eyed smile waving a knife around, you’ve seen ’em all. All this to say, though: I’m pretty surprised that there’s a Higurashi mobile game in Japan. I shouldn’t, considering how huge Higurashi is, but I am. And what’s crazier is that it’s crossing over with another pillar of yandere!

School Days was also originally a VN, specifically an erotic one. You played as a pretty loathsome high-schooler who shmoozed around with his female acquaintances (and sometimes their siblings). The game was most notable for its animation: unlike other VNs, School Days took cues from the sadly defunct Viper games and told its story almost exclusively through animated sequences. Oh, it also had some gruesome Bad Ends for its protagonist–as it turns out, girls don’t like being toyed with. While some of the happier endings had the protagonist and his two main girls settling into a throuple (albeit one with kids on the way, unbeknownst to our hero), some of the worse ones had the teens killing each other in fits of jealousy. The eventual anime adaptation took the idea and ran with it. The series famously ended with Kotonoha cradling the male lead’s severed head in a boat, aimlessly drifting off into the ocean. There’s also the old “Nice Boat” meme that resulted from the original ending running afoul of a real-life axe murder that occurred at the time, necessitating the episode being replaced with a series of images set to relaxing music–one of which being a boat on a river. Fans in America responded to the image with “Nice Boat”; the rest is history.

With all this out of the way, it’s stunning to see these two old properties mix. The Higurashi mobile game will be featuring a School Days collab, complete with the leading ladies of each franchise swapping outfits with each other! It’s not the first time the Higurashi mobile game has crossed over with other properties; apparently, it’s also featured a collab with Clannad, of all things… and Senran Kagura.

Sadly, the Higurashi mobile game isn’t available in the US, so all we can do is download the PNGs of each character in their cosplay. But that’s not as bad a fate as having to roll the gacha for them, right?

Super Mario Bros Movie Makes Plea For Nostalgia

Oh hey, Illumination Studios is about to unleash that Super Mario Bros movie that did a thing that nobody liked and cast Chris Pratt in the starring role instead of Charles Martinet, longtime voice of Mario for over twenty-five years. It’s still slated for an April 7th release, but ahead of it all, Illumination has made a rather cloying appeal to nostalgia for the 40-somethings that grew up in the early days of Mario mania: they made a rap video.

Amid the grainy VHS audio and video, this would-be made-for-public-access-television commercial does like that old Legend of Zelda: Link Between Worlds trailer that referenced the older Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past music video and references an old rap song attached to the Mario Bros–specifically, the old intro to the Super Mario Bros Super-Show that aired way back in 1989. The Super Show was pretty foundational to a ton of early Mario fans–it established Mario and Luigi as a pair of blue-collar plumbers from Brooklyn (a detail that seemingly was forgotten about them once Martinet took over as Mario’s voice). It featured Princess Peach and Bowser in recurring roles that solidified their characterization. However, this was way back when their names were still “Princess Toadstool” and “King Koopa.” Also, the Super Show claimed that the Koopalings were Bowser’s children, which was famously retconned a few years back into just Bowser Jr. being his kid. That caused a tempest in a teapot, for sure. Also, in an even more famous twist, famed wrestler “Captain” Lou Albano played Mario in the live-action segments, bringing with him his famed real-life friend Cindy Lauper. Look, man, it was the late 80s–tons of Mario lore still didn’t exist yet, so the most they could do with the guy was shove him into episodes that randomly referenced Westerns or what have you.

Anyway, the commercial. It’s cute and loaded with a lot of honest charm. It’s the kind of thing some 40-something at Illumination no doubt is very, very proud they managed to sneak past some suit who is convinced that what the kids want is Mario flossing to Bad Bunny (they’re probably saving that for the ending dance party for the movie). Some folks claim that the woman in the commercial is voiced by Jeannie Elias, who voiced Princess Peach née Toadstool in the Super Show–but there’s been no confirmation of the fact. Honestly, if they dug out one of the last remaining members of the original show’s voice cast for this commercial, it just makes me wonder why they did the thing nobody liked and cast Pratt as Mario, but oh well.

The commercial also dropped a phone number, and surprisingly it works. Calling up the number gives you a clip of Charlie Day as Luigi, urging you to leave a message and cryptically referencing how they’ll work on any house or “mansion.” (Again: they really wanna bury Pratt’s role if they’re making Charlie Day pick up the slack like this.) There’s also a genuinely charming website attached to the commercial. There are tons of tiny details like images on the website playing sound effects if you click on them–mostly stuff like the old coin sound effect or the warp pipe sound from the Mario Bros games. Also, the phone number at the top plays a version of the GameCube start-up jingle that sounds like a cell phone ringtone. Cute stuff! And the deep cuts continue–the testimonials at the bottom reference “Foreman Spike,” the Mario Bros. antagonist in the NES game Wrecking Crew. The Mario references will continue until morale improves. It’s just a few weeks now until the movie comes out.

Atelier Marie To Be Released In America For The First Time

I’m surprised people didn’t call me out for this the other week because I decidedly didn’t mention it. But: as is common, last week’s Nintendo Direct featured a Japanese-exclusive announcement: a port of Atelier Marie, the first game in the Atelier series that gave us countless lovely cozy JRPG adventures that eventually led to fan-favorites Atelier Sophie and Atelier Ryza. I didn’t mention it because it was only in the Japanese Direct.

… So the very next day, after the deadline for the column, they announced the game was coming to the US. Because of course.

Much like its descendants, Atelier Marie emphasizes a cozy, easy-going world with low-stakes conflicts. The poster of the game proudly declares, “I’m done saving the world!”. The games also have a running theme of casting women in the lead roles–in over 20 years, only six of the games feature male leads. For now, details are sparse on the title. We don’t even have an English trailer. The most I can gather with my limited Japanese from the trailer is that the remake will allow for the option of using a rearranged OST or the original soundtrack. Past that, we’ll have to wait for further updates on the title during the Atelier Anniversary stream on Monday, commemorating both the franchise‘s 25th anniversary as well as Atelier Ryza‘s fourth anniversary. Yuri Noguchi and Hitomi Owada, the voices behind Ryza and Klaudia, respectively, will host the stream. Just in time for Atelier Ryza 3‘s release this next month! I look forward to bringing you guys more news about this title.

Metroid Prime Remastered Doesn’t Credit Original Dev Team

That Metroid Prime remaster is, by all accounts, phenomenal. For anyone holding out for the physical release, we’re in for a real treat. I wanna give a quick salute to one of our readers, Wolf10, for going through the effort of breaking down the surface-level visual updates the remaster gives us. He just skims the surface, but it’s a lot! The developers that worked on that remaster deserve a lot of love for their effort, but uh… so does the original dev team from Retro Studios.

As many have discovered by now via playing the remaster, the credits to Metroid Prime don’t list the original Metroid Prime dev team. Some quick text references the original team, but that’s about it. A video game pulls a “credit to the original artist.” By and large, this has been received rather poorly by the game-playing audience, be they people with experience in the industry or just people who’ve played Metroid Prime. And nobody can really explain why this was done. Some replies in that thread have brought up their own experiences in game development where they underline always crediting the original dev team for whatever game they remake/remaster, even if it means the credits are half an hour long (as with the Sonic Colors port). One reply goes so far as to point out that their team would even credit the entirety of the original Quake because they use its engine.

Jack Mathews, one of the developers who worked on the original Metroid Prime, called the practice “a travesty”, and I’m inclined to agree. Much ado has been done lately about properly crediting translators and editors in manga localization; this is along the same lines. It’s heartbreaking that the hard work of so many of the original developers is glossed over in this manner, especially since this is ultimately a remaster–so much of this game is built upon the scaffolding of the original Metroid Prime. This game is well-received because of how much of a classic the original Metroid Prime is. Hopefully, this will be corrected in the upcoming weeks leading up to Metroid Prime Remastered‘s physical release.

Let’s wrap up with some quick tidbits:

  • Dragon Ball: The Breakers will have entered its second season this February 16th. Players can now acquire Giant Ape Vegeta as a Raider or Chi-Chi and Yajirobe as Survivors.
  • Fan-favorite otome game Charade Maniacs is set to receive a US release this October 27th! Players can even look forward to a special-edition physical release (as well as a standard-edition release). More to follow.
  • That’ll do it for this week. Please look forward to our coverage of Atelier Ryza 3 in the next few days! I’m a Johnny-come-lately for the Atelier games, but with how famous she’s gotten among fans, it’ll be sad to send Ryza off. I struggled with making a thumbnail for this week’s column, if not because of time because I couldn’t figure on a subject. Neco-Arc re-streaming a Nyanners stream? Nyanners’s head on Kiryu’s buff bod? There was way too much to work through and not enough time. And again: thanks to all of you guys for your comments in the forums. A few of you guys have a lot of insightful stuff to share, some of which have been really helpful to me. Thanks for being such a great audience. I say it a lot, but I really appreciate you guys a ton. Be good to each other, I’ll see you in seven.

    This Week In Games! is written from idyllic Portland by Jean-Karlo Lemus. When not collaborating with AnimeNewsNetwork, Jean-Karlo can be found playing JRPGs, eating popcorn, watching v-tubers and tokusatsu, and trying as hard as he can to be as inconspicuous as possible on his Twitter @mouse_inhouse.

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