It’s been a week of games announcements direct from Los Angeles, and here at OTAQUEST, we’ve been working to cover some of the most exciting news regarding the Japanese games industry. But since there were so many stories coming out each day, I thought it was worth taking the time to reflect on some of the most groundbreaking announcements to come from both the lead-up and the E3 event.
Final Fantasy VII: Remake
One of the biggest games that fans were looking forward to was the remake to 1995’s Final Fantasy VII. The game will be reinventing both the visual style and the gameplay mechanics to retell this legendary story. During the PlayStation State of Play livestream a month back, we got a teaser trailer and a promise of more information at E3. During the Final Fantasy VII Symphonic Reunion concert (which ran parallel to E3), fans were shown yet another trailer, this time featuring some boss battle gameplay.
But as producer Yoshinori Kitase said at the Square Enix E3 conference, that was only a short version of what they had to show. In fact, they’d only shown a quarter of what they really wanted to reveal.
This new trailer gave fans their first look at the revamped version of Tifa, as well as a sneak peek at some of the environments and scenarios we’ll experience. This includes battles on motorbikes, the appearance of many huge robotic foes, and a more vivid look at everyday life in Midgar. The trailer also announced the release date for the first part of the game, March 3rd, 2020. So far, the team isn’t sure about how many parts there will be.
Trials of Mana
However, Final Fantasy VII isn’t the only game receiving a remake. Whilst both Secret of Mana and Dawn of Mana received western releases, Trials of Mana, the second part of the trilogy, never got an overseas release. This is something that Square Enix is aiming to remedy. During the Nintendo Direct stream, they announced both a 3D remake for Trials of Mana launching in early 2020, and released the original Mana trilogy as The Mana Collection that very same day.
The game will be available with both Japanese and English voiceover, and you can see live gameplay from Nintendo Treehouse.
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
Whilst not a remake, Final Fantasy VIII is looking better than ever! Many fans were concerned that, during the announcements of various Final Fantasy games being ported or remastered, there seemed to be no news about the eighth release in the series. But whatever challenges troubled them at the time, Square Enix is now ready to launch Final Fantasy VIII again later this year. The models and textures have definitely been cleaned up and it seems to stack up to the high level of quality in the Final Fantasy X/X2 remasters.
Kingdom Hearts III Re:Mind DLC
Whilst it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing any more Disney worlds, Kingdom Hearts III‘s upcoming DLC will expand on the final chapters of the game. Not many details have been given, but it looks like you’ll be able to play as Aqua and Roxas during their fights with the various forms of Xehanort and you’ll see some more context for the reveal in the post-credits sequence regarding Luxus and the Master of Masters. It’s definitely going to answer some unanswered questions, but hopefully, there’s a decent chunk of fun battles to get through as well.
Dragon Quest XI S – Definitive Edition
I really wish I had another 100 hours in me to replay the legendary Dragon Quest XI on Switch. The game marks one of the most rewarding feelings I’ve had in a video game after beating the final boss in a true story of adventure. But for the Switch version, all I can do is hope that others have just as much of a rewarding time as I did. The Definitive Edition launches this Fall and includes new story content, the ability to travel to old Dragon Quest worlds and an orchestral soundtrack.
And to play it, those in Japan can now preorder the Dragon Quest Slime Nintendo Switch controller. The controller looks like a normal statue of a Dragon Quest Slime, but when turned over, reveals a useable control pad. It’s absolutely ridiculous and not at all ergonomic, but for those (like me) that love a fun gimmick, it’s a great purchase.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
E3 started off with a series of live competitions. One for the upcoming Super Mario Maker 2, another for Splatoon 2, and an international clash between various Super Smash Bros. Ultimate teams from around the world. At the end of the livestream, director Masahiro Sakurai appeared to congratulate the winning team and announce that he would be revealing a new DLC character during the Nintendo Direct.
But in fact, that ended up being two characters. The first was The Hero, a character representing all Dragon Quest protagonists. This character can take the form of the protagonists of III, IV, VIII, and the Luminary from Dragon Quest XI. The trailer, created at 3D animation company Digital Frontier, shows the Luminary saving Link from several dark swordsmen.
We were then treated to gameplay of the Hero in action, taking down foes with the Sword of Light. The trailer also showed that he had a certain amount of MP that he could use on certain spells. We’ll have to wait for more info on how it all works.
The second character was the long-awaited Banjo-Kazooie, famous from the Nintendo 64 days. He appears in a trailer being welcomed by the characters of Donkey Kong Country, another one of Rare’s titles. Composer Grant Kirkhope returned to rearrange the Twist Mountain soundtrack for the trailer and the game. The British game developer Rare teamed up with Nintendo in the mid-90s to create several Donkey Kong titles as well as their own original properties from fighting games like Killer Instinct, to shooters like Perfect Dark.
However, even though they were a large part of the Nintendo 64’s success, Nintendo never bought the studio. Instead, Microsoft took the opportunity to propose a deal and acquire the team as a part of what is now known as Xbox Game Studios. The studio has since created popular titles like Viva Piñata and Sea of Thieves for Microsoft consoles. And now with Microsoft and Nintendo teaming up for Xbox Live for the Nintendo Switch and various cross-play options, Microsoft now joins Smash Bros. Ultimate‘s colossal copyright notice with Banjo-Kazooie.
Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
No title, no release date, no details, but an exciting announcement nonetheless. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild changed the way we thought about Zelda games and open-world titles as a whole. With a Game of the Year award under its belt, it’s no wonder that Nintendo also isn’t ready to go back to the old formula yet.
The trailer shows Link and a short-haired Zelda investigating underneath Hyrule Castle. Here, they find the original corpse of Ganondorf being reawakened to some creepy music. The game will be co-developed between Nintendo and Monolith Soft again, with Monolith Soft handling more aspects of production.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons
It certainly feels like a long time since the last main Animal Crossing title was launched for the 3DS in 2013. The series is known for its collection features and general catharsis when it comes to spending time with villagers, earning money, and decorating your home. Generally, an Animal Crossing game will start with you arriving at a new town, being introduced to some of the villagers and starting out with a small house which you must pay Tom Nook for.
However, New Horizons has you instead arriving onto an empty desert island where you can craft new items, build up your home from scratch, and invite animals to come and join you. The game was originally announced for 2019, but to maintain developer’s work-life balance, they’ve opted to release it on March 20th next year.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Until now, all of the information we knew about Fire Emblem: Three Houses was that you would play a teacher in a neutral land where you would teach members of three different factions. Through your lessons, you can sculpt your students into ideal warriors and have them develop certain skills.
However, the newest trailer reveals that there’s a lot more to expect from the game. At some point, there will be a time skip and the three nations will be at war. The relationships you formed and the training you did as a teacher will then affect your role in the war to come. It’ll be interesting to see what events led them to the point of all-out war.
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Tales of Arise
It looks like the Tales of series is finally going current-gen! Although both Tales of Zestiria and Tales of Berseria were both released on the PlayStation 4, they were never as visually complex as other current-gen RPGs due to them still having PlayStation 3 releases. The visuals for Tales of Arise look absolutely gorgeous and the gameplay looks fast and exciting. We’ll need an extended look to check if the world feels more populated than previous titles, but the currently released trailer is full of good signs. The game will release in 2020.
We had a very limited look at the next game from Hidetaka Miyazaki and From Software, but the surrounding details make Elden Ring seem all the more important. Most notably, the backstory and lore to this world were created with the help of A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R.R. Martin. Miyazaki was a fan of his novels and reached out to collaborate with him on a new project. The two of them had long chats about the plot of Elden Ring together and eventually formed something interesting.
For now, all we have is a pre-rendered CG trailer, but we can look forward to hearing more about this new dark fantasy story in the future. Initial leaks of the project mentioned that the game would be an open-world RPG with horse-riding mechanics.
Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot
The “Dragon Ball: Project Z Action RPG” finally has a real title! Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, developed at CyberConnect2 will retell the story of the Dragon Ball Z anime yet again. This time, players will be able to fly through the world, meeting characters and taking on both main and side quests. You’ll also be able to find minerals and other items to help you level up.
When you meet an enemy, the controls will switch and the battles appear just as fast-paced as the Xenoverse titles. Those who attended E3 had the chance to play a short demo of the game in action.
Ni no Kuni: Remastered
With the upcoming release of the Ni no Kuni film and continuing DLC releases for Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, it only makes sense that the original Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch would finally make its way to modern consoles. Whilst future releases in the series have involved anime creators who used to work for Ghibli, the original game was created in full collaboration with the studio when their production department was still active.
Whilst Level-5’s cutscenes in the sequel are appealing, nothing beats the genuine Studio Ghibli work in Ni no Kuni. The game will receive a graphical upgrade for release on Playstation 4 and PC, whilst the original title will be making its way to the Nintendo Switch. As a huge fan of the sequel, this is definitely a title that I’ll be picking up when it releases on September 20th.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
Shortly before E3 started, a new story trailer for Monster Hunter World‘s upcoming “Massive Expansion DLC” Iceborne was released, showing off the new Tigrex monster and some of the story surrounding the commission’s new adventures in these icy planes.
At E3 itself, Capcom took the opportunity to show fans live gameplay and displays from the upcoming expansion. Whilst we’ve seen gameplay before, this is the first time that we’ve seen it played live. Check out the Monster Hunter Youtube channel to see all the streams.
#E32019 is upon us!
Venture into the Capcom booth #2323 to be the first to play #Iceborne, take an epic photo with the mythical Velkhana… and this adorable Palico!
— Monster Hunter (@monsterhunter) June 11, 2019
Phantasy Star Online 2
I doubt anyone was ever expecting to see a Western release of Phantasy Star Online 2 announced in 2019. For fans of the classic online console RPG, this was about as surprising as a Half-Life 3 announcement would be. The game originally launched in Japan in 2012, so when the game launches in Spring 2020, North American fans will have a lot to catch up on.
Unfortunately, the team has yet to figure out a release solution for those in Europe, Middle East and Africa (and I imagine this would include Australia as well). Hopefully, these issues are fixed soon, so fans outside of North America won’t have to wait much longer either.
Sonic & Mario at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Sonic & Mario at the Olympic Games is just one of SEGA’s three upcoming Official Olympic Games titles, but it was the focus of their E3 presentation. At the center of their E3 booth was a huge rock climbing wall, one of the sports that will be featured in the game. Sport climbing is actually one of the new sports that will be featured at the real Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Other new Olympic sports that will feature in the game are surfing, skateboarding, and karate.
Many fans were enamored with the bright personality of creative director Ikumi Nakamura at the Bethesda E3 press conference, but her game GhostWire: Tokyo is anything but bright. The dark and intriguing trailer introduced the paranormal aspects of the game from Shinji Mikami’s Tango Gameworks. No gameplay has been shown, but it will be an action adventure title, rather than a survival horror like their previous The Evil Within games.
Even though it was just introduced with a pre-rendered trailer, the imagery and style made it clear that Nakamura has a distinct vision and a deep grasp of paranormal concepts and imagery. The animated transitions alone are enough to get interested.
Poor Shenmue III… long awaited for 14 years until its Kickstarter was first announced at E3 2015, steadily updated since then, and now just a few months from release, many of its followers have turned on it. This is because of a long-standing hatred of the Epic Games Store, an alternative to Steam on PC, which has offered developers better deals on their platform, particularly if they’re using Unreal Engine 4 to develop their games.
The newest trailer for the game introduces several new characters and locations, giving players an impression of how Shenmue has changed since the Dreamcast days. The controversy is a shame, and hopefully, it doesn’t affect chances of the series continuing.
Make sure to check out the OTAQUEST Games tab for all the announcements that I might have missed in this recap and look forward to our coverage of Tokyo Games Show later this year, for more looks at upcoming Japanese games.