Fall has always been the biggest season of the year for gaming, with the most-anticipated titles seeing a pre-Christmas release, but this has only been amplified in 2020 with the upcoming launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X. With tentpole launch titles for these new systems, major localizations in the Yakuza and The Legend of Heroes series and more, there are a large number of Japanese games being released over the next few months. Summer was already filled with exciting gaming releases, but with JRPGs, action games and everything in between, there’s plenty still to come before 2020 is over.
With that, here’s Otaquest’s official round-up of the upcoming major Japanese gaming releases of fall 2020.
Super Mario Bros. 35
The first major Japanese gaming release of fall 2020 is not only available to play right now, it’s free (provided you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription).
Super Mario 35 takes the unlikely success of Tetris 99 and the 1-vs-all twist on the classic Tetris gameplay and implants it into the iconic side-scrolling levels of the original Super Mario Bros on NES. In the game, players need to be the last one to die in a game of Super Mario Bros, but this is no ordinary speedrun. By collecting coins or defeating enemies in the level, they can send these enemies to disrupt another person’s progress or use their coins to gain an extra power-up that can give them the edge over other players. Considering how recognizable the levels of Super Mario Bros are, it’s impressive to see a new experience being crafted from the levels of this 35-year-old game.
Super Mario 35 is available now on Nintendo Switch for free for all Nintendo Switch Online members. However, the game will only be available until March 31st, after which the game will be delisted from the Nintendo eShop and no longer function.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit
Sticking on the theme of Mario (it IS his 35th anniversary after all), this month also sees the release of a brand new entry into the Mario Kart series, albeit one which is a bit different to titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and other, older entries into the franchise.
Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit was announced during the special Mario 35th Anniversary Direct as an AR Mario Kart game utilizing both the Nintendo Switch and a real-life remote-controlled Mario Kart. To play the game, players first need to set out the included gates on the floor around them and drive their kart through each of them to create a course. From there, players can use the Nintendo Switch to drive around their newly-constructed track against virtual opponents, thanks to the in-built camera attached to the kart. Items can be fired and used as normal, with real-world implications if the player is hit (the kart will speed up with a mushroom and come to a stop if it slips on a banana). You can even race against others provided they also have a copy of the game to hand.
Considering it includes a remote-controlled Mario Kart it unsurprisingly doesn’t come cheap, but for families or anyone with the space to utilize it, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit looks to be a fun, unique experience in the Mario Kart series. The game will release in both Mario and Luigi variants for Nintendo Switch on October 16th.
Pokémon Sword and Shield: The Crown Tundra
Nintendo has a few major new gaming releases set for fall 2020. Joining this pair of Mario titles is the latest DLC pack for Pokémon Sword and Shield, which recently got a blow out of information earlier this week.
The Crown Tundra will make up the second part of the Pokémon Sword and Shield Expansion Pass following the release of the Isle of Armor earlier this year. In this DLC, players will be sent into the frozen wastelands of the Crown Tundra on an expedition under the watchful eye of Peony, trying to discover what they can in this intimidating wilderness. Players will have the ability to catch every legendary Pokémon from previous entries of the series through Dynamax Adventures, which is going to a major appeal of the DLC for many people.
However, alongside this and the adventure in the Crown Tundra, completing the adventure will allow access to the Galarian Star Tournament, an all-star doubles tournament featuring all characters from the game and both DLC packs, providing players an opportunity to see these players in a new light.
Players will gain access to The Crown Tundra on October 22nd provided they have purchased the DLC. Players will also be able to purchase a special physical release of Pokémon Sword and Shield featuring the Expansion Pass included on the cartridge on November 6th.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
One of the biggest new Japanese gaming localizations of fall 2020 would undoubtedly be the final entry in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series, Trails of Cold Steel IV.
This Falcon-developed JRPG series has developed a small yet passionate fanbase over the years, partially thanks to the massive levels of details and large scale of these games. Entries into the series regularly clock in large-scale 100-hour adventures, and this one is no different. Trails of Cold Steel IV will bring an end to the Trails of Cold Steel series and continue the story of previous entries, taking place 2 weeks after the final battle of Trails of Cold Steel III. The same turn-based gameplay of that title will also make a return here, although modifications of certain areas of the battle system like the Order and Break systems are present.
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV will release on PS4 on October 27th. Releases for Nintendo Switch and PC are planned, but they won’t arrive until 2021.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe
To cap off a busy month for Nintendo in October, Pikmin 3 Deluxe, an expanded port of the most recent entry in the Pikmin series, will make its debut on Nintendo Switch at the very end of the month.
In Pikmin 3, players returned to the planet of PNF-404 as three Koppaite captains, Alph, Brittany and Charlie, are sent to the planet to cultivate plant seeds that can save their home planet. They each get separated from one another after crash-landing on the planet and call upon the Pikmin who live there to help them on their mission and craft a way home. In this deluxe edition release, new features such as a greater range of difficulty levels that can relax time restrictions and add hints are included, as are all DLC stages from the original Wii U release alongside new side-story missions featuring Olimar and Louie. And of course, the much-loved Piklopedia has returned for this new release.
Pikmin 3 Deluxe will cap off a busy October for Nintendo when it releases on Nintendo Switch on October 30th.
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition
Out of every gaming release for the fall 2020 season, none are as big as the launch of Sony and Microsoft’s next-generation hardware. With new releases for these systems being short on the ground in 2020, much of the appeal of this system in the early days of their lifespan will be as a home for next-generation remasters and backwards compatibility with previous consoles. Of these, the rerelease of Devil May Cry 5 under the monicker of ‘special edition’ is one of the more intriguing remasters to release alongside the console.
This new release will include all content from the original Devil May Cry 5 release on PS4 and Xbox One, all while taking advantage of next-generation rendering techniques like ray-tracing and more realistic lighting. Thanks to the greater power of these next-generation consoles, the game can take advantage of these techniques while rendering at either 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps. The option to play the game at 120fps is also an option with a compatible display. In terms of gameplay, Vergil has been included as a playable character in this new release, while players also have the option to choose from Turbo Mode, with its ability to crank up gameplay to play at 1.2x the normal speed, and a new, even harder difficulty mode known as Legendary Dark Knight Difficulty.
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition will release as a digital-only title alongside the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on November 12th, with a physical release to come at a later date.
Tetris Effect: Connected
Tetris Effect when it was originally released on PS4 in 2018 wowed audiences with its unique, zen-like take on the classic Tetris formula. The game was praised for how it blended music and gameplay to create a more meditative take on the series, and this release was soon followed by a port of the game to PC roughly 9 months later in 2019. After being announced at the Xbox Games Showcase in July of this year, a new version of the title known as Tetris Effect: Connected will release as a launch title on Xbox Series X, with an Xbox One release also planned.
What makes Tetris Effect: Connected different from previous versions of the title comes from its name. This version brings with it a new multiplayer mode that allows up to 3 players to take part in co-operative and competitive multiplayer in both local and online settings, with cross-play enabled between Xbox One, Xbox Series X and PC. This is on top of all the single-player modes from the original release.
Tetris Effect: Connected will be available on November 10th for Xbox One and Xbox Series X either as a standalone purchase or via Xbox Game Pass. This new multiplayer mode will be made available for other platforms as a free update at a later date.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Also joining next-generation hardware at launch is the English release of Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon is a reinvention of the series formula, replacing its fiction Kamurocho setting for Isezaki Ijincho, based on Isezakicho in Yokohama. Kazuma Kiryu, the long-time series protagonist, has been sidelined in place of Ichiban Kasuga, while the gameplay has been switched up as well. The open-world exploration and mini-games of previous entries return, but action brawling has been replaced by turn-based RPG battling. The story of Ichiban Kasuga’s journey of revenge after taking the fall for a crime he didn’t commit by the Tojo Clan only to be tossed aside and forgotten still retains the tone and personality of previous entries, but with a new cast and gameplay mechanics, this stands apart from other entries in the series as an entirely new experience.
Following the game’s Japanese release on PS4 in January, Yakuza: Like a Dragon will release as a launch title on Xbox Series X alongside versions of the title on Xbox One, PC and PS4. A PS5 release of the title is set for March 2nd 2021.
Although Demon’s Souls is being developed by Bluepoint Studios in the US, this remake of From Software’s iconic Demon’s Souls game that acted as a precursor to the Dark Souls series and kickstarted an entire genre of Souls-like adventures is one of the biggest new gaming releases of fall 2020.
This remake reimagines the original Demon’s Souls on PS3 from the ground up, rebuilding environments of the cursed land of Boletaria from scratch for next-generation hardware. The team behind it stated their intent to build upon the original while remaining true to its vision, achieving visual effects that simply weren’t possible on original hardware.
Demon’s Souls will release as a PS5 launch title on November 12th.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory
Moving away from next-generation hardware, the latest entry in the Kingdom Hearts series will also be released in November.
Unlike other RPG-heavy entries in the series, Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory is a rhythm game developed by indieszero, the same team behind the Final Fantasy Theatrhythm games on Nintendo 3DS. Similarities can be found between Theatrhythm and Melody of Memory too, with the blending of action and rhythm games a common feature between the two titles. Of course, this is Kingdom Hearts, meaning this is far more than just a standard rhythm action game. The main mode of this title is called World Tour, which is a story campaign centered on Kairi following the events of Kingdom Hearts III.
In this mode, playing through the over 130 music tracks included in the game is contextualized as a journey through Kairi’s memories to help find Sora, with the story elements of this title being touted as influential to the direction of future entries in the series. Because of course, a Kingdom Hearts rhythm game must be made canon to the franchise’s ever-expanding lore.
A multiplayer mode is also included.
Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory will release on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One on November 13th.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
As the wait for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 continues, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will attempt to plug that gap with a sequel to the successful Wii U, New Nintendo 3DS and Switch musou-style action original.
Unlike the all-star collaborative adventure that was Hyrule Warriors, Age of Calamity is a story-driven game utilizing the same formula set within the timeline of the original Breath of the Wild. The events of Breath of the Wild are kickstarted by the rise of Calamity Ganon and his forces, who ultimately succeed in taking over Hyrule and defeating Link and the Champions 100 years before the start of your adventure. This new Hyrule Warriors title seeks to dive deeper into Calamity Ganon’s attack on Hyrule and allow players to take control of Link, the Champions and other characters as they fight back against Ganon’s forces.
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity will launch on Nintendo Switch on November 20th.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age first launched on Nintendo 3DS and PS4 in Japan in July 2017 before eventually making its way internationally in September of the following year for PS4 and PC, with the 3DS release remaining a Japanese exclusive. There were some unique features in the Nintendo 3DS release that other versions of the title didn’t receive, such as a classic mode that allowed players to play a 16-bit version of the game. These features eventually made their way into a special definitive edition of the game that was released on Nintendo Switch in 2019, with this version of the game seeing a release on other platforms later this year.
Rather than making the Definitive Edition features available as DLC to owners of the original title, this version of the game will be a full port of the Nintendo Switch release to other systems. All of the additional features of Dragon Quest XI S such as additional story elements and the inclusion of the 16-bit graphical mode are included in this rerelease, with the substantial additional story elements helping to justify the ‘Definitive Edition’ monicker the game has been given.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition will be released on PS4, Xbox One and PC on December 4th.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2
One of the final major Japanese gaming releases of the fall season is a sequel to one of the more unlikely yet somehow successful puzzle game collaborations of recent memory.
Puyo Puyo Tetris was first released back in 2014 as an unlikely combination of both Tetris and Puyo Puyo. While each involves falling objects that must be cleared away in order to earn points, that’s about where the similarities between the two series end, yet somehow this blending of puzzle games was not only fun, but a sales success. A sequel to ‘the ultimate puzzle crossover’ game titled Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 was announced during the August 26th Nintendo Direct Mini, promising a new Adventure Mode and Skill Battles alongside an improved online mode and more returning features from the game’s original release.
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 will be released on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X on December 8th, with a PS5 release planned for later that month and a PC release in early 2021.
Collection of SaGa: Final Fantasy Legend
Rounding out our preview of the biggest Japanese gaming releases of fall 2020 is Collection of SaGa: Final Fantasy Legend, an upcoming rerelease of the three classic Game Boy JRPGs in one package.
In order to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the SaGa series, Collection of SaGa: Final Fantasy Legend brings the first 3 SaGa titles, released internationally as Final Fantasy Legend I, II and III, to Nintendo Switch in one digital package. These rereleases will also bring with them certain enhancements such as quick save/load, character speed boosts, adjustable screen magnification, a Game Boy display mode that mirrors the original Game Boy layout on the Nintendo Switch screen, new commemorative music and illustrations and 8 in-game wallpapers.
Collection of SaGa: Final Fantasy Legend will release as a digital-only package on Nintendo Switch on December 15th.
Whether you’re a fan of sprawling JRPGs or fast-paced action, between several exciting game localizations and the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X there is something for everyone. Honestly, with how many new games are being released in the coming months, it may be a question of asking which games you can live without, as opposed to which games catch your eye, as I’m not sure there’s enough time to play all the exciting new fall gaming releases before 2020 comes to a close.