Welcome back, everyone! It’s been a bit of a slow week in terms of news, but a busy week for your resident ANN column writer. We haven’t had much time to delve back into Xenoblade Chronicles 3, but we are working on a fun Doraemon-related project—hint-hint. Look forward to that one.
Before we begin this week’s column, I want to address something. Earlier this week, ANN was acquired by Kadokawa. Understandably, many people were concerned over what this would mean for ANN’s editorial, and rightfully so. For now, all I ask is that my readers trust me; I am blessed to have a very principled (and stubborn) editor and am myself very principled and stubborn. There isn’t enough money in the world to make me blow smoke up people’s butts over anything, and I’d rather my hands and fingers be run through a press before typing something other than my own words coming from my own voice.
And so it goes. In the name of the Binyot, the Zaibatsu, and the Holy Benny, this is…
Clock Tower Pop-Up Store To Open In Akihabara
This is one of those things I wish I had found for the column last week, given its spooky nature. It’s also one of those things I normally wouldn’t touch upon, given that it’s based in Japan and I can’t imagine folks would want to read about things they can’t exactly peruse themselves. But it’s quite interesting, and the ramifications are tantalizing.
Survival-horror fans will recognize the name Clock Tower, a series of horror games from Human Entertainment (and later bought by Sunsoft once Human Entertainment shuttered) that started on the Super Famicom. Starring a number of young women that must evade supernatural terrors (as well as the horrifying Scissorman), these games are part of the bedrock of the survival-horror genre. While the first game (starring the Jennifer Connelly-looking “Jennifer”) was a point-and-click adventure game styled after Dario Argento’s films and never released outside of Japan, the remaining games were—and they went on to be very influential indeed. The PS2 classic Demento, known in the US as Haunting Ground, is strongly considered by fans to be the spiritual successor to the Clock Tower legacy, as well as a game in desperate need of a port (seriously, used copies go for hundreds on eBay). Hifumi Kōno, director of the first Clock Tower, picked up on the “Crowdfunded Spiritual Successor” trend that a lot of Japanese creatives took to, and went and made his own successor in the form of NightCry. Currently, available on Steam and the PS Vita, it released to mixed reviews—which I think is the best praise any survival horror game can aspire to. You know a survival horror is good when it’s dripping with jank. (We respect tank controls in this house.)
『CLOCK TOWER 2』
『CLOCK TOWER GHOST HEAD』
2022/11/3 (木) ～ 11/23 (水)
クロックタワー in THE AKIHABARA CONTAiNERhttps://t.co/aISxQhYH21 pic.twitter.com/5nTppmf505
— THE AKIHABARA CONTAiNER (@TheAKBCTN_INDOR) October 28, 2022
While it’s been quite a while since the last actual Clock Tower game, Akihabara Container in Japan will be playing host to a Clock Tower-themed pop-up store. The store, lasting from November 3rd to November 23rd, will sell a variety of Clock Tower-themed goodies based off of the first two games: shirts, hoodies, pins, mugs, shot-glasses, alarm clocks and all other kinds of tchotchkes. A lot of the goods still have the original Jennifer’s face on them, too—I’d have expected there to be some kind of controversy with Jennifer Connelly suing over likeness matters, but Clock Tower has managed to squeak by without any kind of issue.
What strikes me as odd is that this doesn’t really correspond to any kind of significant event, as far as I can tell. It’s not really any kind of notable anniversary for the series; the original Clock Tower was released 27 years ago, and Clock Tower 3‘s 20th anniversary won’t be until December—and again, the merch is only for the first two games, so that leaves Clock Tower 3 out of the running. If my hopeful heart had its druthers, this would point to a Clock Tower revival—a new game. With the runaway success of the Resident Evil remakes, and Silent Hill‘s big comeback, I’d hazard we’re in a period of resurrection for survival horror games. Like a brood of cicadas emerging from the soil, screeching bloody murder, I’m hoping we see more and more survival horror games get a new lease on life on today’s slew of modern consoles. Dino Crisis, Siren, maybe even Rule of Rose…bring ’em back!
Like I said, part of why I don’t touch on these pop-ups too much is because it’s not like any of us can just take a stroll to Akihabara to pick up their Clock Tower merch. Maybe some of you are lucky enough to have buddies in Japan that’ll do you a solid and serve as a middle-man for ya, maybe some of you are friends with streamers who will surprise you with a survival horror care package loaded for bear with Scissorman merch and authentic conbini riceballs and FamiChiki. In the meantime: keep a slice of ham handy. Never know when you might need it.
Is this the kind of thing folks like reading? Do you guys want more stories like these? I try to keep things proximate, but I sometimes err too much on the side of caution. Let me know if you guys are cool with more news involving events in Japan.
Fatal Frame Also To Make A Return To America In 2023
Hey, speaking of another branch in the mighty tree that is survival horror games! Fatal Frame has long since been celebrated for its spookiness. In them, you play as a hapless young woman with a supernatural camera, defending yourself against all manner of terrifying Japanese ghosts by photographing them as you explore decrepit temples and haunted houses. The Fatal Frame series was absent in the US for a few years; the previous game, Maiden of Black Water, released in 2015 in the US for the Wii U to some consternation as it was only given a digital-only release (and some of the more-scandalous DLC outfits were replaced with outfits based off of Nintendo characters). It did, however, see a worldwide re-release on modern consoles in 2021 and can currently be bought on PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Steam, and Xbox. It’s a good time, if you’re not still shaking your fist at made-up enemies over lingerie and swimsuits.
Mask of the Lunar Eclipse promises to continue the series’ tradition of waifs traipsing dilapidated buildings photographing ghosts. Here, you play as a trio of women exploring an old sanatorium hoping to rediscover missing memories from their childhood.
Now, being a KOEI Tecmo deal, there’s DLC out the wazoo. We won’t see a physical release for Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse (unless Limited Run Games intervenes), but we will have a Digital Deluxe edition with an included digital art book and soundtrack. As a pre-order bonus, anyone who buys a copy before March 22nd of 2023 can unlock Marie Rose’s outfit from Dead or Alive, as well as a series of fox masks for each of the three main protagonists. Also, as an added bonus, having a Maiden of Black Water save file will unlock a “Camera Obscura Hat”, because it’s everyone’s god-given right to deflate a spooky game with silly headwear.
Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse is set for release in America this March 9th, 2023. Look forward to it on XBox, PS4/5, Steam, and Nintendo Switch! Man, if there’s ever a good time to bring back Siren…
“Blast Off And Strike The Evil Bydo Empire!” – R-Type Tactics I • II Cosmos Coming Soon To America!
I enjoy shooters a bunch, even if I’m not very good at them—hence why I’ve got the Rynex up there in my banner (seriously, Lightening Force: Quest for the Darkstar may well be the best SEGA Genesis shooter ever). But right up there alongside Lightening Force is the R-Type series, formerly of Irem Software Engineering and currently of Granzella Inc. This H.R. Giger-infused series of shooters has always had a phenomenal blend of rocking music, awesome starships, fun tactical gameplay with the fun Force modules, and really creepy levels. It was also bold enough to attempt a strategy spin-off courtesy of R-Type Tactics on the PSP. Taking the side-scrolling shooter and turning it into a side-scrolling turn-based strategy, R-Type Tactics was an ultimately tragic game that eventually forced players to watch as their beloved army of units was captured by the twisted Bydo empire—and desperately attempt to shoot their way back to Earth, unaware that they weren’t even human any longer. It eventually got a sequel, Operation: Bitter Chocolate, which never did release in the US. It’s been a good while since those games showed up, and it looks like NIS America agrees. So, only one thing to do!
Compiling both games, R-Type Tactics I • II Cosmos is coming to PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, and Steam this summer. There are plenty of updates to the original PSP games, ignoring the fact that the second one never came to the US. For starters, there’s online competitive play, because everyone knows the best strategy games are best played head-to-head. For another, these represent top-to-bottom remakes of the original titles, entirely remade in Unreal Engine 5. Y’know, just in case people started to get a bug in their hat about “paying full-price for PSP games”. I look forward to other shooters making a comeback; for now, we should wait patiently for this series to land home next summer.
A few months ago, we covered Elle Fanning being attached to Hideo Kojima‘s new (and currently-unnamed) project. The Kojima Productions website has added a frustrating new wrinkle to the project in the form of a hidden picture of actress Shioli Kutsuna. Unlike Fanning’s portrait, this one asks a new question: Where Am I?.
Kutsuna is best known as the voice of Lunafreya in the Japanese track for Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and Yukio in Deadpool 2. Other than that, there isn’t much else about this: it’s another actress Kojima is roping into his project that might be a movie, but most definitely is a game fueled by frustrated desires to become a filmmaker. It’s definitely a keen way to get attention, but I’m honestly a little tired of the smoke-and-mirrors ploy. There is, however, one further mystery; Shioli’s image on the Kojima Productions website quickly alternates with that of a black image featuring a tiny little tentacle creature. This is a pure-black image with the text, HOW COME?. So yeah. That sure is a puzzle we won’t know anything about until the game finally comes out. We’ll keep you guys posted.
One thing I’d hoped to see for a long time (particularly when I was knee-deep in my Tsukihime phase back in 2007) was any of the TYPE-MOON visual novels released in the US. For the most part, what we’ve seen instead is the massive explosion of the Fate series as an entire franchise, encapsulating several animated series, films, game series, and one of the biggest mobile games in the world. But it looks like we’re getting a return to Type-Moon‘s visual novel roots soon: this week gave us a bit of a bombshell in the form of Witch on the Holy Night‘s demo releasing on Playstation and Nintendo Switch!
Witch on the Holy Night is a bit of a departure for Type-Moon as it steps away from the usual Fate trappings in favor of serving as a Lunar Legend Tsukihime prequel (specifically, the Tsukihime remake that replaced Arcueid’s skirt with leggings and took away her hair-air vents). Taking place in 1989, the story centers aroundof the early adventures of Aoko Aozaki, the witch that would go on to give Shiki Tohno the glasses that help block his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception. In Tsukihime, Aoko is an enigmatic redhead whose witchcraft is pure subtlety. In Melty Blood, her witchcraft consists of establishing star mines and shooting lasers between them and going “Ayayaya~!”. Here, Aoko is still learning the basics of her magics, while also uncovering a mystery involving the town she’s living in and her older sister.
As mentioned earlier, this VN is supposed to tie into the Tsukihime remake more than it’s meant to tie into the original, so I imagine longtime TYPE-MOON fans might find a number of inconsistencies in Aoko’s revised backstory. As always, keep an open mind: Nasu’s not the guy he was twenty years ago. His writing has to have changed some in the years since. I mean… maybe he’s gotten over his obsession with shellfish?
Type-Moon also hosted a livestream on YouTube (sadly not translated), detailing more of their plans for Witch on the Holy Night. There will be a limited physical run of the game, in a surprising twist, which includes a fancy art book and a collector’s box. It’s wild to me that a Type-Moon visual novel is getting such lavish treatment, but it’s finally time given their reputation amongst fans. You can actually preorder them right now on Amazon dot com (in either Sony or Nintendo varieties). We also have a release date: January 27th, 2023.
While I have my issues with Nasu’s writing, I still have a soft-spot for Tsukihime (and for Arcueid), so a prequel for the cute redheaded-witch in mom jeans is an exciting prospect for me. And hopefully, it gives us some great new plot threads for the Tsukihime-side of the Nasu-universe. Now we just have to worry about the Bad Ends and the chances of them putting us face-to-face with… la criatura
Sure Hope You Didn’t Expect A Parasite Eve Revival, Because Square Enix Isn’t Doing That: Symbiogenesis Project Revealed
Man, remember Parasite Eve? Based off of a Japanese novel, it was dubbed by Square Enix (then just “Squaresoft“) as “The Cinematic RPG”, and it definitely fit the bill. A thrilling science fiction romp set in New York City starring Aya Brea, a police officer facing off against monstrous mutations caused by the mitochondria in people’s cells rebelling and mutating en masse, it’s regarded as one of the best JRPGs on the console—no mean feat when Square was batting aces in those days, given all the classic Final Fantasy games as well as their more-experimental fare like Xenogears and Chrono Cross. But to love Parasite Eve is to be brokenhearted over Parasite Eve; the sequel exchanged the fun RPG mechanics with more action-y shooting elements, as well as burdened the story with far too much cruft (a misfired attempt at capturing Resident Evil‘s lightning in a bottle), and the third Parasite Eve game… wasn’t. Titled The Third Birthday, it was on the PSP and just plain weird, if not for the ongoing clothing damage system that was actually incorporated as a mechanic, then for that horrid ending. The Third Birthday was literal character assassination towards Aya Brea to an extent that makes Metroid: Other M heave a sigh of relief—at least Other M didn’t have a prompt at the end forcing you to personally execute Aya Brea. When Square Enix took out a trademark on the term “Symbiogenesis” last month, fans were cautiously excited. On the one hand, a remake or port of Parasite Eve would be amazing. On the other hand, Square Enix already killed Aya Brea and they forced us to pull the trigger. Surely there would be a catch?
Turns out, there was. The bad news is, it’s all NFT’s.
Set to release in spring of next year, “Symbiogenesis” is primed to serve as a combination collectible art gallery, online community, and interactive story. Players’ NFTs will serve as their representative avatar as they engage and cooperate to solve mysteries and unlock more of the story. So, it’s Web3 trying to reinvent the wheel by virtue of an even less fun browser game that requires you to invest in digital smoke.
The good news is, this apparently has jack-all to do with Parasite Eve. While “Symbiogenesis” sounds like it’s primed for weird mitochondrial shenanigans, it’s just a presumptuous name for a project some overpaid exec came up with in Square Enix‘s continued attempts to shoehorn the crypto into projects. A statement on Businesswire claims that “The art can be used for social media profile pictures (PFP) and as a character in a story that takes place in an alternate world where the player can ‘untangle’ a mystery by completing missions that revolve around questions of the monopolization and distribution of resources”, which sounds about as fun as running face-first into a concrete wall.
Rest in peace, Aya Brea, you were too good for this miserable Earth.
Let’s wrap up with some quick tidbits:
And that’s all she wrote. Autumn is in full swing, Thanksgiving is around the corner, and Kumoricon approaches. I might go, I might not. I’ll keep you guys posted if you feel like chasing me down and seeing me decked out in weeb-y vtuber merch and my ita-bag. The Symbiogenesis news is a drag, but hey: Clock Tower, yeah? I hope stuff like that and the possible new Hideo Kojima project gives you guys something to be exited about. 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.