During today’s Pokemon Presents video event, The Pokemon Company announced remakes of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl for Nintendo Switch. Dubbed Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, the upcoming Switch games are “faithful remakes” of the original titles, which were first released on the DS back in 2007.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl are being developed by Ilca, which also worked on Pokemon Home. Ilca’s Yuichi Ueda and Game Freak’s Junichi Masuda–who directed the original games–will serve as the remakes’ directors.
Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl retain the original titles’ art style, featuring squat characters and buildings in the overworld reminiscent of the original DS games, but with more realistically proportioned characters during battle sequences. According to the presentation, “the sense of scale of the original games’ towns, and routes has been carefully preserved” in these remakes.
Diamond and Pearl are set in the Sinnoh region, where players begin their Pokemon adventure by choosing either Turtwig, Chimchar, or Piplup. Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl will launch worldwide simultaneously in late 2021.
Those weren’t the only new Pokemon games announced during the Pokemon Presents broadcast. The Pokemon Company also revealed a brand-new title called Pokemon Legends: Arceus, which likewise takes place in the Sinnoh region, albeit in ancient times. Pokemon Legends is more visually reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, featuring wide-open environments and no transitions to separate battle scenes.
The Pokemon Company showed a brand-new Pokemon game, Pokemon Legends Arceus, during its latest Pokemon Presents presentation, and it takes place in the Sinnoh region from Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. It’s unclear how the game will play, but its visuals appear to be more in line with Pokemon Sword and Shield.
Pokemon Legends Arceus features some of the classic characters from previous games, including Cyndaquil, Rowlet, and Oshawott. The environments appear to be more tranquil and quiet than the other games, but it’s unclear if it’s going to be using the same format as traditional Pokemon games. Your goal is to make Sinnoh’s first Pokedex, so it could be a little more mysterious than other Pokemon games, too.
The game takes place in the “Sinnoh of old,” with Pokemon living wildly and a harsher environment from the games set in more modern times. Arceus will, naturally, be the Legendary Pokemon, and you will be able to both catch and battle with Pokemon using a traditional move-based style. However, there will also be new “action and RPG elements” according to the official site. It appears there won’t be a Pokemon League and possibly not other trainers, either, due to the time in which it takes place.
Longtime Pokemon studio Game Freak is developing the game, aiming to “break new ground” for the Pokemon series. The game will launch worldwide in early 2022. Another two games, Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, are also on the way, and these are more faithful remakes of the original DS games. The next game we’ll likely get to play is New Pokemon Snap, which is arriving in just two months.
Are There Two Versions?
Only Pokemon Legends Arceus was announced during this part of the Pokemon Presents event, but there was one thing that made us think there could be a second Legends game. A tweet from the official Pokemon account mentioned “pre-makes.” That’s plural, suggesting another game could be in the works, but it hasn’t confirmed this yet.
Following 2019’s Creature in the Well, a dungeon crawler that utilizes pinball mechanics to inform its hack-‘n-slash combat, developer Flight School Studio is now making Stonefly. If I had to come up with an elevator pitch for the upcoming game, it would be Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty meets Neon Genesis Evangelion.
In Stonefly, you play as Annika Stonefly, a girl who lives on a planet where the human-like people are incredibly small. To survive and overcome the much larger insects that also live on the planet, folks pilot mechs.
“There’s a combination of inspiration for the mech designs–a lot of them are [styled after] bugs, but then they have the giant robot anime look too, Evangelion and Gundam are mixed in there for sure,” Flight School Studio creative director Adam Volker said.
The mechs behave a lot like their insect inspirations, nimbly jumping into the air and sprouting wings that allow them to momentarily hover or glide. They aren’t armed with traditional weapons, though. Since you’ll be going up against insects, the mechs possess weapons that cast lights that can distract or create gusts of wind that can shove away. Flight School Studio compares Stonefly’s combat to Super Smash Bros.–you’re not trying to kill enemies, you’re trying to utilize your mech’s tools to push them off the environment.
I got to see a short demo of Stonefly in action, in which Annika takes one of her father’s mechs on a joyride, loses it, vows to reclaim it, and falls into joining a caravan-looking group called the Acorn Corps. There wasn’t an opportunity to go hands-on with the game, but what I saw of the combat looks almost rhythmic. That’s about the only similarity I can spot when it comes to comparing the game to Creature in the Well, another game that encouraged players to fall into a regular rhythm-like flow to overcome its challenges. Stonefly is very different, however, in that its gameplay loop seems geared more towards exploration than combat.
“Although the game has a lot of kinetic, fun action gameplay, quite a bit of the game is very exploration-focused and very chill, listening to [Natureboy Flako’s] soundtrack with a beautiful landscape,” Volker said.
This exploration focus becomes apparent right away. Annika begins the game inheriting a run-down mech from the Acorn Corps, which you can slowly augment with upgrades over time. From a hub, you set out on missions–the game gives you a choice of completing new chapters in the story, exploring optional areas in search of resources, or pursuing challenging time-sensitive hunts. Instead of encouraging you to jump from area to area and complete each one once, Flight School Studios wants you to repeatedly return to previously traveled-to locations and utilize your expanded arsenal of abilities to explore further.
“And most of the encounters are all random,” Flight School Studios game director Bohdon Sayre added. “There are hand-made ones, like the boss encounters, and a couple moments during missions that we call ‘closed’ or ‘main’ encounters that have some hand-made sequencing. But there’s a lot of variety that you have if you’re playing the same area multiple times–you’ll encounter different combinations of things and that makes it fun to go back through.”
Like Creature in the Well, Stonefly seems to be very hands-off in teaching you how to play. I did see tutorial messages that inform the player how to perform basic actions like jumping, shoving, and gliding. But there’s no direction for how Stonefly’s systems interact with each other. That seems to be up for the player to figure out.
“We really wanted to make something that was much more of a sandbox–other references we have are incredible games like [The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild] and [Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain],” Sayre said. “I think what those games do really well is create sandboxes that you can play in. A lot of the bugs [in Stonefly] interact with each other–the bugs that dash really fast can stun other bugs for you if you can bait them into running into each other, interacting in interesting ways. So there’s a lot of bug-on-bug interactions.”
As I noted in GameSpot’s Creature in the Well review, this lack of explicit directions can be annoying when it comes to information that’s crucial for progression–it’s a lesson that Flight School Studios has seemingly taken to heart in Stonefly.
“We learned from [Creature in the Well] to make sure that we have enough time for players to learn what we’re trying to tell them,” Sayre said. “Our games are, as far as we know, very weird and unique and out there, and it’s important for us that we lay down some familiar and stable groundwork for players to latch onto as they journey into this unknown territory and try to figure out ‘What the heck am I doing here? What’s this weird mech thing that flies and doesn’t land and pushes bugs and stuff?’ So [Creature in the Well] definitely taught us a lot about pacing and how we space things out and how we can be efficient with what we’re creating, testing, and iterating.”
And that’s where I think I’m most intrigued by Stonefly. Like Sayre said, Flight School Studios makes weird games. Creature in the Well was so difficult to define that folks christened it a “pinbrawler,” a new genre that combines elements of pinball, dungeon crawling, and brawler hack-‘n-slash games. Stonefly is similarly difficult to pin down, and that’s intriguing. I haven’t really seen a game like it before, even if the pieces are all familiar–like Creature in the Well, Stonefly has a lot of The Legend of Zelda influences, for example.
“The uprooting of a bug, stunning it and flipping it over, is definitely inspired by [The Legend of Zelda games], like when you use [the Magic Hammer] to smash and flip over [Turtles],” Sayre said. “The whole game from the start was really centered around this concept of wind and the elements. Creature in the Well was all about electricity, and this game is intended to be all about wind. And there’s kind of a metaphor there as well. We liken the gameplay and mechanics to metaphorically represent the story; wind has this transience and this air of letting the past go and moving forward that’s really nice about it.”
Near the end of the Q&A, I asked Flight School Studios about accessibility, to which Sayre said, “There are a few options. Outside of the accessibility settings that Unreal has built in, there are a couple of gameplay things, ranging from a couple of minor stat tweaks that make life a little bit easier all the way to invincibility for if you just want to play through the game on basically story mode and don’t want to take damage and just have fun. We’re trying to make sure that a variety of different people can play the game if they want to get through the whole thing.”
We don’t have to wait long to check out Stonefly–the game is currently set to launch for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Switch, and PC in Summer 2021. Flight School Studios estimates the campaign will likely take about 10 hours, a bit longer than Creature in the Well. I, for one, will be checking it out. I enjoyed Creature in the Well, and Stonefly’s delightfully strange set-up intrigues me–though I do hope that I won’t have to contend with any monstrously large arachnids.
The PlayStation 5’s currently unused internal storage expansion slot will reportedly be enabled this summer. Its use will allow players to add additional space to a console that quickly fills up due to massive game sizes and updates.
According to Bloomberg, a firmware update will enable use of the M.2 SSD expansion slot by allowing the internal fans to run at a higher speed. Overheating concerns were a factor in not enabling the slot at launch, and you cannot play or store PS5 games on an external drive. These more-traditional external drives can be used for storing and playing PS4 games, but users (including me) have seen issues with the console hard-crashing with the drives plugged in.
You’ll want to wait until Sony releases a list of officially approved NVMe SSD units before you make a purchase, as they’re still quite expensive, and not every model will work. They need to be able to run as quickly as the permanent drive installed in the system, which is how the PS5 is able to load games so quickly, and they also need to physically fit in the slot. The Xbox Series X|S uses a similar drive, but it also comes with a proprietary expansion slot that was enabled on launch day.
Published by Annapurna Interactive, Maquette launches on March 2 and will be free for subscribers only on PS5. The first-person puzzle game is set in a recursive simulation where everything appears to be both small and large. Players manipulate objects in the world to solve puzzles.
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Remnant: From the Ashes is a co-op focused survival action game set in a post-apocalypse. While the story is rather bland, the challenging combat is a thrill thanks to great enemy design and well-designed bosses. Over the course of the adventure, you obtain new loot to upgrade your gear. Remnant supports three-player co-op, and it’s definitely designed to be played with friends. It’s playable on both PS4 and PS5.
It’s been a while since PSVR owners have received a new PlayStation Plus freebie. Farpoint, a first-person shooter set on an alien planet, will be free all throughout March. It features a single-player campaign and online multiplayer. Though Farpoint can be played with a DualShock 4 gamepad, it really hits its stride with the Aim controller.
The Pokemon franchise is turning 25 this year, and it celebrated on Friday with a Pokemon Presents video presentation. Fans were calling it a Pokemon Direct, and it delivered some big news, with both a remake and brand-new game revealed for Nintendo Switch. The Pokemon Presents has now wrapped up, and you can watch the 20-minute broadcast here. We’ve also put together a recap of the big announcements below, including the new Diamond/Pearl remakes and Pokemon Legends: Arceus.
POKEMON LEGENDS: ARCEUS
The biggest news closed out the show, and that is Pokemon Legends: Arceus. This is a brand-new Pokemon game for Nintendo Switch that takes place in the Sinnoh region and serves as a prequel of sorts, telling an earlier story than that of the Sinnoh we know. It’s set for release in 2022. It’s unclear if there will be two versions of the game, as is usual for new Pokemon releases.
DS games Pokemon Diamond and Pearl are getting remakes on Nintendo Switch. These games also take place in Sinnoh, and this is being positioned as a set of faithful remakes of the original titles. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl release in late 2021.
While not a brand-new announcement, we did get another look at the upcoming New Pokemon Snap for Nintendo Switch. You can watch the gameplay trailer above, which showcases the various regions, Pokemon, and mechanics at play in the game. It releases on April 30.
The presentation was a short one, focused on just a few games and a celebratory recap of the series’ past. We also know about a MOBA game called Pokemon Unite, but that didn’t make an appearance here, nor did the Detective Pikachu for Switch game that we know is coming.
The celebration will continue tomorrow with a virtual concert from Post Malone. The rapper and singer has already posted a cover he recorded for Hootie and the Blowfish’s hit song “Only Wanna Be With You.” We are not entirely sure why, but it slaps.
The recent red-band trailer for the upcoming Mortal Kombat movie has broken records. The promo was viewed more than 166 million times in its first week, making it the most-watched red-band trailer of all time.
As reported by Deadline, within four days, the Mortal Kombat trailer had overtaken the Logan and Deadpool 2 redband trailers, the previous record holders. In addition, the trailer trended in 52 YouTube markets and 28 Twitter markets.
Mortal Kombat will be released in theaters and hit HBO Max on April 16, where it will stay for a month before moving to regular on demand platforms. The movie is directed by Simon McQuoid and stars Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero, Josh Lawson as Kano, Sisi Stringer as Mileena, Max Huang as Kung Lao, Lewis Tan as Cole Young, and Chin Han as Shang Tsung. Check out GameSpot’s Mortal Kombat trailer breakdown here.
This is the third Mortal Kombat movie. The first was released in 1995 and was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who would go on to make the Resident Evil series. The movie made more than $120 million worldwide, but its 1997 sequel, Annihilation, was a disappointment by comparison with only $51 million. An internet video series called Mortal Kombat Legacy ran from 2011-2013, and there have been two animated movies.
In related news, it was announced this week that the highly-anticipated TV adaptation of the Halo game series will premiere on ViacomCBS’s new streaming platform Paramount+, rather than Showtime. The first footage from the series was also shown to investors, but unfortunately has not been made public yet.
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Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar-winning 2001 anime film Spirited Away is being adapted for the stage. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a theatrical version of the Studio Ghibli classic will premiere in Tokyo in February 2022.
The stage adaption of Spirited Away will be written and directed by theatre veteran John Caird, with the full cooperation of Studio Ghibli. Caird was the original director of the hugely successful Les Misérables in the ’80s, and his extensive credits include many years working for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre in the UK.
The movie follows the adventures of a 10-year-old girl named Chihiro as she enters as a strange and sometimes scary fantasy world heavily influenced by Japanese folklore. In a statement, Miyazaki’s producing partner Toshio Suzuki said, “We, Hayao and I, both liked John’s vision–he is a person we can trust. I am looking forward to seeing Chihiro grow on stage under his direction.”
Spirited Away was the sixth movie that Miyazaki made for Studio Ghibli, the company he founded in 1985 with director Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. It was a big international success, grossing more than $383.4 million at the worldwide box office and winning the Academy Award for best animated feature in 2002.
Miyazaki’s most recent film was 2013’s The Wind Rises. Although the director stated at the time that he would be retiring from filmmaking, in 2016, a new Miyazaki feature was announced. The film is titled How Do You Live?, but don’t expect to see it for some time. In May last year, Suzuki stated that 36 minutes of the hand-drawn film had been completed so far and it would be finished “in the next three years.”
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Unfortunately, there were no musical numbers this week in WandaVision, but we did get a whole lot of information about what’s actually been going on in Westview. Not only did we get a firsthand look at Wanda’s history–including her oft talked about but never before seen origin story back in Sokovia–we also got some actual insights into what Agatha Harkness has been doing as she’s been pulling “every evil string.”
Of course, there are still plenty of questions to consider as well–specifically about SWORD’s director Hayward who has been spinning some interesting lies all his own, the fate of Vision when (and if) the HEX ever does come down, and the future of Wanda’s kids who may or may not be in the same precarious boat as their “dad.” There’s also the issue of Wanda’s position in the MCU at large, the nature of her powers, and what they could mean for her moving forward.
With only one episode of the show remaining, let’s take a look at some of the biggest Easter Eggs, references, call-backs, and tiny details you should note this week.
1. Agatha’s Origins
In the comics, Agatha is immortal, dating as far back as ancient times through which she amassed several “origin stories,” the most prominent of which related back to–you guessed it–the Salem Witch Trials, which we see the MCU version of here.
2. Agatha’s cameo brooch
Agatha’s mother is wearing the cameo brooch we saw Agatha wear earlier in the show. Apparently she plucked it off her mother’s corpse, yikes.
3. “That accent really comes and goes”
WandaVision is nothing if not extremely self aware, especially when it comes to Wanda’s accent–this is the show’s second crack at how inconsistent it’s been. At least now we know why–she was raised on American TV.
4. Fake Pietro
It turns out there’s something else going on with Evan Peters coming to the MCU. It’s unclear whether or not he’s actually the Pietro from the Fox X-Men who made the jump from one universe to another, or just some guy Agatha pulled off the street. The real story of “Fietro” as Agatha explains, was a necessity, since the real Pietro’s corpse is on another continent and “full of holes.”
5. So Agatha isn’t behind Westview
Interestingly, despite the lyrical claims of it being “Agatha all along,” it turns out she wasn’t behind Westview–she’s just very invested in finding out what Wanda did to make Westview, even though Wanda herself is a little lost in that arena.
6. Wanda’s actual past
Until this moment, Wanda’s actual history within the MCU has been delivered only in dialogue–we’ve never actually seen her parents, or her home life. Notably, it does not seem like her father was secretly a metal-controlling mutant, so that may put a damper on even more X-Men conspiracy theories.
7. Wanda’s secret love of American TV
One big question we’ve had about Westview from the beginning is “why sitcoms? Why American TV?” This week gave us our answer–Wanda and her family used American TV to learn English and she’s secretly had a love of sitcoms all along, it just never came up.
8. Stark Industries
Of course, we already knew a Stark Industries missile landed in Wanda and Pietro’s apartment in Sokovia. That was revealed in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Seeing it happen, though, is pretty horrifying given the age of the two young Maximoffs. However, this was also the first hint at Wanda’s true powers.
9. “Probability hex”
Wanda’s comic book history is riddled with retcon after retcon, especially with regard to her powers and abilities. Sometimes she uses actual magic, sometimes she affects probability, sometimes she’s a full-on mutant. Agatha calls out her use of a “probability hex” here as a smooth way to fold some of those threads together.
10. Strucker’s experiments
It was never entirely clear what Baron Strucker and HYDRA actually did in their experiments on the twins, but now we know–Wanda was simply asked to touch the stone in Loki’s scepter–a task that sounds deceptively simple but apparently had a 100% fatality rate. This comes as no surprise; touching Infinity Stones rarely goes well for anyone (just ask any of the HYDRA goons who interacted with the Tesseract back in Captain America: The First Avenger).
11. The Mind Stone
It’s easy to forget that Loki’s scepter was actually home to the yellow Mind Stone, hidden within the blue casing. The Mind Stone is, of course, the same stone that granted Vision his sentience when it combined with Tony’s JARVIS AI.
12. Wanda seeing her future self?
Wanda’s interaction with the Mind Stone does not go as planned. Not only does the real stone reveal itself to her, it comes with someone. We only get to see them in silhouette, but the shape of the costume and headdress certainly look like a version of the uniform Wanda herself has worn in the comics mixed with the uniform we’ve seen her wear in the MCU. Did the Mind Stone make Wanda see her future self?
13. Wanda and Vision’s Civil War era liaisons
This episode filled in a lot of gaps for the MCU’s past, including fleshing out some of the time Wanda and Vision spent getting to know one another before we saw them again in movies like Captain America: Civil War.
14. Breaking into SWORD
Much like we were previously led to believe, Wanda went to SWORD to collect Vision’s body and ultimately used her powers to break into the autopsy room where he was being dismantled. We saw footage of this in an earlier episode, though her actions were definitely misrepresented, as you’ll read below.
15. So she left without the body
Director Hayward said early on in the series that Wanda stole Vision’s body from the SWORD headquarters. We learn now that’s a lie. Wanda left SWORD without the body and we find out in a post-credits scene what’s actually become of it.
16. A mysterious letter
Everything about Wanda’s visit to the SWORD HQ seems to have gone down much differently than we originally thought–not only did she not leave without Vision’s corpse, she was also directed to head to Westview with a letter.
17. The real Westview
We see Wanda drive into the actual Westview, before she took over and shifted it into a sitcom horror paradise. Honestly, Wanda’s makeover is quite a bit of an upgrade compared to the town as it was. Still, we see the real versions of Herb, Norm, and Mrs. Hart.
18. “To grow old in V.”
It’s unclear whether or not this note is actually written by Vision or if it’s someone trying to manipulate Wanda into going to Westview, but either way, she’s been given a map to Westview and the promise of a home.
19. Making Westview/Reconstructing Vision
Since Wanda did not in fact take Vision’s corpse from SWORD HQ, she had to literally reconstruct him–likely using the energy she had gotten from the Mind Stone (note the yellow glow). This makes Hayward’s ability to track the Vibranium within the HEX a bit strange since he’s apparently had all the Vibranium pieces of Vision’s actual body this whole time. This raises the question: What was actually being tracked and why?
20. “Chaos magic.”
Another of Wanda’s many comic book powers is chaos magic–which in the comics, is a power that allows Wanda to manipulate the fabric of reality.
21. The Scarlet Witch
Finally, she’s the Scarlet Witch. Why? Because Agatha said so. She said the twins, Vision, and the entire life she created was done using chaos magic, making her the Scarlet Witch, a being that should be just a myth.
22. Post credits
In a post-credits scene, we see a white version of Vision resurrected using Stark technology. This could be referencing White Vision, which was introduced in the “Vision Quest” storyline. After being dismantled, Vision was rebuilt but did not have any of Vision’s emotions or memories. If that’s what is happening here, can SWORD use him as a weapon like Hayward wants and will we see Wanda vs. Vision in the finale? More than that, can the original Vision be restored, somehow? Shuri was trying to download him back in Infinity War, after all. Beyond that, it’s entirely possible Wanda’s powers could potentially do the trick.
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