Hey, welcome to Good Goings! A monthly series where I’ll celebrate some stuff that has happened or is yet to happen in the otaku sphere. The world can bring us down sometimes so it’s important to kick back, relax and remind ourselves of the things we’re happy about. It feels like there’s never been a better time to be a geek nowadays so pop on the kettle and let’s get cracking with what goodies have come up this month…
So first up, a lot of otome goodness!
Not only was Cupid Parasite (Switch) confirmed last month for Fall 2021, Idea Factory International have doubled down and announced Birushana Senki (Switch) during their Online Summer Festival! Birushana Senki is a Heian romance set during the Genpei civil war between the Yoritomo and Taira clans. With a crossdressing heroine destined to become the legendary Japanese hero, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, a bunch of lush armour-bishies, and the promise of angsty drama, Birushana is giving me bittersweet Hakuouki vibes – Japanese trailer here! But that’s not all! IFI then teases another otome game! I honestly didn’t expect IFI would localise otome again (let alone three!) but perhaps Hakuouki has finally been milked to the last…
Like a rival LI hustling in, Aksys aren’t to be outshone with four upcoming otome for the Switch:
Piofiore: Episodio 1926 – If you were swept off your feet by Piofiore’s mafioso, you’ll want the sizzling sequel this Summer 2022! Episodio 1926 sees Lili caught up in more tumultuous turf wars as she furthers her relationships with the original cast.
Lover Pretend – This is a sugar sweet romance about a love-challenged scriptwriter who ends up cast as a love interest in the film she’s working on. Can true love sprout from pretend? I can see the end already but isn’t it the journey that’s important?
Paradigm Paradox – The odd ‘un of the bunch. A post-apocalyptic future where people live in isolated colonies, a bored student, and magical ‘girls’? Consider my paradigm piqued! I’ve seen mixed reviews but the game’s so colourful and curious that I personally can’t wait to get on this Mahou Shounen train.
Kimi wa Yukima ni Koinegau – Obligatory supernatural period romance incoming! Set during the 18th century Kyoho era, an ostracised girl who sees the black thread of calamity crosses paths with the ‘Oniwaban’ who are bound to uphold the peace in a monster-infested Edo. Another otome with gorgeous art and a haunting trailer – scrap what I said, this is my Hakuouki bias.
Besides Piofiore, the others have not received release windows but, considering Aksys’ history, they’ll probably arrive in 2022 and perhaps early 2023.
Phew, you’d think I’d be done by now but there’s one indie otome I want to highlight. The politically intriguing Imperial Grace has released a demo on Steam and Itchio. For your majesty, we have a medieval adventure, which mixes love and strategic scheming as you play an ambitious empress facing difficult choices atop her throne. While the developers, Synstoria, are relatively new, the lavish visuals, optional management system and enticing lore on display has made this one to watch.
Announced back in 2019, Solar Ash is finally ready to shoot for the sun and is releasing on 26 October 2021 on the PS4/PS5 and Epic Store as a timed exclusive. This hyper stylised adventure platformer is Heart Machine’s second swing at some swish after their award-winning Hyper Light Drifter and trailers are very slick indeed. Skating through the neon void, Solar Ash looks like the souped-up child of Gravity Rush, Shadow of the Colossus and The Pathless. Want to parkour on some giant flying beasts? Don’t get whiplash!
Blue Reflection: Second Light (PC/Switch/PS4), the sequel to Gust’s charming response to ‘What if: Persona x Magical Girl?’, is releasing on 9 November 2021. Second Light is another wholesome experience focusing on the friendship between young women as they explore a strange world that encroaches upon their everyday lives. Not much gameplay on show but Second Light presumably follows the original’s RPG/simulation trappings and a crafting system is briefly shown along with some environmental customisation. I haven’t played the first Blue Reflection yet (really need to get on that) but I have a huge sweet spot for Gust’s equally wholesome but mechanically deep Atelier series so I’m happy to hear this sequel is in the works.
First up, the Nindies. There’s a whole lot for everyone here. As always, several wholesome experiences caught my eye. We finally got a release date for Eastward (16 September 2021), a pretty in pixel action adventure about a young girl and an old miner making a new home in a decaying world. I’ve been eagerly watching the development of this one and it looks like a clever Zelda-like with the plot/feels of The Last of Us. Another beautifully desolate title is FAR: Changing Tides (Early 2022), where you guide a young boy in an atmospheric flooded world.
If you’re looking for a bit more chill, the kooky photography game, TOEM (Fall 2021), or the minimalistic city constructor, ISLANDERS (available now), might be your thing. Fans of funky scapes might be interested in Bomb Rush Cyberfunk (2022), which brings Jet Set Radio to the future, or the pulse-raising Tetris Effect: Connected that pits you with or against your friends. What about some gritty action? Look no further than Loop Hero (Holiday 2021), which calls for tactical creativity as you craft an endless expedition loop for the unluckiest hero ever. There were also a few surprise drops with Necrobarista – Final Pour, Garden Story, Boyfriend Dungeon, and probably the most surprising one, Axiom Verge 2, the non-Metroid metroidvania whose prequel made waves back in 2015. Like usual, the showcase ends with a decent parade of mini previews so definitely have a look!
The Pokémon Presents started off with its mobile offerings. I had no idea that Pokémon even has a MOBA on the Switch but Pokémon Unite is leaping onto mobile as well on 22 September 2021. I only dabble in LoL a bit so I don’t know much about these kinds of games but it looks…alright? It’s a five-player team strategy game where you control some classic ‘mons and shoot for the opposing team’s goal zones. There’s evolving, support items, and different movesets – the basic principles are sound but I know it’s all about the meta balancing for these games so hopefully it does well on that front. Since mobile users can play together with those on Switch that should create a healthy playerbase.
Besides that, Pokémon Café Remix (Fall 2021), a match puzzle game is getting spruced up with new content, dress-up options, and Pokémon. Pokémon Masters EX, a mobile game where you befriend and battle against famous trainers from the main games, is celebrating its two year anniversary with Dynamaxing and legendary events and bonuses from 18 August 2021 and in September, a new villain event set in Kanto is starting (Team Rocket, here we go!). It’s also Pokémon GO’s 5th anniversary so that means Galar Pokémon will be wandering around town during August.
Okay, onto the Pokémon games I actually know about 😅… We have an extended preview of the Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl remakes (19 November 2021). Still hyped but, yeah, the overworld sprites are decidedly not my cup of tea, although battle shots look swell. This trailer also reminded me that 4th Gen had contests and underground base exploration, which I loved. It’s been a while so there’s stuff I remember (tip-tapping all those gems) and others I don’t (did contests have rhythm mini-games?), so here’s to brushing away the cobwebs to relive my long-passed youth. A sleek Dialga and Palkia themed Switch Lite is also releasing on 5 November for all you collectors.
Pokémon Legends Arceus had a bit of a mixed reception after its new gameplay trailer. Some are wary about graphics and quantity of content, noting the seemingly barren open-world and somewhat homogenous textures. Personally, I like the low-key stylised look and was actually more excited after watching the recent trailer. I’m particularly keen to explore the different ecosystems and complete research missions for the Hisui Survey Corps. Being a ‘researcher’ rather than a trainer is a refreshing change and I think actually observing the unique behaviours of various Pokémon in the ‘flesh’ and incrementally learning about them will be the selling point that sets Legends apart from the mainline games. And, if all else fails, there are still battles, although this too has an intriguing spin, where you’re vulnerable to wild Pokémon attacks and have to stealth your way around. Combat has been adapted to offer strategic depth by featuring strong/agile moves that affect turn order. At any rate, I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen, even if the game doesn’t improve much between now and release, but what do you think?
There you go. A bunch of things that put a smile on my face and hopefully yours too. Let me know about your own Good Goings in the comments and have a great day!