Summer is slowly coming to an end and September usually serves as the lead-up to the busy holiday season in which most AAA-blockbuster titles will be released. Although the games that are going to be released next month are definitely a huge part of why I am looking forward to September, there will also be other events that could make it the most exciting month of the year gaming-wise:
1) PlayStation Meeting (September 7th)
On the 7th of September Sony is finally going to officially reveal the upgraded PlayStation 4 codenamed “NEO” as well as the recently leaked Slim Variant of the PlayStation 4. The NEO has been widely discussed for months already since the initial leak in Mid-April and after the no-show at this year’s E3 as well as the reveal of the Xbox One “Scorpio” by competitor Microsoft, PlayStation fans are eager to finally get detailled information on this new piece of hardware. I am especially curious about how Sony is going to market and position their first iterative console without dealienating their fanbase, about the final specs of the console, especially in light of rumours that Sony might have beefed them up a bit in response to Scorpio’s specs, as well as the price and its release date. As a long-year console player I am still unsure what to think about iterative consoles in general, since I always appreciated the safety of a static 6-7 year console generation, but I also can’t deny that iterative consoledesign could have its benefits like for example forward and backwards compatibility or the possibilty of implementing new technology faster than before. The crucial thing imo is that developers don’t leave owners of the original PlayStation 4 behind once the NEO is out.
2) Nintendo NX Reveal
The existence and development of the Nintendo NX has been offically confirmed by Nintendo for over a year already and yet we have still seen nothing official from the actual machine. According to numerous rumours, this is going to change next month, since Nintendo is expected to have their own console reveal event in September. In light of the targeted launch in March 2017 it would be about time to reveal the actual console to the public.
While rumours about the nature of the console have been floating around for months, the last leak from Eurogamer for the first time painted a more concrete image of what the NX could be. It seems like Nintendo is really going for a hybrid console that will work as a handheld but will also be able to connect to a TV for a home console experience. While this concept is definitely not what I would have wanted from a new Nintendo console, I can’t deny that this step might be the smartest one from Nintendo’s point of view. The last generations have shown that Nintendo’s home consoles have a strong library of exclusive games thanks to the development power of their first-party studios, but are lacking in terms of 3rd party support. This has been a completely different story for their handhelds which consistently enjoyed widespread support from (Japanese) 3rd party studios. With a hybrid console, people expect Nintendo to unify both of their libraries which will on the one hand easen up the workload for Nintendo’s own studios and automatically bring in all those 3rd party franchises that already call Nintendo handhelds their home. With the PS Vita phasing out in the near future (without a successor in sight), the focus on the handheld part of the NX could also lead to the NX becoming the new home for various Vita franchises. Focusing on the handheld aspect would also ensure a higher amount of fan-support from the start since Nintendo has been more consistently successful on handhelds than on home consoles with its strong lineup including Pokemon, Yokai Watch and Monster Hunter. That alone would assure that the NX would outsell the Wii U pretty quickly.
Although the prospects of being able to play games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the go as well as Pokemon on the TV sound intriguing at first, I have concerns whether the NX will actually manage to become the best of both worlds or will rather be a Jack of all Trades but a master of none. The new Zelda game definitely looks like a game that was developed with a home console in mind, but will the majority of the NX games be the same? I cannot imagine that Gamefreak will suddenly develop a Pokemon game that looks like a home console game just because the NX can be connected to a TV. If the majority of the NX games should turn out to look and play like handheld games, a lot of people might end up disappointed. There is also the question of how well it will work as a handheld if the specs are really high enough to be offer a home console experience as well. Will the battery life or portability in general suffer? How is the controller going to work? A lot of discussions on the NX are still based on assumptions and while it is still fun to discuss it, it would be nice to finally have concrete information on the hardware.
3) Tokyo Game Show (September 17th-18th)
While E3 is always one highlight of the year since it is the event where the large gaming companies usually drop their biggest announcements, for me personally, the TGS is usually even more exciting because of its focus on Japan. Even though the mobile game industry is putting more and more pressure on the traditional console industry, we have seen many interesting announcement during the last 2 game shows and I hope that this will not slow down this year. As every year, TGS will probably be very Sony-centric because of the usual absence of Nintendo, but since the NX will get its own event, this shouldn’t be too bad.
I will probably write-up a specific preview for TGS in the near future, so I won’t go into details here, but I am looking forward to updates on already announced games for which infos have been sparse like for example: 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim from Vanillaware, SaGa Scarlet Grace from Square Enix or Danganronpa V3 from Spike Chunsoft. Also keeping my fingers crossed for a new Devil May Cry or Onimusha. One can dream…
Obviously, September is also going to be great because of the games that will be released and there are a lot of them if you are into Japanese games as I am (even though Final Fantasy XV was delayed into November). Just going to list some of my personal highlights here:
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II (PS3/Vita) [Nihon Falcom; XSEED/NIS America]
I am currently playing the first part of Cold Steel and probably won’t be able to finish it before the sequel launches in NA (September 6th), but I already like the game enough to know that I will definitely want to play the sequel. In addition, the soundtrack is godly, as one can expect from the Falcom Sound Team.I already pre-ordered it since the series needs all the support it can get in the West if we want more titles to be localized in the future (Crossbell Arc please). The EU version won’t be out until November 11th btw.
Trailer (contains spoilers for the first game!):
Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (3DS) [Atlus; Atlus USA/Deep Silver]
Shin Megami Tensei IV is probably my favorite game on the 3DS and while I don’t play much on my 3DS, a new SMT game is too good to pass on it. Since western players won’t be able to enjoy Persona 5 before next year, this will be the best bet to enjoy some SMT gameplay involving challenging turn-based combat, demon negotiation and a great OST. Game releases on September 20 in the US. Deep Silver will publish it in Europe, but no release date yet.
Steins;Gate 0 (PS4/Vita) [5pb/Mages; PQube]
While this game doesn’t have a fixed September date yet, all signs were pointing towards it and I hope that it still makes it. Steins;Gate is probably one of my favorite Visual Novels and while I was sceptic at first whether another game in the universe would work, the positive import impressions have hyped me up for this and I can’t wait to play it. Please note that despite its name Steins;Gate 0 is NOT a prequel but more like a semi-sequel. Explaining what it actually is would be spoiler territory, so I will just say that you should definitely play the first S;G before playing this one.
Opening Movie (contains mild spoilers from the first game):
Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (3DS) [Square Enix; Nintendo]
For a long time it seemed like the 3DS Remake of Dragon Quest VII would never be released outside of Japan, but fortunately Nintendo has taken up the publishing duty to bring us this and the 3DS version of Dragon Quest VIII to the West. Since the original game on the first PlayStation was never released in Europe, this will be the first time that many Europeans (including me) will be able to experience the game which was arguably one of the longest J-RPGs ever made (100 hours for the main story alone!). For the 3DS version they trimmed some of the fat in the early game, so it should be shorter, although not by much! The game will be released on September 16th in the US and in Europe.
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney − Spirit of Justice (3DS) [Capcom]
It’s time for the 6th main installment of the popular courtroom VN series featuring Phoenix Wright. After the rather mediocre Apollo Justice, Dual Destinies was a return to old form and I am excited to see what will await us in Spirit of Justice. The premise is that Phoenix is visiting a country in which lawyers do not exist and defendants are rather judged via spiritual mediums. This premise enough is opening a ton of opportunities for the usual over-the top characters and ridiculous twists, the series is known for. Unfortunately Capcom once again decided against a physical release which is why I won’t buy it at launch. The game releases on September 8th on the eshop.
Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness (PS4/Vita/PC) [5pb; NIS America]
I liked the first Psycho-Pass anime series (I haven’t watched the second season) although it had some faults. This Visual Novel tells a side-story that runs parallel to the first half of the anime series and introduces new characters, that are not part of the main series. While not a Day 1 candidate for me, it’s hard to pass on another good looking Visual Novel for my Vita. The game releases on September 13 in the US and on September 16 in Europe.