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NIS America has a light release calendar for 2018

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Lack of heavy hitters

Around this time last year, NIS America made a big splash in the niche gamer community when it announced the 19 games it was localizing throughout 2017. Some we knew about, like Danganronpa V3, others came as a surprise, like Culdcept: Revolt and Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. Last night, the company held its 2018 press event, again at the Folsom Street Foundry in San Francisco, but there was something missing from this year's show. Namely, a knock-out title.

Going into the event, I expected news on the recently announced Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, the FMV horror title Project Nightmare, and the Disgaea remake. All three were absent, however, as NIS America instead chose to focus on games we pretty much already knew about. There were one or two that hadn't appeared on my radar before the press event, but otherwise, it was a pretty safe and predictable presentation. Also delicious. I don't know who catered the event, but those burger sliders were the best I've ever had.

To recap, here is everything NISA presented in its 2018 press event:

The Longest Five Minutes
Release Date: February 13, 2018 (NA), February 16, 2018 (EU)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita (Digital), Windows (Steam)

The Longest Five Minutes releases next week, which is probably why it wasn't featured on the event floor. Developed by SYUPRO-DX, Five Minutes is an epic sprite-based JRPG made up of flashbacks experienced during a battle with the final boss of the game.

The 25th Ward: The Silver Case
Release Date: March 13, 2018 (NA), March 16, 2018 (EU)
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows (Steam)

The 25th Ward, a sequel to Suda51's The Silver Case, was originally made for mobile phones back in 2005. Presented to players a series of episodes, all three cases in the adventure have been compiled into this release. While the game isn't a direct port but a complete remake, its mobile origins were on display through my short time with it. What it calls its "Film Window" system is a fancy way of saying the picture doesn't take up the entirety of your television screen. I was only able to do an episode and a half before moving on, but it looks like The 25th Ward will be a slow burn with a deliberate pace that flies in the face of other Grasshopper Manufacturer games. Even in my short time with it, the game felt antiquated and I couldn't help but wonder if a complete remake for tablets would better suit the game.

Penny-Punching Princess
Release Date: April 3, 2018 (NA), March 30, 2018 (EU)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita (Digital)

Penny-Punching Princess is one of those small Japanese games that has a crazy concept -- in this case, bribing enemies and traps to fight on your side -- but then layers on the mechanics until the whole experience becomes obtuse. This is a beat'em-up where you can pull out a calculator and add up your pennies to bribe your enemies, but playing with the controller was so awkward, with so many buttons to consider, I didn't have fun at all with it. There is a touchscreen control method that wasn't available for the demonstration but I would have to imagine it'll make the calculator slightly less awkward to use in the middle of battle while enemies are walloping on you.

The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2
Release Date: March 27, 2018 (NA), March 30, 2018 (EU)
Platforms: PlayStation 4

Featuring a new witch but the same action RPG gameplay, The Witch and the Hundred Knight 2 is the sequel to the PlayStation 3 Disgaea spin-off title and actually quite a lovely game from what I saw. Unfortunately, with just two game stations set up, it was also one of the most popular at the show and I didn't get a chance to test it out before I left.

Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory
Release Date: May 29, 2018 (NA), June 2, 2018 (EU)
Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Fallen Legion: Rise to Glory surprised me a bit with how much fun I had with it. This Switch exclusive brings together both Fallen Legion games that released last year on the PS4 and Vita. Sporting what I like to call a Vanillaware-lite aesthetic, even in the tutorial the game was challenging as I wrapped my brain around controlling four characters at once. This certainly won't be a game for everyone, and it can get complicated and busy as you try to time your attacks just right while also nailing those reflective blocks, but my brief experience with it was nothing less than rewarding.

Happy Birthdays
Release Date: Summer 2018
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Birthdays the Beginning is legit one of my favorite games from 2017. It's complicated, it's not well explained, and it's certainly not a well-controlled experience, but it had such a unique concept that I was able to ignore all its faults and just enjoy it for what it was. Happy Birthdays is bringing the experience to Switch with all of the DLC for the PlayStation 4 version included. I spent about 20 minutes with the game and felt myself getting sucked back into it, but some of the problems experienced on the PS4 are exacerbated here. Movement is still slow, the framerate feels like it's sub-30, and the visuals aren't as crisp. Still, taking this game on the go would mean I'd never have to be without my little piece of paradise, so it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded
Release Date: 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

NIS America is continuing its tradition of not just localizing the main series Touhou games by bringing us Touhou Genso Wanderer... again. Reloaded is the same Mystery Dungeon-like released last year for the PlayStation 4 and Vita, but with all the DLC and new content and characters included. I'm always down for a new roguelike, so I say bring it. This was not on display at the press event.

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Release Date: Summer 2018
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Anybody taking bets on whether this version will release before the PC port? Fingers crossed this "Summer 2018" doesn't become a "Fall 2018" release date, then a "Winter 2019" release date. Ys VIII was not on display at the press event.

Assault Spy
Early Access: May 2018
Platform: PC

Assault Spy was the only PC exclusive announced at the event and it looks like it'll be a good one. An action game set within an office environment, it's the work of Wazen, a one-man developer, and it's coming to Early Access on Steam this May. I have a feeling this game will become therapeutic for me after long days at the office dealing with coworkers, archaic procedures, and all that goddamn paperwork. Assault Spy was not on display at the press event.

SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy
Release Date: Summer 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4

SNK Heroines was the big draw of the event, with five stations set up for it and a sixth one added later in the evening where the game's designer Kaito Soranaka challenged attendees to fights on the big projector. I was the second person to fighter Mr. Soranaka and I can proudly say I lost, but just barely.

For more on SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, check out my hands-on impressions.

The Lost Child
Release Date: Fall 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita (Digital)

This game was the big surprise for me of the night. Developed by Kadokawa Games, The Lost Child follows a cult journalist named Hayato as he investigates a string of suicides. After he is nearly killed, he's given the Gangour, a gun he can use to capture demons, angels and any other creatures that stand in his way. Like the Shin Megami Tensei series, Lost Child involves a lot of spirituality as you maneuver Hayato through a war between heaven and demons.

What's nice about this is Kadokawa knows people form certain attachments to creatures they capture in other games, so it's encouraging players here to stick with those demons or angels they like the most. In my time with it, one of the Astrals -- the demons I capture with the Gangour -- I had at my side was Echidna, a big breasted humanoid with bat wings and a Slurm Queen tail that just fit the aesthetics of the game to a "T." I'm all for sacrilegious fiction so I'll definitely look forward this game this Fall.

Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk
Release Date: Fall 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Windows (Steam)

This was the big kicker to the evening and, honestly, it was a bit underwhelming. The Lost Child already filled my first-person dungeon crawler needs, so getting this as the surprise reveal at the end didn't have the same impact as Ys VIII did last year.

Originally a PlayStation Vita exclusive, Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk was ported to the PlayStation 4 last year in Japan. This fall, it comes west on the PS4, Windows and Nintendo Switch. The game wears its Vita roots on its sleeve, not really getting the most out of the PlayStation 4 hardware. Still, it's bright and lovely and it played like butter. I'm not sure I'm up for an "endless maze," but the more of these types of games on my Switch, the better.

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CJ Andriessen
CJ AndriessenFeatures Editor   gamer profile

Just what the internet needs: yet another white guy writing about video games. Also, I backed that Bloodstained game. more + disclosures


 




 



Filed under... #Action #Fighting Games #Nintendo Switch #NIS #PlayStation 4 #PS Vita #Role-Playing Games #Steam #Touhou #Upcoming

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