Nintendo Stamps Out Emulator Yuzu Devs – This Week in Games


Welcome back, folks! Over the weekend, I saw Dune Part 2. It was really fun, but it reminded me of how disappointing it is that we haven’t gotten a new Dune real-time strategy game to tie in with it. Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty (known as Battle for Arrakis in Europe) was a foundational title for the RTS genre. It sucks that we’re getting a Dune MMO instead. The children yearn for a good RTS… Also, Success Corp opened up a Booth store of their own selling merch of their current titles. Most of the merch now seems to be for a few Japan-only games and Cotton. But once we get news on Izuna 3, I’m sure some fun tchotchkes will start showing up…

This is…

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Art by Catfish

Monolith Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary

Ah, Monolith Soft. Not to be confused with Monolith Productions, those guys made F.E.A.R.Monolith Soft has been an integral part of Nintendo‘s output ever since Nintendo bought them out in 2007. The company was founded in October 1999, making 2024 their 25th anniversary.

Tetsuya Takahashi started Monolith Soft in 199. While starting his career in the 80s in Nihon Falcom, Takahashi’s career took off in the ’90s when he worked with Square Enix (then just Squaresoft); Takahashi had worked on Final Fantasy V, designed the Magitek armor from Final Fantasy VI, and some graphical work on Chrono Trigger. Famously, Takahashi had created a treatment for what could have been the plot to Final Fantasy VII. But when Takahashi’s story proved to be too “dark” and “complicated” (pfft, if only they knew), it was relegated to its own game. This led to the creation of Xenogears, an intense story about the warrior Fei Fong Wong and his battles against a Demiurge-like machine.

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Xenogears is a lot, including giant robots, god-like machines powered by mysterious artifacts, a ton of Gnostic imagery, and crucifixions. (That last one isn’t all that weird if you’ve watched Ultraman.) Infamously, its production was complicated; the latter half of the game was mostly told via plain exposition text. What’s worse, Square decided it wanted to lean in on its more bankable franchises during this era, which meant prioritizing its Final Fantasy titles. Frustrated at the prospect of not being able to continue Xenogears, Takahashi left Square and made his own studio, Monolith Soft, overseen by Namco (later Bandai Namco). The name isn’t just a reference to the iconic monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey; it’s also a reoccurring image in Takahashi’s games, like his next would-be magnum opus, the Xenosaga series. Originally planned as a sextet of games, Xenosaga told the story of humanity’s battle against aliens called the Gnosis, who could turn humans into pillars of salt with a touch. Xenosaga also brought the world the gynoid battle platform, KOS-MOS. Short for Kosmos Obey Strategical Multiple Operation System, KOS-MOS fought alongside several humans while uncovering the secret of a mysterious monolith discovered on Earth. Also, she was Mary Magdalene. I think? I had all three Xenosaga games on PS2, but I never got to play them. Sadly, I also had to sell them all for rent money in 2017. Xenosaga was ambitious, and people loved the story, but the games suffered from being pretty uneven; that original hexalogy was shortened down to a trilogy—messily. Xenosaga 3 crammed a ton of story into just one game, and that’s before you get to the evil dark-skinned copy of KOS-MOS named T-ELOS.

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Of course, Monolith did plenty of other great stuff: GameCube fans love Monolith for making the Baten Kaitos games, ambitious RPGs where the entire system is based on cards. These also used 3D models on pre-rendered 2D backdrops to incredible effect. The Baten Kaitos games were remastered for the Switch not too long ago; they’re worth checking out. Monolith was also responsible for the Namco × CAPCOM series… which is a misnomer because this “series” is spread out through three series. Originally a PS2 strategy game featuring a bevy of characters from both Namco and CAPCOM (hence the name), the series continued in Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier, an RPG on the DS which itself was also a spin-off of the Super Robot Wars games. And it’s canon to Namco × CAPCOM. Namco × CAPCOM never came to the US, but SRTOGS:EF did. It’s a fun game with amazing 2D animation. Still, as fellow ANN game correspondent and former author of The X Button Todd Ciolek once put it, it’s the video game equivalent of the “Toobular Boobular” song from MST3K. Atlus had a field day with all the breast innuendo in that one, but even with its relatively audacious fade-to-black ending, it didn’t sell well enough in the US to merit bringing the sequel over. It was a pity; it was better in every way. Oh, and KOS-MOS was in both games, and Monolith spared no expense in rendering her robo-boobs.

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This all culminated with Project × Zone on the Nintendo 3DS. I hate that the phrase “most ambitious crossover ever” has been rendered a meme by the MCU because that’s Project × Zone in a nutshell: the culmination of everything Namco × CAPCOM established, even including the cast of SRTOGS:EF. On top of that, it upped the ante from including characters from Bandai Namco and CAPCOM to including some of Sega‘s characters. For some reason, this included the cast of Fire Emblem: Awakening. It’s the wildest fanservice game ever made, the likes of which we won’t ever see again. Phoenix Wright is having a heart attack over Majima openly plotting crimes. Maya Fey tells M. Bison to his face that his chin looks like a butt. Segata Sanshiro is reunited with Sakura from Sakura Wars. Oh, and in a display of the Sega Saturn’s 14.4-kilobyte modem, he summons Aura from the .hack games. God, I love this freaking game.

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After being bought out by Nintendo in 2007, Monolith has helped them with several of their games. In recent years, Monolith has been critical to some of Nintendo‘s bigger hits, including several of the Legend of Zelda titles going as far back as Skyward Sword. Of course, their true success is their home-grown franchise: the Xenoblade Chronicles series. Originally a Wii title that wasn’t even planned to be brought over to the United States, Xenoblade has come into its own as a juggernaut among Nintendo‘s franchises—and it still features all of Takahashi’s favorite stand-bys, from ancient relics with limitless power to demiurges aplenty to robot women and their pet giant robots, all cushioned with more Gnostic references than you could shake a monad at. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 even features a cameo from KOS-MOS, and from what little I understand of the Xenoblade Chronicles 3 DLC (which I haven’t gotten to yet—I’m still on Chapter 6, so don’t explain it to me!), it’s all canon? So hat’s off to Tetsuya Takahashi—nuts to his studio lasting for a quarter of a century, the man got a third chance at telling his story, and the third try was the charm!

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As it stands, we don’t know what Monolith is currently working on. Tetsuya Takahashi has stated that if there is a fourth Xenoblade game, it would be “vastly different.” But honestly, I’m also interested in seeing what Monolith can do outside of the Xenoblade universe. I mean, sure, free Xenoblade Chronicles X from Wii U Jail, but also, hey, maybe make a new RPG along the lines of Baten Kaitos. Maybe take a swing at a whole new genre. Heck, grease some palms and expand on the Project × Zone series with a new spin-off that includes all the past characters and adds characters from an entirely new publisher. Combine Bandai Namco, Sega, CAPCOM, and Koei Tecmo to make the people happy. Toss Reisalin Stout and Strider at the audience and let them figure it out on their own. If anything, Monolith has shown that they’re ambitious enough to play ball with the world. God help them; they’ll hit a homer or die trying.

Nintendo and Yuzu Devs Settle for $2.4 Million, Internet Blows Collective Gasket

Well, this sure ended fast. After Nintendo initiated legal action against Tropical Haze, developers of the popular Nintendo Switch emulator Yuzu said emulator devs settled with Nintendo out-of-court to the tune of $2.4 million within the week. Emotions run high from all sides of the community, so let’s get some groundwork. (For the record, I’m not a lawyer, this isn’t legal advice.)

First, settling is important because the case never went to court. There was no discovery; there was no verdict—the matter is closed, which means that whatever legal precedent has been established remains established—and as per the case of Sony and Bleem!, emulators are legal. Yes, even commercial ones, even when money is involved. Sony had to run Bleem!’s devs into bankruptcy through legal fees to shut them down, but Bleem!’s PC ports of Metal Gear Solid and the like are still 100% legal. So emulation at large is still safe; no matter how many dirty looks Nintendo tosses at emulators, they’d have to spend a lot more money to shut down the entire field of emulation—which not only would be more trouble than it’s worth but would also complicate studios porting their stuff to modern consoles. It’s easier to get a PS3 to act like a PS1 to run Metal Gear Solid than it is to go back into Metal Gear Solid to teach it to run on a PS3, after all. (At least, that’s my understanding.) Many folks have flapped their gums over how the settlement is precedent, but that’s not how anything works and never has been.

Second, an unfortunate casualty in the decision is Citra, a 3DS emulator that Tropical Haze had also been working on. Now, you guys know me: I love the 3DS, and I’ll be the first to point out that many 3DS titles are now permanently incomplete. Plenty of classics like the Radiant Historia remaster, Fire Emblem Awakening/Fates/Shadows Over Valentia or Persona Q are now missing any and all access to DLC, to say nothing of games with online modes that can no longer be accessed. So, this is a significant loss, especially from a preservationist perspective.

On the other hand, news has also surfaced implying that Tropical Haze wasn’t acting in the best of faith. Making money off of Yuzu is not that big of a deal, and it never will be. But shortly after the settlement, Yuzu put out a statement decrying piracy. It’s easy to read this as a statement written at the behest of Nintendo… but it’s also likely that Tropical Haze’s legal counsel suggested they throw out some plausible deniability. Remember: settling means there isn’t any discovery, and there’s scuttlebutt implying that Tropical Haze was working with known ROM distributors, if not potentially internally distributing ROMs and Switch BIOS. None of this was ever in the Yuzu Discord, but these guys had Tears of the Kingdom working on Yuzu day-and-date, and Nintendo understandably does not toy around with people who break street dates.

Sadly for the Internet, this is a situation with a ton of nuance where everyone sucks a little. Two things can be true at the same time. Nintendo‘s draconian grip on their IP is disappointing, especially since they would want to nuke emulation as a whole, even if it genuinely leaves folks without a way to play lost titles. I’ve seen some folks talk about not being able to play Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past because it’s “so expensive”; I don’t sympathize with that. But I do sympathize with the Mario Advance e-Reader levels having been lost for so long, or there not being any legal way to unlock on-cartridge content in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon or Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Sky now that the DS WiFi Channel is dark. And we need to consider how games on the Switch will be preserved because we’ll lose access to those sooner than we think. But also: holy crap, Yuzu was painting all the targets on their backs, giving Nintendo a pile of cork guns, and parading single-file right in front of them.

Nintendo definitely needs to chill, especially since their curation of older titles is extremely lacking. But man, would it kill some of these homebrewing folks not to give Nintendo excuses to go after them?


Nintendo Renews Partnership With Immersion Corp

One of the lesser-known features of the Nintendo Switch—specifically, its controllers—is its haptic feedback. In layperson’s terms, it’s rumble. The Joycons and the Joycon Pro are all known for having HD Rumble. This is courtesy of a partnership between Nintendo and Immersion Corp. While there isn’t much hard news on the Switch’s successor, we can safely determine that it’ll also feature HD rumble—because Nintendo has renewed its contract with Immersion Corp.

So, what does this mean? Well, nothing fancy—at the very least, the Switch’s successor will also have HD Rumble. This is cool! While not many games take advantage of it, HD Rumble is a neat feature that adds a lot to the experience of playing games. Kirby Star Allies used it to play the “Green Greens” theme at certain points—through the rumble. It’s a neat surprise; that kind of sensitivity blows the PS1 controller, giving you a shiatsu massage in Metal Gear Solid by a long shot. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 also used it in a neat way; instead of an audio chime in-game whenever your Blades pass a skill check, the HD rumble has a specific “chime” instead. It’s hard to describe the sensation of a controller making a tactile “Ding!” or even a tactile “fwomp~,” but it manages it.

Disappointingly, not a lot of Switch games use the HD rumble or even any kind of tactile feedback. The PlayStation 5 has much more refined tactile feedback with its shoulder buttons; fans of Final Fantasy XVI will remember that using the shoulder buttons to open locked doors would result in the shoulder buttons “pushing back” as if to transmit the weight of the door Clive was also pushing against. In the same way that rumble has become such a beloved standard feature in controllers, I can see this kind of tactile feedback becoming standard in games.

The upside is that with Nintendo renewing the contract, they’ve got a second chance to include new HD rumble features. An idea I saw floating around was the controller playing a character’s leitmotif upon selection in Super Smash Bros. Or maybe Nintendo will go the whole hog and have tactile feedback in its shoulder buttons. The downside is that this might not be the default for all Switch controllers; I bought a new controller for my Switch that had no rumble at all. It’s a pity; it’s an adorable Princess Peach-themed controller; it would’ve been my controller of choice for my Switch if I never picked up my Xenoblade 2-themed Joycon Pro.

There are many rumors and assumptions about the Switch’s successor, so it’s nice to have some actual hard facts about it.

Microsoft Partner Stream 2024

Hey, so Microsoft also has games coming out for their console too. Honest. And while typically they’re too embarrassed to be seen in the same room as a Japanese game, Microsoft has been promoting their Japanese titles—even if they’re not Xbox-exclusive. Hey, baby steps—who knows, at this rate, maybe Microsoft will beg Sega to take them back. I will say: Creatures of Ava looks interesting, but it sure looks like a quirky open-world survival game. I hope it’s not based around crafting. The Alters has an interesting concept, but its aesthetic seems pretty humdrum. We’re getting a sequel to The Sunken City, which is exciting. Tales of Kanzera: Zau looks like a phenomenal Metroidvania with a beautiful aesthetic inspired by African mythologies.


First up is Unknown 9: Awakening, from Reflector and Bandai Namco. We initially saw this one in 2020; its development has been slow, but the wait seems worth it. Taking place in what appears to be a fantasy India circa World War One, the game seems to be an open-world game. The protagonist uses a lot of cool spirit magic to take down soldiers, along with an interesting pseudo-turn-based combat system where you can temporarily possess enemies to make them attack each other. It kind of reminds me of the combat system from The Third Birthday with a little bit of Transistor, maybe a hint of Remember Me for flavor. The setting is unique, the powers look cool, and the systems seem fun. We don’t have a specific release date past a vague “Summer 2024” window. Also, it’s coming out on Steam, PS4, PS5, and Xbox X|S.

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Hey, so if on the off chance you haven’t played the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV with the expanded free trial, which you can use to play the entirety of the award-winning Stormblood expansion up to level 70 for free with no restrictions on playtime, the beta is also available on Xbox X|S. But here’s the problem: unlike all of the other FFXIV versions, the Xbox version requires you to pay for Xbox Live. So it’s the most expensive version of Final Fantasy XIV. Even the PlayStation ports don’t do that. The free trial doesn’t require an Xbox Live account, but you’ll have to pony up if you want to subscribe. That alone pretty much ensures that the Xbox version of Final Fantasy XIV is the absolute worst one. Bad move, Microsoft. For what it’s worth, the full release is this March 21.


So, full disclosure: I don’t know anything about the Dungeon & Fighting games. I know Nexon makes them, and they’re successful enough to have a full-on fighting game spin-off (made by Arc System Works, no less). I know that the characters are less “characters” and more archetypal fantasy classes, and… that’s about it. The First Berserker: Khazan takes all of that into a new direction: a single-player game focusing on the Berserker class. The teaser consisted of a look at the first boss fight in the game. I’m getting intense Souls-like vibes from the combat, which wouldn’t be the worst idea. Provided, I’d prefer a game about a berserker to be a bit more character-action-y than deliberate and methodical, but the action looks good enough to where I can give it a nod. No word yet on a release date, but look forward to it on the Xbox X|S (and PlayStation 5).


CAPCOM‘s Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess was the show’s real star here. I know what you’re thinking: “A fantasy game with heavy traditional Japanese aesthetics about purging the corruption from the land? Again?” And yes, stripped to the studs, this is Okami and Wild Heart all over again. But credit to Kunitsu-Gami where it is due: it makes the setting its own. For one thing, there’s a lot you can do with traditional Japanese imagery; Okami focused on presenting the world as one big sumi-e painting, complete with ink as a mechanic. Wild Hearts leaned into Japanese mythology, some with the design of its monsters. Kunitsu-Gami goes for a middle approach: mildly realistic with its design, but with bright saturated colors that make every character and monster pop on-screen. Kunitsu-Gami looks like a curious blend of action and real-time strategy. The game is divided into two modes: during the day, you’ll help purify a village and rescue villagers, who can then be assigned “jobs” in the village. At night, you and the villagers will fight all manner of yokai that intrude on the village in something akin to a real-time strategy game. All the while, your protagonist weaves and darts between his moves with dance-like elegance. It’s a feast for the eyes, so I’m immediately sold. I have to wonder if this project started its life as some Okami-based project, but Okami connection or not, I think it’s amazing and is a game to watch out for. For now, all we know is that it’s releasing sometime this year; it’ll be on Game Pass and Xbox X|S as well as PS4, PS5, and Steam.

Let’s wrap up with some quick tidbits

  • Bad news about Shin Megami Tensei V: Vengeance: it’ll be running off of despised DRM service Denuvo
  • If you haven’t heard: the Super Princess Peach: Showtime! demo is out now on the Nintendo eShop! Definitely give it a look; the buzz is sounding good so far.
  • As everyone expected, The Answer (the Aigis-starring playable epilogue to Persona 3) is coming to Persona 3 Reload. And they even waited until after March 5 to announce it! The Answer doesn’t come until this September, but starting March 12 players with the Persona 3 Reload Expansion Pass can look forward to the first two waves of DLC, which include songs from Persona 4 Golden and Persona 5 Royal and a set of outfits and music based off of the Velvet Room. Still no FeMC, sadly.
  • Hey, remember that mysterious timer on a .hack website we covered back in October! Well, the timer ran out and we know what it is: it’s… a fan-led project attempting to launch a fan-made .hack MMORPG. More to follow…
  • That’ll do it for this week, I think. A last bit of news: I’ve got a fun project I’ll be working on next week, which you guys will surely hear about in due time. I am looking forward to sharing it with you all. I know I tell you folks to be good to each other every week, but I’m insisting upon it this week. There are a lot of people with platforms who sow suspicion and distrust. I want to think my readers are above that. Life’s too short to keep a rock in your hand over other people, much less over video games. There are enough games to go around for everyone and enough space here for everyone. So please, don’t be jerks to each other. I promise you there are better things to be doing with your time. Shut the computer off, and I dunno, build a garage kit. Read a book. Raise a cactus. Or, y’know, play games. 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 Anime News Network, Jean-Karlo can be found playing JRPGs, eating popcorn, watching v-tubers and tokusatsu. You can keep up with him at @mouse_inhouse or @ventcard.bsky.social.






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