So without further ado, here is my list of personal highlights regarding announcements and upcoming releases in the last categories I have something to say on!
My top 3 video games I’m impatient to see release this year
Rune Factory 5
I adore Rune Factory 4. Other than Fire Emblem: Three Houses and some of my favourite otomes, no Switch game has even come close to the amount of time I’ve spent with it. The game offers pretty much never-ending possibilities to you, no matter what your collecting goals are — fishes, dishes, dungeon exploring, monster capturing, waifus, husbandos, you name it!
Personally speaking, I’ve always felt that the Rune Factory series easily beats out its competition, even if it happens to be within the same family of titles — I do apologise, loyal Harvest Moon/Story of Seasons fans. The game never runs out of steam, with a story that unravels at the player’s own pace and choosing, with plenty to do on the sidelines day in and day out, making for a game that can be easily tailored to suit everyone’s preferences. The result is that everyone’s playthrough of Rune Factory 4 is their own personal journey, quite unlike how everyone else might have played it.
It goes above and beyond its value for money, because as soon as you’ve sunk your teeth into it, you’ll be ravenous for more. Accumulating more than 200+ hours on Rune Factory 4 was a breeze, and I cannot wait to finally put Rune Factory 4 down for a well needed rest to kickstart yet another cosy adventure in its successor. As far as Rune Factory 5 is concerned, it is the first fully 3D title in the mainline series (Frontier for Wii and Oceans/Tides of Destiny for Wii and PS3 are regarded as spin-offs) and the first to include same-sex marriage — it’s looking to be one of the best games to jump into the series with.
Plus, it has rabbit riding and farming on top of a dragon; what more could we ask for? And yes, I have already excitedly pre-ordered the gorgeous collector’s edition as soon as it was made available in the UK. If anyone can decide for me which bachelor to marry, however, I would not mind suggestions in the comments! The title is expected to release sometime in March for the Nintendo Switch.
Touken Ranbu Warriors
Up until recently, Touken Ranbu hasn’t seen much reach in the west, but last year Johren released an English version of the free-to-play mobile game in the series. While I am still yet to fully commit to it, I’m expecting to be fully captivated with it once Touken Ranbu Warriors drops.
As one of the biggest, most popular joseimuke games — that is, video games aimed at female players — what better way to fully enrapture a musou fan than by letting us be in control of a variety of hot sword-turned-human fighters. This isn’t Boyfriend Dungeon we’re talking about here, but we could never complain about getting more of such a bonkers premise!
As one of the biggest games ever to cater to the joseimuke crowd (video games aimed at female players), what better way to fully enrapture a musou fan than by letting us be in control of the hot sword-turned-human fighters. This isn’t Boyfriend Dungeon we’re talking about here, but we could never complain about getting more of such a bonkers premise!
As a Warriors-styled spinoff of the series, originally based on a 2015 collectable card game developed by Nitroplus and DMM Games, the release of this game is a big deal, since it marks the first ever console game of the IP. With an original story featuring time travel, a hub world to flesh out its roster of 15 characters, and gameplay we already know and love about the genre being faithfully implemented here, I already know that this will be one more addictive and compelling title to add to the Switch’s library. Dibs on Sengo Muramasa — and not just because he’s voiced by Junichi Suwabe or anything!
I personally can never get enough of musou games, and the cherry on top for this release is that it is based on Touken Ranbu. It’s a perfect marriage of two keen interests of mine, and I couldn’t be happier seeing it hit the west simply due to how niche and unusual it is. The game is expected to release May 24 for the Nintendo Switch.
PQube continues to bring the goods to the west with the localisation of Maglam Lord, set to release next month. The title is a successor to the GBA game Swordcraft Story from the Summon Night series, with Felistella, the developer for Maglam Lord, comprised of employees from the defunct developer Flight-Plan.
Maglam Lord has a number of talents on its staff who previously worked on the Summon Night series, including scenario writer being Kei Miyakozuki, music composition by Puresound, and its main theme being sung by the same singer as Summon Night 2’s opening track: Chiaki Fujita.
I originally discovered the game through a YouTube video by zuvi’s game room, and it just so happened that its localisation announcement came around just a few months after.
It’s safe to say that the fact the game features both voiced male and female protagonists was already appealing enough, but the deal was sealed for me when we saw its dating sim mechanics, combined with the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes teaming up with the protagonist in dungeon crawling segments. Sign me up!
Additionally, do remember to order from Funstock’s store for a limited edition copy of the title!
Anime I’ll be watching immediately when they start airing
Attack on Titan Season 4 Part 2
As typical of me as it is to be fashionably late to comment on something that is already airing, Attack of Titan’s finale is now upon humanity, and I’m all aboard the jam-packed hype train. You can stop reading this already and give the first episode of the final season a watch on Crunchyroll — because it should go without say that it will be the talk of the Internet sooner than later.
There’s probably little explanation necessary as to why this is such a massively anticipated release when it’s been gushed about for years now; existing fans will likely already be seated and ready with hot brews and snacks for what is about to hit our screens.
While I already finished the manga when its final chapter released last year — I simply could not wait for the anime to air — seeing the final arc animated will certainly heighten the emotions felt by the series’ massive audience on its grand departure.
Will it be to everyone’s liking? Almost definitely not, but that only doubles the entertainment value beyond the show itself. There’s bound to be lengthy discourse and heated debates, regardless of how it all ends. I’ll personally be looking forward to observing from a safe, neutral distance.
Bleach Thousand Year Blood War Arc
I’m one of the countless fans of Bleach who still holds the manga near and dear to my heart. Having grown up with it as a pre-teen, I always thought it was a shame that the visual flair of the finale never got an anime adaptation. We never got to properly say goodbye and close off our own journey with a proper sense of closure.
So with the surprise announcement of the upcoming anime release that covers said arc, it has been a dream come true, and will most definitely deliver since said arc already proved to be a tense and thrilling experience even on paper and in manga panels.
Seeing this arc brought to life through animation will be the ultimate treat of 2022 — whether it’s hearing the voice actors who portray the Royal Guard characters, seeing so many previously unseen Bankais finally get animated, experiencing the heavy plot revelations and, of course, hearing the atmospheric soundtrack while seeing all the new faces and familiar enemies-turned-allies — I’m getting emotional even as I type this out.
Along with splendid action sequences, unexpected deaths and a grand war finale to top it all off with, Bleach returning to our screens is a massive deal. Bleach originally went out with a bang back in 2016 (and I fully support the romantic pairings it concluded with, thank you) — so I can’t wait to relive that same feeling with its well deserved anime adaptation. It’s been a long time coming.
Next off my list would be Claymore getting the same anime adaptation treatment it should have gotten years ago for its final arcs. Please!
Tiger & Bunny Season 2
If there was one piece of anime news that got me really excited for 2022, it was the announcement that Tiger & Bunny would finally be getting its extremely long awaited second season. While some fans have been waiting for this since 2017 ever since the show got wider exposure in the west thanks to its inclusion on Netflix, others have been preoccupying themselves ever since 2011, when it originally aired. It’s certainly a sight for sore eyes.
The new season will continue on from the events of the series’ second movie and retain a few factors from the original, such as the same voice actors, the same character designer in the form of Masakazu Katsura, and the opening tune will once again be provided by UNION SQUARE GARDEN.
There are a few changes in the line-up however, with a few different names bringing their talents to the overall package. Instead of being directed by Yoshitomo Yonetani, Keiichi Sato is stepping in, and the studio behind the animation is Bandai Namco Pictures and not Sunrise Productions.
Our leading duo will be donning new suits too, and I’m sure we can expect more fleshing out of its supporting characters’ personal arcs, along with new antagonists, and banter-filled dialogue between its endearing cast of superheroes. I’ve been so ready for this for a while now.
Keeping a look out on any future details on…
Inga Ouhou: Murderous Plaza and its developer MORPATH
We’re ending this with one of my most exciting discoveries in video gaming for years, but with no indication that it will ever come to the west. Anti-romance was a genre of the visual novel medium I only recently learned about, and I’ve been hung up on it ever since. The indie developer MORPATH (previously CELTIA) released Club Suicide last year, a game centred on a plotline that explores exactly what it says on the tin — it’s the kick-starter of this reinvention.
It’s extremely dark and depressing, with a storyline that feels very similar to that seen in MAMIYA’s explorations of themes and narrative. And it was all done by one individual, Uesugi, responsible for the music, vocals, writing, directing and artwork of the entire game!
Both Club Suicide and and Inga Ouhou: Murderous Plaza are games I’m exceptionally interested in for doing something different with the joseimuke medium, since they seem to challenge everything that has been established about the genre — and without the typical romantic storylines within their routes and pairings.
Instead, Club Suicide focuses on the improvement of its characters’ mental state through the development of their relationship with the player character. For example, it could be platonic, familial, or agape depending on the route. The game could effectively be put into the category of an amare, which is a visual novel that focuses on the diversity and range of relationships. It is still about love, but not explored within the romantic sense.
With Inga Ouhou: Murderous Plaza, this is also to be expected. The upcoming title runs with the motif of “12 Star Signs x Blood Thirsty Killers x Communal Life”, starring a colourful cast of LGBTQ+ characters. It also seems to be a dark comedy chock full with a cast of morally grey characters, as can be read by the very telling translations of each of their bios on vndb. It is a crime for a product to look this good and still remain outside of our grasp — my fingers are crossed that it will receive enough attention and traction to make our dreams of localisation come one step closer to reality.
In closing, if there was just one single company and product I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this year, it’s this one. Surely you can see the appeal too!
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