News: Also Ran

[PICTURED]: Final Fantasy XV.

Not Even Japanese Developers Care for Final Fantasy XV

2016 has been and gone, taking with it a swag of Hollywood actors – and busy Japanese developers have finally found the time to relax and take stock of 2016’s biggest successes and failures in the world of gaming. Final Fantasy XV was not their most respected title of 2016 by the way, though readers already knew that. In the eyes of Japanese developers Persona 5 is by far the very best product of 2016 – and one certainly could not fault them for this view. At this point readers must be thinking that surely there is no disgrace in placing second behind the king of JRPGs, Shin Megami Tensei, and this would be correct had Final Fantasy XV actually placed second. Final Fantasy XV did not place second. Final Fantasy XV placed fourth. This alone still does not say an awful lot given that the Japanese are into some terribly esoteric titles that they go crazy for but everyone else ignores, and so readers are likely thinking that position number two must surely be a Monster Hunter title, and position three is probably either a Dragon Quest gaiden or some kind of roguelike. That is not so. Position two is Pokemon GO, so fair enough, but position three is Overwatch of all things. That is not to say that Overwatch is in any way worse than Final Fantasy XV, but in the usual run of things one would not expect to see a mainline Final Fantasy bested by Overwatch in its domestic market.

Things become even more clear when viewed with the context provided by positions five and six, which are Uncharted 4 and Life Is Strange respectively. So one of the least enjoyable games ever made, and a Tumblresque teen snowflake drama without any actual gameplay. When viewed like that we can clearly see that the fourth position on that list is the point where everything falls to shit. Everything before it is good, and everything after it is terrible. Final Fantasy XV confirmed for absolute trash. Small wonder that Justice Monster V has been scheduled for closure before a release date for King’s Knight is even on the horizon. Final Fantasy XV did not save the series, rather it has left it in a state of abject disgrace – and it is probably only mentioned on this list because Japanese developers feel sorry for it.

Things like this soften the blow from catastrophic disappointments like Final Fantasy XV.
Double Dragon IV is looking awesome!

Double Dragon Makes a Return

In a solid bit of confirmation that good news can still sometimes happen in 2017, Double Dragon IV was announced this month for release on both PS4 and PC, by way of Steam. The game is set to release later this month; January 29 on PS4 and January 30 on Steam, so the team has not left us long to wait between announcement and launch. Readers may be confused with respect to the numbering of this recent entry, given that Super Double Dragon was the fourth game in the series, and there was even a Double Dragon V released on the Super Nintendo. However, the current team seems very keen to slot this one in right behind Double Dragon III.

The reason for this is likely that Double Dragon III was the last game in the series that series creator Yoshihisa Kishimoto personally directed, so he likely wishes to continue on from where he left off. Joining Kishimoto will be a swathe of original Double Dragon talent, including character designer Koji Ogata, programmer Kei Oyama, composer Kazunaka Yamane, and producer Takaomi Kaneko. The game will feature 2D graphics rather than modern day 3D abortions, and for added authenticity character sprites will be based on the NES version of Double Dragon II. Double Dragon IV looks to be in much the same vein as games like Shovel Knight, where the game’s graphics look authentically NES-based, yet the amount of eye candy on the screen certainly could not have been accomplished on NES hardware. The game looks beautiful, and the visual direction is everything that longtime Double Dragon fans could have possibly hoped for. Neogaf threads are littered with complaints left by people who are upset that the game uses ‘ugly’ NES graphics.

The Switch won't be getting ports.
Too small to hide the secret sauce!

More Bad News for Nintendo Fans

This story marks the third consecutive wave of bad Nintendo Switch news articles in as many weeks. It first began with confirmation that Switch is based on Nvidia’s old Maxwell architecture, rather than their new Pascal architecture. Then in the week following Digital Foundry were able to confirm the frequency at which the system’s Maxwell chip would be running at – significantly below the chip’s maximum parametres. Now finally this week we have a developer confirming what the Switch’s theoretical performance will mean for its game library. Basically, the Switch does not under-perform the Xbox One by just one or two measures, but rather it gets categorically drubbed. Switch has half the RAM of the Xbox One, and it also has roughly half of its memory bandwidth in relation to the Xbox One’s system RAM alone, which ignores the much higher memory bandwidth of its ESRAM. Next up the Switch’s four underclocked CPU cores are massively weaker than the Xbox One’s eight much faster CPU cores. Finally, the Switch’s underclocked GPU is no match for the Xbox One’s sturdier notebook-based GPU. All of this is compounded by the necessity that every game be designed to run in the system’s undocked ‘portable’ mode. What this equates to is the fact that direct ports of PS4 games to the Switch are impossible for titles that use the PS4 to its fullest, and it would seem that Sebastian Aaltonen, a former senior rendering dev at Ubisoft, agrees with this diagnosis:

Around 50% of modern game engine frame time goes to running compute shaders (lighting, post processing, AA, AO, reflections, etc). Maxwell’s tiled rasterizer has zero impact on compute shaders. 25.6 GB/s is pretty low as everybody knows that 68 GB/s of Xbox One isn’t that great either. ESRAM is needed to reach good performance. But I am talking about the POV of down porting current gen games to Switch. Switch certainly fares well against last gen consoles, and Maxwell’s tiled rasterizer would certainly help older pixel + vertex shader based renderers. Too bad last gen consoles already got their last big AAA releases year ago. Easy ports between Xbox 360 and Switch are not available anymore. Xbox One is a significantly faster hardware. Straightforward code port is not possible. Content also needs to be simplified,

In a nutshell, this means that the Switch will not get ports that make use of the PS4 hardware unless they are heavily modified, which would take a lot of work. In order for that to happen the Switch will need to sell very well indeed. Possibly not as well as the Wii, but very close to it. Beyond this the Switch may still receive some third party support that would have traditionally gone to the 3DS, but this might begin to dry up due to the technical demands of the system. Either way, the success of the system is going to ride on Nintendo’s ability to release enough awesome first party games to attract a healthy installbase.


  1. I don’t think they made FFXV for Japan. I am convinced it was marketed and developed so that it would recover the development costs and profit enough to bring them to the next project which… I can’t think of there being a FF16. The bad taste in my mouth from 15 is enough to swear it off like it were a drunk night ending in a tattoo with the name of a woman you have never heard of.

  2. I don’t think the Switch will see many ports after its first year or so no matter how well it sells. Sales for ports of AAA games on the Wii were terrible when compared to either the 360 or PS3 versions and absolutely abysmal when PS3 and 360 sales were combined. The games that sold a bit better on a platform vs platform basis were mainly movie tie-in games, but those are almost extinct on non-iOS/Android devices now.

  3. @Cari: You should definitely tune in for our discussion about FFXV in TSM Episode 410 (it goes up on Monday!).

    @Gyme: If Switch sees more than five AAA ports, I will be surprised. Really surprised.

  4. Final Fantasy 14 can’t save the series twice. I mean it’s a good game but… it is an MMO. I want to play it but I have no friends to play with.

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