Since the releases of “Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds Battle Royale” (PUBG) and “Fortnite Battle Royale” in 2017 the battle royale genre has exploded into popular culture. Just like when anything has success, others soon followed.
The genre was seemingly created and oversaturated in under one year’s time. Even gaming fixtures such as “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” even jumped on the train, both adding battle royale modes to their next releases.
With all the new games vying for popularity, both PUBG and Fortnite started to see declines in popularity last year. This left the door wide open for new games to take over the genre in 2019, and in the past two weeks, two strong contenders have come to the forefront.
“Apex Legends” was developed by Respawn Entertainment, the creators of the popular “Titanfall” series, and it was announced during the Super Bowl and went live on Feb. 4.
Apex very much follows the familiar battle royale style set by PUBG and Fortnite, but this enough innovation to interest players and become the number one watched game on Twitch.com the last two weeks. Polygon’s review of Apex acknowledges its similarity to its predecessors, “…the game doesn’t stray too far from the tried-and-tested formula, but still offers a flavor distinct from those of its peers.”
While Apex looks and plays like what you would expect a battle royale game to look and play like, its recent counterpart was about as unexpected as a game can get.
On Feb. 13, Nintendo held an online video press release, what they call a Direct. This particular Nintendo Direct was bookended with announcements for “Super Mario Maker 2” and a remake of “The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening” and in the middle of the Direct was a five-minute trailer for “Fire Emblem: Three Houses“. These were all big announcements for Nintendo, coming from three of their biggest franchises, and yet the announcement that has made the most noise thus far was a short, 49 second reveal that Nintendo of America has not even uploaded to their own YouTube channel yet.
Coming right after the Fire Emblem trailer, the announcement for “Tetris 99” caught most of the internet by surprise. The game launched later that day, and even after playing it people could not seem to believe it was real.
Gameinformer; “…the idea of Tetris battle royale became an absurd joke meant to undercut the industry’s eagerness to embrace popular trends. Tweets and Photoshops imagining what a Tetris battle royale would look or play like appeared and we all laughed at the ridiculous idea. Now that it exists, we should all feel collectively dumb, because it’s a lot of fun and it can get surprisingly intense.”
EuroGamer; “Mostly, though, I love it for the sheer audacity of it all. Tetris 99 is like a joke someone made on Twitter – I’m not even sure it’s a joke that banged all that much, and probably didn’t get more than half-a-dozen likes – that Nintendo and developer Arika then ran with and made absolutely shine.”
“Tetris 99” has become a hit on Twitch and has brought the 35-year-old puzzle game new popularity.
Only time will tell what these two games mean for the future of the battle royale genre, but for right now let’s just enjoy a couple of well-made, free games.