Capcom is getting in on the “classic” game, announcing the Capcom Home Arcade, a €229.99 plug-and-play arcade system featuring support for two players, and including 16 classic titles. If that price seems high to you, relative to emulator-based offerings from Nintendo, or even the FPGA-based solutions from Analogue, then … you’d be right. In exchange for your roughly $260 US dollars, you do get genuine Sanwa joystick parts, and emulation courtesy of the well-respected, open source FB Alpha emulator.
The Home Arcade measures roughly 29” wide, 8.5” deep, by 4.25” tall. It also includes built-in WiFi, to connect to a “worldwide High Score Leaderboard” so you can relive some of your arcade glory days, except on a stage larger than your local strip mall. Like other recent classic edition consoles, power is provided via micro USB, and the video is delivered via HDMI. Unlike other consoles, this is meant to be played in your lap, which means that USB cable and that HDMI cable just sort of run across your entire living room floor?
If you can get past the price, the awkward cabling, and the … enthusiastic branding, there are 16 games included here that, while you may have played some of them on a home console before, really shine in the arcade setting. That list is:
1944: The Loop Master
Alien vs. Predator
Capcom Sports Club
Cyberbots: Full Metal Madness
Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Mega Man: The Power Battle
Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting
Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
The list is certainly not exhaustive. The Capcom Home Arcade games are from Capcom’s CPS1 and CPS2 arcade boards, which had over 60 releases combined across the two platforms, including some notable titles like the initial Marvel vs Capcom games, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter, and Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes. It’s possible licensing issues have complicated Capcom’s relationship to these titles, but even excluding the licensed games it’s a highly curated list.
The Capcom Home Arcade is available for pre-order now, and will be available on Oct. 25 … at least in Europe. We’ve reached out to Capcom’s U.S. arm about availability here and will update this story when we hear back.
Sega has wiped actor Pierre Taki from its video game Judgment, replacing his voice and likeness with that of a new performer, based on video released of the game on Tuesday. Taki was previously the basis for character Kyohei Hamura, but in an update from game developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s Twitter account, that yakuza has a different look.
Taki’s removal from Judgment — which is slated for release in North America this June — comes after the actor and musician was arrested for suspicion of drug use in March. According to police, Taki tested positive for cocaine based on a urine test. Possession or use of cocaine carries a prison sentence of up to seven years in Japan, but such arrests can also effectively end an artist’s career overseas. Sega and Square Enix removed Taki’s voice work from Judgment and Kingdom Hearts 3, respectively, and Sony Music dropped his band, Denki Groove, after his arrest.
Sega did not announce who will replace Taki in the updated version of Judgment, but you can check out Kyohei Hamura’s new look and English-language dub in the video below.
Judgment, a spinoff of the Yakuza series, is coming to PlayStation 4 on June 25.
Sony is finally ready to talk about the next-generation PlayStation it’s been working on for the past four years. The PlayStation 5 — though Sony hasn’t officially committed to that name — is in the hands of game makers right now in the form of developer kits, according to a new interview with system architect Mark Cerny in Wired.
Cerny gave Wired first official details on the PlayStation 4 successor’s hardware: It will be powered by a CPU based on the third-generation AMD Ryzen and a GPU based on AMD’s Radeon Navi, which will support ray tracing. Cerny also teases new 3D audio technology as part of the CPU, hinting at a “dramatically different” audio experience.
The next-generation PlayStation will also have a solid-state drive, Cerny says. The speedy bandwidth of an SSD will shrink lengthy load times and hopefully enable faster ways to get into multiplayer matches.
Beyond hardware specs, Cerny has good news for PlayStation 4 owners: The next PlayStation will be backward compatible with PS4 games and support PlayStation VR — though Cerny was hesitant to talk about Sony’s next-gen VR plans with Wired.
Sony didn’t offer a release date for the PlayStation 5, other than to confirm it won’t launch in 2019. But Cerny and company hinted that some upcoming games will likely span generations, with releases on both PS4 and PS5. Hideo Kojima’s upcoming Death Stranding is vaguely hinted at being one of those games, but there are plenty of other possible candidates, including Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima and Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part 2, neither of which has a confirmed release date. Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man is demoed on the next-gen PlayStation in the article, but it’s unclear if it’s running via backward compatibility or ported to the new hardware.
More details on Sony’s plans for the PlayStation 5 are available in Wired’s story.
Diving into a game is akin to learning a new language. In each game, we first learn the basics: how to navigate the map, to attack enemies, to uncover new details in this world. With languages, we start with vocabulary, grammar, and syntax. In both, we slowly master individual components, entwining them to convey complex ideas.
Heaven’s Vault, the latest game from Inkle, challenges its players to master a game and a language at the same time. Within my first hour as an intrepid archaeologist named Aliya Elasra, I’m introduced to its video game-y actions: exploring many far-flung moons and peering into their nooks and crannies for artifacts. I also begin the arduous challenge of deciphering an ancient hieroglyphic language.
The adventure is meticulous and thoughtful, standing in stark contrast with most games that have put me in an archaeologist’s boots. In Heaven’s Vault, I’m not slaughtering hordes of enemies with a bloody pickax, or sniping at sentries with a makeshift bow. I’m performing the actual job.
To take on an archaeologist’s actual role in a video game, rather than become yet another blood-soaked treasure hunter, is a refreshing conceit. But with it comes the reality of the job: the perusing and parsing of dusty old tombs and sand-encrusted physical remains.
Where language supports action in so many modern games, it’s centered in Heaven’s Vault. Language is the action, the spine of the story, and the mystery of the plot. Language feeds the ultimate goal of unraveling the meaning of its mysterious hieroglyphs. Supposedly the long-lost language of an ancient civilization, these words can be found etched onto most artifacts and surfaces in the world: under a chair, at the top of a boulder, on the base of an effigy, along the handle of a discarded dagger — perhaps even on the soles of my boots, if I were to take a quick gander.
Upon discovering a line of inscription on these surfaces, I’m given a bundle of words with which to translate the message. An empty slot materializes below each hieroglyph, and I can drag what I think is the right translation into the slot. Occasionally Aliya will comment on my choices, giving me some clues as to whether they make sense within the context of the inscription. Even after I’ve made a decision, however, I’m still free to change my mind and carry out multiple rounds of deductions. In theory, I should gradually begin to recognize how the language functions as I continue to unearth and interpret even more of the game’s trinkets and curiosities.
The game entwines the macro and the micro, from the fascinating geography I see at the ground level to the history of the cosmos — known as the Nebula in Heaven’s Vault — documented within individual artifacts. This mystery pulls me through some of the more taxing challenges of the game’s archaeology.
Sure, it may feel like a chore at times to parse this fictional history, but I want to know more. What are the origins of the coursing rivers that connect the moons? Or the whereabouts of the last emperor from the earliest days of the fictional country, “Iox”?
Discussing the translation of these texts with colleagues and friends is crucial, as they’ll provide more clues. I enjoy turning to the locals for answers, or at least context. Aliya converses skillfully with those around her, the game’s meticulously constructed narrative alternately unspooling and knotting itself with each chunk of dialogue. Exchanges take place organically, like when Aliya is in the midst of exploring a long-abandoned ruin, or while taking a leisurely stroll in the corridors of the upscale city Iox. Conversations skew toward the natural and dynamic, if not a tad jarring at times. Aliya can be blunt even when I don’t mean to be, and I feel unintentionally rude when choosing certain dialogue options. Mercifully, I can simply ignore or walk away from some exchanges when they get too awkward or tiresome.
These conversations provide my primary source of the game’s intricate and lore-heavy backstory. To understand the narrative, paying close attention to them is a must, and to keep my attention, they must in turn remain invigorating. Thankfully, the studio behind Heaven’s Vault, Inkle, understands the value of brevity. Folks don’t ramble needlessly about esoteric topics like the moons, the ancients, and the empire; instead, details are passed along gradually over the course of the game.
What proves to be challenging, however, is connecting with the characters when they feel more akin to mere repositories for information as opposed to distinct personalities with lives of their own.Aside from dispensing insights about the Nebula, most of the cast feels like personalities mass-produced from cast-iron molds: You have the shifty rogue, the heartless opportunist, and the introverted nerd with his nose usually buried in a book.
Memorable characters are few and far between, but some stand out, keeping me buoyed to the game’s story just as I begin to drift. A mechanist named Oroi is particularly memorable. Her interactions with Aliya flash sparks of tension, her lines tinged with an undercurrent of unease and genuine concern for Aliya’s well-being. Another notable companion is Aliya’s robot ally that she crudely named Six, which had been deployed to keep tabs on Aliya. Six is an overly cautious and somewhat condescending android that likes dictating what it can or can’t do, much to Aliya’s (and my) annoyance. And because I can, I have attempted to scrap and sell its parts.
Conversations with this crew can help Aliya decipher some of the hieroglyphs. Take, for instance, Huang, one of Aliya’s friends and a scholar working at an Ioxian university. He’s always on hand to help Aliya out when she’s stuck in a rut, whether by confirming her interpretations of the ancient language or giving her more books and artifacts to pore over. But this doesn’t mean that their translation is always accurate; they’re still mostly conjectures even after much discussion. The catch is that I won’t get a foolproof confirmation of whether our guesses are correct. This can impact my interpretation of past events, and an ongoing investigation about a missing colleague at large.
But therein lies Heaven’s Vault’s greatest gamble: The work of an archaeologist is work. While the sleuthing is intriguing at first, it gradually gives way to tedium when I’m faced with possibly my 50th inscription to painstakingly figure out. Making this wearier still is the slow pace of the game, which is compounded by how few reasons there are to care about the state of this world. When the activities, characters, and our conversations fail to maintain my interest or even curiosity, any motivation to uncover the answers behind the game’s biggest enigmas soon wanes — be it the plight of Aliya’s missing colleague or the chronicles behind the Nebula’s earliest years.
While I don’t care deeply about the world, I do admire its surface. The world of Heaven’s Vault is a hand-drawn alien landscape, full of breathing environments and quirky character designs. The abundance of detail — from the ancient megaliths looming out of the connecting rivers to the teeming bustle of a marketplace in the midst of a desert — entices me to excavate until I reach its core. Coupled with its enchanting orchestral music, these sounds and visuals work in sync, harmonizing perfectly to magnify the grandiosity of the game’s universe.
Heaven’s Vault does hold great potential; Inkle’s commitment to delivering an alternative (and more realistic) take on video game archaeology, and to encouraging players to decipher and learn a language, is inventive and mentally stimulating. But holistically, the experience is humdrum; there’s little incentive to keep on unpacking its world if I don’t buy into its fiction. And sadly, I do not. For a game that revolves around the beauty of languages, it’s a disappointment that Heaven’s Vault can’t find the right words to express itself.
Heaven’s Vault was released April 16 on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC. The game was reviewed using a final “retail” Steam download code provided by Inkle. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.
[Ed. note: Major spoilers for the ending of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina part 2]
Turns out, Sabrina is actually Satan’s daughter, a callback to the first episode in which she has a vision of her parents kneeling in front of the Dark Lord with a hoofed baby. Though Nick Scratch reveals that the Dark Lord sent him to get closer to Sabrina, he ends up sacrificing himself and saving the world, allowing his body to become a prison for Satan. Not only does that nod to Nick’s name (Nick Scratch is a common alias for the Devil in fiction), it’s a sly nod to the tarot reading in part 2’s fourth episode.
Lilith — at long last — gets her priorities straight, realizes that she and Sabrina have wanted the same thing this entire time, and helps Sabrina beat Satan in order to become Queen of Hell. She grants Sabrina her full powers back, without the caveat of being bound to the Dark Lord, and descends back into Hell with Nick’s body. She even resurrects the original Mrs. Wardwell! How nice for the Queen of Hell.
With the Apocalypse halted, the Dark Lord defeated, and mostly everyone still alive, what’s left for our plucky teen heroes?
Prudence and Ambrose go off to hunt and kill Father Blackwood, who managed to escape in the night with his twins (who he plans to marry to one another, ick). It’s personal for Prudence and Ambrose, who’ve both realized how much Father Blackwood manipulated their need for belonging. According to Chance Perdomo, the actor behind Ambrose, this means a big change for Ambrose’s character.
“I can say Ambrose is seeking power, he’s learned new power — but not necessarily from the mindset or perspective that he had in the past that got him into trouble. He’s there more to protect his family, because the threats are just looming and they’re getting bigger and bigger,” Perdomo told the Wrap. “So he kinda goes off and comes back different — shall we say.”
With Father Blackwood far away, Zelda takes up the position of High Priestess, intent on rebuilding the Church of the Night into the Church of Lilith, now that they are no longer bound to the Dark Lord’s will. Lilith is presumably going to be a more benevolent ruler than Satan (and certainly not as misogynistic), but now that she’s gotten the one thing she’s desired for thousands of years, will that satisfy her?
Gavin Leatherwood, who plays Nick Scratch, doesn’t think Lilith is one to trust.
“She’s so sneaky,” he told TV Guide. “I don’t think so. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nick is chained up and was her Hell slave or something because that’s just so in her character.”
Sabrina and her friends, meanwhile, have entitled themselves the “Fright Club,” dedicated to protecting the mortals of Greendale from the supernatural, and decided on their first mission: rescuing Nick from Hell.
It’s a very bold, brash inaugural mission, but could we expect anything else from the girl who defied Satan? This Orpheus-Eurydice-esque journey into the Underworld will presumably happen very early on in Part 3.
“I asked [creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa], am I going to be in Hell? Am I going to be there for a while? What’s the deal? And he said they’re coming to get you and we’re going to show that in the first episode,” said Leatherwood.
The thing is, it’s not just Nick who’s trapped in Hell, but Lucifer trapped in Nick’s body. Though details on just how Nick is handling this possession and the fires of Hell are still scant, Leatherwood is eager to find out just what this means for Nick.
“I’d really like to see a Smeagol/Gollum thing, where he’s battling having the Dark Lord in him, as well as having Nick being his main being and then having this other kind of character within him too,” he said. “I’m certain that having Satan inside you definitely takes a toll on you.”
Part 3 and 4 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have been ordered by Netflix, with production beginning in 2019.
Turn 10 Studios’ Forza racing game franchise is getting a new spinoff starting Monday: Forza Street, a free-to-play game “designed to be played anytime, anywhere” is now available on Windows PC. The game is also coming to Android and iOS devices later this year.
Forza Street — previously released on the Microsoft Store under the name Miami Street — uses simplified controls for racing. Gameplay focuses on properly timing the gas, brake, and boost as players compete in everything from pick-up-and-play one-minute races to a lengthier story campaign. While the racing is whittled down to simple inputs (there’s no steering required), Forza Street promises a long list of cars to collect and upgrade.
Forza Street is not the driving sim of Forza Motorsport or the open-world racer of its Forza Horizon spinoff, but something much simpler along the lines of mobile racers like Asphalt and Real Racing. It’s available now from the Microsoft Store. The mobile versions do not have an announced release date.
Fortnite players love a good deathrun, but now there’s extra incentive to try a new map out. Introducing Jesgran’s Deathrun 2.0, a devilish Fortnite map that will challenge even hardcore speedrunners.
Deathruns are exactly what they sound like: creative mode maps that are designed to kill the player as they run through them. Judging from the millions of views on YouTube, death runs are a popular type of minigame within the Fortnite community. YouTubers like to try the maps out and capture their frustrated reactions, and fans like to see what all the fuss is about. Deathruns are big enough that one Fortnite creator, Jesper Mikkelsen, says he makes a “good living” out of designing these minigames. While the map-maker isn’t allowed to say how much he earns, he’s a part of the Fortnite “support a creator” program, where players can enter a code to direct five percent of their in-game purchases toward independent creators.
This would explain how Jesper is able to afford a contest for his latest map creation, Jesper’s Deathrun 2.0. There is a $1,000 prize pool for the people who can beat his level the fastest. The top three contestants will be awarded $700, $200, and $100, respectively.
I tried the map last week, and couldn’t even survive the first five seconds. It’s wild. The difficulty makes sense: The deathrun is the result of 400 hours of work by Jesper.
“For the first 2-3 weeks I was building for 15+ hours a day,” Jesper told Polygon. By Jesper’s estimate, the menacing skull entrance at the beginning of the level was the hardest part of the entire thing to create — it took over 20 hours to bring his concept from a sketchbook to the screen.
After his work was done, he shared the map with 250 playtesters, some of which were fans of his previous work, others which were expert deathrun players. Together, there were about 1,000 hours worth of playtesting. The result is a high-speed map with many twists, turns, traps, and pesky enemies to defeat. Players will have to make use of everything from Ballers to impulse grenades to survive the deathrun.
“Deathruns became so popular is because we love to see people compete and really push boundaries,” Jesper said. “Hopefully this is just the start of creative as a competitive game mode.”
To wit, players are clamoring for Epic Games to better reward creative mode developers more for their contributions to the game. While the support-a-creator program is in place, it pales next to the money being given out for people who play the battle royale portion of the game.
“[Epic Games] are promising millions of dollars on competitive Fortnite earnings and they completely neglect to give motivation for creators like you,” one Redditor commented on Jesper’s announcement post for the map. “Same goes for people making sick creations through the replay feature (amazing short movies, inspirational little Fortnite stories and the list goes on) … I can’t help but wonder what would happen if people with talent similar to yours were intrigued by a prize pool to make amazing creations.”
Regardless, right now, the leading playthrough for Jesper’s deathrun comes from zandYT, who has cleared the map in four minutes and 27 seconds.
Winners for the deathrun contest will be picked on April 30. If you want to try Jesper’s map out, the code is: 1103-0256-3362.
In the second episode of Killing Eve’s new season, MI6 agent Carolyn Martens (Fiona Shaw) introducesEve Polastri (Sandra Oh) to her new team as an “expert on female assassins.” Even though Eve’s empathy and perceptiveness give her an edge over her fellow agents when it comes to identifying how and why a woman might kill, it is the elusive Villanelle (Jodie Comer) about whom Eve is an expert.
So much so that she chuckles with glee when a new assassin is uncovered. “Villanelle will be furious!”
Eve explains to her team that while Villanelle is ostentatious in her kills, wanting to be seen (mostly by Eve, as she stages her hospital roommate’s body with a biblical bite taken out of an apple in his hand), the new killer and Villanelle’s competition uses her second-class citizenship — “older, an immigrant” — to murder in plain sight.
“What kind of woman does no one pay any attention to?” Eve theorizes. “It has to be someone who can go about their business with no one noticing because what they do is seemingly uninteresting. They’re not important; they’re invisible. It’s the kind of woman who people look at every day and never see.”
By offering varying depictions of women in the spy genre, Killing Eve is a departure from the frequent costume changes of Jennifer Garner in Alias, Angelina Jolie’s thigh-split black dress in Mr. & Mrs. Smith,and La Femme Nikita’s titular blonde bombshell appeal to the male gaze. Though Villanelle certainly has an envious wardrobe, her style fluctuates from the severe patterned suit she wears to murder Eve’s friend and colleague Bill in a Berlin nightclub to her deliberately infantilized Big Pink Dress, a fashion moment to launch one of this season’s most recognizable red carpet looks. The dress is of color and style we typically associate with vulnerability or gentle femininity, and Villanelle pairs it with combat boots, a binary that is straddled again this season when she dons a pair of children’s pajamas. Yes, Villanelle is dressing for Killing Eve’s primarily female audience, but she’s also dressing for Eve herself, as we see when Villanelle gifts Eve an evening gown and the perfume from which Villanelle takes her name.
By the same token, Eve is hardly the picture of the sleek, female spy of yore. When we meet her in the show’s first episode, she’s spilling croissant crumbs and speaking out of turn. She’s frazzled; her professional hunches are dismissed as “having a feeling”; and that iconic mop of curls betrays the platonic ideal of an MI6 agent, as is evidenced by the put-together woman who mistakes her blood-encrusted cuticles and self-harming with a pen for addiction as she scrambles to figure out what to do post-stab.
Oh’s Asian heritage is important, too, being the first Asian woman in 39 years to win a Golden Globe for her role. Oh’s portrayal is a nuanced and welcome departure from racist depictions of spies in pop culture such as the Bond franchise and Lucy Liu’s at times stereotypical character in Charlie’s Angels (though scenes in which she plays up racist caricatures of Asian women could be seen as a prototype to the behaviors Eve exhibits above).
Villanelle’s reliance on her conventional attractiveness — and our culture’s assumptions of women based on looks more broadly — is deconstructed almost immediately in season 2, when Villanelle is forced to undergo hospital treatment for a stab wound. She uses her feminine wiles to convince a taxi driver to take her to a hospital, and, when there, persuades the doctor to keep her admittance off the record by claiming she’s a victim of domestic abuse who needs to keep a low profile from her husband. Beauty is often equated with weakness or a virtue worth protecting, which Villanelle knows and uses to manipulate these men into doing what she wants.
In the second episode, Villanelle has the tables briefly turned on her after picking up a middle-aged grocery shopper who takes pity on her bruised face and body. Back at his disturbing, porcelain doll-filled house, the man imprisons her alongside his dementia-stricken mother, depriving Villanelle of the medicine she needs to fully recuperate. The shrewd assassin leaves him with a knitting needle in his carotid artery and a toilet brush in his mouth for deigning to think he had the upper hand on her.
To be a woman is to constantly be underestimated, and many of us have figured out how to use it to our advantage. Eve feigns a bathroom emergency to get out of a security checkpoint when she realizes she still has the knife she stabbed Villanelle with on her person. Oh emits her trademark hearty laugh when the above-mentioned woman thinks she’s an addict, instead of a (potential) murderer.
“Women don’t stab!” Villanelle’s ill-fated bedmate exclaims when she tells him why she’s in the hospital. “I know. It surprised me, too,” she replies matter-of-factly. Although we are to assume that Villanelle is biologically female, she doesn’t subscribe to typical notions of femininity, while still allowing everyone to indulge in, and ultimately stumble over, the way she looks.
“I want to look normal,” a boy, who was the lone survivor of a road accident that claimed the lives of his family, tells Villanelle as she looks under his bandages to assess the damage. “Would you want to not look normal?”
Lest we mistake Villanelle for letting her guard down and forming a bond with the boy, she snaps his neck in response. Of course she wants to look normal; it’s what allows people to underestimate her as she continues her crime spree. With the introduction of a new female assassin who appears to use her normalcy to even greater effect than Villanelle, season 2 looks to further unpack how underestimating women is to our detriment.
Scarlett Harris is an Australian culture critic. You can read her previously published work at her website, The Scarlett Woman, and follow her on Twitter @ScarlettEHarris.
Square Enix is bringing its “HD-2D” role-playing game, Octopath Traveler, to Windows PC on June 7, the company announced on Monday. The game will be released digitally through Steam.
It’s not clear yet what will differentiate the PC version of Octopath Traveler from the Nintendo Switch version released in 2018. Square Enix hasn’t specified what features or improvements players should expect on PC.
Octopath Traveler features eight main characters, each with their own distinct stories and adventures. Players explore the perilous continent of Orsterra, and eventually the octet of heroes see their lives intertwine. In our review of Octopath Traveler, we said the game “comes together brilliantly to create a refreshing take on the genre. While it channels the spirit of old favorites, it never feels derivative. It genuinely does feel like a 16-bit RPG that has evolved into something new rather than being mere nostalgia-bait.”
“Roll it again,” he croaked, illuminated by a spotlight at one corner of the stage.
And so they did, while thousands of fans in the audience watched it with new eyes. McDiarmid’s signature cackle come in at the end of the spot, leaving many to believe that he’ll reprise his role as Palpatine in the conclusion to the now 40-plus-year-old franchise.
But, during a panel on the 20th anniversary of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, McDiarmid was exceptionally coy.
“After seeing your surprise appearance here at Celebration here on Friday,” asked the panel’s host, actor Warwick Davis (Return of the Jedi, Willow), “I do have to ask: Do you have anything to tell us?”
After the crowd finished roaring, McDiarmid demurred.
“I just happened to be in the area,” he said, rolling his eyes extravagantly, “so I thought I should just drop in for a laugh.”
But McDiarmid didn’t leave it at that. Multiple times during the panel he returned to conversations he had had with George Lucas over the years about the fate of Palpatine.
“‘Is he…?’ And before I could even finish the sentence,” McDiarmid recalled, imitating Lucas. “‘Dead, yes.’ ‘Well, couldn’t he perhaps…’ ‘No. He’s dead.’ ‘Well, wouldn’t it be interesting if…?’ ‘Forget it.’”
It’s likely that Palpatine’s return was part of Lucas’ plan all along. In the prequels, fans will recall that the senator’s big pitch on behalf of the Dark Side, made to Anakin Skywalker, was that it could help someone cheat death. Later, in Star Wars Rebels cartoons, Lucasfilm doubled down on that idea; a major part of its plotline included Palpatine’s quest for ancient artifacts that could grant him unusual powers.
“You know it is possible to change fate,” says Palpatine, voiced by none other than McDiarmid himself. “There are infinite paths and infinite possibilities. […] So few have the choice to live the life they want. Why deny yourself?”
Sadly, the stage was crowded with stars and members of the production team behind The Phantom Menace, each of which deserved their time at the mic. So Davis was unable to prompt McDiarmid for any more hints as to the Emperor’s ultimate fate.
However, fans in attendance were treated to an opportunity to shamelessly celebrate Episode I, one of the most derided entries in the Star Wars catalog. Chicago’s Wintrust Arena, which seats more than 10,000 people, was full to bursting with nearly as many fans as showed up for last week’s Episode IX reveal.
The space was also filled with love, especially for actor Ahmed Best, the man who played Jar Jar Binks. Last year the actor revealed that he has struggled with depression following the fallout from his fateful role as the goofy gungan. This year, fans gifted him with a standing ovation.
The Rise of Skywalker, the final chapter in the Star Wars Skywalker saga, arrives in theaters on Dec. 20, 2019.