Howdy pals, it’s Zainabb speaking to you from under this permanent crushing despair! You know what helps a bit with that? Cosy games!

Here’s your regular reminder from me to please support Palestinian people however you can, now and always. For learning and educating others, check out The Palestine Academy. Share the Palestinian Feminist Collective’s amazing action toolkit. If you’re able, please donate to Medical Aid for Palestinians or Crips for eSims for Gaza.

We’re also coming up to the end of Ramadan, so it’s a good time to check out Fast for Gaza, a solidarity project that calls on folks (especially non-Palestinian and non-Muslim allies) to fast as an act of protest. For those of us who are unable to do a traditional fast, there’s also the option of abstaining from things besides food and drink that are important to us or the economy. The most important thing, though, is to be loud about the need to end genocide and colonisation, and to do what you can to take action.

Nintendo Takes Down Several Emulators and Fan Sites

Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have been on a takedown rampage recently, targeting several emulators and fan sites including Pokémon fan game site, Relic Castle. The site had been up for almost a decade, and served as a hub and platform for makers and players of Pokémon fan games. The entire site has now been taken down after a DMCA takedown notice cited “unauthorised copies of copyrighted material.” Relic Castle did not provide a way for users to buy or sell games, assets, or other resources featured on the platform, with the community instead sharing resources for free amongst each other.

Last month, Nintendo also sued Tropic Haze, the creators of open-source Switch emulator Yuzu, who then agreed to pay Nintendo $2.4 million in damages. Tropic Haze has now shut down, taking with it both Yuzu and 3DS emulator Citra. As a result, separate Nintendo emulator, Pizza Emulators, has made the decision to shut down its own apps, which emulated Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles for Android devices. The developer of these emulators, Davide Berra, stated that, “My family comes first, and for this reason, I have chosen to prioritise my family over the development of my apps.”

Berra’s decision seems to be preemptive rather than in response to any communication with Nintendo, but it evidences the chilling effect of Nintendo’s takedown notices on emulator development. Some gamers have expressed concerns about the impact of moves like this on game preservation and accessibility, with Nintendo notorious for failing to develop accessible games. Nintendo has a pattern of threatening modders as well as emulator devs, and making it increasingly difficult for owners of older Nintendo consoles like the 3DS to mod their own consoles…and for no reason whatsoever, I think it’s important to note that Nintendo reported record profits of $1.3 billion in 2023.

Saltsea Chronicles Studio on Indefinite Hiatus Due to Lack of Funding

In extremely sad cosy news, Die Gute Fabrik, the studio behind Saltsea Chronicles and Mutazione, “halted production” completely on February 19, with all team members looking for new work. The studio cites difficulties in obtaining new funding to support itself as the cause of this decision.

In a statement released last month, Die Gute Fabrik explained that it has not disbanded and will continue to seek new funding for future projects but wanted to ensure that team members can look for work in the meantime. Team members were given a month of paid time off as well as mentoring and career support. While these aren’t technically redundancies, the move would materially result in the same stress and insecurity for team members, and reflects the current dire state of funding and publishing opportunities for indie game devs and studios.

Existing Die Gute Fabrik games will not be impacted, with titles continuing to receive basic service support indefinitely. The studio reiterated that purchasing its games remains the best way to support it, and also shared a staff hiring sheet on Twitter to support its team in finding new work.

In other news…

Margot Robbie will produce a The Sims film, with Loki director Kate Herron attached. No further details have been released yet, leading to plenty of fan speculation about the plot and whether any of the film’s characters will die in a swimming pool.

In other Sims news, you can now buy Sims-inspired jewellery from the game’s official shop. The new collection features a gold-plated necklace, ring, and earrings with green agate details, with plumbob designs on each item.

Stardew Valley‘s long-awaited 1.6 update is finally out, causing the largest number of players on Steam at once since 2021. The new update comes with many new gameplay features and bug fixes, as well as the ability to drink mayo which is, of course, the most important update to any game (unless you’re a coward).

Stop-motion narrative game Harold Halibut will be released for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X on April 16. I’m not gonna lie, while this animation style is intriguing—especially for a video game—it also creeps me out. Nonetheless, I’ll inevitably be playing this strange-looking game about British people from the 1970s stranded on a spaceship underwater. You can watch the trailer below

Meanwhile, Europa, the exploration game that was also set to release on April 16, has been delayed with a new release window likely at some point in the summer. In the meantime, you can still play the demo on Steam.

The studio by original RuneScape designer, Andrew Gower, has announced an upcoming free-to-play cosy MMORPG called Brighter Shores. The trailer shows off various gameplay mechanics like crafting, exploration, combat, and fishing. Importantly, there’s also something called a “tea machine” in one of the shots. The game will release on PC and Mac later in the year, with an exact release date to be announced. You can watch the trailer below.

Gameloft Montreal, which developed Disney Dreamlight Valley, has announced its next title will be based on Dungeons & Dragons. The new game will be a significant departure from Dreamlight Valley, with an “unforgiving” campaign and survival mechanics, although the title will also feature some “life simulation.” Further details are yet to be announced.

Upcoming puzzle game Paper Trail will be released on May 21 for PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and on Netflix Games. The game tasks players with helping a character called Paige by solving a series of puzzles by folding different “paper” scenes to create new paths.

Free-to-play life sim Palia is now available on Steam, launching alongside a new update that adds new quests, flowers, and also a giant frog called Frogbert who appears in the games of folks who added Palia to their wishlist.

Developers Inverge, Chibig and 11 bit studios have announced an upcoming “creature-saver” game that puts you in the shoes of a nature explorer who must use empathy, belly rubs, and “indigenous Flute melodies” to tame wild critters on a foreign planet. Creatures of Ava aims to take the basic animal-collecting mechanic of games like Palworld and provide players with a non-violent way of connecting with the creatures you collect. It’s an admirable goal that certainly resonates with me more than titles like Palworld and Pokémon, but the rest of the plot so far sounds colonial as hell: outsider “adventurer” swoops in to save a planet’s wildlife and “local race” of people from a disease by using those people’s own knowledge better. The game is written by Tomb Raider‘s Rhianna Pratchett, and you can watch the announcement trailer below.

New gameplay footage of upcoming life sim Paralives was released last month, showing a more detailed look at the game’s live mode. The video shows things like how to level up your characters’ (called “Paras”) skills, get a job, socialise with other Paras, and evolve your Para’s personality. Paralives will enter early access next year but in the meantime, you can watch the gameplay video below.

Here’s one for Sidequest editor-in-chief Melissa Brinks specifically: Regency Solitaire 2 is out now on PC. In this game, you build a garden and learn about society gossip by playing solitaire and other arcade-style card games on gorgeous painted backdrops that you can, apparently, also download as desktop wallpapers.

Finally, Lego’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons kits are now out, and they look extremely cute. There’s five sets, including Isabelle’s House and the double kit of Nook’s Cranny and Rosie’s House, with the sets making up a connected scene. The sets range from £12.99 ($14.99) to £64.99 ($74.99) at the official Lego online shop.