The newest game of the year would be Metroid Dread, which was for the newest Nintendo platform, and a new game Skatebird, for the ninth generation of gaming consoles, which somewhat The Medium might be butterflied.

There is no Metroid Dread ITTL, though the 2021 Game Boy Zero game Metroid Intrusion has some similarities.
 
Epilogue: To Far Away Times
As 2020 switched over to 2021, the biggest story in video gaming was expected to be the impact of Nintendo and Apple's new consoles on the industry, which had seen significant technological advances over the past few years, and which was about to see some of the most innovative and graphically impressive games of all time make their debut. The New Year's Day attacks immediately cast a shadow over the beginning of the year, leading to gaming being put on the backburner in the minds of many. With January typically being a slow time for new software, no major games were actually delayed, though sales did dip for several weeks due to the uncertainty and fear that many people had in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Sales would recover in February and March, just in time for the launch of games like Subnautica: Below Zero and The Beast, as well as the highly anticipated Quest/Virtua title Lost In Harajuku, and Squaresoft's sci-fi shooter/RPG Remnant Ark. These games, along with several others, helped the first quarter of 2021 recover fairly strongly from the turmoil and grief caused by the attacks, while also driving early sales for the new consoles. The Beast, published by Acclaim, proved to be the most popular new title of the first quarter of the year. An RPG/simulation title, which the late Stan Lee did some work on before his death, it served as somewhat of a modern re-imagining of the obscure SNES RPG E.V.O.: The Search For Eden, allowing players to grow from a small insignificant creature into a powerful cryptid stalking the modern world, with the player able to determine the creature's evolutionary characteristics. Not only would the game garner rave reviews, it would be a streaming and memetic hit as well, providing the company with a much-needed new hit IP after the Destined series. Lost In Harajuku also achieved rave reviews, emerging as a pioneer in what would come to be known as the “social puzzle” genre, and though it would succeed commercially, it would fail to significantly move the needle for Quest sales just yet: the Hyper Nintendo remained well ahead of Apple's new console in the early part of 2021, though more people were starting to come around to the Quest's capabilities.

The real fireworks would take place in the spring of 2021. Though the ongoing (and nuclear) war in Pakistan would divert much of the world's attention, gamers looking for an escape had plenty to immerse themselves in in the second part of the year, while a constant stream of huge news stories also sent shockwaves through the gaming world. On the Nintendo/Sony front, two huge stories: Sony confirmed that it would be publishing its own software for multiple game consoles, and that numerous previously exclusive IPs, including the popular Ballistic Limit, would be coming to multiple consoles, with a new Ballistic Limit reboot game confirmed for late 2022, announced at Google's E3 presser. However, not all Sony IPs would come to multiple platforms: Nintendo purchased both Naughty Dog North and Naughty Dog Mothership outright, acquiring exclusivity over franchises such as Anna Goldstar, Mystic, and Tales Of The Seven Seas. Nintendo also announced numerous games for the Hyper Nintendo at E3, including Anna Goldstar 2, Elemancers 2, and a brand new Yoshi platformer, all coming to the Hyper Nintendo in the second half of 2021, joining Squad Four Academy and Pokemon Stadium Championship in a stacked year for the new console. However, overshadowing even all the massive E3 announcements was the release in late May (just three weeks after Pakistan launched its second tactical nuke in Kashmir) of Call Of Duty: Domination, the franchise's first MMO. It would be the first of two Call Of Duty games that Activision would release in 2021, and it would become the year's most talked about game, for better or for worse. The first all-multiplayer Call Of Duty game of TTL, it allows players to fight for their real-life home country or join another, participating in a massive world war resembling a large-scale game of Risk, battling it out with armies from other countries in a bid for global domination. With a nuclear war raging in real life, Call Of Duty: Domination became all too real for many, especially the many players from foreign countries who were treated to horrific racial epithets from American players still in “war fever”. Though there were few players from Pakistan able to play the game upon its release, others from Middle Eastern countries, or just anyone with an accent, were hit with a litany of racism and threats during game sessions, while Activision's community managers were unable to ban players fast enough to stop the racism. Just weeks later, Activision's CEO Bobby Kotick was hit with a massive sexual harassment lawsuit from numerous former employees, as even though Activision had managed to dodge many of its OTL issues for some time, these issues still cropped up, and Kotick was soon inundated with calls for his resignation. Amidst all the controversy, Call Of Duty: Domination was selling tens of millions of copies, and it was clear that the debates over the game and its publisher would rage for the remainder of the year. Other significant 2Q 2021 games included Street Fighter VII, The Poppet, Jessica Meets Her Dad (And Maybe Saves The World Again!), Striped Stalker, Arithia Falls, and Mixolydia Grand. Street Fighter VII largely lived up to the hype, continuing Capcom's winning streak and establishing itself as the front runner for Fighting Game of the Year (though Virtua Fighter VR, announced at E3 for the Quest, looked awesome, and there was also still The Boxer, which still looked like it could do for the Quest what Punch-Out did for the NES). Mixolydia Grand got great reviews, though it proved a disappointment in sales even as it allowed players to create amazing music with just a few simple hand gestures, and Arithia Falls was somewhat of a disappointment, Nintendo's attempt to establish an open world RPG IP for the Hyper Nintendo falling flat mostly due to its small scale and underwhelming storyline.

The third quarter of 2021 saw the continuation of Activision's troubles and would see Bobby Kotick resign from the company, even as Call Of Duty: Domination continued to bring in insane profits from software sales and microtransactions. Nintendo launched Elemancers 2, which quickly became the year's second biggest massively online hit, well behind Call Of Duty: Domination but still a hit, and most of all, quite wholesome and not plagued by racism. The year's biggest JRPG, Game Arts' Tryst Of Fate, also launched to excellent reviews, earning praise for its incredible love story, outstanding gameplay, and its online component which allowed players to explore a separate world and do quests in teams. Mega Man Unity was another huge hit, blending elements of nearly every separate Mega Man sidescroller franchise to create a sort of “best of” adventure that featured the series' best gameplay to date, and The Boxer proved to be an intense, gritty success and another reason to purchase the Quest with its immersive boxing gameplay, though many gamers still didn't bite. However, the biggest game of this period of the year was Psygnosis' Wildwood, about a group of young campers who get caught up in a fight for their lives after stumbling upon a secret militia camp. The game would earn plenty of comparisons to the Far Cry series, but would surpass it in the eyes of many due to a blend of outstanding shooting and survival mechanics and excellent character development and storytelling that allowed players to truly influence what way the story progressed. Though the game would prove controversial for its violence and its exploration of political subcultures, it would also emerge as the front-runner for Game of the Year, and would become a success for Psygnosis on the level of the Cyberwar series. Apart from the games, this part of the year would see a number of women follow Jennifer Oneal's lead and take key leadership positions in several major game companies. Activision would not hire a woman to replace Kotick (they would eventually hire their first woman CEO as the replacement for Kotick's replacement, but that will be discussed later), but other companies such as Acclaim and even Ubisoft would put women in key leadership positions, while Google would hire a number of women in key creative positions, tasking them with publishing and leading development teams for future Stadia exclusives. It would be a feel-good story to counteract the numerous Activision related controversies, and would be one of the major narratives in the industry going forward in the rest of the decade.

The last quarter of 2021 would be stacked with numerous blockbuster games. The Hyper Nintendo would release numerous major hits, including Squad Four Academy, The Adventures Of Anna Goldstar 2, Pokemon League Championship, and Yoshi's Island: The Lost Tree. Squad Four Academy, which saw the original cast take on a new role as mentors for a new generation of space heroes, would blend mission-based and strategic gameplay with the hack-and-slash/adventure format of previous titles with somewhat mixed results: good reviews, but more on the level of Protectors, rather than Apocalypse or Betrayal. Anna Goldstar 2 would prove a hit, if somewhat formulaic, and Pokemon League Championship emerged as the gold standard for Pokemon battling for years to come. The new Yoshi's Island, however, would be the best of them all, and would emerge as the Hyper Nintendo's best game of the year: a straight-up 2-D platformer that would use the Hyper Nintendo's tech to create vivid, colorful, amazing graphics (one reviewer said that the graphics in one level literally brought them to tears with how beautiful they were), a return to old-school exploration and challenge, an amazing soundtrack focused more on atmosphere than cuteness (though still with some cuteness) and a surprisingly heartfelt storyline told through the Yoshis' expressions and body language. It would sell millions and raise the bar for the sidescrolling platformer genre, showing that even with consoles that could create massive realistic worlds, there was still a place for the traditional platformer. The Apple Quest was no slouch either, debuting a massive Sonic RPG, a buttkicking Virtua Fighter game, and the gorgeous Fairy Detective, which used the Quest's immersive VR in conjunction with a heartwrenching storyline to tug the player's heartstrings while immersing them in a fantasy mystery. The Google Stadia wasn't left out of the fun either: in addition to a well received Hat In Time sequel, the Stadia would see the release of Ultraviolet, a sequel to 2017's Redshift that made extensive use of AR if one was using the Google Glass, but could be played as a thrilling MMO even if one didn't have the Glass, and proved to be one of the year's best games. 2021 actually proved to be somewhat of a return of the console exclusive, with most of the best games exclusive to either the Hyper Nintendo, the Quest, or the Stadia. There were a few notable exceptions, including the usual suspects: the big sports franchises, both Call Of Duty games, and an extremely scary and fun Resident Evil 9, which introduced Lady Dimitrescu, who thirsty TTL players wanted to step on them as much as OTL players did... but the year's best received multiplatform was also the biggest surprise: Selene Galaxy, announced at E3 2021 to the shock of many as a game not just for the Hyper Nintendo, but for the Apple Quest and Google Stadia as well. Taking place 200 years after the events of Selene 3, it presented a massive new universe for players to explore, similar to the OTL title No Man's Sky, and also featured a highly involved multiplayer mode in addition to its thrilling single player campaign. Its announcement at E3 2021 brought some of the biggest cheers of the show, and it proved to be a critical and commercial hit, with Apple and Google players equally thrilled to experience the series for the first time.

The Game Boy Zero had another massive year with a bumper crop of popular exclusives, while Apple's G platform sort of did its own thing, courting a number of outside IPs such as DC and Marvel to make games, with the biggest hit being Batman: Rogues, but other titles such as X-Men: Mutant Academy and Deadpool: Demolition Derby also achieving a measure of success. The Zero would continue its blistering pace toward becoming the most popular handheld console of all time, while Apple's G settled in as a sort of “complimentary” platform, something on enough devices that lots of people could play the games, but not something really in direct competition with either the Game Boy Zero or the Stadia. It occupied a unique niche in the industry, and in doing so, was able to attract lots of intriguing exclusive games, generating lots of software sales for Apple.

As for the year's overall sales numbers, the Hyper Nintendo maintained its lead over the Apple Quest, which, by about halfway through 2021, was a sizable one. However, in the second half of the year, the Quest began to turn the tide, as Hyper Nintendo sales tapered off slightly. The Hyper Nintendo still had the best overall market share of the two, but by the end of 2021, gamers were starting to come around to the Quest, which had established itself in the market and had proven that its brand of immersive VR could truly change the way people played their favorite games. A Black Friday sale dropping the Quest by $100 generated lots of sales, though by the end of 2021, Nintendo still maintained a lead in overall market share. The Hyper Nintendo and Apple Quest both had numerous major games lined up for 2022, which looked to be a “showdown” year of sorts for the two companies. As for the Google Stadia, Google saw sales of dedicated Stadia boxes drop significantly in 2021, showing that perhaps the allure of a dedicated Stadia machine wasn't quite so strong, especially as internet streaming speed increased in many parts of the country. Dedicated Stadia hardware was still a selling point for televisions, and Stadia-equipped TV sets remained among the top selling upscale TVs on the market during the year. Stadia subscriptions and users continued to steadily climb, not at the same rate as before, but definitely enough to prove that Google was still the market leader, even as the Hyper Nintendo and Apple Quest saw their own sales increase throughout the year.

The top ten consensus Game of the Year titles for 2021 were, in order: Wildwood, Yoshi's Island: The Lost Tree, Fairy Detective, Subnautica: Below Zero, Selene Galaxy, Ultraviolet, The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Hollowing, Lost In Harajuku, Humankind, Resident Evil 9

-

IGN's Top 100 Video Games Of All Time
(Posted on January 24, 2021. Includes only those games released before January 1, 2021.)

1. The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Dreams
2. Super Metroid
3. Super Mario World
4. Half-Life 3
5. Tetris
6. The Legend Of Zelda: Temple Of Time
7. World Of Warcraft
8. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
9. SimSociety
10. Grand Theft Auto III
11. Chrono Trigger
12. Super Mario Bros. 3
13. Necrocracy
14. Midia and the Gift Of Aqua
15. Doom
16. Squad Four Betrayal
17. Metal Gear Solid II: Children Of The Patriots
18. Super Mario Adventure 2
19. Blackheart 4
20. Doggerland
21. Super Mario Dimensions
22. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
23. Secret Of Mana
24. Ms. Pac-Man
25. Super Mario World 2
26. Sid Meier's Civilization VI
27. Corona del Sol
28. Final Fantasy VI
29. Metroid: Samus Awakens
30. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2
31. Gran Turismo Real
32. Half-Life 2
33. Pixelworld
34. The Dark Tower
35. Super Mario Bros.
36. Metroid: Darkness
37. Powerbroker
38. The Covenant
39. StarCraft
40. Ballistic Limit
41. Metal Gear Solid
42. Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night
43. Star Wars: TIE Fighter
44. The Last Gift
45. Punch-Out
46. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
47. Final Fantasy VIII
48. Selene 3
49. Spare Parts
50. Cyberwar
51. NHL '96 (Saturn)
52. Deus Ex
53. Panzer Dragoon Zeta
54. Donkey Kong
55. Velvet Dark
56. Gemstone
57. F-Zero: FIRESTORM
58. Celeste
59. Galaga
60. Quake
61. Snatcher
62. Gearworld
63. Yoshi's Island
64. Pokemon Order And Chaos
65. Time Cop: A Man Out Of Time
66. Space Invaders
67. NiGHTS Into Dreams...
68. The Sims
69. Final Fantasy XII
70. Diablo II
71. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
72. The Boiling Isles
73. Battlefield II
74. Phantasy Star II
75. Counter-Strike
76. Commander Keen: Worlds United
77. Tales Of The Seven Seas: Horizon
78. Squad Four Eclipse
79. The Dreamers
80. The Secret Of Monkey Island
81. Terranigma
82. What Remains Of Edith Finch
83. Contra III: The Alien Wars
84. Asteroids
85. Soul Calibur
86. Leyline
87. Super Tecmo Bowl
88. World Of Color: Millennium
89. Squad Four Rebellion
90. Mega Man 3
91. Thrillseekers 2
92. The Three Caballeros
93. Final Fantasy Online II
94. Death And Taxes
95. Earthbound 2
96. Scavenger Of The Slums 3
97. Killer Instinct Ultra
98. Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
99. The Lobotomized
100. Genshin Impact

-

2021's The Legend Of Zelda, directed by Ang Lee, was the last of the "big three" Nintendo adaptations that would make their way to the silver screen during the 2012-2021 decade, after James Cameron's two Metroid films and the animated Super Mario Bros. While those films were massive hits, Lee would have his work cut out for him adapting The Legend Of Zelda, considered to be Nintendo's best video game franchise and also perhaps its most difficult to adapt. The film would take bits and pieces from various games in the franchise to form its own cohesive story, though it would borrow most from The Legend Of Zelda: The Temple Of Time in its use of the character of Saria and the three goddesses of Hyrule each representing a piece of the Triforce, while also most heavily borrowing Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf's backstories from that game. Rather than center the film around a grand, epic quest, Lee and his writing team would instead choose to center the film around its three main characters, and particularly, Link and Zelda. Portraying Link as a brave but also reluctant hero, Zelda as a deeply empathic person nervous about being able to rule her people, and Ganondorf as the leader of the Gerudo tribe, who initially sought out the Triforce's power to protect his people but who soon became consumed by the strength it granted him, it made each of the heroes a three-dimensional character, while also allowing the film's narrative to develop on their defining trait: Link (Courage), Zelda (Wisdom), and Ganondorf (Power). The film's cast would include two young unknowns in Welsh actor Lewis Davies (original TTL) as Link and Australian actress Olivia DeJonge (a young OTL actress) as Zelda, a rising star in Christina Grimmie as Saria, and established actors Idris Elba as Ganondorf, Zoe Saldana as Impa, and Richard E. Grant as the King of Hyrule, a loving father but also a somewhat weak and incapable ruler who is easily manipulated by Ganondorf. Robin Williams and his daughter Zelda have cameo appearances, with Robin Williams in a brief but memorable role as an old trickster who appears before Link and Zelda in the forest, and Zelda Williams as one of the members of Saria's squad. The film, which clocks in at just under two and a half hours, would start with an action scene establishing the relationship between Link and Saria. The two are a pair of Kokiri warriors who are tasked with claiming the Triforce of Courage from the Forest Temple, which has been activated by a mysterious event (which is later revealed to be Ganondorf's activation of the Triforce of Power). Saria is the more headstrong of the two, but she and Link are equally capable, and we get to see Link's characterization on full display. He's portrayed in this film as a brave youth who will always fight to protect people in danger, but he's also frightened, both of letting others down and of getting hurt himself. He doesn't see himself as a hero, though Saria (who is already in love with him) does, and we soon learn that it's through Saria's encouragement that Link has been able to become such a capable young man, as the two have been training together to protect their small domain from danger. After a brief sequence of action set pieces, the two claim the Triforce of Courage, and they are tasked with going to Hyrule Castle together to talk to the king. Meanwhile, we get to see some scenes of Zelda and Ganondorf. Zelda is characterized as a natural born leader, kind to children and extremely intelligent, even moreso than her father, who has been able to lead Hyrule only because it's been a time of extended peace and prosperity. However, Zelda senses that bad times are coming, and she is determined to learn as much as she can to lead her people, though she is scared that she isn't up to the task. Meanwhile, Ganondorf has ruled the Gerudo since he became an adult, destined by the prophecy of his people. Under his leadership, they've grown from a small nomadic tribe of thieves into a newly emerged player on the world stage, though some of that is credited to Ganondorf's possession of the Triforce of Power. He seeks to acquire the other two pieces of the Triforce, though the Triforce of Wisdom is not in Zelda's hands: it has been broken into three pieces and divided across the world to protect it. Zelda knows where the pieces are, and she wishes to seek them out, while Ganondorf ultimately seeks to have Zelda tell him where the Triforce pieces are. Shortly after Link and Saria arrive, all hell breaks loose as Ganondorf and his Gerudo take the king prisoner, Zelda is forced to flee, and Link and Saria are caught up in a disaster that separates the two of them. When Link awakens, he's far from the castle, and after stumbling around for a bit, he comes across Zelda.

Link and Zelda's relationship is at the core of the movie, and Lee and the writers do something very clever with them. Unlike a lot of other "action/romance" movies, in which the male and female leads start out arguing with one another and slowly warm up to each other, that's not the case here. Apart from a brief (about half a minute) misunderstanding between Link and Zelda when they first meet, there are very few if any arguments between them. They start off on good terms and remain on good terms throughout the movie, though it doesn't follow the typical romance tropes either. Their relationship is portrayed, for the most part, as a friendship based on trust and understanding, as they both support each other to work through their various anxieties. The two are open with their feelings, with Zelda noticing right away that Link gets nervous easily, and Link noticing Zelda's insecurities. It's extremely unusual for any film, particularly an action film, to have a relationship between the two main leads that progresses in this way. The two cooperate quite easily throughout their adventure, using their various strengths, working together, and also teaching each other things without being condescending. Zelda is rarely, if ever, a damsel in distress in the film: there's one short segment where a monster wraps her up but she quickly escapes on her own, and Ganondorf does capture her toward the end of the film, but the two proceed to have an intense dialogue with one another and Zelda never looks intimidated by him, and even though Link helps to save her, she aids in her own rescue as well. Link and Zelda's time together is spent hunting down the three pieces of the Triforce of Wisdom, and the pieces have been placed in separate temples. The first is a traditional Zelda-like dungeon with tricks, traps, and action sequences. The second, near Kokiri territory, is fairly similar, but this is where Link and Saria reunite, and is sort of a "group challenge" temple, with Link and Zelda working together with Saria and the Kokiri in a more lighthearted, comic relief series of scenes. The third is a quiet, puzzle-themed area with no traps, simply a test of intelligence, featuring some quiet scenes and some dialogue between Link and Zelda, it's difficult to explain how this one plays out but it's a sequence many critics consider the film's best. Shortly afterward, after the Triforce of Wisdom is united, and after another short sequence, Ganondorf captures Zelda, while Link and Saria reunite once more as the two work together to rescue Zelda and save Hyrule. Ganondorf's plans are revealed: he wishes to transform Hyrule into a realm where strength and power are valued over deception and lies, though Zelda calls Ganondorf out on this, telling him that he was only able to gain power over her father through manipulation and lies. Ganondorf threatens Zelda with torture if she doesn't give up her Triforce, but she assures him that she would endure anything to protect her people, as she loves all of them dearly with all her heart. Ganondorf says that he loves his people equally, and Zelda calls him out again, telling him that he only wants the power for himself, that if he really cared about his people he'd be back leading them instead of using the Triforce of Power to conquer Hyrule. Soon after, Link, Saria, Impa, and a small army arrive to battle Ganondorf's forces. Nabooru (played by Sofia Boutella) initially stands against them, and we get a pretty cool fight sequence where Saria and Impa battle Nabooru, though they eventually convince her that Ganondorf's only in it for himself, and unite her to their side. Meanwhile, Link battles his way to where Zelda is, and Ganondorf engages him in battle. Soon after the fight starts, Zelda manages to free herself, and she aids Link in his fight, as the two defeat Ganondorf together. Of course, Ganondorf isn't through yet, and goes mad with power, transforming himself into a massive beast that Link and Zelda are forced to take down (with some help from Saria, Impa, and a few others). After Ganondorf's defeat, Hyrule is restored and the Triforce of Power is returned to the Gerudo, with Nabooru promising to safeguard it from anyone who would seek to use its power for evil. Zelda and Link retain their own pieces of the Triforce. Zelda becomes queen at the end of the film, succeeding her father, while Link takes on the role of Hyrule's protector knight. Unfortunately, as the protector, Link must venture the realm to battle various dangers, so he and Zelda will be separated. The two seem to accept this, though at the very end of the film, Zelda runs off with Link to a secluded clearing, and the two finally confess their feelings while admitting that they couldn't have accomplished what they did without each other. They know they still have to be separated from one another, but Zelda gives Link one final kiss and says that one day, the two of them will have time for more. They remind each other one last time to remember the lessons they learned from each other, then Link rides off on his horse as Zelda watches him depart. The film then ends, with a beautiful arrangement of the classic Legend of Zelda theme composed jointly by Howard Shore (the film's composer) and Koji Kondo playing over the credits. Fans who stay until the end of the credits aren't rewarded with a post-credit scene, but instead, Joe Pleiman's "Zelda (Link, He Come To Town)" is played, but this version actually is performed by System of a Down for the film's soundtrack, a neat little treat for longtime series fans.

The Legend Of Zelda is extremely well received by critics, claiming an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and earning numerous Oscar nominations in the technical categories, along with two acting nominations: Olivia DeJonge is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Princess Zelda, and Idris Elba is nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Ganondorf. In an astonishing upset, DeJonge would win for playing Zelda, with her strong and empathetic performance as the princess earning enormous critical praise. Other performances from the film that would be highly praised would of course include Davies as Link, Grimmie as Saria, and Saldana as Impa. The film would open on December 17, 2021, and would make $74 million in its opening weekend, though its real staying power would come afterward, as it would have excellent legs over the Christmas and New Year's weekends, earning $55 million in its second weekend and $42 million in its third. Overall, it would earn over $400 million at the domestic box office and over $1.3 billion worldwide, becoming one of 2021's most lucrative films, and Nintendo's latest major box office success. The game that many people thought couldn't be adapted to a movie was successfully brought to the screen by Ang Lee, and the trend of popular video games achieving critical and commercial success on the big screen would continue throughout the 2020s, with at least one more Zelda and Metroid film, as well as hit films based on Cyberwar, Grand Theft Auto, and Tales Of The Seven Seas.

-

Former G4 Host Announced As Permanent Host Of Jeopardy

After nearly a year of guest hosts and speculation, the long-running game show Jeopardy! has its next permanent host. Elisa Melendez, the former co-host of G4's X-Play, will take over as the new permanent host of Jeopardy! after a guest hosting stint earlier this year. Considered a longshot to claim the position, she had one of the highest rated and best received stints as guest host of the show for three weeks in June, and on the basis of this performance, the show's production staff, including executive producer Ted Crosley, named her guest host ahead of several other notable contenders including Mayim Bialik and Peyton Manning. Melendez, who was born in Puerto Rico, will become the first Latina to host a major primetime game show, and will usher in a new era for the show after more than 35 years of the legendary Alex Trebek. Producers and fans alike praised her skillful delivery of the show's clues, as well as her energetic hosting style, and though she did garner some controversy for her somewhat unorthodox appearance (wearing a different streak of color in her hair each week she appeared on the show), many analysts believe that she could bring in more youthful fans, as well as more women and minority viewers. Though her selection did have some critics, most of the reaction on social media was highly positive, with numerous individuals, including former contestants and some of the other hosting candidates, congratulating her on her selection as the show's host.

Melendez will begin her run as the permanent Jeopardy! host in January 2022.

-from an article on Tubehound, posted on November 13, 2021

-

Despite Some Security Concerns, Gibraltar Bridge Enjoys Successful Opening

It's now possible to travel by car directly from Europe to Africa and back again, as one of the most expensive and complex engineering projects in world history has finally been completed and has opened to the public. The Gibraltar Bridge, spanning the Straits of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco, formally opened for motor vehicle traffic today, and saw more than 50,000 crossings across its 11-mile span in its first day of operation. Though security concerns related to the ongoing conflict in Pakistan did lead to a three week delay of the bridge's opening, it was ultimately determined that security would be sufficient to open the bridge fully, and it now forms a vital road link between the continents of Europe and Africa across the Straits of Gibraltar, which before it had only been possible to cross via ferry. The project, which cost tens of billions of dollars and which saw a number of worker deaths, is expected to generate a significant financial boon for both Spain and Morocco as increased tourism and trade lead to significant benefits for the economy of both countries. The bridge is ultimately expected to pay for itself, though it could take more than a decade before the economic benefits generated will be enough to offset both the cost of bridge construction and operation. Spain and Morocco have both experienced an economic boom in recent years, and this boom is expected to continue thanks to the increased trade generated by travel over the bridge, which could see tens of millions of crossings annually.

-from an article on Yahoo News, posted on May 20, 2021

-

Not to be outdone by Marvel and DC's collaborative efforts, Acclaim has announced a crossover event of its own, with international flavor. 2022 will see the beginning of "Acclaim vs. Jump", a crossover between various Acclaim Entertainment properties and various anime and manga properties under the Shonen Jump umbrella. This will include a fighting video game, a series of comic book and manga crossovers, and even an animated series event that will air exclusively on the Blockbuster streaming service...

Nickelodeon has found its newest animated hit. Home Ec Heroes, a comedy series focused around a group of friends in a bizarre home economics class, blends elements of classic cartoons with middle school tropes, and its wild cast is proving quite popular online since the show's debut in the fall of 2021. It replaced The Loud House, which ended its run earlier in the year...

Outside of Marvel and DC's crossover event, a new young DC Comics heroine has emerged, and she's proven to be one of the most popular new superheroes in quite some time. Krysten Tsujimi, who goes by her alter-ego Mirror, has the ability to reflect any attack directed at her by her enemies, but with no offensive powers, she often has to get creative to take down her foes, and she does so with a combination of wits and empathy. Her stories frequently explore themes of trauma, bigotry, and abuse, and reflect numerous real-life events, while forging a history of its own...

Marvel movies remain strong box office draws, though not as strong as they once were, with no Marvel superhero film crossing $400 million at the domestic box office this year. The most successful Marvel film of the year has been Ms. Marvel, though that particular film has met with considerable controversy due to the ongoing war in Pakistan, which has likely limited its box office potential, holding it to a mere $325 million at the domestic box office...

As Japan continues to recover from the Kadokawa massacre, a bright spot has perhaps emerged as a young animator who worked on some of Hayao Miyazaki's projects before his death has come out of the shadows to create a film of her own. 29-year-old Sadako Reizakawa's film The Flower That Talked is generating enormous box office numbers in Japan since its release in November, and could be a contender for the year's best film in that country. Reizakawa was present at the convention hall at the time of the attacks, and says that she wrote her film as a reaction to her grief over that day. The film explores issues of survivor's guilt, and is an especially poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the need for all of us to show those we care about how much we care before it's too late. Reizakawa's film has also achieved some success in the West, particularly the United States, where it's grossed $54 million in that country, a considerable amount for an anime film, ranking fifth all time (behind two Dragon Ball Super movies, a Pokemon movie, and the Demon Slayer film which released in 2020)....


-excerpts from various articles on The Toon Times, posted during November and December of 2021

-

July 19, 2021

Selena, along with her closest friends and family, stood above a massive crowd of excited people in Corpus Christi, all waiting with bated breath. An announcement about who was to host the Summer Olympics in 2028 was now imminent, with Corpus Christi, against all odds, in the running against Paris and Dubai for the honor. The fact that her town even had a chance to host the Olympics was the culmination of a decade-long effort to get people excited and to improve the city, and Selena had been working with business owners for years to foot most of the bill for the Games, while promoting the city's growth and international stature.

Still, she knew it was a long shot. The fact that the city had even edged out other Texas cities like Dallas and Houston to win the American nomination for the bid was a minor miracle, aided by Jerry Jones deciding he no longer wanted Dallas to host the event, and by Houston hitting a budgetary shortfall.

Standing near Selena was her husband Chris, and her young son. Her daughter Crystal was a short distance away, standing with some of her young She's Got It! co-stars. Selena looked over at Crystal and waved, and Crystal smiled and waved back with one hand, while her other hand was tightly grasped around that of her co-star and best friend from the show, Billie Scifres.

"Think we got a shot?" asked Chris, looking at Selena.

"What? Of course we do, don't be silly!" Selena admonished him.

"Ah, I know, I know, but... Paris? And Dubai, they've been building all kinds of crazy stuff with all that oil money."

"But, you know, their human rights record is spotty..."

"That didn't stop China from getting it in 2024," said Chris. "And, I mean, Paris is Paris."

"They've already had it in Paris before, give someone else a chance! We're a great town, we deserve it!"

Selena was shaking nervously, but feeling the excitement of the cheering crowd below. She walked back up to the microphone, causing an enormous swell of cheering from the gathered people.

"Are you guys ready for the Olympics?" shouted Selena, raising her hand in the air. "Corpus Christi, we got this, I know we got this and it's all thanks to you!"

As Selena cheered energetically, and the crowd responded with cheers of their own, her eyes scanned the crowd for any signs of trouble. It was a ritual she performed at every single one of her concerts for the last 25 years, ever since there'd been a minor crowd crush at a show she'd given in Houston in 1996. Thankfully, no one had been seriously hurt, but it prompted her to rethink everything she knew about crowd security, and to research incidents like the Who concert in Cincinnati, and the Hillsborough disaster. The last thing she ever wanted was for someone to get hurt at one of her shows, and she made security a top priority ever since, making sure that everyone who worked security at her shows was highly trained, and to take an active role in protecting fans herself by using her vantage point above the crowds to look for signs of danger. Kurt Cobain and his Nirvana bandmates had even given her some pointers on what to look out for.

Thankfully, the security teams were vigilant, and the crowd control measures ensured that everyone at this enormous gathering was safe. This would be a day of celebration, even if Corpus Christi wasn't awarded the Olympics.

As the crowd continued to cheer, Selena looked over at her daughter Crystal one more time. She was resting her head tenderly on her friend's shoulder. Disney had recently approved a storyline where her daughter's character and her best friend would start a romantic relationship, and for a moment, Selena wondered if she was seeing life imitating art, or if her daughter was just a bit worn out from such an exciting day.

I'm proud of you no matter what, mija, and I always will be, thought Selena, smiling warmly.

"The Olympic Committee has made its decision," came the voice of the speaker on the big screen behind the stage.

"Here it comes!" Selena shouted excitedly, as the crowd was whipped into a near frenzy.

"The 2028 Summer Olympics will be held in the city of... Corpus Christi, United States of America!"

The crowd issued an enormous sound of exhilaration and joy, screaming and cheering and leaping into the air. Selena screamed with them, dancing around excitedly on stage before being swept up into her husband's arms and kissing him passionately.

"This is all you," Chris whispered to her as they parted from the kiss. "You did this, all of it.... I love you so much, I'm so proud of you..."

Selena just laughed quietly, tears streaking down her face. She looked back out into the crowd and could see so many people like her, people with hopes and dreams, one of which had just come true. She kissed Chris again, shaking her head with humility.

"So many people made this happen," Selena told him, trying to stay humble.

"You inspired them... just like you inspire me. I love you so much..."

Selena wished she could've stayed there kissing her husband forever, but there were more than 200,000 people gathered in downtown Corpus Christi, and all of them wanted to hear her sing. She smiled and kissed him one more time.

"I love you too, baby..."

She turned back toward the crowd and picked up her mic, signaling for music to play. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw another kiss... her daughter had just given her co-star Billie a quick peck on the lips.

"God, I hope TMZ didn't see that," Billie joked.

Me importa un carajo, Crystal swore with a smirk.

Entiendo español, tu sabes... Billie replied, smirking back.

Yo también, mija... thought Selena, though there would be no scolding today... just singing and celebration. "¿Corpus Christi, estas lista para la fiesta?"

The crowd roared again, and Selena smiled and began to sing... kicking off a celebration that would last for more than two hours. For all Selena's awards, her millions of sales, her accolades... bringing the Olympics to her home town would always be what she considered her greatest achievement.

Apart, of course, from her family, who was right there celebrating with her.

-

August 27, 2021

It had been more than 26 years since the last time John F. Kennedy Jr. had personally met with Diana. The two had met back in 1995 in a New York City hotel room to discuss the former Princess of Wales appearing on the cover of Kennedy's magazine George. Though she declined the cover appearance, the two had enjoyed a friendly, albeit brief meeting, and had not, despite what the tabloids said, engaged in any sort of scandalous activity.

Their meeting now was at the White House, and it was focused on something far more important than a magazine cover. The two were discussing the issue of climate change, which Diana had been passionately raising awareness of with her husband George Clooney for more than a decade now. The two had raised billions for clean energy projects around the world, and their advocacy had moved several nations to work toward lowering emissions and establishing greener energy standards. Though the president still had a lot on his plate with the ongoing war, the issue of climate change was still an extremely pressing one, and Diana was determined to get the United States on board with her new initiative to reduce carbon emissions in all Western nations.

Their talk had been cordial and friendly, as it had been 26 years before. A lot had changed for both of them, especially for Kennedy, who now held the same position his father once held, in perhaps the most perilous circumstances the United States had faced in many years.

And though the conversation was largely focused on climate change, it did occasionally drift toward the personal side of things, especially toward the end, after Kennedy had agreed to propose another significant climate bill to Congress.

"...it does feel so much different, doesn't it?" asked Diana, looking out the Oval Office window. "Sitting at the table, instead of under it?"

Kennedy chuckled, listening to Diana reference that old picture of the young Kennedy, at that time known by many as John-John, playing under his father's desk.

"I didn't have any idea how hard his job was back then," said Kennedy, heaving a long, heavy sigh. "It is hard."

"Do you think you made the right decision... after that final bomb was dropped? The decision not to make a nuclear strike?"

It was an extremely personal question, especially from someone such as Diana, who worried that she might've overstepped her bounds in asking it.

But the president felt comfortable talking with her, and didn't hesitatee to answer.

"I know I made the right decision," said Kennedy. "Those people living in Pakistan, they didn't have anything to do with those bombings. The only thing dropping nuclear weapons on civilian targets would've accomplished would be adding to the death toll of an already brutal war. The historians, they'll say I 'mulled over' dropping the bomb, but I'll tell you right now, the thought never crossed my mind for a second, and that's the truth."

Diana was surprised to hear such a frank answer to her question... but also relieved, relieved that her old friend still understood the value of human life despite the heavy burdens that had been placed on him. She nodded her head in agreement.

"You did make the right decision," she told him. "...of course, you don't need me to tell you that."

"No, but I'm honored you would," Kennedy replied. "You and George are doing good work."

"...do you ever get the feeling like we're not supposed to be here?"

The president raised his eyebrow. Diana smirked and shook her head.

"It's just... I remember an old line in one of my friend Elton's songs... thinking sometimes that I've lived my life like a... 'candle in the wind'. I've gotten in cars that were forced to flee from reporters, I've spoken out at times I know I shouldn't have..."

"I used to fly small airplanes," Kennedy said, laughing. "Quit when I ran for the Senate, but there were some times I thought... this plane could crash, and then..."

The two exchanged a look.

"Then there's that stupid curse."

"Ugh," groaned Diana, rolling her eyes. "Just people's way of trying to make sense of things that don't. ...I guess we all do it sometimes, don't we?"

"It's human nature," said the president. "I never believed in any curses, or conspiracies... my dad and his brother were murdered, my uncle Ted made a terrible decision, my other uncle died in a war... it's life, it happens... best we can do is make the best decisions we can in the moment, decisions that are best for as many people as possible."

"Well, I'll say this, I'm glad it was your finger on the button that day," said Diana, looking into the president's eyes with complete sincerity. "I'm not sure I know too many people who'd have made that same decision."

"You would have," said the president, with equal sincerity.

"...thank you," Diana replied. "Thank you for everything."

-

Though the war was over by the end of 2021, the aftermath reverberated throughout the remainder of President Kennedy's second term, as the president faced numerous challenges related to counter-terrorism and public pressure urging him to pass stricter laws on immigration and homeland security. Though he would resist some of the more extreme efforts to curtail personal freedom and liberty, he would sign a number of controversial bills into law that expanded the national security apparatus and the defense budget, driving up the country's deficit and leading to economic uncertainty. In the 2022 midterms, Kennedy would hold onto the House, but would lose the Senate, forcing him to work with Republicans for the remainder of his term and severely limiting his ability to pass his economic agenda. He would remain popular with Americans, his approval rating rarely dipping below 50 percent for much of his second term, but in 2024, an economic downturn driven by higher unemployment and rising inflation would lead to some voter disillusionment, and ultimately to the election of Republican Doug Ducey to the presidency, defeating the Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley, who had beaten Stacey Abrams in a heated primary race for the Democratic nomination. President Ducey was elected along with a wave of Republicans to the House and Senate, giving Republicans the trifecta and allowing him to pass his fiscally conservative agenda largely unchallenged. Ducey would oversee an America in the throes of a full-on recession, though his response to the recession would differ from that of Jon Huntsman back in 2009. While Huntsman had been willing to use economic stimulus, albeit reluctantly, Ducey's approach would be different, passing bills that invested in private enterprise and using business incentives to encourage hiring, while also lowering taxes. While his economic measures were somewhat effective initially, lowering unemployment and driving up the stock market, inflation continued to plague the economy, as deficit spending remained high without additional tax revenue, and many working class Americans felt an increased economic pinch. Ultimately, Ducey's approach would fail to turn the recession around fast enough for voters, who would return Democrats to power in both the House and Senate in 2026, and would pave the way for Stacey Abrams to return to the presidential stage with a much more successful primary campaign in 2027 and 2028. She would ultimately be the Democratic nominee in 2028, and would triumph over Ducey, making him the first one-term president since George H. W. Bush in 1992 (Ducey's loss would also be aided by a terrible flu that would sweep the world in 2028 and 2029, causing a COVID-19 like disruption for much of the world and further contributing to the economic calamity). The Abrams administration, which would last two terms (2029-2037), would be a time of unprecented progressive reform, comparable to the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, complete with the passage of a Green New Deal and the dismantling of the Taft-Hartley Act, which had kept the power of labor unions in check for nearly a century. It would see the minimum wage eventually rise to 25 dollars an hour by the 2030s, and true single-payer universal health care in America, though universal college education would ultimately fall just short of passage. Unfortunately, the Abrams administration would also see a number of domestic crises erupt in the country, including a wave of domestic terrorism in the 2030s and a humanitarian crisis at the Southern border brought on by water shortages, natural disasters, and political unrest. Ultimately, while the Abrams administration would come to be seen as one of the most significant and sweeping times in American history, it would also be the beginning of what would come to be a tumultuous middle of the 21st Century, with the period between 2040-2070 seeing energy shortages, climate crises, and more war (including at least one more nuclear war). Revolutions and climate-related disasters would begin to dominate the world headlines during this time, though there would also be a number of positive stories, including cures for a wide variety of diseases including HIV and many cancers, cooperation between Russia and America leading to the construction of a Bering Strait bridge in the 2060s, and solutions to a wide variety of scientific problems, including new energy solutions during the 2060s that would come to be seen as the innovations that led us out of a time of worldwide crisis. During all of this time, new games would be released, new stars would be made, and new figures would rise to prominence, especially as more and more of the world's population would consist of people that were never born in our timeline, brought to life by the butterflies created at the 1991 point of divergence.

-

(Here is a brief look at the fates of some of this timeline's most prominent figures, both OTL and original TTL:)

GameTV ended in 2023, finishing off its run on Paramount+ with a star-studded final episode. By this time, Austin Watson was the only remaining member of the original cast, and after the show ended, he would go on to a career in acting, streaming, and e-sports commentary, becoming one of game streaming's most prominent figures for years to come. Christina Grimmie, who returned for the show's final episode, would become a popular actress, singer, and even stage performer, though she would be best known for her singing career, winning two Grammys landing several songs in the Billboard Top 40. She would perform a number of voice acting roles in both games and animated shows, and her career would be somewhat of a hybrid of the careers enjoyed by Brittany Saldita and Lyssa Fielding after the original GameTV came to an end, though unlike Brittany and unlike IOTL, Grimmie would go on to live a long life, and despite her fame and her busy career, she'd still be able to make plenty of time for video games. Speaking of Lyssa Fielding, she would remain a moderately famous actress for a number of years before eventually retiring to spend more time with her family. She would remain a friend and mother figure to both of Brittany Saldita's children for the remainder of her life, and would eventually die of natural causes in her 90s.

Kurt Cobain would never make another album with Nirvana, though he and his former bandmates, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, would remain friends for the rest of his life, and he would even help campaign for Grohl during his successful run for the United States Senate from Washington in 2028. Cobain would never re-connect with Courtney Love, either, though he did remain close with Kathleen Hanna, and would also make plenty of time to spend with his daughter Frances, helping to promote her art and her other work. Though Cobain would fend off the depression that claimed his life IOTL, his past bad habits would eventually catch up with him, and he would die of a heart attack in 2039, aged 72.

Polly Klaas would remain in academia, continuing her work as a professor and researcher studying the effects of media on the human psyche. Her academic work would eventually contribute to a breakthrough study that would win the Nobel Prize for Medicine (Klaas herself doesn't win the Nobel Prize, though she is listed as a contributing researcher among dozens of other scientists), confirming the ability of certain sound frequencies to reverse neurological damage brought on by diseases such as multiple sclerosis, research that would eventually lead to a breakthrough treatment for ALS in 2061. She would eventually come to be known more for her work in academia than for the two near-death incidents she had as a child (in much the same way that James Comey is better known today for his FBI career than the home invasion he survived when he was young). Her occasional appearances on various TV news programs being interviewed about her research would help with this. She would maintain a lifelong friendship with her friend Lizzie, who steps down from Cressida Lane in 2032 to devote more time to her wife Wendy and their two adopted children. Soon after, Cressida Lane would be absorbed into a larger media conglomerate, though its impact continues to be felt throughout the 21st century as a leading voice for third and fourth wave feminism.

Monty Oum would remain with Argonaut until its eventual purchase by a larger gaming company in 2037. During his time at Argonaut, he continues work on the Squad Four series, and also works on a number of other new IPs at this time (he does more animation work than writing, so nothing like RWBY emerges, the closest thing would be the resemblance that two Squad Four Academy recruits have to Ruby and Weiss). As for the RWBY main voice cast, only Barbara Dunkleman (who remains with Google until 2027, when she leaves to start her own social media consulting company) and Arryn Zech (who becomes a decently known voice actress, moreso than IOTL, mostly working in anime dubbing and some games) are notable in any way ITTL.

Martina Sanders, also known as M.S., would die in 2021 at the age of 27, via assisted suicide following the removal of her larynx in an unsuccessful attempt to halt the progression of her terminal cancer. Her death, in addition to being a tragedy that would send shockwaves through the music industry, is also notable because she is the first famous person and one of the first young people to legally die via California's assisted suicide law, which allows patients who have exhausted all other medical options to choose to have a doctor administer a lethal and painless dose of drugs to them. Despite her extremely controversial public persona, there is an enormous outpouring of grief following her death, with even some of her biggest “enemies” paying tearful tribute to her. She became an advocate for assisted suicide in the weeks before her death, and a number of other jurisdictions pass laws similar to the one in place in California (and, at the time of her death, 17 other states).

Patroka Epstein continues her successful acting career, winning one more Oscar and three Emmys, and becoming one of the top A-list actresses of the 2020s and 2030s. She suffers no further complications from her injury or the surgery to restore her mobility, and continues to be a leading advocate for the rights of the disabled and for stem cell research. Her marriage to Alyson Stoner only lasts eight years before the two separate (though they separate on amicable terms and remain friends), and she marries again four years later.

Mihoshi Koizumi would go on to win five NASCAR Cup Series championships, making her one of the most successful race car drivers of all time, as well as a pioneer for women in sport, leading the way for numerous other female drivers to achieve success in racing circuits throughout the 2020s, 2030s, and 2040s. Though she would fall three championships short of Dale Earnhardt's record, she remains one of the sport's most successful figures of all time, and she would go on to a long career in commentary and endorsements, mostly in her native Japan, though she would frequently visit the United States as well. As for Dale Earnhardt, in 2020, he briefly considered making a presidential run in 2024 as a Republican, though the New Year's Day attacks and the war that followed quickly dissuaded him of this notion, and he would go on to say that he wouldn't trust himself with the nuclear button, admitting that he doesn't know what he would've done in President Kennedy's position, and praising Kennedy's discretion in not escalating the war, despite his disagreements with the president on mostly economic issues. Earnhardt would die in 2041 at age 90, of natural causes.

Selena Quintanilla-Perez remains one of the most prominent entertainers and music producers in the world, and a living legend in her home state of Texas. Though she was semi-retired from singing and performing, she would eventually return to making music, with several more albums and concert tours in her future, along with some acting as well. Her production studio would remain one of the biggest in the music businesses, eventually producing dozens of award winning artists. She would live a very long life in the musical spotlight, eventually passing away in 2068 at the age of 97. Her daughter Crystal would also go on to a somewhat successful career in music and acting, though ultimately she would choose to step down from life as an active performer in her early 30s, choosing instead to join her mother in the production studio, occasionally doing some voiceover or stage acting. Though talented, she doesn't quite have the zest for performing like her mother has, but she does enjoy supporting other talented artists, and would do a collaboration from time to time.

Inez Delgado would continue voice acting throughout her 20s, in animated shows and video games, though her college degree would be in business, where she would eventually chose to focus her career. Her first major foray into business would be in 2026, when, at the age of 26, she would be chosen by her godmother Selena to be the CEO of the Selena Etc. chain (which by 2021 is a successful chain of fashion boutiques with hundreds of locations around the USA and the world). Under Inez's decade-long tenure, the company would expand significantly and would achieve a series of record years of profits, making many millions of dollars for Selena and her investors (Selena herself would use nearly all of her profits from this venture into her charitable endeavors). During this time, Inez would gradually step away from acting entirely, until the only role she was still performing was her Thrillseekers role as Izzy, though this too would diminish greatly with the introduction of Thrillseekers Gen 3 in 2032. Inez would eventually step down from her position as CEO of Selena Etc. to take on somewhat of a “dream job” as the CEO of Actvision, taking over from Bobby Kotick's successor in 2038 at the age of 38. Under Inez's leadership, Activision would become much more employee-focused, continuing to make high quality and profitable games while providing excellent benefits and protections for its staff (reforms enacted by the Stacey Abrams administration would aid greatly with this, as it wouldn't be nearly so unprofitable to enact these changes as it would have been beforehand). Inez would remain in this job for 24 years before retiring to a quiet life at home with her husband and the rest of her family.

Regan Hardwick would achieve immediate success in the music industry with her album “Phoenix”, which released in late 2020. She would win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 2022 at the age of 17, and from there, would go on to have a very long and very successful career as one of the greatest entertainers of all time. She would continue her music career with a string of critically acclaimed and highly successful albums, winning more than a dozen Grammy Awards over her career, while also becoming an actor in numerous films, and even taking on the Broadway stage to win a Tony Award in 2036 to complete her EGOT at just 31 years of age (her Emmy being a Daytime Emmy for her performance in Lyte and Darke, she would win a Primetime Emmy for a hosting spot on Saturday Night Live in 2038, silencing the sticklers). The most successful musical artist to ever come out of Selena's production studio, she and Crystal would remain lifelong friends, forming a sort of “Rat Pack” with Inez Delgado and Crystal's She's Got It! co-star Billie Scifres. Despite her success in multiple entertainment media, she never loses her love of all things geeky, and though she would be forced to end her Turn The Tables show in 2022, she would continue to do occasional “special episodes” with Inez, while also doing guest spots on shows like Critical Role, using her own fame to elevate the profile of geek-related projects and continuing to wear her “Nerd Princess” nickname like a badge of honor. She would become so accomplished that her mother Brittany would primarily become known for being, well, Regan Hardwick's mom, especially amongst people born in the 21st century. Perhaps the only spot of bad luck during Regan's career would be her genetics: with a long history of cancer in her family, she knows that she has a “ticking time bomb” inside of her, and rather than wait for bad news, she undergoes preventative surgery at the age of 30 to prevent the same type of ovarian cancer that killed her mother (and great-grandmother). Regan goes on to live a very long and happy life, witnessing all of the technological and cultural changes of the 21st century (and some of the 22nd).

-

(What follows is a list of the ten best selling game consoles and the 25 best selling video games of all time, as of January 1, 2021. I've tried as best I can to provide an "accurate" list considering the information in previous posts, but if anything in these lists contradicts what's already been revealed in those posts, these lists take prominence, and those posts are considered retconned.)

The Top 10 Best Selling Game Consoles Of All Time:

Ultra Nintendo: 147,818,604
Game Boy/Game Boy Color: 121,506,730
Nintendo Reality: 118,765,481
Google Nexus: 112,451,786
Apple iTwin: 110,575,819
Game Boy Supernova: 108,683,387
Nintendo Sapphire: 102,284,316
Apple Virtua: 100,597,884
Nintendo Connect: 93,604,783
Nintendo Wave: 90,668,749

The Top 25 Best Selling Video Games Of All Time (combining all versions/remakes):

Tetris: 281,695,203
SimSociety: 204,816,669
Grand Theft Auto III: 125,713,446
Pixelworld: 110,575,819
Super Mario Dimensions: 81,017,664
Super Mario Bros.: 55,374,826
Cyberwar 4: 52,339,586
Pokemon Red/Green/Yellow: 47,199,387
Pac-Man: 40,251,354
Super Mario World 2: 40,193,786
Gran Turismo Real: 36,800,396
Ultra Mario Kart: 35,139,587
Call Of Duty: Nightfall: 33,312,664
Mariokart Reality: 31,900,856
Sonic Neon: 31,375,694
Pokemon Sun/Moon: 31,215,873
Grand Theft Auto II: 30,572,380
The Covenant: 30,160,824
Duck Hunt: 28,825,507
Miraculous Ladybug: 27,314,455
Super Mario World: 26,870,887
Thrillseekers 2: 26,287,360
Gran Turismo 2: 25,793,401
The Covenant 5: 25,392,597
Final Fantasy XII: 25,186,394

-

As the ninth generation of gaming continued, a recurring theme began to emerge: immersive gaming was more than just a fad, and whether it was the VR of Apple's Quest or the AR of Google Stadia/Glass, gamers truly did want to be immersed in their video games like never before. Google's Overworld would be the biggest game of 2022, even surpassing the massively hyped but slightly disappointing Grand Theft Auto IV, while the Apple Quest would see its sales continue to increase as the Hyper Nintendo suffered a sales setback (despite VERY positive reception to the new Naughty Dog IP Valentine). Nintendo would bounce back massively with hit titles in all of their biggest IPs, and ultimately the Hyper Nintendo would still be the best selling system of the ninth generation, beating out the Apple Quest by more units than the Reality beat the Virtua... but despite that, the Quest still advanced the medium of gaming significantly, winning critical accolades for numerous games and convincing Apple that the technology behind the Quest was solid, people just didn't want to pay heaps of money for it. Apple would continue to refine the Quest's VR technology throughout the decade, working to make the VR cheaper and using the G platform as a way to put more Oculus Quests in players' hands, while working on a streaming solution similar to what Google was doing with the Stadia (to great continued success, if not radical success as they experienced before). The Last Gift: Odyssey, the sequel to 2019's Game of the Year, would come to the Quest in 2024, and would be the last major killer app that would drive Quest hardware sales in a big way, with Apple slowly transitioning to what would ultimately be the company's cloud-based VR tech solution for their next "platform generation" closer to the end of the decade. 2024 would prove to be an enormous year for gaming in general, as it would also see the release of SimSociety 2, the sequel to 2008's SimSociety. Released for both PCs and streaming platforms, it would utilize VR heavily in its gameplay and social networking, and would be a major driver of immersive VR technology moving forward, allowing players to communicate with one another in immersive, user-generated worlds. Sony would emerge as a significant player on the software market, reviving Ballistic Limit as a AAA IP while introducing a number of other popular new IPs, including a brand new MMORPG called United, which would bring squads of players together for raids on complex dungeons, all revolving around an ever-changing storyline. United would also be released in 2024 and would come to surpass World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy Online III as the biggest MMORPG in the world, though it wouldn't hold that title nearly as long as its predecessors, as new MMORPGs, all taking advantage of immersive VR, would also rise toward the end of the decade. By the end of the 2020s, Nintendo would announce its Hyper Nintendo successor, the Super Reality, which would bring back full VR in innovative new ways. Its competition would be streaming platforms developed by four different companies: Apple, Google, Valve, and a new player on the gaming front, Indra, a collaboration between a group of gaming companies led by Psygnosis, along with a tech conglomerate consisting of a number of former gaming and computer software executives, including Mark Zuckerberg (who would play a minor role in Indra ultimately). As the only company releasing a tenth generation console, Nintendo had "won" the console wars... but of course, the industry had changed, and Nintendo's new fight had only just begun. As the 2020s came to a close, gaming had become more social, more immersive, but also more driven by microtransactions due to the success of companies like Keiken and of games like Genshin Impact. There were still plenty of epic single player adventures to be had, but immersive multiplayer was now the dominant form of AAA title, and would continue to dominate gaming as the 2030s began.

-

Alex Stansfield: Today is the 30th anniversary of the fateful business meeting between Nintendo and Sony that would lead to the creation of the Super Nintendo CD. It's hard to say what the industry would be like if Nintendo or Sony had decided to back out of that deal, which has no doubt had a tremendous impact on all of video games in these past three decades. Looking back, is there anything you would change about your own decision to push your company Sony to work more with Nintendo? After all, it was your work on the SNES' sound chip that led Sony to collaborate on that CD peripheral in the first place.

Ken Kutaragi: Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing! *laughs* Apart from the financial success the deal ended up bringing to me, which of course I am glad for because it's allowed me to provide for my family, working with Nintendo allowed me to operate at the cutting edge of gaming technology. Before Sony began working with Nintendo, Nintendo was... well, while their games were quite fun and innovative, technologically, they were a bit backward, you know? Which is fine, of course, as long as the games are fun, but video game consoles are essentially computers, and you want to have cutting edge computers, so of course, you want cutting edge games! Now, you see Nintendo's consoles, they're usually the best, the best graphics, the most innovation, and I have to take some credit for that. *laughs again* It was a real test for my mind, for me, to work on these consoles with Nintendo, and I enjoyed the challenge it brought me, to innovate and push the limits of what was possible. I remember Squad Four Eclipse in 1996, you remember that game, yes? I remember seeing it on the SNES-CD, and thinking, "wow, that's running on a Super Nintendo!"

Alex: I remember some Super Nintendo CDs having problems running that game.

Ken: Exactly! *laughs* But most didn't!

Alex: No, no, it's not a bad thing, that game looked awesome when it came out, it even looked better than a lot of Saturn games at the time.

Ken: Exactly!

Alex: You've never taken offense to being called "Crazy Kutaragi", have you?

Ken: None at all, I take it as a great compliment! Because, because most people, when they have a new idea, people say, "oh, that won't work"... they call them crazy. And the idea of Nintendo and Sony, the big video game company, the big electronics company that had never ever made a game before... that was crazy, at the time. Everyone thought I was crazy for working so hard on that SMP chip. Everyone thought I was crazy for trying to bring Sony and Nintendo together. But... but! *laughing* It was just crazy enough to work, wasn't it?

Alex: And now I can't imagine a world where Nintendo and Sony didn't work together all those years.

Ken: I don't even want to think about it. The thought of a world where Nintendo and Sony decided not to work together...

Alex: Maybe that's crazy.

Ken: It's not crazy, it's just boring! *laughs*

-from a Games Over Matter interview with Ken Kutaragi, posted on June 24, 2021

-

January 31, 2022

Inez Delgado and Regan Hardwick sat together at a booth in a lavishly decorated club in Los Angeles, one of numerous Grammy after parties taking place that night in the city. It wasn't the "main" Grammy afterparty, as Regan at just 17 was too young to attend the club where that party was taking place, but as the year's Best New Artist winner, it was definitely the second biggest event, with plenty of stars and celebrities and members of the paparazzi there to dance and celebrate and have fun while attempting to have their picture taken with one of the biggest stars of the night.

The two had spent most of the night together, occasionally breaking off so that Regan could dance or take a picture with some of the many guests of honor. The two had had a fun evening, and Regan was basking in the glow of her victory, but even amidst all the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood party, they couldn't escape the small part of them that felt much more at home geeking out over games than hanging out with A-listers. Regan was still a bit uncomfortable with crowds and fame, and though she'd gotten mostly over it (and would get over it entirely quite soon), she was still nervous and anxious around some of her contemporaries.

"I wish mom was here," said Regan to Inez when the two had a quiet moment together. "I still miss her..."

"Me too, sis," Inez replied, letting Regan rest her head on her shoulder and softly stroking her hair. "She'd be so proud of you... that speech you gave tonight was amazing, such a beautiful tribute to her."

Regan smiled, her brief twinge of sadness quickly fading. She looked across the room and could see Arturo, laughing and dancing with one of the most beautiful young actresses in the world, looking nothing like he did during the darkest moments of despair, both immediately after Brittany's death, and later, after scandal briefly embroiled their father Chris. Thanks to his support system, Arturo had been able to get the therapy he needed for his depression, and now he was on the verge of graduating from college, taking to his sister's newfound fame with the support and love that only a big brother could provide.

"Where's dad?" asked Regan, looking around the room.

"Right there," said Inez, pointing over to the bar. Regan looked over and saw her father chatting up Snoop Dogg, and as the two of them shared a laugh together, Regan found herself emitting a vicarious giggle. Her dad then looked over and waved, and then Snoop Dogg excused himself to walk over to them. "Snoooooooooooop!"

"Yo, Inez, I saw you streamin' that new Selene game the other day, we gotta get a crew together and tackle that Wulfscrap raid, you and the new Jeopardy host were strugglin'."

"Kept running out of heavy weapons ammo, wasn't doing jack shit to that armored guy," said Inez, shrugging her shoulders.

"How could you run out of heavy weapons ammo, there's a cache right under the big rock and you can kite him right over to it to smash it up," said Regan, leaning over the table.

"Wait, you're playing too?" Inez asked, raising her eyebrow.

"Arturo got me into it and I had some free time, it's actually a lot of fun... but yeah, the Wulfscrap raid isn't too bad if you know where the ammo caches are."

"Damn, maybe you and me should form a crew instead," said Snoop Dogg, laughing. "Actually, I was thinkin' of collaborating with you on a song, had a rap hook that might work with your singing style, but I wasn't sure if you were interested."

"All that stuff goes through my producer," said Regan, though she looked as if she was interested in the idea. "It's one of those 'have your people call my people' things, plus I'm not sure if I'll have much time to record because of the tour... but... I'm definitely open to working with you if everything lines up."

The two continued their conversation, which quickly drifted away from music and toward games. Regan and Inez had actually wanted to have Snoop Dogg on Turn The Tables at one point, but the timing never worked out properly... but with the two planning to do at least one special episode later that year, there might be a chance to make it happen. After a few minutes, the legendary rapper left, and Regan and Inez were left alone again to enjoy the rest of the afterparty and each other's company.

"Guess you can't tell me too much more about Urban X," said Regan, referring to Inez's next game-related project... a sequel to Thrillseekers: Generation Z, based around urban exploration. It was coming later in the year, and had just been announced in November, but apart from a teaser trailer, few details had been given out, and Inez wasn't at liberty to break NDA, even to her best friend. "So tell me this, have you had fun making it?"

"So much fun," said Inez, almost giddy with anticipation. She wished she could tell Regan more about the exciting new game and all the fun times she'd had with her castmates, but those stories would just have to wait until later that year when the game was actually released.

"Gotta say, I'm jellin' just a bit."

"Says the pop star."

"Be honest, if you could trade places with me, would you?"

Inez thought for a moment, then looked at Regan and shook her head.

"Honestly? No way... I couldn't do what you're doing right now. Singing in front of tens of thousands of people? The whole celebrity life? I mean, I love doing conventions and stuff, but you're one of the most famous people in the whole world right now... that kind of pressure would kill me."

"Don't knock it until you've tried it," said Regan, smiling. "I mean, being followed by paparazzi and obsessed about by millions of people... that's crazy and kinda sucks, but... I also get to inspire millions of people... and... singing about my feelings, my grief, it's... it's the best kind of therapy in the world, honestly. I get to pour everything out onto that recording, and it helps so many people deal with what I've had to deal with... I know it's a big responsibility, but I love it..."

Regan sighed and looked up at the ceiling.

"Back when mom was hosting her show, she said she felt like she was carrying the hopes and dreams of every little girl who played video games, every girl whose big brother told them they couldn't beat them, every girl who wanted to play a shooter or an RPG when everyone told them they should be playing something 'girly'... she got so many letters, thousands of them, from all over the country, little girls who said she inspired them... and, yeah, sometimes from grown men who only wanted to tell her how much she sucked, just like all the people on Twitter saying how I should kill myself for not being Taylor Swift or Shannon Sciorra..."

"Fuck those people," Inez said, reaching across the table and squeezing Regan's hands tightly.

"It's okay," Regan replied reassuringly. "I knew when I cut my first album that I'd have to deal with those people, and it's okay... for every jerk who hates me there are thousands who are inspired by me, and even one would make it all worth it, let alone all the others."

Inez smiled, still holding Regan's hands tightly.

"Hey," said Regan suddenly, looking around the room. "...wanna go back to your house and play video games?"

"Huh?" Inez replied, releasing Regan's hands and looking around also. "Can we... do that?"

"Of course we can, I can do anything I want!"

Inez burst out laughing, then stood up from the table and gestured for Regan to follow her.

"I'm pretty sure the paparazzi-"

"Fuck 'em!" replied Regan with a laugh, before signaling to her dad that she was leaving with Inez and mouthing 'love you!' to him.

Still a bit unsure, but finding the idea of playing video games with her best friend much more exciting than continuing to hang out at this party, Inez went with Regan to the entrance of the club, and told the valet to bring back her car.

"I will warn you, my Tesla's not as glamorous as the limo you rode here in."

"Meh," said Regan, shrugging her shoulders. "It'll get us to your house faster though, right?"

"You never can tell with traffic, but... sure, probably, yeah!"

By now, the paparazzi had followed the two girls outside the club, and were shouting questions at Regan, wanting to know why she'd left the afterparty an hour early. She didn't even acknowledge their presence, and soon, she was in the front passenger seat of Inez's car, and the two were headed back to her home.

"I don't think mom's expecting us," said Inez, cruising down the street as camera bulbs continued to flash in her car's direction.

"She was watching though, right?"

"Well of course, it's not every day your daughter's best friend wins four Grammys," said Inez.

"You won one too," replied Regan, reminding Inez of her award for collaborating on that year's Best Pop Song.

"True," said Inez, smiling proudly. "Though I don't think I heard my name mentioned on the broadcast..."

"You're getting a statue, that's good enough," said Regan. "You gonna put it in your dorm?"

Inez giggled, shaking her head as she continued to drive away from the busy section of Los Angeles where the afterparty and ceremony had taken place. It was a cool January night, and she let the window down to allow the breeze to blow through their hair as they continued onward.

"Inez," said Regan, looking over at her best friend and reaching across the seat. Inez kept her eyes on the road, but reached over and took Regan's hand, squeezing it tightly.

"Regan?"

"Thanks for being my big sister," said Regan, a tear starting to form in her eye. "I really needed one after mom died, and you were better than I ever could've asked for."

"...thanks for being my little sister, Regan," Inez replied, still squeezing her best friend's hand. "I'll always be here for you, no matter what happens. No matter how famous you get, no matter how many awards you win, no matter where you go, you can always call me and I'll listen. You might end up being the most famous star in the world when all this is said and done, but to me, you'll just be that nerdy little girl who loves board games and who always makes me laugh... and I couldn't ask for a better sister than you."

The two continued to hold hands for a few more moments before letting go, as the car continued through the streets of the city toward Inez's home. As Inez drove, Regan looked out the window, her mind still racing. In many ways, it had been one of the best days of her life... and she looked forward to all the performing she knew she'd be doing as the years went on. She missed her mom, but she still had so many people she loved, and so many people who loved her. She looked down at the blue pendant around her neck, clutching it tightly.

Mom, I'm happy and I'm going to be okay... thanks to everything you taught me.

As the car paused at a stoplight, Inez looked over at Regan, and thought about just how far the two of them had come together in such a short time. They had their webshow, and Lyte and Darke was still being talked about by so many people... and she thought back to the people who'd made her own life so special. Her godmother Selena, and her wonderful parents, who'd both worked so hard for all the blessings she now got to enjoy... and her little sister Regan, not by birth but by the friendship they shared, the fate that brought them together when they needed someone the most, had given Inez a chance to be there for Regan when she'd lost the most important woman in her life, and had given Regan a chance to find another mentor who would inspire her to the heights she was now just beginning to achieve.

The light turned green, and the car started to move again, and the two continued to think about all the things that had happened to bring them to this point in time. It might not have been the best of all possible universes, but it was the only universe they had, and they had the rest of their lives to make it the best they possibly could, standing at the precipice of dreams they could only just begin to imagine.

Rarely did the two ever think about the decision that changed their world so profoundly thirty years ago, the decision that had allowed them to exist at all. It was only because they both were so into video games that they even knew or cared about the fateful decision that had birthed the Super Nintendo CD, and the universe they now lived in was just one of the infinite possible universes created from that decision.

And as that car continued to drive through the streets of Los Angeles, the moon shining down, the wind blowing through their hair, the two young women only knew that they still had so much of their lives ahead of them, in a world that had seen so much change over the past 30 years, and would continue to see so many more changes in their years beyond.

"Inez?"

"Regan?"

"...I'm exactly where I want to be."

-

FIN

-

To Far Away Times - Chrono Trigger - Composed By Yasunori Mitsuda

-

(And that, at long last, is the end of "Battle Royale", and the end of the Player Two Start saga. I want to thank my collaborator Nivek for all of his knowledge of the video game industry, all the ideas and encouragement, and help, and everything else, without which this timeline never would have happened. I want to thank all the people who have contributed games, or other media, or ideas to the timeline, to make it a true community project, one born from our collective love of video games and all things geeky. I want to thank everyone who's read the timeline, even if you didn't like it, just for giving some of your time to this labor of love.

Eight and a half years... I never expected this to go anywhere near this long. It was a bumpy road at times for sure, but I truly hope I've provided everyone with something to enjoy and to return to over the years, and I must say that this project has been fun even during some of the rough patches, and that I've enjoyed pretty much every second I've spent working on it, or researching for it, or just daydreaming up ideas for it, with some of these ideas going on to become projects of their own! I can't believe it's been as successful as it has, truly. I know it's not the best written timeline on the site, there were times when I sort of let the quality slip, just went through the motions, I know there are some cringey parts as well, but I poured my heart and soul into it and hopefully I can look back on it all and say that it was something worth making, which, I truly believe, it was.

I have no idea if I'll ever write another TL for this site, for fear of it getting away from me like this one did! I have so many other non-alternate history projects to work on, plus TV shows to binge and games to play out of my backlog... I'm going to take a long, long break from alternate history for quite a while. I'll be writing mostly fanfiction going forward, just search up RySenkari and AO3 if you want to check out my fanfics in the future.

Thank you all again for the support and the love, I'm humbled by all the kind words and I'll try to reply personally to some of them as they come in. That's another thing, I haven't been the best at keeping up with contributions and PMs, so I'll try to at least go back and reply to some things in the near future.

I loved working on this timeline so much, but it is a bit of a relief that it's finally complete, if only so I don't have a huge unfinished project hanging over my head!

One last thanks to everyone, lots of love, peace out :p )
 
Last edited:
Really amazing epilogues guys !

Proud to have put my little stone in this great saga, one of the best ever made for this website ^^
 
I think I can speak for everyone when I say...

Thank you.

For making such a fantastic trilogy of timelines, I most humbly salute you.

In fact, if this is your final day in the alternate history business, and if you want to focus more on your life outside of that...

All I'll say is that you should go and do exactly that.

I apologize for my lack of cohesion here, but it's all I can say without typing 30 minutes of crying and sobbing sounds.
 
Once again, Congratulations!

It's been a great read, and it's a great place to leave off. The epilogue pretty much answered most of my lingering questions and left me feeling all the better for it.

Things might not be perfect, but their 21st century, while tumultuous, is just another part of the roots to the tree of a better tomorrow. Sure, we ourselves won't get to see it all grown, and as all things are it's far from perfect. Nonetheless, I would say it's a fitting end to a thirty-year saga of games and the effects on the wider world as a direct result, for better and for worse. It's been great.

I really don't know what else to say. I'm always kind of like this at monumental points: So much I want to say, but never the right words at the right time. I'm sure you've felt the same way at some point or another. Maybe one day the inspiration from this work and others will drive me to successfully write my own magnum opus. At the very least, enjoy your catching up on video games and other media; I myself have quite the backlog that I need to find time not being a professional procrastinator to get around to, so many books to read and games I've yet to play or that I want to play again for the dozenth time.

Best wishes to you both in all your future endeavors, and thank you again for the existential epiphanies and good times to share!

Take care now, all right? :) :cryingface:
 
Fantastic timeline man! Love how everything will end with Nintendo being the last bastion of dedicated hardware.

Two things with console sales though, I remember the Wave barely got past 100 million and am pretty sure reports were saying the Connect outperformed the Gameboy Supernova. Could be wrong though, you know the timeline better than me.
 
I have no idea if I'll ever write another TL for this site, for fear of it getting away from me like this one did! I have so many other non-alternate history projects to work on, plus TV shows to binge and games to play out of my backlog... I'm going to take a long, long break from alternate history for quite a while. I'll be writing mostly fanfiction going forward, just search up RySenkari and AO3 if you want to check out my fanfics in the future.
Where might I find these fanfics?
 
Was genuinely a little choked up by the end of that.

Although my comments have really died down, due to irl reasons, I never stopped reading this TL.

Thank you for everything.
 
*slow clap builds to a thunderous standing ovation*
That was absolutely amazing!
There's just one question that never quite got an answer, but it's one that was only raised right there:
Did Cyrstal and Billie become a serious thing or did they just date for awhile before going their own ways?
(Asking because (if I haven't mentioned it before) I'm a hopeless romantic and a sucker for a happy ending.)

I know it's not the best written timeline on the site
That's subjective, it's a matter of taste.
It's certainly been one of my favorites since I first stumbled onto the original back in the day.

there were times when I sort of let the quality slip, just went through the motions
I'd dispute that, even if you felt like you were slacking, it never showed.
I know there are some cringey parts as well
Not really, but I suppose cringe is also in the eye of the beholder.
On that note....once more for old times' sake...
NotTrue1.png

Bsmygod1.png

fire_emblem___incest_t_shirt_by_multifan_01_db1gayk-fullview.jpg

I have so many other non-alternate history projects to work on, plus TV shows to binge and games to play out of my backlog... I'm going to take a long, long break from alternate history for quite a while.
Have fun, Ry!
Enjoy your vacation, you've earned it!
 
Question, but will there be updates about things happening in this timeline once in a while, if anything catches your attention?
 
Top