Friday, July 31, 2015

Check out this interview about Fallout 4.

It's with Todd Howard, VP of development at Bethesda, and the actual conversation occurred back in June, just after they showed off Fallout 4 at E3.  Howard talks a lot about the themes of the game, and why it was important for the hero of 4 to have grown up and lived in the pre-war world of the Fallout universe.

Very cool - check it out.

Neat puzzle-platformer Hue coming to... well, everything.

In early 2016 - that's PS3, PS4, PS Vita, PC, Xbox One and Wii U.

Hue did quite well at the Develop conference, and Curve Digital have picked it up for distribution.  Neat.

Don't Starve: Shipwrecked coming this fall. PC, Mac and Linux. 

I will be shocked - shocked! - if this ends up on my Vita.  But, it goes without saying, I will be thrilled - thrilled! - if it does.

Oh, and weirdly enough, it's being made with the folks at Capy Games.  You know, the guys who made Sword & Sorcery EP and are working on Below?  That seems odd.  

Sail to adventure through the treacherous seas of Don't Starve: Shipwrecked! 

Klei Entertainment has partnered with our friends at Capy, creators of Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery, Super Time Force and Below; to bring fans of Don’t Starve the latest single-player expansion: Don’t Starve: Shipwrecked!

With new playable characters, biomes, creatures and seasonal effects; Wilson and the whole Don’t Starve cast of characters embark on a sea-bound journey of exploration, adaptation and of course, starvation.

The Talos Principle drops Oct 13th on PS4.

And it includes the Road to Gehenna expansion.

It's even getting a physical release.  I'm actually more interested in Talos Principle than, perhaps, I should be.  It's just... it got so many good reviews and nobody could shut up about it when it came out last year...  Critics liked Wild Hunt too.  What do they know? tempted...

Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon coming to PS4, Vita.

Hm... not exactly blown away by the art style... and I do have a touch of arachnophobia...

...but still, how many games are there that let you jump around as a spider and trap dragonflies?  None that I can think of.

Deets here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Iconoclasts coming to PS4, Vita. Nice.

Developed by one dude who's been workin' on it since 2010.  I like everything I see, here - especially the animation - but not the idle animations on the heroines.  Who stands with their arms like that?

Ladies in hoop skirts, that's who.

PS Blog post.


So about Rise of the Tomb Raider's release schedule...

Sometime last week, Squenix admitted that yes, Rise of the Tomb Raider is coming to PS4... with a "holiday 2016" release window - exactly one year after its Xbox One launch.  This brought up the whole "why the crap is it a timed exclusive" question again, to which Squenix responded "Microsoft are super, super passionate about the game!", which translates to "they paid us, and we think it'll be worth it."

Now... I'm of two minds.  First, I worry the game appearing in 2016 might really hurt its PS4 sales.  I hope you, Rise of the Tomb Raider, appreciate that when you actually launch on PS4, you're very-likely going to be going up against a game called Uncharted.

You remember Uncharted, don't you, Tomb Raider?  It was that game everyone laughingly called "Dude Raider" when it first launched in '07, but it went on to become the gold standard for globe-trotting action-adventure games, with graphics, animation, writing and story presentation that no other developer in the world could even approach?

You must remember, because you tried pret-ty damned hard to emulate Uncharted's finer points in the last Tomb Raider game - but couldn't quite make it, what with your pretty-good-but-not-great graphics and pretty-good-but-not-great animation and your pretty-damned-bad storytelling.

And I've seen footage of Rise, Tomb Raider.  I've watched it - with my eyes - and let me tell you, you're no Uncharted.  It's a good thing  you're initially launching in 2015, because if you launched alongside The Next Uncharted, nobody would be talking about you within a week.

...and when Rise of the Tomb Raider drops in 2016, if it lands anywhere near Uncharted, it will be a pale, wan thing by comparison.  Them's just the breaks.  It's like if Shadow of Mordor had come out within a month of Batman: Arkham Knight.  It would be laughed out of the room.


...but the gameplay of Tomb Raider was very different from Uncharted's, even as it aped the new gold standard.  More than anything, the wonderful platforming really stood out - really satisfied - and I want to play that again on the new gen.  In fact, I already have and it was awesome.

So sure, Tomb Raider, come to my console a year late.  Fashionable, let's call it.  But maybe just, y'know, read the room a bit, and if you see Nathan Drake strolling through, give him a wide berth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A nice Tuesday.

Nice because The Swindle is out, and it's pretty cool, so far.

Entirely unforgiving - and I feel I haven't plumbed enough of its depths to sound off, but at the moment it feels a bit... limited, in terms of its action.  Hopefully that'll flesh out as I unlock more abilities and tactics.

There's also King's Quest (which I've heard lovely things about) and N++ today, but I'm all about the steampunk/cyber victorian stealth/action/platformers.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Twenty minutes of Until Dawn is pretty boring.

I feel like this would be more interesting if... anything interesting happened.  And the graphics were better.  And the acting.

And the framerate.

...the concept sounds super cool, though...

Might wanna' wait for reviews of Resident Evil Revelations 2 on Vita.

They tossed up this launch trailer the other day, along with the announcement that it would drop August 18th.  Now, Revelations didn't exactly garner critical acclaim when it launched on consoles earlier this year, but still... a full-fledged action-horror on Vita... those don't come along every day.  But this trailer...

...really turns me off.  The framerate looks like it drops near single-digits, there.

I think I'll wait for some critics to get their mitts on it.

I pretty much spent all weekend watching Galak-Z coverage.

Like, over and over.  I watched Giant Bomb's quick look at least four times, in its entirety.  But there's more, man.  There's so much more.

I did a YouTube search for Galak-Z and tightened up the search criteria to the past week, and every major western site (save GameTrailers, oddly) has great big chunks of original footage.  It's a bit like that crazy weekend I spent watching streamers play Darkest Dungeon before the early access finally went live.  If you're down with Galak-Z (or just Galak-curious), check it out.

First up, Polygon - for the gamer hipster in you.

Second, GameSpot with a measly five minutes.

And finally, thirty awesome minutes with IGN.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Wait, Galak-Z is the name of the ship?

For the past year, I've been wondering what the heck Jake Kazdal and the team at 17-bit have been sitting on.  At E3, they said they'd do a "final press push" just before release, and...  This took a ton of patience, on their parts - bringing the game to trade shows and being very careful not to reveal that the sweet experimental fighter you pilot in Galak-Z can - after defeating the game's first "season" - transform into a fucking light-sword-and-shield-wielding space mech.

The above animation occurs the first time the ship transforms, at the beginning of season 2.  Galak-Z, you see, is styled as five seasons of your favorite 80s sci-fi anime.  Each season has five "episodes" - levels - and while the plot, it seems, remains the same as you move from level to level, the actual content and design of those levels will procedurally generate each time to ensure things never feel boring.  

They released a nice and smexy little trailer to announce the long-kept secret... 

...along with an explanatory post over at the PlayStation Blog (which is thick with gorgeous .GIFs). 

A-Tak, ace pilot of the Galak-Z, uses the Juke to dance over the enemy ship before transforming into mech form.
He jams on his thrusters to head up, snatches the enemy ship with his grappling hook,
turns around as inertia continues to carry him forward, beating on the ship once, then twice with his energy sword,
flings his foe into the spike trap and
holds up his energy shield to the exploding spine. 
(Bites lip.)
Ummmn yeah.

The mech is laced into every aspect of gameplay - it's basically half your toolkit - and you can effortlessly switch between ship and mech forms with the push of a button (and a cool Transformersesque sound effect). 

As it was in 2014, so it is today - the best place to really get a sense of what Galak-Z is about is over at Giant Bomb, whose Quick Look once again features project lead Jake Kazdal throwing down on some of the harder difficulties with nothing but beautiful full-screen HD gameplay for over a half-hour. 

Jake shows off some upgrade systems, and demonstrates how - in mech form - you can grab a piece of space junk and drift past some baddies, using the junk as visual cover, to keep yourself from being detected and stealth on by. 

A lot of interesting stuff is revealed, here - and if you want to avoid plot spoilers, you'll want to stay away (indeed, you'll want to stop reading this post right now) - but to me, this is the coolest thing I've seen since the trailer for Horizon: Zero Dawn

It's bittersweet, admittedly, what with the game no longer coming to Vita - and there's an additional little numb surprise at the end, when Jake admits that only seasons 1-4 of the game will be available at launch, and the fifth season will only appear in tandem with the game's Steam release sometime in "September or October."


Those question marks taunt me.  Like the Cove in Darkest Dungeon.
Another cool thing (you may have noticed from the .GIF at the top of this post) is that there are a lot of references to 17-bit's last game, Skulls of the Shogun.   The Galak-Z itself sports 2 samurai skulls on its jet pods, a keychain with the heroic dead general's face and helmet dangles in the cockpit, and yes - the fellow named in season 3 up there does indeed share his moniker and likeness with General Akamoto of Skulls.  

That's neat!  Still terribly hyped.  Day one, preordered and all that.  Wewwwt.

Fallout Shelter (finally) comes to Android on August 13th.


Pressy blurby!
Fallout Shelter August Update: Android, Mr. Handy, and New Threats!

Earlier today at QuakeCon, Todd Howard revealed to an enthusiastic crowd that Fallout Shelter will be available for FREE on Google Play for Android devices on August 13th.

Whether you’re playing on Android or on iOS, Fallout Shelter will feature new game updates, including Mr. Handy as an all new premium reward. Have him collect resources inside your Vault, send him into the wasteland to collect loot, and defend your Vault from creatures and disasters, including all new Deathclaw invasions and Molerat infestations.

I'm pretty thrilled for this.  Skulls of the Shogun kept crashing on my LG G3, Hitman GO was boring after like an hour, and while XCOM: Enemy Within is actually a pretty excellent port, it burns out my battery like a monster.  This looks nice, lightweight and engaging.  

Absolutely gonna' get in on Fallout Shelter.

Atlus is bringing Odin Sphere Leifdrasir to NA.

Well that didn't take long.  Here's the long and short of it - it's being brought over by Atlus USA, who are excellent at localizations (and handled the original Odin Sphere's localization beautifully on PS2), and all platforms will see a digital and physical release.

Press blurb!
Change the Fate of the World When the End of Days Draws Near in Odin Sphere Leifthrasir

The Perfected HD Project from ATLUS and Vanillaware Remakes the 2007 Original

Vanillaware, the team behind the hit side-scrolling title Dragon's Crown is working on a new authentic HD project with Atlus to recreate and perfect Odin Sphere - the 2D action RPG with Norse Mythology roots. Told in five tales from the perspectives of five unique protagonists, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir expresses the original game with glorious HD graphics in Vanillaware's renowned style, expanded worlds with new monsters, fully voiced story scenes, and a fine-tuned refreshing combat and RPG system to perfect the gameplay. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir will be available as a physical and digital release for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita in 2016 in North America.

More details about the game will be available later.
So no release window, no nothing - might come out in December 10th, 2016 for all we know.  Don't care.  Obviously,



It goes without saying that I'm going to have to buy this game four times, now.

(1) The initial Japanese release on Vita, because I won't be able to wait, and also art book.

(2) PS4 physical copy upon localized release.

(3) Vita physical copy upon localized release (for the collection), and

(4) Vita digital copy because this thing is never leaving my Vita, ever.

~ None of this was sarcasm or hyperbole. ~

Oh, also,

Thursday, July 23, 2015

MovieBob reviews Pixels.

Wait, let me make sure Alex hasn't posted this yet...

All clear!

If you were worried that Adam Sandler's latest vehicle was worth your time and money, MovieBob would like a word.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Annnd preordered.

Unwilling to make the (in all fairness, very safe) bet that Atlus USA will localize Odin Sphere Leifdrasir?  Me too!  It popped up today on Play Asia for preorder - and that's more than enough opportunity for me.  Bam.  Preordered.

Gimmie dat sweet sweet art book.

Additionally, a touch more information came in today regarding just how much of a remake the game is.  This is no mere up-port, according to Vanillaware's Kentaro Ohnishi, speaking to Famitsu:
"Odin Sphere is a title that was loved and also one that was received with harsh feedback. It was made to be a successor of Princess Crown, but it ended up resulting in something that betrayed its original form.”

“I didn’t want to think ‘it’s just an old title, after all,’ and leave it as that, so I felt that the least we could do is treat it as Vanillaware’s newest title, and rebuild it once again.  On the other hand, I believe there are fans that greatly value the original version, so we’ve decided to add the original version in HD, along with the newer version, both together in one.”

“We’re adding monsters that we weren’t able to add in the original version as mid-bosses in the new title.  While they are mid-bosses, some of them might be made even better than bosses in the original version. Additionally, enemies from the original version have new AI, so I believe you’ll get to play with a fresh new sense.”

“The controls have an easy and familiar sense of control that you’d get from Dragon’s Crown or Muramasa."

So yeah!  You get the full remake will all the new bells and whistles of awesome combat Vanillaware hammered out through their time with Muramasa and Dragon's Crown, and if you want the vanilla (heh) experience, you can boot up classic mode!

Ohhh I can't frickin' wait.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Odin Sphere Leifdrasir announced.

Retooled combat.
Refined crafting.
New gameplay.
New environments.
New enemies.
New boss fights.
Fast travel.
No backtracking.

a classic mode if you don't want the new stuff.

Odin Sphere Leifdrasir drops in Japan on January 16, 2016, and comes with a sweet-ass art book. 


I should buy a lottery ticket, because my dreams are coming true.

Also, called it.  But anyone who played Odin Sphere called it when they saw the Napple seed.

Here, have a gorgeous, opulent trailer.

You'll notice a ton of cool stuff in that trailer that never existed in Odin Sphere - in fact, all of the gameplay shown is new.  Using magic potions to break down walls, the amount of platforming shown, every new boss, every bit of combat and magic shown are new mechanics.  Like, for example, all of this:

Note how the POW gauge drops when Velvet and Mercedes use those new specials.

Here, have sixteen minutes of lower-res gameplay, which shows off a lot of Leifdrasir's changes.  Levels have different shapes on the minimap, for example, and you see Gwendolyn releasing phozons (bits of souls) from her weapon to feed the small garden she plants.

Here, have the only direct-feed screens that have been made available at this early date.  They're through Famitsu so they're pretty small.

New environment!  New enemy!

This guy's new.

Odin Sphere's opening scene with a glorious sheen of sharpness.

Now... this probably goes without saying, dear reader, but I am so incredibly happy about this news.  Given that it's Atlus, we'll almost-definitely see a localization, and... Odin Sphere is one of my favorite games of all time.  If you aren't familiar with the title, please click here, and note that the PS2 Classic version on PSN for PS3 is excellent.

Even with its (terribly simple) combat and drawn-out campaign, I've called Odin Sphere "chicken soup for my gamer's soul" - and the very thought of having Vanillaware's three gems (Odin Sphere, Muramasa and Dragon's Crown) on a single page in my Vita's UI sets my heart all a-twitter.

I will play this thing into the ground, and probably import the Vita release on general principle.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, Leifdrasir is a modernized spelling of Lífþrasir, one of the two humans who are prophesized to survive Ragnarok, and repopulate the Earth. (Odin Sphere's plot is a wonderfully imaginative and operatic retelling of the story of Ragnarok.)

Happy Vanillaware Announcement Day everyone!


Beyond the spectacular news that is Odin Sphere Leifdrasir, a bunch of other wonderful Vanillaware tidbits dropped today.  First off, the one you couldn't care less about - Alter's Cornelius/Velvet statue has finally been painted, and it looks gorgeous.

Preodered as soon as I can possibly preorder.

Second, they're finally going to release the Dragon's Crown soundtrack!

Three discs, fifty-six tracks and day one.  That is happening.  It's due to drop "after the fall," and is priced at 3,000 yen or about thirty bucks.

Finally... new game teased!  And it looks sci-fi - something Vanillaware have never touched.

We'll learn more in September.  Man am I happy with today's news!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Game diary.

When home, and able to sink some time into it, I am still in love with Darkest Dungeon.

The most recent update is a huge one - one that I expect they're going to smooth out a bit, difficulty-wise.  Things are nicely taut and frayed with a decked-out level-six squad, but just for shits and giggles I started up a fresh save to see how the changes might impact a newcomer's game.

It's probably three times harder than it was, when Early Access first launched in February.  I am almost always losing a hero or returning to town with everyone stark raving mad, and I'm not sure this is quite what Red Hook had intended.

One thing that is seriously working well in this update, though, are corpses.   They speak to the very heart of the game's positional tactics.

Each class (if you haven't played) has skills that can only be launched from certain positions in your lineup, which (generally) can only target certain enemy ranks.  Since the launch of Early Access, this has kind of eliminated the need to ever have a Plague Doctor.

Vestal in Rank 4, Highwayman in Rank 3, Man-At-Arms in Rank 2, and a stalwart Crusader in Rank 1. 

The Plague Doctor's most powerful ability - an area-of-effect damage-over-time Plague Grenade that blankets the furthest two positions of the enemy ranks - was all-but useless.  Same for Iron Swan on your Hellion - because as soon as a single enemy is killed, the enemy formation changes.  If you kill the guy in Rank 1, the guy in Rank 2 becomes Rank 1, and so on up the line.  Once you're down to two enemies, they'd be standing in the first two ranks, and any hero who specializes in thinning out the back ranks has literally nothing to do.

The Corpse & Hound updated fixes that.

If an enemy is killed by a direct attack (see: not by a DoT), they will leave a corpse that maintains the enemy formation.  You can no longer power through fights by just beating on the guy in front until the next one steps up, conveyor-belt style.  You need to have a ranged option, and the flow of fights changes (significantly) for the better.  It ups the value of every ability that targets beyond rank 2, and encourages the player to make fuller use of their heroes' repertoires.


The update also makes the game insanely difficult when starting up a new save - I think I'm fourteen weeks in and haven't managed to get a single hero to level 2 yet - but I've little doubt Red Hook will iron that out in the coming months.

They say they plan to have the full release ready to launch in October... I wonder if they'll make it?

Really, what I'm wondering most is when this thing will make it to Vita.  Or... if.

Galak-Z and Mercenary Kings.

Gamers in love with their Vitas - and there are a lot of us - have come to terms with the fact that the platform is less the mobile triple-A device Sony launched it as and more an awesome indie/Japanese gaming machine - and that's fine, because there are some wonderful Vita games coming out of Japan and some amazing indies I'm thrilled to have on it.  But it's really depressing when one of those sweet indies you were so excited about just kinda' sputters and dies before it lands on Vita.

Mercenary Kings' Vita version was announced in April 2014, and all mention of it disappeared until developer Tribute Games (who are currently hard at work on Curses 'N Chaos) basically said, last November, that they were kinda' stuck on the porting process, but assured us we'd get it in early 2015.  Then they said it would come after they finished up work on Curses 'N Chaos.

I doubt Mercenary Kings will ever come.  17-Bit have said flat-out that the Vita version of Galak-Z is not coming, or at least they won't be handling it, and there are others...

...where the heck is Banner Saga's PlayStation release, for example? That was announced for "spring 2015" last year - but at least they made a statement back on the 7th that they're still working on it.

Meanwhile, I've been searching for something to play on my Vita that's as fun as Shinovi Versus.

Shinovi Versus is, in a lot of ways, a Musou game - a game like Dynasty Warriors or Samurai Warriors or whathaveyou, but I never liked those games much, so I decided to drop a few bucks on that 2D brawler from 2014, Phantom Breaker: Battlegrounds.

It sure looks fun, but... I dunno, I didn't like it much.  I feel like I might need to put more time into it.  I poked around my back-catalog of games I've bought, downloaded but never played.  Put a bit of time into Resogun and Super Stardust Delta.  I picked up Frozen Synapse Prime for $4 on the flash sale.  Then, yesterday, I buckled and bought Samurai Warriors 4, which the internet seems to agree is the best Musou game on Vita.

It's pretty meh.  Graphics are decent.  The feel of the combat is rather... one-note.  There is no give-and-take in these battles, it's just give and give and give some more until it's entirely apparent that, in feudal era Japan, one dude with special moves can beat the shit out of armies with little effort.  I really wish I'd spent that money on trying out Ar Nosurge instead.

I went back into my back-catalog.  At some point in my Vita history, I must have bought Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention... let's just download that...

Worth a whirl.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Vanillaware to announce an "HD project" on July 20th.

Site's here, it looks like this:

So.  Atlus and Vanillaware - two great things that go great together.

The seed and the sprout positively scream Odin Sphere to me (where one plants seeds which  eat souls before sprouting and growing into plants before your eyes for a variety of effects and items).  Atlus fired off a tweet about it this morning, which simply reads
Which Google just translates as
"Atlas × Vanillaware, "new full-scale HD project"
Atlas × Vanillaware is challenge, "the new full-scale HD project" start-up -."
Pleasedon'tbeWiiexclusive.  Pleasedon'tbeWiiexclusive...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Darkest Dungeon: The Corpse & Hound update is live!

Yay!  In addition to the Houndmaster hero, this update also adds corpses - the bodies of your defeated foes will remain on the battlefield and thus the enemy party will retain its formation, until they're cleaned up - and buffs DoT skills significantly.

There's a ton of changes, in fact - so many that Steam's update editor wouldn't allow Red Hook to lay out all the details, because it wouldn't allow that many characters - so they've uploaded this twelve-page .PDF of patch notes for your reading pleasure.

Enjoy - I'm off to let the dogs out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Galak-Z drops August 4th - Vita version canned.

Galak-Z, my #1 most-hyped game for 2014 and #2 for 2015 - lagging only behind my beloved Darkest Dungeon - finally has a release date.  The Newtonian physics-based free-flight Roguelike space combat simulator will drop on PS4 on August 4th, 2015.  Twenty bucks or $15.99 if you pre-order with a PS+ membership.  It's predictably part of this summer's Play promotion on PSN, which sees the title chilling out with other indie darlings like Journey, N++ and Everybody's Gone to the Rapture.

In other infinitely tragic news, the Vita version is not happening.  Like just... not happening.  And I... am... crushed.

Like, I knew it was kinda' coming.  All the signs were there, but I wanted to believe.  Today, the penny dropped.  Here's a few choice quotes from developer 17-Bit's Twitter feed:
"Vita Faithful: heart-breaking technical limitations force us to put Galak-Z Vita on ice.  Can't compromise beautiful & responsive gameplay."

"We spared no expense or creativity in trying to figure it out.  Unity on Vita along with our intense physics & AI make it a no-go."
And, finally, studio head Jake Kazdal sounds off:

Don't you give me hope, Jake!  Don't you give me hope!!!

That being said, super hyped.  Day one.  Fuck yeah.

But you could... y'know... you could take it off your fucking website.

Yager no longer developing Dead Island 2.

How many folks are surprised by this?  

Today (publisher and Dead Island IP owner) Deep Silver announced that they were kicking Yager to the curb, and moving on.  Given how little we've seen of the game and it's nonexistence at E3 this year, it's not a shock to imagine it's not quite up to snuff.  Here's Deep Silver's statement:
"With Dead Island 2, Deep Silver has always been dedicated to delivering the sequel that Dead Island fans deserve. After careful consideration, today we announce the decision to part ways with development partner Yager. We will continue working towards bringing our vision of Dead Island 2 to life, and we will share further information at a later stage"
"It turns out Techland, who created the Dead Island series and went on to do incredible things with this year's Dying Light, are actually a super-awesome development studio.  We didn't understand that when we hired the crew that created a thoughtful but middling third-person shooter to carry on the Dead Island legacy after Techland got uppity about wanting to own the name of the next game they created and we kicked them to the curb.

We were really, really stupid to have broken up with Techland.  They are amazeballs, and we killed our golden goose by being assholes with them about their independence.

We suck, and this is our comeuppance.

-Deep Silver"

Eneme wants Eitr on Vitr, and naught could be sweetr.

This is pure music to my ear holes - especially after today's sobering Galak-Z announcement. A few choice quotes:
(A Vita iteration has been on their periphery) "from the beginning. We’re hoping to bring it to Vita and will be pushing a lot of efforts toward making it happen.”

"We wanted to concentrate on the PC/PS4 version first as we’re just a team of two we don’t want to overburden ourselves. The games itself doesn’t need to change much between PS4/PC, but with Vita there will likely need to be some UI/controls/graphics optimisation to be done."

Fuck.  Yes.  Let this happen.

God of War III Remastered launch trailer.

Will I be able to resist?

...I doubt it.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Satoru Iwata died last night.

岩田 聡 

December 6, 1959 ~ July 11, 2015


Those two trailers you need to see from Comic Con.

First up, Suicide Squad - or, The First Time Harley Quinn Gets In A Movie.

...I'm not sure.  A lot of the internet seems pretty pleased with it, but... well, I'll need to see more of Harley and more of Leto's Joker.  I'm getting the impression that Harley's origin has been totally retconned for this. I dunno.  We'll see.

Also, Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

If this doesn't end with Batman beating the shit out of Superman, I will be disappointed.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ohmigod. XCOM: Enemy Unknown rated for Vita.

OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod is it finally happening?!

Allgamesbeta pointed out today that XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus has a rating for Vita in Korea - and such ratings are usually a pretty solid indicator of what's in the pipe (of course, it can then take months or years for said game to materialize).  Here's a screengrab (click to embiggen):

Firaxis's XCOM reboot has been at the tippy-top of my most-wanted Vita ports list since the launch of the platform, and I was all-but-convinced it would never appear since Take Two backed off their announced BioShock game for Vita and few people had very nice things to say about Borderlands 2's port.  But XCOM?  My fucking phone can run XCOM (and does).

Please let this be real.  Please let this be real.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst special edition is $200, has statue.

And the statue's pretty cool!

...but, going on the quality of every other special edition statue I've ever seen, I'm going to say there's no way it's two hundred bucks cool.

Few statues are that cool.

Crypt of the Necrodancer coming to PS4 and Vita.

Oh thank goodness.

  • Rhythm-based dungeon-crawling gameplay.
  • Roguelike
  • Procedurally-generated levels
  • 9/10 on Metacritic (launched on PCs back in April)
  • and yeah, the soundtrack is really awesome
Its trajectory on to Sony platforms was just announced today, so... that's all we know!  No release date or window yet.  But still - cool!

Ken's looking a bit different in Street Fighter V.

Another thing that separates him further from Ryu, in V, is his V-Skill (medium punch and medium kick together).  Every character in V has one - Ryu's is a parry, for example - and Ken's is a kick-step that he can cancel into an attack, quickly closing in on his opponents.

The online beta for SFV opens on July 23rd on PS4, and you can sign up here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Kind of a REVIEW - Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus.

It's on Vita.

Okay, so picture this.  There's a girl in a school uniform with her fists up.  On each fist is a big, chunky, gleaming metal gauntlet.  

An elite shinobi of a rival school stands before her, surrounded by cannon-fodder underlings.  She dashes forward and lays in to the first defender with thumping, crunching strikes.  A jab with the left (square), a kidney strike with the right (square), and then (triangle) a piledriving cylinder glides out from the elbow of the gauntlet.  She swings her right shoulder forward, leans all her weight into the strike and fires her fist up and out. The cylinder snaps forward and an explosion of concussive force detonates at the point of impact - her knuckles.  

Time dilates. 

Four, six, eight of the enemy shinobi, and their leader, are sent flying - seemingly suspended ten feet off the ground.  With a tap of circle, our boxer springs forward.  A flash of lightning splits the screen, and she lays in to her target, thrashing them with an aerial rave (mash square).  

There's a brief (skippable) cutscene showing the damage you've inflicted on your rival, and the two of you smack into the dirt, ready to dash at each other for round two.   

Who will break first, and reveal reveal their true power?  For these are not merely ninjas - they are magical girl ninjas

With a tap of R1, Yozakura fires a sacred scroll from her gauntlet into the sky, and is coiled by a ribbon of light which hides her personal parts just so - straight out of Sailor Moon - before she explodes into her Magical Girl finery.  

And now it's on.  

In her true Shinobi form, Yozakura's movelist completely changes.  Her strength and defense attributes skyrocket, and she can unleash her supremely powerful Secret Arts.  

Sound effect: the kra-boom of a high-powered rifle.

Yozakura is one of twenty playable characters in Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus.  Each character has three forms - base, shinobi and frantic - and each form has its own attributes and move list, and levels up independently.  Each character offers mastery of a unique weapon or fighting style, each has her own five-mission mini-campaign which explores her motivations for fighting, and each participates in her school's twenty-five mission story mode.  There are four schools, and between them there are 100 story missions and 100 shinobi-specific missions.   

It's a ton of fun to work through each girl's story, mastering her unique style.  Some are tragic, some are hilarious, but all of them do a great job of illustrating personality and give you the opportunity to viciously express yourself through their violent arts, gleefully yanking out trump cards at the crucial moment that keeps you in the fight. 

Ikagura essentially permits you to brawl around as Satsuki Kiryūin from Kill La Kill, efficiently and nonchalantly tossing enemies across the screen with a twitch of her sword - right down to the white-and-gold military-esque uniform when in Magical Girl mode. 

The vicious, honorable Homura holds three swords in each hand.  Yagyu's spinning bladed parasol permits insane combos, and Katsuragi dishes out the pain with nothing but her feet.  Ditzy, pink-haired Hibari's combos are literally just windmilling fists, her launcher is whacking her enemies with a stuffed rabbit, but... once you level up her default and ninja forms, you realize that she is basically Ninja Drunk Style, by way of the School of the Accident-Prone.  Imagine if Vash the Stampede were a fifteen year old girl, pratfalling all over the place.

Sending a dozen enemies flying never gets old.

She flails wildly across the battlefield, stumbling into foes with earth-cracking hip-checks, launching herself across wide-open space in an awkward forward sprawl, and "clumsily" obliterating small armies with an innocent, whups-I-didn't-mean-to-beat-the-shit-out-of-you attitude.  Oopsies!

She's vastly different from the others - but every character in the game is vastly different.  Each feels powerful and separate from the next, with her own flow and pacing.  Each offers spectacle, and kicking ass with them - dashing across the screen, launching enemies into the sky, chasing them down and letting your Secret Arts off the chain - feels fantastic, and explosively powerful.  

The appetizingly brief, two-to-five minute missions, entertaining variety of characters’ personalities, combat style and techniques are compelling, and you’ll find yourself tugged forward through every school's campaign and every ninja's story. 

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is a great-looking, great-playing, fun, entertaining title on your Vita with a wealth of content.  I give it seven out of ten. 

It's also a game about boobs. 

And not in any... subtle way.  It is largely about boobs.  Largely about large boobs.

At this point, I've noticed, reviewers tend to say "the boobs jiggle a lot, and clothes get ripped off in combat - you either like fanservice or you don't!" and move on.  

I can't manage that.  Let's talk about this shit - and, word of warning, and it's gonna' get awkward.  But trust me, I wouldn't even be writing this if it weren't so damned fun to play.  

Distressed that her squad mates have grown bored of and accustomed to her sexual assaults, Katsuragi (gold boots) sets out to find an awesome pair of tits to squeeze.   She meets (fights) Haruka, and they hit it off.

Senran Kagura began as a sidescrolling beat 'em up on the 3DS,  Shinovi Versus is technically the second game in the series, Senran Kagura 2 arrives on the 3DS this year, and Estival Versus - a sequel to Shinovi Versus - will drop on the PS4 and Vita in North America this Winter. Series creator/producer Kenichirō Takaki said that, prior to beginning work on the 2011 release, 
"I started to think about what I wanted to see in a game on the Nintendo 3DS and within thirty seconds, I came up with it. It was boobs." -source-
He succeeded.  Ignoring the (fun, stylish) combat and (oddly successful) story, one could safely suggest that Shinovi Versus is a game which is entirely dedicated to boobs, and all the boobing they do. 

When defeating elite enemy shinobi, your attacks will tear through their clothing - and theirs will tear through yours.  Not in any procedural way, either - it's fully animated.  Each shinobi's top and bottoms have two stages of damage, and as each stage is shattered, you're offered a brief in-engine cutscene of the cloth bursting off her (jiggling) chest or (jiggling) butt, exposing the undergarments below.   

They'll almost always say something when you do (the entire game is subtitled with the original Japanese voice work) - one third of them have a serious rapey vibe, another third are playfully modest and the others seem... into it.

Sound effect: byo-yoinnng
Like really into it. Remember the high-damage low-defense frantic mode I mentioned above?  You achieve that by tearing off your clothes, right down to the knickers.  

Which, I suppose, is why lingere selection is so important.  

There are a lot of garter options, for those who prefer their digital perversion a bit fancy.

You can play the lingere lottery to build up your 100+ strong collection of underoos, and... to its credit, Shinovi Versus does offer a wealth of options for customization.  There's free DLC that permits you to mix and match haircuts among the twenty girls, a variety of school uniforms with alternate color palettes, and... it's fun to play dress-up. 

Anyone who's ever played with Barbies can attest to that, and once I got past the bouncing bosoms and the girls of Hanzo Academy earned my genuine affection through their campaign story, their personal struggles and their potent martial arts, I found I didn't want them prancing around in barely-there thongs with dangling garters. 

I bought some costume DLC and put Katsuragi in a traditional gi - a karate uniform.

Looks way cooler than those weird gold boots.  And when you really want to kick the shit out of a boss, frantic mode is the way to go - so I end up using the lingere that are essentially boxer shorts a lot. 

If that top were a bit more sports-bra-y it'd be perfect.
Not a fan of polka dots, though.

In doing so, I'm sort of breaking the game.  These girls were not created to suffer any degree of modesty.  Tooltips encourage you to tilt the Vita this way and that to peek up their skirts in the dressing room.  If you tap on them, they snarl threats at you or cover their breasts against your attack. 

The game keeps telling me to activate my Vita's microphone to "blow into it."

Haven't done that, yet.  Not sure I wanna' know what it does.  

Asuka's grandfather, a retired shinobi, makes a special extra-thick sushi roll filled with delicious cream.
...what?  All the girls say they love the way granddad's sashimi feels in their mouth.

There is, then, a duality in Senran Kagura that I find both uncomfortable and effective.  It does a fantastic job of humanizing its heroes - making them interesting, endearing and compelling - and simultaneously expects me to view them as pure sexual objects, to be fiddled with and drooled over.

There's nothing ironic, subversive or satirical about how Shinovi Versus treats its sex appeal.  It suggests you go full-screen and turn the Vita sideways to see your chosen shinobi in their full glory in the dressing room "and... enjoy!"

I seriously think Shinovi Versus's tooltip told me to use it to masturbate.  

Problematic persistent cultural biases aside, I'm not against any one game that glorifies, objectifies and revels in the female form any more than I'm against one that objectifies men.  There's space, in this world, for entertainment of all colors and creeds, and before the first Senran Kagura game was even concepted for the 3DS, its objective was carved in stone - to shine a spotlight on spectacular chesticles.  

Does it succeed?  Does Shinovi Versus present awesome boobs well, I suppose, is the question.  

...which kind of depends on what you think boobs are. 

* * *
This is a good place to stop, I feel, and note that this entire line of discussion is a touch ludicrous - but if Senran Kagura is going to put so much emphasis on its boobs - in the same way that The Last of Us emphasizes its story and The Order: 1886 emphasizes its graphics - gosh darn it, its boobs are gonna' get critiqued
Stripped down to her undies and struck with an Ultimate Secret Art - the nakedest the ladies of Senran Kagura can get.

The breasts of Shinovi Versus are perfectly round globes, sitting weirdly high on every chest.  If they look like breasts, they are the breasts of a woman who's invested in distressingly unnatural-looking surgery.  

The breasts of Shinovi Versus are all big - save for two flat-chested exceptions - with no other real variation between them.  

The breasts of Shinovi Versus tremble and wobble and bounce at the slightest provocation (and even without), as if just to prove that they can move - seemingly light as air, and entirely alien in behavior. 

The breasts of Shinovi Versus do not look or move or behave as breasts do.  There is a vast disconnect between the game's freakish mammaries and natural globes.  Anyone who's laid eyes or hands on more than one pair (and in most cases, a single pair) can attest that such uniformity is impossible, such shape is unnatural, and such behavior doesn't represent the wholesome gorgeousness that any woman's breasts are heir to. 

Why are they bouncing?!

And who doesn't love boobs?  Heck, we all do.  Regardless of gender or sexual proclivity, you probably agree that boobs are pretty awesome, and as an enthusiast I would be up for a game that glorifies, idealizes and celebrates righteous knockers and sexy ladies with a bit more artistry, craft and... empathy. 

But at least it's empathy that produces Senran Kagura's most successful moments.  Its heavily-sexualized combat and the gasping, moaning reactions of its heroes as they tear each others' clothes off cast each battle as literal combat and allegorical coitus.  Almost every shred of mid and post-combat dialogue would apply just as well to a sexual conquest or cherished lover, and in those moments, Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is legitimately, successfully erotic. 

It works via that kinda’-guilty sense that permits one to really like Velma from Scooby Doo, and exploits the same casual sex appeal that helped Archie comics stick around for seventy-five years – albeit to an exploded, way-over-the-top degree.  One can feel affection for these characters regardless of their intangible nature, and most of the time – when Shinovi Versus is being gleefully horny instead of straight-up creepy, when it’s American Pie and not American Beauty – it rings all the right bells.  It's a raucous sex comedy.

It works on you like a change room scene or makeout session in a Betty & Veronica Double Digest, because those bursts of erotic suggestion are far more affecting when they offer an intimate glimpse of a character you have affection for.  There’s nothing quite like seeing your crush slip out of their shirt.

At twelve, this was incredibly hot.

Shinovi Versus is a sexy game, but its trademark G-cups have very little to do with it.  The bouncing of its bountiful boobs becomes a bit tired, the player becomes a bit numb to it after not-too-long, perhaps because none of its heroines' breasts are as varied and unique and well-defined as the heroines themselves.  

Its sexy successes come from the same strength its snappy, impactful, satisfying combat enjoys - the meaningful differences between each hero, how each feel unique and special, and what happens to you when a character you've fallen a bit in love with looks up at you from the screen, and suggestively blushes. 

But also boobs.