Closing rifts between mainstream and niche, bringing obscurity into light, and the past into the future.
NIS America has released the third trailer for their PS Vita dungeon crawling RPG Demon Gaze. If you watch closely, you can actually see a bit of gameplay spliced between the gratuitous flashing images of hypersexualized lady demons and screen filling explosions. Don’t let the sounds of cheesy guitar riffs and distorted detonations deter you though, Demon Gaze looks to be a solid first person RPG. At least that’s what I’ve gathered from some of the impressions following the game’s January release in Japan. It’s surprising to see that this game is coming to the west at all, but I suppose a slew of Vita owners bought the system to play an RPG with its own fair share of hypersexualized lady demons (… and not… lady demons [nsfw link]). Demon Gaze is slated to release on April 22 in North America and April 25 in Europe.
The 3rd Super Robot Taisen Z, the final installment of the mecha crossover RPG series, will come with a glut of recognizable anime robots. Pictured above are slightly chibi’d versions of Gurren Lagann, The Big O, Plan 1056 Codarl-i from Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid, and Eva Unit-02. There are 32 series to handpick your mecha from, and you can view a swath of them in screen caps from Famitsu’s latest update. Here are some of the shows included in the game, thanks to Siliconera:
Code Geass, Gurren Lagann, Gurren Lagann: The Movie, Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, Rebuild of Evangelion, Aquarion EVOL, Trider G7, Testsujin 28-go, Six God Combination Godmars, Armored Trooper Votoms, Armored Trooper Votoms: Battle Of The Heterogeneous Species, Armored Trooper Votoms: Shining Heresy, Super Dimension Century OrgussGetter Robo Armageddon, Gunbuster, Z Gundam, Char’s Counterattack, Gundam W Endless Waltz, Gundam SEED Destiny, Gundam 00 A Wakening of the Trailblazer, Gundam Unicorn, Macross 7, Macross Frontier (the movies), Macross Dynamite 7, Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z Hen, Daiguard, Fullmetal Panic, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu, Full Metal Panic: Second RaiD, The Big O and Dancouga Nova.
Facebook’s recent acquisition of the Oculus Rift has a lot of people up in arms. It seems like every video game forum is bloating under the pressure of posters reacting to the $2 billion business deal. Behind the thick veneer of reaction gifs is a generally confused community. People are upset, but not all of them necessarily understand why. The vocal out lash to the acquisition can be seen as a bad feeling in the community’s collective gut. This is the kind of fallout that drifts over the public when a corporate monolith has snatched up one of gaming’s freshest slabs of real estate, the potentially game-changing prospect of virtual reality. In the above video, Matt Lee does a great job of articulating exactly why he’s upset, why you should be upset, and the perils that may come with Facebook having a firm grasp on a facet of the virtual reality market.
The man who put the “vania” in “metroidvania” has left Konami, according to a report published by IGN this morning. Koji Igarashi, long time producer and scenario writer of the Castlevania franchise, left the developer on March 15. He played an integral role in the creation of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the profundity of his work still echoes in the design frameworks of many games made today.
"I’ve decided to break out on my own to have the freedom to make the kind of games I really want to make — the same kind I think fans of my past games want as well," Igarashi told IGN.
"Leaving Konami was a big decision, and not one I took lightly – I’ve spent my entire career there, made many friends, and had a lot of great opportunities – but I hope all the gamers and fans who have supported me in the past will join me in being excited about what comes next. Wish me luck!”
Igarashi leaving Konami and becoming an independent developer has noticeable parallels to Keiji Inafune’s departure from Capcom. This is only speculation, but Igarashi may have left a position of complacency to explore independent endeavors free from the constraints of working for a large developer. Inafune expressed a deep discontent with the Japanese video game industry when he left his company, and it’s possible Igarashi “broke out” on his own to gain a little more creative freedom. Whether Igarashi heads a new project, or creates a spiritual successor to metroidvania titles in the same vein as Inafune’s Mega Man revivals, I’ll be interested to see what this industry legend will come up with.
Just a few updates about Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. According to Jump magazine, Knights of the Round and Chocobos will both be usable summons in the game. Hopefully Knights of the Round doesn’t take as long to play out its animation as it did in Final Fantasy VII. There were a lot of good bathroom break opportunities with VII’s drawn out summons, especially with Sephiroth’s Super Nova. That fool destroyed the solar system like, three times when I fought him. Also, Square Enix have put up streaming tracks from Final Fantasy I through VII to listen to from your browser. These tracks will be included in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call when it releases on April 24th in Japan for 3DS.
The team at Heart Machine have released an updated gameplay trailer for Hyper Light Drifter to promote the game for PS4 and Vita. The original trailer, which dropped back in September, is what really sold me on the game. The new trailer shows the same shots as the original, but some of the graphical effects in battle have been improved due to incubation in development. Hyper Light Drifter is probably my most anticipated game of 2014. I find the deftly animated battle sequences and ruinous landscapes littered with ancient technologies completely gripping. If you’d like to see a nice chunk of pre-alpha gameplay, you can check that out here. Hyper Light Drifter is expected to have a closed beta in June and Heart Machine has “sights set on the end of the year holiday season” for the full game. The full game will be released for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Vita, Wii U, and OUYA.
I didn’t like Crysis as a first person shooter. Its pacing was bumbling and ineffectual, its story generic and insufferable, but there were some redeeming factors. I may not have liked Crysis as a first person shooter, but I loved Crysis as a first person shark attack simulator. A panic attack inducing shark acts as an invisible wall so players don’t swim too far away from Crysis’ main island. Wading your way out to the far horizon triggers a dorsal fin to cut above the surface of the ocean, and a great white shark quickly gnashes you to chum. It’s an unexpected and horrifying event the first time it happens. It’s also hilarious. My friend and I would take turns swimming out as far as we possibly could, almost peeing our pants in laughter at the ridiculousness of it all.
In Crysis you couldn’t fight back against the shark, but in SHARK PUNCH you can finally get some therapeutic revenge. SHARK PUNCH allows you to strap on an Oculus Rift headset and literally punch the heads off of circling sharks, exploding them into meat chunks reminiscent of JAWS’ infamous final scene. There’s no projected release date for the general public, but if you happen to be at SXSW in Austin, then you can try a demonstration of the game there. Here’s a trailer for SHARK PUNCH which humorously frames the game as a tool for therapy.
Just by glancing at the geometric aesthetic of Volume, you can see clear echoes of Nathan Bithel’s previous game, Thomas Was Alone. The flattened angular abstraction of Thomas Was Alone is ditched for a more deep and concrete set of luminescent polygons, but Bithel’s eye is still centered on solid and dynamic visual design. Volume looks like Metal Gear Solid’s VR missions wrung through an iridescent cascade of neon hues. A game that’s just as much about color as it is about sounds, Volume is a cyberpunk stealth game with an ear toward the community. Bithel writes on Volume’s official website:
The game will be released with hundreds of challenging and exciting environments, but that is only the beginning. Every area of the game can be remixed, added to and expanded upon. The community are free to take the game in any direction they want, even releasing their own takes on the core levels. This is a game which will evolve, warp and grow as players make their mark on Locksley’s legend.
Seeing screenshots isn’t the same as seeing levels materialize; spinning out of black cyber space into glowing paneled configurations. You can watch a gameplay demonstration from this month right here, and see the developer try his hand at the game’s level creator here. There is no projected release date.
17-BIT announced yesterday that they will be bringing Galak-Z: The Dimensional not only to PS4, but to PS Vita as well. An offshoot of the Time Pilot shmup variety, Galak-Z combines Asteroid starship maneuvering with the rogue-like random generation of Spelunky and Don’t Starve. Raj Joshi, Senior Producer of Galak-Z, doesn’t shy away from marking his team’s influences. Joshi gives insight on 17-BIT’s decision to move the game to handhelds:
Spelunky works so well as a handheld game, and we can’t put it down. Spelunky’s superpower is the extremely rich interactions between every last object in the game. When you’re collecting rocks to dislodge spiders to set off arrow traps, you’re pulling on a deep well of knowledge gained purely by watching the rules of the game grind against each other, and expressing it in a natural way. Every miserable, hilarious, catastrophic death doubles as a big chalkboard lesson in How The Game Works.
I’m excited that Spelunky has resonated so well with developers. If more of the subtle genius in Spelunky’s design philosophies were expressed throughout other games, the gaming landscape would be better as a whole. Galak-Z: The Dimensional is expected to release later this year for both PS4 and PS Vita.
One of the more surprising announcements to come out of Kyoto’s BitSummit indie games festival, the side scrolling mech-shooter Assault Suit Leynos is being remade for PS4. Assault Suit Leynos originally came to North America as Target Earth, which released in 1990 for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. You may be familiar with Assault Suit Leynos’ prequel for the SNES, Cybernator, which can easily be found behind a scratched and smudged pane of glass at your local pawn shop. According to Gematsu, “the game is utilizing ‘open development,’ taking public opinion into account at all times.” This open development strategy will likely be nursed by the community contributing to Assault Suit Leynos’ upcoming Kickstarter campaign.