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News: Armored Core Last Raven Portable PV

Posted on : 17-12-2009 | By : | In : News, Videos

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The final of the three Armored Core PSP ports, in the form of Last Raven, has received its first promo video and a smattering of coverage. For those unaware, Last Raven was one of the most challenging Armored Core games and ultimately aimed at its loyal fanbase, which wound up a a fair few Western journalists on its PlayStation 2 release (as they found it impossibly difficult for the most part). As a consequence, the original game was very much misunderstood and many of its features overlooked. Notably of which was its very involved branching narrative (though the English localisation was pretty woeful to be fair). The narrative received a large amount of interest, in Japan, and multiple directors were involved in creating various promotional videos for the game (with this being my personal favourite). The current PSP port has subsequently re-used a similar edit to this promo, so you should be able to compare and contrast on how accurate the port is from a graphical standpoint over the original game. This port will be released in Japan on March 4th next year at 3990 yen, along with a nice 60 page artbook containing lots of artwork and interviews.

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Comments (4)

Linking to that 1up review reminds me of the exact reason it took me so long to get into Armored Core: I was a fan of both mecha games and games with customization, but all the reviews I’d been reading from the first Armored Core on told me the games were unapproachable messes liked only by a variety of old coots resistant to change, which sufficiently scared me off. Unapproachable, maybe, but the Armored Core games aren’t hard for hardness’ sake, but are rather like some of the better Treasure games, which punish the player for not using their abilities to the fullest, in the hopes of weeding out less than optimal strategies. It puts the onus for victory on the player, but because the game keeps track of a lot of numbers, reviewers think those numbers mean they have to grind to win, when the opposite is the case: you have to learn to use the resources you already have to their fullest.

I need to pick up Nine Breaker and Nexus on the PS2 someday, since it seems like the ones I don’t already own won’t be getting a PSP port.

The really weird thing is that Demon’s Souls used the same heuristic approach to player death; as you learn the hard way. Yet that is almost universally praised and the Armored Core games, that have employed this approach for over a decade, are still chastised.

I’d be willing to bet that if Demon’s Souls hadn’t enjoyed the praise it did from importing early adopters and a few outspoken voices in the gaming press, the scores we see on metacritic and GameRankings would be far lower. The gaming press doesn’t like “hard” or “innovative” unless there’s a strong enough voice in the market to make it worth paying attention to those qualities as features rather than demerits, sadly enough. We probably weren’t too far from Demon’s Souls being another “cult-only gem with terribly negative reviews” such as God Hand.

That said, I think Demon’s Souls did a bit more to relate the mechanics in a more accessible way. The gaming intelligentsia is a lot more aware of the roguelike genre now than they were a few years ago, and Demon’s Souls was made in a format that people would automatically make the connection. There’s not as much in an Armored Core title to suggest that method of gameplay to the neophyte player, who’ll get their bank account heavily into the red and not try to realize that the game isn’t punishing him for trying, but rather for not trying to adapt.

I do still need to play Last Raven, which definitely looked like it was trying to suggest this kind of activity to the player with the use of different story paths, but I’ve been avoiding it because of the legendary difficulty. There’s always one more mecha game that I want to get good at before I move onto Last Raven, which seems to tower over my gaming collection like a grim monolith.

Thing is though the Armored Core series had been around for over 8 years by the point Last Raven was released, and was the 10th canon release by that point as well. Considering that Armored Core is also part of a much larger gaming genre (far larger than the roguelike), it’s almost beyond belief that the game received the treatment it did.

Honestly, how much hand holding is needed with these so called “gaming intelligentsia”?

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