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Videos: Starwing Paradox Finally Gets Some Proper Gameplay FootageVideos: Starwing Paradox Finally Gets Some Proper Gameplay... Over at 4Gamer, they have a new interview with one of the developers behind the upcoming arcade mecha game Starwing Paradox. Released later this year in the Japanese arcades,...

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News: Gundam Extreme Versus 2 Initial Roster And Location Tests AnnouncedNews: Gundam Extreme Versus 2 Initial Roster And Location... As the rest of the world has Gundam Versus on the PS4, Japanese arcades are gearing up for the upcoming Gundam Versus Extreme 2. On May 12 and 13, stores in Tokyo and Osaka...

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Reviews: Super Robot Wars X (9/10)Reviews: Super Robot Wars X (9/10) Since the end of the Z series, the Super Robot Wars games have tried to change up the setup somewhat, such as including series without mecha in Super Robot Wars V. Well, the...

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Videos: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS 2 Announced For 2018Videos: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS 2 Announced For... Bandai Namco have recently announced that Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme VS 2 will be hitting arcades in 2018. Unlike Gundam Versus, this is being positioned as a true sequel...

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Videos: Build Strike Gundam, Farsia, Gundam Pixie, and Efreet Schneid Coming To Gundam VersusVideos: Build Strike Gundam, Farsia, Gundam Pixie,... Several new DLC units have been announced during the Gundam Games Announcement stream on January 16. Aside from revealing God and Master Gundam gameplay, we saw Missing...

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News: Gundam vs Gundam NEXT coming to PS3

Posted on : 09-09-2009 | By : | In : News

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The successful Capcom Gundam arcade games are finally getting a decent console port for this generation, in the form of Gundam vs Gundam NEXT. The last iteration of Gundam vs Gundam got an admittedly quite competent PSP port but it lacked online multiplayer and it had a few minor performance issues in AdHoc versus. The NEXT update will now get an exclusive PlayStation 3 release and considering the recent Gundam Senki boasts some pretty impressive (and thoroughly stable) online multiplayer options it’s logical to assume that a series of games based on the quality of its human versus setup will follow suit. Not much is known about the release as yet though, as in date, pricing and any additional mobile suits but the base set of playable mecha will obviously make the transition. So, for those that have been gawping at the awesome potency of the Unicorn Gundam in various shaky cam videos it’s nice to know we’ll get to initiate Destroy Mode within the comfort of our own homes in the near future.

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News: Yoshiyuki Tomino weighs in on games

Posted on : 09-09-2009 | By : | In : News

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At the recent CEDEC conference venerable anime director and writer Yoshiyuki Tomino weighed in on the state of games. Now, Tomino is all about the context of his statements and whilst he proclaimed games to be “evil” this was wholly meant in relation to a game’s creative worth. In that, without the creative quality to back up a game’s existence it’s very much a waste of resource and hence “evil”. He cited Tetris as qualitative benchmark to this and that functionally games haven’t really outmoded this, which is actually pretty accurate. So his comment was in relation to games themselves and not something unrelated.

Naturally, a few places have got a little carried away and focused purely on the “evil” comment without comprehending the context of his speech. Some have even gone as far to think Tomino actually hates games, which is pretty facile considering the fact he wrote and directed Overman King Gainer in which the main protagonist is a very skilled gamer and hence able to pilot the titular mecha. Finally, some have said the comment is hypocritical in relation to the creation of multiple Gundam games over the years but Tomino has no involvement in these tie-in games whatsoever so the linkage is not at all valid to be honest.

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News: Border Break released today

Posted on : 09-09-2009 | By : | In : News

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After all the location tests, SEGA have now finally released their new Ring Edge powered 10 vs 10 mecha brawler, Border Break. For those that have been following the blog and news of upcoming model kits, the fact the game is finally out (in Japan) is a wondrous addition to that. Naturally, there are no announcements as to its Western release but considering the game’s extensive use of touch screen functionality it probably wouldn’t last longer than five seconds in an arcade outside of Japan.

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News: Return of the Karasawa Mk2

Posted on : 09-09-2009 | By : | In : News

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Back around the time of Armored Core 2, there were a fair few issues with the game not only in terms of its pretty awful frame rate but also in regards to the unbalanced parts list when it came to human versus. One part in particular, the Karasawa Mk2, was cheese incarnate. In the original Armored Core the Karasawa was a meaty laser rifle that fired needle like shots of immense power, to the extent that it could kill an enemy AC with around 10 shots (it had a total capacity of 50 in case you’re curious). In Armored Core 2 it kept the shot potency but also increased the shot velocity and also had an additional stun for each shot. This meant all you had to do was land the first shot and the Mk2 would take care of the rest.

Fast forward to today and the upcoming PSP port of Armored Core 3 Silent Line now features an almost identical inclusion of that dreadful weapon (though with a slightly reduced ammo capacity). The weird thing is that Silent Line already had it’s own Karasawa, so having another is a bit of an overkill. Whether this will unbalance the new port as much as it did with Armored Core 2 remains to be seen however.

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Features: Bangai-O Origins

Posted on : 08-09-2009 | By : | In : Features

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bangaio_tamashii.jpgThere are few games developers in the world that engender such a fan driven fervour as Treasure. Their games are revered in an almost monolithic sense, beacons of taut gaming functionality they distill the mechanics of a game into something palpably cogent. However, there are a few instances amongst their creative portfolio that have wider cultural leanings.

I am, of course, referring to Bakuretsu Muteki Bangai-O. A series of games featuring the titular mecha, Bangai-O, as it sprays a colourful 2D world with a vast array of homing missiles and lasers. The initial functional impetus for the game was outed as being that of the Sharp X1 title Hover Attack but in a more recent interview, this was merely a partial catalyst as it became clearer that the main influences took on a far greater role.

Specifically, three anime series were cited in the interview; Macross, Layzner and Ideon. For those that have been reading the column regularly, I’ve already covered the effect of each of these series (here and here). Now it’s time to see how these influences actually manifest themselves in a gaming series such as Bangai-O.

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Features: Zone of the Pretenders

Posted on : 08-09-2009 | By : | In : Features

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zoe_vo_edit.jpgIn December of 1999, SEGA released a nigh-on arcade perfect port on their ill-fated Dreamcast for Virtual On Oratorio Tangram. Like the Saturn port of its precursor, it also featured a bespoke controller to emulate the arcade version’s original setup: a pair of twinsticks. It was critically lauded by almost all Japanese (and many Western) publications and did quite well in terms of sales too.

The thing with the Virtual On series though is that they’ve always been focused around human multiplayer. In that regard they are practically peerless. As to their singleplayer “experience”; it’s almost been an oversight.

Even Hajime Katoki’s mecha design was forcibly restrained for the various Virtuaroids, as the 1995 original had very stringent polygon counts which set the aesthetic. The first two Virtual On games in fact are almost exercises in functional minimalism.

Yet Virtual On, as a series, has had a remarkable amount of design-based progeny over the years but in the case of Oratorio Tangram such “offspring” would only be a few years away.

Cue Hideo Kojima…

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Reviews: Armored Core For Answer (8/10)

Posted on : 07-09-2009 | By : | In : Reviews

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acfa_360_cover1-thumbNormally, in the history of Armored Core, the subsequent releases within the numerical classification are broader in scope and obviously more polished. Master of Arena had a customisable AI setup called Ranker Mk, Silent Line had an organic learning AI and an enormous amount of parts. Yet all these improvements were off the base release that preceded it. Admittedly, I am selling the earlier games a tad short but compared to For Answer, the improvements were linearly obvious.

This cycle has been broken with the latest version as it’s evolved past its roots to a terrifying degree.

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News: MechWarrior reboot in licensing blunder

Posted on : 07-09-2009 | By : | In : News

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Back in the 80’s when the early iterations of Battledroids (then later Battletech) surfaced, many of the designs had been not very surreptitiously lifted from various anime shows. Notably that of Dougram and Macross. FASA were suitably sued for their troubles. That said, over the years FASA did their best to throw several olive branches in the direction of the anime industry. Especially when they hired Shoji Kawamori to pen the designs for the Japanese edition of Battletech.

Fast forward to the recent trailer for the MechWarrior reboot featuring a Warhammer (or a destroid Tomahawk from Macross in case you’re wondering) and it seems that this has opened up the legal can of worms all over again. Considering the original case was with FASA it is interesting that the same designs can come under dispute when the rights are owned by another institution.

Personally, I don’t understand why they just didn’t get Hajime Katoki, Yutaka Izubuchi or Junji Okubo to pen new designs for the reboot and be done with it. At the very least they’d have had mecha that at least looked awesome.

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Reviews: Armored Core 4 (7/10)

Posted on : 07-09-2009 | By : | In : Reviews

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Set in a not too distant future, the planet has gone to hell in a hand basket. Global environmental catastrophe is very much a reality and warring corporations now pretty much run the planet, under the false pretences of Pax Economica. To meet the ruthless needs of profiteering corporations, mercenaries by the name of Nexts pilot massive and customisable war machines by the name of armored cores, or ACs for short.

Nexts are also a new type of human – they directly interface with their mechanical avatars via their brain stem and consequently have unparalleled control over their AC.

The focus of the game is to undertake missions in a third person action setting, which pay money for you to buy more parts and undertake more challenging though better paying sorties. Now that the player is a next level pilot, the emphasis is much more on refined control than in previous iterations.

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Features: Virtual Ontaku

Posted on : 07-09-2009 | By : | In : Features

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shirokis_temjin_katoki.pngI first played Virtual On years ago now, originally on the Saturn port in fact. I look back at that with some disdain admittedly, as I later but quickly realised that the arcade original, with its wondrous twinstick control setup, was a far superior game. The arcade version took me a few months of practice to get into, mainly because the nearest arcade was an hour’s train ride away and I was still at the tender age that meant I didn’t have a driving license.

Once I’d learnt the basics I decided to create a club in a fairly central London arcade (London being in the UK, in case you’re wondering). It was imaginatively titled the London Virtual On Club, or LonVOC for short.

It then appeared that my practice had been pretty thorough, as my subsequent skills were rather potent against the new club members (all of whom were keen to best me, but in the non-Xbox Live smacktalk sense). We were also later graced with the only arcade cabinet of Virtual On Oratorio Tangram (M.S.B.S. 5.2) in the UK, which was a lot of fun.

Considering the recent announcement of Oratorio Tangram coming to digital download, it seems only fair to cover a series that made me travel halfway across my native country just to plumb credits into an arcade cabinet (a cabinet I later ended up owning, as you probably know already).

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