News: Gigantic Army Released On Steam
For those that have been a reader on this site for a while, you'll remember we talked about Gigantic Army a good while back. Well, due to Nyu Media we now have the game...
News: Gundam Side Stories Screenshot Update
Over at 4Gamer we have a new update on the forthcoming Gundam Side Stories collection of games. First though, let's talk about the above screenshot. As it basically shows...
4Gamer has the breakdown on Virtual On Force’s pretty epic “Memorial Box” set. From a CD soundtrack, containing most of the music from the original game, Oratan, Marz as well as Force (somewhat rendering the rather lovely and now quite expensive Marsinal set a tad moot), the other big addition is that of a 140 page booklet chronicling the 15 years of the series’ history. From lovely artwork for each game as well as interviews with both Juro Watari and Hajime Katoki. In terms of the latter Katoki has also penned some new box-art for the Memorial Box version, something he hasn’t done for the series since the Dreamcast port of Oratan back in 1998. As if all that wasn’t enough, there will also be two Tangram super balls thrown in with the set.
It’s also become apparent that the reasoning behind taking Force to a boxed format, rather than digital download as they recently did with Oratan, was specifically because SEGA wanted to do a 15th Anniversary collector’s set for the fans. Though, SEGA are charging a premium for all this fanservice; at 10,290 yen the Memorial Box isn’t exactly cheap. If you have money to burn though, you can pre-order it here.
Over the next few months, Mecha Damashii will begin to start on some more retro reviews for mecha games that have made a mark on the genre. Whilst we’ve already done a fair few features to this effect, as well as recently reviewed games like Metal Wolf Chaos, the plan is to review games that people think are worth the coverage. The first two of these reviews will be for the original arcade version of Virtual On as well as the epic Steel Battalion. Past that, we’re curious to know what you – the readers – would like to see covered. From Metal Warriors to Remote Control Dandy, what games do you think need the reviewing treatment? Naturally, feel free to comment below!
4Gamer has some coverage about the upcoming Virtual On Force, as on release both the standard and memorial box versions will come packaged with a special promotional code for Border Break Air Burst. This will allow Border Break players to gain access to a new a paint scheme for their blast runner, one that is unobtainable within the game normally. Not wishing to miss a trick, players that are only subscribed to the monthly paid Border Break.NET service will be able to use the new paint scheme. There was also a cool press conference for Air Burst about a week ago, where they showed the new game off quite nicely (the video is here in case you’re curious).
Following on from this Game Watch also had some interesting coverage regarding the new training mode in the 360 port of Force. It’s partly based on the one seen in Oratan but will have a great emphasis on structured training levels for novice players (as Oratan’s setup was much more open ended by comparison). What’s also very curious is how the game will handle the various VR types from the arcade, as these were triggered off ranking via the card system. The unfortunate follow-on of this was that often the better performing players received a wider array of VR’s to choose from, leaving the novices to struggle with the default versions. Whether this system has been carried over to the online element in the 360 port still isn’t known but from the description it seems that VR’s are awarded in the new “Mission Mode” now. The latter worries us slightly, as that would make this port of Force a bit too close to Marz for our liking. That said, the Missions also feed into how much you can upgrade your wingman AI – so that could be interesting at least. Finally, the article mentions a graphical option that renders the game with various HDR effects, such as bloom and some specular elements on the surface of the VR. We saw these on the TGS demo we played and they did look nice. The fact they are optional is pretty nifty though (as that very much appeals to our purist tendencies).
Kotaku reports Bangai-O HD has been delayed in order for the developers to add multiplayer to the title, including competitive and co-operative modes. The new release window is currently Spring 2011.
The addition of multiplayer to Bangai-O HD isn’t an odd choice, considering how much the next generation systems have been pushing multiplayer over traditional single-player modes, but I’m curious as to how they’re going to incorporate these modes into Bangai-O. Bangai-O is very much designed as a single-player experience, with the player given only a tiny sprite to control so that the rest of the player’s view can be swarming with missiles and enemies, and expecting the player to track one single enemy player during the madness that defines Bangai-O will be a tough task. Even more difficult to implement will be the co-op, because the entire gimmick of Bangai-O is that your screen-clearing “bomb” function releases ordnance in direct proportion to how much danger the player character is currently in from the enemies’ own munitions, and it’ll be difficult to balance two (or more!) Bangai-Os attempting to set up efficient combos.
Hopefully pushing back the release date will give the developers time to come up with solutions to these potential difficulties, and as hard as these problems with the addition of multiplayer to Bangai-O’s game mechanics might be to crack, there is also a lot of potential for the game to go wonderfully right. Getting three of your friends together to coordinate a single massive assault of literally thousands of missiles is exactly the kind of experience that can make Bangai-O HD a worthy successor to the cult classic Dreamcast original. Fingers crossed that the multiplayer isn’t just an afterthought to make it more competitive in today’s market.
Those of you with an interest on the origins of Bangai-O’s game mechanics and how it relates to the rule sets of mecha anime series, please feel free to read our in-depth feature on the first two Bangai-O games. For a game that answers the question “how many explosions can we fit on a single screen?” the game’s cultural genesis is a long and interesting one.
Xbox Live Indie Games developer Mommy’s Best Games is releasing a game with the improbable (and amazing) name Explosionade this month. Inspired a bit by Metal Slug, it features the age-old story of some guy coming across a death-dealing prototype robot and then running havoc with it with absolutely no moral qualms whatsoever. Mommy’s Best Games formerly released the well-received Shoot 1-Up and Explosionade’s trailer seems like it won’t disappoint.
The developers credit their graphical inspiration to something that SNK (developers of Metal Slug) would have made, and this influence is also clearly felt in the gameplay: the player’s mecha, GRenaDOS, has at least as much of the firepower that Metal Slug’s vehicles had, while also putting a lot of emphasis on the “feel” of controlling that large vehicle. This combination of heavy firepower with heavy weight means that Mommy’s Best gratefully avoids the common pitfall that most Western developers make with games featuring robots, by thinking of them as human analogues rather than as vehicles when the game should properly allow the player to feel in control of a machine rather than a man.
The way the mech aims and boost-jumps also reminds us of Assault Suits Valken (released in the West as Cybernator), which was certainly one of the best mecha games released on the Super Nintendo and which inspired the Western developed Metal Warriors and the doujin game GunHound as well as the better known Front Mission: Gun Hazard (itself developed by the Assault Suits developers). The interesting thing to note here is that if the game uses a dual analog setup, as we think it does, then Explosionade would be using a control scheme that wasn’t available to those earlier games, who likely would have used it if it had been available. While Assault Suits Valken is an excellent game, it is also known for its fairly punishing difficulty and at least part of this was the directional pad controlling both movement and aiming, and Explosionade could therefore be a much easier game for the casual fan to get their mechanical carnage fix with while also offering almost the same experience.
The reason I’m so excited for this game, though, isn’t just because it’s a game about a quadrupedal robot stomping around and firing grenades at disgusting aliens, but because it’s a game about a quadrupedal robot stomping around and firing grenades at disgusting aliens for 80 Microsoft Points. That is, one whole US dollar. For what you’d spend on gas to drive yourself to the local game store, you can get an amazing game with an amazing name, and support an indie developer raising money to continue working on their longer-term project Grapple Buggy. It’s like charity, really, except you get a free mecha game and also I don’t believe the cause of “making a game about tanks with grappling hooks” is tax deductible.
The game’s release date is indeterminate due to a problem with the Xbox Live Indie Game section not updating correctly (an interesting read if you’re curious about the thoughts of an XBLIG developer), but should be out sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, you can froth over this tasty trailer:
The next Earth Defense Force, or Chikyuu Boueigun, game “Insect Armageddon” is no longer being helmed by Japanese developer Sandlot. Instead, D3 have given the franchise to Vicious Cycle. Whilst this may not initially appear as being very much to do with mecha, then please allow us to elaborate.
Sandlot were formed from the ashes of a team at Human Entertainment who had made the rather brilliant Remote Control Dandy. This was a unique mecha game as it had the player control a giant mecha limb by limb from ground level. The subsequent effect of this was one of epic scale. Sandlot pretty much made this their functional calling card from that point on.
Their first “game” was on the PS2 and it was pretty much a glorified tech demo for their engine, tying in with the recently released Tekkouki Mikazuki the “trial edition” game was packaged with the series’ soundtrack. Again this had the player control a mecha from ground level, emphasizing its scale.
This then allowed Sandlot to get investment to make Gigantic Drive with the original Enix (before the merger with Squaresoft). Whilst it was received well in Japan the Western version, entitled Robotic Alchemic Drive, garnered a vocal cult following.
So where do the Chikyuu Boueigun games come into all of this then? Well, the tech that had been built up over two games was now sitting around and it was ripe for a B-movie interpretation (with giant alien ants obviously). Packaged as part of D3′s “SIMPLE 2000″ budget line, the first and second games sold very well allowing Sandlot to invest in other games along the way (such as this little beauty).
In short, the mecha functional core based around the emphasis of scale in a destructible environment that birthed these games is integral to what made them work in the first place. Even the first 360 game was developed by Sandlot, so to see them absent on the new game is very sad indeed. In any case, the trailer for the new game is shown below and don’t forget to read our feature on Sandlot too.
Courtesy of our good friends at HobbyLink Japan, we’ve been sent a toy from Mobile Suit Gundam 0080 to review. Specifically, the new GM Sniper II from the Robot Damashii range. The gaming significance of this design is also quite interesting and this review is meant as a companion piece to the forthcoming “White Dingo” version.
The upcoming Super Robot Wars L has received its first set of TV adverts in Japan. The adverts show the insert animations for most of the new mecha featured. The somewhat cunning and more than a little bit misleading aspect of how these have been depicted is that Banpresto have linked them all together as an edited whole. In reality, the inserts are very short-lived in the game and the vast bulk of the actual animation is sprite based and reliant on the heavy re-use of assets from the previous DS and even GBA titles. That said from what we played of the game at TGS it was at least fun, so we’ll see on the game’s release at the end November whether the budget animation will wind us up. The videos are linked below.
Now that the new SRW OG anime “The Inspector” has kicked off in Japan, we now have both the opening and ending animations online. The opening’s song is, unsurprisingly, performed by the indomitable JAM Project and is called “MAXON”. It practically oozes tamashii. The ending is, on the other hand, a bit more sassy and is “Bokura no Jiyuu” by Aki Misato. Despite the obvious mecha portion of the animation, the other element that needs mentioning is the prolific amount of jiggling bewbage, with the ending animation attaining somewhat of a critical mass in this department. This is by no means a new development when it comes to the OG mythos but it may catch some people a bit off guard – as in people that aren’t sexually repressed teenage boys. We’ve linked both segments below.
A chap on flickr by the name of m_o_n_k_e_y has been rendering various cool mecha in Lego form. Specifically, he’s moved onto the vertical tanks from the original Steel Battalion games on the Xbox as designed by the wonderful Junji Okubo. The above model is based on the Vitzh, that’s basically the grunt of the VT forces. The guy has even had a crack at the internal cockpit as well, which is pretty cool really. Thanks to Persona for the heads-up on this.