Reviews: Super Robot Wars UX (8/10) Considering that the Super Robot Wars games started out on the GameBoy, their most natural state is generally on similar portable consoles. This has been proven time and time...
As the release date for Front Mission Evolved looms ever closer, the marketing campaign is going into overdrive. From appearances of the game at GamesCom to a somewhat spurious “interactive trailer” (linked below). We’re still a bit sceptical about the game, as the wanzers appear a tad twitchy. In any case, we’ll know for sure when it’s released at the end of September.
Game Watch has announced that on release of Virtual On Force in December customers who pre-ordered the game will have access to a “fetish unlock code”. This will allow players to increase the chest size of both Fei-Yen and Angelan, effectively giving the VR’s larger robotic breasts (pictured above).
Being a long-term player of the games, I find this “feature” palpably creepy and more than a little unsettling.
Up at the PlatinumGames official blog, there’s a post from the lead background designer of Vanquish, talking about the influence of Gundam’s space colonies on their game’s visual design. We’ve talked about this obvious influence before but in particular his comment about the team being mainly of “Gundam age” is very interesting. Most of them grew up with this shared cultural experience of Mobile Suit Gundam and other mecha series spawned from the Real Robot explosion that followed in its wake, and this affects Japanese video game development to this day, just as Western video game developers share their own cultural experiences, such as Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons.
Japanese video games can do very well in the West, but much of the time the peculiar differences that Japanese games can have from Western ones is ignored in the press or simply passed off as “Japan is weird”, without exploring the particular background these differences came from, rather treating game development as if it exists in a vacuum. It’s good to see these differences explained, and this in particular is a good example of the scale of influence the mecha animation genre has had in Japanese video game development.
4Gamer have again got a nice new selection of screenshots for the upcoming Front Mission Evolved. It’s clear that the PR campaign is in its last desperate throes, as the game is released in September. From more angry characters, minus gratuitous bewbs, and surprisingly large mecha (though somewhat meagre when compared to Armored Core For Answer’s Arms Forts) there’s definitely lots of interesting and shiny content to peruse though.
4Gamer has a nice new batch of HD screenshots for the upcoming Front Mission Evolved. Overall, the game is still looking nice and the September 28th release date seems to be still on track. The update also covers the game system setup a bit as well, though with nothing really new to report since we last talked about it. As the awful acronym for the game’s bullet time (as in “E.D.G.E.” or the more idiotic “Emergency Defense Galvanosynaptic Enhancer”) is still receiving large amounts of PR spooge. Though it seems that Square Enix will be doing something right in terms of releasing toys for the game, for that we happily tip our cyborg top hats in their direction.
What with the release of the Xbox 360 port for Virtual On Force getting ever closer, it seems that there are concerns that this series of games may not entice newcomers. With this is mind, 4Gamer has covered the announcement of a new EX Option. This effectively allows the player to grade the difficulty of the offline singleplayer campaign as per their burgeoning skill level (such as increased health, as pictured above). To be honest these kind of difficulty nullifying features tend to rub me the wrong way, especially considering the previous 360 release of Oratan 5.66 succeeded off the back of its untainted learning curve. Admittedly, this EX Option is entirely at the player’s discretion but this addition to Force reeks of management not development, as any gamer with half a cognitively active brain wouldn’t bother with this.
One of the more interesting Robot Damashii toys, that of the Zegapain Altair, has finally been released in Japan. Interesting in the sense that this mecha was the titular protagonist in the similarly titled Zegapain and that the series itself was strongly funded by Microsoft in Japan. The plan was to tie in two exclusive Xbox 360 games, Zegapain XOR and NOT, that were very plain ZOE clones alongside the series. Despite the insane amount of product placement in the anime, the most obvious sign of Microsoft’s handiwork was the revolting colour of green they picked for the mecha itself. Despite being a rather innovative mecha design, penned by Rei Nakahara, the saddest thing about the whole thing was that Microsoft hired Cavia to develop the games and it was patently clear their heart wasn’t in it. Though to be honest, who could really blame them when the host work featured a hideously bright green mecha. This then is the testament to the design itself; as this toy is a palpable reminder of when Western intervention in Japanese anime and gaming pop-culture just doesn’t work.
Along with the normal release of the game on December 22nd, for 6,090 yen, Virtual On Force will also be available in a Memorial Box version for an eye watering 10,290 yen. The bump in price is on account of three factors; a 6 disc set of ALL the music from every Virtual On game as well as an artbook covering the 15 year history of the franchise. The final icing on the cake is that it will have a custom created box-art penned by Hajime Katoki himself. Put simply, we’re getting the Memorial Box. The official site has also undergone a functional makeover, as it now covers the VR line-up in the game as well as the World background.
After ten years, it finally seems that Turn A Gundam is coming to the West. As Bandai Entertainment plan to bring the 50 episode anime series to Western shores in the coming future, whether this will encompass the two movies as well remains to be seen. Since its release in Japan Turn A has become a cult series, due in part to the somewhat bizarre and originally very controversial mecha design, penned by none other by Syd Mead. Over the years these designs have grown on the fanbase and many know appreciate the fact that series was very much ahead of its time. From the gorgeous score by Yoko Kanno to the deft characterisation and narrative from a calmer Yoshiyuki Tomino, Turn A is a series that is quite a mature and thoughtful work. The fact that it will finally receive a Western release is good news indeed, though arguably a tad overdue.
Unsurprisingly, Turn A has graced multiple games over the years. From Super Robot Wars Z to the Gundam Musou games as well as Another Century’s Episode 3 not to mention the Gundam Vs games, the SYSTEM ∀-99 (WD-M01) ∀ Gundam has made its mark on gaming in recent years. Due to the immense potency in the anime though, it’s a problematic unit in terms of games design; as an attack that can wipe out all technology via nano-machines is a bit tricky to implement in a functional sense. The gaming connections of this series also span to the character design too, as Yasuda Akira (or “Akiman”) was one of the original designers on Street Fighter II, amongst many other Capcom games. He went to work with Tomino again on the brilliant Overman King Gainer, which even featured a protagonist who was an ardent gamer.
4Gamer has some new coverage for the upcoming 360 port of Virtual On Force. Despite showing the four-player splitscreen mode, the above screenshot was of more interest really. For those that may not know, that’s a picture of TWO Jaguarandi’s against a MBV-04-10/80adv “10/80 ADV”. The best description for the above picture is probably along the lines of “incongruously terrifying”. This somewhat insane screenshot actually shows a special mission in progress, which is interesting as it’s something Virtual On Marz attempted as well, in terms of its level structure at least. Having a 10/80adv pitted against the Force era Jaguarandi’s does seem brutally unfair though.