From the Archives: A Question of Genre

How do you describe a piece of interactive entertainment? Chances are the first thing you mention is the way it plays, or the supposed “genre” it is part of.

Final Fantasy is a JRPG; Gears of War is a third-person shooter; Mario games are platformers. And this isn’t only true for mainstream games, either — even the most esoteric indie games tend to be described in terms of their mechanics. Fez is a puzzle-platformer; The Binding of Isaac is a roguelike shooter; Minecraft is an open-world building and survival sim.

While you may then elaborate on that by describing the setting — sci-fi, fantasy, cartoonish crazytown — it’s highly likely that this is not the first thing you mention. Interactive entertainment is pretty much the only artistic medium in which we do this.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: A Question of Genre

Wii U Essentials: Game & Wario

Originally intended as a pack-in game for the Wii U as a demonstration of the GamePad’s capabilities, Game & Wario has been considerably overshadowed by its eventual replacement Nintendo Land.

But it’s a great game in its own right, both as a showcase for the Wii U GamePad and as a title that provides enormously varied quick blasts of entertainment whenever you feel like it.

It’s very much an old-school Nintendo game, in other words, and while it’s rather different from previous WarioWare titles, it’s an excellent addition to any Wii U owner’s library.

Continue reading Wii U Essentials: Game & Wario

Final Fantasy XIV Guide: Dun Scaith

Dun Scaith is a 24-player alliance raid for level 60 characters introduced in The Far Edge of Fate (Part I), patch 3.5 of Final Fantasy XIV.

It is the third and final installment in the series of Mhachi raids that began with The Void Ark and continued through The Weeping City of Mhach. It requires an item level of at least 235 to enter, and the three parties of the alliance are in what has been standard alliance raid configuration since Syrcus Tower in A Realm Reborn: one tank, two healers, five DPS.

The raid drops item level 260 gear (which, at the time of writing, players are limited to acquiring one piece of per week) along with the Paladin glamour weapon Blood Sword, a Wind-Up Scathach minion, a Diabolos Hollow Triple Triad card, and Void Matter, an item needed to craft a few Dun Scaith-related housing items.

Note to visitors: This guide is a little out of date now thanks to a few changes to Dun Scaith, but the strategies for the main bosses still stand.

Continue reading Final Fantasy XIV Guide: Dun Scaith

Nights of Azure: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Nights of Azure is one of Gust’s most mechanically interesting games — particularly in how much it differs from the company’s usual output — but it also has a fascinating, ambitious narrative.

Combining a deeply personal tale with a more conventional JRPG-style “save the world” narrative, the overall atmosphere of the game is very distinctive and quite unlike your average JRPG, if such a thing exists. It blends drama, romance, action, horror and mystery together to create something altogether unique that is very much worth experiencing.

And it pulls the whole thing off with such wonderful style, such a beautifully clear sense of its own identity, that you can’t help but be compelled by the tale it tells.

Continue reading Nights of Azure: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

From the Archives: School Days, Chaos Theory and Emotional Engagement

School Days HQ is a visual novel/interactive movie from STACK and 0verflow, localised by Sekai Project and published by JAST USA.

It’s a remastered remake of an earlier title from 2005, simply called School Days, and is rather notorious for all the wrong reasons — specifically, its violent tragic bad endings, which I won’t spoil here.

This article isn’t going to describe or analyse the overall plot in depth; rather, I’d like to talk about what School Days shows us about the possibilities and challenges a branching narrative offers to content creators, and what other games might be able to learn from the visual novel genre in general in this regard.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in August 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: School Days, Chaos Theory and Emotional Engagement

Wii U Essentials: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Any time someone claims that Nintendo’s flagship action-adventure-kinda-sorta-but-not-really RPG series The Legend of Zelda is stagnant and doesn’t try anything new, the perfect rebuttal is The Wind Waker.

Originally released in 2002 to a somewhat surprised Gamecube audience that wasn’t sure what to make of its cel-shaded visuals and seafaring-heavy gameplay, The Wind Waker has subsequently proven itself to be a timeless classic in the series as well as one of the most interesting Zelda titles there has ever been.

And with the HD remaster for Wii U, the definitive version of the game now exists thanks to some much needed tweaks and updates as well as full widescreen support and glorious high-resolution visuals.

Continue reading Wii U Essentials: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

Nights of Azure: Hack, Slash… and Command

Gust, as we’ve established, is a company that doesn’t like to do things completely conventionally. As such, it’s entirely fitting that a Gust action RPG isn’t quite what you’d normally expect from the genre.

Nights of Azure is a fascinating game from a mechanical perspective in numerous different ways. Drawing influences from a variety of sources including From Software’s popular Souls series, Falcom’s Ys franchise, monster-raising games such as Pokémon and even elements of tabletop role-playing, the whole experience is one you can easily lose yourself in.

The result is a game that is initially surprising and baffling in roughly equal measure, but taking the time to get to know what makes the game tick really pays off in the end: it’s one of the most interesting takes on the action RPG for a long time.

Continue reading Nights of Azure: Hack, Slash… and Command

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