From the Archives: Hospital Affairs

The Nintendo DS might not be the first place you’d think to look for some quality visual novels, but in actual fact Nintendo’s diminuitive and immensely popular handheld has played host to a number of interesting titles over the years.

Besides the well-known Ace Attorney series, there’s Kotaro Uchikoshi’s Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, the Hotel Dusk series… and then there’s the title I’d like to discuss today.

It’s an offering from Japanese developer Spike (now Spike Chunsoft who, in a pleasing coincidence, both developed and published 999 between its two constituent parts) known variously as Resident Doctor Tendo 2: The Scales of Life (Japan), Lifesigns: Surgical Unit (North America) and Lifesigns: Hospital Affairs (Europe).

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Mega Drive Essentials: Alisia Dragoon

Sega’s Mega Drive console — or the Genesis to those of you in the States — was a wonderful machine.

In many ways, it started the process of making gaming “cool”, and laid the groundwork for Sony’s solid efforts to make our whole form of entertainment a lot more mainstream with the first PlayStation. But more importantly, it played host to a wide variety of absolutely fantastic games.

One such title was Game Arts’ Alisia Dragoon, an unusual action game that combines elements of disparate genres to produce an extremely memorable, enjoyable and addictive game that still holds up well today.

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Gravity Rush: A Hero is Born

The original Gravity Rush was an important release for Sony’s Vita handheld: it was a high-profile, first-party release, which the system has not, to date, seen all that many of, and is unlikely to see any more.

It was positively received at the time of its original release by press and public alike, but Sony’s consistently poor marketing of the platform — coupled with a general sense of apathy by the more “mainstream” parts of the gaming community — meant that it passed a lot of people by.

And that’s a great shame, as it was an excellent game. Thankfully, Bluepoint Games managed to give it a second chance on the much more popular and widespread PlayStation 4 in the form of enhanced port Gravity Rush Remastered, so a whole new audience can discover the joy of swooping around Hekseville.

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Granblue Fantasy: My First Three Weeks

With any big online game — particularly one that has been around for several years — it can be difficult to know where and how to get started. Granblue Fantasy is no exception.

With that in mind, I thought I’d outline my experiences over the last three weeks as I learn about the game, how it works and what I can expect from it in the future.

This is by no means an attempt to say “this is how you should play the game” — doubtless the more hardcore players out there will have strong opinions about how “best” to progress! — but rather a reflection on the experience of one timid newbie and his attempts to understand the many hidden depths of this surprising phenomenon.

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From the Archives: Yakuza’s Modern-Day Questing Makes a Fine JRPG

Sega’s Yakuza series is perhaps one of the most misunderstood franchises out there to people who haven’t played it.

Prior to its original release, it was assumed that the game would be a Japanese clone of Grand Theft Auto. Then people saw its real-time combat and started assuming it was a brawler.

It is neither of these things. It is, in fact, one of the most well-disguised JRPG series you’ll ever play.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Gravity Rush: The Franco-Belgian Tradition, via Japan

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Gravity Rush series is its aesthetic.

As we noted last time, director Keiichiro Toyama’s desire was to create a game that, while still recognisably Japanese, incorporated elements from other locales in order to create something that, in theory, would be universally appealing across the world. The Western influences he chose to focus on were the Franco-Belgian artists of the bandes dessinées tradition.

The Franco-Belgian influence is particularly apparent in the first installment, while the second, in keeping with its much larger scope, draws more broadly on influences from across Europe. Let’s take a look at the specifics of how Gravity Rush got its distinctive look and feel, starting with a bit of background on Toyama’s main influence from Franco-Belgian comic books: an artist named Jean Giraud, better known to some as Mœbius or Gir.

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Oh, Japan!