Shmup Essentials: Astebreed

There’s an assumption among certain parts of the gaming community that you need a big budget and a massive team to make something that looks amazing.

This is nonsense, of course, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the output of Japanese doujin circle Edelweiss, who have, to date, put out three exceptional (and exceptionally beautiful) games, each of which demonstrates a clear understanding of how to produce something that both looks spectacular and plays incredibly fluidly, in the grand tradition of arcade games.

Edelweiss’ most recent release is Astebreed, a shoot ’em up that began its life on PC but was subsequently ported to (and enhanced for) PlayStation 4. And it’s one hell of a game that any shmup fan should be proud to have in their library.

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Nier Automata: Creating a Game That is “Unexpected”, That “Keeps Changing Form”

Nier creator Taro Yoko has some strong opinions about how to keep games interesting.

Last time, we heard how he felt that modern triple-A games were often fun for the first twenty minutes, but that he often became concerned these initially impressive titles would become tiresome after twenty or more hours. It was this mindset that caused him to design the original Nier with so many unusual features to it, and many of these — and more — have carried across to Nier: Automata.

Today, then, we’ll take a look at Nier: Automata’s mechanical aspects — and how Yoko’s collaboration with Platinum Games has helped him to realise his vision better than ever before.

Continue reading Nier Automata: Creating a Game That is “Unexpected”, That “Keeps Changing Form”

Japanese Games Didn’t Just Suddenly “Get Good”

MoeGamer’s mission statement, which you’ll find over on the right, is “to provide comprehensive, interesting, positive and well-researched coverage of niche-interest and overlooked, underappreciated titles that tend to get a raw deal from the mainstream press”.

This has been my stated goal with the site from its inception in April 2014 — yes, we’re coming up on MoeGamer’s third birthday! — but my strong feelings towards it actually extend further back than that: to my JPgamer column and regular JRPG reviews at USgamer, to the visual novel and JRPG columns I hosted on the now-defunct Games Are Evil… in fact, my love of Japanese games can be traced all the way back to the 16- and 32-bit console eras in particular. (In the 8-bit era I was largely gaming on Atari computers!)

I’m not alone in my love of Japanese games and the feeling that they tend to get rough treatment at the hands of both the mainstream press and an ill-informed public — though to be fair to the latter, one tends to lead to another. Over the last few years in particular, there’s been great growth in “alternative” gaming sites aiming to specifically cater to niches underserved by the mainstream press. Friends of MoeGamer like Operation RainfallDigitally Downloaded and the recently launched all carry the desire to celebrate underappreciated titles — titles that, in many cases, have strong followings and communities surrounding them that are at best ignored and at worst ostracised and ridiculed by the mainstream press — and all go about this task slightly differently.

One thing that brings us all together, though, is the sense of exasperation when a Japanese game that, for some reason, it is “acceptable” to enjoy comes along and even mainstream critics are forced to admit the things that sites like us have been arguing for literally years. And with 2017 being such a strong year for such games already, that has been happening quite a bit lately.

Continue reading Japanese Games Didn’t Just Suddenly “Get Good”

School of Talent – Suzu Route: A Song of Joy

MyDearest’s visual novel School of Talent is in a similar situation to minori’s beautiful Supipara in that it’s the first in a series that doesn’t quite exist as yet.

In the case of both Supipara and School of Talent, the complete narrative work clearly exists as a concept that has been carefully considered, planned and fleshed out — just not yet explored from every possible angle. And in both cases, this fact doesn’t stop them from being highly enjoyable, touching and self-contained narrative experiences in their own right.

School of Talent is a little more up-front about its long-term intentions than the rather mysterious and ethereal Supipara, however, with that prominent Suzu Route subtitle on the first installment making it abundantly clear which of the girls on the cast the narrative is primarily going to be concerned with. And, while School of Talent’s overall cast of heroines is pretty consistently strong, the eponymous Suzu turned out to be a good focal point for this (potential) series’ debut.

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From the Archives: Capitalism, Ho!

It’s strange to think that just a few years ago, Japanese games on PC were a very unusual sight, being largely limited to adults-only visual novels and occasional localisations of doujin (indie) titles.

One game that really brought Japanese gaming to the PC-gaming masses was EasyGameStation’s Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, an early project for then-fledgling localisation outfit Carpe Fulgur, and a frequent recipient of generously deep discounts in Steam sales over the course of each and every year.

Recettear remains a wonderful game even today, some seven years after it first charmed Western players, and a full ten years after its original Japanese release. So let’s take a closer look at it today!

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

Continue reading From the Archives: Capitalism, Ho!

The MoeGamer GameCast: Episode 10 – Season 1 Finale

In this week’s GameCast… the truth about Penelope! If you can prove your worth, that is…

This episode features a quiz that you need to beat in order to get the best ending. Rather than having to get full marks as with Midori’s JRPG quiz from Episode 3, however, in this case you have a bit more margin for error. All the answers can be found somewhere on this site. Good luck!

This is the last episode of the GameCast for a little while, since I’m starting a new full-time job tomorrow and don’t yet have an idea of how busy and/or tired it’s going to keep me. Once I have a better grasp of the situation, expect a second season of the GameCast if it’s practical for me to produce one.

Original music, as ever, is the work of MusMus, and the awesome retro font is by Style64. Other music in this episode remains the copyright of its respective owners. There’s a bunch of pieces from a variety of different games in this one.

If you’re having trouble running the browser version, take a look at the TyranoBuilder FAQ, which explains how to run browser games locally — though be aware there can be some security risks involved, so only follow its recommendations when you want to run a browser-based episode of the GameCast.

Download for Windows (208MB)
Download for Mac (211MB)
Download for Browser (180MB)

Please consider showing your support for MoeGamer via Patreon so I can pay for some proper hosting for the browser versions, allowing people (including Linux users) to play the GameCast online.

If you’re new to the GameCast, start from the beginning to find out more about the characters and what this is all about!

Shmup Essentials: Raiden IV: Overkill

The Raiden series is a venerable one in the world of video games, albeit one that is not quite as prolific as some series of similar age.

Originally appearing in arcades in 1990, the original Raiden followed the mould of vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups that had been established some eight years previously by Namco’s Xevious and later expanded on by other classics such as Capcom’s 1942 (1984), Nichibutsu’s Terra Cresta (1985) and Konami’s Twinbee (1985).

Raiden didn’t reinvent the wheel, in other words, and it could be argued that its subsequent installments haven’t, either — but the series remains nonetheless a distinctive, noteworthy entry in gaming history, with second-to-latest installment Raiden IV: Overkill being one of the best, most satisfying yet.

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