Gravity Rush: Introduction and History

Gravity Rush is an interesting series. Originally intended as something of a flagship title for Sony’s Vita handheld, its first installment was well-received but passed a lot of people by.

Fortunately, it managed to get a second chance at success thanks to an enhanced port for PlayStation 4 by Bluepoint Games, the company previously responsible for the PS3 versions of God of War and Team Ico’s classics Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. And, from there, it did well enough to spawn a true sequel, this time specifically designed for the PlayStation 4.

The two games are both excellent, but both suffered somewhat from poor release timing and, in the case of the first game, the somewhat niche-interest status of the Vita as a platform in the West. Consequently, they haven’t had nearly as much love as they deserve from the general public.

What better reason to take a closer look at where this series came from and why you should check it out, then?

Continue reading Gravity Rush: Introduction and History

Granblue Fantasy: Acknowledging a Phenomenon

There comes a point where something becomes so popular that it’s impossible to ignore, even if your initial reaction to it is “I’m not sure I want to get involved with that.”

Such is the case with Granblue Fantasy, a free-to-play mobile game developed by Cygames and published on the popular Japanese Mobage platform.

Granblue Fantasy is an interesting case because not only is it still immensely popular on its home turf even three years after its original release, it’s also managed to pick up a significant English-speaking following, even without an official release on high-profile digital storefronts such as Apple’s App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android.

So why this game? What sets it apart from the myriad other free-to-play games on the market? Only one way to find out: let’s take an ongoing look at it from the perspective of a newcomer.

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From the Archives: On Two Working Designs Classics

If you’ve been gaming as long as I have, you probably remember an outfit called Working Designs.

Working Designs was an American publisher from the PS1 era that specialized in the localization of Japanese games — particularly RPGs, strategy games and shmups — and quickly gained a reputation at the time for being one of the best in the business.

The primary reason for this reputation was the fact that Working Designs’ Western releases of Japanese hits weren’t just straight word-for-word literal translations — rather, they were genuine localisations that made appropriate use of Western slang, turns of phrase and even popular culture references to give them a unique feel all of their own.

While opinions on this approach to localisation vary today, the effort the team made to make these games as approachable as possible was very much appreciated by the audience of the time.

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.

Continue reading From the Archives: On Two Working Designs Classics

From the Archives: Meaning in the Madness

With a lot of the games I’ve played over the last few years — including many of the visual novels that I’ve read — I’ve found myself thinking “gosh, I really wish I had this when I was a teenager.”

Not just from a technical standpoint — though naturally the games of today look and sound considerably better than those of 15 years ago — but from the perspective of subject matter and the willingness to tackle issues that simply would have been unthinkable to see in a video game of the ’90s.

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

Continue reading From the Archives: Meaning in the Madness

Shmup Essentials: Cardinal Sins

As we’ve already established, Qute’s Eschatos is an absolutely fabulous shoot ’em up that every fan of the genre should have in their collection.

Its predecessors are still very worthwhile games in their own right, too; while technologically rather more primitive than the 60fps cinematic polygonal action of Eschatos, their 2D pixel art and chiptune soundtracks have a great deal of charm to them — and, most importantly, they’re damn fun to play.

Today I wanted to particularly look at Cardinal Sins, one of the two games that eventually begat Eschatos. Technically a freeware spinoff of Eschatos’ true predecessor Judgement SilverswordCardinal Sins is arguably the most interesting of the two games, for reasons that will become apparent.

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MeiQ: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Dungeon crawlers aren’t historically associated with having particularly strong stories, perhaps largely due to their origins as mechanics-heavy games with player-created parties.

A number of recent Japanese takes on the subgenre — including, among others, Demon Gaze, Operation Abyss and Dungeon Travelers 2 — have proven it is possible to blend mechanically sound, deeply absorbing dungeon crawling with a strong sense of narrative, however.

MeiQ is the latest game to follow this trend, featuring an imaginative steampunk-cum-sci-fi tale revolving around a strong, all-female central cast of characters.

Continue reading MeiQ: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Wii U Essentials: Wii Party U

Nintendo’s Wii gained something of a reputation as a “party game machine”, for better or worse.

The Wii U never quite captured the same success as its predecessor in this regard due to its considerably smaller audience — not to mention the rise of other types of games filling a similar niche — but that didn’t stop Nintendo in particular from producing a number of different games intended to be played socially. With other people. In the same room! Imagine that.

One such example was Wii Party U, a successor to its similarly named predecessor on the older platform. Designed to be accessible and understandable to all ages, it’s neither the most complex nor technically impressive game on the platform — but it is noteworthy for being very successful at what it does.

Continue reading Wii U Essentials: Wii Party U

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