Granblue Fantasy: First Steps in Phantagrande

Last time, we looked at where Cygames’ mobile hit Granblue Fantasy came from, and how it’s become such a phenomenon.

Today, we’re going to look in more detail at the game itself: how it works, how it plays, its similarities and differences from other popular mobile games, and what newcomers can expect from its early hours.

Given that it’s effectively an MMO of sorts, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the game has become a surprisingly sprawling, complex and somewhat daunting affair after three years of active development. But that doesn’t mean it’s completely inaccessible — nor does it suffer from the common MMO problem of new players being too weak to be able to participate in anything.

Let’s take a closer look.

Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: First Steps in Phantagrande

From the Archives: Flying High in the Sky

There was a period in my life where I happily devoured every single JRPG I came across to the exclusion of almost all other types of game.

To be perfectly frank, I’m pretty much back in that situation now after a few years of feeling “obliged” to play the big triple-A games that everyone was talking about, but I still primarily associate my early 20s with “my JRPG period” — or perhaps more accurately, “my first JRPG period.”

Returning to the fold a number of years after my original JRPG binge has allowed me to both appreciate how the genre has changed and evolved over the years, and see the older titles I loved so much first time around in a new light. So with that in mind, let’s look back at a classic long overdue an HD remaster.

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: Flying High in the Sky

From the Archives: Kira Kira Hikaru

Today I’d like to talk specifically about one of the narrative paths of Overdrive’s visual novel Kira Kira.

Specifically, I’d like to discuss Chie-nee’s path. There are spoilers ahead, so be warned if you’re planning on playing this. (And you should — it’s really rather good.)

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: Kira Kira Hikaru

Shmup Essentials: Thunder Force II

We’re going retro this time around, with a classic from the early days of Sega’s 16-bit console, the Mega Drive.

The heyday of Techno Soft’s Thunder Force series was arguably around its visually spectacular third and fourth installments, both of which were often used by many proud Mega Drive owners as showcases of their system’s audio-visual capabilities, but the second installment — a launch title for the Genesis in the States — is an interesting game in its own right, mostly because it’s quite different from its better-known successors.

We may not have seen a new Thunder Force game since 2008’s PlayStation 2 release of Thunder Force VI, but the series as a whole remains extremely solid to this day, and one well worth checking out if you’re a dedicated shmup fan.

Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Thunder Force II

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.

Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: Acknowledging a Phenomenon

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

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