Tag Archives: Action RPG

Wii U Essentials: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

In contrast to The Wind Waker, which shook things up considerably in terms of both aesthetic and game structure, you’d be forgiven for thinking Twilight Princess was “just another Zelda game”.

It marks a return to the semi-realistic visuals of Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, and is set firmly on dry land in the familiar land of Hyrule — albeit another, differently laid-out Hyrule to its predecessors on the grounds that it’s yet another era in the extremely convoluted Zelda timelines.

But get into the game a bit and you’ll discover something a little different to what we typically expect from a Zelda game: childish optimism replaced with melancholy; the usual feeling of light inevitably triumphing over darkness replaced by questions over whether everything really will turn out all right this time; and an air of slight cynicism that largely emanates from Link’s perpetual companion Midna, one of the most memorable characters the series has ever seen.

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Nights of Azure: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

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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.

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Nights of Azure: Hack, Slash… and Command

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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.

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Nights of Azure: Introduction and History

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2015’s Nights of Azure — or Yoru no Nai Kuni to its Japanese audience — was something of a departure for veteran developer Gust.

Primarily known for unconventional turn-based role-playing games with heavy crafting components, a style of game best exemplified by the developer’s flagship Atelier series, Gust opted to step out of their comfort zone with Nights of Azure by making it an action RPG with elements of monster raising.

It turned out to be a highly successful experiment for the developer, and what appears to be the beginning of a new series for the company, since a sequel is on the way at the time of writing. Yet despite Nights of Azure’s relative freshness compared to Gust’s other output, the game never forgets its heritage, and is recognisably “Gust” in both style and tone.

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Ys: Sights and Sounds

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Much like its gameplay, the overall aesthetic of the Ys series has evolved considerably over time.

As technology has improved with each new generation of games consoles and computer hardware, the Ys series has adapted and changed. And with its longstanding nature — not to mention its numerous remakes over the years — it’s fascinating not only from the perspective of examining how Falcom has improved the series over time, but as a means of showing how games in general have grown and changed.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how the sights and sounds of the series have changed over time, and their relevance to gaming’s evolution as a whole.

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Ys: Building a World, One Game at a Time

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One of the things Ys developer Falcom is most consistently praised for is its ability to craft convincing, well-realised game worlds.

It’s not just the Ys series where Falcom demonstrates this; its The Legend of Heroes series is also acclaimed for that, particularly in the more recent Trails subseries, each component of which deals with one part of a coherent whole.

It’s perhaps Ys that provides the most interesting example of Falcom’s approach to worldbuilding, though, because it’s an ongoing process — the complete work that is Ys is continually growing, evolving and changing, and there’s no end in sight just yet.

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Ys: Evolution of an Action RPG

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Alongside Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series, Falcom’s Ys was instrumental in helping to establish and refine the Japanese take on the action RPG genre.

Both were designed with accessibility and ease of understanding in mind — Zelda through stripping out complicated RPG mechanics like statistics, experience levels and dice-based mechanics, and Ys through simple, straightforward implementation of these mechanics — but both very quickly diverged in their own distinctive directions.

Let’s take a closer look at how the mechanics of the Ys series have evolved and changed over the years.

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Ys: Introduction and History

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The Ys series is one of the longest running franchises in gaming — yet it’s not nearly as well known as the Final Fantasies and Zeldas of this world.

This is a shame, because not only does Ys represent developer Falcom arguably at its finest, the series as a whole has also been key in the development of the action RPG as a subgenre.

It also holds the dubious honour of being one of the most remade series of all time, refreshing and rewriting its various installments long before the concept of the HD remake ever reared its head.

Let’s take a look at the main series’ various releases in chronological order and see how it’s developed.

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