A core part of my gaming “diet” in the 16-bit home computer era and onwards into the early days of mainstream PC gaming was the military flight simulator.
I have many fond memories of piloting numerous pieces of military hardware around the virtual skies, dropping bombs on filthy commies (this was the height of the Cold War, after all) and dictators in the desert — but for me, it wasn’t necessarily the action-packed parts of these games that was appealing. No, it was the simple satisfaction of remaining in control of several tons of metal that really had no business being up in the air and not immediately plummeting to the ground.
This was a feeling I hadn’t really experienced for a while, to be honest; the Ace Combats of the world have their considerable appeal, but they’re not exactly realistic. Taito’s 2003 release of Energy Airforce, on the other hand… well, let’s take a look.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Energy Airforce
Blue Reflection is an unusual game in terms of its overall tone and how it “feels” to play, and a big part of this is due to its mechanics and structure.
If you had to pigeon-hole it into a specific mechanical genre, most people would describe it as a “JRPG”. But in many ways this isn’t a particularly accurate description, since although it features a number of common elements of the genre, it draws just as many influences from other types of game such as adventures and visual novels.
Whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly a pretty intriguing game from a mechanical and structural perspective. So that’s what we’ll be focusing on today.
Continue reading Blue Reflection: Everyday Life with Magical Girls
Role-playing games, by their very nature, tend to deal in abstract representations of reality.
The exact way in which they do this varies somewhat from title to title — and significantly between typically Eastern and Western approaches — but one challenge developers of this type of game always have to confront is exactly how complex they can get away with making their games.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 strikes a good balance, with none of its individual mechanical systems being dauntingly complex by itself… but its sheer number of different interlocking parts create an experience that is extremely satisfying to learn, explore and master. Today we’re going to look specifically at how you fight in the game.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Combat Complexity Without Chaos
While they’ve fallen a bit out of fashion in more recent years, tanks have been an important part of the gaming landscape pretty much since its dawn. (Then, of course, they trundled right over said landscape, flattened it and blew it up.)
Indeed, one of the earliest competitive games — Atari’s Combat for 2600, released in 1977 — is most well known for its highly enjoyable two-player tank battles, though the game’s myriad modes also incorporated a variety of other vehicles.
Namco got in on the tank battle action in 1980 with its arcade title Tank Battalion, subsequently followed up by spinoff title Battle City for Famicom in 1985. Then, finally, we come to 1991’s Tank Force, the game that we’re concerned with today — and an underappreciated arcade title that is well worth your time to check out.
Continue reading Namco Essentials: Tank Force
Today we’re going to take a closer look at Final Fantasy XIV’s combat mechanics, and how they’ve been refined between the original release of A Realm Reborn and Stormblood.
For those who’ve never played a massively multiplayer online RPG before, Final Fantasy XIV’s mechanics may require a bit of an adjustment, as they’re rather different from the various systems the series has used in the past. But for those familiar with other popular MMOs such as World of Warcraft, the game will quickly become second-nature — with a few important distinctions from the conventions of the genre.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Final Fantasy XIV’s mechanics is that, although clearly inspired by the way a popular Western title has done things, there’s a strong feeling of “Japaneseness” to them that gives the game a very strong sense of its own identity, making it a unique experience even to MMO veterans.
Continue reading Stormblood: This Ain’t No Action RPG
One interesting contrast between Western and Eastern role-playing games is the way they each handle their core “rulesets.”
Western RPGs tend to follow a model that is somewhat closer to tabletop role-playing, whereby all the rules are set out clearly in front of you from the outset. You generally spend the entire game applying these rules in different ways, gradually growing in effectiveness (usually through increased likelihood to succeed at various challenges) as you proceed.
This is perhaps a side-effect of the fact that Western RPGs have their roots very much in Dungeons & Dragons — in fact, many early Western RPGs quite simply were Dungeons & Dragons games — but even today with franchises like The Elder Scrolls, we see what are often some relatively straightforward rules being applied consistently throughout the entirety of a game.
Japanese role-playing games, on the other hand, play things a little bit differently.
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: Layers Upon Layers
By attempting to provide an accessible dungeon crawler experience, MeiQ has put itself in an interesting position.
Too much mechanical depth and it will alienate the very people it’s hoping to attract. But not enough depth and the hardcore gridder enthusiasts will tire of it long before things get interesting. How to approach this, then?
Through a combination of approaches, as it happens, and the result is both effective at what it does and surprisingly distinct in a subgenre that is sometimes accused of taking a bit of a “cookie-cutter” approach.
Let’s take a look at the game’s mechanics in more detail.
Continue reading MeiQ: Girls and Guardians