In Japan, the PlayStation 2 era was a fantastic time for budget-priced, arcade-style releases.
D3 Publisher is the indisputed master of janky but charming budget fare in this period of gaming history thanks to its expansive Simple Series, but they didn’t keep this knowledge and experience to themselves. They actually collaborated with Sega on a project dubbed “3D Ages” (“Sega D3” backwards) which ultimately resulted in the Sega Ages 2500 collection — a range of games that retailed for 2500 yen each (about £17.50 in today’s money) and encompassed a variety of remakes of Sega’s classic arcade and console titles.
We didn’t see a lot of these games in the West, but we were fortunate enough to get a cool compilation of them bundled together on a single PS2 disc in the form of the Sega Classics Collection. So let’s take a look at exactly what’s on offer, beginning with Monaco GP.
Continue reading Sega Ages: Monaco GP
It was announced earlier today that the upcoming dungeon crawler Omega Labyrinth Z would be refused classification by the Video Standards Council in the UK, despite the game already having successfully attained a PEGI 18 rating.
The VSC’s comments on the matter note that the game’s “style is such that it will attract an audience below the age of 18” and that “there is a serious danger that impressionable people, i.e. children and young people viewing the game, would conclude that the sexual activity [in the game] represented normal sexual behaviour.” It concluded by noting that the game “has the potential to be significantly harmful in terms of social and moral development of younger people in particular”.
Okay. Omega Labyrinth Z is a game with a significant lewd component. And, as with many Japanese games, visual novels and anime — including those with lewd components — it is set in a school-like environment, which is where the majority of the VSC’s complaints come from. But, as ever, what essentially amounts to “ban this sick filth” represents an oversimplification of the issue.
Continue reading The Case for “Adults Only” Ratings
The late 2010s are often described as one of the most gleefully experimental periods in gaming history, with a wide variety of independent developers from all sorts of backgrounds doing their best to push the boundaries of gaming conventions in both mechanical and narrative terms.
There’s no denying that the rise in phenomena such as digital distribution and crowdfunding has enabled developers to work on games that many would have thought commercially unviable in years gone by. But this period is far from the only time in gaming when developers have had the freedom to experiment in this way.
D3 Publisher’s Simple Series, which originated on the PlayStation platform in the 1990s and continued right up until the Wii U era, provided a variety of developers the opportunity to spread their wings and get creative. The only caveat was that the games would almost certainly have miniscule budgets, and they would be released at a low-cost price point. Beyond that, anything would fly.
Here’s Paparazzi, originally known as The Camera Kozou (The Camera Apprentice), a PS2 game about taking photographs.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Paparazzi/The Camera Kozou
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!
Today’s category suggestion is brought to you by my dear friend and talented pixel artist Mr Chris Caskie, aka MrGilderPixels. Check out his site for progress updates on his awesome wooden pixel art standees and wall plaques, and order some of his past work or commission a pixel art avatar on his Etsy shop.
Since we’ve looked at a bunch of short-form arcade-style games throughout the year, particularly shoot ’em ups, Chris suggested I should highlight what I thought was the most interesting or distinctive scoring system in the games I’ve played. So let’s do that!
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Coolest Scoring Mechanic
Party Girls is an interesting anomaly in D3 Publisher’s Simple Series in that its Japanese title is much more interesting than its somewhat generic sounding localisation, rather than the other way around.
Party Girls? Eh, pass, sounds like shovelware. Mogitate Mizugi! Onna Mamire no THE Suiei Taikai (Fresh-Picked Swimsuits! The Swim Meet Packed with Women*), on the other hand? Sign me right the hell up.
This situation wasn’t helped by Western publisher 505 GameStreet’s rather generic-looking cover art for the game, which looks like it was knocked up by an intern messing around with WordArt on their lunch break. And consequently, I’d be rather surprised if you ever played Party Girls.
And this is a shame. Because Party Girls is fun.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Party Girls
The shoot ’em up genre is one in which it is quite difficult to innovate.
This has, of course, led to a number of games over the years that can quite reasonably called knock-offs of other, popular titles that became well-established, though that doesn’t mean that said knock-offs aren’t interesting in their own right.
One such example of this being the case is Warashi’s Shienryu, a game which unashamedly draws great inspiration from the legendary Raiden series, and which was originally released for arcade, Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation. It was subsequently bundled in with an all-new sequel, Shienryu Explosion, as part of D3 Publisher’s Simple Series for PlayStation 2, and this is the version we’re concerned with today.
Continue reading Shmup Essentials: Steel Dragon EX
In many cases the games that are part of D3 Publisher’s sprawling budget-price Simple Series are enjoyably experimental, while in others they simply represent traditional gaming genres brought up to date with modern (for the time) visuals and sound.
Bust-a-Bloc, or The Block Kuzushi Hyper as it was known in Japan, occupies a space somewhere between these two approaches: it’s an adaptation of one of the oldest types of game around, but it adds some interesting and experimental twists on the formula to make it surprisingly distinct from its peers in an incredibly crowded genre.
As you can probably determine from its title, Bust-a-Bloc is a Breakout-type game in which you hit a ball with a paddle in order to destroy blocks — indeed, this genre of game is simply known as “block kuzushi” (block destruction) in Japan, so the title is another example of the Simple Series’ charmingly literal title scheme — but it’s the game’s few additions to the formula that make it noteworthy, and well worth spending some time with.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Bust-a-Bloc