If one thing has become apparent over the course of exploring the complete Sonic the Hedgehog series, it’s that no-one seems to be able to agree on how to handle it “best”.
We have Sonic Team’s attempts to move the franchise forward with various gameplay styles, new narrative components and a somewhat coherent, consistent narrative that ties in with other forms of media. We have Sonic Lost World’s much-maligned but utterly joyful jaunt into Super Mario-esque territory. And we have probably the most disappointingly “mainstream” opinion: that “Sonic hasn’t been good since the Mega Drive”.
Among other things, the perhaps vain hope of shutting this latter group up is the reason Sonic Mania exists.
Continue reading Sonic the Hedgehog: Everything Old is New Again
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of “alternative” awards that I’ve devised in collaboration with the community as an excuse to celebrate the games, experiences and fanbases that have left a particular impression on me in 2018. Find out more and leave a suggestion here!
This award was suggested by Riobravo79.
While it’s nice to get brand-new, all-original games when we can, sometimes it’s a pleasure to see an old friend again… perhaps in a slightly different form.
The sequel has been part of video game culture pretty much since the beginning, and the fine art of recycling, refining and/or reimagining is way more prevalent in gaming than in pretty much any other creative medium. Developers have experimented with a lot of different ways of putting together follow-ups for well-received titles over the years… but what makes for the most satisfying successors?
Do you provide more of the same with minor refinements? Do you provide some sort of obvious “upgrade” while remaining true to the original game’s format? Or do you completely reinvent the formula, potentially bringing new players on board but also possibly alienating your original fanbase?
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards 2018: Most Satisfying Sequel
And so it is that we come to the fourth installment in the Project Zero series: a game that never came West in an official capacity.
Known as Zero: Tsukihame no Kamen in its native Japan and Mask of the Lunar Eclipse in the West following an ambitious (and successful) fan-translation project, this fourth game represented a number of “firsts” for the series.
It was the first installment to not be exclusively developed by Tecmo. It was the first installment to leave the series’ original host platforms of PlayStation 2 and Xbox. And it was the first installment to make a number of mechanical shakeups to the basic Project Zero formula, which would become fixtures in subsequent releases. Let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Project Zero 4: Touched by the Moon
After the success of the Sonic games on the Mega Drive, what was next?
Sega had a difficult time ahead of it, since there was a certain amount of confusion over what the real successor to the 16-bit console would be. On the one hand, there was the American-developed, cartridge-based 32X, which would act as an add-on for the Mega Drive rather than a standalone unit. And on the other, there was the CD-based Saturn system, developed by Sega of Japan.
Clearly, in order to be a success, at least one of these new systems needed a Sonic game. But that turned out to be a rather more difficult undertaking than anyone anticipated. Continue reading Sonic the Hedgehog: The Lost Game
The Shantae series as a whole is a wonderful symbol of endurance, and of holding on to the things you believe in.
I’m not talking about the narratives of the games themselves — though for sure this theme certainly makes an appearance numerous times throughout Shantae’s career to date — but rather the fact that series creator Matt Bozon and the team at WayForward have always believed in the quality of these games, even during difficult times.
It’s gratifying to see that, at the time of writing, the Shantae series as a whole is finally coming to see some mainstream acceptance and appreciation with its latest installment 1/2 Genie Hero. But this doesn’t mean the earlier games aren’t worth checking out. Quite the opposite, in fact… so let’s go right back to the beginning.
Continue reading Shantae: You Stay
One of the key ways many people like to distinguish the stereotypically Eastern and Western approaches to role-playing games is via non-combat mechanics and progression.
It’s fair to say that, as we’ve already discussed, many role-playing games from Japan place a strong focus on combat both as a core aspect of gameplay and the central aspect of their overall progression. You can contrast this strongly with something like an Elder Scrolls game, which still involves combat at times, but, depending on how you choose to play it, can also place a strong focus on crafting, spellcraft, stealth, exploration and all manner of other aspects.
Xenoblade Chronicles has, since the first installment of the subseries, always been about something of a fusion between the linear, narrative-focused nature of Japanese games, and the more open, flexible, “emergent” gameplay of Western titles. And this tradition is well and truly intact in Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Violence Doesn’t Solve Everything
The fact that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 exists and, moreover, has been treated as a distinctly high-profile title for Nintendo’s Switch platform is nothing short of remarkable.
The Xeno series as a whole has been around for quite some time now and has been fairly consistently well-received by those who have played its various installments. But it’s been a long road for it to achieve the mainstream levels of acceptance and awareness it now enjoys. And a pretty interesting story, to boot.
So, before we dive into the game proper over the course of the next month, let’s look back at what it means to be a Xeno game, and how we got to where we are now.
Continue reading Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Introduction and History