2002’s Rance 5D (finally localised into English in 2017) is probably one of the most unusual RPGs you will ever play.
At least part of its rather distinctive nature is due to the fact that it is actually developer Alicesoft’s fourth attempt at a fifth Rance game, hence the “D” on the end of the title — A, B and C were all failed attempts that never saw the light of day.
Thankfully, Rance 5D did, however, and it’s nothing if not a memorable experience, both from a narrative and mechanical perspective — and from the perspective of its rather troubled development history, too.
Continue reading Rance 5D: Roulette, Role-Playing and RNG
Typically, when we talk about gaming franchises that have been around since the early days of the medium, the same names tend to come up all the time.
There’s Final Fantasy, of course, which first appeared in 1987. Super Mario Bros., which hails from 1985. The Legend of Zelda from 1986. All classic series that are still going strong and have been highly prolific over the years, not just with their mainline installments but with numerous spinoffs, too.
What we’re going to explore this month is a series of games from Japan that has been going as long as these established classics, but which remains relatively unknown in the West so far due to 1) its status as an eroge and 2) the fact it only got its first localised release in December of 2016 thanks to MangaGamer.
I am, of course, talking about Rance. Tooooohhhh!
Continue reading Rance: Introduction and History
Another recent release and a recent acquisition is Idea Factory’s Mary Skelter: Nightmares, an intriguing-sounding dungeon crawler featuring interpretations of numerous fairy tale characters and some cool mechanics.
Once again, this is a game I’d like to spend a full month giving the full Cover Game treatment, so today we’re primarily focused on what’s in the limited edition box. Idea Factory’s limited editions have typically been some of my favourite to date — helped along rather by the fact I’m yet to play a game by them that I haven’t enjoyed immensely — and so I was excited to get my hands on this one.
So without further ado, let’s take a look inside.
Continue reading What’s in the Box: Mary Skelter: Nightmares
“Video games aren’t movies.” That’s a line of criticism that those who prioritise mechanics over narrative like to level at cutscene-heavy games, particularly those by creators such as Hideo Kojima and David Cage.
And while it’s true that making effective use of games as a form of interactive media tends to emphasise actual interaction over passively watching cutscenes, one can hardly deny the spectacle offered by strongly movie-inspired titles, and the flexibility that entirely computer-generated scenes and characters can provide creators.
Which makes it all the more unusual that so many games focus on movies as their primary inspiration rather than other forms of media. Sure, some role-playing games might be rather operatic in tone, visual novels are effectively “Books Plus” and rhythm games provide a new way of experiencing pieces of music, but video games have never embraced the idea, of, say, musical theatre.
Or so you thought…
This article is also a video! Hit the jump to watch it, or catch it on YouTube.
Continue reading Stormblood: The MMO as Musical Theatre
We’ve already discussed how, despite its massively multiplayer online nature, Final Fantasy XIV as a whole is very much an authentic Final Fantasy experience in its own right. But is the opposite true?
If you’ve read the headline you’ll already know that yes, of course it is. But one of the most interesting things about the game as a whole as it has developed from its disastrous 1.0 incarnation through A Realm Reborn and Heavensward into Stormblood is how well it has managed to balance these two seemingly disparate aspects: the strong narrative of the Final Fantasy series, and the sheer amount of things to do and quality of life features that a hardcore MMO player expects from a game like this.
Today we’re going to examine that latter aspect in detail.
Continue reading Stormblood: It’s a Great MMO, Too
Final Fantasy XIV and its long-running spiritual predecessor Final Fantasy XI are in an interesting and slightly awkward position.
They’re numbered mainline installments of the long-running Final Fantasy series, which, in theory, should attract series veterans, but they’re also massively multiplayer online role-playing games. The latter is a genre typically (and not necessarily correctly or fairly) associated with being time-consuming, challenging and dependent on playing alongside other people — and thus not especially attractive to those who prefer to play games solo, concentrate on story or take things at their own pace.
What we’re going to talk about today is how Final Fantasy XIV is as much a good Final Fantasy as it is a good MMO — and why you shouldn’t sleep on it if you’re a Final Fantasy fan who doesn’t typically go in for online games.
Continue reading Stormblood: Yes, It’s a Great Final Fantasy
Square Enix’s second Final Fantasy MMORPG is a big success now, having just enjoyed the release of its second expansion pack, but things weren’t always so rosy.
In fact, the story of how Final Fantasy XIV came to be what it is now is one of the most interesting in all of gaming — and certainly an inspiring example that demonstrates even if you release a completely broken mess of a game, it’s not necessarily beyond redemption.
Today, then, let’s take a look at the history of Final Fantasy XIV as a whole, and in particular how it’s developed since the release of A Realm Reborn in 2013.
Continue reading Stormblood: Introduction