Tag Archives: mechanics

Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk – Alchemy in a Fading World

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Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk is, as we’ve already established, something of a step in a different direction for the series.

Over the course of the series, Gust has always drawn a hard line underneath each of the main “sets” of games before moving on to the next; the narrative of the setting isn’t necessarily wrapped up conclusively (which leaves things open for titles like Atelier Lulua to revisit past series) but there’s usually a significant reinvention of, at the very least, overall aesthetic and mechanical components.

One of the most obvious places where we see this is in the heart of the series: the alchemy component. So let’s take a closer look at exactly how Atelier Ayesha handles this side of things!

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Malibu Bikini Volleyball: Beach Body Ready

Dear old Atari. They captured lightning in a bottle in the early days of video games with the 2600, then struggled to recreate that sort of success ever again. It certainly wasn’t through lack of trying on the tech front, though.

The Atari Lynx was one of their more impressive efforts, providing the first 16-bit handheld gaming platform with a backlit colour screen, hardware scaling and distortion. It even had a decent selection of games for it, but as was always the case with post-2600 Atari, its marketing was a complete disaster and as such the system remains largely forgotten by most gaming enthusiasts today.

Except for the folks behind the Evercade, of course, who have brought us not one but two collections of Atari Lynx titles for the diminutive retro gaming platform. So let’s take a look at one of the games from the Atari Lynx Collection 1 cartridge and see whether or not these forgotten titles have anything to offer to the modern gamer!

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Rod Land: A Personal Story

As I type this, one of my longstanding gaming prayers has just been answered: Jaleco’s Rod Land, one of my favourite games of all time, has just got an Arcade Archives release on Switch and PlayStation 4. This is, to my knowledge, the first time the original arcade game has ever been rereleased on any platform. It even lets you start straight at the “sequel” set of levels if you want to.

I’ve written about Rod Land before — as well as showing the excellent Atari ST version in the Atari A to Z series — but what I haven’t done is share a personal story about why this game is especially important to me. And why, in retrospect, the first time I encountered it was probably a defining experience for me, not just in terms of gaming, but also in terms of things like self-expression, self-perception, taste and perhaps even a touch of gender identity, too.

So indulge me a moment, dear reader, and I’ll tell you why Rod Land means so much to me.

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short;Play: Tee Off

If you’re unfamiliar with various takes on sports games over the years, you might not think that “arcade-style” is a descriptor one could readily associate with golf titles.

But there have been numerous great examples of top-notch arcade-style golf games throughout gaming history. And one of my absolute favourites of all time is Tee Off, a game put together by little-known Japanese dev Bottom Up and published by Acclaim. Not only is it a super-fun golf game, it has a fantastic soundtrack that sounds like something out of Sonic Adventure, as well as a full-on second game mode based on “gate ball”, or Japanese croquet.

Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!

Brok the InvestiGator: Punch and Click Adventuring

It’s been a good few years since the point-and-click adventure was a “mainstream” part of gaming now. That’s not to say the genre is dead, mind — more that these days it tends to be the exclusive preserve of smaller, independent developers rather than big studios like LucasArts.

And those games from smaller, independent developers aren’t in any way “lesser” than the games from the golden age of adventure games, either — in fact, in the case of games like Brok the InvestiGator, they represent what would have been the natural evolution of the genre if the mainstream hadn’t become so obsessed with gritty photorealism and cinematic open-world experiences.

In short, Brok the InvestiGator, whose Prologue chapter is presently available for free from both Steam and GOG.com at the time of writing, is something very special indeed. And it deserves your attention. So let’s take a closer look!

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FireHawk: Lafia Strike

Helicopters are cool. At least they used to be in the ’80s and early ’90s. I’m not sure we’d get a TV show where the helicopter was the star today.

Anyway, with how fashionable helicopters were in this time period, it’s not surprising that we got a fair few video games where helicopters played a leading role. And one such example was FireHawk, developed by the Oliver Twins and published by Codemasters and Camerica in 1991 as an unlicensed cartridge for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

It’s not one of the Oliver Twins’ better-known pieces of work, but it is a fun time. And, as luck would have it, we now have easy access to it as part of the Oliver Twins Collection for the Evercade retro gaming platform. So let’s take a closer look!

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Warriors Orochi 3: One Hundred and Forty-Five Warriors Worth One Hundred and Forty-Five Thousand

One of the interesting things about the Warriors Orochi series is quite how many playable characters each installment has had on the roster. And, of course, this is a number that has only expanded over time.

In fact, the most recent installment at the time of writing, Warriors Orochi 4, scored itself a fairly meaningless Guinness World Record for “most playable characters in a hack-and-slash video game” thanks to its 170 cast members. Warriors Orochi 3 isn’t far behind, though, with a full 145 peeps to take charge of in the Ultimate release of the game.

But when presented with that many playable characters, what exactly do you do with all of them? Are you expected to level them all up? Where do you start? Let’s talk progression!

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Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland – The Fight For What’s Important

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In keeping with how Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland’s alchemy mechanics aren’t just a straight rehash of the other Arland games, the battle and exploration mechanics also feature a pleasing blend of old and new.

By taking the basic structure of battles from the earlier Arland games and then supplementing this with a variety of brand-new tactical considerations, Atelier Lulua provides us with an enjoyable combat system that keeps things consistently interesting for the game’s duration. And some really nice “quality of life” features mean that the whole game feels nicely streamlined and efficient to play without sacrificing any sort of mechanical depth.

That’s how you do a good follow-up — from the perspective of game design, anyway. Let’s take a closer look at these specific elements of Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland.

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Xeno Crisis: 16-Bit Mayhem

One of the most delightful things about the modern video game scene is the fact that a lot of developers are willing to go back to classic hardware and make new games.

In doing so, they can create games that feel authentic thanks to their working within the limitations of the original host platform, but which perhaps incorporate some more modern design sensibilities that the gaming community as a whole has figured out over the years.

Xeno Crisis is an unapologetically old-school arcade-style shooter, designed specifically for the Mega Drive and ported to a variety of platforms. That original Mega Drive version is also available as part of a double-game cartridge (alongside the excellent but very different Tanglewoodfor the Evercade retro gaming system, and it’s that version specifically that we’re looking at today.

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Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland – Fourth-Generation Alchemy

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Given that there was a gap of eight years and six games between Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland and Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, it will doubtless not surprise you to learn that the latter’s mechanics aren’t just a rehash of the former’s.

Instead, upon the game’s initial announcement in Japan’s Weekly Famitsu, Gust revealed that the new game would feature an alchemy system that blended elements of the classic Arland games with more recent additions to the formula — specifically, incorporating some elements that had proven popular from the primarily PS4-based Mysterious series.

The result is a mechanical core to the game that is accessible to newcomers but filled with a considerable amount of hidden depth — and which feels fresh and interesting to series veterans, even if they’re coming to Atelier Lulua directly from the previous three Arland games. Let’s take a closer look.

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