“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
Japanese role-playing games have long been known for having some of the most memorable soundtracks in all of gaming. And, surprisingly, mobile takes on the genre are no exception.
The news that Cygames’ incredibly popular Granblue Fantasy has a fantastic soundtrack will probably not come as a surprise, however, given the incredibly strong pedigree of the talent behind it. The work of longstanding Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and his bandmate Tsutomo Narita from the Earthbound Papas, Granblue Fantasy’s soundtrack covers a surprisingly diverse range of musical styles, and is clearly one of the areas that has had the most love and attention lavished on it.
That sounds like a good excuse to enjoy some of its finest moments to me!
Continue reading Granblue Fantasy: Sounds of the Skydom
Back when I first started reading it, it became clear that the visual novel Kira Kira was something special.
It raised a bunch of interesting things to talk about, even before I’d seen the whole story. So with that in mind, here are my reflections from my early hours with Kira Kira, with more to follow in the coming weeks regarding the specific narrative routes through the game.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: Twinkle, Twinkle
In this episode of the GameCast, Midori, Yumi and I talk about music, and Plot Happens.
Original music, as ever, is the work of MusMus, and the awesome retro font is by Style64. Other music in this episode remains the copyright of its respective owners.
If you’re having trouble running the browser version, take a look at the TyranoBuilder FAQ, which explains how to run browser games locally — though be aware there can be some security risks involved, so only follow its recommendations when you want to run a browser-based episode of the GameCast.
Download for Windows (148MB)
Download for Mac (151MB)
Download for Browser (120MB)
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If you’re new to the GameCast, start from the beginning to find out more about the characters and what this is all about!
As we’ve discussed over the course of the last few articles, Gust’s Nights of Azure has a very strong sense of its own identity, both as an individual work and as part of its developer’s catalogue.
Every aspect of the game as a whole contributes to this coherent identity: its distinctly operatic, tragic Gothic narrative; its blend of action RPG gameplay with monster-raising and character customisation; its small cast of distinctive, memorable characters.
Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic, however, is its overall aesthetic. While, at times, drawing inspiration from other, similar works, there’s no denying that Nights of Azure takes ownership of its own identity to create a highly distinctive work that stands out even amid the rest of Gust’s back catalogue.
Continue reading Nights of Azure: Sights and Sounds
Fairy Fencer F and its Advent Dark Force counterpart represent an interesting melting pot of influences.
We’ve already talked about how the gameplay includes influences from Compile Heart’s own Neptunia series, and how the narrative includes influences from classic JRPGs of yore, but Fairy Fencer F’s diverse background is perhaps most apparent when it comes to its audio-visual aesthetic.
Featuring concept art by Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame, character designs by Tsunako of Neptunia fame and contributions to the soundtrack from longtime Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu and his band Earthbound Papas, Fairy Fencer F certainly has some impressively heavyweight talent behind it.
Continue reading Fairy Fencer F ADF: Sights and Sounds
Gal*Gun Double Peace is memorable for a whole lot of different reasons: its contribution to the revival of rail shooters, its silly but touching plot and its striking audio-visual aesthetic.
Unlike many other anime-inspired games, the art and music of Gal*Gun are not the work of particularly well-known or established names — but there’s some decent pedigree there if you take the time to look into things a bit more deeply.
So let’s do just that, shall we?
Continue reading Gal*Gun: Sights and Sounds