The Ace Combat series is a jewel in Namco’s crown that people sadly seem to forget about quite often — though hopefully the seventh installment due early in 2019 will rectify that to an extent.
The series mostly stretches across the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 eras, with a less well-received (but still enjoyable) spinoff installment in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era. For most, the series’ peak was with its PS2 installments; opinion varies as to which one of these is really “the best”, but they’re all very much worth your time.
At the time of writing, we’ve already talked about fourth installment Distant Thunder (aka Shattered Skies), so today let’s take a look at the fifth game, known as Squadron Leader in Europe, and The Unsung War elsewhere. It’s a good ‘un.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Ace Combat: Squadron Leader
A game where you blast cute girls to quasi-orgasmic ecstasy while attempting to fend off the mischief of a cheeky young demon might not sound like the sort of experience that would have good worldbuilding, but the Gal*Gun series as a whole is full of surprises.
It’s clear that developer Inti Creates has taken a great amount of care over the course of the Japan-only Gal*Gun, its sequel Double Peace and Gal*Gun 2 to make the series something more than a throwaway joke game. Yes, it’s amusing; yes, it’s silly; yes, it’s cheeky, fun and sexy; but none of those things mean that it can’t have some depth or be well-crafted.
So today, then, we’re going to take a closer look at how the series as a whole builds that sense of a coherent world, and where Gal*Gun 2 fits in with all that.
Continue reading Gal*Gun 2: A Strange and Sexy Little World
One of the most remarkable things about Alicesoft’s Rance series is quite how detailed its lore is.
This might not be something you expect to hear about a series of 18+ games with rather a lot of sexually explicit content, but just a few minutes with a Rance title will make it abundantly clear Alicesoft takes this franchise very seriously indeed. At least, so far as ensuring its lore is internally consistent; as a series with absurdist (and often black) humour at its heart, Rance is anything but “serious”.
This combination of a significant humorous component with deep, well-crafted lore established over a long cycle of individual works particularly brings to mind Terry Pratchett’s influential Discworld series. And if we look a little more deeply into that lore we can see a number of similarities along the way, particularly in terms of how things the audience will recognise from modern life are blended with the conventions of fantastic fiction.
NOTE: A hanny from /vg/ helpfully pointed out that the original version of this article used terminology from the original Japanese versions and fan translations. It’s now been updated with terminology from MangaGamer’s “official” translation to prevent confusion for series newcomers!
Continue reading Rance: The “Discworld” of Eroge
How do you describe a piece of interactive entertainment? Chances are the first thing you mention is the way it plays, or the supposed “genre” it is part of.
Final Fantasy is a JRPG; Gears of War is a third-person shooter; Mario games are platformers. And this isn’t only true for mainstream games, either — even the most esoteric indie games tend to be described in terms of their mechanics. Fez is a puzzle-platformer; The Binding of Isaac is a roguelike shooter; Minecraft is an open-world building and survival sim.
While you may then elaborate on that by describing the setting — sci-fi, fantasy, cartoonish crazytown — it’s highly likely that this is not the first thing you mention. Interactive entertainment is pretty much the only artistic medium in which we do this.
This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular READ.ME column on visual novels. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.
Continue reading From the Archives: A Question of Genre
One of the things Ys developer Falcom is most consistently praised for is its ability to craft convincing, well-realised game worlds.
It’s not just the Ys series where Falcom demonstrates this; its The Legend of Heroes series is also acclaimed for that, particularly in the more recent Trails subseries, each component of which deals with one part of a coherent whole.
It’s perhaps Ys that provides the most interesting example of Falcom’s approach to worldbuilding, though, because it’s an ongoing process — the complete work that is Ys is continually growing, evolving and changing, and there’s no end in sight just yet.
Continue reading Ys: Building a World, One Game at a Time