About a year ago I wrote an impressions piece on Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night’s E3 2016 demo. The ultimate point was that it’s a title that dares only to find how close it can get to Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow without receiving legal action from Konami. Unfortunately, what has been shown since has done little to sway my position. I stand by that original article in full, outside of Inti Creates no longer being involved in development.
In presenting this argument, I’m often asked “well, what do you want from Bloodstained, then?” It’s a hard question to give a direct answer to. Nevertheless, just looking at Castlevania’s history shows that there’s definitely room to wiggle around within the pre-existing formula. However, the example I’ll be using is from a game Koji Igarashi had little to no involvement with – Circle of the Moon.
Seeing a random title with a big publisher’s name on it is always sort of a surprise. I found Crimson Tears for the PlayStation 2 in a game store’s bargin bin, complete with Capcom’s logo on it. Released in 2004, this title completely passed under my radar… Probably because I was deep in a Final Fantasy XI obsession. Little did I know it actually shares some blood with The Bouncer. DreamFactory is a common developer between the two. Unsurprisingly, given their previous PS2 release’s middling reception, Crimson Tears is not quite a hidden gem.
Like any live game, Final Fantasy XI has changed significantly over its fifteen year life. In my five years – plus some – with the game, I can’t think of a single bigger turning point than the release of the expansion Treasures of Aht Urhgan. The shift in design re-invigorated the game, as well as lightened the oppressive reputation the MMO had built.
Recently I published a video about Spectrobes: Origins, developed by Genki. While I briefly mentioned the developer’s history with another Monster Collecting series, Jade Cocoon, they actually have quite a diverse portfolio. They also worked on fighting games alongside developer Bergsala Lightweight, best known for their Bushido Blade series. After Lightweight finished the franchise on PlayStation, they teamed up with Genki to continue working on a semi-spiritual successor called Kengo: Master of Bushido.
From the outside, it can be difficult to tell when a series has gone off the rails and into rehash territory. For years Call of Duty was criticized for being the same game released every 12 months, but almost everyone has a beloved franchise that only an active player can see the minute differences in. This is especially true when new ideas get buried in familiar elements.
If there’s one thing that stands above anything else for me in a game, it’s if they achieve something unique. When focusing on the most recent releases, this is largely limited to looking at what has come before it. However, sometime later you can also start to take into account what comes after. I’d say it’s similar to the whole phrase “____ hasn’t aged well.” Yet instead of from perspective of how the ever moving bar leaves some titles behind, it’s more about about how the level of iteration dilutes the original.
Japanese music festivals aren’t something I have much experience with or an interest in. I avoid talking about music since I honestly don’t know what to say beyond, “it good yo.” However, in an attempt to not be completely anti-social after moving across the U.S., I’ve been going to whatever local anime/video game event pops up. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, but here I am.