Procedurally generated content is not my favorite solution to level design. But when dealing with concepts that extend well beyond the usual scope, it’s unavoidable. No Man Sky is a good example, which essentially promises the infinite universe as a playground. Strange Telephone doesn’t attempt anything so extreme, though asks a similarly ambitious question – What if dialing a phone number would transport you to another world?
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Over the course of my 27 years, I’ve put a lot of time into competitive shooters with probably over 200 hours each in Quake 2, Tribes, Battlefield 1942, the original Call of Duty, S4 League, Splatoon and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. Whenever I stumble across something that feels new and fresh is generally when I’ll invest at least a couple of months of time into it.
So I am a little disappointed that it seems like even if I wanted to dump loads of time into Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash, it seems the playerbase won’t be around long enough to do so. It’s a game that surprisingly has great mechanics and pacing that I haven’t seen in other shooters, but, even a month after launch, it can be difficult to find a match.
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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.
(Image Source: Moby Games)
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.
Japanese Visual novels are nearly impenetrable without the ability to read the language. They’re essentially choose your own adventure books with music and heavily recycled 2D graphics, which often makes playing one as a foreigner feel fruitless. It’s a lot of glazing over Japanese text while characters switch between one of a handful of frames overlayed on a static background. You can attempt to read the mood of the scene based off voice acting and what little visual information you can grasp, but likely you’re missing most of the context.
Scum of the Brave isn’t too different from the above scenario. If you aren’t willing to test your observation skills, you’ll likely come out feeling quite lost. Nevertheless, it does have some quirks that make it slightly more palatable to the foreign eye than your usual visual novel.
I wouldn’t say I’m a mobile game aficionado. I dumped six months into Puzzles and Dragons, played two months of Final Fantasy: Grand Masters and experienced the riveting Hill Cliff Horse, which was like being in a Gaia Online chat room… But as a horse. I was a very tiny and pretty horse with wings. Clearly I’m the most qualified to talk about Nintendo’s mobile efforts with Fire Emblem Heroes.
The Japanese indie / doujin fighting game scene isn’t anything new or unheard of. While no Guilty Gear or BlazBlue in popularity, there are titles like Melty Blood that have gained at least some following. Inaho Town: Dynamite Bomb!! isn’t the most obscure doujin fighter either, yet it also lacks much fanfare. I generally go into doujin games expecting little, but found the title to be surprisingly accessible and competent for the genre.