dreamcast

My JRPG Localization Wishlist

Blog Post

Tales of Graces CoverFor years, Japan was the dominating force in the games industry. Ever since Nintendo blasted onto the scene in the eighties, it's always been my opinion that the developers in the land of the rising sun have had the edge on everyone else. The Atari age has long since given way to names like Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Capcom, Konami, Square, and so many others. If I made a list of my hundred favorite games, I'd be willing to bet that seventy or more of them come from Japan.

These days, however, the tide has shifted. The worldwide yearning for platformers and action games and traditional RPGs has been eclipsed by the first person shooter and sports game markets, two genres that Japanese developers are woefully unfamiliar with. Only the top games in each genre outside of Halo clones and Madden wannabes can make bank anymore, and developers are starting to play it safe with what they bring to the table. One genre affected by this trend is the JRPG, which has always had a focus in Japan, but also branched out to the world stage more often than not. These days, however, it seems Japan's favorite genre seems to be transforming more and more into Japan's shyest genre, rarely coming out to say hi to the rest of us.

In a rather shocking revelation, I've actually managed to find a hearty list of JRPGs that I pine for. I've never been the genre's biggest supporter, which doesn't surprise me in retrospect considering I never owned a SNES, Playstation, or Playstation 2 during their primes. However, I hereby pledge to buy any of the following games that come to America. I said the same thing about Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, thinking it would have no chance of arriving; I made good on my promise, bought TvC: Ultimate All Stars, and loved it. So it's on you now, localization teams. Make it happen.

The QTE cure: Singin' in the Heavy Rain

Blog Post

Heavy Rain CoverQuick Time Events. Ever since God of War and Resident Evil 4 exploded onto the scene with button-prompt sequences of gore and horror, the industry has shown its sheep-like nature and incorporated these Gotcha! moments into games without thinking about how they make an interactive experience better. Many gamers have adjusted to the fact that every cutscene now has an awful series of play buttons throughout, but I personally would like to cram all the QTEs in the world into a space shuttle full of cobras and launch them directly into the sun if it meant I'd never have to see another one again.

That said, it's not impossible to come across decent use of QTEs. Indeed, before Resident Evil 4 set the standard at the advent of 2005, the mechanic was most prominently-used by the Dreamcast's crown jewel, Shenmue. In fact, it was Yu Suzuki, that game's director, who coined the term "Quick Time Event." Suzuki put the gimmick to good use throughout Shenmue, allowing protagonist Ryo Hazuki to do everything from tossing drunkards around in bar brawls to saving little girls from incoming soccer balls. One of the reasons the game is so beloved today is that it allowed the player to engage in such a wide variety of scenarios, many of which were supported with smartly-designed QTEs.

Good QTEs didn't end with Shenmue, however, even though sometimes it seems that's the case. Like God of War, other Playstation heavyweights have managed to use QTEs to enhance a game experience. I think it's only fair that we look at a few of those, as well as some alternatives to these timed button-prompts for cinematic flair in games.

Armada

First Hour Review

Armada CoverTime for a first hour review/chance to test out my capture card abilities. Today I'll be playing Armada, a Dreamcast game semi-randomly selected from those in my possession that have not been previously played through. Well, I think I actually played a few minutes of it when I got it, but nothing I particularly remember and certainly nothing particularly substantial. All I really recall is that it seemed to be received fairly positively and was supposedly a fine multiplayer game. So anyway, let's try it out. If you want to follow along with the video playthrough, you can find it at my YouTube playlist.

A Fool's Lament: Tribute to the Dreamcast

Gaming Nostalgia
Dreamcast

The year is 1999; the date, September the ninth. The plants did their job and release day is here. The office was even more busy and tense than usual as all eyes followed the first projections emerging from the printer. We had every reason to be confident. All our test groups, all forecasters, all street teams gave nothing but guaranteed success. The mistakes and unfortunate failures of the past would soon wash away. No longer would we be forced the constant reminders of financial inadequacy or our loved ones' questioning about job security. Yes, my stress is lower, yes, I'm getting more sleep. These bags will be removed, hard work pays off. Sega is back! Segata Sanshiro is smiling somewhere, proud of his children. The only question is, how could so many people be so very wrong and so very blind?

The year is 1999 and the wave of inevitability has already overtaken us. Not in our minds, mind you. Our minds believed that we had a real renaissance, a true phoenix inside a little white box. But the pieces were already in play and our actions merely delayed the truth. Sega could no longer prosper in this environment. The bridges were burned and one company can only take itself so far on its own. The climate is forever changed. Can you blame us for grasping onto misguided hope? Hardware is a man's business, certainly no haven for a child's imagination and desires. I guess our parents never warned us. No one wants or needs us anymore. The Ultimate Gaming Machine? Gaming has become passé. They said we needed a centralized entertainment console, a hub for the consumer to plug their lives into. We could connect them to a constant stream of bank withdrawals for products they are convinced to need. We replied, “We are a gaming company.” They spit on us and our toy. They were the smart ones.

Grand Theft Auto 2

First Hour Review

Grand Theft Auto 2 CoverGrand Theft Auto 2 is of course the game that came before Grand Theft Auto III, one of the most important games of the last decade. I always wondered what kind of games GTA1 and 2 were, and after playing them, it's obvious the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. GTA2 is essentially a top-down look at the Grand Theft Auto universe. Much of the core gameplay we know and love today is in GTA2, just from a totally different perspective. It's a great representative of the change from 2D to 3D as somehow it feels I could be playing the exact same game if it weren't for the view.

GTA2 was released in 1999 on a peculiar variety of systems: the Playstation, PC, the Dreamcast, and Game Boy Color. Every major gaming company got a version of this game, but I will personally be playing the PC version. Mostly because this game is absolutely free from Rockstar Games themselves. Yep, you can go to their site and download both GTA1 and 2 for free, not bad if you ask me. If you're one of those poor souls (like me) who doesn't own Grand Theft Auto IV, well, this may serve as a temporary replacement in your heart. Let's get to the first hour review of Grand Theft Auto 2.

Skies of Arcadia Legends

First Hour Review

Skies of Arcadia Legends CoverSkies of Arcadia Legends is a role-playing game developed by Overworks and released on the Gamecube. It is an enhanced port published by Sega in early 2003. The original game, simply Skies of Arcadia, was released on the Dreamcast in 2000. The game was pretty well received on the Dreamcast and has even ranked on some all time top 100 video game lists. The port to the Gamecube was an interesting decision considering the system was not known for RPGs, but Sega probably figured gamers would be eager to grab up a game when it stands nearly alone in the genre. They were also probably right (hey, even I own a copy).

Anyways, Skies of Arcadia follows a group of sky pirates who steal from the rich and give to the poor. The main pirate is Vyse, a young man who apparently wields a glass sword as some sort of useless forearm shield. He's joined by "up to 22 crew members" according to the back of the box, most of whom appear to be skinny, voluptuous women or tough looking pirate geezers. Not a bad combination there. The game also features ship-to-ship battles along with the typical RPG fights, so let's see how much Skies of Arcadia sets itself apart from those landlubbers in its first hour.

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