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September 04 2012

Videos: Zone of the Enders HD Collection Anubis Opening

With the Zone of the Enders HD Collection set for release next month, Konami are beginning to start their endgame PR push. Part of this is the release of the HD version of Anubis’ opening (linked below). This is the exact same opening that was on the 2003 PS2 game, so they’ve basically re-done the exact same game capture footage from the new HD version. Whilst that may sound trivial, it’s really very not. That aside, it did make us feel that this generation hasn’t really done very much when a game from 2003, that we didn’t overly enjoy in the first place, made us feel excited just from its opening movie.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

August 31 2012

News: Macross My Boyfriend is a Pilot 2012 Hands-On Impressions

Following on from Macross Last Frontier, Bandai decided to fund yet another mini-game for the suitably epic Macross Do You Remember Love BluRay release. Entitled My Boyfriend is a Pilot 2012, the game covers the events in the film and takes Artdink’s PS3 tech forward a bit further. What follows is our hands-on impressions with the new game.

For those that have played the last two BluRay Hybrid disc games, then much of what’s here won’t surprise you. In terms of the visuals, Artdink have managed to make some progress but it’s now becoming clear that having a solid PSP developer step up to PS3 levels of tech and art is not really all that feasible. Whilst the framerate is very solid now much of the texturing, shaders, effects and animation do look pretty dated. Admittedly the variable fighters are modeled almost flawlessly and the environments are pretty faithful too but the overall visual treatment does feel a bit lacking.

Functionally at least the game is decent and plays much like the PSP iterations (albeit a bit slower). Though we still prefer the overall pacing and speed of the PSP games, as they’re more immediate in terms of the combat mechanics, this is still compelling. The multiple control setups are still effect too and you can customise your variable fighter and pilot load-out before missions. The upgrading element is still entirely absent but considering the bite-size nature of the game that makes sense.

We love the film quite a bit, so much of what we wanted to see in terms of that has been done well but we do feel that Artdink are somewhat out of their depth on the PS3. Considering this is effectively a free game, much of our complaints are probably a bit unreasonable. However, if Artdink do eventually release a proper Macross game on the PS3 then they’ll have to considerably improve their tech and art. Cutting corners on the PSP is an obvious technical requisite due to the platform but that same mentality and skillset is not really transferable to something like the PS3.

As an aside, some have commented on the odd censorship in the film regarding decapitation. This is down to the fact that BluRay Hybrid game discs fall under the auspices of CERO certification, as they’re technically more games than just movies. In order to avoid a “Z Rating”, that massively restricts advertising in store (amongst many other things), it was obviously preferable to censor the offending sections. Fret not though, as a non-Hybrid BluRay release of the film will happen in the near future (returning the currently censored sections back to their original state).

(Please open the article to see the flash file or player.)

August 30 2012

News: Gunhound EX Announced

Whilst we meant to review the awesome PC version of Gunhound we never got around to it (it is awesome though). However, we now know that there will also be a PSP version released in December of this year called Gunhound EX. Sort of a remake(ish), it’s being co-developed with G.Rev this time. In addition, it will still feature music by the lovely Kinuyo Yamashita as well as new tracks from the pretty mad Hyakutaro Tsukumo. The game will also be released on PSN but a limited edition box set will also come packaged with cels and an all important soundtrack CD. We’ll be picking this up though and definitely reviewing it this time.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

Toys: Play Arts Kai Sam Gideon

Our good friends at HobbyLink Japan have sent us the Play Arts Kai Sam Gideon from the suitably brilliant game Vanquish. Whilst we have talked about the game on the site before we haven’t reviewed it, as it’s not really a full on mecha title. However, its mecha heritage in terms of the design is pretty interesting. In addition, we’ve also included some game footage at the end of the review.

As a game Vanquish was an interesting take on the third person cover shooter, if only for the fact it added all manner of new functionality. Much of this was facilitated by much of the mecha context, as the game’s protagonist Sam Gideon was donned in some pretty nifty power armor. Following on from that pretty much all the enemies in the game are some form of mecha as well.

One of the bigger mysteries of the game though was who had penned all this rather amazing mecha. Initially, many thought it could be Makoto Tsuchibayashi as he’d worked on things like Shinobi and much of Sam’s design direction had come from Casshern (effectively a cyborg ninja of sorts). However, there was more to this and it’s now clear that Shinji Usui is likely more responsible for much of the game’s eye catching mecha design.

If only for the fact he designed the titular Metal Wolf power armor from Metal Wolf Chaos, not to mention the majority of concept work on Chrome Hounds too. So the fact that Sam’s power armor looks decidedly boss is no coincidence considering that the pedigree of the mecha designers were on hand for the game.

Anyway, this toy is part of Square Enix’s Play Arts Kai line. In terms of pricing it’s along the same kind of lines to Bandai’s Robot Damashii or Super Robot Chogokin toys. However, these Play Arts Kai figures are much larger and weightier. The trade off is that the joints, paint finish and general build quality aren’t as pristine as Bandai’s (smaller) offerings. That said, the Play Arts Kai range does have a lot of gaming specific figures available and in that sense they have cornered the market somewhat.

Toy: Play Arts Kai Sam Gideon
Price: 5,525 yen
Size/Weight: 28.6 x 25.1 x 10.1 cm / 600g

The figure has no diecast to speak of and the majority of the joints are ratcheted. The exception to the latter is that of the ball joints at the hip. These are somewhat loose and the legs can pop off when you try and do some more of the extreme poses from the game (though you can easily re-attach them). The paint job is mostly good, with some very nice detailing in places. Though some areas are somewhat smudged and whether this was a stylistic choice isn’t entirely clear.

In terms of gimmicks, Sam can also have his head replaced with his helmet opened and the thigh boosters can also be swapped out (these took a little bit of prying though). Bar that there’s not much else the figure can do.

As a display piece then it is nice and pretty large. The price point is reasonable for what you get and if you’re a fan of the game then you likely won’t be disappointed. Overall then this is a pretty solid and classic “toy”. It’s simple enough and whilst it feels a bit plasticky it does so in a good way.

(Please open the article to see the flash file or player.)

August 25 2012

Videos: 2nd Super Robot Wars OG Extended Promo

As promised, we now have a new and longer promo for 2nd Super Robot Wars OG. It’s very shiny indeed and shows that Banpresto have taken their time with this game for good reason. Much of the new animations use far more depth and three dimensional movement compared to previous games and the technical (as well as art/animation) aspect of that is by no means trivial. Plus, all the new jingling boobage is also something that clearly needed time to perfect. In any case, our body is very ready for this one.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

News: Gundam Spiegel added to Gundam Extreme Versus Full Boost

On the 28th August the mighty GF13-021NG Gundam Spiegel will be added to Gundam Extreme Versus Full Boost. In addition, the African desert stage from the previous game will also be incorporated into Full Boost. Anyway, we’re looking forward to breaking out some Sturm Und Drang in matches again. For those that don’t know, “spiegel” is the German word for mirror. So if you know anything about G Gundam and its story, then that should be something moderately interesting.

Tags: News Arcade

August 21 2012

Kits: Metal Gear Rex Announced

Whilst it was recently revealed at this year’s Wonder Festival, Kotobukiya have officially announced the release of a truly gorgeous 1/100 scale Metal Gear Rex kit in December of this year. This is not to be confused with the huge and hugely expensive threeA toy, as this kit is smaller and costs a lot less (as well as needing to be assembled and painted obviously). The sculpt also looks spot on and for the money this is something I’d rather have over the threeA toy, as the latter has no diecast to speak of (which at that price is fucking disgraceful). As always, you can pre-order the kit here for a very reasonable 6,240 yen.

News: 2nd Super Robot Wars OG Maximum Break and Combination Attacks

Over at 4Gamer they have details on the Maximum Break and Combination Attacks for 2nd Super Robot Wars OG. Specifically that the Maximum Break uses the combined manpower of two Twin Units, for a total of four units bringing their firepower to bear. Whereas the Combination Attacks are when a unit attacks its main target and then also attacks other enemies in the nearby vicinity. There are lots of nice new screenshots in the update too and the game is looking very nice indeed.

News: Transformers Fall of Cybertron Released Today

Despite not covering the game all that much, Transformers Fall of Cybertron is released in the US today (and Europe at the end of the week). We actually quite enjoyed the first game and this looks at least as good. As a nice touch there will also be a G1 Retro Pack DLC too, which is a cool nod to the fact that this game effectively sets up the narrative arc for the G1 series anyway.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

August 18 2012

Videos: Lost Planet 3 GamesCom Trailer

What with GamesCom underway, we now have a new Lost Planet 3 trailer to see (linked below). It hints more of the story and shows that this could be a prequel of sorts but the characterisation shown is horribly trite and typically parochial. The mecha combat looks like it might be interesting but overall we’re pretty skeptical about this new entry into the Lost Planet series.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

Toys: VF-4 Pricing Revealed

Well, we now know how much the forthcoming 1/60 scale VF-4G Lightning III will cost. That of an eye watering 26,985 yen. In addition, this will only be available to purchase via Yamato’s online shop. Whilst the toy will be released sometime this December, orders will be opening up later this August. Despite the price tag, we will be getting this as we’ve always loved the VF-4 and this toy looks to have a really remarkable sculpt.

August 17 2012

News: Armored Core V Classic Character as Com DLC

Over the next few days, there will be a vote from fans on adding their favourite classic Armored Core character as a new Com voice in Armored Core V. The voting will start on the 21st and finish on the 27th. After that the character will be announced and a DLC pack will follow. As for the latter, there’s no news on how much it will cost players. Anyway, this is a nice touch and we’re all for having Stinger (as voiced by our favourite Sho Hayami). Though we also have a lot of love for Nobuyuki Hiyama’s portrayal of Hustler One (the pilot of Nineball) in Master of Arena. After that, most of the characters from Nexus and Last Raven do stand out quite a bit too.

August 16 2012

Videos: E.X. Troopers New Trailer

4Gamer has a new update on E.X. Troopers, showing off its new trailer (shown below). It has a small bit on the Academy aspect of the game, which may be a bit of issue for those who want to import and don’t read Japanese all that well. However, the subsequent combat sections look great and show off the co-op elements really nicely. Whilst the Lost Planet games have always had a bit of a Monster Hunter vibe, especially the second, this feels very much geared towards working together with friends rather than being the archetypal lone hero. We’ve still yet to see any player VT combat, so we’re hoping that will be shown soon.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

August 10 2012

Kits: Armored Core V Kits Announced

Kotobukiya have announced that they will be releasing kits next year for Armored Core V. As part of their already extensive Variable Infinity kit range, expect fantastic sculpts and easy customisation (all for a very reasonable price too). Whilst Bandai have already released an excellent toy, it’s nice to know that there will be some kits on the way too. Especially as the designs are so very good.

News: 2nd Super Robot Wars OG Kit Boxset

In addition to the BluRay anime boxset for 2nd Super Robot Wars OG, we’ll also be getting a separate but equally pricey kit boxset featuring a new Gespenst MK II Kai (which you can buy here). This is from the same Kotabukiya line of kits that have been pretty damn fantastic thus far, so even with the price tag for this it looks like it will be worth it. In addition to this news, apparently a new longer promo video for the game will be going the rounds soon. It’s likely that it will be the one that is made for Japanese high street shops to pimp the game, so it should be pretty comprehensive with any luck. The game will be available on November 29th.

News: E.X. Troopers VR Missions

Over at 4Gamer they have a piece on the VR Missions in E.X. Troopers. These are meant as battle simulations whilst you are at the Academy. The cool thing about them though is that not only can you bring AI characters along to help out but also human players to. Naturally on the PS3 this is dealt with online but on the 3DS it’s only a local (ad hoc) multiplayer setup. Still it’s a nice touch and we’re getting more and more excited for the game’s November release.

News: Iron Brigade Gets Steamed

Finally relenting to the wailing of thousands of fans the world over, Double Fine announced that previously XBLA exclusive Iron Brigade would be coming to PC on the Steam digital distribution service. Effective August 13th, those of you without Xbox 360s now have no excuse to not play one of finest surprises in Western mecha game design. We talked a bit about the game back when it was still called Trenched, so those of you with a sense of deja vu can rest assured that you’re not going crazy–you already were when you imported those Super Robot Wars games despite not knowing a lick of Japanese.

Iron Brigade plays like a cross between a straight mecha action game and a tower defense title: a stream of enemy waves come through generators towards a target you need to defend, and all you have to hold your ground with are deployable turrets powered by super-science and a creaky WWI-era mecha with some truly fearsome heavy artillery haphazardly pasted on. These mecha (“mobile trenches”) don’t just hit the sweet spot between a lumbering machine and an agile player character avatar that all mecha games aspire to, but the fact that your ride is an absolute behemoth means the turrets make sense. Your mobile trench carries enough firepower to devastate a small country, but you can’t waste that firepower on small fry when you have an entire map to defend, so the game’s tactics are all about choosing where you need to get involved personally and when your automated turrets can handle things alone. Thus Iron Brigade neatly avoids the common tower defense trap of giving the player nothing to do once a wave begins, while the necessity for strategic turret placement means the player needs to keep track of the big picture rather than just aiming and shooting as necessary.

The loot system is well designed, with most pieces of new equipment not being straight increases in damage but rather tweaks to old weapons that make them feel new again, and Iron Brigade definitely has the trademark feel that Double Fine has become known for, with titles such as critics’ darling Psychonauts and unapologetically metal Brutal Legend demonstrating their ability to craft the creatively bizarre. Mecha series as of late have become entrenched (pun unintentional) in either Gundam clones which miss the mark of what made the original series special, or entire seasons of cute girls doing cute things in giant robots. Seeing something come out of left field like Iron Brigade, which is based on WWI-era futurism and 1940s men’s magazines, is a breath of fresh air. Any mecha game which challenges you to make no man’s land into Real Man’s land is an inherently noble endeavor and a fitting entry in a genre that practically invented badass.

The PC version will thankfully include the original XBLA’s DLC, “Rise of the Martian Bear,” because there’s simply nothing cooler than sending robots to Mars.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

Tags: News Videos PC

August 09 2012

News: Gyrozetter Interview

There’s an interesting interview with the team behind Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter, especially as it’s revealed that the (arcade) game utilises the Unreal engine and toolset. This is pretty rare from a Japanese development point of view, as they tend to use their own internal tech and tools. The reasoning behind the usage of external middleware (such as Unreal) was down to the fact that Square Enix’s internal engine wasn’t ready in time. Considering the fact that the game was a bit off the beaten track functionally also meant that they had issues repurposing Unreal (primarily designed around first and third person shooters) to work in a turn based way, though the driving sections apparently caused almost no issues. Naturally the upcoming 3DS game won’t be using Unreal but still it’s interesting to hear that a Japanese arcade game went down this route.

Tags: News Arcade

News: Super Robot Wars Card Chronicle Announced

Banpresto have announced a new entry into the Super Robot Wars series, that of Super Robot Wars Card Chronicle. This is a slightly strange mixed port of the recent DS and PSP games, as it seems to share sprites and animations from between them (though not quite as shiny as we were expecting). Considering the power of most smart phones and tablets these days, especially in comparison to a PSP, the game should be a lot prettier. That said, the entry price will likely be much cheaper so there’s that to also consider. The game will also be playable at the forthcoming Tokyo Game Show and then released this year.

[[Visit blog to check out this spoiler]]

Tags: News Videos iOS

August 02 2012

News: Heavy Gear Game Announced

After a pretty long hiatus we now have a new Heavy Gear game to look forward to. Developed by the newly founded Stompy Bot, it will be apparently released on both PC and console. The studio is also focused on digital distribution, so it could likely go down the freemium/multiplayer route that’s all the rage at the moment. In any case, we’ve always had a healthy admiration for the Heavy Gear games and setting. If only for the fact that the creators openly referenced VOTOMS as an influence, something that makes very apparent functional sense when you see the scale of the mecha and the fact they have wheels in their feet. Unlike the rampant bell ends who ripped off swathes of classic mecha for Battle Tech, the Heavy Gear setup was always a lot classier in that regard; taking the functional and visual guide from VOTOMS and making something new with it. This is something that can equally be said for Hawken, as the team have happily cited the work of Kow Yokoyama as a similar influence on their mecha design. Regardless we’re just happy that a new Heavy Gear is on the way.

Tags: News PC
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