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JonTron photo
JonTron

JonTron died and on the third day rose again


He also plays some Hercules games
Sep 25
// Tony Ponce
In the climactic war between Grump and Not So Grump, the mighty Jafari fell to the cunning Raptor. Tears were shed for the fallen, seemingly lost to the ether for eternity. Lo, Jafari was merely bidding his time, that he may...
Chrono Trigger Symphony photo
Chrono Trigger Symphony

Chrono Trigger Symphony Vol. 2 is hot and ready


Blake Robinson's second Chrono album takes the fight to Magus
Sep 24
// Tony Ponce
Blake Robinson is in the process of reproducing the entire Chrono Trigger soundtrack into synthesized orchestral form, and the project started bearing fruit last month. For such a massive game with an equally massive score, ...

Review: Volgarr the Viking

Sep 23 // Tony Ponce
Volgarr the Viking (PC)Developer: Crazy Viking StudiosPublisher: Adult Swim GamesReleased: September 13, 2013MSRP: $11.99Rig: Intel Core i3-380M, 6GB of RAM, GeForce GT 425M, Windows 7 64-bit You've played Volgarr the Viking before. It is Contra. It is Battletoads. It is Ghosts 'n Goblins. Most appropriately, it is Rastan, a 1987 Taito arcade game infamous for its unrelenting nature. From the types of hazards and enemies to the general play style and progression, the parallels are so numerous that it wouldn't be wrong to call Volgarr a spiritual sequel with a Nordic flavor. Even the stage layout on the first few screens of the first level mirrors that of Rastan's opening moments. Like its forebears, the greatest achievement in Volgarr is survival. Even if you never come close to completion, being able to squeeze out a few extra seconds of life is its own reward. Volgarr was designed with the mind that just because a game isn't immediately accessible to all players doesn't mean that it can't be enjoyable. The trick is to balance the sheer brutality with a simple control scheme and obstacles that can be overcome with enough patient observation. Knowing what needs to be done doesn't guarantee victory, but it goes a long way towards keeping hope alive, even if barely. [embed]262298:50578:0[/embed] This is why I hate it when people call a difficult game "cheap" or "unfair" when such terms aren't warranted. They imply that the developers didn't know what they were doing, leading to a haphazard assembly that misleads the player into unavoidable situations. Crazy Viking Studios knew exactly what it was doing -- Volgarr is constructed in such a way that the greatest obstruction to victory is your own mediocre skills. What's refreshing is how Crazy Viking Studios did away with seemingly all modern game trappings for a true old-school experience. There are no cutscenes, no dialog, no save files (more on that later), and no hint bubbles. Hell, there isn't even a proper main menu -- after the game loads, the title flashes for a brief moment, Odin commands you to rise from the dead, and you immediately start marching. The lone allowance is a series of brief text prompts in the first few seconds that tell you how to perform the basic moves. You begin with a weak wooden shield that only absorbs two projectile impacts before breaking. You can upgrade your gear by opening treasure chests -- first you'll acquire an indestructible shield that also allows you to throw charged spears, then a helmet that grants an extra hit point, and finally a flame sword with double strength. As you receive damage, you'll lose your equipment piece by piece until you're reduced to an explosion of bloody bones. There is no progress without risk; you'll often find yourself in situations that demand more unconventional strategies. For instance, Volgarr's jump trajectory is locked once he leaves the ground, not unlike in Castlevania, but you can change your trajectory in midair by performing a double jump. This technique comes in handy later, such as when jumping to an adjacent platform means overshooting the ground then doubling back. Perhaps you'll be climbing a rope and can't reach a platform overhead. You can leap away from the rope, toss a spear at the nearby wall to create a makeshift platform, then quickly double jump back onto the rope lest you fall to your death. Now you'll be able to jump onto the spear then hop up from there to the target platform. Your only hope for success is to discover such advanced techniques on your own and master them in controlled environments so that they can effectively be employed in more dangerous territory. As tough as your enemies may be, foolish platforming mishaps will be your greatest adversary. There's nothing to do but try again until your talents are honed to a brilliant sheen. The secret weapon in your arsenal is the zoom function, performed by tapping L on your controller or the space bar on the keyboard, which pulls the camera back and gives you a greater view of the terrain and enemy placement. What makes this so invaluable is that enemies remain motionless while off-screen in the normal camera view. That means you'll almost always have the first-strike advantage if you can hit them with your spear before they have a chance to react. Even with the zoom, Volgarr is a frustrating experience that taxes your spirit like few others. In particular, there is only a single checkpoint in the middle of each level. Even if you fall to the boss, you'll be tossed way back to that checkpoint instead of outside the boss chamber. This setup infuriated me at first, but I later realized that by making you replay half the stage, you have the opportunity to max out your equipment and greet the boss at full strength. In its own way, the game is offering the smallest of mercies. The exception to this is the final stage, which is divided into multiple rooms each with checkpoints at the entrance, including one just before the boss. It's ironic that after enduring five stages of cutthroat brutality, the last stage would be the most forgiving of all. It almost seems like a letdown... until you realize that the game is only half complete. There may not be any save files, but it is possible to skip levels that you've already completed. However, doing so will prevent you from getting the game's best ending. If you manage not to lose your equipment in a level and continue to open treasure chests, you'll eventually start collecting life orbs. Upon beating the boss, you'll unlock the Path of the Valkyrie, an alternate and more challenging route through the following stage. And only by clearing all the alternate routes will you be able to enter the true final stage. The Path of the Valkyrie plays by a different set of rules compared to the main game. Those life orbs you collect indicate how many times you'll be allowed to respawn. Exhaust all your lives and you will be shunted back onto the main path, unable to reenter that level's alternate route without replaying the previous level again. In other words, there isn't much room for practice and experimentation on the Path of Valkyrie -- you are expected to be a master already. I don't mind hardcore difficulty, but the requirements to reach Volgarr's finale strike me as just a tad too restrictive. Essentially, you're being asked to 1CC (one credit clear) the game, or close enough to it, all without ever getting touched once. I've never been one to attempt "perfectionist" runs in anything, which require a level of patience and perseverance far beyond that required to enjoy the base game. If I had to draw the line dividing what I'm willing to endure for the sake of enjoyment, that would be it. That aside, the rest of Volgarr exemplifies the type of experience few games dare to attempt these days. It will humble you, make you feel weak and inadequate. I started playing with great confidence, and within minutes I was reduced to a whimpering mess. I even considered giving up a couple of times, resigning myself to writing a scoreless review. But somehow, in some way, I mustered enough energy to go on. My journey may technically have only just begun, but seeing even a single ending has given me a deep sense of accomplishment. I understand that not everyone is looking to put their pride on the line with every game they play, but sometimes we need a reminder that games can be a test of skill. What kind of test would it be if the average person could coast along merely by doing the extra credit? By guessing the multiple choice? What kind of hollow victory is that? Like a drill sergeant, Volgarr the Viking is here to yank us out of our comfort zone and put us through hell unending. If you survive, you'll feel like the biggest badass of all time.
Volgarr the Viking review photo
RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!
Can I talk about DuckTales Remastered for a minute? I'm not going to cite any specific examples, but I've read more than a handful of reviews that knocked Remastered down for being a bit too "classic" in the difficulty depart...

Hip Tanaka photo
Hip Tanaka

Composer Hip Tanaka honors Yamauchi with Nintendo remixes


Famed Nintendo musician pays respect to his old boss
Sep 23
// Tony Ponce
Hiroshi Yamauchi, the man who made Nintendo a gaming empire, passed away last week. Though he may have been a cutthroat codger while at the company's helm, his influence cannot be denied. His former employees have no doubt fo...
The Weekend Hotness photo
The Weekend Hotness

The Weekend Hotness: Eating with Dale around the world


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 22
// Tony Ponce
Games at TGS? I don't give a toss. Dale, please post more photos of the wonderful food you've been enjoying. Do an entire post just on that. My inner foodie hungers. Elsewhere this weekend, Jim Sterling starts Doorways on Now...
The Daily Hotness photo
The Daily Hotness

The Daily Hotness: Bohemian Gravity


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 20
// Tony Ponce
You could spend many years in grad school accruing massive amounts of debt to earn a master's degree in quantum physics. Or you could watch an a cappella parody of "Bohemian Rhapsody" that condenses all the material in six m...
Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs photo
Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs

Mario SpaghettiOs!? Are we back in the 80s!?


Wash it down with some Hi-C Ecto Cooler
Sep 18
// Tony Ponce
I thought this was a joke. It's not a joke. Campbell's has partnered with Nintendo to release Mario-branded SpaghettiOs. Why, yes, it is the year 2013. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, you couldn't toss a penny down a supe...
Videri String Quartet photo
Videri String Quartet

Videri String Quartet plays game music with class


Debut album Portals covers Journey, Skyward Sword, Kingdom Hearts II, and more
Sep 18
// Tony Ponce
Do you like you game arrangements to have a flair for the classical? Then check out Videri String Quartet, a four-piece string cover band ready to dazzle you with their sensible covers of classic game tunes. After receiving ...
Shantae photo
Shantae

Inti Creates contributing art to both new Shantae games


Pirate's Curse and Half-Genie Hero receive a 'mighty' touch
Sep 17
// Tony Ponce
We all owe WayForward an apology. We haven't been paying the Kickstarter for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero much attention because Mighty No. 9 gobbled up everyone's focus. I knew weeks in advance that WayForward was planning to la...
Mega Man music photo
Mega Man music

Mega Man is getting two more anniversary albums


Capcom-sponsored albums by OverClocked ReMix and Sumthing Else Music Works
Sep 17
// Tony Ponce
As excited as everyone is to watch the Mighty No. 9 train roll on through, there are still some admittedly cool -- and admittedly non-game -- things coming down the Mega Man pipeline. Capcom has commissioned another pair of 2...
Mighty No. 9 photo
$2,200,000 in the bank, son!
You better believe I've had my eyeballs on the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter like a vulture. I wanted to spread the news as soon as the console port goal was finally cleared. That's right! Mere minutes ago, the donation amount cro...

Gotta Catch 'Em All photo
Gotta Catch 'Em All

Start hunting! Pokemon's 'Gotta Catch 'Em All' event


Big Poke Balls! Big prizes! I love it!
Sep 16
// Tony Ponce
Pokémon X / Y launches on October 12, so to psych players up, The Pokémon Company is running a fun little event from now until the launch date. On Destructoid and several other sites across the net, you'll find...
AVGN Adventures photo
AVGN Adventures

AVGN Adventures diarrhea dumps on Steam on September 23


Console versions will have to wait until next year
Sep 16
// Tony Ponce
I got to play an improved build of Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures at PAX this year, and I can reaffirm that it's going to be one hell of a challenge for those in dire need of classic "Nintendo hard" platforming. It's pure e...
Archie Mega Man photo
Archie Mega Man

Archie Mega Man vs. Bad Box Art Mega Man


Mega Man #33 variant cover is the dream fight
Sep 16
// Tony Ponce
Archie has released the cover art for Mega Man #33, which immediately follows the "Blackout: The Curse of Ra Moon" arc currently running. What's amazing is not the regular newsstand cover but the variant, featuring the infamo...
The Weekend Hotness photo
The Weekend Hotness

The Weekend Hotness: Mighty Matsumae


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 15
// Tony Ponce
Over a week ago, the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter teased a short preview of composer Manami Matsumae playing the game's theme on piano. It was all to hype up the interview above, in which Miss "Chanchacorin" talks about her time...
World 1-2: Encore photo
World 1-2: Encore

World 1-2: Encore offers more world-class game arranges


Follow-up to the amazing composer collab World 1-2
Sep 15
// Tony Ponce
World 1-2 was pretty amazing. If you didn't snatch it up when it was first released, do realize that you have been missing out on a masterful collaboration of professional game composers and enthusiast arrangers, with contrib...
Aladdin photo
Aladdin

Make way for DLC!


I can show you the world...
Sep 15
// Tony Ponce
OH MY GOD! I am dying, you guys! I'm dead! This isn't the only parody that YouTuber SMNtoob slapped together (OH SNAP! It was our own Genki-JAM the whole time! Why didn't I read the video descriptions more carefully?). He's got a Mulan one from last month. I don't even mind the bad signing, 'cause this sh*t is golden! Make Way For DLC! - An Aladdin Parody [YouTube via NeoGAF]

Nintendo eShop: A work in progress

Sep 14 // Tony Ponce
Armikrog - Pencil Test Studios Even the most casual gaming news reader understands that Wii U has been lacking in new retail game announcements. Publishers realize that software sales on the platform have been poor, so they've opted to withhold software support until Nintendo can build a sizable install base. But Wii U can't build a sizable install base unless it has solid software support -- quite the pickle, no? On the other hand, smaller independent studios are a lot more willing to take risks with Wii U. Adelman explained, "I think indie developers by their very nature are open to taking risks. They don't have big shareholder communities that they have to answer to, it's really trying something new and taking the path less taken." To that end, Nintendo has tried to lower the entry barriers in a number of ways, namely through Nintendo Web Framework and a special Unity deal. Though he's discussed both in past, Adelman restated the company's mission with these initiatives: "Nintendo Web Framework allows things like HTML5 and Javascript development, which I really think the big bonus there is just in terms of rapid prototyping and being able to take advantage of the features of the Wii U and seeing like what kinds of new gameplay mechanics you can do with that." As for Unity, "Normally, you have to pay twice. You have to buy Unity Pro, and then once you ship a game, you have to pay for a license to ship for the different platforms, so we did a deal with Unity so they can get the development tools for free and they don't have to pay any license fees. Really trying to make sure that their break-even point, the financial risk should be so minimal that, you know, why wouldn't they just bring it out to as many platforms as possible?" Q.U.B.E. - Toxic Games Nintendo is new to such an open environment, so many devs may still be unaware of the benefits of publishing on the eShop. This is where Baker chimed in: "Really our focus is, like Dan said, on education to the development community, to let them know that it's easier than ever before to develop content for Nintendo platforms." Roughly 80% of Wii Us thus far have connected to the Internet. That may not seem like much when you factor that fewer than four million consoles are out in the wild, but the percentage is still significant enough to make releasing digital-only titles an extremely viable strategy. Nonetheless, we aren't quite at a stage where digital games have as much mainstream appeal as boxed titles. "That's kind of my personal mission in life these days," Adelman stated. "If you talk to someone outside of the gaming industry, someone who doesn't necessarily follow [or] read all the blogs and keep up with the latest news, a lot of them are really unaware of a lot of these games. They've never heard of them, don't know that they even exist. So right now, it's a little bit of a niche audience of people who follow all of these games. "But I'm personally convinced that if you get these games into people's hands and they try them, they'll be shocked. They'll be surprised at how good these games are and say, 'I had no idea you could get these amazing games for $15, $20, $10 sometimes.' So I spend all of my time playing indie games; frankly, it's been a while since I played a full retail game just because there's so much great stuff out there. That probably says more about me than it does about anything else." Teslagrad - Rain Games Before he started working for Nintendo, Adelman helped launch Xbox Live Arcade on the original Xbox. You may think Nintendo hired him for that experience, but that wasn't the case. "It's more coincidental than anything else. I don't think Nintendo hired me because of that experience working on XBLA, because when I worked on XBLA, it was before it was a well-known brand anyway. That was back when it was on the launcher disc bundled with different games." Nonetheless, that time spent with Microsoft clued him on the direction digital console software ought to follow: "The main thing that I think that experience demonstrated to me -- and really just getting WiiWare started -- was there was this natural inclination when you start a digital distribution platform especially back then that it was, well, what digital games are out there? It was casual games, which are great -- match-three games and puzzle games -- but it seemed like a lot of those were very similar to each other. There were a lot of clones of, you know, if there was a popular game, immediately five clones of it. I always suspected that there's got to be a lot more you could do with digital distribution and a lot more variety of content." As he shared earlier in the interview, Adelman only really plays indie games these days. Not because big games don't have a place, but because he admires the passion and exuberance found in smaller communities. "I remember my first Indie Games Summit at GDC about seven years ago, and it was a small room with folding chairs, and some people were talking about some new little fragment of a game mechanic that they were just working on and playing around with. And I thought, these are my people! These are the guys that I've been looking for!" The big elephant in the room is, of course, Nintendo's lack of a unified account system. You've all undoubtedly read mountains of comments on this and other sites from users who refuse to make any digital purchases on Nintendo platforms until this glaring issue gets solved. Though this matter isn't under Adelman or Baker's direct control, I had to ask if there have been any new developments in recent months. Two Brothers - Ackk Studios The response was disappointing, as you might have guessed, but Adelman at least tried to offer some ray of hope. "We don't have anything new to announce, unfortunately, other than we've definitely heard that feedback many times from both inside and outside the company. It's definitely something that we're very much aware of. All development for the infrastructure really happens out of Japan, so we've kind of communicated this need in the market, and they're very much aware of it and working towards really just always improving the eShop." Curiously, developers themselves don't have as much of an issue with the current account structure. He continued, "In terms of how developers or consumers are impacted by it, I've definitely read a lot of frustrations from consumers. I actually haven't heard it too much from developers -- it just doesn't come up as much in conversation, or if it does come up, it's usually from a standpoint of them also being a consumer as well as a developer. But I have never heard a developer say, 'I'm interested in making games for the eShop, but because of this account system, I really don't feel comfortable doing that.' That hasn't seemed to be a barrier at this point." Long story short, Nintendo is aware of matters and is doing things its own way. But we already knew that. What I took from this interview was just how closely to its chest Nintendo likes to hold its cards. It's quite incredible to see that play out in person after reading countless other interviews and watching major figures like CEO Satoru Iwata and NoA president Reggie Fils-Aime ask for our patience and forgiveness during Nintendo Direct video streams. That's just the kind of company Nintendo is, for better or worse. Hey! There's a big Wii U update coming soon, so hopefully we'll see serious changes soon.
Wii U eShop interview photo
NoA's Dan Adelman and Damon Baker lay out Nintendo's digital plans
As we creep towards the one-year anniversary of Wii U's launch, players are readying themselves for the second-generation lineup of games that will hopefully make up for the rather dull spring and summer months. But with upco...

Gunstar Heroes photo
Gunstar Heroes

Celebrate 20 years of Gunstar Heroes with OC ReMix


Be Agressive! is the latest OCR tribute album
Sep 14
// Tony Ponce
Treasure knows how to make some f*ckin' games. That's an undisputed fact. And one of the best Treasure games is of course Gunstar Heroes on SEGA Genesis. Did you know it just celebrated its 20th anniversary this past Monday?...
Mega Man art photo
Mega Man art

This is the big one, guys: Orioto's Mega Man fresco


It's like it was made just for me
Sep 14
// Tony Ponce
I knew it would happen eventually. It was inevitable. Now my wallet is starting to get very antsy. To bring you up to speed, digital artist Mikaël "Orioto" Aguirre has been whipping up tasteful spreads of games like Fina...
The Daily Hotness photo
The Daily Hotness

The Daily Hotness: Best of luck, Max and Tara


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 13
// Tony Ponce
["Destructoid - Max Scoville vs Tara Long" by LegionWings] No snark remarks from me today. I'm just here to wish two very talented people the best of luck in their careers. I met Max and Tara for the first time during E3 2011...

Mega Man #29 sample pages and miniature anime conventions

Sep 10 // Tony Ponce
As with "Worlds Collide" Act 2 artist Tracy Yardley!, Cavallaro was not familiar with the Mega Man mythos prior to joining the team. Of course, the best artist does his or her best to catch up on the material, getting a feel for the character relationships and subtle complexity. "I also noticed there's a LOT of Mega Man artwork out there," he said in reference to the Mega Man fan art and Japanese Rockman manga scans that he stumbled upon during his research, "and there are numerous stylistic differences that don't necessarily overlap, so I stick to Archie's version because that's what's pertinent here." Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy naturally came up when discussing other non-Mega Man robot comics, which led to an unrelated yet fun anecdote about anime and manga fandom from decades past. "I was traveling hours away from home to go to manga and anime conventions in the early 80s -- that's almost 30 years ago! Back then, a so-called anime 'convention' took place in a room the size of my kitchen on a side-street in Philadelphia or NYC. There'd be maybe 10-20 people milling around, tops, maybe one guy in a homemade Star Blazers uniform, and the only things to buy were very grainy fourth-generation VHS bootlegs. There was no Internet, and this stuff was incredibly hard to find." I can personally vouch for such a story, having purchased my share of boots from very shady mall vendor carts as a young 'un. Doesn't have much to do with Mega Man, but I always enjoy looking back at how much has changed in the celebration of our hobbies. Check out sample pages of MM#29 in the gallery below, along with promo pieces showcasing Cavallaro's line art from the rest of the arc. The issue will go sale in shops starting tomorrow.
Archie Mega Man photo
A brief chat with new Mega Man comic penciller, Mike Cavallaro
With Archie Mega Man #29, the "Blackout: The Curse of Ra Moon" arc has officially begun. All the world's technology has been disabled by an EMP wave, causing untold collateral damage that could take years to recover from. Meg...

The Weekend Hotness photo
The Weekend Hotness

The Weekend Hotness: Wings of Freedom, baby


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 08
// Tony Ponce
Well, f*ck me. So many people were talking up Attack on Titan at PAX that I had to jump on that bizniz when I returned home. I just got finished watching all the episodes up through yesterday, then I blazed through the manga...
Angry Video Game Nerd photo
Angry Video Game Nerd

AVGN braves the unholy tide of Tiger LCD games


Attack on Tiger
Sep 08
// Tony Ponce
I knew this day would come. The Angry Video Game Nerd made a video about Tiger's line of LCD handheld games. I've warned you all about the horrors of these infernal contraptions. I even pointed you in the direction of an onl...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Rock and piano covers of the Mighty No. 9 theme


Since we can't call him 'Blue Bomber,' how about 'Mighty Mauler'?
Sep 07
// Tony Ponce
Is anyone else playing and replaying the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter video and jamming out to the theme song? Because that is totally what I'm doing. It's so great to hear Mega Man 1 composer Manami Matsumae hard at work again,...
Link's Awakening photo
Link's Awakening

Link's Awakening's jams get chopped for MeowMeow & BowWow


A fresh Zelda remix EP straight out of GameChops
Sep 07
// Tony Ponce
While some of us were attending PAX and getting all the ladies, others were back home, hard at work in the studio. My buddy Dj CUTMAN produced a brand new Zelda EP through his net label GameChops, and it's ready for mass cons...
The Daily Hotness photo
The Daily Hotness

The Daily Hotness: 'The Passing of the Blue Crown'


Check out everything Destructoid did today
Sep 06
// Tony Ponce
Today, I finally posted my PAX interview with Keiji Inafune, in which we discuss the Mega Man past and the Mighty No. 9 future. That gives me an excuse to share the above heartfelt comic by tumblr user shwlg. You can view the...

Keiji Inafune dropped mad Mega Man secrets on me

Sep 06 // Tony Ponce
Sitting all cool and collect in the corner of the room was Inafune, and at his side to serve as interpreter was former Capcom head of localization, Ben Judd. Filling out the room were various others project associates as well as a film crew capturing my every awkward second on camera. Oh God, if any of that footage shows up in the Mighty No. 9 making-of documentary, I will shut myself in a hole for weeks. I could feel my breakfast churning; I willed it to stay down. I naturally was wearing my limited-numbered Mighty No. 9 T-shirt, handed out to attendees of Inafune's panel the day prior. To say that everybody there was surprised by his Kickstarter reveal would be the understatement of the year. The room erupted like Mount Vesuvius when the plucky android Beck made his grand debut. That ball started rolling just this past spring. As Inafune recalled, "It really was a culmination of... everywhere I've gone in the past, after I left Capcom, fans would come up to me or media people would talk to me and they'd say, 'Oh, I loved Mega Man!' or, 'I loved Onimusha!' I don't know whether they were just being nice, but they really felt extremely passionate every time they'd say that. I'm sure they knew I wasn't at Capcom anymore and couldn't make it. It still stood that, obviously, their feelings were that they wanted something new but that had that classic feeling, and they wanted it out of me, but obviously there weren't many opportunities. "However, when I learned of Kickstarter, it seemed a great way that I could first and foremost connect with the fans who were the people that kept talking to me about, 'Hey, you should do this! You should do this! You should do this!' This would allow me to eventually bridge that gap and do it with them directly, number one. Number two, the best thing about Kickstarter is you can launch something and you can see what the reaction is, and if the reaction isn't good then, you know, maybe that was just a few remote individual cases of people saying that." The immediate reaction was beyond positive -- the Kickstarter goal was already half met by the morning of my interview, and it was fully cleared not long after that. "By seeing the overall fan reaction, obviously that's not the case. The people that I met with up until now were a cross section of a larger group of people that really want something like this." Seems like a lesson Capcom ought to take to heart! Speaking of Capcom, Inafune was a bit hesitant to discuss his former employer and the treatment of the franchise he helped build. "Honestly, I created a policy after I left Capcom that any Mega Man games that would come out I would not play, because the second I play them, I'm going to formulate an opinion, will probably get very emotional, may not be in a good way. So sometimes ignorance really is bliss when it comes to how your creations are used after you no longer have control of them." I of course had to ask if he was aware of Rockman Xover, to which he responded in the affirmative. He hasn't touched it per his self-imposed policy. That's for the best, don't you think? Outside of Capcom, we have ambitious fans working hard on unofficial titles, like Mega Man Unlimited and the demake of Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype Version , many of which rival the quality of Capcom's own efforts. Considering how Mighty No. 9 and the Legends 3 project were both conceived as a way for developers and fans to work together towards a common goal, I gauged that Inafune would greatly admire fan game makers' efforts. "If you are a fan and you really want to make something like that that you love, then I think you should make it. Obviously that's going to be what makes you happy." Fairly decent response, but it's what he said next that I found extremely admirable. "But if I was an IP holder and I saw that there was somebody that was that impassioned to work with the content, that they were willing to dedicate their own time and energy and potentially money to make it, then I think the smarter approach would be to contact them and see if there wasn't a way to do a project with them, very much like Kickstarter, get them somehow involved in it so that it really is you as a creator being [able] to make sure that you're controlling the quality and direction and stuff like that, but also getting lots of good fan input and really finding a perfect blend between fan and creator to make something very unique." To Capcom's credit, the support of Street Fighter X Mega Man demonstrated some of that joint interaction. Also consider SEGA's recent Sonic CD and Sonic 1 remasters, which were spearheaded by members of the Sonic fan game community. Inafune sees the benefit of such close relationships with fans, and I hope this attitude spreads even further throughout the industry. This line of action of course stems from Inafune's dissatisfaction with Japanese game companies, leading to no shortage of damning remarks. But whether you think he's blowing smoke or has legitimate concerns, we can at least agree that his words are fueled by a desire to see the Japanese industry regain some of the influence and might it lost over the past few years, hence why he aims for evolution and innovation through his companies comcept and intercept. Rather ironic that two of his current projects are a Ninja Gaiden spin-off and a Mega Man spiritual successor. But to be fair, he seems to believe that there is just as much room for innovation in the development process as there is in games themselves, which would explain the unorthodox foundations lying beneath Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z and Mighty No. 9. By the way, you may remember another project that Inafune is heading: the high-seas 3DS adventure Kaio: King of Pirates. Though the game was originally scheduled for a 2012 release then later pushed back a year, its current status is a mystery. Is it vaporware? According to Inafune, the situation is out of his hands. Publisher Marvelous has not announced a strategy for the game, thus any inquiries concerning Kaio would have to go through them. This situation reminds me of Yuji Naka's Rodea the Sky Soldier and its extended period of silence. Publisher Kadokawa recently re-confirmed the game's existence, so I have hope that Marvelous will make a similar statement in the near future. Inafune may have harsh words for his Japanese brethren, but he's still supportive of those companies that attempt something a little more offbeat. Like, say, using his real-world likeness in a rather significant capacity. I'm talking about Idea Factory and the inclusion of Inafune as a laser-spewing summon in the Hyperdimension Neptunia series and as the main character's uncle in the visual novel Sweet Fuse. More bizarre than the typical cameo, no? "We got this idea," Idea Factory said to him. "We kind of like you to be in the game as a character." They didn't think he'd agree to it, but Inafune was so pleased by their wild initiative that he responded with an emphatic,"Sure, let's do it! Why not? Sounds crazy and fun and new! At least we're doing something new!" Is that innovation? Inafune believes so, but I don't think anyone else would say the cameos aren't at least bizarrely entertaining. I also took a moment to inquire about his thoughts regarding PlatinumGames, considering their shared history at Capcom. "I think that they are a very talented group of people," he mused. "I've known them when they were all at Capcom and we were working together, so it's really hard to say what their strengths and weaknesses are, certainly in an interview like this. But I think that they have their own style and they're really good at that style. It's different from how I would necessarily build out or develop a game, but I think it certainly works for them and allows them to create something that's very unique and cool for sure. "I guess if I was going to say there's one area for improvement, maybe it's on how they produce things. They're great at building out great games, but they never really seem to hit the sales marks that they need to, so that gap needs to be decreased, shortened by stronger producers, etc. That will make their games hit a wider audience." By this point in the interview, I was ready to pull out the big guns and seek answers to some long-standing Mega Man mysteries. I didn't get to ask as many of your questions as I would have liked, but I guarantee you'll be amazed at some of these responses nonetheless. One of the weirdest things about playing NES games was how staff was listed by nicknames in the credits, and Inafune in particular was known as"Inafking." Where did that name come from, and why were some of the other names so strange? "There was a series called Moomin. It was an older series from a long time ago, and there was a character named 'Snufkin' in it that's this cool character. So 'Snufkin' and 'Inafking,' they're kind of like, oh, we're both these cool characters, this is how I like it! "Back then, of course, all the more talented programmers, artists, etc. could have been headhunted, so the one internal rule was you have to come up with a name that is different enough that people won't know what your real name is. So long as you fulfill that criteria, you can be as crazy as anything, so everyone just went crazy and made whatever name they wanted to." Regarding names, there has been confusion over whether the robo-dog Rush was named after the famous Canadian band. Inafune put the confusion to rest: "People think that most of the names were some sort of music-based names, but really Rock and Roll were only the key ones that were based on musical terms. If you think of Dr. Wily and Dr. Light, that's got nothing to do with music. "I'm sorry to disappoint the fans, but actually Rush was not based on the band, Rush was based on a Capcom game called Rush & Crash [known as The Speed Rumbler outside of Japan -- Tony] that I really liked. Actually, the word 'Rush' sounds kind of like 'Lassie' [pronounced 'Rasshu' and 'Rasshi']. Back then, Lassie was a very popular movie about a dog, of course, so it just fit as far as the phonetic flow of the word." Videogame character designs of yesteryear were often the result of hardware limitations. Mega Man was no different; the "exclamation mark" protrusion on his helmet was one such element born of Inafune trying to draw around those constraints. "This is probably a little known fact... it's true that I did not design Mega Man, but what happened was there was a planner [confirmed to be Akira Kitamura, credited as A.K. in Mega Man 1 and 2] that whenever they made a Famicom character, they had to look at it on the screen and see how it popped, whether it was visible, whether you can play as it and it would pop off of the background. This planner put together a pixel character that really had good read against the Famicom backgrounds, then went to me and said, 'Okay, I want you to make a character that looks like [a] Famicom graphic could have come from that character.' "So it was like a reverse character design, the fact that Mega Man's birth came from this pixelized character that the planner initially created, but the actual animation, the rendition of him as a character I did create. But I had to look at the pixels and try to envision what that would look like as a character, and all you can see from the pixels was that, okay, this was where the helmet was, then it looks like there's a line. And that's all you can really tell. So when you're going to design a character, I literally could have put a triangle here or a square or an equal sign, it could have literally been whatever. So I just put what I thought matched well with the line, but it wasn't intentionally meant to be an exclamation mark or anything like that, unfortunately." Some designs elements have more cultural origins. You may have noticed that many Mega Man series characters hold up this odd "W" hand gesture in the official art. This is Inafune's signature flourish, but no one really knew why he chose to draw hands that way... until now! "First of all, doing this [throws up the hand gesture] looks cute! If you look at Disney characters, a lot of times they have three fingers or bigger fingers that makes them look kind of cute. In Japan, 'four' is a bad number, it means death, even though all of us as humans have four fingers [excluding the thumb]. Doing something like this which shows three makes it a safe number... "There's some sort of weird prejudice that comes in... some bad meaning if you have four fingers instead of five. But by doing it this way, it would look kind of Disney-esque and cute, but you could still say that it was a perfect normal hand, they've got five fingers. Technically, it could have been these two fingers [index and middle] spread out like this or the end two fingers if you can do that, but doing it in the middle is just better balance wise." After that final question, I nervously pulled out my boxed copy of the original Famicom Rockman, had him sign it, and made my way out the room in what I hope was the most natural way possible. It probably wasn't, but I can only maintain some semblance of professionalism for so long. Keiji Inafune, guys. Guys. Keiji Inafune. His brutal honesty about the game industry may not sit well with everyone, but c'mon! He's Keiji Inafune!
Keiji Inafune interview photo
I met the legendary Inafking once more for an unforgettable interview
Keiji Inafune, are you Kamen Rider? "As a child, of course, I watched lots of Kamen Rider, so I love that show, but I unfortunately cannot definitively say that I have experience being the masked rider. But I may at one tim...

Keiji Inafune @ PAX photo
Keiji Inafune @ PAX

Watch all of Keiji Inafune's 'mighty' PAX panel


Sorry, no T-shirt for you
Sep 06
// Tony Ponce
Keiji Inafune won PAX Prime 2013, no contest. If you attended PAX and didn't go to his panel, you missed out on being able to personally witness the biggest middle finger to ever be waved in Capcom's general direction. Of co...






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