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Comcept

Comcept photo
Comcept

Keiji Inafune and Metroid Prime devs unveil Xbox One exclusive ReCore


Coming Spring 2016
Jun 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Well, this was certainly unexpected. Today at Microsoft's E3 showcase, the company pulled an ace from its sleeve, revealing a gorgeous new project with a compelling pedigree. It's called ReCore and its being co-develope...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Mighty No. 9 has a one-hit-death mode


Uh, thanks but no thanks
Jun 03
// Jordan Devore
A few Mighty No. 9 updates to talk about today. First, all launch-window versions of the game will come with the Retro Hero DLC, which gives protagonist Beck a blocky, weirdly Minecraft-esque appearance and, good lord, a one...
Mighty No. 9 dated photo
No more April/May window
Development for Mighty No. 9 was coming along nicely earlier this year. We got a look at a bunch of levels, and developer Comcept noted that they were "basically done" recently -- they just needed to figure out how to la...

Keiji Inafune reveals new stage for Mighty No. 9, game 'almost done'

Jan 01 // Chris Carter
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Mighty No. 9 photo
That art style is really the plan eh?
Mighty No. 9's Keiji Inafune is ringing in the New Year with a look at a new stage for the game. It seems to have a castle-like feel to it, with red carpets and fancy chandeliers. According to the producer/director, the game...

Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

Sup Holmes gets equipped Comcept's Dina Abou Karam


Get to know the people who make great videogames
Nov 16
// Jonathan Holmes
This week on Sup Holmes we welcome Dina Abou Karam to the program. Dina's the community manager at Comcept, the studio behind Mighty Number 9. We'll be talking to her about what it takes to manage a community, what it's ...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Beck just got a slight redesign for Mighty No. 9


Japanese box art revealed
Nov 10
// Chris Carter
The Mighty No. 9 team has revealed a new design for their hero Beck, as well as a new Japanese box art design. Apparently Beck is going to be more white themed from now on, Director Koji Imaeda explains, "From the very b...
Inti Creates photo
Inti Creates

Mighty No. 9 Gunvolt GunGal crossover confirmed, NES style


Capcom is beat to the punch yet again
Aug 19
// Jonathan Holmes
When I saw the recent 3DS Streetpass puzzle featuring original sprite Mega Man in 3D, I immediately thought "Capcom should make a game like that!" Just like how I used to think Capcom should make a new 2D Mega Man for home co...

Mighty Number 9 opens new crowd funding campaign, teases cartoon show

Jul 06 // Jonathan Holmes
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Mighty Number 9 photo
Tonight on it's the mind we examine the phenomenon of Deja Vu
It seems like only yesterday that Keiji Inafune announced the Kickstarter campaign form Mighty Number 9 at PAX East. It was an exciting day for Mega Man fans. Just looking at the commemorative t-shirt from that event still p...

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z photo
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Very Quick Tips: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z


There will be blood
Mar 18
// Chris Carter
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z doesn't really offer up a deep combat system, but depending on what enemies you're fighting, it can get pretty intense -- especially on higher difficulty levels. Here are a few quick tips to help you on your quest to destroy the undead horde.

Review: Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Mar 18 // Chris Carter
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Comcept, Spark Unlimited, Team NinjaPublisher: Tecmo KoeiRelease: March 18, 2014Price: $59.99 In case you're wondering, Yaiba is the name of the titular protagonist, who's actually "evil," depending on how you view the series hero Ryu Hayabusa. Yaiba Kamikaze is a self proclaimed "ninja slayer," and while he would have liked to have claimed Hayabusa as his latest victim, Ryu had other plans and sliced Yaiba open instead. From here, it gets a little weird and decidedly non-cannon. Yaiba is "resurrected" by a shadowy organization, who replaces his severed arm and sliced out eye with robotic replacements. Now as a cyborg ninja, he has to stop a zombie outbreak in addition to getting his revenge on Hayabusa. This is all told through a tongue in cheek grindhouse presentation, complete with tons of comic book text and lots of blood. The entire visual style is weird, but somewhat interesting as it presents itself through a dark, yet cartoony lens. It tries to be edgy with your typical display of sex jokes and violence-oriented humor, but it never really goes that far and actually ends up fairly tame in the end. In fact, not every joke is over-the-top -- for example, at one point it tries its best impression of the slow steamroller death scene from various films -- and often times it's more goofy than offensive. While the constant absurd plot twists and elongated enemy presentation cutscenes are jarring, I ended up putting up with them because the vast majority of the game looks great -- especially when you're ripping through droves of zombies. [embed]272040:53005:0[/embed] In terms of combat, I wouldn't expect a typical Ninja Gaiden experience. What I mean by that is that the fighting system is not technical, and is more akin to a hack and slash game. Yaiba starts off his quest with the power to use his well-rounded sword, his strong yet slow iron fist, and a weak flail attack that hits a large number of enemies at once. There's also a very rudimentary "elemental" system, involving fire, electricity, and poison (called "bile") -- with the ability to "counter" in a triangle-like setup. Along with your limited three weapon arsenal and a "Rage of the Gods" ability, that's basically all you're going to be using the entire game as it unfolds over a series of arena battles. Yaiba technically has a "level up" system with a small circular upgrade tree, but almost all of the powers are nominal in nature and not really required to complete the game. In addition to the limited upgrade system, don't expect to roam around a lot. While there are a few opportunities to find secrets hidden in walls and the like (especially when you use Yaiba's Detective Vision-like laser eye), for the most part the game is extremely linear. Rather than the comfortable mix of combat and exploration in the core Ninja Gaiden series, Yaiba is content just delivering arena battles one after another, placing an emphasis on score attack gameplay. There is a contextual jump ability that lets you run on walls and swing around on hooks to get around, but it's also very linear and very scripted. It's fun for sure, just underwhelming for the most part. Because you only wield a select few abilities, fights are about as fun as the enemies that are thrown at you, which is a generally a mixed bag. Sometimes you'll battle a wide variety of stronger foes that test your ability to use all three elements to the best of your ability, and in other arenas, you're just fighting wave after wave of a zombie horde that you can easily flail to death. An arena game is only as good as the arenas themselves, and a lot more effort could have been put into them in general. Where the game really shines are the tougher encounters, especially on higher difficulty levels where you actually have to think before you slash, lest you electrocute or burn yourself. "Elite" class enemies also present the opportunity to execute them, offering up their signature weapon to use as a limited consumable -- similar to an old school beat 'em up. There aren't many major bosses, but the ones that are present are very fun, especially the encounters with Hayabusa himself. Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z reminds me of last year's Deadpool game. It's a very limited hack and slash that enthusiasts will enjoy on a rainy weekend, but it fails to really ascend beyond that status. Yaiba isn't a bad game per se, it's just shallow.
Yaiba reviewed photo
Shambling along
I really didn't know what to expect from Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z. On one hand, it has the Ninja Gaiden name (which, admittedly, doesn't have much sway these days) and Keiji Inafune attached. But on the other, you have...

Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Watch Inafune playtest dashing in Mighty No. 9


New alpha footage also shows the death animation
Mar 12
// Jordan Devore
As a follow-up to this morning's talk of new Mighty No. 9 gameplay details, here's footage of Comcept's Keiji Inafune trying out a work-in-progress build of the game. The video showcases Beck's dash ability, his (placeholder...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Here's Inafune playing a bit of Mighty No. 9


From his D.I.C.E. talk
Feb 07
// Jordan Devore
Keiji Inafune spoke about Mighty No. 9 at the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas this week and showed off the design of the character Mighty No. 7 which, as you guys pointed out, doesn't at all look like Zero from the Mega Man fra...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

A few Mighty No. 9 alpha screenshots to pick apart


Remember, the key word here is 'alpha'
Jan 24
// Jordan Devore
Comcept has shared a few alpha screenshots of Mighty No. 9 with backers and while I was initially hesitant to cover them given the obvious work-in-progress visuals (the one above is the most realized of the group), I'll take ...
Ninja Gaiden Z photo
Ninja Gaiden Z

Mighty No. 9 skin to appear in Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z


Included in 'zombie pack' DLC
Dec 12
// Conrad Zimmerman
If you absolutely, positively cannot wait to play Mighty No. 9, Keiji Inafune and crew seem to be providing an opportunity to at least control a character model of him, assuming you don't mind doing it in Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden ...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Mighty No. 9 funding closes with over $4 million raised


All stretch goals hit!
Oct 01
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Keiji Inafune's Might No. 9's Kickstater is over, and as of closing (combined with PayPal donations) has reached $4,046,579 in total donations. The Kickstarter began at PAX Prime 2013 last month, asking for just $900,000. Aft...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Mighty No. 9 will rock the PS4 and Xbox One


Make it RAIN!
Oct 01
// Tony Ponce
THREE. POINT. THREE. MILLION. DOLLARS. GOD. DAMN. I was honestly worried for a while there, but the PS4 / Xbox One stretch goals were met with just a day left to go! The Unreal Engine-powered Mighty No. 9 is making people hap...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Here's a test video of Mighty No. 9 on Unreal Engine


Inafune's latest is getting the Guilty Gear Xrd treatment
Sep 30
// Tony Ponce
No time to rest! The Mighty No. 9 train keeps right on rolling through the final day! Choo choo! The Monday update brings word that Mighty will take a page out of the Guilty Gear Xrd playbook and run on the Unreal Engine. A ...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Mega Man 2 composer joins the Mighty No. 9 team


Manami Matsumae and Takashi Tateishi unite!
Sep 29
// Tony Ponce
With just two days left before donations close, the Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter is exploding with all kinds of tasty treats. I hope you remembered to vote on your favorite Call design! Here's another bit of wonderful news: We we...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Vote on Mighty No. 9 support character Call's design


What do you want Beck's online co-op partner to look like?
Sep 28
// Tony Ponce
Good news, everyone! The Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter received a sudden boost in its donation rate. We've cleared $2.75 million, which means we are getting online co-op! Yay! Now that we'll be able to play as Beck's partner Call,...
Mighty No. 9 photo
Mighty No. 9

Vita/3DS goal added to Mighty No. 9 Kickstarter


Physical copies and documentary video as well
Sep 27
// Jordan Devore
The heat is on. With four days left before its Kickstarter ends, Mighty No. 9 is now looking at PlayStation Vita and 3DS versions as a possibility -- but it's not going to be easy. The new goal for these ports is priced at $...
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...

Mighty No. 9 PS4/Xbox One photo
Mighty No. 9 PS4/Xbox One

Inafune's Mighty No. 9 adds PS4 and Xbox One goals


You know what? It could reach that $3.3 million requirement
Sep 09
// Chris Carter
Keiji Inafune and the folks at Comcept have been taking the internet by storm recently, raising nearly two million dollars of funding for Mighty No. 9 -- Inafune's spiritual successor to Mega Man. While the gaming is coming t...
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,...

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...
Keiji Inafune photo
There are no such things as stupid questions...
PAX attendees are in for a super special treat next week. The infamous Keiji Inafune will be delivering an hour-long panel in the Kraken Theater on Saturday from 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM. He'll run through his 25-year industry care...

Otome Games photo
Otome Games

Sweet Fuse: At Your Side hits PSP in August


Otome game starring Keiji Inafune's niece drops later this summer
Jul 26
// Kyle MacGregor
Sweet Fuse: At Your Side will arrive on August 27, Aksys Games has announced. In addition to being among the last games join the PlayStation Portable's library, the title's release marks something of a rarity, as otome visual...

Review: BUGS vs. TANKS!

Jun 24 // Chris Carter
BUGS vs. Tanks! (3DS)Developer: ComceptPublisher: Level-5Released: June 20, 2013MSRP: $7.99 Given how easily the World War II time period could have overstayed its welcome, I'm glad Inafune opted for a quick setup and very little story. Simply put, you're a soldier in a shrunken German panzer squad, and the local insects are looking at you for their next meal. Your battlefield isn't a famous war-torn European city but a completely foreign jungle of grass and dirt, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids style. You'll defend yourself with a battalion of tanks with fairly straightforward controls -- your only real abilities are moving, pivoting, firing, and a "once per level" artillery power. By default, your tank will utilize an automatic fire mode to constantly shoot enemies in range; you're going to want to go ahead and turn that off and jack up the difficulty (you can always switch back), because this game is best experienced when its insects are genuinely terrifying. Though the fundamentals and the animations are pretty basic, the game's realistic-looking bugs can get pretty nerve-wracking, especially in swarms. They're extremely relentless and most won't stop until your dead, even if you're backed into a corner begging for breathing room, unable to get a clear shot. The game's brutal difficulty, although frustrating at times due to some occasionally cheap AI, is one of my favorite aspects. Once you're off the battlefield and hitting the game's menus, you'll learn that BUGS vs. Tanks! has a surprising amount of depth. For each tank, you can customize the rate of fire, chassis, and more. The actual tanks themselves are modeled after real vehicles in history, which helps give the game a bit more character. Along with changing in difficulty setting or automatic/manual fire, you can make it feel like a completely different game, which is pretty remarkable. But what you can actually do with these tanks is extremely limited. Missions are pretty standard -- base defense, item collection, kill quests, and things like that. To be blunt, there's really not anything that you haven't seen a million times before, lending itself to something best played in short spurts. Thankfully, no one mission overstays its welcome too often, as these levels are extremely short, and each of the 29 (with 10 bonus) stages feel different enough from one another to justify themselves. There's also a local multiplayer function that allows you to play with three other friends, as well as a fun little StreetPass mechanic that lets you call in extra artillery fire. In terms of visuals, while I never really had any issues telling enemies and areas apart, BUGS vs. TANKS! is extremely unimpressive without the 3D effect on. It looks similar to a low-budget PS1 game, with jagged edges, plain backgrounds, and generally stale models. While I don't have a problem with a low graphical output, given the high quality in the other Guild games, it looks odd when juxtaposed with the total body of work and will disappoint anyone expecting a little more. Like a few of the other Guild offerings, BUGS vs. TANKS! isn't remarkable, but it's a great way to pass the time over the course of a few days. Whether you want to casually roll through and blow up some insects on the easy setting, or wrack your brain to test your mettle with manual shooting and an insanely difficult campaign, BUGS vs. TANKS! offers a little something for everyone.
BUGS vs. TANKS! review photo
Honey, we shrunk the soldiers
The idea of shrinking objects and placing them into ridiculous situations is not new. But in the case of Comcept and Keiji Inafune's BUGS vs. TANKS!, it's somehow fitting to pit a tiny World War II German tank battalion again...

I met Keiji Inafune! We discussed Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z!

Jun 18 // Tony Ponce
After leaving Capcom, Keiji Inafune formed Comcept in order to work on original titles, such as the superhero president game J.J. Rockets on mobile devices and the action-RPG Soul Sacrifice on PlayStation Vita. However, he wouldn't be completely against working on a licensed property if he had a strong attachment to it. One such game series that he really respects is Ninja Gaiden, and he had been playing around with the idea of a new Ninja Gaiden that incorporated zombies. He proposed this idea to Team Ninja, which coincidentally had been thinking about developing a zombie game of its own but lacked any personnel with experience in the genre. Thanks to his notable history with Dead Rising, Inafune was seen as the prime candidate for such a project. But Inafune was quick to remind me that the comparisons with Dead Rising end there. Speaking through a translator, he explained, "Yaiba is not purposefully trying to be influenced from Dead Rising. They are both [my] games, so the zombies made for Dead Rising and the zombies that are here will of course have some similarities... but you can't just cut zombies down and leave it at that. That's not going to be a fun game. You have to think, okay, ninjas and zombies, put those together and see how do we make that fun. What kind of chemical reaction comes from that combination?" The reaction is Ninja Gaiden Z, a game far apart from what we've come to expect from the series. Most notably, we are not playing as longstanding protagonist Ryu Hayabusa but rather Yaiba Kamikaze, a rival shinobi cut down by Ryu and resurrected as a cyborg. Yaiba is about as un-ninja as can get -- he's loud, foul-mouthed, lecherous, and driven by an insatiable bloodlust. Despite Yaiba's harder edge and a world populated by zombies who are surprisingly not the pushovers we've grown accustomed to, Ninja Gaiden Z is significantly toned down from the series' trademark level of difficulty. "It should have a Ninja Gaiden feel to the combat, the kind of responsiveness of a Ninja Gaiden game," Inafune stated, "but this is not a main Ninja Gaiden game. Yaiba is its own thing, and we need to make it accessible to people who maybe come in for the zombie aspects. They like zombie games and they're not used to the technical aspects of Ninja Gaiden. We need to be as open to those players as well so they don't quit in two seconds. Once we have that, we can think about how to make a deeper combat system and offer those sort of technical challenges for people who want that as well." Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is being developed for PS3 and Xbox 360 with the assistance of Spark Unlimited, the California-based studio currently working on Lost Planet 3. Inafune has been an extremely vocal proponent of Western developers, so it comes as no surprise that he would look outside Japan for aid. Still, Spark's history isn't that extensive, so why was it brought on board? "You can't just look at the past experience of a developer to judge them on what they can do moving forward. People leave developers, staff changes, so you can't always judge them by their past experience. You have to think of the management that is going to be constantly there and their vision for their studio." Inafune felt a connection with Spark's management and knew they could build a good relationship. And for added assistance, they even brought in Toby Gard, one of the designers of the original Tomb Raider! "No Japanese developer could come up with this art style," Inafune noted in regards to the game's striking cel shading. "You could give them all the direction in the world and they still wouldn't come up with this. Also, the kinds of things that you can do with zombies, the ways that you can play with the zombies, you maybe get half of the ideas from a Japanese developer that you get from the West. And even then, those ideas won't be up to the same fun quality." Zombies in Yaiba are not just cannon fodder. You can rip off their arms and use them as nunchuks, or you can toss them into heavy machinery and watch them operate it out of instinct. I'm surprised by how much humanity they've retained -- behind the wheel of a steamroller, one zombie gestures to his undead compatriot to get out of his path lest he get squashed, for example. I don't know how much of this humor simply couldn't be replicated by a Japanese studio, but I'm digging it. It's not traditional Ninja Gaiden, but any game where the hero will crash a truck into a lingerie store and start dancing as panties rain from the sky is okay in my book. Before I left the interview, I had to ask Inafune one final question regarding the elephant in the room. You think I'd spend 20 minutes with Mega Man's caretaker for roughly two decades without asking about the Blue Bomber? I asked, how do you feel about Mega Man in Super Smash Bros.? "I'm really happy for that! It's great! And hopefully they'll put Yaiba in it in the future!" First we need Yaiba on Wii U! "Yeah, no, not right now." Ha ha ha ha! Okay, I'm not even mad at the response! Well played!
Inafune and Yaiba photo
OHMYGODYOUGUYS!!!
Guys. I met Keiji Inafune at E3. I interviewed Keiji Inafune at E3. I've achieved everything I've wanted to accomplish in my relatively short career as a games journalist. There is literally nothing else for me to do except p...

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z photo
Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z

Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z is your new horror action comedy


Cheap thrills and bloody kills
Jun 16
// Jonathan Holmes
Under Itagaki's watch, the Ninja Gaiden series was about big production values, precise action, and serious-face gameplay. Those days are over. With Inafune at the helm of this new Ninja Gaiden spin-off, the tone has gone th...

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