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Digital Reality

TGS: Sine Mora is the game I've been waiting for too long

Sep 17 // Allistair Pinsof
When I asked creative director Theodore Reiker if he had any direct influences, he mentioned the Raizing Arcade classic Battle Garegga. From this point on, I knew I was in good hands. With three different time devices and various weapons to equip, the game gives you 60 different possible loadouts. The BG influence goes beyond loadout options however, as even the powerups and other visual aspects recall that gem along with other memorable entries in the genre. My biggest concern with Sine Mora was that the developer would make the same mistake many amateur shmup developers make. That mistake being not having enough contrast between bullets, enemies and the backdrops. The detailed, colorful backgrounds of Sine Mora are ripe for conflicts of this type, yet miraculously this was never a problem I experienced in the demo. The bullets have so many visual effects on them that they stand out while functioning as eye candy. Digital Reality are doing what I always dreamed a developer would do: They are improving the surrounding aspects of the shmup (story, visuals, music), while implementing game design from the masters. Digital Reality said they bought a Japanese Xbox 360 along with all the best Japan-only shmups, so they can know who their real competition is -- rather than being dumb and thinking the genre died when the West stopped paying attention (approx. 1998). They obviously know their stuff, but they are also reaching out to the Shmups Forum and nobody knows the genre better than those guys. I hate seeing Western developers struggle with the genre, thinking dumbing it down is the way to achieving mainstream success. Instead, Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality are focusing on quality, unique visuals and a great story. There are few games that make me this giddy. I want to bow before Grasshopper and thank them for investing in such a risky venture. It's the first one they made that I may actually love as a game, rather than as a curiousity.
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Looking at images and reading about Sine Mora has excited me little, as a shmup fan. Western developers don’t understand and respect the classics of the genre enough to make a good one, so I thought Digital Reality were...

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SkyDrift gets a second developer diary


Aug 31
// Brett Zeidler
If you haven't yet heard about SkyDrift, you're not alone. It really snuck up on all of us. First of all, the game looks beautiful, which isn't often said of a downloadable title. Besides that, it's an arcade racer with plan...

Preview: Black Knight Sword

Aug 24 // Maurice Tan
Black Knight Sword (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Digital Reality, Grasshopper ManufacturePublisher: Digital RealityRelease date: TBA Starting out as a bare-bones marionette, you are literally hanging by a thread, one that is tied around your neck, no less. Jumping back to life and wiggling your way to freedom and resurrection, you find a mysterious blue glowing sword. After picking it up, the puppet is transformed into the Black Knight, and all hell breaks loose. Black Knight Sword is a 2D hack-and-slash platformer throwback to the 8-bit and 16-bit eras, but you can think of it as Strider on acid. Your protagonist runs around, jumps, and chop down enemies that all look like paper to fit the Kamishibai art style. The background is filled with paintings that keep sliding in and out of view from all directions to create entirely new settings that elicit different atmospheres as you progress. It's done in such a way that you don't have to move from room to room to get that effect, but rather you simply move forward or down stairs while the background changes automatically to place you in a new area. The dynamic background looks ridiculously awesome in motion, and it's something that screenshots can't portray very well. Gameplay-wise the game seems pretty basic. You move around and hack wonderfully bizarre enemies to bits with your sword. Not that it's easy, though, as some enemies will fly into view or attack you just as you make that easy-looking jump over a gap, disrupting your jump and making you fall to the ground or to your death. If you loved that sort of thing in Mega Man, I guess you'll enjoy that in Black Knight Sword as well. The gameplay looked fun enough, if obviously nothing we haven't seen before, but it's the concept and art style that sets the game apart from the rest. The collaboration between the Hungarian and Japanese studios looks set to pay off here as well, with Akira Yamaoka in charge of the music and sound effects just like in Sine Mora. Sadly, my time with Black Knight Sword during gamescom was quite brief, but what I saw already blew me away.
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After Digital Reality showed me Sine Mora at gamescom, the Hungarian studio surprised me with another title that's being co-developed with Grasshopper Manufacture: Black Knight Sword. Grasshopper calls it an "Interactive Kami...

Preview: Sine Mora

Aug 24 // Maurice Tan
Sine Mora (PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: Digital Reality, Grasshopper ManufacturePublisher: Digital RealityRelease date: Winter 2011 Contrary to most 2D shmups of its kind, Sine Mora does away with health and hit points in favor of a time mechanic. Every level starts you off with a set amount of time that ticks ever downwards, sped up by taking hits from enemies or bullets. Killing enemies gives you extra seconds, so you have to try and shoot as many of them down as you can in order to stay alive and not run out of time. Special power-ups will shield you from incoming attacks, reflect them, or give you ten extra seconds if you run out of time as an "extra life" type of mechanic. In the meantime you'll still move your nimble ship around to blast everything in sight in the shmup tradition, picking up primary weapon upgrades from destroyed enemies until the screen is filled with bullets. If you die, your upgrades will float around until you pick them up again. Sine Mora features three different planes to start you game with. Each plane has its own unique primary weapon and a choice between seven secondary weapons (e.g. missiles) depending on the "character" you choose at the start of the game. So instead of picking a character that is synonymous with the ship you select, you select both individually for more weapon combinations and increased replayability. You also need to choose one of three time manipulation devices that act a bit like super weapons. Although the game is technically a 2D side-scroller, everything is rendered in 3D and looks great because of it. You still play it as a 2D shmup, but between boss fight sections and levels, your diesel punk ship flies around in the third dimension to give more life to the world. Graphically and stylistically, Sine Mora looks great. Digital Reality is doing the programming and core design while Grasshopper is doing the art design and all the music, courtesy of Akira Yamaoka. Everything is constantly in motion, whether it's your ship that transforms into a submarine to continue the fight underwater or the fish and plant life that are always active in the background. Unsurprisingly, Yamaoka's pumping soundtrack perfectly fits the rebellious and punk feel and aesthetic of the game. Initially, the game had Hungarian voice-overs as a placeholder, but Grasshopper liked the distinct sound of it so much that the final game will have all voices in Hungarian with subtitles for those who don't speak it. Shmups are generally not the most accessible or story-heavy games out there, though, and Digital Reality and Grasshopper are planning to change that with Sine Mora. A Story mode will give you the entire game with all its cutscenes and banter between characters during the gameplay, while an Arcade mode just gives you the levels without cutscenes and a vastly increased difficulty for the bullet hell enthusiasts. It wouldn't be a shmup without high scores, of course, so a rank system will keep track of everything. If you are more of a casual shmup fan, you can still just play the Story mode and enjoy what the game has to offer. But with variables for the ship, your secondary weapon, and time manipulation devices, there should be a ton of replayability for anyone regardless of whether you are a hardcore score whore or not. Since this is mostly Digital Reality's game at its core, it's not really fair to call it a "Suda 51 game" because it's more of a collaboration that draws on both studios' strengths. Of course, having the Grasshopper name slapped on your title does wonders for exposure, even if Shadow of the Damned didn't exactly sell very well. Sine Mora looks like an amazing addition to the downloadable space, and you don't even need to import it for your Japanese Xbox 360 when it comes out around the end of the year for XBLA and PSN.
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When a colorful "diesel punk" shoot 'em up enters the fray, you start to pay attention. When that game is co-developed by Digital Reality (Imperium Galactica, Haegemonia) and Grasshopper Manufacture (Killer 7, Shadows of the ...

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Grasshopper Manufacture teases Black Knight Sword


Aug 22
// Bob Muir
Grasshopper Manufacture, the company of wacky auteur Suda51, continues its partnership with Digital Reality as they work on a new project named Black Knight Sword. A downloadable game for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStatio...
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SkyDrift gets a developer diary and release date


Aug 04
// Harry Monogenis
Ever since its announcement back in May, accompanied by a teaser trailer, there really hasn't been any information regarding Digital Reality's upcoming plane-racing title SkyDrift. Well, this has now all ...

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