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Tak Fuji

Extreeeeeeeme photo
Extreeeeeeeme

Well I'll be sucked, Tak Fujii has left Konami


Extreeeeeeeemely lame
Dec 17
// Steven Hansen
Metal Gear Solid, Pro Evolution, and literally nothing else developer Konami has lost its brightest star aside from the one that goes around wearing a Drive jacket and hanging out with Kiefer Sutherland.  Tak "...

Review: Blades of Time

Mar 22 // Jim Sterling
Blades of Time (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Gaijin EntertainmentPublisher: KonamiRelease: March 6, 2012MSRP: $39.99 Famous treasure hunter Ayumi, having traded in her thong for some hotpants and her American accent for a British one, is doing some things in a place when something happens, before she gets transported to a place called Dragon Land for some reason. Once there, she has to do some other things to something before something else happens. In case you haven't guessed it, the plot is about as detailed as it is sensible. I still can't quite work out why Ayumi thought the bad guy was a good guy when he was established as her enemy at the very beginning of the game. Perhaps I'm not supposed to understand.  The ludicrous story might make no sense but at least it's the first clue that Gaijin is actually trying to make a real videogame this time. While X-Blades was merely a set of vapid arenas with no sense of cohesion, Blades of Time attempts a sense of pacing, with fully designed levels through which the narrative weaves. Such a concept is rudimentary stuff for most videogames, but given Gaijin's prior efforts, it's a dramatic step forward for the series. It feels like more than a series of amateur third-person Unreal mods, which is a nice improvement. Blades of Time's combat system is of the stereotypical hack n' slash variety, with Ayumi dodging, blocking, and button mashing her way through most battles. Simply hammering the attack button will see our outgoing protagonist whirl about at a dizzying pace, while more damaging magical attacks are unlocked throughout the game, performed via simple two-button combos. With a click of the right stick, Ayumi can switch to projectile mode, starting with a rifle and upgrading to a machine gun, which can take down flying opponents and thin the ranks of oncoming monsters before they reach melee range. Finally, there's a lock-on system which allows players to dash straight to an opponent. If it happens to be a flying creature, Ayumi will cling on and attack for a limited while -- a cool idea, though poorly implemented as Ayumi will undefended damage while dashing, and many aerial creatures are positioned over deceptive death drops.  [embed]224347:43142[/embed] The action is adequate for some shallow hacking fun, but it does suffer from an inelegance that makes the game much harder than it has to be. Ayumi is absolutely terrible at defending. Her blocks are inefficient, she can take damage while dodging, and the enemies are not only numerous, but capable of fighting through the player's combos. Even the most common opponents can chew obscene amounts out of Ayumi's health bar and she has absolutely zero defense against ranged attackers, of which there are tons. It's an outmoded approach to challenge, where difficulty is determined simply by how lucky the player is to survive a ton of garbage thrown his or her way, rather than actual skill. Expect to use the regenerating heal command plenty of times, and don't forget to exploit the pathetic enemy A.I. by standing in any available doorways. Monsters can't seem to understand that approach, and will often harmlessly attempt to trudge through walls while you shoot them to bits.  Blades of Time creates an artificial challenge through overwhelming assault, but players aren't completely helpless. Early in the game, Ayumi obtains a "rewind" ability, allowing her to turn back time. Once time is reversed, a clone of Ayumi will appear and recreate her past actions, while the player is free to do something else. This can be done multiple times to create a small army of clones, all doing whatever the player did before their last rewind. You can use clones to distract enemies, tackle multiple foes at once, or simply deal huge amounts of damage to a single target. By far my favorite use of the power is to create copies of Ayumi firing her machine gun at an incoming crowd of monsters, thereby creating a wall of bullets that decimates a force before it can even get near.  There are some puzzles that make use of the rewind ability, but they're all fairly simple and repeated far too many times. They mostly consist of cloning Ayumi to stand on various pressure pads to keep doors open or activate platforms. There is one rather cool boss fight in which players must trap a creature in a QTE sequence, rewind the event, and then destroy the regenerating health tank on its back while it's defenseless. It's a neat idea, and highlights the potential of the rewind ability, but it's never developed beyond that one circumstance. The boss later becomes a regular enemy, and further uses of time travel consist solely of pressure puzzles or spamming the power to make fights more fair.  Some of the puzzles, while still simple in concept, can be a bit more intricate. However, they'd all be very easy if the game was ever good at telling the player what it wants. Ayumi is followed by a fiery woman who dispenses advice on how to approach certain challenges, but she's so dismissively vague that it's sometimes difficult to work out exactly what the game expects of the player. One of her clues to a puzzle that's stumped a lot of players is -- and I'm not joking -- "Try sorting it out." That is how the game advises the player to approach a puzzle with a concept never seen in the game before or after. Just try sorting it out. The trouble is, once players do work it out, it's always insultingly easy. It's almost as if the in-game advice is purposefully designed to throw players off the scent and trick them into thinking a puzzle's more complex than it is, just to keep them there longer. One other thing I find disagreeable is the lack of fluidity to Ayumi's movements. Every time she stops attacking, whenever she jumps, and following each dodge, Ayumi has to stop and transition into regular movement. I find it quite irritating when games insist on this kind of stuttered shift between attacking and walking, and it's especially noticeable in this case and I felt I had to make mention of it somewhere. Although severely irritating at regularly intervals, there's still a perverse amount of fun to be had with Blades of Time. When luck is on the player's side, battles can be surprisingly engaging and entertaining, especially when the clones behave as intended and humiliate the enemy forces. It doesn't always work that way, as the enemies aren't shy of changing their actions after they've stopped rewinding, but the frustration can be worth it for those times when it works. The campaign, clocking in at your average six-to-eight hours, is pretty good at providing some disposable merriment, and there are some neat hidden treasure items to unlock that boost Ayumi's skills. At the very least, it's nice to see that Gaijin really did try this time. Amazingly, Blades of Time sports a multiplayer mode, which can be played either competitively or cooperatively. Conquest mode is a series of battles between two sides, in which players must defend a series of pillars from attack, while destroying the pillars of the opposition. The game is won when all the pillars, and the team's magical tree, are eliminated. The mode can be played solo, which is a good thing given the fact that literally nobody is online. It's almost adorable how hard Gaijin tried, though. There's a leveling system, multiple characters and unlockable costumes. Conquest really tries to be a fully realized online complement to the package, but all that effort has gone thoroughly to waste.  As you may expect, this isn't the prettiest game on the market. Graphics are simplistic, but colorful, and there's some nice designs in both the creatures and environments. The voice acting is universally dreadful, and some of the characters responsible for the most exposition have distorting vocal effects piled onto their speech, making them almost impossible to understand. At the end of the day, it's a budget game, and you get what you expect.  Blades of Time isn't a very good game. It's sloppy, cheap, and the one central gimmick is exploited to weary degrees. Nevertheless, it still carries itself with a sense of sincerity that I find utterly charming, and its simplistic combat system is perfectly capable of providing some basic thrills. While I wouldn't recommend a purchase even at its budget price, I'd say hack n' slash fans would do well to rent it for a weekend's pleasure. It might even be worth keeping if you can find a price closer to twenty dollars than forty. You won't fall in love with the thing, but once you've beaten it, you'll at least be able say, "Yeah ... that wasn't awful. Sometimes it was pretty neat."
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You've got to give Gaijin Entertainment some credit. The Russian studio has no reputation for creating good games, and 2009's X-Blades was particularly mediocre. Despite this, Gaijin just keeps on plugging and is ev...

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Blades of Time's producer can't find his own game


Mar 08
// Jim Sterling
I've made it a personal mission to excessively cover Blades of Time for no other reason than I find Konami's lack of marketing utterly fascinating. The game allegedly launched yesterday, but you'll be lucky if you can find a ...

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Tak Fujii looking for EXTREEEME advice


Nov 10
// Jim Sterling
There are certain developers that you absolutely need to follow on Twitter, for their words are a daily delight. One of them is Tak Fujii, a producer at Konami responsible for Ninety Nine Nights and the notorious "One Million...
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Tak Fuji took Frogger 3D and made it awesome


Jun 13
// Jonathan Holmes
I love Frogger, at least in theory. The original game offered a great mix of maze-game maneuvering and environmental hazards that managed to capture many hours of my life as a kid. Lately though, the series has come off as a...
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Tak Fuji talks No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise


Jun 13
// Jonathan Holmes
I was lucky to talk to a lot of great developers at E3 this year, but only one of them was kind enough to rub his dreadlocks on me. That was Konami's Tak Fuji, the man best known for talking about one-million troops at la...

The ten worst (best?) E3 disasters of all time

Jun 05 // Allistair Pinsof
10. “BAM! There it is!” It’s odd to think back to the days when people were skeptical about Kinect.  Okay, so we are still skeptical that the hardware will have any worthwhile games in 2011-2012, but back in the summer of 2009 many doubted if the Kinect (then called Natal) would work at all. Microsoft’s E3 2009 press conference was its proving ground for the device. After Steven Spielberg waxed ecstatic about the hardware and a flashy video was shown, our attention was captured. Then, Kinect creative director Kudo Tsunoda takes the stage and gives a demonstration of the device’s ability to match body movement with his on-screen avatar. It looked pretty damn great, until Kudo got cocky.  “You ever wonder what the bottom of an avatar’s shoe looks like?” Kudo turns around for dramatic effect and suddenly kicks out his leg.  “BAM! There it is!” [embed]202843:39017[/embed] Virtual Kudo suddenly flips out, bending backward, throwing his arms crosswise and contorting his legs in a way one can only imagine would elicit an unbearable amount of pain. Someone must have hit the “OH SHIT!” button backstage, because the avatar suddenly suffered a spell of narcolepsy – the unexpected shift to the avatar standing, hunched over in a sleep-state only added to the hilarity. Or, perhaps, Virtual Kudo was some sort of soothsayer, predicting gamers’ collective apathy toward Kinect’s showing at E3 2009. 9. Sega Saturn’s announcement and imminent failure During Sega’s 1995 E3 conference – the first E3 ever – the company’s president dropped a bomb on retailers, developers and consumers: he announced the Saturn is out in U.S. store shelves the day of the presentation, four months before the scheduled U.S. release. It hurts to put this here, because, in all honesty, Saturn’s U.S. stealth launch was kind of awesome – at least, in theory. It’s a classic E3 moment. It’s the moment everyone waits for: The sort of huge announcement that takes everyone by surprise and gets everyone talking. The problem is that Sega didn’t think things through.  There were only six launch games, since most developers were depending on having four more months before sending their games out to retailers. Not to mention most retailers were out of the loop and had trouble stocking the systems.  The lack of games along with a high price tag ($399) made the console unpopular with consumers who instead chose the graphically superior and $100 cheaper PlayStation the following September. The real shame is that the Dreamcast’s 1999 launch got everything right, but it was too late for Sega.  8. Rock Revolution: It’s the notes that you don’t play, man! [embed]202843:39016[/embed] During Konami’s demonstration of Rock Revolution, its uninspired Rock Band clone, the on-stage (virtual) bassist failed so hard that the game canceled out of the song. Maybe it was due to on-stage jitters or faulty hardware -- although, she said it was her fault afterward.  A YouTube commenter said it best: “There's nothing worse than being booed by a real crowd and a virtual crowd at the same time.” Watching this virtual bassist miss nearly every note to the most basic song (The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”), as her drummer companion nailed is it, is incredibly awkward and hilarious. At least it got everyone’s attention on the game, if for only a short while and for all the wrong reasons. 7. Battle Tag: the future of overpriced crap Despite the naysayers who said Ubisoft would never be able to outdo their 2009 snorefest, featuring Pelé and James Cameron, the publisher came out swinging in 2010. After presenting Child of Eden and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, the audience was loosened up and expectations were lowered. “Oh, more video games. Whatever,” we all thought. Then, things got real.  All of a sudden girls ran through the auditorium, doing cartwheels and firing infrared laser weapons of the future. What is this bizarre technology that was totally never on sale at Walmart six years ago for $40? Why, it’s Battle Tag of course and you can experience the game that “gamers have been waiting for” at the insanely reasonable price of $130! Even Innergy, Ubisoft’s state-of-the-art breathing simulator couldn’t get the audience excited afterward. Then again, maybe they were still baffled from what they just witnessed prior. 6. Mortal Kombat steps up 2 the streets [embed]202843:39019[/embed] Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct always had a grudge. Which game had the best combos? Which one had the best promotional dance soundtrack? At E3 1995, the games settled the score once for all with their floor show unveils that involved … choreographed dance? To be fair, Mortal Kombat’s showing was more of a sexy ninja fight between Jax, Sonya and Kung Lao. If you, distinguished reader, can appreciate tight-latex pants and bad 80's hair like I do, then you will find much to love in this clip.  What really makes this a contender is the press representative who gives the most ridiculous speech, laden with embarrassing buzz words and marketing nonsense. “To make sure this MEGA event is also a MEGA success for retailers, Williams is tagging up this product release with the most comprehensive, fully integrated marketing program in the industry’s history.”  She then runs through the goods: Mortal Kombat movie, cartoon series, live tour (!) action figures, and the Mortal Kombat: SUPER book (!!!!) That’s MEGA impressive but … 5. Killer Instinct beats it [embed]202843:39018[/embed] With double the tight, latex pants and one of the most killer dance routines to ever hit E3’s floor, how could Killer Instinct not win? Gamers and press waited all day to see Rare’s arcade fighter demoed on the Ultra 64, but that wouldn’t come to fruition until a year later. Nevertheless, minds were blown and asses were shook as six bodacious dancers got down to a Killer Cut. Behind the dancers, screens displayed the game’s characters dancing, while a giant animatronic tiger, between the screens, hypnotized anyone watching the debacle. Its red eyes glaring, a voice echoed in the mind of everyone standing before it: “Best E3 presentation ever. Must buy Killer Cuts.” 4. Wii Music drum solo  [embed]202843:39026[/embed] Nintendo’s presentation of Wii Music was a low point during its uneventful 2008 E3 presentation, for several reasons. The game sounded terrible. It was as if Nintendo recycled midi sounds from Mario Paint’s music composer.  It was bad enough seeing Miyamoto play virtual sax, but things sunk to new lows when DJ Ravi Drums (actual name) performed a minute long drum solo that left the audience dumbfounded. The game’s lifeless, emulated drum sounds paired with Ravi’s gestures and faux-hawk lent an unprecedented air of douchebagginess at Nintendo press conferences. Attendees looked on in horror, as Ravi soldiered forward and put on his “Slyvster-Stalone-pre-ejaculation” face. Those outside the auditorium, fretted something awful must have happened. “Perhaps, someone is having a seizure on a bargain bin drum machine and there is no one around to help,” they may have thought.  3. Sony’s historically accurate crab battle [embed]202843:39025[/embed] The best jokes are all about perfect timing.  While many walked away from Sony’s E3 2006 conference snickering over Kazuo Hirai’s “RIIIIIDGE RACER!” or in disbelief of the PS3’s $599 introductory price, it’s the Giant Enemy Crab spotting that pops up the most Google results, five years later. During a demonstration of PS3 launch title Genji: Days of the Blade, a timeless internet meme was born. Producer Bill Ritch, demoing the game on stage, introduced it as being historically accurate. Before the level loads up, he says the battles in the game “actually took place in Ancient Japan.”  “Sure, dude,” we thought, impressed enough with a HD Dynasty Warriors look-a-like. Without missing a beat, the level starts up and a giant crustacean fucker leaps across the screen, toward the player.  “So, here is this giant enemy crab,” the producer says nonchalantly.  He then goes on to talk about flipping over the crab in order to “attack its weak point for massive damage.” Text doesn’t do the clip justice, as so much of the hilarity comes from Ritch’s oblivious, dead-pan delivery. In 2006, he carried the promise of being the next Bill Murray. 2. Jamie Kennedy’s E3 meltdown [embed]202843:39027[/embed] Many doubted whether Jamie Kennedy would ever be able to top his flawless, incendiary performances in Son of the Mask and Malibu’s Most Wanted, but in 2007 Kennedy made his comeback in a way no one expected: drunk and high as hell, hosting Activision’s E3 press conference. It’s amazing to think Activision would let Kennedy emcee the event. Rather than focusing on Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, the attention was put on Kennedy himself and his drunken banter. His jokes weren’t as much jokes as they were half-assed musings that focused on three topics: sex, drugs and not having sex. Maybe this would appeal to Call of Duty’s demographic, but the fact remains that this was supposed to be a press conference.  Not only does Kennedy embarrass the developers on stage and Tony Hawk, he starts calling the audience a bunch of virgins: “There are so many virgins in here that Richard Branson is doing this event.” The amount of awkwardness on display makes the clip hard to watch, yet it’s impossible to look away. At this time, Activision has neither confirmed nor denied whether Jamie Kennedy will be able to get out of jail in time to host its conference this week. Keep up with our E3 coverage for updates! 1. Konami's 2010 press conference: All of it! [embed]202843:39028[/embed] Konami’s 2010 press conference, when dissected part by part, could fill in a top ten list of its own.  Traditionally, Konami’s press conferences are rather dry, focusing on Hideo Kojima’s latest Metal Gear Solid projects and running through trailers of upcoming titles. My guess is that Konami was tired of being overlooked at E3 – due to their time spot that takes place during show floor hours – so they decided to make the show more eventful, in the hope that people would talk about it. Mission accomplished, Konami. Between Dance Masters producer Naoki Maeda and Ninety-Nine Nights II producer Tak Fujii, there is an abundance of quotes that came from this conference. Fujii even has his own soundboard! My favorite Maeda quote:“Now you can move your fat body freely." My favorite Fujii quote: “If you just continue to press the same button like the X, X, X, and Y, Y, Y, and X, X, and Y, Y, Y again, you will be sucked." If only it were that easy, Tak Fujii … ----- Are there any E3 disasters I left out that you would have included?  Since Konami's press conference this year was pretty tame -- beyond the bizarre "transferring" segment -- which press conference do you think will hold the most talked-about embarrassment?  Post your prediction of who will have this year's biggest E3 disaster, along with how you think it will happen. Whoever posts the best reply will be sent an utterly useless, to-be-announced item of E3 swag.  E3 unofficially starts tomorrow. Let's hope for the best ... er ... worst?
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The worst is always the best at E3.  Cutting edge technology becomes dated. Memorable demos are quickly forgotten. An impressive trailer means nothing when the game attached comes out and bombs.  But CEOs talking ab...

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Tak Fuji talks No More Heroes: Heroes Paradise


Jun 04
// Jonathan Holmes
I was lucky to talk a lot of great developers at E3 this year, but only one of them was kind enough to rub his dreadlocks on me. That was Konami's Tak Fuji, the man best known for talking about one million troops at last yea...
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No More Heroes: Heroes' Paradise coming in Sextilis 2011


May 19
// Jonathan Holmes
For those that aren't familiar with the original ten month Roman calendar (which starred March as the first month of the year), let me translate for you. "Sextilis" is the ancient Roman way of saying "August". What I'm trying...

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