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XSEED

EDF 4.1 DLC photo
EDF 4.1 DLC

Earth Defense Force 4.1's second mission pack is free right now


'Some new, some classic, all EXTREME!'
Feb 12
// Jordan Devore
Lord knows I don't need a good reason to get back into Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair right now (too busy!), but I'm getting one anyway in the form of 23 extra missions. The game's second major DLC release...
RPG photo
RPG

Return to PopoloCrois out in Europe next week


Australia and New Zealand too!
Feb 08
// Kyle MacGregor
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale, the role-playing game about shrinking down to microscopic size and fighting it out with tiny monsters corrupting the soil, is launching in Europe, Australia, and New Zealan...

Contest: Win a copy of Nitroplus Blasterz

Feb 06 // Kyle MacGregor
[embed]339227:62151:0[/embed]
Contest photo
Four PS4 codes up for grabs
The localization team at XSEED Games has generously given Destructoid four PlayStation 4 codes for the studio's excellent new fighting game Nitroplus Blasterz to give away you fine people.  For a chance to win ...

XSEED photo
XSEED

Return to PopoloCrois gets March 1 release date


At least in North America
Feb 06
// Kyle MacGregor
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale launches on March 1 in North America. While XSEED will release the "farming-flavored" role-playing game in both physical and digital form across North America, Marvelou...

Review: Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel

Feb 02 // Kyle MacGregor
Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel (PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: ExamuPublisher: Marvelous, XSEED GamesReleased: December 10, 2015 (JP), February 2, 2016 (NA), Early 2016 (EU)MSRP: $29.99 (PS3), $39.99 (PS4) Following in the footsteps of the aforementioned Persona 4 Arena and Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax, Nitroplus Blasterz markets itself as a game that is easy to pick up, but difficult to master. Targeting both fighting game enthusiasts and Nitroplus fans that might have never thrown a dragon punch, it attempts to walk a line between something players from both camps can get behind. I'd argue that line is drawn a little closer to the hardcore side of things. While the inputs for special attacks and super moves are relatively easy to execute in contrast with some one-on-one fighters, if you're the sort of person who struggles to pull off quarter circle motions, you're probably in for a bad time. That said, there are certain concessions for more casual players, like the "Variable Rush," a special lunge attack that launches characters into a short-lived combo. If the Variable Rush connects, players can essentially button mash to execute a customizable string of impressive-looking attacks that change depending on which face buttons are pressed. It's not necessarily the most effective use of meter (costing two of three power bars), but it's easy to execute and reasonably effective. Beyond the standard light, medium, and heavy attacks are launching "Heavy Action" moves and "Escape Actions," which, depending on directional inputs, can be used to perform everything from short hops, cancels, rolls, air dashes, and defensive maneuvers. One of the more interesting (and useful) Escape Actions is the "Vanishing Guard," which negates chip damage when blocking and, if pressed at the right moment, acts as a parry, giving the user a momentary advantage over the enemy to strike back or get away. Vanishing Guard has its limitations, though, as it can only block either high or low, leaving one angle open for enemies to exploit. [embed]337261:62032:0[/embed] Of course, each character has plenty of unique special and super moves, as well as a single "Lethal Blaze" attack, which, for the price of full meter, triggers a fighter-specific mini-cutscene that unleashes an assault powerful enough to turn the tide of a one-sided match or swiftly end a nail-biter. Lethal Blaze also can be wielded as a trump card by taking priority over other attacks. There are a couple other minor systems at play, but I want to talk about the characters. The main roster contains twelve main combatants, including the sword-wielding Saber (Fate/Zero), ranged fighters Saya and Anna, cat-throwing Nitroplus mascot Super Sonico, zone-controlling Ein, Spider-Man-esque Muramasa, grappling Ethica, and Ouka, a heavy-hitting robotic walking crucifix. While there isn't a male character in the bunch, the cast is very diverse in terms of mechanics, so players shouldn't have trouble finding at least one or two characters that suits their tastes and personal play-style. But the fun only begins with the core cast. In addition to main characters, players will also take into battle two (of twenty) additional partners that can significantly impact how a match unfolds. Each partner comes has a unique move -- and I mean unique. One rides a hang-glider in from off-screen, aiming to crash into your opponent, while others can summon overwhelming swarms of minions, like zombies or bugs. Another sends in a barrage of missiles from the sky, and a few don't attack at all, instead doing things like giving both sides a bar of meter or placing buffs in the middle of a stage, impelling players to play tug-o'-war over the bonuses. The partner blitz attacks recall the arcana system from developer Examu's Arcana Heart series, which allows players to accent their character with different abilities and gives the game an added level of strategy. In my time online with the online mode (which, by the way, is fine -- if a tad spartan), I noticed a pattern of opponents picking partners to counter one another, as the impacts their assist attacks provide can mean the difference between victory and defeat. I can imagine high-level competitors spending a lot of time working out which partners are best in particular spots and situations, offering an incredible amount of depth for those who seek it. In addition to that added level of complexity, Examu also left its mark on Nitroplus Blasterz by allowing Aino, one of the characters from its Arcana Heart series, to join the roster as a DLC character along with Senran Kagura's Homura. While I haven't spent as much time with them as the rest of the cast (they were not available pre-release), I've enjoyed the few matches I've been able to use them in and could easily see one becoming one of my mains, along with Anna and Saber. Since both Aino and Homura are free for the first week following the game's launch, that provides a little added incentive for interested parties to pick the game up early. While I'm certain some players will balk at the dearth of bonus features or collectibles, that sort of stuff (along with the visual novel-style "Another Story" mode) doesn't really interest me. I'm more than content with your standard arcade, score attack, network, and versus modes if the gameplay is solid -- and it is. That's where I derive my enjoyment from. And I appreciate added perks like cross-platform and cross-region play, so I can compete against players on PlayStation 3 and people from other countries. Even though I still have no idea who most of these characters are, that didn't end up mattering to me in the end. Nitroplus Blasterz is a fast, smooth, strategic, and generally entertaining fighting game that has found a happy medium between accessibility and depth. Provided a decent-sized community builds around the game, this is a fighter I could see myself enjoying for a long time to come. [This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]
Nitroplus Blasterz Review photo
No nostalgia necessary
I recently attended a tribute night at a local brewery, where musicians were invited to serenade patrons with songs from the '70s. Early on that evening, I glanced around the darkened beer hall to discover I was a few decades...

Falcom photo
Falcom

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is out now across Europe


For PS3 and Vita
Jan 30
// Kyle MacGregor
A month after its North American release in December, The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel is now available across Europe, courtesy of NIS America. I haven't had a chance to crack open my copy just yet, but it's definit...
XSEED photo
XSEED

XSEED: Nitroplus Blasterz launches in February


Europe in 'Early 2016'
Jan 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Nitroplus Blasterz debuts in North America on February 2, XSEED Games has announced. I had an opportunity to try the fighting game at XSEED's fall press event in October and really enjoyed myself, despite having almost zero f...
EDF! EDF! photo
EDF! EDF!

New EDF games bombard Europe in February


EDF! EDF!
Jan 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Europe is getting a double dose of campy sci-fi action on February 12, as both Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Dispair (PlayStation 4) and Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space (PlayStati...
EDF Mission Pack 1 photo
EDF Mission Pack 1

Earth Defense Force 4.1 has some new missions


The first DLC level pack is out
Jan 15
// Jordan Devore
Unsurprisingly, Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is getting extra missions post-release. The first DLC pack, Time of the Mutants, released this week on PlayStation Network. It's $9.99 for 26 levels. A second...

Review: The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel

Dec 22 // Chris Carter
The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (PS3, Vita [reviewed])Developer: Nihon FalcomPublisher: Nihon Falcom (JP), XSEED (US), NIS (EU)MSRP: $39.99 (digital) / $49.99 (limited retail edition)Released: September 26, 2013 (JP), December 22, 2015 (US), January 29, 2016 (EU) While it isn't necessary to enjoy Cold Steel, it's probably important to know where the game lies within the confines of the existing series. It takes place during the same time frame as Trails to Azure and Trails to Zero, but in a different location -- the Erebonian Empire. While I haven't played the aforementioned Japan-only titles, it's worth noting that you don't need to have played those games, as the backstory is pretty clearly explained. With that out of the way, you'll find a lot of familiar mechanics within your first few minutes of play. Cold Steel is a traditional JRPG through and through, with 3D field exploration, a turn-based strategic combat system, and lengthy dialogue exposition. The narrative this time around centers on "Class VII," a band of characters that literally deals with some classist themes, as the group is comprised of both rich and poor individuals. As the only Class that isn't separated by wealth, you'll find a host of different personalities as they tackle with their own demons and the overarching plot -- civil war, and mecha-based enemies called Archaics. As for the story itself, I was a bit mixed playing through it, due in large part to the presentation and pacing. While Falcom is great at worldbuilding and character development (across multiple games, no less), the narrative would frequently slow to a snail's pace, offering up almost nothing new or interesting during a number of long slogs. It's really cool to eventually learn the story behind Class VII and its place in the world, but often times Cold Steel is more content with spinning additional webs of intrigue than answering question.  [embed]328087:61583:0[/embed] The gameplay loop follows this same format. Chapters feel more formulaic in nature, as they provide opportunities to scour dungeons, give you a little piece of the story, and then send you on your way to enhance social links with your class. You essentially repeat this same concept until the game ends. Also keep in mind that this is a PS3 game from 2013, so it's not exactly cutting edge in terms of visual fidelity, especially on Vita. Having said that, I didn't have any major framerate or performance problems. Thankfully, the journey is worth the squeeze. Field exploration is fun, mostly due to the fact that the minimap is actually useful, the level designs are somewhat open-ended (despite mostly consisting of hallways), and the best addition of all -- you can see enemies on-screen before combat starts. While there's still a traditional transition screen into a turn-based fight every time, it's nice that you can dash past undesirable foes, or engage with them from a specific point of view (the side or back) for an advantage. Cold Steel has the neat feature that isn't used all that often of automatically defeating lesser enemies without wasting time fighting them. XP scaling also ensures that grinding is kept to a minimum. A save-anywhere function (including Cross-Save across PS3 and Vita) is a nice cherry on top. Combat is thankfully just as fleshed out, with Arts (magic), and Crafts (unique abilities). Queuing a spell brings up a helpful area-of-effect indicator (usually a circle or a line), which assists in tagging as many relevant enemies as possible. With 23 status effects, charge abilities, and S-breaks (supers) that can be comboed into other moves, Cold Steel is ridiculously old-school. I feel like the standard party of four is spot-on, as it's large enough to facilitate more complex strategies, but not so large that players will be overwhelmed. Like several elements of Cold Steel, the combat system is functional, but it doesn't do anything particularly exciting, and most fights don't make use of the mechanics to their full potential. As for statline customization, that's mostly governed by Quartz, which is a pretty open-ended system. It grants arts, stat bonuses, or even out-of-field effects like latent HP recovery, similar to Final Fantasy VII's materia system. Bonding elements and social links are also in, and the game encourages participation. There's a finite amount of Link EXP that follows a "use it or lose it" principle. I don't normally go for social elements in games like this (I prefer to focus on loadouts and strategy), but this is an okay way to incentivize it. Certain characters will have enhanced powers in combat if they're linked, and it helps that party members can be swapped at any time -- even without taking a turn. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel follows a lot of classic JRPG conventions, and as a result, it doesn't do a whole lot of things that haven't been done before, and better elsewhere. But the combat system still holds up, and the characters are charming enough to see the story through until the end. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Cold Steel review photo
Blissfully by the numbers
If I said the phrase "Nihon Falcom," most people wouldn't bat an eye unless they were a devout JRPG fan. Bringing up its most storied franchise, Ys, however, is a different story. Falcom has been working under the radar outsi...

Review: Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair

Dec 08 // Jordan Devore
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PlayStation 4)Developer: SandlotPublisher: XSEED GamesReleased: December 8, 2015 (NA) / February 12, 2016 (EU)MSRP: $49.99 Some of those enhancements are immediately apparent; others are hard to pin to down. Visually, this is the best-looking, best-running Earth Defense Force I've played -- which is not to say it looks good or runs all that well by normal standards, mind you. Despite claims of a "steady" 60 frames per second, the game struggles to keep up with itself. Noticeable dips are a common sight when too many Ravagers pile up near your character or when skyscrapers crumble. The drop off usually isn't dramatic enough to be bothersome, but there were a handful of moments during my initial 15-hour-or-so run through the campaign where the frame rate briefly became a choppy, unmanageable mess. This is by no means new for the series, but it is a shame these problems persist on a current console like the PlayStation 4. Thankfully, load times fare significantly better. They're quick. I often made it into levels before I even had a chance to finish reading the tips and tricks shown on the loading screen. Considering how many missions there are (89 in single-player and split-screen; 98 in online co-op), that's a huge deal. These games are heavily built around players returning to levels countless times to earn more armor and cool weapons. No one wants to rack up literal hours of waiting to get into the action. [embed]325050:61450:0[/embed] Generally speaking, EDF 4.1 feels like a remix. Developer Sandlot reused set pieces and story beats in its earlier games, and that doesn't change here. (Again, this is an enhanced version of 2025, which in turn borrowed from 2017, so it's to be expected.) Remember fighting waves of red ants on a beach? Oh, you will. You'll also take on spiders, bees, bipedal robots, and spaceships, all of varying color and form. The mission is always to kill everything (or simply survive until someone tells you the thing you're after can't be killed yet), but there's enough variety strung throughout the campaign that I rarely got bored. The pacing is good, and few levels outstayed their welcome. That said, your results may vary depending on which class you choose (Ranger, Wing Diver, Air Raider, or Fencer), which weapons the random-number generator has blessed you with, and whether or not you're playing alone. The latter three classes are more specialized, but they have better options for getting across EDF's huge environments -- whether it's flying, driving, or dashing -- and they possess some of the more entertaining toys. The Ranger is well-rounded, but he can get stale. To that last point, these games are inherently more enjoyable with a friend (or up to three, if you're playing online). The classes are designed to complement each other, so it's most enjoyable with a mix of characters. The Air Raider, for instance, can buff others, lay down shields, and manually target enemy weak points for teammates' weaponry to lock onto. As far as new foes go, there is one particular encounter worth highlighting. Sandlot has added a new kaiju enemy, Erginus, that spans multiple levels. Your superiors eventually figure out that normal bullets and missiles have no effect on the monster. Naturally, the only way to bring it down is to initiate an absurd Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots-style brawl. You get to take control of a slow-moving "walking fortress" mech and punch the gargantuan approximately three thousand times until it finally keels over. I should have known that was its one and only weakness. A later mission raises the stakes with multiple mechs fending off against multiple Erginus. My first time through, everyone got tangled up in one corner of the map and I had to wait on the AI to die before I could even get within range to throw punches. The whole thing was a stupid, beautiful mess, which is exactly what I hope to find when I play Earth Defense Force. And in case you were wondering, yes -- the mechs are carried in by choppers. Tunnel levels and vehicles are some of my least favorite elements of this series, but both are better than ever here. New lighting effects make underground areas appear as if they are, in fact, set underground, and soldiers have lights on their weapons to compensate. The atmosphere now feels far more appropriate. I still find these levels to be uninteresting and quickly get annoyed when insect bodies pile up and block my shots, but the majority of the game is set above ground. As for vehicles, crucially, you can now see where you're aiming thanks to a laser sight. It's a total godsend. And I can't tell if the handling has been improved or it's merely my imagination, but for once, I genuinely wanted to drive tanks whenever and wherever I could. It helps that one of them is shaped like a spider and can crawl on walls. Bring that one below the surface. I also got the impression that there are more NPCs on the field compared to 2025. By pressing the DualShock 4 touchpad, you can place a marker on specific buildings, enemies, or locations. I was never sure if the AI was reacting to these commands or not (those weren't suggestions, people!), but being able to highlight targets is a great feature for co-op play. Insubordinate or not, more soldiers means more goofy dialog. The strange on-the-ground banter is spontaneous, hilarious, and rarely appropriate for the situation at hand. You can spur specific sayings using the touchpad. My personal favorite is a song that sounds an awful lot like the "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." One variation of the tune goes a little something like this: "To save our mother Earth from any alien attack, from vicious giant insects who have once again come back. We'll unleash all our forces, we won't cut them any slack. The EDF deploys!" My troops have uttered those words no fewer than 50 times and they'll continue to sing on command if they know what's good for them. This is precisely the sort of silliness that makes these games endearing in spite of their technical flaws and lo-fi aesthetic. In organizing my thoughts for this review, I realized I'm not ready to stop playing EDF 4.1. That's exciting, but also scary. I don't typically stick with these games long enough to get deep into the higher difficulty settings. Reaching that point requires a lot of grinding and patience. Too much. But that's where you need to tread to earn the best, most interesting weapons. While part of me hates that the progression system isn't more respectful of our time, I understand the appeal of having something you can keep coming back to for hundreds of hours. There's comfort in that. If I were to stick with a single installment going forward, this would be the one. Some of the upgrades fall short of expectations, and a good deal of the content is overly familiar at this point, but The Shadow of New Despair still represents the series at its best. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
EDF 4.1 review photo
The bugs are back in town
I'm happy Earth Defense Force continues to exist. There's no shortage of modern video games in which your primary interaction with the world is shooting things, but so few of them are lighthearted, charming, or funny. I don't...

Review: Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space

Dec 08 // Jed Whitaker
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space (PlayStation Vita, PS TV)Developer: SandlotPublisher: XSEED GamesReleased: December 8, 2015MSRP: $29.99 If you're like me, you've played every EDF game and know what to expect when it comes to them, and this iteration doesn't break from the formula. In this enhanced remake of the second game in the EDF series -- originally only released for PS2 in Japan and Europe -- you'll be playing as one of three classes: Infantry, Pale Wing, or Air Raider. Infantry is your basic soldier that uses weapons you'd find in most modern day armed forces: assault rifles, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and so on. Pale Wing, on the other hand, is a female soldier with a jetpack and futuristic weapons; she moves slowly and is mostly useless on the ground while being nimble in the sky. Air Raider is a new addition that wasn't in the original release, and it mostly uses deployable weapons and plays more of a support role. In my playthrough, I sampled each class before decided to stick with the familiar infantry, as they just seem like an all around fit when playing solo while Pale Wing and Air Raider might fair a bit better in multiplayer. While up to four player online co-op is available, I was not able to test the functionality before release, so I can only assume the other classes fair a bit better online. [embed]325189:61454:0[/embed] Each of the three classes have their sets of weapons that are unlockable via pickups randomly dropped by enemies. This mixed with the six available difficulty levels adds a lot of replayability, on top of completing the game with each class; if you're a completionist, you'll get your $29.99 worth here.  Initially, I was concerned this being a port of the second game in the series would mean more repetition and less variety, but I was pleased to find out that wasn't the case. EDF2 has the best collection of enemies of any of the other games in the series. Aside from giant ants and spiders there are rolly pollies, flying saucers, centipedes, and daddy long legs-like walkers that are taller than skyscrapers. While this doesn't completely quash the repetitiveness of killing giant bugs and UFOs every stage, it certainly helps. Even the notorious slowdown that the EDF series is infamous for is mostly missing. In my playthrough, I experienced maybe two or three instances of choppiness due to the amount of enemies on screen, which surprising considering the Vita isn't exactly a powerhouse.  It isn't all explosions and sunshine, though. Most levels offer a tank, a speeder bike, and a helicopter, all of which control terribly. The tank is slow and clunky, the speeder bike is too fast to be controllable and useful, and the helicopter's guns aren't strong enough to be of use if you're lucky enough to hit something with them, and flying too high causes lots of pop in. On top of the terrible driving controls, the aiming just plain sucks for vehicles, mostly due to lack of crosshairs, which are provided when outside the vehicle.  Some stages take place in the city at night, where basically everything is pitch black (to a fault) other than windows in skyscrapers that shine brightly with a fuzzy glow around them, which just looks plain awful. Otherwise, graphically EDF2 looks like basically every other game in the series, which isn't surprising considering some of the levels feel almost identical if they aren't actually identical.  Aside from those issues, the main problem I had with the game was some enemies not being aggressive, instead opting to hang around in the far reaches of maps. Nearly every level's objective is 'murder all the bugs' and there was at least four or five times I had to either hunt and search to find the last enemies hiding spot, or slowly walk across the whole map. While tedious, these walks weren't the end of the world for me, just minor inconveniences of my fun-filled destructive romp. Earth Defense Force 2 may not be a brand new game per se, but has enough original content to keep it feeling fresh alongside the other recent releases in the series. With a lot of replayability, online four-player co-op, and a budget price tag it is easy to recommend to Vita owners looking for some campy over-the-top action in spite of its flaws.  EDF! EDF! EDF! EDF! EDF! [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.] EarDefense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair (PlayStation 4)Developer: SandlotPublisher: XSEED GamesReleased: December 8, 2015MSRP: $49.99
Review: EDF2 photo
Honey I Shrunk the Kids 2: Buggernauts
Two words. Giant. Bugs. Also giant spaceships, giant kaiju, and giant explosions. If you're looking for campy sci-fi action on your Vita look no further than Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space.

EDF photo
EDF

Two Earth Defense Force games deploy Dec. 8


EDF! EDF!
Nov 21
// Kyle MacGregor
XSEED Games is serving up a double-shot of bug-killing action on December 8, simultaneously putting out both Earth Defense Force 4.1 and Earth Defense Force 2 in North America. EDF 4.1, an expansion on last year's Earth ...
Legend of Heroes photo
Legend of Heroes

It's here! It's finally here!


LoH: TitS SC out now on PSP and PC
Oct 29
// Kyle MacGregor
It's been over four years since XSEED delivered the first half of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, and now the (hopefully) epic conclusion has finally arrived on PlayStation Network and Steam. The role-playing game is...
Legend of Heroes photo
Legend of Heroes

Trails in the Sky SC finally comes out next week


At long last!
Oct 23
// Kyle MacGregor
After leaving us on a cliffhanger for nearly five years, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC is finally coming to western shores next week, the localization team at XSEED announced today. The long-awaited role-pla...

Interview: XSEED Executive VP Ken Berry

Oct 18 // Kyle MacGregor
Destructoid: XSEED seems to have formed a close relationship with Nihon Falcom over the years. You've been publishing the Ys and Legend of Heroes series, Brandish released earlier this year, and you just announced Xanadu Next. However, many of these localizations take quite a long time. Are you working to speed up this process or perhaps developing a system with Falcom to localize the games as they're being developed? Ken Berry: That would be nice to implement, but, to be honest, no, we don't have anything like that going on. With Marvelous, our parent company, yes. Falcom is a completely separate entity. Even though we have been working in an almost exclusive relationship for several years, we are not officially exclusive with them. So, we don't have access to their materials early. A lot of times we need to wait for a Japanese retail release before we even get our hands on their games. Part of that I think is because they're such a small team over there and they don't have a dedicated localization team like other companies do. They need all free hands working on their Japanese releases until those are done. Then they can start communicating with us about localization and what to do about a western release. Dtoid: We've also noticed a similar relationship sprout up between XSEED and D3, the company behind Earth Defense Force and Onechanbara, which is actually a Bandai Namco subsidiary. How did that get started and is that something you see continuing? Berry: XSEED actually worked with D3 one time before on the Nintendo DS. In Japan, the game was called Riz-Zoawd and here it was released as The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. We did work on that a long time ago, but you're correct, this is a relationship we've renewed in the past year or so after D3 announced they were going to focus on digital and mobile products. I'm not sure about D3's relationship with Bandai Namco specifically in the US, because, as you know, there are lot of Bandai Namco games out of Japan that don't get published in America. I would think Bandai Namco would focus on getting most of their Japanese games out instead of the D3 lineup. So, we just had an opportunity to work on those titles, and we just jumped at the chance. Onechanbara, in particular, is made by Tamsoft, the same team that made the Senran Kagura series, so that was a very easy decision for us because we know Tamsoft does put out some... nice gameplay. Many of us also have been EDF fans for years, so we were very happy to get both of those titles.  Dtoid: Speaking of Senran Kagura, initially, XSEED seemed cagey about releasing that series here in the West. But, lately, we've been getting all of them. What changed? Berry: Due to the subject matter, how it would be received at retail, or even by fans for that matter, we tested the waters by releasing Senran Kagura Burst as a digital-only title on the [Nintendo 3DS] eShop. That was a big success. The fans loved it. And despite some criticisms from the press side for bringing it over, overall, it was more positive than we expected. Plus, the sales numbers were there, so we decided with the next one, Shinovi Versus on PlayStation, to give it a limited physical release and see how it went. That also exceeded our expectations. At this point, I think we're pretty much set and committed to the franchise. But the producer, [Kenichiro] Takaki-san, loves to push the envelope further and further each time. Estival Versus takes it up another notch, but we're still dedicated to the franchise. We want to keep going with the series, because the fans keep asking for it. Dtoid: Touching on the criticism you mentioned, there has been a lot of discussion in the industry surrounding gender equality and sexism. Has this impacted how you approach and handle Senran Kagura or perhaps some of the other games you localize for western audiences? Berry: I think it all depends on the content of the game. The ESRB is surprisingly very accommodating. They have stated very clearly that their job is to rate the material and not to censor anything. If it ever gets to a point where there's some content that gets us to an AO rating -- none of the platform holders will approve an AO-rated game -- so, only in an extreme case like that where we are forced to scale back some of the content would we go that route. Dtoid: Have you had to back away from certain games for that reason in the past? Berry: There are various games from other publishers -- not necessarily Marvelous -- that seem to push things a bit too far. I'm not going to name titles, but it's something we continue to deal with, especially some of the newer titles coming out from Marvelous. There's a new game called Uppers from Takaki-san that was just announced... Dtoid: Oh, I actually wanted to ask you about that and Valkyrie Drive. Berry: So Uppers does have some elements in there that we will need to get a better look at to see how much of an issue it will be in the US. And Valkyrie Drive, pretty much the entire game is based on that kind of stuff. That's another one we're going to have to learn more about to see if it's even feasible to release in the West as they are. Because, if we have to edit them down too much or censor too much content, then, at that point, we have to consider if it's even worth doing. Because the fans that want the game, they want it uncensored, and censoring the content isn't going to appease the people that had no interest in buying it anyways. Dtoid: Mr. Takaki also worked on the rhythm game IA/VT Colorful. Is it true there are no plans to localize that title? Berry: That is how it's looking right now. You know, a couple of us in the office really love that game. They've been playing in their free time the retail Japanese version.  Dtoid: I actually just recently imported a copy of that and have been enjoying it a lot.  Berry: Good. I'm glad to hear that. Yes, I know for that game -- even the licensing issues in Japan were tough to work out from what I hear. And just even thinking about overcoming those same obstacles for the West just doesn't look feasible right now, which is a shame because it is a great game. Dtoid: I'm aware they're completely different companies and it's a different character, but Sega and Crypton Future Media have published several Hatsune Miku games that are quite similar to IA/VT Colorful here in the West. Are you aware of any particular reason why that situation is different?  Berry: To be honest, I'm not sure how Sega works that out with Hatsune Miku or how that license would be different than the IA license. Dtoid: I'd like to talk about Bokujou Monogatari (which was known as Harvest Moon in the West until recently, when it was renamed Story of Seasons -- though Natsume continues to release games under the Harvest Moon brand). What is going on there? Berry: Those discussions were going on for years. I think Marvelous wanted to own the rights to their own IP, and, over the years, as development costs go up higher and higher, I think it might have finally reached to the point where if they couldn't own their IP in the West, maybe it wasn't as viable to put together a multi-million dollar [development budget]. So, I know those were discussions that were going on for years between Marvelous and Natsume, because the Harvest Moon trademark is registered by Natsume in the West. I think it finally got to the point where the decision had to be made. Do we bite the bullet and rebrand it now or continue working where we don't even have worldwide control over our own IP? Dtoid: You have one of those games here with you today, a crossover game, right? Berry: Yes, Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale. That is a crossover game in Japan that used the Bokujou subtitle, which is why we're able to use the Story of Seasons name here. But that title is very much a PopoloCrois game first with Story of Seasons farming elements thrown in as a secondary game feature. Dtoid: Will we be seeing a lot more Story of Seasons games and spin-offs in the future? Berry: The Bokujou/Story of Seasons IP is [Marvelous'] most valuable IP. So that's one we'll focus on moving forward. Dtoid: What about Rune Factory (a spin-off series of the Bokujou Monogatari franchise)? Berry: There are continuing discussions on how to keep the Rune Factory series going, despite Neverland, the original developers, no longer being around. Hopefully, something will come of that in the not too distant future, because Rune Factory 4 was the best-selling title in the series, I believe, and it's a series that's been growing and growing over the years. Marvelous knows fans are clamoring for a sequel and are looking for ways to make it happen. Dtoid: Do you ever foresee Marvelous doing simultaneous worldwide releases for its games? Berry: We may attempt it on a future unannounced title for next year. Every now and then Japan masters up very early and sits on the code for a certain amount of time with a preset release date in mind for their launch strategy in Japan. That would give us an opportunity to catch up on our localization. It just depends on how much volume of text there is to be localized and how much work it involves. But it is something we would love to be able to do in the future.  Dtoid: Is the recently announced PC port of Little King's Story an example of that? Berry: That is something we're handling out of the US office completely by ourselves. Marvelous did assist us with finding a good company that could do the HD conversion. And of course we need to license the title from them, because it's their IP. But other than that it's completely us, where we're communicating with the company that's in charge of the company in charge of the HD conversion on a day-to-day basis. And then it will be uploaded onto Steam on our account for a worldwide release, as well as other digital delivery platforms, such as GOG. Dtoid: You're also publishing a fighting game, Nitroplus Blasterz, which is a genre we don't typically associate with XSEED. Is this something we'll see more of? What spurred the interest there? Berry: The main reason is because it's being done by Marvelous and they asked us if we wanted to do it. To be honest, at first, we weren't quite sure, because even though we have a lot of otaku in the office, even they didn't know a lot of the characters on the roster. But once we got our hands on the game and sat down in Examu [the studio behind the Arcana Heart series] and the director, it just looked great. So we're like, okay, we think even in the West, even if people don't know the [visual novels] the characters are coming from, this is a great fighting game on its own. So that's when we decided to go for it. Dtoid: A challenge many fighting games not on that Street Fighter tier face is a difficulty keeping the community alive. Do you have any initiatives to keep the game in the public consciousness, the tournament scene, and have people playing it for a long period of time? Berry: That's something we're looking into. Thankfully, in our office we have three people who are pretty active in the fighting game community. Those are the people who took the game out to the Prelude II event and the main SoCal Regionals event this past weekend.  [The people at these events] have been great at saying how to get a game out there, how to get players to notice. We've already held a couple small tournaments and are looking to keep momentum after release to perhaps continue holding tournaments with cash prizes and keep the community involved in the game. Dtoid: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Is there anything else you'd like to tell the fans? Berry: Just thank you for the continued support. We couldn't be more thankful for all the pre-orders especially. A small company like us, pre-orders, we live and die by them, because that determines if retailers are going to carry our titles or not. We've had a great couple years thanks to the tremendous fan support and we hope to keep that momentum going into 2016. Dtoid: Yeah, you've had a few big successes with The Last Story, Rune Factory 4, and Story of Seasons recently, haven't you? Berry: A couple months ago we announced Rune Factory 4 eclipsed 160,000 units in North America and Story of Seasons has sold more than 100,000 units in North America. Story of Seasons, in particular, that was the fastest title of ours to reach 100,000 units. So we are very happy about the successful rebranding of the Bokujou series. For a small company like us, those are fantastic numbers, and both of those titles continue to do well ... I think we're in a very good place right now -- probably the healthiest the company has been in years.  Dtoid: That's great. I'm really glad to hear it. Berry: (Laughs) We're very busy. Our entire team is just swamped all the time, but they love what they do, so we can't really complain. It's better than not being busy enough! Dtoid: Thanks again, Ken. [Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.]
XSEED interview photo
From Falcom to farming and fighters
Ken Berry is the Executive Vice President and one of the founding members of XSEED Games, one of the premier localization houses responsible for bringing Japanese games to western audiences. Earlier this week at an XSEED-hos...

Cowmiya photo
The Joy of Localization
The original title of this article was "XSEED named a cow Swag Lady," which is also true. There are several cows in Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale, a cute and leisurely little RPG, if my brief time with t...

Little King's Story photo
Little King's Story

Little King's Story coming to PC in early 2016


XSEED behind new HD remaster
Oct 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Little King's Story is coming to Windows PC in early 2016, XSEED has announced. The new version is a visually-enhanced port of the Wii original that XSEED (along with its parent company Marvelous and European distributor...
XSEED photo
XSEED

Falcom's Xanadu Next coming west next spring


11 years later, XSEED delivers
Oct 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Talk about better late than never! More than a decade after its Japanese release, Nihon Falcom's 2005 action role-playing game Xanadu Next (not to be confused with the studio's more recent PS Vita RPG Tokyo Xanadu) is co...
Senran Kagura PC photo
Senran Kagura PC

Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus PC makeover is primed for summer 2016


The Vita loses another exclusive
Oct 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus is bouncing to Windows PC next summer, XSEED just announced. The PlayStation Vita brawler burst onto the Japanese scene in early 2013 before arriving in the West last October. Now, XSEED hopes to expose a new audience to with an enhanced port. A sequel to this entry, Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, is coming to PS4 and Vita this winter.
Senran Kagura photo
Senran Kagura

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson out now for 3DS


Hakuna matata
Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson, the latest entry in Marvelous and XSEED Games' bawdy action franchise, is now available for Nintendo 3DS in North America. The new release is available via the eShop for $39.99, as well as ...
Story of Seasons photo
Story of Seasons

Nintendo publishing Story of Seasons in Europe


Better late than never
Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Story of Seasons, the latest actual "Harvest Moon," is coming to Europe, courtesy of Nintendo. The platform holder just revealed plans to bring Marvelous' latest farming sim across the pond in Q1 2016, following the titl...
Senran Kagura 3DS photo
Senran Kagura 3DS

Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson launches September 15


August 27 in the UK and Europe
Aug 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Senran Kagura 2 will release on September 15 in North America, XSEED announced today. The Nintendo 3D-exclusive beat-'em-up will be available for $40 via the Nintendo eShop or as part of the $50 boxed "Double D Edition," whic...

Review: Onechanbara Z2: Chaos

Jul 22 // Kyle MacGregor
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos (PlayStation 4)Developer: Tamsoft CorporationPublisher: XSEED GamesMSRP: $39.99 (digital), $49.99 (retail)Released: July 22, 2015  Onechanbara Z2: Chaos, being the direct sequel to a game that never released on western shores, has a story that isn't easy to follow. Jumping into the adventure essentially in media res, you have to play a bit of catch-up, piecing together morsels of dialogue with information from loading screens and the accompanying art book to really get a good feel for what's going on here. In short, familiar faces Aya and Saki aren't exactly the best of friends with newcomers Kagura and Saaya. Coming from rival clans, Banefuls and Vampirics, the duos crossed swords in the prequel, but now find themselves forging an unlikely alliance to stem a worldwide zombie outbreak. The ensuing adventure isn't exactly riveting, but the localization team at XSEED did its best to ham up an otherwise banal scenario. Combat is clearly the main attraction here, which is an area where the series has made some progress since its last appearance in the West. The combat system is straightforward, but has a few wrinkles to it. In the beginning, the game essentially instructs the player to button mash, suggesting you hammer on the square and triangle buttons and see what works. A full list of attacks and combos can be found in the menus, more of which can be unlocked between missions and mastered in practice mode. Of course, the series' trademark blood meter returns. As you dispatch zombies, weapons will get progressively more crimson, necessitating periodic cleaning to remain effective. On the other side of the coin, enough carnage will send characters into a frenzy, causing a spike in offensive power at the cost of gradually diminishing health. You need to pay attention, lest suffer the consequences. The four protagonists can be tagged in and out of battle anytime, which players can use to their advantage in a number of ways. One character can set up a combo for another, and since all of them have vastly different movesets, this freedom opens up a lot of possibilities. For example, one of my favorite things to do was lock a group of enemies in one of Saaya's lengthy chainsaw attacks, then bring in another character to perform a devastating double team maneuver. Sadly, the solid mechanics are wasted on an ecosystem that isn't treated with anywhere near the same level of care. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos has a linear and repetitive mission structure that funnels players through corridors and locks them into arenas at regular intervals. In these arenas you'll need to kill every last zombie, as they respawn ad nauseam, until you're allowed to pass. Most of the enemies don't pose a threat on their own, but instead rely on sheer numbers to impose any sort of challenge. A lone zombie often won't attack for seconds at a time. They can also get hung up on terrain or spawn outside the combat zone, which leads to a frustrating mini-game of sorts where you're forced to play hide and seek with stragglers in order to proceed. This is exacerbated by the fact that basic grunts can blend in with their environments. The visuals are all over the place, ranging from pretty decent to downright abysmal, with the zombie hordes and background graphics obviously falling on the low end of the totem pole. The character designs and accompanying sexual fan service are on the other end of the spectrum. There are a variety of lewd outfits players can unlock, or purchase in the case of the shameless "Strawberries & Banana DLC costume," in which the heroines might as well be nude. It's pretty disheartening this is where Tamsoft decided to focus its efforts, rather than to improve the core game. This game feels like it has tunnel vision; it's a product where some aspects of the experience are given incredible attention to detail, while others feel like they were lifted from something found in a PS2-era bargain bin. Just as often as I found myself enjoying Z2:Chaos for its pulsing soundtrack or slick combat, there were times where it embarrassed, aggravated, or bored me to tears. Onechanbara Z2: Chaos could have been decent, but it seems content to revel in mediocrity. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Review: Onechanbara Z2 photo
Flirting with progress
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is a game that wraps its identity around sex and violence like few others. This is, of course, nothing new for the series. Styling itself after exploitation films, Onechanbara has survived for over a dec...

Onechanbara photo
Onechanbara

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos hits Europe next month


Bikini zombie slayers return August 28
Jul 18
// Kyle MacGregor
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is coming to Europe sooner than anticipated. After NIS initially announced the sexed up zombie slaying game for an autumn release, the publisher has revised those plans, saying the PlayStation 4 exclusive is now targeting an August 28 launch. In the meantime, XSEED is bringing the title to North America this Tuesday, July 21.
XSEED photo
XSEED

Story of Seasons is XSEED's fastest-seller ever


More than 100,000 sales since March 31
Jul 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Story of Seasons has sold more than 100,000 units in North America since its March 31 release, XSEED Games revealed today, trumpeting the farming sim as its fasting-selling game thus far. The announcement follows one made in ...
Onechanbara photo
Onechanbara

Onechanbara Z2: Chaos eviscerates PS4 July 21


Subheaders are the bane of my existence
Jul 01
// Kyle MacGregor
Onechanbara Z2: Chaos is coming to North America on July 21, XSEED Games just announced. After a brief hands-on session with the upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusive at E3 the other week, I'm actually looking forward to this...
IA/VT Colorful photo
IA/VT Colorful

Senran Kagura dev's new game isn't coming west


Music licensing to blame
Jun 28
// Kyle MacGregor
Marvelous' upcoming rhythm game IA/VT Colorful isn't likely to receive a localization.  Speaking with Siliconera in a recent interview, producer Kenichiro Takaki, best known for his work on the Senran Kagura se...

Corn on the cob crawdaddy and more in Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale

Jun 16 // Jed Whitaker
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale certainly doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it certainly has a hella fresh wolf and the coolest crawdaddy I've ever seen.
Return to PopoloCrois photo
A wolf wearing a bandana
Listen, I'm going to give it to you straight forward here: I've not played any of the games in the Story of Seasons series, nor do I know the source material. What I do know, however, is that there is a wolf wearing a ba...

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair still has framerate issues

Jun 16 // Jed Whitaker
[embed]294206:59108:0[/embed] After a brief hands on with the game today on the show floor at E3, it was obvious that the frame rate issues persist, although not nearly as bad as before. Running at 1080p and targeting 60fps, I'd say I still saw dips to around 30fps -- if not lower -- during explosions when there were many bugs on the screen. As the game is already available in Japan, it is doubtful frame rate issues will be fixed for the localized version. That being said this is still the smoothest EDF I've played, as previous titles had some atrocious frame rate issues. Still too early to tell if the added content and somewhat better frame rate are worth double dipping for, but fans of the series are used to it at this point and will probably pick it up regardless. If you're new to the series, this is a good place to start, especially if you have a friend for split screen co-op.
EDF 4.1 preview photo
But it is better
Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair is an enhanced and extended version of EDF 2025 adding more levels, including a giant mech versus monster fight, a first for the series, though a majority of y...


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