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I am Anthony Redgrave.
Long time reader of Destructoid, longer time player of games and sometimes talk about games that I've played.

I love 2D Fighters, Persona, and One Piece.
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PSN ID:The_Makster
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Recently I've been pondering on what to write about. Digging through my art book collection I discovered a handful of Udon books, all the Penny Arcade volumes including the 10th anniversary, and a couple of miscellaneous gems that I've picked up at trade shows. Thinking that you guys would get bored of me raving about Penny Arcade for the next few articles, I noticed that I have three books dedicated to Street Fighter's fighting high schooler Sakura Kasugano. So I'm making this month September Sakura starting with why I love this character so much.

Nowadays I'm known as the guy that loves Street Fighter. If anyone wants to throw down on Street Fighter in a 1km radius then you can expect to see me there, decked in broken tier apparel and rocking a mad catz tournament edition stick. But it wasn't always like that. When I was a wee lad I hated Street Fighter. Complicated moves, no story mode, and it was 2D! Tekken 1, 2 and 3 were at least 3D.
It wasn't until I started watching ScrewAttack before I got into the fighting game scene. 

I loved how they were so passionate about the game and saw glimpses of the hype generated by fighting game fans. It was a world I wanted to be a part of. So I dusted off my PSX, loaded a copy of Street Fighter Alpha (or Zero) 3 and started my rigorous training of Hadoukens, Sonic Booms, and Yoga Flames. During that time I was in high school; balancing social life, sports, and education in-between late night Street Fighter games. The world was still a distant place and couldn't wait to get out there. In this case I was very similar to Sakura.

I felt that Sakura, although a weaker clone of Ryu was very similar to me at that stage of my life. She was a high schooler having trouble co-ordinating her school life with her street fighting hence the way she runs into frame before a fight. I found her to be very inspirational as a teenager undergoing the angsty phase. Happy, determined, had a strong role model, and wasn't afraid of bigger meaner street fighters like Birdie. Also, I used to have a massive crush on her too.

When we choose a fighter it can come down to superficial reasons. He looks cool, she looks sexy, or she is top tier so she's the best in this version of the game. But I have seen players grow attached to their fighters on a deeper level. They see a small part of themselves in the fighter, almost as a projection of themselves on the screen. It may be because of the way they fight, appear, or move but, somehow players have found a way to bond emotionally to the piece of animated binary code and that causes them to choose that character consistently. To me, that is what Sakura is. She was what I wanted to be like in high school which is why I chose to play as her over hyper masculine characters like Guile, Zangief or Akuma.

Flash forward several years and the high school cycle of school, activity, sleep has evolved into the hustle and bustle of work, cook/clean, sleep. I was naturally ecstatic to see Street Fighter IV include my favourite Street Fighter Sakura in the initial line up. Pulling off Haru Ichibans in HD was a delight to relive. It took me back to my salad days; like revisiting a childhood home and running through the gardens again.

Whether playing games or specifically, playing Sakura affected my personality growing up is debatable. She is definitely a character that feels awkward to play now because of the age difference and the amount of upskirts performed during the match. But, I still perceive her representing my youthful ambition; to take on the big ol' world with a smiling face and boundless passion.

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I've always been a fan of fighting games but more so the graphics. Pixel perfect key frames, fluid animation, and a large influence from manga and anime made it just as fun to look at, as it was to play. I consider Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes the pinnacle of fighting game sprite work. Not only collecting one of the largest fighting game rosters to date but also turning western comic book heroes into video game sprites was absolutely darling. My latest purchase, Udon's Marvel vs. Capcom Official Complete Work was inspired by my passion for these games and their art.

Marvel vs. Capcom Official Complete Work (2012)
Author: Various/ Capcom
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Binding Reviewed: Softcover (192 pages)

If you're looking for interviews, tutorials, history lessons, or tips then look somewhere else. This book is pure eye candy. It avoids the cardinal sin of using double page spreads that plummet into the spine and excels at bringing each piece to life with vibrant color, action, and energy. Considering the subject matter, its rightfully so.

I'm not too sure why they included a portrait of Chun Li from the Alpha series...

The content of artwork dedicated for each game is skewed towards the latter releases with only a handful of pieces present for the 1993 Punisher game. Drawings by Capcom veterans Akiman and Gouda Cheese 'Bengus' bring a nostalgic flare to the book, while Udon artists and tribute piece contributors bring their own modern spin on the franchise. I personally would've liked to see more promotional or Capcom Secret File artwork in the book since this is a 'Complete Works' but the collection found here is substantial for a casual fan.

A highlight is the extras/ sketches section found at the back end of the book. Not only does it have character sketches dating back to X- Men: Children of Atom but also rough layouts of various moves and stances for each fighter with annotations describing what they were going for. I throughly enjoyed reading the translated text and doodles the animators jotted down as it gave a behind the scenes of one of my favourite games.

The book being reviewed is the consumer softback compared to the limited edition hardback binding. The softback is prone to creases on the spine if you stretch them too much, but that is due to Udon's switch to heavier paper making the artwork feel, and look a lot better. The book is a little thin compared to other Capcom collections but there are no re-used pictures found in this book either.

Marvel vs. Capcom Official Complete Works was disappointing as a fan of both Marvel and Udon. I felt that there wasn't enough for the price. It largely boiled down to character portraits seen in promo images and in game result screens. You can skip this book if you're acquainted to Udon's other Capcom artbooks but for the casual reader there is enough here to find a home on your coffee table.

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Itís hard to argue that nothing has changed from the last console generation to this one. We have seen many layoffs, the rise of indie games, the saturation of genres, and memes a plenty. Even though we are well underway with this console generation I still think that developers and publishers can still learn a thing or two from the mistakes made last gen.


Kickstart/ Crowd Fund Unpopular Projects

It was Tim Schafer and his company Double Fine that did the impossible; release a point and click adventure game in this modern era. Every publisher turned him down since Point and Click was out and FPS was in for PC. Kickstarting Broken Age was just the start. Fans helped Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune fund Mega Manís spiritual sequel Mighty No. 9 after the cancelation of Mega Man Legends 3. It has been shown that if gamers want it, they will put their money where their mouth is. So Mother 3 anytime soon Nintendo?

Re-release older titles as download or High Definition

It has been coined by me that this and last generation has been the remake, remastering and run back generation of consoles. Gamers are all about up-resing old games to the latest and greatest aspect ratio or even fully remaking the whole game. Capcom may have gone a bit far with remastering a remake of the original Resident Evil but they are the same company that sold the same game that played a bit faster. Out of anything on this list, this is what developers are currently doing, with Definitive Editions of The Last of Us, Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs. Now if we can only get that Final Fantasy 7 remakeÖ

Have Developer Commentary as a Second Playthrough option

This is more of a personal request but an option that is missed in 90% of games. If you are like me you continually beat on the games are art drum. But sometimes, even Iím too stupid to see the symbolism or meaning behind a crate or funny looking texture. This is where a developer commentary comes in. Sure it breaks the illusion but I see a game as a gallery and the developer as itís curator. After I have experienced everything, they will come down and explain reasons, motifs and funny stories of why they are and must be. Its a small touch but greatly appreciated by gaming aficionado who like to go beyond the call of duty.

Facilitate safe and friendly play environments

Last generation news articles was plagued by feminism, toxic environments, and comments about a sexist industry. Even today Xbox Live is filled with youngsters insulting people based on race, sexuality, and threats of assault that may or may not be based on non-consensual congress. This has to stop! Its surprising the lack of censorship or control developers have enforced causing this environment to become the norm. It just doesnít seem right. I can understand the backlash companies will get for censoring foul language due to first amendment etc. but how about rewarding exceptional behaviour with free avatar clothes, discounts, or rare items for being a pillar of the community? It may be a lot of work to manage but its a step we need to take if we want to scrub off the stereotype left by that movie Gamer.

Release Half Life 3 and The Last Guardian

Seriously guys, what you even doing with these games? Do we have to wait Forever?


Have impossible/ annoying/ achievements that donít follow this list

I was going to list reasons why multiplayer and leaderboard achievements are stupid but I think Rooster Teeth†put it better than me:

Achievements are a way of making single player competitive. And they should never be out of the playerís control.

Exploit DLC/ Free to Play Methods/ Always online DRM/ Microtransactions- Cheap Business Exploits

Each of these pieces were going to be separate but I decided to lump them all into bull shit business practices. As an avid viewer of The Jimquisition and a Sterling-maniac for life I am well aware of the shady side of video game publishing, thanks to his weekly videos. DLC was defined as a way to extend a gameís playability for a small fee but now is seen as a way to break up games into smaller chunks and selling the broken up core experience for full retail price. DRM while protecting the manufacturer from piracy treats consumers as animals causing them to jump through one more set of hoops to play their game. Gamers are sick of not being entitled the full experience day one

Stop Cutscenes when the Guide is open/ Have Unskippable Cutscenes

Ever wanted to replay a game youíve completed but are tired of watching the extremely long opening cutscene? ďI could just open the guide and message a few friends, check my achievements, or downloadsÖ OH! The cutscene has stopped, I guess Iíll have to watch the whole thing againÖĒ
Its surprising the amount of times Iíve had this run through my head. I honestly donít mind having non-skippable cutscenes as it gives me time to check my messages or trophies. But when it stops the whole game just because Iím not paying attention, it ends up being very frustrating. Sometimes people just want to play the game without sitting through the story.

Have Region Locks

I can harp on and on about how things are unfair in the video game industry; consoles never reaching PC capabilities, region/ store specific pre-order bonuses, inappropriate representation of women in games. The list goes on. But something I have learnt to accept is that sometimes Japanese games should just stay in Japan. It was difficult enough to get Okami to sell when it was released in the west so I highly doubt games like; Zombies vs. Ambulance, The Mini Skirt Police or Dog of Bay would fare any better. So publishers please allow the hardcore to import weird and wonderful japanese games without the need for a foreign machine. The PS3 has shown that it is possible to make it a whole generation by being region lock free (apart from Persona 4: Arena)

Play catch up with Nintendo

Hey remember when Wiis were selling out because everyone wanted to get their waggle on? Then as the fad subsided Sony and Microsoft wanted to get their waggle on too and both peripherals became a laughing stock. Nintendo may be the old boy in the console race but it doesnít mean competitors should be nipping at their. So what Iím trying to say here is; donít release a screen tablet thing Microsoft or Sony. It wonít end well.
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This is a two parter Valentine Day Special. Check out my Lovey Dovey article over at the Japanator C-Blogs.

With Valentineís day on the Horizon, I thought I talk about my experience of Love in Video Games. It is not new for games to have a romantic sub plot or if they are feeling especially brave, to base their whole mechanic around falling in love. It doesnít matter if its fantasy worlds on a quest to slay evil or inter galactic politics, video games still have time to play match maker with our characters and a limited number of NPCs. Tifa Lockheart, Alyx Vance or Samus Aran are to name a few famous gamer sweet hearts but Iím here to talk about an unorthodox flame.

Resident Evil 4 is a top notch game. Revolutionary in itís game mechanics and adored by gamers everywhere. Resident Evil 4 even provides for both sexes in the fan service department by re-introducing the Asian Beauty Ada Wong and Emo-Pretty Boy Leon S. Kennedy. But the lady that caught my eye was Ashley Graham.

A simple google image search of this name and people can see that she is no slouch in the looks department. Young, blonde, subtle fashion choices and ďarmed with ballisticsĒ she is the epitome of the American Girl Next Door. Her fiery temper and constant shrieking for help may have turned gamerís towards Ada Wong but itís Ashleyís role in Resident Evil 4 is what enticed me.

To me, Resident Evil 4 biggest strengths was creating an extremely hostile and isolating world. There was danger around every corner and the only friendly face was a hooded merchant that mysteriously appeared from time to time. I was alone.

And then along came Ashley. Rescuing Ashley and having her tag along in game should have been the death penalty of this game; turning it from survival action to prolonged escort mission. It should have caused me to HATE Ashley for ruining my enjoyment by being a constant thorn in my side. But it did the opposite. Having Ashley by my side made the world slightly less isolating but retaining the vulnerability of survival. She added support emotionally by cheering when I made a good shot but still being something I needed to think about and protect.

Resident Evil 4 does a great job when it comes to Ashley being a bearable escort. Escorts are typically dumb, annoying and get in the way of the gameplay. Ashley takes a back seat and lets you get on with the combat while she hides in the dumpster. This says two things about her character. She is smart enough to know Leon will get her out of Spain safe if she follows his orders and isnít stubborn to argue about hiding in a garbage dump. It goes against the stereotypical affluent American blonde by making her competent and a more likeable.

When she was captured and the infamous ďLEON HELP!Ē scream rattled through the speakers, my heart skipped. Losing Ashley and being left alone in rural Spain is a thought that seemed like hell to me thus giving me an external incentive to rescue her. The game wants me to rescue Ashley because itís Leonís mission but I want to rescue Ashley because I donít want to be alone again.

The great part of this virtual love is that Resident Evil 4 did not intend for this type of relationship to form. Games like Persona that have a romantic element feel a lot faker. They give you a select number of romanceable characters and have you jump through hoops to attend their affections. This is flawed when translating Love into Code. In real life, Love isnít limited to a certain number of people nor about talking to them everyday and making context sensitive choices. Making it play in this binary fashion diminishes the effect of Love.

Resident Evil 4 in an indirect way made me feel for Ashley thus being a more organic representation of Love.

To this day I have never finished Resident Evil 4 because I was too afraid of facing that Regenerator†but when discussing Romances in Video Games I couldnít think of one character I felt for. Attractive NPCs are a dime a dozen, apart from being attracted to their virtual assets there is not much else. They were always characters falling in love with the player character or vice versa but the player isnít part of that equation. I was the omnipresent third wheel playing match maker or seeing it all unravel before me. But then I thought of Ashley and how she made playing Resident Evil 4 slightly better.

Sometimes Love does come in the most unexpected of places
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Katawa Shojo roughly translates to "disabled girls" from the Japanese Language and has it's birth place in the seedy underbellies of 4Chan. Now don't jump to conclusions when I say you need to play this game! It's not the product of the worst scum of the Internet nor full of distasteful images and words that make you hate the human race. No, in fact it's quite the opposite.

If you have ever seen a slice of life anime based in a high school or played one the many MANY†MANY†dating sims out there then you'll be familiar with the premise of new boy in school gets his choice of girl to befriend and eventually have sex with through choice dialogue.

The twist (if you can call it that) is Katawa Shojo is based in a school full of disabled people whether blind, amputees or in the case of our protagonist Hisao an unstable heart. Hisao must come to grips with his new disability which is a hard emotion to project towards people who aren't disabled. A lot of the opening is focussed on this and it makes the game seem slow but adds a greater purpose. It allows us to relate to the suffering Hisao is going through by making us simulate the disability of going slow through a game when we are so used to racing through them.

Obviously the girls are beauties and tailored to a our personal†moe†instincts. Each girl along with a disability has a story and Hisao can assist them through the hard times through companionship. This isn't a harem so pick your girl wisely or none at all to see a darker end to the story.

It wouldn't be a dating sim without some smooth loving and each girl comes with one or two H-scenes. These are actually pretty tasteful and don't go overboard with the images. One of the biggest praises I can give to the game is actually a subtraction of the sex scenes if you just wanted to experience the story. That's fantastic! Dating sims primarily rely on their sex scenes for sales, Katawa Shojo goes above the filth and shows that it can be above it if it wants to.

The writing is good. All the girls are charming and have their own distinct personalities. The auxiliary cast also have their own back stories that are interesting to piece together through out each play through. It's like settling down to a good book. You always want to see the next chapter, you want to know where the next step in the relationship will be. You become invested in the characters specifically the girl you are courting at the time that pushes you onwards.

Dating Sims have also come under another name, "visual novel" and I have to agree on the latter moniker as a replacement of the word "game". Games invokes some interactivity and Katawa Shojo although interactive is 9/10th reading and clicking through the dialogue which can be akin to turning a page of a novel. There is literally three choices you can make to change the outcome of the story so whether you have†THAT†much interactivity in the matter is very much debatable.

Katawa Shojo is available now via the†site for free†and there are also many goodies you can download from the site like soundtracks and fan artbooks. The soundtrack is an absolute necessity after playing the game. Listening to "Ease" or "Fripperies" will take you back into the classroom and you can almost hear the light chit chatter of your classmates.

I've been a fan of both ScrewAttack and Pure Pwnage for a while and this has kept on bugging me. Why do these T Shirts look soooo similar. They aren't even different colours, only the font has changed!

I'm not too sure which one came first or who ripped off who but I have to side with the Pure Pwnage guys. Even if the spelling sucks on both shirts, the PP guys at least have their grammar correct.