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5:15 PM on 05.30.2013

Panapticon = "Freedom Wars" for the Vita

Destructoid's own Jordan Devore posted an article a few weeks ago about a mysterious Sony game developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan. The game was called "Panapticon." A teaser trailer was shown, along with a teaser website, displaying that more info would be revealed on May 21st.

The teaser trailer (and only trailer) of the game

May 21st? Yep, the day of Microsoft's Xbox One reveal. Really weird move there, Sony. That's almost as weird as releasing Resonance of Fate on the same day as Final Fantasy XIII (ahem, Sega). Anyways, Sony spilled the beans on their new product, which will debut as "Freedom Wars," an 8-player action game resembling the Monster Hunter series (except not really) exclusive for the Playstation Vita. So anyone, including me, who totally called this can proceed to squealing like schoolgirls.

Freedom Wars takes place in an interesting dystopian future in which people live in wall-offed cities called Panapticons. A very fitting term, considering the crap ton of surveillance cameras placed throughout the cities, as well as the revered patrolmen with the special visors. Speaking of those visors, you can see that these visors allow the user to reveal a mysterious set of numbers above citizens' heads.

The numbers do not represent a life span or anything like many were predicting, but a sentence. In these Panapticons, citizens are born into a 1 million year sentence by the government. This would explain why the newborn baby in the teaser trailer has the number 1,000,000 floating above his head. According to Sony, the sentence is a method of population control, though I can't really see how this helps control the population. 1 millions years of imprisonment is a bit much, you would think. However, there is a method to reduce this sentence, and you can probably guess how.

Yep, kill monsters! Though, that isn't the full story. The monsters shown above are called Abductors. Another fitting name, as they seem to enjoy abducting humans for reasons yet unknown. To reduce your sentence, your priority is to liberate the abducted humans located inside these Abductors using your own weapons as well as your "Thorn." Freedom Wars already shares quite a lot in terms of visuals with Namco Bandai's "God Eater," and the Thorn is very reminiscent of the God Arc used in those games. Though unlike the God Arc, which must be surgically attached to your dominant wrist literally FOREVER, the Thorn (which can be seen above attached to everyone's left arms) can attach anywhere onto your body and is used to perform the finishing move on an Abductor, and probably do even more as details are revealed.

I don't think this will change the fact that you are killing monsters though. It seems that killing the Abductors will automatically liberate the imprisoned human.

As mentioned in the beginning of the article, Freedom Wars will support 8 players. Your main character can be either male or female, and you are also able to fully customize an Accessory.

The "Accessory" shown in the trailer

An Accessory is basically a supporting NPC. Sorta like your Main Pawn in Dragon's Dogma, except with a more derogatory term, considering they are not human. They can be fully customized as well. Gender, voice, outfits, the works. This was probably intended for solo game sessions in case the player does not have any friends available to play with (or any friends at all, herp).

So, an 8 player game exclusive for the Vita, with elements of Monster Hunter, God Eater, and a bit of Dragon's Dogma? I think I speak for everyone when I say, "BRING THIS TO THE STATES PLEASE."   read

7:50 PM on 05.29.2013

Porting Resident Evil 2 to the N64

Resident Evil 2, arguably the best Resident Evil game to date and factually the best selling RE game on the PS1, was ported to various consoles after its initial PS1 release. Ports would include a Windows PC version, Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and a Gamecube version. All ports included extra features and modes, as well as updated graphics (except for the Gamecube version, the WORST port of RE2!). The most drastically different port in terms of features, graphics, and even sound quality, happens to be the N64 version, which was worked on by a small company called Angel Studios. Angel Studios actually went on to become Rockstar San Diego, the company responsible for the Midnight Club series, as well as the Red Dead series. So you could say Rockstar and Capcom have a small relationship with each other, especially considering that Red Dead Revolver was originally developed by Capcom, was shortly cancelled, and then acquired by Rockstar San Diego.

Capcom announced the cancellation of Red Dead Revolver around the time Capcom Fighting All Stars was cancelled.

Some good lessons can be learned from Angel Studio’s endeavor. Angel is not unlike many up-and-coming indie dev groups. They start off big, unaware of the scale of their task. Because of their inexperience, they struggle to meet various and almost impossible milestones, and they are met with two choices: Make a smaller game, using lessons learned prior to create a better product, or…struggle, do your best, and get shit done the best you can. Angel Studios is the latter case.

In 1998, Capcom approached Angel Studios, asking them to port Resident Evil 2 to the Nintendo 64 console. Angel Studios almost foolishly took on this task, and even boasted a release date of Halloween 1999. Little did they know how difficult the process would be. All the assets were there: music, art, 3D models, animations, FMVs, everything. So what exactly was the problem? Actually, there were MANY problems. The programmers at Angel Studios were not super familiar with the inner workings of the N64, costing valuable development time as they had to essentially break down the game and start from square one in terms of programming. Lack of communication with Nintendo resulted in the game coming out after its predicted Halloween release date. Angel Studios themselves stressed that if your game is being sent for approval by another publisher, you need to keep in CONSTANT CONTACT with those people. If the publisher wants even a single aspect changed, every day spent not meeting that demand can result in weeks or even months of delays. Miscommunication with Capcom wasted even more valuable time. QA testing was not explicitly outlined between Capcom and Angel. As a result, Angel assumed Capcom would do all of the QA testing, while Capcom assumed the exact opposite. Extra time was spent as the team porting RE2 was only made up of programmers and artists. Needless to say, programmers and artists are NOT testers.

Then there was the FMVs, to which many people ask to this day, “how did you get FMVs in an N64 game?!” Well, to my knowledge, FMVs are CAPABLE of being in N64 games, though the real problem lies in the compression of said FMVs and the lack of space that N64 cartridges can hold. Not only did both Leon and Claire campaigns manage to fit into one cartridge, but not a single FMV was cut from the game. Angel worked diligently, sizing down FMVs megabyte by megabyte to make sure they would all fit into the game. The only setback was of course, the overall quality of the FMVs. While not all seemed to be affected too drastically, there are a few that look noticeably worse than their PS1 counterparts.

Unlike the FMVs, the sound and music of this RE2 port surpassed the quality of the original PS1 version. Converting over a thousand sound samples to an N64 cartridge was no easy task, but with the help of another company called Factor 5, Angel was able to not only fit every piece of audio in the game, but also take advantage of Dolby Surround Sound to make everything sound better.

On November 16, 1999, Resident Evil 2 was released on the Nintendo 64 in all of its glory, including extras like alternate costumes, an adjustable violence level and adjustable blood color, enhanced visuals and sound, analog controls that made the game control like the first Devil May Cry, the ability to remix item locations for each playthrough, and extra files that add a bit of background to past Resident Evil characters including Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen from Resident Evil 0 (a game that was originally slated to be on the Nintendo 64, but released on the Gamecube several years later). The ONLY feature to be cut, was the Extreme Battle mode from the Dual Shock version of the game. Personally speaking, I never touched this mode, though because this mode was in the Dreamcast version with that version’s visual enhancements, many people consider the Dreamcast version to be the best overall.

If ya want full details on Angel Studios’ brave endeavor, check out this article here:   read

9:57 PM on 05.27.2013

Room for Improvement: Rukia Kuchiki

What better way to debut my first blog than to talk about my favorite anime character? Rukia Kuchiki is the female lead in the hit anime, Bleach. I say “hit” but I for one, have stopped watching the show since the end of the second season, as it pretty much went downhill from there. For those unfamiliar with the show, I’ll give a brief summary below. And I’ll have to ask people to excuse my writing. I happen to type the way I speak in person, so if any punctuation looks awkward…well you’re gonna have to deal with it!

Bleach revolves around the life of 15 year old Ichigo Kurosaki, a boy with spiky orange hair who is able to see ghosts. One night, he encounters a young woman named Rukia Kuchiki, a being who transports souls to the afterlife and purifies tainted souls called Hollows. A Soul Reaper, so she says. One night, a Hollow sniffs out Ichigo and attacks his home, putting him and his family in danger. Ichigo recklessly tries to repel the Hollow himself, and this causes Rukia to intervene, taking a devastating blow that would otherwise kill Ichigo. Unable to move, Rukia makes an outlandish suggestion and volunteers to offer her powers to Ichigo so he can save himself, Rukia, and his family. Ichigo is whole-heartedly on board with the idea, and so, Rukia plunges her sword into Ichigo’s heart and transfers all of her powers to him.

The first episode ends with Ichigo becoming a Soul Reaper (and totally owning that Hollow). The following episodes then involve Rukia teaching Ichigo the responsibilities of being a Soul Reaper since apparently, Rukia intended to only transfer a portion of her powers to him, not all of it.

So, if Rukia is my favorite anime character, why is this blog called “Room for Improvement”? Well, let me first explain why I love her so much. Right off the bat, Rukia shows that she possesses many qualities that I like in a female character (as well as females in real life, herp). Rukia is mentally strong, she is confident in her actions, she is blunt, and she knows how to prioritize. Rukia is also imperfect (like any normal human being), her blunt demeanor works against her at times because she has trouble putting herself in other people’s shoes. Rukia falls into the category of “female character who does not act like a female character.” And no, that doesn’t mean she acts like “one of the guys,” as Rukia can also be very feminine at times. What I mean is, she isn’t constantly reminding the viewer that she is a girl. Rukia is simply a character, who happens to BE female, and that is exactly how she was written throughout the show. I should also mention that her actual design plays a big part in why I love her so much, ha.

So, Rukia seems to have everything going for her. What the heck is wrong, you ask? Well, here’s your answer: she’s pretty fucking useless.


Yep, useless! Rukia is nothing more than a plot mover who happens to pass on knowledge to Ichigo so he can properly gain the throne of “all powerful main character” and stay there for the rest of the show. While the two develop an AMAZING relationship together in Seasons 1 and 2, it falls to shit in future seasons. Rukia eventually gains her powers back, and still manages to be useless. Ichigo also contracts some type of emo disease that causes him to lose confidence every time he loses a fight. And almost too conveniently, Rukia appears and gives him a literal kick in the ass. Ichigo’s motivation is revived, and he goes on to fight while Rukia becomes useless once again. She is such a rare case, and I’ve never found a single female character who had such amazing qualities yet managed to be useless throughout a show. So what can be done? Should Rukia be physically stronger? Well, that’d be a good freaking start, wouldn’t it? That alone isn’t enough however, as Bleach is a show with many many MANY characters who fight alongside Ichigo. Like any Fighting game, you don’t want any characters to be overpowered, and demanding a buff on your favorite character alone is hardly fair. Instead, all weaker characters must be buffed to catch up to the top tier, so everyone can be useful in some way.

I love Rukia, but not enough to make her useful if it means making other characters useless. The key to having a good show is utilizing each character in some SIGNIFICANT way or another. Otherwise, why are they even there? That is a question I constantly ask myself when Rukia…or anyone who isn’t Ichigo is on screen. Bleach has already been ruined for me from all the events I hear about now and then. So honestly, it’s too late to improve Rukia, and even if she were to improve, the author would have to make damn sure that all of the other supporting characters are improved as well.

How about you guys? Do you have any ways to improve Rukia? Does she need improvement at all (this is only my opinion after all)? What do you think of Bleach in general for that matter?   read

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