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Shoot-'em-up Sine Mora out now on iPhone and iPad


Headed to Android devices later this month
Jul 15
// Jordan Devore
After a string of ports, Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture's well-regarded shmup Sine Mora has found its way to iOS. This version for iPad and iPhone is priced at $5.99 and was developed by Pocket Scientis...
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Black Knight Sword coming to PlayStation Network tomorrow


Are you ready for another bizarre adventure from Grasshopper and Digital Reality?
Dec 10
// Kyle MacGregor
In case you were worried that Black Knight Sword would be taking its sweet time to come to the PlayStation Network, let me alleviate your concerns. Unlike Sine Mora, the first collaborative effort between Grass...
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Black Knight Sword to see release on XBLA next week


Theatrical action platforming
Dec 06
// Jordan Devore
When Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture teamed up for Sine Mora, the results were something special. I'm hopeful the duo can pull out another solid release with Black Knight Sword, debuting very soon on Xbox Live Arc...
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Sine Mora arrives on PlayStation Network for PS3 and Vita


New character plus exclusive bonuses
Nov 21
// Jordan Devore
As much as we've been talking up Sine Mora, I figured one more post couldn't hurt. The shoot-'em-up has finally released on PlayStation Network for both Vita and PlayStation 3 as a $9.99 download. These are separate versions...

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Sine Mora coming to PlayStation Network next week


Time-travelling anthropomorphic pilots. What more could you want?
Nov 17
// Kyle MacGregor
As a shmup enthusiast and Grasshopper Manufacture zealot I was pretty vexed to hear that Sine Mora would be exclusive to the Xbox 360. Not only did that mean that I'd personally miss out on the game, but a large swathe of the...
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Worth-playing shmup Sine Mora out now on Steam


Time travel, genocide, and anthropomorphism
Nov 09
// Jordan Devore
Digital Reality and Kalypso have released the gorgeous horizontal shoot-'em-up Sine Mora on Steam today for $9.99. There were certainly some of you who called for a PC version to happen, so here's hoping that wasn't just tal...
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Sine Mora is also headed to PlayStation 3


Jun 21
// Jordan Devore
In case you missed it among the wave of posts during the week of E3, Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture are in the process of bringing their currently Xbox Live Arcade-exclusive shmup Sine Mora over to PlayStation Vi...

Review: Sine Mora

Mar 20 // Allistair Pinsof
[embed]224060:43113[/embed] Sine Mora (Xbox Live Arcade)Developers: Digital Reality, Grasshopper Manufacture Publisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: March 21, 2012MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points As Dtoid’s shmup guy, I often gloss over story details in this genre. After all, it seems no one cares -- least of all the developer, in some cases. Do we really need to know why doll-piloted airships must destroy mechs modeled after schoolgirls in skirts? Not really. That and deciphering these games' stories is often near impossible without a press release attempting to make sense of the madness. Imagine my surprise then when I booted up Sine Mora and was floored by the story. It’s not just good; it’s not just great; it’s easily one of the strongest stories to ever grace this medium. The fantasy world built within this game is one of the richest I’ve ever encountered in any medium. It is filled with wonderful concepts that could be expanded into novels, but remain tiny details for the sake of story flow. It's smart sci-fi told with heart and soul. For instance, Sine Mora's fiction tells of an Eternal War -- a war that never ends because one side with innate time travel abilities constantly time-jumps to avoid extinction. What an awesome concept! I want an entire game just about that one single idea! Imagine Sin City meets Star Wars meets Time Bandits and you are close, even if a couple hundred area codes away. Sine Mora is, at its core, a revenge story. A revenge story about a time traveling, airship-piloting bison -- Yes, BISON! --  whose son dies in a war, so the father seeks revenge on the empire that ordered his son to be shot for disobeying a command. At the same time, there is another story about a rebellion against the great Layil Empire that rules the planet of Seol. The Sin City likeness comes from the game's dark noir tone and non-linear storytelling. Frequently throughout the game you see an event play out unexplained only to reappear in a new context later. There are so many amazing "A-ha!" moments that left my mouth agape. Once you get to the final levels that present an intricate web of characters at the same place at different times, it's enough to make your head spin. I found the story alone made replays much more enjoyable, since I discovered new nuances to the plot and characters. What I love about Sine Mora is that its characters aren’t heroes with paper-thin personalities. They have depth and flaws that make them interesting. For instance, the father bison character blackmails a rape victim with leukemia to fight with him because she is all he can get. Then there is another pilot, a woman incapable of giving birth, who dedicates her life to finding greatness in the deaths of others. The story is full of spectacular twists, non-linear jumps that don’t feel showy, and brilliantly written walls of text that separate the game’s chapters. The most amazing thing of all? You can ignore all of this and still have a fantastic time with Sine Mora! When I previewed the game at Tokyo Game Show last year, I found myself occupying the role of the hopeful skeptic. On one hand, Hungarian developer Digital Reality cited all the right influences (Einhander, Battle Geraga, R-Type). On the other, they’ve made almost nothing but complex PC military strategy games since they were founded in 1994! I liked what I saw in the TGS demo, but I had to wonder if these were the right guys to pull off this awfully ambitious shmup. Digital Reality weren’t alone in this project, however, and it shows (in a very good way!) Grasshopper Manufacture (No More Hereos, Shadows of the Damned) handled the art direction, music, and sound, while nine or so developers from Digital Reality handled the rest. The result is one of the most gorgeous, unique-looking games of this generation. Everything from the candy-coated bullets to the surreal, Mœbius-inspired character design is a feast for the eyes. The bosses, designed by Mahiro Maeda (Neon Genesis Evangelion) are especially elaborate. One train boss, as bizarre as it sounds, brings Final Fantasy 7’s Midgar to the HD-era with fantastic results! In a time where all shmup developers work for CAVE or wish they worked for CAVE, Sine Mora’s visuals are bold and refreshing. No other game looks like it and few look as good. Sine Mora has a couple different modes (Boss Training, Score Attack, Arcade), but the main draw is the Story Mode. This rather lengthy campaign (about three hours) is comparable to the recent Mortal Kombat in its lofty ambitions in creating storytelling and variety that aren’t usually associated to a niche genre. In Story Mode, you play across 16 or so levels with different pilots and planes. Each pilot has their own ability, ships have their own feel, and you also have a “Capsule” that lets you slow down time. The game's story is told through text screens and brief cutscenes, which can be fast-forwarded. Arcade mode lets you combine the three ships, seven pilots, and Arcade Mode-only Capsules. This opens the door to a lot of different options. Sine Mora’s slow-mo ability (Speed Up) is so much fun that it’s hard to imagine playing without it, but if you are curious there is a Reflect ability and a Rewind Time ability that drastically change combat. Each game stage in Arcade Mode has a Chronome map that shows you ever possible combination and which ones you have tried -- it’s hard to miss the Battle Garraga influence when you take a look at this daunting graphic that presents numerous options to the player.Sine Mora embraces many genre conventions, such as upgradable weapons and score tokens you can pick-up, but it does these things on its own terms. Since the Enkie race that you play as has an innate ability to time travel, time is your health in this game. If you run out of time, you lose. This means two things: 1) You are always under the pressure of a ticking clock. 2) Time is a valuable resource that you must always pay attention to.Each level is broken up into individual sections that give you a certain amount of time. You gain time by killing enemies and picking up time tokens. Time is always running out, but only receiving damage will make it drastically decrease. You can easily lose ten seconds on a powerful boss attack, but you can gain it back by killing enemies and picking-up time tokens. This unique health system has its strengths and weaknesses. It keeps players from feeling the frustration of one-hit deaths, but it creates new ones by blurring the line between time attack and surviving. For example, you can find yourself at a damning boss fight with very little time left. It’s one thing to die from a perplexing bullet pattern -- which this game has in spades -- but it’s another thing to die before you even have a chance to properly approach. In the end, it’s more about player expectation than the game’s actual rules. I found that once I accepted this strange set-up, I was able to beat a boss. Like most shmups, you just need to focus on memorizing its patterns and weaknesses; pay the clock no mind and you'll do just fine. It’s still an odd feeling to have time literally working against you. In the very least, it ties wonderfully into the game’s story and ideas.Sine Mora is an exceptional shmup but it's not without flaws. As with many first time shmup developers, Digital Reality get some basics wrong. The backgrounds and bullets are a bit too colorful for their own good, as they occasionally blend together. Then there are the missiles and tiny bullets that can easily be missed without possessing stellar vision and familiarity with the stage. The most damaging part of the game’s design is its constant in-game cutscenes that will turn away hi-score chasers, despite the game having a great scoring system. You can fast-forward these scenes by holding down the left bumper, but it'd be much better if you could just skip them altogether in arcade replays. In trying to appeal to both casuals and hardcore shmup players, Sine Mora trips on some compromises made. Along with the above aspects, there are conventions that maybe shouldn’t have been adapted. Why do we need to start a stage with no power-ups when we would have had at least three if we played the game from the start? Why am I prompted to exit the game to the menu after beating a chapter? Why does restarting a chapter bring me to a previous chapter? These strange design choices and (maybe) glitches sour the player experience and may keep casuals from exploring further into the game, which would be a damn shame. Who knew a contemporary shmup would have so many worthy talking points? Did I mention this game is in Hungarian? Or that the soundtrack is by the composer of Silent Hill? How about the game’s unlockable alternative story that contains lengthy philosophical musings, informed by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, on reality, purpose, and love? It's an odd thing but I found Sine Mora to be substantially more cerebral and moving than Journey, Dear Esther, and other celebrated "Art Games." Sine Mora isn’t only of the best shmups in years, it’s one of the boldest and most fascinating games of this generation, period. What it lacks in finesse, it more than makes up for in its original art direction and deep lore. It’s a shmup that not only offers replayability and strategic choice, but also a story that can be discussed, worshiped, and analyzed for months to come. Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture have created an absolute revolution in contemporary game design that proves beautiful, original things can still be done beyond the realm of first- and third-person shooters. It’s just as brave and elegant as Journey, while being as accessible and fun as a cherished Irem classic. Even if you think this game isn’t for you based on genre, Sine Mora may unexpectedly surprise and delight you. I worry that there will never be another game like Sine Mora, when I should be happy there is at least one. This is that one. And, thankfully, it’s eternal.
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What I’m concerned with is the aristocracy of the mind. It is our obligation to select -- through our experiences, knowledge, and heart -- what is eternal and what is worthless. [...] But if I don’t represent ...

Exclusive: Akira Yamaoka's Sine Mora soundtrack preview

Mar 14 // Jayson Napolitano
I wanted to start with a quick suggestion for how to experience this feature. We have minute-long music clips from the first three stages in the game along with screenshots and Yamaoka's commentary. I'd recommend clicking on the music sample for each stage while looking at the screenshots and reading Yamaoka's commentary for the best effect.In addition to music clips for the first three stages, we also have a sample from the sixth stage of the game, Tira. Feel free to enjoy that one outside of Yamaoka's commentary as it's one of my favorite things I've heard from the game so far. Stage 0 / Prologue [embed]223802:43056[/embed]   Akira Yamaoka: This game is unique as its world was constructed by the best visual creators with beautiful graphics into a side scrolling action game, a genre that everyone is familiar with.   Yamaoka: I felt obligated to come up with sounds that would match this well-created world. I had to create something that would be worthy for this game as well as sound that could actually enhance the game when matched with the visuals.   Yamaoka: I remembered about songs from the 70s, a style that is somehow a bit nostalgic. I also wanted to use an electric sound. As you can see in the image, the stage is rather near-futuristic but it gives out a bit of nostalgia and a classic feeling as well.   Stage 1 / Moneta Point [embed]223802:43057[/embed]   Yamaoka: I wanted the players to feel a classic electric sound that matches the feelings you can get from the entire game. Particularly, the enemy plane you see in this stage look so unbeatable and it gives a sense of the large scale of the battle.   Yamaoka: The game also offers sensitive aspect as well as the fierce battle with concentrated gun fires. The existence of two extremities of gameplay and the world is one of the unique aspects of this game.   Yamaoka: You can see these unique futuristic lasers in this stage as well. The digital visuals mixed with the classic background interested me as I created the sound. This is why I used electric as my motif.   Yamaoka: Also, you also have scenes with nature such as this. Even so, I still used 70s electric sounds to depict this game. Personally, the natural world and the near future world were a source of creative inspiration for me.   Yamaoka: I still remember my excitement in seeing this scene for the first time. Whether this is based on an octopus or an alien, this is a very memorable character. I still remember that I started to work on this scene first.   Stage 2 / Bokumono [embed]223802:43054[/embed]   Yamaoka: The electric sound that I wanted to create is classic 70s style. As you can imagine from this visual, it’s kind of like a light watercolor painting type of sound.   Yamaoka: 70s sounds work really well, especially in this type of underwater stage.   Yamaoka: Blue and red are used often in this game. The beams shot from this enemy are also in these colors. I made the 70s electro sound to resemble this shade of colors. [embed]223802:43055[/embed]
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With just a week left until the release of Grasshopper Manufacture/Digital Reality's gorgeous schmup Sine Mora on the Xbox Live Arcade on March 21st, I can barely wait, and now I have an even bigger reason to be excited ...

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Evangelion designer getting bossy on Sine Mora


Jan 31
// Hiroko Yamamura
The dieselpunk love child of studios Grasshopper Manufacturer and Digital Reality, Sine Mora, has raised the bar of their design credibility with the addition of a popular anime artist, Mahiro Maeda. Maeda...
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Dead Block is finally out for PC


Jan 28
// Brett Zeidler
It may not seem like that long ago, but way back in July of last year a little zombie-survival game by the name of Dead Block came out on XBLA and PSN. Now, about half a year later, the Call of Duty Zombie mode-esque download...

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

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

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SkyDrift gets a second developer diary


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

Preview: Black Knight Sword

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

Preview: Sine Mora

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

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Grasshopper Manufacture teases Black Knight Sword


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


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

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