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Sonic Boom photo
Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom Season 2 is coming, you can't stop it

He's the fastest thing alive
Oct 12
// Chris Carter
As far as Sonic cartoons go, the Sonic Boom show actually isn't bad -- hell, it's way more entertaining than the games themselves. For those of you who do enjoy it, you're going to get more of it, as distributor LER has ...
Sonic Dash 2 photo
Sonic Dash 2

Sonic Boom rides again in Sonic Dash 2, out this week

Oct 09
// Chris Carter
Not to be confused with the microtransaction-stuffed Sonic Runners, Sonic Dash was actually a decent little Temple Runner clone released in 2013. Now it's seeing its second release in the form of Sonic Dash 2: Soni...
Project X Zone 2 photo
Project X Zone 2

Can you sit through this 14-minute Project X Zone 2 trailer?

It's pushing it
Oct 08
// Chris Carter
I liked Project X Zone 2 well enough. It's basically another edition of the first game with more characters -- so it's going to be pretty easy to tell on paper if you're going to want to pick it up. For those of you on ...

Review: Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax

Oct 07 // Kyle MacGregor
Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax (PS Vita, PS3 [reviewed])Developer: French Bread, Ecole Software, SegaPublisher: SegaReleased: November 13, 2014 (JP), October 6, 2015 (NA, EU)MSRP: $29.99 (PS Vita), $39.99 (PS3) Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax has the appearance of a hardcore fighting game, and it certainly has the pedigree, coming from Melty Blood and Under Night In-Birth team French Bread and Ecole Software, but both looks and lineage can be deceiving. Here, the studios (along with their Sega-employed producers and associates at Kadokawa) aimed to deliver a more accessible experience than their previous work, something less impenetrable to the average person than the Guilty Gears or Street Fighters of the world. It's a noble idea. For as enjoyable and well-made as Arc System Works and Capcom's projects are, they are incredibly complex affairs. The barrier to entry with these games is much higher than, say, Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series, which is more easily enjoyed by newcomers, despite its potential for high-level play. Fighting Climax tries to occupy a similar space, striving to create a middle ground, an intermediate that can appeal to fighting game enthusiasts of all stripes. In attempting to do so, Fighting Climax strips away many of the genre's more byzantine subtleties, while adding tools to facilitate absorption. There are no elaborate inputs here, not by traditional fighting game standards, anyway. The most difficult commands involve quarter-circle and half-circle movements, which makes executing special moves or "climax arts" relatively straightforward without reducing the gameplay experience to something oversimplified or wading into button-mashing territory. Well, that is aside from the auto-combo feature, which allows players to string together a reasonably powerful series of moves merely by hammering on the light attack button repeatedly. It's a concession to beginners, providing a mechanism to chain together a barrage of attacks, but its use is limited, preventing it from being a substitute for actual skill. Also more simplistic than a typical fighting game are the inputs, which are identical across the entire roster. The 14 main fighters, from Toradora's Taiga and Asuna of Sword Art Online fame to the unlockable Selvaria of Valkyria Chronicles and Virtua Fighter's Akira, all have the same commands for their basics attacks, special moves, impact skills, and supers. This makes picking up a new character easy, but weakens the roster considerably. Since every fighter is essentially cut from the same cloth, Fighting Climax doesn't foster as wide a variety of play styles or combat strategies as do its genre peers. And aesthetically, while every character has unique animations based on the source material, most of them fall into the "waifu" female lead archetype, exacerbating the sense of redundancy and lack of diversity present in the mechanics. There's some depth to be found in the assist system, with 23 support characters to choose between and a wide array of support and offensive moves to augment your fighter's innate abilities. These can be used mid-combo at the cost of meter to lay on some added hurt or topple your opponent, or just in normal situations with a cooldown to disrupt or punish other competitors. While assist characters accent the roster, they highlight a myriad of unique figures in the Dengeki Bunko catalogue that would have made for more compelling choices than several of the leading ladies. While everyone will have their own favorites, I was particularly disappointed to see Spice and Wolf's lupine goddess Holo relegated to a supporting role. The stages are also an odd choice, drawing inspiration from a number of Sega franchises (Sonic the Hedgehog, Shinobi, Virtua Fighter, NiGHTS, and Phantasy Star Online among others), rather than the non-Sega worlds the vast majority of the cast is drawn from. While this makes sense in terms of the scant narrative the title's story modes offer, it's curious move on Sega's part to impose itself to such a degree in a game made primarily for fans of Dengeki Bunko's light novels and their anime adaptations.  There is some fan service to be found in the story modes, though, where players get to see characters from various universes interact with one another in cute little vignettes. Beyond that, Fighting Climax offers a bog-standard suite of features fighting game enthusiasts should be familiar with -- a spartan training mode, versus mode, a trio of challenge modes, plus ranked and unranked online versus. Most of it is handled fairly well, but, while I have no major complaints, nothing is terribly exceptional either. French Bread is a talented maker of fighting games, giving the experience a high floor, but this is not the studio's best work. It's perfectly competent, but feels like a major step down from the outstanding Under Night In-Birth, even if the titles were made for different audiences.  While decent enough, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax may be too simplistic for most hardcore fighting game fans to enjoy as anything more than an ephemeral lark, but is also perhaps still too complex for those that find the genre intimidating. It feels like another instance of game designers shaving off any sharp corners in an attempt to please as many people as possible. Fighting Climax shows a clear reticence to take risks, and its failure to do so betrays its potential to become truly remarkable or distinctive. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Dengeki Fighting Climax photo
Identity Crisis
Teenagers are in a strange point in their lives. No longer children, but not quite yet adults, adolescents exist in an uncomfortable grey area, a metamorphic state that compels them to forge identities independent of their gu...

More Sonic on PC photo
More Sonic on PC

Sonic Lost World heads to PC next month

Other 'past Sega titles' to follow
Oct 06
// Jordan Devore
Sega is bringing Sonic Lost World to PC on November 2, 2015. It's priced at $29.99 and the NiGHTS-infused Nightmare Zone, a stage available as DLC for the Wii U version, is included. In his 2013 review for Destructoid, Jim St...
Bayonetta photo

Sega Sammy is cutting its pachinko division by 200 jobs

Bayonetta machines blamed
Oct 05
// Chris Carter
Sega Sammy is cutting 200 jobs from its pachinko division, by way of a "voluntary retirement" program. Strangely enough Bayonetta and Fist of the North Star machines were blamed, which "were not sufficient to offset the ...
Nintendo 64 photo
Nintendo 64

Unreleased N64 game surfaces after 16 years

First footage of Viewpoint 2064 since 99
Oct 04
// Kyle MacGregor
History is littered with the bones of games like Viewpoint 2064, the unreleased sequel to Sammy's 1992 Neo Geo shooter Viewpoint. The Nintendo 64 project was first (and last) seen at Nintendo's Space World event in 1999, befo...
Yakuza 6 photo
Yakuza 6

Here's the first glimpse of Yakuza 6

Starring 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano
Sep 29
// Kyle MacGregor
Here's the first look at Yakuza 6, and -- wait -- is that Beat Takeshi? Why yes, yes it is. The famed Japanese entertainer, who you might know the host of cult game show Takeshi's Castle, has a role in Sega's latest gangster ...

When a bonus mode is better than the main game

Sep 26 // Kyle MacGregor
There's just something about Monkey Target. It seemed to have the power to transfix random passersby that might otherwise have little interest in games. Perhaps it was the peaceful music, which never seemed to get old no matter how many times you heard it. Maybe it was the bright colors that pulled people in -- a vast cerulean ocean stretching out as far as the eye can see, rainbow-coated targets, and rows upon rows of golden (and bizarrely Dole-branded) bananas hanging in the air. Maybe it was just the alluring concept of a bunch of monkeys in translucent balls rolling themselves down a slope toward the sea, popping the capsules open and gliding over the water toward faraway bull's-eyes. It's strange and fantastical -- the sort of thing you would have never dreamed up on your own in a million years, something you can learn in a minute but take a lifetime (or at least countless hours) to truly master. I'm not sure what it is about Monkey Target that I love so much. Everything, probably. Even today, I dusted off my old GameCube and fired the game up for a little "research." An hour later I was still trying to best my high score, just as enamored as I was 10 years ago. Are there any extra modes you enjoy more than the main games they're attached to? Funnily enough, the Chao Gardens from another Sega series, the Sonic Adventure games, also come to mind. Please share your favorites with us in the comments below.
Super Monkey Ball photo
Monkey Target forever
Super Monkey Ball was magical. It's a series for which I have so many fond memories. I have this vision in my head, a strong mental picture of half-a-dozen guys in a dimly-lit college dorm room playing Monkey Target 2. There ...

Warhammer 40K photo
Warhammer 40K

Steam's hosting a free weekend for Dawn of War

And not just the first game!
Sep 24
// Jordan Devore
It isn't the weekend yet, but I'm about to have me some fun. Ready up. The Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series is free to play on Steam until Sunday at 1:00pm Pacific. I'd recommend Dawn of War II and Chaos Rising -- they'll...
Blade Arcus photo
Blade Arcus

Take a quick look at Blade Arcus from Shining EX

New trailer from Sega
Sep 24
// Chris Carter
Sega is gearing up to release a new fighting game (or rather, arcade port) later this year in Japan called Blade Arcus from Shining EX, and the visual style is a lot cooler than the name. This new trailer gives us a decent look at what to expect when it hits the PS3 and PS4 on November 26, as it seems to be a story-heavy fighter.
PSO 2 photo

After playing the PS4 version, PSO 2 needs to come out right now overseas

Do it, Sega
Sep 18
// Chris Carter
It's no secret that I've been pining for a western release for Phantasy Star Online 2 for quite a while now. I'm hesistant to install the international version of the game, mostly because all of my friends are waiting on true...

7th Dragon III Code: VDS is uncompromising, or I suck at video games

Sep 18 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]311332:60431:0[/embed] Those two little bastards repeatedly killed me. Like, ten times straight. Each of their attacks would take off a third of my health, leaving me forced to use a health potion. They attacked again and I was right back where I started. When I got a blow in, it wouldn't defeat one of them (even my specials). Worse, because I didn't spend that time healing, I'd usually die on their next turn. I tasted victory once when it let me start the encounter with a preemptive attack. I think the game felt bad for me. With only a sliver of health left, I dealt the final strike and escaped the situation scathed but alive. Progress. Incredibly uncompromising and frustrating progress, but progress nonetheless. Seconds later, I hit another random encounter against the same two enemies but now with the amount of health I had after the first fight. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. I gave up. 7th Dragon III Code: VDS wasn't going to work out for me. I know when I'm bested, and I absolutely was. Maybe I was missing something important and it's really not all that hard. Maybe it's tough as nails. Whatever the case, it sent me packing with my tail between my legs, and it's been a long time since a demo has been able to do that to me.
RPGs that are hard af photo
Maybe both
As I spend the week demoing games that are entirely in Japanese, I accept that I'm not going to understand a lot of things. I know the kanji for "forest" and that's the extent of my fluency with the language. Dialogue's the f...

Miracle Girls Festival is fairly standard

Sep 17 // Brett Makedonski
[embed]311207:60413:0[/embed] Still, that familiarity (with the gameplay presentation, anyway) smacked me in the face and ears when I demoed Miracle Girls Festival. Button prompts flying from every which direction confused until they didn't anymore. Eventually there's a rhythm (ha!) you fall into. At least I felt connected to the music through my interaction. But, the honeymoon was short as Miracle Girls Festival ranked me as "standard" after all three songs I played. Cold. Not as chilly as all the times it flashed "worst" at me, but frigid nonetheless. The tracks were brief (probably two minutes, tops) so the onslaught of insults didn't stretch too long. Slightly ironic that Miracle Girls Festival repeatedly called me standard when it's the one cobbled together on the frames of other works. In doing so, it's completely predictable. Not that the fact will bother Project Diva fans, but it is. I can name-call too, Miracle Girls Festival.
Miracle Girls Festival photo
As am I
Sega's Miracle Girls Festival borrows from all over the place. The rhythm game features girls from a number of different anime, and it employs the same engine as Project Diva titles. If you're familiar with all of t...

Project X Zone 2 is more of the same, with new faces

Sep 16 // Chris Carter
To be clear, Project X Zone 2, so far, seems to be more of the same. Although Bandai Namco has promised advancements when it comes to the combat system, it's still very simplistic, and more style than substance. That's not to say that there's no strategic depth involved in general though, as the decision to employ defensive options at the cost of SP is alive and well, in addition to the general placement of your characters in each mission's grid. It just isn't nearly as nuanced as a lot of other SPRGs on the market. During my hands-on time with the game I was able to play a full level, which followed the mundane task of "killing all enemies," an objective typically found in the first iteration. Having completed the original it was an all-too familiar sight, albeit with the typical rush of playing as some of my favorite video game characters. During the demo I had access to Dante/Vergil, Chun-Li/Ling Xiaoyu, Strider Hiryu/Hotsuma, Kazuma Kiryu/Goro Majima teams, as well as the solo units of Captain Commando, Phoenix Wright, and and Ulala. As expected, the flair didn't disappoint. Dante/Vergil were a joy to play as, and the ninja team of Strider/Hotsuma (Shinobi) was just perfect. Seeing Captain Commando was also a treat, as he doesn't get nearly enough respect these days. Every single character is represented well, even the ones that can merely be called in by core units. It may be fanservice, but developer Monolith Soft is handling it in stride. Series producer Kensuke Tsukanaka was on-hand to talk about the game, and noted that in particular, they want people to know that this is a character-focused game, so the opening animation will not only feature every playable hero, but will clock in at just over two minutes in length. Tsukanaka went on to state, "We're aiming to look for new fans with an even bigger cast. We want people to see a new character and ask 'what game is this from?' We want them to become even more involved with the industry as a whole." The team is also stepping up the original animation with the sequel, as there will be more artwork than before both in and out of combat. I noticed this particularly during my demo session, as supers and abilities had a bit more visual flair than usual. When asked how this collaboration was even possible, Tsukanaka replied that "all of us have a mutual respect for each other. We've also collaborated for years with one another, so it wasn't too much of a stretch to create this project. The rivalry still exists, but it's a friendly one." Project X Zone 2 is still set for a November launch in Japan, and a February 16 date for the US was just announced.
Project X Zone 2 photo
Your mileage will vary
Based on the reception to Project X Zone 2, it's clear to see that it's a "hate it or love it" affair. Fans seemed to really take to the idea of playing as a cavalcade of heroes from some of their favorite franchises, but oth...

Project X Zone 2 dated photo
Project X Zone 2 dated

Project X Zone 2 will arrive overseas in February

2/16 for the US, 2/19 for EU
Sep 16
// Chris Carter
Today at TGS, Bandai Namco announced that Project X Zone 2 will arrive in the US on February 16, and in Europe on February 19. This isn't too far off from the Japanese release, which is still on track for November 12, 2015. I'll have my first hands-on impressions to share soon.

Total War: Warhammer's Dwarven faction shakes up the battlefield

Sep 16 // Alessandro Fillari
[embed]310625:60354:0[/embed] The developers have been keeping things pretty close to the vest when it comes Warhammer. While we've already seen the Empire and Greenskin armies in action, they've been very hesitant to share any details about the Dwarf and Vampire factions. As each army will have its own unique settings, politics, and overall feel from one another, Creative Assembly wanted to make sure it nailed its approach before showing it off to the world. Our session focused primarily on one of the earlier skirmishes in the Dwarven campaign. During the Ambush at the Thunderfalls Pass, the faction's underground networks have been breached by the Greenskins, and it must drive them out in order to keep its most secure and valuable asset in Dwarf hands. Unlike the other Total War titles, Warhammer has deeper ties to a general narrative during the campaigns. While you'll still have plenty of leeway into how you build the factions up, there will be several moments in the faction's plot that will affects several key characters from Warhammer lore, but will also change the course of your campaign. For the Dwarven faction, a great empire lies underground and they've built a network of tunnels to travel vast distances, transport supplies, and surprise enemies forces from beneath the earth. From underground skirmishes, to using the tunnels for trade during nation-building, the burly and stout faction will use the subterranean realm to strengthen its empire and debilitate foes. But given how valuable of a resource these tunnels have been to the Dwarfs, it's no surprise the other factions would want to take it for themselves. The Ambush at Thunderfalls Pass served as a great opener to not only the new field of war, but also to see how Warhammer made the transition to Total War. Despite the tonal shift and massive change in setting, battles should be quite familiar to those who've sunk hundreds of hours into the RTS series. Players control various types of ranged and melee units to engage the enemy and complete objectives. Along with a brand new mechanic called the Grudge system, which adds dynamic challenges based on how effective your attacks and strategies are against the opposition, the battle mechanics have evolved in this entry. With the fantasy aesthetic in full swing, the developers have gotten creative in implementing the classic Warhammer archetypes and lore into the Total War gameplay. Each faction possesses its own unique Hero classes, who are not only important to the faction's narrative, but also provide special skills and abilities to battles -- and many hardcore Warhammer fans will undoubtedly recognize a few of them. During this battle, the Dwarven units were accompanied by High King Thorgrim Grudgebearer, the ruler of the Dwarven capital city, who wielded a enchanted tome that allowed him to buff nearby units. Another Hero character with the army was Thane, a melee champion that was at his best when rushing into the thick of it. In addition to the large number of units, the hero characters add a lot of nuance to battles, as their special skills can seriously make or break a battle at critical moments. During one moment, a remote melee unit of Slayers was getting pummeled by Greenskins, but moving Thane close enough to their position allowed the Slayers to become imbued with his special melee buff which boosted their abilities and slaughtered their foes. It's important to remember that each faction always has ways to deal with the opposition, but you'll have to stay on your toes in order to keep one step ahead of the enemy. I was fortunate enough to test out the same map on two separate difficulty modes, Normal and Hard, and each skirmish field will have varying difficulties to spice things up. Hard mode makes your opposition far more aggressive and cunning, which will be a welcome option for those who want their battle knowledge to be put to the test. But of course, the thing that interests Warhammer fans the most are the faction characters. During this skirmish, we were given access to a number of unique classes from the Dwarven faction, with many more yet to be unveiled. Just as you would expect, each unit has its own special strengths and weaknesses, and they're at their best when combining efforts with different classes. From Dwarf Warriors, Longbeards with Great Weapons, Slayers, Iron Drakes (flamethrower units), Quarrelers and Thunderers (both ranged), Siege Weapons, and even Gyrocopters -- the Dwarfs' knowledge of tech and terrain are their greatest asset, and it totally comes out in the combat style and strategies they employ. I was impressed with the rich detail and visuals during the battle. With the awe-inspiring setting, and the detailed characters and animations, I had a lot of fun just watching the action unfold. Just like in previous titles, you can change camera and get much closer to the action with cinematic camera angles and wide-shots of the battlefield. It can't be stated enough at how much of a looker this game is. I spent a good amount of time just staring at the detail of Thorgrim's character model, which showed his throne being carried Dwarf servants. The developers nailed the visual aesthetic, and when Warhammer fans aren't winning battles, they'll be geeking out over the details of the world and its characters in-game. As the members of Creative Assembly stated during our session, Total War: Warhammer still has a ways to go during its development, but it's looking sharp at this point. The action was fluid, and the visuals were very impressive. The high-fantasy setting shines within the Total War brand, and with the core gameplay of the nation building still yet to be seen, more of the Warhammer universe will become unveiled in the coming months. I'm still looking forward to the day they reveal the Vampire faction, which the devs claim are very different from the others, but until then, the Dwarfs have got plenty of firepower and brute force to stand up against whatever comes their way.
Total War: Warhammer photo
Heigh-ho! It's off to war we go
Back at E3 2015, I got a special sneak peek at the upcoming Total War: Warhammer. The pre-alpha footage we were shown featured an intense battle between the Empire and Greenskins, and each side brought their largest weapons a...

Sonic Boom delay photo
Sonic Boom delay

New Sonic Boom delayed over quality concerns

Slow down, Sonic
Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Sega has hit the brakes on Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, postponing the Nintendo 3DS exclusive's launch date to give developer Sanzaru Games additional time to polish and improve the experience. The publisher says "it&rsqu...
Yakuza 6 photo
Yakuza 6

Yakuza 6 announced, exclusive to PlayStation 4

Targeting a fall 2016 launch in Japan
Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Hot on the heels of announcing Yakuza: Kiwami, a remake of the original Yakuza, Sega teased the next numbered entry in the series, Yakuza 6, which is primed for a fall 2016 launch. That window is only for Japan, of ...
Yakuza remake photo
Yakuza remake

Sega is remaking the first Yakuza game

Sep 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Oh, baby. Sega is remaking the original Yakuza for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and hot damn does it look good. In addition to the improved visuals, Yakuza Studio is adding new scenarios as well as some alternations to the game mechanics to create a more user-friendly experience. Yakuza: Kiwami is launches January 21, 2016, at least in Japan. Who knows if it's coming west.
Tokyo Game Show photo
Tokyo Game Show

Sega at TGS: Persona 5, possible Vanillaware and Yakuza Studio new games

Persona 5 news may come before the show
Sep 10
// Steven Hansen
Sega's got a lot going on at Tokyo Game Show 2015 between Sega proper, Sega Networks, and Atlus. There's already word we'll be getting a new Yakuza announcement, but Yakuza Studio might also be announcing a new PS3 and PS4 ti...
SEGA photo

New Yakuza announcement coming September 15

Yakuza 6 or 10th anniversary business?
Sep 10
// Steven Hansen
We -- that is, not-Japan -- are behind on the Yakuza series. Patiently we wait for a digital Yakuza 5 release this fall; it came out in 2012 in Japan. Japan has since seen Yakuza Ishin, Yakuza 0, and now another entry in the ...
RIP Dreamcast photo
RIP Dreamcast

Happy 16th birthday, Sega Dreamcast

We miss you
Sep 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Twenty years ago on this day, Sony released the original PlayStation (at least in North America, anyway, because never you mind anything that happens in other parts of the world). Also celebrating a birthday today (its 16th) is the Sega Dreamcast. Or at least it would be if it weren't dead and gone forever. But don't weep for the Dreamcast. We'll be joining it soon. Happy birthday, Dreamcast!
Persona 5? photo
Persona 5?

Atlus hosting Persona event at Tokyo Game Show 2015

So, Persona 5 release date?
Sep 09
// Steven Hansen
Hey, remember how Persona 5 still has a 2015 release date, but a non-specific one and, also, we're almost through 2015? Hmm. Sony Japan is doing its pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference at 4PM JST (12AM PDT) on September 15, ...
Project X Zone 2 photo
Project X Zone 2

Project X Zone 2 will have Segata Sanshiro

Also, Captain Commando!
Sep 09
// Chris Carter
Project X Zone 2 is getting some badass new characters, including Segata Sanshiro, one of Sega's old mascots. I have many fond memories of those wacky commercials. Captain Commando, who is also new, means a lot to me. He was...

Review: Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX

Sep 04 // Kyle MacGregor
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaRelease Date: September 8, 2015MSRP: $39.99 While Miku's looks will never fade with age, she certainly has received a bit of a makeover in her latest outing. In Project Mirai DX, a spin-off of Sega's successful Project DIVA series for Nintendo 3DS, the digital singer and her band of vocaloid pals sport a super deformed chibi aesthetic.  Inspired by Nendoroid toys, the characters all feature massive, distended heads and petite frames, reminiscent of toddlers. The new art direction is one I can't say I'm terribly fond of, as it gives rise to some awkward moments where the infantile performers unadvisedly attempt to exude sex appeal.  The new look isn't the only notable change to the established formula, though, as the rhythm game portion of the package has seen some revisions. The basic premise is the same, with notes flying in from off-screen, challenging players to keep time with the beat of the music. Players must either press specific buttons or tap the correct portion of the touch screen at certain times, the accuracy of which (in the aggregate) will determine the level of one's success or failure. The touch controls are a new and entirely optional way to play the game. On easy mode, players will tap a single circular area on the portable's lower screen, with each subsequent difficulty level adding another zone to tap on. This initially seems more forgiving than using the buttons, but on normal and hard mode, with multiple areas to worry about, I actually found this was more challenging. Keeping track of the action on the top screen while needing to tap certain sectors below can be quite the feat, particularly in an up-tempo song when the notes are coming in rather quickly. The touch controls can also be rather finicky, though. It's not only easy to tap the wrong portion of the screen, but sometimes the inputs don't seem to register at all. At other times, the game will ask the player to slide the stylus in a particular direction, which can be difficult if you are already pointing at the edge of the surface and are asked to move in a direction where there's no room to go. In contrast with the Project DIVA titles, where notes fly in from every which way to a variety of targets, Project Mirai introduces a single rail system, which I actually found to be a helpful change in most instances. There are times where this can be convoluted, with a crowded rail looping in on itself, or seemingly unfair, where the speed will change at a moments notice and throw off your rhythm, but for the most part it seems to be a better, more straightforward system. Another aspect where Project Mirai is remarkable is the sheer amount of content included in the package. The rhythm game mode vaunts 48 tracks in total, which span all sorts of genres and visual themes with minimal repetition, keeping the experience fresh and varied throughout. There are a lot of secondary aspects of the experience, which didn't necessarily appeal to me, but at the same time don't take anything away from the game. You can play dress-up and house with a selection of characters. There are mini-games and a somewhat limited mode that allows you to design your own compositions. By far my favorite throw-in, though, is PuyoPuyo 39!, a fun little Miku-themed version of Sega's tile-matching puzzle game that even incorporates local competitive play. One thing Project DIVA veterans might not appreciate about Project Mirai is it's a much easier and more lenient experience. On the other hand, some people find those games to be incredibly difficult and have a high barrier for entry. Personally, I was just fine with the challenge on the hard setting, but some rhythm game masters may be left feeling wanting for more in that area. Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX retains the essence of the Project DIVA series, but it's definitely its own unique thing. It may not appeal to all fans of the vocaloid songstress' previous work, and it's certainly my least favorite outing of hers in the realm of games. However, that all said, I still generally enjoyed my time with Project Mirai. Despite its missteps, this is a decent game that has a lot to offer for both rhythm game enthusiasts and Miku devotees alike. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Hatsune Miku 3DS review photo
In many respects, Hatsune Miku symbolizes my interest in Japan. It doesn't matter how much I learn about the virtual pop star or the amazing/bizarre subculture that has taken root around her; it's tough to imagine ever truly ...

Shenmue III photo
Shenmue III

The Shenmue III reveal triggered a huge spike in Dreamcast sales

Interest in first two games increases
Aug 31
// Laura Kate Dale
Six months ago, if you wanted to buy a second hand copy of Shenmue or Shenmue II on eBay you could do so for in some cases as little as $15. The games seemingly kept low resale value online due to the second game ending on a ...
Guilty Gear photo
Guilty Gear

Haha, Guilty Gear is in Phantasy Star Online now

Following BlazBlue
Aug 28
// Chris Carter
Back in July, BlazBlue invaded Phantasy Star Online 2. Now, Guilty Gear Xrd is getting a turn. Costumes for Sol, Ky (both male and female), Millia, May, and Elphelt are available as of the next update, scheduled for...
Sonic photo

Sonic Dreams Collection: Mascots, legacy, and audience perception

What happened to you, Sonic?
Aug 22
// Laura Kate Dale
Most of the critical discussion on Sonic Dreams Collection up until this point has been largely focused on it as an unexpectedly odd curio, and with good reason. An unusual mix of Sonic fan fiction crossed with Don't Hug Me I...

3D Gunstar Heroes revitalizes Treasure's debut action title

Aug 19 // Alessandro Fillari
Released towards the end of the Sega Genesis' life in 1993, Gunstar Heroes was Treasure Co.'s first title, and it was certainly a hell of a debut. While it quickly became a favorite among action fans and gaming press, it mostly went under the radar for many Genesis owners. Though the spotlight was on the release of the upcoming Sega Saturn, Gunstar Heroes still managed to become a cult hit among hardcore gamers. But over the years, it's cemented itself as one of the Genesis library's most loved and sought after titles, and even saw a sequel in Advance Gunstar Heroes for the GBA. This made it a prime candidate for the remaster treatment in Sega's 3D Classics series. Speaking with producer Yosuke Okunari, he spoke at length about the respect and admiration they have for the hectic and punishing action title."This was Treasure’s debut game. Everything they ever wanted to do, but couldn’t up until then, is poured into and represented in this game," said the producer while reflecting on the title's legacy. "The game’s volume and difficulty balancing is really spot on in my opinion, and you can feel the passion of the original dev team when you play the game even now. Their follow-ups, Dynamite Headdy and Alien Soldier, were really good games in their own right, and while the games' volume and difficulty were appropriate for its own day, they might not stand up so well in modern standards [In regards to difficulty curves]."Taking place in in a world where a massive army of mercenaries are seeking world domination, it's up to a family of crime-fighters known as the Gunstars to stop them. With the evil Colonel Red (called Colonel Grey in Japan) having acquired four powerful gems to power a massive robot capable of conquering the world, the brothers Gunstar Blue and Gunstar Red have to put a stop to the army's evil plans, all the while finding the whereabouts of their missing brother, Gunstar Green.Unfortunately for me, I missed out on Gunstar Heroes back in the day. While most of my attention was on titles such as Streets of Rage, Mortal Kombat, and Sonic, this one totally slipped past me. It sucks, because my seven year old self would've lived for this type of game. In similar style to Saturday morning cartoons or Japanese anime, the action and tone of the story is extremely over-the-top and takes place in episodic order, allowing you to go about clearing the game in anyway you want.For the uninitiated, Gunstar Heroes blends together high-octane shooting with some light-brawler action set across a series of unique and challenging levels. In the vein of classic side-scrolling shooters such as Contra, two players can utilize a variety of weapons, ranging from close-range flamethrowers, energy beams, and homing lasers. Moreover, players can even select aiming modes with Free-Aim (moving and shooting) or Fixed-Aim (stop and shoot), to suit their play styles. Even at close range, the Gunstars know how to handle themselves. Unlike the Contra guys, the Gunstars can throw, kick, and dive attack enemies that get too close for comfort. Utilizing all these skills is quite easy, and you'll be able to kick ass with ease.I was pretty blown away by the performance of 3D Gunstar Heroes on the 3DS. The original was quite an achievement on the Genesis, and seeing it in action in 3D is a trip. The visuals in the game use a number of graphical tricks and gimmicks that made the action really pop, and the 3D option really does a lot to enhance those aspects of Gunstar's visual design. Some bosses even have some quasi-3D animations and visuals, which was extremely impressive back on the Genesis. With 3D Gunstar Heroes, the overall performance is rock solid. Even with the 3D enabled, I was blasting enemies with screen-filling weapons and watching foes rush the screen with no drops at all. The folks at Sega saw porting over Gunstar Heroes as a major challenge, and actually put it off until they had more games under their belt."When we went about these Genesis 3D conversions, back when we first got the project off the ground, we thought that if we could get Gunstar into what we considered ideal 3D, then there was no way it wouldn’t be a good game," said the producer. "However, we knew that we had to wait until the development team had the experience needed to go about converting the sheer number of stages and all the odd perspectives the game used. In three years, M2’s team has worked on 13 titles (and then some), and they were finally ready to handle Gunstar since they now had the speed and skills to pull it off."Of course, one of the most admired aspects of Gunstar Heroes is its unique power-up system. While you select a core weapon at the beginning of each mission, power-ups acquired while out in the field will act as modifiers to your main weapon. For instance, using the lightning gun with the chaser power-up (green homing laser), it turns the lightning weapon into a homing laser that targets nearby enemies and clings to them until death. The weapon combos get pretty gnarly as you switch things up, and each combo changes the gameplay and strategies up considerably. In keeping with its focus on challenge, the original game only allowed core weapon selecting before the beginning of a mission. This design was to ensure players would commit to a weapon and stick with it for the level. Unfortunately, it was very often players would choose poorly and be stuck with an ineffective weapon for a level that may call for something more versatile. While many of the more skillful gamers could make it work, most players would often have to restart and pick a better weapon. This was one area the developers at Sega wanted to improve upon. With the addition of the brand new 'Gunslinger' mode, players can now switch between core weapons on the fly. While many hardcore fans might find this a bit sacrilegious, the developers had a lot of discussions about the new mode, and even took some inspiration from other titles from Treasure's library. "In Gunstar Heroes, there’s a lot of weapons, but the opportunity to change weapons is somewhat limited, so sometimes you get all caught up in using that one combination you like," said Okunari while discussing their work on Gunslinger mode. "It’s possible that people just never had the leeway to try different weapons or control modes. But by using Gunslinger Mode, you can now try a different weapon combination on that boss that used to give you a hard time back in the day, and you might find that you can beat them a lot faster. It’s a chance to try playing the game the way the developers originally intended. This does have the impact of lowering the difficulty. The 3DS’s controls are different from the Genesis, and we want people who played games back but maybe not so much now to be able to have fun with it. The gamers back then are probably more or less the same age as me, and they might not have the same skills they used to, you know?""This is something we can say for all the ports, but the SEGA 3D Classics development team were all fans of the games back when they were released. We know what makes these games good, so we didn’t need all that much time to figure out what sort of support features a person needs to play the game in today’s world," continued the producer. "The core of Gunslinger mode comes from a sequel made by the same development team called Alien Soldier, a game with a bit of a cult following that was only released in Japan and Europe. The key lies in this game. In Alien Soldier, you can choose from a number of weapons and control modes at will right out the door."Thankfully, I can say that the new mode is in keeping with the core Gunstar experience. The game was still tough as hell, even with the extra room to experiment and adapt to challenges with the weapon switching. I was pretty impressed with how well balanced the game is. Even with the larger arsenal, the enemies still can overwhelm and outmatch the player. I'm more than certain fans of the original will find a lot to like with Gunslinger mode. With the increased access to weapons, you'll be able to get to core of what Gunstar Heroes is about without much hassle.All in all, I have to say that 3D Gunstar Heroes is a pretty stellar port of the original. While I'm still kicking myself for missing out on this one back when I was a kid, I still managed to recall those days of wonder and excitement while spending some time with this installment. I feel as though this entry will bring in a lot of new admirers to the series. In many ways, Treasure was ahead of the curve when it released this title, but not that many people realized it. Thankfully, 3D remastering has done the original justice, and it'll give new players curious about this cult favorite the chance to give it a shot. But take heed: all the hype about this title's challenge was not exaggerated one bit. Be ready for this one.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Lock and Load on August 20
It's been pretty wild re-experiencing many of these past titles in Sega's 3D Classics series. In the last few months, we managed to get 3D remasters of several games that have defined Sega's legacy as one of the most famous g...

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