My first introduction to video games was through my parents, both were avid fans of JRPGs. When I was a toddler, I'd watch my father play Final Fantasy VII on our PlayStation for hours and hours. I was enamored by all the sights and the music that the game had to offer. Shortly thereafter, I got the first video game I could call my very own: Pokémon Blue Version. It was through Blue-- with the help of my older siblings, who each had a copy of Red Version-- that I started to learn how to read... as well as come to learn just how much I'd love video games.
Since then, games have become a very large staple in my life. I began to learn Japanese so that someday I could play games that weren't available in North America. I started playing piano and clarinet in sixth grade so that I could learn to play the video game music that I'd come to love so much--with particular fondness towards Koji Kondo's work in the Zelda franchise. Now I'm a college student with an instrument repertoire made up of 16 different instruments, and I sometimes write my own compositions in my spare time. Outside of Koji Kondo-san, my musical influences (in no particular order of preference) are composers Nobuo Uematsu, Yoko Shimomura, Hiroyuki Sawano, Keiichi Okabe, Motoi Sakuraba, and Hideyuki Fukusawa.
Based in the Greater Vancouver area of Canada, I plan to do my best to bring the latest news in the video game world so that people like me can be brought together by a common interest-- or rather, passion. Hope to see you around!
It’s no secret that Super Mario Sunshine had its problems in the eyes of Mario fans; consider the often-uncooperative camera and the infamously difficult pachinko level. One thing that many people agree on, however, is that Sunshine had gorgeous environments for its time. From the crisp shore of Gelato Beach to the vivid and grassy heights of Bianco Hills, there was a lot of character in each area of Isle Delfino that players were able to explore. But have you ever wondered how developers made the rolling waters look so nice? A new series on YouTube titled How Did They Do That!? discussed and broke down the development process behind creating the water physics in Sunshine.
The technical components used to make the water visuals and physics were summed up in five main parts. First, the texture of the water is mapped through the use of a computer-generated graphic in black. Then comes the UV mapping process: two separate UV layers are mapped, and each moves in different speeds and directions. The next and “arguably the most important” part is MIP mapping.
There are five MIP maps; each takes the black from the texture maps and makes it transparent, and the whites become an even brighter white. Each MIP map is layered on top of the other; the first and closest map has only a little bit of white, the one after that has slightly more, and the maps that follow have progressively less and less white to them until finally the water looks “invisible”. Following the MIP maps is vertex painting. This makes the water have its greenish-blue color, which looks brighter when the player is above the surface while the color is darker and more saturated when they are submerged. The final piece of the water physics puzzle is the motion of the water. The use of an undulating water surface model is what causes the water to roll rather than remain a flat surface.
But what does all of that mean when you put it all together? Indie developer Rob of RAWTalent93 noted, “This method is genius, because it’s light enough on system resources to be used all over the game without dropping the framerate or showing any obvious tiling.”
For many people, music can play a large role in what kind of impression a game leaves on them. Music is one of the key aspects in setting up a game’s atmosphere, and this is especially the case in the RPG genre. The right kind of song can get a player more engaged in what’s going on; whether it’s emphasizing how grandiose the overworld is or expressing the scale of a boss’ power, a well-composed soundtrack can be a crucial part of a game’s memorability. From catchy melodies to subtle ambient tracks, the RPG genre has seen all manner of soundtracks, with some being the perfect fit for the game at hand.
The soundtrack of NieR is always the first to come to my mind when I think about which game I believe has the best music. With its mix of melancholy instrumental pieces and beautiful vocals by Emi Evans (who, incidentally, also sang the vocals for the Dark Souls and Dark Souls II soundtracks), it more than makes up for NieR‘s lackluster graphics and sets a very strong tone for the game. The fictional language that was written for the game’s soundtrack is incredibly captivating, and I found the use of sounds from various modern languages as motifs for different characters to be a very nice touch. On the other hand, JRPG soundtracks such as Final Fantasy VI and Golden Sun stand out as soundtracks that sound amazing despite the sound limitations of their respective consoles.
What makes a great RPG soundtrack for you? What’s your favorite soundtrack in the genre? Let us know in the comments below, and take a peek at what the NieR soundtrack has to offer!
Many people would say that video games were a large part of their childhood; some would even say they teach you life skills. Young players can learn to read, to solve problems, and to take failure as a learning experience rather than a punishment. One graduate student from University of Tokyo went as far as to say that if it weren’t for video games, he wouldn’t have the skills to have been accepted into the prestigious school. In particular, he cited Pokémon as the source of his academic success.
“Because of playing this game, I developed my logical thinking skills and, perhaps, that was beneficial for even getting into this university,” he explained on a broadcast of Viking!.
Have you noticed similar benefits to gaming in your own life, or has gaming done more harm than good for you on an intellectual scale? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Nintendo has been known for their exclusivity and their hesitance towards sharing their IP for many years, but as of late we’ve been seeing a trend of partnerships between Nintendo and various other contenders in the entertainment market. An upcoming Universal Parks project, a plan to move into mobile gaming, and even a crossover with Activision’s Skylanders have been announced in the past few months. Why is it that Nintendo has become so eager to lend out their franchises? In the words of Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, “I don’t think it’s so much that the approach to our IP has changed. I think maybe we’re finding more partners and we’re finding people who really share our vision for how to leverage intellectual property.”
What is Nintendo’s “vision” on how their IP should be used? Reggie explained his thoughts further:
“[W]e want to make sure when we work with business partners or we work on collaborations that we’re partnering with people who understand the value of intellectual property, and can help us in propelling our IP forward.” — Reggie Fils-Aime
In particular Reggie detailed the process of becoming partners with Activision, and when they collaborated with Nintendo to add Donkey Kong and Bowser to Skylanders.
“Because Activision recognized that with Nintendo’s strength with families and kids, that having conversations with us and creating a business would be effective, but it needed to fit with Nintendo’s philosophies and how we view the marketplace.” — Reggie Fils-Aime
With as strong of a line up of first-party names and franchises as they have, do you believe that Nintendo’s decision to lend out their characters and IPs is worthwhile? Who do you want to be part of Nintendo’s next collaboration? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Along with talk about online co-op, Tri Force Heroes director Hiromasa Shikata gave more details about the Colosseum Mode that will be in the upcoming multiplayer Zelda game. Shikata describes Colosseum as “a competitive battle mode where you can fight 1v1 or a free-for-all with two other players.” On top of that, rather than connecting through StreetPass, players will battle each other online. Here’s what else Shikata had to say about the new mode:
“In Colosseum, you’re fighting in a limited space, it’s an enclosed environment and there are items that you will rush over to pick up so that you will have a better chance at winning. And actually, the terrain will transform mid-battle. You’re trying to inflict as much damage on your opponent as possible.” — Hiromasa Shikata
In addition, there are materials for clothes that you can only find by battling in the Colosseum, and some of them are used to make clothes that are “highly beneficial to competing.” Will you be battling in the Colosseum? Is online PVP a good thing for this game, or would you like it better as strictly a co-op adventure game? Let us know in the comments below!
“Transformation” was a concept that was mentioned numerous times during Nintendo’s E3 presentation this year, but what exactly do they mean by it? The president of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Aime, explained that the company’s idea of transformation branches beyond their Universal Studios partnership or their steps into mobile gaming. According to Reggie, it’s going to be a reoccurring theme in future additions to their beloved and better known IPs as well.
“We’re taking our great IP and transforming them and making them new again — making them fresh and appealing for the fan who feels they know the franchise. But we’re giving them new things to enjoy,” Reggie explained. However, this seemingly contradicts the negative outcry that came after the Metroid Prime: Federation Force announcement during E3. When asked about this, Reggie had much to say.
“What the fans at home saw was something in the Metroid Prime universe that they weren’t expecting. The reaction has been negative. There’s no sugar coating it. This is an example where fans who aren’t able to get their hands on the game may be at a bit of a competitive disadvantage. Everyone who has played what we are showing regarding Metroid Prime, they’ve come across really pleased. My ask is that fans trust us … We believe that in order to propel the franchises forward, we have to be the ones to constantly challenge the paradigms, challenge the conventional wisdom, challenge what we thought was the essence of the particular franchise, and a particular form of gameplay.” — Reggie Fils-Aime
Do you agree with the philosophy that Nintendo has adopted? Do you think that transformations are necessary for Nintendo’s bigger IPs to stay “fresh and appealing,” or is it too big of a risk for them and their franchises should be left as-is? Let us know in the comments below!
Game director Taro Yoko and producer Yosuke Saito sat down with Square Enix Presents E3 2015 to discuss NieR and the upcoming NieR game, temporarily titled NieR New Project, that was announced during Square Enix’s conference on Tuesday. Almost 40 minutes of the program were dedicated to a Q&A for the games, including what they’ve learned from the last game and what they have planned for the next Nier project. Both Yoko and Saito expressed at length how fan criticism and feedback of the first game is not only being considered, but implemented into how they move forward with the next entry.
NieR was not a very balanced game; even director Taro Yoko doesn’t deny this fact. There were many mixed reviews about the game and how many things changed over the course of playing it. There were numerous in-game changes in gameplay types and genres: some sections were platforming, some featured top-down combat, and there was even a segment of text-based adventure in the Forest of Myth. Despite all of this, producer Yosuke Saito made it clear that at its core NieR is an action RPG. While Yoko says he wants to continue something similar to the varied gameplay in the first game, as well as also mentioning that he has some ideas on how to approach it, the development team will be carefully considering fan feedback while developing New Project to determine what to keep from the first title and what changes to make. The return of text adventure segments in particular are being reconsidered. “I had heard that western gamers don’t like text adventures,” Yoko explained. “I don’t want to do a direct carbon copy of the previous [game] . . . I think it gets old– it gets stale– if you just copy what you previously did.”
The changes planned for New Project start with how their staff lineup is put together. NieR New Project staff now includes newcomers to the team such was Akihito Yoshida on character designs (Final Fantasy XII, Bravely Default). Due to Yoshida joining the team fairly late, Yoko himself is collaborating directly with Yoshida to create the designs and motifs of the characters. “Chic,”“haute couture,” and “blacks” are the current key words for how they plan to approach character designs, all of which are very apparent in the design of the protagonist that was shown off in the teaser. It’s interesting to note that the designs of the first NieR followed a theme of pale grays and whites, countering the ideas for New Project. Could this be intentional, or is this just another of Yoko’s “happy coincidences” as he directs the project?
Platinum Games is also joining the team, and there were left in charge of the development due to how renowned their work with previous action games is (Bayonetta 2, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance)—this is a clear response to the criticism from fans about the combat system in the first NieR. However, since development has started, worries have come up about the battle system being “too battle-centric” and the pace of the action being too fast, and therefore “less open to new players.” A focus that the team has had since starting work on New Project has been to open the game up to players who may not have played the first NieR, both in combat and in story. Finding a balance between pleasing veteran players and opening the game to new players with their battle system is proving difficult, Yoko admitted. The team’s main focus has been to make the combat simple while also making it flashy and fun to play for more advanced action RPG gamers. The ability to choose difficulty settings is being discussed internally, Saito noted, and the team would be willing to hear fans’ thoughts on such a system. They ultimately want a game function that “supports people who aren’t good at action games.” In addition, Saito was shocked to find out the amount of female and JRPG fans that have enjoyed the original game and has explained that he wants to be able to accommodate those types of players in the sequel.
Returning to the team is highly-praised music composer Keiichi Okabe, whose work in the original NieR, according to Yoko, was “far more praised than the actual game itself.” Yoko also made mention that he would like to bring back Emi Evans, the vocalist for the Drakengard 3 and NieR soundtracks, due to how much uniqueness and “flavor” she brought to Okabe’s work. Saito has personally requested that, due to how beloved the soundtrack has become, New Project should have arrangements of “several tracks” from the original. That said, Yoko has stated that while they certainly want to bring out the same sort of highly beloved music as the previous game, they “don’t just want another carbon copy [of the last soundtrack]” and that they want Okabe to “challenge himself and create a new feel.”
According to Yoko, fan support is one of the biggest reasons that a sequel to NieR is even possible. Because of that, a lot of fan feedback is being taken into consideration for the future development of NieR New Project. Saito himself stated that the original game was “so unique and original” and he is uncertain that it can be surpassed. Yoko, on the other hand, says he has ideas planned that he feels can do so.
As a fan of the game, it’s incredibly reassuring to know that they plan to fix some of the weaker aspects of the original NieR for the sequel, and news that they plan to challenge an already incredible soundtrack is very exciting. What are your thoughts on how they’re going about changing things? Do you agree with their thoughts about opening up the game to more players, or would you prefer to keep NieR as a cult classic series? Let us know in the comments!
Over the course of E3, the Nintendo Treehouse has been showing gameplay segments of many upcoming Nintendo titles. Among the games that were featured is Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon, with over 20 minutes dedicated to highlighting some of the new and returning features of the game. They also showed off some of the missions that you’ll be playing through and some of the game’s story.
What do you think about the changes they’ve made since the last Mystery Dungeon game? Will you be buying it? Take a look and let us know in the comments below!
Konami’s official site for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain recently put up a page full of images for the upcoming game. The batch includes photos from the cinematic trailers as well as some in-game screenshots. Are you looking forward to the next Metal Gear? Check out the photos to see what’s coming! The game releases on September 1st.
This year’s E3 was full of long-awaited surprise announcements, and among the biggest of announcements was the PlayStation 4 remake of Final Fantasy VII. However, the remake might bring some unexpected changes from the game that fans remember. When asked about potential changes by GameSpot, director Tetsuya Nomura hinted that they could make some changes from the original game for the upcoming remake. Here’s what he had to say:
“We’ve announced an HD port version on the PlayStation 4, and then we have the remake coming to PS4. You’ll have this extremely, very, very pretty FFVII existing on the same plane. We feel that if that happens, it’s like, why have the same exact game?
“We think that if a game is on a certain platform and that platform becomes obsolete, then we’d recommend playing the new port version.” — Tetsuya Nomura
Do you agree with Nomura’s thoughts? Would changing things from the original PlayStation game make or break the remake for you? Tell us in the comments!
Blizzard released a short pre-rendered teaser for their upcoming expansion to StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, introduced as Whispers of Oblivion. The expansion is a series of three prologue missions that are meant to help introduce new players to Legacy of the Void and will be free to all players, regardless of whether or not you have previously purchased Starcraft II before. The beta for Whispers of Oblivion will begin in July of this year.
Is this a good method for drawing in new players to Starcraft? Are there any veteran players out there looking to try out the new expansion? Check out the brief teaser and let us know!
From the creators of Penumbra and Amnesia: The Dark Descent comes SOMA, a horror game set in the deep seas that creative developer Thomas Grip says will “ask disturbing questions about human nature.” The game will be in the same vein as Frictional’s previously popular horror games as a first-person interactive horror game, with the player once again left weaponless in an enclosed and dark environment. A trailer was presented at the PC Gaming Show featuring the new game’s setting. Are you excited for a new Frictional horror? Let us know in the comments below!
E3’s PC Gaming Show sat down with the developers of the latest part of Obsidian Entertainment’s Pillars of Eternity to announce the upcoming expansion, The White March. The expansion will be developed in partnership with Paradox Interactive. The focus of the expansion is that there will be more of everything the original game had to offer, including more story and more gameplay. To demonstrate what’s on the way for Pillars of Eternity, a cinematic story trailer was revealed. Alongside new features for the game are improvements to the original game’s features, including a raised level cap.
Are you excited for the expansion? Give us your reaction in the comments below!
It’s no surprise that many people were disappointed with Nintendo with regard to this year’s Digital Event at E3. Metroid Prime: Federation Force has already received 21,000 dislikes on its official trailer page on YouTube since it was posted earlier in the day; new Animal Crossing spin-offs and another handheld Zelda game have also received numerous criticisms since the Digital Event showed them off. These criticisms have not been ignored. Nintendo’s CEO, Satoru Iwata, posted an apologetic message on his Japanese Twitter page.
He stated that Nintendo took their fans’ criticisms and opinions seriously, and “will work to better meet [fans’] expectations.”
.@Nintendo Thank you for watching. We take opinions of this year’s Digital Event seriously and will work to better meet your expectations.
Square Enix unveiled brand new gameplay footage for the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts III at their conference today. Alongside the footage came new promotional art of Sora – sporting a new outfit closely resembling the one he wore in Dream Drop Distance – Donald, and Goofy. There was lots to see, including the addition of a new world based on Disney’s Tangled, more bright and flashy Reaction Commands, and more summons. The game looks incredible, so take a look and let us know what you think down below!
Happy Home Designer isn’t the only Animal Crossing entry on the way! During Nintendo’s Digital Event, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival was revealed! The game will feature Amiibo figures, leaked earlier this week, of various Animal Crossing characters as you compete against other in a Mario Party-type board game format; though so far it looks a little more like a traditional board game format than traditional Mario Party. Tom Nook, Mabel, K.K., and Isabelle are all confirmed to be playable. The game is scheduled for release this holiday for Wii U!
Will you be playing it? Let us know in the comments below!
During YouTube’s E3 livestream today, Konami debuted a brand new trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This 6-minute trailer teases more of the plot elements, enemies, and characters that will be featured in the upcoming Metal Gear game. What do Konami and Kojima Productions have in store for us? Check it out in the trailer above!
There’s a lot being shown, and a lot to talk about, so tell us what you think in the comments below! What are you looking forward to in the latest Metal Gear?
During Microsoft’s conference this morning, a massive lineup of upcoming indie games was shown off. Among them was a trailer for Beyond Eyes, a new game coming to both Xbox One and PC this summer. Beyond Eyes follows a blind girl as she uses senses outside of her eyesight to interact with and slowly piece together the world around her. Does this game sound like something you would play? Let us know what you think after the jump!
The monthly CoroCoro magazine leaks have arrived, and along with them came news for Pokémon Super Mystery Dungeon! Leaked artwork reveals the presence of Mega Evolutions in the upcoming game. Also included in the picture are various non-Mega Evolutions of the different starter Pokémon players can be.
What do you think this could mean for the game? Could this be proof that evolutions are made accessible to players earlier in the game than in past entries of the series? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
Nintendo filed for a trademark in Europe this morning, and the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) opened the list of trademarks to the public. Alongside a lengthy collection of goods and services, Nintendo filed the name Diddy Kong for trademark. Could last year’s rumor about a Wii U Diddy Kong Racing game be coming true? Could Retro Studios’ upcoming project be a follow-up to Diddy’s Kong Quest? Or perhaps this is another Nintendo trademark that will be left to gather dust. What are your thoughts?