Kenichiro Fukui is a composer that few likely know off the top of their head. He began his career as a member of the Konami Kukeiha Club in 1990 under the moniker "Funiki Fukui". The first game he worked on was Sunset Riders in 1991, but he only did the sound effects for the game. His first full composition job was Konami's light gun arcade game Lethal Enforcers. He worked on a few more arcade games at Konami, including 1992's GI Joe with Tsutomi Ogura and 1993's Violent Storm with Seiichi Fukami.
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Video games have the ability to draw from the full range of emotions and reactions from the human mind, and can still be considered good even while focusing on drawing out such reactions as frustration and annoyance into its core design. It feels good for the mind to overcome a challenge, so the feeling of relief that comes after the period of high challenge feels all the more sweet. There are a variety of ways to accomplish this, whether building the game from the ground up to be in this way, or to give a robust set of free form tools that allow for a unique experience with each new map. Horror games and games designed to be tense, difficult experiences can easily feel like they're drawing from the natural curiosity of humans to see what lies behind the next door.
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Nintendo is well known as the master of the platformer. Their style and characters have become ubiquitous throughout gaming. The company's own mascot Mario has inspired spinoffs on top of his own core platforming series, and Super Princess Peach is one such example. It was developed for Nintendo's DS by Tose, and feels like a crossover between regular Mario mechanics mixed with those of Yoshi's Island. The game also includes quite a few enemies from the Yoshi's Island spinoff series, which begs the question of how close this game's setting of Vibe Island is to the island that baby Mario and Luigi were dropped on as babies. The game was released in Japan in 2005, with international release the following year.
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Dragon Quest V is one of the most important role playing games to ever be released. Despite this, it has been a near unknown outside of Japan. Enix struggled to establish any sort of long term foothold in the North American gaming market. They were a bit more successful in Europe, enough to keep the doors open through the mid-90s. Translating RPGs is a long, expensive process, and Dragon Quest was the company's flagship series. The first four games on NES were all localized and released, but the process likely started too late. Japan got to see the full, natural evolution of these early Famicom RPGs, while the Western games were jumbled. They released a few years after their initial release as well. Japan originally saw the first Final Fantasy releasing two short months before Dragon Quest III. In the timeline of Western releases, Final Fantasy actually beat Dragon Quest II to market. Being a full game behind made Enix's games look that much weaker once they released internationally.
A big promotion with Nintendo Power got a lot of copies of the first Dragon Quest game circulated in North America, but the sales of each subsequent game in the series just fell. The later games in the series were also hurt, since they were released after the Super Nintendo's release. The early games in the series were like building blocks, introducing more core mechanics with each subsequent game. By the time that Dragon Quest V was getting ready for release, all these pieces were in place, and the focus on telling the personal story of the heroes became even more prevalent.
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I recently took a road trip to the Denver, CO area and spent a good weekend hunting there. We had some choices for arcades to visit, but with one being in Downtown Denver and one right outside it, we made sure to find something closer, and with less traffic. Hyperspace is advertised as the Denver area's largest arcade, and its a good one to go visit if you're wanting to spend some real time surrounded by cabinets and pinball. Its a flat entrance fee for all you can game arcade action.The cost of a day pass is $12 and for $45 you can acquire a monthly pass. Every machine is set to free play and with the push of the start or credit button, you can play until your heart's content.
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Galerians is considered a bit of a hidden game for Sony's first Playstation. The game was released in 1999 in Japan, and the following year in Western markets. It was developed by Polygon Magic, published by ASCII Entertainment, and carries the Crave logo for distribution. It seems to have been hidden as a result of the game's late timing on the system, coming just as the hype for Playstation 2 was in full gear. It's also a game that does little to advance the survival horror design formula, other than giving you a different story and weapons that fit the story.
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For years, one of Japan's great series of role playing games was almost completely unknown in the West. The Megami Tensei series began on Nintendo's Famicom; the first one was an adaptation of a popular trilogy of horror novels of the time, Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei by Aya Nishitani. A sequel unrelated to the novel was then developed and released. When the Super Famicom released, Atlus was gearing up to develop a new game in the series, but there was no more source material to draw from. Nishitani worked with Atlus on a completely new story in the same universe, and it took on the Shin Megami Tensei moniker. These early games stayed locked up in Japan, due to Nintendo of America's vehement censorship of anything and everything religious. A game where you talk to literal demons from various global mythologies, recruit them, and use them as your party members never had a chance of being released outside of Japan. Western gamers did not even see the Shin Megami Tensei name on a game until the Playstation 2 had been out for a few years. The third game in the main series finally released in 2003 in Japan, and it followed in 2004 in Western markets. Atlus has been toying around in the shadows for decades.
Continue reading Spooky Plays: Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
In the late 1990s, a great push was made by a formerly beloved underdog of video game hardware manufacturing, after bad decisions across a variety of fronts lead to gaming's greatest collapse since the fabled crash of '83. The only player that lost significant ground was Sega, which had always managed to have a bright market in some part of the globe at different points of its history. The Master System's greatest success was in Europe, with the Brazilian market pulling off a surprise punch as well. The Genesis managed to expand the hold to North America, and really tapped into the consumer mainstream, but both consoles lagged behind in Sega's homeland of Japan. All that flipped with the Saturn, when Japan took the spotlight at the expense of everybody else. The Dreamcast was Sega's last gasp, and despite a critically short life, it managed to grab hold of a chunk of North America once again.
Part of the reason for this collapse was the marketing. Sega was poised to grab a chunk of mainstream gamers after pushing their sports games boldly on cable advertisements. This failure in marketing was that it didn't show the true breadth of titles available for the Dreamcast. The commercials showcased more TV friendly and higher quality renderings of Dreamcast game assets, but only really named individual game titles in their commercials. Gone were the sort of list commercials from the Genesis days that showcased both in-game footage, and the actual title of the game on top of it. A prime example of this advertising misstep was with the main character of Jet Grind Radio, Beat. He was spotted in multiple Dreamcast commercials, even getting a solo shot in one, but not once was the name of the game ever dropped. Everything was spliced on top of live footage, and Jet Grind Radio did not get its own commercial to show off anything beyond the style of one character's design in a most inauthentic way.
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The vast sea of forgotten tales long buried in the sands of time can seem insurmountable to one looking for a place to dig. Sega's Saturn is a system that has been pushed to the wayside for the entirety of its existence in the West, while it enjoyed a brief success as the great black gaming box of the East. Some of its games made their way over to the West, but the overall ratio of those that came compared to those that never made it is sad to look at, especially if you put yourself in the mindset of a Western Saturn fan who sees the press talk about new Japanese games that only had a tiny chance of being brought over. Some of the ones brought over were excellent, like Dragon Force, GunGriffon and the arcade ports that I have previously discussed. Even the weaker titles brought over were at least something to whet the appetite. With all that in mind, which category of quality does Dark Savior manage to fall into, or is it just another futile voyage along a sea of the endless sands?
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Vapor Trail is a vertically scrolling shooter originally developed by Data East for the arcade in 1989. Kuuga: Operation Code "Vapor Trail" is the game's full Japanese name, with the title being changed to Vapor Trail: Hyper Offense Formation overseas. Telenet Japan secured the rights to port the game to Sega's Mega Drive, publishing through its RiOT label for release in 1991. At the time, Telenet also had a North American subsidiary named Renovation Products, who handled the overseas Genesis release in the same year.
This original game spawned an arcade trilogy from Data East. The second game in the Kuuga series is Wolf Fang: Kuuga 2001, and the third is Skull Fang: Kuuga Gaiden. Both of these sequels were ported to the followup of the Genesis, the Saturn. Wolf Fang expanded to Sony's PlayStation, and even took a modern leap to the PlayStation Network, for a PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable release. Wolf Fang switched genre completely when it changed into a run and gun and platforming hybrid; however, Skull Fang returned to the scrolling shooter mechanics of the original.
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Sega Rally Championship is one of the best arcade racing games of the mid-1990s. Since Sega's always got something in the pipeline for the arcade, it makes sense that a sequel would eventually follow. Sega Rally Championship was also one of the few bright spots for the company during their years supporting the Saturn. It's one of the most popular and common games for the system in all regions, mainly because Sega was pushing marketing behind their arcade ports. Most of these games were already hits in the arcade, so it's no surprise that they were also hits for home console owners.
Sega Rally Championship 2 was developed and released in the arcade by Sega AM5 in 1998. A year later, gamers received a home console port for the Saturn's follow up, the Sega Dreamcast. This Dreamcast port ended up being a launch title for the European release of the system. A PC version was also released later in the year, and just after the New Year for 2000 in North America.
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One of the biggest reasons I got into role playing games on PC is because of how open they were. Many of them are so open, that you might never get around to playing the entirety of the main story. Having these games really come of age in the third dimension was one of the best things about having a decent PC in the early-mid 2000s. Now I can't help but feel they've stagnated nearly to the point of being the opposite of fun and rewarding. I believe one of the biggest reasons for this is the industry's total shift to fully-voiced scripts, especially in the AAA development scene. This staunches writing freedom and limits player options--effects that game designers should be against! I can only hope this is a AAA trend that dies out, and seeing all these conflicting opinions could lead to Fallout 4 being the landmark title that starts the reversal of this trend.
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When was the last time you had an impulse purchase completely surprise you? Our game today is one of those for me. Fairy Fencer F is a turn-based RPG developed for Sony's Playstation 3 and Microsoft Windows. I initially had some doubts, since I saw the game was developed by many of the same companies behind the Hyperdimension Neptunia series. To be fair, I've only played the first Neptunia game, and it was a real chore. You can check out my review of that game here: http://www.rfgeneration.c...mension-Neptunia-2957.php.
Once I started playing Fairy Fencer F, I noticed that some monster designs looked different from what I saw in Neptunia, but many looked quite familiar. In addition to Idea Factory's character designer, Tsunako, they managed to add an extremely familiar name to character design for classic RPG fans, Yoshitaka Amano. I'm sure he was brought in for the male characters and monsters, since the two leading ladies look like Neptunia rejects. Meanwhile, Fang looks like Squall and Sora's love child. He's not the only one who was added to Idea Factory's staff for this project, and he's not the only one from the series we all know him for. The original Final Fantasy composer also joined the team. That's right, Nobuo Uematsu composed some songs and had his band, the Earthbound Papas, record them and a few others for the soundtrack. Most of the music was done by the existing in house musicians, but its all good to listen to and fits with the game and characters quite well.
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The first Virtua Cop is a true light gun classic, and you can read why in my review of it here: http://www.rfgeneration.c...views-Virtua-Cop-3041.php. It reset the standard for excellence, and brought the genre into the 3rd dimension all at the same time. It was inevitable for there to be a follow up. Virtua Cop 2 was released for the arcade in 1995 by AM2 at Sega. A port to the Sega Saturn was released the following year, with another port for PC in 1997, and even a Japan exclusive individual Dreamcast release in 2000. This version was packaged with 11 other games on the Sega Smash Pack for North American release.
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This may be the first game that lets me truly use the name of this review series. Persona 4 is a turn based RPG that was originally released late in the life of the Playstation 2. This game was developed and published by Atlus, and was released in the West in 2008. The game's commercial success, especially internationally, has lead to Atlus releasing an updated version with extra content on Sony's Playstation Vita, Persona 4: Golden. Spinoffs of this Shin Megami Tensei spinoff are all over the place now. Arc System Works developed the fighting games Persona 4: Arena and Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax for Japanese arcades, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. The Vita recently saw the release of the newest spinoff, a rhythm game called Persona 4: Dancing All Night.
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