You’ve probably never played… ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat

ASH

ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat
Developer(s): Mistwalker, Racjin
Publisher: Nintendo

Platform(s): DS
Release Date: October 4th 2007 (Japan exclusive)


Despite the relatively unchanging formulas that run throughout the genre, turn-based, grid-based strategy games have consistently managed to retain their popularity across every generation. With newcomers such as The Banner Saga joining long running series such as Civilization and Fire Emblem in leading the charge, it’s easy to find a game suitable for scratching your strategic itch on almost any platform. The DS in particular played host to a wide and diverse range of RPGs of every type, with Japanese-made titles in particular thriving in the console’s heyday. ASH: Archaic Sealed Heat fits nicely into the varied roleplaying lineup the system had to offer – it may not be quite as polished as its better-known DS strategy counterparts, but this Japan-exclusive release has a lot to offer for those looking for something original, in more ways than one.

Released exclusively in Japan in 2007, ASH was one of many titles developed by the then-new Mistwalker, a development studio founded by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. Following his departure from Square-Enix, Sakaguchi has remained involved in the JRPG scene, with the likes of Lost OdysseyBlue Dragon and The Last Story being met with varying levels of commercial and critical success. However, despite collaborating on development with the experienced Racjin, as well as Nintendo taking up publishing duties, ASH failed to garner widespread attention.

At face value, the game’s setting is that of a relatively simple fantasy story. Shortly after becoming Queen, heroine Aisha (sometimes translated as Aisya) finds her kingdom on the receiving end of an attack by an evil demon, with the vast majority of its populace unable to stand up to its ferocious power. However, Aisha soon discovers she wields the remarkable power to return some of her fallen allies to life using their ashes (hence the origin of the game’s unique title). From here, a fairly standard adventure begins – a ragtag group of heroes come together to push back the darkness and save the world. While the scenario itself fails to offer anything particularly fresh, well-written and amusing interactions between a likeable cast of characters help to supplement the plot.

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When Yakuza met Sylvanian Families – Culture Collection #12

What happens when you cross the gentle country lifestyle championed by Sylvanian Families, the internationally popular line of anthropomorphic animal mini-figures, with the hard-boiled, gripping criminal underworld that plays host to SEGA’s Yakuza series of crime games? Twitter user @momomousoumomo calls it ‘Yakuzania’ and their take on the seedier residents of Kamurocho in a more… cuddly style is certainly a spectacle to behold.

I’ll be frank – I haven’t a clue what the inspiration behind this bizarre mashup could be. Maybe we’re looking at a hardcore Yakuza fan who simply wants the series’s distinctive cast to get some much-needed downtime? Alternatively, perhaps they felt the grandiose 50’s-inspired setting of Sylvanian Families lacked a notable presence of organised crime. Either way, these are two franchises that make an unlikely duo, yet the universe of Yakuzania is a strangely compelling one…

First, let’s take a look at the characters. Series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu‘s sharp facial features and unmistakable white suit and red shirt (which according to actual Yakuza, doesn’t make for a particularly good fashion statement in the real-life criminal underworld) have been captured brilliantly – it appears that the majority of the cast are sporting handmade garments and facial hair pieces, and just looking at the amount of detail put in makes it apparent that they were made by someone who takes their Yakuza seriously. It’s a nice touch that Yakuza‘s resident violent eyepatch-wearer Goro Majima has been created both in his trademark garb as well as his cabaret girl disguise, which he uses in an attempt to ambush Kiryu in remake of the original game Yakuza: Kiwami.

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MOTHER 2 x Hobonichi returns for 2017 planner accessory collection

The Hobonichi Techo daily planner, a brainchild of Japanese copywriter, TV personality and creator of the MOTHER series Shigesato Itoi and his company Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun (Hobonichi), is back with a brand new lineup of stationary and accessories for 2017, including a selection that will most definitely be highly desirable to that crossover of MOTHER fans and regular Techo users.

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Following successful launches of MOTHER-themed designs over the last few years, Hobonichi are introducing three new styles of of planner covers inspired by the cult favourite RPG series. First up is ‘Memories‘, which focuses on some of the weird and wonderful locations the game’s four heroes venture to on their journey. As the Hobonichi website aptly puts it, “the sight of all these nostalgic places is sure to bring back lots of memories”, staying true to the cover’s name.

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Next up is ‘1994‘, which displays a motif inspired by the Super Famicom version of the game’s box art. Itoi states the packaging design was inspired by Japanese chocolate bar wrapping, which shows through in its bold gold and silver logo on a strong red backing. This is a great way to show your appreciation for an iconic design missed out on by the west.

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The final design, simply named ‘Ness‘, comes in the form of a hardcover book released under the ‘Weeks’ range of weekly planners (as opposed to the Techo’s daily format). It feature’s MOTHER 2‘s protagonist in a variety of poses, printed on shiny blue necktie material. The sharp-eyed EarthBound fan might notice that some of the poses featured are actually exclusive to the Japanese version of the game.

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The latest version of Hobonichi’s Techo planner, as well as the wide range of covers and accessories available for it, are set to go on sale starting September 1st. Every order of a MOTHER Techo cover or Weeks planner contains a free large-scale Mr. Saturn sticker as an added bonus – in previous years, the MOTHER-themed covers have been some of the first to sell out, so keep a close eye on the Hobonichi Techo English website, where you can check out the full lineup of accessories.

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The work and leisure of Guilty Gear’s Ishiwatari Daisuke

Arc System Works veteran and producer of the Guilty Gear series Ishiwatari Daisuke takes centre stage in the second of Toco Toco‘s special game creator-focused series, a window into both the careers and personal lives of some of Japan’s most talented gaming industry personalities.

Throught the video we’re given a tour of Ishiwatari’s work environment, meeting his fellow creator and producer of the BlazBlue series Toshimichi Mori, as well as learning about the pair’s ethic towards game creation. The video then follows Ishiwatari as he partakes in one of his favourite pastimes, walking, explaining how he uses this thinking time and the way it influences his work, as well as how the landscapes and architecture of Yokohama’s Minato Mirai area invoke memories of his childhood in South Africa.

Be sure to check out more of Toco Toco’s Japanese creator videos on their YouTube channel, and keep an eye on their Twitter feed for updates and exclusive giveaways.

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Programmable Series – Know Your Limits

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Your concept is coming together and designs are falling into place – now it’s time to start implementing your game designs into something tangible. Having a hardware target in mind is a great start, but the important questions begin to build from there. Can that hardware handle your game? Do you need to support additional peripherals? Is the play intuitive on that hardware? What if you want to port to other platforms later on? As these questions pile up you’ll need to focus on the limitations of the hardware, software, and even your design.

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Currently, computers and mobile phones are the most common platforms that games are released for. This is likely because they are considered the easiest and most cost-effective to develop for. Many games of the past and even console exclusives were developed on computers and then migrated over to their ultimate console destination. Additionally, with the ease of digital distribution, this makes the most financial sense, especially for independent and small development studios. Reducing production costs allows for funds to be distributed to other aspects of a game’s development and by removing the variable of physical media, the cost of a game to both publishers and consumers can be drastically cut – if you plan to release a physical version of your game then you’ll need to consider these costs early on in development.

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STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT – Super Mario Advance 4 e-Reader showcase

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Join us today for a live stream taking a look at an under-appreciated part of GBA Mario remake Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 unavailable in Europe until its Virtual Console re-release – the e-Reader exclusive levels, which throw Super Mario Bros. 3 convention out of the window, mixing and matching parts of various 2D Mario games to create an intriguing experience.

We’ll be going live at 4.00pm UK time and spend a couple of hours challenging a handful of the stages World-e has to offer, so feel free to subscribe to our Twitch channel and Twitter feed to make sure you don’t miss upcoming announcements and reminders about when to tune in.

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Fashion, food and fighting – Splatoon gets real in HITEYE’s Shibuya guide fanzine

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A new project from RAW-Fi is putting a stylish, Splatoon-inspired spin on your ordinary city guidebook. Embracing Nintendo’s squid/kid phenomenon head on, HITEYE‘s latest edition compiles the hottest locales in Shibuya – the area of Tokyo which inspired Splatoon‘s ‘Booyah Base’ hubworld – within a full-colour zine that aims to portray the district’s style and culture from the perspective of Splatoon‘s Inklings.

Be it the best places to fill up on tasty seafood, the city’s slickest styles and where to find them, or even the local weapons-of-choice for enacting your own turf wars – ink and squid transformations not included – HITEYE has you covered. Words and pictures from the resident designers, artists and writers within Shibuya’s creative coterie help bring together a chic look at a popular part of Japan from a different perspective, one which captures the trendy cultural spirit of Splatoon that has helped transform it from a fledgeling concept to a firm favourite amongst players young and old.

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Unfortunately, getting hold of a copy may be no easy feat – the zine is releasing seemingly exclusively at this summer’s Comiket, which begins in a few days time, and whether or not it’ll be reprinted or available after the event is yet to be seen. We can only hope that those who won’t be in attendance will still get a shot at exploring Shibuya with a little help from a guide that’s shaping up to be worthy of even the freshest Inkling.

Be sure to take a look at the official webpage for HITEYE, where you can find out more about the inspiration behind this brilliant concept, as well as find out where to get yourself a copy should you be in the area.

Posted in fan works, fashion, Food, japan, magazine, nintendo, Posts, Splatoon, Zine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Robotic Akira from Virtua Fighter perhaps the most terrifying thing to walk the earth

When people talk about the supposedly impending ‘rise of the machines’, in which the technology we have created turns against us and rules over us with an iron, circuit-filled fist, it’s unlikely the thought that said machines will be practicing martial artists has crossed many a paranoid mind. It’s even less likely that machines donning Sega Saturn consoles on their backs would be expected to lead the charge, but if robot building fanatic Holypong‘s custom-made Akira Yuki fighting robot is anything to go by, this could very much be the case.

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Based on the recently released polygonal Virtua Fighter Figmas and crafted using scaled-up, 3D printed parts, Holypong’s creation can not only take up a game-accurate fighting stance, but deliver multiple different styles of punches and movements. Whilst this particular robot is arguably ten years too early to consider any plans for world domination, it’s amazing that something of its complexity can be constructed by a single person.

For those with a liking for all things mechanical, more bizarre robot creations can be observed over at Holypong’s YouTube channel, where his robot army seems to be gradually increasing in numbers by the day…

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An hour of dojin games from Comiket 90

Edelweiss are back with their latest dojin and indie game trailer compilation video straight from Comic Market, the world’s largest self-published works fair held in Tokyo twice a year, which reaches its 90th instalment this summer.

Featuring more than an hour’s worth of trailers and footage from games across a plethora of genres, there’s more than likely to be something that takes your fancy amongst the selection – why not take some time to sit back and enjoy what Japan’s hobbyists and independent creative minds have to offer.

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Minus World Reading List – July 2016

Nintendo have been known to take a particularly secretive approach to their internal dealings, to the extent that very few have seen the inside of their headquarters, in person or in photographs. This clip from the 1994 French documentary Otaku, which did the rounds on social media last month, throws this notion out of the window, giving us a clear yet dated window into the workspaces and environment of Nintendo employees, including Shigeru Miyamoto, as well as the attitudes and history of the company. There are quite a few cool things you might spot on Miyamoto’s desk if you pay close attention, although honestly I was expecting it to be more cluttered!

The chances are, you’ve never heard of Jake McPake. I certainly hadn’t up until very recently, yet his story is one that felt familiar, and you very likely might feel the same way. In a heartwarming piece from ex-Official Nintendo Magazine and CVG writer Chris Scullion, we learn of the origins and escapades of Jake McPake, a character created in his youth through AKI‘s WWF Wrestlemania 2000 for N64 who would carry on with him through every game with a character creator mode, rising to the top at any activity he attempted, be it football and hockey in EA sports games, or becoming the President of the United States in Saints Row.

I can completely relate to Scullion’s story, especially when it comes to wrestling and open-world games – the never-ending blood feud between ‘Switzerman’ (the human Swiss flag, naturally) and his son ‘Switzerman Jr.’ will likely rage on for many more WWE games to come, long past its origin in 2006 or so. It’s very easy to become attached to character creator-made characters, to the extent that games with the option to play as your own creation simply don’t feel right without them. I like to think that Jake McPake still has a long career of sport-playing and adventuring ahead of him.

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