VIDEO/PREVIEW – A look at the vibrant world and intense battles of Gravity Rush 2

Japan Studio’s Gravity Rush was arguably one of the most under-appreciated titles of the last generation, blending smooth gravity-shifting action with a compelling story, intriguing world and thoroughly charming cast of characters. Whilst last month we shared a look of the key figures behind the series’s conception, today we’re looking at the game’s sequel itself, Gravity Rush 2, which is set to release on PS4 later this year.

Gravity Rush 2 continues from where the first game left off, following the story of Kat, a mysterious woman with the power to shift gravity and the world around her who battles to defend the residents of the floating city of Hekseville, whilst trying to uncover the secrets of her own cryptic origins. The second game in the series takes a bold, physics-defying leap from the Vita, home of the first game, to the PS4 – the difference in power is evident, and has clearly enhanced the experience in more ways than one.

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As well as a considerably more dynamic and detailed world, which is brimming with life and reacts accordingly to your heroic feats, Kat now has access to a variety of new abilities and attacking styles to aid you in your fight against the enigmatic Nevi monsters, as well as a new, human threat armed to the teeth with powerful mechanical weapons. You can get a taste for these new moves and battle scenarios by checking out the above gameplay video, fresh from the latest build showcased at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. Gravity Rush 2 is set to release in late November/early December in all regions and is available for pre-order on the PSN Store.

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Minus World Reading List – August 2016

My attention was drawn to this ridiculously in-depth video by relatively new YouTube channel Gaijillionaire when it was shared over on Attract ModeSuper Mario Bros. 2 –originally known as Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic before being re-branded for the west – has always stood out as something of a black sheep amongst mainline Mario titles, namely due to the fact that it did not start life as a part of the series. However, this video focuses not so much on the development of the game, but the inspiration behind its characters and world – Yume Kōjō itself.

A celebration of media and international culture that showcased what was then considered the future of broadcasting and entertainment technology, Yume Kōjō was as something of a cultural phenomenon in 80s Japan, and discovering the origins behind the huge event helps to bring some clarity to the designs prominent throughout the game it inspired, many of which have had great influence over the Mario series to this day. Gaijillionaire has a number of interesting videos focusing on Japanese culture on his YouTube channel, and you can check out his Twitter feed for regular updates.

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Yutaka “Yoot” Saito is well known for innovation in his games, with creations such as Seaman and Odama representing an era in which developers and publishers alike were more inclined to take risks. However, his motivation for returning to game development is a little less… artistic than you might expect. According to an interview with Wired, Saito is hoping to rake in some cold, hard cash with his comeback to the industry, following a soured experience working on 3DS puzzler Aero Porter as part of Level-5’s Guild compilation.

Seemingly taking the approach that video games are products first and foremost, it’ll be interesting to see what Saito’s next project will entail, as well as whether or not he’ll return to his innovative ways, which in the past have seen him dabble in voice recognition technology on more occasions than one.

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A fair few beloved series and games have reached their 10th birthday this year, including New Super Mario Bros. and Dead Rising to name a just few – if there was ever a year of anniversaries to make you feel old, it could very well be 2016. Nintendo’s quirky GBA rhythm game Rhythm Tengoku is the latest to join the list of celebration-worthy titles, and Retro Collect’s series retrospective gives us a good look at its history and the elements that make it so unique. Fans of Rhythm Tengoku and WarioWare‘s art are strongly advised to check out the Twitter feed of series artist Ko Takeuchi – its contents are surprising, to say the least.

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Whilst his most recent venture may not have received universal praise, Takashi Tateishi (pictured right) has undoubtedly left his mark on gaming’s musical legacy with the timeless tunes of Mega Man 2. In a personal interview that took place back in 2015, Brave Wave’s Mohammed Taher delves into the stories and history behind not only one of the most iconic game soundtracks of all time, but the life and career of the person who created it. For fans of both the Mega Man series as well as game music in general, it’ll serve as an informative read that sheds some light on elements of the creative process that are radically different to those of today.

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Now for something very niche, but also very interesting (that’s kind of what we do here). Our friends at SourceGaming conducted an interview with Amir Latif, a programmer who worked on Nintendo 64DD art software that would eventually become Mario Artist: Paint Studio, a Japan-only successor to Mario Paint that made use of a number of unique capabilities offered by the 64DD expansion. This is a particularly noteworthy discussion, as it offers a behind the scenes look at the undiscovered title, including ideas and content that didn’t make it into the final product, as well as details about the unreleased Sound Maker entry to the series. Many questions surrounding the 64DD’s development remain unanswered, and efforts for preservation of the unique addon and its library are still on-going – with this in mind, it’s great to see some information revealed about a game that could easily have been lost to time without the interest of a small but dedicated fan-base.

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Landscapes and latitude with Gravity Rush’s Keiichiro Toyama

Toco Toco reaches the last of its game creator-themed specials, this time focusing on Keiichiro Toyama, former Konami and long-time Sony employee who has worked on the likes of Silent HillForbidden Siren and most recently, the Gravity Rush series. The video follows Toyama on his daily commute through Yokohama’s Hodogaya ward, giving us a glimpse into the SIE Japan Studio offices before introducing us to his co-workers and their shared approach to developing games.

Toyama discusses the sense of freedom he wishes to convey in his games, something which is evident in the free-flying mechanics of the Gravity Rush series. As with the previous videos in the series, it’s interesting to learn how the experiences and surroundings have influenced the creators behind beloved franchises, and how aspects of their personal lives shine through in what they create.

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

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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