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Found 15 results

  1. There’s something to be said for a well-built role-playing game -- even better if it’s one with a visually pleasing aesthetic that communicates everything it needs to. Too many RPGs these days find themselves buried under menus and woefully implemented combat mechanics, or repetitive dungeon-diving. Battle Chasers: Nightwar feels like the rare RPG to sidestep all the bluster and bulk for something entertaining and at least mildly fresh. Based on the original Battle Chasers comic by Joe Madureira (also known for his work on Uncanny X-Men) and developed by Airship Syndicate (comprised of former Darksiders developers), RPG fans of any stripe should get a kick out of this action-packed world. I got a hands-off demo of Battle Chasers at E3 2017, where the developer took time to show off the world and combat systems. Taking place an undetermined amount of time after the original Battle Chasers comic left off on a cliffhanger, players can create a team of three (from a total of six optional characters) to do battle with vicious creatures and loot randomly generated dungeons. There’s Garrison, a swordsman with a tragic past, Gully, a nine-year-old girl who inherited a pair of massive, magical boxing gloves after her father disappeared, Calibretto, the iron giant war golem with a heart of gold, and more. The first thing players might notice is that despite Battle Chasers decidedly JRPG-esque nature, it’s characters play off of old tropes for inventive combat and character building. Instead of the lumbering, mechanical Calibretto acting as the team’s tank, it’s Gully’s magic gloves that provide the massive damage, and Calibretto’s intrinsic ties to nature that provide healing spells. Though each dungeon will be randomly generated, players will have to strategize before ever stepping foot into one. Each dungeon has different difficulties to choose from, modifying the number of enemies, traps, and the layout you’ll find, but also affecting the size of its reward. Once inside, players navigate an isometric layout filled with beastmen, animated skeleton warriors, and worse. Players can give themselves an advantage by luring enemies into the dungeon’s ancient traps before battle, shaving off a few key health points. Once in battle, characters take turns dealing damage or casting spells, with a queue on the left hand side telling you who will go during the next several turns, all based on stats like speed and initiative. Characters share a single “overcharge” gauge that essentially acts as magic fuel for special attacks. This gauge can be accrued over time, and each character has three separate levels of overcharge attacks so you might want to save it for a boss or particularly rough group of enemies. Garrison can unleash a devastating series of sword strikes on a single enemy, for example, while Calibretto is focused on damaging multiple enemies with his massive chaingun arm. Each character will have unique abilities they can use only a set number of times to solve puzzles or advance deeper into a dungeon, such as Garrison’s dash move or Gully’s punch, which allows her to knock down walls hiding secret areas. Every step taken begins to feel like a measured one, weighed against risk versus reward dilemmas. Players can locate treasure chests with rare loot inside, or opt to teleport it deeper into the dungeon. You’ll have to find it again, and the loot will be twice as beneficial, but you’ll lose it if you die before reaching it. Rare gear can also only be crafted within certain dungeons, giving players another incentive to take a deep dive. Amidst all of this, Battle Chasers possesses a striking art style, and not just thanks to Madureira’s illustrations. Even as they’re awaiting their turn in battle, characters bob and weave with an animated feel that helps bring them to life in a way few RPGs of either hemisphere achieve. This is especially apparent during attacks, when the weight of each character can be felt in their motion. Calibretto, the hulking mass that he is, barrels down on enemies with a decimating right hook, smoke billowing behind his trail, and enemies bouncing back with appropriate force. Even enemies get in on the action, with monsters similar to Dark Souls’ mimics (beasts that impersonate treasure chests for a sneaky bite attack) lashing out their engorged tongues with wicked style. It’s unclear how closely Battle Chasers will stick to the original comic series’ lore. Developers at Airship Syndicate say the plot will follow the party’s adventures in a world being sucked dry of its mana. After being shot down from the sky by pirates, the group will have to adventure across a massive island, finding themselves roped into a war against an evil vampire lord bent on conquering the world. Battle Chasers certainly isn’t shying away from the cheese of its inspirations. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is due out October 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and the Nintendo Switch for $29.99. A Steam sale currently has the game listed at $26.99, though it’s unclear how long that will last. View full article
  2. There’s something to be said for a well-built role-playing game -- even better if it’s one with a visually pleasing aesthetic that communicates everything it needs to. Too many RPGs these days find themselves buried under menus and woefully implemented combat mechanics, or repetitive dungeon-diving. Battle Chasers: Nightwar feels like the rare RPG to sidestep all the bluster and bulk for something entertaining and at least mildly fresh. Based on the original Battle Chasers comic by Joe Madureira (also known for his work on Uncanny X-Men) and developed by Airship Syndicate (comprised of former Darksiders developers), RPG fans of any stripe should get a kick out of this action-packed world. I got a hands-off demo of Battle Chasers at E3 2017, where the developer took time to show off the world and combat systems. Taking place an undetermined amount of time after the original Battle Chasers comic left off on a cliffhanger, players can create a team of three (from a total of six optional characters) to do battle with vicious creatures and loot randomly generated dungeons. There’s Garrison, a swordsman with a tragic past, Gully, a nine-year-old girl who inherited a pair of massive, magical boxing gloves after her father disappeared, Calibretto, the iron giant war golem with a heart of gold, and more. The first thing players might notice is that despite Battle Chasers decidedly JRPG-esque nature, it’s characters play off of old tropes for inventive combat and character building. Instead of the lumbering, mechanical Calibretto acting as the team’s tank, it’s Gully’s magic gloves that provide the massive damage, and Calibretto’s intrinsic ties to nature that provide healing spells. Though each dungeon will be randomly generated, players will have to strategize before ever stepping foot into one. Each dungeon has different difficulties to choose from, modifying the number of enemies, traps, and the layout you’ll find, but also affecting the size of its reward. Once inside, players navigate an isometric layout filled with beastmen, animated skeleton warriors, and worse. Players can give themselves an advantage by luring enemies into the dungeon’s ancient traps before battle, shaving off a few key health points. Once in battle, characters take turns dealing damage or casting spells, with a queue on the left hand side telling you who will go during the next several turns, all based on stats like speed and initiative. Characters share a single “overcharge” gauge that essentially acts as magic fuel for special attacks. This gauge can be accrued over time, and each character has three separate levels of overcharge attacks so you might want to save it for a boss or particularly rough group of enemies. Garrison can unleash a devastating series of sword strikes on a single enemy, for example, while Calibretto is focused on damaging multiple enemies with his massive chaingun arm. Each character will have unique abilities they can use only a set number of times to solve puzzles or advance deeper into a dungeon, such as Garrison’s dash move or Gully’s punch, which allows her to knock down walls hiding secret areas. Every step taken begins to feel like a measured one, weighed against risk versus reward dilemmas. Players can locate treasure chests with rare loot inside, or opt to teleport it deeper into the dungeon. You’ll have to find it again, and the loot will be twice as beneficial, but you’ll lose it if you die before reaching it. Rare gear can also only be crafted within certain dungeons, giving players another incentive to take a deep dive. Amidst all of this, Battle Chasers possesses a striking art style, and not just thanks to Madureira’s illustrations. Even as they’re awaiting their turn in battle, characters bob and weave with an animated feel that helps bring them to life in a way few RPGs of either hemisphere achieve. This is especially apparent during attacks, when the weight of each character can be felt in their motion. Calibretto, the hulking mass that he is, barrels down on enemies with a decimating right hook, smoke billowing behind his trail, and enemies bouncing back with appropriate force. Even enemies get in on the action, with monsters similar to Dark Souls’ mimics (beasts that impersonate treasure chests for a sneaky bite attack) lashing out their engorged tongues with wicked style. It’s unclear how closely Battle Chasers will stick to the original comic series’ lore. Developers at Airship Syndicate say the plot will follow the party’s adventures in a world being sucked dry of its mana. After being shot down from the sky by pirates, the group will have to adventure across a massive island, finding themselves roped into a war against an evil vampire lord bent on conquering the world. Battle Chasers certainly isn’t shying away from the cheese of its inspirations. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is due out October 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, and the Nintendo Switch for $29.99. A Steam sale currently has the game listed at $26.99, though it’s unclear how long that will last.
  3. Dubbed a "completely new game" by the RPG developer/publisher, Antique Carnevale was unveiled to the public in a new trailer aimed at the Japanese market. What kind of a name is Antique Carnevale? What does it mean? No one knows! Very few details have been revealed about the real game that is really titled Antique Carnevale, quite possibly the most JRPG-ish title of all time. A Japanese language site has been set up that provides a few tantalizing details and promises more information in the coming weeks. The site currently contains information describing the game's prologue and a description of a character named Bernhard. Below you can find both of those sections as translated by Gematsu: Prologue Have you thought about the differences between “things” and “living things”? Or the differences between “dolls” and “people”? If you ask, people will easily answer as such: dolls are “not able to move on their own,” right? However, that is an invitation to the labyrinth. Is a person unable to move by their own will not a “doll”? Is a doll able to move by its own will not a “person”? The explorers who wander around in search of an exit will find themselves deeply lost… And then, one boy visits that labyrinth by himself… He will listen. To the cries left behind by the “people” that have decayed in the labyrinth. He will understand. The desires of the “dolls” captured in the labyrinth. To that young man who stands in the space between people and dolls… I pray. May the blessings of the people of origin be with him. Bernhard (voiced by Natsuki Hanae) The personification of the summons beast Wyvern. He regularly guards the town as the young commanding knight of the Valamion. He has a strong sense of justice, but hates rushing to conclusions, and is often censured by those around him. Under the orders of the president, he is currently searching for the strongest masters of the next generation. The Antique Carnevale site teases more information releases for characters on July 7, 10, 12, and 14. Square Enix plans to unveil additional information, likely platforms and release date/window, on July 18. What do you think about this new IP? From the brief trailer and the strangely subdued fanfare of the announcement it seems like this might be an IP headed to smartphones, 3DS, or Vita rather than a AAA release for consoles. Any theories as to what this game might be about from the cryptic information provided by the prologue description? View full article
  4. Dubbed a "completely new game" by the RPG developer/publisher, Antique Carnevale was unveiled to the public in a new trailer aimed at the Japanese market. What kind of a name is Antique Carnevale? What does it mean? No one knows! Very few details have been revealed about the real game that is really titled Antique Carnevale, quite possibly the most JRPG-ish title of all time. A Japanese language site has been set up that provides a few tantalizing details and promises more information in the coming weeks. The site currently contains information describing the game's prologue and a description of a character named Bernhard. Below you can find both of those sections as translated by Gematsu: Prologue Have you thought about the differences between “things” and “living things”? Or the differences between “dolls” and “people”? If you ask, people will easily answer as such: dolls are “not able to move on their own,” right? However, that is an invitation to the labyrinth. Is a person unable to move by their own will not a “doll”? Is a doll able to move by its own will not a “person”? The explorers who wander around in search of an exit will find themselves deeply lost… And then, one boy visits that labyrinth by himself… He will listen. To the cries left behind by the “people” that have decayed in the labyrinth. He will understand. The desires of the “dolls” captured in the labyrinth. To that young man who stands in the space between people and dolls… I pray. May the blessings of the people of origin be with him. Bernhard (voiced by Natsuki Hanae) The personification of the summons beast Wyvern. He regularly guards the town as the young commanding knight of the Valamion. He has a strong sense of justice, but hates rushing to conclusions, and is often censured by those around him. Under the orders of the president, he is currently searching for the strongest masters of the next generation. The Antique Carnevale site teases more information releases for characters on July 7, 10, 12, and 14. Square Enix plans to unveil additional information, likely platforms and release date/window, on July 18. What do you think about this new IP? From the brief trailer and the strangely subdued fanfare of the announcement it seems like this might be an IP headed to smartphones, 3DS, or Vita rather than a AAA release for consoles. Any theories as to what this game might be about from the cryptic information provided by the prologue description?
  5. Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

    I'm curious if anyone else around here has been playing this. I can tell I'm nearing the end, with I'm guessing two chapters remaining. It has been a charming blast so far that has also been a bit refreshing. It should be noted that I've never played an SMT or Persona game before, but my understanding is that they're challenging dungeon-crawlers with an emphasis on exploiting enemy weaknesses. That's certainly the case here, but those weaknesses ultimately result in your team ganging up all at once on the enemies. So there's certainly a strategy to it, especially if you're comparing which attacks result in what teammates will use what abilities and tally which option results in the most exploits of a weakness or most resistances. If you have any familiarity with the Japanese idol industry then you'll instantly recognize the story as a fantasy of the life rather than a representation of it, but by focusing on show-business the game manages to stand out and feel like it's own unique thing. Incredibly anime in the most charming of ways with well-executed archetypes of characters. They feel deep enough for you to forget that you have encountered this character before in just about any other anime or JRPG of the last ten years. It's probably one of my favorite games of the year, if not my favorite so far. If you're interested in either anime or good JRPGs then this is a must-buy, no debate about it.
  6. The venerable JRPG Tales series has been going strong for nearly 20 years now and to commemorate that achievement Namco Bandai revealed that the next Tales game, Tales of Zestiria, will be launching in both North America and Japan on the PlayStation 3. Not much information is currently available on Zestiria, however, we do know some intriguing tidbits. It is being developed under the supervision of Hikaru Kondo and the character designs will be handled by series designers Mutsumi Inomata, Kosuke Fujishima, Daigo Okumura, and Minoru Iwamoto. The logo for Zestiria seems to strongly imply that dragons will play an important role in the storyline. As of right now, there is no official word regarding a specific release date for Tales of Zestiria, but it is a safe bet that the title will drop sometime after Tales of Symphonia Chronicles (February 24, 2014) and Tales of Xillia 2 (unannounced date in 2014). There seems to have been a surge in the number of Tales games recently with sequels and spin-offs making frequent appearances. Do you think that this is a good thing or are you overwhelmed by the tide of 40-60 hour games? Let us know what you think!
  7. A Brief History of Horror - Part 1

    With Halloween right around the corner and fright-filled games like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Outlast lurking on store shelves, we here at Extra Life thought it would be a great opportunity to delve into the origins of video game horror and get some insight into how the genre has evolved. Though people debate over what exactly constitutes the very first horror game, the earliest one argued for is Mystery House, an Apple II adventure game from 1980. The title was one of the first adventure games to feature graphics and was the first game created by Roberta Williams, who later went on to make the long-running King’s Quest series. Mystery House locked players in an old, Victorian mansion with several other people and a murderer on the loose. The player must figure out the identity of the psychopath before he or she is the last victim. In what became a trend for following games attempting creepy atmosphere and visuals, the story was based on a pre-existing property, in this case Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The other game most often credited as one of the first games designed to scare players was Haunted House (where are people finding all of these scary houses?) released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. Due to the limitations of the system, the game didn’t look like much with pixels roughly the size of fists. The player, represented by a pair of eyeballs, has entered a haunted house to retrieve pieces of an urn that belonged to the late Zachary Graves. Spooky things like spiders, bats, and ghosts hid around the house and had to be avoided at all costs. The unnerving mechanic which separated this title from others of the time consisted of the character’s use of matches as a light source. The matches gave vision for a few seconds before they would go out or whenever an enemy entered the same screen as the player. This gave Haunted House a feeling of tension and suspense as you never knew when you might be in danger. Over the following years, there was a period of games which, though they drew heavily on horror imagery, weren’t necessarily horror games in the true sense. Many of them were simply cash-ins on famous movies, going for shock value with depictions of violence that hadn’t been seen in video games at that point (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Evil Dead). Other attempts at horror games during this time were adventure games attempting to capitalize on famous horror properties like Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, and Wolfman. One of the few original games to attempt horror between 1982 and 1989 was the 1986 arcade light-gun shooter called Chiller which places players in the role of a torturer with the goal of torturing people in the most efficient and gruesome manner possible. The game ended up being less horror and more horrible, falling into the same camp as the movie cash-ins going for shock rather than substantial scares. The game wasn’t widely known due to how few arcades were willing to host the cabinets on their premises due to its distasteful content. People can debate the first “real” horror game prior to 1989, but that year the genre undeniably solidified around two video games: Project Firestart in the West and Sweet Home in Japan. Project Firestart hit the Commodore 64 toward the end of the console’s lifespan after a long and troubled development process in the hands of Dynamix. In an effort to create durable laborers to work in space mines, the nations of Earth began dabbling with genetic engineering. What could possibly go wrong? When the research space station in charge of safely producing space mining monsters stops responding, it becomes the player’s job to find out why. Upon reaching the station, it basically becomes a side-scrolling Dead Space, almost 20 years before Dead Space was a twinkle in the eyes of its development team. The player is tasked with figuring out what went wrong on the station and search for survivors. Firestart introduced numerous concepts such as limited ammo, terrifyingly strong enemies, and journal entries that fleshed out the events and world; ideas still present in many games of the horror genre today. The Japan-only Sweet Home released in late 1989 for the Famicom as a spin-off of a movie of the same name. Rather than being an attempt to milk money out of the relative success of the film, the game attempted to be a genuinely unnerving game. Following the plot of the film, Sweet Home begins with five people arriving at the Mamiya mansion to recover valuable paintings that had been left there by its previous owners. Upon entering, they become trapped by a malevolent spirit and must battle their way through ghosts and monsters to find an exit without being crushed by the crumbling building. Each character has a special ability or item that helps traverse the environment or aids in the random battles. Each character also could be permanently killed and there were five different endings depending on how many people survived their ordeal in the mansion. Additionally, each character had a very limited inventory to carry items for combat or puzzle solving, creepy journal entries were scattered around to flesh out the story of mansion, and the narrative was certainly creepy and unexpectedly dark for a game at that time. For the next few years the genre wouldn’t see any development outside of more video game adaptations of horror films like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, in 1992 Alone in The Dark became the first widely successful horror game, exploding the genre out of its niche. Developed by Infogrames (that isn’t a typo) and released on PC, Alone in The Dark was the first 3D horror game. It added its own innovations to the horror formula through the addition of “tank controls,” false audio cues to alert players to non-existent danger, and dramatic fixed camera angles. Infogrames understood that having elements of unpredictability could toy with players’ expectations to effectively deliver scares. The story, from either the perspective of a private investigator or an inquisitive niece, was also fittingly dark dealing with death, hangings, and other gruesome monsters. After entering the old Derceto Mansion to investigate a recent suicide, the player becomes trapped and evil begins to manifest throughout the mansion. Gameplay focused on solving puzzles and managing limited inventory space, as well as some light combat elements. After clearing a portion of the mansion, the entire mansion became open for exploration leading to an unnerving sense of freedom as enemies stalked the building. After the success of Alone in The Dark, the video game industry began to realize that some players actually wanted to be scared by their games. What followed could be seen as the blossoming of the horror genre, a growth that included memorable successes, forgotten gems, and many hilarious failures.
  8. Final Fantasy VI is arguably one of the best JRPGs ever made. It stands tall next to the likes of Chrono Trigger and helped give credence to the idea that video games could tell complex and nuanced stories as well as any other artistic medium. The art style is great and well serviced by the (then) cutting-edge graphics of the Super Nintendo, the writing is serviceable, and the music is simply incredible. But I didn't know that a month ago. If somebody had asked me a month ago if I liked the Final Fantasy series, I would have said yes. I would have commented on how much I like the deep and intriguing plots, the characters, etc. But then I realized that I had only ever played Final Fantasy III (the actual Final Fantasy III), Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII, and the Final Fantasy Tactics titles. Out of a series that has had fifteen entries in the series (not including the three upcoming Final Fantasy games, remakes, or spin-offs), having played only three of them meant I didn't really know what I was talking about. I decided to rectify the situation by purchasing Final Fantasy V-IX on Ebay. The idea being to play through all of them before the HD remake of Final Fantasy X is released later this year. Boy, am I glad I did. To make a long story short, I ended up skipping Final Fantasy V and jump right into playing Final Fantasy VI. And, quite frankly, I was blown away. I don't know what I had been expecting, but I wasn't really prepared for a 16-bit JRPG to shock me with how well it told a story. After my first session with VI, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I kept playing it, but my mind kept wandering back to the beginning and what made it so good. So, I decided to sit down and write about everything that made it so good. By the time I finished writing, I had twelve pages and over 8,000 words on the opening hour of Final Fantasy VI. Rather than releasing that novella on the internet, I decided to create a three part video series out of that document. The first and second parts have been finished and can be seen below. I tried to inject some humor into the videos, so if you don't find them funny, I hope you will forgive me. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 will be released next week (edit: the script was destroyed in a technical mishap). The videos all make use of music from the OverClocked Remix album Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin. OCRemix is a great organization of talented musicians and composers who gather together to give unique, personal takes on some of the greatest music gaming has to offer, and they give it all away for free. Go check out their site if you want some awesome, free, video game-inspired tunes. What do you think of classic Final Fantasy versus the more modern iterations? What about JRPGs in general? We'd love to know!
  9. For our tenth episode we cover the twelfth main entry in the Final Fantasy series. Though initially releasing to some of the best reviews of any Final Fantasy title, time has solidified XII's status as the black sheep of the series. Does its groundbreaking visuals, real-time battle system, and risky shake up of the Final Fantasy formula earn it a place as one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Final Fantasy XII 'The Winds of Inishmore' by Avaris (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01719) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
  10. For our tenth episode we cover the twelfth main entry in the Final Fantasy series. Though initially releasing to some of the best reviews of any Final Fantasy title, time has solidified XII's status as the black sheep of the series. Does its groundbreaking visuals, real-time battle system, and risky shake up of the Final Fantasy formula earn it a place as one of the best games period? Each week we will be tackling a video game, old or new, that at least one of us believes deserves to stand as one of the greatest games of all time. We'll dive into its history, development, and gameplay, while trying to argue for or against the game of the week. Sometimes we will be in harmonious agreement, other times we might be fighting a bitter battle to the very end. However each episode shakes out, we hope that everyone who listens will find the show entertaining and informative. You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it! You can also follow the show on Twitter: @BestGamesPeriod Outro music: Final Fantasy XII 'The Winds of Inishmore' by Avaris (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR01719) New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday View full article
  11. Atlus has announced that the remake of Vanillaware's classic PlayStation 2 action RPG will be making its way to PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3 on June 7th. Inspired by Norse mythology, Odin Sphere tells the story of five characters as they cross paths amid kingdoms warring for power as the world teeters toward oblivion. Vanillaware has become known for their visually striking games and it will be a real treat to see how the remastered version looks in action. When it releases in June, certain retailers will include a 64-page softcover art book with the standard purchase of Odin Sphere. A limited Storybook Edition will be available for PlayStation 4 as well. The Storybook Edition, priced at $79.99, includes a hardcover version of the art book, a t-shirt, a metal case for the game, an art print, and unique outer packaging. This is one to keep an eye on if you own a Vita and are looking for quality games to add to your mobile library.
  12. Atlus has announced that the remake of Vanillaware's classic PlayStation 2 action RPG will be making its way to PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3 on June 7th. Inspired by Norse mythology, Odin Sphere tells the story of five characters as they cross paths amid kingdoms warring for power as the world teeters toward oblivion. Vanillaware has become known for their visually striking games and it will be a real treat to see how the remastered version looks in action. When it releases in June, certain retailers will include a 64-page softcover art book with the standard purchase of Odin Sphere. A limited Storybook Edition will be available for PlayStation 4 as well. The Storybook Edition, priced at $79.99, includes a hardcover version of the art book, a t-shirt, a metal case for the game, an art print, and unique outer packaging. This is one to keep an eye on if you own a Vita and are looking for quality games to add to your mobile library. View full article
  13. The venerable JRPG Tales series has been going strong for nearly 20 years now and to commemorate that achievement Namco Bandai revealed that the next Tales game, Tales of Zestiria, will be launching in both North America and Japan on the PlayStation 3. Not much information is currently available on Zestiria, however, we do know some intriguing tidbits. It is being developed under the supervision of Hikaru Kondo and the character designs will be handled by series designers Mutsumi Inomata, Kosuke Fujishima, Daigo Okumura, and Minoru Iwamoto. The logo for Zestiria seems to strongly imply that dragons will play an important role in the storyline. As of right now, there is no official word regarding a specific release date for Tales of Zestiria, but it is a safe bet that the title will drop sometime after Tales of Symphonia Chronicles (February 24, 2014) and Tales of Xillia 2 (unannounced date in 2014). There seems to have been a surge in the number of Tales games recently with sequels and spin-offs making frequent appearances. Do you think that this is a good thing or are you overwhelmed by the tide of 40-60 hour games? Let us know what you think! View full article
  14. With Halloween right around the corner and fright-filled games like Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Outlast lurking on store shelves, we here at Extra Life thought it would be a great opportunity to delve into the origins of video game horror and get some insight into how the genre has evolved. Though people debate over what exactly constitutes the very first horror game, the earliest one argued for is Mystery House, an Apple II adventure game from 1980. The title was one of the first adventure games to feature graphics and was the first game created by Roberta Williams, who later went on to make the long-running King’s Quest series. Mystery House locked players in an old, Victorian mansion with several other people and a murderer on the loose. The player must figure out the identity of the psychopath before he or she is the last victim. In what became a trend for following games attempting creepy atmosphere and visuals, the story was based on a pre-existing property, in this case Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The other game most often credited as one of the first games designed to scare players was Haunted House (where are people finding all of these scary houses?) released for the Atari 2600 in 1982. Due to the limitations of the system, the game didn’t look like much with pixels roughly the size of fists. The player, represented by a pair of eyeballs, has entered a haunted house to retrieve pieces of an urn that belonged to the late Zachary Graves. Spooky things like spiders, bats, and ghosts hid around the house and had to be avoided at all costs. The unnerving mechanic which separated this title from others of the time consisted of the character’s use of matches as a light source. The matches gave vision for a few seconds before they would go out or whenever an enemy entered the same screen as the player. This gave Haunted House a feeling of tension and suspense as you never knew when you might be in danger. Over the following years, there was a period of games which, though they drew heavily on horror imagery, weren’t necessarily horror games in the true sense. Many of them were simply cash-ins on famous movies, going for shock value with depictions of violence that hadn’t been seen in video games at that point (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, The Evil Dead). Other attempts at horror games during this time were adventure games attempting to capitalize on famous horror properties like Dracula, Jack the Ripper, Frankenstein, and Wolfman. One of the few original games to attempt horror between 1982 and 1989 was the 1986 arcade light-gun shooter called Chiller which places players in the role of a torturer with the goal of torturing people in the most efficient and gruesome manner possible. The game ended up being less horror and more horrible, falling into the same camp as the movie cash-ins going for shock rather than substantial scares. The game wasn’t widely known due to how few arcades were willing to host the cabinets on their premises due to its distasteful content. People can debate the first “real” horror game prior to 1989, but that year the genre undeniably solidified around two video games: Project Firestart in the West and Sweet Home in Japan. Project Firestart hit the Commodore 64 toward the end of the console’s lifespan after a long and troubled development process in the hands of Dynamix. In an effort to create durable laborers to work in space mines, the nations of Earth began dabbling with genetic engineering. What could possibly go wrong? When the research space station in charge of safely producing space mining monsters stops responding, it becomes the player’s job to find out why. Upon reaching the station, it basically becomes a side-scrolling Dead Space, almost 20 years before Dead Space was a twinkle in the eyes of its development team. The player is tasked with figuring out what went wrong on the station and search for survivors. Firestart introduced numerous concepts such as limited ammo, terrifyingly strong enemies, and journal entries that fleshed out the events and world; ideas still present in many games of the horror genre today. The Japan-only Sweet Home released in late 1989 for the Famicom as a spin-off of a movie of the same name. Rather than being an attempt to milk money out of the relative success of the film, the game attempted to be a genuinely unnerving game. Following the plot of the film, Sweet Home begins with five people arriving at the Mamiya mansion to recover valuable paintings that had been left there by its previous owners. Upon entering, they become trapped by a malevolent spirit and must battle their way through ghosts and monsters to find an exit without being crushed by the crumbling building. Each character has a special ability or item that helps traverse the environment or aids in the random battles. Each character also could be permanently killed and there were five different endings depending on how many people survived their ordeal in the mansion. Additionally, each character had a very limited inventory to carry items for combat or puzzle solving, creepy journal entries were scattered around to flesh out the story of mansion, and the narrative was certainly creepy and unexpectedly dark for a game at that time. For the next few years the genre wouldn’t see any development outside of more video game adaptations of horror films like Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and A Nightmare on Elm Street. However, in 1992 Alone in The Dark became the first widely successful horror game, exploding the genre out of its niche. Developed by Infogrames (that isn’t a typo) and released on PC, Alone in The Dark was the first 3D horror game. It added its own innovations to the horror formula through the addition of “tank controls,” false audio cues to alert players to non-existent danger, and dramatic fixed camera angles. Infogrames understood that having elements of unpredictability could toy with players’ expectations to effectively deliver scares. The story, from either the perspective of a private investigator or an inquisitive niece, was also fittingly dark dealing with death, hangings, and other gruesome monsters. After entering the old Derceto Mansion to investigate a recent suicide, the player becomes trapped and evil begins to manifest throughout the mansion. Gameplay focused on solving puzzles and managing limited inventory space, as well as some light combat elements. After clearing a portion of the mansion, the entire mansion became open for exploration leading to an unnerving sense of freedom as enemies stalked the building. After the success of Alone in The Dark, the video game industry began to realize that some players actually wanted to be scared by their games. What followed could be seen as the blossoming of the horror genre, a growth that included memorable successes, forgotten gems, and many hilarious failures. View full article
  15. Final Fantasy VI is arguably one of the best JRPGs ever made. It stands tall next to the likes of Chrono Trigger and helped give credence to the idea that video games could tell complex and nuanced stories as well as any other artistic medium. The art style is great and well serviced by the (then) cutting-edge graphics of the Super Nintendo, the writing is serviceable, and the music is simply incredible. But I didn't know that a month ago. If somebody had asked me a month ago if I liked the Final Fantasy series, I would have said yes. I would have commented on how much I like the deep and intriguing plots, the characters, etc. But then I realized that I had only ever played Final Fantasy III (the actual Final Fantasy III), Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII, and the Final Fantasy Tactics titles. Out of a series that has had fifteen entries in the series (not including the three upcoming Final Fantasy games, remakes, or spin-offs), having played only three of them meant I didn't really know what I was talking about. I decided to rectify the situation by purchasing Final Fantasy V-IX on Ebay. The idea being to play through all of them before the HD remake of Final Fantasy X is released later this year. Boy, am I glad I did. To make a long story short, I ended up skipping Final Fantasy V and jump right into playing Final Fantasy VI. And, quite frankly, I was blown away. I don't know what I had been expecting, but I wasn't really prepared for a 16-bit JRPG to shock me with how well it told a story. After my first session with VI, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I kept playing it, but my mind kept wandering back to the beginning and what made it so good. So, I decided to sit down and write about everything that made it so good. By the time I finished writing, I had twelve pages and over 8,000 words on the opening hour of Final Fantasy VI. Rather than releasing that novella on the internet, I decided to create a three part video series out of that document. The first and second parts have been finished and can be seen below. I tried to inject some humor into the videos, so if you don't find them funny, I hope you will forgive me. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 will be released next week (edit: the script was destroyed in a technical mishap). The videos all make use of music from the OverClocked Remix album Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin. OCRemix is a great organization of talented musicians and composers who gather together to give unique, personal takes on some of the greatest music gaming has to offer, and they give it all away for free. Go check out their site if you want some awesome, free, video game-inspired tunes. What do you think of classic Final Fantasy versus the more modern iterations? What about JRPGs in general? We'd love to know! View full article