Guest Blog By Kevin @Agent_Prince
Hironobu Sakaguchi, the world famous ‘father’ of Final Fantasy, could well be considered the Miyamoto of JRPG games. Since the unfortunate box-office bomb that was Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (which Sakaguchi directed), Sakaguchi left his presidential position at Square (which ultimately became Square Enix), and founded his own company, Mistwalker in 2004. Since that time, Mistwalker have developed a range of titles for different platforms, and a further title looks to be on its way, although only concept art has surfaced thus far. Sakaguchi also enlisted the immense musical talents of Nobou Uematsu, who also left Square in 2004.
Mistwalker initially signed up with Microsoft to produce Xbox 360 exclusive titles, of which there are two: Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey. Blue Dragon in particular helped boost sales of the Xbox 360 in Japan, at the time of its release (2006).
Microsoft sold 35,343 Xbox 360s – an increase of nearly 90 per cent over the previous week’s figure of just over 4000 consoles. It’s likely that the rise was linked to the release of Blue Dragon, which was developed by Mistwalker, the studio led by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi
– Ellie Gibson, Blue Dragon release boosts Xbox 360 sales in Japan, GamesIndustry.biz
Guest Blog by Adam @Adam Miller
Let’s face it. Aliens: Colonial Marines sucked. Big time. Gearbox promised the world, and delivered a shambles. Alien fans everywhere were disappointed. More than disappointed, they were angry. Sega had to make things right next time. Flash-forward to the announcement that Creative Assembly would be making the next game for the franchise; Alien: Isolation. It would be a horror game with a single Alien starring the daughter of the iconic Ellen Ripley, Amanda Ripley. People were understandably sceptical. With a single Alien, would the focus be on androids or even worse mercenaries? How would they include Ripley's daughter in a way that wouldn't feel forced? Can a developer who have only made Total War games really make a decent Alien game? Creative Assembly nailed it. They absolutely nailed it. Alien: Isolation is the redeeming game of the series.
As aforementioned, Alien: Isolation is a survival horror game starring Amanda Ripley, the mechanic daughter of Ellen Ripley (from the movies), who joins a crew heading for Sevastapol station to pick up the flight recorder of the Nostromo. Amanda has a personal interest in this mission because it may help her locate her mother, who has been missing for a long time. After a rocky landing on Sevastapol, you realise that something bad has happened. The place is falling apart, blood and graffiti cover the walls, the androids are acting a little weird, and the survivors don't seem too pleased to see you. Things go from bad to worse as you soon realise that you are stuck on Sevastapol without communications, and there is something lurking in the ventilation above you. Something bad.
Guest Blog by Kevin Kissane @Agent_Prince
In late 2015, Activision released Transformers: Devastation, a brand new Transformers video game (on the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC). Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish), Transformers: Devastation did something bold. No, not just creating a decent Transformers game (it is in fact fantastic), but it wasn’t based on any Michael Bay rubbish; instead they went back to the beginning of the franchise: Generation One.
For those not familiar, Generation One was the original Hasbro toy-driven cartoon and comic series that started in 1984. Although it only lasted 3 years, it was a worldwide success that spawned an animated movie that has a huge cult following, and countless now-collectible toys. Although that series ended almost 30 years ago, there have been multiple reimagining’s over the years, and it’s fair to say that the afore-mentioned Michael Bay monstrosities have indeed rekindled the memories of the original (and indeed best) series.
Despite the quite frankly surprising news of a Generation One based video game in the works, I was initially met with mostly scepticism. Transformers videos games largely have a terrible record, as do many series/movie tie-ins, unless Lego appears in the title. The news of Platinum Games as the developers certainly helped alleviate those initial fears; Bayonetta and its sequel are 2 of the best video games to ever grace a television screen, so I became swiftly confident they could deliver. The result is more than meets the eye.
Platinum’s somewhat traditional third-person hack n slash formula is adopted well here; incorporating both physical attack combos and artillery-based projectile attacks. There are 5 classic Autobots to choose from, and once you get over the cool factor of being the original Optimus Prime, with his original Peter Cullen voice once again, you soon discover the other characters (Grimlock, Bumblebee, Sideswipe, Wheeljack) have enough variety between them to offer different experiences. Grimlock in particular, in his Dinosaur form, unlike everyone else’s vehicle forms, offers different combos and attacks.
But by far the most amazing factor of Transformers: Devastation_ is the fan service, the nostalgia factor. It is by no means a perfect video game; it doesn’t have the combat depth of Bayonetta, or the consistently flawless backdrops of Vanquish, nor does it try to reinvent the wheel in any other way. But don’t be mistaken into thinking it is a poor game with just great fan service, like many other anime titles. The characters and combat style is interspersed with the storyline and boss-ridden levels delightfully, and of course the bosses themselves are recognisable favourites such as Starscream, Soundwave, and of course Megatron. Each and every character even has their own heavy metal theme from the excellent accompanying soundtrack, which surely has to get a release. Believe me, I’ve asked, but it’s a ‘no’ for now.
The perfectly nostalgic cast and characters come together with a plot that easily fits in canon with the series, and plays out much like any typical episode would. It’s the perfect Saturday morning video game derived what was once everyone’s favourite Saturday morning cartoon series. Everything about this package is any Transformers fans’ dream. The beauty of the game is its appeal; it knows why you’re playing it before you’ve even booted the game up: you love the 80’s Transformers, so you are going to love this.
Guest Blog by Kevin Kissane @Agent_Prince
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