Japanese Developers Still All About The PS3

Japanese Developers Still All About The PS3

Last night, yet another Japanese game was announced. Tales of Zestiria, the next release in the ever-popular Tales franchise, will be coming exclusively to the PlayStation 3.

This title joins the likes of Persona 5, Tales of Symphonia: Chronicles, The Witch and the Hundred Knights, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD and more as Japanese exclusives on Sony’s aging console. Coincidentally, the PlayStation 4 won’t be releasing to Japan till February 22, 2014, a few months after pretty much every other country. Could this be an act of defiance from Japanese developers? Probably not. But it is interesting how many of these titles are last-gen exclusives. 

It’s also easy to forget that the PS2 had life beyond its generation, with both Persona 3 and 4 coming out on it after the PS3 had already released. This is yet another reason that holding onto your old hardware makes sense. Oh backwards compatibility, how we miss thee.

Tales of Zestiria features a dragon logo, and a plot that revolves around two warring empires. You can check out the reveal trailer here.

 

Update:

Tales of Zestiria has been announced as a worldwide title, and will come to both North America and Europe.

Wind Waker HD Flops in Japan

Wind Waker HD Flops in Japan

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD was released last week in Japan to a lukewarm reception.

According to Siliconera, the title only sold 30,000 units in its first week.

Zelda was also outsold by much smaller gaming franchises, such as Armored Core and Warriors Orochi.

This is just another title in a long line of Wii U releases that have flopped. Though Nintendo has been putting out quality titles, (Wind Waker HD has a 90 on Metacritic) the public hasn’t been interested in purchasing a Wii U or its library. In fact the PlayStation Vita has sold more units than the Wii U in Japan.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD was released digitally in North America on September 20th. The physical copy will come out in stores October 4th. You can read more about Nintendo and the Wii U’s struggle here.

Disney Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (PS3) Review

Disney Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (PS3) Review

Sega has put together yet another re-imagined version of a game previously released over two decades ago, and this time that game is Disney’s Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse. Hot on the heels of another Disney-related game, Duck ales Remastered, this re-imagined game puts players in control of the famous Disney character Mickey Mouse, on a quest to rescue Minnie Mouse.

The game is a classic side-scrolling adventure game, with sharp graphics, on-point voice work, and an intriguing and enjoyable level design. The game really evokes thoughts of a simpler time, as you go through the various levels in the castle of illusion to collect playing cards, gems and statue pieces, so that you can unlock the various rooms in the castle, and eventually assemble a bridge to where Minnie is being held.

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Each level is comprised of three stages, the first two are your standard side-scrolling adventure stages, where you have to survive the level, pick up gems, and vanquish the enemy illusions, and the third stage pits Mickey against a level boss. The levels are all themed, and the graphics are quite bright and spritely. The game is quite attractive looking, the music is themed nicely with the level design, and the game is a fun and challenging side-scrolling adventure. The game is challenging without being unforgiving and has a fair bit of re-playability throughout. There are tons of different collectibles to pick up, from gems to statue pieces to playing cards to peppers, and the trophies and achievements are contingent upon playing the game enough to collect all of these items. The game has a nice variety to the level design, to keep the player interested in playing further without the game ever feeling redundant or repetitive.

I haven’t played the original Sega release myself, so I’m unsure of just how much of a reinvention this game is, but playing this new version makes me interested in going back and checking it out. I can only hope that more old Disney-related video game properties will get dusted off and given fresh new iterations and remastered versions, and that future is likely going to depend on the success of games like this and the aforementioned Duck Tales: Remastered.  Thankfully, both of these games so far have been extremely enjoyable, entertaining remastered/re-envisioned versions of prior games, and bode well for future re-imaginings to come.  Highly Recommended!

Kingdom Hearts 3 Probably Not Releasing Anytime Soon

Kingdom Hearts 3 Probably Not Releasing Anytime Soon

Though the recent Kingdom Hearts 3 reveal trailer showed off some gameplay, the game may not be released for quite some time.

According to IGN, Kingdom Hearts producer Shinji Hashimoto says that having Tetsuya Nomura as the main director for both Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 “would have an impact.”

Hashimoto went on to add that “it’s a difficult job, as we want each game to be perfect in quality…we can’t create these two big games at the same time.”

While Kingdom Hearts 3 was just revealed at E3, Final Fantasy XV (previously titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII) has been in development for some time. This would imply that Nomura will be focused on finishing FFXV before Kingdom Hearts 3.

Fortunately, Square Enix released Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX today. You can read CGMagazine’s review here. Hopefully this can tide fans over until the next chunk of Kingdom Hearts 3 news is unveiled.

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (PS3) Review

Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix (PS3) Review

Back To The Magic Kingdom

mickeymouseearstemplateHey, remember when a Square game meant people got really excited and full of giddy anticipation over an epic story and emotional experience? Remember how long ago that was? Apparently, Square-Enix does too, so in an attempt to win back some of that good will they’ve lost over the years with Final Fantasy they’ve gone back to the well with Kingdom Hearts and released an HD port of one of the most beloved action-RPGs of the past generation. Depressingly, this is one of the best games Square-Enix has released in the last five years.

 Back Where It All Began

With the E3 announcement that Kingdom Hearts 3 is in the works, now is as good a time as any to return to this unlikely success story of a franchise. After all, who would have predicted back in 2002 that a fusion of Disney movie character with Square RPG characters in an action RPG was actually going to work? Over 10 years later it’s one of Squenix’s few unblemished franchises, and this HD port still manages to hold up despite the all the time that’s passed.

This is not the same version that North American players bought 11 years ago; it’s actually the Final Mix version that debuted in Japan after the initial release. This means a few new cut scenes to clarify plot points, and greater foreshadowing with what would happen in the sequel. Being an HD port, there’s an expected smoothing over of polygons, although the textures themselves haven’t been sharpened up to the same degree. It’s obvious though how improved the game’s graphics are, looking even more cartoony and Disney-esque than before. However, the single, most important thing that needs to be mentioned here is that the years of being trained in using the right analog stick on a controller to move the camera around in-game has made it very difficult to play the original Kingdom Hearts on the PS2 since it assigns that function to the shoulder buttons. Putting the camera control on the right analog stick for this HD port instantly makes Kingdom Hearts far more playable than it ever was during its original release. For fans of the game, this is the DEFINITIVE version, and the change in control schemes is worth the upgrade.

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Players also get Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories, an HD port of the PS2 port of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories that was originally a GameBoy title. It’s a bizarre, card battling system that’s now been grafted to the combat of the original KH, but an essential addition as a bridge story between KH1 and KH2. For the same reason, Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days has also been ported over, this originally being a DS game. Days, however, is not actually a full game, just an HD port of the cut scenes. It’s a bizarre decision, but this is the first time that fans of the KH franchise can actually follow the entire story leading up to Kingdom Hearts 2 without having to buy different hardware platforms. At $50, it’s a bit pricey for two and a half games, but the quality and pedigree of the games is such that this is still a good deal. Kingdom Hearts, being a Squenix RPG, is positively huge, and there are literally dozens of hours of quality action-RPG gameplay here. The inclusion of the bridge games also makes it a little easier to understand the Byzantine plot leading up to KH2, though it’s obvious even at this point from the creaking plot of the Organization storyline that Square was already on the road to ruin that would eventually favour alienating, complex storylines over simpler conflicts and likable characters. That shouldn’t stop fans—and newcomers—from picking up a worthy port of one of the best action RPGs of the last generation. The gameplay, music, characters and heartfelt endorsements on The Power Of Friendship™ still manage to be as evocative in 2013 for the young and young at heart as they were in 2002.

 

DuckTales Remastered (PS3) Review

DuckTales Remastered (PS3) Review

Although I never owned the original DuckTales for the NES as a kid, I do have fond memories of being at friends’ houses and playing their copy of the game, and really enjoying the game, despite its difficulty.

When Capcom and WayForward announced that they were going to be releasing a re-mastered version, I found myself anxiously awaiting this game, not just to play it, but also in the hopes that if it does well enough, it will lead to more projects like it. With this new release, it’s not just a prettied up version of the original game as it takes the general gameplay and design of the original game, and then lovingly builds outwards, to create more comprehensive level design, difficulty, and an immersive gameplay experience. This game isn’t just for fans of the original, although that certainly is part of the appeal here. The nostalgia factor is high as the music throughout the game channels the DuckTales theme and assorted music, some of the voice talent from the DuckTales television series make appearances, and the game feels like a nice throwback to the platformers of yesteryear.

1.pngThe plot of the game is simple, with Scrooge McDuck on the trail of great treasure, bringing him to exotic locales, including the Amazon and the Moon. Along for the ride are Huey, Duey, Louie and Webby, often getting into trouble all on their own. After playing the initial level, you choose which local to go to next, to get the next major piece of treasure. The game is still challenging, and not necessarily forgiving. I started the game on its regular setting, and found it much tougher than I would have expected, although it did make it more enjoyable as if it had been too easy it wouldn’t have been as satisfying a gameplay experience.

Visually, this game is superb. The visuals channel the essence of the original, but are nicely cleaned up and look like they’re taken right from the television show. There are some nice touches added in here, such as the ability to swim in Scrooge McDuck’s fabled money bin. And really, what child of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s hadn’t wished they could do that, and now you can, after a fashion. This game is immensely entertaining, not to mention challenging. I can only hope that sometime soon Rescue Rangers will get the same treatment.

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