Month: July 2013

Dragon’s Crown (PS3) Review 1

Dragon’s Crown (PS3) Review

Pseudo Nostalgia In Full Force

Dragon’s Crown is, to me, a surreal beast if only because when I sit down and play it, I think to myself, “This is pretty much what Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow of Mystara looked and played like back in the day.” The problem is, I recently played the HD port for review and found out just how severely distorted my nostalgia goggles were. Now there’s Dragon’s Crown by 2D studio extraordinaire, Vanillaware, and this is pretty much THE side-scrolling, gorgeously illustrated, 2D, 4 player co-op, action RPG, dungeon crawling experience for a new generation of players that Mystara—with our much, MUCH lower, more naïve standards—enjoyed in arcades back in the day. With caveats.

Go Forth And Randomly Adventure

As with all great amateur night D&D sessions, Dragon’s Crown starts with your newbie character off on a quest for adventure. It doesn’t really matter what kind, as long as it’s adventuresome. After hitting up a town that is conveniently populated with a tavern, magic item shop,
resurrection station Cleric’s Temple and magical teleporting gateway, you and up to three other players go off to crawl dungeons, grab loot and eventually get wrapped up in an overarching plot centering around the fabled Dragon’s Crown, a magical item that supposedly allows the wielder to control dragons. It’s a disposable plot with no gripping writing, although for old school gamers, it’s amusing that the game is not only narrated, but done in traditional D&D second person. The throaty narrator constantly intones, “You find this,” or “You think that,” just like a Dungeon Master, so the only thing missing is the roll for Charisma or Intelligence to save versus perception and/or persuasion. It’s all gently tongue-in-cheek, as is the rest of the game.

Speaking of tongue-in-cheek, let’s talk about those graphics. This is the first time Vanillaware has made a full-fledged HD game from the ground up; Muramasa: Rebirth was an HD up-rez of the original SD game on the Wii. One of the big talking points in the lead up to the release of the game was the grossly exaggerated art direction. Yes, the infamous sorceress character is given some unrealistic proportions as well truly questionable breast physics, but with the exception of the thief and elf characters, all the characters are grossly exaggerated in some way. Character design aside, the art direction—as expected from Vanillaware—is absolutely gorgeous. A rich palette of colors and the best hand drawn art in 2D gaming today make Dragon’s Crown a looker whether it’s being played on a PS3 or a Vita. The animation is intricate, with movement everywhere, and mostly there are no hiccups to the frame rate, although on rare occasions it does hitch. It’s safe to say though that this is one of the more beautiful and unique looking games on consoles today, just because Vanillaware puts an unprecedented amount of care into their 2D art work. It’s gorgeous.

The sound, similar to the graphics, is mostly good, though there are some blemishes. There’s an option for both English and Japanese voice tracks, which is always a nice option to have. The voice work, like the graphics, is played for exaggeration, so cliché delivery is the order of the day, with all the lines uttered in playful, campy ways. The music is nicely composed, although Vanillaware’s budget limitations are plain to hear as this is not an orchestrated score, but instead a lot of synthesizer work doing its best to imitate the richness of an orchestra that most expect from a fantasy game. Because this is a 2D game, there’s not much in the way of surround sound going on, nor should there be. The sound effects do a competent job of filling up the speakers, although the bass isn’t as aggressive as might be expected for fireballs and other exploding objects. Still, for a 2D side scroller, what’s here is working.

Another Scratch For The Loot Itch

Dragon’s Crown is about as straightforward as it gets in gameplay. This is a traditional dungeon crawl, just gussied up in the sumptuous hand drawn art that Vanillaware is well regarded for. In many ways, this is just a more elaborate, HD version of the recent port of Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow of Mystara that Capcom recently introduced, but with a much more comprehensive RPG element. However, the basic structure is identical, right down to even occasionally being asked in the middle of a dungeon which of two paths you would like to take.

The goal is simple; move from left to right, bashing anything that comes your way in typical 2D, side-scrolling brawler style, either mashing buttons, or carefully executing basic and special attacks. Players have a choice from a variety of different, traditional character classes, with the surprising exception of the Thief, who is an unplayable NPC that is directed to pick locks and open doors. However, fighters, mages and archers are all available for play, and in true RPG fashion, they gain levels which translates to better stats (which are automatic, there’s no option to distribute attribute points as you see fit) and new abilities. The abilities are divided into a “class” pool and a “common” pool, so players can choose to either hone and acquire abilities specific to their character, or get general ones that all classes benefit from such as increased health meter, or increasing inventory space to equip more weapons and/or accessories. One unwelcome feature that rears its ugly head in the RPG aspect is item decay. All weapons and accessories have hit points that gradually tick down through usage or abuse, and must be repaired back in town to remain usable. It’s a puzzling feature to build in since most players will always have the money on hand to repair an item after every outing, so it introduces a false—and tedious—sense of tension about equipment that never plays out.

On the other hand, one of the more interesting additions to this structure is the multi-player nature of the game. Simply put, you can’t play this game with a single character. After hitting Chapter/Stage nine of the game, online play opens up, allowing you to randomly jump into other players’ games, or let them do likewise while you play. But even before that, there’s an option for up to three other players in local co-op, or “recruiting” NPCs to fill out your roster by retrieving piles of bones in the various dungeons and bringing them back to town to resurrect into NPC companions. An unexpected twist to the NPC companions is that playing online and retrieving the bones in multi-player dungeons will retrieve the saved profiles of other players, and there’s apparently no scaling of levels to your own in this regard; on one run, I picked up a Japanese level 52 sorceress NPC, despite the fact that the first playthrough of the game caps at level 35. Subsequent runs have netted level 40+ wizards and dwarven fighters. Of course, playing with NPCs is nowhere near as efficient as playing with actual humans. The NPCs will walk into traps, the magic classes will waste all their best spells as quickly as possible, leaving them drained by the time the confrontation with the dungeon boss occurs, and should their equipment break, there is no way to repair it.

Dragon-S-Crown-Playstation-3-Ps3-1374487377-102

In many ways, the basic premise is that of Diablo or any other action RPG; lots of simple, easy to execute action combined with a loot cycle that gives you something new to compare and equip every few minutes. The only real issue with the game is its size; this is not a sprawling dungeon crawler like Diablo or even past console releases like Dungeon Siege III. There are a total of nine dungeons in the game, and the initial playthrough tasks players with repeating them a minimum of twice before going on to the final boss fight. With each dungeon being completed in less than 10 minutes, on average, that’s not a big game.

Realistically of course, that’s not going to happen. This is a Japanese action RPG, and for better or for worse, that means one unavoidable fate; the grind. At stage nine—pretty much when the game now declares you have to romp through all those dungeons a second time—the game scales up the level of enemies and bosses. It is flat out impossible to successfully get through some of the dungeons a second time without going taking side missions for XP and going through the dungeons again and again to level up and get better equipment. Other action RPGs—like Borderlands—handle this by simply giving you new missions and new areas to go to in preparation for the final fight, carefully ladling out the XP so that even if you blaze through only the story missions, you’ll have a tough—but doable—final fight ahead of you. That’s not the case with Dragon’s Crown, if you don’t grind, you die, or, in multi-player you become “that guy,” that drags the rest of the party down. Once you complete the game the first time, the level cap is lifted, and players have access to hard mode and a new level cap of 65. Complete the game a third time and a new difficulty mode opens up once more, finally granting the traditional RPG level 99 cap.

One final element that needs to be noted is curious inclusion of cross-save. Dragon’s Crown lets players put their PS3 game save on the cloud, then download it to the Vita and continue. The reverse also holds true. The strange part is that, as with the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, this isn’t a cross-buy title where the purchase of one nets both versions, so the only way to take advantage of this feature is to buy a second copy of the game for the other platform. In other words, a neat little convenience is going to cost $50 for the PS3 game and $40 for the Vita version total in order to take advantage of it. This is a real shame as the game plays beautifully on the Vita, with menu navigation being easier on a touch screen, but few people will ever really benefit from this until the price of the two separate games comes down enough to justify buying both.

Ultimately, Dragon’s Crown is a gorgeous looking game that plays to its action and RPG elements competently and has a flexible, robust suite of multi-player options. It’s handicapped by a very small range of dungeons to explore as well as a greater than normal reliance on grinding, so the feeling of repetition sets in very quickly. Players looking for a decent loot based experience can safely buy this knowing that the loot compulsion will be addressed every few minutes thanks to the ease of hitting dungeons repeatedly. Players looking for an engrossing RPG that will whisk them away to another world with memorable characters should walk on by and look at something else like Tales of Xillia. This is a game about mechanics, not narrative experience.

Nintendo Q1 Results: 160,000 Wii U consoles Shipped 1

Nintendo Q1 Results: 160,000 Wii U consoles Shipped

Nintendo posted its results for the April-June quarter of fiscal year 2013 Wednesday, revealing a ¥ 8.62 billion (under $88 million) net profit, despite a 3.8 percent decrease in revenue.

The company’s Wii U console, however, shipped 160,000 units worldwide between the April-June quarters; this is less than half of the Wii U units shipped within the previous quarter of January-March. To date, Nintendo has only shipped 3.61 million units.

As Nintendo notes the Wii U still preforms poorly, the games for the console unfortunately struggled as well—a million games were sold worldwide within the three months ending June 2013. Nintendo attributed this shortcoming to a “few key first-party titles this quarter to strongly drive the hardware sales”. The company wishes to improve and carry on their performance from the second half of 2013 and onto 2014.

Positively, Nintendo’s 3DS console shipped 1.4 million hardware units and just over 11 million software units in the first quarter.Animal Crossing: New Leaf contributed greatly to that success, bringing its share of 1.5 million software units sold. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon seconded 3DS’ software success, by shipping 1.43 million units.

Nintendo’s Wii console shipped 210,000 units worldwide, significantly reaching a milestone of achieving the 100 million mark.

Maybe we Should Just Let Japanese Games be Japanese - 2013-08-14 12:26:18

Maybe we Should Just Let Japanese Games be Japanese

Sometimes Old School Is The Best School.

Recently Namco announced that the Ace Combat series was going to be getting another (very late) installment in the franchise before the end of the current console generation. Ace Combat: Infinity has been teased with a brief trailer, but for those in the know, what little has been revealed is already quite interesting; Project Aces, the team behind most of the installments, is going back to their roots.

The previous game, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was an attempt by the Namco Bandai to expand the market for the franchise by ditching its traditional “Strangereal” setting, which was a fictional world, with fictional nations that just happened to use all aircraft that fighter fans of today know and love, such as the iconic F-14 or the newer F-22. This “Strangereal” world had its own troubled history of constant military conflict as nations clashed, and an asteroid collision in “their” 1998 caused even more global turmoil when refugees and nations struggled with a new, sudden rebalancing in the power structure. It is a world in which hyper focused aeronautics technology has produced some aircraft and defenses more advanced than our own, with tales of its fighter pilots achieving great heroics, or making great sacrifices.

All of that was pushed to the side when Namco Bandai made Assault Horizon in 2011, and took more of a Westernized, Tom Clancy approach. Gone was the introspection about the cost of war on its participants in favour of the usual potboiler plot in which former Russian military vehicles are somehow compromised to provide a suitably challenging opposition against American fighters. The likeable characters that developed over the course of the game were replaced with generic ciphers representing the white hero, his visible minority companion and his female support, with little in the way of evolution. Exotic missions culminating in massive mother ship battles or Death Star-ish trench runs gave way to lots and lots of planes.

To be fair, Assault Horizon also introduced the “Close Range Assault” mode that brought dog fighting to a more intense level by putting the navigation on rails and allowing players to concentrate on shooting an enemy on high evasion. It also gave players the option to pilot a combat chopper or even do some strategic bombing from the cockpit of an AC-130. However, while these changes added some variety to the gameplay, the game itself no longer felt like an Ace Combat game. So much of what made an Ace Combat game what it was had been removed to the point that flying it under the Ace Combat banner seemed inappropriate—outside of the commercial consideration of brand name recognition, that is.

The same thing could be said of other Japanese titles that have been given the Western treatment. DmC, for example, is a perfectly serviceable third person action game, but it’s not really Devil May Cry in tone, mechanics or style. Lords of Shadow is another game that is actually a decent experience, but it’s debatable whether the game really is a Castlevania title in the sense that most are familiar with. One thing that all of these titles have in common is the wish on the part of the Japanese publishers for more casual, Western gamers to buy these games, rather than the smaller, focused fan base that faithfully follows these IPs from one sequel to the next.

That’s why, it’s refreshing to see a Japanese company decide that perhaps “Westernizing” an established franchise is not the way to go and that, for the next sequel, a return to form is in order. There’s a reason people were drawn to a franchise in the beginning, there were certain characteristics present that people found attractive. To completely redo something but retain the same name smacks of trying to have a cake and eat it too. Yet at the same time, trying to sell an ignorant crowd on an established name while at the same time alienating the fans by removing what made that name so great seems like a losing proposition.

Ace Combat , it seems, has decided that after flirting with the world of Tom Clancy military conspiracies like every other contemporary military game, it was wiser to go back to the unique world it created with its rich history and heritage. I don’t know whether the game is going to be any better or worse than Assault Horizon, but I know that a visit back to “Strangereal” already makes the game more appealing to the long-time fans like me.

Activision Reaches $8.2 Billion Deal to Claim Independence From Vivendi 1

Activision Reaches $8.2 Billion Deal to Claim Independence From Vivendi

Mega publisher Activision Blizzard has reached a whopping $8.2 billion deal to separate itself from French conglomerate Vivendi, becoming an independent company in the process.

According to The New York Times, Activision Blizzard made the announcement early Friday. The company, along with a group of investors, will seek to buy back shares owned by Vivendi. The cost for Activision Blizzard’s liberation from Vivendi is about $5.83 billion cash for 429 million shares. In essence, it would be $13.60 per share.

Under the terms of the deal, Bobby Kotick will remain Activision Blizzard’s Chief Executive Officer, while Brian Kelly will act as Chairman. Both Kotick and Kelly are buying 172 million shares from Vivendi for $2.34 billion.

“We should emerge even stronger,” Kotick says. “The transactions announced today will allow us to take advantage of attractive financing markets while still retaining more than $3 billion cash on hand to preserve financial stability.”

Speculations over the last year revealed Vivendi was looking to sell its stake in Activision Blizzard. Now that Activision Blizzard has announced this deal, the company believes it can prosper as an independent company.

Killzone: Mercenary Preview

Killzone: Mercenary Preview

It’s Not The B-Team

The PlayStation Vita is in the unfortunate position of being a fantastic piece of hardware that’s suffering from a dearth of must-own games. True, there are already a few exclusive gems here and there like Gravity Rush and Wipeout 2048, but the bulk of the Vita’s good games are either smaller indie titles that don’t really push the hardware, ports of past greatness such as the sublime Persona 4 Golden, or cross-play games of console titles like Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Now there’s a new contender on the block, Killzone: Mercenary and Sony was good enough to send out some preview code so that we could try it in the comfort of our own home rather than in the noise and bluster of E3.

This preview code is the same sequence that was playable at E3, involving the mercenary of the game, Danner, being assigned to infiltrate and hack the arc cannons that were pounding the Vektan invasion so badly at the beginning of Killzone 2. Unlike past FPS games on the Vita such as Resistance and Call of Duty, this project was not handed off to some other company to quickly farm out. Guerrilla Cambridge the sister studio to Guerilla Games is handling the development duties, and they take their responsibility seriously. The graphics—as much as is possible on a handheld—are impressively close to the original PS3 versions, and once again show off just how powerful the Vita is. There are a few hiccups to the frame rate here and there when the action gets too hectic, and it’s unclear whether that’s simply the limitations of the hardware, or something that will be optimized in the final retail release.

There’s only one mission to play here, but it shows off the depth of the game and makes it immediately apparent that Guerrilla Cambridge is treating this like an “AAA” console release, rather than a cheap spin-off to make a few bucks. The controls still have the same weighty feel that the console original was controversially known for, but that’s also affected by the most interesting addition to the game; customization.

In addition to the usual FPS activities of shooting, pushing buttons, climbing ladders and melee-ing unsuspecting Helghans in the face, there are equipment options that give the game an RPG-lite tone. One piece of armor can be bought and equipped that makes the player a tank, better able to soak up bullets, while another is lighter, quieter and favours stealth based gameplay. Accessories like the “Vanguard” flying droid seem to be teasers for the OWL drone that accompanies players, in Killzone Shadowfall on the PS4 while other equipment allows for cloaking and running invisibly through the level.

The other big change is cash. Players earn cash for doing everything from picking up spare ammo to getting a headshot. This cash can be spent at vendor boxes scattered throughout the level for more ammo or equipment upgrades. Cash is also lost whenever the player dies, so it quickly punishes sloppy play with a growing hole in the wallet. Surprisingly, these missions are repeatable as the preview code made it possible to retake the same mission with all equipment and purchases intact. This means that those players with a grinding sensibility can go back and re-take easier missions to make back some money and buy/upgrade more gear to better take on the tougher missions that are presumably later in the game.

It’s still too early to tell whether Killzone: Mercenary is going to be the Must-Have FPS Vita game that the system’s been clamouring for since launch, but one thing is abundantly clear at this point; Sony didn’t take the cheap and easy route with this game. The depth of the gameplay and the production values all point towards Sony finally trying to create that showpiece FPS that will justify the powerful hardware and those twin analog sticks.

 

The Batman/Superman Film 1

The Batman/Superman Film

So, San Diego hosted Comic Con last weekend as tends to happen every year. Big comic book movie announcements are what that event are all about these day’s and this years fans were treated to one of the biggest they’ve ever heard. Yep, in 2015 a billion wet dreams will come true. Batman and Superman will share the screen in a movie already guaranteed to shatter box office records.

As a card-carrying geek, it’s exciting. How could it not be? This is a dream that long seemed too good to ever come true. The two most famous and beloved superheroes together in a single movie. Marvel may have pioneered the superhero crossover movie, but DC had the two most loved and famous superheroes of them all and now we’ll see them together. However, the cynic in me can’t help but be skeptical. Not with Zack Snyder in charge and certainly not after Man Of Steel. Don’t get me wrong, Warner Brothers already has my money. I just can’t help but worry.

The Batman/Superman FilmWhile most people assumed WB/DC would save they’re crossover event for a Justice League movie, they’ve decided to dive in headfirst by shoving Superman and Batman together and it’s a great idea. After all these guys have been superfriends, they’ve been Justice League partners, they’ve kicked the crap out of each other, they’ve done everything. There are countless ways to plot this movie and thousands of crossover stories to adapt. Of course at the panel, Snyder and co. made it pretty clear which direction they were going when they read a loud a very specific quote from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns that cape crusader spits out right before landing a finishing blow in the boy scout’s face. So, they’re going to fight and that’s not a bad idea. Seeing two iconic superheroes knock heads is always entertaining and by getting it out of the way in the movie, that leaves the Justice League flick open for pure team-up joy. Given all of the message board hate spewed over Superman’s willy-nilly destruction of Metropolis, it only makes sense that Batman would arch his eyebrow, build an armored suit, discover kryptonite (he is the world’s greatest detective and a scientist) and try to contain this one-man army for the good of humanity. Then of course they’d make friends, join forces to fight a greater evil (Luthor, Brainiac, etc.), realize that they make a good team, and decide that if any other superpowered folks were to suddenly turn up, perhaps they should form a league that fights for justice (wink!).

It all seems so clear and fun. But, it shouldn’t. The possibilities of what to do with Bats and Sups are almost limitless as decades of comic book history have proven. Unfortunately, it was also announced who is in charge of the project and it’s hardly an inspired choice destined to reinvent the world’s favorite heroes for the big screen. Nope, the folks in charge of the DC Universe aren’t playing Marvel’s game and hiring a new exciting filmmaker to adapt this story. They’ve played it safe and stuck with Zack Snyder and David Goyer. Granted these guys are unabashed fans with great success, but we’ve seen their take on the superhero movie. We’ve seen it many times. Why not bring in some fresh blood? Well, because that’s a risk. WB/DC aren’t taking a risk with a Superman/Batman movie. They’re literally creating the most commercial possible property any studio could make right now. Unless the movie is 90 minutes of Snyder burning garbage bags full of thousand dollar bills while wiping his behind with issues of Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27, this sucker has already made $1 billion plus even more in merchandising. Warner Bros can consider that money made and it’s safe to assume they already have. Smart business move? Yeah, it’s genius. Particularly after announcing it at Comic Con. The trouble is that the movie just feels like a business move and nothing more.

If DC/WB really had a plan in place for building their universe, wouldn’t they have included a tag of a news report on the destruction of Metropolis playing in the Batcave at the end of Man Of Steel? If Snyder/Goyer really planned to make Batman/Superman next and they really wanted to make a splash at Comic Con, why not dedicate a day at the end of the Man Of Steel shoot to grab a quick scene of these two characters sharing the screen. The CGI logos were nice, but that could have been whipped up in a weekend. Nope what probably happened was that Man Of Steel didn’t quite burst the box office the way that was planned and rather than go the whole DC world building route, it was decided to jump the gun and just bring Batman and Superman together right now. Fair enough. I want to see that. You want to see that. Everyone wants to see that. It’s just that it would have been nice for some new filmmakers to really take their time to develop a movie that the long awaited team up of these two characters deserves.

Now, I’m being unfairly cynical here. Whatever reservations I have about Man Of Steel, I can’t pretend that I hate it. Zack Snyder does now how to make movies look pretty and action feel visceral. Those are qualities that any Batman/Superman movie needs and I’m sure it’ll go well with a big bag of popcorn. And beyond that, let’s not forget that the last time these two characters were going to fight each other on the big screen, Wolfgang Peterson was in charge. So, the movie is at least in better hands now with Snyder and Goyer. I’m certain the movie will be fun. It’s just a shame that with all the people and politics involved, the results seem so easily predictable. Hopefully I’m wrong, but with the movie coming through a traditional studio system rather than Marvel’s artist friendly infrastructure…well, predictability is what Hollywood does best. Now it’s up to Snyder and Goyer to prove me and all the skeptics wrong. I would be absolutely delighted to look back at this post in two years and eat a shame sandwich. I’ve just got a feeling that I’ll be playing a game of “I told you so.”

 

The Batman/Superman Film

 

Shadow of the Eternals Kickstarter Back Online 1

Shadow of the Eternals Kickstarter Back Online

Precursor Games has re-launched the Kickstarter campaign for Shadow of the Eternals, notably known as the spiritual successor to Silicon Knights’ horror game, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.

“To our KickStarter [sic] community—thanks for your support and encouragement. We’re really happy to let you know that the re-launch of the Shadow of the Eternals campaign is now live,” reads Precursor’s recent update on the project’s Kickstarter.

Denis Dyack and his team at Precursor Games have lowered the funding from $1,350,000 to $750,000. They have also revamped reward tiers, game structure, and announced David Hayter as the voice of main protagonist Detective Paul Becker. Becker is investigating a massacre at Pleasant View Hospital, in which he discovers two individuals—a suave businessman and a hardened biker—that want to kill each other.

The Kickstarter campaign for Shadow of the Eternals ends on Aug. 23. As of this moment, 1,340 backers pledged $56,580.

Precursor Games’ Chief Executive Officer Paul Caporicci revealed in June his team temporarily took down the Shadow of the Eternals crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and on Precursor’s official website. Precursor is vying to launch Shadow of the Eternals on PC and Wii U in 2014. There is also a campaign for the game on Steam Greenlight.

 

Microsoft Allows Indie Developers to Self-Publish on Xbox One 1

Microsoft Allows Indie Developers to Self-Publish on Xbox One

Microsoft has confirmed the Xbox One will permit independent developers to self-publish.

Also, Xbox One consoles sold in retail stores will be doubled as development kits; in other words, retail-purchased Xbox One consoles can be used to develop and test games.

“Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be sued for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all the features of Xbox One and Xbox LIVE,” Microsoft’s Vice-President of Xbox Marc Whitten told Engadget in Wednesday’s interview. “This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox LIVE. We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August.”

Prior to Microsoft’s revision, the company outlined in their initial Xbox One policies indie developers needed to work alongside third-party publishers or acquire a Microsoft publishing contract. Interestingly enough, Microsoft’s decision to overturn its stance on indie self-publishing was not the only revised policy.

 

Eidos Montreal Founder: Square Enix Has Great Games, But Lacks Ability to Sell Them

Eidos Montreal Founder: Square Enix Has Great Games, But Lacks Ability to Sell Them

Square Enix may produce great games, but the problem is the publisher does not know how to sell them properly, according to Eidos Montreal founder Stephane D’Astous.

“[Square Enix] has some things to learn about how to sell their games,” D’Astous tells Polygon in an interview. “We are in a situation where we have great games that could have sold more. They need to attack that very, very seriously. Last year was supposed to be a home-run season, but we didn’t hit a single home run; maybe a double or a triple, but they weren’t home runs.”

In release of Square Enix’s fiscal year results ending Mar. 31, the company revealed titles such as Hitman: Absolution, Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs failed to meet sales targets, despite critical acclaim. The publisher has also experienced a series of layoffs at both their North American and European locations. Yosuke Matsuda is now Square Enix’s new president.

As of last Friday, D’Astous departed from Eidos Montreal after six years, citing irreconcilable differences between Eidos and Square Enix Europe amongst reasons. Eidos Montreal is known for titles such as Deus Ex: The Fall, which was released July 11, and Thief, slated for release for both current- and next-generation consoles in 2014.

The Real Estate Company Puts An "X-Extremely X-pensive" Price Tag On X-Men Mansion

The Real Estate Company Puts An “X-Extremely X-pensive” Price Tag On X-Men Mansion

In light of The Wolverine hitting theatres this Friday, Movoto, a real estate company based in San Mateo, California, decided to capitalize on the hype by creating a fictitious listing of the X-Men’s X-Mansion.

The property, once home to the prominent Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, is valued at more than $58 million, with amenities truly fitting for the X-Men aficionado: assembly hall, library, training room and acrobatics room, just to name a few. Also, the X-Mansion includes a private jet hangar, and two large-scale, unfurnished spaces that are totally open for designing the ultimate lair or bat cave. The X-Mansion is located in North Salem, New York. With British-inspired architecture integrated with superhuman flare, the X-Mansion combines comfort with combat.

Movoto spokesperson Nick Johnson says the idea of creating fictional estate listings comes from the curiosity of figuring out the values of pop culture properties, such as Batman’s Wayne Manor, Princess Peach’s Castle, or even Tony Stark’s luxurious mansion. Johnson, along with his colleagues at Movoto, is a fan of various pop cultures, be it comic books or videogames. But, as Johnson tells Comics and Gaming Magazine, nobody took initiative to actually put a price tag on such fictional properties. Thus, Movoto created a blog last April, putting a pop culture twist on real estate.

“We’re inspired by creating a unique way of looking at real estate. So, after some writing and feedback last summer, we realized that there is a lot of interest in the history of pop culture,” Johnson says. “So, as a way of helping add a creative insight into looking comics, cartoons, television shows and movies, then, our contribution is looking at the places where these stories are told.

“Whether it’s a land far, far away or a town in your own backyard, pop culture exists somewhere. We help tell the story of where the characters live in the only way they know.”

Johnson also says the inspiration for creating fictional properties is determined by current events in the news. Coming up with a creative value for the X-Men Mansion, Johnson says, provides a fun way for Movoto and fans alike to talk about The Wolverine before its theatrical release this Friday. Read more about Movoto’s blog post for the X-Mansion here.

 



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