428: Shibuya Scramble Hands-On: Flawless Detection, On the Case

428 SS_smallA little game history goes a long way, folks. Chunsoft pioneered the visual novel game way back in 1983 with Yuji Hori’s The Portopia Serial Murder Incident and over the decades since, the company, now known as Spike Chunsoft has released a number of quality visual and sound novel titles primarily for Japanese audiences. Visual novel fans here in the west probably know them best for some solid titles that have managed to make the trip overseas such as the Danganronpa, and Zero Escape games on consoles and handhelds, along with the upcoming Steins;Gate, AI, YU-NO, and Zanki Zero games set to arrive soon on a few platforms. Yes, they’ve also done a bunch of other (and better known) non-adventure game classics. But as you’ve gone and clicked that link above, you can do that extra bit of homework yourself. Me, I’m here to chat up this spectacular new but old number you’ll absolutely want to check out.

 

(Thanks, Spike Chunsoft!)

 

Another game on the way is the stellar formerly Japan-only visual novel from 2008, 428: Shibuya Scramble, finally headed stateside for PS4 and PC on September 4. There’s a great demo out now on PSN that pulled me in right from its 70’s-sounding opening theme and had me playing through to both endings with a huge smile on my face. While it’s only a taste of what’s to come, the blend of text adventure, still photos and brief full-motion video clips makes this a quite impressive achievement even ten years after its release. It’s more or less a “choose your own adventure” game, but one where a failure state doesn’t necessarily end the game at all, but unlocks new story elements.

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The Missing to be Found on Consoles and PC Later This Year

(thanks, Arc System Works America!)

The-Missing_BoxHmmm, perhaps I should pay more attention to more stuff online, right? Hey, it’s kind of hard to do these days when you burn so much energy trying to avoid all the negativity out there, grrrr. Anyway, I actually missed out on that video above that noted Hidetaka (SWERY) Suerhiro and developer White Owls, Inc. were working on a brand new game for Arc System Works America set to be published later this year.

Well, that game is called The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories and it’s set to drop digitally onto PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch before the year is out. Excellent. I have no clue as to what sort of game it will be other than it’s an action/adventure… well, that and you get all of three screenshots below:

Yep, I’ll be picking this up as well. SWERY’s work is always intriguing and it’ll be a nice enough appetizer while we wait for more news about The Good Life as that game tiptoes along its development cycle.

-GW

Torchlight Frontiers: An Eyebrow is Raised – Hopefully, a Banner Will Follow

This one came as a surprise because I thought the Torchlight games were dead and gone. But it seems Perfect World Entertainment, Arc, developer Ectra Inc. (which includes some of the team behind a few classic ARPGs including the Torchlight and Diablo games) are going to be dropping an all-new online centered experience in 2019. Here’s the promo trailer for Torchlight Frontiers (which isn’t gameplay, sadly):

(Thanks, Play Torchlight!)

Here’s the official word so far:

Introducing the next iteration of the award-winning Torchlight series: Torchlight Frontiers!

Set in the same beloved universe as Torchlight I and II, this shared-world action-RPG brings back many of the franchise’s signature features and mechanics that captured the hearts of ARPG fans around the world. Led by former Runic Games and Blizzard North co-founder, Max Schaefer, the team developing Torchlight Frontiers is comprised of veteran developers who were responsible for the games that defined the ARPG genre, including the original Diablo and Torchlight franchises.

Torchlight Frontiers combines the heart of the beloved Torchlight series with a shared, persistent and dynamically generated world. In true Torchlight style, players will team up with friends and devoted pets to hack and slash their way through a vibrant world, discover ancient ruins of lost civilizations and brave dungeons filled with riches and dangerous creatures. Additional details about Torchlight Frontiers will be revealed at a later date.

The good news is the pedigree along with Perfect World’s generally solid track record in the MMO scene. The shared, persistent world business means this will likely be an online only game with solo play as an option similar to what’s found in Neverwinter (a game I’m currently playing and enjoying). I’ll gather this will also be free to play with paid content, but we’ll see where that all goes. I like the art style in the trailer, although I’m hoping the game goes for a look closer to Torchlight II and/or won’t require a super-powerful PC to run. The console plans mean it should look similar across the board, which is a good thing in my book.

Torchlight Frontiers will be available on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at some point in 2019, but we’ll need to definitely get some hands-on time with a build at some point to see what’s what. Fingers crossed (and yes, cross-platform play would be keen, Sony).

-GW

The Bard’s Tale Trilogy Returns as a Re-Remake Worth a Buy

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So, I’d been only lightly following inXile’s progress on The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep with the knowledge that the game was going to be quite impressive and when all of a sudden this trailer pops up in the inbox and waves at me. Well hello there, beautiful. Color me surprised and thrilled, ladies and germs:

 

(thanks, inXile!)

 

Nice. While it would have been great to get these in one download (or disc if it’s console bound), spreading the releases out over time means players can actually finish each game and have room left for part IV whenever it’s released. It’s always great to see Krome Studios hard at work (they’ve been one of my favorite developers since the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger days). Hmmm. Time to start carving out some spare time because it’s looking like Skara Brae might be a decent (albeit dangerous) vacation spot for a little while.

-GW

INSOMNIA: The Ark: 8 Years in the Making Means a Lot of Sleepless Nights for RPG Fans

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From the inbox it came… and it looks pretty cool, I think:

 

(Thanks, INSOMNIA: The Ark!)

 

My current backlog is rather huge, but it looks as if I’ll need to carve out some quality time to check out Studio Mono’s INSOMNIA: The Ark, which is set for a September release on Steam.  According to its press release (continued below the jump… suspense!):

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Review: Bud Spencer & Terence Hill: Slaps and Beans

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“Once upon a time in the west…” er, wrong movie, but you know what I mean…

Slaps & Beans - coverYep, it’s here and it’s great. As a fan of old-school arcade beat ’em ups, Trinity Team’s excellent Bud Spencer & Terence Hill: Slaps and Beans ($19.99) does exactly what its meant to do and does it with a ton of love (and many slaps and beans). I’ll give those of you scratching your heads a second to look up some of the duo’s films (here you go) and admit that for some of you, they may not be your to your taste (which means you need to watch a few and become a convert to their brand of international slapstick).

The game is an absurd amount of fun as a solo or co-op experience with a wacky story line, mini-games galore and some really great music that’s worth buying on a disc if you’re a fan of what’s here. While it’s not a terribly long game, it’s one where you’ll replay it either alone or with a buddy because it’s packed with laughs and challenge on the harder difficulties. Personally, I don’t grasp at all people who only play an otherwise solid game one or two times and shelve it away, but such is the current state of gaming where hours seem to mean more than overall quality to some “gamers” out there. It makes me wonder how the deal with heavier entertainment like non-fiction books or serious documentaries. But I digress – here’s some gameplay to ogle from yours truly:

 

(Thanks, Me!)

 

I heard you laughing all the way across the internet with me. This is good. Continue reading

Earth Defense Force 5 US Trailer #1: A Bit of Wait Gain

(La la la, PlayStation!)

 

EDF_5 boxIt’s about time,  but there’s still no concrete release date for North America. To be fair, Sony has opened up pre-orders for the game’s standard digital and deluxe digital editions. But that 12/31/2018 release date is a bit questionable (games usually pop up on Tuesdays and I don’t think a New Year’s Day release date would be a thing). FYI, with no official launch date decided, pre-orders have to include a tentative date so potential buyers have a general idea of when a product will arrive as a download or at retail.  I hope this game rolls in before the end of the year, as it’s a bit crazy-cakes that a worldwide release wasn’t in the cards from day one.

That said, I’m also surprised I didn’t snap up the import version at this point, but that was a mix of finances not being where they needed to be and not wanting to go to the hassle of creating a Japanese PSN account to get DLC. Well, that and I thought the game would have been out already,  Ah well. I have plenty of games to wade through in the backlog, so at the end of the day, holding out for this one in English means I’m going to be going in totally cold and enjoying every minute.

EDF 5_04

-GW

Review: Figment (Nintendo Switch)

Figment SwitchFigment ($19.99) is just about as good as it gets on a number of fronts. it’s visually charming yet quite surreal, a bit edgy in tone, perhaps a tad too challenging for younger kids but a total sweet spot game for those who appreciate solid and well designed indies. Did I mention it’s also got a great musical score and songs during some fights? Well, it does (another thing that makes it great stuff).

All its cranky antihero Dusty wants is some ice for his drink, but that rather quickly turns into a quest to rescue a fractured mind in a impressive hybrid of adventure, puzzle, and action game elements liberally sprinkled with wry humor adults will appreciate. There’s also a deeper psychological thing going on that lends the game a Psychonauts-style approach to storytelling as layers are peeled back and you realize the game’s got a serious side that adds to its depth.

 

 

Dusty (who looks like George Herriman’s Krazy Kat as re-imagined by Dali with a dash of Tim Burton) is accompanied by a super cheery companion, Piper, a bird-like creature who’s a fountain of peppiness. The banter between the pair is pretty amusing because at first, Dusty is annoyed by her constant reminders of his past deeds and sunny disposition. he doesn’t want to get to anything but his beverage and is mighty tiffed that his relaxing time is turning into a big deal that has him venturing into places where others recall his old good deeds.

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The artistic influences here are brilliant if you know your art history. Even if you don’t, the game is a total visual treat.

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Bud Spencer & Terence Hill – Slaps And Beans Now on Consoles

Slaps and Beans PS4

Whaaaaat? Color me totally surprised, ladies and germs!

Huh. Just when I thought this was never coming to consoles, here it is and I’m laughing myself silly because… well, just look:

(Thanks, Trinity Team!)

Hey, it took these guys a while to make and I’ll bet a penny that’s it’s worth a load of replays like any other fun arcade beat ’em up should be, so yeah, it’s worth that price point whether you grab the PS4, Xbox One or Nintendo Switch version. As for those of you who don’t get the fuss, I leave this as a parting gift:


(Thanks, Pump Monkey!)

-GW

Review: Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered (PS4)

RFRM_PS4While much of its color palette is about as utilitarian as the sledgehammer lead character Alec Mason swings around, Red Faction Guerrilla Re-Mars-tered ($29.99) still delivers the goods (and how!) when it comes to its core gameplay. Mars may be the big hot spot some look to as our future home (ha!), but in this game, it’s one of the worst places off earth. The game itself is quite solid overall thanks to recent patching that fixed a few flaws, but getting the hang of weapon switching in the heat of battle is still some tricky business.

Developer KAIKO took Volition’s 2009 PS3/Xbox 360/PC game and added some nice modern visual flourishes such as revamped textures, lighting, and shadow effects along with a (mostly) smoother 60fps frame rate. The game also packs in all the DLC, including a side story set years before the main game featuring a badass heroine who uses some cool alien weaponry, so this package is going to be a treat for those who want additional solo and online play modes to pad out an already lengthy game experience.

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Annnnd just when you make that last payment on your ride, here comes Mason to check up on that repair or replacement clause.

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