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Let’s Talk About: Azure Striker Gunvolt

Game: Azure Strike Gunvolt

Console: 3DS 

Genre: Action-Platformer

So anime, much moe. (Why is his mid-drift showing?)
So anime, much moe. (Why is his mid-drift showing?)

Azure Strike Gunvolt is a redesign of classic Megaman X style gameplay with an evolved sense of difficulty. The bosses are varied and difficult, with is no “preferred kill-order” because power-ups from bosses don’t equate to weakness for later bosses. The platforming is well designed and the new battle mechanic is quite unique, but can get repetitive. What all of this means, I’ll get into in a bit.

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Are Current Movies and Games Going to Feel Dated Soon?

You turn on Netflix. You see the opening scenes. There’s a hustle-and-bustle going on with the crowd but not a main character to be identifiable yet. The shooting feels clunky. The music has a heavy synth sound in its tones. There’s not a black person in sight, unless it’s the main character or a homeless person in the movie. You have the suspicion that you’re watching an 80s movie or an early 90s movie.

We can pull what movies feel like a period-movie with only a few moments of watching a scene. For the current generation of young adults, it’s almost instinctual to know when many movies were created because of the tropes that these movies execute. Group of misfits learns to come together? Is it in a high school or outside of it? Is the hair outrageous? What about the Clothing? If you answer yes to all but the clothing, then the movie is probably a John Hughes movie and you’re probably watching the Breakfast Club, let’s be honest. The point is that what are the tropes that will define the movies that we watch today?

The_Breakfast_Club

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Let’s Talk about: Shovel Knight

I know I talked about it before, but Shovel Knight is probably one of the few games this year that I was hard-pressed to put down. Aside from being a fun Castlevania-Megaman style Platformer, attached is a great soundtrack, a style that references games of the past but is still able to carve out its own image and gameplay that is never “too easy” or “too hard” but consistently finds the middle ground to keep the player lingering in the “I know I can complete this” mentality.

You've come a long way NES-Dracula. Fighting me in a graveyard instead of near your shining throne.
You’ve come a long way NES-Dracula. Fighting me in a graveyard instead of near your shining throne.

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Teaching the Player p2.2 – More on Reactive vs Planned Gameplay

Previous posts in the Series Teaching the Player

And a link to the part 1

Running for Speed

The Speed Running community is a fantastic example of people who take every opportunity to transition all games from a Reaction to Planned Gameplay. They approach every game with its predefined rules and regardless of how well a game teaches you a mechanic, the speed runners put in the time to perfect the most opportune route and routine in getting from the start to the end of the game. They epitomize the idea of “Reaction Gameplay + Time = Planned Gameplay” by learning all of the inadequacies of the player’s abilities and the gamespace’s rules and manipulating them to get a more optimized path for faster completion, and shaving frames, seconds or even minutes off of runtimes by understanding what can be done by the player and what will happen in the gamespace when the player performs the action.

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Child of Light and the new “Indie” scene

Child of Light is another one of those games that is hard to categorize. It’s a game marketed as an indie game but clearly developed by a major developer, Ubisoft, which can be fairly misleading for players if they don’t pay attention. This usually means that Child of Light gets graded on an easier scale because of the “indie” aspect in mind and while I don’t believe it should, I still think that the game is exceptionally done for what it is.

If only all games looked like a PBS storybook.
If only all games looked like a PBS storybook.

It’s essentially a basic platfomer with classic JRPG combat using elements to try and make the battle system more active than simply being “turn-based”, a clearly defined art-style that captures a whimsy of 80-90s European ‘Storybook’ Animation, a soundscape that’s as euphoric and resounds with the environment as Ni no Kuni (PS3) and one of the only other games in the past few years that made me enjoy an older style JRPG (the other actually being Ni no Kuni). If you’ve read any other articles of me criticizing The Final Fantasy franchise, the reigning poster child of what’s right and wrong with JRPGs, you’d know that I’m not entirely too happy with the current direction of the franchise so it’s great to see another game that can get me to be excited about an RPG that is of a slower pace like older Final Fantasies.

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Why this game feels new – 2D Platformers

I’ve come to help you with your problems, so we can be free.

                Just how much room for improvement is there? When I look at a game, what gets me interested can vary greatly. Mechanics, story, perceptual shifts and so on are all aspects where the medium of gaming is leaps and bounds over the immersion of other media, but when going through the list of games month after month, there are very few examples that I can point to that “this is what gaming should exemplify and aspire to be, and the rest of you lot are the uninspired novelists hunting for words in a coffeeshop for hours a day.” I guess that’s a bit hypocritical because I’m in the middle of writing this at a coffeeshop-esqure environment, and have written at length in such an environment for quite some time because it is important to know where you work best and this environment is one of them for me. And I’d like to think that my level of output is greater than what some put out, especially after seeing how much time of others is spent on FB or random YouTube searches, but I digress.

The point is, most games that people tend to jump on the hype-train don’t have much to set themselves apart from predecessors and contemporaries, especially when there is so much more that can be done within the various genres that it makes it a chore to find a game that doesn’t “borrows heavily” from another which came out all of a few months prior.

A lot of this seems to come from incestual idea-sharing, where there are only so many new ideas that come out and once an idea is created, it gets passed around like an answer sheet throughout a class of overachievers. Only a few people create new ideas every development team tries to figure out how they can use that idea in order to make the game seem current and ingenious.

Continue reading “Why this game feels new – 2D Platformers”

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