Thursday, July 30, 2015

Crowdfunding Spotlight: Boma Naraka Sura

Since we here at the Antiverse tend to view ourselves somewhat as champions of the little guys in terms of gaming, I figured, how much "littler" can you get then games turning to crowdfunding for support? So I've decided that about once a month I'll pick a game that I see on a crowdfunding site that I think looks interesting and could use some support. With that said, onwards to the first entry!

I have been waiting seven years – since the release of Order of Ecclasia – for a new true Castlevania game. Apparently that may never happen, but recent Kickstarter campaign for famed creative director Koji Igarashi’s new game Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is pretty much the answer to my prayers. Since its success, it’s been no surprise to see other of these (to steal Bloodstained’s campaign term) “Igavania” styled games crawling out of the wood-work. Perhaps the most interesting is Indonesia-based Anantarupa Studio’s Boma Naraka Sura.

This new game stars a young female heroine, Sveta, who awakens with no memories to find herself in a dark realm filled with demons. One of these creatures is Bomasura, who is usually depicted as a villain in ancient Southeast Asian culture, but in this game will be lending aid to Sveta and helping her survive her journey through the various realms.

The gameplay definitely seems focused on the action/adventure style familiar to fans of Metroid and Castlevania. Much in the way that many enemies in Castlevania are based on various mythological creatures, Boma will continue to draw inspiration from its unique Southeast Asian heritage for the demons and populace of the game. As you travel, you will collect fragments of Sveta’s memory, but also various power ups and items that will add an RPG-like element to powering up your character and weapons and also help you transverse the environments. Like I said, this is familiar ground, but all elements fans of these types of games know and love.

What really sets Boma apart is its look. While many Kickstarter video games from what I can tell tend to be sprite based to either be or have the look of being 8- or 16- bit, Boma Naraka Sura is a beautifully hand painted game with an incredibly unique style and feel.

Quite honestly, I’m a little surprise this game even is on Kickstarter. A game like this seems like it should be getting some pretty big backing and lots of attention. Despite this, with a little under two weeks left in the campaign it still has almost half its initial funding goal left to go. But this has been a very big summer for Kickstarter, having seen Bloodstained, Shenmue III, and Yooka Laylee all break funding records in the video game categories, so people who normally would have thrown money at a game like this might be feeling a little drained right now. Also, so far they’ve only announced plans for a PC version, no console release or even a Mac version! A game like this definitely belongs on console. Maybe with enough success they’ll consider making the effort.

Check out the demo on Boma’s Kickstarter page and consider supporting them.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why I’m More Excited for Origins 2 than Arkham Knight

Don’t get me wrong, I’m expecting Knight to be amazing. I see no reason why Rocksteady should fail to deliver after two phenomenal entries in the same series. Yet despite that, I can’t help but be pessimistic regarding some of the news for the game, and that their obsession with giving you the experience to “Be the Bat,” has led them down potentially dangerous roads. So here’s why I’m more excited by the possibility of an Origins 2 (using the Arkham Knight engine) than I am the current reality of Arkham Knight.

The Batmobile: This is my most dreaded new feature in the game. They’ve turned it into some kind of weird tank. Now, I’ll grant you I would definitely not ace a Batman history test, but since when has the Batmobile had guns on it? It had a couple machine guns mounted on it in the campy Tim Burton films, but even those could only fire straight ahead. They weren’t of much use, and definitely didn’t make the Batmobile prepared for inter-vehicular warfare. I think I just made up a word. Then further, the Riddler challenges mean we’re going to be expected to become every bit as proficient with using the Batmobile as we are with any other game mechanic. Which would be fine, except driving mechanics are notoriously horrible in games that aren’t racing games (and even in a few that are). Even if they manage to pull off a strong mechanic, they’ve clearly designed the game to not really be playable without it, so if you don’t love it as much as they do, there’s not going to be much of a game there for you. With an Origins 2, they’ll have the opportunity to trim back the focus on this mechanic if it turns out to be a game killer. And if I’m wrong, and using the Batmobile is the coolest thing since last Tuesday, then no doubt Knight will only leave me wanting more. Origins 2 can provide.

Stealth/Predator: There’s been disturbingly little information regarding how this EXTREMELY IMPORTANT aspect of the gameplay will be in the new game. It was these segments, more than anything else at all, that made me a fan of the series. But I’ve been waiting through three games now for some serious improvements to the system. The ability to use shadows and effect lighting elements would be a relatively subtle change that could make a huge impact on these segments, and moving to next gen consoles and their more powerful engines seems like the perfect time to develop such a system. But seeing as they’ve said next to nothing at this point about these segments, I doubt they’ve done really anything to improve them. And what they have said, mainly speaking of the fear takedowns, seems to be means of eliminating these segments altogether or at least integrating them more with combat. Even if Predator missions are every bit as good as in City, I doubt we’ll see any improvements. Well, maybe in Origins 2.

Batgirl: Batgirl is my most requested playable character in the series. Sure, right now she’s trapped in a wheelchair, but in Origins that hadn’t happened yet. If WBM really would like to make a splash, and ensure pulling in the naysayers and purists who made it their goal to hate the first Origins without good reason, then focusing on the Bat-family as opposed to just Batman himself would really be the way to go. I hate Nightwing and Robin about as much as its possible to hate any comic character, but even I had fun playing as them in City, and Robin was the highlight of the Origins multiplayer. And despite the fact that I was appalled that they were putting Catwoman in City, she became my favorite part of the game. As I always say, variety is the spice of life. More characters = more gameplay = better game. Simple math.

Co-op: Rocksteady is focused on the single player experience, and that’s fine ‘cuz they definitely deliver on that front. It also makes sense because they’re focused on delivering a Batman experience. WB Montreal has proven more willing to do multiplayer, though, and so I say it’s time for some co-op, especially if they bring in a focus on the bat family. Designing the game from the ground up could offer multiplayer experiences like Splinter Cell’s co-op modes or Castlevania Harmony of Despair, where players really need to work together in different areas in order to progress through a level. Even just a co-op mode separate from the main story designed like this could work. Failing that, even just allowing co-op on regular predator maps would be awesome.

I love Origins, but in the end it’s nothing more than an enormous expansion pack to City. For what I’ve discussed to happen, WBM would have to be willing to work hard to make a unique game this time, one that could stand on its own in the series. But just a little work could pay off huge, if it focuses on the right areas. Here’s hoping.

by: Ramsey

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Episode 56: He's Got a Heart of Cold

We're back to discuss the new Arkham Origins story DLC "Cold, Cold Heart." Did we like it? Are there fun achievements? How does it stack up in comparison to Harley Quinn's Revenge for Arkham City? Listen to find out! Enjoy.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Episode 55: Did This Generation Suck?

Nah, not really. We have to keep the theme going though. We go over a few of our favorite games from this generation, and even touch a little on what we're excited for in the next. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Xbox One Reveal Thoughts

:sigh: You damn internet commenters and fanboys. Look what you made me do. I haven't posted anything on here in nearly a year, and you "people" make me login, click "new post" and start typing. Well, you asked for it. Now you're going to get it. Here are my thoughts on the Xbox One reveal event,  or perhaps I should say "Here are my thoughts on the flood of idiocy currently raging through the internet regarding the Xbox One reveal event."

Ok. First of all, a lot (I mean A LOT) of people are taking issue with the fact that Microsoft focused too little on gaming and too much on other stuff. While this is certainly true, I don't see a problem here. This was, first and foremost, a console event, for a console we already knew would have games. They don't need to actually show me the thing playing games. I sort of assumed it would play games. The purpose of this event was to demonstrate what sets this system apart from its competition, what services Microsoft can offer that Sony and Nintendo can't. Guess what? All of these systems will have games. For the most part, they will all have the same games. We need to know why we should play Madden and Call of Duty on Xbox One as opposed to PlayStation 4. I don't think we need to be playing those games at all, but that's another topic for another day. Let's just pretend for the moment for the sake of argument, ok?

Now, with the direction of the event admittedly being toward non-gaming entertainment, what does that matter anyway? How does the inclusion of things other than games diminish gaming? Isn't there enough room in the universe for games and other things? Most people already use their 360 for Netflix, Xfinity, Hulu, YouTube, and other things that don't involve games. Yet, somehow, they also play games on their 360. How is this possible? Doesn't the presence of entertainment apps on the console make it impossible to play games? Oh, it doesn't? Interesting...

Ok, lastly. You trolls out there have a disgusting habit of latching on to microscopic shreds of information and unsubstantiated rumors and taking them the worst possible extreme. For months now, there's been the rumor of the next Xbox requiring an internet connection at all times in order to function. Oh, how the morons feverishly typed away about how horrible that was, and how that, of course, meant that you couldn't play used games (what?). And that rumor turned out to just be the system's ability to allow games to require internet connections. Like for MMO's for example.

Since the conclusion of today's event, the internet has been overflowing with unfounded speculation of other likely made up restrictions the system will have. For instance, the fact that the Kinect has to be connected at all times. That automatically means that every game requires you to use it. Then, it turned out that wasn't the case. Then there was a rumor that every game would need to be installed and can only be installed one time, and after that, a user would need to pay a fee to install it again. While the second part of that has yet to be confirmed or denied, the first part is just common sense. The PS3 already requires games be installed. It's because of the limitations of the Blu-Ray format. The disc cannot load data while it's being read. So the data has to all be loaded beforehand. Hence, installing the game. But, of course, this automatically means that you can't install it twice. Even though that's not the case on PS3.

Another point relating to the whole installing games thing, people are whining that the 500 GB hard drive is too small if all games have to be installed. The biggest hard drive Sony sells built-in to PS3 is 500 GB, and that's only in one limited edition bundle. And no one has an issue with that.  Another hard drive complaint is that the built-in hard drives will not be able to be removed and replaced. Even if that turned out to be true, which I doubt it will, (does anyone honestly think Microsoft will pass on the opportunity to sell separate bigger hard drives?) who cares? With all the cloud functionality they're touting and the ability to use external storage, it doesn't matter how big the pack-in drive is.

I think that's it for now. If I forgot something, I'll update the blog at some point. At the end of the day, fanboys are fanboys, haters are haters, trolls are trolls, and nothing I can say to them will change that. I just had to type all my thoughts out somewhere. I missed you, Antiverse.


UPDATE: Turns out I did forget to mention one thing. Why was anyone surprised by the lack of focus on games in the first place? They've been saying since the event was announced that it would not be game-centric. The guy at the beginning even reminded everyone of that same thing, and made it clear that they'd be showing more games at E3. Which, I think, is a great move. When you're marketing a game console, it's extremely crucial to let momentum and excitement for your product build over time leading up to its launch. How can you do that when you show absolutely everything right off the bat? Sony did this with their PS4 reveal and now they have nothing to build on at E3, an event which will receive exponentially more coverage than this event did. Everyone will feel the same about PS4 after E3 as they do right now, for better or worse. By saving the games for E3, the momentum and excitement for Xbox One has nowhere to go but up. Don't get me wrong, if you already irrationally hate Xbox, nothing anyone says is going to change that. And no, I don't irrationally hate Sony. I used to love Sony unconditionally. They lost me when they announced the PS3 would be $600 and that people should get a second job to more easily afford it. Also, all the games I care about that were PS3 exclusive at one time are now multiplatform (Metal Gear, Devil May Cry, etc), and I just have no interest in any PlayStation brands anymore. It's not because I hate them, it's because I'm just not interested anymore. I'm objectively saying that I don't care about PS4, but I'm interested in seeing what Xbox One has to show at E3 because they didn't already show it.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Like a Ninja

I've been in love with stealth action games since I first discovered they were a thing. That was back on PS1, when I first played a demo of Tenchu 2. Then I discovered Metal Gear Solid, and since then I've been hooked. Unfortunately, these types of games are few and far between. Outside of Tenchu, there aren't many series that really encompass the genre. Even other ninja games tend to be simply beat-em-ups instead, for some reason. So you have the Thief series, critically acclaimed but hard to find (and there hasn't been a new one in ages); the Tenchu series, not so acclaimed but awesome and fun despite there also not having been one in a long time; the Metal Gear Solid series, which has moved away from being stealth action with the more recent games; Shinobido, which is fairly recent and the PS Vita game Shinobido 2 will be the 3rd game in the series, though only the second to be released in America; the rather brilliant pair of Arkham games, though they are only partially stealth action; and a small smattering of other individual games that should be noted for their effort if nothing else. The recent XBLA game Mark of the Ninja is a particularly notable effort, with its side-scrolling gameplay giving a new and unique take on the genre.

Beyond this, there isn't much to the genre. And when one considers the litany of bad first person shooters, endless stream of RPGs, and ubiquitous regular action games, one starts to feel more than a little bit left out.

It's not that I don't find any games in those genres entertaining. Obviously, at least some must have at least a little appeal or I wouldn't be interested in video games in the first place. It's not that I don't enjoy other types of games, it's that I really love stealth action games, and really want to see more of them. But before another game gets released, they do need to work on a few things.

More use of the environment. Most of these games have you wandering around on the same level as the villains, and by level I mean floor. Often there are no platforms or walkways or anything. Just a big, open room with maybe some walls for you to hide behind until an enemy gets close enough and turns to face the other direction. Which has worked okay so far, but come on. Levels should be designed for you to make maximum efficiency of your ninja-like abilities. And I don't just mean more walls to hide behind. I mean things like vents to crawl through, the ability to cling to walls and ceilings, tables to hide under, the works. For every enemy, there should be multiple ways to reach them, and multiple ways to take them out. That's what makes this fun.

More use of shadows. It's weird being a ninja who's always standing around in the the light. This is something the Tenchu game for the Wii actually sort of got right, in that it let you blow out candles (or take them out from afar with a well thrown shuriken) and use a container of water to spray out torches, creating shadows that allow you to hide. This goes into more use of the environment, really, because the more you can do to add to your stealthiness, the more ways open up to you to reach your objective.

More variety. Tenchu has been fairly good about this, as the games tend to have more than one character with different styles. Still, the difference between the characters tends to be fairly negligible, and in at least one case by the end of the game almost non-existent (once you'd unlocked all the moves for each character and discovered that most of them were the same, just received in a different order). Arkham City was particularly good about this. If you played as all the available characters through their stealth missions, you discovered that they all were fairly unique, and had differing strengths and weaknesses. Never underestimate the strength of this kind of variety.

More balance. That is to say, just because it's a stealth game doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to fight your way out of a jam. Tenchu has been widely smashed for its poor fighting system. It does have that poor fighting system to encourage you to make better use of stealth, which would be fine if they didn't force boss battles on you. Part of the opportunity of having a variety of characters is that one could be really strong stealth-wise and poor at battle, one could be a really good fighter and not so great at stealth, and one that has a good balance.

More upgrading. Actually, stealth action games are pretty good about this, but I think there could be more done. A leveling system could be added that increases base stats, while items and objects and other types of points could be obtained to allow for further customization including upgrading weapons, learning new stealth techniques, and maybe even learning new stealth kill moves.

To further expand these ideas, let's list some game ideas I have.

TMNT. As I've mention before, I would love to see a stealth action Ninja Turtles game. A game that actually remembers they're ninja? Crazy! The 4 characters with their very unique personalities lends for a great opportunity to really let the differences between playable characters shine, with Leo being steady and stealthy, Raph not being so stealthy but great for battle, Don making use of lots of weird gizmos, and Mikey maybe not being particularly good at anything but perhaps the only character who uses objects in the environment to take out his opponents. Then think of the potential for unlockable characters: a slow moving but very skilled in all areas Splinter, a fast, lethal Shredder, a reckless Casey Jones...I could go on for hours.

X-Force. I feel the game should be based on the Kyle, Yost, and Crain run from 2008, but include good ol' throwbacks in unlockable characters such as Cable, Domino, and Shatterstar, etc. If nothing else, the addition of guns could lead to a very different style of stealth action game from what is normally dealt with.

Tenchu. It's the classic, and still my favorite. But it's time for it to perform a major overhaul, do some serious rebuilding and adding to the series, take some of these ideas and implement them. It'd be nice to get a new Tenchu, a real Tenchu. It's been a very long time.