LIVE JUNE ISSUE PART 1 2019
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M E E T T H E C H A R AC T E R S --- D O U B L E PA S S G I V E AWAY --- S O M E F U N FAC T S
Go to page 20 for more details on MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL and how you could win some double passes (Australia Only)
From the Editor Hello and welcome to the June edition of Gametraders Live! We have a smaller issue again for you but this time that is because we are splitting the magazine into two. As you may have noticed this one is Men in BlackTM : International themed but the next one, which comes out in two weeks, will be themed based on our next giveaway. Inside part one we have some fun facts about Men in BlackTM : International as well as a meet the characters and information on how you could win a double pass. We also have an article about Godzilla to discuss how Godzilla came about, as well as plenty of interesting articles and reviews. We hope you enjoy the magazine and as always if you are interested in writing for our magazine please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Langford Emily Langford, EDITOR
MEN IN BLACK TM : INTERNATIONAL
LONG LIVE THE KING REVIEWS: CASTLEVANIA & MORTAL KOMBAT 11 pg. 26 &
THE LIVE TEAM EDITOR & DESIGNER: Emily Langford
WRITERS: Scott F. Sowter, Entertainment Review and Opinion
Paul Monopoli, Interviews / Retro Editor Adam Cartwright, Evan Norris & Ben Dye,
A LOOK BACK AT ACQUIREâ€™S GAMES FOR PLAYSTATION
VITAS LOST GAMES: A LOOK AT THE DIGITAL FUTURE
MEN IN BLACK TM :INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY Pg. 20
MOVIES MEN IN BLACK
LONG LIVE THE KING
In 1954 Gojira was released in Japan.
force of these weapons. It remains the
film to keep up with a popular trend in
horror released upon a civilian population.
Toho Studios created the giant monster sci-fi horror that was sweeping the world. However there was something about this monster that made him special.
Something about this film that worked
perfectly. Something about this monster
that would lead to a sixty year legacy that includes thirty-two films, video games,
comic books, countless merch items and a lifetime of pop culture references.
So why sixty-five years later are we still obsessed with this giant lizard?
In the 1940â€™s mankind cracked the secrets
of the atom. Like the good murderous apes
only country in the world to have had such The atomic bomb was dropped on
Hiroshima at 8:15am. From where the bomb fell a 1.6km radius was totally
decimated. It left fires and destruction
for a further 11km. 80,000 lives gone in a blink. Days later a bigger bomb was
dropped on Nagasaki. Japan surrendered days later. Obviously Japan committed
some atrocities during the war. Many felt
that dropping the bombs was the only way to guarantee their surrender. This has been debated for years. Regardless of that, the power the allies displayed ended WW2 and changed the world forever.
we are we fashioned these monumental
Japan is left with this psychic and physical
weapons ever made. On August sixth and
Atomic power was unleashed upon them.
discoveries into the most diabolical
August ninth 1945 Japan experienced the
scars. There is no way they couldnâ€™t be. Nine years later director Ishiro Honda
was hired by
Toho Studios to
make a monster film. Honda served in the
Japanese military and was
plagued by vivid nightmare of his
service. As horrible as it sounds, he was perfect for the job. He created a giant
lizard that was created or awoken by the use of the atomic bomb. The monster
eventually entered Tokyo Bay and over
no one will
city. Towards the end of the film a noted
several attacks he destroys much of the scientist named Serizawa creates a
weapon more powerful than the atomic
ever be able to destructive power.
bomb called the oxygen destroyer.
Honda infused the film with as
weapon on the monster to ensure
the film now, some of it seems corny, sure.
Serizawa then sacrifices his life using the
much horror as he could. If you watch
But the scenes of burn victims in their
the Japanese words for gorilla and whale.
hospitals, it’s chilling. You have to think to
live with but it worked for Honda. Thus
thousands, laying on stretches in make shift the Japanese, just nine years ago, this was a reality. The monster wasn’t of flesh and
blood but a plane, raining radioactive fire
down on them. Its jaw dropping on the pulse filmmaking. Commentary of a countries pain in the disguise of a monster movie.
His monster needed a name. Thankfully
Not the most pleasant of nicknames to Gojira was born. In 1954 the film was
re-cut and released in the United States,
adding American actor Raymond Burr into the film and changing some of the scenes that made America look more or less like
the bad guys. They westernised the name Gojira to Godzilla.
that name came from the most unlikely
Gojira was a massive success and from
Studios sets, was a larger man and he had
off. There was no stopping the new king of
of sources. One of the crew on the Toho
a nickname. “Gojira”, the combination of
there the whole monster genre just took the monsters.
Fast forward to 2019. The new Hollywood
Godzilla is a giant being that we helped
cinemas. The film stands as an amazing
animal out of control. He’s Frankensteins
film Godzilla King of The Monsters just hit love letter to the original Japanese source material. More faithful than any other western reboot or remake to date. It
captures the over the top feeling and
love of its giant monsters. Sixty-five years
later and Godzilla is still stomping all over cinema screens. Only now he’s brought
to life with state of the art digital effects rather than puppets, rubber suits and
model cities. So why does this lizard still capture our imagination? I believe it all
comes down to spectacle and escapism.
create and it has turned against us. He’s an monster and Jaws all rolled into one. He’s
massive. He’s the force of a hurricane and weapons of war. He makes us feel small.
And maybe that’s it. Sometimes it’s nice to feel small. Godzilla stands as a reminder of our place in the world. Nature will
always beat us. The weapons we create,
our bodies and our buildings are simply no match. He stands as the ultimate
reminder that we will ruin this world and it will not be so forgiving with us. It’s a
cautionary tale. Like fairy tales of old, don’t
go into the woods because the wolf will
symbol of trying to cope with their grief to
destroying the earth and the big bad lizard
will always be a place and a meaning for
get you. Well, keep making weapons and might come and royally ruin our day.
Godzilla has endured so long now, and
he will continue to endure. He’s a staple of pop-culture. He’s been in snicker bar
commercials and the Simpsons. You don’t
get much bigger than that. From a nations
cartoon monster smashing buildings there this giant lizard. Long live the king!
By Scott F. Sowter
meet the characters
CHRIS HEMSWORTH AS AGENT H. ONE OF THE MOST ADMIRED AGENTS AT THE MIB LONDON OFFICE, AGENT H SAVED THE WORLD ONCE, FROM A EVIL ALIEN RACE CALLED “THE HIVE.” HE WILL FIND HIMSELF AT THE CENTER OF THE INVESTIGATION INTO A MOLE AT THE AGENCY.
TESSA THOMPSON AS THE NEWLY MINTED AGENT M. AFTER A CHILDHOOD ENCOUNTER WITH AN ALIEN AND SOME STRANGE MEN IN BLACK SUITS, SHE SPENT THE NEXT 20 YEARS TRYING TO TRACK DOWN AND JOIN THE “MIB”, THE SECRETIVE ORGANIZATION THAT POLICES ALIEN ACTIVITY ON EARTH. SHE WILL FORM A PARTNERSHIP WITH AGENT H TO ROOT OUT THE MOLE IN MIB LONDON.
KUMAIL NANJIANI, PLAYS PAWNY A PINT SIZE ALIEN WITH AN OVERSIZED PERSONALITY WHO LIVES ON A CHESS SET. WHEN THE QUEEN HE SERVES IS MURDERED, HE PLEDGES HIMSELF TO AGENT M, MUCH TO HER CHAGRIN, AND H’S AMUSEMENT.
EMMA THOMPSON AS AGENT O, HEAD OF MIB NEW YORK. HEAD OF MIB NEW YORK. IMPRESSED BY AGENT M’S TIRELESS EFFORTS TO FIND AND JOIN MIB, SHE SENDS THE ROOKIE AGENT ON HER FIRST MISSION TO LONDON WHERE O HASBEGUN TO SUSPECT SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT.
LES TWINS PLAY LETHAL ALIEN ASSASSINS FROM THE PLANET DRACO. AS AGENTS OF THE HIVE THEY SEEK AN ALIEN SUPER WEAPON THAT HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO EARTH THAT COULD CHANGE THE BALANCE OF POWER IN THE UNIVERSE.
RAFE SPALL PLAYS AGENT C AGENT H’S COLLEAGUE AND ARCH RIVAL AT LONDON BRANCH. C IS JEALOUS OF H’S SKILLS, LOOKS, RELATIONSHIP WITH HIGH T... YOU GET THE PICTURE. WILL THIS SEETHING RESENTMENT TRANSLATE INTO BETRAYAL?
LIAM NEESON AS HIGH T, THE HEAD OF THE LONDON BRANCH OF MIB. A LEGENDARY AGENT IN HIS OWN RIGHT, AND A FATHER FIGURE TO AGENT H. HE WAS WITH H THE NIGHT THEY SAVED THE WORLD FROM THE HIVE. HE’S JUST DISCOVERED THAT HE HAS A MOLE IN LONDON BRANCH. HE TASKS AGENTS EM AND H TO HUNT DOWN THE MOLE AND SAVE THE ORGANIZATION HE LOVES.
REBECCA FERGUSON PLAYS AGENT H ’ S ALIEN EX-GIRLFRIEND RUTHLESS ALIEN ARMS DEALER. H ONCE WENT UNDERCOVER TO BRING HER TO JUSTICE, BUT ENDED UP FALLING FOR HER INSTEAD. SHE STILL HAS FEELINGS FOR H -- DECIDEDLY NEGATIVE FEELINGS. THE PATH TO FINDING THE MOLE RUNS THROUGH HER BEAUTIFUL, AND DEADLY, ISLAND REDOUBT.
DOUBLE PASS GIVE AWAY
The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organisation. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Rebecca Ferguson, Kumail Nanjiani, Rafe Spall, Laurent Bourgeois, Larry Bourgeois with Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson. Directed by F. Gary Gray.
In cinemas June 13.
WIN A DOUBLE PASS! In cinemas December 13
Thanks to Sony Pictures and Gametraders you could win a double pass to see the new Men in BlackTM : International. All you have to do is go to the Gametraders Facebook page and like the competition post, tag who youâ€™re going to take and comment why you want to see Men in BlackTM : International! - For a special double entry also let us
know which fun fact from our magazine you found most interesting!
Â©2019 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.
FUN FACTS & TRIVIA Paul Smith plays a cameo in the movie as the proprietor of the type writer shop which hides the secret entrance to MIB London.
The Art Department produced 610 technical drawings for this MIB movie. In total, they printed 44 miles of technical drawings, which were issued to all the key departments. For the scene in the Moroccan Kasbah, where MIB agents try to corner M & H, all the The MIB London set was built to be exactly the same size as the MIB New York set in Men In Black III â€“ 25,000 sqft.
agents on the roof of the Kasbah Mosque had to be of the Muslim faith. It was the first time anyone had filmed a scene with people on the top of the mosque.
130 tons of red sand was
Hâ€™s vintage Jag hides a multitude of alien
busting fire-arms; one in the door handle, the
District to Leavesden Studios
front wing mirror, the rear bumper, the hubcap,
to make the sand dunes of the
the exhaust pipe, and the rear wheel.
Merzouga Desert on E Stage.
55 white-card scale models of the set builds were made and used in planning camera angles and lighting.
During the flash back sequence, the neuralyzer used on Mollyâ€™s parents was Les Twins, who play the alien
an original prop from the first Men In Black
twins, were once backing
dancers for Beyonce.
The original neuralyzers are 12 inches long, whereas the 2019 version is slightly smaller at 10 inches.
The graphics team created four different alien languages for the signage in the MIB London arrivals hall.
VITA’S LOST GA A LOOK AT THE DIGITAL FUTUR A LOOK BACK AT ACQUIRE’S GAMES FOR PLAYSTATION VITA
CASTLEVANIA ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION While Castlevania’s future may be in doubt
welcome quality-of-life features, and a
past. Enter the latest Konami 50th birthday
and early life of one of Konami’s signature
there’s no denying the greatness of its compilation, Castlevania Anniversary
Collection, which captures the slice of the
digital history book that covers the origins series.
franchise before it veered toward non-
Altogether, the Castlevania Anniversary
from 1986 to 1994, it’s a near exhaustive
ported by M2 (Sega Ages) from original
linear action-adventure. Featuring titles
look at the foundational action-platform
games that defined Castlevania before the advent of PlayStation. Disregarding one
glaring omission, it’s a worthy collection, with several good or great games, some
Collection hosts eight games, all perfectly platforms like NES, Gameboy, SNES,
Famicom, and Sega Genesis. These include
the original NES trilogy, two Gameboy titles, Super Castlevania IV, Bloodlines, and, for
the first time in North America, Kid Dracula.
Every one is available immediately from the
black sheep of the early franchise, can be
the back-story for each.
with RPG systems, open-world elements,
main menu, where scrolling text introduces
Every single title in the collection is
noteworthy, if not excellent. The premier Castlevania, despite its age, is still a
fun, atmospheric adventure through
Dracula’s castle. It’s sequel, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, often considered the
frustratingly cryptic, but its experiments and a day-night cycle are intriguing.
The most beloved of the original trilogy is the prequel Castlevania III: Dracula’s
Curse, which returned to the first game’s straightforward gameplay but added
branching paths and unlockable characters, to which players could swap mid-level.
Castlevania: Bloodlines, the youngest
movement and fighting mechanics
one from a non-Nintendo platform, is
thick atmosphere, amazing graphics
game in the collection and the only
remarkable also, thanks to two starting characters, wild level design, unique
primary weapon upgrades, and secondary and tertiary attacks for sub-weapons.
combine with staggering level design, (bolstered in spots by Mode 7), and some of the best music and sound design in video game history.
Due to its speed and missing Castlevania
Regrettably, that other great Castlevania
compilation, but it’s a welcome addition
is conspicuously absent from the
staples, it’s the most atypical of the nevertheless.
The best of the bunch—and one of the
two greatest Castlevania games released before 1997’s Symphony of the Night,
which changed the rules forever—is Super Castlevania IV, a reimagining of the first
game in the series. Released in 1991, this SNES title turned the series’ stiff, weighty platforming and inflexible whip controls upside down, granting players control
game of the era, Rondo of Blood,
compilation. Leaving out titles like
Symphony of the Night or the GBA/DS
adventures makes sense here, if Konami is
attempting to capture a set of games with similar templates and mechanics—and,
honestly, the franchise is so rich it could support two more collections on top of
this one—but there’s no excuse to leave out the last great “classic” Castlevania game.
over hero Simon Belmont mid-jump
Aggravating the decision to exclude
whip in eight directions. These liberating
Gameboy title, Castlevania: The Adventure.
and the power to manipulate his iconic
Rondo is the inclusion of an inferior
While interesting from a historic
point of view—it introduced brand new whip power-ups—it’s a slowmoving, clunky, monotonous
game with no sub-weapons. Its
portable follow-up, Castlevania II:
Belmont’s Revenge, is surprisingly
enjoyable however. It reintroduces sub-weapons and allows players
to choose in which order to attack several castles, a la Mega Man.
It would be easy to call Belmont’s Revenge the hidden gem of the
anthology if it wasn’t for Kid Dracula, which launched in Japan in 1990 on Famicom but never saw an official English translation until now. A
parody of the series, it’s a bright,
unserious ride through the usually grim, gothic world of Castlevania.
This is still an action-platformer at
heart, but in tone and structure it’s more Kirby than Simon Belmont.
In terms of special features and
It’s nice to see Konami celebrate the early
Anniversary Collection is solid, although
Minus Castlevania: The Adventure, easily
customization options, Castlevania
not comprehensive. Players can choose from three different borders and six
different screen settings (e.g. pixel perfect, scan lines, etc.), and save replays of the most recent action. Crucially, the game
allows a single save state for each game, which is almost mandatory for some of
the more punishing entries. Unfortunately, multiple save states and the ability to
remap buttons are unavailable. So too are the Japanese versions of the anthology’s games, although Konami has promised these in a free update sometime soon.
Finally, just like Konami’s Arcade Classics collection, this bundle includes a “Bonus Book”, with design documents, concept
art, and interviews with important figures like composer Michiru Yamane.
history of arguably its greatest franchise.
the weakest entry in the compilation, the games on display are great, good, or, in the case of titles like Simon’s Quest, at
the very least mechanically interesting.
Moreover, every one is brought faithfully back to life by the technical wizards at
M2, and buttressed with some modern quality-of-life features. The absence of Rondo of Blood hurts, and there’s an opening for more bells and whistles,
but taken as a whole this second part of
Konami’s year-long birthday celebration is a worthwhile trip to the past.
By Evan Norris, VGChartz
VITA A LOOK AT THE
A’S LOST GAMES: DIGITAL FUTURE Ever since the advent of
any prior warning, leaving
consoles, it seems the market
bought them before they
full-game downloads on has slowly been shifting towards a digital future
them lost to time unless you disappeared.
where games are delivered
It’s these that I’m aiming
rather than physical disks.
- games which have been
through internet connections While the convenience
this brings is undeniable,
and plenty of gamers have
embraced having a stuffed memory card in their Vita,
there are major pitfalls that
are slowly beginning to show, one of which is that games can be delisted without
to examine in this article
removed from the PlayStation Store, both those that are
digital-only (meaning they’re gone forever) and those that have physical releases that you’ll need to hunt down.
Why have they been delisted and what does this mean for the Vita’s digital future?
Digital Delisted Games With Physical Releases Of course, the best case scenario for the
and Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth. Both of
this are those that have had both physical
Asia, meaning you can still get them, but
games that will be featured in an article like and digital releases, because this means
that although they’ve been removed from
digital storefronts you can still hunt down a physical copy, so you’re not completely out of options.
Sadly, some of these have become hugely pricey as time has gone on, the main
offenders being anime licensed titles from Bandai-Namco like A.W. Phoenix Festa
these received physical English releases in prices are insanely high for both – Digimon regularly fetches upwards of $90/£90 on eBay, while Asterisk War is commanding
more like $250/£250. Others, like Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z, J-Stars Victory Vs+, One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, and One Piece Unlimited
World Red also received physical releases in Europe, making them slightly easier to hunt
down, but even for these titles prices are only going to increase as time goes on.
Given the aforementioned titles’
sudden disappearance from digital
storefronts, I would also be on alert for other anime games suddenly
disappearing from the store without notice. Things like Digimon Story:
Cyber Sleuth – Hacker’s Memory and Mobile Suit Gundam: Extreme Vs
Force could well be next. Again, AsianEnglish physical versions are available for both, but with cart production
ceasing this year these are only going to get rarer and rarer.
Licensing is a common issue
among delisted titles. The Marvel licence in particular seems to be problematic. This means
games like The Amazing SpiderMan and Ultimate Marvel vs.
Capcom 3 are long gone (sadly
so too is the DLC for the latter, a problem which has also affected LittleBigPlanet as it offered
Marvel-themed DLC), and so too is Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel’s Super Heroes.
Speaking of Disney, its Star Wars IP formed
The SpongeBob licence also seems to have
now delisted, but so too is the Angry Birds
SpongeBob Heropants is gone and physical
part of Angry Birds Star Wars, which is
Trilogy. This is a bit baffling since they were both originally mobile titles.
Disney also licensed Epic Mickey 2: The
Power of Two to Sony and this can only be played via a now-expensive physical release.
A similar thing happened with both LEGO Lord of the Rings and LEGO The Hobbit,
with both disappearing mostly overnight from all digital storefronts, not just Vita.
Thankfully, pre-owned physical copies can
be found at fairly cheap prices; something also true of Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour
expired for publisher Activision, meaning
copies are beginning to shoot up in price,
despite the game being a bit of a dud. Three more games which can’t be picked up for
a reasonable amount anymore are Ben 10:
Galactic Racing, Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen,
and New Little King’s Story, the latter of which only got a physical English release in Europe
and Asia, meaning it’s pretty rare and getting rarer by the day. WRC3 on the other hand is delisted but easy enough to find. Whether
you should or not is another matter, given it’s
effectively obsolete with the much better WRC4 having released.
(although prices are starting to creep up).
Oddly, despite being produced by mobile
four FIFA games have been delisted, with
Dungeon Hunter Alliance have been delisted
Speaking of sports titles, all three of the
only FIFA ’15 remaining (surely a ploy to get you to buy the most recent version,
although it barely matters since they all
play the same). Football Manager Classic
2014 is also gone too, despite some of the PSP Champion Manager games still being up!
gaming giant Gameloft, Asphalt Injection and on Vita. The former sort of makes sense
because it includes licensed vehicles, but the
latter is baffling considering the PS3 version is still available. Perhaps it has something to do with Ubisoft publishing the Vita ports, which
caused some kind of contractual issue (Ubisoft’s licensed rhythm game Michael Jackson: The Experience is also gone).
Digital Delisted Games Without Physical Releases
The other key class of games here is, of
any English text, making it a fairly useless
releases and had no physical counterparts,
through. Thankfully, the developers
course, those that only received digital
meaning they’re lost forever if you didn’t grab them while they were up on the store.
The one semi-exception to this rule is
Adventure Time: Secret of the Nameless
import unless you want to muddle
warned of the delisting in advance and
even sold the game for $0.99 for its final few weeks, meaning it was easy to grab
as long as you had a PlayStation Network account.
Kingdom, which oddly received a physical
Other titles weren’t so lucky. For example,
this physical version does not include
BigFest disappeared once its online
release in Japan but not the west. Sadly,
games like Sony’s music festival simulation
servers went down, even though the
Journey (I didn’t realise it myself until
Duke Nukem 3D: Megaton Edition is a
loss of this one is a shame as it was highly
game is still fully playable without them. title that went without much warning
too, likely due to an upcoming PS4/XB1
port, which meant that publisher Gearbox didn’t want gamers playing the older
version (oddly it contained slightly more content than the newer release).
randomly browsing the other day. The recommended by a user on a forum I
browse) and Superfrog HD, both of which had no real reason for being removed
given they’re self-published indie titles. They go to show the volatility of the digital-only future.
One of the first games to be delisted
The biggest offender in this regard is
Zombies, one of the console’s western
– a now-defunct service which allowed
that really made headlines was Plants vs. launch titles that was a shining example of digital distribution done right...
until it mysteriously vanished from
the store without warning (likely to do with the licence given to Sony Online
Entertainment expiring). Another game that received a surprising amount of
attention for its delisting was The Pinball Arcade, which lost a large number of its
tables (offered through DLC) late last year, effectively gutting it in terms of content. Less fanfare was made about the
disappearance of things like Jazz: Trump’s
the whole of PlayStation Mobile, though developers to create small games for
a nominal fee and put them up on the
cluttered PSM Store. The whole initiative was shut down in 2015 and, worse still, you can’t actually re-download any of these titles anymore, meaning games like Forevolution, Rymdkapsel, Sword
of Rapier, and Tokyo Jungle Mobile are
potentially lost forever (I have the games
on my OLED Vita, which is probably going to die at some point, and then they’ll be gone for good for me).
The final group of games I want to
but I still enjoyed my time with it and
which rely on micro-transactions to stay
something different on the handheld.
touch on here are free-to-play titles,
viable, meaning that once the servers go down the games go down with them – a terrible result for those of us who want
to preserve titles we love into the future. The main one that stands out for me
is Invokers Tournament, Vita’s first and only MOBA. Although it’s not gone yet (server shutdown is the 15th of
May), there’s only a month and a half left to play it. It’s not the best game,
would recommend people try it out for In fact, Sony-published F2P titles have a habit of disappearing. Destiny of Spirits went down less than a year after being
released, Ecolibrium is being shutdown
in May alongside Invokers Tournament, and Fat Princess: Piece of Cake was
swiftly removed from the store too. I
feel like it’s only a matter of time until
Run Sackboy! Run! is gone, so if you’ve
ever been tempted to try it out the time is now.
A few third-party developers also tried
Compile Heart named NepNep Connect:
strangest was Square-Enix’s effort with
from a variety of its Vita titles, including
their hands at the F2P market. One of the Deadman’s Cross, a shooter mixed with a
card game that seemingly didn’t do very well as it was shut down within a year. Treasures of Montezuma Blitz seemed to last a lot
longer, but sadly even that’s gone now too (I
don’t even remember hearing about it being removed).
One of my biggest regrets with Vita gaming was not getting a Japanese account sooner, as there were a tonne of fun-looking F2P titles on the Japanese store that are now long gone. Did you know, for example,
that there was a crossover card game from
Chaos Chanpuru which mixed in characters Monster Monpiece, Neptunia and Trillion?
Well, it’s delisted now, alongside things like Picotto Knights, a side-scrolling brawler
from GungHo, Tri-Ace’s cover-shooter card
game Judas Code, and both Chain Chronicle V and Samurai & Dragons from SEGA.
Square-Enix also released a new entry in its Mana series, entitled Rise of Mana, which
was supposedly pretty well received, but the service was shut down in 2016 (apparently
Square-Enix is looking to re-tool the game
as something else, but that seems unlikely at this point and it definitely won’t be for Vita).
Two Gundam games – Gundam Conquest V and Mobile Suit Gundam: Battle
Fortress - were also released in the region but went before I had chance to try them out. The fact these titles all disappeared so quickly means I’m probably going to
have to hurry up if I want to play things like the Yakuza F2P spin-offs on the
Japanese store, before they’re gone for good too.
Conclusion As you might have gathered
this matter is to make sure that
a massive advocate of physical
something if you’re interested,
from the tone of this article, I’m media, because it gives me the
opportunity to preserve my games. I’m still planning on playing my
Vita for years to come and having a copy I can put in a drawer to
you don’t wait too long to buy
especially if there’s some kind of
licence involved (the recent news about Driveclub is a fantastic example of that).
come back to later means I don’t
Thankfully, there are companies
they’re gone. Sure, physical carts
that are working hard to preserve
have to rush to grab things before won’t last forever either (although they don’t suffer from disc rot,
there are other problems with flash memory), but they at least offer a better solution.
The financial advantages of digital distribution mean we’re seeing
more and more games opt for this route. Many indie titles wouldn’t
be possible if physical production was the only way to release, for
example. But it also means we’re
at risk of seeing many more games lost to time. My only advice on
out there like Limited Run Games games (even if they’re not always entirely succeeding, with things
like Night Trap being full of bugs and Ys Origin launching without
the patch on the cart), so there are more physical options than ever before. Vita’s digital future has
offered many advantages, but I’m certainly glad that carts exist and I’ll be playing mine for years to come.
By Adam Cartwright
AL KOMBAT 11
NetherRealm Studios is the best thing to
its immediate predecessors with an hours-
John Tobias. After successfully rebooting the
exploits the franchise’s rich mythology. With
happen to Mortal Kombat since Ed Boon and famous fighting franchise in 2011 following publisher Midway’s bankruptcy, the studio,
headed by series co-creator Boon, turned in arguably the best installment yet in Mortal
Kombat X. Now, NetherRealm has produced
long, big-budget, cinematic campaign, which multiple playable characters, several stunning
set-pieces, lots of unlockables—including one
fighter, Frost—and plenty of fanboy fodder, it’s absolutely worth playing.
another great entry with Mortal Kombat 11
Picking up where Mortal Kombat X ended,
in content and customization options.
of Earthrealm and Outworld combatants that
(MK11), a technically-superior 2D fighter rich
For a lot of fighting games, story mode is an
afterthought; for Mortal Kombat, it’s a source of pride. MK11 continues the tradition of
the story in MK11 follows an unlikely alliance forms to combat a new divine enemy, Kronika. Using her powers of time manipulation,
Kronika seeks to reboot the universe in order to restore harmony between light and dark.
To this end she manipulates multiple time
Here players can hone their skills against AI
versions of series’ heroes into contact
the franchise’s grisly finishing moves—or
streams, in the process bringing modern
with their younger selves, and resurrecting characters long dead. The fan service
possibilities are self-evident, and Boon
and company waste no time giving longtime fans all the dream match-ups and encounters they can handle.
Story mode takes up a sizable chunk of the game, but it’s only one of many modes.
MK11 falls into four main buckets: Konquer, Fight, Kustomize, and Learn. While “Learn” comes last, it’s probably the best place to
start, particularly for fighting game rookies.
opponents, practice executing fatalities—
learn the ropes in a deep, expansive tutorial. Featuring basic, advanced, and character-
specific lessons, it’s a terrific primer for the
complex rules and mechanics of the game. One particular lesson, “Frame Data”, is a brilliant breakdown of the anatomy of a
move—beginning, middle, and end. Anyone confused by the invisible science of fighting
games should absolutely visit this lesson; it’s revelatory.
The heart of the game is “Fight”, where
players fight locally or online. In the online
arena, players can participate in high-
Overall, the game plays tighter and slower
from around the globe, or try low-pressure
but meaningful changes. NetherRealm has
stakes battles against human opponents
“kasual” battles. Finding a match or creating a “kustom” lobby is quick and easy, and lag is virtually non-existent. The programmers
at NetherRealm have worked wonders with netcode in MK11.
They’ve also turned in an entertaining,
tactical fighter with support for a large cast
of characters and many different play styles.
than Mortal Kombat X, thanks to some small slowed walk speeds, shortened combos, and removed run altogether to create a more
deliberate fighter focused on spacing and
punishing opponent misses. In addition, the developer has split the Super Meter into
separate offensive and defensive meters—the former used to enhance special moves, the
latter deployed for special wake-up attacks or to “fall out” of an opponent’s combo.
Another new, less welcome addition is the
opponents each, and a unique ending
replaces X-ray attacks from the last game.
constantly-changing rotation of challenging
bone-cracking Fatal Blow, which essentially Where X-ray moves required a full Super
Meter, the Fatal Blow works independently, becoming available once a player’s health is below 30%. These cinematic, gory
attacks can deal up to 35% damage to an opponent, swinging the tide of battle in favor of the losing player. You can only
use your Fatal Blow once per match, which
for each character. Towers of Time is a
themed towers, e.g., “defeat an assortment of foes when random Modifiers are active.” Finally, the Krypt is a giant dungeon filled with chests that require one of MK11’s
many currencies to open. Together, these
destinations are the best way to collect the game’s ubiquitous, excessive loot.
limits its effectiveness across a best-two-
If MK11 has a flaw, it’s that it has too
super-move is blocked or misses, it will
time krystals, koins, soul fragments, and
out-of-three contest. However, if the
become available again a short time later,
which is overly generous. Ultimately, it’s an emergency move that seems a little out of
place in a game that goes out of its way to reward smart, thoughtful play.
Once you’ve figured out the basics in
“Learn” and visited pain upon human rivals in “Fight”, you can take on AI fighters in
“Konquer”, which, in addition to story mode, boasts Towers and the Krypt—two staples
of the series. Klassic Towers are traditional arcade single-player modes with several
much stuff. With several currencies—
hearts—daily challenges, daily rewards, konsumables, objective rewards, and
customization assets like skins, intros,
victories, augments, and end of round
taunts, it’s simply overwhelming. The game allows you to create custom characters
with unique outfits, moves, and gear in
“Kustomize” (player-made characters are, wisely, ineligible for ranked matches and
tournament play), which is a wonderful gift,
but it’s an exercise in futility to keep track of your latest unlocks or even to differentiate the good loot from the bad.
A lot has been made of the game’s excessive
all others are earned via in-game activities.
challenge despite a recent patch—but it’s
Now, if you desire a particularly rare or specific
micro-transactions in mind. Featuring online
of Time or find it at random in the Krypt, you
grind—and to be fair Towers are still a stiff
not clear MK11 was designed uniquely with connectivity requirements, daily challenges,
and rotating items in the Premium Shop, it feels more like a game that wants to be booted up
every day, not necessarily a title that demands additional monetary compensation. Only one
form of currency, Time Krystals, is available for
purchase in the PlayStation Store, for example;
piece of gear, and can’t win it in the Towers
might need to spend real-world money in the
Shop—assuming that item is in daily rotation. With 1,500 unlockable skins, 75 unlockable
intros, and 2,250 gear pieces, however, you
might just throw your hands up and focus on
fighting. If you’re a cosmetic completionist, well, Elder Gods help you.
MK11 sports a solid roster of 25 base
NetherRealm has done it again. Mortal
story mode, one purchasable in the game’s
with new, more deliberate mechanics,
characters—one of which is unlocked in
virtual store—although there is a shortage
of new faces. The game includes only three new combatants (not including a non-
playable boss), where Mortal Kombat X
introduced eight. Stages, however, are a
different story. There are 21 in total, each boasting detailed, dynamic backgrounds
and plenty of interactive pieces. Kharon’s
Ship, an ancient galley on a sea of blood, is especially memorable. So too is Kotal’s
Colisseum, with its circling charioteers and monstrous beasts.
Its large list of pros and small list of cons
notwithstanding, MK11 is the prettiest game in the franchise. With smooth graphics,
real-time damage, detailed and expressive models, 60 FPS, and the aforementioned
dynamic stages, it looks noticeably better
than Mortal Kombat X—which looked pretty darn good only four years ago. Music is
similarly a highlight. “Kronika’s Hourglass”,
a mix of hip hop beats and Middle Eastern
trills, is one of the more exceptional tracks.
Kombat 11 is an outstanding fighting game a spectacular story mode, and loads of online and offline content. Technically
and graphically, it’s a huge success, and
content-wise it will keep you covered for
weeks and months to come. Its relatively
small roster of new fighters is disappointing and its ubiquitous, often incomprehensible loot (and corresponding grind) a source
of frustration, but its exceptional fighting
fundamentals and substantial modes shine through.
By Evan Norris
A LOOK BACK AT FOR
T ACQUIRE’S GAMES R PLAYSTATION VITA This is the second entry in a
and big ideas, but has
look at the output of a number
of low budgets throughout
series of articles I’m writing that of Vita-supporting developers from launch through to the
present day. I’ll be examining their history in the games industry, the games they
released on Vita, how those titles performed, what games they
could have released but didn’t,
and finally I’ll provide an overall
conclusion on their Vita support. Just like Artdink, Acquire is a
quirky Japanese developer with a history of experimentation
unfortunately been at the mercy the years, leaving gamers with
some fantastic titles that suffer from a large amount of jank.
Acquire worked on Vita from its
launch in Japan through to early 2017, injecting a nice level of
variety to the console’s library despite some of the technical shortcomings of its titles,
making the company a prime
candidate for examination here.
History – Big Ideas, Small Budgets Acquire’s entry into the gaming world was
a rival ninja series known as Shinobido in
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins on PS1, which
and PSP. The games felt like a continuation
through the sandbox stealth-action title
became a shining example of what would be its trademark style going forward. It featured a traditional Japanese setting steeped in mythology and focused on
open-ended gameplay allowing you to
take down targets however you saw fit. It
was successful enough to spawn a number of sequels, including the moderately well-
received Tenchu: Shadow Assassins, which
2005, which saw entries land on both PS2 of the original Tenchu ideas (which at the time was being handled by other
developers, most notably K2 of Valhalla
Knights fame), although critical reception to the Shinobido titles wasn’t particularly positive, with critics often noting their poor animations and stiff movement mechanics.
as of the time of writing is the last entry in
Another relatively famous franchise
Despite its history with Tenchu, Acquire
Samurai, an open-world samurai
the franchise we’ve seen.
effectively ditched the franchise to work on
created by Acquire was Way of the
simulation that contained a number of
similarities to Tenchu, including a historical
– your goal is to protect the demon lord
(although it focused much more on the
by digging out an elaborate underground
setting and very open-ended gameplay
sandbox elements). Again, reviews were middling, with critics tending to praise
its ambition but chide its execution. Still, it spawned a number of sequels on PS2, PS3 and PC (as well as remakes of the
Badman from invading treasure hunters
labyrinth and populating it with monsters. It proved popular enough to birth a
number of sequels and even a VR remake in 2017.
first two games on PSP, which can be
Elsewhere, plenty of Acquire’s titles
account), although WoTS seems dormant
released in Japan – things like Akiba’s
played on Vita if you have a Japanese PSN at present (publisher Spike-Chunsoft
somewhat replaced it in 2015 with the
Ukiyo duology). Another series created
by Acquire which landed on PSP was No
Heroes Allowed, designed in conjunction
with Sony’s Japan Studio (showing what a
positive relationship Acquire had with Sony during the 2000s). No Heroes Allowed was designed as a reverse dungeon crawler
were seen as so niche that they only
Trip demonstrated yet again a focus on
open-ended gameplay, recreating Tokyo’s Akihabara district and mixing it with
brawler mechanics in which the player must strip vampires to expose them
to sunlight, while Dekavoice was a PS2
adventure featuring gorgeous cel-shaded graphics built around using a headset to
issue commands to supporting characters.
Vita – A Continuation of Acquire’s Successes
Given its storied history with development
well known for, bringing back things
see Acquire commit to the Vita early on,
movement, but also provided little tweaks
on Sony hardware, it was unsurprising to although a lot of what the firm released was a continuation of series and ideas that we’d seen before.
The best example of this is the launch title Shinobido 2: Revenge of Zen,
a direct sequel to the events of the
previous two entries in the franchise. It
still contained the same sandbox stealthaction gameplay Acquire had become
like the grapple hook and wing suit for
to the formula to take advantage of the hardware’s inputs. I personally loved it,
although in general reviews were pretty
down on the game due to its short length and sometimes obtuse explanations of mechanics.
Acquire also expanded on the ideas
that were debuted on PSP with Akiba’s
Trip in its sequel Akiba’s Trip: Undead &
different gameplay, taking the form of an
in 2013 and came west a year later thanks
series. It marked yet another gameplay
Undressed, which landed on the handheld to XSEED Games. Like Shinobido, it
contained the same base gameplay seen
in its predecessor (an open-world brawler
about stripping vampires) but expanded on it massively alongside a new story and set of characters.
It received a middling critical reception
overseas, with reviewers tending to criticise its technical shortcomings but praising its originality.
Oddly, for the next entry in the Akiba’s franchise Acquire steered things in a
completely different direction. Akiba’s
Beat was set in the same location as Trip (Akihabara) but featured completely
action-RPG not dissimilar to the Tales of experiment for the company that didn’t work for the majority of players (it was criticized for being bland and rather
pointless), although there was definitely still fun to be had with it.
The company also worked on two entries in the Wizardry series named Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls and Wizardry: Town of Imprisoned Spirits that were
ported across from PS3 to Vita in Japan in 2016 (although sadly the pair never came west, despite the former having already been translated into English), as well as a PlayStation Mobile-exclusive entry in
the No More Heroes franchise called No Heroes Allowed: No Puzzles Either!.
New Experiments, Same Old Acquire Of course, Acquire didn’t just rest on its laurels
gameplay base. Both were part of the early push
to explore new ideas on the new hardware, which
lower-than-average price tags, better reflecting
when it came to Vita development and continued (as ever) met with a somewhat mixed reception.
The first of these came very early in the console’s life – Sumioni: Demon Arts is a 2D platformer
for digital-only releases on Sony’s handheld with the level of development Acquire worked at
(although this perhaps wasn’t reflected in the review scores they received).
with a striking sumi-e artstyle (similar to that
They also tried something new with Aegis of
the touch screen to paint bridges which are used
tower defence game that landed on Vita in 2016
seen in Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines) that uses
to progress through levels. Released in the west
again by publisher XSEED, it was followed later in 2012 by another experiment called Orgarhythm that mixes god game elements with a rhythm
Earth: Protonovus Assault, an extremely unique
in the west. In it, you control a city that is being attacked by giant creatures and must construct defences then literally rotate the urban area to
defend from the oncoming waves, making for a
wholly unique experience that perhaps wasn’t for everyone, but was certainly memorable for those
who played it.
Acquire is one of those developers that people
Unfortunately, Aegis of Earth and Akiba’s Beat
is certainly ambitious, but often held back by a
were the last games Acquire developed for
Vita, but in terms of missed opportunities there were very few games that could have come to
the handheld but didn’t. That’s because in 2011
Acquire was purchased by GungHo, the company
behind the hugely successful Puzzles and Dragons mobile title. This meant a shift in focus for the developer which then went on to work on a
will either love of hate – the developer’s output lack of polish and high level of jank due to the
miniscule budgets involved. This has led to some mildly popular franchises over the years – things like Tenchu and Way of the Samurai managed
to find sales success in both Japan and overseas
despite their shortcomings, but in recent years the company has moved on to a range of new ideas.
number of phone games such as Divine Gate
On Vita, Acquire continued to work to its “big
have made a lot of sense on Vita with their F2P
Akiba’s Beat and Shinobido 2 being filled with
and Road to Dragon. Such titles just wouldn’t monetization systems.
It would have been nice to have seen the third and fourth Way of the Samurai titles make their way
across to Vita, as their predecessors had done on PSP (they would have filled a great gap in terms
of sandbox-style open-worlds on the handheld), but I suspect that the company’s purchase by
GungHo put a stop to any plans like this. Acquire also worked on Rain, an atmospheric adventure
published by Sony itself, but this only landed on
PS3, which seemed like a bizarre decision given its October 2013 release date.
ideas, small budgets” mantra, with games like good ideas, but somewhat lacking in terms
of execution. They’re nonetheless surprisingly
enjoyable games if you’re willing to give them
a chance. Others like Orgarhythm and Sumioni
offer some nice variety to the Vita’s library and embraced new delivery methods. Acquire may have now moved on to bigger things (recently
working on Octopath Traveller for Switch), but its Vita support is something I’ll always appreciate. By Adam Cartwright
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