Page 1

LIVE JUNE ISSUE PART 1 2019

©2019 CTMG. All Rights Reserved.

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 live@gametraders.com.au

Emily Langford Emily Langford, EDITOR


What’s inside

MEN IN BLACK TM : INTERNATIONAL

pg. 16

LONG LIVE THE KING REVIEWS: CASTLEVANIA & MORTAL KOMBAT 11 pg. 26 &

pg. 44

pg. 8


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 ACQUIRE’S GAMES FOR PLAYSTATION

VGChartz

Pg. 54

VITAS LOST GAMES: A LOOK AT THE DIGITAL FUTURE

Pg. 32

MEN IN BLACK TM :INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY Pg. 20


MOVIES MEN IN BLACK

LONG LIVE THE KING


ANIME

,tv&


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 1940’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 couldn’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

replicate its

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

Twitter: @ScottFSowter


meet the characters

Agent H

Agent M


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.


Agent O

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.

High T

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 you’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!


©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 – 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

H’s vintage Jag hides a multitude of alien

transported

busting fire-arms; one in the door handle, the

from

the

Peak

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 Molly’s parents was Les Twins, who play the alien

an original prop from the first Men In Black

twins, were once backing

movies.

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.


gameS

VITA’S LOST GA A LOOK AT THE DIGITAL FUTUR A LOOK BACK AT ACQUIRE’S GAMES FOR PLAYSTATION VITA


S

AMES

RE

REVIEWS


Evan Norris

REVIEW NS:

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

BEN DYE


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).


Free-to-Play Games

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


REVIEW ps4:

MORTA


AL KOMBAT 11

Evan Norris


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


ADAM CARTWRIGHT

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

Conclusion

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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June 2019 LIVE Magazine  

Our latest magazine filled with lots of interesting articles and reviews - plus some MIB fun facts and meet the characters!

June 2019 LIVE Magazine  

Our latest magazine filled with lots of interesting articles and reviews - plus some MIB fun facts and meet the characters!

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