THE OPC PRESENTS...
WELCOME TO EDITION #05 - JUNE 2013
DRIVE CLUB, NI NO KUNI AND THE WORLDS #1 TROPHY HUNTER
& MUCH MORE INSIDE... & CGBC
THE 5TH ANNUAL GAMING BOOT CAMP
FEATURES & REVIEWS
WELCOME/ CONTENTS JUNE 2013 reviews - part I
The 19th Hole
5th Annual Computer Game Boot Camp
Futureshock: Where Should The Controller Go Next?
The Future Of PS3 & The Beginning Of PS4
Q&A: Ni No Kuni
reviews - part II 36
Ni No Kuni
MESSAGE FROM THE MVP TEAM TWITTER: @OPC_MVP
The sun is in the air once again and it seems a world away from the freezing cold January when we released our previous issue! This time around you’ll find community-written reviews of Dragon’s Dogma, Guacamelee!, Ni No Kuni and others. We’ve got a trio of Q&A features, including an interview with Evolution Studios’ Simon O’Brien about the his work including PS4’s upcoming Drive Club. And an introduction to a unique gaming expo that takes place each year in Melbourne. Even though summer is finally upon us, the promise of cold February’s PlayStation 4 revelations still loom large in our thoughts and you can read some of our impressions here too. At the time of writing, E3 is mere days away and filled with unknown excitements to set the forums buzzing further. The PlayStation Forums offer a great place to discuss everything PlayStation, and it would be great to hear your feedback on the magazine too. There are a bunch of talented folk out there giving their time and effort to provide content for the magazine so if you like what you see, let them know and encourage them to keep providing it! If there’s something you see that you don’t agree with, on the other hand, why not start a debate? I’ve even started trying to introduce ‘second opinion’ columns into the reviews because not everyone’s experience is identical; why are reviews these days always written by a single person? I want to see more multi-reviewers! What do you think? Get down to the forums and join in the discussion! - QuietlyWrong
Published by the EN OPC. Editors: englishgolfer & QuietlyWrong
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to issue 05 of the OPC Magazine. Keep an eye out for the below logo within issues of the magazine as we highlight content from the OPC forum that you may have missed.
feedback/want to help? We’d love to hear what you’d like to see in the magazine and your general feedback, please let us know via the Magazine thread in the OPC forum. Keep an eye on the ‘fan art’ section of the forum as we will be asking for volunteers in the near future to contribute to issue 6. Until the next time, happy gaming and we hope you enjoy reading the magazine. - mattsimmo
REVIEW REVIEWER: sigrent
RELEASE DATE: 25 May 2012
CAPCOM’S WESTERNISED RPG Capcom have taken a stab at developing a westernised RPG. Japanese developers normally stick to their more traditional JRPGs, so is Capcom’s attempt worth your money? Story Dragon’s Dogma tells the story of an ancient dragon that has been reborn and is causing havoc and fear for the people of Gransys where the game takes place. At the start of the game you play as an everyday human living in a small village until the dragon attacks your village burning your fellow townspeople, buildings and raining destruction upon them. Your character makes a hasty decision to try and fight the dragon with just a rusty sword and quite obviously fails to accomplish the task and the dragon removes your heart and – rather unfortunately for you – eats it. first release You then wake up and are reborn as the new ‘Arisen’, set on a quest to get it back. On the quest for, I guess, revenge you could call it, you have the ability to call upon NPC allies known as ‘pawns’ to guide you
through your journey and give you hints and tips on how best to fight a certain enemy or accomplish a certain quest. The pawns can be hired through this otherworldly portal where you can check their rankings and knowledge on certain things to see if they best suit your needs. The interesting thing about these pawns is that they are created by other players which gives them a unique appearance and personality and if that player/creator has progressed further than you or has done certain quests that you may have missed out on or have not yet started the pawns from their game will have the knowledge of that quest to make your life a lot easier. You yourself have a pawn that you can create and customise yourself and will be with you throughout the whole game and other players can use him or her as well. After the exciting opening to the game the story sort of disappears and doesn’t make a reappearance until at least 30 or so hours of gameplay.
Gameplay The gameplay is Dragon’s Dogma’s highlight with super fun combat and challenging grizzly beasts to fight. There are a variety of classes for you and your pawn to choose such as a sword and shield-wielding fighter, a quick agile ranger, a big two-handed-weapon-wielding brute and of course a spellcasting sorcerer. Now you’re probably thinking these classes sound like your typical RPG class types. But there’s more to these classes or vocations as they’re known in the game. You can increase your ability within your chosen class by simply attacking enemies and doing quests and then move up to a more superior version of whichever class you have chosen. At first the game does come across as rather difficult and gives you no real tutorial or guide on fighting enemies and how to approach them and so shares a common ground with From Software’s Dark Souls and can be very unforgiving sometimes when danger lurks in every corner of the game. It is all about getting the right balance between yourself and the pawns you hire, making yourself a force to be reckoned with. The pawns however are rather intelligent and will help most of the time using the enemy’s weakness as much as they can and shouting out tactics. My favourite part of the game however is when the sun goes down and darkness arrives and I’ll tell you it gets really dark... Sort of the turning into an RPG-horror game where all you have is a lantern and your pawns’ eyes and ears. Stronger and more fearsome enemies come out to play at night time, such as zombies, undead knights and zombie sorcerers. But fear not as night need not be long, as you can rest at the inn at the capital or at any rest camp in the game. Another interesting feature in the game is the climbing mechanic which allows you to climb on the much larger enemies to reach certain weak spots or maybe cutting off the head of a hydra and the tail of a chimera. Speaking of the capital, the main settlement in Dragon’s Dogma is Gran Soren, where you can buy new equipment and curatives for the
long road ahead. Unfortunately the NPCs in the game are not very exciting with very dull expressions and speak in a rather irritating ‘old English’ language and are not very lively. The quests in the game are made of the main story quests, notice board quests and NPC quests. Most of the quests are rather linear and predictable; whether you’re escorting someone to a certain part of the game to raise their affection for you or killing a set number of enemies for money and weapons, they really are not anything exciting or groundbreaking. Graphics The graphics in the game are very nice to look at and do well for an open world game. Sadly there is a lot of frame rate dropping and freezing during busy combat moments which can be frustrating but fortunately not game breaking and there is also the odd falling-through-themap glitch. At times you get the feeling the game was rushed or unfinished but if you persist with Dragons Dogma you will find that game will get more rewarding towards the end and as you venture further away from Gran Soren you will start to reach darker, more fearful places that humans fear to dwell in and the sense of danger and excitement builds with every footstep. Verdict Although it has a strange story, Dragons Dogma is a very fun RPG where players will love the challenge that it brings and its variety of combat; however it does have technical problems which can spoil the experience. However it is a game that deserves a play. I’d give Dragons Dogma a 7.9/10 Pros: terrifying beasts, varied combat, day/night cycle Cons: technical issues, confusing story, lacklustre quests, lack of NPC personality.
WRAITH_BRINGER SACRIFICES SOME QUALITY GAMING TIME TO GIVE US HIS IMPRESSIONS OF SCE JAPAN STUDIO’S NEW OFFERING
REVIEW REVIEWER: Wraith_Bringer
PLATFORM: PS Vita
RELEASE DATE: 1 May 2013
DOES KEIJA INFAUNE’S NEW IP DELIVER ON THE VITA? It’s a bit of an awkward time for Vita owners at the moment. The console has stayed at a hefty price point and game offerings have been dry at best, with the majority of console support coming from indie development and PlayStation-Network-only titles. But amidst the dry spell of retail games, a new intellectual property from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan studio emerges from the darkness. With former Capcom designer Keiji Inafune at the helm, PlayStation Vita is proud to present: Soul Sacrifice.
People keep drawing comparisons to Monster Hunter and to some extent I can see why, but I would argue there are some pretty clear differences here. Each small mission has a task for the players to complete, whether it’s killing a certain amount of monsters, sacrificing a sorcerer who has lost control of their power or perhaps looking for an object within the level. Either way you’re armed with six spells with which you are to complete your task.
Developed by Sony Japan with support from Marvelous AQL, Soul Sacrifice focuses on an unnamed sorcerer in a world that has been dominated by a demonic sorcerer called Magusar. The opening cut sequence shows a desolate wasteland where innocent people are trapped in giant cages made from bones, littered with skulls and giant insects. One by one, the people are removed from their cages by undead soldiers who take them before Magusar whereupon they are sacrificed. Moments after one person’s horrific ordeal, you take control of another poor soul trapped within a cage. With barely any energy to move, your attention is taken when a voice beckons you to the edge of the cage. Hidden underneath the dust, skulls and random assortment of bones, you find a book, but not any ordinary kind of book. It has a big eye, a small eye and a pretty big mouth with ghoulish teeth. I could only imagine how bad its breath smells, but this book is your guide and only hope in defeating Magusar. His name is Librom and he’s going to let you relive the past.
There are different spells to master and these come in a variety of effects, some spells can be thrown, some home in on the enemy, some conjure weapons and some can be used defensively or to recover health. It has to be said that the magic system offers fair depth, allowing you to find the right balanced or varied set up that works for your play style. For example, my first tray of skills contains three ranged attacks, whereas my second tray contains a summon skill, a recovery skill and a weapon skill. This way I can combat aerial enemies but keep my general style of ranged attacks. It’s not something you appreciate until you unlock more spells and discover for yourself just how vast the selection of skills are, even if many are simple carbon copies just under a different element. However, using spells too much within a missions will break them and you will have to use the game’s currency of lacrima to allow them to be used again. Lacrima is earned by successfully completing missions: when you complete a mission, or multiple missions, you can return to talk to Librom who will ask if you’ve checked for droplets recently.
The game opens up with an explanation from Librom as to his purpose in the world and what service he offers the player. In guiding you through your task, he explains the mechanics of the game, learning as you go along. Immediately you’re thrown into the past fighting alongside a younger Magusar against a giant sea-serpent with a human head on its nose. Yeah, it’s kinda of weird, but this is where you get the first taste of how the game works.
His bigger eye waters and produces lacrima. To harvest it, you wipe his eye using the touch screen then watch as your character wipes the front of the book, though Librom is clear when he explains that these are not tears. I guess he doesn’t like being teased about it.
When the mission begins, you’ll see an overview of the level that you’ll be fighting in. Some are enclosed and a few are more open and offer some level of exploration but for the most part enemies spawn and it’s your job to kill them. When they’ve been defeated, they revert to an innocent form whereupon you’re offered the choice. Do you save them? Or sacrifice them? You could argue that there is no real moral effect from which you choose, but there is a reason behind it. Your character basically progresses through the sacrificed-to-saved-soul ratio. When you save or sacrifice a set amount of souls, your level increases.
You do have a choice of allies, who help you complete quests when playing solo. These allies can be earned by completing side quests offered by Librom and they can be found in missions where you save them from a near death state and in doing so, they agree to join you. These allies have their own skills and in time, grow fond of your sorcerer. These allies can still die but you are able to revive them by using lacrima. One of the more interesting aspects is when your ally is close to death you have the option of sacrificing them. Doing so allows you to cast an incredibly powerful spell but it is not without consequence.
Sacrificing souls increases magic skills and offensive power, whereas saving souls increases your overall health and defence parameters. You can only have a combined level of 100. This means that you could have a save level of 50 and a sacrifice level of 50 but then you would not be able to progress any further. Again, this leaves players free to balance this scale to their own play style, with close range attackers favouring health upgrades, long range fighter favouring magic power and all-rounders balancing both out. It is possible for you to change your balance when you’ve reached 100 by using lacrima.
Sigils are discussed further after the first chapter of the main story, your sorcerer contracting an ailment that affects most sorcerers, where the thoughts and feelings of those you have sacrificed are manifested in the right arm. In some rarer cases, even the memories of those sacrificed can be merged with your own, so there are consequences. Essentially you can equip up to five sigils and each one has a buffing effect making your character stronger. Again, you want to experiment with all the many combinations you can make to best suit your style, I prefer equipping sigils that boost the power of throwing magic and your overall attack power.
The game also offers an interesting character customisation system, allowing you to edit your character’s facial features and head in some level of detail, but his clothing is based upon pre-set costumes, though you can change their colour and whether the garment is fully layered or only covers part of your sorcerer. You’re able to name your character and change it as often as you like under the portraiture menu where you also are able to edit your magic layout. This screen is where more layers of depth are introduced by allowing you to edit your allies, your magic abilities, your sigils and your last rite.
The final customisation option is choosing your black rite, basically, this acts as your last line of defence. When your sorcerer is on low health, the black rite becomes available. By pressing and holding the icon on screen, your sorcerer will unleash an incredibly powerful attack in hopes that it’ll be enough to help you end the battle. It’s not always successful, I found this out against a Jack-o’-lantern, but it leaves devastating effects. The first black rite allows you to conjure a giant fire spell but in return your character’s defence is halved in every single mission from then on. The only way to fix it is by using lacrima but it can be very costly and saving up more lacrima whilst completing missions with half your defence can be risky; it’s often worth totting up the risk. On the whole, Soul Sacrifice has an incredibly deep story with a battle system to match. The game can let you down from time to time with poor artificial intelligence in places but as a whole, it’s a great experience boosted by lush visuals, artistic environments and an apt score composed of orchestral pieces that really enhance the experience. Character customisation could be improved in terms of clothing and physical appearance but more costumes can be unlocked as you play the game. There are plenty of allies and plenty of content making it great value for money, the only real question is save, or sacrifice?
Not only can you equip magic, you can fuse skills together to create new ones and improve skills by merging multiple copies of the same spell. Fusing them creates new skills outright whereas merging them increases the amount of times they can be cast but it also allows them to evolve into more powerful spells. For example, merging three star basic throwing spells adds another projectile, increases the damage and the amount of times they can be cast. It’s really good seeing a visual change when you merge and fuse spells but it also shows how diverse the system is.
REVIEW REVIEWER: ryannumber3gamer
PLATFORM: PS2; re-released for PS3
RELEASE DATE: 26 Nov 2004
NAUGHTY DOG’S PLATFORMING CLASSIC WITH AN HD MAKEOVER Jak 3 was first released in 2004 for PS2 but was re-released in HD with trophies as part of The Jak & Daxter Trilogy for PS3 in 2012. Story: Jak is banished to the Wasteland, a giant desert, by Count Veger, a powerful aristocrat from Haven City. Ashelin, the daughter of Baron Praxis from Jak II tried everything she could to stop him but failed. Daxter and Pecker join Jak in the desert and they walk through it. Jak and companions eventually can’t keep walking due to lack of water and the heat. They fall to the ground and fall asleep. They are found by Damas, the leader of the Wastelanders. The Wastelanders take them back to their city where Jak & Daxter must fight and do missions to prove their worth and stay in the city. Gameplay: The gameplay is the same as Jak II’s gameplay but now there are cars Jak can drive outside of the city and in the desert. There are also new weapon mods and new dark powers for Dark Jak including the ability to turn invisible. After passing a couple of missions Jak & Daxter will find themselves at a temple where a precursor oracle gives Jak new
light powers including the powers to heal himself, freeze time, make a light shield, and the power to fly. While it stays the same to Jak II’s gameplay I do think Jak’s new light powers offer a real improvement. Graphics: The game looks better than Jak II, particularly the locations, with particular praise for the Wasteland (aka The Desert) – though it shows its age when held up against modern standards like Uncharted 3. Haven Forest makes a return; it looks like the leaves are starting to fall off the trees but it still has the same Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy feel. Haven City is more run down and destroyed because there is now a war between The Freedom League which consists of Jak’s friends and the KG – the KG Deathbots are Krimzon Guard robots reprogrammed and working for a mysterious enemy from Jak’s past – and The Metal Heads which have broken into Haven City and have taken control of part of Haven City.
Sound: The music is as good as ever in this game. It fits the new war that is going on in Haven City and how everyone is depending on Jak to save the day again.
Overall: In my opinion Jak 3 is my favorite of the Jak games with The Precursor Legacy being a close second. I enjoyed most of the missions, the game looks and sounds excellent, and it tells its story well.
Replayability: The game does have a lot of replayability. There are 600 precursor orbs to collect, which again can be used to buy the secrets you want and fortunately they are cheaper in this game. There are also a number of challenges to do for precursor orbs and gun courses. Some of the stuff you can unlock is scene viewers for each act, level select for each act etc. But the new stuff that can be unlocked is a easter egg to Ratchet & Clank called the Ratchet & Clank gun courses, unlock new cars for Jak to use in the desert and use Dark Jakâ€™s Invisible power whenever you want.
So my rating is a 10/10
One major improvement is that Naughty Dog fixed the difficulty of the missions of Jak II Renegade. Now they are more fair with some extra checkpoints and being able to find pieces of Marâ€™s armor throughout the game giving Jak more health slots. Good: Excellent graphics Well told story Controls well Plenty of replayability Brilliant powers Fair difficulty Great music Bad: Some duff missions Driving in the desert can be annoying sometimes.
CAN MISSSOUTHAMPTON REVIEW AN ANGLING GAME WITHOUT GIVING IN TO ANY FISH PUNS?
REVIEW REVIEWER: MissSouthampton
PLATFORM: PS Vita
RELEASE DATE: 30 January 2013
WIRED PRODUCTIONS’ ANGLING SIM Anyone who has formed an opinion on fishing may have presumed it to be a slow and serene activity and one that you would wonder how it can be made into a fun game but much like Everybody’s Golf, it’s amazing how such a sedate activity in real life can be made into a fun sports game.
You can cast the line in the water by moving your boat along the scenic banks of your fishing area. The landscapes are pretty and quaint, ranging from lodges to temples and the reflections in the water add to the ambience of the particular scene. Also different weather conditions can add to the casting and catching ability.
Let’s Fish! Hooked On is developed by Wired Productions and puts the fun factor into fishing with an anime spin. Characters in the game have been designed by Poyoyon Rock, who has famously designed other characters and worked on animation for comics and film including Kiki’s Delivery Service. This is ultimately a single player game with online features such as leaderboards where you can upload your score and be ranked alongside other players in Challenge mode. The tutorial is a must and this will show you the basics of how to play, telling you how to catch fish rather than showing you. It is really only when kitted out that you gain knowledge of what to do, which can take a little patience but once you have the hang of it then you will be catching some fishies in no time. You can try out characters, weather conditions, different seasons and perfect your hooking skills. Once you feel confident with the basics you can then head into the real action where you can either embark on a world tour or enter challenge mode.
The world tour is a timed mode where you have to meet specific weight targets by catching fish. You can throw your line out for some pot luck but you can also get a glimpse of what is in the water i.e. where to cast for the best catch. You can do this by zooming in and this will make some fishy silhouettes appear.
Being a fishing game it will come as no surprise that you have to catch fish. When casting your line you can opt to cast it near or far depending on the level meter, which is a bar going up and down that is stopped by a timed button press.
Once in the water, the view will change to an underwater view and your lure (attraction on the end of the hook for example) will tempt some fish in but some fish will be opposed to this lure. They will be attracted but they will not bite. So this results in a lost catch.
Conclusion The games adds over 40 hours of gameplay and has plenty of replayability / improving on scores and leaderboards. The fishing areas and characters are well designed with each character having their own storyline, skills and abilities.
You unlock more lures as you progress and you can change them over to attract different fish so the big-’uns you couldn’t catch before may well hook on. An attracted fish that does take a bite will then be hooked on and the next step involves making sure the line doesn’t break while reeling in the fish to your position – this could be a few metres or a long way away. The tussle to reel in your fish will result in a series of on screen touch action manoeuvres.
The collectible element and challenges will keep you interested even if they can be a little frustrating when you fail. However these are easy to replay and you can improve your technique at catching fish and completing the challenges. There is a sense of achievement when you catch a big fish but this sometimes comes as a surprise as they don’t look that different. Perhaps an enthusiast could tell the difference. I love the fact that a fairly boring sport (no offence, anglers!) is fun. Perhaps not realistic, but that certainly would be boring. It takes a matter of minutes to catch a fish not hours. The cartoony anime style lends itself well to igniting the fun factor and the innuendo-laden voice-overs are pretty funny, whether intentional or not. This is great for picking up and playing a quick challenge or for playing intently to beat your own score. Overall don’t be put off by the fishing aspect as it is not stereotypical of the real life hobby at all. Well my stereotype is a male-orientated hobby where men will sit on the side of a river for months at a time on a pop up seat with flasks of hot beverage. It manages to make it fun and you want to progress. Entertaining and fun no less, plus I recognised a rainbow trout. So there is also a certain amount of realism even for someone like me!
Reel it in! The hooking action requires touch screen swipes in the correct direction towards the fish icon. This needs to be quite quick to get right and can result in losing a fish or two but the fish will sometimes hook back on so you can have another go. If you have successfully hooked until the metres deplete to your position, this will result in a successful catch. Practice makes perfect and the more you reel in the better your hooking action will be. You can sometimes tell what sort of fish you have caught and how big they are but sometimes you reel in a fish which is smaller than expected and this can cause some disappointment when you catch a tiddler... but you can always try again.
In total there are 240 different lures, 44 courses and 31 trophies to unlock, including a platinum.
Let’s Fish! Hooked On is available to download now exclusively to the PS Vita and is £14.99.
RODNEY GORDON TAKES US ON A GUIDED TOUR OF AUSTRALIA’S UNIQUE INDUSTRY ENGAGEMENT EVENT
5TH ANNUAL COMPUTER GAME
MONASH UNIVERSITY’S GAMING EXPO A seasoned teenager nervously clutches a controller, standing before a 20ft projected screen displaying Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Eye-balling him, as if having stepped from the screen into the field of competition, is a Stormtrooper (or at least a representative of the 501st Legion TAG) in full Star Wars regalia. Surveying the combatants are more than 1,000 eager onlookers all on the edge of their seats. Adding to the pressure is the knowledge that their clash is being broadcast over the web to legions of interested parties across the globe. Scenes like this are commonplace at the Computer Games Boot Camp (CGBC), an annual event held during the mid-year semester break at the Monash University IT Department in Melbourne, Australia.
Without reaching the heights of an E3 or PAX, the event is certainly a one-of-a-kind. ‘We have not heard of any CGBC style events anywhere in the world, not at our scale. We cater for over 1000 students each year, many travel from as far away as China,’ Owen explains. ‘The interactive entertainment side of the Boot Camp includes many tournaments. The High School E-Sports League is part of CGBC. We also host the International High School E-Sports Friendly tournament between China and Australia every year.’ Konami/Mindscape support the international competition which pits an Australian junior team against the might of China on the hallowed turf that is Pro Evolution Soccer. Given the international profile of the conference, it’s not surprising that the local gaming industry has begun to pay attention and wants a piece of the action. Perusing the CGBC website, the variety and calibre of corporate partners is truly impressive for an event that, in 2013, is celebrating only its fifth year. Major players like EA, Bandai Namco, 2K Games and Ubisoft all support the conference as well as the true big guns: Microsoft and the Sony Entertainment Network. ‘[Representatives from] Sony fly down every year for CGBC. So much has been showcased in recent years and the showreels and sneak previews are always well received. Preview trailers shown on a massive screen with surround sound is always a great experience,’ Owen explains. For many of the attendees the conference is a golden opportunity – what teenager wouldn’t want to play games with their friends for a week, listen to an exclusive presentation showing off new games and maybe even score a t-shirt, game demo or poster?
Andrew Owen in main presentation area
Held over seven days, the CGBC is a hands-on, interactive, industryengagement event offering showcases, workshops, as well as local and international competitive gaming tournaments. CGBC is a forum that allows high school students to converse with other like-minded individuals about their passion for gaming culture and a diverse range of topics across the multimedia spectrum. It takes a dedicated army, including dozens of volunteers, university graduates and high school work experience participants to make the Boot Camp a reality, working together under the command of event organizer Andrew Owen. Pulling together as one cohesive unit they co-ordinate the banks of countless PS3s, Xboxes and handhelds, as well as dusting off the wellloved consoles of yesteryear for the conference’s retro space. Far from a nostalgia trip, these PS1/2 units are put through their paces in their own woebegone tournaments, but it takes the grunt of the current-gen consoles to match the steely focus of the players. For these students, their passion for videogames has brought them together, but they will take away so much more than just a button-mashing brawl with their buddies.
FEEL-GOOD GAMING It’s encouraging to hear that parents and educators have embraced the CGBC as much as the gamers. Beyond the spoils of victory and the giveaways is the opportunity to discuss future careers in the IT field – Monash University offers courses in Computer Science, Software Engineering, and the Information Technology and Systems Degree (which includes majors in Multimedia Development and Games Development).
Cause campaign with [Australian charity] TLC for Kids. The website will be up shortly but the Facebook page is called CauseAndEffectGamers. We play G- or PG-rated games during the month of May and donate the money raised to TLC for Kids.’ Anyone can support the campaign that provides support for hospitalized children all over Australia. The Boot Camp’s partnership with TLC for Kids has grown steadily in the last few years – in 2012 the attendees raised $4000 for the cause. ‘It was all in loose change,’ Andrew explains, ‘so it was very heavy. I like to encourage students to give back to the community and see how rewarding it is to give. Gamers get a bad rap in the media, we want to emphasize the positive aspects of gaming and help some kids at the same time.’ For more information visit: Computer Games Boot Camp - https://cgbc.infotech.monash.edu TLC for Kids - http://www.tlcforkids.org.au
Supplementing the access to university resources are the guest speakers, covering areas from game animation to sound design and composing to game modding culture. In attendance at the event a few years ago, I was heartened by the conviction of the students to interactive entertainment, many hopeful of one day designing their own game concepts and scheming to have them manifested on the PSN, XBLA or even Android/iOS stores. When asked for a personal highlight of the conference to date, Andrew gushes with good-will for the conference participants. ‘Kids making new friends and the high level of respect and tolerance shown by our attendees. This is very important to the event.’ And what gaming conference worth its salt would be complete without embracing the c-word: cosplay. With hundreds of high schoolers (aged 14-18) it’s inevitable that their hyper-enthusiasm will spill over into the fantasy realm. Cosplay staples like Dr Who and Harry Potter settle their grudges in Tekken 6, while DC and Marvel Universe characters tear up the track in Gran Turismo 5. Owen speaks of their accoutrements with great fervor, ‘The Iron-Man and War Machine costumes were outstanding last year. The other stand out was Star Fox – the mouth actually moved when he spoke.’ His devotion to gaming culture was the initial driving force for the conference; a lack of anything similar during his own high school years. Such commitment to the cause rings true as he confesses to being a cosplay tragic himself. ‘I dressed as a failed Darth Vader one year. I thought I looked ridiculous, but it encouraged others to get up and have a go.’ CGBC seems destined to grow as it further harnesses the broad reach that the web allows. ‘The live stream can be watched via the Facebook pages or stream apps. I also coordinate the Malaysia event (inaugurated in 2012) and in the past we’ve had groups Skype in or interact via social networks and email.’ Live social streaming tools on the upcoming PS4 accommodate the growing phenomenon of social gaming and reinforce the integral communal element that makes the CGBC such an inclusive event. Andrew is tight-lipped about what to expect from this year’s CGBC, ‘Everyone will have to wait and see, we have many surprises each year.’ One thing that is for certain is the positive impact the Boot Camp has on the local community, culminating with the event’s support of charitable concerns. ‘In May 2013, I am running a national Gaming for a
QUIETLYWRONG TAKES A LOOK AT HOW THE PLAYSTATION’S FAMILIAR CONTROLLER GOT THE WAY IT IS TODAY AND SUGGESTS WHERE IT SHOULD GO NEXT...
SHOCK WRITER: Quietlywrong
WHERE SHOULD THE CONTROLLER GO NEXT? Take a look at the DualShock 3 or the new DualShock 4. What’s wrong with it? What’s the biggest mistake in its design?
By the beginning of the 80’s, one predominant concept seemed to arise from the proliferation and became a standard in some circles for many years: the single-button joystick, of which the standard Atari stick is something of an archetype. These sticks, packaged with the Atari 2600 in 1977, had extraordinary design longevity – the same model could still be plugged, without any adaptor, into a Commodore Amiga or Atari ST and used to play games being published for those systems twenty years later (I was one of the 5000 people who bought Worms: the Director’s Cut for the Amiga 1200 in 1997).
It’s not MY controller, that’s what’s wrong with it. And that’s because, fundamentally, it’s Sony’s controller. It’s every developer’s controller. It’s everybody’s controller. By doing everything that everyone else needs it to do, it doesn’t always do what I want it to do. It’s an anonymous hunk of plastic. If Sony want to push forward into the next generation of gaming, isn’t it time to rethink the controller – not just what it does, but how it does it? But first let me tell you how we got to where we are... A selective history of game controllers. Once upon a time, in the mid-to-late 70’s when TV consoles first exploded into our homes (not literally, thankfully), there were essentially three competing control devices: the light-gun, the paddle and the joystick, in countless variations. Some systems came with one, two or all three controllers; in time there were also trackballs for Marble Madness and Missile Command clones, keypads (which, like your older phones, could double as joysticks) and even more arcane variations were produced or proposed. In one unreleased example, you would have been able to use your mind alone to control your Atari 2600! The paddle, a miniature steering wheel, was mainly used for playing a hundred variations of Pong and basic racing games and quickly fell by the wayside when system developers twigged that the joystick could do similar duty, though less precisely.
When all you have is a direction and one button, in-game controls are, by necessity, simple. You hardly need instructions at all for most games under this regime. But technology marched on, led by the arcade machines. Each arcade machine can have any set of controls its makers choose to give it, whether that be a mind-boggling array of buttons, fake fishing rods or steering wheel, gear-stick and pedals. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Japan, great innovators in the arcade industry, also led the way in the introduction of increasing numbers of buttons to the home console controller. The Japanese consoles also differed from Western home computers in the absence of a keyboard, so whereas Spectrum gamers could hit ‘Space’ to pause the game or maybe ‘Q’ to ‘Quaff’ a health potion, the Famicom (NES) owners needed another option. In 1983, Nintendo gave their first console two action buttons instead of one and – perhaps incidentally – put the menu ‘Start’ and ‘Select’ buttons on the main controller rather than on the console itself. So useful did the extra buttons prove for single-player games that when Nintendo’s successor, the Super Famicom (SNES) was released in 1990, both controllers got Start and Select buttons. But that wasn’t enough. You see, Capcom had already created a monster. Back to those arcades: in 1987, Capcom released Street Fighter, and I lay the blame squarely – if slightly unfairly – on that arcade game for what happened next...
The deluxe version of the Street Fighter cabinet sported a really ingenious gimmick: alongside the joystick, there were two pressure sensitive pads, one for kicks and one for punches. The game recognised the difference between soft, medium and hard presses and altered your attacks accordingly. So far, so good. The problem was that those pressure sensitive pads – designed to stand up to being walloped by all-comers in a public arcade – were pretty expensive. So an alternate version of the machine was built with three conventional buttons for light, medium and heavy punches, and another three for the equivalent kicks.
PlayStation 2 added pressure sensitivity to many of the buttons (PS4 will take much of that away in favour of response time); PS3 added motion sensitivity to the controller because, apparently, one d-pad and two analogue joysticks just aren’t enough. To illustrate the point, I could stop here and make Sackboy give two thumbs up while nodding his head in approval, though to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’d much miss the Sixaxis controls. So what of the new DualShock 4?
Six buttons? SIX? Who needs six buttons just to control one game? But it was the thin end of a wedge and the six-button set-up became something of a standard. Sure enough, alongside the Super Famicom’s D-pad and ‘Start’ and ‘Select’, Nintendo added six action buttons: four face buttons and two shoulder buttons. Parallel to all this, in 1988 Sega had released its Mega Drive console; perhaps just too late in development to catch the new Street Fighter trend, its original controllers had sported three action buttons (perhaps because three is one more than the Famicom’s two?) – but with the phenomenal international success of Street Fighter II in 1991 (and ever since!), Sega brought out a new Mega Drive controller with, yes, six face buttons. When Sega’s Saturn hit the shelves in late 1994, six face buttons were complemented by two shoulder buttons and when it was rapidly followed by the PlayStation, Sony’s upstart console rearranged the eight action buttons to the familiar four face buttons ( , , and , modelled on the Nintendo standard controller) and four shoulder buttons that we have come to know and, if not love, at least have an intense relationship with. Of course, the story doesn’t quite end there. Whose idea was it to add more direction controls to the joypad? In 1996, Nintendo, always the innovators, thought that the leap to three dimensions deserved a control mechanism that operated in more than just four cardinal directions, so they added an analogue joystick to the N64’s bizarre-looking controller. Analogue joysticks, let’s make this clear, were not new – some of the consoles of the 1970s had experimented with them and PC gamers had been using them for ages, ideal as they were for flight simulators and the like. But they were absolutely right for the new era of 3D console gaming. Sony realised all this – it had already released its own ‘PlayStation Analog Joystick’ (see picture below!) prior to the N64’s launch (Sega also had its own ‘Mission Stick’ peripheral) – and it didn’t take long for Sony to effectively miniaturise this by putting two analogue thumbsticks on to the PlayStation’s controller in 1997 and even sneaking an extra microswitch button in underneath each one. Another swift revision to add vibration feedback and we have the ‘DualShock’ design that’s remained with the PlayStation in pretty much the same form for over fifteen years now. PlayStation Analog Joystick
A few ergonomic tweaks to make it sit more snugly in your hands and to make the analogue sticks and triggers feel a little better... Much of the core functionality is otherwise unchanged but the standout new features are the clickable touchpad that recognises two-fingered gestures (pinching and rotating, that is, not V-signs) and the curvy light-bar that works with the new two-camera PlayStation 4 Eye to recognise where you and your friends are on the sofa – or changes colour to warn you when your health is low, for example. Less obvious are the new mono speaker and the headphone jack on each controller. One of the finest features of the DS4 is nothing to do with controls: it can charge up from the PS4 even while the PS4 is in standby. The Start and Select buttons have evolved into ‘Share’ and ‘Options’. Someone else could write a whole other article about the way that the Share button may change gaming on the next generation console. Right now, it’s just one more button. Count them all: four d-pad inputs, four shoulder buttons, the four main face buttons, Share, Options, PS Home, two clickable analogue sticks, one huge clickable touchpad: I make that eighteen buttons. On top of two joysticks, a touchpad and six axes of built-in motion sensitivity supplemented by camera-assisted motion sensitivity. ...And each game can choose to use these numerous controls in any way it chooses. Surely I’m not alone in thinking there’s a problem with this?
Complexity isn’t always for the best At the time that the Dualshock’s form was being finalised (1997), I was, as I’ve said, still playing my cherished Amiga games with a one-button digital joystick. Today many mobile phone games still succeed with a single button interface – have you played Jetpack Joyride recently? At first, this return to simplicity came out of necessity – early phones and iPods just didn’t have the interfaces to support complex controls. But app developers have come to realise that the market can be satisfied with simple inputs – often more so than by elaborate controls.
Consider the PlayStation Vita’s Welcome Park. This is a piece of introductory software built into the Vita’s operating system that offers first-timers a gentle initiation into some of the Vita’s various controls and features including the front and rear touch pads, Sixaxis motion controls and the microphone and cameras. It even offers trophies to chivvy the player along. Wouldn’t it be better if every games console came with some equivalent to this tutorial so that game developers could assume that players started with a certain control familiarity?
When I started playing Ni No Kuni, one of the first instructions I was presented with was this: ‘Use [left stick] to walk ...’ These aren’t the controls you’re looking for... While we’re thinking along these lines, why not take it further? How many times do control systems irritate you? It might be an inverted (or uninverted) Y-axis that you have to drop into the menu to toggle (if the option is even there). It might be a driving game that uses R1 for the brake pedal instead of L2, or an RPG game that uses square for the menu when you’re expecting triangle. Perhaps you’ve dug out an old PSOne classic and discovered that the functions of circle and X have been inverted – or, more correctly, haven’t been inverted yet (see Symbology on P26).
My reaction, as you might imagine, was not ‘OK, great, out of this enormous complexity of controls in my hands, thanks for letting me know!’ Instead, an annoyed voice in my head – so annoyed that I quite forgot how to construct a sentence – was shouting the question ‘WHO is this information intended for??’ Grammatical error notwithstanding, it’s a good question. If I put the joypad into the hands of the four- and five-year-old kids in an average reception class, I’d wager most of them would soon have Oliver running around the screen without any problems. Considerably more of them, that is, than would be able to read the instructions without any problems...
Blame muscle memory. When you learn to perform an action, whether that’s taking your first tottering steps, hitting a perfect tennis serve or nailing a drift in Ridge Racer, your brain makes and reinforces its neural connections until you can perform the action without any conscious effort. That’s fine until another game comes along and demands that you learn a new control scheme – and most irritating of all when the new game requires you to do pretty much the same things but with altered controls. After many, many hours of playing Hustle Kings on PS3 and Vita, I’ve just bought the newly released Pool Nation from the PlayStation Store and all the hardwired Hustle Kings controls in my poor beleaguered brain are working against me as I try to adopt to the new control system: I keep accidentally taking shots every time I try to apply top-spin to the cueball... On occasion when I visit friends, I may be coerced (OK, it doesn’t take much persuasion) into playing some LittleBigPlanet Karting with the kids. The kids play with the ‘X to accelerate’ option which I find quite irritating. But it’s also irritating to go into the Start menu, with impatient kids waiting, to change my personal settings to ‘R2 to accelerate’, and then to have to try to remember to switch it back again at the end of the play session. Here’s the thing: why can’t my controller remember my setting? In fact, why can’t my controller remember all my preferences for all my games? Even before I’ve played them?
On the one hand, it’s admirable that many modern games are aiming to be as inclusive as possible, but I ask the question: is it necessary for every game to put every player through the basics? Can you imagine any other consumer product where your purchase comes with a mandatory half-hour of instruction? ‘Ah, I see you’ve bought one of our electric kettles today! An excellent choice! Please step this way and I’ll take you through the basics of filling and pouring; plugging in and switching on and off; careful wire placement; balancing on a flat surface and the dos and don’ts of hot fluids and surfaces!’
Here’s my proposal: instead of games coming with built-in settings like ‘move left-right with the left stick’s horizontal axis’ and ‘jump with the circle button’, they should instead pass such decisions to the controller. The controller in turn, trained shortly after purchase with some personalised configuration (and default settings, naturally) might instruct the game that QuietlyWrong plays analogue-movement platform games with the left stick and X button. If I then decide to adopt a different scheme for one specific game, then that one game’s system should be remembered as an exception. If I take my controller round to my friends’ house and play the game on their PS4, I should be able to use my controls instantly even if they’re running around and jumping with the touch pad.
There will always be novel games that defy classifications, or games with such complex, uncategorisable controls that there’s no way to map on to a generic scheme – beat-’em-ups and sports sims... But for every Flow or Noby Noby Boy, Soul Calibur or Ashes Cricket there are a dozen racing games, platform games and first- and third-person shooters and action adventures with approximately equivalent configurations, at least for the basics. And to my mind, selections like whether a game’s X-axis or Y-axis ‘look’ controls are inverted should be included in my genre-specific preferences. And there’s the issue of accessibility too. Those of us who can hold a joypad and use it without difficulty are in a majority, but we are blessed: that’s quite a dextrous task we’re talking about. Not everyone is so lucky and there are all manner of disabilities that can hamper your enjoyment of video gaming, whether it’s the loss of or damage to fingers or limbs, or problems with muscle and motor control. There are charitable organisations out there like SpecialEffect (http://www. specialeffect.org.uk/) working to help make gaming more accessible to more people, by providing technology like modified controllers and eye-tracking cameras to enable those with disabilities not only to play games but in doing so to join in and compete with their friends and family; as well as fun, this can bring closeness, confidence and selfesteem to people’s lives.
vibration settings? Whether I want to start playing in 3D? My preference for menu colour schemes even! All this presupposes the existence of some solid-state memory (enough for several accounts’ data, indeed) and perhaps a little extra processing power in the DualShock – and it’s certainly too late for the generation of hardware due to hit our stores later this year. But though these are just blue-sky ideas now, Sony has shown more than once that it can update its joypad mid-generation, so anything is yet possible. One of the selling points for the PS4 announced at February’s PlayStation Meeting 2013 was the ability to get into a game as quickly as possible – start playing long before the game has finished downloading or installing thanks to intelligent packaging of data and background processing. Let’s take it a step further: let the game figure out all my settings and options before the game starts as well. Customise the game to meet my preferences straight out of the box. Make that controller feel like it’s MINE.
Symbology If, for whatever reason, it’s just more convenient for me to control racing games using the right stick to steer, accelerate and brake, that option should be open to me. There is an indisputable case for making all games controls as reconfigurable as possible. And if the reconfiguration is associated with the user, and then with the joypad, so much the better. Vanity plates Once you’ve got your head around the idea of the controller holding information about my personal control preferences, so I can carry them round to my friends’ PS4s, all sorts of other DualShock-customisation ideas start to spring to mind. And I’m not talking about different colours and skins, though once you start to make the joypad more individual, surely you increase the market for such cosmetics... Why, for example, is my PS3 game collection registered to a maximum of two consoles? No, I’m not questioning Sony’s anti-piracy policy, but how about this: use my own personal controller to activate my game collection. That way I could have my games collection scattered around as many consoles as I like (if I’m baby-sitting for friends, say, or rich enough (one day, I wish) to have more than two PlayStations) and all I need do is drag my controller around with me to be able to play any of the games I own. What if it runs out of charge? Just plug it into the console to charge up of course and borrow another controller – it can still tell the PS4 what my preferences are while it’s charging. Or if I’m feeling old school I might even play with a wired connection. Weird though wired might be. I could even imagine checking into a good hotel and finding that the room’s PS4 is set up to recognise the DualShock in my luggage as soon as I enter and will immediately start downloading my current favourite games and apps and saved games ready for me. If the DualShock becomes my personal gateway to the PlayStation, it could store more than just control settings. It could store saved games, or just game settings and configuration. It could store PS4 settings. Why stop at control preferences for games? If the system can remember that I like to use R2 to accelerate in driving games, why not also remember that I prefer standard difficulty in that genre, or my preference for no subtitles? For default music and sound effect volumes and
Do you know where the old familiar symbols , , and came from? When all other controllers were assigning numbers and letters to their buttons, what was the rationale behind these simple shapes? According to Sony designer Teiyu Goto, these trademarked glyphs were actually originally intended to indicate something of the buttons’ default function. The circle and the cross, most obviously, were intended to signify ‘yes’ and ‘no’ selections respectively, just as one might circle one’s choice or cross out something to be discarded. This also corresponds to the equivalently-positioned A and B buttons on a SNES controller. In Japan, a teacher might mark a correct answer on a student’s work with a circle mark (known as a ‘marujirushi’) where in the English speaking world, a tick would be used. Quite why Sony chose to completely reverse the operation of these two buttons for the international market is something of a mystery, but may be due to our unfamiliarity with the use of circle to indicate a correct answer. (And if you’ve ever imported a Japanese game, you may have realised how confusing that reversal can be.) In turn the triangle is meant to represent a head, or direction indicator, and thus would be an appropriate button for a change of viewpoint or perhaps a map. The square was meant to represent a sheet of paper and therefore could be intended for menus and documents. Whatever the underlying reasons, there is a certain accidental genius in moving away from letters and digits in favour of these simple geometric arrangements: it creates an instantly recognisable shorthand for PlayStation that transcends language, that can be used overtly in logos or subliminally in backgrounds. With a few quick brushstrokes, you can represent the whole brand immediately, inimitably.
‘BLONDLIZARD ‘ TALKS TO EVOLUTION STUDIOS ART DIRECTOR SIMON O’BRIEN ABOUT MOTORSTORM AND PS4’S DRIVECLUB
Q&A WITH SIMON O’BRIEN
DRIVECLUB ART DIRECTOR - EVOLUTION STUDIOS Simon O’Brien is Art Director at Evolution Studios and has given us spectacular, jaw-dropping racing games such as MotorStorm Apocalypse. Apocalypse is set in a broken, ripped apart city with an earthquake constantly creating mayhem. Simon totally pushed the boundaries to the limit when producing this title by creating monumental mass devastation never before seen in a racing game. Along with subterranean racing, driving on roof tops and collapsing skyscrapers, Apocalypse was the new breed of racer Simon had envisoned.
IS THERE A GAME OF A DIFFERENT GENRE THAT YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE WORKED ON? Dishonored from Arkane. I recently sat in on Sebastien Mitton’s talk at GDC and he showed some of the lovely concept work from the game – a real blend of historical and oppressive imagery with such a distinct and solid visual style. It was the result of a lot of historical reference as well photo reference trips from London and Edinburgh, and it clearly carries into the game very well. Not to mention that it’s a great game to play. Its open play approach just makes you want to go back and play every scenario ten times over, to explore every different possibility.
Now with PlayStation 4 around the corner, who better to speak to at Evolution Studios than the main man himself? We had the great privilege of hooking up with Simon and he gave us a great insight into his wonderful world as an Art Director and a glimpse into the PS4’s DRIVECLUB… WHAT GAMES ARE YOU PLAYING AT HOME? I’m catching up on some of the big games from last year that I haven’t found time to play until now. I’m playing Batman: Arkham City and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a brilliantly immersive world and it makes you feel like a truly capable superhero. I’m also playing The Walking Dead, and while it’s a completely different experience, I’m enjoying it just as much as Batman. The characters are really compelling and the relationships I’ve built with them are providing some difficult emotional choices. It’s rare for a game to be able to evoke such strong emotions, but Telltale have done it beautifully. WHICH OF YOUR GAMES ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? It has to be MotorStorm: Apocalypse, just for the sheer spectacle and scale of ambition that we actually pulled off. We challenged ourselves to take MotorStorm to the next level, not only by adding more car classes and more superbly balanced tracks with multiple-choice routes, but by shaking it all up with the addition of a collapsing city. It’s astonishing that we managed to pull it off and even more so that we brought it all to life in stereoscopic 3D – which I poured a lot of effort into in particular. Achieving such a high level of quality exceeded even our own expectations, so it’s definitely the game I’m most proud of.
REGARDING TROPHIES IN A GAME, WHO COMES UP WITH THE IDEAS FOR THESE? Ultimately it’s the game design team that has this responsibility, but everyone at the studio is always invited to share ideas and often there are Trophies that emerge from us playing the game a lot during development. An example that springs to mind is the ‘Air Assault’ Trophy from MotorStorm Apocalypse. It was born from playing the game in development, and particularly from the fact that races with a ‘Bikes versus ATV’ theme were so much fun; particularly on one of the tracks that takes place across the tops of a series of collapsing skyscrapers. Every time we played, the race would quickly descend into a free for all with everyone intent on knocking each other off of the rooftops. It was hilarious, and it was very much the pinnacle of the ‘survival racing’ approach that we were aiming for, so it made for a great Trophy in the game. FROM WHAT WE HAVE SEEN OF DRIVECLUB ON THE PS4 IT LOOKS SPECTACULAR, IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT THIS NEW BREED OF RACING GAME? As an Art Director I’m proud of the incredibly high level of visual detail and photorealism that we’re achieving on the PlayStation 4, and I’m glad that it’s appreciated by you too, but of course I’m also excited as a gamer by the prospect of playing with my friends in clubs and competing in challenge-based races that don’t purely focus on just beating everybody else. The concept of DRIVECLUB is actually almost 10 years in the making; it’s just never been that feasible on any other console until now because of how socially connected it is with clubs and challenges. The PlayStation 4 doesn’t just raise the bar in terms of the staggering quality of the audio and visuals, it provides incredible opportunities for developers like us and we can’t wait to show you what we’re doing with it. Finally revealing this to the world as part of the Sony PS4 unveiling was such a proud moment – and the response we’ve received so far has been astounding too. It makes all of the hard work worthwhile when you see how much people appreciate it.
THE END OF AN ERA - THE FUTURE OF PS3 AND THE BEGINNING OF PS4
THE END OF AN ERA
& NEW BEGINNINGS WRITER: WraithBringer
THE FUTURE OF PS3 AND THE BEGINNING OF PS4 It’s a good time to be a PlayStation owner, not only because there are some major blockbuster titles on the horizon such as The Last of Us from signature studio Naughty Dog, or perhaps Beyond: Two Souls from David Cage and his team of inspirational designers at Quantic Dream, but more so because the PlayStation family is soon to be introducing another member. Sony have officially announced and given us an insight into the world of their new system, PlayStation 4. The end of an Era? Entering the eighth year of its lifecycle, the PlayStation 3 wasn’t available here in the UK or Europe until March 2007. I tuned into my usual gaming sites and watched in awe as this monstrous machine would be shown displaying brand new and exciting HD graphics. My copy of Official PlayStation Magazine teased me further with the promise of amazing new experiences such as Resistance: Fall of Man, Heavenly Sword or MotorStorm. I specifically remember the launch of the console when, upon my birthday in the June of that year, I begged for a PlayStation 3 and together my family took me to GAME, whereupon I was met with bitter disappointment. Let’s be honest, the lifecycle of the PS3 has had its fair share of problems, starting with the launch price of £479.99 which made it out of reach for many families in the UK; the PS3 had something of a troubled life, but that life is shining now, brightly more than ever. I got my first PlayStation 3 for Christmas in 2008, an 80GB original model with Resistance 2, Mirror’s Edge and Call of Duty: World at War. I can remember that year pretty well and I had immensely high hopes for the future.
And here we are now in 2013 when PlayStation is swiftly becoming a market leader. While there is silence on most fronts of the games industry, Sony are pressing forward and showing no signs of stopping. The introduction of PlayStation Vita and its cross play functionality potentially gave the PlayStation 3 a great boost in its campaign to become the gaming machine of choice, and we’re looking forward to a stellar line-up of first party games such as The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls and Gran Turismo 6. Surely this makes it a fantastic year to be a PlayStation 3 owner, having already seen the release of some incredible games such as the blood thirsty God of War: Ascension, the cunning Sly Cooper 4 and the addictive world of Ni No Kuni. The question begs to be asked: what is there left in store for PlayStation 3? Well if February’s PlayStation Meeting was any indication, quite a lot. With Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai, the future of PlayStation could be at your fingertips with the introduction of their cloud service. Imagine streaming PlayStation 4 content to your PlayStation 3 or any of the PlayStation catalogue for that matter, the latest television shows, films and music. Giving PlayStation 3 owners the ability to sample PlayStation 4 content is a great way of allowing people to enjoy the sort of ‘try before you buy’ approach but for people happy with current generation offerings, PlayStation Plus is continuing to evolve to meet their every gaming needs.
Arguably from 2009 onwards the PlayStation 3 began to boom; a new slim model with a better price point, vast improvements for the consistently upgrading PlayStation Network and a catalogue of exclusive games such as InFamous, Uncharted and Ratchet and Clank. The fabled Gran Turismo 5 was not to be seen until 2010, but better late than never I say.
So, what is in store for the future?
The beginning of PS4 Announced in February 2013, the world was introduced to the upcoming PlayStation 3 successor, aptly named PlayStation 4. With development headed by Mark Cerny, the Sony execs headed to the stage ready to show us the future of PlayStation. While we were unsure what a next generation system was truly capable of, we held on with bated breath as the vision of the system was shared with us all. It was built on five key principles, these being ‘Simple, Immediate, Social, Integrated and Personalised’. Next the system specifications: a brand new accelerated processing unit with 8 cores and a slick graphics card built in. 8GB of GDDR5 RAM, that’s a massive 16 times the combined total 512MB of memory offered within the PlayStation 3 system and the message here was speed. This new system is easy to develop for; it’s designed by gamers, for gamers and it’s fast. While it won’t mean much to some, Cerny had intimate discussions with developers on how best to improve the internal design of the console as the split memory and exotic architecture of the CELL processor in the PlayStation 3 has proved to be quite difficult. Having got the important points across, it was Guerrilla Games who gave us the first taste of what the next generation of consoles would be capable of and holy cow, did they blow me away! Their tech demo for Killzone: ShadowFall began with an incredible view of a futuristic technological city with a high dynamic range and levels of visual fidelity that even the high end PC titles are just about providing. The graphical improvements were obvious from the beginning and the demo held up, impressing me more and more as it went on. I especially enjoyed a moment where combat began and the player changed his assault rifle into more of a sniper rifle, before charging up a blast that incinerated a Helghast soldier. The show brought a lot of new developments to the table. Sony showed a new controller design for the system, the DualShock 4, that had some major changes. The controller added a small clickable touchpad to the centre of the remote, Start and Select have been removed in favour of Options and Share, as well as a bulkier design allowing for better and smoother grip.
Analogue buttons had been switched for digital and the shoulder buttons had been redesigned to be more ergonomic and generally far better for the enjoyment of games. There is a brand new dynamic and social operating system that allows players a great amount of freedom to firmly integrate PlayStation as part of their social life. A system allowing players to record game foot-
age and upload it to the internet and a system that allowed content to be played essentially from the moment of purchase. Novel features came thick and fast, delivering a promise of a new experience and it was just that, it was simple, immediate, social, integrated, and personalised. So if you’re reading this Mark Cerny, give yourself a pat on the back. But what about the games? Well, I guess it’s early days to say for sure as many developers are just getting the final development kits but if anything, they definitely impressed. A whole new level of crisp visuals and new ways to play opens up doors for developers that perhaps previously has been closed. Currently the confirmed line-up (note: not confirmed for launch) for PlayStation 4 includes: Killzone: ShadowFall
InFamous: Second Son
Primal Carnage: Genesis
Sniper Elite 3
The Witcher 3
The Evil Within
Combine this with the rumours of Versus XIII being renamed to Final Fantasy XV and being co-developed by Sony for PS3 and PS4 and you have the makings of a great line-up. Surely other big titles announced such as Assassins Creed, Battlefield and the major sports titles will make the jump, but there is much more coming and I do wonder what The Order: 1886 could be… it does point to being Guerrilla Games’ new IP for PS3 and PS4. The developments continue to impress and I just hope that come E3, the Vita and PS3 aren’t shunned for their new big brother. Either way, I’m desperately awaiting the conference to delve further into the future of PlayStation and I’m even counting the days, I’m so excited. It’s the end of an era and the beginning of another; I can’t wait for it, can you?
THE EU BLOG ASKED THE SCEE COMMUNITY TO SUBMIT ANY QUESTIONS THEY HAD FOR AKIHIRO HINO, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF LEVEL-5.
Q&A WITH AKIHIRO HINO
NI NO KUNI
FROM THE EU BLOG, WITH PRESIDENT AND CEO OF LEVEL-5 We asked the SCEE community to submit any questions they had for Akihiro Hino, President and CEO of LEVEL-5, the developer behind Ni No Kuni. The Community Team picked their 10 favourite questions and here are the answers... WHOSE IDEA WAS IT ORIGINALLY FOR YOU TO COLLABORATE WITH STUDIO GHIBLI, AND WHO TOOK THE MOST CONVINCING TO GET THE GAME MADE? (MARCHIE-G) This was my idea. I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli’s works and I wanted to work with them. The person who needed the most convincing… perhaps the producer, Mr. Suzuki! WHO WAS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND HOW THE STORY WAS TOLD – LEVEL 5 OR STUDIO GHIBLI? (MKR_BONE) The framework of the story was complete, but there were countless discussions with Studio Ghibli with regard to many things, including for example, the final scenes of the game.
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, CAN YOU OR HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THE RISE OF WESTERN RPGS SUCH AS FALLOUT, SKYRIM AND MASS EFFECT? AND WHAT DO YOU OFFER THAT THEY CAN’T? (LEVELUPJORDAN) One of the defining features of a Western RPG is the level of freedom it gives the players. Oftentimes, Japanese RPGs tend to be storydriven where the player follows it along a linear path, so the amount of freedom you get in Western titles is actually a little mind-blowing at times. With Ni no Kuni, we tried to put a lot of thought into the level of freedom we allow players. WHICH PART OF MAKING THE GAME WAS THE MOST ENJOYABLE? (ITSACTUALLYADAM) Making the game while referencing Ghibli’s graphics and settings was the most enjoyable part of the process. On a personal level, it was amazing to have my own scenario come to life in Studio Ghibli’s animation! IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ANY FILM STUDIO TO MAKE A GAME FOR, WHO WOULD IT BE? (SARAH-HIME) There isn’t really a specific film, but I would love to tackle a Spielberg film. Pixar’s films also interest me since they seem very compatible with games.
IT TOOK OVER A YEAR TO TRANSLATE THE GAME, WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST HURDLES TO OVERCOME DURING THE TRANSLATION PROCESS? DID THE EXPERIENCE GIVE YOU ANY IDEAS ON HOW TO SPEED IT UP FOR FUTURE PROJECTS? (ALESTES) There was a lot of care and diligence put into the localisation the game, not to mention the sheer volume of text we had to translate. Ni no Kuni used dialects and plays on words in the Japanese version, so we ensured that these nuances were carried over to the different languages. Finding the perfect release window also seemed to be a factor in the slight delay in getting the game to our fans, but, I think this is probably an unusual case in terms of the length of time for localisation. WHAT CAME FIRST – DEVELOPING THIS GAME, THE MAIN CHARACTER OR THE GENERAL PLOT? (CHEEKYMCB) The ideas came at the same time. We wanted children to enjoy the game, but we also wanted the message to reach the child within every adult and that’s how the character and the setting came about. Often times, people tend to dislike games that may look childish overseas, but I’m glad to hear that it’s been received well thus far. WHY DO YOU THINK OTHER COMPANIES ARE VEERING AWAY FROM THIS STYLE OF RPG AND INSTEAD FOCUSING MORE ON A WESTERN-STYLE ACTION-PACKED APPROACH? (MOLTENARMOUR) Perhaps gamers don’t enjoy putting in long hours of gameplay anymore. In Japan, it doesn’t seem like too many people are veering away from RPGs, but if they are, it might be because there are so many different game styles, with social aspects becoming such a huge factor. The desire to spend less time on any one game seems to result in people desiring more action-oriented games rather than RPGs. ARE THERE ANY DREAM COLLABORATORS THAT YOU’D LOVE TO WORK WITH? (SURREALNIGHTMARE) There are many, but I cannot comment on any of them at this point. I hope you’ll look forward to our announcements in the future. WHAT’S NEXT FOR LEVEL 5 – HAVE YOU GUYS GOT ANOTHER PROJECT IN STORE FOR PS3? (IISC2K7) I cannot discuss specifics at this time, but I hope to continue creating exciting RPGs for our fans.
QUIETLYWRONG HAS BEEN AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES FOR A LONG WHILE. WE HOPE THAT MEANS HE’S BEEN PLAYING NI NO KUNI...
NI NO KUNI
REVIEW REVIEWER: Quietlywrong
PLATFORM: PlayStation 3
RELEASE DATE: 1 Feb 2013
IS LEVEL-5’S COLLABORATION WITH STUDIO GHIBLI MAGICAL? Since time immemorial people have pointed to the heart as the ‘seat of emotion’, and with good – if misdirected – reason: when we feel fear or anger, elation or passion, we feel it physically in that organ of circulation. The symbolic heart as a container for emotions, desires and drives is made literally true by the magic of Ni No Kuni. The game’s dominating motif is so prevalent that Ni No Kuni (literally ‘the Another World’) might just as well have been subtitled ‘The World of the Heart’. Take a journey with our young protagonist, Oliver, into this other world and discover the mysteries that threaten it to its core. Oliver is the ‘Pure Hearted One’ and in his quest he must restore stolen pieces of hearts to the unfortunates who have fallen under the influence of the Dark Djinn, Shadar. Along with Drippy, his irreverent fairy companion (Lord High Lord of the Fairies, no less – according to Drippy), Oliver travels the length and breadth of the land, first on foot, then by sea and finally through the skies, seeking the strength to stand up against Shadar, finding that the shadowy djinn is always a step ahead, sapping the positive traits from those most likely to come to your aid. But Oliver is not powerless. He has the ability to use magic spells that he learns as the story progresses, and early on he learns how to extract these positives – enthusiasm, courage, kindness and so on – from those who have more than enough to spare (into a heart-shaped locket, no less). These traits he can then share with Shadar’s ‘heartbroken’ victims, restoring them to their cheerful old selves and leaving them grateful and ready to offer some tip or useful item of their own that will aid him to his next destination.
As well as exploring and increasing his mastery of magic, Oliver will encounter many fierce creatures on his travels, and like every good JRPG, there is a battle system to master. Although Oliver and friends can fight for themselves, their skills often pale in comparison to those of the creatures they face. Fortunately, creatures can be tamed, named
and turned into familiars, Pokémon-like, and engaged to fight for the home team. A well-balanced mixture of real-time dodging and skillfully-timed button-pressing rubs shoulders with a menu system that will allow you to catch your breath when you need to... In my personal experience, however, the need to navigate the spacious menu system meant that there was too often a frustrating not-quite-enough-time to react adequately to the boss enemies’ special attacks. And the system, near perfect for a party of one, is less effective when your companions’ AI control is not best tuned for the resources you have to hand. Still, it works well enough.
With battles won come experience points (as well as the usual booty) and with experience points, the team levels up. You can also selectively improve your familiars’ stats by feeding them sweet treats, whether you win these in battle, buy them or make them yourself once you obtain the ability to use the ‘alchemy’ kit. As they become more experienced, familiars learn new skills and spells, and eventually may reach the point where (does this sound familiar, Pokéfans?) they can be metamorphosed to a new, stronger form with more abilities, although at a temporary loss of stats. It’s hard to overemphasise just how gloriously this game fills the screen: it is a crowning achievement for Level-5. The luscious, colourfilled backgrounds and environment in particular are absolutely outstanding for the current console generation. Even if you don’t like the genre and don’t plan to buy the game, you owe it to yourself – if your network connection and hard drive will take it – to download the (2.6GB) demo and have a look. It really is akin to being immersed in an animated feature film, quite unlike any other game I’ve ever seen on this scale. It will be interesting to see how well the game ages; I suspect that because the imagery is highly stylised, it will stand up well. The character models themselves are less impressive – certainly nothing for Studio Ghibli’s animation teams to worry about (they can’t touch the hand-drawn cut-scenes and even these are not among Ghibli’s better work) – but they are well-enough drawn and lit, putting the characters solidly amongst the gorgeous scenery. More importantly, they’re meticulously animated (with plenty of Ghibli direction), and although some animations play out with such frequency that they may drive you mad (how many times can Drippy pirouette and fall over before you just want to slap him?) there are many charming flourishes to be seen, such as characters shivering in cold climates and Drippy performing the breaststroke while under the influence of a Levitation spell.
Leslie Phillips, Bruce Forsyth and Only Fools and Horses, among many others. With such talent and creativity driving the look and sound and the brilliant translation (not forgetting for a moment all the work that has gone into the stonking Wizard’s Companion – see Is That A Wand In Your Pocket Or..?), Ni No Kuni has been polished to a rare lustre. But a vital question remains, and takes us back to the main theme: what of the game’s heart?
Music and sound is of a comparable high quality. It has to be said: as a game developer, you could do worse than team up with a film studio that has connections with the likes of Joe Hisaishi! Joe Hisaishi has been composing music for almost every one of Hayao Miyazaki’s features (the cream of the Studio Ghibli collection), all the way back to Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind in 1984, and picking up awards left, right and centre. Hisaishi‑san’s score, performed to an immaculate standard by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the strongest assets that Studio Ghibli brought to the game. Always pitched perfectly, suiting the atmosphere of the game to a tee, the only criticism I can level is that I wish there were more of it! When you play a game for in excess of 80 hours, anything would get repetitive. The world of Ni No Kuni is filled with background noise and detail: in cities, the constant murmur of people around you, hawkers selling goods, water features splishing harmoniously; on barren desert plains the wind whispers and in the foothills of a volcano the earth rumbles portentously. Throughout the game, there’s the occasional reassuring tinkle of Drippy’s lantern as he lumbers along behind you.
Here, the picture is not quite so rosy. In terms of plotting and characterisation, the game has charm aplenty, and is beautifully suited to its Ghibli-inspired visuals and direction, its magnificent score. The storyline is thinly-spread, however, and mainly consists of Oliver and friends pursuing one lead after another in seemingly unending sequence. Once established, the relationships between the characters do not develop greatly. Side-quests are a monotonous collection of findand-deliver or defeat-this-monster challenges that do little to engage the player beyond a few amusing lines of dialogue. Most galling of all is the amount of hand-holding that the game does. Level-5 CEO and game writer Akihiro Hino has stated that he wanted Ni No Kuni to be enjoyed by children (as well as by adults) and it seems the game has been pitched as an introduction to RPGs. So much so that in the introductory sections, on-screen prompts even show you how to move around. The overlong tutorial is not nearly as annoying as the fact that nearly every problem that game throws at you is immediately followed by its solution.
The vocal talent for the English-language version is generally of a high standard, the main cast selling their roles admirably. Particular credit goes to Steffan Rhodri (perhaps best known for his role as ‘Dave Coaches’ in the BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey), who brings such life and plain-spoken, irrepressible warmth to the character of Drippy that the sardonic fairy quickly becomes one of the most memorable videogame sidekicks ever to grace a console. Encounter a gap that needs to be bridged by magic? Drippy will immediately pipe up and tell you there’s a spell for that, ‘en’t it?’ Is someone being unhelpful because they seem broken-hearted? Drippy will not only confirm that for you, he’ll tell you what trait is missing, that ‘you’ve got some of that in youer locket, Ollie-boy, so why not open up the menu and cast the spell that doles it out. Quick now! Champion!’ No matter how far you get into the game, the answers are given out to you all along the way.
And that in itself is in no small part due to the exquisite localisation. Japanophiles will enjoy the ability to switch the game back to its original language setting at any time, but Shloc Ltd have done such an incredible job of the translation that I would urge even those purists to give the English version a play through just to appreciate the artistry of a first class cultural and textual transformation – we are a long, long way away from the likes of ‘all your base belong to us’. Funny and (often groan-inducingly) pun-filled, so thoroughly British is the conversion that an astute player might spot sidelong references to the likes of
Even the in-game map might as well have ‘spoiler alert’ written on it. Need to find the resources for the next quest or subquest, or the next place to visit? They’re all handily located in glowing colours. You do have an option to switch off the ‘next objective’ indicator, which will help add back a smidgen of challenge to the game. But there is something considerably less satisfying about being told what to do and how to do it over figuring out even relatively simple things for yourself. Surely even children appreciate that? Unfortunately, for all its aspirations as a game suitable for younger players, the game also suffers from some harsh difficulty spikes – most ordinary battles will pose no problems, but many bosses can pose a real challenge. And due to differences in the way the cartoon-ish violence and casual gambling games are perceived in the West, what was ‘suitable for all ages’ in Japan becomes a ‘PEGI 12+’ game in Europe. Whatever its intent, the game seems to miss its mark.
Put Yourself on the Map With a number of recent JRPGs, from FFXIII to Tales of Graces, eschewing the old world map, it comes as some relief to see that it isn’t being universally cast aside. And given the vibrant splendour with which it is rendered in Ni No Kuni, one hopes to see a reinvigoration of this old RPG trope!
Finally there’s the matter of the gotta-catch-’em-all familiar-collecting gameplay. There are scores of familiars to collect, develop, kit out and enhance, and whether you get the most out of Ni No Kuni will likely depend on how much joy you get out of hunting down all the critters and training them up. For some completists, this may be just the ticket to a hundred and more hours of gaming joy. Personally, I found it became dull very quickly. The processes of following alchemical formulae to generate treats for your familiars and then feeding them – and doing it over and over and over again with no shortcuts was particularly tiresome. At one point it was so bad I even started doing maths: if I have nine familiars to feed and it takes four seconds to feed one treat to a familiar and each familiar can eat ten treats at a given sitting, then that’s six whole minutes of unalloyed boredom to endure. Yes, it’s optional, but wouldn’t you want your fighters to be as strong as they can be? All in all, Ni No Kuni is a very impressive game. On the surface, it gleams like a precious stone, every facet buffed to the highest level of polish. At its core, it holds a great deal of warmth but it also has its flaws, spoon-feeding the player at every turn and relying on a lot of patience and repetition. To any JRPG fans it is well recommended for its artistry and vision. But it is a game that, for all its heart, seems to have missed the opportunity to give the player more control and thereby a greater connection with its protagonist; by bringing the player that little bit closer to Oliver, it could have become something that little bit more special.
Music to Watch Fairies By If you can’t get enough of Joe Hisaishi’s opulent orchestral soundtrack, you can of course purchase the whole thing separately.
Oddly, in this day and age, distribution is very limited – as far as I can tell, you can only buy it on CD at the moment – no legal download sites available. For European customers the two-disc CD is exclusively available from Wayô Records. http://www.wayorecords.net/ninokuni/en/
Clouds drift across the sky, casting shadows across the pencil-crayon landscape; the grass and trees are graced with gentle animation. Birds fly by and cartoon wind occasionally caresses the curves of the hills. Meanwhile, monsters roam around: there are no random encounters here. You can, if you’re fast enough, outrun some, or just avoid being spotted altogether. Alternatively, sneak up from behind and gain the upper hand at the beginning of battle. One of the nicest touches is that if you come back later, when you’ve levelled up and are more than a match for the local fauna, most of them will run away from you when they see you coming! Nice, that is, until you need to harvest collectables from them...
Is That A Wand In Your Pocket Or...? “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – attributed to Groucho Marx One of the most endearing features of Ni No Kuni – if you forked out for the deluxe ‘Wizard’s Edition’ of the game – is the Wizard’s Companion: a 340-page hardback book perfectly replicating the book that Oliver receives at the beginning of his adventure and filled with information about the ‘Another World’ – its spells, its creatures, its equipment, alchemical recipes, the locations and even some fairy tales to enchant the reader. Even if you only get the standard version of the game, the full text is available from the in-game menu, in easily-navigable digital form – although initially Oliver’s in-menu version is missing nearly half its pages, and he must recover and restore these as the game progresses. Printed in full colour (although given an aged, subdued appearance) and filled with hundreds of hand-drawn images in a classical woodcut style, it is a beautiful thing, especially when you have the physical version to refer to and don’t have to keep flipping through the in-game menu: to my mind worth more than any number of collectable figurines! A number of puzzles in the game require the player to refer to the book, where the answers are hidden – sometimes very cleverly, though if you just look up the answer on gamefaqs, you may miss that subtlety.
Second Take: MissSouthampton’s impression I had my eye on this game for a while and having Studio Ghibli involved it was a no-brainer for me seeing as I have watched a number of their films like Castle in the Sky, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Spirited Away to name a few. Although I am not massively into anime this is a perfect introduction for fans and for gamers, bringing a perfect mix of the two. Like most RPGs the end of the story is not the end of the game and you will see yourself putting in a good 100 hours, give or take, playing this game if you want to finish up everything. Especially if you are like me and want to become a Wizardry Whiz (the name of the platinum)! You may find it a tad grindy if you wish to continue after the main story ends. Especially referring to your digital version of the Wizard’s Companion for alchemy. This can become very annoying, having to navigate the menu each time and remember where to collect the ingredients to make new weaponry etc. This is not overly necessary to complete the game. The story and graphics are endearing and don’t let the childlike spin on it put you off as it is truly outstanding. Play it and just enjoy this game for its stunning visuals and cutscenes that will have you hooked. Plus you have a dragon at your beck and call! What is not to love!
In any case, because most players won’t have the physical book, it’s something of a relief that such puzzles are not very frequent or essential. But it also seems a shame, a missed opportunity. I think there’s a good-sized niche of riddlesolvers going begging for a really good game/book combo. And how nice would it have been if the game could have at least been bundled with a voucher for an electronic copy of the Companion, in these days when the market for ebooks is growing rapidly...
MISSSOUTHAMPTON STRAPS ON HER SPANGLIEST LUCHADORA OUTFIT AND PREPARES TO KICK SOME BAD GUYS IN THE MARACAS
REVIEW REVIEWER: MissSouthampton
PLATFORM: PS Vita
RELEASE DATE: 10 April 2013
DRINKBOX STUDIOS’ MEXICAN ROMP Grab your maracas and prepare to indulge in some Mexicano. Like a cheesy nacho, this game is full of Mexican stereotypes from piñatas to tequila [that’s a weird nacho! - Ed]. You know immediately this game is going to be fun. Developed by Drinkbox Studios for the PSN, an exclusive to PlayStation, this game is available on PS3 and PS Vita. It also includes cross-play / cross save as a feature, so you can pick up where you left off on PS3 to PS Vita or vice versa. Essentially, it is a 2D side scrolling platformer / beat ‘em up, in which you control Juan Aguacate, who is plunged into the role of saviour when El Presidente’s daughter is kidnapped by a skeleton named Carlos Calaca.
With new moves you can travel back to an area to reach a place you couldn’t get to before. For instance, a high platform may require a double jump and a uppercut to reach up high. The ‘Goat Fly’ which you get last is useful, allowing you to travel long distances in the air which you couldn’t achieve before. You can practise these moves in the boxing ring where you are asked to do a combination of button presses. The combos can be quite lengthy and they will test your skill to some degree. Once you get used to the moves that Juan can perform you will have fun stringing them together.
There are 2 modes, Normal and Hard, the latter being unlocked after games completion. There are leaderboards, options (where you can manage sound, screen and cross-save) and a link to the PlayStation Store. It also has local co-op. Coloured Blocks And Move List You make your way through the levels essentially solving the puzzle layout of the current area using a variety of controls which can make use of a combination of different button presses to get to an objective. This can involve smashing coloured blocks which block pathways and require a certain move to progress. You may get this later in the game so it is wise to travel back to areas you have visited before. You can fast-travel to areas previously visited using statuesque stone heads.
Lay A Little Egg For Me As well as traversing between worlds, living and dead, you can also change into a chicken. As lowly fowl you can access some side missions. You can also use this to progress at certain places in game where the path may be, well, chicken-sized. This is random and fun and you can even peck at enemies. Collectibles Will Aid You The red chest or the yellow chest: both can be found throughout the game and they will appear on your map if you have seen one in the distance. It is easy to go back and collect these once you have acquired the appropriate skill need to reach them.
As you progress you gain Moves which are also colour coded as these will correspond to the blocks that will allow you to progress once broken. You gain and can purchase moves throughout the game. You can also acquire special moves that can also be used on the coloured “shields” of enemies indicating they can only be beaten by that type of move. This is simple to get the hang of and all the moves are fun to use.
The chests will typically give you coins, health chunks and stamina. These will raise your health bar and number of moves your perform in succession.
With cross play you can play on your PS Vita and PS3 effortlessly by uploading your save data and perhaps it looks a little crisper on the PS Vita but some of the details may be missed, for instance the text on posters etc. Overall it is a simple game which can offer some challenging moments. Especially when it comes to boss fights and switching between worlds quickly. Definitely a game to have in your collection. Go download!
Master Of The Universe Something will happen to you and you will now be able to traverse between the living world and the land of the dead so to speak. You will need this to navigate through levels and also to fight enemies which will appear to ‘glow’. A sparkly wall or platform may disappear or appear when the world is changed and this will mean you can get past what would appear to be a dead end in one world but is not in another. This is quite simple to spot when you need to change but you may need to keep out the way or transcend between worlds quickly and in succession.
Designed For Dying With regular save points especially before (near-)certain death the game is mercifully quite forgiving. This means retrying won’t be too much of a hassle as you have to take a few paces to restart the area again. You will retry often. Boss fights are relatively simple once you know the pattern. Jumping and rolling often helps. Conclusion The game has a simple premise but some of the levels and boss fights can be quite challenging. This is a fun and vibrant game, and although short will test your skill. The Mexican atmospherics, tongue in cheek memes throughout the game and the catchy music all add to your experience.
Easter Eggs In Guacamelee There are also plenty of Easter Eggs to be found in Guacamelee with nods to games; it is fun to spot these. There are loads dotted all over the place and finding these yourself will add to the enjoyment of the game. To name but a few you will see Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack, the devs’ previous game on posters and walls throughout... And also references to Minecraft, Aliens, Mario, the Final Fantasy Cactuar and more. As you climb up the hill to fight the tiger you will see a blatant Journey reference with the caped figure lying face down on the hillside.
INTERVIEW THE WORLD’S #1 PLAYSTATION TROPHY HUNTER
You maybe be a trophy hunter yourself; bagging 20 to 30 platinums is a very proud achievement indeed. But here at OPC Magazine, with the gracious assistance of punkandlizard.com, we had the privilege of hooking up with the World’s #1 PlayStation trophy hunter, Roughdawg4. With over 25,700 trophies, including 526 platinums (and counting), who better to speak to about this special obsession?
my memories lie with the Nintendo. Two of my favorite games at the time were Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. Q. CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST PS3 GAME YOU EVER PLAYED AND WHICH WAS YOUR FIRST PLATINUM TROPHY? The very first trophy game I have played was Super Stardust HD and my first platinum was Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. I was hooked ever since my first platinum. Q. HOW MANY GAMES HAD YOU COMPLETED BEFORE THE TROPHY SYSTEM HIT PLAYSTATION? I am not really sure, if I had to take a guess maybe 15–20. One of my favorite non-trophy games is Elder Scrolls Oblivion. I think I played it for 250 hours.
Over to you… My name is Mike and I am 30 years old and live in New Hampshire. I am currently married and I work as an accounting manager for a bank. I have a masters degree in business administration Q. WHAT AGE DID YOU START GAMING AND ON WHICH CONSOLES? I started around 6 years old and playing the Atari was one of my earliest memories. I barely remember playing the Atari though so most of
Q. HOW MANY PLATINUMS HAVE YOU GOT AT PRESENT AND WHICH GAMES ARE ON YOUR LIST TO COMPLETE NEXT? I just finished Vanquish for number 526. Currently I have been working on DLC to help clean up some percentages on my account. I have been playing both Alice: Madness Returns and Sleeping Dogs. Long term I will be playing Trinity Universe. A friend sent me the game and I am a huge RPG fan so I cannot wait to play.
Q. WHAT IS THE LONGEST TIME A GAME HAS TAKEN YOU TO BAG THE PLATINUM TROPHY AND WHICH GAME WAS THIS? My longest platinum is number 500, Star Ocean: The Last Hope which took about 800 hours. I wanted to make the 500th platinum special and I thought this would be a challenge since it is one of the longest platinums currently on the PS3. I am just happy I could finally finish it. Q. WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME THE WORLD’S MOST PLATINUM GAMER? I actually never really went for number 1, it just kind of happened. I love many different kinds of games so I enjoy playing them all. Whether there were trophies or not, I would still be gaming the same way. Q. BEING AN EXPERT ON PS3 GAMES DO YOU HAVE YOUR OWN WEBSITE, YOU MUST HAVE SO MUCH KNOWLEDGE ABOUT GAMING YOU CAN SHARE? I currently run a site ps3imports.org which currently holds the top trophy hunters in the world. We focus the site on importing games and I love to write trophy guides for Japanese and other rare games that have little information. The great thing about the community is we have so many top trophy hunters you can find advice on just about any game you want to know about. I’m also a part of punkandlizard.com which is a PS Vita website based in London. The guys really wanted me on board when they released their site earlier this year. The site does many vita based reviews and I love to do a few reviews on my own as well. Because of their site, I just received a free vita game code to do a review so it was pretty cool. Q. IN YOUR EXPERIENCE HAVE YOU EVER FOUND GAMES TO BE MORE DIFFICULT THAN THEY WERE ORIGINALLY ADVERTISED? There are many lists you see on forums that range from the easiest to hardest games to platinum on the PS3. I enjoy challenges whether it’s Clash of the Titans or Fear 2: Project Origin but other times you like to enjoy a game and just grab that easy platinum. But sometimes that platinum you see everyone rating a 2 or 3 is not what it seems. At least on a hard game you know what you are getting into to, but an easy game that frustrates is one of the worst experiences you can have. Here are some of the games that I found more difficult than the extremely easy rating attached to it.
Sly 3 – When people say the Sly Trilogy is easy, they are right on 2 out of 3. The first 2 Sly games are mostly storyline trophies and can easily be done, but the 3rd is a curveball. In the third game, you have to complete all those bonus missions and some involve killing bosses with half your health or in a time limit. It has been a while since I played the game, but I believe you had to beat the final boss with half your health… Awesome :( Jurassic: The Hunted – except for one sequence, hard mode feels like easy mode. You will be going along the game without a care in the world… That is until you reach the turret and you fight T-Rex. Go figure though, the T-Rex is not the hard part, it’s the flying pterodactyls that bombard you on the turret. It only takes a few hits on hard mode to cause you to die and you will have about 6-7 sequences of avoiding them. The real bad news is after you defeat the T-Rex you think you are safe… what, another T-Rex comes on? Once you defeat the T-Rex, the rest of the game is really easy. Kung Fu Panda 2 – The only thing worse than a ton of collectibles is ones that cannot be tracked. Enter Kung Fu Panda 2. While playing this game, you better keep track of what collectibles you get from every stage in the game or you will cause yourself a huge headache at the end. There is nothing worse than being short 1 collectible only to not know what room out of the 40 in the game it is in. Sometimes even knowing what collectible the room is in still doesn’t help or at least that is what it felt like for me. Q. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN GAMING NIGHTMARE STORIES TO TELL. WE’RE NOT TALKING LOST RECEIPTS, BENT INLAY CARDS OR YOUR GIRLFRIEND USING SMACKDOWN VS RAW AS A COFFEE MAT. CAN YOU TELL US ONE OF YOUR GAMING NIGHTMARES? F.E.A.R. 2 Project Origin. The game is actually a fun game unless you are going for platinum which then it turns into a nightmare. To reach the highest rank you need 1 million EXP. To put this in perspective, you get 7XP for every kill so if you wanted to do it legit in a deathmatch you would need 142,858 kills….yeah that’s not happening. Many thanks to Roughdawg4 for taking time out and also to punkandlizard.com @ PS Vita Universe for helping set this up.
BEARSKOPFF WAXES LYRICAL ABOUT
BIOSHOCK INFINITE Contorted architecture of mirrored prisons, encapsulating a fleet of lost souls held in turbulence by the baptism of one. Captured breaths travelled their final dance to the surface, waltzing through the clasped hands of many a me with the inevitable death sealed for my saviour, my foe. As his life fades, as does ours and the branched paths of which we’d crossed crumble and erode into nether. The ripples merge. The waters calm. The tears cease as I’m lifted from my crib. Construed by a multitude of decisions be they honest or nay, the web of cause and effect is both delicate and intricate. Repercussions of the simplest choice can often be that of great peril, and none is more true than the baptism of Booker DeWitt. His desire to be reborn came with the cost of his tyranny and the contortion of my innocence. A concrete jungle of blasphemy and debauchery would have succumbed to our will and that of Columbia. Fires would have raged in unison with his fury as we together purged the supposedly malignant foul from God’s land and besieged the poisoned souls from their erroneous ways. An avoidable atrocity if the nurture of Eden’s apple was intervened – but with a notable cost. The dimensions of our journeys would amount to nothing and the discovery of my abilities likely never coming to fruition, but what of this small sacrifice to avoid war? If you could avoid something so brutal, selflessness becomes instinct and whilst I’ll no longer exist in this timeline, I have hope the repercussions of this amendment will give my alternate self a freedom I only savoured for the briefest of time.
Check out the ‘Community Events’ page on the Official PlayStation Community forum to see what awesome stuff is going on - there’s something for everyone! VISIT: http://community.eu.playstation.com/t5/Community-Events/bd-p/bEN_CommunityEvents
THE 19TH HOLE It’s time for another round of the 19th hole. Today we have the French foreign legion joining us litterature and the one and only Spotter5 from the GD section! First up we have litterature.
Q. WHERE DOES YOUR USERNAME COME FROM? Difficult question, when Sony announced the PS3 they launched a website to reserve PSN IDs. I reserved my ID with my password at the time, so ‘litterature’ doesn’t mean anything for me And to be honest I changed my password so my ID should be ‘xSnake75x’; Snake for the MGS reference and 75 for Paris Q. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST POST ON THESE FORUMS (IF YOU CAN REMEMBER!) AND HOW DID YOU FIND THIS FORUM? I’m French so my first post was on the French Forum for a Buzz Quiz TV Event hosted by the actual French Community Manager, Medeea.
That was a great event that allowed me to meet some great friends and a great community. For the English Forum, my first post was for an event as well: the KZAM hosted by TheNarrator, who allowed me to meet a great and generous community. I’ve got many laughs here, it makes my day. Q. BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR GAMING HISTORY Briefly is really appropriate, because when I was young my parents didn’t allow me to have a console at home. So I began to play with the PSP in 2005. My gaming timeline was: Lemmings, LocoRoco, MGS franchise, SOCOM, LittleBigPlanet and many more I don’t remember. Q. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE GAME AND WHY? Wahooou you ask me a difficult question. I really love the Metal Gear Solid franchise but I don’t have to explain why it’s the best game ever, so for my favourite game I’ll choose SOCOM. Why? Because I meet a really enjoyable community, and the game is really realistic. To be honest I have never seen a FPS like this made by a great dev (Zipper Interative and Slant Six games) in collaboration with the US Navy SEAL’s for all realistic and tactical aspects of the game.
Q. WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY INVOLVED WITH ON THE FORUMS? Actually nothing, I host a championship with spacysam for Ratchet and Clank: QForce. I tried to host a Tomb Raider event before. So actually I’m not really active on the forum. I read all GD threads each day, I try to promote events and threads on social networks and I try to participate on some events to support the community on it. Actually I really love the Assassin’s Unite Night, Uncharted 3 Mirage of Deceit and KZAM. All events are really good but I really need more time on my planning to fit them in. Q. IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE AND COULD CHANGE THE FORUM, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? I think the forum needs a revamp because when you are a newcomer on this forum it’s really difficult to see where you can post, where you can ask a question, where you can resolve a problem. It’s a big problem when you are lost in an official forum, we need to resolve this and promote events more because as I said before some people come on an official forum to search for some friends to play with, it’s the first step for an active member I think. Q. PICTURE THIS: YOU, ENVISAGER AND LORDROSS HAVE BEEN WHISKED BACK IN TIME TO THE HEIGHT OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. ALL THREE OF YOU ARE NOW GLADIATORS AND HAVE BEEN CHOSEN TO BATTLE EACH OTHER WITH THE WINNER GETTING THE SPOILS, A CUPCAKE BAKED BY WRETCHED_HAWK. DESCRIBE THE OUTCOME OF THIS BATTLE. IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE AND COULD CHANGE THE FORUM, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Firstly I’d call Yaster to help me because he is a great fighter (yes, yes we can cheat). Secondly I’d bring my Zeus Blade to kill Envisager’s dog, he’ll start crying and abandon the fight. LordRoss is not really a problem. I always have my iPhone with me so I’ll start the Singstar app. He’ll sing and dance because he is so hypnotized by Carly Rae Jepsen and I will simply win.
Q. WHERE DOES YOUR USERNAME COME FROM? Many moons ago, I wanted to sign up on a website - I forget which and wanted to use my initial and last name S Potter = Spotter, but it was taken so I picked a number at random which was 5 so I got Spotter5. The name stuck since then (plus it has a nice symmetry with the S and 5 and each end). Q. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST POST ON THESE FORUMS (IF YOU CAN REMEMBER!) AND HOW DID YOU FIND THIS FORUM? I have no idea! I joined in 2006 so I imagine it was because of the PS3. Q. BRIEFLY DESCRIBE YOUR GAMING HISTORY. My uncle gave me his Sega MegaDrive when I was really young. I loved playing Ayrton Senna’s Grand Prix of Monaco on that! Then I got a PSOne, PS2 and finally a PS3. Q. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE GAME AND WHY? Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis! You get to build your very own Jurassic Park! Need I say more? Q. WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY INVOLVED WITH ON THE FORUMS? Currently I’m stalking PinkPrincess and writing erotic (and banned) stories involving her and Ratchet. I also draw the Cornboy comics. Other than that I post in GD, because that’s where the cool kids hang out.
Q. POOR DOG! FINALLY, I INVITE YOU TO PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF WITH ME. WHICH REAL-LIFE PERSON AND GAMING CHARACTER WOULD YOU INVITE TO JOIN US AND WHY? I really want to play with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo (Daft Punk), as I really enjoy this electro band so much.
Q. IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE AND COULD CHANGE THE FORUM, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? I’d make GD a mod-free zone. I mean they can come in and post but they cannot censor us. We will be free! #VoteSpotter Also I would [redacted] PinkPrincess’ [redacted] in a thread dedicated to her.
They are French and I am waiting the new album, Random Access Memories. And I would choose Kratos to play with me because I see on Everybody’s Golf 5 that he’s so good. To be honest God Of War Ascension was my favourite game actually, I really love the story (not the Trial Of Archimedes) and the multiplayer was so ambitious too, I’m really impressed.
Q. PICTURE THIS: YOU, ENVISAGER AND LORDROSS HAVE BEEN WHISKED BACK IN TIME TO THE HEIGHT OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. ALL THREE OF YOU ARE NOW GLADIATORS AND HAVE BEEN CHOSEN TO BATTLE EACH OTHER WITH THE WINNER GETTING THE SPOILS, A CUPCAKE BAKED BY WRETCHED_HAWK. DESCRIBE THE OUTCOME OF THIS BATTLE. Since I have played a lot of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, I would spawn as a knight, wait for LordRoss to be killed by Envisager, then run in screaming ‘AGATHOOOORR!’ and decapitate him. I imagine that’s what it was like in the Roman times.
To finish this interview I really want to thank Medeea, MusterBuster, Envisager, xHeatherx, TheNarrator, Spacysam and LordRoss, they’ve involved me in the OPC Community, helped me and they are great friends forever. I really want to thank you EG firstly for this interview and because I really had good time on the old but very good OPC Pub. We have many great moments on the forum, on Home, on Hustle King and many more PSN games... So this is a CALL: Join the OPC Forum, you can meet some great people, and share some great moments...
Ahh, thanks for those kind words litterature. I agree with you wholeheartedly that OPC is a great community to find friends and events! Now, we’re going to talk to Germany’s Lena’s biggest fan ever - Spotter5.
Q. FINALLY, I INVITE YOU TO PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF WITH ME. WHICH REAL-LIFE PERSON AND GAMING CHARACTER WOULD YOU INVITE TO JOIN US AND WHY? LENA! I WOULD CHOOSE LENA I LOVE LENA! Gaming character would be a little harder as whoever it was they’d be ignored as I’d have Lena :3 But I will go for Tina Armstrong from Dead or Alive 5 just to watch her assets jiggle as she swings the golf club...
And on that bombshell... See you all next time! - englishgolfer
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