Articles tagged with bandai namco

EGX 2017 Impressions:
Mostly Nintendo
Posted by Mark at 17:48

But also Dissidia and Dragonball!

Where last year's EGX was notable for two platform holders basically not showing up, this year's, today at least, feels as if it's the punters that have skipped the show.

This may be a quirk of the show feeling a bit bigger this year- it's probably not so much fewer people as fewer people per square foot, with what seems to be a lot of (very welcome) empty space between demo pods. The event marketing alleges that there's more games than ever before, but that has to be balanced by the appearance of so many games that are already out- Nintendo alone brought ARMS, Splatoon 2, Mario & Rabbids, Samus Returns, Sonic Mania (which also made a significant appearance at Sega's booth), Lego Worlds, and NBA 2K18- and that was just on their main booth. (As if to make up for lost time, Nintendo had three seperate booths this year- their main one, one for indies which we'll cover in the next few days, and a tournament booth in the eSports area)

The upshot of this is that for many games, there's not been a lot in the way of queueing- except for Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, beset by technical issues relating to the game's 3-on-3 network play meaning that for a while at the start of the day nobody was getting to play while people scrabbled under tables fiddling with wires. A functioning single-player mode was eventually deployed. Gameplay centres around using high-powered, spectacular attacks rarely rather than small attacks more frequently, making it feel less like a teamplay beat-'em-up and more like Warriors but without the chaos which makes it make sense.

On the subject of Warriors, one of Nintendo's new games was the format's excursion into Fire Emblem- much like Hyrule Warriors before it there's not much to fault in the Warriors-ing, and this iteration brings the ability to switch between characters to the table. While only a pre-set group were playable today, players can not only cycle between the four characters at will, they can also be individually directed to specific areas of the map, using a grid in a nod to its turn-based strategy roots.

There are flaws in this process, at one point all four of my characters levelled up within very quick succession of one another taking me through the a full recreation of the Level Up ceremony from 3DS four times very quickly, but this is obviously an edge case. It's also a lot of fun to see your favourite characters from the 3DS games in Glorious High Definition, so we can probably overlook it for now.

There was also the opportunity to showcase the new side-game in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions- it's not a lot to write home about, as a crowd of what are traditionally enemies from the Mario series butt heads with another automatically with minimal input from the player. A nice add-on, but unexciting on its own.

Super Mario Odyssey was also present, but that appeared to be the same build Nintendo had already exhibited at Hyper Japan earlier this year- and since there's been big previews of that recently, we'll be stepping over it here.

What is probably one of the last examples of a big third-party 3DS game, Monster Hunter Stories was also available to play. Traditionally where Nintendo have presented specially curated demos of their console games at events like EGX, 3DS games presented tend to be final retail games and that appeared to be true here- which meant the game seemed a little directionless as you were effectively picking up someone else's save file and all the mistakes they made with it and it's hard to get a feel for it. It does, however, feel exactly how you'd expect a traditional JRPG version of Monster Hunter to be.

Floating about independently of publisher booths- or at least, those as obviously branded as the first-party booths was DragonBall FighterZ, which has pulled the clever trick of running its cutscenes at a lower frame-rate than the gameplay, imitating the framerate of the hand-drawn animation of the original TV show.
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Posted by Mark at 18:56
As long as the term's been in use in games, the exact definition of 'Indie' has been under constant debate.

If can consider a studio in a pokey office on an anonymous Oxford industrial estate self-publishing their game to be 'indie'- even if that game happens to be a full priced boxed retail game on three formats as part of a chart-topping series that's shifted over ten million units, Rebellion, then the opposite, where a Tokyo-based multinational, spread across multiple floors of its HQ, employing seven million people worldwide in its videogames, toys and arcade empire digitally publishing a game by a little Swedish firm counts as well.

Bandai Namco are on publishing duties for Tarsier's Little Nightmares, a puzzle-platformer best described as Unravel except intentionally creepy. The player character- a little girl in a big raincoat named Six- needs to sneak out of the oversized house that The Maw, a representation of childhood fears, has imprisoned her in.

The house seems to be some kind of live-in butchers' shop, and the range of items that can be found in such an environment make what could be a very simplistic game much more interesting- the end of the demo involves pushing hams onto a trapdoor so that they fall into a sausage machine on the floor below, which creates a string of sausages you swing from to exit through a vent, which makes a nice change from finding a convenient rope that latches onto a convenient hook.

Another good example of 'Big Indie' is Kickstarter success Yooka-Laylee. The level showcased deviated little from the template Banjo-Kazooie left for it, never showing anything too new, a lot of aspects being clear reskins of what their 64-bit counterparts were, but these are mechanics tuned to near-perfection the first go around.

If there was one aspect that could be considered too similar, however, the background music felt like it was a little too reminicent of Banjo and DK64- this could stop not just the game from truly finding its own identity, but also that of Playtonic as being distinct from Rare- a question from the audience during their Developer Session asked if they were likely to try and revisit other titles, which could be an easy path for them to fall down.

Less 'Big Indie' and more 'Small AAA' was Sega's Sonic Mania. Similarly in danger of living too much in the past, especially with one of the levels demoed being called 'Green Hill Zone', having more or less the same music as on the Megadrive and even pretty much lifting its tileset wholesale, the game sidesteps this by pulling in enough of the future.

Unlike Sonic Generations, which was self-conciously a tribute to a fading series, Mania is a 'new, old game' and free of many of the gimmicks that made a mess of the franchise (such as homing jumps and special moves) while still bringing in many of the improvements it picked up over time, retaining the spin dash from Sonic 2 and the elemental shields introduced in 3.

With that, it regains its purity as a straight platformer, which it's not really managed to do since Sonic Advance.

If Sonic Mania is a good example of what Sonic was, Mekazoo provides a good example of what Sonic thinks it is now. A shiny, almost bioluminescent platformer based around bouncing off springs and blasting through curved tunnels. These are traversed in different ways based on which of the many different animals you're playing as- so it's even managed to do Sonic's mates right.

The Little Acre was one of many point-and-click adventures exhibited. This game features two parallel plots, one set in the present day and another, earlier timeline featuring the same characters as children in a fantasy world of massive caterpillars and venus flytraps that work as teleporters.

There's not a lot you can do with the genre in gameplay terms, which means focus is on the writing- and unfortunately the lead character's dialogue in the 'adult' timeline needs work. He appears to be less describing the world in front of him as much as remembering it. If this was for the child version of the character, then it could be framed as a memory, instead he just comes off as a self-narrating arse.

Back with Square-Enix, their 'Collective' initiative of publishing indie games, in its own booth amongst its indie bretheren, rather than sandwiched between Final Fantasies, managed to chuck out Black: The Fall.

Using a muted colour pallete to great effect, the game is set in an oppressive dystopian future, the player is tasked with controlling that one guy who's seen through it all and is trying to make his escape, after stealing the laser pointer which lets him take control of his fellow citizens. There are times where the game fails to explain itself and the final puzzle in the demo, which plunges the player into darkness and relies on sound cues felt a little unfair, but these feel like minor issues that should be fixed for the final release.

Seemingly announced by Collective at the show, to the point where it wasn't even listed in the show map was Forgotton Anne. That seemingly misplaced 'O' appears to be capitalised in the logo, so it probably means something.

Set in the Forgotton Realm, the place where all those lost socks and things go, this is a puzzle platformer where the player controls the Anne of the title, who has to use her ability to control magic-electricity hybrid 'anima' to quash a rebel uprising which threatens to stop her and her master Bonku from returning to the real world.

This is a strikingly beautiful looking-game with seemingly hand-animated characters which only occasionally betray the computer-generated help it occasionally gets when moving the scenery around. The demo shown on the floor also hinted at an extended story which changes based on how you interact with the characters- a talking scarf which you meet early on and accuse of trying to con you can be burnt using anima, leaving only ashes and a caption of 'This could have ended differently'.

It's a bit less mad than it sounds. Here's a trailer:

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Interestingly, this was the only game in the show I made a note in my phone about mentioning it on Bitparade. Make of that what you will.

Last call goes to Trapper's Delight. One of the more 'gamey' titles seen in the weirder 'Leftfield Collection' (alongside Airheart, which we've already featured) this is a multiplayer game where the objective is to traverse a small maze made of tiles. The catch is that before each attempt, all players are able to lay traps for the other players to fall foul of and/or you to forget exists and walk straight in to.

I played this with two randoms, and after the first round of trying to work out what was going on, most of the time was spent laughing as we accidentally managed to create increasingly elaborate Rube Goldberg machines of death and made every level unwinnable. This is currently available on Early Access, and seems like the sort of thing to lighten up any games night.
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Posted by James at 08:53
In what is an encouraging sign of the health of the JRPG on PC, pre-orders for Tales of Zestiria have reached a large enough number to unlock all of the game's reward tiers on Steam a week before launch. This guarantees anyone pre-purchasing the game a complimentary copy of Tales of Symphonia.

While we do not know how many pre-purchases were required to unlock the final and third reward tier on Steam, it's likely that by reaching the third pre-purchase tier the game has at least matched Bandai Namco's expectations for pre-orders of the game, given the incentives involved.

The largest number of pre-orders have arrived within the last week -- enough to push the final pre-purchase tier from 60% to 100% -- which tells us that Zestiria is following a predictable trend, where the bulk of pre-purchases arrive in the tail-end of the pre-order period.

At any rate, Bandai Namco's handling of Tales of Zestiria's PC port has been a good indication of how to launch an established franchise of an unestablished genre on the platform.

Like the PS4 version which was created specifically for the west (likely due to the rapid decline of PS3 in those territories), the PC version hasn't been treated as a second-class citizen from the outset.

Bandai Namco is launching it simultaneously alongside the PS3 and PS4 versions in the west, and it has feature-for-feature parity with the original edition of the game. Furthermore, the PC version of the game has been prominently featured in all of the game's marketing to date, including a long live stream.

It'll be interesting to see how Tales of Zestiria -- an RPG from a more established franchise -- performs on PC in the long-run. For instance, lesser-known series like Idea Factory International's "Neptunia" performed reasonably well over time. Data from Steam Spy tells us (with about 95% confidence) that the PC version of Hyperdimension Neptunia Rebirth 1 has sold in the region of 160,000 and 180,000 copies.

No doubt platform promotions have had a big impact on sales figures, but the important thing to note is the PC is a long-term platform, not a dead end like PS3 or even PS4.

This means that older games can still produce revenue and have a purpose long into the future, which is undeniably appealing to publishers as the market has grown large enough to justify the costs of porting and supporting a third version of the game in the first place.

Even Nintendo appears to be taking notes, as its next generation platform, code named NX, is shaping up to be a continually evolving and long-lasting platform in the vein of iOS or the PC.
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Posted by Ben at 13:53
I'm not bitparade's resident One Piece expert, so bare with me on this! One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, the anime inspired brawler, headed to PS3, PS4, Vita, and Steam on the 28th August, has got a new Dressrosa trailer, posted below, which shows Luffy facing off against Doflamingo amongst others

Doflamingo is also available as a figurine in the collectors edition of One Piece Pirate Warriors 3

Bandai Namco have also announced a couple of dlc packs for the game, with each pack containing 4 exclusive missions, 4 exclusive costumes, and 5 costumes returning from the previous game

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Posted by James at 07:40
Bandai Namco announced that they will be pulling a few of their iOS games from sale at the end of the month, as spotted by Pocket Gamer. Titles going include:

Katamari Amore
Rally-X Rumble
Namco Sound Player
Noby Noby Boy
Ridge Racer Accelerated HD
Time Crisis 2nd Strike HD
These are early generation iOS games, which do not require an external online server to operate, so why are they being pulled with no guarantee of functioning past the withdrawal date?

Bandai Namco are most likely making a credible commitment to not update their games if they run into compatibility issues. There is always a slight chance that new versions of iOS, and iOS hardware, break compatibility with older games, and the support cycle that comes with these games can be time consuming and costly, particularly for independent developers.

Michael Brough -- the brain behind experimental delights like 868-HACK and Helix -- is one such developer, with Electron Dance's Joel Goodwin writing the following about the resulting situation:
He has lamented the blight of the iOS update which often breaks his games, forcing him to patch them on a regular basis to keep them alive. Each new release also brings tales of customer support....

...and Brough’s free-wheeling development has been burdened with the grinding drudgery of customer support and bug management.

While a big, successful publisher like Bandai Namco has the resources to continue doing this, they probably chose not to due to minuscule sales of their older titles. Not that this makes the decision any easier to swallow, if anything it further raises questions about the preservation of digital-only content in an App Store-model led present.
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Posted by Ben at 16:09
I've never played a Tales of game, I think the closest I've ever come is Tales of Symphonia on the Gamecube. One day I'll put that right, and it might be with Tales of Hearts R.

Shahid Kamal Ahmad revealed on twitter that Tales of Hearts R had won the vote as the most popular Jrpg that people wanted bringing to the Vita in the west, and as such it was coming over.

No confirmation of a date yet, but I'd suspect towards the end of this year isn't beyond the realms of possibility
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Posted by Duane at 11:37
Bandai Namco have shared details of the story at the centre of One Piece Unlimited World Red.

"The Straw Hat Pirates encounter and befriend a cheerful yet mysterious raccoon named Pato who possesses a shadowy power to create anything drawn onto a leaf. In order to help their new friend, the Straw Hat Pirates agree to assist Pato on an ambiguous mission “to meet someone;” Pato then leads the crew to the Forgotten Island where all the Straw Hat Pirates except Luffy are successively kidnapped by a wicked pirate named The Red Count, who had escaped the lower depths of Impel Down two years ago. With Pato’s help, Luffy must fight to recover his crew from the enemy’s grasp and find out exactly what The Red Count’s evil plots are…"

We also have a chest full of PlayStation 3 screenshots, which you'll find below. One Piece Unlimited World Red is being created for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, WiiU and 3DS and will be released at some point this year.

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Posted by Duane at 07:56

Death is usually a punishment in games, however in From Software's "Souls" universe, its a learning experience. The series has become famous for its unapologetic difficulty and the fact that during your time with each instalment you will die quite alot. Hell, within moments of dieing for the first time, seeing the screen go black with that famous read text which reads "You Died" your console will greet you with a trophy that simply states "Welcome to Dark Souls", intimidating!

So worry not those of you who read the stuff about Dark Souls II being more accessible than its predecessors, its still bloody hard. One example being that its now easier to get over-run by a mob of enemies and much harder to draw their attention one at a time. Now there's a stronger balance of ranged and close combat opponents in any one area or mobs with shields and spears in closed in corridors. From Software have also tried to limit soul farming, so whilst you can still do multiple runs through any one area, the amount of times the enemies respawn once you have visited a bonfire is cut down to about ten by my count.

To balance the difficulty somewhat, and indeed make the game more accessible to new players, From Software have included a new Fast Travel system to zip between bonfires. There's no in-game charge to use this system and it allows you to head back to Mahjula (Dark Souls II's main hub area) to buy equipment, increase your characters stats or increase the size of your Etsus Flask using any Etsus Shards you find on your travels. Aside from that, it seems most of what makes Dark Souls II more accessible is that some elements are explained much better than they were previously, but other elements are still as vague as ever allowing for the player to experiment and possibly make mistakes that may or may not affect later stages of their playthrough. Theres more stuff in each area that you may find you have to return to at a later date, and the new Fast Travel system helps encourage you to do that. Now you can come to the conclusion that you're not quite sure what to do in one area, jump to a different location and chip away at that which may or may not lead to discovering items or NPC's that give you clues for you to return to a previous area and unlock more of the worlds hidden mysteries.

The way in which FROM Software has tried to find balance has really worked in Dark Souls II's favour, not least when you take into account the series' online play modes. Now its much easier to find people to co-op with, either because you need help or you just feel like helping others through areas you've already defeated (and thus get a few more Souls for doing so), theres also more worlds to invade, if that is indeed your thing, and now even more people can watch that Blood Stain ghost of you falling off that cliff that you really wish people couldn't witness.

Dark Souls II, however, isn't perfect. Certainly on the PlayStation 3 version we are reviewing there were some frame rate issues at times, especially noticable when you come from the darkened caves surrounding Mahjula and enter into the sunlit village. Its nothing particularly game breaking but it is there, this could also be the reason that the game looks really quite different from the initial trailers we were shown, not to mention the Network Beta that was available before Christmas. In this case the lighting is really stripped back, now darkened area's are much lighter than before, and whilst you can still just about make your way through some of these area's without a torch, the difference if you do take one with you (these, in typical Dark Souls fashion, are limited though so its all about resource management) the area's really do glow which reveals more area's that are stripped back such as the geometry of caves and settlements and the texture work. This indeed suggests to me that what FROM Software were working with would have been conceivable on a much smaller scale than what is on offer from Dark Souls II. But, I for one would rather sacrifice the visuals to the (still rather good) standard that they are in order for the frameate to stay at a more stable rate and so we can have the diversity and size of area's that are on offer here.

By and large, Dark Souls II is a step in the right direction for the series, its kept that punishing difficulty that it has become famed for, but also made some subtle changes in other area's just to make it so that it gives even the most inept rookie gets an appreciation for what the series are trying to do. In an era where big budget games are becoming ever reliant on "push X to advance", FROM Software's love of creating difficult games is a joy to behold.
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Posted by Duane at 11:21
Currently scheduled for Spring 2014, Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day will not only be a PS3 game produced by Suda51, but will also include the four animated short movies that make up the rest of the Short Peace anthology.

"A Farewell to Weapons" is the first of the four movies and is directed by Hajime Katoki, who's famous for his work on various series of the Gundam anime and the second Patlabor movie. It takes place in a near future Tokyo where a platoon visit a ruined city in the middle of the desert and a battle with an unmanned tank.

As we get closer to the European release of Short Peace we'll no doubt receive more information on this media anthology.
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Posted by Duane at 14:56
Earth Defense Force 2025 launches on PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 next Friday (21st February), its predecessor Earth Defense Force 2017 became something of a cult hit back when it launched in 2007. In the build up to the new title, Bandai Namco have provided us with some screenshots for you to check out.

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