Articles tagged with level 5

EGX 2017 Impressions:
Sony, Sega and (Ubi)Soft
Posted by Mark at 19:54

The Sony booth this year is the home of the Annual Update Games- specifically, FIFA and Call of Duty, with the more interesting games hidden behind them.

Notable also is the amount of space dedicated to Sony's desperate attempts to make Playstation VR a thing, including a massive VR helmet which makes the booth look like a Daft Punk tribute to Planet Of The Apes.

Like Nintendo's booth, it's full of titles that are already out, like expandalone Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Star Wars licence Battlefront II, inexplicable sequel Knack 2 and microtransaction shitfest Everybody's Golf. Some smaller new titles which were also there included Hob, which is a top-down-ish adventure game where you play as a guy with a massive hand, which he uses to solve puzzles in order to gradually unlock a tower by rotating bits of it.

I've not explained that very well. It does, however, look like what Knack was probably meant to, so there's that.

We saw Monster Hunter Stories on 3DS yesterday and today we say Monster Hunter World on PS4. A more 'curated' demo than its handheld counterpart, this does a much better job of explaining its mechanics and objectives- although this could also be related to the presence of Scoutflies, which effectively point out everything of vague interest to progressing through the mission.

The initial mission offered sees you trying to hunt a monster by first having some footprints drawn to your attention, then a scrape on the ground that the game nicely describes as "skidmarks", then another footprint and another until eventually the Scoutflies form a trail to follow to the monster. This is one of the new features added to make the game more accessible to people less familiar with the series, but it feels that it could turn the game into a box-checking exercise.

There was also Ni No Kuni II, which looks as pretty as you'd expect. The battle system can be a bit chaotic during boss fights, but it seems to work quite nicely in battles against smaller enemies in the world.

Also present was David Cage's new title Detroit: Become Human, which I didn't get the chance to watch today- although I did overhear one of the reps on the booth send one of the professional cosplayers they had manning the booth on their break by calling them over with 'Android, come here" and telling them to go into maintenance mode for thirty minutes.

Sony's recent push into phone-controlled games in the form of Playlink was represented by Frantics, by Affordable Space Adventures dev Knapnok. This is a series of motion-controlled party games, hosted by a slightly posh-talking fox, and controlled using the accelerometers in the phones- four top-of-the-line Sony devices, in the booth's case.

There were three games in my session, one where you have to avoid slipping off an ice platform by tilting the way you want to go, another where you fire yourself out of cannons so some (but not all) of you are on a platform, and another race game where before each race you secretly choose a player to have some modification to their vehicle which may or may not be helpful to them.

There was an interesting twist where, before the third game, the host 'called' one player's phone to give them a secret misison.

It's hard to fault the party games themselves, but the phone apps crashing exposed that each Playlink title needs its own individual app- Frantics ostensibly cannot be played using the app associated with That's You!, which has been out in the wild for some time- and that connecting your phone to your PS4 needs you to enter an IP address, which loses the immediacy of the browser-and-four-digit-code setup of the Jackbox games, and is a far cry from the apps-within-an-app world promised by xBox Smartglass.

Speaking of Far Cry, the Ubisoft booth next door housed the fifth game in the series. The short part of the game available focused around the obligatory Ubisoft Game tower, and charged the player with killing all the cultists around the base of it. A number of ways of achieving this was offered, from flinging in grenades to fighting them in the streets to sniping them from the top of the tower.

This, alongside stablemate Assassin's Creed: Origins which seems to have ditched parkour in favour of putting things really far away from one another and making you travel to them, were the first games to really show any seriously large queues- although Ubi made use of the extra space available to them, running lots of demo units and moving people through quickly.

Most of the booth, though, was some Mario + Rabbids demos sparsely dotted about in an almost empty space dominated by a massive fibreglass Rabbid Kong. (There was also South Park: The Fractured But Whole tucked away in a corner)

Sega, meanwhile, chose to showcase Sonic Forces, which looks like it's as good an extension on the Modern Sonic/Generations format as we're going to see. Three levels were on offer, including one of the mental genre-flip-flopping arrangements Colours perfected, a boss level, and a new 'Avatar' level where you put together disparate elements to create your own Original Character Do Not Steal and play as that. It also doesn't quite work, which I'm assuming is satire.

Last but not least, there was a few PCs running Total War: Warhammer II. Which was Total War: Warhammer II.

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Posted by Ben at 13:43
For some reason I thought this was old news, I think because I saw it on a retail site over the weekend.

Anyway, Fantasy Life, the 3DS RPG from Level 5, is getting a retail release on September 26th

In Fantasy Life you pick a job and play that role, for example playing as a miner, then play as a blacksmith, then a warrior, using the materials the miner found, crafted by the blacksmith to forge a weapon for the warrior.

The trailer is below, it looks like quite a charming little game

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Posted by Ben at 20:14

Thereís been a few attempts at doing survival horror on portable devices, the DS had the mixed Dementium (the sequel to which has recently been released on Steam), and more recently weíve had the likes of Year Walk on ios and android. Now though itís the 3DSí turn, an abandoned space station horror called The Starship Damrey.

You wake from stasis, locked in your sleep pod and due to the low oxygen levels unable to escape. Instead you must take control of a worker robot and have that facilitate your escape. Itís not as simple as just taking the robot and upping the O2 levels, instead itís a trek through every room on the ship.

Your progress is blocked at just about every turn however, requiring you to find key cards, flip the odd switch, and fill things with other things. The real game though is all about the story, what happened to the crew, why doesnít the ship have a record of you, and why canít you escape? Itís the atmosphere thatís so interesting about Starship Damrey, but itís also its biggest flaw.

You can only see a few feet in front of you, thereís random clangs and bangs from around you, it should be creepy as hell. The problem is (and Iíd recommend you stop reading if you really donít want to spoil anything about Starship Damrey for yourself) thereís not really a great deal of danger to you. Thereís things that jump out, thereís sights that should make you dread entering the next room, but youíre not you, youíre still safely in your sleep pod and the remote controlled robot isnít really in all that much danger.

The thing that struck me most about The Starship Damrey is how Japanese it feels. I know thatís a redundant point given that itís a Japan developed game, but the simplistic look and creaky feel remind me of the likes of Enemy Zero. Thereís a very formulaic approach to the puzzles too, initially I was worried it would be too convoluted, but youíre rarely far from the solution. Thatís not to say I didnít get stuck, there was one point where I was looking for an apparatus I didnít even know existed because of the limited view you have.

Starship Damrey isnít long, but thatís fine because none of the Guild collection of games are. That it isnít remotely scary is more of a problem, although preferable to the thought of repeatedly dying and having to redo things youíve already trudged through. While I canít wholeheartedly recommend Starship Damrey because it isnít a great horror, itís a really good story, something I think might get referenced by the few whoíve played it.
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Posted by Ben at 07:56

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Tokyo Tale is a really odd game for a few reasons. The story centres around Japanís love of giant monsters, Godzilla, Power Rangers and the like. Set in the early 1970ís in a suburb of Tokyo the little town seems to have a real monster problem, every Friday they appear, leaving giant footprints and dropping íglimsí. Coincidentally thereís also a TV station in town that has its own monster show, and while youĎd think the obvious conclusion is there to be drawn, itĎs not just the naÔve kids that believe in the monsters. Oh, and there's aliens in the town somewhere just to add to the oddness.

The gameplay is probably even stranger as you really don't do a lot. You sort of bump up against tasks, called 'episodes', that involve talking to people. Occasionally to trigger these episodes you have to fight other kids in card battles, the cards are based on monsters, but it's basically rock/paper/scissors. The thing that makes it strange is that there's only about 10 of those battles prior to the credits rolling, and while it's obviously not a long game I expected more 'gameplay' over the 5 hours

Most of your time is spent looking for glims, little orbs that must be collected to make a new monster card. You also get these for winning battles and completing an episode. Generally they aren't hidden as such, but finding them on the 3DS screen can be a bit difficult, particularly if youíre playing with the 2D on.

What Attack of the Friday Monsters is though is incredibly charming. It reminds me a Totoro style Ghibli film, low on action but making you smile quite a lot. There's some funny lines, some nice ideas, and a quirky story. It looks great too, the 3d character models aren't anything too special but the environment has a nice manga look too it, especially the foreground stuff that makes decent, if not very showy, use of the 3D.

Itís a shame that there isnít more to Attack of the Friday Monsters, I mean I had a great time with it but I wanted to like it, I was won over by it. But critically speaking thereís not a lot to the combat, thereís not a lot of combat, and the story and script are fairly simple. But it did put a smile on my face, quite often in fact, itís a nice relaxing, pleasant experience, there are people who are going to love it, but I canít shake the feeling that I wanted more from it.
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Posted by Ben at 17:38

The thing to remember with Crimson Shroud is that itís not as complicated and obtuse as it looks. Sure it goes out of its way to make you think that, presenting itself as the most daunting game ever created, with system after system layered and tangled together, but once youíve got past the rabbit in the headlights portion of the game it reveals itself to be deceptively simple.

As a review itís a bit difficult to know where to start, I could tell you itís like an old table top board game, complete with characters stood on little platforms so they donít fall over, but they donít know theyíre playing pieces, but then they refer to the in-game dice, but the plot is as though theyíre real peopleÖ itís all very strange.

In gameplay terms the tabletop dice rolling rpg is a pretty accurate comparison. You select a room to move in to, then invariably youíll encounter an enemy. Depending on if itís an ambush, if you can make a surprise attack, if itís a fight at close range, or a fight against a distant enemy, youíll need to roll the dice to see how long any advantage or hindrance will last. Status affecting spells also require a dice role, get above a certain score and they work, below and youíve just wasted a turn.

Thereís also a combo system, initially this seems far too complicated on top of everything else, but in practice I only gave it any consideration maybe twice the whole way through the game. Every action bar a standard attack and meditation (a way to recover magic points) has an element attached to it, be it fire, ice, water, stone. So long as you donít repeat any elements, and only follow dark/light with dark/light youíll create a combo. Dependent on how high the combo is youíll be rewarded with dice, these dice arenít very powerful, 4-8 sides, and are used to add to your attack power or accuracy. Enemy spells and attacks also count towards this combo, which does mean that a combo can be broken through no fault of your own, but generally itís a benefit, as you can re-use moves every turn and still build up a decent chain.

The truth is you wonít really have the opportunity to worry about what attack type to use as youíll be too busy trying to keep your team alive. You control 3 characters, a warrior, an archer, and a mage, the latter 2 in particular are incredibly vulnerable at times. Your first turns will likely be used to boost defence, then accuracy or attack, then itís about fighting fires and attacking where you can.

To reiterate the point, Crimson Shroud isnít quite as daunting as it appears, but nor is it an easy game. Itís not far off a perfectly pitched difficulty curve, itís rare you blitz enemies but I canít say I died too often either. This is largely due to there being no levelling up, instead stat boosts and skills are tied to your equipment. This equipment is dropped by defeated enemies, with how much of it you can select determined by how well you did in the battle. Itís smart, it means your level is controlled by the game with any revisits to familiar battlegrounds having limited benefit.

Crimson Shroud does occasionally get things wrong though, some of it is small, like Iím not sure offensive magic is as effective as it should be and the UI for weapon stats could be clearer. Probably the biggest problem comes in the form of a section where you have to keep fighting a group of enemies over and over until they eventually drop the item you need for progress, itís out of place with the rest of the straight ahead linearity of the rest of the game

The writing isnít great either for the most part, theyíre going for something gothic and olde world, itís unconvincing. However by the end of the game the story has turned into a great twisted tale, genuinely one of the better endings to a game Iíve played in a while.

As soon as you saw the word Ďdiceí you probably knew if you were interested, and if you decided you werenít then itís a shame because Crimson Shroud is both a better and more accessible game than it first appears. Perhaps not a classic, but almost certainly destined to gain cult status.
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Posted by Duane at 13:56
Here's a handful of new screenshots from Namco Bandai featuring the Level-5/Studio Ghibli developed JRPG. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is available on PS3 on February 1st and has been receiving really positive reviews all round.

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Posted by Ben at 07:00
Level 5 & Studio Ghibli's beautiful looking rpg is coming to the west it has been confirmed. According to Gamespot Ni No Kuni ('The Another World' or 'Queen of the White Ashes') is due for an American release early 2012.

The problem is that so far only the PS3 version has been confirmed and that only for America. Granted the PS3 being region free makes the latter complaint a non-issue, but it would be nice to have this available on as many formats as possible, especially as the DS version apparently plays out slightly differently to the PS3 version

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Posted by Ben at 15:24

If thereís a theme that runs through Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva itís how well theyíve captured the look and feel of the Professor Layton series. The use of CGI in the early moments could be better, I suspect itís to show off and grab the viewers attention early on, but it tends to create a clash between the 3D and 2D. The 2D looks great though, with lots of flat colours like its source, and characters identical to the games.

One thing Eternal Diva doesnít do too well is introduce the characters and the world. Granted if youíre watching it then you probably have a pretty good idea of who Professor Layton is, but some of his comrades less so. Iíve only played the first game and donít recognise the extended cast beyond Luke, so the first few minutes were a bit of a mystery, but really thereís not much you need to know that you canít work out.

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva features a bit of a jumbled timeline, jumping back to Lukeís first case with his mentor. The plot is a bit, ahem, convoluted so try to stay with me. A young woman thought to have died a few years earlier has reappeared and made contact with Jenis, her best friend and a former student of Laytonís, now working as an opera singer. The missing girl (Melina ) has returned as a 7 year old claiming to have been granted eternal life, and also happens to be the daughter of the composer of the opera Jenis sings in. People are being offered eternal life provided they win a completion on board a mysterious ship. Only this is no normal competition, itís a series of puzzles where the price for failure is deathÖ only this is Professor Layton so no one actually dies.

Still with me? Good. Well it turns out, and this is a spoiler so jump to the end of the paragraph if you intend on watching the film at any point, that the whole thing was a nefarious plot. Descole is manipulating the composer Oswald Whistler with the promise of placing his daughters personality and memories into the body of a suitable replacement. Descoleís real motivation is to restore Melina as she knows one of the songs that can rediscover the lost land of Ambrosia, a civilisation that discovered the secret to eternal life. Why heís gone to all that trouble when heís already riding around in a robot that can dig up Ambrosia is never answered, probably best not to dwell on it in fact.

So the story is clumsy confused nonsense, but that does not a bad film make. It takes a long time for anything to happen in Eternal Diva, and there are substantial lulls during the film (not least the final 5 minutes). However when things are happening thereís a real tension, at its high points Layton is genuinely captivating. Itís as though theyíve been given 5 minutes for some action so decided to throw as much in as possible. I suspect the music helps here too, thereís real punch and pomp that in some ways is slightly out of character for a cerebral detective.

A brief mention to the way the film uses puzzles too, something I was sceptical could be done well. Firstly thereís no matchsticks to be seen, which is good, instead weíre greeted with riddles, riddles that feel solvable by the viewer (one of which I did solve, go me!). The nicest thing about the puzzles though is the way theyíre introduced, reminiscent of the game we get a spotlight style shadow of the puzzle number. Itís a nice touch and still manages to work within the film context.

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is a bit of a rollercoaster. It starts dull, explodes into an exhilarating 5 minutes, then climbs for a while before throwing you around again, then you sit through the painfully boring final scenes, waiting for the 3 fingered frotteurist to stop flirting with the 14 year old girls and release your seat lock.

Layton is not only worth the purchase for fans, itís also amongst the better video game films out there. As flawed as it is it still looks good, captures the essence of the games, and at points is genuinely entertaining.
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Posted by Mark at 10:51
Today, Level 5 held a press conference in their homeland of Japan, and alongside little bits about them finally confirming the DS version of Ni no Kuni, a Japanese release date for the latest installment of their football RPG, Inazuma Eleven 3: The Ogre (December 16th), another 3DS game by the name of Time Travelers, the developers' first suspense title, featuring a high-school girl and "a mysterious man", and also a Brownie Brown-developed title called Fantasy Life, which boasts Nobuo Uematsu on music duties, the company also unveiled a co-developed Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton crossover title called Professor VS Gyakuten saiban.

With Ace Attorney developer Shu Takumi doing the story for the game, the title will feature a mix of Laytonesque puzzles and Wrightlike crime mystery, and probably a massive bust-up half way through where the diverging disciplines of Having Spiky Hair and Wearing Hats come to the fore.

The plot is said to feature 'some sort of trial that could not be done in Ace Attorney', also leading Takumi to throw around the term "Majo Saiban", or "Witch Trial".

No release date for that as yet, but here's a trailer:Show/hide video

Andriasang has a liveblog of the event, if anyone wants more details.
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Posted by Duane at 13:37
What do you get when you partner Level-5 (Professor Layton, Rogue Galaxy, Dragon Quest VIII) with Studio Ghibli? Take a look below...

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