Articles tagged with vanillaware

Posted by Mark at 14:50
And of course, being a Vanillaware game, it looks amazing.

In fact, that's pretty much the only reason I post stuff from it, since the trailers have been very light on the gameplay front, save for a small amount of side-scrolling walking.

Still, the new trailer introduces us to- or at least, shows us- ten more characters we didn't see in the announcement trailer.

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It's out on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita next year.
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Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Vita Gameplay
Posted by Ben at 15:37

Not really a review as such as Duane's already reviewed the PS4 version, more some gameplay footage from the Vita version of Odin Sphere Leifthrasir with me rambling over the top

To give coherence to the narration of the video; Odin Sphere Leifthrasir works great on Vita. Apart from one boss fight I can't say I've noticed the framerate drop of and bugs, glitches, hitches, nothing negative at all really. It looks great on the Vita, a little blurry on the Playstation TV that I captured the footage on, but that's a limitation of the hardware rather than a fault of the game. I can't compare the Vita version to the PS4 version, maybe the Vita version has fewer enemies on screen at any one time, certainly that it 'poofs' in enemies when you've cleared a wave certainly seems like a move designed to work around limitations, be that a hangover from the PS2, an engine limitation, or something to get the game running well on the Vita

I won't spoil the score Odin Sphere Leifthrasir received from Duane on the PS4, but I will say if I were to give the game a score it wouldn't be too far from that. I've a few issues with the controls. They're sharp enough, to the extent the Vita's analogue stick will allow at least. My issue really is the placement, I guess, I'm not entirely sure what it is that sits wrong with me. It just feels unnatural that block is the same button as attack, whereas dodge is the same button as as absorbing photons. Too often I'll accidentally launch a spell, and I pretty much always launch the wrong one when I intend to launch a spell. For whatever reason the controls, and many of the games systems (alchemy, recipes etc) don't embed themselves in my brain.

Anyway, aside from that I've been really enjoying Odin Sphere Leifthrasir. I'm fairly near the end now, for one character at least, but the video below is from an earlier save, so there shouldn't be anything too spoilery, and you do get to see how the Vita version runs

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Odin Sphere:
Posted by Duane at 03:30

Odin Sphere was one of those games that many completely missed out on right at the end of the crossover between the PlayStation 2's generation and the Xbox 360 coming out. Even though it was a bit of an oddity even then, its fair to argue that the gaming landscape has changed somewhat and it sticks out even more now, despite Sony's platforms (in particular the Vita which Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir has also been released on and Ben may comment on at a later date) generating a bit of a niche for “this sort of thing”. Before we go ahead tbough, I'd like to state that I won't be comparing Leifthrasir to its predecessor. I understand this is essentially a remaster of the original game, with some gameplay tweaks here and there, and whilst I owned Odin Sphere, I did so at a time that the PS2 had been moved to a different room and thus, aside from the opening couple of hours or so, it never really got the attention that I actually wanted to give it.

Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir is a little different from many games you will have access to on these shores, its essentially a hack and slash side scrolling RPG that looks as though every single bit of it has been hand painted. In stills its absolutely gorgeous to look at and, arguably, it stands up well to being animated too with small intricate little details like the flutter of Gwendolyn's skirt really standing out. But its all well and good looking stunning, if you don't have something under the hood then you'll get found out.

Luckily Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir packs this in spades. I mentioned before that it was “hack and slash” but that really does it a diservice and strips it back to its basic combat element. You see, whilst you'll get through chunks of the early game just bashing away at the attack button, you'll soon figure out that you need to combine stick movements and button timings, plus throwing in abilities using the circle button and you're inventory of alchemic potions all in order to get the better of the more difficult foes the game likes to throw at you. Thats before you consider how to counter and dodge and rack up large combo's. The controls are incredibly responsive and you the player never ever feels like a mistake is down to the systems put in place.

Which is a very good thing, what with there being 4 characters stories to play through (the aforementioned Gwendolyn; a Valkyrie and daughter of Odin is your introduction to the game wherein you'll also get to meet the rest of the playable cast before taking on their chapters). Each character has around 6 or 7 chapters each and they can take about an hour to an hour and a half each to play through, so despite looking limited, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir isn't a short game by any standards.

I touched on the alchemy before, which is a key area of the game. Here you will pick up items that you need to mix with materials in order to create healing potions, antidotes and all the normal things you'd expect in order to keep yourself alive. You can also create offensive potions to use in battle (and personally speaking I generally saved these for the bosses and mid-bosses). Theres also a cookery element, which works in the same way but cant be done at any time. Instead you have to call upon a chef when you're in Rest zone to cook the items for you and (usually, as there are a couple of exceptions) consume them right away. Almost everything you eat carries Experience too, including the fruit you grow using a combination of seeds that you find/are dropped by enemies and the life force (called Phozons) that seeps out of defeated foes as you progress. You simply plant the seed, expel the required Phozons and wait a few seconds for the fruit to grow. Some fruit give seeds back once eaten and the cycle continues. But the way in which you have to juggle creating fruit using Phozons and using said Phozons to upgrade your abilities adds just enough element of strategy to the game to make you consider what it is you are doing. Normally there is more than enough to go around and upgrades happen quickly enough for you to never feel too overwhelmed by your opponents, but there are times when one may have to suffer to work on the other.

Truthfully speaking, Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir has been a breath of fresh air. It may be an old game give (quite a bit from what I understand) of spit and polish, it might be very similar to Vanillaware's other games, but played on a big screen in the lounge its a an absolute feast and incredibly enjoyable to play.
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Posted by Mark at 14:18
Aided and abetted by Atlus, Vanillaware have revealed a trailer for their latest game, the mech-driven 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim at Tokyo Game Show.

While there's not much in it that obviously stands out as being gameplay, naturally it looks incredible, the muted colours doing nothing to diminish Vanillaware's usual painterly style.

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That being said, it looks like they're going for a psuedo-3D effect which doesn't come off 100% of the time in the trailer.

The game's due out on Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita, with no release date set as yet.
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Posted by Duane at 04:01

There's been a bit of a trend in recent years to try and revitalise genre's that had "died off" some time ago, its become almost cool to be inspired by the past and create something distinctly "retro". Within this, Vanillaware have carved out a niche for themselves with their incredibly pretty (with visuals almost like a painting) side-scrolling beat-em ups, and Dragons Crown is their latest entry into this genre. The studio has taken a huge dollop of Golden Axe and mixed it with a good spoonfull of RPG elements to create an intriguing game that offers opens up to various complexities the more you play it.

For my playthrough I chose to play as the Sorcerer, there are 6 classes/races in all and each is different enough to use to warrant multiple playthroughs. Basic gameplay elements are carried through the classes, with square and circle being your attacks, X being to jump and you cycle through your backpack of items using the d-pad as you progress through each side-scrolling "dungeon" and eventually take on some impressive bosses. Quite early on you unlock the ability to build a party of characters to go on runs with you, this gives you a small taste of whats to come once you eventually open up the games multiplayer mode, which in my play through dropped at around the 5 hour mark. You can have anything up to 3 other AI characters or likewise the same number of human players through either the games network mode or its ad-hoc mode (the latter is open pretty much as soon as you start the game), which really lets you feel the waves of nostalgia from the days of playing Konami and SEGA scrolling beat-em ups in the arcades and on the Mega Drive.

Of course the visuals on offer here are miles above anything that we were offered back then, and its those visuals that will make people look at Dragon's Crown, for better or worse. You see whilst Vanillaware have applied their standard acrylic painting aesthetic to the vast majority of the game, its the titles characters that will garnder the most attention due to the oversexualised nature of their design. I'll go back to the Sorceress at this point, as she's the one most likely to receive comments, her buxom are ridiculously over the top, not only that they remind me of Dead or Alive in their gravity defying movements. It's easy to become distracted purely because said design is spread throughout the entire roster of characters. Early on you meet a barbarian, he's obviously based on the Arnold Schwarznegger portrayal of Conan, and thus his shoulders completely fill the screen, the Amazonians thighs are so large they border on grotesque and the only fairly normal looking character happens to be the Elf (surprisingly a female character). Unsurprisingly though, and again this is due to Vanillawares flair with a games visuals, its all incredibly striking when in motion and once things begin to get busy you notice the ridiculousness of the character design less and less.

Unfortunately its when things begin to get busy that the game falls apart a little, its far too easy to lose track of where your character is on the Vita's small screen and I suffered moments of juddering as the system began to feel like it was struggling with the amount of action that was happening all at once. This grates a little when it happens and does detract from the experience because when the game is working it feels perfectly designed for the handheld due to the size of the levels and the pick-up and play nature of its core design. IT'd be easy to label these issues as game-breaking, and I imagine for some that they are, but the infrequency of the juddering and the ease at which you can prevent it (not having 3 Sorcerers in one party certainly seemed to help!) means the whole experience isn't damaged beyond repair, although its not quite so easy to skirt around losing your characters position on screen without resorting to a discussion over whether you should buy Dragons Crown on Vita or PlayStation 3 (its not a cross-buy title, although it is cross-play).

As usual with the studio's output then, its an acquired taste that is far from perfect, but if you're hankering after something a little different to whats available on either of Sony's platforms then its well worth giving a chance, I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the problems I've noted.

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Posted by Duane at 09:55
Tomorrow see's the European launch of Vanillaware's "Dragons Crown", a side scrolling RPG, unfortunately the initial print for the boxes carries a mistake that claims the game is "Cross Platform", NIS America have since clarified upon the printing mistake.

D ue to a printing error, the initial run of PS Vita retail packaging indicates that the game is Cross - platform Play compatible with the PlayStation®3, which is incorrect. At launch, the game will only support cross - save functionality. We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences this may cause. On a p ositive note, we are happy to announce that in the upcoming mon ths Cross - platform play will become available across Europe via a game patch.
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Posted by Mark at 14:35
Only a week and a half after discovering Nintendo were no longer bringing Fatal Frame IV to the US, American Wii owners waiting for something that isn't a minigame compilation have been dealt another blow as XSEED, publishers of the decidely pretty-looking Muramasa: The Demon Blade, have decided they won't be bringing the game to the USA after all.

While no real information as to why was mentioned in their press release, the wording does give some hope that publishing duties have merely changed hands.

Other westerners, however, may be able to seek solace in the decision seemingly not affecting UK publisher, Rising Star Games. Yet.

UPDATE: No sooner do I post that than Kotaku report that Ignition Entertainment have stepped up to the plate. That'll teach me to sit on a news story all day before posting it.
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