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Hive Finds

by Todd Ciolek, Aug 20th 2014

It's time to announce the winners of the One Piece: Unlimited World Red Contest, which tasked you all with censoring anime for kid-safe sensibilities. It's also time for some good news: I rounded up extra copies of the latest One Piece game, so our competition has five winners instead of just three! And here are those winners, in no particular order.

“Insaneben” decided to bring Sword Art Online up to broadcast standards of taste and decency.

Gentlemen, herewith is my proposal for airing Sword Art Online as part of The CW Kids Saturday morning block.

As you may be aware, the show contains swords, magic, romance and lots of action, all taking place in a virtual fantasy realm. However, in order to make the show acceptable for Saturday morning TV (as well as our target audience of boys ages 6-12), we will have to do away with all but one of the things mentioned above.

For one thing, whenever someone uses a weapon, it will glow either blue (for the good guys) or red (for the bad guys) to indicate it isn't real. Secondly, people won't die in the Virtual World; they'll simply be placed in a “cloud” and left in a permanent slumber until someone beats the game. (Furthermore, Aincrad will be referred to as “the Virtual World”, since boys can't pronounce such big words.) The show's real-world backdrop will be New York instead of Tokyo (since boys aren't into foreign countries, and any mention of another country that isn't the USA could make their parents skittish). Names will also be changed due to the two reasons mentioned above. For instance, Kirito will now be known as Adrian; Asuna will be Allison; Lisbeth will be Lisa; Klein will be Keith (since his name sounds too Jewish); and Agil will be Andrew, just to name a few examples. (The Silica episode will not be aired since girls shouldn't be allowed to fight with weapons and/or monsters.) Our target audience also finds girls to be icky, smelly and dumb, so Allison and Lisa's screen time will be significantly reduced in order to put more focus on Adrian, Andrew and Keith. Finally, whenever someone commits an act of violence, we will cut away and make it look like whatever it is they took a swing at got hit. Each episode will end with a one minute segment involving Adrian or Keith talking about why violence in the virtual world should not be used in real life. (Closing with Adrian's catch phrase: "It's virtually awesome!")

This series is slated to run for 12 episodes (after editing) and will be padded out with three to four minutes of commercials for each commercial break (of which there will be three to four, depending on how much time is left over for each edited episode). Editing and post-production will be handled by a group of former Saban, DiC and 4Kids editors known as the Better Animation Diversity and International Distribution Entertainment Association (or B.A.D.I.D.E.A., for short). New music will replace the show's original soundtrack and be composed by Bruce Faulconer; the opening theme will be a rap (since boys love inoffensive rap music written and performed by Shawn Conrad (best know for the One Piece rap), and the opening sequence will consist of scenes from the show (in order to save money on royalties). Merchandise (such as action figures, cereal, candy and Happy Meal toys) and the possibility of a second season (involving the Alfheim... sorry, Dragonfly arc) will be discussed at future meetings (given the show's toyeticness, both are pretty much guaranteed to happen).

Until next time, gentlemen, I bid you a fond (virtual) adieu.

Angela Annechini gives the anime industry's current Big Thing a thorough going-over:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing on behalf of 4Kids Entertainment regarding the content submission for the North American localisation project: “Attack on Titan”, received on Wednesday, July 30th.

Our quality assurance department has gone over the material you have submitted, and we have deemed the following changes necessary:

1. All scenes containing extreme violence, language, and death must be removed completely.

2. All creatures known as “Titans” must be digitally re-colored various shades of green, be given yellow eyes, and display lizard-esque tails to give the target audience the impression that “Titans” do not look similar to humans. All “Titans” should look like giant lizard monsters.

3. All liquids shown onscreen that are meant to be interpreted as blood must be digitally re-colored with neon/pastel hues to simulate high-tech robot oil/fuel. Thusly, all of the human characters must be viewed by the target audience as advanced robots.

4. To enhance point #3, the voices of all human characters must be digitally distorted to sound like robotic voices, and the uniforms of all human characters must be digitally re-colored to look like high-tech space suits. NOTE: Male characters should be in dark, primary colors, and all female characters should be wearing pinks and yellows so the target audience identifies them as female.

5. The main character “Mikasa” should be re-named “Maria, and her voice should be that of a cute/bubbly teen girl with pink hair. The main character “Armin” should be changed to “Armina” and presented as “Maria's” sister.

6. All instances of shooting weapons should be changed to ray guns and energy cannons, displaying a neon beam when fired. All blades should be digitally enhanced and re-colored to look like “beam sabers”. Lastly, all “3DM” gear the characters wear must be changed to “jet packs” that fly and shoot red targeting lasers.

7. Futuristic buildings should be digitally drawn into the background of each scene, and a giant glass dome should be placed over the humans' living area to give the target audience the impression that all of the futuristic robot people live on an alien planet and the outside of the dome has poisonous, lizard air.

It is with these changes that we here at 4Kids Entertainment believe “Attack on Titan” will be a safe, fun show for our target audience. Please make the noted changes and submit the finished product for review as early as it becomes available.

•Angela A. 4Kids Entertainment Quality Assurance

Dustin Chen is concerned for the youth of today! Or at least “Jane” is, whoever she might be.

Hi, Aniplex of America?

My name is Jane, and I am very concerned about your television show "Kill la Kill." I know that this show is from Japan, and that they have a different culture from us, but this show is so very demeaning and crude, to the point of pornography. It is also very demeaning towards women, and I do not want this unhealthy content to be consumed by my family.

Let me give you a few pointers and how you should fix your show.

1.This female lead "Ryuko" is definitely not the role model that our nation's kids deserve. We already have "Miley Cyrus" to strut around half nude for us. Why is it that every time she "transforms," there is a shot of all her clothing being ripped off, and her breasts and private areas exposed? I know my son does not want to see a girl squirming around and sticking her behind into the screen. What she needs is more clothes. Give her a nice bra that could cover her whole breast, and stop making her look like some bdsm girl. I know it would be complicated to keep her covered when she transforms, so I recommend a nice mist that goes across the screen and blurs her body. And when she beats other people, stop having the clothes flying off them! And stop making her so violent! You should stress things like friendship, not revenge! Why can't she just have a cup of tea with her friend Satsuki and talk things over?

2. Mako and family
Why does Ryuko have to stay with this savage family? America needs to be educated about the importance of eating healthy, organic foods, not this "fried trash" that they eat! Not to mention, why is it that all the mom does is cook and clean! That is clearly sexism!

Mako is not a good role model either. Have her stop being so goofy and fooling around. Doesn't she know that she is putting herself in danger with these monologues of hers? I don't understand, are they supposed to be funny? She needs to get her priorities straight and focus on her education and financial needs.

3. Specific examples of inappropriate content
-Clothes drawing blood from us - too dangerous, could encourage bad behavior. What if this makes people emo?

-Language - Swearing is not appropriate on TV or in life. Replace the f-word with "darn" and the s-word with "dang"

-I know that this show could appeal to a wider audience if they had an English opening song. I heard that Vic Mignogna is a very talented singer.

-The list could go on and on. Just turn down the nudity and violent themes, and get rid of Mako and her family, and this show could really start thriving!

-Jane

Mike Inguagiato peeks inside the studio system.
"Coming this Fall: A peaceful world is plunged into battle over the precious technology behind airships known as Simouns. The Simouns themselves must be deployed to fend off the unexpected threat, but only pairs of priestesses in tune with each other can pilot these legendary ships. Join us for a half hour every week to watch them deal with a changing world, impending danger, and each other."

Advertising intern: So we plan to run this bit after every episode of anime we currently air for a couple months before the premiere. It sums up the premise and gives some nice hooks to generate excitement. What do you think?

Top Executive: Very good work. We are going to have to make some changes before it can air, though.

AI: Ok, what do you want me to change?

TE: What? Oh, I mean changes to the show, not your pitch. Of course your pitch will have to change accordingly.

AI: Wait, change the show? Uhm, why...?

TE: We picked this up for our Saturday morning children's block. Female pilots will go over well with today's little girls.

AI: … Simoun can't possibly go into the kids' block. And there's more to the show than …

TE: Of course all the kissing will have to go, as well as reference to same-sex relationships.

AI: … You do realize a huge portion of the show is entirely about …

TE: We'll just cut out the ship activation parts and dub in all of them saying "ACTIVATE!" Hmm, or maybe "LET'S GO, SHIP!" All the relationship drama will have to be rewritten as fighting over being each other's "best friend." Oh and that nonsense about picking a sex when you turn 17 has to go.

AI: Hang on, the entire premise is that EVERYONE's born female and choses …

TE: Good point! We'll have to give half the characters boy's names to mask that. And probably blur some detail on them so it's harder to tell gender. Might as well rename the girls too...

AI: … they're all girls …

TE: … so the kids don't get confused with those crazy foreign names. We'll also need to scrub all those pesky angelic allusions and tone down the political elements - religion and war have no place in children's programming.

AI: Simoun isn't a kids' show!

TE: … Of course it's a kids' show - it's a cartoon for crying out loud. Haven't you been listening? We're just fixing the mistakes the original creators made.

AI: …

TE: Looking forward to the new pitch!

"Coming this Fall: A peaceful world sends totally normal people into the sky in ships that are special in some unspecified way. Join us for five minutes each week to enjoy some PILOT GIRL POWER!*

*except for the ones who may be boys."

Jonathan Andrade put together this press release! He also made a screenshot of Greg's Way, though the contest didn't require it!

JAPANESE HIT GREG'S WAY: ANCIENT JAPAN JOB HUNT MAKES NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT THIS YEAR

Calgary, AB, August 14, 2014 – Learner's Might, LLC (Learner's Might), the largest Canadian distributor of educational entertainment to classrooms, is proud to announce its latest star-studded acquisition, Greg's Way: Ancient Japan Job Hunt. The new series has been adapted from the Japanimation smash hit Gintama.

Greg's Way tells the story of an out of work samurai that finds himself doing odd jobs to stay afloat. The series is full of encouraging messages that will promote discussion among students and will help form a healthy attitude towards the Job market.

“Greg's Way started out as a cult comic, but became a top-rated cartoon classic through its unique storytelling. Greg, alongside his friends Shaun and Karen, learn through laughter the joys of contributing to society”, says Learner's Might CEO Ted Bergstrum.

The company has carefully crafted 6 feature-length Greg's Way videos to be appropriate for western audiences. “There's a lot of Japanese humor and action that just doesn't play with North American kids”, Bergstrum states. “We've had our team adjust a lot of the references to things we're sure that teachers, parents and students will love.”

Canadian teen pop-star Gregory Campbell will perform the show's theme song, Don't Stop Dreaming, and will star as the voice for the titular hero Greg.

“Gregory is a big fan of shows like Attack on Titan and Bill Nye The Science Guy, and he thinks this show's moral and educational value surpasses both”, says publicist Jean Beck.

Greg's Way: Ancient Japan Job Hunt will be available to broadcasters and educational institutions later this year.

About Learner's Might, LLC

Founded in 1983 by former school teacher Ted Bergstrumm, Learner's Might has become Canada's leading supplier of educational entertainment. Known for hits like Wood Shop Safety, Drugs Aren't The Answer, How Do Magnets Work?, and A Canadian History: The Maple Syrup and Hockey Edition, Learner's Might has successful provided intelligent content that transcends regular expectations.

Congratulations to all the winners! I'll have the rest of the entries next week!

NEWS

SILENT HILL IS PLURAL WITH KOJIMA AND DEL TORO
One could argue that Silent Hill was never meant to be a huge, churning franchise, that it should have ended after the third game, that its ideas and mood could be recreated elsewhere without bringing along the expectations and obligatory Pyramid Head references that dog Silent Hill follow-ups. Homecoming, Downpour, and Shattered Memories all have their strengths, but they invariably come up short when fans compare them with the older Silent Hill titles. Then no one is happy.

Where should Silent Hill go from here? Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro have an idea, and the recent demo of Silent Hills reveals just what they might do with it. Originally titled PT, the teaser sends players on a first-person trek through a repeating maze of hallways, basements, and bathrooms, all seemingly confined in a suburban home. News reports tell of a grisly family murder, an Eraserhead baby lies squalling in a sink, and oh shit what was THAT. It's an impressive taste of the subtle, slow-building scares that set Silent Hill apart from other survival-horror games, though the scenery doesn't have the same decayed undertone as the better Silent Hill styles. It's due out on the PlayStation 4 at some unspecified date, and it's using the same Fox Engine that powers Metal Gear Solid V's two segments. So there's plenty of time for grisly embellishments.

BLAZBLUE: CLONE PHANTASMA SNEAKS OUT
The truly devoted BlazBlue fan surely remembers BlazyBloo: Super Melee Brawlers Battle Royale, an arena fighter released on the limited DSiWare platform. BlazBlue: Clone Phantasma falls into the same category. It's a pared-down 3DS brawler where pint-sized BlazBlue regulars bash enemies off a single stage. And it's out this Thursday, August 21.

The playable cast features Ragna, Jin, Noel, Hazama, Makoto, Bang, Rachel, Platinum, Taokaka, and Izayoi. There's a brief story mode for each of them, plus authentic BlazBlue music and voice samples. It's a simple game, yes, but it's only $5.99 on the eShop. BlazBlue completists should take note, even if no one else does.

TOUCH DETECTIVE GOES MUSICAL
It feels strange to call the Touch Detective series by that name, seeing as how it's kept afloat by the popularity and resulting merchandise of Funghi. He's the mushroom sidekick of Touch Detective's heroine, Mackenzie, but he's the one who gets all of the plush dolls and cell-phone straps in Japan. He's also the one who takes center stage in the first commercial for the new Touch Detective: Funghi's Song.

Well, it's called Osawari Tantei: Nameko no Uta in Japan, but Funghi's Song is what the rhythm game mostly likely would go by here in North America if anyone published it. No one has announced it or the third Touch Detective for a U.S. release, of course. Smart money says no one will, though it's fair to note that Funghi's Song was just announced. It's due for a 3DS release in Japan this November, and that leaves plenty of time for us to catch up with Japan's Funghi craze.

CROWDFUNDING FILES: WATCH OUT BEHIND YOU

CAVERN KINGS
Status: Funded!
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Ends: Sunday, August 31

A dungeon dive through randomly generated levels? Pfft. We've had that stuff since the 1980s, and we have plenty of it today. Yet Cavern Kings isn't a labyrinthine RPG full of plodding corridors and thinly armored warriors. It's a side-scroller in that tiny-pixel style that so many Kickstarter projects favor, and it promises a ceaseless incline of challenge through random stage layouts. We don't have too many of those.

Cavern Kings also sports four playable characters, huge bosses, a bestiary and diary, and, most importantly, a huge pile of power-ups. Many of the 50 weapons and items can be stacked to increase their power, and that results in huge, cave-making explosions and great slices of destruction. Cavern Kings also passed its Kickstarter stretch goals for local co-op and online multiplayer, and the game looks like it'll be much more fun when shared.

HIVE JUMP
Status: Unfunded
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U
Ends: Saturday, September 6

Hive Jump has much the same spirit as Cavern Kings, that of unrelated genres reworked into a side-scroller. Here we see the alien-blasting multiplayer frenzies of Halo paired with the tactics of X-Com and the pixel-platformer presentation of…well, a lot of Kickstarter games. It pulls the look off very well, though. The bug-hunts burst through caverns lit by gunfire and filled with skittering carapaced monstrosities and jetpacked space marines. It's the four-player Contra we all dreamed up back when the NES ruled our lives and any Alien tribute was a good one.

A single player can take on the hives, but this looks to excel with two to four participants: the weapons can be upgraded, survivors can be rescued, respawn generators must be defended, and the whole thing figures into a broader campaign against whatever the Ordovicians are. The battles are all side-scrolling underground firefights, but players choose the order of the missions and the defense points, for that X-Com sense of accomplishment. I can only hope there's some giant alien menace lurking under it all—the trailer and the Kickstarter page already give away the Hive Queen, after all.

NIGHT TRAP REVAMPED
Status: Unfunded
Platforms: PC, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Ends: Tuesday, September 9

Kickstarter rapidly became fertile ground for reviving dormant and neglected games, whether it was through spiritual tributes like Mighty No.9 or official resurrections of Shadowrun and Wasteland. I expected we'd see some moreobscure titles pumped back to life on Kickstarter, but I never expected anyone to revive Night Trap.

Night Trap is a relic on two counts: it's a tribute to '80s horror flicks, but it's also a remnant of the interactive full-motion-video craze that caught fire and hit a wall in the game industry during the 1990s. Arcade games like Dragon's Lair and Road Avenger strung along video clips with simplified player input in the previous decade, but the '90s advent of CD-based systems led scores of producers to creative their own “interactive movies” from grainy footage and limited budgets. Night Trap plays out with the usual FMV flourish: you switch cameras to monitor a house of teenagers, you set traps for comically menacing stooges, you watch some poor actress sing the theme song, and you never quite get the sense that you're playing a game. Night Trap and its lot grew into an evolutionary dead-end by the end of the 1990s, which makes it all the stranger to see it on Kickstarter.

The Revamped version of Night Trap aims to deliver its creators' original vision for the game. In an admittedly intriguing turn, Night Trap was originally put together for Hasbro's never-released NEMO system back in 1986, and the pieces of the game just sat around until Digital Pictures put it out for the Sega CD (and later the 3DO). The era's technology made for loading times and pixelated footage, but a Revamped version would present everything in high-definition for modern systems.

Controversy dogged Night Trap during the violent-games kerfuffle of 1993, and the Kickstarter seems intent on stirring up thing today. Criticisms arose about the developers' plan to create, press, and ship out the game on a budget of about $300,000, and the Kickstarter organizers were slow to respond to questions. When asked about a Wii U version, producer Tom Zito offered a long anecdote about how Nintendo badmouthed Digital Pictures in a congressional hearing. He then added that a Wii U release might be possible all the same.

Hard as it is to deny Night Trap's place in the game industry, this Kickstarter remastering seems a test of just how far irony can take a project. Night Trap remains a simple, play-once endeavor, and most of the nostalgia for it cycles around the press firestorm it started and the sheer hokum of the cutscenes. The game itself doesn't endure, and no prettying up the footage will change that. Still, the Kickstarter has enough interesting odds and ends—including an unreleased demo called Scene of the Crime—that it may suit those fascinated by cul-de-sacs of game design. Me, I'd rather see a remastered Time Gal.

NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES

AZURE STRIKER GUNVOLT
Developer: Inti Creates
Publisher: Inti Creates
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (eShop)
Release Date: August 29
The Rat-Tail: Prime for a comeback
MSRP: $14.99

Don't confuse Azure Striker Gunvolt with Mighty No. 9. Both games find Keiji Inafune searching for the wonder and fan followings he enjoyed by shepherding the Megaman series, which CAPCOM now ignores. However, the two titles take different approaches. Mighty No. 9 is Clearly Not Original Megaman, and Azure Striker Gunvolt is Clearly Not Megaman Zero. In truth, Gunvolt steps further away from Megaman influences than its relative. It has the slick side-scrolling approach, the notch-and-bolt futuristic setting, and the detailed mechanoid spritework of Inti Creates' Megaman Zero games, but it's a largely original creation.

Not that Azure Striker Gunvolt avoids clichés. Here's the setup: in a cyberized world where psychics roam and the Sumeragi corporation controls all, a lad named Gunvolt throws his hand in with the Quill resistance group. Unfortunately, he fumbles a Job when he can't bring himself to assassinate the world's biggest pop star—who is, in fact, a virtual avatar controlled by a meek girl named Joule (catch the puns, folks!). She and Gunvolt pair up and take on the Sumeragi forces, which has all sorts of machines and espers to throw at interlopers.

Gunvolt carries a Conductor Gun as basic as Megaman's blaster, but his other methods of attack set him apart. The Flashfield surrounds him, slows his falling speed, and locks on to nearby enemies, striking them with (what else?) electric bolts. The Afterimage effect allows him to dodge attacks at the cost of his energy-point meter. Switching between the two abilities drives much of the gameplay, and the levels offer little puzzles as well as the inevitable fights against bosses with names like “The Explosive Rage: Daytona.” It all could shape up into sharp little platformer-shooter deal. And if it doesn't? Well, we won't be able to blame CAPCOM.

Inti Creates also announced a neat little crossover: Mighty Gunvolt, a faux 8-Bit platformer starring Gunvolt, Mighty No. 9's Beck, and Gal*Gun's angel-heroine Ekoro. It's free on the Japanese 3DS eShop to early Azure Striker Gunvolt buyers, and I hope Inti Creates offers the same deal over here.

HYPERDIMENSION NEPTUNIA RE;BIRTH1
Developer: Felistella/Compile Heart
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS Vita
Release Date: August 26
Next Up: Neptunia Karts, Neptunia Fighter, Nep-Tris
MSRP: $39.99

So how did the original Hyperdimension Neptunia survive to earn not only a sequel, but an entire legion of spin-offs, anime, and now a Vita remake? Neptunia is a wretched slog of an RPG, yes, but it had an idea: game consoles reimagined as plucky, transforming anime heroines. If they didn't much care for the battle system, fans still liked the lineup of squabbling game-system goddesses who just happened to change into revealing cybernetic combat gear and get into all sorts of odd, salacious scrapes. And so those fans get to do it all over again in Neptunia Re;Birth 1 for the Vita.

Re;Birth1 tells much the same story as the original game: Neptune, avatar of the poor bedraggled Sega Neptune, loses a fight and her memories, and she travels around with anime-girl embodiments of Compile Heart and Idea Factory—or Compa and IF, as they're called. Re;Birth1's storyline gives Neptune's console rivals bigger parts and throws in characters from later games. Plutia/Iris Heart and Peashy/Yellow Heart (as in PC Engine, y'know) now appear, along with mascots from Broccoli, Marvelous, Falcom, CyberConnect2, and other companies. Those who went through the first game will note some absences, however. Due to mergers and contracts, Gust, Red, and Nippon Ichi's characters are nowhere to be seen.

This Vita remake brings the original game up to the somewhat higher standards of Neptunia Victory. The battle system is faster, the worlds of Gamindustri are easier to traverse, and dungeons use a Remake System that's very much like Victory's Scout System. I doubt Re;Birth1 will make inroads among those repulsed by the entire Neptunia sub-industry, but that's probably not the intended crowd. This seems more for the types who liked Victory but gave up on the original after a few hours. Is that a small demographic? Probably not, considering how much Neptunia is out there.

PROFESSOR LAYTON VS. PHOENIX WRIGHT
Developer: Level-5/CAPCOM
Publisher: CAPCOM
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: August 29
Best Crossover Since: Freddi Fish vs. Matlock
MSRP: $29.99

Here we find further proof that games can get away with things that would fall flat in another medium. Crossovers rarely work out well, Aliens and Predators aside. No comic readers cherish Spawn/Batman or that Marvel vs. DC mini-series, and you'll find few people heralding that Family Guy-Simpsons episode as great television. Crossover video games have better luck.

Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright doesn't squander any effort trying to wedge one character into another's universe. Phoenix takes on a case in London while Layton meets a mysterious girl named Espella, and before long the lawyer, the professor, and their assistants end up in the seemingly medieval realm of Labyrinthia, where a ruler called The Storyteller holds sway. The “versus” of the title soon relents, and the lawyer and the professor find themselves on the same side much of the time. Layton uncovers the mysteries of Labyrinthia by scrutinizing puzzles in his usual manner, while Phoenix ends up in that medieval mockery of justice: witch trials.

Phoenix defends Espella against charges of devilish collusion, and his legal arts follow the same course as other Ace Attorney games: examining evidence, searching for clues, and loudly objecting just when everything seems darkest. The mob trials of this game offer a new challenge, however, as Phoenix cross-examines and borderline-badgers a group of witness instead of a single person on the stand. The penalties in Labyrinthia are swifter and harsher, and the city's dreamlike air masks some dark secrets. Plus, it's a challenge proving that someone named Espella isn't a witch of some variety.


Todd Ciolek occasionally updates his website, and you can follow him on Twitter if you want.


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