The X Button Fall of Legends
by Todd Ciolek,
The X Button will be absent next week so that I may attended the heralded Comics Convention out in the California Territory's San Diego colony. Expect my dispatches at the fastest speed the Pony Express can muster!
The game industry often recycles material from E3 for Comic Con, but there are a few important events in store. Capcom's scheduled to announce a new title, and rumors suggest that it'll be Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 or something to that effect. Curiously absent from Capcom's Comic-Con showcase is Mega Man Legends 3 for the 3DS, but I'm sure it'll be on display. It's not like Capcom's going to cancel it, after all.
MEGA MAN LEGENDS 3 CANCELED, GAME INDUSTRY OVER
The signs were there. Mega Man Legends 3 did its best to win over the public with a development blog that showed the game in progress, inviting fan input every step of the way. It was all very welcome. While never a huge success here or in Japan, Mega Man Legends is a fan favorite as well as the only Mega Man off-shoot that hasn't been rampantly exploited.
But things weren't good: as the producers revealed, Legends 3 was never officially greenlit by Capcom, and the company delayed releasing a prototype demo of the game on the 3DS eShop. The game's chances weren't helped by the fact that Keiji Inafune, creator and steward of Mega Man, left Capcom last year. Then Capcom canceled Mega Man Universe, an admittedly lacking recreation of classic titles. The other shoe dropped this week: Capcom killed Mega Man Legends 3.
This ends a lot of very public work that was done for Mega Man Legends 3. As shown on the developers' journal, they'd nailed down everything from the game's new characters to the missions in the prototype version. It picked up directly from the end of Mega Man Legends 2, introducing spirited heroine Aero and temperamental gang leader Barrett. Voice actors were cast, new enemies were designed, and fans even drew a mascot for Barrett's gang.
Now all we can do is save everything from the development team's archives, because we'll never see it in an actual game. Or we could raid Capcom's offices and steal the prototype demo of the game, which was almost certainly completed, but I don't endorse such radical espionage. If you're desperate for an upside, I suppose this could be some bizarre ploy to drum up new support for Mega Man Legends 3, and that Capcom will un-cancel the game once people start noticing it. Yes, that's it. Cling to hope. Cling.
Capcom stated that the demise of Mega Man Legends 3 was not influenced by Keiji Inafune leaving the company last year. This cannot be true. Inafune was not only Capcom's biggest promoter of Mega Man, he was also adept at getting less popular games past the company's business department. Inafune essentially tricked Capcom into approving the recent franchise-starters Dead Rising and Lost Planet by working on them after they were canceled. He might've done the same with Mega Man Legends 3.
In fact, it was a management-disdained pet project that turned Mega Man into a franchise over twenty years ago. As the story goes, Capcom allowed developers to make a Mega Man sequel only in their spare time, so Inafune and his team put in long hours on a game that might've never been approved. Mega Man 2 was the game they wanted to make, and it was amazing. Mega Man Legends 3 painted the same picture: a game built from the ground up as a labor of love, a sequel that director Mazakazu Eguchi and the rest of the staff had awaited for years. And now it's gone.
NAMCO ANNOUNCES BRAVE COMPANY, HASN'T CANCELED IT YET
Namco's Brave Company casts an interesting light on the RPG ideal: you're not a chosen hero leading a mere band of adventurers: you're the manager of their talent agency. Their goals aren't all that different from typical RPG questing, but the overall goal is to expand your agency, drawing in new clients, pleasing agency president Cecilia Teareal (my romanization, anyway) and, one would hope, getting a hero on the medieval-fantasy version of a Wheaties box.
Brave Company casts a wide net, as it's scheduled to appear on the 3DS as well as the various IOS platforms, where the game uses a player's Twitter account to create heroes. The iPhone and iPad versions are out in the summer, and the 3DS edition of Brave Company arrives in Japan this October.
KONAMI'S YET UNCANCELED STEEL CHRONICLE TRIES ITS ROBOT HAND IN ARCADES
Sega's multiplayer arcade mecha-shooter Border Break must've done well for itself. Why else would Konami try the same sort of game? Steel Chronicle is a newly announced four-player festival where squads of robots make their way through a world where enormous insects have killed a third of the human race.
The team-based gameplay bears an undeniable resemblance to Border Break, though Steel Chronicle's style shows a stronger anime tone. It's strictly an arcade release for now, and the game's currently on location test in select Japanese arcades.
IN BRIEF: FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 GETS QUICK U.S. RELEASE, KLONOA GOES ON PSN, VOLTRON GOES ON LIVE AND PSN
Square Enix is wasting little time in delivering Final Fantasy XIII-2 to North American fans—and also showing them just how the game might improve on Final Fantasy XIII. Not only is a playable English version of the game's early leg already out there (and at Comic-Con), but the U.S. version arrives in January 2012, a month after the game hits Japan.
There are a few original PlayStation standouts that will likely never make it to the PSone Classics line on the PlayStation Network—Mega Man Legends and its sequel are among them, due to voice-actor contracts. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile is not. The lively action-platformer, once a coveted and pricey collector's item, is headed to the PSN as a cheap download in Japan and North America. We don't have a release date yet, but you might want to hold off on buying that $500 sealed copy of the PlayStation game on eBay.
The new Voltron revival continues: THQ and developer Behavior Interactive have a Voltron: Defender of the Universe game in the works for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. As the title implies, it's based on the original 1980s treatment of Voltron: the GoLion-derived series with the Peter Cullen narration and all of the graphic violence of removed for tender American viewers. The game allows five players to control Voltron lions in overhead stages and, presumably, bicker over who gets to use Voltron once he's formed. The game's out in October.
DOWNLOAD ROUNDUP: JULY
GALAGA LEGIONS DX
One might not recognize Namco's latest reinvention of Galaga at a glance. With blinding effects, a wire-frame display, and a ship that actually moves around the entirely of the screen, it doesn't immediately conjure memories of the 1980s arcade icon. But Galaga and its legions of space insects are here beneath it all, remodeled by the same vision that brought us the outstanding Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX.
Galaga Legions DX once again pits a single ship against whirling flights of galactic bees, but it adds all sorts of things: multiple weapons, chain attacks, more enemies to capture, and, as mentioned above, the chance to break free of the back-and-forth plane that limited the original game even by Atari-era standards. The last of these renovations takes Galaga to enticing new places, as players can weave through enemy fleets, blasting chosen targets and avoiding the far more invasive swoops. Beyond that, the game captures the essentials of a good shooter, letting you strategically destroy foes with chain reactions, boost your score, and sweep the screen with your very own captive armada of bugs. It's never quite as intensely fun as Namco's DX take on Pac-Man, but it's nice to see Galaga cut loose.
HALF-MINUTE HERO: SUPER MEGA NEO CLIMAX
Half-Minute Hero is a brilliant response to the sluggish nature of old console RPGs. You're tasked with overthrowing evil warlords and completing typical fetch quests, but the game demands that you do it all in 30 seconds. To that end, everything is streamlined: the overworld looks primitive, battles are quick and largely automatic, and items and special attacks boil down to button presses. The challenges grow tougher as the game's silent, smiling hero travels on, but it always comes down to a 30-second count.
Of course, you can cheat. The hero's spurred on by a money-grubbing time goddess, who'll stop, reset, and otherwise manipulate the clock if sufficiently bribed. There's a wide range of allies to acquire, and they'll offer the same speedy interface in the game's side-scrolling battles. Also included are extra quests for other characters, though the Xbox Live version simplifies the Evil Lord 30, Knight 30, and Princess 30 modes greatly when compared to their varied incarnations in the PSP Half-Minute Hero. On the other hands, Live's Super Mega Neo Climax version of the game looks a little more modern.
PRO JUMPER! GUILTY GEAR TANGENT!?
It's rather cruel of Aksys to leave “Guilty Gear” in the title of Pro Jumper! Guilty Gear Tangent!?. Technically this is a Guilty Gear spin-off, but it has nothing like the cartoonish heavy-metal fighting that the name Guilty Gear brings to mind. Pro Jumper is merely a side-scrolling action game starring Chimaki, a radish-like creature seen briefly in Guilty Gear 2. Making a game about him while Guilty Gear itself lies fallow is a bit like…like…Capcom reviving Darkstalkers as a puzzle game starring the barking dog from Bishamon's stage. And then canceling it.
Not that Pro Jumper is a terrible game. It's a competent side-scroller starring a nearly naked muppet-like hero and his trusty, whip-quick towel. Chimaki spins, leaps, and snaps back enemies on his way to a hot spring, and most of the game resembles bizarre bathhouses and resorts, with turtles with bathing-bucket shells to bosses that wear...bathing buckets on their heads. No, there's not much parody material when your game's theme is “public bathing establishments,” but Pro Jumper makes the most of it, and the character animation gives Chimaki's quest a certain charm. It's not a bad diversion for the DSi or 3DS owner who's already been through Shantae: Risky's Revenge.
NEXT WEEK'S RELEASES
Don't let Catherine's image convince you that the game's all about sex. No, it's also about running around a bizarre dreamscape of unstable block towers and doomed humanoid sheep. This is the nightly personal hell of Vincent, an over-30 wage slave who's suddenly forced to choose between two women: the mysterious, coquettish blonde Catherine and his less playful long-time girlfriend Katherine, who is none too thrilled with this development. When not navigating this largely self-inflicted crisis, Vincent makes his way through bizarre nightmares where he explores massive structures of blocks, pulling and pushing his way to an escape from a death that's apparently quite real. And then the game's bosses appear, looking exactly like the REM hallucinations of a man caught between youthful rakishness and a future of commitment and family.
Catherine's an experiment for the Shin Megami Tensei series and its Persona subset. Though not a demon-centric RPG, it's a puzzle game dressed up in the same eerie modern trappings that drive Persona games, from the character designs of Shigenori Soejima to the unexplained local deaths that couldn't possibly be connected to Vincent's newfound love triangle. The game includes multiple endings, decided by how Vincent handles Catherine and Katherine, and a second player can join the block-shoving hallucinations. So Catherine's more than a sexy version of Boxxle, Shove It!, or another of those simple old block-pushing puzzle games that, in retrospect, had rather suggestive titles.
RELEASES FOR THE WEEK OF 7-31
BLEACH: SOUL RESURRECCIÓN
Bleach: Soul Resurrección turned few heads in Japan, where the game industry is regularly supplied with by-products of Tite Kubo's Bleach manga and its attendant anime. In America, such things are far rarer nowadays. Soul Resurrección stands out more by avoiding the easy route of the tournament fighting game. Instead, it's a brawler, with open fields of drone enemies and a wide selection of playable characters.
It's still a Bleach game, so those dense battlefield-filling troops are all Hollows, Arrancar, and other spirit foot soldiers in Bleach's otherworldly war. Much of that war is recreated here, with no side plots or original characters created just for the game. The playable characters get attacks all faithful to the anime, and a dash button lets them avoid lengthy slogs across terrain. Soul Resurrección closely mimics the look of the anime series as well, and both English and Japanese voices are included. And for those fans who decide purchases based solely on who's playable, here's the list: Ichigo, Rukia, Uryu, Yoruichi, Hitsugaya, Gin, Kenpachi, Soifon, Aizen, Kokuto, Byakuya, Grimmjow, Coyote Starrk, Ulquiorra Cifer, Tia Harribel, Shunsui Kyoraku, Nnoitra Gilga, and some guy named Baraggan Luisenbarn. And the Hollow, Skull, and Tensa Zangetsu Bankai versions of Ichigo. I gather that's the Bleach version of those Arctic Blaster Batman and Sky Striker Batman action figures.
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