This Week in Games
Sega-palooza

by Heidi Kemps,

Hey everyone! What have you all been playing recently? I'm going through Death End Re;Quest, but I'm finding myself distracted by… Final Fantasy VI. But not the Final Fantasy VI everyone knows and loves – this is Final Fantasy VI Beyond Chaos, the Final Fantasy VI Randomizer.

Randomizers are mods to existing games meant to give them a bit of a little bit of a rogue-like element: take the standard placement of things like key items, rooms, character skills, and swap them around based on the whims of a numeric “seed” to turn an old favorite game into a fresh new experience. Both old and modern games have had randomizer mods made for them: you can just as easily enjoy a Dark Souls randomizer as you would one for Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or Super Metroid. Entries in the Final Fantasy series in particular make for great randomizer games: they are linear but have a lot of set item pickups, character abilities, enemy locations, and other factors that can be completely swapped up to make for a fresh, challenging experience.

When you make a special ROM to play FF6 Total Chaos, you can control -- to an extent -- what gets randomized when you set up the game, even going as for as to completely change character art, names and palettes to get really confusing, but for my first run I tried not go too hog-wild: Randomize esper spells, character abilities, item locations, equippable gear, and some of the visual effects, but keep enemy stats and character appearances the same.

I just got to Zozo and it's been a pretty wild experience. Right now, Cyan is my MVP because he got the Magic, Shock, and Health commands – the latter two of which are normally on characters who only show up in your party for a brief period of time, but which I get for the entire game. It's been great having a zero-MP all-enemies spell and group heal (the only group heal I have, as Cure is unavailable) at my disposal for the early game, but who knows if that handiness will persist through to the end? I don't have any espers yet, so I won't know for sure who can and can't use magic for a while, but I'm hoping Edgar can because he's been saddled with a worthless Morph command that makes him bottom-tier trash right now. I'm eager to see what Setzer's got for his skillset, since he's the next party member to pick up.

Yeah, I know I'm rambling here. Honestly, it's been a really slow news week. Well, except for the pink elephant in the room. Or, should I say, the blue hedgehog in the room…

SONIC'S MOVIE DESIGNS HAVE LEAKED AND THE INTERNET IS NOT HAVING IT

A few months back, the internet was alight with people commenting on the Sonic the Hedgehog movie's teaser poster. Despite it basically being a silhouette, everyone looked at it and collectively went “what the actual hell?”

A follow-up image, showing Sonic lounging over the Golden Gate Bridge, did little to instill confidence. Those are not gorgeous gams the world needed to behold… and good lord, what's up with the shoes?

Well, in spite of the efforts of Paramount to keep Sonic's movie design secret, a marketing presentation uploaded in a corner of the internet most of us wouldn't be checking was discovered and very, very quickly disseminated. And boy oh boy, does everyone absolutely loathe what they're seeing.

Sonic's look here is everything everyone hates about uncanny valley CG characters. Misshapen proportions? Check! Weird “realistic” touches added to a character inherently divorced from reality as we know it? Check! Creepy, soulless, misshapen eyes? Boy howdy, is that ever a check!

I have crawled far and wide on the gaming internet, and I have yet to find anyone – anyone – who likes this design. I'm sure they must be out there, but I certainly haven't seen them: most of what I see circulating are people's attempts to make the design less horrifying or photoshopping it into creepy images. Even Yuji Naka himself couldn't help but comment.

I think we all knew, deep down, that a live action Sonic movie would be a hot mess, and it's certainly exceeded my trainwreck expectations so far! Oh well, at least Detective Pikachu is still looking like a fun time. Yeah, its Pokemon designs are a little odd, but they're certainly not… this.

WE'LL BE FACING JUDGEMENT QUITE SOON, ACTUALLY

Man, they're really working hard over on the Yakuza localization team, aren't they? We've received Yakuza 6, Yakuza Kiwami 2, and FotNS Lost Paradise in the West all in record time, compared to the glacial rate these games used to release at. And hey, guess what? Judgment, the series spinoff starring Takuya Kimura as private detective Takayuki Yagami, is less than three months away! And it's dubbed! AND it has a full Spanish, French, Italian, and German localization too! Wowza – Sega's had a lot more faith in the Yakuza series lately, but they seem to think Judgment is really going places.

There's a bit of a catch, though: You'll be able to get the digital version of the game through the PSN store on June 21st, but if you insist on a physical disc, you'll be waiting four extra days until the retail launch on the 25th. At least you get a cool reversable cover and a shiny Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio sticker to plaster on your surface of choice.

INTERVIEW: REVOLVE8'S MASAYOSHI KIKUCHI AND KOJI IGARASHI

The mobile game market is a crowded one, especially in genres like real-time strategy. But even within these crowded genres, there's still room for cool new ideas and innovation to take shape. Enter Sega and Revolve8, a new RTS from the minds of Koji Igarashi and Masayoshi Kikuchi. ANN had the opportunity to sit down for a short interview with these two industry veterans and ask them questions about their recently launched, delightfully crazy fairytale-themed battle app.

Hello! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Can you please describe Revolve8 to our readers, in your own words?

Kikuchi: Revolve8 is a character-focused realtime strategy game. We've designed all of the characters with a very unique, “punkish” style. The big focus on is the game's skill system.

Igarashi: I did the original character designs for the game. I want all the users to enjoy the unique characters and their style. An important focus point is strategic use of the skills. If you use your skills wisely, you will be victorious.

The first thing you notice about Revolve8 are its outlandish character designs. Where did you come up with the ideas for the fairytale motif and the specific characters?

I: I had an idea for a game, a new IP for the mobile market – a cool, stylish, fairytale motif game. When designing the characters, I would take things about the original fairytale stories that I found interesting, and exaggerate them to make cooler, unique designs.

So how does the design process work? Do you plan out the original character designs, then hand off your concepts to another artist to work into the game?

I: There are a few more steps – after I do the outline for the character, I consult with Sega, and we make adjustments together. Once everyone is satisfied, Sega will contract with an illustrator to bring the design concept to life.

The RTS market is quite crowded, especially on mobile platforms, so it seems to me like you've implemented Revolve8's skill system to try and make the game more unique.

K: Yes, I feel it adds a lot of depth and strategic elements to the genre.

So how does the balance of the game work with these skills?

K: We can't really go into detail about specific balance adjustments, but since this is a PvP game, we're constantly re-evaluating the game balance.

It can be very tough for an original IP to get noticed in the current mobile market. What are you doing to help Revolve8 get more attention from potential players?

K: For starters, we're doing lots of interviews like this one! Igarashi-san is always talking and introducing our characters to the audience. Getting the word out through social networking services online is also key. We do a lot of information sharing on Twitter and Facebook. In Japan, our big focus is sharing gameplay video through popular Youtubers. We've even made a virtual Youtuber based on one of the game's characters.

What sort of events and updates are you planning to keep players interested in Revolve8 going forward?

K: We're always thinking about future plans. Right now, we're thinking about a tournament kind of functionality, including an offline tournament. We also want to do friend matching. Since this is a game about skill and technique, we want to add some sort of training or learning mode. And, of course, we want to expand the game's roster of heroes!

Revolve8 is free-to-play but involves microtransactions. Whenever that's the case with a PvP-focused game, the problem of “pay to win” always seems to come up. What are you doing to make Revolve8 a more level playing field for everyone?

K: We've designed the game so that if the player is willing to invest time and effort, they can get into the top ranks without having to spend. Looking at the top rankings, we see plenty of players who've gotten into the top 200 without having spent much. That's because their playing skills and strategies are sound.

A PVP game lives and dies on the strength of its playerbase. How are you working on building a community for Revolve8?

K: Besides the feature ideas I mentioned earlier, we want to expand the game's guild system a bit and make it more enjoyable for players to communicate with each other in-game.

Do you have any comments on the game that you would like to pass along to our readers?

I: Please enjoy Revolve8's unique worldview! Just FYI, I'm playing this game myself under the name “IGA” along with all of you. If you encounter me as an opponent, please go easy on me. I want to win. *laughs*

K: We want players worldwide to enjoy Revolve8 – we made it for everyone! It's very Japanese-style in terms of game and art design, so if you like that, please give it a download and try it out!

NEW RELEASES

The big game this week… well, does it really need much introduction?

The long-awaited Devil May Cry 5 is hitting digital and brick-and-mortar storefronts today on PS4, Xbox One, and Steam. Judging from the reviews out there, it looks like DMC is like the reverse of the original Star Trek movies: The odd numbers are the good ones.

If you prefer your games a bit less intense in the action department – and hey, I'm not judging, we all need chill games sometimes – there's Kirby's Extra Epic Yarn on 3DS, which is a port of the Wii original with some nifty extras tacked on.

And so ends another week of games. Maybe next week we'll talk about things that aren't Sega! Not that I necessarily mind blathering about Sega for an entire column…


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