Soul Sacrifice

Reviews
Hardware: Vita
03/07/2013 (Japan), 04/30/2013 (US), 05/01/2013 (PAL)
ソウル・サクリファイス
Soul Sacrifice is what some refer to as a "Monster Hunter clone" (the game play is mission-based, involves killing a particular number of small monsters or a boss monster, and offers multi-player options in some form). Ever since Monster Hunter hit it big on the PSP a lot of major Japanese game companies have tried their hand at making a game that plays like Monster Hunter, to varying degrees of success (most of them failed pretty miserably). Even though I am a Monster Hunter enthusiast, I generally don't pay too much attention to the clones past an initial investigation of what features they offer. Continue Reading

ゲームは変わった/The Game Has Changed

Blog
I just finished Metal Gear Solid 4 in preparation for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes. I had heard all sorts of opinions on the game, from it being the finest Metal Gear game ever created to it being the most ridiculous and over the top. I think that the truth lies somewhere in between those two, but I was definitely moved and impressed either way. In fact I re-played/played for the first time Metal Gear Solid: Integral, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker all within the last few years. That leaves the main story points (though not all of the fine details) fairly fresh in my mind. As it turns out, that was extremely beneficial when playing Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Continue Reading

Sakura Taisen

Reviews
Hardware: Saturn
09/27/1996 (Japan)
サクラ大戦
Sakura Wars
It's often the case that popular anime or manga franchises are adapted into games, but not as often do you see a game franchise turn into popular anime and manga. Sakura Taisen is one of the best examples of this phenomenon, and given the pedigree of its creators it was probably destined to become a media franchise from the beginning. The creator of the series was Ouji Hiroi, a manga creator who is probably best known for the creation of Sakura Taisen. The scenario writer was Satoru Akahori, a scriptwriter, manga author and novelist best known for such 90s staples as Saber Marionette and Bakuretsu Hunter (Sorcerer Hunters). The character design was done by Kousuke Fujishima (he's certainly best known as being the creator of Ah! My Goddess!, as well as his involvement as a character designer in the Tales series of games) and Hidenori Matsubara (he did the character design for Fujishima's original designs in the various Ah! My Goddess! anime adaptations, and has also been involved as a key animator in many other big animated features). Last but not least, the music was composed by Kouhei Tanaka (a composer of more game, anime and tokusatsu theme songs than I can count). Continue Reading

Gegege no Kitarou: Youkai Daimakyou

Reviews
Hardware: Famicom/NES
04/17/1986 (Japan), 10/29/1986 (US)
ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 妖怪大魔境
Gegege no Kitarou: Ghost Haunts
Ninja Kid
It's interesting to see the early results of a piece of distinctly Japanese source material being made into a game franchise. Gegege no Kitarou is a manga series by Shigeru Mizuki, created way back in 1959. Though Mizuki's series was originally named "Hakaba Kitarou" ("Kitarou of the Graveyard"), "Gegege no Kitarou" was the name of the slightly more kid friendly animated series that was created by Toei in 1968, based on the manga series. It has since been adapted into numerous other animated and live action series and features. While the light hearted and humorous horror vibe that Gegege no Kitarou gives off is not a completely Japanese idea, the ghosts and various monsters (or "youkai") that appear in the series are brought to life straight out of Japanese fairy tales and folk lore. The aesthetic is one not often experienced, so one might wonder how something so unique would translate into a video game back in 1986. The answer, thankfully, is not badly. Continue Reading

Ys

Reviews
Hardware: Famicom/NES
08/26/1988 (Japan)
イース
Nihon Falcom's Ys series is known as a sprawling epic of games, spanning across many different consoles and computer systems. Back in the summer of 1988 though, the first game in the series had only been released on various Japanese home computers (though it originated on the NEC PC-8801) within the last year. The second game in the series had even already hit the PC-8801 just a couple of months prior. Nihon Falcom began life as a computer game developer, and wasn't very interested in porting their games to home consoles themselves. When one of their titles did make it outside of the home computer world, it was nearly always ported and published by other companies and with little involvement from Falcom themselves. It took Victor Entertainment, music company gone game publisher, and ghost-developer Advance Communication Company to bring us the very first home console port of Ys 1. And it's a very interesting foot note in the history of the Ys franchise for many reasons. Continue Reading