Armored Core

Hardware: Playstation
07/10/1997 (Japan), 10/31/1997 (US), 07/1998 (PAL)
Games that put the player in control of a mech (or a similar type of giant robot) have waxed and waned in popularity over the years, and have come in many different varieties. These days the Armored Core series is arguably a standard in mech games, having been around consistently since 1997 on the original Playstation. It was not, however, the inventor of the genre. Many would consider the inventor to be the MechWarrior series, which debuted on MS DOS in 1989 (and the Super NES in 1993). These were certainly some of the first games to place the player inside of the cockpit of a mech, presumably replicating the slow and lumbering feeling that one would experience from trudging across a battlefield in a giant robot that is not really all that mobile. Even the most popular entry in the MechWarrior series, MechWarrior 2 was released two years before Armored Core in 1995. Continue Reading

Final Fantasy Explorers

Hardware: 3DS
12/18/2014 (Japan)
ファイナルファンタジー エクスプローラーズ
In 2010 Square Enix released its first "Monster Hunter clone", Lord of Arcana. This was a very popular time for Monster Hunter clones, and theirs was considered by most to be the worst in quality, and was certainly the worst selling of the bunch. In other words, it was a failure. It wouldn't be until mid 2014 that Square Enix would appear to try their hand at copying Monster Hunter again with Final Fantasy Explorers. It was a natural thing to assume that's what they were doing, since it was announced as an online 4-player game for the 3DS. What else are games that fit that description other than Monster Hunter clones? Well as it turns out, that isn't really what Final Fantasy Explorers was at all. Continue Reading

Psycho Break

Hardware: PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4/XBox 360/XBox One
10/23/2014 (Japan), 10/14/2014 (US/PAL)
The Evil Within
Shinji Mikami is a figure in the Japanese game industry who has always been followed very closely. Creating the Resident Evil series relatively early on in his career at Capcom, and then reinventing it twice with the GameCube remake of the first RE and then Resident Evil 4, he has really ended up as the "survival horror guy". To be fair though, he did have a huge role in creating that genre as it exists today. Yes he directed non-survival horror titles after parting ways with Capcom, but those would really go on to become cult favorites at best. He never seemed to be able to achieve Resident Evil levels of success with any of his other projects. That's why when it was announced in 2010 that he would be creating his first survival horror game since Resident Evil 4 (known at this time as Project Zwei) with his studio Tango Gameworks, survival horror fans everywhere rejoiced. Not only was Mikami returning to survival horror after spending his time in the action game world, but he said all the right things that old school survivor horror fans wanted to hear. Particularly that modern survival horror games were far too action focused. He wanted to bring back the feeling of struggling to survive. To bring about even further hopes for the title, Tango Gameworks was purchased by Bethesda later on in that same year. This could, in theory at least, provide Tango with a design sensibility that a lot of Western gamers feel that many Japanese developers lack these days. Continue Reading

Biohazard HD Remaster

Hardware: PlayStation 3/PlayStation4/XBox 360/XBox One
11/27/2014 (PS3/XBox 360 - Japan), 01/20/2015 (PS4/XBox One - Japan, PS3/PS4/XBox 360/XBox One - US and PAL),
バイオハザード HDリマスター
Resident Evil HD Remaster
It's plain to see that HD remasters of PS2/XBox/GameCube titles were a mainstay of the PS3/XBox 360 generation, and for the relatively short time that it's been going as of this writing, that trend is proving to continue throughout the PS4/XBox One generation as well. When these titles have been announced though, they tended to either come as collections or just be the latest and greatest entry in a franchise that was featured across that frequently remastered generation. That's why the GameCube remake of Resident Evil/Biohazard being released as an HD remaster across every "modern" (the PS4/XBox One releases will not be included in this article, since they were actually released slightly later in Japan) non-Nintendo platform was a bit of a surprise. It's pretty universally agreed upon that the the Resident Evil remake on GameCube (or REmake) was absolutely stunning, and a masterpiece in its own way even when compared to the Playstation original. So what exciting possibilities await in an HD remaster? Continue Reading

Phantasy Star Nova

Hardware: Vita
11/27/2014 (Japan)
ファンタシースター ノヴァ
Ever since the release of the original Phantasy Star Online in 2000, each Phantasy Star game has been basically cut from the original PSO template with paper thin stories just to create some purpose for player actions. After all, the real appeal of these games was the multi-player aspect from the start, so who really cared about things like story? That's why it was so strange when Phantasy Star Nova was announced in 2013 as being a heavily story focused, primarily single-player entry in the PSO family. By this point Sega had probably forgotten that Phantasy Star had an identity before it went online, because it brought about a lot of hope from old fans of the series that this might finally be the return of the original Phantasy Star series in some way. It doesn't come as much of a surprise that those hopes were very misplaced. Continue Reading