Following the CD jacket photos revealed last month, popular anime voice actress/singer Yui Horie’s official YouTube channel has posted a 15-second TV CM and short version promotional video for her upcoming 17th single “The World’s End.” The song has been featured as the 2nd OP theme for the on-going TV anime Golden Time since the 13th episode. The 1st OP theme “Golden Time” for the 1st to 12th episode was also performed by her. The CD single which contains the 2nd OP song and the 2nd ED song “Han’eikyuteki ni Aishite yo” (Please love me semipermanently) will be released on March 12. A special site “DOLL Detective Yui” to solve the mystery hidden in the PV is also launched.
Golden Time is now available to Crunchyroll users in the following territories: USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Turkey, Central and South America.
I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’m not a huge fan of the Tales series. I don’t dislike it–I’ve only played a select few titles (before this review, it was just Destiny, Symphonia, and Xillia) from the fifteen-game-strong (give or take a few) series. Getting to play Tales of Xillia felt like a breath of fresh air for how straightforward it was with its story, for its flexible and engaging battle system, and its beautiful Kosuke Fujishima art. It was with that renewed interest in the series that I jumped into Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, a PS3-exclusive two-pack that includes 2003′s Tales of Symphonia with its direct 2008 sequel Dawn of the New World.
Both Tales of Symphonia and Dawn of the New World were released Stateside, so fans clamoring for unreleased games will still have to wait, but there’s still good news here: this is the complete version of Tales of Symphonia, the PS2 version that was never brought overseas with new animated sequences, new enemies and character skills, and a variety of new outfits for the entire cast. Hell, if you’ve played just one other Tales game on your PS3, Chronicles will recognize it and reward you with even more clothes, so loyal fans get a nice extra.
Tales of Symphonia was a regular co-op project with some friends of mine when it was originally released on the GameCube, so it was nice getting to revisit it (and my unhealthy obsession with Sheena). Plucky, kinda generic hero Lloyd Irving sets out on a quest to accompany his friend Colette–a “Chosen”–to revive the dying planet and (of course) fight an evil empire and (of course) take on an even more evil organization. I’m not gonna lie–story and style-wise, Tales games are pretty been-there done-that, but the series wears it like a badge of honor. Instead of trying to constantly reinvent the wheel, the series takes the mentality of Dragon Quest by trying to fine-tune that wheel and make it as solid as possible.
One of Tales‘ claims to fame is a mostly-real-time battle system that you can fully customize and even automate–it’s always nice to actually play a game instead of just making choices from menus like so many other RPGs. You’re encouraged to time your attacks to strike in unison with your teammates, build up power and unleash powerful finishing moves, and set up a formation so your party can fight as effectively as possible. Compared to newer titles in the series (specifically Xillia), it’s not quite as fast or fluid, but once you get into the rhythm, it becomes second nature.
Dawn of the New World picks up after the original game, with Lloyd Irving now known as a great hero who “united the worlds,” saved all of humanity, and… murdered new main character Emil Castagnier’s parents? Yes, you see Lloyd brutally cut down Emil’s folks right at the beginning of the game, so Emil has developed a hatred for the revered hero… which causes him to be a pariah among his surviving relatives and the citizens of his new hometown, who couldn’t possibly imagine that the Lloyd Irving could do such a heinous act. Really, having been a victim of bullying as a kid, I can see why Emil is kind of a coward–he doesn’t want to draw much attention to himself, and he constantly apologizes for every action–a far cry from Lloyd’s can-do attitude.
That said, Emil’s not a bad character, but players who are looking for a more traditional hero may get tired of his crap after a while. While just as plain as Symphonia‘s, Dawn feels a little fresher because it makes Emil work from the bottom up–although if I hear the phrase “courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality” one more time, I’m gonna f**king scream–I heard it like five times in a 30-minute period, and then it intermittently peppers conversations and internal monologues throughout the game afterward. Emil’s sudden shift from sniveling victim to total badass (in, uh… a halter top) happens kind of suddenly, but it’s still treated decently in-universe.
I wouldn’t mind Dwight’s wisdom peppering conversations and internal monologues in a Tales game
Dawn of the New World‘s battle system also shakes things up a bit, giving you more space to fight in and introducing a sidestep/free-run mechanic to battles, instead of putting them on a rotating 2D plane. This factors into strategy a little more, causing you to watch enemies to strike from behind or when they’re vulnerable, and the speed has been increased somewhat from Symphonia‘s.
One of the cooler features for this collection gives Western fans a chance to listen to the Japanese voice acting in both games, although sharp listeners (or people who can understand Japanese) will catch some strange incongruities. Lloyd’s little elven friend is named Genis, but he’s very clearly being called “Genius” in the Japanese dub. Colette is originally called a “miko,” or “priestess,” but in the English version she’s known as a “Chosen.” This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s worth pointing out–the dialogue is also noticeably overacted in both languages, keeping a real sense of fun in both games.
It all boils down to this–if you’re a longtime Tales fan, yes, definitely pick up Tales of Symphonia Chronicles and enjoy your back-to-back 80-hour JRPG marathon, and enjoy all the new additions that weren’t in the GameCube Symphonia. Newer fans of the series, or those just looking for a new RPG to dig into, will definitely have a good time, but should be aware of the slightly-less-fluid battle system, basic story, and sometimes idiotic dialogue. The Tales games–especially these two–may have characters that can be kind of boring to me, but never cross the line into annoying territory, and that’s the saving grace of Tales of Symphonia Chronicles. Most times, anyways–Jesus, “courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality?” I’m never gonna let that go.
+ A lot of bang for your buck–both Tales of Symphonia and Dawn of the New World on one disc for $40
+ Bright, fun, traditional JRPG with multiplayer so friends can join in on the adventure
+ Atypical real-time battle system makes fights engaging and exciting instead of just a menu-driven hunt-and-peck
+/- Simple, straightforward story and characters are welcome, but can be a little too generic for some
- With that come some dialogue that ranges from the typical to the downright dumb
Back from its announcement last fall, super powered mystery Hamatora was pitched as a media media project, with manga, games, and novels planned in addition to this season’s anime. The series gets expanded this summer with the July 17th Nintendo 3DS release of Hamatora: Look at Smoking World.
The game will feature a different cast lead by a newly super powered transfer student and based in coastal Kobe rather than the anime’s Yokohama. FuRyu (Exstetra, To Love-Ru Darkness: Battle Ecstasy) is handling development of the game, with Tokyo Majin Gakuen creator Shuuhou Imai helming the project.
-—— Scott Green is editor and reporter for anime and manga at geek entertainment site Ain’t It Cool News. Follow him on Twitter at @aicnanime.
With every annual release of EA’s FIFA series there’s one obvious, but legitimate, question that is kicked into play more than any other: ‘do we need another one of these?’ With gameplay and game mode alterations that only the most hardened of subscribers ever recognise, is EA justified in releasing tweaked editions of what is essentially the same game every annum?
Over the next few months, in the run-up to the release of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, that question takes on greater meaning. Released worldwide this April, this officially licensed digital recreation of July’s World Cup will become the second full-price FIFA title to launch in six and half months, following
“We want returning FIFA players to really have a different experience from what they’re used to,” explains Prior when told that I already own FIFA 14 and am curious as to how World Cup represents genuine progression, “which is why we’ve changed the gameplay more than we ever have for an ‘event’ title in the past. It’s a full and feature-rich game that taps in on the passion and atmosphere of the World Cup… we’re the only game that provides that.
“From a gameplay standpoint, we’re the best game out there when we launch because we’ve taken FIFA but made improvements to it. We’re really a standard FIFA plus a whole lot more development on top, so if you want the ‘cutting edge’ game then that’s what this is.”
Seeing as World Cup Brazil’s release is being limited to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, it’s difficult not to take the ‘cutting edge’ claim without a pinch of salt. Getting first-hand experience of the game in action is a chance for me to be impressed by the new player animations (mainly concerned with fanciful passes and flicks) and the ability to use another player’s back as a springboard to jump higher during headers, but I leave without definite assurance that the physics model here is superior to that used in next-gen editions of FIFA 14.
“We want returning FIFA players to really have a different experience from what they’re used to.”
Little doubt exists that World Cup Brazil represents the pinnacle of World Cup-specific games so far, however, and Prior is keen to promote exactly that as a key reason for FIFA 14 owners to invest in the series again so soon after the series’ latest release.
“There’s also a lot of content that you can’t get in other FIFA games: the 203 national teams, the authentic World Cup stadiums, and the general sense of atmosphere we’ve built around this to match the actual World Cup,” exudes a genuinely passionate Prior.
“It really is the most immersive atmosphere we’ve had. A typical FIFA can’t focus in on one particular area as it has to cover so many different leagues – they don’t have the luxury of concentrating on making one tournament as true a representation as possible, but that’s what we’ve done.”
For the indoctrinated football obsessive, myself included, Prior is right to suggest that digitally recreating the atmosphere of the sport’s most iconic and important event is enough to attract players. Trying to mimic what we’re going to be watching on television this summer within the boundaries of FIFA 14–without the official branding, kits, stadiums and samba music–would feel like a comparatively hollow endeavour.
The obvious question then becomes, how worthwhile are these ‘event’ games following the end of the tournament in question?
“People play them a lot after the tournament is finished,” is Prior’s response. “For the last one [2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa] people were playing a couple of years after the end of the World Cup, and we keep all the online servers running to allow them to play multiplayer over that time.” It might be worth remembering, however, that EA shut down the servers for its 2010 World Cup game back in December 2011.
“I think the popularity remains because there are a massive amount of people that only buy the World Cup games. For those people, the World Cup is the only time that they’re genuinely interested in football and so it’s the only football game they buy.”
“We were in production at the same time as FIFA 14, so it’s a completely different team.”
For the casual FIFA fan, those tempted to indulge in a World Cup edition but not the ‘primary’ releases, these extra-curricular releases do seem to represent value for money. Whether or not that’s the case for regular buyers is less clear and will likely be determined by how much time you spend playing World Cup games, rather than watching World Cup games, while the real tournament is being played.
Despite the comparatively short amount of time separating the release of this game from that of FIFA 14, Prior is keen to leave me in no doubt that World Cup Brazil featured anything other than full developer support.
“No. We were in production at the same time as FIFA 14, so it’s a completely different team,” Prior bluntly responds to my question of whether or not the FIFA 14 team was rushed into creating World Cup Brazil following the former’s completion. “September or October 2012 we started [development], so we’ve been working on it for 16 months or whatever it is now.”
“It’s a full team as well, it’s the equivalent [size] of the team that worked on FIFA 14 – it’s not just a few people altering an existing game. You couldn’t make a game that’s as feature-rich as this one without a full team. It takes just too much effort.”
With such a ‘feature-rich’ game, it’s tempting to see World Cup Brazil as a test bed for FIFA 15–a relatively low-risk means of experimenting with new features and judging relevant player response.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re using the game as a test bed,” Prior tells me. “We’re an evolution of the most recent game engine, so, yeah, anything we do would naturally roll into future editions of the game engine and the series.
“Obviously, the caveat to that is that we’ll be monitoring player feedback. If we hear that there are things people really don’t like about the game–and I would be surprised if that’s the case–then we would certainly look at that and re-evaluate whether or not to continue doing it. Much of what we’ve done was driven by feedback we received from FIFA 14, so we do listen to what players are saying.”
Aside from the in-match animations and player abilities, much of World Cup Brazil’s feature list is populated by game modes and presentation enhancements. ‘Story of Finals’ is one of the more interesting elements, a mode in which you attempt to mimic or better events that have happened in the real World Cup. Brazil play Croatia in the opening game of the tournament, for example, a game which might see tournament poster-boy Neymar score a hat-trick–a feat that Story of Finals might task you with equally. These scenarios are promised to be made available within an hour of the match in question coming to a close.
What value, however, does a mode such as this retain once the World Cup has ended and England have definitely lifted the trophy?
Speaking to Prior, it’s clear that a lot of work has gone into making World Cup Brazil a game that represents value for money and, as a standalone proposition, it probably will provide a worthwhile amount of content. If, however, you’re part of the regular FIFA crowd and have not long ago ploughed your cash into FIFA 14, then World Cup Brazil is not a standalone proposition–it’s the second full-priced FIFA game in half a year.
The seriousness of your World Cup fever, then, will determine whether or not you decide to double up on FIFA this year.
Blizzard has revealed more details for upcoming World of Warcraft expansion Warlords of Draenor. Specifically, updates to racial traits for all playable races, excluding the Worgen and Pandaren.
Posting on the official Battle.net forums, World of Warcraft community manager Micah “Bashiok” Whiple listed the change notes for each relevant race. The original announcement was followed by a post confirming the notes were taken from an internal build of the game, and that they were still undergoing testing. Whiple described the update as in line with the goal to “achieve much better parity among races.”
The changes are listed below.
Arcane Acuity is a new racial passive ability that increases Critical Strike chance by 1%.
Arcane Torrent now restores 20 Runic Power for Death Knights (up from 15 Runic Power), 1 Holy Power for Paladins, or 3% of Mana for Mage, Priest, Warlocks (up from 2% of Mana). Other aspects of the ability remain unchanged.
Heroic Presence has been redesigned. It no longer increases Hit by 1%, and instead increases Strength, Agility, and Intellect, scaling with character level.
Gift of the Naaru now heals for the same amount over 5 seconds (down from 15 seconds).
Crack Shot has been removed (was 1% Expertise with ranged weapons).
Mace Specialization (was 1% Expertise with maces) has been replaced with Might of the Mountain.
Might of the Mountain is a new racial passive ability that increases Critical Strike bonus damage and healing dealt by 2%.
Stoneform now also removes magic and curse effects in addition to poison, disease, and bleed effects, along with reducing damage taken by 10% for 8 seconds. It remains unusable while CC’d.
Expansive Mind now increases maximum Mana, Energy, Rage, and Runic Power by 5% instead of only increasing maximum Mana.
Escape Artist’s cooldown has been reduced to 1 minute (down from 1.5 minutes).
Shortblade Specialization (was 1% Expertise with one-handed swords and daggers) has been replaced with Nimble Fingers.
Nimble Fingers is a new racial passive ability that increases Haste by 1%.
Time is Money now grants a 1% increase to Haste (up from only attack speed and spell haste).
Mace Specialization has been removed (was 1% Expertise with maces).
Sword Specialization has been removed (was 1% Expertise with swords).
The Human Spirit has been redesigned. It no longer increases Spirit by 3%, and instead now increases two secondary stats by an amount scaling with character level. You can choose which two secondary stats it increases. This has not yet been implemented.
Quickness now also increases movement speed by 2% in addition to increasing Dodge chance by 2%.
Touch of Elune is a new passive ability which increases Haste by 1% at night, and Critical Strike Chance by 1% during the day.
Axe Specialization has been removed (was 1% Expertise with axes).
Hardiness now reduces the duration of Stun effects by 10% (down from 15%).
Brawn is a new racial passive ability that increases Critical Strike bonus damage and healing done by 2%.
Endurance now increases Stamina by an amount scaling with character level, instead of increasing Base Health by 5%.
Berserking now increases Haste by 15% (down from 20%).
Beast Slaying now increases XP earned from killing Beasts by 20% instead of increasing damage dealt versus Beasts by 5%.
Dead Eye has been removed (was 1% Expertise with ranged weapons).
Will of the Forsaken’s cooldown has been increased to 3 minutes (up from 2 minutes).
Enjoying your winter anime? The Japanese fans are, and they made sure to rank their top ten shows this season. The Japanese can have very different opinions than us, so get ready to make your case in the comments.
Burly and menacing, tanks are an enticing tool for turning the tide in any pitched military conflict. There’s also an undeniable coolness to them. Why drive around trees, walls, and foes when you can crash straight through them unscathed, right? Raw power and heavy guns are the primal ingredients that drive World of Tanks, an online multiplayer shooter that reimagines what mid-20th-century warfare might be like if it were fought solely with rolling metal doom machines. But even if you’re titillated by the brute force of hammering explosive shells into your adversaries until they erupt in flame, it’s the thoughtful emphasis on strategy and the unpredictability of every encounter that keep matches interesting over the long haul.
World of Tanks’ 15-on-15 matches get off to a zippy start, spurring your battalion to spread out quickly across the map to destroy all of your opponents or capture their base before they nab yours. A diverse range of terrain layouts in each battlefield create natural choke points that speed you along toward the opening volleys of cannon fire, and once things get crazy, it’s rare that a match bumps up against the 15-minute time limit before one side is declared the victor. This streamlined pacing helps counteract the sluggish nature of the many tanks you’ll command. Sure, you might move along at a slow pace, but you’re never very far from the action, and that’s a great thing.
Getting killed is serious business, however, since the annihilated tank is unavailable until the match is over. This prevents you from immediately using a tank that gets destroyed, which is a minor pain at times. The upside is that you’re free to grab another available tank in your arsenal and dive into a different match in the meantime. It’s a mechanic that gently pushed me to experiment with other tanks I was initially less interested in, broadening my armored horizons in the process.
The balance between simulation-level tank geekery and accessible arcade-style control is carefully tuned here. Each historical tank sports an authentic visual design, and everything from how tanks handle to the way taking damage impacts their performance is realistic enough to satisfy most serious enthusiasts. Get a tread blown off, and you’re either hamstrung or immobilized, depending on the damage level. Take a direct hit from an armor-piercing round, and your gunner might get killed, leaving you prone and unable to fire. This unpredictability is refreshing and plays nicely into how tactics unfold. At the same time, it takes only a few minutes in the short tutorial to get a feel for maneuvering and firing. Swapping between a third-person view for short-range combat and a first-person, down-the-barrel perspective for long-range aiming is as speedy as it is seamless. With less to fiddle with on the control front, you have more room to focus and react when it counts.
Rather than being a chaotic free-for-all, World of Tanks takes a more deliberate, strategy-minded approach that favors tactical prowess over outright brazenness. Barreling headlong into the middle of a firefight with your cannons thundering–even in a more heavily armored tank–is a quick way to end up a pile of smoldering scrap. Instead, thoughtful planning prevails more often than not. Using the terrain to your advantage, you can hide behind bushes for camouflage, use hills and buildings to hamper incoming artillery, and position your tank at an angle to spread out incoming fire and increase your chances of survival.
Stealth is another important element that can boost the fun. Keep from being spotted, and you can skirt around just outside of the action and flank your foes for an ambush or make a beeline for their base when the path is clear. It works both ways, though, and scouting ahead and spot-marking enemies for your group to swoop in on is equally important.
All of this emphasis on thinking on the fly over outright reliance on twitch reflexes makes for slower-paced gameplay, which might not suit some players. But the strategic flexibility and large-scale team collaborations keep matches from stagnating–even when you’re playing the same cycle of maps over and over again. World of Tanks can get repetitious until you open up more tanks and more territories to fight on. Fresh maps pop up at a reasonable pace, with new areas unlocking as you work your way up in rank. That said, expect to see lots of the same terrain over and over again for spells.
Thankfully, your fellow squadmates and their behaviors also ensure that few matches ever play out the same way. Using a headset is the simplest way to work alongside your team efficiently, though basic communication presets also let you issue orders to your teammates. Whether they follow them is another story. But it’s a handy system and, like most areas of World of Tanks, it’s easy to use.
The balance between simulation-level tank geekery and accessible arcade-style control is carefully tuned here.
The sheer tank variety and absorbing progression system ultimately trump some of World of Tanks’ minor grindy moments. Spread out across three different countries, each with its own branching trees of vehicles and upgrades to unlock, the breadth of rolling thunder available is staggering. There’s a huge assortment of light, medium, and heavy tanks that are also bolstered by a mix of tank killers and vehicles specializing in long-range artillery. Each looks and handles quite differently, and you can use experience and cash earned from your performance in battles to upgrade their firepower, maneuverability, and other critical stats.
Unlocking all that World of Tanks has to offer is a slow but satisfying pursuit that helps to cement long-term interest in diving back into the fray. You start with a single tank from each country, and a limited number of bays to add new vehicles to your fleet. Aside from a few special tanks that cost a bit of real-world coin and pack a mighty powerful punch as a result, you can eventually access everything without spending a cent. If you do feel inclined to drop a little actual green to buy power-ups, tanks, and other perks, the good news is that a little money goes a fairly long way, provided you don’t want to get immediate access to everything.
Match structuring and tank types help provide necessary balance, keeping things from devolving into a pay-to-win situation. Even among the higher tiers of tanks at your disposal, the strengths and weaknesses of each vehicle keep any single player from being too superpowered. The way matches are populated by a range of vehicles from different ranks within a range of similar tiers further keeps battles from being too one-sided. It’s not so much the size of your tank, as it is how well you use it and how cohesive your team is.
World of Tanks has some room to grow until it mirrors the heavily updated PC version, but the smooth transition to the Xbox 360 is off to a great start, offering tons of tanks and a strong online player base to dive into. The strategic large-scale tank battles pair with a deep progression system to give everything a greater purpose and deliver a real winning combo.
The official site for the upcoming TV anime adaptation of Lynn Okamoto’s sci-fi manga Gokukoku no Brynhildr (Brynhildr in the Darkness) has posted the second promotional video to introduce the five main characters with their narrations. The announced cast for the characrers are:
Ryota Ousaka as Ryota Murakami
Risa Taneda as Neko Kuroha
Aya Suzaki as Kana Tachibana
M.A.O as Kazumi Schlieren-Sauer
Asuza Tadokoro as Kotori Takatori
The 2nd PV
The TV anime is directed by Kenichi Imaizumi (Reborn!, Seitokai no Ichizon Lv.2) and produced by ARMS
(Elfen Lied, Queen’s Blade, Wanna be the Strongest in the World). It is scheduled to be premiere on Tokyo MX,
Yomiuri TV, BS11, and other Japanese stations in April 2014. The story centers on a second grade high
school student Ryota Murakami. He still can’t forget about his childhood friend Kuroneko who was killed
in an accident. To fulfill the promise with her to prove the existence of extraterrestrial beings, he joins
the astronomy club and looks up at the sky every night. One day he meets a witch named Neko Kuroha
who has escaped from a research lab. She looks exactly like Kuroneko….