Wolflame
Gameplay Video
May 23
Posted by Ben at 16:39

I posted the review yesterday, so perhaps a little odd putting up the 'First Play' video afterwards, but I didn't want to put something up until I understood Wolflame

I like Astro Port's games, and Wolflame is no different. It's incredibly retro, very, very uncomplicated, but that's its charm.

The video is really just showing off the gameplay, and a few of the systems in the game. I don't get too far in, because I'm not very good at Wolflame, but it should give you an idea of what the game is

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May
23
Posted by Ben at 16:32
and presumably the rest of Europe, it doesn't say in the email.

The UK though is getting a PS4 retail release of Anima: Gate of Memories on the 4th of June

Based on the trailer, posted below, Anima: Gate of Memories reminds me of a slower Devil May Cry or Bayonetta. Actually, if I'm being honest, and maybe a little obscure, particularly with the 2d scenes, it reminds me of El Shaddai

It's actually described in the press release as an action rpg, so presumably there's more going on that the trailer shows. At the very least it looks interesting, if it has a combat system anywhere close to the likes of Bayonetta it'll be well worth keeping an eye on. It's being released at a budget price too, with Shopto listing it at around the £17 mark

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Wolflame

May 22
Posted by Ben at 08:22

Weíve covered a few Astro Port games now, and they all have a few things in common. They all feature some great, simple gameplay ideas, and theyíre all fantastically retro. Wolflame doesnít have the lovable kitsch of a Supercharged Robot Vulkaiser, but it may well be a better game.

Wolflame reminds me of being a kid in my local youth club, itís that era of shoot em up, pre-bullet hell where the only gimmick of note are your options. Travel up the screen, blast everything, pick up stars, occasionally drop a bomb, there was nothing complicated about those shooters, and thereís not a lot complicated about Wolflame. You travel up the screen, blasting away at enemy ships and buildings, picking up options, collecting stars for points, until you reach the boss, kill it and finish the level.

As mentioned Wolflame isnít ever a bullet hell shooter, but itís undoubtedly where the difficulty comes in. Wolflame suffers the way a lot of shooters do, in amongst all your outgoing fire, all the explosions of decimated ships, itís hard to pick out the single shot thatís inevitably going to kill you. Itís not helped that a lot of enemies have a habit of holding on to their bullet before pinging it at you, by which point your focus has drifted away from them. Itís a smart attack, but itís slightly frustrating losing a life to the only bullet on the screen. There is some more precise dodging later on, particularly if youíre playing on a harder difficulty.

At various points through the levels thereís support ships you can shoot down that will drop Ďoptionsí. The options will be one of 3 types, leave them to float around a while and theyíll change to another one. Theyíll either attach to the left or right side of your ship depending on the arrow on their icon. You can have different types on either side, and with each one you pick up you gain a level for that side. Thereís a charged blast, a homing attack, and lock-on lasers. Iíll be honest, getting level 5 lock-on lasers is pretty much letting the game play itself itís so powerful, so long as you keep an eye out for stray bullets.

For those chasing a high score the options are key here too. Once you get one of your option sides to the max level, picking one up will instead reward you with a chunk of points. Destroying certain buildings will result in gold stars, managing to get to the end of the level without dying will result in a points bonus.

Probably the biggest obstacle for the high score chasers is the gameís length. Wolflame has 10 levels, all a decent length, all with the occasional checkpoint if you die. Itís a fairly difficult game, you can continue your way through it, at least on easy, and clever use of save states might help you with the rest. Dying does mean youíre put back a bit and stripped of your pickups, but thereís a fair chance the next one you get will restore, or partially restore what you had. Not always though, Iím not sure why it differs, but being stripped back to your basic level certainly does increase the difficulty for a while.

Wolflame is good. It feels achingly retro, but at no point does it feel throwaway or spent. Itís just about difficult enough to engage the hardcore, lengthy enough that us shooter tourists will have something to get out teeth in. Itís a chunky, crunchy kind of a game, itís not especially flashy, beyond just being a good game thereís nothing unique to entice you, but thereís really very little to fault.
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May
20
Posted by Ben at 04:42
Have you ever dreamed of working in a convenience store? No, of course you haven't, why would you, but if you wanted to try out a bright, colourful version of working in a shop Circle have you covered with Conveni Dream

Conveni Dream is by Arc System Works and looks not unlike the kind of themed management games Kairosoft (Game Dev Story etc) put out

We don't have a price yet, and the European date is currently 'TBD', we've asked, and there's no price, but Circle tend to price their 3DS eshop games fairly low. For the folks over in the Americas, you'll be able to download Conveni Dream on the 26th May

trailer below

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May
20
Posted by Ben at 04:26
Deep Silver is publishing King of Fighters 14 here in Europe, and have announced that the game will be released on the 26th August

After what can only be described as a dreadful reveal, King of Fighters 14 has won people around. As jarring as its visuals initially were, it does look like it plays like a KoF game

There's a trailer below, I'm a little fighting game'd out, but god damn I love some King of Fighters

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Effortless
Edition
May 17
Posted by James at 16:26

Unlike Mark, I havenít really been playing anything that feels particularly substantial lately, instead just picking up whatever device I come across and settling for whichever game I feel like playing. But hey, that makes for an interesting angle, as one of the games I found myself playing the most happened to be the smartphone port of Dragon Quest V of all things.

Itís easy to write off console-to-smartphone ports on the basis of a few developers that have got it horribly wrong. Take Final Fantasy VII for example. Rather than rethink the game for touch, the developers plonked a bunch of transparent on-screen virtual buttons over the screen to replace the inputs of a PlayStation controller. It's a terrible substitute.

Dragon Quest V, on the other hand, gets it right. Firstly, being a port of the DS remake of the PS2 remake of the Super Famicom original makes it an easy transition to the smartphone format. Where the DS game used both screens to create a single, towering image, here that screen gap is eliminated.

What results is a natural fit: Just like how you interact with the majority of smartphone apps Ė your phone held in portrait orientation - the game is just a hand's clutch away.

So you can play this traditional console RPG one-handed now. Better still, there are no virtual controller buttons littering this game's interface. Instead, the developers have designed and programmed what I like to call ďsmart buttonsĒ Ė iconographic buttons that donít substitute for buttons to drive a controller-driven interface. Rather they accept direct input that's translated directly into the game itself.

For instance, moving your character is as easy as sliding your thumb about the screen wherever you like. A single tap performs context sensitive actions like starting conversations with locals in towns and advancing text in battle.

Menu navigation is something you spend a lot of time doing in an RPG, so itís important to get this right, particularly on a touchscreen which requires a new interface paradigm.

Rather than utilise on-screen controller buttons to navigate a traditional button-driven interface, Dragon Quest V takes a touch-first approach to RPG menu navigation.

Here, every option is displayed as a large button, making up a grid of four or so options at a time. Like the navigation controls, itís all accessible to a single thumb, so itís just a case of tapping the option you want, then tapping what you want to do with it. Think of it like the bottom screen in the DS Pokťmon games, only it extends from battle to every facet of micromanagement within the game.

The title to this piece is a big giveaway for what I'm about to write here, but Arte Piazza's reworking of controls and interface really do make this 24-year old RPG effortlessly easy to play on a small slab of metal and glass in 2016.

No doubt part of the game's success will be down to how the DS version from which it was based is such a natural fit. In addition to the vertical orientation of the graphics, your thumb only ever needs reach the ďbottomĒ half the screen, ensuring it doesn't obscure the action.

But to point to the DS remake would be to belittle this versionís achievements. After all, the DS version didnít support touch input, or carry a touch-friendly interface at all outside of a single minigame.

With Dragon Quest V on the smartphone, Arte Piazza have created an adaptation that should be applauded, an adaptation of a traditional console role playing game that can be effortlessly played with one hand on a device nearly everyone owns today.
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May
13
Posted by Ben at 01:59
Big thanks to NeoGaf for this one. Sega 3D Classics Collection is coming to Europe according to a Sega Central PR video

No date yet, sounds like they still need to iron out a few things, but we will be able to play 3d versions of Puyo Puyo and Powerdrift on our 3DS in the relatively near future.

Not to try an still criticise Sega for bringing the game over, I'm glad they are, but hopefully the constant barrage of tweets their PR people have had to deal with whenever they mention any game ever will have spurred Sega on to speed up their European versions
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EXP Edition

May 10
Posted by at 17:20

The first game up this week is Stranger of Sword City on xBox One.

A dungeon crawler, functionally identical to Etrian Odyssey and its ilk, but a little more po-faced and much less generous with its drops.

Justifying the latter, it has an interesting mechanic, of 'Hiding', which you can activate in specially-marked areas of the map. When you do that, a team of monsters show up with a chest of stuff, and if you can defeat the leader of the gang before they flee, you get the chest's contents.

I did stream the opening 45 minutes, then another quarter of an hour a bit later, wrapping up the first main quest. Unfortunately Twitch ate the first video, but the second escaped its maze just fine:

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A few years ago, we reported on Tree of Saviour Online, an MMO from the creative team behind Ragnarok Online, which launched its English server properly today, only giving me enough time to power through the tutorial area.

It looks like it wants to be a very action-based game, although as ever in this context lag threatens to ruin that, as I found myself frequently jumping back to where I was stood a few seconds ago as the game and the server fail to agree on where I've been.

This hasn't yet posed any major problem, although as mentioned I'm very much in the tutorial area, and given the grinding-driven nature of Korean MMOs and F2P in general, it feels like it's going to cause the game to suffer very quickly.

Last, and a bit more familar to Bitparade Veterans, I've been making my way through Valkyria Chronicles on PC.

Not a huge amount to say on this one that Ben didn't cover in his review at the time, although there are a few kinks the game could have done with ironing out- the 'Chapter' system of pregressing through the story, will frequently finish a cutscene and kick you back to a menu to start the next cutscene, which feels like a strange thing to do.
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Streets of Rage 2
Playthrough
May 10
Posted by Ben at 15:47

Last week, in celebration of Sega's update to their Megadrive Collection on Steam, I tried, and ultimately failed, to do a 'no-death' run on the greatest game ever made; Streets of Rage 2

So I'm not too sure what it turned out to be in the end, other than a playthrough of Streets of Rage 2. Actually, it's not just Streets of Rage 2, it's Streets of Rage 2 Except It Makes That Weird Tim Allen Noise When People Die

I won't say any more, it's Streets of Rage 2, the greatest game of all time, and I still remember where some of the extra lives are

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Uncharted 4
A Thief's End
May 08
Posted by Ben at 07:39

I managed to get an early copy so let's take a look at Uncharted 4 A Thief's End. I'm a few chapters in, deliberately so, so as not to spoil too much of the early story stuff. I think it's chapter 6, so not too far in but the story has started to get going, just bear that in mind if you don't want anything spoilt

Some early impressions then, it's good. I'm not going to make any crazy declarations about it being the "best Uncharted ever!", but the last two I played were Uncharted 3 and the Vita Uncharted, neither of which landed with me, and it's certainly better than those so far.

The multiplayer beta we took a look at suggested that the gun play had improved, and sure enough the shooting is much better. I think the frame rate plays a large part in that, it's smooth, for the first time since the first game arguably. Uncharted 3 was terrible in combat, maybe terrible is a bit far, but certainly the jerky movement made lining up shots more frustrating than it needed to be. Melee combat is also improved, Uncharted 3 placed a large focus on it and lessons have been learnt from that game. early on at least it's quicker, snappier, less of a drag to get involved in, meaning less time getting shot in the back while you're locked in a fight

Anyway, there's a video below

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