Podcasting, Gaming, and Whatever strikes me at the time.

Archive for January, 2014

Devil May Cry: Or, why a new design can be a silly thing to hate.

Recently, I got my hands on the new Devil May Cry game.  The only things I really knew going in was it didn’t sell as well as expected, was made by Ninja Theory, and was a reboot sporting a new Dante design. That people hated. Oh did they hate it.

 

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It’s the most common phrase that I hear in regards to this game. “They changed the way Dante looks!” “He’s an emo crack addict now!” Things like that.  It seemed to be the only thing people really had to comment on. I didn’t get a chance to play it when it was released, but it wasn’t out of disinterest… I just got distracted by something else. I’m prone to do that from time to time.  But I sat down to play it just recently, and honestly, I think it might be the best one of the series.  For a lot of different reasons, ranging from the game play being perfect for DMC, the visual design is a high point with one of the most visually striking boss battles I’ve ever played and Dante actually has a character outside of being cool. So, did people really miss a gem of a game because of a silly little redesign? The answer seems to be yes, and I think that’s rather… misguided.

 

Now, before we get into it, the reason behind the design as best I can find, is that Capcom asked Ninja Theory to give the character a makeover.  I found  this quote, from Would you kindly.com:

“Jones says that while new Dante is a “radical departure”, there is a reason in the reboot’s story for it. “Part of the ethos of a reboot or retelling of an origin story is to go back and find out why certain totems of a franchise exist. We want to tell those elements of the story. …We want to update and mature the tone of Devil May Cry.”

“It’s about Dante being cool and making you feel cool when you’re playing it, and so the combat and the style system and everything is integral to that,” Ninja Theory’s creative director Tameem Antoniades told 1UP. “But, you know, what was cool 12 years ago – I think that was when the first game came out – isn’t cool any more. If Dante, dressed as he was, walked into any bar outside of Tokyo, he’d get laughed out.

Now I know Dante is classic in his original design. Messing with it is somehow like messing with Mario’s overalls… regardless of how many jobs and costumes Mario has, it’s part of his look. But the design itself seems to have some cultural influence to it.   Dante was originally designed by Hideki Kamiya sometime around 2000-2001. Now, I’m no fashion expert, but nearest I can compare, Dante’s clothing choices would be classified under  Visual kei, one of many prominent Japanese fashion styles,  which was created in the mid -1980’s by Japanese musicians consisting of striking makeup, unusual hair styles and flamboyant costumes, not unlike glam rock or glam metal. Go Google it and see for yourself. Yes Dante’s look is way more subdued than anything that Google image search will give you, but it’s still not something that could be worn anywhere outside of Japan without getting some glances. The point I’m making is that fashion changes what’s cool and what isn’t at almost lightning speed, and it differs from region to region on top of that, so I can understand the idea of the quote, that Dante would look too out of place in this new world. In anywhere but Japan, and maybe Germany, Dante does not fit in, and at least from a fashion sense, is probably no longer “cool”. So when Ninja Theory is asked to give Dante a makeover, they do so in a way that is culturally significant to them. The new design makes him look a British punk rocker that is at home with drugs and booze as he is kicking faces in at some mosh pit, grungy and dirty, a stark contrast to the pretty boy version we are used to.  Knowing that Ninja Theory, the company behind the game, is a British developer, you can see where their design comes from, looking more like a hooligan than a Japanese glam rocker. So it’s really just another design that’s inspired by location and the culture that surrounds the developer. I’m not saying one looks bad, or one looks better than the other. I’m saying it’s a silly reason to avoid the game entirely. It’s like choosing not to hang out with someone based on the clothes they wear or the music they like. It certainly isn’t to everyone’s taste, fashion rarely is, but from a design perspective, I feel the new look fits better in this game, and the original look fits better in the original games. Really, the game play is still awesome, and the visual design outside of Dante is so damn impressive to look at, why are we complaining about Dante looking a little different? It just seems we are missing the point.

Some would argue that you shouldn’t change a character basic design, and while I can understand that, I find it funny that no one bats an eye when Nintendo did the same thing years ago.

 

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Metroid Fusion was released in 2002, and while I love that game, it did do the exact same thing people were vocal about in DMC. It gave Samus a new, sleek design, not too far removed from her zero suit, which really seemed to do nothing more than highlight her gender. Yes, it had effects in the game and the story, but I’m talking strictly from a visual perspective. In fact, if it wasn’t for the helmet, nothing about this design would say to me that this Samus, and not some new character trying to take her place. Now, 2002 was a long time ago admittedly, but I can’t recall news magazines or websites saying people were upset about the new design, or people saying they wouldn’t play the game because of the new look, nor can I find any evidence to say that was the case. It just seemed to be a redesign that no one cared about. I only bring it up to showcase how silly it is. If the game play is up to the standards, and the game visually holds its own, why skip over it? There is no reason to harp on the characters design. You can make fun of them; you can hate them or like them however you want, but to dodge the game entirely? It seem’s like a little much to me.

 

If you have not checked out the new DMC game, go check it out. If you have Playstation plus it’s free for the month of February, and if not, it’s very cheap to buy. Fans of the genre, and previous DMC games, will feel right at home.  Is Dante different? Incredibly so, but it doesn’t change how fun the game actually is.

 

If you’re interested, the whole article the quote came from  can be read here http://www.wouldyoukindly.com/capcom-devil-may-cry-reboots-dante-design-has-a-reason-could-have-been-worse/

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Bravely Default Demo Impressions

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Bravely Default is a game that I’ve seen a lot of hype over.  People are saying they have spent more time playing this demo then they have full priced AAA releases.  That’s a lot of play time, considering your limited to 30 plays.  But everywhere I look for gaming news, the last week or so has been all about Bravely Default. So, I finally decided to sit down and give this one a try. I figured, no harm either way right?

Bravely Default, also known as Bravely Default: Flying Fairy in Japan, was released as a “spiritual successor” to the 2010 Final Fantasy: The 4 heroes of light, although the game has no connection to that game outside of using the same engine.  Japan initially saw a release in 2012, but then got an updated version, called For the sequel, that the rest of the world got shortly thereafter, with a North American release soon, in February.  The game sold huge numbers in Japan, a series is already planned with the idea of possibly a new game per year, and even a browser based game already in development.  Square Enix has big plans it seems, and as it stands Bravely Default seems to be on every gamers mind with its pending release. But, I remained skeptical.  Throughout the years I have learned to not let hype guide what I decide to buy, so with news of the Demo hitting the Eshop, I decided to check it out for myself.

My first impressions were very simple. This is a Final Fantasy game. And in a lot of ways, it is. A return to form might be the best wording for it, as this game definitely has traces of its Final Fantasy heritage.  Each character can choose from a large selection of jobs, each with many different skills and traits.  Characters have both a regular level and a job level, both which level up in battle from EXP and job points.  Different classes have different skills and affinity for weapons and armor, but there doesn’t appear to actually be a limit (at least in the demo) of what each class can wield.  You can duel wield for additional attacks, but weaker damage as an example. Some classes do that better, but any class can do it. You can also use a second set of class skills, outside of the job you’re using, and again, there appears to be no limit on the combinations.  Knights can use magic, Red Mages can use the Jump skill, and so on.  It really all depends on how much time you the player are willing to put in grinding job levels, but the individual level of the character allows you to push forward and grind in more difficult areas, which nets more job points.  From what I can find, it seems jobs unlock as you play through the story (though I could be wrong), so there is a good chance that you will never be satisfied with what classes your team is using, so you’ll change all of them.  And of course, summons and limit breaks are abound, as is the standard.  It’s good stuff to be sure, but I’ll be the first to admit, it’s really just the same system we have seen before, in fact it seems like they took the job system of 3 and mixed it with 6. Not a bad thing mind you, just what came to mind as I played.

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Good news, it’s a huge job roster. Lots of possibilities for a 4 man party.

What stands out is the Brave and Default commands. Each character can either use the default command to block and store turns, or brave points. By using Brave, you can spend said brave points to essentially give the same character multiple moves.  While you can save up brave points to take up to 4 actions in a row with one character, you don’t have to. You can just dip into the negatives with your brave points to take those actions right away if you want, but you have to wait for your BP to equal zero before that character can take action again. It seems confusing at first, but it’s actually rather simple. Because your BP always starts at zero in combat, you can use those extra moves to demolish monsters in a single turn, netting bonuses to Exp, JP and gold.  I can’t think of a RPG system quite like it, although as soon as I say that, I’m sure someone will correct me. But as it stands, combat, the meat and potato’s of many RPGS, is really solid here.

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I don’t even know what to call that thing.

Then, there is the social interaction of Streetpass, which quite frankly, is a whole other bag of worms.  You can summon friends from your 3DS friends list in combat, which according to my research gets stronger as you use them. Then there is Abilink, which actually allows friends to borrow others friends job levels. I can’t find any evidence to say if it is permanent or temporary, but I have to imagine its only temporary.  And the big one is Final Fantasy Farmville, I mean rebuilding Norende. It’s a game long mini game that tasks players with rebuilding a town, which takes hundreds of hours to do on your own.  You set your villager up for a job, and then you  walk away… for 10 hours!  A little like those city building games on mobile devices. However, by using streetpass to build up the population of your town with your friends, you can actually speed up the process.  Of course there are special things for sale that unlock as you play this mini game that are only available through it, so in order to get the best stuff, you better have a lot of time, or many friends who all own a 3DS. Something about this whole system seems weird to me, almost like they want you to brow beat your friends into buying this game, just to increase sales. Still, it’s a unique approach to streetpass functionality, and doesn’t actually feel to out of place, given the idea behind it.

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I never understood Farmville. Until Now….

I have to admit, having spent about 8+ hours on the demo, I can see what all the fuss is about. It reeks of old school RPG, with some new age functions thrown in. Really, I think that’s what it’s going to boil down to. How big are you on Old school RPGs? I can’t really comment too much on the story, as the demo does little to showcase it, so unless that turns out to be garbage, I think you’re looking at a very solid portable RPG here.  I’m not totally sold on the hype however. Don’t get me wrong, it’s solid, and I’m sure RPG grind maniacs will find something to enjoy, but something just seems missing to get me hyped up for it.  Maybe I’m in the wrong there, regardless; if you’re a RPG junkie, check out the demo if you haven’t.