video games

GR Game Review: Asura’s Wrath X Box 360

Review by Patrick Garcia

Full disclosure before I begin: I was not actually able to complete this game. Every time I sat in front of my TV, controller in hand and ready to play, it wouldn’t take long before it got the best of me, and I had to turn it off. I don’t mean to suggest that this game is so inconceivably difficult that it makes TMNT 1 (NES) look like TMNT 2 (NES), but it’s just that there is so little to like about the game that the experience was just excruciating. Developer CyberConnect2 may have just created the first of a new genre in which I’d like to lovingly refer to as a ‘Snooze Button Masher’ (that’s right, you’re hearing it from me first!), because every nine minutes, you might actually get to hit a button. I’m referring to the overabundance of cutscenes, of which there are some that contain simple quick-time events. Now before any of you fans of the game out there start losing it (it’s hard to believe that they exist, but I’m sure even E.T. has its share of die-hards), of course I’m not being literal and there is a certain degree of exaggeration here, but only some. Let me explain…

As a big fan of Ninja Gaiden, God of War, Castle Crashers, TMNT and other such brawlers, I actually had some hope for this game, because who doesn’t think unceremoniously maiming lesser mortals as a Demigod sounds fun? So you can imagine my disappointment when the first 15 minutes of the game (though it felt much longer) was essentially a poorly-executed rail shooter, frequently interrupted by cutscene after cutscene introducing the different demigods. As Asura descends to Earth, the objective was to blast away the Gohma, which were these red asteroid-looking things.OK, not so bad yet, I guess I just have to arrive on Earth first before I start obliterating everything. No problem. But after destroying a few Gohma, there would be a cutscene (well that was a short sequence, but I suppose we can move forth with some narrative). The scene ends and it was back to the rail shooter bit, then another cutscene, then shooter bit. These cutscenes lasted longer than the shooter sequences did, and that’s the way it progressed until all of the demigods had been introduced and the player properly detached and thoroughly disinterested.

I could already see that the story was going to be your typical Japanese romp, with the infinite weirdness that comes with it. Usually I’m someone who can look past a bland story as long as the gameplay is good, but it quickly become evident that this wasn’t going to be the case here after finally getting on the ground for some brawling combat. Essentially the only attack you have to work with is mapped to the B button, which comprises your basic melee attacks. The player can use Y for a powerful attack, but it has a refresh timer after each use, so you’re still mostly hammering away on B. Pressing and holding X is your range weapon (shooting balls of energy out of your hands), which will put the player in shooting mode and disables them from moving around. This is not very useful if you find yourself being mugged by numerous foes at once as you would expect to happen in a brawler, so this told me that either I was in for a very boring action game that never gets too intense (a blah-ction game, if you will), or it’s just a badly-designed move that seldom serves a purpose…it was a little of column A and B. You have your jump and evade, as well as a button (can’t recall which one it was now) that you could push immediately after getting hit to bounce back quicker, which I actually thought was kind of cool. Finally, there are two gauges that, when full, can either be used to unleash an ultimate attack or allow a period of time where Y doesn’t have to refresh. But as I fought through the ground battle areas of the game, I found myself really only needing to hit B, and occasionally Y after each time it refreshed (and yes, I was on the hardest difficulty). When you boil it down, B is your only real offensive attack, while everything else was just passive or needed to be built-up. I like brawlers (like the ones I already mentioned above) that have multiple attack buttons to give you more options and possibilities for combos, it’s more active and fun this way.

The whole game is episodic with multiple story arcs, which I wouldn’t normally mind, but the way it was done in this game didn’t seem to work so well. Every beginning chapter (which are all consecutive) shows intro credits as if they are each the start of the game. The stories are not interesting and this whole structure is confusing at first, since it seems to keep starting over each chapter. And if you are already quickly becoming bored of the game during its action sequences, it certainly only makes it worse as these non-playable parts just drag on.

So what, you may be asking yourself, did I not absolutely loathe about this game?

• As it has come to be expected from Capcom games, there are plenty of unlockable things to acquire (mostly concept art and such), which is always enjoyable in my book.

• When facing a boss, you sometimes have an option to cut them off in the middle of their “you can’t defeat me because I’m so powerful” speech; this was pretty badass.

Overall, Asura’s Wrath is an “Action” game that relies on being filled to the brim with flashy sequences to attempt to distract the player from being aware of the very limited gameplay and interaction they have. The best way to put it is that it feels more like an interactive manga, which, if you’re in to that sort of thing, might still be entertaining for you, but it definitely won’t entertain the majority of action game enthusiasts.



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Anna Anthropy – 70 Games!

Lengthy Anna Anthropy Article. We worked with her and Saelee Oh to make Octopounce for a previous Game Over Exhibition. She’s made 70 games! Congrats! (Capital NY – Anna Anthropy)



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GR Game Review: Tales of Graces

Tales of Graces F is a port of a Japanese RPG that originally debuted on the Wii for the PlayStation 3, which includes extra hours of gameplay, High Definition graphics, and extra costumes and bonuses. For fans of the Tales series, this game delivers what you would expect in a Tales game, but for newcomers to the series, Tales of Graces F struggles to differentiate itself from other JRPGs in the market.

The game follows the story of Asbel, a boy from royalty who is on the verge of becoming the new king of his hometown, and his friends who meet a strange amnesiac girl on a hill near their hometown. You begin the game as a child and follow the story as an adult seven years later after a series of unfortunate events occur during Asbel’s child years. When you finally become an adult, the story starts to pick up, which became the prime motivator for me to continue playing, but takes a long time to get to the juicy parts of the game. You’ll have to endure about five to eight hours of tediousness before reaching the meat of the story.

But even with its slow start, Tales of Graces F gets better and rewards you for your patience. The story doesn’t become a predictable mess and won’t have you search for a bunch of different items to take down a final boss like in other games (I’m looking at you, Final Fantasy). Instead, the story deviates into science fiction, which caught me by surprise, and becomes enjoyable and well worth enduring hours of grinding and repetition.

 

Battles can get intense later in the game.

When in battle, the game does enough to keep the player engaged. Instead of going through dozens of menus and issuing commands to party members like in other RPGs, you control the main characters on a 3D plane and hack and slash away at enemies using a lock on system that focuses on your opponent. You can move left and right, up and down, dodge and sidestep, and rush and evade attacks while performing artes, the game’s version of magic and special abilities, to create different kinds of combos and attacks. You perform different kinds of attacks depending on how you combine the control stick, the attack button, and your pacing between your attacks.

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Giant Robot Game Night 9 Photos: Abobo’s + Dustforce

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We’ll be Streaming Game Night!

If you want to get to the Ustream page, it’s here. 7-10pm pst.

Live broadcasting by Ustream

 



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Atlantic Interview Metal Gear Designer Hideo Kojima

The man is legend. Surely there are plenty of game designers out there. All the great ones are legend.

Now that video games is an art form (yes we knew this ages ago Pixel Pushers, GR and friends Game Night, GR’s Game Over Art Exhibition) in the Smithsonian (Washington Post – Art of Video Games), they invited Hideo Kojima to speak and here are excerpts as dealt with by the Atlantic – Hideo Kojima. He says great things and perhaps this one quote says a lot.

Why the Japanese have been great game designers:

What’s really important is what we call in Japan, the spirit of Omotenashi which is a spirit of hospitality or wanting to give something to someone, or to share an experience with someone. I think it’s that spirit of hospitality and wanting to share an experience and give that experience to someone else, that’s very important.”

 



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Diversions in Things to Do in LA and Tiny Cartridge

Thanks, Things to Do in LA for the nice write up on Diversions and promoting Game Night.

 

Also thanks to Tiny Cartridge!



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GR Game Review: Zuma’s Revenge DS

by Robert Bruce (special guest reviewer from our close friends, Angry Bananas)

Oh hai there, I’m reviewing Zuma’s Revenge.

The game is Zuma’s Revenge, it’s the same game Popcap has been re-releasing onto every single console they can for the past couple of years. I guess this is the “sequal” to the original Zuma? To me, who is admittedly not a Zuma afficianado, it seems to be the same EXACT game they have been releasing on every console since… many moons ago, regardless of the title change. It’s not a bad idea, mind you. I see lot’s of profit in the Popcap buisness model. Regurgitation of a succesful game, especially a simple game of this nature that doesn’t get old with repitition, it makes a lot of sense, so I am not downing it. However, I have some problems with this particular game, and it’s iteration on the DS.

The game is a typical Popcap style simple/ puzzle fun type game, with cutesie characters and jocular dialogue. Popcap games take “light/ casual” gaming to a new level, and really are one of the best, most consistently successful game makers in this category.

…the frog stared suggestively…

In Zuma’s Revenge, or ZR as I like to call it, you control a frog that shoots balls out of it’s mouth, toward other balls. It’s a lot like the Bust a Move puzzle mechanic, in that you must match up at least 3 balls of the same color and then they disapear. This type of thing repeats until you can clear the board of all balls. The balls are being spit out at a certain speed interval so you must quickly line up shots. There may be more than one line and areas of the line might be cut-off, forcing the frog to jump to another shooting vantage point. There are various special balls that will give you a guide, destroy other balls of the same color, etc. This type of gameplay continues ad-infinitum as with all puzzle games of this nature, with increasing speed, and pattern difficulty. There are some challenge modes, and some other modes, that help give the game some replay value and longevity. Of note, but not REALLY of note is that the theme is Hawaiin/ Samoan, Pacific Islander, fyi. Not much to say about that, so I leave that where it lies.

As with all Popcap games, it’s a simple, straightforward, easy-to-pick-up as well as easy-to-put-down game. However, I don’t find this particular game to be the best Pop-Cap has to offer, and that’s really just a feeling thing. For me its just “eh…”. The other three main-line titles from Popcap are a little more engaging: Peggle; Bookworm Adventure; Plants vs. Zombies. I think each of the story-lines, as cardboard and cheesy as they are, end up being charming. The tacked on story line to Zuma’s Revenge is just not that charming, and I find the game-play, just not fun enough to addict. On the other hand it seems some people out there really do like this game, and the core of the game-play is fun enough to really get people into it for a prolonged period of time. Kudos to them, but… yeah not for me.

Even so, I would probably stay away from the DS version, as the resolution is abysmal, and the porting causes control issues. The game makes more sense on a smartphone, for price point and resolution matching; also the game style matches the typical game style of that device. That being said, if you are a grandmother/mother/ relative of a kid that is into video games, this would be a better, innocuous, cheap, non-offensive, stocking-stuffer type game to give a kid, rather than making the mistake of getting them some liscense-game garbage, such as Spogebob Squarepants, or what have you. However, I would suggest Plants vs Zombies or Peggle first.



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LA Weekly – Paul Robertson Interview

Thanks to Liz Ohanesian for the support of GR2. Read it at the link. (LA Weekly – Paul Robertson)



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GR2 March 24 7-10p Sat – Game Night 9 – Abobo’s Big Adventure + Dustforce

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Game Night 9 at Giant Robot 2

Game Night 9 – I-Mockery’s Abobo’s Big Adventure and Hitbox Team’s Dustforce
Saturday, March 24 2012, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Giant Robot 2
2062 Sawtelle Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90025
gr2.net (310) 445-9276

In conjunction with the Attract Mode, Meat Bun apparel, Angry Bananas, and LA Game Space, Giant Robot is proud to host Game Night 9, an event that takes place at GR2 about every two months. For this eighth installment, we are featuring two games: Abobo’s Big Adventure and Hitbox Team’s Dustforce.

Abobo’s Big Adventure features hardcore 8 Bit action and Dustforce is a beautiful yet challenging platform. Games are free and fun to play. Also bring your Nintendo 3DS for StreetPass action.

Giant Robot was born as a Los Angeles-based publication about Asian, Asian-American, and new hybrid culture in 1994, but has evolved into a full-service pop culture provider with shops and galleries in Los Angeles.

Game Night 9 will take place on Saturday, March 24th 2012, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

For more information about Game Night, GR2, or Giant Robot magazine, please contact:

Eric Nakamura
Giant Robot Owner/Publisher
[email protected]
(310) 479-7311



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Mighty Switch Force Thanks!

Getting a shout out in a video game is always special since how often is this going to happen for us? Thanks to the folks at Wayforward Games. They’re a cool bunch of fellas who do a great service to games both in and out of LA. Here’s the photo set from our past Game Night with them.

 



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GR2 Mar 10 – Apr 4th Art Exhibition – Diversions

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Art Exhibition at GR2

Diversions

March 10 – April 4, 2012
Opening reception Saturday March 10th 2012, 6:30-10pm

GR2 – 2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025 www.gr2.net 310 445 9276

The Giant Robot 2 (GR2) presents: Diversions

This exhibition includes work by:
MONYO MONYO, JUDE BUFFUM, PAUL ROBERTSON, FERIC, MEAT BUN, FRENCH, SEAN CHAO

We all have interests that takes us away. Our postcard image by Australian artist Paul Robertson which hyper dense and 8-bit influenced. Jude Buffum from Philadelphia crosses 8-bit art and social and pop culture commentary. Monyo Monyo from Japan creates wearable masks that are furry and powerful. Feric from Taiwan is known for his delicate and cyber-detailed pieces. Originally from Taiwan but now a resident of Los Angeles, Sean Chao creates astonishing dioramic worlds. French from England evokes metal music and its iconography. Meat Bun, our comrades from multiple pop up shops and Game Night events will display some of their iconic work. In attendance for the opening will be Paul Robertson, Sean Chao and the trio who make Meat Bun.

We’ll also have a Game Night – March 24th 6-10pm also at GR2.

Giant Robot was born as a Los Angeles-based magazine about Asian, Asian-American, and new hybrid culture in 1994, but has evolved into a full-service pop culture provider with shops and galleries in Los Angeles as well as an online equivalent.

Eric Nakamura
Giant Robot Owner/Publisher
[email protected]
(310) 479-7311

 



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Game Night Video Interview of Indie Game Monaco

From the previous Game Night at Giant Robot, Angry Bananas Carlos Lopez interviews the creators of Monaco.

[youtube]DvhMu8Jw19A[/youtube]

 

The interview takes place in the bathroom at GR2 post event.

 



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Nintendo Rhythm Heaven Fever Event Photos

GR’s co-presented Rhythm Heaven Fever event took place last night.

Play the game, experience the fever and enjoy. It’s simple to have a video game, but it’s hard to create a movement around it. Rhythm Heaven Fever is one of those games that can grow a cult ala Katamari and Parappa. It’s a cute game, rhythmic, and released originally in Japan and the hardcore fans came out to iam8bit space in Echo Park to play. We saw quite a few GR “Game Night” faces including the first few in line. Here’s a set of photos from the evening. Free T shirts, photo booths, Portos food, drinks, live painting by Yoskay Yamamoto and Mari Inukai and more. Visits by artists throughout the night included Kent Williams, Audrey Kawasaki, Luke Chueh, Carlos Ramos, Korin Faught and even more. Yes, it was a cross over type of night – which usually are the best.

 

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Tonite! Rhythm Heaven Event at iam8bit

 

Tons of giveaways. Great game, fun event. See you there.



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Giant Robot Time 2.10.12

giant robot

 

 

NINTENDO’S RHYTHM HEAVEN FEVER LAUNCH EVENT

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 6-10PM

iam8bit GALLERY – LOS ANGELES, CA

iam8bit has teamed up with the lovely folks at Nintendo and pals at Giant Robot to produce a shindig for the launch of Rhythm Heaven Fever, coming out for the Wii in a few weeks!

This will perhaps be the craziest party iam8bit has produced, as the game isn’t shy about how bizarrely addictive it is. There are more than 50 mini-games, all of which are pure awesome (like snow seals rolling to a beat) and weirdly awesome (like a monkey high-fiving fellow chimps as he rotates around a clock). The game is all about keeping the rhythm to fast-paced music, which translates most perfectly into a party scenario. They’ll have an overload of activities, including:

- Live Art (by famed artists Yoskay Yamamoto and Mari Inukai, courtesy of Giant Robot)

- Photo Playset (complete with lots of crazy, oversized plush props)

Interactive Video Playset (in which you’ll be coaxed into dancing your favorite jig for the camera, and then upload it to Nintendo’s site)

- Swag Galore! (custom-designed t-shirts and posters)

- Raffle (win the art created by Yamamoto and Inukai)

- Food (yum!) Drinks (gulp!) DJ (oh yeah!)

 

 

HELLO SPRING

FEBRUARY 18 – MARCH 7

RECEPTION: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 6:30-10PM

The Giant Robot 2 (GR2) presents: Hello Spring! Spring is upon us and mysterious, whimsical, and even gritty fits the artists below. It’s going to be a fun exhibition.

The exhibition includes work by:

APAK – Ulises Farinas – Renee French – Pamela Henderson – Albert Reyes – Erika Yamashiro

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Japan’s Senior Gamers

This is kind of sad: Gamers in Japan are getting older. As the average age increases, so are the gamers. SEGA is finding that the average age is going up which means they need to make equal adjustments.

The reasoning behind this couple playing games is quoted as “His wife, Tsuneko, splits her time shopping in the mall and playing video games. “We’re bored. We have nothing to do. I don’t have anything to say to my husband anymore. It’s much better to come here than just sit in the house watching TV all day. We need some excitement, too,” she said. (CNN – Gamers)



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Game Night 8 – Monaco

Monaco is a game of heisting. Playing this felt like you were Robert DeNiro in The Score. Running from guards, sneaking around, hacking, and more. Oceans 11 and 12? That too! Made by Pocketwatch games, it’s a thrilling and that’s Andy Schatz on the right below.

 

3DS Streetpass action.

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Nintendo Explained

Nintendo is posting a loss of $850 million. It’s serious. Here’s why. Angry Birds? Why buy a console when you play on your phone! What is Nintendo Wii U? They haven’t produced a loss in 30 years, but recent mistakes like a $250 3DS that had to be priced lower is part of the problem. The consoles are supposed to be profitable, but the 3DS isn’t. The signature games are helping, but the gimmicks are failing. Is the 3D really important? Not at all. (Japantimes – 3DS)



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GR2 – Sat Feb 4th 7-10pm Game Night 8 – Monaco

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Game Night 8 at Giant Robot 2

Game Night 8 – Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine
Saturday, February 4 2012, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.
Giant Robot 2
2062 Sawtelle Blvd.Los Angeles, CA 90025
gr2.net (310) 445-9276

In conjunction with the Attract Mode, Meat Bun apparel, Angry Bananas, and LA Game Space, Giant Robot is proud to host Game Night 8, an event that takes place at GR2 about every two months. For this eighth installment, we are featuring Monaco.

Monaco is a 1 to 4-player cooperative crime caper inspired by classic French heist movies and set in modern day Monte Carlo. It can be summed up as ‘Pac-Man Meets Hitman.’ In 2010 Monaco won the Independent Game Festival Awards Grand Prize for Best Independent Game, as well as the award for Excellence in Design. It is still in development, and this is a rare opportunity to play the in-progress title and interact with creator Andy Schatz and producer Andy Nguyen.

Giant Robot was born as a Los Angeles-based publication about Asian, Asian-American, and new hybrid culture in 1994, but has evolved into a full-service pop culture provider with shops and galleries in Los Angeles.

Game Night 8 will take place on Saturday, February 4th 2012, 7:00 – 10:00 p.m.

For more information about Game Night, GR2, or Giant Robot magazine, please contact:

Eric Nakamura
Giant Robot Owner/Publisher
[email protected]
(310) 479-7311



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