Disney’s game development sector let go 700 of their employees, totaling 26 percent of Disney’s global staff. That’s a lot of sad faces.
These cuts comes from various internal changes. Disney’s mobile and social game sectors are coming together, combining the stronger and weaker sectors together. Disney also made the choice of outsourcing more videogame development to other companies.
Disney Interactive President James A. Pitaro explained in an interview that while they’re cutting down their videogame output by as much as 50 percent, these changes will bring in positive results for the company.
“These are large-scale changes as we focus not just on getting to profitability but sustained profitability and scalability. We’re not exiting any businesses, and we will pursue licensing partnerships in which we retain a lot of creative input.”
Disney Interactive only makes up a smaller fraction of Disney’s whole operation, bringing in $55 million of the conglomerate’s 1.84 billion profit during the last quarter. They have however constantly been hemorrhaging money, losing more than $1.3 billion for the company since 2008. Disney’s acquisition of the social game company Playdom in 2010 has especially shown to have been a $563 million dollar bust as they were unable to compete against the then rapidly growing popularity of FarmVille.
For generations, Disney has been a part of many childhoods. Keeping up with the times and the technology is crucial for them to keep their crown. Disney Infinity has especially shown to be profitable for the company with its blend of videogame and toys, selling more than three million copies since last August.
While it’s unfortunate we’ll never see another Split/Second, it looks like they could strive in the videogame and toy hybrid that Activision began with Skylanders.
Source: The New York Times
March is here, meaning one of the busiest and most brutal months for gamers’ wallets is upon us.
As usual, the digital realm got another boost of content. Everything from classic titles like NES Open Tournament Golf on the Wii U to Hatsune Miku Project Diva F finally making its way to the PlayStation Vita.
After living through a publisher’s closure and some delays, South Park: The Stick of Truth has finally been released. Classic South Park toilet humor? Check. Role-Playing Game? Check? ManBearPig sightings? Ask Al Gore about that one. This makes me want to see a fighting game based on the “Good Times with Weapons” episode. I would be so happy if they did that.
If you’re not into kids being douches towards each other and instead prefer the full-on trash-talking experience that comes with racing, the Need For Speed series is on a Spring Fever sale on the PlayStation Store. While it doesn’t include the superior, older titles, it does feature the remakes of Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted, which were still good, decent fun. Most Wanted in particular has an amazingly well-trained police force.
The Xbox Live Marketplace is chock-full of discounts on action-packed titles such as Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassin’s Creed IV and Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game.
So what are you waiting for? Make the jump for the complete list of this week’s digital releases.
Virtual Console on Wii U
Nintendo eShop on Wii U
Nintendo eShop Sale
Also new this week:
- The Mysterious Cities of Gold: Secret Paths (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)
- Adventure Island II (Virtual Console on Nintendo 3DS)
- Vacation Adventures: Park Ranger (Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS)
PS Vita Games
- Hatsune Miku Project Diva F ($29.99)
- Growlanser: Heritage of War ($9.99)
- Killzone Shadow Fall Multiplayer Trial (PS4)
- The LEGO Movie Videogame (PS3)
- Hatsune Miku Project Diva F (PS Vita)
- The Last of Us: Volume 2 Original Soundtrack ($9.99)
Instant Game Collection
- Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition (PS4)
- Tomb Raider (PS3)
|Title||Plus Price||Regular Price|
|Need For Speed Most Wanted (PS3)||$5.00||$19.99|
|Need For Speed Most Wanted (PS Vita)||$5.00||$19.99|
|Need For Speed Hot Pursuit||$5.00||$19.99|
|Need For Speed Carbon||$5.00||$19.99|
|Need For Speed The Run||$5.00||$29.99|
Spring Fever Franchise Discounts
|Title||Sale Price||Original Price|
|Need for Speed Most Wanted (PS3)||$9.99||$19.99|
|Need for Speed Most Wanted (PS Vita)||$9.99||$19.99|
|Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (PS3)||$9.99||$19.99|
|Need for Speed Carbon (PSP/PS Vita)||$9.99||$19.99|
|Need for Speed The Run (PS3)||$9.99||$29.99|
- Daily Deal – Left 4 Dead 2, 75% Off
- Daily Deal – Resident Evil Revelations / Biohazard Revelations UE, 75% Off
- Weekend Deal – Assetto Corsa, 33% Off
- Daily Deal – Broken Age, 33% Off
- Weekend Deal – Rogue Legacy, 66% Off
- Pre-Purchase Now – Dark Souls™ II
- Daily Deal – Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams – Rise of the Owlverlord, 75% Off
- Midweek Madness – The Walking Dead: Season 2, 33% Off
- Daily Deal – Puddle, 66% Off
- New Weeklong Deals, Monday March 3rd
- Daily Deal – Receiver, 66% Off
- Daily Deal – FTL: Faster Than Light, 66% Off
- Daily Deal – The Sims™ 3, 60% Off
Xbox Live Marketplace
Xbox Live Store Deals
|Content Title||Content Type||Discount %|
|Call of Duty: Ghosts||Xbox One game||33%|
|Call of Duty: Ghosts Digital Hardened Edition||Xbox One game||10%|
|Content Title||Content Type||Discount %|
|Call of Duty: Ghosts||Games on Demand||33%|
|Assassin’s Creed IV||Games on Demand||33%|
|I Am Alive||Arcade||75%|
|Call of Juarez Gunslinger||Arcade||75%|
|Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game||Arcade||75%|
|Galaga Legions DX||Arcade||67%|
|Bang Bang Racing||Arcade||67%|
|Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate||Arcade||50%|
Remember PlayStation Home? Even if you don’t, you might be interested to know that Sony is giving everyone using it the opportunity to nab a free PSN download code of Resident Evil: Director’s Cut Dual Shock Ver.
Getting the code requires you to log into PlayStation Home and selecting “The Quest for Greatness – Episode 2″ from the Navigator menu in The Hub. Once you’re in, you just have to select everything and every option and the code will be yours (The PGM has a detailed guide for this).
Keep in mind that although PSN lists the PSone Classic as the 1997 release Resident Evil: Director’s Cut with an angry Chris Redfield on the box art, it is in fact the 1998 DualShock Ver. re-release, which features the controversial soundtrack by Mamoru Samuragoch and Takashi Niigaki.
In addition to this, players can nab free PS4 DLC for both Warframe and Blacklight: Retribution.
Sony has given out free PSone Classics codes via PlayStation Home before. Back in November, users had the opportunity to nab codes for Twisted Metal, Demolition Derby, and Warhawk. As of this writing, that quest is still available to partake in.
Entitled “Just Fun,” the album is headed up by none other than Deus Ex lead composer Alexander Brandon, and features original work by over a dozen collaborators, including Jake “Virt” Kaufman (Double Dragon Neon, Retro City Rampage), Danny Baranowsky (Super Meat Boy), Erik Peabody (Viking Guitar) and Grant “Stemage” Henry (Metroid Metal, LONELYROLLINGSTARS).
Brandon, who has also worked on the music for games like Unreal Tournament, Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and most recently Dust: An Elysian Tail, sees “Just Fun” as an opportunity to create a 45-minute album spanning several genres, including pop, rock, jazz and 8-bit chiptune.
The album has actually been finished for some time, but Brandon desired to amass funds in order to do a “proper” release of the album that can give it a more widespread reach across his fellow collaborators’ audience.
While the Kickstarter campaign only initially asked for $6,000, that number more than quadrupled by its end to $25,054. The campaign has achieved several stretch goals, including a bonus second album, a “Making Of” documentary and a professional remastering of the entire project.
I must say that this increase in collaborative albums by some of my favorite game composers (see: In Flux) is a joy to see. What other composers do you hope to see in future projects such as these? I’d personally like to see Yuko Takehara (Breath of Fire II, Mega Man VII) come out of the woodwork again to compose more videogame music.
I had several nits to pick when it came to the relationship between Rinoa and Squall in Final Fantasy VIII, otherwise known as the Twilight of Final Fantasy romances.
For all the problems with FFVIII’s coupling, however, Final Fantasy as a whole is a series known for some of gaming’s most beautiful and memorable romances.
Even during its humble beginnings, Final Fantasy has relied on its character development to help drive the story. There’s something about exploring the themes of love in a fantastical setting that helps make characters feel so much more grounded in reality. Here are a few examples of Final Fantasy romances that actually worked.
Rosa and Cecil – Final Fantasy IV
The first intricate Final Fantasy romance is still one of the best. Cecil is a troubled knight questioning his loyalty to an empire that has become bloodthirsty and cruel. Rosa is a white mage and colleague of Cecil. Although it’s not spelled out blatantly in the beginning, Rosa and Cecil already start out as being kind of an item.
For a game from the early 90s, Rosa and Cecil have a fairly equal relationship. When Cecil is lost on the battlefield, Rosa goes out in search for him and risks her life doing so, becoming ill from the effects of an enchanted desert. After Cecil discovers her in poor condition, he risks his own life to save her. She tells him to follow his heart and is one of the key influences in Cecil’s decision to turn away from the path of the dark knight and become a force for good.
By the end of the game, Cecil and Rosa have taken equal turns in saving each other. A defining moment of her character comes just before the final battle, when Cecil argues that the women of the party would be putting their lives in danger if they come along to fight the final boss. Rosa defies his order, telling him that her white magic is paramount and certainly greater than his. He is convinced and together they end up saving the world, becoming married in the game’s final scene. It’s a fairy tale romance that works.
Locke and Celes – Final Fantasy VI
Locke is a wily and cunning thief who often puts his own needs in front of others. Nevertheless, he feels compelled to help any woman he encounters in his travels.
Celes is one such woman, a celebrated general in the imperial army who defies orders and ends up imprisoned as a result. After breaking out of danger together, Locke and Celes go on to lead a subtle but strong relationship as the game goes on.
It’s this understated connection that makes their romance all that more definitive. Locke reveals that he is who he is because he failed to save the one woman who mattered to him in his past. Celes joins Locke in a side-quest that allows him to attain closure and let go of the past. Similarly, it is discovering Locke’s bandanna that gives Celes the will to live when she is faced with the reality that she may be the only person left in the wake of the apocalypse.
Cloud and Tifa – Final Fantasy VII
This is an interesting one, as many would pair Cloud with Aerith. The fact is, if you take into account the numerous childhood flashbacks and pair them with Cloud and Tifa’s interactions in the present, you can see that these two were always meant to be together. For one, they grew up supporting each other’s dreams. And when Cloud and his platoon needed a guide to take them into the mountains, Tifa was happy to lend a hand (although this didn’t end up going well for either of them).
Tifa is the one who always manages to bring Cloud to his senses and reel him in when he is getting too unruly for the other characters. But unlike certain other relationships Cloud is always thankful to Tifa, constantly putting himself in the line of fire to make sure she is taken care of. Perhaps the most defining moment of this coupling is when Tifa stays by Cloud’s side to rehabilitate him during his catatonia, a period of the game when she takes over as the leading character.
With all of that said, their relationship seems all the more realistic because these two act as friends more than lovers. Although the game’s developers point out that one particular moment near the game’s end implies that they are intimate with each other, we never really see these two have their cinematic kiss.
Perhaps it’s better that the story took this route, not ever really spelling out their affection for each other. Nevertheless, by the game’s movie sequel, Advent Children, we do see that they are co-habitating.
Zidane and Garnet – Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX is a fairy tale that doesn’t take itself too seriously. So it’s no surprise then that the romance in this title is anything but conventional, often playing upon expectations and role reversals.
It all starts when thief Zidane is tasked with kidnapping the Princess of Alexandria, Garnet. It’s only when he finally catches up to her that he finds that the princess is entirely willing to get herself kidnapped. Soon the two, joined by a motley and memorable crew, are on the lamb from an evil queen that a devious sorcerer is manipulating for his own dark agenda.
To be honest, Zidane starts out being kind of a misogynist, even copping a feel or two along the way. Garnet does not put up with his lechery though and firmly proves that she is someone to be respected. Like Cloud and Tifa before them, the game never makes their relationship a focal point. But by game’s end, especially in its final cut-scene, their bond is solidified.
Tidus and Yuna – Final Fantasy X
I was hesitant to include this one, as this relationship toes the line of being overly hyped in the same manner as Final Fantasy VIII’s. But there is still no doubt in my mind that Yuna and Tidus have a very well-paced and developed love.
It all starts when Tidus arrives in Yuna’s era, dropped into the action as much as the audience is, and learning all-the-while how vastly different Yuna’s world is from his. Their mutual curiosity of each other’s worlds is what ignites the spark of this relationship.
It is Tidus’ resolve, optimism and outsider viewpoint that ends up providing the major turning point for the plot. When all is hopeless and Yuna’s fate seems final, it is Tidus who swears to defend her from an untimely sacrifice, declaring his love for her in the process. It all leads to what is widely considered the most memorable and powerful kissing scene in not just Final Fantasy’s legacy but videogames as a whole.
Serah and Snow – Final Fantasy XIII
A first for the series, Final Fantasy XIII features a couple that is already engaged. Although only one of the pair is a playable character, Snow’s undying love for Serah is one of the major driving factors behind the plot. What’s cool about this relationship is that what we don’t see much of their relationship in the present tense. Their courtship and ensuing engagement is all revealed in flashbacks as the game progresses.
Final Fantasy XIII’s three-game saga is widely considered controversial for its gameplay and story, however Snow and Serah’s love is one of the trilogy’s finer points. It’s also incredible that their engagement spans three separate games.
Vanille and Fang - Final Fantasy XIII
Here’s a pairing that’s up for debate, though many game theorists have pointed to “coded” portrayals of Vanille and Fang as being a same-sex relationship. For the sake of diversity, as well as the fact that Fang is one of the more likable characters in Final Fantasy XIII, I’m going to include them.
Sure, we never see Fang and Vanille lock lips (how awesome would that have been?) but there is enough body contact and snuggling between the two that it easily makes this relationship looks ambiguously suggestive.
We don’t really see much of what these two went through in their days before the game begins, seeing as they were put into stasis for several centuries. Upon reawakening in a new world, the two go to great lengths and brave devastating obstacles to find each other again.
From a symbolic view, these two also represent the metaphorical “other,” as they are two women from a cursed world and a distant past. Yet after they gain the trust of their new allies, they end up becoming two of the most influential members of the cast. Their sacrifice at the end even ends up saving the whole world–a sacrifice that involves them spending an eternity together intertwined in each other’s arms at the heart of a new world. It’s a pretty bittersweet but romantic conclusion.
There are just some things that should just stay on consoles.
That’s right. Sorry Square Enix. Sorry Atlus. We know that Shin Megami Tensei‘s first English port will be in the form of an iOS and Android version and it could be decently playable, but we’re not holding our breath here.
While it’s admirable to see some ports of old school games for new audiences, it just seems shameful to see things like sprites getting watered down (re: Final Fantasy VI) or changing games to feature in-app purchases. Games with illustrious histories that stir up emotions within its fanbase deserve to be played, but maybe not with microtransactions. Nostalgia does not need to be nickeled and dimed. However, it’s been done. And it’ll probably happen again.
Either way, these travesties have lingered on in the collective gaming consciousness, and beloved franchises should be spared from the malignant disease that is mobile platforming.
So here we have it ladies and gentlemen. From the Tales of series to Fallout, here are franchises that we would like to never see on mobile. Ever.
I’d die if the next Tales of game was made for mobile.
While I don’t necessarily feel that every franchise that’s been given the mobile treatment is a perfect case of what not to do when crafting a game on iOS/Android, Namco Bandai has already proven that it can’t be trusted when it comes to its Tales of series on mobile platforms.
Those of you with iOS devices may come across a port of Tales of Phantasia, a Super Famicom classic that has only seen one prior release in the U.S. with an inferior Game Boy Advance iteration. The fact that this free-to-play version is based off the GBA release is the least of its worries.
It’s almost as if Namco Bandai wanted to experiment by doing everything a publisher shouldn’t do when porting beloved classics to mobile. Always-online save DRM? Check. Unfairly high difficulty? Check. Removal of key save points? Check. Microtransactions for items that let the player powerlevel? Check. Offensively generic Arial text font? Check. It’s a surefire way to crap all over the original gameplay and coerce people into paying you money in the sleaziest way possible. Square Enix’s high price tags for its Final Fantasy mobile ports are suddenly starting to look more enticing.
I can already see it: Tales of Letdownia for iOS and Android, following in the footsteps of Rise of Mana in shunning consoles and dedicated portable gaming platforms for mobile, where fanboys’ dreams go to die. The game will be F2P, and will constantly badger you into buying high-powered items and EXP or face the rather of overpowered bosses and a loss of progress for not buying a Resurrection Orb with real money.
- Patrick Kulikowski
I’d die if the Souls series was moved to mobile.
Back in the day when arcades were commonplace, one of the main drawbacks was the way games were almost prohibitively difficult in order to drain you of your hard earned (or begged for) quarters. All developers – and arcade operators for that matter – wanted was for you to only last at the machine for a small amount of time before you either fed it more coinage or you moved along for some other sucker to take your place.
Now while those establishments are extremely rare at this point, thanks mostly to the in-home console market that’s thrived over the last couple of decades, I personally think the arcade mentality has gained traction once again. Only this time, it’s on our phones. Considered the bane of many gamers’ existence, the microtransaction is akin to shoveling quarters in to a cabinet.
Imagine if you took the Souls series (eg. Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dark Souls II) and put it on Android or iOS. Not only would the game be difficult, but only through some force of dark magick would the controls actually be usable.
Now imagine that nightmare scenario with respawn timers and microtransactions for the best items or to speed up your wait time between deaths. I’ll give you a moment to take in the horror.
In a game where the tagline is “Prepare to Die,” Dark Souls in such a set up would be horrendous. The even worse thing is, people would either pony up to play more or spend a disgusting amount of time reading articles and wikis online to figure out how to best the game.
Either way, a mobile entry into the Souls series wouldn’t only be a major disappointment for fans anxiously awaiting a future sequel, it would be the Black Knight of wallets everywhere.
- Andrew Martins
I’d die if the next Persona was ported to mobile.
Two words: Demon fusion.
If that was made into an in-app purchase for every time I had to fuse demons in a Persona game, that would be the end of it for me. Now, there’s a lot to be said about the multitude of games within the Persona franchise, but none of that should have to do with mobile. Persona 4 Arena? Amazing graphics and super responsive fighting on the PS3. Persona 4 Golden? Beautiful and chockfull of intuitive gameplay with gorgeous graphics on the Vita.
And all of that would be lost if they moved to mobile. I would envision however, that they would do something akin to what Atlus is planning for Persona Q, cute little chibi versions of our favorite characters playing in a standard RPG with basic touch controls. Unlock Chie Satonaka (and everyone loves Chie) to play certain parts of the story, get tons of experience leveling up because you bought her as part of a character pack while finding other friends to save. Go to the Velvet Room, slap down some cash inside to get Igor to fuse your demons and have Elizabeth tell you all about them vis a vis the compendium. And then go on your way home and pay fake currency to pick up some fake ramen for your fake dinner.
It sounds like a horrible nightmare currency exchange. Money for demons. Then fake money for fake food.
Even Shadow Teddie disapproves.
- Karen Rivera
I’d die if Child of Eden was ported to mobile.
Child of Eden is a unique experience, getting you in touch with the beat of the rhythm – synesthesia as it’s called. It’s an amazing feeling that translates well when you play on the big screen with a wonderful sound system. Shrinking that down to a mobile device though? No. Just no. Audio and visual quality would take a big hit, and without those you wouldn’t just ‘feel’ it anymore.
Besides, would you really want to travel with a rave party in your pocket? I mean yeah it sounds amazing in concept, but in the end all you have is a stripped down rhythm game that has lost its touch – metaphorically speaking. Literally, it would obviously have touch controls. Great, now you can’t see what you’re doing as you’re poking the enemies at the beat.
And then microtransactions would make an appearance. New levels, more life or extra euphoria. I could talk about this, but let’s not even get started.
I think that we can just agree that Child of Eden should stay on the big screen, where we can all bask ourselves in its beautiful visuals and ear hugging music.
- Allain Richard
UPDATE: Famitsu has posted several more gameplay videos on its app page, which you can find embedded after the break.
While people are somewhat getting over their collective shock and awe over the latest entry in the Mana series, Director Hiroki Kikuta has tweeted out a new video showcasing gameplay for Rise of Mana on the iOS platform.
Staples of the Mana series are clear as day, with Rabites in full sight and seemingly fluid action fighting elements unleashed with a tap of a finger. The current video even features new music composed by Kikuta himself.
The action RPG looks like Mana, sounds like Mana… so therefore it must be Mana.
Or so we hope.
Double taps within the battlefield allow for characters to fight enemies within the ensconced areas out on the world. But fighting enemies should be familiar to all fans of the Mana series from these first few snippets of gameplay for RoM. The latest iteration will also feature music from original soundtrack composers Yoko Shimomura, Hiroki Kikuta, Tsuyoshi Sekito and Kenji Ito.
Rise of Mana is scheduled to release soon on iOS in Japan, with an Android version to follow later on.
Check out the gameplay video after the jump.
(Editor’s Note: With the game industry being populated with so many RPGs, it’s easy to lose sight of the hidden gems. Open up the RPG Treasure Chest, where we focus on those titles that deserve more attention.)
Once when I was but a youngling, I walked into a now-defunct Kay-Bee Toys with my grandmother and my older brother. I was allowed to choose one toy, and since I had just come into gaming, that “toy” was an SNES cartridge.
After asking the cashier which title I should go with—and with some keen direction from my brother, a SNES connoisseur—I walked out with what would become the first RPG I ever purchased for myself.
That RPG was The Secret of Mana.
The Mana series has always remained in the shadow of Final Fantasy, an irony considering how the first legitimate Mana title on Game Boy was designed as a Final Fantasy spin-off.
Although Secret of Mana is considered a sequel to Seiken Densetsu (Final Fantasy Adventure/Sword of Mana in North America), it is in the same way that Shadow Hearts is a sequel to Koudelka—in spirit only. Secret of Mana started out as a rather ambitious title, originally designed as one of the first games for Nintendo’s CD-add on, what would later evolve into Sony’s PlayStation.
This is a game with a beginning and ending that ends up being both somber and beautiful. Secret of Mana’s story is long, yet surprisingly it remains relatively free of convolution. There is very little meandering and detouring in the plot, which concerns an exiled boy teaming up with a warrior princess and a sprite to seal eight elemental seeds. Of course, there is much more characterization and “meat” to the story’s spine, but Secret of Mana’s epic unravels more through the characters you come across rather than through Randi, the game’s leading protagonist.
As is the case with its sequel, Secret of Mana combines action a la The Legend of Zelda with a command ring for inventory use and spell-casting. The action only freezes when you’re choosing a spell, item or new piece of equipment. It’s hard to describe on text alone, but this mechanic does not alter the flow of battle. Secret of Mana really develops its own flow that proves to be both challenging and highly inviting.
As a kid, it was a tough little game to get into, but Secret of Mana had a very unique optional gaming element: multiplayer. Having a second (or even third) controllable character was not just helpful, but revolutionary. When you look at the RPG canon, a very small amount of these games had multiplayer options. RPGs for the longest time remained a solo experience. For SoM to add on two additional playable characters was another one of its overlooked, groundbreaking feats.
But if I had to pick the most iconic aspect of SoM, my focus would have to shift to composer Hiroki Kikuta and his incredible soundtrack. Name me another game that flawlessly utilizes gamelan and classical piano. Of course, Kikuta’s soundtrack is hampered by the limitations of the SNES hardware, as the soundtrack was initially designed for more audio channels than what the SNES could handle. “Fear of the Heavens,” SoM’s opening number, is still widely considered one of the best music compositions in gaming, commencing with the sound of whales (Kikuta cites the usage of whale song as being a metaphor for the towering Mana Tree crying out for rescue) and utilizing the simplicity of the piano.
What’s amusing about this game, which is already up there in length, is that there is a long-standing industry rumor that what we ended up getting was only 65 percent of what had been planned in development. When Squaresoft set out to craft an epic, the developers weren’t kidding around.
So why is it that Secret of Mana never really took off as a series in North America? Much of that can be blamed on Squaresoft’s failure to translate SoM’s sequel, known in Japan as Seiken Densetsu 3 (AKA Secret of Mana 2, which I raved about previously). It may have also been a bit too revolutionary for American gamers’ tastes during a time when RPGs had yet to be accepted by the mainstream.
Another problem may have been the experimental directions that Square ended up taking the series. While Legend of Mana did come to Western shores, it was not widely received and became a bit of a cult classic. Any other sequels Square-Enix released here were rather lackluster or bogged down by mechanical quirks. And now there’s going to be a mobile phone sequel…so it doesn’t look like Mana never really got the chance it deserved.
Still, Secret of Mana remains such a lauded game for a good reason. It remains a timeless classic that subtly influenced games like Kingdom Hearts and Rogue Galaxy, bridging the gap between turn-based RPG and action RPG. If you’re itching to discover this SNES classic, your best chance is the Wii Virtual Console. There is also an iOS version if that’s your thing.
Is it your thing?
What happens when the work of Western game composers gets meshed together with those from the East? In Flux happens.
Brave Wave Productions (formerly known as Koopa Soundworks), which previously brought game music fans two compilations of remix albums in the form of World 1-2 and World 1-2: Encore last year (my review here), have just released a new album entitled In Flux.
Described as “an East-meets-West music album that merges the two oceans together in an unprecedented way,” the album features returning Japanese composers like Manami Matsumae (Mega Man, Mighty No. 9), Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill) and Keiji Yamagishi (Ninja Gaiden, Captain Tsubasa), who join forces with Western-based musicians such as Eirik Suhrke (Spelunky, Ridiculous Fishing) and Grant “Stemage” Henry (Metroid Metal) to provide several original tracks spanning various genres.
The digital album is on Brave Wave’s Bandcamp page for $10, while a physical CD release will run you $15 plus shipping.
Read on as I review the album track-by-track and get immersed in its diverse sound waves.
“Iridescence” by Marius Masalar
The album kicks off with a chipper opening reminiscent of a the kind of music you’d expect in a Disney film. The track features some dramatic shifts in tone, inducing feelings of hope with its swells of strings and chiptune interludes that later fall into bouts of uncertainty with its piano outro.
“Diamond” by Monomirror
Monomirror provided a Metroid remix in World 1-2: Encore which I called “spacey” and “lullaby-esque.” “Diamond” by comparison is incredibly different, featuring an upbeat concoction of chiptunes and atmospheric synths that washed over me like a wave. It’s by far one of my favorite tracks on this album.
“Blue Star” by Manami Matsumae & Tim McCord
Manami Matsumae and her piano are joined by an incredibly surprising guest, that being Evanescence bassist Tim McCord who provides a slew of backing instruments. It’s a very emotional piece that erupts in its final minute into a powerful combination of strings, distorted guitar, drums and piano.
Originally a song by Indie Game: The Movie composer Jim Guthrie, Silent Hill’s Akira Yamaoka reworked the track to feature a more refined sound that sports more instrumentation, including his signature use of backing electric guitar. While the vocals may not be for everyone, the track is hauntingly moody, which only seems right for a musician who’s scared the pants off many a survival horror fan.
Ninja Gaiden composer Keiji Yamagishi and Spelunky composer Eirik Suhrke combine their talents in this track to produce a playful tune that channels the best sounds of the FM synthesizer from the Sega Genesis/Megadrive. It makes me want to break the system out and forget that I ever had a beef with Sega kids in my childhood days.
“Putting the Beacons to Bed” by Stemage & Manami Matsumae
You’ll come to find that Matsumae collaborated with a bunch of Western-based artists on this album. Here we have a very atmospheric, space-like track that features some creative odd-time guitar riffs that fit right in with Matsumae’s piano playing. And of course, it’s not an exceptional Stemage track without some wickedly good guitar harmonies.
“Manta Ray” by PolarBirds
“Manta Ray” thrusts the listener back into some sprightly chiptunes, with a backing synth pattern reminiscent of the type you’d find in Hotline Miami’s soundtrack.
Like World 1-2′s “Memories of T” before it, this feels like a long-lost Ninja Gaiden tune with its complex, fast-paced drum beats laid upon infectious chiptune melodies.
“Shattered Moon” by Saori Kobayashi
Seeing Panzer Dragoon Saga composer Saori Kobayashi on this album was a huge surprise. Her contribution to the album is top-notch and much like the Panzer Dragoon soundtracks, features very worldly, tribal influences that are presented together with ethereal synths. This carries on until the end, where the track throws us for a loop with a sea shanty.
“Chloroplast Skin” by Lifeformed
Dustforce’s composer’s addition to the album is very off-kilter, in a good way. This track is comprised of echoing, sexual-sounding feminine vocal moans and ambient synths that are carried forth by a slow yet intense beat. From beginning to end, this track left me in some form of a trance.
“Menacing Wonders” by Chipzel & Manami Matsumae
“Menacing Wonders” is perfectly titled. The track starts off menacingly enough, with a chip melody that makes it feel like the theme of an epic final boss fight, before switching gears to form into something more uplifting.
“Blue Star (Piano Mix)” by Manami Matsumae
Closing out the album is a piano-driven version of the third track, a neat reprise that caps things off both nicely and softly.
In summation, In Flux is a great example of the kind of magic that can be conjured up when game musicians of differing backgrounds come together. What stood out even further than that for me, however, was its ability to prove once again that game composers and musicians are more than capable of creating meaningful music even when videogames aren’t involved.
For all of that, In Flux gets the PK seal of approval.
Earlier today, an image popped up on Reddit that heavily suggests that French development outfit Arkane Studios is working on a sequel to the critically acclaimed 2012 title, Dishonored.
Allegedly titled simply Dishonored II, the image states that a “full reveal” is slated for this year’s E3 in June.
In the full image, a supposed promotional hashtag for the game mentions the “Darkness of Tyvia.” Some intrepid redditors connected the dots, linking to a Dishonored Wikia that describes the region of Tyvia as a cold, unforgiving land that “utilizes penal labor camps located in the nation’s center for incarceration.”
To really hammer the harsh characteristics of Tyvia home, some of those prisons don’t have any walls, letting prisoners escape if they so choose. Doing so, however, is considered a death wish, as “no escaped prisoner has survived the trek to civilization in recorded history.”
In the past, the folks at Arkane have said they would definitely make a sequel to Dishonored if it sold enough, so considering its popularity, it doesn’t seem completely far-fetched that a Dishonored II would be in the works.
Also, it would make sense considering the way the stories of both the full game and the DLC for Dishonored ended that neither Corvo nor Daud would be the main protagonist for this reported sequel.
So what do you think? Would you be interested in a new Dishonored game? Let us know in the comments.