GEEMU! – Bandai Namco’s Level Up Preview
I’m incredibly westernised when it comes to games. Whilst I love Japan and its food and customs, I’ve never been able to really access its gaming and anime culture like so many of my contemporaries have. So for those of you who do know more about these franchises than I do (which is probably everyone), I apologise in advance.
Earlier in April, Bandai Namco invited us to their Level Up tour event. It’s a nice get together they’ve put on this year, touring the major cities and giving the press amongst others a first look in to the catalogue of upcoming games and a few bits of hands on experience. There’s another game that will be coming separately from this event. But for now I’m going to look at the incredible, and rather large, line-up of Japanese games coming to the UK. Another advance warning, as these are all Japanese games there’s very little to nothing in the way of Xbox here. Sony rules the roost in Japan and it shows with this lineup.
Firstly, let’s look at something that everyone knows. Godzilla is the now 61 year old metropolis-crushing monster. Recently brought back in to media prominence by the movie of the same name starring Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston with less beard and more top hair. So what better thing is there to do than to bring the beast to Sony’s consoles and DESTORY! You will take charge of the titular character and destroy everything in your path to harness G-Energy. Us pesky humans have been using G-Energy as a power source and, much like most fossil fuels, is coming back to bite us and destroy our world by also awakening Godzilla. This time there’s no Al Gore to save us all.
There are around 25 levels to destroy along with an obligator versus mode against other monsters and a build-your-own mode where you can construct the perfect city to destroy. Your Godzilla will grow and level up with more of this G-Energy and apparently will also fly. I think Red Bull might have missed a wing-giving marketing opportunity here. What we have is a monster beat-em-up with smile inducing amounts of collateral damage. The game is coming this summer for PS3 and PS4 although there’s no local co-op or versus play, only online battles.
One Piece Pirate Warrior 3
So my mind is a little blown here. It looks and plays like Dynasty Warriors, which is easily explained by the fact it s done by the same people. This is the third instalment of the series where you play as Luffy, or Monkey D. “Straw Hat” Luffy of the One Piece anime franchise, a young man with some super powers after eating a Gum-Gum fruit. So begins his adventures on the open waves and many lands to help defeat Doflamingo. You will travel through many worlds from the anime and earlier games, uniting your brothers and even playing in up to date areas like Dressrosa.
Controls, masses of enemies, combo multipliers and crazy mad magic attacks abound, this is pretty typical “Warriors” stuff. it works well and it’s crazy. Of course if you’re looking at this then you’re probably a fan of the series and the game. It’s a nice button bashing game with some awesome anime graphics and specials. Travelling across these worlds nice scenery with completely obscured by mad particle effects and many waves of enemies before big boss battles. Although for me it was made better by one of the characters (Sabo, I believe) looking like Ginx TV presenter and comedian John Robertson due to some great top-hat game. If you’re a fan, then keep your eyes open around August 2015 on your PS4, PS3, PS Vita and on Steam for PC users too.
Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm 4
I am a giant frog in a straw hat crushing many tiny people who look like ants and beating big rock creatures. I then, after much Warriors like gameplay, jump onto some giant tentacled or armed creature and grind my way down it, slicing it open as I do and dodging fireballs into an anime big battle climax. I’ll be honest, with the gameplay that I played there actually didn’t feel like there was a lot to this game or at least anything that distinctly separated it from One Piece’s superior wave combat. After some research I’m actually a toad with a super katana named Jutso and the PS4’s triangle button charges our attacks. The attacks are simply controlled but are still pretty fun to unleash after you’ve charged yourself up at the expense of many tiny army’s, who have no chance against your massive webbed feet.
What I did get though was some excellent graphics. Violent and vibrant colours filled my screen at breakneck speeds mixed with anime-rendered characters and sequences. You could liken it for cel-shading but the style is all of its own. And out of every game I saw it was this element and this potential that gripped me the most. If the consoles can pull off this kind of magnificence then there’s a lot of exciting things that can come of the art style. At least that’s what I thought I saw, I could have just licked the toad and tripped out. You’ll be able to find out later this year on PS4, PC and Xbox One if the consoles can deliver the full package.
J-Stars Victory VS+
This looks like a standard cross licence beat-em-up but it isn’t. There’s a lot more than that. As me and Steven (from our good friends at GGS Gamer) sat down and picked up the controller, we selected our battlers from various universes and were shown in to an arena of an old village. There we let rip, with me playing as Goku, and kicked butt in a massive destructible environment, charging up our special abilities and using the scenery to our advantage. Our 2v2 team battle was easily lost when we realised we didn’t know the controls but we thought we were cool and that’s the important thing.
The game is great for manga/anime fans, especially those of JUMP magazine. The game gives you a huge roster of characters and environments from many different series including One Piece, Naruto, Dragonball Z, Toiko and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure just to name a few. The PS4 graphics are excellent and although we didn’t get a great deal of the game or its characters, it certainly seems to be a one stop shop if you are a fan of multiple series and like cross overs. The game play, whilst a arena style team based fighting game, is an interesting departure from the other games in this feature and could keep you coming back, even if you’re unsure exactly how the story is working. You will play and mix across all the included licences though through that story and we’re going to get an arcade fighting mode. So keep your eyes open this summer if you’re a PS3, PS4 or PS Vita owner.
Tales of Zestiria
The Tales RPG series has long been requested in the Western markets. For the 20th anniversary of the franchise this latest game, Tales of Zestiria sees you play as Sorey. Your curiosity of history allows you to see a race of invisible people called the Seraphim and leads you to become the Shepherd, a legendary figure in this universe and you will set forth to unite both your human domain and the invisible Seraphim world. Sadly there wasn’t anything of this game playable to us but we did get to see this great trailer. The game is dual voice over in language as you will hear. The game will be available on PS3 in the fall of this year. This game returns the series in to a more action adventure style game but even in last-generation graphics, it looks like and exciting and good looking fantasy environment.
As far as fantasy RPG’s go, we are going to be pretty spoilt in the coming months. Rumours of a new Fallout, The Witcher Wild Hunt (also a Bandai Namco release), Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy and whatever HD remakes are sure to come. But for owners that haven’t yet made the jump, this is going to be a really interesting and beautiful purchase. For all of the slight cliches of the genre in the trailer the world is pretty, magical and fascinating anime landscape that could probably be a last thing for you to enjoy on the last generation of Playstation. JRPG’s have a long history and if this as good as it looks then it’s a fitting end for the console.
Anther notable game is Project X Zone 2. A sequel to the popular 2013 strategy RPG that sees a huge mix of video gaming licences. You’ll have Tekken and Tales of Vesperia characters from Bandai Namco, Capcom’s Resident Evil and Devil May Cry characters and Sega’s Virtua Fighter and Yakuza: Dead Souls all filling an impressive roster. Again this will be a single play game for the Nintendo 3DS coming in the fall.
There’s also Saint Seiya: Soldiers’ Souls. A game that has some excellent anime art based on the TV series of the same name. The premise is that you, being given the golden armour called God Cloths are to defeat the Gold Saints who have returned from the grave. Again this game is due in the fall and will be on PS3, PS4 and Steam for PC users.