Tag Archives: 2Q2015

Shiritsu Justice Gakuen: Nekketsu Seisyun Nikki 2 — 2Q2015

Rival Schools 2-10Rival Schools 1.5 is still fun

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

We here at GI are strong proponents of anything Japanese, fighting games and education. So, you can imagine the delight that is a generous mix of all three. To that end, it should be obvious by now that we love Rival Schools and its overall series Project Justice. Despite the fact that it comes from the brain trust known as Capcom, we’re still entranced by the concept of Japanese high school students fighting to save themselves.

Score-3-5-retrogradeThe middle game in the series, Rival Schools 2, is an interesting addition to the family of fighting games. It’s neither a true sequel nor a spin-off of the original game. It’s an addendum, which Capcom is notorious for pushing on the general buying public. It’s more of the original game — which we love — with some upgrades thrown in to make it worth importing. This version was never released in America, thus there are modes that you will never see. That makes importing the game worth the time and trouble.

RS2 is your standard fighting game, which doesn’t make it unique. Rival Schools 2-09However, the inclusion of the board game mode and the character creation mode that plays out like an eroge simulation are some of the goodies that we’re missing out on in the U.S. There’s also the addition of three new characters: Ran, a photojournalist who uses her camera to attack; Nagare, a swimmer; and, Chairperson/Iinciyo, who leads the charge for Taiyo High School students to defend themselves. Other than these gifts, there’s not much different here than the first game. You’re still fighting to defend your chosen school, and there’s still fun to be had in a slightly deep fighting game system. There’s not too much different aesthetics-wise, in that there are a few new stages and new stage themes. The older stages are still here and it’s fun to play against the newcomers with older characters or a created character.

JP flag w stick iconI have two caveats with recommending the game to others. The first is the fact that it’s in Japanese mostly and reading is a must to get through the character creation and board game modes. That’s a bit much if you’re not into the language or know enough to navigate through menus. The other issue is the fact that, as usual, Capcom has seen fit to deny American gamers the best of a series, shortchanging loyal money-spending fans who would pay a high price for the goodies of the character creation mode and the board game mode. The dirty truth of it all is Capcom has never thought highly of its American audience. We’re not going to see something awesome like either mode because “we just wouldn’t get it anyway.” A fun fact is that both modes were to be included in the first game but were left out in America because it would have been too much trouble to include them for Americans, according to Capcom of Japan. But we’re smart enough to make cash grabs off of for multiple version of Street Fighter, though, right?

The moral of this story is that Rival Schools and its further sequels all deserve to be played by a wider audience. Although it’s a slight rehash of the first game, RS2 was deserving of respect and a proper introduction to the American audience. Thankfully, we were allowed to see the next sequel, Project Justice. Here’s hoping for a class reunion.

DDR Max Dance Dance Revolution 6th Mix — 2Q2015

DDR Max-01A new era of DDR

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

Let’s have a quick history review, shall we? Konami created the Dance Dance Revolution series in 1998 and by 2002, there were at least six entries in the main series. I’d gather that this meant DDR was pretty popular, but you would never hear Konami say that too loud. At some point, however, someone realized the magic that was DDR needed to come into the modern era. So, everything that was related to the first five entries in the series — with the exception of the song wheel and difficulty categories — was thrown out in favor of a complete overhaul. DDR Max was the result and with it comes a mixed bag of modern and old DDR.

Score-4-retrogradeGraphically, Max represents the beginning of a new era. Sure, it resembles current DDR games because they use the song wheel, but the colors became a little brighter and the little touches used to illustrate the different difficulties and categories are emphasized more. The interface is much easier to read, though the addition of the Groove Radar still has some ways to go here. It’s not exactly helpful in providing digestible information that helps make quick informed decisions. That’s a complaint that still stands today, so much so that I tend to ignore the meter altogether. Also, the foot rating is missing and song difficulty rating numbers have yet to come (that’s not until Max 2). But the song wheel has been freshened up so it looks a lot better and is a little more palatable.

Musically, the selection is among the best in the series. The one thing DDR Max-20about Max that’s notable about the music is the lack of a Paranoia mix. For a series trademark song, its absence is immediately noticeable, and quite frankly, drags the mix down a few notches. There’s a few throwJP flag w stick icon away songs like Share My Love and Dive, but overall it’s quite a few excellent choices thrown together to make a good song list. The variety is nice and it feels like a good fresh start for a series that had a lot of repeats in the first five games.

I don’t go back and play 6th Mix often, mostly because I can’t deal with a lack of Paranoia in my life at this point. As a DDR old head and one who owns the American version as well as the Japanese version, I applaud the change up that Konami pursued. It was a bold move that paid off in the long run: DDR still looks like a lot like this form, even with at least eight more games under its belt as a series. Sometimes, a change in pace is needed to keep the dance groove going.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nirr98TpleQ

DDR trivia

* DDR Max is the first game to feature a 10-foot difficulty song. Max 300 was officially the first 10-footer in the history of the series, though it wouldn’t receive its official rating until Max 2 was released.

* Max 300, the boss song of the mix, features 573 steps in its Heavy difficulty chart. 573 is known as the Konami number, a number that relates to the romanized pronunciation of the company’s name.

* Max is the first DDR game to feature the Light/Standard/Heavy difficulty scheme, dance point system, speed mods, Extra Stage/One More Extra Stage and freeze arrows. The difficulty scheme would stay in place until the release of DDR SuperNOVA in 2006.

* Two songs introduced in the mix, Flash in the Night and Follow Me, are the only two songs in the series that do not have an official foot rating. These two songs were introduced in 6th Mix, which is the only mix that does not use the foot rating system. They have never appeared in later mixes, which gave official Konami numbered ratings to all songs.

Samurai Shodown Anthology — 2Q2015

Samurai Shodown Anth-16

A complete classic collection

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

The fighting game industry has always thrived on the very concept that makes a title in the genre: competition. There have been fabled rivals throughout the entire lifespan of the genre, with quite a few pretenders to throne. However, SNK Playmore was one of the originators and the package of games within Samurai Shodown Anthology shows they weren’t playing around in the ’90s in the slightest.

It’s pretty safe to say that Samurai Shodown was never a pretender. It’s got all the markings of a marquee series, something that could carry a company far in the worst of times and keep eyes on the Score-4-5product. At its core, it’s a game about samurai and other warriors fighting to the death. What sets it apart from the competition — even from within its own stable with brethren King of Fighters — is its production values. The games have always been gorgeous and there’s a level of detail that hasn’t been seen in other series except for the likes of Tekken. Within the collection of that is Anthology, all of the naturally gorgeous artwork and level of detail is on display. It’s important that this be emphasized because that’s what Samurai Shodown is about at the end of the day: Samurai fighting to the death while looking fantastic.

The level of detail extends to the soundtrack as well. In all games in Samurai Shodown Anth-11the package, the soundtrack is an excellent concerto of Japanese bamboo flute and shamisen. This may not float your boat, but for a package that focuses on samurai, this is an excellent choice to make up the backing soundtrack.

Samurai Shodown Anthology is perfect collection of fighting games, mostly because it’s good to have the entire set of games on one disc without having to own inferior versions of notoriously arcade-perfect games. These are exactly what you fell in love with in the arcade and they’re all in one place, lovingly included at the original definition. If you’ve never experienced the hype that was Samurai Shodown, now’s an excellent chance to do so. Prepared to be wowed.

2UP EVALUATION

by Brandon Beatty
by Brandon Beatty

Finally, a classic game that started the weapon-based fighting genre is back on the PlayStation 2. For decades, SNK Playmore continued this series with not one but six titles, emphasizing Japan’s adaption of duels. Utilizing various characters and locales, Samurai Shodown gives gamers a break from the Tekken/Street Fighter clones on the market, and shows a brief slice of life in medieval Japan during which samurai fought under the code of Bushido.

I was allowed for a brief moment to not only act out a samurai fantasy, but also to release any anger in a healthy way. While the mechanics take some practice to become familiar with, the music, Score-3-5-retrogradecharacters and graphics are top-notch and the story is simple. My only complaint is that there’s one cheap shot character that loves to pounce. For all of the SoulCalibur clones flooding the market these days, I proudly say Samurai Shodown Anthology has great replay value, and it DEMANDS a space in any gamer’s library. I’m glad that SNK Playmore had the wisdom to keep this series alive from the beginning, instead of a company that relies on milking their cash cow to the bone. Well done, SNK Playmore. Well done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itIFUTLIaiM

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom — 2Q2015

Tatsunoko vs Capcom-10

Tatsunoko takes on Capcom in Wii brawl

by Brandon Beatty
by Brandon Beatty

Everyone who reads GI knows that I’m an otaku. I’m also a big fan of classic anime that has set the standard for today’s anime. Most of the awesome-level anime old and new has came from Japan’s world-renown Tatsunoko Productions. So, when I heard that Capcom was reviving its “Versus” series, I thought that Capcom was running out of gaming ideas. That was until it was announced that Tatsunoko would play a major role. I thought it was a joke, but I was in shock when the rumors were true and thus the question came about: What would happen if Capcom’s heroes met Tatsunoko’s heroes in a gaming forest? Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars for the Wii answered that question for me.

Developed by Eighting and published by Capcom, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is a 3D game that places various characters from both companies’ top-selling series into a exclusive fighting game treat. Score-5Inspired by the Marvel vs. Capcom series, TvC allows duos from either Capcom’s or Tatsunoko’s rosters to fight against other characters with the winning team going on to face Yami from Capcom’s adventure title Okami. If you like to mix a Capcom character with a Tatsunoko character, that’s also possible as a way to give the gameplay more variety. In addition to the original arcade mode, there are survival and time attack modes that allow you to test your skills via limited health regeneration and defeating your opponents in the shortest time possible. An additional feature includes a mini-game shooter called “Ultimate All-Shooters.”

Control is handled with three buttons, which greatly simplifies the Tatsunoko vs Capcom-02learning curve. It’s simplified even more thanks to the Wii’s Classic controller, GameCube controller, third-party arcade sticks and the regular Wii remote. You will love the character roster consisting of each companies’ top franchises such as Street Fighter, Rival Schools, Viewtiful Joe, Lost Planet, Darkstalkers/Vampire and Mega Man for Capcom while Tatsunoko is represented by Karas, Tekkaman, G-Force and Yatterman. There are other characters that can be unlocked via use of money (Zenny) earned in each game, which also will allow purchase of alternate endings, costume changes and other unlockable surprises.

The music is top-notch in each stage, but the intro and endings songs are fun to sing and dance to. In particular, the Gesellschaft (Clear Skies) and the Daigo Temple (Cherry Blossom) stages are favorites.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars is an answered prayer for fans of fighting games and anime. As a first-time connoisseur of this type of crossover, TvC is delightful game experience. As an otaku gamer, Capcom can work on my damn nerves at times with their no-thought decisions, but in this case, they worked with a renown anime company to bring a quality product to a system that was in SORE need of well-rounded games. Now only if Capcom can make amends with Keiji Inafune. They might be respected once more.

2UP EVALUATION

by Lyndsey Hicks
by Lyndsey Hicks

All of the razzle dazzle hype aside, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is something I want to play. I’m already a fan of most Capcom fighting properties, and I love the Versus series, so I’m going to play whatever they come up with next to join forces with and create magic. In this case, it’s anime related as well, so there’s a winning combination all the way around.

I didn’t know much about Tatsunoko before playing the game, but after spending a little time immersed in the super sentai world, I learned that it’s something that’s compelling to return to time and time again. Nice mechanics, an Score-4-5interesting roster and gorgeous attention to detail with the environments and soundtrack make it a nice package. My only gripes are that the story doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense (really, Yami from Okami, Capcom? That’s it?), and that not knowing that much about Tatsunoko actually works against me. Other than that, there’s isn’t a reason why I wouldn’t play this constantly, even if it is a Wii exclusive. That’s just another reason to go out and buy the now-defunct console.

TvC trivia

* The original title for TvC was Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes.

* While the game developers had the OK to add any character from Tatsunoko or Capcom, Tatsunoko did deny some choices because of licensing issues; originally, Phoenix Wright was suggested, but was pulled because of difficulties with finding proper attacks for him.

* Most video game reviewers such as G4’s Adam Sessler and IGN’s John Tanaka were doubtful about an outside-of-Japan release because of Tatsunoko’s final approved roster of characters. They were licensed in other countries, despite being owned by Tatsunoko, and the level of recognition of some characters was a concern.

* As of 2012, Capcom USA senior vice president Christian Svensson has stated that Capcom could no longer sell the game in physical or digital form because licensing rights with Tatsunoko expired.