I’m a HUGE Gundam fan. Next to my love of Mega Man, Gundam is my second greatest obsession. Because of limited space, I’ll have to be content with the limited Gundam merch that I have amassed. The latest addition was given to me for my recent birthday; it made me recall playing a Gundam arcade fighting game at Nashicon 2016. Would it serve to satisfy my hunger for giant robots causing massive damage and beating themselves to oblivion? “Gundam Versus” for PlayStation 4 gave me my answer.
Gundam Versus has some unique advantages going for it as a fighting game. Its source material is based on a universally recognized anime series. Unlike other fighting games, it does not have a storyline, allowing you to jump straight to the action without knowing background story. That sold me as someone who knows a series’ background, not needing knowledge about specific characters’ background.
The ability to choose a series favorite from a roster of more than 90 mobile suits from various Gundam works ensures that you are not limited to characters in Gundam series only aired in the U.S. Each stage is open area, allowing you to plan offense or defense with the benefit of hiding or running from your opponents while recovering from attacks. Also, you can have two additional characters to back you with one serving as a striking partner to tag team opposing forces with the perfect timing. They are available to have a training session to get you familiar with your chosen suit.
Those who are not accustomed to run-and-gun gaming will get frustrated and want to quit playing. The open battlefield requires a 360-degree view, which the PS4 controls are decent enough to help handle the action. While Gundam Versus made an honorable attempt to include all Gundam elements, some opening themes were played on repeat way too much and that took away the focus from gameplay and placed it on the music. Music for the game is top notch, which is to be expected from the Bandai Namco sound team. This was the first time the team did an international collaboration with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for the opening visual. That adds some flavor and extras to the presentation. While I was disappointed that the game didn’t offer an English dub track, the original Japanese audio for the Gundam franchise ensured that Versus has the appropriate Gundam feel.
A downside is that certain series I liked and wanted to use suits from are stuck as paid content, which left Gundam fans like me at Bandai Namco’s mercy regarding affordable pricing.
Gundam Versus is a testimony of how anime, sci-fi and fighting games have merged to create a product that is playable for everyone, regardless of fandom knowledge. As a Gundam aficionado, Versus is well worth the time spent playing and is the next best thing to owning a Gundam or mobile suit. I welcome this new addition to my Gundam collection as I continue my quest to build a masterpiece collection of all things Gundam.
Tekken is about a certain substance and style. The fighting engine is so deep in Tekken that if you’re just starting with the seventh game, you’re at an immediate disadvantage because you’re behind. Way behind. Story-wise, you’re behind, too. There’s so much going on with the Mishima clan that you’re bound to be asking the question: Why now? Tekken isn’t just answering that; it’s posing the question of what’s next?
For the Mishima clan — and Tekken’s roster at large — the future is the question on everyone’s mind, but to get there, Tekken 7 stakes its ambitions on looking back to tell the story of the future. Spoiler alert: With Heihachi gone, there’s only Kazuya and Jin left to carry on the blood feud of the clan. The surrounding entities are on either side of the conflict between father and son, and there will be casualties. But that isn’t Tekken 7’s main story to tell. Really, it’s two questions: How did Kazuya become enmeshed in the devil gene foolishness, and how is Heihachi entangled in that as well? The answers lay with new character Kazumi Mishima, Kazuya’s mother and Heihachi’s wife. She plays a central role in unraveling the mystery of Kazuya’s transformation using the devil gene and why Heihachi threw his child off a cliff more than 40 years before.
While Bandai Namco is setting up the payoff, look around. You’re in a Tekken game and many things will be true at once: The sound will be phenomenal, and the graphics will be stunning. After all, this is a Tekken title; the King of the Iron Fist tournament does not slouch. What’s striking is, this is a four-year-old game and it still looks decent. Tekken has never been one to hold back when it comes to looks, and even with the upgraded PlayStation 4 Pro, it’s still a good-looking game. Tekken 7 could look worse with the benefit of more processing power, and some sections do show the age of the game. However, it’s minimal as far as Tekken is concerned, and Tekken 7 is still a powerhouse when compared to everything else on the market.
The soundtrack is excellent, though I wanted a little more from it. I realize that not every Tekken soundtrack is going to be the first Tag, where every track was a banger. However, this is Tekken, and a certain bar has been set by past games that current games must live up to. There are some bangers here, but not nearly enough. For reference, I have every Tekken soundtrack ever released, arcade and home versions. For the first four games, I have the entire soundtrack saved on my iPod. As the series progressed, I had fewer songs from each soundtrack. As of Tekken 7, I have two tracks. It’s a good soundtrack, but it just isn’t anything I haven’t heard before in a Tekken game. Tekken 8, or whatever it will be called, will have to step things up in the sound department.
As far as Tekken’s playability, I can’t really attest to it on a hands-on level. Full disclosure: I’m not a good Tekken player. That said, however, I find it a little easier to pick up Tekken and play with the new features added in the arcade mode. I really like that there’s an easy combo assist feature. It makes it far less frustrating to learn the combo system, and it makes it much easier for beginners to understand how moves flow together.
Tekken, despite having only four attack buttons, has always been about depth, and that’s scary for the uninitiated like myself. With the assist feature, I’m more inclined to take the time to learn and dig just a little deeper with the series. It’s a fantastic addition that needs to stick around in future entries.
The character customization mode also deserves some praise as it’s coming along nicely. It’s been around now for at least three games, and it’s gotten better each iteration. This is part of the depth of Tekken — along with its engine and combo system — that makes it such a great series. Tekken 7 takes care of the details, and the obvious love and care put into the customization system gives the game continued life, even as it gets a little long in the tooth. The fact that new characters and upgrades are still being released is fantastic considering the game’s age.
With the storyline dictating growth and the graphics engine needing to catch up to other fighting game darlings, Tekken has its work cut out in keeping up with the surrounding competition. Tekken 7 does an admirable job demonstrating its stability and ability to lead the pack as the King of the Iron Fist, and its longevity and intuitive features continue to make it an attractive option for those needing a fix from Mishima and Co. Tekken 7 is good enough to keep its crown and can probably shrug off new challenges for the throne until its time for the eighth go-round. Long live the king.
The intricacies of determining the winner of the storied fight between Batman and the Joker all depend on prep time for Batman and the Joker’s maniacal state at the time of the battle. We’ve thought this through and determined that even with minimal prep time, Batman could win this fight considering his previous experience with the Joker. To simulate it, we would need only one thing: the Injustice series of games. And considering Injustice 2 has more chances for this to happen with proper simulation, you can best believe we’re diving deep into the solid sequel DC comic book fighting game.
Injustice 2 is a competent storyteller in its quest to be a DC comic book simulator. Set after the fall of Superman’s tyrannical regime, Injustice 2 places Batman at the forefront again to take on the task of rebuilding society and combating a new threat in the form of The Society. Mixing in longtime Superman foe Braniac only adds to the chaos. What it boils down to is that these are characters you know from the DC universe — even if you’re passingly familiar with them — fighting it out to stop Superman from continuing his reign of tyranny established in the previous game.
Where Injustice 2 shines is its presentation and its characters. Everything that looked good in the first Injustice is much-better looking the second time around. The user interface got a newer, sleeker coat of paint, and all the character models and backgrounds look better and cleaner, too. The character select screen even looks better and more fluid. NetherRealm’s fighting game visuals get better with each game, so this is just a testament to their growing prowess. The music isn’t standout, but it’s serviceable.
Despite its shiny upgraded presentation, I’m still not a fan of how it plays. The combat doesn’t feel natural, like say, how Mortal Kombat feels. It still feels like it’s a step or two behind MK and like it’s trying too hard to differentiate itself from that series by throwing a wrench into the basic combo setups. I’m also not a fan of the unlock system. It’s a lot of gear to unlock for a lot of characters, but I don’t really have the time or the inclination to sit and work on it. I’m not saying have it unlocked immediately when I first start the game, but I am saying it needs to be easier. The experience is not the most enjoyable.
Injustice 2 is a nice upgrade from the first game. It’s got the name factor, characters you probably know and slick presentation that will catch most anyone’s eye who is into fighting games. Whether you’re a comic book fan or a casual fighting game connoisseur, Injustice 2 is worth a look to see if it’s worth its weight in kryptonite.
Marvel vs. Capcom now infinitely frustrating series
The Marvel fighting game scene is well known by now and well worn. Pretty much, anyone who’s anyone in the Marvel comic universe and movies has been in a Marvel Versus game. This is nothing new by now. You’ve seen these people before and, if you’re a Capcom fan, you have seen their side of the roster in other games before you got here. So, what exactly are you getting out of playing the latest iteration in the long-running Marvel Versus Capcom series? Not much, but Capcom already knew that. They just hoped you wouldn’t notice.
If you’re invested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but don’t know anything about the comics, MvC: Infinite serves as a starting point for understanding the comics side of things in preparation for Avengers Endgame. Oh, yeah, there’s some Capcom story set up, too, as an afterthought. Really, this is several stories mashed together: From Marvel, you get the Infinity Saga and Age of Ultron story; from Capcom comes Sigma and Mega Man X’s story and some of Vampire Savior/Darkstalker’s 3 arc dealing with Jedah Dohma. The story kind of makes sense in a mashed-up way. It’s not half bad, given that the previous efforts of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 to give a cinematic team up was decent and miles ahead of any other title in the series to date. Mostly, the Marvel Versus series has followed an established comic book arc — Marvel vs. Street Fighter was mostly Apocalypse and the first Marvel vs. Capcom focused on Onslaught — and this is no different. Where it falters is oversimplification.
The Infinity Saga is never truly finished in the comics because Marvel constantly returns to it over the years to explain a lot of things. Also, thinking critically about what this is really based on, the story of the Infinity Saga really took about 18 of the 22 MCU movies to tell its story. You cannot tell this story in two games — Marvel Super Heroes being the first to tell this arc. Infinite tries to and winds up half accomplishing it with some weird, forced Capcom story side foolishness thrown in for good measure, because hey, Capcom is also in the name.
You get the sense that if Capcom’s angle of things was removed, this would be just fine, and Infinite would be OK without it. That does not help Capcom at all here. Immediately, it destroys the need for a new team-up game and renders Capcom’s side of the roster unnecessary. I do not feel Ryu or Chun Li are useful in any of the situations presented in the story mode.
The roster is actually not bad, but with the few new additions locked behind a DLC paywall, you’re kind of left to wonder would Infinite be just a tad bit better if the more noteworthy characters were available from the start. The base group is basically a retread roster from MvC3, and the new additions should have been in the series; the fact that we’re just now getting Black Widow, Black Panther, Jedah and the Winter Soldier is a crime that only Capcom seems to like committing.
In addition to the generic oversimplification of the story, the presentation is just as generic and bland. The Marvel Versus series has always had strong presentation, and to be frank, this ain’t it, as the kids say these days. The backgrounds are good, but some of the character designs have an oof level the size of Ultron Sigma’s final form. They are, quite frankly, terrible a lot of the time. There seems to be an attempt at realism but not, at the same time, because some of the Marvel characters look like their MCU counterparts, but then when you look closer, there’s a detail that keeps them from looking exactly like the actor or actress that plays the character.
For example, look at Captain America and Captain Marvel. Captain America, from far away, looks exactly like MCU Winter Soldier-era Captain America as portrayed by real-world Captain America stalwart Chris Evans. Up close, however, Cap looks just enough different for you to realize that Evans probably didn’t consent to his likeness for the game. Same for Captain Marvel and actress Brie Larson. It’s a small but noticeable quibble I have here. And, some of these Capcom characters look atrocious. Ryu’s face on the title screen is horrific. The sprites look terrible here but in game, he looks fine. It’s a shame because every other game in the series has been OK in terms of the graphics. Sure, they weren’t award-winning, but they reflected the series’ growth. Infinite looks like it took about 10 steps back in a lot of respects.
The music is just as bland. Each iteration of the Versus series has had some bangers on the soundtrack — even the much-maligned Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s soundtrack was memorable if not catchy. Here, there is absolutely nothing noteworthy. It’s the first Versus game where I don’t have something from the soundtrack saved, which is not good at all. As I played through the story mode, I kept waiting for something to jump out at me, and I got nothing. I was not impressed.
The controls didn’t impress, either. There has been a noted trend, since MvC3 was released, to simplify the game system for the Versus games to make them more accessible.
While I’m always a fan of drawing in the casual fan for these types of games, I’m not a fan of ruining a good thing. MvC2 was still accessible to even the most casual fighting game player, and this is even worse than the toning down of the controls between MvC2 and MvC3. There is no depth to the combo system now, and that doesn’t help Infinite in any way.
I’m underwhelmed when it comes to Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite. Nothing plays in its favor, nothing makes any sense, and the team-up crossover event is showing its age in every facet of the game. There’s nothing new here to make me say wow or push me to play as I did the other games in the series. If Capcom were to lose the Marvel license again, it wouldn’t be a shocker or unwarranted.
It’s time to admit that the series is not an infinite source of amusement. Unfortunately, at this point, it’s merely a finite source of fighting game goodness.
“Devil may cry.” To some, it sounds like the latest quote from one of Hollywood’s biggest action stars. To me, it’s one of Capcom’s biggest franchises that does not involve “Street Fighter” and “Resident Evil” that is a labor of love to play. Nero and Dante are back along with some new faces to raise more demonic hell across next gen gaming consoles with the hack and slash style of gaming that put it on the map. I waited five years to play the fifth installment of this series and the kick-ass promotional song “Devil Trigger” helped move that wait right along. In April 2019, me and EIC Lyndsey were on a spur-of-the-moment gaming shopping spree and not only did we pick up a PlayStation 4 Pro, but also we picked up a bounty of games including DMC5. Could it surpass previous successes that defined the series?
In DMC5, years after the events in DMC4, Nero has gotten Dante’s blessing to jump in the demon-hunting business but one May night, Nero is accosted by a familiar foe who has not only taken the demon sword Yamato, but also Nero’s demonic arm. Vowing vengeance, Nero pursues the foe to Redwood City where he is introduced to a new evil known as Urizen. He, Dante and fellow demon hunters Trish and Lady are swatted instantly by Urizen. Now having a HUGE chip on his shoulder, Nero returns with a new arm and partner in crime, Nico, and sets out on his second adventure filled with old and new allies and enemies while making his name as a master demon hunter to surpass his infamous uncle.
Gameplay in DMC5 follows the same high-speed action formula found in previous games in the series. Controlling Nero, Dante and the newest character V is perfect. Nero still has his trusty sword Red Queen and revolver Blue Rose, but instead of his Devil Bringer he uses a prosthetic arm called a Devil Breaker, which was developed by Nico. It has extra punch than the Devil Bringer and can be upgraded after battles with various bosses.
Dante has his dual pistols Ebony and Ivory as well as his usual swords Rebellion and Sparta, but also has five additions: Cavilare (a motorcycle that when separated, becomes a buzzsaw-like weapon); Balrog (yes, THAT Balrog), gauntlets and boots that increases Dante’s melee power tenfold; KalinaAnn2, a modified version of the KalinaAnn used in DMC3; and, Dr. Faust, a hat that shoots out red orbs when worn.
V has some tricks up his sleeve with his familiars Griffon, a demon hawk capable of firing lightning bolts and projectiles; Shadow, a panther-like familiar that is melee combat oriented, using its body to form blade and needle weapons; and, finally Nightmare, a golem-familiar that moves slowly, but packs a MAJOR punch against giant enemies. I should also note that Nightmare can change his height to titan-level and use a huge laser beam to destroy enemy bosses, which allows V to use his Royal Fork cane and its copies to land the finish blow.
Another feature I liked in DMC5 was the training session that allows you to learn and practice available skills before purchasing them, allowing you to decide whether to buy or hold off.
The RE5 engine brings every detail to life, complementing Dolby Atmos sound’s abilities, which made me think I was playing a 3D movie instead of a video game. The voice cast is a mix of well-known and new voice actors led by Reuben Langdon, Johnny Yong Bosch and Daniel Southworth reprising their roles as Dante, Nero and Vergil, respectively. Stephanie Sheh returns as Kyrie but in voice form only. I also give kudos to Brian Hanford for voicing V and Faye Kingslee as Nico. Brad Venable as Griffon stole the show, and Kate Higgins (Bleach, Code Geass) and Wendee Lee were excellent as Lady and Trish.
The only negative thing I have about the game is the camera control. It has improved GREATLY, but it still takes some time to masterfully plan a character’s next move. The power-up situation that occurred in DMC4 was fixed, but you still need to conserve your red orbs, especially if you use Dr. Faust.
DMC5 is worthy of replay because of its excellent blend of action, drama and environment. Capcom is doing this series right again and while I don’t agree that milking a franchise is the best business decision, DMC fans can begin to forgive Capcom for its lack of judgement for DMC: Devil May Cry. Let the healing begin.
Reuben Langdon, Johnny Yong Bosch and Daniel Southworth have a connection to the Power Rangers franchise. Bosch was the second Black Ranger in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and the Green Ranger in Power Rangers ZEO and Power Rangers Turbo, while Langdon did stunt work and Southworth played the Quantum Ranger in Power Rangers: Time Force. All have provided voice and motion capture work for the DMC series.
Southworth and Wendee Lee had dual roles as Urizen and Eva, Dante’s and Vergil’s mother.
If Redwood City looks like London, you are correct. Capcom sent the DMC5 development team to London — specifically Midhurst in West Sussex, Rochester, Kent, Canterbury and Leeds Castle in Kent — for inspiration in designing locations in the game. Various models and clothes were acquired and scanned in London and Serbia.
In addition to the RE5 engine, Capcom used Microsoft’s Simplygon graphic software to assist with graphics and the intermission graphics.
The most notable song of the game, “Devil Trigger,” by Casey and Ali Edwards, has had more than 2.8 million views on Capcom Japan’s YouTube channel. Ali Edwards was also the lyricist and vocalist for the game’s ending theme “Legacy,” with composition by Kota Suzuki.
Growing up as a gamer, there was always a series I could count on to provide a lot of enjoyment: Mario Kart. High quality, fun racing ensued as did a familiarity with the system that made up racing in the Mushroom Kingdom. But as time has marched on, there are dark clouds over the kingdom and it’s not necessarily Bowser’s fault for the foolishness for once; it’s Nintendo’s greed.
Mario Kart in mobile form has always been a safe bet for the Nintendo racing fan. Being able to race with your favorite Mario characters and take it on the go? Where do I sign up? But Mario Kart Tour, the latest mobile property for the gaming giant, is not a fun tour … er, trip. It’s Mario Kart for the SNES dumbed and watered down with gatcha elements tacked on for good measure.
Mario Kart Tour takes the usual Mario Kart formula and adds things like gatcha pulls to unlock special characters, karts and gliders, usually in the high-end category, as well as level up your established roster. The gatcha pulls are obnoxious because it’s dependent on luck of the draw using real money to fund the pulls. The real money — that you’re pulling out of your wallet — is spent in the form of rubies, which allow you to pull from pipes possibly containing the high-end items in batches of one pull for five rubies or 10 pulls for 45 rubies. Though the rubies are moderately priced, it’s the fact that you must buy the rubies or complete sometimes ridiculous challenges to get rubies that makes it beyond the pale.
And, just as infuriatingly, there’s the character/kart/glider system that’s tied to the stages chosen for each tour. Each level has three or four specific characters that are favored on this track. Usually, the characters that are favored are the flavor of the tour; that is, a character or variation created especially for the specific tour. As always, they are high-end and exceedingly hard to acquire. Because this is tied into the pipe pulls, it’s also a cash grab designed to pull in the most dedicated who have the most money and time to spend fiddling around with a mobile game. These “whales,” as they are called in online circles, keep this cash grab going and endorse this continued behavior from Nintendo, which, in all honesty, is atrocious.
In addition to the tool-like single-player mode, there is the multiplayer mode from hell. I wish I could somehow convey the trash-like qualities of multiplayer in words, but I’m at a loss without getting an FCC fine for profanity. The multiplayer plays like garbage and ignores any sort of mechanics that Tour attempts to create in the single-player campaign. It is utter chaos in every match and those lucky enough to do well have to be doing that with sheer luck. It can’t be from actual skill and good mechanics, because Tour is missing the mark in both areas.
The mechanics, lacking in skill and refinement, are a serious problem. Now, I’m cognizant of the fact that this is a mobile game, so we’re not talking precision like a main entry would have. However, this is rough even for a mobile game. Often, drifting is difficult and ultra mini-turbos are next to impossible. Given that I’ve mastered the drifting feature in Mario Kart with every entry starting from the Nintendo 64 days, I shouldn’t have this much trouble maintaining a drift. The combo system, while interesting and a great feature, is not refined as well as it should be. There should be a meter that shows me the length of time between combo actions and how much time I have left if you’re going to tell me that I have a time limit on those actions. Sometimes, combos drop inexplicably, ruining a run at a challenge that requires a certain number.
Equally problematic are the weapons system and the AI level. I tend to race comfortably on 100cc, but I will race on 150cc and 200cc (with a purchased Gold Pass) if I’m working on improving scores in the bi-weekly ranked cups. In the months since I’ve begun playing, I’ve noticed the aggression of the computer-controlled karts steadily creeping up, which is a problem. It’s mostly noticeable on the weekly favored track, which quickly gets infuriating when you’re trying to maintain a ranking and the computer is hell bent on keeping you from achieving this goal. The weapons system plays a large part in this because it’s nearly impossible sometimes to receive your character’s specific weapon or a frenzy or even a useful frenzy despite your character more than likely being a high level.
Also lowering Tour’s fun factor is the character system. As in other games in the series, there are a variety of characters from the Mushroom Kingdom and Nintendo in general that can be and have been added to the roster. The sheer variety is great but the need to unlock and pay for these varieties is the problem. It’s greedy as hell that you have to buy rubies to possibly unlock a character to do well in the featured tour track or magically come up with the ways to earn them, which are far and few in between. Basically, Nintendo wants you to spend money and they’re not afraid to pimp out Mario Kart to achieve this goal, so they’ll nickel and dime you constantly.
And I hope you love a lot of the tracks already pulled into Tour because track variety is lacking. There are a lot of not-fun tracks that seem to be repeated quite often. That decreases the enjoyment of racing because you know you aren’t going to want to mess around with a cup that has an obnoxious track (I’m glaring at you, 3DS Rainbow Road).
Visually, Tour is fine. It looks like Mario Kart and has all the elements of the racing god we’ve come to know and love. As a matter of fact, the game looks like a better version of the Wii U’s Mario Kart 8, just below Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch. Those oft-repeated tracks are gorgeous recreations of old faithful favorites from the SNES, Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Advance titles with a few new cities of the world tracks thrown in the mix. In the beginning there were a lot of different city tracks, but because of the pandemic, work on the tour has been kept to already established tracks from the series that can quickly be converted for use in Tour.
Musically, Mario Kart is known as having a banger soundtrack for every game. Tour doesn’t slouch in that department with the new tracks, but it does mess up with some of the older tracks. I’m not quite sure how a game can get one part of the soundtrack right but mess up the other parts, but Tour somehow manages to do it. Any of the new tracks that were created for Tour are excellent. The menu themes are excellent, as well, with new tunes mixed in with remixed favorites from previous games. But then you get to an older track, let’s say Koopa Troopa Beach from the SNES. It does not sound the same as the original version at all. The pitch sounds off by a few notes, as if someone recreated it for Tour and kind of, sort of remembered the way the original sounded. Rainbow Road from the SNES has the same problem. It sort of resembles the original tunes but also … not really. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to get from tour to tour, so I don’t necessarily get my hopes up in terms of music quality when I see an older track announced.
All my problems with Mario Kart Tour are fixable, but that’s up to Nintendo to work on and decide if it’s worth it this far in. With increasing frequency, however, I find myself saying this might be the part of the Tour that’s my last stop.
“Gundam, what a strong sounding name.”- Lacus Clyne, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED/SEED Destiny
Next to my love for Mega Man, I’m also a fan of the Gundam series. Since 1979, the space mecha anime has brought thought-provoking perspectives on issues of humanity and war, and has created a standard for all sci-fi series, especially anime with sci-fi and mecha elements. Through various series, merchandise (including video games for various consoles) and other media, Gundam and its studio, Sunrise Inc., has secured its place among the GOATs of global pop culture. Lyndsey and I have also taken a liking to the Dynasty Warriors game series. I thought: “What would happened if a Dynasty Warriors game was made with Gundam elements?” I got my answer in Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3.
In DWG3, you play as a chosen individual who has been selected to a pass a test of skill and determination. Your requests come from a mysterious Gundam suit that asks why humanity’s existence in the universe should continue. This test is conducted in four original story arcs that pair characters from various Gundam series such as the MS Gundam, Gundam Wing, G Gundam, Gundam 00, Gundam Unicorn and others who have heroic, villainous or neutral opinions to this mysterious Gundam’s test. These arcs also contain side mission that explains each represented series’ history, reinforce a group’s camaraderie or displays each mobile suit’s special abilities.
Control of these suits is easy whether you use the PlayStation 3’s analog sticks or control pad. Shooting and melee attacks are flawless, and good controls help to pull off some devastating combos to drive opponents back for a moment. In true Dynasty Warriors form, your character will have a partner or partners with similar abilities and lesser suits to help take down certain key areas of stages. I’m suggesting three pieces of advice when playing: Plan to take places such as repair hangers, suit factories and communication towers ASAP; know when to team up with your comrades to take on stronger suit; and, keep an eye on your side map to avoid being lost.
At the end of each stage, your character will be shown how many experience points he or she earned and how much gold was collected. These elements help you to earn new skills and more stronger suits. To help your character out, there is a tutorial stage with practice missions that will help them earn more points or to refresh basic skills. The graphics were designed as if you are playing in an actual Gundam episode with special detail given to the suits and their surrounding environments. Namco Bandai and Koei did a great job with keeping the game’s formula simple: Keep Dynasty Warriors elements intact while adding Gundam elements.
The sound is on point with the addition of Dolby Digital Sound ensuring that every sound effect stays true to Gundam’s legacy of high-level anime action. Credit should also be given to the Ocean Group for assisting with voice casting, which included some of the original anime English voices performing their respective characters for the game. The replay value of DWG3 is very high and is perfect for a Gundam enthusiast or for a friendly scrimmage at your local anime convention.
Gundam is and will always be the absolute standard bearer in sci-fi mecha anime. DWG3 is an example of how to build an anime masterpiece and present it for a different medium. With its 40th anniversary, the Gundam name has earned the respect of many anime fans new and old with a quality title such as Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 to carry on the Gundam tradition.
Gundam was not Sunrise’s only smash hit. They continued the trend with the Big O, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star and Code Geass, displaying Gundam design traits in each of those shows.
Gundam has made its Hollywood appearance recently in the movie “Ready Player One” and will do so again in a live-action movie being developed and co-produced with Legendary Pictures (Pacific Rim, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, Hangover trilogy).
Brad Swaile, Richard Cox, Brian Drummond, Michael Adamwaite and Kirby Morrow are five members of the English voice cast that reprised their original respective roles. Swaile and Cox played Amuro and Kai in the original Gundam and returned to voice Setsuna and Allelujah in Gundam 00. Morrow and Swaile also played Trowa and Quatre while Drummond voiced Zechs/Milliardo Peacecraft in Gundam Wing. Adamwaite voiced Ribbons in Gundam 00.
If you’re a fighting game enthusiast like myself, you’re happy to see the community enjoying mainstream success now in the esports landscape. For many years, it was relegated to a fringe activity, something only nerds with nothing else better to do and a lack of hygiene were known for entertaining. Now, it’s all over the place and there’s money to be earned. But this is now a professional-grade enterprise and anime games are taking center stage. One of the best? Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax.
The game series that I lovingly refer to as that “all-star anime fighting game” is a blast to play. You choose from 19 playable and 30 assist characters from various anime series who team up in duos to fight each other. Even if you’re mildly into anime, there are some well-known stars of the medium and some obscure names that will make you do a little research. For instance, your favorite editor is an anime junkie and has seen or heard of most of the series with some standout selections that she’s personally watched: Oreimo, Boogiepop Phantom, The Devil is a Part-Timer and Toradora. There are others like Sword Art Online that are mainstream enough to draw in even the newest anime watcher.
So, how does it play? Much like you’d expect an anime game to play: Super floaty physics and off-the-wall attacks that feel like they do a ton of damage but probably don’t in terms of fighting games. The game feels good once you start playing, and like most games of the genre, there are levels to the play system. You can come in on the ground floor of fighting game knowledge and be able to play and then there’s competitive fighting game-level of play that requires intimate knowledge of the game’s systems. That range serves the game well as a draw for multiple groups and it’s a testament to Sega’s development prowess.
The voice acting, a major part of a project like this, must be top notch and it is. Because Sega garnered most of the animations’ voice actors, there’s a high level of consistency and gloss over the game’s audio. The backgrounds are also faithful to the different anime series, so expect to be wowed with the production values.
Overall, if you’re into anime enough to go to conventions regularly or just having a passing interest, Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax is a good buy. Yes, it’s got that “super anime” feel to it, but there’s a solid engine and mechanics wrapped up in an extremely gorgeous package that deserves to be played here. This fancy fan-service fighter is enough to make an otaku like myself sit up and take notice.
If you’re a manga aficionado like me, you’ve heard of Shonen Jump magazine. For 50 years, Japan-based publisher Shueisha Inc. brought to the world to legendary characters such as Son Goku, Monkey D. Luffy and Naruto Uzimaki. With these characters and their respective series, they became overnight hits in Japan with various movies, merchandise (including video games) and separate graphic novels. It was only a matter of time that the SJ phenomenon would branch out to the rest of the world being published in various languages including English. Shonen Jump, undisputedly, has become the standard of introducing new anime and manga series. J-Stars Victory VS+ is an example of that standard.
Published by Namco Bandai and co-developed with Spike Chunsoft, J-Stars takes more than 50 characters from 32 series within the Shonen Jump universe and pits them against each other in various locations within each SJ series. The story mode consists of each SJ character preparing for the “Jump Battle Tournament,” devised by the god of Jump World to determine its strongest champions who will defend it from evil forces posing as strong fighters.
Within the story mode there are four arcs: Dynamic with Luffy, Hope with Naruto, Investigation with Toriko and Goku and Pursuit with Ichigo. Regardless of the arc you choose, your character and their respective comrades will face off against others to obtain essential parts for your provided ship and badges required to enter the tournament. I like the story mode, and I also like that the arcade versus mode is an option when you just want to pit characters against each other to see who would win. Control is simple, which has your characters roam free during battle to pull off their signature moves along with a Dragon Ball-styled map to track the battle’s progress. However, the downside is the game camera: It moves wildly about and constantly requires adjustment. At the end of each successful battle, your characters not only gain experience points, but also gain currency called “jump coins,” which upgrades skills and clothing and unlocks various theme music and additional characters to strengthen your team.
All of the sound in the game is courtesy of Namco Bandai’s excellent sound department and the use of Dolby Digital. There isn’t an English voice track in J-Stars, but the Japanese voice track for each character is performed perfectly, as if you’re watching a Shonen Jump anime. J-Stars Victory VS+ is perfect for an anime convention tournament or if you want to spend a day with friends immersing yourselves in Shonen Jump lore.
This anime-infused brawler is another testament to Shonen Jump’s recognition of being a leader in global pop culture and how anime and manga are quickly becoming visual arts that aren’t just for kids.
J-Stars Victory+ was billed as the “ultimate Jump game,” combining past and newer jump titles.
Unlike “Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes,” licensing for all the Jump characters was not a serious issue. According to producer Koji Nakajima, the real problem was determining actions for characters that do not fight. Solving this problem required numerous negotiations with Shueisha and the respected licensee for each series to determine what was and was not acceptable for those characters.
J-Stars Victory VS + introduced the “new class” of SJ series such as The Disastrous Life of Saiki K., Gintama, To Love Ru and Reborn!. These titles have been licensed for North America by various anime and manga distributors.
My love affair with Animal Crossing began in 2003, a year after the GameCube version was released in the U.S. It wasn’t enough to merely start a life with a character — known as Rubes(kitty) — in my procedurally generated town known as Tokyo; I had to collect everything in my catalogue, build my house into a mansion and catch every insect and fish just for completion sake. In the ensuing 16 years, I have played every iteration of Animal Crossing available. So, you can imagine my palpable joy when a mobile version of Animal Crossing was announced in 2016. Cue Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp in 2017, and I’m still going strong in my quest to build the perfect camp.
Pocket Camp is a spinoff of the main Animal Crossing series but retains elements of the series. Familiar tasks such as paying off your debt for your living quarters, completing requests for animals that visit or improving your finances through item sales are abundant in the Pocket Camp landscape. New to the series is the timed rotation of the animals that are in one of four locations scattered around the landscape. Four animals will be in these locations with options to talk to you and request items; whether you choose to give them the specific items they request or just chat it up for experience points is up to you. Also new are the aforementioned experience points. Each animal has a meter that gauges their friendship level with you. The higher the level, the more rewards they give in exchange for items they request. The rewards are also new, usually in the form of Leaf Tickets and raw materials that are used in crafting furniture and clothes that can be used to decorate your camp site and RV.
Pocket Camp, in its most simplistic form, is a dumbed down portable Animal Crossing main game that requires inventory management and micro transactions. And it’s a satisfying way to get that quick Animal Crossing fix. Much like the main series, it’s relaxing and fun to pop in and check with the camp site to see what’s happening, pick up some gifts or get involved in festivals and events at my own leisure. Time is still measured realistically, and insects and fish are still viable at certain times, though the season requirement is not in use. Money is still practically around every corner, and it’s easier than ever to pay off the debt of upgrading your humble abode when rare bugs and fish are more plentiful this time around. It’s also quite nice to be able to buy items from other players worldwide in an item marketplace with the Market Boxes option. The economy that has developed still has some work to do, but the ability to find rare insects, fruit, shells and fish for sale from other friends and strangers is a great start.
For a longtime Animal Crossing player, the fun in Pocket Camp is immediately there but not without some caveats. After a certain point, the in-game currency of Bells ceases to be a problem. While scarce in the early going, Bells aren’t an issue once the final upgrade for the RV is obtained and paid off. I now regularly have about 1.8 million Bells on hand daily and can’t spend it fast enough on things other than crafting and a rare item inventory economy that has conveniently sprung up in my friends list. This is like the issue of Bells in the main series so while it’s not surprising, it’s still an issue that needs to be remedied with more things to do. And, the price of Leaf Tickets is a bit much. Their addition is helpful, but their pricing should be adjusted. Also, in-game currency should be allowed to be used to buy Leaf Tickets. That would give another reason to hoard money later in the game.
While it might not be a mainline game, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is still a neat and welcome addition to the Animal Crossing franchise. With its continued updates and additions, the Animal Crossing population is still growing.