Friday, July 30, 2010

Shining Force now available on iPhone

The Sega classic Shining Force is now available on iPhone for $2.99. Instead of a touch interface they are going the cheap route and mapping a virtual D-pad and buttons onto the sides of the screen. Shining Force is another one of those series that has more nostalgia than game play quality, but if you get nostalgic googly eyes over Shining Force, you can now carry it with you everywhere.

First Tactics Ogre PSP remake trailer posted

Square-Enix has posted the first official Tactics Ogre PSP remake trailer. The official site has also been updated.  They are promising new characters, new side quests, classes, spells and abilities, etc.  Sounds like a party.  Source: Article at Andriasang.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tactics Ogre announced for NA, official JP website up, screenshots at Famitsu.

Check out the official Tactics Ogre PSP remake website here.

Screenshots and artwork available at Famitsu.

Square-Enix NA press release announcement.

More screenshots at Game Watch.

Release date is still TBA in all regions.

UPDATE: Tactics Ogre: Wheel of Fate has been announced for European release as well.

The official US website is now up.

This remake is looking pretty good.  I'd hope it gets people interested in other SRPGs out there.

UPDATE: My amazing opinion on Tactics Ogre:

It's a decent SRPG. It's slow as molasses and the combat is generic and simple, but there's nothing in particular bad or wrong about it. I think most of the player interest in Tactics Ogre is down to nostalgia and the art style, developers, musicians, artists, plot, characters etc. I can see the appeal of those elements, but when it comes to the tactical combat, it's not particularly notable. Part of the misconception about Tactics Ogre being this amazing genre defining innovative game is due to the fact that a large majority of similar SRPGs being released around the same time as the NA Playstation version never made it to NA.

If you play RPGs more than SRPGs and you mostly play them for the non-combat elements, there's a lot to enjoy about the atmosphere and plot/characters.  Perhaps this new version will kick it up a notch in the combat mechanics and tactics department.

Phantom Brave Portable announced for PSP in Famitsu

Boy do I love Andriasang.  Anoop gets all the hot Famitsu scoops, and I think he lives in Japan too.  Anyway, NIS is porting Phantom Brave to PSP, titled Phantom Brave Portable.  No other info at the moment.  But it's already on PS2 and Wii, so if you like NIS games you probably already know what it's like.  Release date is October 28th 2010.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tactics Ogre: Wheel of Fate announced for PSP.

In the latest Famitsu Square-Enix has announced a remake of the original Tactics Ogre for PSP.  According to Andriasang "The staff of the original are returning for the PSP release. The staff list includes Yashishi MInagawa as director, Yasumi Matsuno as game designer, Akihiro Yoshida and Tsubasa Masao as character designers, and Hitoshi Sakimoto and Iwata Masaji on music."

Elven Legacy Collection available for $15

Until July 27 you can purchase Elven Legacy and all 3 expansion packs for $15.  This is a good deal and I doubt you'll see it again for less anytime soon.  Review here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow Walkthrough

I'm now working on a Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow guide, which is based on the highest difficulty, Lunatic.  I'm also played on classic mode because I just love hitting restart when my 90% attack misses and I lose a unit because of it.  Lunatic mode is definitely a challenge.  Most of your army can be killed in 1 or 2 hits, making survival and blockading waves of deadly enemies very important.  On top of that there are end of game rankings that should do well to prevent typical abuse.

Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow is one of the best titles in the series in my opinion.  It's got a great challenge, it's more balanced than FE:SD (provided you ignore any wi-fi features), and there's a lot more plot and character development for those of you who felt left out.  Definitely look forward to this game when it's inevitably announced for NA.

Field of Glory: Immortal Fire released

 Slitherine has released its third Field of Glory expansion, Immortal Fire, along with an update to the game engine to 1.3.0.  Field of Glory remains one of the best tactical PC wargames in the last two years or so and features exacting historical accuracy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Valkyria Chronicles II Preorder bonuses in Europe

I'm not sure if this preorder bonus extends to retailers in North America.  Probably not.  You'll get two skirmishes for preordering.  It looks like there's lots of DLC this time around, no surprise since DLC made up the majority of Valkyria Chronicles profits.

"SEGA Europe Ltd. is excited to confirm that all customers who pre-order a copy of Valkyria Chronicles™ II, the sequel to the critically acclaimed turn based strategy RPG, for the PlayStation® Portable will receive exclusive Downloadable Content."

Details on the downloadable missions:
• Exercise vs. Class E – An exterminatory war exercise against rival class E using all the areas of Leanbluff Forest. Destroy all enemies in each area to win this challenge.
• Exercise vs. Class F – A defense exercise against rival class F. Break through their stonewalling defense and take over their encampment to win this mission.

Disgaea 4 coming to PS3 in 2010, info at TGS 2010

Disgaea 4 will be shown off at the Tokyo Games Show 2010, and will be released this year in Japan. 
 “Oh  and one last thing. This year the latest Disagea will be released in Japan and  it will be for the PS3. Plans to make Disagea evolve to a new level and also plans to surprise everybody is in progress. By the time Tokyo Game Show comes around we will be able to release more  information, so please look forward to it.”

I'm guessing the big surprise will be increasing the level cap to 99,999 and raising the damage numbers so large that you need exponential notation and 64 bit code to express them.

Future Wars available on Steam

Future Wars, a wargame-lite that compares itself to Advance Wars, is available on Steam now.  It's 20% off for a limited time - at $8 it's not looking too bad for an impulse buy.  It looks like a generic, easy tactics game (review at Big Download), but it does come with a map editor and features "Infinite modding possibilities through open data structure, open scripts and editor", so if you were looking for something to make your own Advance Wars style mod with, check it out.  Demo here.

Is the new PS3 SRW title going to be SRW Z 2?

More rumors from SRW Hotnews.  This time it's a magazine cover showing off Super Robot Taisen Z 2 for PS3.  I'm taking this to mean that this is the name of the as yet untitled SRW PS3 game, and that there aren't actually two PS3 SRW games in development.  Where there's smoke, there's fire!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow import impressions.

Fire Emblem 3 DS starts out with a lengthy 8 chapter prologue starring your customizable unit.  On Lunatic mode your unit is usually two shotted during the prologue unless they are a General, or one shotted if they are a mage on vulnerable terrain.  You can choose your units backstory which alters their stats and growth rates - their past, present, and future.  When all of your party can be 1 or 2 shot and it's easy to get ganged up on, there's no room for mistakes.  The prologue strategies usually involve huddling in the corner and baiting one unit at a time so your army can't get overwhelmed and 1 or 2 shotted.  You can also play Lunatic difficulty on Casual mode, which means you can sacrifice your units as pawns when needed and still keep everyone alive for the next chapter.

In any case, the difficulty on Lunatic mode is certainly impressive, although you'll probably have an easier time of it if you take advantage of the online store and boss/XP abuse.  You can also leave your DS off for a while and come back and your units will have grown in XP and found new items.    The good news is that there appears to be some kind of end of game ranking, which may or may not punish you for doing things like XP abusing, letting units fall in battle (even on casual mode), or using the online store.  Unfortunately I have to admit my expertise with Fire Emblem is outclassed by the elite Fire Emblem players who play nothing but Fire Emblem all the time and already know Fire Emblem 3 for Super Famicom inside out, which this game is based on.  Check Serene's Forest for continual updates on game data, and I'll be writing a guide eventually as well.

This looks like one of the best Fire Emblem challenges since Fire Emblem 9 mania mode fixed growths or Fire Emblem 7 Hector Hard Mode S rank, and there's no doubt it's coming to NA as well.  Fire Emblem 3 DS proves that Nintendo is still one of the best console developers in the business.  I have legally imported my copy of the game.  It shipped today from NCSX.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Battlefield Academy Video

07/21 [PC] [1] Battlefield Academy
Slitherine has released what looks like part of the tutorial for Battlefield Academy.  I like how the line of sight works realistically around the 3D terrain.  This is a WEGO based game where both players move at once, but it's hard to spot here because the enemy tank doesn't have time to attack when it's taken by surprise in this instance.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kaizer - free PC indie tactical game

Over at IndieDB a new tactical game named Kaizer has been released.  It looks like a board game style tactics game with a variety of units.  It has some old school style vector looking graphics and abstract units that give it a puzzle or board game feel.  Fairly simple, but you can't beat the price of free.  There are a bunch of strategy indie games at IndieDB to be checked out.

New Super Robot Taisen PS3 details at TGS 2010.

According to an article at SRW Hotnews, there's a rumor that the Super Robot Taisen entry for PS3 will be revealed at TGS 2010 for the series 20th anniversary.  TGS will take place on Sept 16-19 this year.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Reign of Swords Review (iPhone/PC)

2008/09/09 [iPhone/iPod Touch/PC] [1] Reign of Swords
Version Reviewed: 1.2.42

Reign of Swords is a wargame lite for iPhone and PC.  It's got a fairly basic selection of generic units, a few special abilities, and a beginner level campaign.  The single player campaign consists of main story missions and optional skirmishes.  Skirmishes can be grinded repeatedly for more recruits and upgrades, while multiplayer fights can be won for the same sort of rewards.  Even if you stay offline and don't play the skirmishes more than once, the campaign difficulty is still around the beginner level.  The campaign is fairly non-linear, so if a skirmish or mission is too difficult, you can come back later with more appropriate units.  I do like that there is a deployment cap for each mission based on the value of each unit, so you can't just grind until you have a mass of the best units in the game and slaughter everything.  Unit upgrades are handled with currency earned by winning fights - if you screw up your unit upgrading, you can always grind skirmishes until you get what you need, although if you plan correctly you will not have to grind or fight online to get the units needed to clear the campaign.

Strategies are fairly basic and you're generally just moving from point A to B killing everything using standard tactics, aside from two or three missions.  Rarely you'll be put into a defense or escape situation but they felt pretty uninspired.  There are quite a few missions where you're expected to siege enemy fortifications, which tends to be boring as it takes a while to push through chokeholds even using the best ranged and air units, especially when you need to wait around for allied and enemy units to take their turns.  If you're a beginner to the genre you'll probably appreciate the simple combat, as most of the mainstream reviewers seemed to.  The main problem with the strategic depth is that there aren't many units that feel different from your average generic foot soldier/mounted unit. 

There's multiplayer, but not in the way you'd expect.  Instead of a full on battle, you give your units general tactics then the AI plays the game for you in your absence and reports the results.  This is meant for people who don't have time to play out a long battle, but it defeats the purpose of tactical combat if you're relying on the computer to do most of the work.  Even stranger, once you commit your units to a "PvP" fight over the net, you can't use them elsewhere to keep playing the single player campaign.  Reign of Swords 2 does away with this so apparently it wasn't as popular as the developers thought it would be.

The touch controls on the iPhone version are unfortunately poor.  The game fails to register a tap unless it's placed perfectly on the games smallish grid, leading to repeated tapping just to get the game to recognize a tap.  I've played the majority of tactical TBS titles on iPhone and this is the first I've ever encountered such a sensitivity issue, and looking at other reviews suggests I am not alone.  Once you issue a move command to a unit, the UI changes to a vastly different setup where you need to drag from the selected unit outward instead of being able to scroll the map as usual and click on the destination.  This is both needlessly confusing and inefficient.  The PC version using a mouse and keyboard is generally the superior choice for controls.

Graphics and sound are fairly bland and unassuming.  You can't turn off movement or combat animations but they go by quickly so it's not a big deal.  There are no fully animated cutscenes for combat between two units.  The plot is a simple empire conquest tale and all the units on the field are generic, so don't expect an SRPG level plot here.

Strategic Depth: Low-mid.  Wargame-lite with a couple units, not a lot of customization.
Strategic Difficulty: Mid to high beginner level.  Sometimes you'll need to bring specific units to win efficiently, but it's pretty obvious what to take most of the time.  Grinding takes all of the guesswork or strategy out of what units to upgrade.
Overall Score: 6.9 iPhone, 7.6 PC.  Despite costing a few dollars more, the PC versions controls are far better.  It's mildly amusing if you need something to occupy your time while mobile, just don't expect much besides the basics.

Reign of Swords II brings much of the same, with the addition of about 8 new units, and real tactical turn based multiplayer.  The pace of the game is helped by more responsive controls, faster movement animations and better map scrolling, and the game auto-selecting the next unused unit automatically.  There are additional graphics and the campaign has a bit more story to it.  Whereas Reign of Swords felt like a freshman effort, its sequel feels a bit more experienced and the additional unit variety helps keep things from getting too monotonous.  The difficulty is about the same, though.  There are some boring stretches where you have to move your units around the map and through teleports with no combat whatsoever, which can get tedious after a while.  I'd give Reign of Swords II an 8.0 and I'd recommend getting it over the first game if you have a choice.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Proof of Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow localization.

From Siliconera, a scan of Nintendo Power reveals they'll be covering Fire Emblem: Heroes of Light and Shadow in their next August issue, which appears to be its localized name. You can now rejoice in the obvious implication that the game is coming to North America.  Not that you should have had any doubts, considering Fire Emblem routinely sells more in NA than Japan.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Famitsu reviews FE3 remake.

Famitsu has given Fire Emblem: Shin Monshou no Nazo a 9/8/9/8 score, for a total 34 points.  This is very good for a simulation RPG, as they're called in Japan.  I'm importing the game and possibly writing a guide for it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Blue Roses Video

09/16 [PSP] [1] [2] Blue Roses: Yousei to Aoi Hitomi no Senshitachi

Blue Roses, a new SRPG being developed by Apollosoft with veterans from Flight-Plan who developed the Summon Night series, has a new trailer (via andriasang).

Movement takes place on the typical turn based grid, then shifts to a 3 on 3 fight when two units engage in combat. It looks like you'll have to hit real-time context sensitive prompts while fighting. It looks like a nice bit of variety, but I highly doubt there will be any challenging content, as neither Flight-Plan or NIS are known for strategically challenging games. Since the game is being published by NIS I'd say there's a reasonable chance it will be brought to NA.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Future Front Mission tactical games a 'definite possibility'.

According to an interview on Siliconera with Front Mission developer Koichi Sakamoto, "There is definitely a possibility that the series will return to a tactical game in the future. We wanted to leave that open ended. It all depends on how consumers react to this title [Front Mission Evolved]."

I seriously doubt Square-Enix is willing to spend the millions required to develop a current gen Front Mission title, but maybe we'll see a new tactical entry appearing on handhelds in the future.  I've played the import Front Mission: 2089 and it was a lackluster set of missions using the original Front Mission DS engine, which really can't hold up to the tactical depth and balance of Front Mission 4 or 5.  Hopefully one day we'll see Front Mission return to its tactical roots.

BBC Battlefield Academy Announced for PC

Slitherine Strategies announced BBC Battlefield Academy is available for preorder today for PC.  The game has been listed on their website for about a year but it looks like it's getting close to release.  It was supposed to be for PSP, DS, and PC, but it looks like the console page has been 'dismantled', so I'm guessing it's PC only now. It looks like they're taking a comic book approach to wargaming this time around.  Release date is set for 2010/07/21.

Field of Glory 1.28 patch update

The excellent PC historical tactics wargame Field of Glory has received a patch to 1.28.  Here's a youtube clip of the game in motion.

"The comprehensive 1.2.8 update includes 18 new battles, tons of fixes and rule tweaks, plenty of AI improvements, and more! The game also includes an in-game update system for all future updates. With this new system, keeping Field of Glory up to date will be as easy as clicking a button on the game’s main menu."

There you have it.  Field of Glory is one of the best PC tactics games since Elven Legacy that I'm aware of, so definitely check it out.  It should run fine on just about any PC or netbook these days.

UPDATE: Field of Glory was also announced for Mac.