TGS Sidequest – The Persona 5 Exhibit In Akihabara

Part of what I love about Japan is you know what you’ll find. If you know me, you know I’m a figure collector and that a lot of my trips here are spent figure hunting. I happened to be out in Akihabara on a hunt today and came across a special Persona 5 exhibit in the Kotobukiya shop there. I knew what I had to do, take pictures for you all to see. Check out the shots below to relive your glory days with the Phantom Thieves. 

Here’s a look at some authentic attire from the game. From Shujin Academy uniforms to Joker’s getup in he wears in dungeons. The jacket costs 150,000 Yen (about $1350), btw.

Igor sits at his desk, deciding who to make his next pact with…

Justine and Caroline are waiting for your next Persona transformation. 

Tarot cards line the walls, which one’s power will you call on?

If you wanted to, you could test your hand at this shooting gallery and win a prize by knocking down particular standees.

Pro Gamer Shinya Oda was of course on hand in case you need any tips.

Here’s another look at the big display of the cast.

I’m also using this feature to announce and confirm Makoto is best girl.

Last but not least, a throwback to all those text conversations you had. Joker looks pretty cute, too.

Beta Test TGS Sidequest – The Persona 5 Exhibit In Akihabara

Five Niche Games From TGS 2017 To Watch

I’ve spent the last few days trying to soak in as much as I can about TGS 2017. While games like Monster Hunter: World and The Evil Within 2 drew big lines, I wanted to focus on some smaller titles that you might not know about. Here are five niche games that I found interesting from the show. 

Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings (PS4, Switch, PC)
The latest entry in the Atelier series, which concludes the Mysterious arc, was just confirmed for North America. While at the show, I chatted with the developers to learn more about it. This entry goes back to two main protagonists: twins Lydie and Suelle. Lydia is the older twin, who likes to go at her own pace and think things through. Suelle is the opposite; she’s more tomboyish, sporting guns and full of energy. The main focus is on daily life, but Lydie and Suelle cam jump into paintings for more fantastical locales. Both the weather system and day and night cycles return, but the paintings also house their own interesting environments. For instance, a painting with an ice background is full of frost and snow to travel through. Because Lydie and Suelle are twins, expect battles to feature combination attacks and skills. Basically, one character takes an attack role, while the other is support. You can even do alchemy right in battle this time around. This game is in celebration of the Atelier’s 20th anniversary, and the developers are hoping it satisfies current fans and brings new ones into the fun world of alchemy. Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings launches in early 2018.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III (PS4)
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Trails of Cold Steel’s arc so far, so I’m hoping Xseed localizes the final entry in it. This is the first time the series is on PS4, and I had the opportunity to play it at TGS. It plays how you’d expect: turn-based combat with your four-member party. Landing a crit, stunning an enemy, and unleashing combo attacks are still satisfying. “Some time has passed since we’ve last seen main character Rean; he’s now an instructor, and new characters will accompany him on his journey. That doesn’t mean we won’t see old favorites – the game contains characters from both the Liberl and Crossbell story arcs. I’m interested to see what the new cast offers and where the story goes, as well as bumping into familiar faces from the other games.

Fortune Street: Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary (PS4, Vita)
Do you remember Fortune Street? It never really took off in North America, but we did see one on the Wii, featuring Mario and Dragon Quest characters. The chances of this one coming over are bleak, but it has an awesome cast, with characters from Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy. You have FF favorites like Yuna, Kefka, and even Noctis alongside popular Dragon Quest characters like Jessica, Carver, and Angelo. For those not in the know, the game plays a lot like Monopoly, where you roll the dice and go around a board to buy properties and stocks. Your goal is to earn money and upgrade properties so you can put your opponents in the red. The game has a lot of fun chance elements, such as letting you land anywhere to shuffling around everyone on the board. It also has fun minigames, like partaking in turn-based retro battles where your dice roll determines your HP and attack. I had a blast in my hands-on time, and if we don’t get it in North America, I’m really considering importing it. 

The 25th Ward: The Silver Case (PS4, PC)
Suda and his team at Grasshopper recently remade The Silver Case, and now they’re giving its follow-up the same treatment. The game was just recently announced for North America, coming in 2018. The 25th Ward takes place five years after the events of The Silver Case. In the 25th Ward, which takes place five years after the events of The Silver Case, a woman’s murder sets off a chain of strange events. The tale will bridge across multiple protagonists, including The Silver Case’s Tokio Morishima.  The 25th Ward originally came out over a decade ago on mobile, so the team is taking care to update it for a modern audience with new visuals, sounds, and controls. Suda is also writing some new content for the game, which he seems very energized about. I’m excited to see what bizarre things he cooks up. 

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim (PS4, Vita)
The newest title from Vanillaware just keeps sounding more and more interesting. After a catastrophe, you’re thrust into a world of despair and demise. Not much has been revealed about 13 Sentinels, but instead of having a fantastical setting like most of Vanillaware’s games, the world is more modern and grounded in reality – except for the fact that everyone can pilot mechs.The game follows 13 different protagonists (men and women) who can pilot these mechs and help the world avoid a grim fate. I like the darker tone and can’t wait to hear more about the game. Vanillaware titles always have an outstanding style, so I’m sure it won’t disappoint on the visual front.

Beta Test Five Niche Games From TGS 2017 To Watch

Metal Gear Survive Is More Fun Than I Expected

The spin-off Metal Gear Survive rightfully has its skeptics. After series mastermind Hideo Kojima departed Konami in a messy separation, fans questioned if Metal Gear games would ever be the same. When Konami announced Metal Gear Survive, it was a surprise – a survival action game with zombies? Even Kojima commented on how he didn’t see how zombies fit within the series. I went into my hands-on session for Metal Gear Survive just as doubtful as any fan about the game being something I’d even want to play. While I don’t think Metal Gear Survive will be an earth-shattering experience for the series, I walked away having more fun than I expected. 

While Metal Gear Survive does have a single-player campaign, Konami isn’t ready to give many details on it, except that a wormhole opens in the sky, absorbing all MSF soldiers, transporting them to an alternate reality. You must survive a harsh environment overflowing with dangerous creatures by collecting resources and building a base camp. Time will tell if Konami takes a more zany approach and tells an interesting story considering the premise or makes the single-player very straightforward with a focus on gameplay. 

At Tokyo Game Show, I played a section of the co-op in which you work with three other players in missions. My mission was to protect a generator from waves of zombies. I chose to play as a fighter, but you could also choose a shooter. You basically want to level your character up and find better gear by completing missions; after every mission, you get new loot depending on your success. Metal Gear Survive uses the same controls scheme from Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain, and they’re as responsive and intuitive as you remember. However, even if you haven’t played the recent games, the controls are easy to pick up and understand. 

Before each wave, you can prepare for the onslaught of baddies coming your way, by putting up barriers, spinning blades, and even mini turrets. The best strategy is to look for any opening the zombies may be able to exploit and put down some traps to thwart them. Once they break through, you can shoot, punch, throw molotov cocktails, and anything else you come equipped with. In between waves, you can take on side objectives to get better resources to protect you from the next wave. 

I loved the chaos and strategy of it all. One minute, you’re prepping by thinking ahead, the next a horde is overflowing the area, forcing you to think on your feet and use what you have at your disposal. The resource management part is a nice touch. You have a limited amount of all your items, from barriers to ammo. You must use them judiciously if you want to make it through every wave. Setting up the perfect trap or throwing a molotov cocktail to torch a zombie horde is satisfying. Even more so, working with a team to make the best of all your resources and help each other out in a bind makes for a fun co-op experience.

Because I only played one mission, I can’t speak to the variety of content or if this game has legs beyond a few matches. Metal Gear Survive has a tough tassk ahead of convincing players it’s worthy of their time. Survival games have become more popular in recent years, but convincing people to abandon those like PUBG is a hard feat. That being said, the game is a lot more enjoyable than I was expecting, providing me that rush I get when I play games like Left 4 Dead or Mass Effect’s multiplayer. Now it’s up to Konami to see if they can attract a strong player base and win back fans. Something tells me this won’t be enough, but Metal Gear Survive is nice a diversion if you’re looking for something in this vein. 

Metal Gear Survive hits in early 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. 

Beta Test Metal Gear Survive Is More Fun Than I Expected

Five Things You Should Know About The Secret Of Mana Remake

Square Enix recently announced a remake of the beloved classic, Secret of Mana. The action/RPG for SNES made its mark for its fun co-op, vibrant visuals, and fantastic music. This remake includes 3D visuals, voice acting, and a newly arranged score by original composer Hiroki Kikuta. While in Japan, I had the opportunity to speak to producer Masaru Oyamada about what we can expect from the remake and the design decisions behind it. Here are some of his biggest revelations.

How Co-op Works

As fans will remember, Secret of Mana had three-player co-op, which was rare for the role-playing genre at the time. Oyamada says the co-op functions in the remake exactly like the original, meaning it’s offline couch co-op. “You have three players sitting next to each other on the couch with three controllers – all playing at the same time,” he confirms. “I think a lot of the enjoyment that people have in their memories of the original game relies on that playstyle. We felt it was best to have that recreated in the same way.” 

A Few Improvements But Sticking To The Original’s Core

Every remake holds the danger of changing too much for longtime fans or not updating enough for a modern audience. Oyamada gave more insight into the team’s approach and the changes. “The overall construction of the game and the content of the game is the same as the original – nothing has been cut,” he says. “The additions and tweaks we’ve added the game are more subtle, more for accessibility and ease of play. For example, dashing and the run button used to only work in a single direction, now you can do it freely. The other thing for ease of control is controlling the ring commands for allies used to be very difficult for one person, but we’ve made that a lot easier.”

Cutscenes and more detailed character interactions are also new features. “In the original, it was really left to the imagination of the player to figure out what the main party was doing and how they were talking to each other between the adventures they went on,” Oyamada says. “You now get to see conversations between [the party members] and little scenes that add to the story.” 

Adding Voice Acting And 3D Graphics

This also marks the first time characters are voiced for the game, but Randi, Primm, and Popoi have appeared in other Square Enix collaborations using voice actors to say their iconic lines. “When I saw [those], it actually felt very natural,” Oyamada says. “It didn’t feel out of place at all, so when it came to doing the remake of the game, I thought we should go with voices from the start.” If you want to experience the remake like the original, there is an option to turn the voice acting off, too. 

Secret of Mana’s art style has always been core to its identity. Unsurprisingly, the shift to 3D visuals has been met with mixed reactions from fans based on the first glimpses. “It’d be very difficult actually from a technological perspective these days to do development in the old pixel style graphics,” Oyamada explains. “And I think the other thing is if we did decide to go along with that, we wouldn’t be exceeding the original. We thought it’d be better to go for an evolution – a more modern update of the graphics for 3D. But, we did very much pay attention to make sure they were not something that would put off the original fans, that they wouldn’t feel too out of place.” 

What Makes An Old Classic Work For A Modern Audience

Secret of Mana is a great game, but some elements are archaic. I was surprised to see how close Square is sticking to the original. I have a lot of nostalgia for the game, as it’s one of my personal favorites, but what about fans who don’t have that experience? What makes Oyamada confident they’ll enjoy it? “There are not really many games that have that classic JRPG feel and these structures anymore,” Oyamada says. “You don’t really see it that much, and even going further seeing a game with a more modern 3D style and essence to them. I think Bravely Default is the only series that really does that. So in some ways, it feels really fresh and new in just doing that in itself – the classic style with the new 3D graphics.”

Wanting To Rekindle People’s Love For The Mana Series

The Mana series has struggled in the last decade or so compared to its early days. Last year, the team remade Adventures of Mana (previously known as Final Fantasy Adventure in North America) to a mostly positive reception. Could this be a push to revive people’s passion for the series and carry forward to newer entries? “I very much think about the series and the remake in that way myself,” Oyamada shares. “If we can hear the same kind of opinions from fans, I really think that will link through into the future of the series.”

Secret of Mana launches on February 15 for PS4, Vita, and PC.

For ore on Secret of Mana, you can check out Dan Tack’s hands-on impressions.

Beta Test Five Things You Should Know About The Secret Of Mana Remake

Replay – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

Welcome to another Replay Reunion episode! Tim Turi, Dan Ryckert, and Mike Mahardy join Andrew Reiner for a look back at Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, a sequel that injected an unstoppable threat into Capcom’s tried-and-true survival horror formula. We discuss the current state of the Resident Evil series as Tim Turi skillfully works his way through Raccoon City’s zombified streets.

We also compete against one another in a PlayStation launch title that hasn’t aged so well, but clearly shows why gamers were flocking toward this generation of games for new experiences.

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Beta Test Replay – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis

All Xbox 360 Halo Titles Are Now Backwards Compatible On Xbox One

Correction: It has been pointed out to me that Halo 3: ODST was added to the Master Chief Collection after launch.

Microsoft’s latest wave of backwards compatible titles included four Halo titles, closing the loop on the Halo series’ Xbox 360 library without needing to buy Master Chief Collection.

The four titles are Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo 4. Halo: Reach had already been in a previous wave of backward compatible titles, but had to be patched after the initial wave lead to a backlash. Now, as long as you have the original disc or own the game digitally, you have access to the game on the Xbox One.

Since Halo 3: ODST is not included in the Master Chief Collection, as it does not star Master Chief, so this is the first chance to play that game on the Xbox One. You can find a full list of backwards compatible titles here.

Beta Test All Xbox 360 Halo Titles Are Now Backwards Compatible On Xbox One

Weekend Warrior – Turning Up The Heat

The temperature’s really picked up in Minneapolis this weekend, and plenty of editors seem to be taking that as their cue to play Heat Signature. Others are finding it’s their destiny to finish Destiny 2’s campaign before Monday rolls around.

Everybody’s readying themselves for October, which is just a smorgasbord of game releases, so let’s look at what people are doing for the last full weekend of September.

Ben Hanson (@yozetty) – Oh man, what do I play this weekend… I suppose I’ll try to finish the Destiny 2 campaign and maybe dive into the heart of that experience a bit. I like it, but just am not interested in playing too much in one sitting. Other than that, I should probably keep going with Mario + Rabbids, and there’s a sick part of me that wants to play Thimbleweed Park on Switch. Oh, and I want to understand what has Leo Vader so excited about Heat Signature on Steam. Alright, have a good weekend!

Brian Shea (@BrianPShea) – This weekend, I’m continuing to build up my Hunter in Destiny 2, though I am admittedly starting to drift away from the game already. I’m also playing Mario + Rabbids, Yakuza 0, and am just starting Metroid: Samus Returns. Of course, I’ll probably play a few rounds of Overwatch as well.

Javy Gwaltney (@HurdyIV) – I’m going to be jumping back and forth between leading my fellow editors to their dea… VICTORY in XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen and trying to kick my coffee habit. I’m sure this combination of things will go over well and I won’t have a breakdown in the slightest hahahahahaha.

Kyle Hilliard (@KyleMHilliard) – In terms of video games, I’m still creeping my way through Destiny 2 and am in the last world of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. I’ve also been working on the review for Heat Signature, which I’ve been enjoying so far. In regards to non-video games, I’ll be seeing The Lego Ninjago Movie tonight, attending a children’s birthday party tomorrow, and cleaning the house. Some of those things are more exciting than others.

Leo Vader (@leovader) – I’ve been playing Heat Signature all week so my weekend will be spent playing even more Heat Signature! I’ve got a friend who just got into it and it’s been a blast swapping stories and tips we’ve picked up. Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to buy Heat Signature!

Imran Khan (@imranzomg) – This weekend, I’m balancing Danganronpa 3, Sonic Mania, Destiny 2, and Samus Returns. I suppose sometime in there I should eat, sleep, or talk to people. Maybe.

Cody Mello-Klein (@Proelectioneer) – This is my first Weekend Warrior here as an intern, so I’d love to impress everybody by mentioning some obscure indie game or systems-heavy RPG. But I like honesty even more than approval, so this weekend will mostly be more time spent in Destiny 2 as well more hours spent in The Witcher 3, a.k.a. second life. As a Mercy main, I’m also excited – and a little scared –  to experiment with the new Overwatch changes.

George Ash (@GeorgeEAsh) – This weekend, like every weekend, I’ll be hopping around Overwatch and Rocket League on PC. I’ll also be delving deeper into Shadow of Mordor after finally starting that game earlier this week.

Keenan McCall (@KEeNanMcCall525) – I haven’t been able to sit down and enjoy Metroid: Samus Returns yet, so I’ll be working toward a 100 percent completion in that. If I have any spare time after that, Yakuza Kiwami is still sitting on my to-do to-do list.

Beta Test Weekend Warrior – Turning Up The Heat

We Get Up-Close With The SNES Classic Edition

The SNES Classic Edition comes out on September 29, but Nintendo sent us the system a week early. Our immediate future involves spending a lot of time with the library of classic 16-bit games, and we should have some impressions to share next week. In the meantime, check out this gallery of pictures we took of the unit itself, including a controller-cord length comparison. 

Once you get everything unwrapped and set out in front of you, the SNES Classic Edition is going to look a little something like this. 

If you are very tall and looking down on the unit and its array of accessories, it will look like this instead.

Unlike the NES Classic Edition, this unit has a flappy thing you need to fold down to access the controller ports. It’s an understandable choice; the bare ports don’t fit as well with the original design of the SNES. 

Not much going on in the back – just and HDMI port and a power plug. You’re probably saying, “Boring! When are we going to get to the comparison of the controller cords?” Don’t worry. That’s coming.

First, we have some different comparison shots: The SNES Classic Edition versus the NES Classic Edition.

But what if you took the units out of their boxes? They are still very small. But how small are they compared to the originals? To know for sure, you’d almost need… 

…That’s right! The original units, side-by-side, with the new versions right there too. That is some first-rate comparing, if we do say so ourselves. Okay, with that out of the way, here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for:

The cord length comparison. As you can see, the SNES Classic Edition controllers have shorter cords than the original. But they are longer than the NES Classic Edition controller cords. Is that going to be an issue when it comes to the overall experience? Tune in next week to find out when we post our full review!

While you wait, you can get even more SNES Classic Edition info by taking an in-depth look at the menus and soundtrack, or watching nine minutes of the long-lost Star Fox 2 (which is included with the unit).

Beta Test We Get Up-Close With The SNES Classic Edition

The Pokemon Go Equinox Event Is Live

The other day, Niantic announced that a Pokemon Go event centered around the Equinox would be going live in just a little while. The official twitter has announced that it is live now, encouraging players to have fun exploring their neighborhoods.

During the event, PokeStops and Gyms you visit will net you special 2 km Eggs that can hatch Chansey, Mareep, Larvitar, and others. You can also get special boxes from the in-game shop that feature items like Lucky Eggs, Lure Modules, and the new Super Incubators for hatching eggs quicker.

Any Pokemon you add to your Pokedex during this event earns you triple the normal XP, encouraging players who have yet to take on the Legendary Pokemon to take the task on now. The event ends on October 2 at 1:00 PDT, so make sure to take advantage while you can.

Beta Test The Pokemon Go Equinox Event Is Live

Phoenix Wright: Spirit Of Justice Out Now On Android And iOS

Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice, released last year on the 3DS, has been ported to Android and iOS mobile devices and is available right now.

The sixth mainline Ace Attorney game takes Phoenix to Khura’in, a fictional kingdom that declares every suspect guilty as a matter of course. In his attempts to visit his old friend Maya Fey, Phoenix and eventually Apollo get embroiled into a mess of politics and drama within the Khura’in court system.

You can find our review of the 3DS version of the game right here, which Elise Favis believes is one of the best stories in the series.

Beta Test Phoenix Wright: Spirit Of Justice Out Now On Android And iOS