19 June 2018

God of War 2018: Shadows of Succession

Legacy is a tricky thing to live up to. Shadows of the past build certain expectations and make change difficult. No matter the quality of new entries, they will always be thoroughly scrutinized and compared to previous ones, and vice versa for the previous, older entries. As a result the new God of War, referred to as God of War 2018 throughout this article to avoid confusion - made by series developer SIE Santa Monica Studio - was confronted with a conflicted fanbase when first announced. When critiquing art there’s a general rule though: judge the art on its own merit, but also compare it to the bigger picture, to both its past but also to the genre and hobby at large. So: where does God of War 2018 stand? Is it cowering in the shadows of its forbearers? Does it cast one of its own? Or are they two statues standing firmly next to each other, gazing into the horizon?

10 May 2018

Shinobi: Is Less Truly More?

When an attack hits the enemy, he dies - it should be as simple as that. But it rarely is.
Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, when describing the look and feel of his designs, noted the motto “less is more”. He used only the absolute necessities, with each part of his constructs having more than a single use. It is a working method that lives in all crafts, so what about Action Games? With each game we’ve been looking for the depth, the variation, the combination of attacks and how it all works in complex ways to motivate us: but what if a game strove to do the opposite, how would that work? Maybe 忍Shinobi for the Playstation 2 is one such game.

As a series 忍Shinobi has been a long running Sega franchise. While not as big as Sonic The Hedgehog, it has had nine titles released before Overworks took the series in a new direction hoping to leave a mark on the newly released Sega Dreamcast. Focusing on a new character and world this game was to usher in a new era of action titles. Sadly due to the downfall of the Dreamcast, production was shifted to the Playstation 2. In the meantime Devil May Cry would instead make its mark on the genre, leaving 忍Shinobi to finally release one year later in November of 2002, greeted by silence.

13 April 2018

Depth versus Complexity

You are surrounded. The attackers are everywhere, angels reign down from the skies while the demons crawl up from the depths below. Bullets, energy blasts, axes and spears fly...Nowhere is safe. You have but a split second to decide what you’re going to do and how you're going to dispatch of your foes. That thoughtprocess can be one of the most exhilarating moments. The choices that ran through your head showed a deep array of possibilities, but what exactly is Depth? And why is it often confused with another term: Complexity?

Let’s watch them square off:
Depth versus Complexity

In a sense, action games are a curious genre. Instead of being built around that single playthrough for maximum enjoyment, the meat of the games tends to come from frequent revisits. They up the challenge on higher settings in new ways, twist the structure around and promote experimentation above all else. Games such as these urge you to dig deeper constantly. As such, if there exists a single word that describes the heart of the action hack and slash genre, it is depth. Depth allows for each replay to be interesting and a learning experience. Within a single moment the player gets to make choices based on the moveset of the player character. This can be defensive, offensive, crowd control and more; all with differing forms and outcomes that lead to new “blink and you’ll miss it” spaces to make your next choice, usually without even knowing it. This eventually leads to you instinctively experimenting with options and finding perfect, but at times also risky solutions to an enemy encounter or scenario. A single different choice can have a huge impact on the result of the fight. This is the depth in an action game. It is defined by the meaningful options you have and their differing uses and applications.
Depth is in a sense an answer to a question: why should I use these attacks and abilities, instead of just killing my foe?

16 March 2018

Remember Me: Command or a Desire?

First”: a word with gravitas. Your first steps, your first friends, your first kiss, first college year, first job, first - and hopefully last - marriage; nothing holds as much weight as that feeling of doing or experiencing something for the first time.
It is 2008 and ex staff members of companies like Ubisoft, Cryterion and Electronic Arts band together to form their own studio. A first! Excited, they give the studio a name: Dontnod Entertainment - perhaps an homage to them being fed up with nodding in agreement to the higher-ups? Another first. Then comes the big question: what will their first game be? Do you play it safe, or use your newfound freedom to make something the bigger and more controlled companies don’t dare make?

They decided on Adrift, a Playstation 3 exclusive. The goal of the game? To show that developers, and even publishers, aren't afraid to try out fresh ideas and concepts. The title was a nod to its premise: a world where politics, economics and even technology had gone adrift. Sadly for Dontnod Entertainment their title was cancelled by Sony cancelled together with nine other titles in 2011. Their first heartbreak.

It could only have been fate though. In 2012 Dontnod Entertainment had reached out to Capcom to propose a partnership, who had just announced that it planned to expand in the West. Capcom said yes; Dontnod’s first redemption. In their new partnership Adrift took on a more focused approach, slowly going from three elements having gone adrift, to just one: technology. And eventually more specific: memory technology. This shift in direction had the original gameplay vision go adrift as well, turning a story based title into an action-adventure title, known today as…

Remember Me
 their first shift in direction

16 February 2018

The Stinger's Storied History

A devil staggers in front of you, dying; in the distance, his partner still standing. You launch forward with a sturdy stab, your sword striving for the strike. As your blade strikes, he stumbles. Step by step you inch closer to what remains of his stitched together and strange sorry state. The attack to lunge towards him was strategic, but also stylish.

- That, was the “Stinger”-

A move that inspired many attacks in future games and even this website’s very name. Celebrate the one year anniversary of Stinger Magazine with us and strap in as we dive into the storied history of this iconic attack from not only the Devil May Cry series, but the genre as a whole!

28 January 2018

Combat Mechanics in a Game Without Fighting; How?

When analyzing a game, the genre is in the spotlight. How does it hold up compared to its contemporaries, does it innovate, is it a return to form, or an evolution? Other games, as we’ve noted before, combine genres. Vanquish combines lightning fast third person shooter gameplay with mechanics and rules of the action genre while platformers like Super Mario Galaxy flip the script per stage while keeping platforming at the center. Yakuza Zero (龍が如く0) on the other hand is a game with many games inside it, each with their own genre. While the main adventure is one of drama and fists, each door opened away from the spotlight leads to a unique experience. You can go bowling, karting and even dating, but there is one door that opens to a very unique game. As the doorknob turns a golden light escapes through it and when it bursts open we are greeted by Majima Goro in a well kept suit, and his fellow hostesses, each a sparkling beauty. Stay, drink, chat and enjoy at Club Sunshine - a game within a game that confronts the simple question: how do you use combat mechanics, in a non combat game?

28 December 2017

The Evil Within 2 | Passing On The Torch

Some directors operate with a single axiom: once you get onto the chair, don’t ever let them take it from you. Others aren’t keen on staying where they are though, they want to move forward. Shinji Mikami - having directed smash hits like the first Resident Evil, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand, Vanquish and The Evil Within rarely touches let alone directs sequels. Instead he seems more interested in laying down the ground work with one title so that the team can live on without him and continue making quality games by his standards.

So when Tango Games announced it would be making a sequel to the critically divided The Evil Within, it was to be expected to see a new name in the director seat. Like Hideki Kamiya took the reigns of Resident Evil 2 after Mikami, so does John Johanas carry on the torch here. Having served as visual effects designer on the original game, as well as directing its expansions The Assignment and The Consequence, Mikami noted he had shown a lot of talent and saw their next product as a good way to train him further, so that the studio might truly become independent, and so that Mikami could once again move on. This game, was The Evil Within 2.

Releasing on the infamous Friday the 13th, October 2017, the game sees protagonist Sebastian Castellanos return, albeit with a new voice actor behind the scenes. While the original title was one with a mysterious plot, where the ‘what’s going on’ was a recurring thought throughout the adventure, here everything immediately is set in stone. There’s a new digital world called STEM, existing out of connected brains, your daughter is in there and you have to save her. It is a tale of redemption and also revenge, the latter being more and more a rarity these days. Just like the confusion about the story has vanished, so does the style of horror that comes with it. Part of the originals appeal was the gore in combination with the unknown, not knowing the rules of the world and what could happen. You were on the edge of your seat and often triggered by jump scares. The sequel plays it differently, offering a more artistic visual tone. Levels are drenched in color, especially blue and white - with detailed ornaments and bright lights. Dark areas are rare, instead The Evil Within 2 wants you to see and understand what is going on. As a result, the fear can fully come from the tension of survival and exploration. Fear, not what it is that’s around the corner, but what is around the corner.

30 November 2017

Has The Genre Passed Away, Or Moved On?

Violins sound their chords, guitars rock and voices sing - bottles are popped, corks fly. New games in the action genre have graced us this year, something that is cause for celebration these days, isn’t it? Yet for some the bottles remain corked and the music muted, while for others the only voice heard is a sigh of relief. What is going on?

Not too long after Nier: Automata’s release Platinum Games legend Hideki Kamiya offered these words: "Nier's success has to this point given Platinum a new fanbase, a growing staff, a brilliant success story, an increase in qualified job applicants, and a great benefit," followed by saying "Normally, I can't help but do everything by myself... it's a pitiful story, but to say that Yoko-san saved Platinum would not be an exaggeration. I cannot thank him enough."

Fast forward to the release of Team Ninja’s final expansion pack for Nioh, to hear director Fumihiko Yasuda offer these words:
“When the scene after William’s final battle was completed, there was a huge sense of loss and I was very sentimental. That’s because for years, William was always there on our monitors traversing Sengoku Japan, fighting Yokai after another… and I felt I would no longer see that again. Nioh’s development happened during difficult times for Team Ninja. So while it was a tremendous challenge, it also came with unimaginable joy and sorrow. This may sound dramatic but as I see William, who dies again and again, only to come back stronger and continue to take on tougher foes. In this vision, I see the new embodiment of Team NINJA as well. While I am starting to think about the future, at this very moment I only wish for our players to take delight in the final chapter of William’s tale”.

In one year both of action gaming’s most high profile companies offered up the reveal that they had been struggling, be it creatively, or worse: financially. Both Nioh and Nier: Automata were successful, selling over one and two million copies each. Thanks to smart budgeting and market research, these games allowed them to fill their pockets while other companies struggle to make a profit with far larger numbers. So the question is, how did the genre die in the first place, and why? And how did these games save it?

22 November 2017

God of War 1 | The Perfect Video Game?

4225314-god-of-war-2-game Browsing through Youtube, one might stumble upon a playthrough of the original God of War, released in 2005 on the Playstation 2. Despite being an old game, the comment section is still packed with a few individuals commenting on the inner workings of the game and how these tactics could’ve - or worse, should’ve - been implemented by the player. Diving into forums one might find the God of War sections to be dead, but one post is all it takes to bring dozens of recurring names back into the fold. Familiar faces roam the pantheon’s halls again, eager to taunt but also teach newcomers. Even though only a few of these veterans remain, they have given this game as much life as the man who created it: David Jaffe. So what is it that makes God of War and its community so prevalent and resistant to the sands of time, and how did it begin? The whole game's development started with a thought: “Make the player feel brutal, letting their inner beast free and just going nuts" - David Jaffe. During development he'd noted that he looked at contemporary titles like Onimusha and Devil May Cry, both also on the Playstation 2. Instead of making a title that would have to compete, God of War was to complement the already existing library of action games. Jaffe stated that the game "is not innovative or unique, and that's intentional", an interesting quote that further highlights how the game wasn’t targeted at the hardcore crowd, but aimed at the audience that Devil May Cry, Onimusha and Ninja Gaiden had missed.
Its combat exists out of light and heavy attacks, supplemented by grabs, magic and cinematic finishers; this appears simple on paper. While the genre usually targeted a more arcade-like crowd, this was an opportunity to provide an action title that also spoke to the more casual player. In order to achieve this, having the combat be accessible yet rewarding to play would was paramount. As such, protagonist Kratos wields the Blades of Chaos which, unlike its counterparts used by Ryu and Dante, are focused on ranged combat. Aside from being powerhouses at a distance, attacks also have bounces built in making juggling enemies happen almost automatically for the more casual player. These combat-options are expanded on with numerous more complex inputs, launchers, infinites and loops, providing depth for those that wish it. This allows skilled players to trivialize strong enemies by keeping them airborne or stunlocked for the whole duration of the fight, while less skilled players can just whack foes to death, never losing the sense of empowerment no matter the skill level. The aforementioned simplistic appearance of the combat was exactly what they were going for.

16 October 2017

Should Every Action Title Add RPG-Elements? Or Is It A Curse We Must Dispel?

6019e538ac0cb9fa3d3e1e718f78fc46 In a faraway future neon lights flicker, rain ticks and the sound of action echos through your room. Tucked away in a corner you are playing Ninja Gaiden 4, only just released. Hopping from wall to wall, dashing through an enemy - cutting him in twain - the floor drenched with his blood. “+1 skill points” notes the game as a reward; you rest your ninja-like senses and contemplate what to spend it on. Perhaps increased damage output? Higher stamina so you can attack more frequently? Or maybe add some extra defense, you have been taking quite some hits these days, best be prepared. As your mind races through all these available options you slowly think back to that boss-fight that has you stumped. Your customized ninja rises to his feet and begins the mission anew. A few more runs should make you strong enough to see that boss through to the end.

The thought of a future Ninja Gaiden title including the aforementioned elements is a nightmare to some and a blessing to others. Those who felt intimidated by its difficulty might now vanquish it and those who had a desire for another action-RPG hybrid would be more than happy to jump on. Series veterans might wake up in the middle of the night sweating with fright that such a game would be made, but they’d still venture in, curious as to what lies within, but ultimately disappointed that skill has been replaced by time-investment.

01 October 2017

What Makes A Game Unfair?

One glance at the content available on Youtube and we see a player getting hit. They quickly retort “there was nothing I could do” followed by “man that was unfair. This quick judgement is more and more public these days, making the term ‘unfair’ have a meaning that is slowly going out of control. Go to any gaming-forum and you’ll find a topic stating how that one boss breaks the rules or how that one scenario is impossible. But is this a case of them blaming the game for their own shortcomings, or is it really stacking the deck against them? It is worth considering: when is a game truly unfair, what makes it so and should a game even be fair to begin with? To do this we’ll mostly focus on three more modern titles; Vanquish, Nioh and the Souls games.

The first element that plays a role in unfair-design is the expectation of the game going in. A title like Ninja Gaiden is known for its difficulty, but a game like Yakuza: Kiwami is not - if the latter is just as hard as the former the expectation can quickly lead to frustrations. The same goes for games that sport a random factor like Fire Emblem or the classical board game Monopoly; going in one knows that a dice roll can change the face of the earth so when it doesn’t go your way the frustration isn’t nearly as bad as if it happens in a game like Dark Souls. This takes a step further if a singular element in one title breaks the expected mold. Take the Lost Sinner boss from Dark Souls II for instance, which - unlike most encounters in previous entries - tracks player movements and even reads inputs. While not a sin in its own right, it being in a Souls title - a series that prides it on not using such cheap tactics - sticks out and can lead to players shouting that infamous word: “unfair”!

27 September 2017

Interview with Devilleon7 | Youtube's Rising Dragon

If you’re a fan of the Yakuza series - known as Ryū ga Gotoku (龍が如く, Like a Dragon) in Japan - then Youtuber Devilleon7 is getting harder and harder to avoid! Offering a Youtube-channel nearly exclusively focused on the series it is a haven for those wanting Yakuza related content. For a brief moment he offered to put down his controller and ram out some answers to Stingers questions.

Welcome Devilleon7! Let’s start off easy, the name: what’s the story behind it? Big Resident Evil fan I take it?
Once you see the "leon" in that nickname, Leon S. Kennedy from the Resident Evil series would most likely be the first thing that comes to your mind, and I will tell you that you are right in assuming so - and in assuming that I'm a big Resident Evil fan as well! It was around 2007 when I first made my YouTube account which makes it about 10 years ago now, and naturally as a kid, you wanna come up with a really cool-sounding name but obviously it becomes nothing but embarrassing and funny to think back on now. The "Devil" part comes from Devil Kazuya from Tekken and "leon" from the Resident Evil series as I had just mentioned, and really, all I did was just slap them together into one name and added a 7 because I love that number. This reminds me of an instance where I spoke to one of my viewers and he said something along the lines of "Oh... I thought your name was one word; Devilleon instead of Devil-Leon, the former sounds much cooler" and I'm really not one to say he's wrong because I agree, hahaha!

14 September 2017

Capcom Bar | Love-letter or Marketing-ploy?

You can’t get around them, Pop-up Stores are everywhere these days. Small venues that exist for a short period of time to promote an upcoming event, movie or otherwise. These shops often offer small gifts or unique purchases that might be hard to find otherwise. In the heart of Japan these often take the form of singular games such as with Dark Souls - which got a shiny little restaurant to hype up its third release. By doing this via a pop-up variant it allows these places to take advantage of the hype and customize towards that singular event; instead of focusing on the whole Souls series it can focus on one single entry. Yet this is exactly what makes the Capcom Bar, located in Shinjuku, so unique. It is not a pop-up restaurant but is instead a place that has been around for years and continues to thrive.
Outside you’ll be surprised to discover that the bar even exists, tucked away in a corner behind other establishments and a reception area. One foot set through the door is enough to notice that it is not quite what you expected from a video-game establishment. It has a slick black coloring going on, there are a few screens and statues but generally the place is clean and peaceful; not at all screaming in tone. Looking around you do start to notice more oddities. Monster Hunter is firmly established in Japan and it shows, statues adorn the edges and posters cover the walls. Screens play trailers for the latest releases, DLCs and season passes but there’s a distinct lack of the old. Outside of one small poster containing some past heroes including Dante and Leon all old classics are omitted. If you’re a fan of Capcom’s past you will not find a lot of love here, the bar is all about the present. Trying to arrange a table can be difficult as none of the staff speaks a word of English, thankfully they managed to call a neighboring bar for help as one of theirs spoke the tongue but it was still a tad surprising to see such an international brand lack such a basic requirement of their staff. Once a table is set however you can sit for two hours; plenty of time to enjoy what’s on offer.
Yet again this is held back. While the bar offers three game-stations, two of these are behind a table. If you aren’t sitting there you won’t be able to play so only one station is generally available. The games on offer are a tad surprising too being Sengoku Basara, Mega Man Collection and Ultra Street Fighter IV - the flagship demon hunter and viewtiful superhero being absent among others. You would expect a special station that emulated or at least made most of the company’s titles playable but this just isn’t the case sadly.

17 August 2017

Vanquish | The Marriage Of Two Genres

Imagine a bookcase filled with old magazines - dusty and scratched. You grab one on games and relish in the old memories that come with it as you read its quality articles. Slowly your eyes settle on a single word next to a review: “genre: shooter”. Back then games were seriously categorized with their brothers. Painkiller’s gothic extravaganza was every much a “shooter” as Delta Force’s attempt at realism. While games have always dabbled with combining multiple genres, like with the original Metroid, it wasn’t until Deus Ex and Metroid Prime that the term “shooter” just wouldn’t suffice anymore. This took another step in 2010 when director Shinji Mikami wished to make a modern iteration of the “arcade shooter” after having completed God Hand’s ode to the classic “beat ‘em up” genre. Looking to other modern titles for inspiration he quickly noted that they ‘lacked speed’ and that he wished to break these rules, subconsciously having his game represent both “action” and the classic “shooter”. He had tried to revive the “arcade shooter” before with P.N.03 with little success and wished to take those lessons learned to realize the vision anew with a bigger budget and wider deadline to back it up. The result is Vanquish.

22 July 2017

Nioh: Dragon of the North | How Soaring Ambition Can Lead To Small Steps

I promised them the Land of the Date,
With them by my side, my ambition soared to the heavens like a mighty dragon.

These words, spoken by the antagonist of the Nioh’s first downloadable content entitled Dragon of the North, also speak volumes on the game itself. The original product promised a great number of things and now even more with this expansion - and with its fans by its side the ambitions soared. But did the dragon of the north soar too high into the clouds or did it breach the heavens?
Dragon of the North is exclusively playable to those who have beaten the game, it being a continuation where the main story left off; a unique move for downloadable expansions. This gives developer Team Ninja more control over the challenge presented as they could be sure players were used to certain attack patterns, combat options and tactics by this point. As such they constructed a campaign that starts off in the snow, an immediate breach of the flow we were used to with nearly four new enemy-types introduced back to back. The foes on display here are a large berserker type enemy, the Namahage(生剥), with a move-set built around hard to read slashes, with some breaks in between hits to confused players further. Another is a soldier that appears generic until his head pops revealing a large worm, the Rokurokubi (轆轤首), within. Lastly there are two variations on existing enemies added into the mix and a recolored foe to fit the more snowy vibe. Taken as a whole the variation in these new enemies is mixed, offering new types of engagements but the general concept remains the same: slow hard hitting enemies which rely on patterns to be defeated instead of wits. The lack of a small but quick foe is a noticeable one increasing by each playthrough. Though the Revenant enemy, who has the same moves available to him as the player, is seeing more frequent usage though it is still not enough and his weakness to both parries and sweeping strikes make him a nuisance at best. Taken as a whole the combat is taking small steps in the same direction instead of reaching for new heights.

11 July 2017

Yakuza Zero | A Brawl Worth Surviving?

You’re walking through the crowded streets of Kamurocho, ripe with 80’s wonder. People walking their date home hoping for the ever elusive kiss, standing in line for that delicious takoyaki (たこ焼き) or even duking it out at the arcades in some glorious match of Outrun(アウトラン) - a classic for sure. But as you walk around a sound is heard in the distance: a crowd gathering. You hear terms being shouted. "桐生一馬!!! あいつを捕まえろ"!!! You peak over the crowd and see a man standing in the middle exhuming the aura of a dragon and facing off against a group of delinquents. As he cracks his knuckles you shiver, when his headbutt collides you shudder. A punch to the stomach follows. Then a dropkick. He gets hit once but doesn’t care. This isn’t a fight for honor but a brawl. He uses the momentum of the blow to grab another and slams him into a car." かっこいい で末ね!" says one bystander but you don’t understand. What is going on? When the last of the thugs hits the ground the man dressed in a white suit, with a shirt featuring a golden-chain design, walks off with a cigarette in his mouth and a calm demeanor radiating from his shoulders. As the camera pans upwards out of sight you realize you are not important here. This is a story about Kazuma Kiryu  (桐生一馬), and this is Yakuza Zero (龍が如く0).

22 June 2017

Enemy Variety | What Is The Value of Combat Compositions?

If there’s one element while designing a product that restricts creativity - it is time. Time influences what content is cut, what is left in and thus decides which pieces of the puzzle the designers have to play with to keep the game interesting. Each and every director uses time in different ways; some use the time allotted to them to add as many features as possible while others focus on removing bugs or bad gameplay elements.

Most commonly cut content include levels, music tracks, certain set-pieces or gameplay mechanics - but data-mining finished games mostly finds cut enemies. Why is this? Well, enemies influence a lot of aspects of the game. For instance they need to be designed to work in numerous combat scenarios but also need to be able to deal and be dealt with all weapons available to the player - all while being different enough from others to warrant its existence. Due to this designing a single enemy can take up as much work as a whole new mechanic for all the pieces it brings with it.

While enemies being cut doesn’t stand out in more exploration based games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or platformers like Super Mario 3d World - it can turn into a glaring issue for action titles as the majority of the gameplay is spent facing off against these foes. The less there are, the faster players might get bored or be left unchallenged. And the worse their design or A.I., the less the combat can shine for a good combatant needs strong enemies.

Yet there are still games that despite cut content offer ample enemy-variety such as Ninja Gaiden Black, Dark Souls, Bloodborne and The Witcher 3: all bursting with more enemies than most series have across all their entries. But isn’t the old saying, “It’s not what you got, it’s how you use it”? While this comment is mostly used to refer to our third sword-arm, let’s get that little in-joke out of the way and focus on the meat of things here. Namely, the topic of this piece:

Enemy variety versus enemy usage, how to make the best possible combat experience under pressure?

07 June 2017

Viewtiful Joe | Revealing underlying talent - or exposing lack thereof?

Creative minds rarely start as they are now, only having gotten this far through hard work and an environment that allowed growth and experimentation. Itagaki from Ninja Gaiden fame had years to grow as a director, gain experience and preference - to find his style. Hideki Kamiya, the man of the hour in this piece, had no such environment. After his stint as system planner in the original Resident Evil he became director of the series moving forward with its sequel Resident Evil 2 and the later re-imaging of the franchise with Resident Evil 4. Yet during 4’s development Kamiya started to show his teeth as a creative element and as a result went a bit to far, leading to the change of Resident Evil 4 into Devil May Cry; a subject we’ll no doubt cover in later articles. But what’s important to note here is that Kamiya always had to focus on existing franchises and to build them further ahead, yet with Devil May Cry he proved he could create new material just as well if not better. As a result Capcom’s Production Studio 4, of which Kamiya was a member, started what would be known as “staff-focused projects”. These aimed to increase the skills and expertise of Capcom's staff but most importantly Kamiya himself. Born out of this came his first real own game.

"Viewtiful Joe" 

01 June 2017

Interview with Kagerasimaru | Master of the Ninja Arts

Kagerasimaru, or Kokoromaster to some, has been a force of nature in the Ninja Gaiden community. Offering strong advice and some helpful video content for both new players and veterans alike! Despite a near eight hour time difference we managed to briefly talk to Kagerasimaru about his passion: action games!

Kagerasimaru! It doesn’t take more than one glance at your Youtube channel to see a strong emphasis on action titles, what pulled you into this genre compared to others?
I believe it was the moment I began playing the first Devil May Cry. That game opened up a lot of options and ideas to me as a player. I then slowly branched out to Ninja Gaiden and quickly realized just how amazing this series is. Especially Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 is an action game milestone to me. I suffered a lot learning the game, beating "Path of the Master Ninja" difficulty as well as spending the time to practice and improve myself as a player. 

Funny that you should mention Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, as your first set of videos cover that game. What prompted the sudden desire to record?
As I slowly began to get comfortable with the game I wanted to share the knowledge I had developed over the years with other players, so I could help them with overcoming the difficulty of "Path of the Master Ninja". The videos offered entertainment, combos, as well as insight on how to approach enemies and bosses in an relatively easy way for players to use.

15 May 2017

Nioh(仁王) | Resurrection or smoldering ash?

This article on Nioh is a rewrite from the one posted on 20-02-2017. It has been revised as new gameplay elements rose to the surface and the game was patched. That and the original article was, admittedly, rushed to meet the hype of the game. This review is up to date with version 1.6 and includes the free DLC-missions from that patch.

Nioh (仁王",  "仁" meaning "benevolent" and "王” standing for "king") is a story of rebirth, inside and out. Based on unfinished script of famed writer Akira Kurosawa the game has been in production since 2004. While originally scheduled for release around 2008 the game struggled with multiple studios and engines before ending up in the hands of a then struggling developer, Team Ninja; who came from strong rich action game roots, having laid out the template with Ninja Gaiden on the original Xbox back in 2004. Yet after the departure of key staff members the studio hadn’t been fighting for glory or honor, but for survival. Dead or Alive 5 and its subsequent reiterations had been successful but the foray of Ninja Gaiden unto the new generations had been met with lukewarm reception. Ninja Gaiden 3 tried to be something new and failed and its re release Razor’s Edge was a rushed redemption building on what had been done before. Just as Nioh, Team Ninja needed a second chance. Like the eastern spiritual animal Suzaku, the vermilion bird of the south, they needed resurrection. With these stakes, Team Ninja decided to invest heavily in player feedback. Nearly a year prior to release the game had multiple open betas paired with questionnaires for feedback. Armed with the data the game was tweaked and adjusted constantly, finally seeing release on February 2017. But did Nioh grow out of the ashes as a new bird, flocking among the greats of the genre?