Game Center CX is an interesting Japanese TV show that started back in 2003. It stars middle-aged Japanese man Shinya Arino, one half of comedy duo Yoiko and tasks him with playing old video games and trying to clear them. The catch is..he’s quite bad at them. He’s forgetful and awful at pattern recognition, both important skills for older, unforgiving games, but his upbeat attitude turns that into fun and more often than not he eventually meets his goal. The series got a small cult following in the west, largely thanks to the efforts of a subtitling translation team based on the Something Awful forums.
It doesn’t take much thinking to come to the conclusion that a tie-in game based on a show about games would be a good idea, but there was an issue – the games that Arino plays all belong to the license holders. They couldn’t well put out a compilation of games from different publishing entities. Instead, a creative route was taken.
Aside from games with wild peripherals, the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) genre might well be the most difficult to preserve due to the way they work. Being online only games, when the company running the game decides it’s time to end it, due to financial reasons or introducing a new product, that game becomes unplayable. There are of course, exceptions, though rarely. Some games, such as Star Wars Galaxies and Phantasy Star Online have third-party private servers, where the server-side backend has either been reverse-engineered or leaked and is run by fans, often with some difference such as higher experience and item drop rates. Generally speaking though, they are gone for good. Most MMORPGs simple cease to exist when the time comes, but sometimes there are special “end of world” events, or the reason for end of service is very notable. A quick few of these follows.
When you’re sad and blue
Developer: Irem Software Engineering
Publisher: Atlus USA, 505 Games
Platform: PlayStation 2
Freedom in video games is an interesting concept. Intriguing, often expansive worlds and environments are made for games and quite often you want to just run around and explore. However, there is a big divide between how ‘Eastern’ (generally Japanese) and ‘Western’ (generally American) games show freedom. That is to say, Eastern games are generally very linear, with the designers wanting you to play a specific way and follow what they’ve scripted out – such as Final Fantasy XIII, which doesn’t have any sidequests until fairly late in the game. Western games have a tendency to be very ‘open’ and let you do what you want – The Elder Scrolls and Grand Theft Auto series being prime examples of this.
Steambot Chronicles, interestingly enough, decides to ride the line between the two in a steam-powered mech.
This story is not yet an end, for only you are in the infinity loop
Genre: Visual Novel
Developer: Kindle Imagine Develop (KID)
Publisher: Hirameki International
Also on: Dreamcast/PlayStation 2/PlayStation Portable/Xbox 360
You’ve likely not ever heard the term ‘visual novel’ before, so I’ll give a quick outline of it. A visual novel is basically a cross between a choose-your-own-adventure book and the Infocom interactive fiction games of the 80’s. Have you ever played Phoenix Wright, or Nine Persons Nine Hours Nine Doors? They’re visual novels. How about Sakura Wars, or Agarest: Generations of War? Those are two games which mix Strategy RPG gameplay with visual novel scenes to create something altogether different.
In a nutshell, a visual novel tells you a story, shows you some graphics and music (sometimes voice acting, too) to illustrate the scene, and then gives you some choices. Some of these can be quite complex (such as Ever17) or quite long (Fate/stay night is three times the length of all three Lord of the Rings books AND The Hobbit combined).
With that in mind, you can understand that it’s quite tough to write or talk about a specific visual novel without completely spoiling it, given that ninety percent of what makes it great is its plot. »Read More