Gravity Rush

I don’t know why, but even though I’ve had Gravity Rush for years on my Vita, I never ended up playing much of it, and I can’t remember what made me not get back to it after initially only playing the first few missions. But for some reason, I woke up yesterday morning (Saturday) in the mood to re-visit it, and proceeded to absolutely fall in love with it. I love it as much for the its aesthetics and the way it tells the story (with the animated comic panels), as I do for the gameplay that is so much fun once you get a good handle on it, zooming everywhere and executing attacks from the sky. I’ve already put in 3-4 hours, and it now has me ridiculously excited to experience the sequel on PS4 when it comes out (and yes, I know there’s the PS4 version of the first one out there, but I’m happy to play the copy I already own on Vita). Just goes to show that sometimes, you just need to be in the right frame of mind or interest to really appreciate a game.

Zootopia

I liked this fine, and do think it’s a very well done movie, but I somehow wasn’t as taken by it as it seems a lot of people were – and maybe it’s a result of going in with expectations that were set a bit too high. Yes, technically, it’s a marvel to look at, and the theme of acceptance that the story revolves around is a great one, but I just didn’t find myself particularly excited by what I was watching.

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt

Watching this series, which was released online over the past year (and only counts 4 episodes that are each about 20 minutes long) immediately after finishing the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam was just amazing. It takes place in the same year as that original series (the year 0079, during the one year war), and so you get to see the world you were introduced to with crap 70s era animation, but here, through the lens of beautiful slick modern animation and designs, and I was just blown away. The space battles that take place between the Gundam and Zaku suits are simply breathtaking, and the fact that the soundtrack uses a lot of jazz throughout (it’s the obsession of one of the characters) adds so much to the mix, bringing back memories of Cowboy Bebop. The story itself, although on the short site, is quite interesting as well, and so we get to see a very different – and darker – take on the 0079 war. I can’t recommend this enough, especially if you’re into “Universal Century” Gundam.

Mobile Suit Gundam

I wrote a while back about watching the original 1979 Mobile Suit Gundam series with my wife, and how, despite the poor animation, I was enjoying it. It did take us a while to get to the end, because in the middle of the series (comprised of 43 episodes) you hit a long stretch that I found to be pretty uneventful, but yesterday we hit the homestretch, and watched the final 14 episodes in one go. I think I would recommend you instead watch the 3 compendium films that were made out of the series (using footage from the series), as they cut out a lot of the fat, which for me was really the close to 20 episodes in the middle (the essential bits I’d say are the first 10 or so and then from around episode 30, when they return to space). Also, the idea of “Newtype” gets introduced ridiculously late in the series, and has a lot more focus in the compendium films, and in fact, Gundam creator Tomino is said to have used these compendium films to fix a few things he saw with the series. That being said, I’m still happy that I watched the entire series, to see where it all came from, and I’m hopelessly addicted to exploring the rest of the “Universal Century” shows (this refers to shows that take place in the same timeline as the original series, whereas a lot of Gundam shows over the decades take place in different timelines that have nothing to do with the original series, and are simply inspired by similar motifs). I’ve been using this guide to help me plan my journey, as I continue to watch shows in order that they take place in the timeline, and not based on date of release – immediately after finishing the original series, I watched Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, which I loved to bits. 

Kirby and the Rainbow Curse

Up until this week, I had never played a Kirby game. For some reason it’s just one those series that passed me by, and I’m not quite sure why. I decided to give Kirby and the Rainbow Curse a try – I know it doesn’t really play like a typical Kirby game, but I’d been curious to experience it ever since it got announced, and that’s mostly because I loved the claymation aesthetic they used for it. Having played it, that’s definitely the aspect of the game I dig the most – it’s just such a wonderful way to present a game, and it looks so beautiful and colorful. But at the same time, I feel a bit frustrated because the game needs to be played on the Wii U controller’s screen, and so I can’t really take in the graphics as they look on the TV. I have been having some fun with it, but on top of not really getting why this came out for Wii U instead of 3DS, I just have to say that playing an action game with a stylus is not really my cup of tea. I am going to keep playing it mostly because I want to see what all the levels look like, but the whole time I’m wishing it played more like a traditional Kirby game (since trying this, I’ve also been also playing the original Kirby’s Adventure on NES) but with these same aesthetics.

The Mighty No. 9

Considering the, well, let’s just be gentle here and say “difficult reception” this game has gotten immediately upon release, I went in not expecting much (I was a backer, and so got my copy for PS4). I haven’t played that much yet, maybe an hour or so, and what I’m finding is that I don’t find it to be as awful as what I’ve been reading, but at the same time, it’s not really something I’m feeling like I want to keep playing. There’s been a lot said against the aesthetics, and to be honest that doesn’t bother me much – I’m not blown away by it, but I think it’s fine. In terms of the gameplay, I’m finding it difficult to get in a good groove – I don’t think I really like the “shoot enemies and then dash through them” technique you need to use. I think it’s maybe also not really the game for me – although I loved playing Mega Man games when I was a kid, I really don’t enjoy playing them now.

Doom (Demo)

I’ve been wanting to play the new Doom game ever since it came out – and the universal praise the game has gotten since its release makes me want to play it that much more. I’ve got so many games on my plate right now that I couldn’t justify buying it, but was glad that they released a free demo this week (you can play the first level) and so I took it for a spin. I’m glad to say that what I experienced was just as fun and good as I expected, and I’m quite looking forward to eventually playing the full game. More than the environments, it’s the movement in the game that I love so much – there’s something fast and fluid about it that feels like no other FPS out there. I actually quite liked Rage when it came out a few years ago, and I think it was also to do with the movement.

Resident Evil VII (Demo)

I’d never describe myself a fan of the series, but I have spent time playing every game (except the 6th one), although I don’t think I’ve ever finished one – and my favorite of all of them was Code Veronica on the Dreamcast. I was curious to check out the demo that was released this week during E3 for the upcoming Resident Evil VII, and having played through it, I have to say that what they’re doing with the franchise – at least in this short peek – is pretty interesting, and it’s really something that needed to happen, before it just continued in the action-heavy direction it was heading. That being said, I won’t be playing the full game when it comes out. Even though I watch horror movies without blinking an eye, there’s something about playing a horror game – I guess it’s the fact that you’re drawn in more deeply, by your interactions and decisions – that stresses me out too much, and so I don’t have fun playing them. I was pretty spooked playing RE7, so I think it’s on the right track.

Excellent E3 Experience

The Ubisoft conference is being streamed in our studio’s largest room, on two giant screens. I’m sitting with a few of my colleagues – about 300 of them – waiting for the segment for our game to start. We’ve all been cheering and celebrating all of the announcements so far, but the most exciting moment for our team is of course going to be when For Honor makes an appearance, first in the form of a new cinematic trailer, then with our creative director Jason VandenBerghe setting the stage for the world of For Honor, followed by game director Roman Campos-Oriola playing through a level.

I’ve excitedly watched E3 – the game industry’s biggest show – from afar for years and years, but this year was special in that it was my first time taking in E3 while having a personal investment in what was going on.

I’m working on a game that was taking part.

As I say each year, I always hope that this will be the one where I actually get to go to E3, but despite not going, it was definitely the most exciting one I’ve experienced so far. I had a great time as always watching all of the keynotes, while getting excited for the big game reveals, but following it all while you have something “in the ring” just makes it that much more special.

And even better, people seem to really like our game. As I write this, the 3rd and final day is coming to an end, and already we’ve received a “Best of E3″ award from GameSpot. I’ve also watched a few videos and read some hands-on write-ups that seem to be really pumped by the gameplay that was experienced. 

So what next? As the fantastically funny Aisha Tyler announced at the end of our segment during the Ubisoft conference, you can go to the For Honor website to register for upcoming Alpha and Beta access. 

The game’s release date was also announced: February 14, 2017 – Valentine’s Day!

Teen Titans Go!

Another super-hero series I fell upon recently (also on Netflix) is Teen Titans Go, and I gotta say it makes for a pretty fun watch. Again, like for Batman: The Brave and the Bold (but don’t get me wrong, I don’t love this like I do that series), I dig the very stylized aesthetics they’re using for the characters and the environments, and the shorts (each episode is composed of 2 10-minute shorts) are pretty fun to watch. Even though the Teen Titans have always traditionally been portrayed as younger heroes in comics, here they’re really done as kids, and it works well. I’m not saying this is must-watch stuff, but it is enjoyable.