Persona games coming to Xbox consoles, Windows PC and Xbox Game Pass (XGP) at last!

Anyone who owns an Xbox console or a Windows PC who loves Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) should be delighted to know that the popular Persona game franchise will have three of its established games released for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC with availability through Xbox Game Pass (XGP) soon as confirmed in the recent Xbox-Bethesda games showcase! For clarity, Persona 5 Royal is slated for an October 21, 2022 release.

For starters, watch the official video below…

To understand the Persona games better, posted below is an excerpt from the official article published at Xbox.com written by SEGA Communications Manager Stacy Lee. Some parts in boldface…

Cheers to 25 years of Persona! In this very special anniversary year, we are bringing the worldwide hits Persona 5 Royal, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 3 Portable to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and with Xbox Game Pass. Starting this fall, fans will get to experience this beloved RPG series.

To kick things off, on October 21, don the mask of Joker and join the Phantom Thieves of Hearts when Persona 5 Royal arrives with Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Windows PC. We’ll have more to share on the release of Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable so be sure to stay tuned here to Xbox Wire.

For those who missed out on these games originally, or are excited to play Persona on Xbox and Windows PC, the 25th Anniversary is a great time to join in the celebration. Here’s a quick refresher on each game:

Persona 3 Portable – If I say there’s an hour “hidden” between one day and the next… would you believe me? This unknown time is the “Dark Hour.” Unfamiliar stillness swallows the city, people turn into eerie coffins, and otherworldly monsters called Shadows swarm. One night, the protagonist is attacked by these Shadows. When all hope seems lost, the power of the heart, their Persona, is awakened.

Persona 4 Golden – They say your soulmate will appear if you stare into a television set on a rainy night… This strange rumor slowly spreads through the rural town of Inaba, the protagonist’s new home, just as a chain of mysterious murders begin. As the protagonist and his teammates chase after the truth, they find themselves opening the door to another world.

Persona 5 Royal – Forced to transfer to a high school in Tokyo, the protagonist has a strange dream. “You truly are a prisoner of fate. In the near future, ruin awaits you.” With the goal of “rehabilitation” looming overhead, he must save others from distorted desires by donning the mask of a Phantom Thief.

In my personal experience, the one and only Persona video game I ever played was Revelations: Persona on the original Sony PlayStation way back in 1996. I never finished that game but I spent many hours playing it and that includes the loading times and the not-so-efficient pacing of the gameplay.

Image from Persona 5 Royal.

The upcoming release of the recent Persona RPGs on Xbox and Windows PC with access through Xbox Game Pass (XGP) should help the franchise reach even more gamers worldwide. As far as Japanese gaming goes on Xbox right now, I enjoyed finishing Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising on my Xbox Series X and I’m looking forward to the Suikoden-inspired Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes RPG which will be released sometime next year. Square Enix has Star Ocean: The Divine Force and The Diofeld Chronicle coming to Xbox this year but no release dates have been announced as of this writing. Most recently, Square Enix announced that Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion will be released on Xbox consoles although no release date has been announced.

Combined with those mentioned Japanese games or JRPGs to be exact, the addition of Persona games is indeed a welcome addition to the Xbox ecosystem which has lots of gamers craving for such games. It’s nice to see that Team Xbox head Phil Spencer has been working hard negotiating with Japanese game companies and makers to release their games into the Xbox ecosystem. In fact, during the Xbox-Bethesda showcase, a special Xbox project with Hideo Kojima’s company was confirmed to be real and there was also the announcement of an Xbox release of Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty developed by Team Ninja.

Let me end this piece by ask you readers: Are you happy that the Persona game franchise is coming to Xbox with the mentioned three games? Do you think that more Japanese RPGs and other kinds of games made by Japanese game developers will continue to be released on Xbox? What other past JRPGs do you want to see released on Xbox and Xbox Game Pass? Do you think that all the JRPGs already announced coming to Xbox and mix in with Western RPGs (examples: Starfield, Fable reboot, The Outer Worlds 2 and Avowed to name a few) will result a wide variety of games for those who love playing role-playing games? Do you see Xbox as the definitive ecosystem for RPGs right now?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero fans, 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! Today we continue revisiting Jim Lee’s flagship title under the Image Comics label – WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams!

Last time around, members of the WildC.A.T.S were split apart in terms of locations as they had their rest-and-relaxation period. While Grifter went away to do something urgent (read: the Kindred comic books), Zealot, Void and Jacob Marlowe’s executive assistant Jules picked up Warblade and Maul using their high-tech aircraft to head on to the Bahamas where an entire cruise ship disappeared with Marlowe, Voodoo and Spartan on it.

Unbeknownst to the WildC.A.T.S flying in their jet, Voodoo, Spartan and Marlowe found themselves as captives of an armored man (wearing a half-helmet) called Entropy inside his domain in an undetermined location. Entropy refers to Marlowe as lord Emp and states that he will suffer from his wrath. Marlowe does not recognize him.

With those details laid down, here is a look back WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9, published by Image Comics in 1994 with a story written by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee. Lee did the art with Scott Williams in-charge with the ink work.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins with the partial WildC.A.T.S team arriving in the area of the Bermuda triangle with their aircraft. From their view, there was nothing to spot but Zealot insists that they keep on searching as they must be overlooking something.

Meanwhile, Spartan and Voodoo find themselves in deep trouble as a horde of Daemonites persistently attack them. Already heavily damaged, Spartan keeps on using his energy blasts to hold the monsters off. Voodoo on the other hand is too weak and could not concentrate to help her teammate.

Suddenly one of the Daemonites slashes Spartan’s left arm which neutralizes his energy blast. His body got pierced by one of the monsters which pinned him down, leaving Voodoo completely helpless…

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The WildC.A.T.S on search-and-rescue.

On face value, this comic book looks like another generic or even disposable good-versus-evil story drawn by Jim Lee. In reality, its story has more significance to it and the creators themselves came up with something fresh for WildC.A.T.S fans. Firstly, this is a story about one group of WildC.A.T.S trying to rescue their boss and their two other teammates from Entropy in a location that could not be easily found. Secondly, this comic book puts strong focus back on the Kherubim-Daemonite war which creatively looks back at one of the many events that took place in Jacob Marlowe’s past (which he could not remember at first) complete with implementing a strong fantasy (read: swords and armors) element which gives the story a mixed-genre aesthetic.

The good news here is that the storytelling and visual presentation by the creators are really well done! While the dual approach of storytelling involving both the present and the far past was used in Jim Lee’s past X-Men works with Marvel, the said approach was well executed with WildC.A.T.S which not only expanded its lore further but also developed Jacob Marlowe’s personality even further.

To have Entropy (note: he eerily resembles’ Mantra arch-villain Boneyard in the Ultraverse) as an enraged opposition figure living with a lust for revenge against Marlowe is a smart move and at the same time this adds variety to the kind of opposition WildC.A.T.S have. More on what happened in the past involving both Marlowe and Entropy, the flashback raises new questions about the value and true nature of the WildC.A.T.S’ leader who at this point was a brash manager who wields lots of resources to operate with. The flashback also challenges readers on how to evaluate Jacob Marlowe when it comes to being accountable about his past actions, including the many things he did but could not remember. All of these lead to a really impactful ending that you readers must see.

Conclusion

Meet Entropy, a man with a shared past with Jacob Marlowe.

WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994) is a Jim Lee-drawn tale that has solid depth and a very creative approach to its presentation, specifically its daring and well-executed method of mixing the superhero and fantasy elements. When it comes to the narrative, the creative team succeeded in telling both the present and the past tales followed by connecting them with each other while ultimately telling an overall cohesive tale. This is a Wild.C.A.T.S story that must be read from start to finish, and it is a powerful follow-up to issue #8.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $30.

Overall, WildC.A.T.S: Covert Action Teams #9 (1994) is highly recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

A Look Back at The Solution #9 (1994)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from reading the comic book and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back superhero enthusiasts, 1990s culture enthusiasts and comic book collectors! If you’ve got a problem that needs solving, you call The Solution. For the newcomers reading this, The Solution was an Ultraverse monthly series about a team composed of very unique individuals who help their clients solve special problems. Such operations are done with business agreements made between the team and their clients.

But what if one of the members of The Solution becomes a target of some very deadly forces that are not even human? What solutions can The Solution come up with?

With those details laid down, here is a look back The Solution #9, published by Malibu Comics in 1994 with a story written by the late James Hudnall and drawn by Timothy D. Divar.

The cover.

Early story

The story begins somewhere in North America where three mystical monsters arrived on a mission to hunt. The prey they are hunting is to be taken alive and to be tortured for decades. One of them displays the image of Aera/Shadowmage.

A long distance away, in the presence of The Solution traveling by yacht, Aera senses danger and that she has been found by the monsters. The three who arrived from nowhere suddenly cast magic together and summoned a beast which arrived out of thin air. The beast is then instructed to search and hunt Shadowmage.

Over at the Chinese sea, Aera tells Lela Cho that she has been found by the mystical monsters which she previously referred to as the Vyr. She describes them to be very powerful, the most deadly and the most evil creatures on her home world. Aela admits that she does not have the power to stop the Vyr and their team cannot stop them even when combined in power. Their teammate Vurk expresses deep concern and asked Aera what she did that angered the Vyr. Vurk admits his fear of the Vyr and as long as they after Aera, the team would be better off letting them have her…

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Aera, her monstrous teammate Vurk and the unstoppable monster.

When it comes to storytelling, I should say that the late James Hudnall really ramped up the fantasy aspect of this series right here. That being said, this comic book made the previous issues look more grounded in reality by comparison. Among the members of The Solution, there is a clear shift towards Aera/Shadowmage whose act from a long time ago led to the Vyr hunting her down on Earth which, unsurprisingly, gets her teammate involved. Along the way, key details from the past of Aera (a native from a foreign world) and Vurk/Outrage (the native of another world which is in conflict with Aera’s own people) get revealed which add some depth on the development of the team as a whole. The way the details were presented made for a really intriguing read in my experience.

With a story concept like this, The Solution #9 could have been a creative mess but it turned out orderly, intriguing and engaging thanks to the way Hudnall structured the story and wrote down the dialogue and text descriptions.

If there is any weakness in this comic book’s presentation, it is the artistic style of Timothy D. Divar. Compared to issue #8, I find the visual quality here drop significantly and there were some shots of The Solution members looking a bit like some characters I saw in 1990s comic books published by Valiant Comics. The characters’ faces and expressions also looked clearly less detailed.

Conclusion

There is nothing like seeing The Solution at your household’s front door.

The Solution #9 (1994) is a good read. The strong selling point in it is the team getting involved in a very dangerous encounter with the Vyr (which are way too powerful for them to deal with) which is the result of Aera’s dangerous act. Just as Aera explained what she did and what happened in the past, the tension in the story really went up which makes it engaging to read.

If you are seriously planning to buy an existing hard copy of The Solution #9 (1994), be aware that as of this writing, MileHighComics.com shows that the near-mint copy of the regular edition costs $16.

Overall, The Solution #9 (1994) is recommended.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Collection all set for release on Xbox and Windows PC on April 7, 2022

Way back in 2000, I got to play Chrono Cross on the PlayStation which was a hot release from Squaresoft. Due to a lack of time as well as the breaking down of the console (bought in late 1996), I never got to finish the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG).

Just days ago, I got very surprised as Square Enix announced that it will be re-releasing Chrono Cross in remastered form in Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition which is set for an April 7, 2022 release on Xbox One (compatible with Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S) and Windows PC (via Steam). The good news is that you can order it already online now for only $19.99. Anyway, watch the official video below…

To put things in perspective, posted below are excerpts from the official announcement by Square Enix. Some parts in boldface…

CHRONO CROSS, which was never before released in Europe, returns as a remaster in CHRONO CROSS: THE RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION. Follow the story of Serge, who stumbles into another world and learns of the connection between his existence and the future of his planet. A classic time-bending tale of adventure and friendship, featuring one of the largest and most diverse casts of playable characters of any RPG. With over 40 potential party members, each character brings their own element affinity and unique skills. Additionally, “RADICAL DREAMERS  – Le Trésor Interdit -“, a text-based adventure video game released for Satellaview in 1996, which forms the bedrock of the story, is also included in this edition.

Players can look forward to some exciting new features, such as:

  • 3D models converted to HD*
  • Brand new artwork and character redesign by Nobuteru Yuuki*
  • Refined background music by Yasunori Mitsuda
  • Switch enemy encounters on or off
  • Background filter feature*
  • Battle enhancement features
  • Auto-battle function
  • French, Italian, German and Spanish localization now added
  • Switch between imitation pixel font and HD font*
  • The inclusion of Radical Dreamers, never before released in the West. 
  • Players can choose between playing with original or updated graphics*
Graphics, text and art in the game got cleaned up and look sharper than before.
In-game options during battle.
The world map from a distance.

As I am writing this, I still am very surprised by the announcement as I never anticipated Chrono Cross would be made for Xbox, even though I wanted Square Enix to release many of its RPGs – both classic or modern ones – on Xbox. It is, however, nice to see Square Enix including Xbox in the worldwide release of Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition which is one of many Japanese RPGs (Japanese role-playing games) that has always been identified with PlayStation. Its strong legacy with PlayStation even made certain gamers – including the people who hate Xbox – believe that it would never ever be released on any Xbox console. Well, Square Enix proved them wrong and it is clear that the company needs to sell to the many gamers who own an Xbox One or Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S console. The Windows PC release through Steam makes business sense.

Be reminded that Square Enix is set to release Star Ocean: The Divine Force on Xbox consoles and Windows PC sometime this year, while Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will be released on the same platforms on March 4, 2022! To all Xbox gamers reading this, we as consumers can convince Square Enix to release even more games to our platforms by buying their games. Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition on Xbox is something worth looking forward to.

A short scene taking place.

For the newcomers reading this, Chrono Cross is set in the same world as the classic JRPG Chrono Trigger. It should not be perceived as a sequel. On its own, Chrono Cross was very playable and engaging, and it is notable for allowing players to recruit lots of characters and take them on quests as they play along. As for the common elements between Chrono Cross and Chrono Trigger, learn from producer and designer Hiromichi Tanaka’s statement below.

When creating a series, one method is to carry over a basic system, improving upon it as the series progresses, but our stance has been to create a completely new and different world from the ground up, and to restructure the former style. Therefore, Chrono Cross is not a sequel to Chrono Trigger. Had it been, it would have been called Chrono Trigger 2. Our main objective for Chrono Cross was to share a little bit of the Chrono Trigger worldview, while creating a completely different game as a means of providing new entertainment to the player. This is mainly due to the transition in platform generation from the SNES to the PS. The method I mentioned above, about improving upon a basic system, has inefficiencies, in that it’s impossible to maximize the console’s performance as the console continues to make improvements in leaps and bounds. Although essentially an RPG, at its core, it is a computer game, and I believe that games should be expressed with a close connection to the console’s performance. Therefore, in regards to game development, our goal has always been to “express the game utilizing the maximum performance of the console at that time.” I strongly believe that anything created in this way will continue to be innovative.Hiromichi Tanaka (source – GamePro)

Kid interacting with Serge.

As I mentioned already before, Xbox is becoming the definitive and best place to play RPGs. If it is Japanese RPGs you want on Xbox, Square Enix’s upcoming releases are not just the only ones to look forward to as there are also the Eiyuden Chronicle RPGs coming as well! Already 2022 is looking great for Xbox gaming and there is also the much anticipated Xbox-exclusive RPG juggernaut Starfield from Bethesda coming before the end of this year!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Chrono Cross-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on March 18, 2022

As I mentioned previously, 2022 will be a bigger and more exciting year for enjoying video games on Xbox platforms as there will be more and varied new video games coming out as well as new fun stuff through the Xbox network and Xbox Game Pass (XGP). Adding more depth and excitement on Xbox gaming this year is the fast-approaching release of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin on March 18, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One consoles!

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action-packed, Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) being made by Koei Tecmo-owned developer Team Ninja (best known for Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) under publisher Square Enix. For key details about the upcoming game, read the Square Enix press release excerpt below. Some parts in boldface…

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN blends challenging and strategic action gameplay with the world and lore of the FINAL FANTASY series to create a unique action RPG experience. Join Jack and his allies as they throw open the gates to the Chaos Shrine and step into a world of dark fantasy and exhilarating battles to discover if they are truly the Warriors of Light the prophecy foretold.

Posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article of the game. Some parts in boldface…

From a key cutscene in the game.

In this new tale you’ll play as Jack, a stranger to the Kingdom of Cornelia with a past shrouded in mystery. He must hazard numerous challenges to bring the light of the crystals back to a kingdom conquered by darkness in this hard-core action RPG. Will restoring the crystals’ light usher in peace or a new form of darkness? Or perhaps something else entirely? Keep reading to find out what makes this Final Fantasy story so unique.

Visceral Action Combat

Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin allows players to experience Final Fantasy action like never before. Real-time combat keeps the action at the forefront of gameplay. But you won’t find success by mashing buttons. You’ll need to turn your enemies’ powers against them to turn the tides of battle. Switch between jobs with a push of a button so you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. When the odds are overwhelming, use the powerful Lightbringer ability to push back the monstrous hordes. Once you’ve broken their spirit, finish them off with a crystal crushing finishing move.

One of the characters in the game.

Deep Character Customization

With each enemy you defeat and every chest you open, you’ll uncover powerful treasure to help you on your journey. Each piece of armor will not only augment your abilities but will also change the look of your character as well. The weapons you find will also unlock new jobs to fit your play style. You might start off as a swordsman, but you’ll quickly discover options to become a mage, dragoon, monk, and so much more. Find the right combination of abilities to fit the way you play and don’t forget to customize your team-mates gear for some added support.

A Dark World to Discover

If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game before you might recognize some familiar creatures and locations, but you’ve never seen them like this. What secrets does each location hold and what manner of monster await you in the darkness?

Anyone who loves real-time action in Japanese RPGs should check this out.

To order the game in advance for your Xbox console, you can go for the regular edition here or the digital deluxe version here. Being a highly stylized action RPG developed by the talented guys at Team Ninja, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will surely standout among all other RPGs (regardless of core design or gameplay styles) that are coming to Xbox consoles in this console generation. It is also interesting to see how this upcoming game will perform in terms of visual fidelity and frame rates when optimized for Xbox Series X. Mark your calendars for March 18, 2022 for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition Coming to Xbox Consoles Digitally on November 11, 2021, GTA San Andreas launching on Xbox Game Pass (XGP) on the Same Day

Calling all Xbox fans, Grand Theft Auto (GTA) fans and gamers who are constantly on the lookout for fun!

It has been announced that the Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is coming to Xbox consoles (Xbox One, Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X) in digital format on November 11, 2021. Adding further excitement is the fact that one of the classic GTA games, GTA San Andreas, will be made available on Xbox Game Pass (XGP) on that same day which subscribers can enjoy! Watch the official video announcement below…

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com announcement. Some parts in boldface…

Three iconic cities, three epic stories, one definitive collection. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition includes the genre-defining Grand Theft Auto IIIGrand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas together — each one enhanced for a new generation and available together for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition will be available digitally on November 11 through the Microsoft Store on Xbox with a physical release for Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on December 7.

Experience the games that started it all — introducing unprecedented freedom and immersion through three living, breathing worlds filled with hilarious action, rich, cinematic storytelling, classic characters, and unforgettable music.

Bringing the classic worlds of Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas to modern Xbox platforms, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition debuts new GTAV-inspired modern controls, plus across-the-board visual enhancements such as resolution upgrades and improved visual fidelity across the world, and much more to faithfully tune and improve upon all three games, while also maintaining their distinct original aesthetic.

Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Editionintroduces wide-ranging modern control upgrades, including improvements to targeting and lock-on aiming, updated Weapon and Radio Station Wheels, updated mini-maps with enhanced navigation allowing players to set waypoints to destinations, updated achievements, and more.

Additional enhancements across all three titles include a completely rebuilt lighting system; improved shadows, weather, and reflections; upgraded character and vehicle models; along with new higher resolution textures across buildings, weapons, roads, interiors, and more. Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition also features a range of environmental upgrades including all new foliage, smoother surfaces, and increased draw distances to provide a new level of depth and clarity throughout the world.

Originally developed by Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition has been adapted to modern platforms by Grove Street Games using Unreal Engine to make these classics more vibrant and more immersive than ever, celebrating the legacy of the series that redefined interactive entertainment and helped propel video games to the center of culture. Stay tuned to the Rockstar Newswire for more and check out the brand new site for Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition.

Players will also be able to experience Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – The Definitive Edition with Xbox Game Pass starting November 11.

Impressive load of details above. I’m really surprised by the announcement of GTA: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition, especially with regards to the November 11, 2021 digital release date. That’s just two days after the release of highly anticipated Xbox-exclusive Forza Horizon 5. It will be interesting to see how Xbox Series console owners will react when it comes to prioritizing their purchases for the month of November.

The presentation of the classic GTA games in Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is really interesting. It’s a mix of maintaining the early 2000s artistic look while modernizing them with certain visual effects, anti-aliasing and other graphics tricks that would make them look nice in high-definition. With regards to the modern consoles, I would not be surprised to see GTA: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition look and perform best on Xbox Series X.

What I hope Rockstar Games would show, other than flashy graphical upgrades of their classic GTA games, is actual gameplay and how each of them will play. They should justify the claims in the following excerpt from the official announcement: wide-ranging modern control upgrades, including improvements to targeting and lock-on aiming, updated Weapon and Radio Station Wheels, updated mini-maps with enhanced navigation allowing players to set waypoints to destinations, updated achievements, and more.

When it comes to the competitive video game market, the 4th quarter is already loaded with anticipated hits for Xbox fans with exclusives like Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, and The Gunk plus Flight Simulator coming with a Game of the Year edition. There is also the the compilation The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Anniversary Edition coming out this November and the space shooter Chorus this December. The November 2021 digital release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition surely adds more excitement to the selection of games Xbox gamers can look forward to. That being said, gamers should prepare themselves for potential big spending. Oh, don’t forget about the upcoming storage expansion options for Xbox Series X this November and December.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos as well as videos of upcoming games and the GTA series for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Xbox-exclusive fantasy RPG Avowed is looking very exciting according to WCG’s Jez Corden

Over a year ago, I wrote about the Xbox ecosystem (Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows PC) becoming the haven for gamers who love fantasy role-playing games. Take note that article was published before the earth-shaking announcement of Xbox-Bethesda which has since been finalized with full integration which was clearly reflected in the successful E3 2021 digital event.

The integration of Bethesda easily made the future much more promising for the Xbox ecosystem to be the definitive haven for gamers who crave for fantasy RPGs as well as sci-fi RPGs (note: Bethesda’s Starfield will launch exclusively on Xbox on November 11, 2022).

Among the many Xbox game studios is Obsidian Entertainment which is an established RPG maker which Team Xbox acquired in 2018. As seen in the 2020 Xbox games showcase, Obsidian has been working on Avowed, a first-person fantasy RPG that is perceived to be comparable with The Elder Scrolls franchise of Bethesda.

Recently, Windows Central Gaming published an article about Avowed authored by Jez Corden and it has a lot of hot and useful details! The details are so great, I am excited and also confident about Avowed as well as Obsidian Entertainment’s full potential getting realized with the heavy funding and creative freedom they have under Team Xbox.

To put things in perspective, posted below are selected excerpts from the WCG article. Some parts in boldface…

Avowed’s fantasy world is set within Obsidian’s very own Pillars of Eternity fantasy universe.

Excerpt 1

Sources familiar with internal plans have reached out to us in recent months offering details on Avowed, moving through pre-production towards a playable alpha state. Indeed, Obsidian is likely close to having a working early version of the game, with many mechanics and core gameplay pillars already implemented. I can’t be sure how old some of the footage I’ve seen is, and there’s a good chance it’s far further along.

For those who don’t know, we’ve only seen Avowed in a pre-rendered CGI trailer thus far. The game is set in the Pillars of Eternity universe, known as the World of Eternity, and utilizes a first-person viewpoint similar to Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds.

The Outer Worlds fans already have plenty of reasons to be excited about Obsidian’s upcoming slate, given that The Outer Worlds 2 has been confirmed. Avowed seems to be based on a similar, albeit enhanced engine from The Outer Worlds, complete with action-oriented first-person combat and deep RPG exploration and narrative systems. We were told Avowed will feature multiple class playstyles and borrow from Skyrim’s two-handed combat system. You could wield two daggers and be a stealthy rogue, or dive into archery with a two-handed bow. You could use a combination of swords and magic, or go full two-handed magic, which is required to wield some of the game’s more potent spells and abilities.

Avowed will feature many elements Pillars of Eternity fans will be familiar with. Wizard spells like Jolting Touch, which can fry enemies with forks of lightning, will be present. Two-handed spells like Fireball are conjured using complex-looking hand gestures, but decimate enemies in a storm of magma and fire. I also saw status effect spells like Fetid Caress, imbuing enemies with corrosive poison. Weapon enchantments seem to be a big feature too, with magically enchanted swords and frozen arrows, as examples. Pillars-style guns may also appear in the game, similar to the muskets and arquebuses found in the original two titles. Familiar creatures such as the lizard-like Xaurips will appear, alongside much larger and deadlier threats, all the way up to wyverns and drakes.

The combat seems to be more loadout-based than The Elder Scrolls, which gives you mountains of spells in a gigantic list. Warriors will get access to more physical attacks like swordplay, powerful kicks, and shield bashes, while casters will be given a range of spellbook options to customize and tailor their combat style, with attacks bound to specific buttons.

Excerpt 2

Imagine what you could discover in a mysterious fantasy location like that once Avowed finally gets released.

If The Outer Worlds was Obsidian’s take on a Fallout-style game, Avowed is undoubtedly Obsidian’s take on The Elder Scrolls. The two-handed, first-person combat style is unmistakable, but there are obvious differences in early documentation.

At least directly compared to the likes of Skyrim and Oblivion, Avowed seems to be a far more colorful game, reminding me far more of The Outer Worlds. Luminescent cave mushrooms, verdant forests awash with gigantic flora, and hulking sunlit temples complete with skeleton-infested depths and tombs are plentiful. It came as a bit of a surprise given the game’s original trailer, which seemed like it was trying to strike a much darker tone, save for the neon spell effects.

Pillars of Eternity does seem to take environmental interactivity a bit further than The Outer Worlds too, complete with swimming capabilities. We’ve even heard of destructible environments, using lit torches and fire spells to burn down blocked entryways too. Fire spells leave areas coated in flames too, which cascade against walls and floors.

The content I saw does represent a pre-alpha state with certain aspects like lighting and textures not fully implemented, which is one reason I’m not sharing the documentation I’ve been shown. The finished art style is expected to elevate what we saw in The Outer Worlds, though, with a brighter, more lively color palette, although it could end up looking a bit darker akin to the debut trailer. I only saw a couple of areas, although it could represent the diversity of locale styles Obsidian aims to deliver.

As for the story and layout, I can only speculate. I’m not sure whether it will go full-blown open world like the modern Elder Scrolls games or utilize something more like The Outer Worlds’ hub system, which connects large areas with an overworld map, complete with interior areas and dungeons. I’d expected it to be the latter, as it gives Obsidian greater control over the pacing of the narrative, which is one of the studio’s biggest strengths. There is some evidence that it may go fully open world though, given previous job listings (thanks for the tip, Camonna Tong).

Even in its pre-alpha state, Avowed looks like it plays extremely well, with refined action RPG combat set in a vibrant, medieval fantasy world I cannot wait to explore.

Whew! That was a heavy load of details successfully recorded by Jez Corden! Before I go further, I recommend you follow him at Twitter. I also recommend to you all to read Corden’s full article at https://www.windowscentral.com/details-xbox-exclusive-avowed-obsidian-outer-worlds-meets-medieval-fantasy

As seen in the above excerpts from Corden’s hot article, Avowed is more than just Obsidian’s fantasy RPG inspired by The Elder Scrolls. With a first-person view design set in a fantasy world within the established Pillars of Eternity fantasy universe of Obsidian, the Xbox-exclusive Avowed has elements carried over from the hit sci-fi RPG The Outer Worlds (which I loved replaying) and from Pillars of Eternity (which is not surprising). In short, Avowed will have its own flavor and style in terms of game design and creative ideas while still potentially be compared with The Elder Scrolls.

As much as I love The Elder Scrolls RPGs like Oblivion and Skyrim from Bethesda, there were certain shortcomings in those games with regards to storytelling and characterization. Obsidian Entertainment proved itself to be great on telling a story (complete with branching narratives, decision-making and consequences), defining characters for players to interact with and still immerse players deeply with great gameplay and in-depth role-playing. Those very things I mentioned were realized in The Outer Worlds and I am excited to see how Obsidian can replicate those in a fantasy RPG. I should also state that I am looking forward to The Outer Worlds 2 which should be released a few years from now.

As long as the RPG makers can maintain greatness as the production goes on, Avowed can easily become Obsidian’s next gem waiting to be unveiled and it can potentially impact positively the way we gamers enjoy fantasy RPGs. On top of that, it could become the must-have and must-play fantasy RPG experience that can only be availed only on Xbox!

Lastly, read below what Obsidian Entertainment stated on July 2020.

At Obsidian Entertainment, we’re committed to what we’ve been doing for the past 17 years – making incredible worlds for you to play in your way. And with Xbox Game Studios behind us, we can’t wait to bring even more awesome worlds to all of you.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back at Secret of the Stars (SNES)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Secret of the Stars and doing personal research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.

Welcome back, video game enthusiasts, fans of Japanese role-playing games (RPGs), 1990s arts and culture enthusiasts, fellow geeks and video game collectors!

If you were already a gamer who enjoyed playing games at home with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or Super NES) back in 1995, chances are you heard about the buzz about the hot RPGs that were released for the console at the time. Square released Chrono Trigger (which is now a classic) and Secret of Evermore while Capcom released Breath of Fire II.

That same year, Tecmo (the company best known for Dead or Alive video games) tried to score well with RPG enthusiasts and other SNES-owning gamers of North America by releasing Secret of the Stars which itself turned out to be the English-language version of the Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Aqutallion.

This RPG caught my attention when I read about it in gaming magazines. After completing Final Fantasy II (actual title Final Fantasy IV) and Final Fantasy III (AKA Final Fantasy VI) on the SNES in 1994, there was a period several months when I was not able to play another RPG and had to settle with other types of games (note: I had a lot of fun with Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi). In the 4th quarter of 1995, I finally obtained a copy of the Tecmo-published RPG.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Secret of the Stars (or Tecmo Secret of the Stars as presented on the game cover).

The cover of the game.

Early story

The story begins with a young lad named Ray who gets oriented with some people at the house of Mrs. Sonya. By merely asking a question, she reminds him about his personal search for a crest which once belonged to his father. Sonya also revealed that their island has been hit by several earthquakes which caused many wild animals to arrive.

Ray travels to the nearby town talking with the locals who gradually update him about what has been happening. Someone reveals to him that a journeyman arrived and talks about something called Kustera and Aquatallion.

Ray meets with the journeyman named David who is a native of Kustera. After reminding Ray that his father was the great Aqutallion, he emphasized that an evil being called Homncruse is a major threat to everyone and must be stopped. He tells Ray that he must seek out the crest of the stars to become an Aqutallion warrior and be able to defeat Homncruse.

Ray gets urged to go to the mountain to find the crest…

Quality

Imagine yourself arriving in this town for the first time. Which place should you visit?

To put things straight, Secret of the Stars has the basic elements of turn-based role-playing that involves the heavy use of menus for item management, fighting, defense, item use and others. The most unique game design feature here is the ability to switch between parties as the game goes on but what is clear is that the party involving Ray is the default party.

On the creative side of things, the concept about Ray being the chosen one to protect his people, lead a group composed of individuals to not only fight evil beings or monsters and achieve goals on quests (read: this includes going through personal trials at different sites in order to receive additional powers) and take on Homncruse and his evil agents has always been generic and the overall game design reflects that as well. Being the protagonist, Ray is clearly the most developed character but the same cannot be said about Tina, Cody, Leona and Dan who are all uninteresting.

Red slime? More like purple!

The production values of this game are clearly sub-par and the weak Japanese-to-English translation is only the tip of the iceberg. With the exception of the monster and enemy designs, Secret of the Stars looks like an 8-bit game and really stood out among 16-bit RPGs of its time when it comes to field of inferiority and primitiveness. The level designs lack creativity and the location background art lacked variety. When it comes to the story, its concept was interesting at first but there really is not much depth to it nor are the characters worth caring about.

What really defined this game is its slow-pacing in terms of interactivity. Adding even more to the sluggishness of the game are the slow movements of your character (representing your party) on-screen and the rather high rate of random battles. There is also a lot of grinding (defeat enemies in lots of repetitive battles to gain experience points to level up) required and the sad thing is the level-up is not very rewarding especially when you take into consideration the many enemies or monsters who are often strong with high hit points each.

The sluggishness and tedium are so bad, Secret of the Stars really turned out to be more of a chore than an actual fun game to play. It is so bad, the game’s unique feature of allowing players to control the 2nd party (Kusterans) became even more tedious and pointless to do. It is so bad, you will care less about the story of Ray, and you will prefer to ignore the other characters even more. It’s so bad, you won’t care anymore about Ray’s quest and the danger Homncruse has on the people.

Conclusion

Do you know someone named or codenamed Badbad?

Secret of the Stars was a bad RPG for its time and clearly it was a waste of money. On my experience, I ended up being very disappointed not only because of the game’s quality but also because of an absence of fun and the fact that my time playing it became a big waste. For me personally, this JRPG was definitely the worse SNES experience of 1995. It seems like the game developers made this game to literally torture gamers.

Overall, Tecmo’s Secret of the Stars should be avoided!

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: Highlander anniversary 4K Blu-ray set for September 14, 2021 release

Calling all fans of the 1986 movie Highlander, the fans of Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown and the late Sean Connery, as well as Blu-ray collectors who enjoy fantasy and science fiction!

Get ready because Highlander will be released in 4K Blu-ray format on September 14, 2021. It will come with the 4K Blu-ray disc, Blu-ray (for 1080p viewing) and the digital copy. 4K Blu-ray collectors should be aware that as of this writing, there is no confirmation yet if Highlander 4K Blu-ray will come with native 4K visuals or upscaled 4K visuals.

Christopher Lambert with Beatie Edney in a scene.

Meantime, here are the specs from the product’s page at Blu-ray.com

SPECS

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio- TBA

Subtitles – None

Disc – 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Disc

Digital – Digital copy included

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

As of now, there is really not that much information about Highlander 4K Blu-ray. It just so happens that this year marks the 35th anniversary of the movie.

For the newcomers reading this, Highlander is the story of immortality that follows a Scottish man called Connor (played by Lambert) who discovers his legacy with a legion of immortals. After living for centuries and moving to different places around the world, he eventually settles in the city of New York. Things turn intense when other immortals appear around him.

I first saw this movie on home video way back in late 1980s. I even saw its 1991 sequel Highlander II: The Quickening and even a few episodes of its TV series. I was never a fan of the Highlander franchise but I fondly remember the 1986 movie for its very scenic shots, the epic flashback set in historic Scotland, the great sword fighting and the very creepy performance of Clancy Brown as the main antagonist. Sean Connery, who died in October 2020, was also memorable in his supporting role as Ramirez. Christopher Lambert is still best known for his lead role as Connor in this movie.

To get to know more about Highlander, watch the video posted below from Minty Comedic Arts. Be warned of potential spoilers…

For more entries of my Better than Streaming series of articles, check out my pieces on The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray, The Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray, Mortal Kombat 2021 4K Blu-ray, Space Jam 4K Blu-ray, V: The Original Miniseries Blu-ray (read my retro review) and V: The Final Battle Blu-ray.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Better than Streaming: The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray standard edition to be released on July 27, 2021

Are you a dedicated fan of the early 1980s fantasy film The Beastmaster who missed out on the elaborate 4K Blu-ray disc release in late 2020 due to its limited supply?

The good news here is that the movie will have another 4K Blu-ray release in a standard edition form and it is set for a July 27, 2021 release! Advanced orders for it are being accepted now at Amazon. The release, along with the previous one, was made possible by Vinegar Syndrome.

The Beastmaster classic movie art.

So what exactly will you fans get in return for paying for the next 4K Blu-ray release of The Beastmaster? To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Blu-ray.com article as well as its page for the movie. Some parts in boldface…

Special Features and Technical Specs:

  • 4K RESTORATION OF THE FILM FROM A 35MM INTERPOSITIVE
  • HDR PRESENTATION OF THE FILM (Blu-ray copy included)
  • Alternate updated visual effects version supervised by the director
  • Brand new commentary track with writer/director Don Coscarelli & writer/producer Paul Pepperman, moderated by filmmaker Joe Lynch
  • Archival commentary track with Don Coscarelli & Paul Pepperman
  • “The Beastmaster Chronicles” – a brand new feature length making-of documentary by Elijah Drenner
  • “The Saga of the Beastmaster” – an archival making-of documentary by Perry Martin
  • Super 8mm home movies shot by James Dodson with audio commentary by Don Coscarelli & Paul Pepperman
  • Outtakes
  • Stills, Promotional, and Archival Material Gallery
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitle
  • REGION-FREE

Video

Codec: HEVC / H.265 (93.69 Mbps)

Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)

HDR: HDR10

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles

English SDH

Discs

4K Ultra HD

Blu-ray Disc

Three-disc set (1 BD-100, 2 BD-50)

Packaging

Reversible cover

Booklet

Playback

4K Blu-ray: Region free

2K Blu-ray: Region A

For those who want to get the most out of their 4K UHDTV sets at home, The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray has native 4K visuals! In Blu-ray.com’s review of the elaborate edition, positive reaction was given to the visuals and it is more impressive once you learn the harsh truth that the original film negative of the movie got lost! In fact, The Beastmaster director Don Coscarelli launched an effort to recover the film negative. You can help in the effort to recover it by visiting https://www.whereisthebeastmaster.com/

For the newcomers reading this, The Beastmaster is a fantasy movie that was released way back in 1982 and it was actually not faithful adaptation of the 1959 novel The Beast Master authored by Andre Norton. The movie starred Marc Singer (read my review of V: The Original Miniseries), the late Tanya Roberts, the late Rip Torn and John Amos. The film remains very notable for its use of live, trained animals in many scenes. Having seen the movie myself decades ago, there is nothing like watching Marc Singer traveling with the panther (a tiger dyed black in reality) in the middle of nature.

It should be noted that Tanya Roberts, who died on January 4, 2021, was in the news recently due to her handwritten will. Roberts was the leading lady of the late Roger Moore in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill.

Marc Singer and the late Tanya Roberts. (source – IMDB.com)

If you are a fan of The Beastmaster or if you are a 4K Blu-ray collector looking for unique moves to add to your collection, watch out for The Beastmaster 4K Blu-ray standard edition on July 27, 2021.

For other Better than Streaming articles, read about V: The Original Miniseries on Blu-ray, Transformers: The Movie 4K Blu-ray, and Mortal Kombat (2021) 4K Blu-ray.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com