It would be nice for Square Enix to remaster Xenogears and release it on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Windows PC plus Xbox Game Pass (XGP)

Are you an Xbox gamer who likes Square Enix’s Japanese-developed role-playing games or JRPGs? Chrono Cross has been available since April. Square Enix’s new JRPGs The DioField Chronicle and Star Ocean: The Divine Force will be released on September 22, 2022 and October 27, 2022 respectively.

To be clear, I find Square Enix’s business relationship with Team Xbox lacking. The HD remastered version of Legend of Mana was very noticeably released on multiple platforms but not on Xbox. Tactics Ogre: Reborn was announced for future release for multiple platforms except Xbox. Still on Square Enix, the Final Fantasy VII remake as well as the announced sequel are exclusive to Sony’s platforms. The exclusions are clear and disturbing. Why Square Enix excluded the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the Xbox One (which still has many millions of console users until now) as platforms to sell the above mentioned games remains a mystery although there is speculation that Sony Corporation and its PlayStation executives made a secret deal with the JRPG giant to specifically hurt Xbox without affecting Nintendo and Steam. Realistically, Microsoft pointed out that Sony pays game companies for blocking rights to keep games off Xbox Game Pass. Read all about it here, here and here.

While these developments are disturbing and also annoying, I still wish that Square Enix would remaster one of its classic JRPGs and release it on Xbox platforms similar to what they did with the remastered Chrono Cross. That classic RPG I’m referring to is none other than Xenogears.

Xenogears’ battle system allowed individual persons and giant robots (called gears) to engage in battle simultaneously. Observe how the approach on in-game scale was done here.

I played Xenogears on the original PlayStation console way back in 1998 but I never got to finish it due to my academics and other external matters. It also did not help that the CD-ROM of the PlayStation deteriorated.

Regardless, I had a lot of enjoyment during my limited time with the said JRPG, the design of which was led by Tetsuya Takahashi. The fictional concept of Xenogears took a lot of inspiration from real-life forms of religion as well as concepts from certain intellectuals to establish the story themes, the fictional cultures and historical backgrounds within the game. At the same time, the game had this in-depth universe composed of different settings for gamers to explore. In my experience, I felt immersed into the game’s universe and I still remember the moments I got astonished discovering not only the many locations and landmarks but also the many non-playable characters (NPCs presented as 2D sprites) in the form of local communities and the in-game cultures.


Xenogears had 3D polygonal environments and 2D sprites for the characters and creatures who move around.
In this classic JRPG, you play as Fei and you will explore a lot, fight a lot and interact with lots of characters as you go along.

While Xenogears had a science fiction concept, it still had lots of settings and gameplay features that made it feel like a fantasy. I love the way how the creative team’s artists implemented their art styles on the environments, the characters, the machines, the interiors of places and more. Visually, this game saw the use of 2D sprites for the characters who move along a 3D polygonal environment which can be explored creatively by a camera that can be adjusted by the players. As such, this approach done in Xenogears made the game look and feel a lot like Grandia.

While Xenogears’ battle system had key elements that were common with other JRPGs, there was a clear emphasis on hand-to-hand combat that took a lot of inspiration from martial arts as well as 2D fighting games of the decade. There were these martial arts-inspired combos which required button combinations and timing which were fun to watch happen. There were also these death blows which were really rewarding when pulled off correctly. Of course, there were still some magic attacks that were nicely presented.

What made Xenogears stand out is the use of giant robots or gears in the game. Not only did the game allow me to travel with the gears, it also allowed me to engage with enemies (both the large and the small ones standing on the floor/ground) with a fully functional battle system that emphasized size, scale and impact altogether. Similar to the other battle system, the gears battle system fun and engaging in my experience. I can never forget the moment I first saw my gear crush a huge enemy with a lot of impact to seal the victory. Travel using gears, however, was hampered somewhat by the creative team who implemented platform gaming elements (note: this includes jumping from one platform to another without falling down to your death) and the controls were not really responsive enough. This is something Square Enix should consider improving if they ever remaster Xenogears.

The battle system with the individual characters is a lot of fun and also unique as the combat emphasizes combos and martial arts.
The artistic approach used in Xenogears remains captivating.

Right now, I would love to replay Xenogears and complete it but I prefer the game should be remastered and be released for Xbox consoles. I have no intention of buying a new console from Sony and Nintendo to play Square Enix JRPGs that are missing on Xbox consoles. JRPGs on Xbox are not exactly lacking (note: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released via Xbox Game Pass in 2023 while Persona RPGs are coming to Xbox soon) but it would be great not only for Xbox gamers but also Square Enix itself to remaster Xenogears and release it on the Xbox ecosystem. That being said, I believe Xenogears itself would make a great addition into Xbox Game Pass (XGP) which already has many millions of subscribers worldwide!

Think about it carefully. Having a remastered Xenogears for sale on Xbox and also listed on Xbox Game Pass will not only be good for the Xbox ecosystem but also for Square Enix to not only sell games but also reach out to the XGP subscribers who could enjoy the said JRPG and add a lot of new players that the JRPG giant could not reach before. Not only are more Square Enix role-playing games are needed on XGP right now (note: adding Chrono Cross into it will be delightful), they can also benefit nicely as the Xbox ecosystem is gradually becoming the premier ecosystem for RPG enthusiasts in this console generation. Xbox-exclusive RPGs like Starfield, The Outer Worlds 2, Fable as well as future sequels of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout will collectively generate big game sales as well as increase the number of gamers in the Xbox ecosystem and Xbox Game Pass subscribers will grow big as well. The growth will be even bigger once Team Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets approved. For Square Enix to miss out on fast growing Xbox ecosystem in favor of Sony’s blocking rights will be a regrettable move.

Going back to Xenogears, I want to make it clear to Square Enix that now is the time to remaster it and release it on Xbox as well as other platforms. That being said, I also urge Team Xbox’s chief Phil Spencer, executive Aaron Greenberg and the Xbox Game Pass team to reinvigorate the business relationship with Square Enix and try to convince them to release Xenogears and other classic JRPGs into XGP and the Xbox game store. To the Xbox gamers and RPG enthusiasts reading this, I encourage you to contact Square Enix and Team Xbox to have Xenogears and other JRPGs (both classic and modern) released on the Xbox consoles and Windows PC.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Xenogears-related videos for your enjoyment.

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Raiden IV x Mikado remix is coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One in early 2023

If you are the kind of gamer who loves playing vertical scrolling 2D shooters that have that unique arcade aesthetic, then you should be delighted to know that Raiden IV x Mikado remix will be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One early next year, according to the official announcement at Xbox.com.

Xbox gamers will get to play Raiden IV x Mikado remix in early 2023.

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

High-octane action soars onto the scene in Raiden IV x Mikado remix, coming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One in early 2023! The core gameplay of this series includes the classic vertical scrolling and top-down aerial combat that the shoot ’em up genre is famous for. However, this title’s arsenal of gameplay modes, remixed music, new play styles, and more are what set it apart from the competition.

Arcade Origins – Raiden was first released in Mikado Game Center arcades throughout Japan in April 1990 by Tecmo. After a few decades of additional titles and a new developer in Moss, Raiden IV was first released in 2007. By 2008, it had made its way from arcades to the Xbox 360. And now, over six years after the release of Raiden V on the Xbox One, Raiden IV x Mikado remix aims to establish itself as the most definitive version of this title on Xbox to date.

Game ModesRaiden IV x Mikado remix comes outfitted with several exciting game modes. Arcade Mode hails from the original release of Raiden IV, and sports two difficulties, Light for beginners and Original for advanced players. It also utilizes the Flash Shot scoring mechanic, meaning the faster you take down enemies, the higher your score will be. This encourages playing near the top of the screen to hit enemies as they spawn, which of course brings with it a high level of risk. Additional Mode has the same mechanic, but adds two new stages along with new enemy bullet patterns.

This is what the game will look like on Xbox.

OverKill Mode, first introduced in Raiden IV: Overkill, adds two new missions and replaces the Flash Shot scoring system with one of its own. After destroying a larger enemy, they’ll remain on-screen for a few seconds, offering you a chance to earn a higher score bonus the more you keep attacking them. However, that means turning your attention away from new enemies who spawn during that time. In Score Attack Mode, every stage is available to replay for the highest score. And finally, Boss Rush offers you a quick shortcut to every end-of-stage boss without having to fuss with completing every level again.

Turn Up the Volume – Named for the addition of remixed background music in collaboration with Game Center Mikado, Raiden IV x Mikado remix features tracks from legendary artists such as the Go Sato Band, Heavy Metal Raiden, O.T.K., and more. This soundtrack also includes live performances, new arrangements, and allows players to choose between the original Raiden IV background music or the remixed version.

Choose your Ship – On top of selecting your game mode and music preference, you also have three different ships to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The Fighting Thunder ME-02 is the most balanced, with respectable weapon strength and speed. The Raiden MK-II is the classic ship of the series, sacrificing speed for higher damage. And finally, the Fairy is the smallest and fastest of all the ships and is meant for players who are seeking a challenge.

Play Your Way – While you might think those are enough options to choose from, Raiden IV x Mikado remix isn’t done yet. You also get to select a play style, each of which drastically changes the game. Solo Play is pretty self-explanatory, while Dual Play lets you and a buddy play together, complete with couch co-op. Double Play on the other hand allows one player to control two ships at the same time, offering a unique and challenging spin on whichever game mode you pair it with.

It’s really nice that Raiden IV x Mikado remix is coming to Xbox consoles sometime early next year. I missed out on Raiden IV when it was released on Xbox 360. I also missed out on Raiden V on Xbox One. Anyway, having more arcade games on the Xbox ecosystem is always a welcome development.

Watch out for Raiden IV x Mikado remix on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One in early 2023.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos – including details about Sony’s pathetic reaction to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard –  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. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. 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/.

Watch out for Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising on Xbox via Xbox Game Pass (XGP)

We all know that great video games will be released for fun-loving gamers on the Xbox platforms. That’s the truth that Xbox-hating people out there keep on denying. The June 2021 Xbox-Bethesda games showcase was a major event that showed what kind of games and experienced will be released in the years to come. For me, one of the biggest and most unexpected reveals in the showcase were Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from developer Rabbit & Bear (led by Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama).

In my view, those two Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) are significant not only because they add variety to the upcoming games Xbox gamers can look forward to but also because both will be made available to the many millions of Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers!

More recently, a developer exclusive preview of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (note: the spin-off game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes) which you can watch below…

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising is clearly a side-scrolling JRPG that emphasizes action, platforming and town-building set within the universe of Eiyuden Chronicle. To learn more details about the game, posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by 505 Games Brand Community Manager Stephen Takowsky. Some parts in boldface…

This upcoming game is a side-scrolling adventure that mixes platforming, action, and role-playing.

The game’s story takes place on the continent of Allraan in a small mining town called New Neveah. The battle against the evil Galdean Empire awaits. Traverse the town, encounter a vibrant cast of colorful characters, collect resources, and prepare for epic battles.

As you watch this first look at Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, make sure you pay attention to these five key elements in the footage!

A cut-scene with dialogue for gamers to read and understand as the narrative moves.
  • Utilize potions and other stat boosting modifiers to increase your chance of survival. You might notice that we’re at a very high character level compared to the enemies we face off against in this exclusive look. When you play Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, confrontations could be far more challenging than they appear. Potions will give you an edge when traversing dungeons, but they heal your entire party. Try to even out the damage your party receives so you heal everyone efficiently as opposed to only partially healing members of your squad. It is possible to overuse members of your team!
  • Fast travel will help you traverse massive dungeons and hasten quest completion. You will save hours by using the maps and signposts to fast-travel versus running everywhere.
  • Some enemies have an additional bar next to their health that represents a shield. Focus on removing this bonus defense to quickly defeat strong enemies.
  • Each character can help in unique ways throughout levels and even in combat. For example, Garoo can destroy shields quickly, Isha can effectively bring down the defenses of magic focused enemies, CJ is better equipped to traverse challenging terrain, and Isha can teleport to inaccessible areas. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team.

While a final release date has yet to be made, 505 Games declared that the launch of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising will take place later this year. Perhaps the publisher might announce the final launch dates of both Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and the Suikoden-inspired Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes (tentatively set for 2023) at the next Xbox-Bethesda games showcase in a few months from now.

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/and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/

Klonoa games coming soon to Xbox consoles and Windows PC

Just a few days ago, certain games that were released decades ago on the original PlayStation console were announced by their respective Japan-based game publishers to be coming to Xbox consoles which I really never anticipated. From one side is the publisher Bandai Namco which confirmed that it will be releasing not one but two games of the Klonoa game franchise on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and even Windows PC (via Steam) soon with the package titled Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series. An official release date has yet to be announced.

To be clear, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Klonoa franchise and releasing the first two Klonoa games in a single package in remastered forms is not only commemorative but also ideal for gamers who want the best value for their money as well as a nice combination of nostalgia and fun platforming. Watch the official announcement video below…

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the official announcement by Bandai Namco. Some parts in boldface…

Celebrating the 25th birthday of the franchise, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series will feature Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil. The titles’ graphics received an elegant revamp running at 60fps and up to 4K resolution, while Klonoa’s beloved world and classic gameplay have been faithfully preserved for new players and fans of the original to enjoy.

Released initially in 1997 by Namco, Klonoa is a side-scrolling platform game featuring a colourful character roster and vibrant game world. It’s up to the player to embark on a journey to save Phantomile, stepping  in Klonoa’s shoes. The remaster will add an adjustable difficulty level and a 2 player co-op option, allowing franchise newcomers to delve right into the action, and long-time fans to get reacquainted with ease.

Two Klonoa games remastered and bundled together for gamers to enjoy and get good value for their money.

Below are the story descriptions of the two Klonoa games.

Klonoa: Door to PhantomileOne night in his home village of Breezegale, where the wind is plentiful, Klonoa saw a peculiar dream. Most dreams he forgets, but this one—this nightmare, in which the world was devoured by darkness—he didn’t… When he awoke, an airship had crashed into the nearby hill— mirroring the exact scene he’d witnessed while dreaming. Our hero departed to investigate, along with Huepow, ring spirit and childhood friend. At the hill, they chanced upon Lephise, a songstress with the power to restore light and life to the world—as well as the Dark King Ghadius, in whose evil clutches the songstress lay trapped. Hoping to thwart Ghadius’s sinister plans, Klonoa and Huepow then embarked on a grand journey spanning all of Phantomile.

Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s VeilLunatea a world in which the power of four bells maintains order. It came to pass that a dark fifth bell materialized, threatening the balance that had been hitherto maintained. Amidst the brewing chaos, Klonoa too, materialized in Lunatea, falling into a tempestuous sea. He came onshore, where he was greeted by Lolo, a Lunatean priestess-in-training, and Popka, her trusty companion. Though the pair had never met Klonoa before, they identified him as the “Dream Traveler,” and sought his aid in restoring Lunatea from its chaos-riddled state. And so, the trio set off to save the mysterious realm from the darkness looming overhead…

Honestly, I am very surprised by Bandai Namco’s announcement as the Klonoa games have always been associated with the PlayStation brand. While it is understood that Bandai Namco needs to maximize its re-investment in their old properties (in this case, Klonoa which is turning 25 this year) and sell as many copies to as many console and PC gamers around the world, to see Klonoa games coming to Xbox platform is quite stunning.

In my experience, I played the original Klonoa on a PlayStation console way back in 1998 but I never got to finish it. As for the 2nd Klonoa game (originally released on PlayStation 2), I completely missed out on it. Respectively Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and Klonoa 2: Lunatea’s Veil earned mostly positive reviews from game critics.  As such, Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series set for a release on Xbox consoles is a very pleasant surprise and I am looking forward to it!

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus for your viewing pleasure. Time to catch up with the latest about Xbox and Activision Blizzard as well.

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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/

SEGA and Microsoft in a Strategic Alliance to create New Strategic Titles for SEGA and establish a Next-Generation Development Environment

Even as the whole world continues to struggle to move on during this global COVID-19 crisis, Japanese video game business icon SEGA remained bullish and it made its biggest business announcement in a long time yesterday by declaring that it has agreed with Microsoft to engage in a strategic alliance related to game development and cloud gaming with the whole world in mind.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official press release SEGA published on its website. Some parts in boldface…

SEGA Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “SEGA”) and Microsoft Corporation (hereinafter referred to as “Microsoft”) have agreed in principal, a strategic alliance that explores ways for SEGA to produce large-scale, global games in a next-generation development environment built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. The alliance would form a key part of SEGA’s mid to long-term strategy, allowing the business to move forward with “Super Game”, a new initiative for developing new and innovative titles where the key focuses are “Global”, “Online”, “Community” and “IP utilization”.

With the world now more connected than ever following the widespread deployment of 5G and cloud services in recent years, consumers can more easily enjoy high-quality entertainment content at any time. Within this highly connected environment, the ecosystem surrounding the games industry continues to evolve and expand as more sophisticated tools and technologies become available. As such, video games continue to grow as a major medium for gamers globally, with access to a vast range of gaming experiences and communities becoming more diverse and attainable. This proposed alliance represents SEGA looking ahead, and by working with Microsoft to anticipate such trends as they accelerate further in future, the goal is to optimise development processes and continue to bring high-quality experiences to players using Azure cloud technologies.

Microsoft and SEGA have agreed upon the foundation for this alliance and through mutual cooperation, will look to build further technological evolutions with areas such as the network infrastructure and communication tools required for global online services being a key priority. Additionally, by shifting to a next-generation development platform, SEGA can effectively adapt to diversfying work styles and potential infrastructural changes.

Wow! The press release can be a bit challenging to understand in just one reading. To say the least, this is SEGA’s way of expressing that is modernizing itself to keep up with the times and ensure they can be flexible not only with developing their games and projects but also to be able to reach as many customers they can worldwide with the help of Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

While SEGA today is no longer the aggressive arcade, console, handheld and game maker it used to be, it has no intention of fading away. As a business entity, they may not be cash-rich anymore but they are rich in terms of intellectual properties that include famed game franchises like Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA, Sonic the Hedgehog and more. They can still do something new and productive with those.

While the press release does not specifically state anything about Xbox, it still confirms SEGA’s business partnership with Microsoft goes to a much higher level with the future in mind. Even without any mention of Xbox and its related services in SEGA’s press release, I would not be surprised to see SEGA release more games – both classic and new – on the Xbox platforms as well as on Xbox Game Pass (XGP) over the next few years. Also it is nice to see the Japanese corporation confirming next-generation development of games!

Take note of the big significance of SEGA releasing Phantasy Star Online 2 (PSO2) on Xbox One in 2020. PSO2 on Xbox One marked the first time the game got released outside of Japan starting with North America in April 2020 and with Europe in August 2020. Through the Xbox One and the Windows PC platform (August 2020), PSO2 further reached even more gamers worldwide.

By now, SEGA realized that to grow as a business, they will need to reach out to the many consumers worldwide who are willing to pay for their games and online services. In order to achieve that, SEGA partnered with Microsoft whose cloud computing infrastructure and cloud gaming models are so advanced, even competitor Sony partnered with the American corporation.

Think about that! Two of Japan’s major corporations partnered with Microsoft whose Xbox consoles did not sell much in Japan. Rivalries in video gaming were set aside for something much better between the corporations – business partnerships driven by advanced technologies that can help the partners achieve growth and breakthroughs with the whole world in mind. In the case of Microsoft, the new business partnership with SEGA is an opportunity for them to build up trust with other Japanese businesses who share similar interests with the company of Sonic and the company of PlayStation, as well sharing their objectives of achieving business growth and reaching out to consumers around the world.  

Going back to the SEGA-issued press release, posted below is an excerpt from comments made by SEGA Corporation President and COO Yukio Sugino. Some parts in boldface…

We are very pleased to announce today that we are considering a strategic alliance with Microsoft to help develop SEGA’s new “Super Game” initiative as well as build a next-generation game development environment. By considering a strategic partnership with Microsoft, we seek to further advance our game development so that our titles can be enjoyed by fans all over the world; in this regard, we aim to build an alliance that utilizes both SEGA’s powerful game development capabilities and Microsoft’s cutting-edge technology and development environment.

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

Halo Infinite campaign overview confirms major improvements that gamers can look forward to and enjoy

Finally! Team Xbox and 343 Industries came out with a much needed preview about the single player campaign of Halo Infinite (set for a December 8, 2021 release for Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows PC with Xbox Game Pass availability on launch day) very recently and it not only looks awesome visually but also succeeded in showing to gamers a fine taste of how the game will play, how immersive the new Halo is with open-world in mind and why a lot of fun awaits them all.

To start with, watch this official Halo Infinite Campaign Overview video…

Posted next is the official description from the video: The Banished have defeated UNSC forces and taken control of the mysterious Zeta Halo, threatening the survival of humankind. When all hope is lost and humanity’s fate hangs in the balance, the Master Chief returns to confront the most ruthless foe he’s ever faced. Here’s a fresh look at the Halo Infinite campaign that introduces players to true Spartan freedom in the biggest, most wide open and adventure-filled Halo experience yet, launching on December 8 2021.

Check out Dealer Gaming’s Halo Infinite video below and listen to his opinion…

And also check out Colteastwood’s own video about the same game and campaign overview video, complete with visual comparisons that you must see.

My opinion

To begin with, the announcement by Team Xbox that they would release via YouTube the Halo Infinite Campaign Overview video (115K thumbs up and 3K thumbs down reactions as of this writing) was done on a short notice. I learned about its YouTube premiere several hours ahead of time but I made a point to anticipate its launch and view it all not on my smartphone nor on my computer but on our HDTV at home.

Ultimately, the campaign overview video proved to be a great preview and the team behind it went all-out not just to show the improved graphics (I noticed the adjustments made on the in-game lighting as well as the ramped-up detail on textures and many other elements) and in-game art, but also emphasized effectively the gameplay, what the opposition awaits players (as the iconic Master Chief) and what else to expect. Truly it was well worth the wait!

On Zeta Halo is a whole, wide and breathing world for gamers to explore. Think of the world in Halo: Combat Evolved (2001) but with a very detailed open-world design that encourages exploration, discovery and action complete with lots of freedom on doing your objectives.
This map shows a fraction of the world of Zeta Halo and few of the potential many new sites to discover.
Exploring Zeta Halo on foot and discovering one of many facilities of the Banished.
Apart from using it to reach far places, the grappleshot can also be used on enemies for a tactical attack.

Apart from Halo Infinite having a true next-generation look, I find the game’s concept of a massive, breathing open-world environment on Zeta Halo astounding and it clearly is the true essence of enjoying the game. For comparisons, I find Halo Infinite’s in-game world concept a cross between the memorable ring world in Halo: Combat Evolved and the inviting nature of the open-world maps in certain Assassin’s Creed games that I played. This reflects the new game’s offer of a lot of freedom for gamers to explore the wide environment of Zeta Halo, discover new places here and there, and take on the outposts or strongholds of the Banished in more ways than one. Along the way, gamers will have to find the scattered UNSC soldiers, regroup them and form a stronger force to take down the many enemy forces out there.

The next-generation visuals of this game made this classic Halo foe look more detailed and more menacing yet!
The equipment of Master Chief can be upgraded. This is one of the signs that this new game has RPG-inspired gameplay elements.
Shooting and action in Halo Infinite look intense!

Apart from the core mission, there reportedly will be side missions or additional activities throughout Zeta Halo for gamers to engage in. This game design, I believe, will fully immerse gamers into playing Master Chief in the most engaging and most immersive ways possible. No more playing as the Arbiter (Halo 2) and definitely no more wasting time playing as Agent Locke (Halo 5: Guardians). Master Chief is here to stay for players to portray and that’s the way I want Halo to be about. It’s great that 343 Industries learned from its shortcomings as well as those from previous Halo developer Bungie. That being said, I anticipate that Halo Infinite will offer gamers a lot more hours of gameplay based on their will to complete the game.

Meet the new AI companion called The Weapon. She looks like Cortana but has a completely different personality. Remember Cortana’s evil and destructive acts in Halo 5: Guardians? It seems The Weapon will have a key role to do in the new game.
There is nothing like driving a Warthog and then having surviving UNSC soldiers join you for both the ride and the fight!

More on the story, I was intrigued about the new AI called The Weapon who visually looks like Cortana (who in turn went evil in Halo 5: Guardians) and will be the new constant companion Master Chief will interact with. The Banished, meanwhile, look more varied in terms of presentation this time. Visually, they look like rehashed versions of the Covenant and the Brutes in the first 3 Halo games made by Bungie. In Halo Infinite, 343 Industries went the extra steps forward introducing enemies with personalities and boss fights (take note of the visible health bars on-screen on the boss opponents). And then there are two new enemies that were designed to be so formidable, the UNSC’s Spartans now have true challengers to face.

This is one very dangerous Banished enemy to deal with.
This new enemy is known for slaying Spartans.

The way I see the Xbox-exclusive Halo Infinite right now, it is looking great and its single-player campaign looks very ambitious and promising at the same time. This is truly the one video game to look forward to on December 8, 2021. How it will perform with the game critics, Halo fans, Xbox fans and all other gamers remains to be seen. Still, there is no denying that now is a great time for fans of Xbox and Halo, and gamers surely have something fun to look forward to in the final quarter of twenty-twenty-one. As a long-time Halo gamer myself, I can say that I am more confident about Halo Infinite.

Team Xbox and 343 Industries clearly learned from the criticism regarding Halo Infinite’s initial unveiling in July 2020, and the 1-year delay of the game’s release now looks justified. Remember that this year happens to be the 20th anniversary of both Xbox (click here and here) and Halo. The next thing Xbox fans and gamers should look forward to is the 20th anniversary celebration of Xbox on November 15, 2021.

Halo Infinite is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series, Xbox Series X and Windows PC on December 8, 2021.

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos as well as more videos related to Halo Infinite’s campaign overview 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

Dolby Vision on Xbox Series consoles makes home entertainment more pleasing

In my previous article, I made a short reference to the availability of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X. For the newcomers and games still wondering what Dolby Vision’s relevance with the modern Xbox consoles is all about and how it can benefit gamers who have the means, we can take a close look at the details through the September 28, 2021 article published on Xbox.com.

Before examining the said article, let’s start first with a view of Dolby Vision on Xbox Series S and X via this official video released on September 23, 2021.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by XGP Senior Program Manager Katie Slattery. Some parts in boldface…

At Xbox, we want to give gamers the best gaming experience at full audio and visual fidelity. That is why we partnered with Dolby to bring immersive spatial audio to our platform with Dolby Atmos in 2017, and ultra-vivid picture quality for movies and streaming with Dolby Vision in 2018. Then in 2020 with Xbox Series X|S, we launched the first consoles ever to support gaming in Dolby Atmos and with the future capability to support Dolby Vision.

Dolby Vision gaming now available on Series XIS

Starting today, gamers with compatible Dolby Vision-enabled TVs will be able to enjoy full-spectrum visuals with the rollout of Dolby Vision gaming on Xbox Series X|S. With Dolby Vision, epic worlds – such as lush rainforests or neon futuristic cities – are brought to life in more vivid color. Dolby Vision deepens your immersion into the experience by enabling you to see an enemy hiding in the shadows or spot hidden clues through expanded contrast and better clarity in both bright and dark scenes.

To ensure a growing library of games are available, Dolby and Xbox are working together closely with developers to provide the tools they need so their titles can take full advantage of Dolby Vision. They can do this through built-in features within the Xbox platform or they can choose to implement the technology directly into a game’s engine.

There are more than 100 next-gen HDR titles optimized for Series X|S that will feature Dolby Vision, and in the future you’ll see more games like Halo Infinite taking full advantage of Dolby Vision.

Get the complete Dolby experience with Dolby Atmos by downloading Dolby Access today. Pair with Xbox headphones for the ultimate spatial sound experience.

Xbox Series XIS will deliver improved visual experience to thousands of classic games

In addition to this curated set of Xbox Series X|S optimized titles, we also wanted to ensure the robust library of games previously released in HDR or Auto HDR would benefit as well. This led us to work with Dolby to bring new visual enhancement capabilities that utilize Dolby Vision technology to deliver an improved visual experience for thousands of existing HDR10 and Auto HDR games. When you are connected to a Dolby Vision enabled TV and Dolby Vision is enabled on Xbox Series X|S, the consoles will automatically enhance your existing games to deliver a rich, immersive experience unrivaled by any other game console.

How Series XIS and Dolby Vision make your gaming experience better

Dolby Vision takes gaming to the next level through incredible brightness, color, contrast, and detail.  Games in Dolby Vision automatically map to any display that supports Dolby Vision, delivering players the benefit of seeing the best possible picture available. Dolby Vision is also compatible with next-generation features available on Xbox Series X|S such as DirectX Raytracing, automatic low-latency mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and up to 120FPS depending on the capabilities of your TV*.

The article also has other notable details such as the confirmation that Microsoft and Dolby are collaborating closely with the companies that manufacture HDTVs/smart TVs and enable them to update the firmware to enable Dolby Vision at 120 Hz. That being said, if you own an Xbox Series S or Xbox Series X connected to that high-tech HDTV or smart TV in your household, you might want to check right now if it is indeed a Dolby Vision-enabled machine. There will be some adjustments to be made with the settings of your HDTV and you can see how at the very end of the Xbox.com article at https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2021/09/28/dolby-vision-gaming-now-available-on-xbox-series-x-s/

More on this technological breakthrough, I love the fact that it has been confirmed that thousands of classic games (games from previous Xbox console generations) will have visual enhancements covered by Dolby Vision. In short, when you play an old game on your Xbox Series console via the backward compatibility feature, there will be visual improvements as well as a better use of your TV’s Dolby Vision capability. With regards to the games of this current console generation, there are over a hundred HDR (high dynamic range) games optimized for the Xbox Series consoles using Dolby Vision benefits. Such enhancements and benefits will be present in future games like Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite, Starfield, Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5, the next Forza Motorsport, Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, Perfect Dark and a whole lot more!

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

Team Xbox’s presentation at the Tokyo Game Show 2021

Recently I saw via GameSpot’s YouTube channel the Tokyo Game Show 2021 livestream presentation of Team Xbox which lasted about an hour. To say the least, it was indeed a big improvement over what Xbox presented during the 2020 edition of the TGS. There were no major announcements comparable with what were revealed during the last E3 but Team Xbox and its partners in Japan showed there were exciting things for gamers to look forward to.

From Team Xbox.

For one thing, Xbox Cloud Gaming launched in Japan as well in several other places around the world bringing together a massive community of gamers through the Xbox platforms (consoles, PC and mobile devices) who in turn will be able to play over a hundred games through the Xbox Game Pass (XGP) paid subscription service. Team Xbox is focused on reaching over a billion people in 26 countries across five continents and Japan itself is indeed essential not only as a market but also the place where several small and independent game creators have listed through the ID@Xbox program which itself has two hundred Japanese indie games. Xbox Game Pass itself has over a hundred Japanese titles and Bandai Namco’s SCARLET NEXUS is the newest addition to the service.

This video by Dealer Gaming has excerpts from the livestream.
A finely made Japanese visual emphasis on Xbox Cloud Gaming and more. Play anywhere!
The newest Japanese addition to XGP!

As expected, Forza Horizon 5 was part of the TGS Xbox livestream and it would be interesting to see how the game, along with the Xbox Series consoles, will perform commercially and critically among the gamers in Japan this December. Don’t forget Japan’s video game legacy of producing many racing games. What surprised me was the inclusion of the upcoming Xbox-exclusive, Arkane-developed game Redfall which is set for a 2022 release. Check out the Xbox Japan YouTube videos below…

More on Japan-made games, the long-running King of Fighter series is back with a new installment coming to Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows 10 on February 2022…The King of Fighters XV (stylized as KOF XV) and below is the trailer. You can also order the game now.

Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from Rabbit & Bear Studios also made an appearance during the livestream. Some gameplay footage was shown from the upcoming action RPG which you can see below…

Bethesda’s Todd Howard presented the upcoming Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield which will not only be released globally on November 11, 2022, it will be fully localized for the Japanese. Pay close attention in the next video…

The Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG Starfield!

Team Xbox chief Phil Spencer, who delivered his opening remarks and reaffirmed their commitment on Japan, its gamers, game creators and business partners, had a nice on-screen talk with the legendary game creator Shinji Mikami (famous for the Resident Evil game franchise) who is the founder and one of the top officials of Japan-based Tango Gameworks. Watch the video below…

The head of Xbox and the legendary Shinji Mikami.

Overall, the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream was fun, surprising and exciting even though there were no major game announcements. I should say I find it baffling that no firm release date for CrossFireX was revealed even though it was announced before that the game will come out on Xbox this year. Apart from the Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Cloud Gaming announcements and the emphasis on a global audience through Xbox platforms, a lot of games were shown and the independently made video games made by Japanese and Korean creators like Craftopia, The Good Life, RPG Time, Mighty Goose, Lapin, Unsouled and Eternal Return had their own moments of showcase during the livestream. To say that Xbox has no games is a blatant lie and the current leadership of Team Xbox is totally different compared to what was during the unfortunate Xbox One era.

Japan is the fastest growing market for Team Xbox in the world. The growth of Japanese gaming market as claimed by Spencer is indeed real even though the PlayStation-biased members of the media consistently ignore it. Apart from realizing the Japanese growth, Team Xbox is committed to help bring those games around the world for gamers to enjoy. For the full recap of the livestream, click here.

Spencer and his team have been working hard with global gaming in mind. Just before they started their TGS 2021 livestream, they announced that Dolby Vision Gaming has been made available on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X.

For the newcomers reading this read the excerpt below…

Dolby Vision takes gaming to the next level through incredible brightness, color, contrast, and detail.  Games in Dolby Vision automatically map to any display that supports Dolby Vision, delivering players the benefit of seeing the best possible picture available. Dolby Vision is also compatible with next-generation features available on Xbox Series X|S such as DirectX Raytracing, automatic low-latency mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and up to 120FPS depending on the capabilities of your TV.

On the Xbox platform, an updated version of the Edge browser was released and it is capable of playing Stadia games and even access Discord. The said browser is unsurprisingly available on Xbox One and the two Xbox Series consoles. With regards to the ongoing supply problem, Phil Spencer confirmed that getting a new Xbox console will still be challenging going into 2022. How much components Team Xbox and its console manufacturers can receive from the suppliers right now is a mystery but there certainly is an ongoing chip shortage that not only affect game consoles but all other devices and even cars. Finally, Team Xbox hired Crystal Dynamics as a co-production partner with their own studio The Initiative to make the Perfect Dark reboot.

With the TGS 2021 Xbox livestream over, the excitement for gaming will truly begin within this fourth quarter. November will see the release of Forza Horizon 5 while December will not only have the highly anticipated exclusive Halo Infinite but also The Gunk (another exclusive game) and the flashy space shooter Chorus.

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment.

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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

Tokyo Game Show 2021 (TGS 2021) Xbox livestream set for September 30

With Gamescom 2021 and the Tokyo Olympic Games over, video gaming will be highlighted in Japan with this year’s edition of the annual Tokyo Game Show happening at the end of this month and Team Xbox has a new online event set to be streamed on September 30, 2021 (6PM Tokyo Standard Time).

Tokyo Game Show is set for September 30 to October 3.

Before you Xbox fans and gamers get too excited, there is a need to control your expectations first as Aaron Greenberg of Team Xbox tweeted: Well since you asked, @tokyo_game_show is a show for our players in Japan and across Asia. Expect regionally relevant updates, but no major reveals or announcements as our game teams are focused on continuing to ship big releases across October, November, and December.

With major announcements and special reveals ruled out, there will still be fun stuff to show but with Japan and Asia in mind during the 50-minute Xbox livestream. Microsoft’s approach to this event may not be as high-profile as the Xbox-Bethesda games showcase of June but what is clear is that Team Xbox is focused on achieving growth in Japan’s video games industry and already a record number of Japan’s independent game makers have received Xbox development kits.

TGS 2021 is also an opportunity for Team Xbox to emphasize what they have to offer gamers of Asia this coming holiday season. While nothing clear has been made, they could show the latest about Halo Infinite with footage of the single-player campaign. They could also show Psychonauts 2 with the accolades it gained, plus some more new footage of Forza Horizon 5, and reveal details of the limited edition Halo Infinite-themed Xbox Series X console for the Japanese market. Xbox Game Pass (XGP) promos and Xbox LIVE updates for Japan are expected.

TGS 2021 could also be the ideal time for Team Xbox to finalize and announce a precise release date of CrossfireX which has been scheduled for a 2021 release. There are only a few months left before the year ends and I believe that the Tokyo Game Show is the ideal time to announce a solid release date with a huge online audience present.

More on Japanese-related gaming, I can only wish that Rabbit & Bear Studios head Yoshitaka Murayama will make an appearance during the Xbox TGS 2021 livestream and give updates about the developments about their two games Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. Previously, it has been announced that those two games will be released on Xbox Game Pass. Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released in 2022 and 2023 respectively.

There is also Tango Gameworks, a Japan-based game studio owned by Bethesda and Xbox. I wish to see some updates from them for the Xbox livestream, especially when it come to future games.

Watch out for the TGS 2021 Xbox Livestream at the official YouTube channel of Xbox at https://www.youtube.com/c/xbox

In ending this piece, here are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment.

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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 Top Gear (SNES)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Top Gear 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.

Remember back in the early 1990s how impressive the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or Super NES) was when it comes to fulfilling your early expectations of the enhanced gaming experience aided by new technology?

Super Mario World was astounding the first time I got to play it on our Super NES. The same experience too I had with The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

And then there was our first Super NES racing game titled Top Gear (not to be confused with the popular motoring media franchise) developed by Gremlin Graphics and published by Kemco.

The game cover.

Concept and Game Design

Top Gear is a car-focused racing game that had over thirty tracks and creatively emphasized the global locations in it. The very meat of the game is its global tournament in which you need to finish at least in 5th place in order to qualify to join the next race.

Creatively, each race has courses that vary in distance, the sharpness of turns (as far as 2D graphics allowed), number of laps and, strangely enough, have certain obstacles that can distract or even surprise such as stones, iron plates and even trees.

Before choosing a car, you must pay attention to the maximum speed, acceleration, tire grip and fuel consumption.

On the player’s side, there are cars offered and they vary in terms of maximum speed, acceleration, tire grip and fuel consumption. Cars also have nitro which come in limited amounts and can be used to give you a boost

For its visual presentation, Top Gear is strictly a split-screen game even during times you play only single-player. In my experience, split-screen is more lively to watch when playing against a fellow human player.

Quality

I can say clearly that Top Gear was highly enjoyable to play, and it was more fun 2-player sessions. On the very gameplay itself, I enjoyed the high-speed challenges that include overtaking other cars on the road while trying to climb up the rankings enroute to the finish line. Speaking of challenges, the aspect of managing your fuel supply while dealing with speeding and overtaking others is memorable and there were times when my car ran out of gas and stopped because I was not able to make a pit stop during the race.

The pit stop itself can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on situations. If you are low on fuel and you still have a long way to go, you need to refuel at the pit stop. However, the more time you spend on the pit stop, the more your opponents traveled catching up with you or increasing their lead over you. There were also memorable times when I had sufficient fuel and my opponent had to refuel at the pit stop. While opponent was refueling, I just kept driving and used the nitro to increase my speed and keep on moving forward.

Split-screen all the time, even when you play single.

Going back to the fuel management aspect, there were times when my car ran out of gas and stopped. Suddenly, an AI-controlled car from behind hit my car and gave me some forward movement. There were a few, unexpected times that my gas-empty car got pushed enough to cross the finish line.

Visually, race courses are limited in the sense that the game only shows split-screen views. You always have a road to travel on which can suddenly turn left or right depending on the race course. What adds visual variety are the surroundings specifically the elements on the sides of the road (examples: the desert environment Las Vegas, the snow of Sweden, the rain forest trees of Brazil) and background art (example: the metropolitan view of Tokyo). Sprite scaling is limited but that is understandable given the limits of the Super NES. Even so, the feeling and look of 3D is sufficient.

Night driving in 2D.

While the sound effects of cars bumping, tires screeching and engines are satisfying, what really stood out is the soundtrack which, for the most part, is energetic and even encouraging enough to keep me and my friends playing. Barry Leitch produced the music and due to the lack of time provided to him, he had to literally recycle and arrange his other musical works from Lotus games.

Conclusion

One car still racing on the road with low fuel, the other car is in the pit stop refueling.

Top Gear was truly a well-made game and it succeeded not only in delivering a true console generation upgrade over our NES for console racing but also created lots of bouts of fun for me and my friends. In my experience, this Kemco-published game was the first true gem of multiplayer on the Super NES. Even by today’s standards, Top Gear remains unique and still is very enjoyable for anyone who loves 16-bit, 2-dimensional console racing.

Overall, Top Gear 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 as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com