Remastered versions of Suikoden and Suikoden II are coming to Xbox in 2023!

During the recent Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Team Xbox had its livestream event which was a mix of surprises and game reveals. Xbox chief Phil Spencer and Xbox CVP Sarah Bond spent time emphasizing their gaming business as well as their commitment with the game creators and gamers in Japan.

While the sudden release of the remastered version of the hit Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Ni no Kuni on Xbox platforms and Xbox Game Pass (XGP) was indeed surprising, there was another major surprise pulled off by Konami that includes Xbox for a release some time in 2023 – Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars. Watch the official English-language trailer below…

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official press release from Konami’s website. Some parts in boldface…

Announced during Tokyo Games Show 2022, KONAMI confirmed several fundamental improvements and quality-of-life features in the upcoming remaster collection:

Graphical Improvements

Pixel sprites and environment art enhanced with new screen effects including lighting, clouds, and shadow animations Flickering flames, smoldering smoke, the movement of leaves and insects, all add up to a lively in-game atmosphere!

The effects and direction have been redesigned, bringing memorable scenes back to life in more beautiful ways!

New Character Drawings

All character portraits have been updated in HD. Junko Kawano, who designed the characters for the original version of Suikoden released in 1995, has newly re-drawn all the character portraits for Suikoden I HD Remaster Gate Rune War.

Sound Improvements

Field Sound – A large number of environmental sounds not found in the original version, such as the sound of running water in the river, wind, insects, and running footsteps, have been added. You can enjoy an immersive experience like never before!

Battle Sound – All sound effects are now in HD. In addition to the impact of the 3D effects, the realistic sound greatly enhances the dynamism of the battles!

Game System Improvements

Many new features have been added, such as dialogue log, auto-battle, double-speed battles, etc.

Footage of the remastered Suikoden JRPG from Konami’s official trailer.
The 2D sprites look the same but they do look sharper in HD. Even the background elements look sharper.
World exploration in Suikoden is no longer the flat 2D map it used to be.

As I have played Suikoden and Suikoden II on the original PlayStation console in the 1990s, the announcement of Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars is big dream come true for me personally. I always wanted to replay Suikoden and Suikoden II without the hassle of having to spend a lot of money to buy a PlayStation or a Nintendo console. In my experience, Suikoden II is the peak of excellence of its own franchise as the creative team listened to the fans and learned from their shortcomings on making the first game which resulted in very rich gameplay, several fun features and compelling story. Suikoden II also remains a great example of using 2D sprites aided with 3D camera movements and some polygonal effects. Read my retro review of Suikoden II at https://carlocarrasco.com/2021/07/15/a-look-back-at-suikoden-ii-1999/

The lighting in this particular part of Suikoden II was enhanced to be dramatic looking.
Battle sequence from Suikoden II as shown in Konami’s trailer.
This touching scene from Suikoden II looks better than ever.

That being said, Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to Xbox (note: Xbox One was officially listed as the Xbox console) is a big bonus not just for Xbox gamers who enjoy JRPGs but also for long-time gamers who loved the early Suikoden games who have not been spending much time with console gaming. As seen in the official press release from Konami as well as in the revealed footage in the official announcement trailer, there were several enhancements to make Suikoden and Suikoden II more presentable in today’s age of high-definition gaming. While the 2D sprites and in-game art works of the two classic JRPGs look the same (note: with some minor adjustments), I noticed the improvements on sound effects, the in-game lighting, some adjustments on textures, the higher resolution resulting in sharper images, and the redrawn character portraits (in the first game specifically).

Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars coming to Xbox is looking like a great addition on the Xbox ecosystem’s growing global appeal as the haven for fantasy RPGs gamers and also for gamers who like other types of role-playing games! For Konami, selling the two classic JRPGs on Xbox could mean bigger sales than what they achieved on PlayStation decades ago. Remember that 2023 will see the eventual release of Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and the Xbox-eclusive Starfield. Right now, Konami is still at work on enhancing the remastered Suikoden and Suikoden II and they will have to decide which date in 2023 should mark the release. Personally, I can hardly wait to play Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars on my Xbox Series X console. Watch out for Konami’s announcement of the official 2023 release date. Also, here is hoping Konami will do a good job remastering the two classic JRPGs and that the promises they made in their press release will be fulfilled.

For the newcomers reading this, the Suikoden game franchise’s core concept has been based on the motif of the Chinese classic novel Water Margin and the creative team back then (led by a very young Yoshitaka Murayama who is now leading Rabbit & Bear studios making Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes) created role-playing games that had engaging fantasy stories, feature-rich gameplay and a wide lineup of characters who collectively contribute to the game endings. The first Suikoden RPG of the mid-1990s follows a protagonist whose father is one of the empire’s five generals, as he gathers his 108 Stars of Destiny and friends to fight against the oppressive rule of the Empire in ruin. Suikoden II happens three years after the first game’s story, further evolving the game systems unique to Suikoden, such as Rune magic, the 108 Stars of Destiny, home base management, and Army Battles, which were well received in the previous game. Three childhood friends, including the protagonist, are tossed about by a great whirlpool of destiny.

Historically speaking, the Suikoden video game franchise has been strongly identified with PlayStation platforms. Suikoden and Suikoden II were released on the first PlayStation console while Suikoden III, Suikoden IV and Suikoden V were released on PlayStation 2. There were also some versions of Suikoden games that got released on Sega Saturn, Windows PC and Nintendo platforms. That being said, the inclusion of Xbox One as a platform for the upcoming Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars is very notable, even exceptional.

Watch out for Suikoden I&II HD Remaster Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars on Xbox in 2023. Also, I encourage you all to follow the official Suikoden Twitter account.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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

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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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below, share this article to others and also please consider making a donation to support my publishing. 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

Xbox App now available on Samsung 2022 Smart TVs

In what is clearly an ambitious effort to make video gaming more available to users who don’t have game consoles, Team Xbox announced that its Xbox app is officially available on Samsung 2022 Smart TVs and with the power of the cloud, users will be able to play hundreds of games through Xbox Game Pass!

To begin with, watch this video below…

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

Starting today in 27 countries, you can turn on your Samsung 2022 Smart TV, navigate to the Xbox App in the new Samsung Gaming Hub or Media Hub, connect your Bluetooth controller, and play. It’s as simple as using any other streaming app on your TV.

Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Getting Ready – Playing Xbox games on 2022 Samsung Smart TVs is a seamless experience. To make sure you’re ready to game, here’s what you’ll need:

  • To access the Xbox app, you’ll need one of Samsung’s 2022 Smart TVs.
  • To play the hundreds of cloud-enabled games in the Game Pass library, you’ll need an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership.
  • If you don’t have a membership and want to try the experience for yourself before you sign up, you can play Fortnite for free without an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership.
  • Almost any Bluetooth-enabled controller will work with the Xbox app, like the Xbox Wireless Controller, Xbox Adaptive Controller, Elite Series 2 Controller, or the DualSense controller.

How to Access the Xbox App – There are two ways you can access the Xbox app on a 2022 Samsung Smart TV depending on where you’re located.

  • In some countries you can access the Xbox app through Samsung’s new Gaming Hub. Simply navigate to the Gaming Hub via the user interface, launch the Xbox app, and you’re ready to go!
  • Otherwise you can navigate to the Samsung App store from the Samsung Media Hub, search for “Xbox” to download the app onto your TV, and launch it to begin playing.

As we shared earlier this month, we’re excited to take this first step with Samsung and look forward to keeping you up to date during this next evolution in our vision. With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and a controller, you can easily jump into the world of gaming and connect with your friends and communities on Xbox.

Xbox app on Samsung 2022 Smart TV emphasized.

As I mentioned earlier, this team-up between Team Xbox and Samsung can impact people’s accessibility to playing video games at home and free them from the financial burden of acquiring a standalone gaming hardware (the video game console) which is crucial because even until now, modern game consoles like the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are still challenging to acquire due to tight supplies. Also there are households who are already struggling with inflation and this makes buying a game console not so attractive financially.

The beauty about Xbox app on Samsung Smart TV with cloud power and Xbox Game Pass (XGP) is that the users can play established blockbuster games like Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and Flight Simulator without an Xbox console. Users also have lots of very promising games to play in the near future via XGP such as Starfield, Senua’s Sage: Hellblade II, Forza Motorsport (2023), Redfall, Pentiment, As Dusk Falls, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and more! Once the Xbox acquisition of Activision-Blizzard gets completed, even more games will be added into XGP!

Once this move by Team Xbox and Samsung succeeds, it will mean more new users coming into the Xbox ecosystem which will benefit game publishers eventually. To put it clearly, the old strategy of selling game consoles to connect with TVs in households is no longer the only way to enjoy video games in the comfort of home. This is something that Sony and Nintendo have not embraced because it goes against their old console-focused business nature.

In ending this piece, posted below 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 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/

The DioField Chronicle coming soon on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One

As a happy gamer who owns an Xbox Series X console, I should state that I am having fun with turn-based tactical games like Gears Tactics, Empire of Sin and Phoenix Point. Those three games – which as of this writing are still available for Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers to enjoy – have their own concepts and their own approach on gameplay that involves strategy.

Speaking of strategy gaming, Square Enix officially announced that it has a brand new strategy role-playing game (strategy RPG) that will be released on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One this year – The DioField Chronicle.

To begin with, 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…

This fresh new franchise is developed by SQUARE ENIX in conjunction with Lancarse Ltd, a team of veteran strategy developers, features unique character designs by Taiki (Lord of Vermilion III, IV), concept art by Isamu Kamikokuryo (FINAL FANTASY XII, FINAL FANTASY XIII) and has beautifully orchestrated music by world-renowned composers Ramin Djawadi and Brandon Campbell, known best for their work on Game of Thrones.

The Announcement Trailer unveiled today provides a first look at the story and new, deeply strategic real-time battle system called ‘Real-Time Tactical Battle’ (RTTB). Told through stunning ‘diorama’-style combat scenes, players will assess front line conditions in real-time, issue decisive orders and use a variety of skills, classes, and equipment to gain the upper hand over their foes.

A glimpse on the gameplay based on a work-in-progress.

The DioField Chronicle is set in a beautiful and unique world blending fantasy, medieval and modern-day influences. Under the steady hand of the Shaytham dynasty, the Kingdom of Alletain on DioField Island has known peace for 200 years, but suddenly find themselves cast into an age of uncertainty due to the rise of warlike powers and modern magic.

This image shows the scale of the location.

The Kingdom of Alletain is rich in the mineral Jade, prized for its use as a base ingredient in magic and sorcery, and the attention of both the Empire and the Alliance inevitably turns towards the island. Players will take control of a band of elite mercenaries calling themselves “Blue Fox”, but will the name “Blue Fox” come to signify hope or darkest tragedy?

For the newcomers reading this, The DioField Chronicle is the fourth new game from Square Enix that will be released on Xbox consoles this year. The others are Star Ocean: The Divine Force (release date still pending), Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (March 18, 2022), and Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Collection (April 7, 2022). While it is notable that Square Enix won’t be releasing their big-budget RPG Final Fantasy XVI on Xbox consoles anytime soon, their other games mentioned above will still add a good amount of Japanese-style gaming on the Xbox platform for gamers to enjoy. Take note that hot Xbox-exclusive RPGs are coming and Bethesda’s Starfield will rock the gaming world this November. To the Xbox fans reading this, be assured that 2022 will be an even bigger, more exciting and more enjoyable year. Team Xbox has strong momentum that PlayStation and Nintendo cannot even match.

Going back to The DioField Chronicle, it sure looks interesting and intriguing at the same time. The visual style of using 2D art while showing polygonal action in key sequences is notably eye-catching. For more information about the game, visit https://www.diofieldchronicle.com/

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/

Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard shakes gaming industry!

It has been a few days since the industry shaking announcement was made – Microsoft will acquire gaming giant Activision Blizzard for almost $69 billion and that means major additions (games, intellectual properties, game development talents, technologies and more) coming to Team Xbox for gamers to enjoy within the Xbox ecosystem.

This is easily the most unbelievable and most intriguing video game business development since the Xbox-Bethesda deal (deal completed in 2021). Unbelievable because nobody (other than the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard executives) saw this deal would happen at all even though Team Xbox made clear it would push on with acquisitions. Intriguing because Activision Blizzard itself has been controversial in very negative ways (for references, click here, here and here) which brings major challenges for Team Xbox to solve once the acquisition has been completed.

To begin with, let’s take a look at the reactions and analysis of Xbox YouTubers and gaming media in the videos below…

And now, for even greater perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official Xbox-Activision-Blizzard announcement on Xbox.com written by none other than Phil Spencer himself and he now has a new work title…CEO of Microsoft Gaming. Now pay close attention to the details below. Some parts in boldface…

As a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. We all know that gaming is the most vibrant and dynamic form of entertainment worldwide and we’ve experienced the power of social connection and friendship that gaming makes possible.

As we pursue that mission, it is incredibly exciting to announce that Microsoft has agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard.

Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard.

Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.

The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.

As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.

Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games.

Wow! That was once massive and strategically worded announcement there by Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer! Not only does this great development prove that Microsoft continues to go all-in on gaming through Team Xbox, it also shows partially what the long-term video gaming business will be for them, Activision Blizzard’s teams and the consumers who collectively own game consoles, desktops, laptops, smartphones and other devices with access to the Xbox network and ecosystem. The acquisition, once approved, will help Team Xbox gain a strong presence in the lucrative mobile gaming industry.

Very clearly, the business of video games is no longer limited to game consoles, software and online gaming networks which is something that Japan-based Sony and Nintendo should realize. The console-only approach of business is itself a hindrance on reaching out to billions of people who play games, as well as an obstacle to achieve massive business growth not for the short term but for the long term.

The most recent games of Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty, Starcraft, Warcraft, Crash Bandicoot and Spyro have been released on game consoles and Windows PC. There is also the mobile gaming titan Call of Duty: Mobile under Activision. These facts proves that the acquisition by Microsoft makes business and technical sense.

When it comes to Xbox gaming, I believe that in due time, future installments of established Activision Blizzard game franchises as well as brand new intellectual properties will become Xbox-exclusive after the completion of the acquisition and as long as Activision Blizzard has no signed agreements with PlayStation or Nintendo related to console exclusivity of games. What is the basis for this? Take a look back at what Phil Spencer said before

“We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players. We love those communities and will continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms, that we’ll go do. But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal, that’s why we are doing this,”

Going back to Spencer’s Xbox-Activision-Blizzard announcement, he specifically confirmed that Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers has reached 25 million already, and things will only get exciting as more Activision Blizzard games will be added into the service! Expect lots of Call of Duty games, Crash Bandicoot games, Tony Hawk games and more! Xbox Game Pass will become even more varied with its game selection from the Xbox game studios and that means the subscription service will become even more attractive, even essential, to gamers who want great value for their money.

Apart from Activision Blizzard’s games and intellectual properties, Microsoft will also inherit the many employees working under AB’s game studios as well as their proprietary technologies (game engines, rendering software and the like) and have them integrated into Xbox Game Studios.

Easily the biggest video game development of 2022!

Right now, there is still a long road ahead for the Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal to endure first heading towards competition. Don’t forget that the deal is still subject for review by the regulators. The people who hate Xbox and even Activision Blizzard out there can always rant a lot, complain a lot and spew lots of nonsense but nothing changes the fact that the Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal does not really constitute a monopoly in the video game industry. The said industry is much bigger than most people know and there are several other game publishers out there whose combined market values heavily outweigh Microsoft, Activision Blizzard and even Bethesda combined. As for the internal side of things, I believe that Microsoft has what it takes to end the negativity within Activision Blizzard, solve the related problems and straighten things out. It will take a few years but I believe improvements will happen. By then, more entertainment content will flood the Xbox ecosystem as well as Xbox Game Pass!

Truly now is a great time to be part of the Xbox ecosystem as more great games will be coming in! Personally, I am looking forward to play Activision Blizzard’s games on my Xbox Series X through Xbox Game Pass!

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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/

The latest gameplay footage of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is very impressive!

Just hours after playing the first five hours and thirty-seven minutes of Halo Infinite on my Xbox Series X which I greatly enjoyed, I got to watch YouTube videos of The Game Awards (hosted by Geoff Keighly). And for the 3rd straight year of the said awards, Team Xbox unleashed another visual showcase for Xbox fans and gamers in general to enjoy about the future of gaming. I’m talking about the gameplay reveal of Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, the high-profile Xbox-exclusive game being made by Ninja Theory for Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows PC.

That being said, I urge you all to watch the official gameplay footage below…

Wow! That was a very cinematic and artistic looking gameplay showcase of the Senua’s Saga! When I first saw it, I had this first impression that it was all just a pre-rendered cinematic but when I saw the key moments of gameplay – particularly with Senua carrying the sharp sticks to throw at the monster much like a javelin – I realized it was a game designed to give gamers the cinematic look and interactivity mixed together.

The footage shown had a very cinematic look thanks to the extremely high amount of detail not only on the real-time graphics used but also on the animation and the overall artistic design and work (great job there, Ninja Theory talents!). In addition, the facial expressions, acting and motion-captured action done by Melina Juergens (official Instagram and Twitter) really pushed the immersion even higher!

Very detailed visuals combined with a very unique art style.

For the newcomers reading this, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is the sequel to the acclaimed 2017 multiplatform game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice which was developed and published by Ninja Theory at a time when they were still an independent studio. That particular game was not just a fancy looking action-oriented game…it had a daring concept of tackling psychosis on top of its already intriguing fantasy concept and unique game design.

Going back to Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, what was shown recently was not the first time it was showcased at The Game Awards. The 2019 edition of the said awards saw the official unveiling of Xbox Series X and the sequel which really generated a lot of positive buzz and showed how serious Team Xbox really is when it comes to creating compelling video games going into this current console generation.

Melina Juergens as Senua is very life-like, right down to the on-screen emotions.

As Ninja Theory is now officially part of Team Xbox as a developer under Xbox Game Studios, it comes to no surprise that Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is an Xbox-exclusive game being made for the Xbox Series consoles and Windows PC. As there is no Xbox One version at all, this shows that the new game is aiming high with the latest console and PC technologies and that many millions of gamers around the world will eventually have unique gameplay experiences as well as new levels of immersion with Senua’s Saga.

As for the people who hate Xbox and the console fanboys who believe that there should be no exclusive games for Xbox, you are all just wasting your lives with your video game prejudice and you are also proving that video game-related bigotry is true. Similar to Xbox-Bethesda, Ninja Theory is NOT obligated to release new games on consoles that are not Xbox-related. Even though Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a multi-platform hit, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II is absolutely not coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch (not even the eventual Switch successor). Your emotion-led demands for Senua’s Saga to be released on your non-Xbox console do not count as law.If you really want the sequel but vehemently oppose anything Xbox, there is the Windows PC for you. You have a choice!

As of this writing, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II does not yet have a final release date. That being said, let’s just keep waiting for Ninja Theory to full complete and polish the game first.

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/

Star Ocean The Divine Force is coming to Xbox consoles and PC (via Steam) in 2022

Star Ocean, the long-running Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) series under Square Enix, has a brand-new RPG coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and PC (via Steam) sometime in 2022 titled Star Ocean The Divine Force. Take note that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Star Ocean game franchise and the new game is being made by tri-Ace.

To start with, watch this official Star Ocean The Divine Force trailer below…

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official press release issued by Square Enix. Some parts in boldface…

Developed by tri-Ace Inc., STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE will transport players to an expansive sci-fi fantasy world and take them on an exhilarating journey with fast-paced action combat, rich exploration and an original story. With STAR OCEAN celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, THE DIVINE FORCE builds on that rich history with new features that are sure to delight for many years to come.

To watch the STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE Debut Trailer, visit: https://youtu.be/jIJe4ZUD0Gc

The Debut Trailer showcases various new and returning elements to the STAR OCEAN franchise that players can look forward to:

  • Super-high-speed action battles
  • No random encounters – players will seamlessly enter battles with enemies that populate the world
  • Players can float in the air, dive at enemies and fly around areas
  • Richer exploration – climb towering mountains, venture into dark, vast valleys and investigate the castles and towns present in the world

Showcasing a diverse cast of playable characters, STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE will tell a gripping story that seamlessly melds science fiction and fantasy elements and can be enjoyed by newcomers to the series and veterans alike. The game features dual protagonists, which offer different story perspectives and gameplay experiences: Raymond, the captain of the space trading ship, Ydas, and Laeticia, the princess-knight of a kingdom on an underdeveloped planet. Fate will bring Raymond, Laeticia, and several other ally characters together, all designed by renowned artist Akiman (STAR OCEAN: Integrity and Faithlessness, STREET FIGHTER series).

For the newcomers reading this, the very first Star Ocean video game made by tri-Ace and published by Enix was released on July 19, 1996 for the Super Famicom console in Japan. The first Star Ocean game translated into English and released outside of Japan was Star Ocean: The Second Story which I myself played on the original PlayStation console in 1999. In 2003, Enix and Square Co. merged and became Square Enix. In 2008, Square Enix announced Star Ocean: The Last Hope for Xbox 360 and its release in Japan and North America took place in February 2009.

Going back to Star Ocean The Divine Force, which is the sixth main game of the franchise, the trailer shows the ever-present fast-moving action scenes taking place in real-time during battles. As with past games of the franchise, there will be lots of slashing and fantasy inspired elements even though the game has a science fiction concept. At least tri-Ace keeps on striving with making key locations look grand.

Expect to see so much of hack and slash action in this RPG.
What a grand looking place, tri-Ace! How about showing how much exploring and fun gamers can have within it?

The artistic approach on rendering the characters in polygons within the game, however, shows a lack of willingness to evolve on the part of the developer to do better. To begin with, take a look at the character concept artworks below for the game.

Those are interesting character design concept artworks.

Now take a look at how the above two characters looked like in polygons within the game below…

She looks too cartoonish and even plastic-looking than her concept art version.
Could someone please tell me who at tri-Ace is responsible for this kind of polygonal character work?

When compared to other Japanese RPG franchises, Star Ocean’s unique approach on action, battles and the presentation of locations still stands out and that’s pretty incredible considering the 25-year history of the franchise and all those other JRPGs that came out along the way. The new game’s story and overall concept will have to live up to gamers’ impression and expectations and we will find out how the game will turn out next year. When it comes to the growing number of upcoming RPGs – from both East and West – on the Xbox ecosystem, Star Ocean The Divine Force adds variety to say the least. I believe that the tri-Ace-made game, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising will easily capture the interest of Xbox gamers who love JRPGs. Don’t forget that many other future RPGs exclusive to Xbox are coming such as Starfield, Avowed, Fable, The Elder Scrolls VI, The Outer Worlds 2 and more. Truly the Xbox ecosystem is becoming the premier place for gamers who love RPGs which is something Sony and Nintendo CANNOT stop as those two competitors don’t have their own wide range of RPGs to make. As for Square Enix and other RPG makers in Japan, they should be seriously considering releasing more games on Xbox and Windows PC because Team Xbox’s heavy investments on RPGs will eventually achieve tremendous sales in the near future.

How many of you Xbox fans are looking forward to Star Ocean The Divine Force?

In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos as well as a few videos related to past Star Ocean games 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 20th Anniversary Celebration online set for November 15, 2021

The wave of positivity for Xbox and its global community of fans continues to go on. For one thing, the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X collectively sold over 100,000 units in Japan easily surpassing the Xbox One there and Team Xbox made clear it is NOT giving up on Japanese gamers and developers. The positive vibes generated by the highly successful Xbox-Bethesda E3 2021 games showcase continue to be felt as Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite are both set for global releases this November and December respectively. On Xbox Game Pass (XGP), it was announced recently that more than one hundred games support Xbox touch controls. Team Xbox also made video gaming more accessible to people with disabilities which is something that Nintendo and Sony could not even do. For the future of Xbox gaming, Team Xbox chief Phil Spencer confirmed that his team will continue to pursue acquisitions of game studios and talents.

November 15, 2021 will be a very significant date as it will mark the 20th anniversary of Xbox (note: new products for the anniversary will be released on that same day) and hot news right now is that Team Xbox announced there will be an anniversary celebration event that will be streamed on that very day! Check out the official image below…

Take note of the schedule and time zones.

To put things in perspective, posted below are selected excerpts from the Xbox.com article written by Xbox Games Studios head Matt Booty. Some parts in boldface…

We invite you to join us on Nov. 15 to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Xbox and Halo with a fun, digital broadcast for fans around the globe. While we won’t announce any new games, this anniversary broadcast will be a special look back at 20 years of Xbox. We’ll share more details soon, so stay tuned.

We’ve been hard at work to deliver three months of back-to-back game launches. And while we hope you’ll join us in celebrating 20 years of Xbox history, know that we’re hard at work on the road ahead and what’s to come in the next 20 years.

As seen in Booty’s words above, Team Xbox prepared something special for the fans to watch and enjoy. While Booty made clear that new games won’t be announced – a clear attempt to temper expectations – there will still be something enjoyable and commemorative. For one thing, Xbox and Halo go together as seen in Xbox history. Since November 15, 2001, Microsoft sold many millions of Xbox consoles worldwide, paved the way for establishing online console gaming with innovative ways, built up a huge fan base, established Xbox as a major entertainment brand, established Halo as a major pop culture phenomenon and established Xbox as a major ecosystem that link console gamers and Windows PC gamers together!

For the future – the next 20 years – that Matt Booty stated, things are very promising and exciting as there are 23 Xbox game studios (including those from Bethesda) already working on several projects each ensuring that there will be a whole lot of Xbox-exclusive games coming in the near future! On November 11, 2022, Bethesda’s major sci-fi role playing game (RPG) Starfield will be released exclusively on Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X and Windows PC. Meanwhile, RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment is progressing with its development of the Xbox-exclusive fantasy RPG Avowed and they are also working on the Xbox-exclusive sci-fi RPG sequel The Outer Worlds 2. Bethesda’s studio Arkane Studios is hard at work on the Xbox-exclusive Redfall which will be released in the summer of 2022. Meanwhile, 3rd party studio Avalanche is developing the Xbox-exclusive game Contraband in partnership with Team Xbox. Oh, I should remind you readers and gamers that the Square Enix-controlled game studio Crystal Dynamics is working as a production partner with Xbox game studio The Initiative on the Xbox-exclusive Perfect Dark reboot.

Clearly the old belief that Xbox has no games is simply no more and really is not true anymore by today’s standards. To insist that Xbox has no games today is simply foolish to do.

Speaking of future games, Matt Booty also announced that high profile games of Xbox will be released in this crucial 4th quarter! There are a few releases apart from Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite to look forward to.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from Booty’s article. Some parts in boldface…

Now, just weeks before the Xbox 20th anniversary in November, we’re excited to kick-off three epic months of back-to-back blockbuster game launches in Game Pass:

  • The Age of Empires franchise has been a major part of Microsoft’s gaming legacy for 24 years and the Oct. 28 launch of Age of Empires IV will be our biggest yet, bringing the evolved real-time strategy game to a new generation on Steam and Game Pass for PC on day one.
  • Minecraft will join Game Pass for PC on Nov. 2, followed by new Minecraft Dungeons Seasonal Adventures in December, and Caves & Cliffs: Part II later this year.
  • On Nov. 9, gaming’s premier racing franchise returns when Forza Horizon 5’s open-world adventure in Mexico speeds into Xbox Game Pass. Our biggest Forza Horizon ever and winner of the Most Anticipated Game of E3 award, Forza Horizon 5 will launch simultaneously on Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Windows PC and Steam, and Game Pass including console, PC and Cloud Gaming (beta).
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator: Game of the Year Edition launches Nov. 18 as a free update for existing players, including Game Pass members, with five new aircrafts, eight new airports, new Discovery Flights and tutorials, and highly requested community features like DX12 support. Microsoft Flight Simulator will also release the exciting Reno Air Races, which features the fastest motorsport on Earth will also be available on Nov. 18.
  • The Master Chief returns on Dec. 8 with Halo Infinite. This is the Halo we imagined 20 years ago, finally come to life in the largest Halo game we have ever made. Halo Infinite will be available in Game Pass when it launches across Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Game Pass Ultimate members will also receive monthly multiplayer bonuses as part of the Perks program.

Our teams have also been expanding on the games you love. These last few months you explored Minecraft: Caves & Cliffs Part 1Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s LifeState of Decay 2: HomecomingGrounded: Hot and Hazy, and last week’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection Season 8. We’re honored that millions of you continue to play in these worlds together.

Wow! The holiday season this year is looking great for Xbox fans and gamers who are looking for the best in console and PC gaming! This Xbox 20th anniversary celebration is indeed exciting and it is only the beginning for even more excitement coming in 2022, 2023 and further years!

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 Flashback (Super NES)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing Flashback: The Quest for Identity 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.

We live in an age in which software exclusivity defines not only the relevance of game consoles but also nature of the entire video game industry right down to the many varied communities of very avid fans (and fanboys).

While the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES or Super NES) and Sega Genesis each had their own exclusive games back in the 1990s, there was one particular game that was made for and released on not just one, not two but rather on more than fifteen different platforms – both consoles and computers – starting with Amiga way back in 1992. That game is none other than Flashback: The Quest for Identity which I first played on our Super NES back in 1994.

The cover of the game box.

For the newcomers reading this, Flashback was a 2D side-scrolling adventure game in the form of a cinematic platformer (note: similar to Prince of Persia and Out of This World) with a strong flavor of science fiction. It was cinematic in the sense that all the in-game animation were rotoscoped resulting unique smoothness combined with hand-drawn backgrounds and the computer-generated cutscenes were used in key parts of the game as the story progressed. Flashback on SNES in America even came with a Marvel Comics-published Flashback comic book and on the rear of the SNES game box were the words “The first CD-ROM game in a cartridge!”

A Flashback remake was released in 2013, followed by a port of the original game released on Sega Dreamcast in 2017, and a remastered version got released for varied platforms in 2018.

I got to play that game at a time when I have not even started playing Final Fantasy II (AKA Final Fantasy IV), Final Fantasy III (AKA Final Fantasy VI) and other great role-playing games (RPGs) of the Super NES. I also remember that Flashback was a nice change of pace for me after playing Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

With those details laid down, here is a look back at Flashback: The Quest for Identity, released on Super NES in 1993 by U.S. Gold and developed by Delphine Software International.

The start and options screen.

Early story

The story begins with Conrad running away from two armed persons chasing him. He flies away riding a solo vehicle but those chasing him (riding a huge vehicle) managed to get close and blast his vehicle causing to crash into the forest.

Sometime later, he wakes up and accidentally pushes a mechanical cube to fall down. He climbs down to reach it and activates it. The cube displays a holographic video of himself telling him that he recorded it without remembering it. As Conrad watches, he learns that he must contact a friend named Ian who can explain important things to him.

After viewing the message, Conrad sets off to find his way out of the jungle and somehow get to Ian in New Washington…

Game design and quality

You have to pay close attention to what’s going on, what items do you have and what the in-game prompts tell you.

This game is not your typical fast-paced, action-oriented 2D side-scrolling adventure in which you move from left to right to progress. As it is a cinematic platform game by design complete with very specific controls, players will have to be patient, adaptive and strategic in order to learn how exactly you can control your character, what moves will be executed (and when to execute). For one thing, the very fluid 24 frames-per-second animation on your character limits you in terms of control as timing is required.

To do things properly, you have to execute specific controls. To ascend on a lift, you press Up and the Y button. To do a small jump, have your character stand still and then press Up and Y button. To go down on level (on foot, no lift), stand by the edge of a level then press Down and Y button. To run and hang on to a higher floor automatically, have your character stand still, press Right and Y button, press Y button (once your character moves) and watch him pull it off. With controls like these, the usual 2D platforming approach is out of the question. In my experience, these controls are indeed challenging but never impossible to learn and eventually I got proficient with the controls as I played more.

The in-game animation for the characters are very good and there is also a sensation of weight with your character. Falling straight down from a very high place is a big no-no.

Apart from character controls, you don’t just move Conrad from one screen to the next…you also should do key objectives along the way apart from engaging in action scenes (read: shooting). That being said, you must watch out for icons that appear on screen when your character steps on a particular spot that requires interaction. For example, if you stop by a terminal, an icon will appear serving as a prompt to start the interaction. Another example is when your character steps on the same spot as an item located at which you can pick up once prompted.

More on the action on the screen, you will encounter armed enemies as well as high-tech machines (including floating drones). To overcome them, doing straightforward shooting is not recommended as you have to be strategic before firing a shot. You have to learn how each enemy or machine moves, how much physical space is available right there and how you can maximize your limited time and space to overcome them. In fact, you will also be compelled to take advantage of whatever seconds you have while the enemies’ animation (between moves) take place. There will also be times when you need to have your character armed with the gun before jumping to a lower level where an armed enemy is located and on the lookout. Coming down armed gives you an advantage to shoot first at the enemy who

Considering the 24 frames-per-second animation, you will have to time your moves carefully, especially during moments when you face an armed enemy.

Apart from shooting, you can also use grenades which requires opening your inventory to select a grenade and then do your timing and calculation of the distance in order to pull of a successful throw and explosion. You can also throw stones to distract enemies or to apply weight on key platforms in order to open mechanical doors.

With regards to the quality of gameplay, Flashback is enjoyable but only if you get over its rather high learning curve with regards to the controls which themselves serve as the game’s advantage and even as a disadvantage. In addition to being patient and strategic, you will really have to pace yourself, think more and get used to the rather slow pace of the game in relation to its cinematic platformer design. I should state that as you keep progressing, there will be places, or new obstacles or new enemies that will compel you to change your tactics in order to overcome them. Anyone who is used to playing 2D side-scrolling games the fast and easy way might find the high learning curve and pacing of Flashback a turnoff but if they are willing to learn, adjust and pace themselves, only then can this game’s gameplay be really enjoyed.

Cut scenes like this move at a sluggish pace which shows the limitations of the SNES and cartridge technology.

As for the visuals, the obvious highlight here is the 24 FPS animation which is the result of rotoscoping and careful visualizing (note: observe those alien humanoids who morph into moving blobs). The rotoscoped animation, however, would not have been that effective had the quality of the art used for the backgrounds been made of lower quality. I can say that the background artworks here look pretty good even by today’s standards. The standout among them were the background artworks of Morph’s home planet which really looked very alien and creepy at the same time. What hurts this particular version of Flashback is the lackluster (read: choppy) frame rate whenever the computer-generated cinematic cutscenes (obviously they were meant for more powerful PCs) play which, in my experience, took me out of the story. There were also bouts of slowdown during the gameplay, especially when you encounter enough enemies that were animated sophistically.

With regards to narrative, Conrad is literally your avatar to learn, discover and interact with the many elements of the universe he is part of. There is obvious influence that the game makers took from the movie Total Recall as they crafted Conrad to be someone who lost his memory, moves on to regain it and do a lot of things as he realizes his true purpose and what is really at stake. Unlike Total Recall’s protagonist, Conrad himself is not too interesting mainly due to the way the in-game story was structured. Just play as Conrad and do what needs to be done to complete the game.

When it comes to understanding the narrative, you will have to do lots of reading. You will spot and read the short description of the prompts that appear. You’ll also have to read the on-screen text whenever your character talks with someone during the levels of the game. And there are the captions shown during the slow animated cutscenes.

Conclusion

The background artworks during the late stage of the game are great and truly creative with science fiction in mind.

I can clearly say that Flashback: The Quest for Identity on Super NESis fun and engaging mainly to those who are willing to adjust themselves to it. If you don’t have patience, if you are not willing to think while playing, if you cannot pace yourself and if you are not willing to learn all the specific controls of the game, then you should not be playing Flashback. It is a cinematic platformer and that should tell you that you will need to adjust to enjoy it.

Overall, Flashback: The Quest for Identity on SNES 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 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