Pay close attention to Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the exclusive games being made by their partners

Nothing changes the fact that Team Xbox and its 23 game studios are hard at work producing exclusive games that will provide years’ worth of fun-filled content to Xbox console gamers, PC gamers and the many millions who subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

Were you able to read my recent article about Stoic (The Banner Saga) and its current work on an exclusive game with Team Xbox? For those who missed out on it, Team Xbox is actively working with varied game studios (examples: Avalanche Studios on Contraband, and IO Interactive on Project Dragon) on producing even more Xbox-exclusive games and the said studios are still free being independent entities.

Very recently, Miles Dompier of Windows Central Gaming wrote an in-depth article about the moves and projects of Xbox Game Studios Publishing in cooperation with the independent game makers. To start with, watch this WCG video of WCG and Miles Dompier…

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

In addition to a staggering first-party future including titles like Hellblade 2, Fable, Everwild, Starfield, and many more, we also know of roughly 10 Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles potentially in the works. Xbox understands that strategic partnerships on games published through Xbox may make more sense than outright acquisitions when it comes to building meaningful relationships with developers. And who knows? Maybe some of these teams will love their experience working with Xbox, which could lead to more permanent relationships.

For now, we’ll be recapping all the Xbox Game Studios Publishing projects we currently know about as well as revealing one brand new codename. Here are several reasons why we should all be very excited about the future of Xbox Game Studios Publishing.

Xbox Game Studios Publishing codenames

As Dusk Falls is still in production.

Let’s start with the small list of Xbox Game Studios Publishing titles that have officially been announced so far. First up, we have the interactive drama As Dusk Falls. This stylized game from Interior/Night promises an engaging narrative with player choice driving the story. As it stands, there’s no release date or window for this project.

Next, we have the upcoming co-op heist title Contraband from open-world experts Avalanche Studios. Set in the 1970s, this seemingly ambitious open-world game allows players to execute the perfect heist with unique vehicles and gadgets. While there’s no official release date yet, we’ll likely get more details on the project sometime in 2022.

Now we’ll touch on some Xbox projects we’ve previously covered or teased in the past. The infamous Project Dragon from IO Interactive has been in the rumor mill for quite some time now. This action RPG aims to deliver a vast and ongoing multiplayer fantasy experience. A release or even reveal may be a ways off here, but it’s still exciting to think about the possibilities.

Project Belfry is another exciting potential Xbox exclusive. According to Jeff Grubb and his luscious mane, this side-scrolling brawler from The Banner Saga developers Stoic Studios is comparable to the PlayStation exclusive Dragon’s Crown in terms of gameplay, but will feature the painted art style this team is known for.

An Xbox Game Studios Publishing title that has me particularly interested is Project Shaolin. Reportedly in development by BrassLion Entertainment, this action RPG will reportedly feature an anime aesthetic and focus on the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. With four-player co-op and a seasonal loot system, this project sounds right up my alley.

Fans of 4X strategy titles like Civilization should be interested in the upcoming Project Indus from developer Oxide Games. With turn-based strategic elements, city building, empire advancement, espionage, diplomacy, and warfare, this should scratch a specific itch for fans of the genre.

As you can see in Dompier’s article above, the Xbox-exclusive projects made by independent game makers are in production and will fill the gaps on the Xbox portfolio to not only provide content for console, PC and Xbox Game Pass gamers but also to meet the varied tastes or interests of gamers. Action-oriented role-playing? Project Shaolin! Interactive drama? Watch out for As Dusk Falls!

The years-old belief that “Xbox has no games” is idiotic and totally untrue by today’s standards. I know there are lots of Xbox-haters and console fanboys out there who just keep bashing Xbox by lying and ranting, disregarding the many upcoming Xbox-exclusive games and even dismissing the growing business partnerships Team Xbox made with independent game companies and even the Microsoft-SEGA strategic alliance. Whatever the Xbox-hating mob does, nothing changes the trend that gaming on the Xbox ecosystem will only grow bigger, offer gamers lots of choices and become a lot more fun than ever before. Speaking of growing excitement, watch out for the Xbox 20th Anniversary Event online today (November 15), the universal acclaim of Forza Horizon 5, the December 8 release of Halo Infinite, and the December 16 release of the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk!

For the complete details about Xbox Game Studios Publishing and the future Xbox-exclusives, I encourage you all to read Miles Dompier’s article at https://www.windowscentral.com/xbox-game-studios-publishing-secret-weapon-new-exclusives

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

+++++

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 on Twitter at  HavenorFantasy@twitter.com and also on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/

The Banner Saga developers and Team Xbox working together on a new Xbox-exclusive game

Can you feel the excitement of video games right now? The highly acclaimed Forza Horizon 5 is just days away from launching globally while the anticipated Xbox 20th anniversary celebration on November 15, 2021 is gradually approaching! A little over a month from now, Halo Infinite will be released globally and already its single-player campaign is very promising.

Adding more to the excitement was the recent article written by Jez Corden (the same guy who wrote the recent hot scoop about the Xbox fantasy RPG Avowed) about another Xbox-exclusive game being made by Stoic Studio, the team behind The Banner Saga trilogy of games. The said game is referred to as Project Belfry.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from Jez Corden’s article published recently by Windows Central Gaming. Some parts in boldface…

I mentioned a couple of weeks back about a codename ‘Belfry’ I’d discovered pertaining to an upcoming Xbox game on my Xbox Two podcast show with YouTuber Rand Al Thor 19. Up until now, I wasn’t sure exactly what the game was, besides a vague reference to bell towers. I knew Stoic was building a game with Xbox too, but it wasn’t until Jeff Grubb put the final pieces together on his show today that everything fit into place. Grubb also gave us key details about the game and some snippets about what to expect.

Project Belfry will sport similar painted art styles to that found in The Banner Saga, depicted above, while sporting side-scrolling brawling combat, similar to the likes of the PlayStation exclusive ‘Dragon’s Crown’. Grubb specifically linked the art style to the anime movie ‘Princess Mononoke,’ which sounds like it could be quite gorgeous indeed. The “Belfry,” hinted at by the game’s codename, will form some sort of base for crafting and upgrades, too.

Belfry is another title joining what seems to be a vast expansion of Xbox Global Publishing’s footprint, working with developers big and small to bring more titles to Xbox Game Pass. We’ve seen larger studios jump on board, featuring Avalanche on Contraband, and we have strong rumors about Project Dragon, built in partnership with Hitman’s IO Interactive. Belfry may be on the smaller side, joining the action RPG from Brass Lion Entertainment codenamed Shaolin, but given the quality of The Banner Saga, Project Belfry may well punch far above its weight.

If you haven’t already, you should definitely give The Banner Saga a go, given that it’s now available as a neat and tidy trilogy package. Your decisions carry over between games too, affecting the way the story pans out in a big way.

Now watch this video about The Banner Saga trilogy below. It should give you an idea about what kind of games Stoic Studio makes and what kind of visuals you can expect from them.

While I myself have not yet played any games of The Banner Saga, the above scoop by Jez Corden (with acknowledgement to Jeff Grubb) is indeed very pleasant and only shows that new and more Xbox-exclusive games are coming. The catch here is that this an exclusive project that does not involve any of the internal Xbox game studios at all business-wise. Xbox Global Publishing is an arm of Team Xbox that negotiates and deals with independent game developers for new projects exclusive on the Xbox ecosystem. This Stoic-made Xbox project should remind you about Contraband, the upcoming Xbox-exclusive game made by Avalanche Studio, the team responsible for the 2015 Mad Max game.

As it is true that Team Xbox will continue to acquire more game studios and while fully funding the many, many Xbox-exclusive games in production for release in the near future, it is really nice to see that they are still negotiating with independent game studios to make exclusive stuff. It comes to show that Microsoft values business partnerships and they are aware that there are lots of game studios or even publishers which are not yet willing to be acquired as they still prefer to be independent even though they may be struggling financially. Just recently, Microsoft and Sega started a new business partnership in the form of a strategic alliance. That being said, the Stoic Xbox project called Project Belfry is something to look forward to.

By the way, have you all bought yourselves an Xbox Series S or an Xbox Series X console? Have you subscribed to Xbox Game Pass already? The definitive edition of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas will launch on XGP on November 11.

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

+++++

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

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.

+++++

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.

+++++

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 The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (Sega Saturn, PlayStation)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? video game 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.

If you have been reading my Macross-related articles over the past few years, you should know already that I deeply love watching Macross: Do You Remember Love?, the classic anime feature film co-directed by Noboru Ishiguro and the legendary Shoji Kawamori.

Like many other entertainment franchises in Japan, Macross also has video games based on its stories and concepts. During the fifth generation of video game consoles, Bandai released in Japan the video game adaptation of the 1984 anime movie on the Sega Saturn in 1997 and the Sony PlayStation in 1999. That game was titled The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? and I played that 2D side-scrolling shoot-them-up game a lot during the time when 3D polygons was already the standard.

Considering its age, it is easy to wonder if the game is still fun to play by today’s standards and if the game is something that Macross fans can enjoy a lot. We can all find out in this look back at The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love?

Sega Saturn version in 1997.
Sony PlayStation version in 1999.

Early story

The story begins at sea. A Valkyrie piloted by Hikaru Ichijyo (the late Arihiro Hase) launches from the aircraft carrier Prometheus to join his teammates Max and Kakizaki led by Roy Fokker (Akira Kamiya). Suddenly a powerful beam of energy from above hits the aircraft carrier clearly showing that their world is under attack by the Zentradi.

They proceed to South Attaria Island where they immediately engaged the Zentradi forces that ravaged the city and causing trouble for the SDF-1 (Macross). After defeating several Zentradi elements, the remaining Skull Squadron forces flew to the Macross (which just launched into the air) which executes a space fold just moments before even more laser blasts from the Zentradi destroyed the entire island.

Sometime later deep in space, thousands of civilians managed to adjust to living inside the Macross. As Lynn Minmay’s (Mari Iijima) first concert happens inside the fortress, Hikaru, his teammates and many other fighters engage in a mission against the Zentradi…

Quality

Just like in the movie!

To comment on the quality of this old video game, I’ll focus on gameplay and presentation.

As far as gameplay goes, Macross: DYRL is essentially a 2D side-scrolling shooter literally designed to be grand not only for Macross fans but also for gamers who enjoy its design and its type of gameplay. You play as the hero Hikaru who pilots an advanced fighter plane that can also transform into an armed fighter with legs (GERWALK mode) and also into a full-sized, human-like robot (Battroid). In fighter mode, you move fast and are able to fire rockets or use your default gun. In GERWALK mode, your speed is slower but you have improved mobility that can be crucial for combat. In Battroid mode, your speed is reduced further but you are somewhat stronger and more precise when it comes to shooting enemies.

Still on gameplay, the game developers really pushed the envelope in terms if immersion as there are lots of moments in which the enemies will not only face you on your 2D plane but also move around you from the foreground to the background. Without having to do anything further, your character will be able to auto-aim and shoot at your enemy whether in the background or the foreground. Essentially, this makes the game a 2.5D shooter.

This is a fine example of you (in your 2D plane) firing at your enemy in the background.
In key parts of some levels in the game, the UN Spacy will send a shuttle to release supplies to help you replenish your shield meter.

The controls are relatively easy to learn and get adjusted to. More importantly, the controls are very responsive and they are ideal when it comes to precision on moving your character around as well as trying to shoot at specific targets.

This game was designed with several levels for you to complete essentially moving from left to right. As evidence of the game developers taking liberties during its adaptation of elements from the 1984 animated movie, several levels have boss fights for you to participate in and win in order to progress. These boss-type enemies are noticeably absent from the movie and yet they were designed to integrate into the film’s concept and also expand the concept about how elaborate the Zentradi are when it comes to their war machines against Earth. The boss-type enemies (note: they are clearly polygonal and yet they fit in well with the 2D sprite elements) are huge machines designed for space battles and there were boss fights in which some of them move into the background (which sparks moments for your character to fighter towards the background). When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), the boss-type enemies are not really that sophisticated with their movements although a few of them have attack patterns that will push you to be more evasive and more strategic.

Before starting a level, you can select your weapons that can function depending on your personal preference on taking on the enemies.
Lots of great visual effects and 3D movement add to the challenge.

With regards to challenge, some parts of this game took me a few repeats before finally improving myself enough to make it to the next levels. The visual elements of the game also added to the overall challenge as seeing 2D sprites move around you 3-dimensionally.

Speaking of 2D sprites, it is clear that this game was designed to be heavy with 2D visual elements while 3D polygons are used sparingly (note: the boss battles mentioned above). As this is a side-scrolling game, the game makers clearly made lots of sprites of machines, space ships, Zentradi battle pods and other figures that Macross fans would easily recognize. The good news is that each 2D sprite was made with multiple frames of animation (complete with frames meant for 3D movement) and were made to really resemble the cinematic artworks which ultimately results making them really look lively to watch on-screen!

As for the presentation, I can see that the game developers Scarab paid great attention to the details of the animated movie to make The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? fun and engaging for gamers in general while also becoming strongly relevant and delightful with the people who love Macross. For example, the game starts with a cinematic prologue composed of brand-new animation cels mixed with elements of 3D polygons and in my view, it fits in nicely leading to the actual cinematic opening of the movie from 1984. The cinematic prologue was meant to expand the film’s overall concept and other story expansions happened in subsequent parts of the game (such as the all-new mission told in two levels).

Observe the Zentradi surrounding Roy Fokker on his 2D plane, the foreground and background. This is a 2D sprite-heavy showcase!
The game developers paid close attention to the details of the movie and presented the visuals using video game graphics, 2D sprites and really nice in-game background artworks!
Surprise! You as Hikaru get to fight Milia temporarily before her memorable fight with Max happens!

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? came with selected animated sequences and still images from the 1984 movie’s very own footage meant for in-game storytelling (note: you still have to watch the movie for the best immersion). As there were some original scenes made for the game with expanding the film’s concept in mind, there are a few computer-generated animation sequences and even brand-new animated cels (note: very clearly they were drawn by people different from the ones who drew the film’s footage) showing some character moments.

When it comes to the audio, this game is clearly a labor of love with Macross fans in mind. Much of the music, songs and sound effects from the movie (as well as from the 1982-1983 anime TV series) were integrated into the game which made it very immersive for Macross fans. As for the voice actors, fans will hear the voices of their favorite Macross characters performed by the late Hase, Iijima, Kamiya, Mika Doi (Misa Hayase), Michio Hazama (Captain Global) and more. While some of their recorded lines from the movie were reused (especially Hase who died in 1996), others recorded new lines for their respective characters for the new cinematic footage as well as key parts in the game.

The art of Lynn Minmay for the new anime footage was clearly not drawn by the people behind the 1984 anime movie.

What I love best about the presentation is that the game developers replicated selected scenes from the 1984 movie using in-game graphics and art along with music, sound effects and the lines of dialogue! As a Macross fan myself, the immersion was pretty deep as I played the game and witnessed those special moments from the movie played within the in-game presentation.

Conclusion

Enjoy looking at this.

I can declare out loud that The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? is indeed the best Macross video game I have ever played as well as the best adaptation (note: other than film) of the classic movie from 1984. This game, which excellently used 2D sprites and 3D polygons all throughout, was very clearly made to delight Macross fans while giving gamers something very enjoyable and memorable to experience. For the best immersion, it is highly recommended to watch the movie before playing this video game. Truly this video game has aged well!

Overall, The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Do You Remember Love? (Sega Saturn, PlayStation) is highly recommended!

+++++

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 needs to deliver great stuff and surprises on June 13, 2021

We all know that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase is fast approaching and it certainly is the most anticipated digital event for fans of both Xbox and Bethesda. The June 13, 2021 event will surely have a lot of eager fans waiting not only for exciting new games but also truly great stuff.

Get ready for this, Xbox fans, Bethesda fans and all others who love video games.

Previously, I posted what I hoped to see at the Xbox-Bethesda event. In relation to those, it is clear that while things are looking strongly positive ever since the integration of Bethesda into Xbox, Team Xbox itself and its head Phil Spencer still have a lot to prove on June 13. In fact, the stakes are much higher now and there is simply no room left for any error. They have to deliver great stuff this time around and they really need to exceed last year’s Xbox Games Showcase (which I found to be good but not great) not by just a few feet higher but many miles higher.

Simply put, good enough is simply NOT good enough this time around.

What I meant earlier by great stuff that needs to be delivered by Team Xbox refers to the following: fulfilling the highly anticipated showcases of Halo Infinite and Starfield complete with all the relevant details (including final release dates); showing more of their 1st party games being made by their many Xbox game studios; and confirming what games were finalized between Xbox Publishing and 3rd party game makers. They should also show more gameplay footage by means of demonstrations, make new announcements with regards to improving the already enjoyable Xbox Game Pass (XGP) service, and come up with surprises that will be remembered with excitement!

For Starfield, I believe it is high time for Xbox-Bethesda to showcase the game a lot with gameplay footage and confirm once and for all that it is indeed exclusive to Xbox Series consoles and Windows PC…all of these with Todd Howard as the presenter whenever possible. Such details will strengthen the fans’ trust in Xbox-Bethesda, and at the same time silence the people who hate Xbox.

What Microsoft owns, Sony and Nintendo simply have no rights to.

More on 1st party games and projects, Team Xbox should provide at least updates (if not gameplay demos or trailers that use captured gameplay footage or short video clips about the productions) of games they announced previously such as Fable, Forza Motorsport, Avowed, Perfect Dark and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II.

When it comes to the unexpected (AKA the surprises), it would be exciting to see the following happen if ever possible:

  1. Xbox Publishing announcing that it has made a deal with Deep Silver and secured the rumored Saints Row 5 as an Xbox-exclusive game.
  2. Team Xbox (through its publishing arm) announcing that it has renewed its ties with Mistwalker to create a sequel to the Xbox favorite JRPG Lost Odyssey…with Hironobu Sakaguchi as presenter.
  3. Konami announcing the release of all Suikoden RPGs on Xbox LIVE and Xbox Game Pass.
  4. Sega announcing a remastered version of Shining Force III (with all 3 chapters translated into English for the first time ever) for release on Xbox LIVE and Xbox Game Pass.
  5. Xbox game studio and RPG specialist Obsidian Entertainment – already very busy making Avowed – announcing a sequel to The Outer Worlds (confirming that Microsoft has rightfully gained control of the franchise) exclusively for Xbox Series consoles and PC.
  6. Capcom announcing a new Dead Rising game – be it a sequel or a series reboot – exclusively for Xbox Series consoles and PC.
  7. EA and BioWare announcing a brand-new Mass Effect game at the Xbox-Bethesda event.
  8. Square Enix announcing it will release Dragon’s Quest XII on Xbox LIVE and Xbox Game Pass with series creator Yuji Horii doing the presentation.
  9. Capcom announcing a remake of Resident Evil: Code Veronica (much in the styles of the remakes of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3)

To watch the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 13, posted below are the links for your reference.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: When it comes to the unexpected, what kind of announcements would really surprise you at the Xbox-Bethesda event? Do you hope to see Halo Infinite truly have an open-world design? Do you think that Mexico will be the setting for Forza Horizon 5? Is Starfield your most anticipated game from Bethesda right now? Do you think it is possible for a Lost Odyssey sequel to be made? Do you believe that Phil Spencer and the rest of Team Xbox have what it takes to deliver great stuff and surprises in the Xbox-Bethesda special event?

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

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

+++++

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-Bethesda games showcase on June 13, 2021!

It has been more than two months since publisher Bethesda got integrated into Team Xbox as a result of Microsoft’s acquisition of ZeniMax Media (Bethesda’s parent company). Since then, the executives of Bethesda and Xbox worked together and made declarations during a special event in which Xbox head Phil Spencer confirmed that there will be Bethesda-produced exclusive games coming to Xbox fans via platforms that have Xbox Game Pass (XGP).

And now, something more exciting is scheduled to happen next month! In fact, it will happen in just a few more weeks’ time!

It has been announced by Team Xbox that the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will take place on June 13, 2021! It is a digital event that will be streamed worldwide.

The official cover image of the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase!

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the Xbox.com article written by Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg. Some parts in boldface…

Today, we are thrilled to announce the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase will stream on Sunday, June 13 at 10:00 a.m. PT. The show will be focused on games from Xbox Game Studios, Bethesda, and many game creators from our partners around the world.

You’ve told us how excited you are about welcoming Bethesda into the Xbox family, so we know you’re going to want a front-row seat to the Xbox & Bethesda Games showcase – a 90-minute show packed with everything you want to know about the epic gaming lineup coming out of this partnership, the incredible games coming to Xbox this holiday, upcoming releases on Xbox Game Pass, and more.

You’ll be able to watch the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase in a variety of ways. Be sure to visit any of the links below before the show starts:

Wow! That announcement by Greenberg went straight to the point! This is something to delight the many, varied fans of Xbox and Bethesda. How exactly will be organized remains to be seen and this alone is interesting because in previous years, Team Xbox and Bethesda had their own separate showcase events which drew huge audiences (both physically and online). From this point on, the suspense leading to the official announcements truly begins.

The combined powers and talents of Xbox and Bethesda will be emphasized heavily on June 13, 2021.

Speaking of announcements, I hope that the following will happen at the 90-minute Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase

  1. Starfield coming to Xbox consoles and PC this year (note: a 2022 release would not be surprising). Trailers and gameplay demonstration emphasizing Starfield’s concept and uniqueness would really excite the fans. Todd Howard should lead the presentation.
  2. Halo Infinite to be shown with trailers, in-depth gameplay demonstration and a November 2021 release date. Improvements on quality and overall design should be emphasized and help gamers forget the disappointing 2020 first unveiling of the game.
  3. Forza Horizon 5 with trailers, gameplay demonstration, the rumored Mexico setting and a 4th quarter of 2021 release date.
  4. Avowed with trailers and more details about its concept, game design and characters.
  5. The Outer Worlds sequel announcement.
  6. The rumored Hideo Kojima-Xbox partnership confirmed as real and with a game announcement.
  7. Fable update with details about its concept, gameplay and characters.
  8. Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II update with gameplay footage, and a 2022 release date.
  9. Forza Motorsport franchise update with clarification as to what the next game could be called.
  10. Collaboration or special projects between Team Xbox and Konami, Capcom, Sega and other game publishers to ramp up Xbox-exclusive content as well as add more games to Xbox Game Pass.
  11. Psychonauts 2 unveiling.
  12. IO Interactive project exclusive to Xbox get unveiled.
  13. The Gunk (Xbox-exclusive) update with new gameplay footage shown. It only makes sense because the game is supposed to come out this year.
  14. Square Enix announcing more RPGs coming to Xbox Game Pass.
  15. Indiana Jones video game update with trailers and details about its concept and game design.
  16. Updates about Doom, Wolfenstein and other Bethesda game franchises.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What do you hope to see in the June 13 games showcase of Xbox-Bethesda? Are you eager to see Starfield, Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite as the must-have Xbox exclusives for late 2021 to early 2022? Are you hoping that Starfield will be released for Xbox consoles and PC this year? Are you hoping to see Bethesda also announce sequels to Doom, Wolfenstein and Dishonored franchises? Is 2022 considered too late a release for Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II? If the rumored Hideo Kojima-Xbox partnership turned out to be real, what kind of games do you hope will be realized? Do you think the rumored projected of IO Interactive for Xbox will be revealed? Do you hope to see Konami digitally release its Suikoden RPGs on Xbox Game Pass and the Microsoft Store?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online. In closing this article, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

+++++

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

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 4

Hey Xbox fans and gamers! Have you been following the recent updates leading to the inevitable launch of the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X? Let’s start first with these two videos from Colteastwood! Watch, learn and enjoy these because the heavy hitters (hot exclusive games) for the Xbox ecosystem are coming out after the launch of the two Xbox Series consoles!

The launch games lineup for November 10, 2020, which includes cross-generation games that will be optimized for the new consoles, don’t look that red hot but rest assured, the excitement will only begin that day and will only get even better starting 2021. Speaking of 2021 games, check out my article about the Xbox-exclusive The Gunk.

What are the launch games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X? Here’s the list:

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (Smart Delivery)

Borderlands 3 (Smart Delivery)

Bright Memory 1.0 

Cuisine Royale (Smart Delivery)

Dead by Daylight (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition 

DIRT 5 (Smart Delivery)

Enlisted 

Evergate

The Falconeer (Smart Delivery)

Fortnite 

Forza Horizon 4 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Gears 5 (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Gears Tactics (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Grounded (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

King Oddball (Smart Delivery)

Maneater (Smart Delivery)

Manifold Garden (Smart Delivery)

NBA 2K21

Observer: System Redux

Ori and the Will of the Wisps (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Planet Coaster (Smart Delivery)

Sea of Thieves (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

Tetris Effect: Connected (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

The Touryst (Xbox Game Pass + Smart Delivery)

War Thunder (Smart Delivery)

Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition 

Watch Dogs: Legion (Smart Delivery)

WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship (Smart Delivery)

Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Smart Delivery)

Yes, Your Grace (Smart Delivery)

With a great mix of 1st party exclusive games, new intellectual properties (IPs) and 3rd party games that cover vast genres and types of games, there will always be something new and fun for gamers who use Xbox consoles and Windows 10 PC. Even gamers who have not yet subscribed to Xbox Game Pass (XGP) won’t be left out.

Remember years ago when PlayStation fanboys criticized Xbox for the lack of exclusives and lack of great games? That is all over and the huge amount of games produced by Team Xbox’s 1st party game studios (including the game studios of Bethesda) will be released once completed…and the beauty of it is that the wait for the hot exclusive games won’t take too long. As reported by Colteastwood in the above videos, Xbox fans can expect exclusives like Avowed and The Outer Worlds 2 from Obsidian Entertainment, the next Doom from id Software, Forza Horizon Festivals from Playground Games, and the Perfect Dark-related 3rd-person action-stealth game from The Initiative. These are just a few of the upcoming heavy hitters coming to Xbox and Windows 10 gamers. As Colteastwood confirmed, Xbox Game Studios are currently producing at least forty games.

Going back to the November 10, 2020 launch, the early batch of games for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X are not satisfying enough, there is backward compatibility on the new consoles that will not only ensure you get to play games from past Xbox console generations, you will get to play them with visual enhancements (example: improved frame rates reaching up to 60FPS) and much reduced loading times.

In an Xbox.com article dated October 13, 2020, Compatibility Program Lead Peggy Lo confirmed their team’s respect for fans’ gaming legacy. She stated: We believe your favorite games and franchises, your progression and achievements, your Xbox One gaming accessories and the friendships and communities you create through gaming should all move with you across generations. We also fundamentally believe that not only should you be able to play all of your games from the past without needing to purchase them again, but they should also look, feel and play better on the next generation of Xbox consoles.

And then there are the hot details Xbox fans can expect regarding backward compatibility on the new consoles. Here’s an excerpt:

Games play best on Xbox Series X and Series S

Backward compatible games run natively on the Xbox Series X and S, running with the full power of the CPU, GPU and SSD. No boost mode, no downclocking, the full power of the consoles for each and every backward compatible game. This means that all titles run at the peak performance that they were originally designed for, with significantly higher performance than their original launch platform, resulting in higher and more steady framerates and rendering at their maximum resolution and visual quality. Backward compatible titles also benefit from significant reductions in load times due to the massive leap in performance from our custom NVME SSD at the heart of the Xbox Velocity Architecture.

Auto HDR for everyone

Modern games often implement high dynamic range (HDR) to improve overall visual quality. HDR allows a game to render a much larger range of brightness values and colors. This gives an extra sense of richness and depth to the image when compared to a standard dynamic range (SDR) image. For example, the light from a flashlight looks much brighter and red flowers look much more vibrant.

However, thousands of Xbox games shipped before HDR was first introduced with Xbox One S, and even for some Xbox One games, developers simply didn’t have the development resources or time to implement HDR. With Xbox Series X and Series S we are introducing a new feature named Auto HDR. Auto HDR automatically adds HDR enhancements to games which only shipped with SDR. Auto HDR enhances the visual quality of an SDR game without changing the original artistic intent of the game. Auto HDR is implemented by the system so developers don’t have to do any work to take advantage of this feature. Also, since Auto HDR is enabled by the console’s hardware, there is absolutely no performance cost to the CPU, GPU or memory and there is no additional latency added ensuring you receive the ultimate gaming experience.

If you want to play your legacy Xbox games with a much higher frame rate for the best experience, such improvements are also confirmed as part of the backward compatibility feature on the new consoles. Check out the details below:

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S bring next-gen performance to your favorite games. Higher, steadier framerates make games feel smoother, resulting in more immersive gameplay. Many improvements are the result of the custom designed processor that allows compatible games to play and leverage the increased CPU, GPU and memory from the new consoles. In addition however, the backward compatibility team has developed new methods for effectively doubling the framerate on select titles. While not applicable for many titles due to the game’s original physics or animations, these new techniques the team has developed can push game engines to render more quickly for a buttery smooth experience beyond what the original game might have delivered due to the capabilities of the hardware.

To emphasize the above, Team Xbox showed via YouTube the 2015 game Fallout 4 running at a buttery smooth 60FPS on Xbox Series S! Watch below!

With regards to enhanced visuals via backward compatibility on the new consoles, Peggy Lo wrote: On the Xbox One, we were able to provide a curated list of titles that were enhanced for the Xbox One X via the Heutchy method. This allowed titles from Xbox 360 that rendered at 720p and original Xbox games that ran at 360p to play at 4K on Xbox One X, well beyond the capabilities of their original platform. The Heutchy method continues to be used to bring a variety of titles to 1440p on Xbox Series S and 4K on Xbox Series X.

Improved texture filtering is also coming to backward compatible titles on both Xbox Series X and Series S. On Xbox One X, a portion of the catalog benefited from increased anisotropic filtering, improving image quality of games. On Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S, 16x anisotropic filtering has been enabled for nearly all backward compatible titles so you can experience the very best visuals the games have to offer.

With Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X, the future of next-generation gaming is very bright and promising, even more exciting than what Sony is offering with PlayStation 5 (PS5). Supporting the excitement for the Xbox ecosystem is Team Xbox’s very powerful bridge to the past (legacy gaming) with backward compatibility that also enhances the old games when played on the new consoles.

Peggy Lo further wrote: The backward compatibility team has been working hard to make all the games you love and remember available to you on Xbox Series X and Series S. Playing the games will be just as easy and magical as it’s always been. Simply insert your favorite backward compatible Xbox One, Xbox 360 or original Xbox disc into your Xbox Series X, install the game, and you’ll be ready to play. Your digital library will instantly appear and ready for download on the console when you sign in. If you’ve already installed your games to an external drive, you can bring that with you to the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. This all happens with no additional cost to you. And, with cloud saves, you’ll jump right back in where you left off.  For those of you still enjoying Xbox 360, cloud saves will soon be free to all Xbox 360 users, making transferring your favorite games to Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S even easier.

In ending this, posted below are gaming-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation!

+++++

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

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

Looking good on the way to Xbox Series consoles launch, Part 2

A little over a month from today, Microsoft will be launching through its varied retail partners worldwide their next-generation consoles Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. The big day is November 10, 2020 and already a lot of consumers have already ordered their own units of the mentioned next-generation consoles. Even in Japan, where Xbox traditionally failed, the initial pre-orders for Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X there have sold out! Really, things are looking good towards November 10.

Along the way are the launch games which are a big mix of titles (note: cross-generation releases are included) from the 3rd party game publishers plus some from independent game makers and Team Xbox itself.

Have you ordered an Xbox Series X or an Xbox Series S unit already?

On launch day, prospective Xbox Series console owners can choose Dirt 5 if they crave for high-fidelity, action-packed racing. With Assassin’s Creed Valhalla from Ubisoft, they can have the stealth action experience complete with open-world exploration. If it’s role-playing and action they want with a Japanese underworld setting, then Yakuza: Like a Dragon will be there. NBA 2K21 will be the basketball video game of choice. For real-time strategy set in the Gears of War universe, Gears Tactics is the definitive gaming experience waiting to be discovered. Last but not least, The Falconeer will offer gamers the flight and shooting experiences that can entertain them a lot.

Before the November 10, 2020 Xbox Series consoles launch, Ubisoft will release its newest entry in the Watch Dogs open-world game franchise titled Watch Dogs: Legion which has a futuristic London setting and the game is designed to let gamers play as multiple characters who can be recruited and engage in missions. Like its predecessors, Watch Dogs: Legion will be filled with open-world missions and hacking will be a major gameplay feature. This game will launch for current generation consoles on October 29, 2020 but it will be available for the Xbox Series consoles on launch day. Like other cross-gen, multiplatform games, expect Watch Dogs: Legion to look and play better on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X (read: ray-tracing plus other visual enhancements).

After November 10, 2020, there will be other games coming out such as CrossFireX, Immortals Fenix Rising, Call of the Sea, and the much-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 to name a few.

When it comes more Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X games coming in the following years, pay close attention to what Xbox Games Marketing General Manager Aaron Greenberg wrote at Xbox.com.

From the Xbox.com article of Greenberg.

After revealing interesting statistics and achievements in the early part of his article, Greenberg stated:

It’s been a tremendous year so far, and it’s going to get even better with the launch of Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S on November 10. Across four generations and thousands of games playable this holiday, this will be the largest launch lineup in the history of gaming. We’ll be sharing even more details on every game being fully optimized this holiday for the launch of Xbox Series X|S later this month, as well as showing more gameplay from these titles, so stay tuned for more.

Between our growing Xbox Game Studios teams, the massive influx of high-quality content from our new partners at Bethesda, and many more unannounced games in development, the future has never been brighter for Xbox gamers!

Greenberg made clear that Team Xbox still have some pre-launch details and stuff to show within this current month. We don’t know yet what they will show but it will most likely add more power to the current public excitement for the upcoming Xbox Series consoles. It’s an excitement that not even the most sarcastic Xbox haters and not even the paid PlayStation propagandists can bring down.

Even though the launch games lineup for the Xbox Series consoles does not look that numerous on face value, the backward compatibility on the upcoming consoles ensures that Xbox fans (especially those who owned games through at least two generations of Xbox consoles) will be able to choose and play from the many, many video games from the original Xbox right up to the soon-to-end Xbox One. Thanks to the immense investment Team Xbox made on backward compatibility, the said feature will enhance the old generation games on Xbox Series consoles. By comparison, Sony’s PlayStation 5 (PS5) is only limited to PS4 games for backward compatibility.

And then there was Greenberg’s mention of Bethesda, the agreed acquisition of which easily rocked the gaming industry and its effects are still being felt and discussed by gamers across social media until now. The Xbox-Bethesda deal means that future games of established game franchises such as Doom, Dishonored, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein and Fallout will only be released through the Xbox ecosystem which includes the Xbox consoles (specifically Xbox One and the two Xbox Series consoles) and Windows 10 PC supported by Xbox Game Pass and xCloud. In other words, future Bethesda games will NOT appear on PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.

While it is very clear that Bethesda role-playing game (RPG) franchises The Elder Scrolls and Fallout make Xbox Game Studios a major powerhouse for RPGs, the shooter franchises Doom and Wolfenstein are doing the same with regards to shooter-type games. Think about it…Microsoft can release a new Halo, a new Gears of War, a new Doom and a new Wolfenstein within a relative short period of time. Each new game from the mentioned shooter franchises is sure to sell in the millions and further establish the Xbox ecosystem as a major sector of the video game industry as we know it.

Also mentioned by Greenberg are the many unannounced games in development from Xbox Game Studios. I sure hope that means a new Perfect Dark is being made and I would love to see Obsidian Entertainment work on a sequel to The Outer Worlds after they are done with making Avowed. Oh yes, Xbox game studio inXile (Wasteland 3) is working on new games.

As you can see here, there is a whole lot of games and fun experiences to look forward to in the years to come only on the Xbox ecosystem. Compared to what happened in 2013, the pre-launch momentum for Team Xbox is strongly positive and anticipation for the next-generation Xbox consoles is undeniably strong. Once the first batch of the expected 1st party Xbox games come out in the next few years, you will really see Microsoft becoming much more competitive with Sony and Nintendo. It’s just a matter of time and it will be exciting!

In ending this, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your learning and excitement for the next-generation!

+++++

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

For more Xbox-related stuff, check out the Xbox Series Philippines Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/XboxOnePH

A Look Back at Aerobiz Supersonic

When it comes to playing economic simulation games, I enjoy playing them on the personal computer (PC) using the keyboard and mouse. Back in the mid-1990s, there was one particular economic simulation that I played on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES or SNES) and found it to be very enjoyable and easily to play with using the console’s control pad.

That game was Aerobiz Supersonic, a simulation about the airline industry developed and published by Koei for both the Super NES and the Sega Genesis. Here is my look back at this old video game from the 1990s.

Screenshot_20200222-133557_Photos.jpg
The cover of the Super NES version of the game. Its art and style is really nice to look at.

Concept and Game Design

In the game, you get to play the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an airline and your goal is to beat your rivals in the global air travel industry. How to achieve the goal and succeed? There are tasks that need to be accomplished such as buying commercial airplanes (that include such real-life companies like Boeing and Airbus) for use, establishing flight routes, securing slots in airports worldwide, selling tickets and filling up each flight with as many passengers as possible, achieve profitability and finish the game’s imposed time period ranking #1. Adding zest to the game’s challenge is the selection of a certain era of world history that include 1955-1970 (the dawn of jets), 1970-1990 (the Cold War era), 1985-2005 (the present era) and 2000-2020 (the age of continued flight advancement).

Within the game, time passes by means of clicking a certain on-screen button that ends the player’s current turn. Of course, before pressing that, the player has to set things in motion like sending a representative to a certain overseas airport to negotiate and secure slots (which takes months to complete), set the ticket prices, buy a new airplane or two, etc. The game even allows players to micro-manage their airline like adjusting internal spending (salaries) or adjusting the quality of their airplane and services. Also nice is the option offered for players to buy a hotel or resort, a theme park or a travel agency that can bring in additional revenue.

Screenshot_20200222-132447_YouTube.jpg
The airport slots, local businesses, economic and tourism details per city displayed.

Screenshot_20200222-132508_YouTube.jpg
Visit an airline and choose from one of many models of airplanes to buy.

There are other small details that need paying attention to such as the economy and tourism meters of each city displayed (note: a higher tourism score means the city is more attractive to travelers), the population, etc. Also noteworthy is the current state of relations between your home nation with the nation of the city airport you are trying to establish routes with which can affect your business.

When the turn ends, a series of events will happen showing what happened around the world, how your company fared in the competition during the lapsed time period, and, occasionally, a random event will occur that most likely will affect your business (examples: the Olympics hosted by a city helps draw in additional passengers or the 1970s oil crisis raises the cost of your operation).

Regarding the game’s imposed time period for competing with the artificial intelligence (AI) opponents, the period is twenty in-game years.

Screenshot_20200214-195600_YouTube.jpg
This is part of micro-managing your business in the game.

Screenshot_20200214-195720_YouTube.jpg
After the end of each turn, news and updates not only about your company but also your competitors are flashed.

Quality

Being used to playing simulation games on PC, I found Aerobiz Supersonic to be very enjoyable, addicting and easy and efficient to play (in terms of controls). Considering the above-mentioned gameplay options (buying an airline, sending a representative, etc.), they are pretty easy to adjust using the Super NES controller although there were a few moments when I accidentally pressed the button putting into motion a different option.

Gameplay aside, this game has a whole lot of charm with its visual presentation. You launch a brand new flight route, the game shows a short animation sequence of the jet taking off. You buy an airplane, you will see a short animation of it entering your facility once it arrives (complete with a visual design reflecting the model). You conduct a board meeting, your company’s officials are present making reports to you and you get a series of choices to make on what to do next. A historical event or a global development occurs, you get to see original art reflecting them (example: a nation joins the EU with people wearing suits and neckties together in a formal ceremony). You make a move to buy slots at an airport overseas, a company official will have his or her face shown talking to you. When looking at the regional map, you see lines connected between cities (highlighting the establish flight route you made) and there are icons of airplanes flying between them.

Screenshot_20200214-195732_YouTube.jpg
Random tourist hot spots get highlighted as you keep playing.

More on the aspect of starting the game, I like the options offered for me to select which city shall serve as my airline headquarters. Among the many cities included, there are cities of my native Philippines namely Manila (the international destination) and the nearby city of Cebu. I still remember how delighted I was to see my native Philippines included in the game, complete with Asian character designs to reflect the company and its region.

Conclusion

Ultimately Aerobiz Supersonic (which was actually a sequel to Aerobiz) is a gem of a console economic simulation released at a time when 2D sprite gaming was still the standard and 3D polygonal gaming was just about to make an impact on the global video game console market. Back then, 2D side-scrolling action/adventure games, sports games and role-playing games (RPGs) were so common on the Super NES and Genesis combined and the idea of enjoying economic simulations on consoles was highly unusual. Aerobiz Supersonic is proof that economic simulations can come with a lot of depth, deliver a good amount of strategy and can be highly playable and enjoyable on consoles.

If you want to enjoy this game, it can be quite difficult to do because you need to acquire an existing copy of the game as well as a fully functioning Super NES or Sega Genesis. As of this writing, there has never been a re-release of Aerobiz Supersonic (note: in line with legitimacy, I will not consider those browser versions or file sharing of ROMs) and it is not even included on Nintendo’s Virtual Console. There’s not even a version made for smartphones.

Now if only the executives at Koei Tecmo Games would consider revisiting Aerobiz Supersonic with today’s consumers in mind.

Screenshot_20200222-132429_YouTube.jpg
You can choose what kind of plane, how many planes, how many flights and how much you set the ticket prices whenever you start a new flight route.


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. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. 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