News: Legend of Galactic Heroes PC Demo

logh_demo1.jpgRemember that Legend of Galactic Heroes PC game we mentioned a while back? Well, the release is looming and to help people to part with their cash, Bandai Namco has released a demo of the rather shiny RTS today (click this link to start the download). It’s not as freeform as Homeworld and actually quite planar but it’s much more tactical. As there’s a lag between setting up your fleet and them attacking the enemy. You have to plan ahead more as it’s essentially leaning towards a turn based approach, or at least one where your commands can leave you clearly open if you don’t position your fleet carefully. I quite like it. All it needs now is more Maurice Ravel.

For those curious about the main menu, the first option is a rolling (non-playable) demo, whereas the second option is the playable demo. This demo is entirely in Japanese in case anyone needed that clarifying.

News: New Line of Virtual On kits announced

dscn0034.jpgThose wonderful people at Kotobukiya have shown a prototype model kit of the VR HBV-502 Raiden from Virtual On Oratorio Tangram. Recently, Kotobukiya have been making a name for themselves with their excellent Armored Core kits (which are also very customisable, just like the games in fact). The fact that their experience is going to used on Virtual On can only mean good things.

At present there is only one VR kit announced but the official site suggests that VR’s from the original Virtual On could also be on the cards. Feel free to have a look at Kotobukiya’s blog in case you’re curious as to how the kit is being made. The Raiden kit will be available sometime in December this year for 8,190 yen at 1/100 scale (18cm basically).

News: Gold Lightan in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom

gold_lightan_ftw1.jpgYeah, this is more like it. Ryu being crushed by the mighty hand of a giant transformable cigarette lighter. For those unaware, Gold Lightan is a character from a show that Tatsunoko released during the 80′s. The mecha itself is sentient and like Ultraman can change its scale accordingly (which is why it can be disguised as a handheld lighter). It has quite the following in Japan and the toy range is suitably extensive. Though the recent Soul of Chogokin edition is by far the most impressive.

What’s far more interesting is the preservation of scale in the game. As having human protagonists go up against a giant robot is a rather brave design choice. It also opens up the possibility of other mecha orientated shows from the Tatsunoko back catalogue to enter the fray. The rest of the screenshots are here.

New: Armored Core For Answer US release

acfa_answerer_game1.jpgThere have been a bunch of rumours floating around that Ubisoft picked up the Armored Core baton after SEGA fumbled the release of Armored Core 4. Historically, Ubisoft are also a publisher that have had a decent relationship with From Software, as they published Armored Core 2 back in the day (in Europe) and more recently the Enchant Arm games.

Well, it seems that a few entrepreneurial staff at Wal-Mart have surreptitiously posted the release dates online. It seems that both the 360 and PS3 versions are scheduled for a US release on the 16th September this year. Despite the somewhat unfortunate name change; “Armored Core The Answer” will finally be gracing Western shores. Here’s hoping that Ubisoft don’t ruin the boxart like they did with Senko no Ronde and that the IGN, Gametrailers and 1up reviews evolve a clue prior to sitting down with the English version (as I’ve always thought that their previous “efforts” have been somewhat lacking, after all trying to play through the likes of Armored Core Last Raven with the starter config is forcibly facile).

News: Super Robot Wars Z PV

srwz_cover.jpgAlong with the mass update of the main site for the game, the promo video (or PV) has been released to the masses. Again, these are basically DVDs shipped to game store owners so they can pimp the game to eager customers. When I say eager, I do want you to realize that the last game, Super Robot Wars A, unseated the mastodon that is Metal Gear Solid 4 from the Japanese games charts…and it was only a lowly PSP game (though admittedly a very shiny one). The upcoming PS2 game is several orders more impressive than its PSP counterpart (as well as all the previous SRW progeny too, even so than the recent OG games). Anyway, the full PV is available here but if you just want to look at the in-game animation then this should suffice. At present this footage has rendered my pants, and these are specifically my British undergarments, to a uniquely moistened consistency.

News: Macross Ace Frontier (PSP)

macross_ace_frontier_logo.jpgWhat with the success of the latest Macross TV series, Macross Frontier, it’s hardly surprising that a game will be released to tie-in with it. That being said, Macross Ace Frontier could be something quite substantial in terms of its content.

The game is being developed by Artdink, who have recently been making a name for themselves with the Gundam Battle series (a good breakdown of these games can be found here) it’s interesting that they’ve landed a Macross game. Interesting because functionally mapping mobile suit control is a far easier task than trying to emulate Valkyrie piloting. To explain, Gundam games just feature mecha but Macross games need to offer the same fidelity of control you’d see in a flight sim, helicopter sim and a mecha game. Historically, Macross games have been subsequently a bit pants. It was only until SEGA AM2 used their Aero Dancing engine that things began to improve (though GERWALK control, the helicopter functionality effectively, was still damn fiddly).

Presently, the game is at 60% complete. Yet, it’s already boasting an impressive roster of playable units (40 Valkyries) from a slew of series and movies (namely; Macross Zero, Macross, Macross Do You Remember Love?, Macross Plus, Macross 7, and Macross Frontier). In addition, there will be 30 characters and over 80 missions. The four player multiplayer from the Gundam Battle games is also present and Macross Ace Frontier will also offer co-op play too. This amount of content pretty much dwarfs SEGA’s last effort and even From Software’s monolithic Another Century’s Episode games and it’s only on a handheld!

Macross Ace Frontier will be released later this year in Japan and there is no news of a Western release as yet.

Update: Famitsu’s website has posted a piece on the game featuring in-game screenshots.

News: Legend of Galactic Heroes PC

logh_pc1.jpgI meant to cover this a while ago but events transpired otherwise. In any case, the truly epic creation of Yoshiki Tanaka is finally getting a proper game treatment. Specifically, his 10 novel series Ginga Eiyū Densetsu (or Legend of the Galactic Heroes as it is more commonly known outside of Japan) is being developed into a PC RTS.

For those not familiar with the series and its multidinous progeny, including obviously the 110 episode OVA and movies (not to mention all the spin-offs), it’s based in our future where the Galactic Empire and Free Planets Alliance are at war with one another. A war that has lasted hundreds of years and fought by epic fleets of spaceships numbering in the millions. Think Homeworld on steroids with Ravel’s Bolero playing in the background and you should get the picture.

Much like the novels, this probably won’t get a Western release but for those interested in importing it’s released in Japan on the 16th October. Game Watch also has lots of shiny pictures in case you’re curious about the game.

News: Shiki-tei

shikitei1.jpgIn true SCEJ fashion, the PS3 will be receiving a gardening simulator. Entitled Shiki-tei, or the Four Seasons Garden, it will be released at the end of this month via the Japanese PSN for 1500 yen. In Japan, a “game” like this makes more sense as most people live in pretty cramped accomodation without any kind of garden to speak of. This fills that niche by at least allowing virtual verdancy.

News: Super Robot Wars Z Update

srwz_orguss1.jpgBanpresto have been surreptitiously updating their Super Robot Wars Z website with lots of very shiny in-game screenshots. I would link directly but it’s all flash-based unfortunately (I’ve nabbed an Orguss screen to your left though). What’s very apparent thus far is how advanced their 2D rendering tech has gotten, as the previous OG games on the PS2 were suitably impressive on that front and Z only appears to be more so. Some of the character artwork is verging on realtime animation quality.

It only begs the question of how good the PS3 versions of SRW will look when Banpresto finally get around to releasing a 2D game on that (the 360 SRW was a poor man’s port of the GC version, so not that great basically and all in 3D…ugh).

There’s also a TV special on BS11 on the 28th June (between 10:30 and 11pm). SRWZ’s PV will be premiered then, so if you live in Japan and have BS11 please enjoy it on our behalf.

News: Nineball Seraph model kit

ac_nineball_seraph1.jpgAs part of their Variable Infinity model kit series Kotobukiya are releasing the infamous Nineball Seraph from Armored Core Master of Arena and Armored Core 2 Another Age. The kit itself looks remarkably faithful to the original Shoji Kawamori designs, so much so in fact you can also transform it as per the game. This is an interesting development in that Seraph is a bespoke design, so you can’t use its parts to customize other AC models (something the previous models were able to do). So we may start seeing other iconic bosses from the series as a consequence (though the giant MT’s maybe pushing it somewhat, especially at 1/72 scale). It’s also quite a big kit, over 20 cm tall, and a bit more expensive than the other models in the series as well. It’s scheduled to be released in July.