Link: Oratan 5.66 official site

oratan_566_logo.jpgOratan has made the leap onto Xbox Live Arcade. Specifically MSBS 5.66, which was the final arcade iteration of the game (and arguably the best). This port will also feature full online versus but there is an elephant in the room in terms of the control input.

The original Dreamcast port afforded a twinstick peripheral, allowing you to play the game with the same response time as in the arcade. Bear in mind that these were digital microswitched sticks, and the leverage of the stick itself negated almost any deadzone. This resulted in a game that had pinpoint precision in terms of its control input. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the more basic elements of the game were lost on a pad as consequence.

The Dreamcast version was MSBS 5.45, 5.66 never saw a real home conversion (the hacked customize disc doesn’t count here, as the arcade version was still very different in lots of ways) and was only balanced against the sticks. Considering the increase in speed over the previous iterations, I’m really not sure how this will work on a pad. Marz and the recent SEGA AGES port run at a slower pace compared to Oratan, which was always the more reflex-based game in the series, and neither of those worked very well on a pad either.

The game will be out in April and cost 1200 Microsoft points. There’s a nice trailer here in case you’re curious.

Edit: In my latest column over at GameSetWatch I go into a lot more detail about the Virtual On series as a whole. So if you’re new to the games it might help clarify a few things.

Update: Border Break

border_break_blastrunner_launch1.jpgLots of lovely coverage released today about SEGA’s new mecha game, Border Break. It’s also using the new Ring Edge arcade board, which appears to be even more potent than the Lindbergh. There are two videos going the rounds at present as well, one is your shiny CG promo video and the other is the more interesting gameplay footage.

The latter pretty clearly assuages any and all Virtual On references in terms of the fixed vectored dash mechanics. It’s more analogue and grittier, akin to the original Armored Core games really. Location tests for the game start next week in Japan and the mecha are cheerfully called “Blast Runners”.

News: Border Break announcement

border_break_logo.jpgNow, before people get ahead of themselves; SEGA are making a new mecha versus arcade game. Specifically one that is fully online that supports up to 20 players (10 a side). It’s also being handled by SEGA AM2 and will most probably be on Lindbergh hardware (though the latter is an assumption on my part).

You could think this might be an update to Virtual On but that wonderful series of games has always been helmed by SEGA AM3. So it’s doubtful that this is a shiny new update to Juro Watari’s overlooked masterpiece (though not entirely impossible, as I know a Virtual On arcade game had been planned after Marz but got canned).

So why the resurgence then? Well, Senjou no Kizuna (the Gundam arcade game with a panoramic cockpit in case you’d forgotten) is making lots of money at the moment and SEGA probably want in on the act.

Border Break will be shown at the upcoming AOU show in February. Thanks to Alex Kierkegaard for the heads up.

News: Super Robot Wars K (DS)

srwk_logo.jpgThe latest entry into the SRW canon was announced in Famitsu this week and unsurprisingly it’s made its way onto the DS…again. The line up is pretty decent though and even features Virtual On again (though in the form of Marz, unfortunately). The full series list is: Dangaioh, Overman King Gainer, Fafner of the Azure, Virtual On Marz, Gundam SEED, Gundam SEED DESTINY, Gundam Seed SEED C.E.73 STARGAZER, Mazinger Z, Gaiking Legend of Daiku Maryu, Kotetsushin Jeeg, Zoids Genesis, Godannar, Godannar 2nd Season, Gun X Sword.

This will also be the first time a Zoids series will have been included in SRW, which is an interesting choice to be sure. Not to mention the fact that Getter Robo is absent. With any luck, this SRW will be made from the ground up for the DS rather than just re-purposing a GBA game (which happened with W). The game will be out at the beginning of April at around 6,000 yen.

For those that are also interested, a special edition of SRW Z will be released in March (under the imaginative title of Super Robot Wars Z Special Disc). It features a selection of new story and challenge stages, as well as extra mecha (though the Overman Xan has got me most excited).

News: Cloudphobia patch

cloudphobia1.jpgCloudphobia, Marsbound‘s doujin shooter from 2003 received a minor bugfix patch around christmas time, and it seems like a good time to re-introduce it to people. If you’ve never seen it, you can check out a demo video here and view the updated English manual. Apart from the trial version, you can also pay a rather affordable 1,575 yen for the full game. Personally, I love the mecha design as it’s very reminiscent of Mamoru Nagano’s work on Five Star Stories.

News: Gundam Senjou no Kizuna Portable announced

gundam_kizuna_portable1.jpgThe rumor we reported not so long ago has turned out to be true, as Bandai Namco unleashed this press release today. Stating that the original networked arcade game with a panoramic cockpit, pedals and joysticks will be ported to the PSP. Some concessions have been made due to the suitably massive shift in hardware and instead of the 8 vs 8 player, it’s been halved to 4 vs 4. How the controls will be simplified remains to be seen. The releases date will be indeed the 26th March and the price at a moderate 6,090 yen.

Rumor: Gundam Senjou no Kizuna coming to PSP

senjou_logo1.jpgYeah, the Gundam arcade game with the wonderful panoramic cockpit is getting a PSP port. I’ve done some digging on this though and whilst the official site doesn’t mention anything, a slew of Japanese blogs are reporting a release date of the 26th of March (which was subsequently picked up elsewhere). Whether this turns out to be true I would be personally inclined to utter “what the fuck?!?” at this state of affairs. Surely, the team behind the really good Gundam game on the Wii would be ideally suited to this, as that was already first person and afforded a similar control setup to the arcade game. You could even do all the networked multiplayer stuff on the Wii and the system’s specs are a closer fit to the arcade board than, let’s say, a PSP.

I can only assume with the various Gundam games out on the PSP at the moment, all of which work very well admittedly, that Bamco Namdai has followed the numbers to reach the conclusion that more people want a PSP version, despite the functional fallout.

Toy: 1/144 Daizengar model kit

daizengar_kit1.jpgI meant to cover this earlier but I’ve been somewhat distracted with lots of toy and games shopping since I came back to Japan.

Now when I say “1/144″ scale “model kit”, I’m not really describing that properly. This Daizengar is almost 40cm tall and is, to all intents and purposes, a kit based toy. Once assembled you can actually wield its sword as a viable melee weapon. It also comes with a selection of LED’s and sound FX kit, so it’s also pretty gimmick ridden. I’ve seen this puppy in the flesh and it’s rather awe inspiring, having completed Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 and seeing something this large actually given the proper plamo treatment is just plain lovely.

Unfortunately, it’s far from cheap. It retails at around 31,000 yen in most places but you can nab it for around 29,800 yen online. The shipping will also be rather fantastic, as the box is so big it requires its own handle. For those that don’t what to build something this large (and expensive!) a Soul of Chogokin toy is also on the way. The latter will mark the first time an OG mecha has been given the Tamashii treatment.

News: Space Deadbeef on iPhone

spacedeadbeef.jpgThere’s a new free app in the iTune’s store, going by the brilliant name of Space Deadbeef. It’s a 2D horizontal shooter where you touch the screen to move your ship and lock-on to targets and launch a suitably Ichiro Itano inspired volley of missiles. There’s a video of the game in action here.

I’m mentioning this as the man who made this is Yuji Yasuhara. To those that don’t know, he was also the design and code lead on the frankly fucking stunning Omega Boost, which has Itano Circus missile barrages up the wazoo. He also worked on Panzer Dragoon Zwei, so if anything this guy knows how to get a homing missile shooter working.

Personally, I’m glad that he’s doing shmups again and hope that his current employers take notice of his renewed shooting prowess.

News: Temjin Model Kit

temjin_koto_kit1.jpgHo ho ho! Moerry Christmas everyone! Anyway, that aside, Kotobukiya are following their just released 1/100 scale Raiden kit with a similarly scaled Temjin model next year. Unlike the Raiden kit, this Temjin is from the original Virtual On (rather than from Oratorio Tangram). The Temjin kit will be released in March of next year and will retail at the cheaper price of 5,040 yen (most probably down to the kit’s smaller girth and reduced complexity).

I can also report, as I’m currently holidaying in Japan, that the Raiden kit is actually very impressive. It’s pretty damn large and very chunky, not to mention that even unpainted it looks very good indeed. The official site covers the release quite nicely too.