Gametraders Live September Magazine

Gametraders latest magazine, featuring venom, a love letter to Jurassic Park and much much more!

Gametraders latest magazine, featuring venom, a love letter to Jurassic Park and much much more!


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INTERVIEW: Spike Spencer - REVIEW: Spider Man - A Love Letter to Jurrasic Park<br />


WIN<br />

A double<br />

pass for<br />

Venom!<br />

pg. 24

Go to page 24 for details on how you can go in the drawn to win tickets to see Venom! (Australia only)

From the Editor<br />

Hello and welcome to the <strong>September</strong> edition of <strong>Gametraders</strong> <strong>Live</strong>!<br />

As some of you may know this is my second edition of <strong>Live</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong><br />

and I am incredibly excited and happy to be able to bring this to you<br />

all once again!<br />

This issue we have interviews with Spike Spencer and Neil Kaplan by<br />

our excellent writer Paul Monopoli. As well as an article about venom,<br />

brought to you by Shaun Stoddard, and two articles from Scott Sowter.<br />

One an anaylsis of the sucess of Marvel and the other a love letter to<br />

Jurrasic Park. I’d like to take a moment here to say a huge thankyou<br />

to all three for their continuous commitment and contributions to<br />

<strong>Gametraders</strong>. As well as encourage any of our readers to email us with<br />

your own contributors! In conjunction with those articles, we also<br />

bring you our usual reviews, for games such as the new Spider Man<br />

and Overcooked! 2 to name a few.<br />

Emily Langford<br />

Emily Langford,<br />


What’s inside<br />

“What if<br />

someone who<br />

was unafraid<br />

to kill and<br />

was a lot more<br />

physically<br />

imposing had the<br />

same powers as<br />

Spider-Man and<br />

was unaffected<br />

by his Spider-<br />

Sense?”<br />

pg. 20<br />





“Sixty-five<br />

milion years<br />

ago our planet<br />

was ruled by<br />

dinosaurs.<br />

Massive,<br />

unimaginable<br />

creatures of<br />

flesh and blood<br />

walked, roared<br />

and ate.”<br />

pg. 14<br />

pg. 28


EDITOR & DESIGNER: Emily Langford<br />

WRITERS:<br />

Shaun Stoddard from Spinions by Shaun<br />

Scott Sowter, Entertainment review and opinion<br />

Paul Monopoli, Interviews / Retro Editor<br />

Ben Dye, Stephen LaGioia, Evan Norris,<br />

Nicholas Taylor, Paul Broussard & Adam<br />

Cartwright VGChartz<br />


BEHOLD<br />

Pg. 10<br />

8-45 MOVIES<br />


46-101 GAMES<br />


OVERCOOKED! 2 REVIEW, pg 54<br />







REVIEW pg. 60<br />




“You’re looking well, darling. One lump or two?”<br />

It’s the most sought-after invitation of the year: Dinoton Abbey for high tea.<br />

Now you’re all gussied up in your finery and ready for some tea and chitchat.<br />

One problem: You can’t remember anyone’s name. Who’s that, sporting<br />

the fancy brooch with her pet chicken? Is that Jeannine? Beatriz? Oh, dear.<br />

If you’re not careful, you’ll commit a faux pas everyone will be gossiping<br />

about.<br />

Dinosaur Tea Party is a game of pure deduction for 2-5 homo sapiens.<br />

Each player takes a card corresponding to one of the dino guests. Players<br />

take turns asking each other questions or guessing their dinosaur’s name.<br />

If someone guesses your name, draw a new card. The first player to guess<br />

three names, wins the game.




Get it all at <strong>Gametraders</strong>! Order in-store.


MOVIE<br />




KILLER<br />




S<br />




E<br />


A Marvel To Behold<br />

The Marvel Cinematic Universe exploded<br />

onto the scene in 2008 with the release of<br />

Iron Man. In the ten years that have followed<br />

we have seen twenty films dominate the box<br />

office. Avengers Infinity War undoubtedly the<br />

biggest of them all lands in home release in<br />

August after netting itself a tidy sum of just<br />

over two billion dollars at the box office. There<br />

is no doubt that Marvel has dominated the<br />

cinema screens of the globe since 2008. In fact<br />

if you look at the top twenty highest grossing<br />

films since 2010, six of them are a part of the<br />

Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s insane. The<br />

only franchise coming close to that kind of<br />

market control is Star Wars. But the coolest<br />

fact is not only that Marvel is the king of the<br />

box office, it has also dominated our small<br />

screens too. Marvel has a staggering line of TV<br />

shows with eight shows running concurrently<br />

on a number of networks. With the Disney<br />

acquisition of FOX still looming over us all<br />

that would take the tally up to ten shows.<br />

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an absolute<br />


But what is it about the MCU that keeps<br />

us clambering for more? Why is it that this<br />

franchise despite its massive scope is just<br />

continuing to steamroll at full speed? Warner<br />

Brothers has attempted a similar thing with its<br />

DC Extended Universe, with arguably more wellknown<br />

characters than Marvel’s initial outings,<br />

yet is has proven to be a meagre success.<br />

Star Wars is in the process of it’s expanding<br />

universe, yet it’s latest outing with Solo proved a<br />

disappointment also. Marvel marches on.<br />

Let’s break it all down. Here are some of the key<br />

ingredients that seem to have helped Marvel<br />

dominate the world.

Characters<br />

The characters that populate the MCU are as diverse<br />

as they are dynamic. Ultimately this may be the key<br />

reason for the monumental success of the series.<br />

They are characters that we all love, or love to hate, or<br />

hate to love, or just plain hate. With a few exceptions<br />

Marvel’s characters have all been fairly well sculpted<br />

and lovingly brought to life by a committed and<br />

dedicated cast. From the stock Chris Evans as Captain<br />

America, the pomp and snarky Robert Downy JR<br />

as Tony Stark, the attitude of Bradley Cooper as<br />

Rocket, the intensity of Charlie Cox as Daredevil, THE<br />

INTENSITY of John Bernthal as The Punisher. The list<br />

and the talent goes on. They gave us Loki, literally the<br />

most likeable bad guy ever! And they ripped our<br />

hearts out when Thanos took him away. They have<br />

created and built a world full of people we have<br />

become invested in. So, step one! Make<br />

your characters likeable. Check!<br />

Patience<br />

Woah woah. Slow down. Take your time… It took<br />

Marvel five movies and five years to get us to the<br />

Avengers. By that stage we knew the characters,<br />

we even knew the villain, then boom! 2012 saw<br />

The Avengers hit the big screen. At the end of the<br />

Avengers it was revealed that Thanos was the big<br />

bad in the background of this whole thing. Pulling<br />

Loki’s strings. Yet it took us six more years to get to<br />

Thanos finally taking center stage to go up against<br />

our beloved band of heroes. That is a long play. But it<br />

is one that seems to have worked. It built gradually to<br />

what is the biggest event they have attempted. It gave<br />

time for the world to build and be explored, for us to<br />

meet all the pieces of the puzzle required for it to give<br />

us the maximum impact. The slow progression and<br />

build up has been a key to the series success.

Risks<br />

Every now and then it proves it’s worth taking a risk. The biggest<br />

example of this working for the MCU is absolutely The Guardians of the<br />

Galaxy. Before the release of that film very few people knew or cared<br />

about Star-Lord or Rocket or Groot. Marvel took a massive risk to bring<br />

the movie about a talking Raccoon and his living tree pal to the big<br />

screen. Yet the film was a huge success, spawned a sequel and the entire<br />

cast appeared in Infinity War. I for one am still waiting for Tony Stark to<br />

meet Rocket Racoon. Just... Imagine it. The series has also taken risks<br />

on the TV front. Agent Carter was a modest hit despite only having two<br />

seasons. A female led super-hero (sort of) TV show set in the fifties. It<br />

was hard sell and ultimately the show didn’t get too far. Which is a damn<br />

shame because it remains my favourite MCU TV show. Peggy Carter was<br />

an amazing character and deserved more attention. But at least we can<br />

say Marvel gave it a shot. Black Panther also a risk with an almost<br />

entire African cast. It is sad to say that we live in a world where a film<br />

having a predominately black cast is a risk, but the box office has<br />

been dominated always by white casts. Then Black Panther came<br />

along and showed us all how it’s done! The film made a huge one<br />

point three billion dollars at the box office and has become a<br />

a cultural phenomenon. The only shame out of all of the MCU’s risks,<br />

is that it has taken so long to have a female led film, but with Captain<br />

Marvel on the way next year, hopefully it will have been worth the wait.<br />

Leadership<br />

Every good ship needs a skilled captain. Marvel’s Kevin Feige the<br />

president of Marvel Studios has proven to be the man for the job. Under<br />

his watch the MCU has grown from strength to strength. He is the guy<br />

we have to thank for assembling the MCU as it is today. He has had his<br />

work cut out for him, but safe to say he has done a pretty good job.<br />

Never before has something like the MCU been attempted. Multiple<br />

films and TV shows all being apart of a shared universe with characters<br />

jumping between films and story arcs that have spanned a decade. I<br />

doubt we will ever see anything like it again. With hard work, dedication<br />

and a rabid fan base I doubt it will be going anywhere soon. It surely is<br />

a marvel to behold.<br />

Written by Scott F. Sowter<br />

Twitter: @ScottFSowter




A love letter to<br />

IC PARK<br />

Sixty-five million years ago our planet was<br />

ruled by dinosaurs. Massive, unimaginable<br />

creatures of flesh and blood walked,<br />

roared and ate. Then they vanished, wiped<br />

from the face of the Earth by some equally<br />

unfathomable cataclxysm. What we were left<br />

with is bones, fossils of these incredible giants<br />

that once rolled our world. In 1993 the film<br />

Jurassic Park was released around the world.<br />

Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs back to life.<br />

As a kid in the 90’s I was a dinosaur kid, as many<br />

were and still are. Seeing Jurassic Park on the<br />

big screen was a life changing event. There they<br />

were, alive, breathing, walking, roaring like we<br />

had only imagined. This year sees the release<br />

of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom the fifth film<br />

in the Jurassic franchise, showing that there is<br />

still blood in this pre-historic beast. Apart from<br />

being spectacular pop-corn adventure films the<br />

Jurassic Park series has succeeded on one other<br />

fuel, pure magic.<br />

While the films have bounced back and forth<br />

there is no denying that they have all been solid<br />

hits at the box office and that comes down to<br />

the film’s stars, and no, for once I am not talking<br />

about Ian Goldblum. It’s the dinosaurs. That’s<br />

why we watch. Jurassic Park has provided us<br />

the ultimate window into our imaginations. It<br />

has breathed life back into one of the world’s<br />

most amazing wonders. I remember distinctly<br />

as a child; my parents took me to a museum<br />

and I just remember sitting in awe in front of<br />

a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. The size is just<br />

staggering. This enormous meat eating creature<br />

used to move. We could picture it, in our minds.<br />

The way it walked, the way it ate, hunted, the<br />

thunderous crash it must have made as it ran<br />

across the earth.

Then when those perfect ringlets of water<br />

rippled out across the surface of a cup of<br />

water in the film we all got to witness the<br />

power of one of the world’s biggest creatures.<br />

I remember that scene so vividly. The feeling<br />

it put into me. I was never scared, as my<br />

parents feared I would be as a young child.<br />

I was excited. I didn’t care that the human<br />

characters where about to be eaten, I was just<br />

grinning ear to ear.<br />


to things of pure imagination. It still fails to<br />

compare for some reason to the magic of<br />

Jurassic Park.<br />

Dinosaurs are something most children are<br />

obsessed with. For some of us that never goes<br />

away and maybe that is the real magic. These<br />

films have the ability to take us back to being<br />

children. They make us feel awe again. Awe<br />

at the amazing things that used to be here,<br />

things we can only dream about. They make<br />

those old bones come alive. Life finds a way.<br />

It eats the lawyer! So cool! No-body like him<br />

anyway... I’m sure my parents often worried<br />

about my sanity. I just cared about the<br />

dinosaurs. It sparked in me and many of my<br />

generation and undying obsession with these<br />

creatures. That is the magic of Jurassic Park.<br />

While films like Star Wars and Avatar have<br />

taken us beyond the stars to other worlds<br />

By Scott F. Sowter<br />

Twitter: @ScottFSowter





On October 4th this year Sony will release the<br />

solo debut film of Venom. It’ll be the first real<br />

attempt by Sony at creating a ‘Spidey Without<br />

Spidey’ Universe. Reading about the other<br />

adaptation of characters, using the Spider-Man<br />

license, Sony wants to bring out kind of gives<br />

the impression that they have a lot riding on<br />

this movie. So why make a movie of Venom<br />

specifically? Why think that he’s the one that<br />

can start your universe?<br />

Well to answer that let’s take a deep dive into<br />

Marvel comics history!

From the outset, Venom was set up as a<br />

villain for Spider-Man. Bonded to Eddie<br />

Brock after Spider-Man used a church bell<br />

to get the symbiote to leave him. Venom<br />

found Eddie, who was praying in the same<br />

church, and bonded quickly with him<br />

through their mutual hatred of Spider-Man.<br />

What if someone who was unafraid to kill<br />

and was a lot more physically imposing<br />

had the same powers as Spider-Man<br />

and was unaffected by his Spider-Sense?<br />

That’s the basic idea of Venom. It worked<br />

incredibly well in his first introduction,<br />

where Venom had an almost horror movie<br />

vibe to him and has continued to work<br />

when various writers have remembered<br />

that Venom is meant to be a little bit<br />

terrifying.<br />

But always Venom seems to come back<br />

to Eddie Brock, the disgraced journalist<br />

and that’s the Venom we’re getting in the<br />

movie.<br />

And arrayed against our Lethal Protector?<br />

The Life Foundation.<br />

I for one, am looking forward to seeing<br />

what Sony can pull off.<br />

By Shaun Stoddard<br />

Throughout his stories and not always well<br />

written appearances in Marvel comics,<br />

the Venom symbiote has given birth to<br />

everyone’s favourite maniac Carnage.<br />

Who became an almost constant thorn in<br />

Venom’s side, and the 5 symbiotes used by<br />

the Life Foundation. The Venom symbiote<br />

has also been bonded to a grand total of<br />

11 hosts (give or take weird retcons and<br />

shifts in storyline), been a superhero, a<br />

super villain, a spy and a space knight,<br />

and everything in between. In alternate<br />

universes it’s been a suit of goo created to<br />

cure cancer, a ninja, a zombie and oddly<br />

enough an anthropomorphic pig.


One of Marvel’s greatest and most<br />

complex characters takes center stage<br />

as Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) becomes<br />

the host for the alien symbiote Venom. As a journalist, Eddie has been trying to<br />

take down the notorious founder of the Life Foundation, genius Carlton Drake<br />

(Riz Ahmed) – and that obsession ruined his career and his relationship with his<br />

girlfriend, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). Upon investigating one of Drake’s<br />

experiments, the alien Venom merges with Eddie’s body, and he suddenly has<br />

incredible new superpowers, as well as the chance to do just about whatever<br />

he wants. Twisted, dark, unpredictable, and fueled by rage, Venom leaves Eddie<br />

wrestling to control dangerous abilities that he also finds empowering and<br />

intoxicating. As Eddie and Venom need each other to get what they’re looking<br />

for, they become more and more intertwined — where does Eddie end and<br />

Venom begin?<br />


Thanks to Sony and <strong>Gametraders</strong> you could win a double pass to see<br />

Tom Hardy as the new Marvel antihero VENOM when it hits cinemas<br />

October 4<br />

All you have to do is go to the <strong>Gametraders</strong> Facebook page and like<br />

the competition post, tag who you’re going to take and comment why<br />

you want to see Venom!

MARVEL and all related character names: © & 2018 MARVEL. Venom, the Movie ©2018 Columbia Pictures




Transformers Robots<br />

in Disguise: Optimus<br />



During the Friday of AVCon I was given<br />

the opportunity to speak with a man I had<br />

previously conversed with, Neil Kaplan. I<br />

had last caught up with the man who refers<br />

to himself as the ‘budget Peter Cullen’ at Oz<br />

Comic Con in 2015. Upon reminding him<br />

of this he elaborated by saying he was the<br />

‘budget friendly Peter Cullen’, taking over<br />

from Peter as Eeyore and Optimus Prime,<br />

among others.<br />

Recently Peter had mentioned that he based<br />

the voice of Optimus Prime on his brother.<br />

Neil said that while this is true, the origin<br />

of the autobot leader’s deep vocal stylings<br />

owes much to a Western movie hero.<br />

“If you listen to the rhythm it’s very<br />

quintessential for what a lot of<br />

impressionists did for their version of John<br />

Wayne, so I would tend to say that when I<br />

do Peter’s version I tend to lean into that<br />

John Wayne-ishness”.<br />

For there series ‘Robots in Disguise’, Neil<br />

used a slightly different voice for the role.<br />

“(it was) vocally similar, but not necessarily<br />

with the same sort of pattern”.<br />

We discussed impressions, particularly<br />

Christopher Walken, arguably one of the<br />

most impersonated celebrities of all time.<br />

Neil claims that his Christopher Walken<br />

is possibly one of the worst in the world<br />

but that when it comes to impersonating<br />

someone:<br />

“There’s the real impression and the<br />

impression that distills what we all think of”.<br />

I decided not to ask Neil to do his<br />

impression, but he explained that while his<br />

Christopher Walken impression is pretty<br />

bad, it has its advantages.<br />

“Bad impressions make for really good<br />

original characters. People don’t realise<br />

where the base comes from, and then when<br />

you’re really dedicated to it, it just comes to<br />

life.”<br />

Neil explained that he was able to take the<br />

quirks and twitches of Christopher Walken’s<br />

voice and use them to voice a shortcircuiting<br />

robot.<br />

“And nobody knows, because it’s so horrible.<br />

They had no idea it was Christopher<br />


The last time I spoke to Neil we had so<br />

much to talk about that I neglected to ask<br />

him about how he got involved in acting. I<br />

decided to remedy that by asking him that<br />

very question.<br />

“I’ve always been fascinated by the human<br />

voice. I grew up watching a TV show in the<br />

states, when I was a kid before Saturday<br />

Night <strong>Live</strong> even came into existence.<br />

It was called The Kopycats, and it was<br />

impressionists. Rich Little and Frank Gorshin,<br />

believe it or not”.<br />

“Add the letter r onto ‘bananas’, so what<br />

you do is you say ‘bananars’. I was like ‘oh<br />

my god!’ And I cannot do a Liam Neeson to<br />

save my life, but I can do that!”<br />

Neil became the ‘kid who did impressions’,<br />

and nothing was off limits. Children, adults,<br />

anybody with an interesting voice was up<br />

for grabs. He would enter talent shows,<br />

which led to him performing in plays. This<br />

created an intellectual spark for the young<br />

thespian, who took this opportunity to hone<br />

his future craft.<br />

Neil remembers that the show didn’t have<br />

the budget that Saturday Night <strong>Live</strong> would<br />

have upon its arrival, so the impressions<br />

had to be spot on for the actors to be<br />

recognised in the roles they were playing.<br />

He particularly admired the one-word<br />

impressionists.<br />

“There are a lot of people who do oneword<br />

impressions, which are genius! When<br />

you can do one word, or one syllable and<br />

people get it…”<br />

Neil then taught me how to do a one-word<br />

impression of Liam Neeson.<br />

“When I started getting cast in shows that<br />

would have dialogue I fought back. I would<br />

start reading the play as we would have the<br />

read through and by the end of the play I<br />

would have the voice figured out”.<br />

This is a skill that Neil shares with aspiring<br />

acting students that he works with. He<br />

encourages people to find the character.<br />

“When you’re reading through your copy<br />

you’re trying to find the character. Read<br />

the description, read the direction, read the<br />

copy itself, and as it starts to influence you<br />

let yourself go, let yourself drift… you let the<br />

words move you”.

Voltron: Legendary Defender - Emperor Zarkon<br />

Naruto: Shippuden<br />

- Madara<br />

Naruto: Shippuden - Masked Man<br />

Bleach - Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto<br />

Bleach - Rusaburo Enkogawa<br />

Transformers Robots in Disguise - Optimus Prime<br />

Bleach - Gesell

Justice League Heroes – Gorilla Grodd<br />

When creating the voice Neil explains that<br />

while you may initially find the voice for<br />

a specific scene, that this voice might not<br />

be representative of the entire story the<br />

character is involved in. He explains that<br />

it’s about understanding what created that<br />

voice inside you and how you can adjust it<br />

for different scenes while staying true to the<br />

emotion that led you to that voice.<br />

I asked Neil about how he deals with<br />

direction that might conflict with the voices<br />

he creates.<br />

“That’s the thing. I don’t create the voice. I<br />

create the character and the attitude, and<br />

what will happen is as the character comes<br />

into focus… sometimes that voice will get<br />

dragged over, because now all of a sudden<br />

he’s not as angry as you thought in your<br />

first read through, or there’s more subtlety,<br />

he’s not quite as in your face, or you start<br />

working with the other actors and as their<br />

characters develop you (drag the character<br />

over to where they should be). I don’t think<br />

of myself as doing voices, I think of myself<br />

as playing characters”.<br />

Neil cites James Earl Jones, the man who has<br />

played two of the most famous fathers in<br />

cinema history. These characters developed<br />

completely differently and as such you will<br />

never mistake a line from Darth Vader with<br />

a line from Mufasa because the attitude is<br />

completely different.<br />

“James Earl Jones, as far as I’m concerned, is<br />

an amazing actor but he has the vocal range<br />

of Y to Z… so it’s obviously not about just<br />

the voice. It’s about his dedication to the<br />

character, to their inner life, to their values,<br />

to their goals, and how they go about<br />

achieving those goals, and when those<br />

things change, if you’re really dedicated, the<br />

voice should follow”.

“It’s just a different facet of doing what we<br />

did when we were five years old. It’s just<br />

pretending… and somewhere in our lives<br />

school and traffic, work and the world, politics<br />

and the weather, and everything beats that out<br />

of us”.<br />

Neil says it all comes down to imagination, a<br />

skill that actors need to be able to personify<br />

the characters they are playing.<br />

While doing my research for the interview<br />

I saw that Neil had delved into comedy in<br />

his younger days. I asked whether it was<br />

something he still had an interest in pursuing.<br />

“Yes, very much! But I’ve given into fear for so<br />

long I almost don’t know how to do anything<br />

else. And fear is the main reason I haven’t<br />

been on stage in a long time… It’s funny<br />

because I’ll do conventions, and I’ll host stuff<br />

and I’ll talk off the top of my head for an hour<br />

and a half and people will be laughing and it’s<br />

when it’s like ‘no, you’ve gotta memorise the<br />

joke, you’ve gotta have it written and you’ve<br />

gotta have every word of it down… and that<br />

just terrifies me”.<br />

With that said, Neil has a few projects he<br />

is trying to get off the ground that are on<br />

the ‘funny side’. He enjoys going on Twitter<br />

and sharing jokes, even if they are for niche<br />

audiences. As long as the joke lands he’s<br />

satisfied.<br />

Digemon: Hawkmon

At this point we were getting the wind<br />

up from the AVCon media staff, but<br />

Neil decided that after two interviews<br />

he wanted to make sure I had all of my<br />

questions answered. I decided to ask<br />

Neil what he loves about Australia and<br />

why he keeps coming back.<br />

“What do I like about being down here?<br />

Well, that I can come down here and<br />

do my Scottish dialect and none of<br />

you know it’s crap! … You know, that’s<br />

fun. That’s nice. You know… each time I<br />

come down to do a convention I make<br />

new friends and it’s not a commodity<br />

that I have overflowing in my life… so<br />

that speaks to me. I’m attracted to the<br />

architecture down here. I enjoy the<br />

people, and let’s be honest: Not a whole<br />

lot of South American countries are big<br />

fans of the work I’ve done because they<br />

hear my Spanish counterpart, so that<br />

kinda limits some of the places I can go<br />

to as far as convention travel. As much<br />

as I’d love to go to China or Japan it’s<br />

like ‘well, I’m gonna have to do that on<br />

my own’ because they’re hearing their<br />

guys”.<br />

Neil would love to meet some of his<br />

counterparts, particularly the Japanese<br />

seiyuu for Madara Uchiha, whose voice<br />

he used as a basis for the English dub.<br />

After a quick tale about voice actors in a<br />

karaoke bar, which really doesn’t translate<br />

to the written medium, we are given<br />

the hard wrap up. We thank each other,<br />

and he goes off to do his next interview<br />

possibly anticipating our third encounter.<br />

Interview conducted by Paul Monopoli

Evangelion - Shinji Ikari<br />

Martian Successor Nadesico<br />

- Akito Tenkawa<br />

Bleach - Hanataro Yamada




Neil Kaplan had vacated his seat to take<br />

part in other interviews. The void in<br />

front of me was filled by the shape of<br />

Spike Spencer, another voice actor I had<br />

previously interviewed. Rather flatteringly,<br />

Spike remembered me from AVCon 2013,<br />

when he had previously attended as a<br />

guest.<br />

When I last spoke to Spike he declared<br />

that he was going to roll down the hill on<br />

the side of the River Torrens. This never<br />

happened, and it was something I joked<br />

about with some of my AVCon friends<br />

before the interview. They suggested that<br />

as Spike is now a family man that he might<br />

not be so keen to do this.<br />

“That makes no difference whatsoever!<br />

Rolling down a hill, I mean… come on!...<br />

My wife really wants to, so we might just<br />

do that”.<br />

“I’m married, I have an 11 month old baby<br />

boy who’s here with us. I have done more<br />

voice over work. I’ve done a lot of other<br />

training as a coach. I’m a sales coach, a<br />

dating/relationships coach, relationships/<br />

sales dynamics”.<br />

During the last AVCon Spike had presented<br />

a dating tips panel, details of which can be<br />

found at dontkillyourdate.com. A book on<br />

the subject, ‘Foodgame: The Ultimate Recipe<br />

For Dating Success’ is<br />

currently with the<br />

editors and will be<br />

available soon. So<br />

Spike has been<br />

quite busy, though<br />

he confesses that<br />

the bulk of his time<br />

is spent raising his<br />

son.<br />

I asked Spike what he had been up to<br />

since we last spoke.<br />

Blazblue - Arakune

Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic - Snake<br />

Spike worked with AVCon to make the event<br />

a family affair, with his wife judging the<br />

cosplay event, which their son, Declan, will<br />

be participating in. If you saw a very young<br />

Woody from Toy Story then that was Spike’s<br />

son!<br />

“He took his first step last night in a pub! He<br />

was actually standing against a little plate<br />

glass and there was some scotch there and<br />

then he turned to my wife and took a step<br />

towards her. I’m like, ‘OK, he was staring at<br />

scotch and took his first step in a pub. He’s<br />

YOUR son!’ That’s my boy!”<br />

Spike is also quite the foodie, trying<br />

different local cuisines as he travels the<br />

world participating in conventions. Last time<br />

we spoke he was waiting on a kangaroo pie.<br />

I thought I’d ask him how it was.<br />

“I had the kangaroo pie and, this is my<br />

seventh time down here so, I cooked some<br />

kangaroo last week in Sydney myself and<br />

I just love the food down here. I do love<br />

kangaroo, it’s great, but I love meat pies.<br />

I remember that my first meat pie was at<br />

the zoo in Melbourne and I was just like…<br />

blown away”.<br />

Spike is open to introducing his son to the<br />

world of voice acting, should he wish to<br />

work in the industry. He claims that Declan<br />

has the lungs for the job, though he will be<br />

encouraging him to do whatever he wants in<br />

life.<br />

Though Spike has eaten plenty of meat<br />

pies since, he hasn’t managed to find<br />

one that tops that first experience from<br />

a vending machine at the zoo. It’s an<br />

experience he can’t quite share with his<br />

wife, who suffers from a gluten intolerance.

I asked what it is that he likes to cook at<br />

home, to which Spike shared his recipe<br />

for Thomas Keller style baked chicken.<br />

Several of Spike’s favourite recipes can be<br />

found on the website, dontkillyourdate.<br />

com.<br />

“I like to explore though, like while I’m<br />

here I’m like ‘OK, what is THE BEST food<br />

I should have while I’m in Adelaide?<br />

Like, in Melbourne I would say go to the<br />

Chinatown because they do great duck. I<br />

love that. In Sydney… I dunno, you know,<br />

it’s so eclectic. But when I’m in a locale<br />

(and I ask) what’s the local thing? What is<br />

it you’ve gotta have? And they always tell<br />

me”.<br />

Upon this revelation I shared the<br />

not so secret recipe of the pie<br />

floater, an Adelaide specialty. Spike<br />

had actually eaten this before in<br />

Sydney of all places! Most of Spike’s<br />

meals are typically meat and three veg,<br />

though it’s how he works with the food<br />

that makes it special.<br />

“I will say this. I’m not such a snobby<br />

foodie that I won’t go to<br />

McDonalds and get a Big Mac,<br />

because I grew up with that stuff,<br />

and I’m like ‘yes, it’s crap, it’s awful,<br />

it’s horrible and amazing sometimes!<br />

So, I won’t judge”.<br />

After this we decided it was time to<br />

discuss Spike’s acting career, as this was<br />

the whole reason for the interview. I<br />

have an appreciation of food as well, and<br />

could have devoted the whole interview<br />

for it. However, I’m not sure that<br />

<strong>Gametraders</strong> would have published it.<br />

I asked Spike how he got the storyline<br />

for the characters he voices in video<br />

games. At that point he can’t play<br />

through the game like the player can, so<br />

does he read the whole script first?<br />

“Mainly you just focus on your character<br />

because a lot of times we don’t have<br />

access to any of this. I’ve done jobs<br />

where I don’t even know what I’m doing.<br />

Here’s the character, the director says<br />

‘OK, here’s what’s going on and here’s<br />

what you’re feeling, go! You do that.’ So<br />

when people think about an actor who’s<br />

doing a role, you have to… understand<br />

the actor is only doing what the director<br />

tells them to do. If you don’t like the way<br />

an actor did something don’t blame the<br />

actor, because we’re doing<br />

what we’re told. That’s our<br />

job”.<br />

Blazblue: Continuum<br />

Shift - Hazama<br />

Mana Khemia 2: Fall<br />

of Alchemy - Puni Jiro

This was something that happened back<br />

in the early days of mainstream anime<br />

dubbing, where shows like Sailor Moon<br />

and Dragon Ball Z were criticized for heavy<br />

changes to the script and mispronunciation<br />

of specific words. I mentioned to Spike that<br />

in the early days of the internet it was the<br />

voice actors who used to be negatively<br />

spoken about the roles they performed.<br />

“Well they don’t get it. I mean, if you<br />

understand the business of it then you need<br />

to talk to the director, because our job is to<br />

do what the director tells us to do.<br />

Another actor said a long time ago, ‘I’m<br />

an instrument. You tune me. That’s what<br />

I do. So you tell me higher, lower, this<br />

way, that way, whatever it is… there!’<br />

I mean, hey. Someone hired Jar Jar<br />

Binks”.<br />

Earlier in the week I had read that<br />

Ahmed Best, the actor for Jar Jar had<br />

experienced depression for a long time<br />

over the fan hatred of his character. This<br />

is something that Spike was not at all<br />

surprised to hear.<br />

Code Geass - Rolo Lamperouge<br />

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn - Daryl McGuinness

“I believe that, and it sucks because as<br />

annoying as the character was, hey man,<br />

voice wise it was a great gig!... I did<br />

Supanova years ago with Jake (Lloyd)<br />

who was Anakin and his mum told me<br />

stories that I was just like… it’s insane what<br />

people do to people. It’s like, oh my gosh!<br />

They had to move and all kinds of things<br />

so it messes people up, and they don’t<br />

realise, hey, it’s just another human being<br />

doing a job that somebody else is telling<br />

them how to do it. So you know, go get a<br />

life and stop harassing them”.<br />

Back in 2013 AVCon screened a<br />

subtitled version of Neon Genesis<br />

Evangelion 3.0 in anticipation for the<br />

upcoming dub release. It ended up<br />

coming out three years later, which<br />

was an unusually long time to wait<br />

for an anime dub, particularly one as<br />

anticipated as this.<br />

“Well, it’s funny because we did the… I<br />

forgot what year it was… I want to say<br />

it was 2012 or something. We showed<br />

it. We had a preview at New York Comic<br />

Con and twelve hundred people saw it<br />

and loved it and said ‘yay, it was great,<br />

it was awesome’ and I was like, it’s<br />

coming out! And a year later they called<br />

me in to do some pickups on it and I<br />

was like, ‘is this ever coming out?’… but<br />

it takes its own sweet time. Nobody<br />

tells me. People are always going ‘Spike,<br />

what’s going to happen?’… Do I look<br />

like I’m part of the franchise? I mean,<br />

I come into a booth, I scream, I leave.<br />

That’s my job”.<br />

Spike has since heard through the<br />

grapevine that Gainax are advertising<br />

for animators to work on the final film<br />

in the series, Evangelion 3.0+1.0. Spike<br />

agrees that the naming conventions for<br />

these four movies have been difficult to<br />

understand.<br />

Durarara! - Saburo Togusa

I wondered how it felt revisiting the<br />

same character and the same series over<br />

and over again.<br />

“The 1.11 was a complete redo of<br />

everything, so it was just like stepping<br />

back into the original series and going<br />

‘OK cool’, I’m a little bit older, obviously…<br />

a lot older, and you know, but I still get<br />

into the character and I can still do it. It’s<br />

like I have the voice, I mean, my voice<br />

has gotten deeper so we said… it wasn’t<br />

just my thing, it was the director. We said<br />

we’re manning him up a little bit… I think<br />

it’s awesome, I love it. And you know<br />

what, let me say something. It’s funny,<br />

I get this a lot. People like goes ‘Spike<br />

Spencer hates Shinji’, well first of all, no.<br />

Shinji’s a two dimensional character and<br />

by the way, not real. And second, it’s a<br />

character”.<br />

I asked Spike about his time working<br />

on Doraemon. Johnny Yong Bosch<br />

had previously told me how much<br />

fun it was to work on the show, and<br />

Spike also had good things to say<br />

about it.<br />

I’ve never had this impression from<br />

Spike, but apparently it does the rounds<br />

in fan circles.<br />

One of the things Spike likes to do<br />

during signings is to draw on pictures<br />

of Shinji. He signed my laserdisc of the<br />

first 2 episodes back in 2013 and drew<br />

glasses and a beard on the character. As<br />

Spike says, when you “man up” Shinji he<br />

looks just like his father, Gendo.

“You know, it was a long time ago. I<br />

haven’t done it in years… I was Ace<br />

Goody and it’s basically a younger<br />

Shinji, and it was fun… I auditioned for<br />

Doraemon and didn’t get that, but I got<br />

to play with it and a cute, fun little series”.<br />

Spike said he occasionally can get lost in the many<br />

series he’s been involved in as similar plot lines and<br />

stories can create a blur of memories. Anime has<br />

certain styles and tropes that remain the same for<br />

almost every series that comes out of Japan. This<br />

has its advantages, as the more anime he works on<br />

the more he understands how certain voices and<br />

sounds work in specific situations.

Bang Zoom! Dub Dragon Ball Super - Majin Buu

As a Dragon Ball fan I had to ask Spike<br />

about the Bang Zoom! Dub of Dragon Ball<br />

Super, in which he plays Majin Buu. It’s<br />

hard to get ahold of any footage from that<br />

show, as we receive the Funimation dub in<br />

Australia. I asked Spike whether he based<br />

the voice on his Funimation counterpart,<br />

Justin Cook.<br />

“I don’t think so… This may sound bad for<br />

me, I don’t research because the director’s<br />

gonna tell me what to do and a lot of times<br />

I don’t want to colour what I’m doing. I’m<br />

like, ‘OK, you’re the director. You’re the<br />

boss. What are we doing? We’re taking it<br />

in a different direction? Great, now I’ve got<br />

to unlearn everything I’ve already learned<br />

and go in.’ And I’ve had episodes where<br />

I’ve done that and they’re like, this other<br />

voice just keeps creeping in because I’ve<br />

already got it on my brain. So I don’t want<br />

to do that, so I go in and am like ‘what are<br />

we doing? Oh, Majin Buu. He sounds like<br />

what? You want this? Let’s try this voice.<br />

Ahhh! Whatever!’ And they go ‘yeah, that’s<br />

it. Great!’ OK, so I have no idea what (Justin<br />

Cook’s) Majin Buu sounds like”.<br />

resume and like ‘yeah I was, look at that’”.<br />

I thought I would use my last question to<br />

ask about roles he is uncredited in.<br />

“You know, I don’t know how that works,<br />

honestly… It could be a paperwork snafu.<br />

It’s not something that I did, like ‘oh, I don’t<br />

want to be credited’. I don’t care. I did the<br />

work, I’m proud of it. If I don’t want to be<br />

credited then why do the work?... If it’s<br />

hentai then I’ll give you a different name,<br />

but it’s fun. It’s a fun name… If I do another<br />

one you’ll see as ‘Heiney Pickelhammer’”.<br />

And on that note we were given the signal<br />

to suggest it was time to end the interview.<br />

Spike said that due to business interests he<br />

has in Australia he may be making more<br />

stops on our shores. Personally, I look<br />

forward to seeing him again.<br />

Interview conducted by Paul Monopoli<br />

I asked whether fans tend to know more<br />

about the roles that Spike plays that he<br />

does himself.<br />

“YES! YES! And they’re like, ‘sign this’ and<br />

I’m like, ‘was I in that?’ and they go ‘yeah,<br />

you were this guy’… and I look at my

gameS<br />


MANS SKY<br />







BEN DYE<br />


O MANS SKY<br />

Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky<br />

launched back in 2016 to more<br />

hype than even the vast majority<br />

of AAA games. Prior to release<br />

many people - myself included -<br />

treated it like it was going to be<br />

a great leap forward for gaming.<br />

All of the promises of procedural<br />

generation, the idea of an infinite<br />

universe awaiting to be explored,<br />

and bumping into people across<br />

a universe of space, seemed like<br />

such novel ideas.<br />

And then we played the game.

Amongst other things there was little<br />

guidance on how to do anything; most<br />

of the player base started out on horribly<br />

deadly planets and were confused as to<br />

how to expand from there. Options were<br />

also limited, not least the base-building<br />

functionality. And of course the people<br />

you might hope to bump into weren’t<br />

even there. In the end, No Man’s Sky was<br />

a bitter disappointed; a lonely and shallow<br />

experience.<br />

That was then, however. Since 2016, the<br />

game has received update after update,<br />

slowly pushing it from being a mediocre<br />

game to a decent one. Now, with the<br />

release of the ‘NEXT’ update, it has finally<br />

made the move from decent to pretty<br />

great.<br />

Visually it has improved significantly. A<br />

large number of new assets have been<br />

added to the game to give the whole<br />

procedural generation gimmick a fresh<br />

coat of paint. Now the game really does<br />

have a wide variety of planets, creatures,<br />

and flora. So far, every planet I’ve visited<br />

since the update has been markedly<br />

different from all of the others. One felt like<br />

Mars, for example, another like a deceptive<br />

oasis planet plagued by acid rain, and one<br />

even like the planet Hoth from Star Wars.

There are far, far more computer<br />

characters, pieces of technology,<br />

races, and fleets than ever before;<br />

and items, things to discover, and<br />

beings to interact with are all over<br />

the place. Random NPC ships will<br />

fly overhead every now and then,<br />

which makes the experience feel<br />

much less lonely. Granted, I’ve only<br />

encountered one real person thus<br />

far (and that a Steam friend), but<br />

the ability to join another player’s<br />

session and unlock their bases to go<br />

through what is in effect a Stargate<br />

is a huge improvement.<br />

I’m currently in the process<br />

of fervently constructing<br />

my own glorious base on<br />

a planet that I found with<br />

my aforementioned it. It<br />

almost feels like Minecraft<br />

in space, but with stronger<br />

visuals and the addition of<br />

some enjoyable exploration<br />

components. This is the<br />

game I wanted (an expected)<br />

at launch. Unlike Minecraft<br />

it doesn’t get aesthetically<br />

boring either, at least not<br />

so far. The sheer number<br />

of possibilities, especially<br />

with future updates, should<br />

ensure that it remains<br />

interesting for a long time to<br />


When No Man’s Sky first came out I was<br />

incredibly excited. I came from an Eve:<br />

Online background and loved many<br />

aspects of that game but simultaneously<br />

hated how slow it felt and how you never<br />

had direct control over your ship (it’s a<br />

point and click game, for the uninitiated).<br />

When No Man’s Sky was announced and<br />

shown off, I soaked it in like Squidward<br />

eating Krabby Patties. Then, when it<br />

was released, I played it for about three<br />

hours before hanging up my boots and<br />

walking away from the depressingly<br />

isolated and limited experience.<br />

Now? Now I can’t stop playing it. Every<br />

day I feel an eager temptation to play it,<br />

and when I do I’m lost in this universe<br />

for at least an hour (which is a lot of<br />

time for me to devote to a session). I<br />

love the exploration, the discovery, the<br />

interaction with aliens, and the possibility<br />

of easily and meaningfully interacting<br />

with people. I love that the resources<br />

required are always available in some<br />

way, shape, or form, and usually rather<br />

easily. I love that I continue to learn as<br />

I play the game, figuring out how to<br />

do things better and more efficiently. I<br />

love the gorgeous sunsets on beautiful<br />

planets... which quickly turn into deadly<br />

hot acid rain. I love that I can literally<br />

pick it up and play for a bit, quickly save,<br />

and then resume right where I left off. I<br />

love how easy it is for friends to join my<br />

play sessions. There are so many things<br />

about this game that I love, now, that I<br />

could keep going on like this for quite<br />

some time.<br />

What makes this update even better are<br />

the implications for the future of the<br />

game, with this as the basis for what<br />

to expect. Hello Games’ press release<br />

was rather telling of the developer’s<br />

intentions in this respect:<br />

“This is an incredibly important update for<br />

us, but it’s also just another step in a longer<br />

journey, and we’ll continue to support No<br />

Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable<br />

future. This is an incredibly important update<br />

for us, but it’s also just another step in a<br />

longer journey, and we’ll continue to support<br />

No Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable<br />

future.”<br />

No Man’s Sky has gone on a long<br />

journey, from being straight up bad, to<br />

middling, to now good. So who knows,<br />

it’s possible that one day No Man’s Sky<br />

will eventually morph into a superb<br />

game.<br />

In truth, dozens of major features that<br />

have been added to No Man’s Sky since<br />

its disastrous launch in 2016, and many<br />

more significant tweaks have been made<br />

beyond that. If you own the game but<br />

quickly gave up on it back in 2016 then<br />

now is a great time to experience all of<br />

these improvements for yourself. I can<br />

honestly say I have never seen such a<br />

drastic turnaround in all of video gaming<br />

- No Man’s Sky was a complete and utter<br />

disappointment but now it’s finally fun to<br />

play.<br />

By Ben Dye, VGChartz

Stephan LaGioia<br />

REVIEW NS:<br />


I<br />

never thought I’d experience a game that<br />

so authentically captures the stresses of<br />

being a chef at a bustling kitchen - or at<br />

least what I presume those stresses would<br />

be like. And yet, Team 17’s Overooked! 2<br />

manages to capture it. I mean that in the<br />

best way possible, by the way. Taking its<br />

cue from the first entry, this sequel utilizes<br />

the ingredients of what made Overcooked<br />

so enjoyable and adds some delectable<br />

additions of its own, including online<br />

multiplayer.<br />

If you’ve played the original it likely won’t<br />

take much for you to jump right into<br />

the action and get acquainted with the<br />

frantic multi-tasking the game demands.<br />

The controls are pretty simple and only<br />

require the use of a few buttons for the<br />

main commands. Not being well-versed<br />

in Overcooked culinary arts myself,<br />

there was certainly a learning curve that<br />

I had to shake off with so much going<br />

on around me. After 20 minutes or so<br />

of stumbling around, dropping food<br />

on the floor, burning things, and falling<br />

down pits, it all clicked, and the game’s<br />

enjoyment elevated massively.<br />

Essentially, you’re tossed into one of a<br />

number of unique kitchens, complete<br />

with an array of cooking tools and crates<br />

full of food items at your disposal. You’re<br />

immediately put on the clock as you and<br />

at least one other chef must scramble to<br />

whip together a laundry list of varying<br />

dishes. You’ll often have to prepare these<br />

items by way of chopping, steaming,<br />

frying, and/or baking.

The rate at which you accumulate points<br />

will depend on how quickly and orderly<br />

you assemble these items. Following<br />

completion of a stage, you’ll be awarded<br />

1 to 3 stars, the latter of which usually<br />

requires a synchronized assembly<br />

line born of teamwork and ample<br />

communication.<br />

You can jump into either a local or online<br />

multiplayer mode with relative ease, and<br />

decide to face off in a cooking throwdown<br />

Iron Chef style, or choose to band<br />

together to crank out as many food<br />

items as possible within a 3 minute span.<br />

You can pick your chef from a number<br />

of cartoony options, both human and<br />

animal, and unlock more as you progress.<br />

In addition to boasting a larger lineup of<br />

chefs, Overcooked! 2 also replaces the<br />

soup recipes that so heavily permeated<br />

the original and swaps them out for a<br />

much more diverse lineup of dishes.<br />

These range from sushi, to a couple of<br />

the sequel’s more elaborate additions<br />

- flapjacks and cakes. This new lineup,<br />

along with a few old classics like the<br />

burger, keep the experience feeling fresh,<br />

as most of the food items come with their<br />

own separate process for cooking and<br />


While the game revolves around a pretty<br />

simplistic core, there are certain nuances<br />

you can exploit in order to run your<br />

kitchen more efficiently, which can go<br />

a long way in nudging over the 3 star<br />

cliff. You can allocate various tasks to<br />

certain players, such as dish washing or<br />

serving, and can choose to fulfill orders<br />

in the order they pop up to receive extra<br />

tips. You can now even toss food items<br />

directly into the arms of an awaiting chef<br />

or into a pot or pan to save on time.<br />

Overcooked! 2 mostly hits that sweet<br />

spot of solid mechanics and simplistic<br />

gameplay that’s easy enough to grasp,<br />

but provides room for completionists<br />

and die-hard chefs to shine and earn that<br />

triple star ranking.<br />

The game comes with a pretty standard<br />

campaign mode that gives you a quick<br />

tutorial before plopping you onto an<br />

overworld map containing a number of<br />

colorful kitchens, each with their own<br />

characteristics, equipment, and hazards.<br />

You’ll be cooking in everything from<br />

sushi kitchens wrought with conveyor<br />

belts, to pit-laden coal mines, to hot air<br />

balloons that force you to scurry across<br />

moving platforms. Some of these stages<br />

go a tad far in tossing random elements<br />

at you, but most add a certain charm and<br />

do well in keeping you on your toes in<br />

a creative, chaotic way. The variance in<br />

the environments also helps the game’s<br />

cute and colorful art style flourish even<br />

further, giving a delightful sense of<br />


The campaign comes with a simplistic, but<br />

nonetheless amusing narrative involving<br />

the cheekily named “Unbread”. Yes, as<br />

you might imagine, these are zombie-like<br />

bread creatures, and they’re apparently<br />

taking over the Onion Kingdom. Naturally,<br />

you’re summoned by the great Onion King<br />

- who looks exactly as you’d expect - to<br />

keep the hordes at bay by satiating their<br />

hunger.<br />

The difficulty stays at a manageable level -<br />

even when playing solo and painstakingly<br />

forced to swap between 2 chefs - and<br />

ramps up pretty steadily throughout. The<br />

game also does a nice job of providing<br />

new recipes and gameplay elements at an<br />

easy-to-absorb trickle, so the mode proves<br />

a fun and useful 5 hour diversion, though<br />

the real meat of the gameplay lies in the<br />

local and online multiplayer.

Local multiplayer was a blast in my<br />

experience, and felt as much a couch co-op<br />

game as an exercise in communication. My<br />

matches were filled with people shouting<br />

commands and recipes at eachother, frantic<br />

moments of exhilaration, and plenty of<br />

laughter-beckoning blunders. The online<br />

play doesn’t quite offer this same charm,<br />

nor the ability to talk directly with one<br />

another on the Switch version, despite being<br />

enjoyable in its own right. Thus, despite this<br />

newly included online multiplayer feature,<br />

couch co-op still stands out as the highlight<br />

of the game and the best way to experience<br />

Overcooked! 2.<br />

Aside from the lack of communication<br />

options (basic emotes notwithstanding), I<br />

had a surprisingly smooth and endlessly<br />

enjoyable experience playing online. Players<br />

usually were on the money with tasks and<br />

there was a fair degree of working around<br />

the lack of communication through quick<br />

wits, improvisation, and multi-tasking. I<br />

was usually matched up quite quickly, and<br />

only got an occasional bit of lag stutter.<br />

The head-to-head mode is ideal for the<br />

competitive types, but for my money, the<br />

more simplistic Arcade co-op portion<br />

proves a perfect blend of action-packed<br />

intensity and mindless cooking fun. Playing<br />

with 3 others can occasionally get chaotic,<br />

but it’s certainly preferable to managing<br />

multiple tasks on your own. The online<br />

could perhaps have been fleshed out a bit<br />

more, as its customizations are limited and<br />

there’s no leaderboard to be found. Still, it<br />

works well enough, and goes a long way in<br />

extending the game’s shelf life.<br />

The original Overcooked managed to be<br />

something of a sleeper hit and its sequel<br />

further reminds us why this quirky co-op<br />

franchise has won over so many. Ghost<br />

Town Games and Team 17 have sprinkled<br />

in just the right amount of new elements<br />

to strengthen and further flesh out the<br />

experience without overwhelming it. While<br />

your levels of enjoyment playing solo are<br />

likely to be tepid, those looking for co-op<br />

multiplayer gaming excellence should look<br />

no further than this charming, addictive<br />

sequel.<br />

By Stephan LaGioia, VGChartz

Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)<br />

Review<br />

Marvel’s Spider-Man is without a<br />

doubt the absolute best Marvel<br />

game ever made. The world<br />

Insomniac Games have created, even with its<br />

many and varied references to the greater<br />

Marvel universe, feels so authentically Spider-<br />

Man that it’s almost unbelievable. The systems<br />

they’ve implemented, the gadgets and suit<br />

powers, serve well to enhance the experience<br />

and feeling of being Spidey.<br />

The game starts you in as a 23-year-old Peter<br />

Parker in the midst of working to bring down<br />

the Kingpin (continuing basically straight from<br />

the prequel novel Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover,<br />

which is also very good) and thrusts you<br />

straight into a fully immersive New York City.<br />

The first mission in the game feels both like a<br />

well-designed tutorial and a hugely impacting<br />

part of the story, which feels so damn good.<br />

“The story is where this game<br />

well and truly shines”<br />

It shows you everything you need to know to<br />

get started, including introducing you to the<br />

swinging mechanics literally straight out of the<br />

gate... or rather window.

These swinging mechanics<br />

are a big part of what makes<br />

this game so fun, with an<br />

emphasis on fluidity and<br />

building up speed using<br />

different techniques. Traversal<br />

in open world games is<br />

always touch and go, with<br />

some being really good and<br />

some being incredibly boring.<br />

Luckily Spider-Man gives you<br />

enough variations to enable<br />

you to move throughout the<br />

city quickly, which opens up<br />

directly after the tutorial.<br />

Collectables and side missions<br />

periodically open up as well,<br />

which keeps it fun from start<br />

to finish. It’s telling that I only<br />

used the fast travel system<br />

once (when it’s introduced.<br />

It never forces you to use it<br />

after that).<br />

Combat in this game is<br />

heavily Arkham inspired, but<br />

with more of an emphasis<br />

on movement over brute<br />

strength. The different<br />

gadgets enable a wide array<br />

of play styles and the use of<br />

aerial combat gives a more<br />

3-dimensional aspect. Learn<br />

to love the dodge button, and<br />

make sure to make liberal use<br />

of webbing people because<br />

the earlier you web, the less<br />

people you have to punch<br />


I must talk about the<br />

voice acting for a<br />

moment. The voice<br />

cast of this game is<br />

phenomenal. There’s<br />

not even a character<br />

I can single out as<br />

the best or a stand<br />

out because they’re<br />

all amazingly good.<br />

The motion capture<br />

is also incredibly well<br />

done, and I’ve had<br />

multiple people walk<br />

past and ask what<br />

movie I was watching,<br />

which is just incredible.<br />

Every character is fully<br />

realised and acted<br />

incredibly well, and<br />

there are some hard<br />

scenes particularly<br />

towards the last third<br />

of the game which are<br />

phenomenally well<br />

done. Kudos to all the<br />

actors and workers<br />


The story is where this game well and truly<br />

shines though. The interactions between<br />

Spider-Man, his supporting cast and his<br />

villains are incredibly well done. The journey<br />

the story goes on, with the revelations<br />

about certain characters taking center stage<br />

in the late game, is well realised. Also, I<br />

have to mention the incidental storytelling,<br />

with the collectables and newspaper<br />

clippings you find throughout the game<br />

helping to establish a believable world<br />

where Spider-Man has been active for<br />

almost a decade.<br />

In a year where we’ve gotten such amazing<br />

games such as God of War, the fact that a<br />

game like Spider-Man could be released<br />

and be as good as it is, is absolutely<br />

amazing. If you have a PS4, go buy this<br />

game and experience it for yourself. It’s a<br />

monumentally well realised experience and<br />

one of my favourite Spider-Man stories<br />

ever.<br />

By Shaun Stoddard

YOUR Evan Norris SAY Review<br />


(PS4)<br />

Few things are as alien and inhospitable as<br />

a derelict space station drifting aimlessly,<br />

noiselessly through the inky, empty vastness<br />

of space. It’s a terrific setting for a sciencefiction<br />

or horror tale, and first-person actionadventure<br />

game Downward Spiral: Horus<br />

Station knows it. Part 2001: A Space Odyssey,<br />

part Dead Space, Horus Station — the first<br />

of a planned anthology series — owns<br />

some striking sci-fi ideas, impressive zerogravity<br />

controls, and thick, tense atmosphere<br />

(strengthened by a menacing electronic<br />

soundtrack from HIM frontman Ville Valo),<br />

but suffers from repetitive tasks, enemies, and<br />

stage layouts, a missing sense of progression<br />

and geography, and incoherent, evasive<br />


The story in Horus Station is<br />

purposefully — and sometimes<br />

bewilderingly — vague. An astronaut<br />

wakes up on the Horus space station<br />

after a catastrophic event. Sections<br />

of the installation have broken apart,<br />

entire areas are on lockdown, and<br />

hostile security robots run amok.<br />

As the nameless, faceless hero pulls<br />

the station back together, destroys<br />

rampaging robots, and re-engages<br />

a host of deactivated systems,<br />

more information about Horus and<br />

its extraterrestrial purpose comes<br />

into view. Even so, that “more”<br />

information is, by the end of the<br />

adventure, insufficient.<br />

Developer 3rd Eye Studios deserves<br />

much respect for opting for<br />

environmental storytelling in its zerogravity<br />

thriller, and in the process<br />

skipping cinematic cut-scenes, but<br />

the game’s vagueness come at a<br />

price: an often incomprehensible<br />

storyline that leaves the player with<br />

a nagging question by the time<br />

the end credits roll — did I miss<br />

something?<br />

As you decipher the game’s abstruse<br />

story, you’ll explore the multichambered<br />

station in zero-g, fight<br />

off murderous robots, and solve<br />

a few simple puzzles. Navigation<br />

without gravity is the principal joy<br />

of Horus Station, thanks to a clever<br />

control scheme where players can<br />

extend a hand by pressing up on<br />

the left control stick, grasp a nearby<br />

bulkhead or console, and launch<br />

forward simply by releasing the stick.<br />

At first, it’s a bit daunting, but after a<br />

few minutes it becomes a responsive,<br />

liberating experience — even better,<br />

ostensibly, in the optional VR mode.<br />

Shooting is worthwhile also, mainly<br />

because of a surprisingly diverse<br />

arsenal of firearms. Among them: an<br />

introductory pea-shooter, a semiauto<br />

pistol, a scattershot gun, a<br />

sniper weapon, and several more.<br />

Players can equip weapons in either<br />

the right or left hand (the same goes<br />

for a hookshot device and a portable<br />

motor, which make mid-air navigation<br />

easier). While Horus Station’s armory<br />

and shooting mechanics are solid,<br />

its enemy encounters are decidedly<br />

less impressive. The same rival robots<br />

appear again and again, and attack<br />

in similar patterns. Basically, if you<br />

unholster your weapon early, you’re<br />

likely to win. If the floating foes fire<br />

first, it’s probably game over — which<br />

means a quick reset at a nearby<br />

checkpoint, with all your progress<br />

intact. Overall, firefights aren’t nearly<br />

tactical enough and fall on the<br />

repetitive side.

Repetition also infects the<br />

game’s objective and level<br />

designs. The Horus space<br />

station has a samey look,<br />

with Kubrick-esque tunnels,<br />

bulkheads, hallways, and<br />

doorways having a similar<br />

appearance. Objectives tend<br />

to repeat as well: locate<br />

key card, insert fuel rod,<br />

navigate across open space.<br />

There are a few mechanically<br />

interesting sequences,<br />

like manually docking two<br />

large parts of the station<br />

or deactivating a large,<br />

patrolling security bot, but<br />

for the majority of the game,<br />

players will settle into a<br />

monotonous groove.<br />

Objective design suffers not<br />

only from uninvolving quests<br />

but a general confusion<br />

over progress and place.<br />

As you hover around the<br />

Horus installation, it’s not<br />

uncommon to be unclear<br />

about where you are in<br />

proximity to other key points<br />

in the station, what you’re<br />

meant to be doing, and why<br />

exactly you’re doing it in the<br />

first place. There are maps<br />

and monitors throughout<br />

Horus that flash information,<br />

but rarely do they provide<br />

insight into how far you’ve<br />

come and how much is<br />

left ahead. Again, vague<br />

instructions and oblique<br />

storytelling can be a gift,<br />

particularly in a cerebral<br />

sci-fi setting, but 3rd Eye<br />

Studios strays too far into the<br />

incomprehensible.<br />

In addition to the four-hour<br />

campaign, which can be<br />

played solo or in online coop,<br />

and in one of two modes<br />

— “engage,” a traditional<br />

adventure, or “explore,” which<br />

removes any hostile threats<br />

— Horus Station offers up<br />

deathmatch and horde via<br />

online multiplayer, staged<br />

in environments from the<br />

story and populated with<br />

its weapons. Unfortunately,<br />

online lobbies were vacant<br />

pre-launch.<br />

A game like Horus Station<br />

isn’t about graphical fidelity;<br />

it’s about atmosphere.<br />

Judged by that metric, the<br />

game succeeds, even if its<br />

textures and lighting are<br />

merely middling. Valo’s<br />

ambient soundtrack is the<br />

real star here, anyway. It sets<br />

the hazardous, unexplained<br />

mood perfectly, and strings<br />

you along to the final frame.<br />

For all its atmospheric feats,<br />

Horus Station struggles to<br />

break orbit. Every good sci-fi<br />

idea and engaging mechanic<br />

is paired with a repetitive<br />

process or confusing<br />

narrative. Armed with better<br />

enemy AI, more complex<br />

puzzles, and a fleshed-out<br />

story, the game could make a<br />

mark on the genre. Hopefully<br />

future titles in the anthology<br />

series will succeed where this<br />

game falters.<br />

By Evan Norris


Octopath<br />

Octopath Traveler is the newest RPG from<br />

Square Enix, a developer held in legendary<br />

regard mainly because of that very genre<br />

since decades past. Having been featured<br />

heavily in Nintendo Directs since its unveiling,<br />

Octopath Traveler seemed by all accounts<br />

to be Square Enix’s main project for the<br />

Nintendo Switch, to the extent that it was<br />

even published by Nintendo in every region<br />

outside of Japan.<br />

Given the pedigree of the developer when it<br />

comes to RPGs, Octopath Traveler instantly<br />

has very high expectations to live up to, and<br />

honestly, it’s no exaggeration to say that it<br />

is on par with the legendary games Square<br />

produced back in the golden age of 2D RPGs.<br />

The first thing that really stands out about<br />

the game, and which caught my attention in<br />

the very first trailer, is the unique graphical

Traveler (NS)<br />

style that the developers themselves dubbed<br />

“HD-2D”. At first glance, it seems reminiscent<br />

of SNES-era games, but you quickly realize<br />

that Octopath Traveler’s aesthetic goes above<br />

and beyond, bringing a new twist to the old<br />

sprite-based graphic it’s honoring.<br />

After putting a few hours into Octopath<br />

Traveler, the biggest question I had was<br />

how nobody seemed to have had this<br />

idea for graphics before. It’s a distinct<br />

style which merges everything that’s loved<br />

about classical 16-bit masterpieces with<br />

new technology, and the world feels all the<br />

richer for it. You analyze every nook and<br />

cranny on the screen to see if there might<br />

be a hidden path there, and the more I<br />

gazed in-depth at the art of the game,<br />

the more I fell in love with its entire visual<br />


In today’s gaming world<br />

of extremely high-quality<br />

graphics, it’s rare to have<br />

something wow you visually,<br />

unless it has a very distinct<br />

art style. Puzzling as it may<br />

seem, Octopath Traveler<br />

gave me similar vibes to<br />

those I experienced playing<br />

Donkey Kong Country on the<br />

SNES back in my childhood,<br />

where it felt like it may have<br />

changed the entire scene<br />

for games of its type. Just<br />

as Donkey Kong Country<br />

served as a predecessor to<br />

the 3D quality we would see<br />

everywhere a few years later,<br />

it does feel like Octopath<br />

Traveler will go down as a<br />

trendsetter, with many 2D<br />

games following its visual<br />

approach. I certainly wasn’t<br />

expecting sprite-based 2D<br />

graphics to be brought to<br />

new levels in this day and<br />

age, but Octopath Traveler<br />

and its “HD-2D” really does<br />

give me that vibe when I play<br />

it.<br />

The gameplay is reminiscent<br />

of classic RPGs like the 2D-era<br />

Final Fantasy titles, though it<br />

also takes some inspiration<br />

from the more recent Bravely<br />

Default series, with a battle<br />

system that feels like a more<br />

refined version of the Brave<br />

Points system we saw in<br />

that game. In battle, your<br />

characters will gain a Boost<br />

Point at the end of every turn,<br />

which can be spent to attack<br />

multiple times or strengthen<br />

a spell you’re casting.<br />

Besides this, each of the eight<br />

characters present in the<br />

game has unique abilities,<br />

such as the hunter H’aanit<br />

being able to tame monsters<br />

and call them in for backup<br />

in later fights, or the cleric<br />

Ophilia who fills the classic<br />

healer role with spells which<br />

will restore your allies’ health<br />

points. Characters also have<br />

unique abilities outside of<br />

battle when they interact<br />

with NPCs in the overworld,<br />

such as the dancer Primrose<br />

being able to lure characters<br />

to follow her, or the merchant<br />

Tressa who can buy items<br />

from NPCs who wouldn’t<br />

usually be selling them (and<br />

sometimes ones that aren’t<br />

ordinarily available in stores<br />

at all).

Although each of these<br />

overworld skills is effectively<br />

repeated in another character<br />

(for example, both H’aanit<br />

and Olberic challenge NPCs<br />

to do battle), there’s more<br />

than enough variety to go<br />

around, and you can mix and<br />

match amongst the 8 potential<br />

party members to fill your<br />

4-character party to your<br />

liking, and switch between<br />

characters throughout your<br />

adventure for the optimal<br />

experience.<br />

The big draw of Octopath<br />

Traveler is, of course, what’s<br />

alluded to in the very title;<br />

namely that there are eight<br />

paths, with each of the eight<br />

characters having their very<br />

own adventure to embark on,<br />

with the rest of the characters<br />

serving as little more than<br />

hired help to achieve their<br />

goals.<br />

That said, the characters’<br />

stories are definitely solid<br />

enough to intrigue you on<br />

their own, and while the rest<br />

of the cast mostly feel like<br />

supporting cast members<br />

when they’re on somebody<br />

else’s chapter, you definitely<br />

get a strong feel for their<br />

motivations, backstory, and<br />

personal journey during their<br />

own intricate storylines.<br />

The player gets to choose<br />

which path to pursue,<br />

with each character’s next<br />

story chapter being clearly<br />

marked out on the world<br />

map, meaning that you can<br />

continue a certain character’s<br />

storyline and ignore the rest<br />

if you want to, although you’d<br />

probably have to do a fair<br />

amount of grinding to be able<br />

to successfully pull off such a<br />

focused playthrough. Because<br />

of the interesting characters,<br />

it can almost be difficult to<br />

decide which storyline to<br />

advance next.<br />

Regardless of whether you<br />

decide to go all-in on each<br />

of the characters or not,<br />

Octopath Traveler is a pretty<br />

big game with lots of things<br />

to do. Besides the main<br />

stories, there’s an abundance<br />

of sidequests and interesting<br />

areas to explore, but if<br />

you’re a player who prefers<br />

linearity, the game indicates<br />

what’s good to do next by<br />

displaying main quests on the<br />

world map, including level<br />

recommendations for each of<br />

them, giving you a clear sense<br />

of guidance if you’re just<br />

trying to get through the main<br />

stories.<br />

All in all, Octopath Traveler is<br />

an ambitious game in a lot of<br />

ways but doesn’t necessarily<br />

cause a huge shake-up to the<br />

genre. Rather, it goes back to<br />

basics and does everything it<br />

attempts to do exceptionally<br />

well. The battle system feels<br />

rewarding and nostalgic, but<br />

without any of the old qualms<br />

that retro RPGs can bother<br />

you with when you replay<br />

them, and the characters are<br />

quite varied in their abilities.<br />

On top of this, you can later<br />

unlock subjobs and advanced<br />

jobs, allowing you to evolve<br />

your party even further, which<br />

gives you a distinct sense<br />

of choice even beyond just<br />

picking which story to unravel<br />

next.<br />

In an era where people have<br />

lamented the lack of RPGs<br />

which maintain that old<br />

school feel from many of our<br />

childhoods, Octopath Traveler<br />

is an extremely welcome<br />

breath of fresh air, and it’s<br />

hard to imagine it going down<br />

as anything other than a true<br />

classic both for Square Enix<br />

and for Nintendo.<br />

By Nicholas Taylor

Paul Broussard<br />

Comparing the Nintendo Warriors:<br />

Fire Emblem<br />

vs. Hyrule<br />

Over the course of the Wii’s and Wii U’s<br />

lifespan, third party developers were<br />

in short supply for Nintendo. For one<br />

reason or another, third party games simply<br />

weren’t selling very well on Nintendo home<br />

consoles. As a result, any sort of partnership<br />

that did produce sales was valuable. One such<br />

fruitful partnership was with Koei Tecmo, who<br />

developed two games based off of the Dynasty<br />

Warriors series, but focusing on story and<br />

characters from specific Nintendo franchises<br />

rather than the usual Dynasty Warriors cast.<br />

Hyrule Warriors, based on The Legend of Zelda,<br />

was released for the Wii U in 2014 and later<br />

ported to 3DS and Switch in 2016 and 2018,<br />

respectively, while Fire Emblem Warriors, based<br />

on Fire Emblem (duh), launched simultaneously<br />

for 3DS and Switch in 2017.<br />

As someone who’s enjoyed both games quite<br />

a bit, I thought it might be worth looking back<br />

on the two and comparing them. I’ll be placing<br />

them head to head in a number of different<br />

areas, determining which I think was the better<br />

title, and ultimately picking one game to<br />

recommend to people who might be interested<br />

in trying a Nintendo Warriors title out. So, with<br />

that in mind, let’s get started.

Presentation<br />

Right off the bat, which game presents itself<br />

better? From music, to levels, to just the general<br />

overall aesthetic, which title provides more<br />

glisten to surround the meat of the experience<br />

with?<br />

Hyrule and FE Warriors both provide some very<br />

interesting takes on areas pulled from their<br />

respective franchises. Being able to run around<br />

Fire Emblem areas that were previously only<br />

viewed from a top down perspective is a real<br />

treat, while looking at Zelda areas reimagined<br />

and mixed with each other is also extremely<br />

enjoyable. Hyrule Warriors gets a slight nod in<br />

this area due to having a few more levels from<br />

its 3DS version, but both earn high marks here.<br />

The music for both games is also (pardon the<br />

pun) rock solid as well, with electric guitar<br />

remixes of songs found throughout the games<br />

pulled from. FE perhaps edges ahead here<br />

slightly, if only because I like the few original<br />

songs introduced in FE Warriors more than the<br />

ones found in Hyrule, but again it’s very close.<br />

On the other hand, Fire Emblem wins easily<br />

in regards to graphical quality and poststory<br />

content. Hyrule’s graphics have dated<br />

considerably since the Wii U release in 2014,<br />

and don’t look significantly better on the<br />

Switch. FE Warriors’ more stylized aesthetic<br />

does and likely will look quite good for<br />

some time to come. And while both games<br />

have roughly equivalent story modes, FE<br />

Warriors stacks up better in regards to<br />

post-game content, with its History Mode<br />

providing a much more enjoyable incentive<br />

to fight additional battles than Hyrule’s rather<br />

schizophrenically organized Adventure Mode.<br />


Roster of Characters<br />

Much of the appeal of crossovers like these lies<br />

in being able to play as a variety of different<br />

characters from the series being represented.<br />

Both Hyrule and Fire Emblem Warriors market<br />

themselves on the player being able to play<br />

as various protagonists and/or antagonists<br />

from the series’ past. Since Link is usually the<br />

only playable character in Zelda titles, and Fire<br />

Emblem is more about giving orders to units<br />

than actively playing as them, these crossovers<br />

present the first real opportunity for many<br />

people to directly control many characters that<br />

they may have always wanted to.<br />

In that regard, it’s hard not to feel at least a<br />

little disappointed in Fire Emblem Warriors, and<br />

its DLC, opting to pull from just three games:<br />

Shadow Dragon, Awakening, and Fates. Hyrule<br />

Warriors, at launch anyway, only featured<br />

playable characters from three games as well,<br />

but since then has added both protagonists<br />

and antagonists from titles across the series.<br />

Conversely, FE Warriors only offers characters<br />

from those three titles, even with its DLC. In<br />

fairness to FE Warriors, there are far more<br />

characters from the Fire Emblem series that fans<br />

really want to play as, so it would never have<br />

been realistically possible to satisfy everyone,<br />

but this doesn’t even seem like trying. The<br />

infamous “too many swords” excuse doesn’t<br />

hold up either, given the sheer amount of sword<br />

characters already included both in the main<br />

game and the DLC.<br />

And this doesn’t even touch upon the sheer<br />

number of clone characters included in FE<br />

Warriors, who reuse the same moveset.<br />

Camilla and Hinoka are similar to Cordelia,<br />

Celica is similar to Marth, Navarre is similar to<br />

Lyn, Lucina is similar to Chrom, Tharja is similar<br />

to Robin, Owain is similar to Ryoma, etc. In<br />

total, of the 34 playable characters available<br />

with DLC, ten have a copied moveset. By<br />

contrast, Hyrule Warriors has 29 characters, all<br />

with unique movesets. And this doesn’t even<br />

touch on some characters having different<br />

weapons, each of which provides entirely new<br />

movesets.<br />


Gameplay<br />

As important as representing your series well<br />

is, playing well is just as significant, and it’s<br />

here where Fire Emblem Warriors shines over<br />

Hyrule. A number of significant improvements<br />

are either unique to or simply present in FE<br />

Warriors that are not available in Hyrule.<br />

Arguably the most significant improvement<br />

is the ability to change characters on the fly,<br />

which allows players to quickly be in several<br />

places on the map rather than having to run<br />

back and forth constantly. This function is<br />

completely absent in the Wii U version of<br />

Hyrule Warriors, and while present in both the<br />

3DS and Switch versions, it’s significantly limited<br />

and, in many cases, not even available.<br />

FE Warriors also brings in the concept of the<br />

weapon triangle from the Fire Emblem series,<br />

which functions essentially as type advantages<br />

between units. This, in turn, helps alleviate a<br />

lot of the bullet (or sword?) spongy nature that<br />

tougher enemies would otherwise possess.<br />

Having trouble with a tougher foe? Plan your<br />

units’ positioning correctly so that you can take<br />

advantage of the weapon triangle and give<br />

yourself an advantage in combat. This also adds<br />

a degree of strategy to the game, and it adds<br />

another much needed layer of complexity to<br />

keep things interesting later in the game when<br />

the joy of simple button mashing has worn<br />

off. Hyrule lacks any equivalent, and as a result<br />

many foes will require long stretches of running<br />

up, getting a few hits, and ducking out before<br />

they attack again. Taking down foes is almost<br />

always enjoyable in FE Warriors, whereas it can<br />

turn into something of a grind in Hyrule.<br />

The last major benefit present is that, while<br />

FE Warriors does copy a lot of its movesets,<br />

the movesets that are there tend to be much<br />

more enjoyable than the ones in Hyrule.<br />

Playing Lucina/Chrom is probably the most<br />

fun I’ve had in a Warriors game, and other<br />

characters such as Lyn, Robin, Lissa, Ryoma,<br />

Olivia, Frederick, Azura, and Oboro are all<br />

incredibly enjoyable to use. While Hyrule has<br />

a greater variety of movesets, they are often a<br />

lot slower, more easily interrupted by enemy<br />

attacks, and just don’t hold the same visceral<br />

appeal as most of Fire Emblem’s. Out of the<br />

movesets in Hyrule, I only found myself really<br />

enjoying Ganondorf, Zelda, and Tetra, and<br />

leaving a lot of the cast relatively untouched.<br />


Overall<br />

Simply put, while Hyrule Warriors feels like a<br />

better celebration of the series, Fire Emblem<br />

feels like a superior overall game. If you’re<br />

looking for a celebration of the Zelda series,<br />

it’s hard to go wrong with Hyrule. However, if<br />

you’re in any other category and looking to<br />

try out a Nintendo Warriors title, Fire Emblem<br />

Warriors would be my recommendation.<br />

There may be a bit more content for Hyrule<br />

in the way of playable characters, but quality<br />

beats out quantity in my opinion, and Fire<br />

Emblem Warriors is certainly the more quality<br />

experience.<br />

By Paul Broussard, VGChartz

YOUR Ben Dye SAY<br />

Paper Mario Series Analysis:<br />

COLOR<br />

SPLASH<br />



I<br />

have long felt that the Paper Mario series<br />

is one of the best video games series out<br />

there, at least based on its roots, but many -<br />

especially those outside of the Nintendo family<br />

- probably have no idea why it’s talked about<br />

quite so much. The idea behind this five-part<br />

analysis of every Paper Mario game currently<br />

available is to work through each game quickly<br />

sifting through the pros and cons of each title<br />

for fans and non-fans alike.<br />

First up is Paper Mario: Color Splash, and if<br />

you love this game then prepare to weep; your<br />

tears will fuel my ever-growing linguistic might!<br />

That’s because Color Splash is, without a doubt,<br />

a prime example of Nintendo sacrificing what<br />

fans want for the sake of innovation. Instead of<br />

returning to the roots of what made the series<br />

great, Nintendo continued a sub-par pattern<br />

that had been established in Paper Mario:<br />

Sticker Star.

The Negatives<br />

Centered on collecting stickers/cards, Color<br />

Splash is, unfortunately, bland. While past<br />

games featured numerous different cultures<br />

and races, with levels based on wonderfully<br />

imagined and unique aesthetics, Color<br />

Splash continues where Sticker Star left off<br />

- with toads everywhere. And I mean that.<br />

They are literally everywhere. If you read<br />

up on the developer team’s justification for<br />

this, it’s utter nonsense. They wanted it to<br />

‘feel’ like a Mario game, which ignores all the<br />

different and wonderful species/creatures<br />

from the original three games and from the<br />

multitude of other Mario titles as if they<br />

aren’t canon.<br />

It felt like the Star Wars expanded universe<br />

being retconned all over again. Are you<br />

telling me Rawk Hawk doesn’t exist, or<br />

Dimentio, or Count Bleck, or the dozens of<br />

other crucial characters from the first three<br />

titles? I tolerate minimalism in the real world<br />

(though it isn’t my cup of tea). I cannot<br />

tolerate it infiltrating a game series I love<br />

above any other.<br />

Another flaw is the sticker collection. Before<br />

important battles, this can be a nightmare.<br />

If you don’t want to obsess over a simplified<br />

game akin to Roshambo (rock, paper,<br />

scissors), then you can look up how to get<br />

through it online to unlock thousands of<br />

gold coins and then just buy all the cards<br />

you need. Sadly for me, I played it before<br />

there were any guides out there.<br />

I imagine the majority of the lowly 860,000<br />

people that bought this game at retail (the<br />

worst sales in the series) were in the same boat<br />

as me, which meant they had to do something<br />

that’s incredibly rare for a Nintendo game:<br />

grind. “Am I suddenly in an MMO,” I wondered<br />

to myself, “surrounded by ore nodes I have to<br />

mine in order to build some amazing thing?”.<br />

Paper Mario is supposed to be fun, with the<br />

ability to beat the game if you obtain the<br />

limited skill set required (in general) and learn<br />

certain patterns. Now, all of a sudden, you had<br />

to farm for huge stickers for hours on end in<br />

order to progress. Who thought that was a<br />

good game design?

On top of that, in Color Splash had Nintendo<br />

decided to make two games in a row that<br />

employed the same design. The previous title<br />

- Sticker Star - actually sold the second most<br />

in the series, so an argument could be made<br />

that people didn’t mind the new system at all.<br />

On the other hand Super Paper Mario sold<br />

the most out of any title and that had taken a<br />

completely different approach.<br />

Those results are both great and horrible at<br />

the same time. What in my view is the best<br />

game in the series, Paper Mario: The Thousand<br />

Year Door, had the highest attachment ratio of<br />

any of entry. But the second best was actually<br />

Color Splash and if Nintendo decides to look<br />

at just attachment ratios, we may never see the<br />

franchise return to what many of us want (a<br />

more traditional Paper Mario game).<br />

When it comes to sales it’s probably more<br />

useful to look at physical attach ratios, which<br />

roughly work out as follows:<br />

Super Paper Mario – 3.7%<br />

Paper Mario: Sticker Star – 3.3%<br />

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – 10.3%<br />

Paper Mario – 4.2%<br />

Paper Mario: Color Splash – 6.1%<br />

Color Splash could, however, be considered a<br />

bit of an outlier when it comes to attachment<br />

ratio because people were starving for a game<br />

on a system that was woefully unsupported.<br />

That’s purely speculation and I could be wrong,<br />

but either way it sold less than a million at<br />

retail, which is definitely lacklustre.

The Positives<br />

There aren’t many positives, but the game<br />

is undoubtedly gorgeous and the opening<br />

CGI is absolutely stunning. The ‘thing’<br />

items, like those in Sticker Star, also produce<br />

some laughter in the middle of fights or in<br />

overcoming obstacles. It’s a light-hearted game<br />

with a fun sense of humour.<br />

at other 2D objects and determine their color,<br />

or is Mario only aware of this is for the player’s<br />

benefit?).<br />

After that, however, it feels like scraping the<br />

barrel or plucking at straws trying to come up<br />

with positives. And so...<br />

The idea of paint being stolen is also quirky<br />

because it feels like the game is breaking the<br />

fourth wall (after all, can a 2D object really look

Conclusion<br />

Color Splash is definitely the worst entry in the<br />

series as far as I’m concerned. It’s essentially a<br />

visually more impressive version of Sticker Star<br />

but with an almost entirely unoriginal concept. I<br />

am just hoping its poor sales are either blamed<br />

on the still-born platform it released on, or<br />

(hopefully) on the series’ recent direction. If it’s<br />

the latter then there’s hope that this will either<br />

lead to a return to the franchise’s roots or a<br />

reboot. Either way, I hope this entry doesn’t<br />

stain the series permanently.

vv<br />

YOUR INTERView SAY by Adam Cartwright<br />




BOX)<br />

Kickstarter has been a rather mixed<br />

bag for Vita (as I wrote about in<br />

a previous article), with a number<br />

of great games released but many<br />

more still unavailable despite the<br />

creators happily taking funds from<br />

avid handheld fans. Despite this, it’s<br />

difficult not to get excited about<br />

some of the more interesting-looking<br />

upcoming projects and undoubtedly<br />

the stand-out of these is Pato Box,<br />

a boxing-adventure game starring<br />

a duck that features 3D exploration<br />

mixed in with Punch Out style fighting.<br />

The game is due for release on Vita<br />

this month (following successful<br />

launches on PC and Switch), so I<br />

took the opportunity to talk to the<br />

game’s creators from Bromio about<br />

the project - in particular I wanted to<br />

know what inspired them to make the<br />

game in the first place as well as what<br />

convinced them to bring it to Vita.

First off, tell me a little bit about<br />

yourselves. Who makes up<br />

Bromio and what do you all do?<br />

Antonio: Hi! We are 9 people<br />

working at Bromio - Samir as<br />

Product Manager, Luis as Lead<br />

Programmer, Heri as Game<br />

Designer/Technical Artist,<br />

Colette as Animator/Illustrator,<br />

Emma as 3D Modeler, Joaquin<br />

as Progammer/QA, Abraham as<br />

Illustrator/Community Manager,<br />

David as Programmer and myself<br />

(Antonio) as Game Director/<br />

Programmer. In the development<br />

of Pato Box we also worked with<br />

Cesar from 2think Design Studio<br />

and Controvol.<br />

Can you tell me about the history<br />

of your studio? How did you first<br />

get started in videogames?<br />

Antonio: We started development<br />

of games in 2013, we were focused<br />

on mobile games as a learning<br />

point since getting our game<br />

released on the AppStore and the<br />

Google Play Store was easier at that<br />

time than Steam. After developing<br />

a couple of mobile games we<br />

wanted to make a bigger game and<br />

that’s when we started developing<br />

Pato Box.<br />

What made you decide on<br />

Kickstarter as a means to fund<br />

Pato Box? Did you find it<br />

difficult to pitch the game to<br />

traditional publishers?<br />

César: We wanted to maintain<br />

all the freedom we could in<br />

the development. While we<br />

had some money saved for<br />

the project we knew that the<br />

development time could be<br />

reduced by the help of backers<br />

turning it into a crowd funding<br />

project and also use it as a tool<br />

to let more people know about<br />

our dream and help us make it<br />

happen.<br />

What made you decide on<br />

Vita as a target platform<br />

for the game?<br />

Antonio: We were able to<br />

get in touch with Sony some<br />

time ago and we got access<br />

to dev kits pretty early on.<br />

Unfortunately we weren’t<br />

able to develop a game for<br />

it until Pato Box and we saw<br />

that the gameplay would be<br />

perfect to have on the go<br />

and that’s why we decided<br />

to support the Vita.

Was the response by the Vita<br />

community what you’d hoped<br />

it would be? Were you pleased<br />

with the feedback you received?<br />

César: We met a lot of people<br />

really interested on the game being<br />

made for the Vita, and just like<br />

many of the development team,<br />

there were fans of the system that<br />

really got into it once we showed<br />

one build of it at PAX. We were<br />

really pleased to find out we were<br />

not the only ones that wanted this<br />

game on Sony’s portable system.<br />

Antonio: When we announced<br />

the game was coming to the<br />

Vita we got an overwhelmingly<br />

positive response from the<br />

community and they supported<br />

us a lot on our Kickstarter, so<br />

releasing the game on the<br />

platform is a big priority for us.<br />

How did you first come into<br />

contact with Sony regarding<br />

Vita development? How has<br />

Sony been to work with?<br />

Antonio: We met our contact in<br />

Sony at a development event in<br />

Mexico and they have been very<br />

supportive from the start; we<br />

received a dev kit really quickly<br />

after getting in contact with<br />

them.<br />

How have you found working on<br />

Vita as a piece of hardware? Is it<br />

difficult to develop for? Have you<br />

had to make substantial changes<br />

to Pato Box to get it running?<br />

Antonio: The portability on the<br />

system is great but it has been<br />

difficult for us to adapt the game<br />

for it. The stages on Pato Box<br />

are kinda big and we made the<br />

mistake early on of not taking<br />

the Vita memory into account, so<br />

getting the 3D exploration right<br />

has been a challenge for us. Most<br />

of the changes were made on the<br />

exploration side but we are did<br />

our best to keep the experience as<br />

similar as possible to the PC version.

What engine does Pato Box run<br />

in?<br />

Antonio: Pato Box runs on<br />

Unity - the engine has been<br />

great for us and we feel really<br />

comfortable using it.<br />

How long did it take to<br />

develop the game in total?<br />

Antonio: The PC version took<br />

around 1 year and 8 months<br />

to develop. After that release<br />

we have been working on fixes,<br />

the arcade mode, and the ports<br />

of the game for around 4-5<br />

months.<br />

Has it been difficult raising<br />

awareness of your game<br />

within the ever-growing indie<br />

market?<br />

César: I wouldn’t say it has<br />

been difficult but rather a slow<br />

process. We have relied on<br />

the users and their opinions<br />

on the game and how they<br />

recommend the game on social<br />

media and blogs. We have<br />

been lucky enough to grab<br />

the attention of some popular<br />

webpages that got interested<br />

in it as well expanding the<br />

exposure of it.<br />

Let’s talk about the game<br />

itself. What was the<br />

inspiration behind Pato<br />

Box? What made you<br />

decide on a boxing duck?<br />

César: The character and<br />

some of the story was<br />

pitched at Bromio based on<br />

a comic book I created in my<br />

free time. The main character<br />

was charismatic enough<br />

to bring attention to the<br />

whole idea and we started<br />

brainstorming every idea that<br />

would bring the character to<br />


Did you feel the need to<br />

fill a hole in the market left<br />

by narrative-driven boxing<br />

games like Punch Out?<br />

How difficult is the game? Did<br />

you want to challenge players<br />

or make it accessible for<br />

newcomers?<br />

Will the game be PlayStation<br />

TV compatible?<br />

Antonio: We are working on it!<br />

César: We thought that the<br />

logical answer to making a<br />

game based on the character<br />

using the comic aesthetics<br />

would be Punch Out. The fact<br />

that there was need in the<br />

market for that kind of games<br />

just made it click afterwards.<br />

César: At the end we decided<br />

to have a very challenging<br />

game that felt fair to the player.<br />

We always had in mind the<br />

newcomers to this kind of game,<br />

but we wanted to maintain the<br />

challenging aspects of the Punch<br />

Out series.<br />

Will you attempt a physical<br />

release of Pato Box if the<br />

opportunity arises?<br />

Antonio: Yes! It’s something we<br />

really want to do but we are still<br />

looking into it to see what is our<br />

best option.<br />

What features make Pato<br />

Box unique? What made<br />

you decide on including<br />

exploration-based elements in<br />

addition to the fighting?<br />

César: Pato Box will show you<br />

a world that is a mixture of<br />

serious themes and places<br />

mixed with some really stupid<br />

moments and characters,<br />

making it a bizarre and unique<br />

experience. Most of the fights<br />

were designed to keep the<br />

simplicity of the Punch Out<br />

controls but to expand on the<br />

mechanics surrounding enemies<br />

to make it an original game.<br />

The exploration-based elements<br />

are meant to show more of the<br />

story of this world and act as a<br />

“break” between the hardcore<br />

fights in it.<br />

What is the expected length<br />

of the game? Anything<br />

to encourage multiple<br />

playthroughs?<br />

César: I think it really depends<br />

of what type of player you are.<br />

For some the fights are the core<br />

within the game and they will<br />

jump right to the action, trying<br />

to achieve a high rank within<br />

each fight. Others want to dig<br />

into the story of the hero and<br />

his world and will try to find<br />

every secret and detail around<br />

the characters, not to mention<br />

the collectables we left scattered<br />

around. I like to think you can<br />

jump back to the game anytime<br />

to do all this stuff and discover<br />

more easter eggs hidden within,<br />

or just to get better at the<br />

bosses.<br />

Finally, two questions I’ve been<br />

asking everyone – what are<br />

some of your favourite games<br />

you’ve played on Vita?<br />

César: Tearaway, Gravity Rush,<br />

Hotline Miami and Sound Shapes.<br />

Antonio: Persona 4 Golden and<br />

Gravity Rush are my favorites.<br />

Which of the two Vita models<br />

(LCD or OLED) is your favourite?<br />

César: OLED for me, it looks<br />

gorgeous.<br />

Antonio: OLED also, the screen is<br />

amazing.<br />

I’d like to thank Antonio and Cesar for<br />

taking the time to talk to me. You can<br />

follow updates on their game Pato<br />

Box and any future Bromio projects<br />

via their website, but they’re most<br />

active on Twitter! - Adam Cartwright

INTERView by Adam Cartwright<br />

Porting, Partnerships, Vita & the Future<br />

Ratalaika Games<br />

At the start of 2017, indie porting studio/<br />

publisher Ratalaika Games revealed on Twitter<br />

that it had received a Vita dev kit and was<br />

working on porting its titles to the console. Fast<br />

forward to the current day and the team has<br />

built up an impressive portfolio of more than<br />

10 games for the Vita, with plenty more on the<br />

way too. These tend to be shorter experiences<br />

that provide a fun dose of portable gameplay,<br />

but with the studio expanding into genres such<br />

as text adventures, the developer seems to be<br />

an interesting variable in the future of Vita in<br />

its twilight years.<br />

With the team being active on Twitter and<br />

regularly engaging with the Vita fanbase, I<br />

took the opportunity to contact them to ask<br />

all about their mantra, their future projects, as<br />

well as personal thoughts on the Vita as a piece<br />

of hardware and the buyers who still purchase<br />

games for it. What I got in response was one of<br />

the most enthusiastic replies I’d ever seen and<br />

a wonderful set of answers (including a few<br />

surprise reveals too!), making it quite possibly<br />

my favourite interview yet.

First off, tell me a little bit<br />

about yourselves; who makes up<br />

Ratalaika and what do you all do?<br />

We’re a team of two people! We<br />

work in porting & publishing games<br />

to consoles. I code and work on<br />

marketing / promotion duties and<br />

YOUR SAY<br />

my partner does testing and product<br />

management, submitting everything<br />

to the platforms holders!<br />

What is the company’s history?<br />

When were you founded and what<br />

was your first project?<br />

It was founded by myself a few years<br />

ago back in 2013. Back then I was<br />

working on mobile only projects<br />

as most indie developers. Also<br />

worked for OUYA and some other<br />

Android consoles, then after a few<br />

failed games I moved on to porting<br />

because it was easier as I suck as a<br />

game designer!<br />

How did you first get into<br />

contact with Sony? Was it an<br />

easy process to get hold of a<br />

Vita Dev kit?<br />

We pitched a self-developed<br />

game a loooooong time ago, it<br />

was never released but it was<br />

how we got into all consoles<br />

actually! We got our PSVita<br />

devkit to port a few games -<br />

initially we had only PS4.<br />

How has Sony been as a<br />

partner? Have your contacts<br />

in the company been<br />

encouraging in bringing your<br />

titles to the Vita?<br />

Pretty good! We’re really happy<br />

with working with them and the<br />

promotion they do. We caught<br />

PSVita a bit late so they never<br />

asked us to port anything to it<br />

or encouraged it in any way.<br />

Has Sony’s public<br />

withdrawal of support for<br />

the handheld discouraged<br />

you at all from future<br />

development?<br />

Meh, not really, I think it’s<br />

still a good niche for indies<br />

to work on! As long as the<br />

games run on it we will keep<br />

targeting it for sure.<br />

Vita’s fanbase tends to be<br />

very vocal on social media<br />

- have you found this<br />

encouraging to continue<br />

bringing titles to the<br />

platform?<br />

Yeah! Actually it’s one of the<br />

reasons that we keep making<br />

Vita ports! All the fans love<br />

them, which is great.<br />

In general, how is Vita to<br />

develop for? Do you run<br />

into regular difficulties in<br />

porting games across?<br />

Quite hard actually, the CPU is<br />

pretty power-less so it’s not easy<br />

to optimize for, also it has some<br />

downsides like the save system or<br />

the special resolution.

How is the submission process for Sony<br />

compared to Nintendo? Do you find one<br />

more onerous than the other?<br />

It’s easier and faster, also more predictable,<br />

which is great. As an indie dev there is<br />

nothing worse than not knowing when your<br />

game will be out of QA!<br />

How do your partnerships with<br />

independent developers to port their<br />

titles usually happen? Do you approach<br />

them or do they come to you?<br />

It really depends, initially we approached<br />

many devs, Like Twin Robots, Squareboy<br />

vs Bullies or League of Evil. After a few<br />

releases some devs started to approach<br />

us! Like Petite Games or TETRA’s Escape’s<br />

creators. Devious Dungeon was actually<br />

a recommendation from League of Evil’s<br />

developer.<br />

Do you have a favourite game (past<br />

or future) that you’ve worked on/are<br />

working on?<br />

I think Devious Dungeon! I played it back<br />

when it released on mobile years ago,<br />

so I loved playing it all over again as a<br />

DEVELOPER/PORTER! I never thought that<br />

could ever happen, not even in my wildest<br />


What engines do the games you port<br />

run in? Do they require a lot of effort to<br />

adapt to consoles?<br />

Normally Unity3D or native code, like<br />

C or C++. We also do Java, Haxe, Lua...<br />

Depending on the game and the possible<br />

revenue we can adjust.<br />

What genre do you have most fun<br />

working with?<br />

I think adventure games - I really love a<br />

good story! So they are by far the best I<br />

think.<br />

Are there any dream Vita ports you’d<br />

love to work on?<br />

Hmmmm, I think not really at this time, we<br />

love working on small/unknown games so<br />

they can have a second chance on consoles;<br />

the one that they never had on Steam.<br />

Let’s talk about specific games - how<br />

is the porting of Devious Dungeon 2<br />

coming along? Will it include something<br />

new?<br />

At the moment we’re not working on it yet!<br />

We’re working on Random Heroes 1 first =).<br />

It should release later this year hopefully.

Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming<br />

game TETRA’s Escape?<br />

Well TETRA’s Escape is a puzzle platformer where you<br />

have to control a bunch of characters that can change<br />

shapes to solve the levels. It’s a bit hard sometimes but<br />

we’ve prepared a guide for those who get stuck, like me<br />

lol...<br />

Similarly, what is this new adventure<br />

game you have been teasing - and what<br />

can we expect from the title?<br />

Well, as you may have heard/seen on some<br />

social media and trophy hunter channels we<br />

frequent, we’re working on an adventure<br />

game port.<br />

It’s a bit longer than usual, it would need<br />

~100-140 hours for the platinum according<br />

to the game developer. Also it’s most<br />

probably PEGI 18.<br />

You’ve teamed up with eastasiasoft for a physical<br />

release of One More Dungeon and Signature<br />

Edition Games for The Count Lucanor. Do you think<br />

initiatives like these are important for preserving<br />

titles into the future?<br />

The Count Lucanor was published by Merge Games<br />

digitally too, that’s why they did the physical edition. At<br />

the moment we prefer to keep the digital publishing in<br />

house too when possible so, we will probably reach to<br />

eastasiasoft for physical releases - probably all of the<br />

titles they want!

Can we expect physical releases for any of<br />

your future Vita titles? Is the decision on a<br />

physical release made by you or the game’s<br />

developer?<br />

Probably yes ;) The call is up to eastasiasoft<br />

haha - they do Asia for all our games so they<br />

pick the ones they like the most!<br />

Finally, two questions I’m asking everyone -<br />

what are some of your favourite games that<br />

you’ve played on Vita?<br />

I think Day of The Tentacle Remastered! I always<br />

loved that game.<br />

Which of the Vita models is your favourite<br />

(LCD or OLED)?<br />

Is there a chance we may see some of your<br />

Switch-only ports like Vaccine or I and Me<br />

come to Vita?<br />

I like the OLED more, but I think that’s just<br />

because I play more on it. My dev unit is LCD and<br />

my retail ones are OLED :)<br />

I doubt it to be honest... I was contracted for<br />

Vaccine for Switch, I didn’t even publish it, so<br />

there’s not much for me to do there anymore...<br />

I and Me is a bit so so. Maybe yes, maybe no,<br />

only time will tell...<br />

I’d like to thank the guys at Ratalaika for taking<br />

the time to talk to me. You can follow updates<br />

on the developer’s future projects via the official<br />

website - but the team is most active on Twitter.<br />

- Adam Cartwright<br />

Do future Ratalaika projects still have a<br />

chance of landing on Vita? Any unannounced<br />

ones that you can give us some hints on?<br />

I think we will keep making Vita titles all through<br />

2018 and 2019! As long as the game runs it will<br />

land there. Some may not if they don’t run well<br />

enough, but we will be doing our best to launch<br />

as many games as possible. I think we could<br />

have ~10/12? We have more games for 2018<br />

and 2019 already registered with Sony =D

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