Gametraders Live September Magazine

gametraders

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

INTERVIEW: Spike Spencer - REVIEW: Spider Man - A Love Letter to Jurrasic Park

SEPTEMBER ISSUE 2018IVE

WIN

A double

pass for

Venom!

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

Hello and welcome to the September edition of Gametraders Live!

As some of you may know this is my second edition of Live Magazine

and I am incredibly excited and happy to be able to bring this to you

all once again!

This issue we have interviews with Spike Spencer and Neil Kaplan by

our excellent writer Paul Monopoli. As well as an article about venom,

brought to you by Shaun Stoddard, and two articles from Scott Sowter.

One an anaylsis of the sucess of Marvel and the other a love letter to

Jurrasic Park. I’d like to take a moment here to say a huge thankyou

to all three for their continuous commitment and contributions to

Gametraders. As well as encourage any of our readers to email us with

your own contributors! In conjunction with those articles, we also

bring you our usual reviews, for games such as the new Spider Man

and Overcooked! 2 to name a few.

Emily Langford

Emily Langford,

EDITOR


What’s inside

“What if

someone who

was unafraid

to kill and

was a lot more

physically

imposing had the

same powers as

Spider-Man and

was unaffected

by his Spider-

Sense?”

pg. 20

INTERVIEWS

WITH SPIKE

SPENCER AND

NEIL KAPLAN

“Sixty-five

milion years

ago our planet

was ruled by

dinosaurs.

Massive,

unimaginable

creatures of

flesh and blood

walked, roared

and ate.”

pg. 14

pg. 28


THE LIVE TEAM

EDITOR & DESIGNER: Emily Langford

WRITERS:

Shaun Stoddard from Spinions by Shaun

Scott Sowter, Entertainment review and opinion

Paul Monopoli, Interviews / Retro Editor

Ben Dye, Stephen LaGioia, Evan Norris,

Nicholas Taylor, Paul Broussard & Adam

Cartwright VGChartz

A MARVEL TO

BEHOLD

Pg. 10

8-45 MOVIES

24 VENOM GIVEAWAY

46-101 GAMES

REVISITING NO MANS SKY, pg 48

OVERCOOKED! 2 REVIEW, pg 54

DOWNWARD SPRIAL REVIEW, pg 66

OCTOPATH TRAVELLER REVIEW, pg 72

FIRE EMBBLEM VS HYRULE WARRIORS, pg 78

MARIO PAPER SERIES ANALYSIS, pg 84

INTERVIEW: BROMIO, PG 90

SPIDERMAN

REVIEW pg. 60

INTERVIEW: RATALAIKA GAMES, PG 96


FEATURED BOARDGAME

DINOSAUR TEA PARTY

“You’re looking well, darling. One lump or two?”

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

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

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

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

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

about.

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

Each player takes a card corresponding to one of the dino guests. Players

take turns asking each other questions or guessing their dinosaur’s name.

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

three names, wins the game.


SPIDER MAN 2018 POP VINYLs!

JURASSIC POP VINYLs!

ASK STAFF FOR PRODUCT DETAILS / RELEASE DATES!

Get it all at Gametraders! Order in-store.


PASS GIVEAWA

MOVIE

VENOM DOUBL

WHO IS VENOM? A

PROFILE OF A LEATHAL

KILLER

LIFE FINDS A WAY: A LOVE

LETTER TO JURRASIC

PARK


S

(ANIME) INTERVIEW: SPIKE

SPENCER AND NEIL KAPLAN

A MARVEL TO BEHOLD

E

Y


A Marvel To Behold

The Marvel Cinematic Universe exploded

onto the scene in 2008 with the release of

Iron Man. In the ten years that have followed

we have seen twenty films dominate the box

office. Avengers Infinity War undoubtedly the

biggest of them all lands in home release in

August after netting itself a tidy sum of just

over two billion dollars at the box office. There

is no doubt that Marvel has dominated the

cinema screens of the globe since 2008. In fact

if you look at the top twenty highest grossing

films since 2010, six of them are a part of the

Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s insane. The

only franchise coming close to that kind of

market control is Star Wars. But the coolest

fact is not only that Marvel is the king of the

box office, it has also dominated our small

screens too. Marvel has a staggering line of TV

shows with eight shows running concurrently

on a number of networks. With the Disney

acquisition of FOX still looming over us all

that would take the tally up to ten shows.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an absolute

behemoth.


But what is it about the MCU that keeps

us clambering for more? Why is it that this

franchise despite its massive scope is just

continuing to steamroll at full speed? Warner

Brothers has attempted a similar thing with its

DC Extended Universe, with arguably more wellknown

characters than Marvel’s initial outings,

yet is has proven to be a meagre success.

Star Wars is in the process of it’s expanding

universe, yet it’s latest outing with Solo proved a

disappointment also. Marvel marches on.

Let’s break it all down. Here are some of the key

ingredients that seem to have helped Marvel

dominate the world.


Characters

The characters that populate the MCU are as diverse

as they are dynamic. Ultimately this may be the key

reason for the monumental success of the series.

They are characters that we all love, or love to hate, or

hate to love, or just plain hate. With a few exceptions

Marvel’s characters have all been fairly well sculpted

and lovingly brought to life by a committed and

dedicated cast. From the stock Chris Evans as Captain

America, the pomp and snarky Robert Downy JR

as Tony Stark, the attitude of Bradley Cooper as

Rocket, the intensity of Charlie Cox as Daredevil, THE

INTENSITY of John Bernthal as The Punisher. The list

and the talent goes on. They gave us Loki, literally the

most likeable bad guy ever! And they ripped our

hearts out when Thanos took him away. They have

created and built a world full of people we have

become invested in. So, step one! Make

your characters likeable. Check!

Patience

Woah woah. Slow down. Take your time… It took

Marvel five movies and five years to get us to the

Avengers. By that stage we knew the characters,

we even knew the villain, then boom! 2012 saw

The Avengers hit the big screen. At the end of the

Avengers it was revealed that Thanos was the big

bad in the background of this whole thing. Pulling

Loki’s strings. Yet it took us six more years to get to

Thanos finally taking center stage to go up against

our beloved band of heroes. That is a long play. But it

is one that seems to have worked. It built gradually to

what is the biggest event they have attempted. It gave

time for the world to build and be explored, for us to

meet all the pieces of the puzzle required for it to give

us the maximum impact. The slow progression and

build up has been a key to the series success.


Risks

Every now and then it proves it’s worth taking a risk. The biggest

example of this working for the MCU is absolutely The Guardians of the

Galaxy. Before the release of that film very few people knew or cared

about Star-Lord or Rocket or Groot. Marvel took a massive risk to bring

the movie about a talking Raccoon and his living tree pal to the big

screen. Yet the film was a huge success, spawned a sequel and the entire

cast appeared in Infinity War. I for one am still waiting for Tony Stark to

meet Rocket Racoon. Just... Imagine it. The series has also taken risks

on the TV front. Agent Carter was a modest hit despite only having two

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

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

shame because it remains my favourite MCU TV show. Peggy Carter was

an amazing character and deserved more attention. But at least we can

say Marvel gave it a shot. Black Panther also a risk with an almost

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

having a predominately black cast is a risk, but the box office has

been dominated always by white casts. Then Black Panther came

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

point three billion dollars at the box office and has become a

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

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

Marvel on the way next year, hopefully it will have been worth the wait.

Leadership

Every good ship needs a skilled captain. Marvel’s Kevin Feige the

president of Marvel Studios has proven to be the man for the job. Under

his watch the MCU has grown from strength to strength. He is the guy

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

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

Never before has something like the MCU been attempted. Multiple

films and TV shows all being apart of a shared universe with characters

jumping between films and story arcs that have spanned a decade. I

doubt we will ever see anything like it again. With hard work, dedication

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

a marvel to behold.

Written by Scott F. Sowter

Twitter: @ScottFSowter


SCOTT SOWTER

LIFE FINDS A WAY:

JURRAS


A love letter to

IC PARK

Sixty-five million years ago our planet was

ruled by dinosaurs. Massive, unimaginable

creatures of flesh and blood walked,

roared and ate. Then they vanished, wiped

from the face of the Earth by some equally

unfathomable cataclxysm. What we were left

with is bones, fossils of these incredible giants

that once rolled our world. In 1993 the film

Jurassic Park was released around the world.

Steven Spielberg brought dinosaurs back to life.

As a kid in the 90’s I was a dinosaur kid, as many

were and still are. Seeing Jurassic Park on the

big screen was a life changing event. There they

were, alive, breathing, walking, roaring like we

had only imagined. This year sees the release

of Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom the fifth film

in the Jurassic franchise, showing that there is

still blood in this pre-historic beast. Apart from

being spectacular pop-corn adventure films the

Jurassic Park series has succeeded on one other

fuel, pure magic.

While the films have bounced back and forth

there is no denying that they have all been solid

hits at the box office and that comes down to

the film’s stars, and no, for once I am not talking

about Ian Goldblum. It’s the dinosaurs. That’s

why we watch. Jurassic Park has provided us

the ultimate window into our imaginations. It

has breathed life back into one of the world’s

most amazing wonders. I remember distinctly

as a child; my parents took me to a museum

and I just remember sitting in awe in front of

a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. The size is just

staggering. This enormous meat eating creature

used to move. We could picture it, in our minds.

The way it walked, the way it ate, hunted, the

thunderous crash it must have made as it ran

across the earth.


Then when those perfect ringlets of water

rippled out across the surface of a cup of

water in the film we all got to witness the

power of one of the world’s biggest creatures.

I remember that scene so vividly. The feeling

it put into me. I was never scared, as my

parents feared I would be as a young child.

I was excited. I didn’t care that the human

characters where about to be eaten, I was just

grinning ear to ear.

“THE T-REX WAS ALIVE!”

to things of pure imagination. It still fails to

compare for some reason to the magic of

Jurassic Park.

Dinosaurs are something most children are

obsessed with. For some of us that never goes

away and maybe that is the real magic. These

films have the ability to take us back to being

children. They make us feel awe again. Awe

at the amazing things that used to be here,

things we can only dream about. They make

those old bones come alive. Life finds a way.

It eats the lawyer! So cool! No-body like him

anyway... I’m sure my parents often worried

about my sanity. I just cared about the

dinosaurs. It sparked in me and many of my

generation and undying obsession with these

creatures. That is the magic of Jurassic Park.

While films like Star Wars and Avatar have

taken us beyond the stars to other worlds

By Scott F. Sowter

Twitter: @ScottFSowter


YOUR ShAUN SAY STODDARD

WHO IS VENOM?

A PROFILE OF THE LE


ATHAL PROTECTOR

On October 4th this year Sony will release the

solo debut film of Venom. It’ll be the first real

attempt by Sony at creating a ‘Spidey Without

Spidey’ Universe. Reading about the other

adaptation of characters, using the Spider-Man

license, Sony wants to bring out kind of gives

the impression that they have a lot riding on

this movie. So why make a movie of Venom

specifically? Why think that he’s the one that

can start your universe?

Well to answer that let’s take a deep dive into

Marvel comics history!


From the outset, Venom was set up as a

villain for Spider-Man. Bonded to Eddie

Brock after Spider-Man used a church bell

to get the symbiote to leave him. Venom

found Eddie, who was praying in the same

church, and bonded quickly with him

through their mutual hatred of Spider-Man.

What if someone who was unafraid to kill

and was a lot more physically imposing

had the same powers as Spider-Man

and was unaffected by his Spider-Sense?

That’s the basic idea of Venom. It worked

incredibly well in his first introduction,

where Venom had an almost horror movie

vibe to him and has continued to work

when various writers have remembered

that Venom is meant to be a little bit

terrifying.

But always Venom seems to come back

to Eddie Brock, the disgraced journalist

and that’s the Venom we’re getting in the

movie.

And arrayed against our Lethal Protector?

The Life Foundation.

I for one, am looking forward to seeing

what Sony can pull off.

By Shaun Stoddard

Throughout his stories and not always well

written appearances in Marvel comics,

the Venom symbiote has given birth to

everyone’s favourite maniac Carnage.

Who became an almost constant thorn in

Venom’s side, and the 5 symbiotes used by

the Life Foundation. The Venom symbiote

has also been bonded to a grand total of

11 hosts (give or take weird retcons and

shifts in storyline), been a superhero, a

super villain, a spy and a space knight,

and everything in between. In alternate

universes it’s been a suit of goo created to

cure cancer, a ninja, a zombie and oddly

enough an anthropomorphic pig.


DOUBLE PASS GIVE AWAY

One of Marvel’s greatest and most

complex characters takes center stage

as Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) becomes

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

take down the notorious founder of the Life Foundation, genius Carlton Drake

(Riz Ahmed) – and that obsession ruined his career and his relationship with his

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

experiments, the alien Venom merges with Eddie’s body, and he suddenly has

incredible new superpowers, as well as the chance to do just about whatever

he wants. Twisted, dark, unpredictable, and fueled by rage, Venom leaves Eddie

wrestling to control dangerous abilities that he also finds empowering and

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

for, they become more and more intertwined — where does Eddie end and

Venom begin?

WIN A DOUBLE PASS!

Thanks to Sony and Gametraders you could win a double pass to see

Tom Hardy as the new Marvel antihero VENOM when it hits cinemas

October 4

All you have to do is go to the Gametraders Facebook page and like

the competition post, tag who you’re going to take and comment why

you want to see Venom!


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


DOUBLE PASS GIVE AWAY


PAUL MONOPOLI

INTERVIEW WIT

Transformers Robots

in Disguise: Optimus

Prime


H NEIL KAPLAN

During the Friday of AVCon I was given

the opportunity to speak with a man I had

previously conversed with, Neil Kaplan. I

had last caught up with the man who refers

to himself as the ‘budget Peter Cullen’ at Oz

Comic Con in 2015. Upon reminding him

of this he elaborated by saying he was the

‘budget friendly Peter Cullen’, taking over

from Peter as Eeyore and Optimus Prime,

among others.

Recently Peter had mentioned that he based

the voice of Optimus Prime on his brother.

Neil said that while this is true, the origin

of the autobot leader’s deep vocal stylings

owes much to a Western movie hero.

“If you listen to the rhythm it’s very

quintessential for what a lot of

impressionists did for their version of John

Wayne, so I would tend to say that when I

do Peter’s version I tend to lean into that

John Wayne-ishness”.

For there series ‘Robots in Disguise’, Neil

used a slightly different voice for the role.

“(it was) vocally similar, but not necessarily

with the same sort of pattern”.

We discussed impressions, particularly

Christopher Walken, arguably one of the

most impersonated celebrities of all time.

Neil claims that his Christopher Walken

is possibly one of the worst in the world

but that when it comes to impersonating

someone:

“There’s the real impression and the

impression that distills what we all think of”.

I decided not to ask Neil to do his

impression, but he explained that while his

Christopher Walken impression is pretty

bad, it has its advantages.

“Bad impressions make for really good

original characters. People don’t realise

where the base comes from, and then when

you’re really dedicated to it, it just comes to

life.”

Neil explained that he was able to take the

quirks and twitches of Christopher Walken’s

voice and use them to voice a shortcircuiting

robot.

“And nobody knows, because it’s so horrible.

They had no idea it was Christopher

Walken”.


The last time I spoke to Neil we had so

much to talk about that I neglected to ask

him about how he got involved in acting. I

decided to remedy that by asking him that

very question.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the human

voice. I grew up watching a TV show in the

states, when I was a kid before Saturday

Night Live even came into existence.

It was called The Kopycats, and it was

impressionists. Rich Little and Frank Gorshin,

believe it or not”.

“Add the letter r onto ‘bananas’, so what

you do is you say ‘bananars’. I was like ‘oh

my god!’ And I cannot do a Liam Neeson to

save my life, but I can do that!”

Neil became the ‘kid who did impressions’,

and nothing was off limits. Children, adults,

anybody with an interesting voice was up

for grabs. He would enter talent shows,

which led to him performing in plays. This

created an intellectual spark for the young

thespian, who took this opportunity to hone

his future craft.

Neil remembers that the show didn’t have

the budget that Saturday Night Live would

have upon its arrival, so the impressions

had to be spot on for the actors to be

recognised in the roles they were playing.

He particularly admired the one-word

impressionists.

“There are a lot of people who do oneword

impressions, which are genius! When

you can do one word, or one syllable and

people get it…”

Neil then taught me how to do a one-word

impression of Liam Neeson.

“When I started getting cast in shows that

would have dialogue I fought back. I would

start reading the play as we would have the

read through and by the end of the play I

would have the voice figured out”.

This is a skill that Neil shares with aspiring

acting students that he works with. He

encourages people to find the character.

“When you’re reading through your copy

you’re trying to find the character. Read

the description, read the direction, read the

copy itself, and as it starts to influence you

let yourself go, let yourself drift… you let the

words move you”.


Voltron: Legendary Defender - Emperor Zarkon

Naruto: Shippuden

- Madara

Naruto: Shippuden - Masked Man

Bleach - Genryusai Shigekuni Yamamoto

Bleach - Rusaburo Enkogawa

Transformers Robots in Disguise - Optimus Prime

Bleach - Gesell


Justice League Heroes – Gorilla Grodd

When creating the voice Neil explains that

while you may initially find the voice for

a specific scene, that this voice might not

be representative of the entire story the

character is involved in. He explains that

it’s about understanding what created that

voice inside you and how you can adjust it

for different scenes while staying true to the

emotion that led you to that voice.

I asked Neil about how he deals with

direction that might conflict with the voices

he creates.

“That’s the thing. I don’t create the voice. I

create the character and the attitude, and

what will happen is as the character comes

into focus… sometimes that voice will get

dragged over, because now all of a sudden

he’s not as angry as you thought in your

first read through, or there’s more subtlety,

he’s not quite as in your face, or you start

working with the other actors and as their

characters develop you (drag the character

over to where they should be). I don’t think

of myself as doing voices, I think of myself

as playing characters”.

Neil cites James Earl Jones, the man who has

played two of the most famous fathers in

cinema history. These characters developed

completely differently and as such you will

never mistake a line from Darth Vader with

a line from Mufasa because the attitude is

completely different.

“James Earl Jones, as far as I’m concerned, is

an amazing actor but he has the vocal range

of Y to Z… so it’s obviously not about just

the voice. It’s about his dedication to the

character, to their inner life, to their values,

to their goals, and how they go about

achieving those goals, and when those

things change, if you’re really dedicated, the

voice should follow”.


“It’s just a different facet of doing what we

did when we were five years old. It’s just

pretending… and somewhere in our lives

school and traffic, work and the world, politics

and the weather, and everything beats that out

of us”.

Neil says it all comes down to imagination, a

skill that actors need to be able to personify

the characters they are playing.

While doing my research for the interview

I saw that Neil had delved into comedy in

his younger days. I asked whether it was

something he still had an interest in pursuing.

“Yes, very much! But I’ve given into fear for so

long I almost don’t know how to do anything

else. And fear is the main reason I haven’t

been on stage in a long time… It’s funny

because I’ll do conventions, and I’ll host stuff

and I’ll talk off the top of my head for an hour

and a half and people will be laughing and it’s

when it’s like ‘no, you’ve gotta memorise the

joke, you’ve gotta have it written and you’ve

gotta have every word of it down… and that

just terrifies me”.

With that said, Neil has a few projects he

is trying to get off the ground that are on

the ‘funny side’. He enjoys going on Twitter

and sharing jokes, even if they are for niche

audiences. As long as the joke lands he’s

satisfied.

Digemon: Hawkmon


At this point we were getting the wind

up from the AVCon media staff, but

Neil decided that after two interviews

he wanted to make sure I had all of my

questions answered. I decided to ask

Neil what he loves about Australia and

why he keeps coming back.

“What do I like about being down here?

Well, that I can come down here and

do my Scottish dialect and none of

you know it’s crap! … You know, that’s

fun. That’s nice. You know… each time I

come down to do a convention I make

new friends and it’s not a commodity

that I have overflowing in my life… so

that speaks to me. I’m attracted to the

architecture down here. I enjoy the

people, and let’s be honest: Not a whole

lot of South American countries are big

fans of the work I’ve done because they

hear my Spanish counterpart, so that

kinda limits some of the places I can go

to as far as convention travel. As much

as I’d love to go to China or Japan it’s

like ‘well, I’m gonna have to do that on

my own’ because they’re hearing their

guys”.

Neil would love to meet some of his

counterparts, particularly the Japanese

seiyuu for Madara Uchiha, whose voice

he used as a basis for the English dub.

After a quick tale about voice actors in a

karaoke bar, which really doesn’t translate

to the written medium, we are given

the hard wrap up. We thank each other,

and he goes off to do his next interview

possibly anticipating our third encounter.

Interview conducted by Paul Monopoli


Evangelion - Shinji Ikari

Martian Successor Nadesico

- Akito Tenkawa

Bleach - Hanataro Yamada


PAUL MONOPOLI

INTERVIEW WITH

SPIKE SPENCER

Neil Kaplan had vacated his seat to take

part in other interviews. The void in

front of me was filled by the shape of

Spike Spencer, another voice actor I had

previously interviewed. Rather flatteringly,

Spike remembered me from AVCon 2013,

when he had previously attended as a

guest.

When I last spoke to Spike he declared

that he was going to roll down the hill on

the side of the River Torrens. This never

happened, and it was something I joked

about with some of my AVCon friends

before the interview. They suggested that

as Spike is now a family man that he might

not be so keen to do this.

“That makes no difference whatsoever!

Rolling down a hill, I mean… come on!...

My wife really wants to, so we might just

do that”.

“I’m married, I have an 11 month old baby

boy who’s here with us. I have done more

voice over work. I’ve done a lot of other

training as a coach. I’m a sales coach, a

dating/relationships coach, relationships/

sales dynamics”.

During the last AVCon Spike had presented

a dating tips panel, details of which can be

found at dontkillyourdate.com. A book on

the subject, ‘Foodgame: The Ultimate Recipe

For Dating Success’ is

currently with the

editors and will be

available soon. So

Spike has been

quite busy, though

he confesses that

the bulk of his time

is spent raising his

son.

I asked Spike what he had been up to

since we last spoke.

Blazblue - Arakune


Black Butler: Book of the Atlantic - Snake

Spike worked with AVCon to make the event

a family affair, with his wife judging the

cosplay event, which their son, Declan, will

be participating in. If you saw a very young

Woody from Toy Story then that was Spike’s

son!

“He took his first step last night in a pub! He

was actually standing against a little plate

glass and there was some scotch there and

then he turned to my wife and took a step

towards her. I’m like, ‘OK, he was staring at

scotch and took his first step in a pub. He’s

YOUR son!’ That’s my boy!”

Spike is also quite the foodie, trying

different local cuisines as he travels the

world participating in conventions. Last time

we spoke he was waiting on a kangaroo pie.

I thought I’d ask him how it was.

“I had the kangaroo pie and, this is my

seventh time down here so, I cooked some

kangaroo last week in Sydney myself and

I just love the food down here. I do love

kangaroo, it’s great, but I love meat pies.

I remember that my first meat pie was at

the zoo in Melbourne and I was just like…

blown away”.

Spike is open to introducing his son to the

world of voice acting, should he wish to

work in the industry. He claims that Declan

has the lungs for the job, though he will be

encouraging him to do whatever he wants in

life.

Though Spike has eaten plenty of meat

pies since, he hasn’t managed to find

one that tops that first experience from

a vending machine at the zoo. It’s an

experience he can’t quite share with his

wife, who suffers from a gluten intolerance.


I asked what it is that he likes to cook at

home, to which Spike shared his recipe

for Thomas Keller style baked chicken.

Several of Spike’s favourite recipes can be

found on the website, dontkillyourdate.

com.

“I like to explore though, like while I’m

here I’m like ‘OK, what is THE BEST food

I should have while I’m in Adelaide?

Like, in Melbourne I would say go to the

Chinatown because they do great duck. I

love that. In Sydney… I dunno, you know,

it’s so eclectic. But when I’m in a locale

(and I ask) what’s the local thing? What is

it you’ve gotta have? And they always tell

me”.

Upon this revelation I shared the

not so secret recipe of the pie

floater, an Adelaide specialty. Spike

had actually eaten this before in

Sydney of all places! Most of Spike’s

meals are typically meat and three veg,

though it’s how he works with the food

that makes it special.

“I will say this. I’m not such a snobby

foodie that I won’t go to

McDonalds and get a Big Mac,

because I grew up with that stuff,

and I’m like ‘yes, it’s crap, it’s awful,

it’s horrible and amazing sometimes!

So, I won’t judge”.

After this we decided it was time to

discuss Spike’s acting career, as this was

the whole reason for the interview. I

have an appreciation of food as well, and

could have devoted the whole interview

for it. However, I’m not sure that

Gametraders would have published it.

I asked Spike how he got the storyline

for the characters he voices in video

games. At that point he can’t play

through the game like the player can, so

does he read the whole script first?

“Mainly you just focus on your character

because a lot of times we don’t have

access to any of this. I’ve done jobs

where I don’t even know what I’m doing.

Here’s the character, the director says

‘OK, here’s what’s going on and here’s

what you’re feeling, go! You do that.’ So

when people think about an actor who’s

doing a role, you have to… understand

the actor is only doing what the director

tells them to do. If you don’t like the way

an actor did something don’t blame the

actor, because we’re doing

what we’re told. That’s our

job”.

Blazblue: Continuum

Shift - Hazama

Mana Khemia 2: Fall

of Alchemy - Puni Jiro


This was something that happened back

in the early days of mainstream anime

dubbing, where shows like Sailor Moon

and Dragon Ball Z were criticized for heavy

changes to the script and mispronunciation

of specific words. I mentioned to Spike that

in the early days of the internet it was the

voice actors who used to be negatively

spoken about the roles they performed.

“Well they don’t get it. I mean, if you

understand the business of it then you need

to talk to the director, because our job is to

do what the director tells us to do.

Another actor said a long time ago, ‘I’m

an instrument. You tune me. That’s what

I do. So you tell me higher, lower, this

way, that way, whatever it is… there!’

I mean, hey. Someone hired Jar Jar

Binks”.

Earlier in the week I had read that

Ahmed Best, the actor for Jar Jar had

experienced depression for a long time

over the fan hatred of his character. This

is something that Spike was not at all

surprised to hear.

Code Geass - Rolo Lamperouge

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn - Daryl McGuinness


“I believe that, and it sucks because as

annoying as the character was, hey man,

voice wise it was a great gig!... I did

Supanova years ago with Jake (Lloyd)

who was Anakin and his mum told me

stories that I was just like… it’s insane what

people do to people. It’s like, oh my gosh!

They had to move and all kinds of things

so it messes people up, and they don’t

realise, hey, it’s just another human being

doing a job that somebody else is telling

them how to do it. So you know, go get a

life and stop harassing them”.

Back in 2013 AVCon screened a

subtitled version of Neon Genesis

Evangelion 3.0 in anticipation for the

upcoming dub release. It ended up

coming out three years later, which

was an unusually long time to wait

for an anime dub, particularly one as

anticipated as this.

“Well, it’s funny because we did the… I

forgot what year it was… I want to say

it was 2012 or something. We showed

it. We had a preview at New York Comic

Con and twelve hundred people saw it

and loved it and said ‘yay, it was great,

it was awesome’ and I was like, it’s

coming out! And a year later they called

me in to do some pickups on it and I

was like, ‘is this ever coming out?’… but

it takes its own sweet time. Nobody

tells me. People are always going ‘Spike,

what’s going to happen?’… Do I look

like I’m part of the franchise? I mean,

I come into a booth, I scream, I leave.

That’s my job”.

Spike has since heard through the

grapevine that Gainax are advertising

for animators to work on the final film

in the series, Evangelion 3.0+1.0. Spike

agrees that the naming conventions for

these four movies have been difficult to

understand.

Durarara! - Saburo Togusa


I wondered how it felt revisiting the

same character and the same series over

and over again.

“The 1.11 was a complete redo of

everything, so it was just like stepping

back into the original series and going

‘OK cool’, I’m a little bit older, obviously…

a lot older, and you know, but I still get

into the character and I can still do it. It’s

like I have the voice, I mean, my voice

has gotten deeper so we said… it wasn’t

just my thing, it was the director. We said

we’re manning him up a little bit… I think

it’s awesome, I love it. And you know

what, let me say something. It’s funny,

I get this a lot. People like goes ‘Spike

Spencer hates Shinji’, well first of all, no.

Shinji’s a two dimensional character and

by the way, not real. And second, it’s a

character”.

I asked Spike about his time working

on Doraemon. Johnny Yong Bosch

had previously told me how much

fun it was to work on the show, and

Spike also had good things to say

about it.

I’ve never had this impression from

Spike, but apparently it does the rounds

in fan circles.

One of the things Spike likes to do

during signings is to draw on pictures

of Shinji. He signed my laserdisc of the

first 2 episodes back in 2013 and drew

glasses and a beard on the character. As

Spike says, when you “man up” Shinji he

looks just like his father, Gendo.


“You know, it was a long time ago. I

haven’t done it in years… I was Ace

Goody and it’s basically a younger

Shinji, and it was fun… I auditioned for

Doraemon and didn’t get that, but I got

to play with it and a cute, fun little series”.

Spike said he occasionally can get lost in the many

series he’s been involved in as similar plot lines and

stories can create a blur of memories. Anime has

certain styles and tropes that remain the same for

almost every series that comes out of Japan. This

has its advantages, as the more anime he works on

the more he understands how certain voices and

sounds work in specific situations.


Bang Zoom! Dub Dragon Ball Super - Majin Buu


As a Dragon Ball fan I had to ask Spike

about the Bang Zoom! Dub of Dragon Ball

Super, in which he plays Majin Buu. It’s

hard to get ahold of any footage from that

show, as we receive the Funimation dub in

Australia. I asked Spike whether he based

the voice on his Funimation counterpart,

Justin Cook.

“I don’t think so… This may sound bad for

me, I don’t research because the director’s

gonna tell me what to do and a lot of times

I don’t want to colour what I’m doing. I’m

like, ‘OK, you’re the director. You’re the

boss. What are we doing? We’re taking it

in a different direction? Great, now I’ve got

to unlearn everything I’ve already learned

and go in.’ And I’ve had episodes where

I’ve done that and they’re like, this other

voice just keeps creeping in because I’ve

already got it on my brain. So I don’t want

to do that, so I go in and am like ‘what are

we doing? Oh, Majin Buu. He sounds like

what? You want this? Let’s try this voice.

Ahhh! Whatever!’ And they go ‘yeah, that’s

it. Great!’ OK, so I have no idea what (Justin

Cook’s) Majin Buu sounds like”.

resume and like ‘yeah I was, look at that’”.

I thought I would use my last question to

ask about roles he is uncredited in.

“You know, I don’t know how that works,

honestly… It could be a paperwork snafu.

It’s not something that I did, like ‘oh, I don’t

want to be credited’. I don’t care. I did the

work, I’m proud of it. If I don’t want to be

credited then why do the work?... If it’s

hentai then I’ll give you a different name,

but it’s fun. It’s a fun name… If I do another

one you’ll see as ‘Heiney Pickelhammer’”.

And on that note we were given the signal

to suggest it was time to end the interview.

Spike said that due to business interests he

has in Australia he may be making more

stops on our shores. Personally, I look

forward to seeing him again.

Interview conducted by Paul Monopoli

I asked whether fans tend to know more

about the roles that Spike plays that he

does himself.

“YES! YES! And they’re like, ‘sign this’ and

I’m like, ‘was I in that?’ and they go ‘yeah,

you were this guy’… and I look at my


gameS

REVISITING NO

MANS SKY

PAPER MARIO SERIES

ANALYSIS

COMPARING THE NINTENDO WARRIORS:

FIRE EMBLEM vs HYRULE


INTERVIEWS

REVIEWS


BEN DYE

REVISITING N


O MANS SKY

Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky

launched back in 2016 to more

hype than even the vast majority

of AAA games. Prior to release

many people - myself included -

treated it like it was going to be

a great leap forward for gaming.

All of the promises of procedural

generation, the idea of an infinite

universe awaiting to be explored,

and bumping into people across

a universe of space, seemed like

such novel ideas.

And then we played the game.


Amongst other things there was little

guidance on how to do anything; most

of the player base started out on horribly

deadly planets and were confused as to

how to expand from there. Options were

also limited, not least the base-building

functionality. And of course the people

you might hope to bump into weren’t

even there. In the end, No Man’s Sky was

a bitter disappointed; a lonely and shallow

experience.

That was then, however. Since 2016, the

game has received update after update,

slowly pushing it from being a mediocre

game to a decent one. Now, with the

release of the ‘NEXT’ update, it has finally

made the move from decent to pretty

great.

Visually it has improved significantly. A

large number of new assets have been

added to the game to give the whole

procedural generation gimmick a fresh

coat of paint. Now the game really does

have a wide variety of planets, creatures,

and flora. So far, every planet I’ve visited

since the update has been markedly

different from all of the others. One felt like

Mars, for example, another like a deceptive

oasis planet plagued by acid rain, and one

even like the planet Hoth from Star Wars.


There are far, far more computer

characters, pieces of technology,

races, and fleets than ever before;

and items, things to discover, and

beings to interact with are all over

the place. Random NPC ships will

fly overhead every now and then,

which makes the experience feel

much less lonely. Granted, I’ve only

encountered one real person thus

far (and that a Steam friend), but

the ability to join another player’s

session and unlock their bases to go

through what is in effect a Stargate

is a huge improvement.

I’m currently in the process

of fervently constructing

my own glorious base on

a planet that I found with

my aforementioned it. It

almost feels like Minecraft

in space, but with stronger

visuals and the addition of

some enjoyable exploration

components. This is the

game I wanted (an expected)

at launch. Unlike Minecraft

it doesn’t get aesthetically

boring either, at least not

so far. The sheer number

of possibilities, especially

with future updates, should

ensure that it remains

interesting for a long time to

come.


When No Man’s Sky first came out I was

incredibly excited. I came from an Eve:

Online background and loved many

aspects of that game but simultaneously

hated how slow it felt and how you never

had direct control over your ship (it’s a

point and click game, for the uninitiated).

When No Man’s Sky was announced and

shown off, I soaked it in like Squidward

eating Krabby Patties. Then, when it

was released, I played it for about three

hours before hanging up my boots and

walking away from the depressingly

isolated and limited experience.

Now? Now I can’t stop playing it. Every

day I feel an eager temptation to play it,

and when I do I’m lost in this universe

for at least an hour (which is a lot of

time for me to devote to a session). I

love the exploration, the discovery, the

interaction with aliens, and the possibility

of easily and meaningfully interacting

with people. I love that the resources

required are always available in some

way, shape, or form, and usually rather

easily. I love that I continue to learn as

I play the game, figuring out how to

do things better and more efficiently. I

love the gorgeous sunsets on beautiful

planets... which quickly turn into deadly

hot acid rain. I love that I can literally

pick it up and play for a bit, quickly save,

and then resume right where I left off. I

love how easy it is for friends to join my

play sessions. There are so many things

about this game that I love, now, that I

could keep going on like this for quite

some time.

What makes this update even better are

the implications for the future of the

game, with this as the basis for what

to expect. Hello Games’ press release

was rather telling of the developer’s

intentions in this respect:

“This is an incredibly important update for

us, but it’s also just another step in a longer

journey, and we’ll continue to support No

Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable

future. This is an incredibly important update

for us, but it’s also just another step in a

longer journey, and we’ll continue to support

No Man’s Sky in this way for the foreseeable

future.”

No Man’s Sky has gone on a long

journey, from being straight up bad, to

middling, to now good. So who knows,

it’s possible that one day No Man’s Sky

will eventually morph into a superb

game.

In truth, dozens of major features that

have been added to No Man’s Sky since

its disastrous launch in 2016, and many

more significant tweaks have been made

beyond that. If you own the game but

quickly gave up on it back in 2016 then

now is a great time to experience all of

these improvements for yourself. I can

honestly say I have never seen such a

drastic turnaround in all of video gaming

- No Man’s Sky was a complete and utter

disappointment but now it’s finally fun to

play.

By Ben Dye, VGChartz


Stephan LaGioia

REVIEW NS:

OVERCOOKED! 2

I

never thought I’d experience a game that

so authentically captures the stresses of

being a chef at a bustling kitchen - or at

least what I presume those stresses would

be like. And yet, Team 17’s Overooked! 2

manages to capture it. I mean that in the

best way possible, by the way. Taking its

cue from the first entry, this sequel utilizes

the ingredients of what made Overcooked

so enjoyable and adds some delectable

additions of its own, including online

multiplayer.

If you’ve played the original it likely won’t

take much for you to jump right into

the action and get acquainted with the

frantic multi-tasking the game demands.

The controls are pretty simple and only

require the use of a few buttons for the

main commands. Not being well-versed

in Overcooked culinary arts myself,

there was certainly a learning curve that

I had to shake off with so much going

on around me. After 20 minutes or so

of stumbling around, dropping food

on the floor, burning things, and falling

down pits, it all clicked, and the game’s

enjoyment elevated massively.

Essentially, you’re tossed into one of a

number of unique kitchens, complete

with an array of cooking tools and crates

full of food items at your disposal. You’re

immediately put on the clock as you and

at least one other chef must scramble to

whip together a laundry list of varying

dishes. You’ll often have to prepare these

items by way of chopping, steaming,

frying, and/or baking.


The rate at which you accumulate points

will depend on how quickly and orderly

you assemble these items. Following

completion of a stage, you’ll be awarded

1 to 3 stars, the latter of which usually

requires a synchronized assembly

line born of teamwork and ample

communication.

You can jump into either a local or online

multiplayer mode with relative ease, and

decide to face off in a cooking throwdown

Iron Chef style, or choose to band

together to crank out as many food

items as possible within a 3 minute span.

You can pick your chef from a number

of cartoony options, both human and

animal, and unlock more as you progress.

In addition to boasting a larger lineup of

chefs, Overcooked! 2 also replaces the

soup recipes that so heavily permeated

the original and swaps them out for a

much more diverse lineup of dishes.

These range from sushi, to a couple of

the sequel’s more elaborate additions

- flapjacks and cakes. This new lineup,

along with a few old classics like the

burger, keep the experience feeling fresh,

as most of the food items come with their

own separate process for cooking and

preparation.


While the game revolves around a pretty

simplistic core, there are certain nuances

you can exploit in order to run your

kitchen more efficiently, which can go

a long way in nudging over the 3 star

cliff. You can allocate various tasks to

certain players, such as dish washing or

serving, and can choose to fulfill orders

in the order they pop up to receive extra

tips. You can now even toss food items

directly into the arms of an awaiting chef

or into a pot or pan to save on time.

Overcooked! 2 mostly hits that sweet

spot of solid mechanics and simplistic

gameplay that’s easy enough to grasp,

but provides room for completionists

and die-hard chefs to shine and earn that

triple star ranking.

The game comes with a pretty standard

campaign mode that gives you a quick

tutorial before plopping you onto an

overworld map containing a number of

colorful kitchens, each with their own

characteristics, equipment, and hazards.

You’ll be cooking in everything from

sushi kitchens wrought with conveyor

belts, to pit-laden coal mines, to hot air

balloons that force you to scurry across

moving platforms. Some of these stages

go a tad far in tossing random elements

at you, but most add a certain charm and

do well in keeping you on your toes in

a creative, chaotic way. The variance in

the environments also helps the game’s

cute and colorful art style flourish even

further, giving a delightful sense of

character.


The campaign comes with a simplistic, but

nonetheless amusing narrative involving

the cheekily named “Unbread”. Yes, as

you might imagine, these are zombie-like

bread creatures, and they’re apparently

taking over the Onion Kingdom. Naturally,

you’re summoned by the great Onion King

- who looks exactly as you’d expect - to

keep the hordes at bay by satiating their

hunger.

The difficulty stays at a manageable level -

even when playing solo and painstakingly

forced to swap between 2 chefs - and

ramps up pretty steadily throughout. The

game also does a nice job of providing

new recipes and gameplay elements at an

easy-to-absorb trickle, so the mode proves

a fun and useful 5 hour diversion, though

the real meat of the gameplay lies in the

local and online multiplayer.


Local multiplayer was a blast in my

experience, and felt as much a couch co-op

game as an exercise in communication. My

matches were filled with people shouting

commands and recipes at eachother, frantic

moments of exhilaration, and plenty of

laughter-beckoning blunders. The online

play doesn’t quite offer this same charm,

nor the ability to talk directly with one

another on the Switch version, despite being

enjoyable in its own right. Thus, despite this

newly included online multiplayer feature,

couch co-op still stands out as the highlight

of the game and the best way to experience

Overcooked! 2.

Aside from the lack of communication

options (basic emotes notwithstanding), I

had a surprisingly smooth and endlessly

enjoyable experience playing online. Players

usually were on the money with tasks and

there was a fair degree of working around

the lack of communication through quick

wits, improvisation, and multi-tasking. I

was usually matched up quite quickly, and

only got an occasional bit of lag stutter.

The head-to-head mode is ideal for the

competitive types, but for my money, the

more simplistic Arcade co-op portion

proves a perfect blend of action-packed

intensity and mindless cooking fun. Playing

with 3 others can occasionally get chaotic,

but it’s certainly preferable to managing

multiple tasks on your own. The online

could perhaps have been fleshed out a bit

more, as its customizations are limited and

there’s no leaderboard to be found. Still, it

works well enough, and goes a long way in

extending the game’s shelf life.

The original Overcooked managed to be

something of a sleeper hit and its sequel

further reminds us why this quirky co-op

franchise has won over so many. Ghost

Town Games and Team 17 have sprinkled

in just the right amount of new elements

to strengthen and further flesh out the

experience without overwhelming it. While

your levels of enjoyment playing solo are

likely to be tepid, those looking for co-op

multiplayer gaming excellence should look

no further than this charming, addictive

sequel.

By Stephan LaGioia, VGChartz


Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)

Review

Marvel’s Spider-Man is without a

doubt the absolute best Marvel

game ever made. The world

Insomniac Games have created, even with its

many and varied references to the greater

Marvel universe, feels so authentically Spider-

Man that it’s almost unbelievable. The systems

they’ve implemented, the gadgets and suit

powers, serve well to enhance the experience

and feeling of being Spidey.

The game starts you in as a 23-year-old Peter

Parker in the midst of working to bring down

the Kingpin (continuing basically straight from

the prequel novel Spider-Man: Hostile Takeover,

which is also very good) and thrusts you

straight into a fully immersive New York City.

The first mission in the game feels both like a

well-designed tutorial and a hugely impacting

part of the story, which feels so damn good.

“The story is where this game

well and truly shines”

It shows you everything you need to know to

get started, including introducing you to the

swinging mechanics literally straight out of the

gate... or rather window.


These swinging mechanics

are a big part of what makes

this game so fun, with an

emphasis on fluidity and

building up speed using

different techniques. Traversal

in open world games is

always touch and go, with

some being really good and

some being incredibly boring.

Luckily Spider-Man gives you

enough variations to enable

you to move throughout the

city quickly, which opens up

directly after the tutorial.

Collectables and side missions

periodically open up as well,

which keeps it fun from start

to finish. It’s telling that I only

used the fast travel system

once (when it’s introduced.

It never forces you to use it

after that).

Combat in this game is

heavily Arkham inspired, but

with more of an emphasis

on movement over brute

strength. The different

gadgets enable a wide array

of play styles and the use of

aerial combat gives a more

3-dimensional aspect. Learn

to love the dodge button, and

make sure to make liberal use

of webbing people because

the earlier you web, the less

people you have to punch

repeatedly.


I must talk about the

voice acting for a

moment. The voice

cast of this game is

phenomenal. There’s

not even a character

I can single out as

the best or a stand

out because they’re

all amazingly good.

The motion capture

is also incredibly well

done, and I’ve had

multiple people walk

past and ask what

movie I was watching,

which is just incredible.

Every character is fully

realised and acted

incredibly well, and

there are some hard

scenes particularly

towards the last third

of the game which are

phenomenally well

done. Kudos to all the

actors and workers

involved.


The story is where this game well and truly

shines though. The interactions between

Spider-Man, his supporting cast and his

villains are incredibly well done. The journey

the story goes on, with the revelations

about certain characters taking center stage

in the late game, is well realised. Also, I

have to mention the incidental storytelling,

with the collectables and newspaper

clippings you find throughout the game

helping to establish a believable world

where Spider-Man has been active for

almost a decade.

In a year where we’ve gotten such amazing

games such as God of War, the fact that a

game like Spider-Man could be released

and be as good as it is, is absolutely

amazing. If you have a PS4, go buy this

game and experience it for yourself. It’s a

monumentally well realised experience and

one of my favourite Spider-Man stories

ever.

By Shaun Stoddard


YOUR Evan Norris SAY Review

DOWNWARD SPIRAL: HORUS STATION

(PS4)

Few things are as alien and inhospitable as

a derelict space station drifting aimlessly,

noiselessly through the inky, empty vastness

of space. It’s a terrific setting for a sciencefiction

or horror tale, and first-person actionadventure

game Downward Spiral: Horus

Station knows it. Part 2001: A Space Odyssey,

part Dead Space, Horus Station — the first

of a planned anthology series — owns

some striking sci-fi ideas, impressive zerogravity

controls, and thick, tense atmosphere

(strengthened by a menacing electronic

soundtrack from HIM frontman Ville Valo),

but suffers from repetitive tasks, enemies, and

stage layouts, a missing sense of progression

and geography, and incoherent, evasive

storytelling.


The story in Horus Station is

purposefully — and sometimes

bewilderingly — vague. An astronaut

wakes up on the Horus space station

after a catastrophic event. Sections

of the installation have broken apart,

entire areas are on lockdown, and

hostile security robots run amok.

As the nameless, faceless hero pulls

the station back together, destroys

rampaging robots, and re-engages

a host of deactivated systems,

more information about Horus and

its extraterrestrial purpose comes

into view. Even so, that “more”

information is, by the end of the

adventure, insufficient.

Developer 3rd Eye Studios deserves

much respect for opting for

environmental storytelling in its zerogravity

thriller, and in the process

skipping cinematic cut-scenes, but

the game’s vagueness come at a

price: an often incomprehensible

storyline that leaves the player with

a nagging question by the time

the end credits roll — did I miss

something?

As you decipher the game’s abstruse

story, you’ll explore the multichambered

station in zero-g, fight

off murderous robots, and solve

a few simple puzzles. Navigation

without gravity is the principal joy

of Horus Station, thanks to a clever

control scheme where players can

extend a hand by pressing up on

the left control stick, grasp a nearby

bulkhead or console, and launch

forward simply by releasing the stick.

At first, it’s a bit daunting, but after a

few minutes it becomes a responsive,

liberating experience — even better,

ostensibly, in the optional VR mode.

Shooting is worthwhile also, mainly

because of a surprisingly diverse

arsenal of firearms. Among them: an

introductory pea-shooter, a semiauto

pistol, a scattershot gun, a

sniper weapon, and several more.

Players can equip weapons in either

the right or left hand (the same goes

for a hookshot device and a portable

motor, which make mid-air navigation

easier). While Horus Station’s armory

and shooting mechanics are solid,

its enemy encounters are decidedly

less impressive. The same rival robots

appear again and again, and attack

in similar patterns. Basically, if you

unholster your weapon early, you’re

likely to win. If the floating foes fire

first, it’s probably game over — which

means a quick reset at a nearby

checkpoint, with all your progress

intact. Overall, firefights aren’t nearly

tactical enough and fall on the

repetitive side.


Repetition also infects the

game’s objective and level

designs. The Horus space

station has a samey look,

with Kubrick-esque tunnels,

bulkheads, hallways, and

doorways having a similar

appearance. Objectives tend

to repeat as well: locate

key card, insert fuel rod,

navigate across open space.

There are a few mechanically

interesting sequences,

like manually docking two

large parts of the station

or deactivating a large,

patrolling security bot, but

for the majority of the game,

players will settle into a

monotonous groove.

Objective design suffers not

only from uninvolving quests

but a general confusion

over progress and place.

As you hover around the

Horus installation, it’s not

uncommon to be unclear

about where you are in

proximity to other key points

in the station, what you’re

meant to be doing, and why

exactly you’re doing it in the

first place. There are maps

and monitors throughout

Horus that flash information,

but rarely do they provide

insight into how far you’ve

come and how much is

left ahead. Again, vague

instructions and oblique

storytelling can be a gift,

particularly in a cerebral

sci-fi setting, but 3rd Eye

Studios strays too far into the

incomprehensible.

In addition to the four-hour

campaign, which can be

played solo or in online coop,

and in one of two modes

— “engage,” a traditional

adventure, or “explore,” which

removes any hostile threats

— Horus Station offers up

deathmatch and horde via

online multiplayer, staged

in environments from the

story and populated with

its weapons. Unfortunately,

online lobbies were vacant

pre-launch.

A game like Horus Station

isn’t about graphical fidelity;

it’s about atmosphere.

Judged by that metric, the

game succeeds, even if its

textures and lighting are

merely middling. Valo’s

ambient soundtrack is the

real star here, anyway. It sets

the hazardous, unexplained

mood perfectly, and strings

you along to the final frame.

For all its atmospheric feats,

Horus Station struggles to

break orbit. Every good sci-fi

idea and engaging mechanic

is paired with a repetitive

process or confusing

narrative. Armed with better

enemy AI, more complex

puzzles, and a fleshed-out

story, the game could make a

mark on the genre. Hopefully

future titles in the anthology

series will succeed where this

game falters.

By Evan Norris


NICHOLAS TAYLOR REVIEW

Octopath

Octopath Traveler is the newest RPG from

Square Enix, a developer held in legendary

regard mainly because of that very genre

since decades past. Having been featured

heavily in Nintendo Directs since its unveiling,

Octopath Traveler seemed by all accounts

to be Square Enix’s main project for the

Nintendo Switch, to the extent that it was

even published by Nintendo in every region

outside of Japan.

Given the pedigree of the developer when it

comes to RPGs, Octopath Traveler instantly

has very high expectations to live up to, and

honestly, it’s no exaggeration to say that it

is on par with the legendary games Square

produced back in the golden age of 2D RPGs.

The first thing that really stands out about

the game, and which caught my attention in

the very first trailer, is the unique graphical


Traveler (NS)

style that the developers themselves dubbed

“HD-2D”. At first glance, it seems reminiscent

of SNES-era games, but you quickly realize

that Octopath Traveler’s aesthetic goes above

and beyond, bringing a new twist to the old

sprite-based graphic it’s honoring.

After putting a few hours into Octopath

Traveler, the biggest question I had was

how nobody seemed to have had this

idea for graphics before. It’s a distinct

style which merges everything that’s loved

about classical 16-bit masterpieces with

new technology, and the world feels all the

richer for it. You analyze every nook and

cranny on the screen to see if there might

be a hidden path there, and the more I

gazed in-depth at the art of the game,

the more I fell in love with its entire visual

approach.


In today’s gaming world

of extremely high-quality

graphics, it’s rare to have

something wow you visually,

unless it has a very distinct

art style. Puzzling as it may

seem, Octopath Traveler

gave me similar vibes to

those I experienced playing

Donkey Kong Country on the

SNES back in my childhood,

where it felt like it may have

changed the entire scene

for games of its type. Just

as Donkey Kong Country

served as a predecessor to

the 3D quality we would see

everywhere a few years later,

it does feel like Octopath

Traveler will go down as a

trendsetter, with many 2D

games following its visual

approach. I certainly wasn’t

expecting sprite-based 2D

graphics to be brought to

new levels in this day and

age, but Octopath Traveler

and its “HD-2D” really does

give me that vibe when I play

it.

The gameplay is reminiscent

of classic RPGs like the 2D-era

Final Fantasy titles, though it

also takes some inspiration

from the more recent Bravely

Default series, with a battle

system that feels like a more

refined version of the Brave

Points system we saw in

that game. In battle, your

characters will gain a Boost

Point at the end of every turn,

which can be spent to attack

multiple times or strengthen

a spell you’re casting.

Besides this, each of the eight

characters present in the

game has unique abilities,

such as the hunter H’aanit

being able to tame monsters

and call them in for backup

in later fights, or the cleric

Ophilia who fills the classic

healer role with spells which

will restore your allies’ health

points. Characters also have

unique abilities outside of

battle when they interact

with NPCs in the overworld,

such as the dancer Primrose

being able to lure characters

to follow her, or the merchant

Tressa who can buy items

from NPCs who wouldn’t

usually be selling them (and

sometimes ones that aren’t

ordinarily available in stores

at all).


Although each of these

overworld skills is effectively

repeated in another character

(for example, both H’aanit

and Olberic challenge NPCs

to do battle), there’s more

than enough variety to go

around, and you can mix and

match amongst the 8 potential

party members to fill your

4-character party to your

liking, and switch between

characters throughout your

adventure for the optimal

experience.

The big draw of Octopath

Traveler is, of course, what’s

alluded to in the very title;

namely that there are eight

paths, with each of the eight

characters having their very

own adventure to embark on,

with the rest of the characters

serving as little more than

hired help to achieve their

goals.

That said, the characters’

stories are definitely solid

enough to intrigue you on

their own, and while the rest

of the cast mostly feel like

supporting cast members

when they’re on somebody

else’s chapter, you definitely

get a strong feel for their

motivations, backstory, and

personal journey during their

own intricate storylines.

The player gets to choose

which path to pursue,

with each character’s next

story chapter being clearly

marked out on the world

map, meaning that you can

continue a certain character’s

storyline and ignore the rest

if you want to, although you’d

probably have to do a fair

amount of grinding to be able

to successfully pull off such a

focused playthrough. Because

of the interesting characters,

it can almost be difficult to

decide which storyline to

advance next.

Regardless of whether you

decide to go all-in on each

of the characters or not,

Octopath Traveler is a pretty

big game with lots of things

to do. Besides the main

stories, there’s an abundance

of sidequests and interesting

areas to explore, but if

you’re a player who prefers

linearity, the game indicates

what’s good to do next by

displaying main quests on the

world map, including level

recommendations for each of

them, giving you a clear sense

of guidance if you’re just

trying to get through the main

stories.

All in all, Octopath Traveler is

an ambitious game in a lot of

ways but doesn’t necessarily

cause a huge shake-up to the

genre. Rather, it goes back to

basics and does everything it

attempts to do exceptionally

well. The battle system feels

rewarding and nostalgic, but

without any of the old qualms

that retro RPGs can bother

you with when you replay

them, and the characters are

quite varied in their abilities.

On top of this, you can later

unlock subjobs and advanced

jobs, allowing you to evolve

your party even further, which

gives you a distinct sense

of choice even beyond just

picking which story to unravel

next.

In an era where people have

lamented the lack of RPGs

which maintain that old

school feel from many of our

childhoods, Octopath Traveler

is an extremely welcome

breath of fresh air, and it’s

hard to imagine it going down

as anything other than a true

classic both for Square Enix

and for Nintendo.

By Nicholas Taylor


Paul Broussard

Comparing the Nintendo Warriors:

Fire Emblem

vs. Hyrule

Over the course of the Wii’s and Wii U’s

lifespan, third party developers were

in short supply for Nintendo. For one

reason or another, third party games simply

weren’t selling very well on Nintendo home

consoles. As a result, any sort of partnership

that did produce sales was valuable. One such

fruitful partnership was with Koei Tecmo, who

developed two games based off of the Dynasty

Warriors series, but focusing on story and

characters from specific Nintendo franchises

rather than the usual Dynasty Warriors cast.

Hyrule Warriors, based on The Legend of Zelda,

was released for the Wii U in 2014 and later

ported to 3DS and Switch in 2016 and 2018,

respectively, while Fire Emblem Warriors, based

on Fire Emblem (duh), launched simultaneously

for 3DS and Switch in 2017.

As someone who’s enjoyed both games quite

a bit, I thought it might be worth looking back

on the two and comparing them. I’ll be placing

them head to head in a number of different

areas, determining which I think was the better

title, and ultimately picking one game to

recommend to people who might be interested

in trying a Nintendo Warriors title out. So, with

that in mind, let’s get started.


Presentation

Right off the bat, which game presents itself

better? From music, to levels, to just the general

overall aesthetic, which title provides more

glisten to surround the meat of the experience

with?

Hyrule and FE Warriors both provide some very

interesting takes on areas pulled from their

respective franchises. Being able to run around

Fire Emblem areas that were previously only

viewed from a top down perspective is a real

treat, while looking at Zelda areas reimagined

and mixed with each other is also extremely

enjoyable. Hyrule Warriors gets a slight nod in

this area due to having a few more levels from

its 3DS version, but both earn high marks here.

The music for both games is also (pardon the

pun) rock solid as well, with electric guitar

remixes of songs found throughout the games

pulled from. FE perhaps edges ahead here

slightly, if only because I like the few original

songs introduced in FE Warriors more than the

ones found in Hyrule, but again it’s very close.

On the other hand, Fire Emblem wins easily

in regards to graphical quality and poststory

content. Hyrule’s graphics have dated

considerably since the Wii U release in 2014,

and don’t look significantly better on the

Switch. FE Warriors’ more stylized aesthetic

does and likely will look quite good for

some time to come. And while both games

have roughly equivalent story modes, FE

Warriors stacks up better in regards to

post-game content, with its History Mode

providing a much more enjoyable incentive

to fight additional battles than Hyrule’s rather

schizophrenically organized Adventure Mode.

WINNER: FIRE EMBLEM WARRIORS


Roster of Characters

Much of the appeal of crossovers like these lies

in being able to play as a variety of different

characters from the series being represented.

Both Hyrule and Fire Emblem Warriors market

themselves on the player being able to play

as various protagonists and/or antagonists

from the series’ past. Since Link is usually the

only playable character in Zelda titles, and Fire

Emblem is more about giving orders to units

than actively playing as them, these crossovers

present the first real opportunity for many

people to directly control many characters that

they may have always wanted to.

In that regard, it’s hard not to feel at least a

little disappointed in Fire Emblem Warriors, and

its DLC, opting to pull from just three games:

Shadow Dragon, Awakening, and Fates. Hyrule

Warriors, at launch anyway, only featured

playable characters from three games as well,

but since then has added both protagonists

and antagonists from titles across the series.

Conversely, FE Warriors only offers characters

from those three titles, even with its DLC. In

fairness to FE Warriors, there are far more

characters from the Fire Emblem series that fans

really want to play as, so it would never have

been realistically possible to satisfy everyone,

but this doesn’t even seem like trying. The

infamous “too many swords” excuse doesn’t

hold up either, given the sheer amount of sword

characters already included both in the main

game and the DLC.

And this doesn’t even touch upon the sheer

number of clone characters included in FE

Warriors, who reuse the same moveset.

Camilla and Hinoka are similar to Cordelia,

Celica is similar to Marth, Navarre is similar to

Lyn, Lucina is similar to Chrom, Tharja is similar

to Robin, Owain is similar to Ryoma, etc. In

total, of the 34 playable characters available

with DLC, ten have a copied moveset. By

contrast, Hyrule Warriors has 29 characters, all

with unique movesets. And this doesn’t even

touch on some characters having different

weapons, each of which provides entirely new

movesets.

WINNER: HYRULE WARRIORS


Gameplay

As important as representing your series well

is, playing well is just as significant, and it’s

here where Fire Emblem Warriors shines over

Hyrule. A number of significant improvements

are either unique to or simply present in FE

Warriors that are not available in Hyrule.

Arguably the most significant improvement

is the ability to change characters on the fly,

which allows players to quickly be in several

places on the map rather than having to run

back and forth constantly. This function is

completely absent in the Wii U version of

Hyrule Warriors, and while present in both the

3DS and Switch versions, it’s significantly limited

and, in many cases, not even available.

FE Warriors also brings in the concept of the

weapon triangle from the Fire Emblem series,

which functions essentially as type advantages

between units. This, in turn, helps alleviate a

lot of the bullet (or sword?) spongy nature that

tougher enemies would otherwise possess.

Having trouble with a tougher foe? Plan your

units’ positioning correctly so that you can take

advantage of the weapon triangle and give

yourself an advantage in combat. This also adds

a degree of strategy to the game, and it adds

another much needed layer of complexity to

keep things interesting later in the game when

the joy of simple button mashing has worn

off. Hyrule lacks any equivalent, and as a result

many foes will require long stretches of running

up, getting a few hits, and ducking out before

they attack again. Taking down foes is almost

always enjoyable in FE Warriors, whereas it can

turn into something of a grind in Hyrule.

The last major benefit present is that, while

FE Warriors does copy a lot of its movesets,

the movesets that are there tend to be much

more enjoyable than the ones in Hyrule.

Playing Lucina/Chrom is probably the most

fun I’ve had in a Warriors game, and other

characters such as Lyn, Robin, Lissa, Ryoma,

Olivia, Frederick, Azura, and Oboro are all

incredibly enjoyable to use. While Hyrule has

a greater variety of movesets, they are often a

lot slower, more easily interrupted by enemy

attacks, and just don’t hold the same visceral

appeal as most of Fire Emblem’s. Out of the

movesets in Hyrule, I only found myself really

enjoying Ganondorf, Zelda, and Tetra, and

leaving a lot of the cast relatively untouched.

WINNER: FIRE EMBLEM WARRIORS


Overall

Simply put, while Hyrule Warriors feels like a

better celebration of the series, Fire Emblem

feels like a superior overall game. If you’re

looking for a celebration of the Zelda series,

it’s hard to go wrong with Hyrule. However, if

you’re in any other category and looking to

try out a Nintendo Warriors title, Fire Emblem

Warriors would be my recommendation.

There may be a bit more content for Hyrule

in the way of playable characters, but quality

beats out quantity in my opinion, and Fire

Emblem Warriors is certainly the more quality

experience.

By Paul Broussard, VGChartz


YOUR Ben Dye SAY

Paper Mario Series Analysis:

COLOR

SPLASH

(PAINT STAINS)

FROM VGCHARTZ.COM


I

have long felt that the Paper Mario series

is one of the best video games series out

there, at least based on its roots, but many -

especially those outside of the Nintendo family

- probably have no idea why it’s talked about

quite so much. The idea behind this five-part

analysis of every Paper Mario game currently

available is to work through each game quickly

sifting through the pros and cons of each title

for fans and non-fans alike.

First up is Paper Mario: Color Splash, and if

you love this game then prepare to weep; your

tears will fuel my ever-growing linguistic might!

That’s because Color Splash is, without a doubt,

a prime example of Nintendo sacrificing what

fans want for the sake of innovation. Instead of

returning to the roots of what made the series

great, Nintendo continued a sub-par pattern

that had been established in Paper Mario:

Sticker Star.


The Negatives

Centered on collecting stickers/cards, Color

Splash is, unfortunately, bland. While past

games featured numerous different cultures

and races, with levels based on wonderfully

imagined and unique aesthetics, Color

Splash continues where Sticker Star left off

- with toads everywhere. And I mean that.

They are literally everywhere. If you read

up on the developer team’s justification for

this, it’s utter nonsense. They wanted it to

‘feel’ like a Mario game, which ignores all the

different and wonderful species/creatures

from the original three games and from the

multitude of other Mario titles as if they

aren’t canon.

It felt like the Star Wars expanded universe

being retconned all over again. Are you

telling me Rawk Hawk doesn’t exist, or

Dimentio, or Count Bleck, or the dozens of

other crucial characters from the first three

titles? I tolerate minimalism in the real world

(though it isn’t my cup of tea). I cannot

tolerate it infiltrating a game series I love

above any other.

Another flaw is the sticker collection. Before

important battles, this can be a nightmare.

If you don’t want to obsess over a simplified

game akin to Roshambo (rock, paper,

scissors), then you can look up how to get

through it online to unlock thousands of

gold coins and then just buy all the cards

you need. Sadly for me, I played it before

there were any guides out there.

I imagine the majority of the lowly 860,000

people that bought this game at retail (the

worst sales in the series) were in the same boat

as me, which meant they had to do something

that’s incredibly rare for a Nintendo game:

grind. “Am I suddenly in an MMO,” I wondered

to myself, “surrounded by ore nodes I have to

mine in order to build some amazing thing?”.

Paper Mario is supposed to be fun, with the

ability to beat the game if you obtain the

limited skill set required (in general) and learn

certain patterns. Now, all of a sudden, you had

to farm for huge stickers for hours on end in

order to progress. Who thought that was a

good game design?


On top of that, in Color Splash had Nintendo

decided to make two games in a row that

employed the same design. The previous title

- Sticker Star - actually sold the second most

in the series, so an argument could be made

that people didn’t mind the new system at all.

On the other hand Super Paper Mario sold

the most out of any title and that had taken a

completely different approach.

Those results are both great and horrible at

the same time. What in my view is the best

game in the series, Paper Mario: The Thousand

Year Door, had the highest attachment ratio of

any of entry. But the second best was actually

Color Splash and if Nintendo decides to look

at just attachment ratios, we may never see the

franchise return to what many of us want (a

more traditional Paper Mario game).

When it comes to sales it’s probably more

useful to look at physical attach ratios, which

roughly work out as follows:

Super Paper Mario – 3.7%

Paper Mario: Sticker Star – 3.3%

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – 10.3%

Paper Mario – 4.2%

Paper Mario: Color Splash – 6.1%

Color Splash could, however, be considered a

bit of an outlier when it comes to attachment

ratio because people were starving for a game

on a system that was woefully unsupported.

That’s purely speculation and I could be wrong,

but either way it sold less than a million at

retail, which is definitely lacklustre.


The Positives

There aren’t many positives, but the game

is undoubtedly gorgeous and the opening

CGI is absolutely stunning. The ‘thing’

items, like those in Sticker Star, also produce

some laughter in the middle of fights or in

overcoming obstacles. It’s a light-hearted game

with a fun sense of humour.

at other 2D objects and determine their color,

or is Mario only aware of this is for the player’s

benefit?).

After that, however, it feels like scraping the

barrel or plucking at straws trying to come up

with positives. And so...

The idea of paint being stolen is also quirky

because it feels like the game is breaking the

fourth wall (after all, can a 2D object really look


Conclusion

Color Splash is definitely the worst entry in the

series as far as I’m concerned. It’s essentially a

visually more impressive version of Sticker Star

but with an almost entirely unoriginal concept. I

am just hoping its poor sales are either blamed

on the still-born platform it released on, or

(hopefully) on the series’ recent direction. If it’s

the latter then there’s hope that this will either

lead to a return to the franchise’s roots or a

reboot. Either way, I hope this entry doesn’t

stain the series permanently.


vv

YOUR INTERView SAY by Adam Cartwright

INSPIRATION, KICKSTARTE

BROMIO (PATO


R, PATO BOX & VITA WITH

BOX)

Kickstarter has been a rather mixed

bag for Vita (as I wrote about in

a previous article), with a number

of great games released but many

more still unavailable despite the

creators happily taking funds from

avid handheld fans. Despite this, it’s

difficult not to get excited about

some of the more interesting-looking

upcoming projects and undoubtedly

the stand-out of these is Pato Box,

a boxing-adventure game starring

a duck that features 3D exploration

mixed in with Punch Out style fighting.

The game is due for release on Vita

this month (following successful

launches on PC and Switch), so I

took the opportunity to talk to the

game’s creators from Bromio about

the project - in particular I wanted to

know what inspired them to make the

game in the first place as well as what

convinced them to bring it to Vita.


First off, tell me a little bit about

yourselves. Who makes up

Bromio and what do you all do?

Antonio: Hi! We are 9 people

working at Bromio - Samir as

Product Manager, Luis as Lead

Programmer, Heri as Game

Designer/Technical Artist,

Colette as Animator/Illustrator,

Emma as 3D Modeler, Joaquin

as Progammer/QA, Abraham as

Illustrator/Community Manager,

David as Programmer and myself

(Antonio) as Game Director/

Programmer. In the development

of Pato Box we also worked with

Cesar from 2think Design Studio

and Controvol.

Can you tell me about the history

of your studio? How did you first

get started in videogames?

Antonio: We started development

of games in 2013, we were focused

on mobile games as a learning

point since getting our game

released on the AppStore and the

Google Play Store was easier at that

time than Steam. After developing

a couple of mobile games we

wanted to make a bigger game and

that’s when we started developing

Pato Box.

What made you decide on

Kickstarter as a means to fund

Pato Box? Did you find it

difficult to pitch the game to

traditional publishers?

César: We wanted to maintain

all the freedom we could in

the development. While we

had some money saved for

the project we knew that the

development time could be

reduced by the help of backers

turning it into a crowd funding

project and also use it as a tool

to let more people know about

our dream and help us make it

happen.

What made you decide on

Vita as a target platform

for the game?

Antonio: We were able to

get in touch with Sony some

time ago and we got access

to dev kits pretty early on.

Unfortunately we weren’t

able to develop a game for

it until Pato Box and we saw

that the gameplay would be

perfect to have on the go

and that’s why we decided

to support the Vita.


Was the response by the Vita

community what you’d hoped

it would be? Were you pleased

with the feedback you received?

César: We met a lot of people

really interested on the game being

made for the Vita, and just like

many of the development team,

there were fans of the system that

really got into it once we showed

one build of it at PAX. We were

really pleased to find out we were

not the only ones that wanted this

game on Sony’s portable system.

Antonio: When we announced

the game was coming to the

Vita we got an overwhelmingly

positive response from the

community and they supported

us a lot on our Kickstarter, so

releasing the game on the

platform is a big priority for us.

How did you first come into

contact with Sony regarding

Vita development? How has

Sony been to work with?

Antonio: We met our contact in

Sony at a development event in

Mexico and they have been very

supportive from the start; we

received a dev kit really quickly

after getting in contact with

them.

How have you found working on

Vita as a piece of hardware? Is it

difficult to develop for? Have you

had to make substantial changes

to Pato Box to get it running?

Antonio: The portability on the

system is great but it has been

difficult for us to adapt the game

for it. The stages on Pato Box

are kinda big and we made the

mistake early on of not taking

the Vita memory into account, so

getting the 3D exploration right

has been a challenge for us. Most

of the changes were made on the

exploration side but we are did

our best to keep the experience as

similar as possible to the PC version.


What engine does Pato Box run

in?

Antonio: Pato Box runs on

Unity - the engine has been

great for us and we feel really

comfortable using it.

How long did it take to

develop the game in total?

Antonio: The PC version took

around 1 year and 8 months

to develop. After that release

we have been working on fixes,

the arcade mode, and the ports

of the game for around 4-5

months.

Has it been difficult raising

awareness of your game

within the ever-growing indie

market?

César: I wouldn’t say it has

been difficult but rather a slow

process. We have relied on

the users and their opinions

on the game and how they

recommend the game on social

media and blogs. We have

been lucky enough to grab

the attention of some popular

webpages that got interested

in it as well expanding the

exposure of it.

Let’s talk about the game

itself. What was the

inspiration behind Pato

Box? What made you

decide on a boxing duck?

César: The character and

some of the story was

pitched at Bromio based on

a comic book I created in my

free time. The main character

was charismatic enough

to bring attention to the

whole idea and we started

brainstorming every idea that

would bring the character to

life.


Did you feel the need to

fill a hole in the market left

by narrative-driven boxing

games like Punch Out?

How difficult is the game? Did

you want to challenge players

or make it accessible for

newcomers?

Will the game be PlayStation

TV compatible?

Antonio: We are working on it!

César: We thought that the

logical answer to making a

game based on the character

using the comic aesthetics

would be Punch Out. The fact

that there was need in the

market for that kind of games

just made it click afterwards.

César: At the end we decided

to have a very challenging

game that felt fair to the player.

We always had in mind the

newcomers to this kind of game,

but we wanted to maintain the

challenging aspects of the Punch

Out series.

Will you attempt a physical

release of Pato Box if the

opportunity arises?

Antonio: Yes! It’s something we

really want to do but we are still

looking into it to see what is our

best option.

What features make Pato

Box unique? What made

you decide on including

exploration-based elements in

addition to the fighting?

César: Pato Box will show you

a world that is a mixture of

serious themes and places

mixed with some really stupid

moments and characters,

making it a bizarre and unique

experience. Most of the fights

were designed to keep the

simplicity of the Punch Out

controls but to expand on the

mechanics surrounding enemies

to make it an original game.

The exploration-based elements

are meant to show more of the

story of this world and act as a

“break” between the hardcore

fights in it.

What is the expected length

of the game? Anything

to encourage multiple

playthroughs?

César: I think it really depends

of what type of player you are.

For some the fights are the core

within the game and they will

jump right to the action, trying

to achieve a high rank within

each fight. Others want to dig

into the story of the hero and

his world and will try to find

every secret and detail around

the characters, not to mention

the collectables we left scattered

around. I like to think you can

jump back to the game anytime

to do all this stuff and discover

more easter eggs hidden within,

or just to get better at the

bosses.

Finally, two questions I’ve been

asking everyone – what are

some of your favourite games

you’ve played on Vita?

César: Tearaway, Gravity Rush,

Hotline Miami and Sound Shapes.

Antonio: Persona 4 Golden and

Gravity Rush are my favorites.

Which of the two Vita models

(LCD or OLED) is your favourite?

César: OLED for me, it looks

gorgeous.

Antonio: OLED also, the screen is

amazing.

I’d like to thank Antonio and Cesar for

taking the time to talk to me. You can

follow updates on their game Pato

Box and any future Bromio projects

via their website, but they’re most

active on Twitter! - Adam Cartwright


INTERView by Adam Cartwright

Porting, Partnerships, Vita & the Future

Ratalaika Games

At the start of 2017, indie porting studio/

publisher Ratalaika Games revealed on Twitter

that it had received a Vita dev kit and was

working on porting its titles to the console. Fast

forward to the current day and the team has

built up an impressive portfolio of more than

10 games for the Vita, with plenty more on the

way too. These tend to be shorter experiences

that provide a fun dose of portable gameplay,

but with the studio expanding into genres such

as text adventures, the developer seems to be

an interesting variable in the future of Vita in

its twilight years.

With the team being active on Twitter and

regularly engaging with the Vita fanbase, I

took the opportunity to contact them to ask

all about their mantra, their future projects, as

well as personal thoughts on the Vita as a piece

of hardware and the buyers who still purchase

games for it. What I got in response was one of

the most enthusiastic replies I’d ever seen and

a wonderful set of answers (including a few

surprise reveals too!), making it quite possibly

my favourite interview yet.


First off, tell me a little bit

about yourselves; who makes up

Ratalaika and what do you all do?

We’re a team of two people! We

work in porting & publishing games

to consoles. I code and work on

marketing / promotion duties and

YOUR SAY

my partner does testing and product

management, submitting everything

to the platforms holders!

What is the company’s history?

When were you founded and what

was your first project?

It was founded by myself a few years

ago back in 2013. Back then I was

working on mobile only projects

as most indie developers. Also

worked for OUYA and some other

Android consoles, then after a few

failed games I moved on to porting

because it was easier as I suck as a

game designer!

How did you first get into

contact with Sony? Was it an

easy process to get hold of a

Vita Dev kit?

We pitched a self-developed

game a loooooong time ago, it

was never released but it was

how we got into all consoles

actually! We got our PSVita

devkit to port a few games -

initially we had only PS4.

How has Sony been as a

partner? Have your contacts

in the company been

encouraging in bringing your

titles to the Vita?

Pretty good! We’re really happy

with working with them and the

promotion they do. We caught

PSVita a bit late so they never

asked us to port anything to it

or encouraged it in any way.

Has Sony’s public

withdrawal of support for

the handheld discouraged

you at all from future

development?

Meh, not really, I think it’s

still a good niche for indies

to work on! As long as the

games run on it we will keep

targeting it for sure.

Vita’s fanbase tends to be

very vocal on social media

- have you found this

encouraging to continue

bringing titles to the

platform?

Yeah! Actually it’s one of the

reasons that we keep making

Vita ports! All the fans love

them, which is great.

In general, how is Vita to

develop for? Do you run

into regular difficulties in

porting games across?

Quite hard actually, the CPU is

pretty power-less so it’s not easy

to optimize for, also it has some

downsides like the save system or

the special resolution.


How is the submission process for Sony

compared to Nintendo? Do you find one

more onerous than the other?

It’s easier and faster, also more predictable,

which is great. As an indie dev there is

nothing worse than not knowing when your

game will be out of QA!

How do your partnerships with

independent developers to port their

titles usually happen? Do you approach

them or do they come to you?

It really depends, initially we approached

many devs, Like Twin Robots, Squareboy

vs Bullies or League of Evil. After a few

releases some devs started to approach

us! Like Petite Games or TETRA’s Escape’s

creators. Devious Dungeon was actually

a recommendation from League of Evil’s

developer.

Do you have a favourite game (past

or future) that you’ve worked on/are

working on?

I think Devious Dungeon! I played it back

when it released on mobile years ago,

so I loved playing it all over again as a

DEVELOPER/PORTER! I never thought that

could ever happen, not even in my wildest

dreams!


What engines do the games you port

run in? Do they require a lot of effort to

adapt to consoles?

Normally Unity3D or native code, like

C or C++. We also do Java, Haxe, Lua...

Depending on the game and the possible

revenue we can adjust.

What genre do you have most fun

working with?

I think adventure games - I really love a

good story! So they are by far the best I

think.

Are there any dream Vita ports you’d

love to work on?

Hmmmm, I think not really at this time, we

love working on small/unknown games so

they can have a second chance on consoles;

the one that they never had on Steam.

Let’s talk about specific games - how

is the porting of Devious Dungeon 2

coming along? Will it include something

new?

At the moment we’re not working on it yet!

We’re working on Random Heroes 1 first =).

It should release later this year hopefully.


Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming

game TETRA’s Escape?

Well TETRA’s Escape is a puzzle platformer where you

have to control a bunch of characters that can change

shapes to solve the levels. It’s a bit hard sometimes but

we’ve prepared a guide for those who get stuck, like me

lol...

Similarly, what is this new adventure

game you have been teasing - and what

can we expect from the title?

Well, as you may have heard/seen on some

social media and trophy hunter channels we

frequent, we’re working on an adventure

game port.

It’s a bit longer than usual, it would need

~100-140 hours for the platinum according

to the game developer. Also it’s most

probably PEGI 18.

You’ve teamed up with eastasiasoft for a physical

release of One More Dungeon and Signature

Edition Games for The Count Lucanor. Do you think

initiatives like these are important for preserving

titles into the future?

The Count Lucanor was published by Merge Games

digitally too, that’s why they did the physical edition. At

the moment we prefer to keep the digital publishing in

house too when possible so, we will probably reach to

eastasiasoft for physical releases - probably all of the

titles they want!


Can we expect physical releases for any of

your future Vita titles? Is the decision on a

physical release made by you or the game’s

developer?

Probably yes ;) The call is up to eastasiasoft

haha - they do Asia for all our games so they

pick the ones they like the most!

Finally, two questions I’m asking everyone -

what are some of your favourite games that

you’ve played on Vita?

I think Day of The Tentacle Remastered! I always

loved that game.

Which of the Vita models is your favourite

(LCD or OLED)?

Is there a chance we may see some of your

Switch-only ports like Vaccine or I and Me

come to Vita?

I like the OLED more, but I think that’s just

because I play more on it. My dev unit is LCD and

my retail ones are OLED :)

I doubt it to be honest... I was contracted for

Vaccine for Switch, I didn’t even publish it, so

there’s not much for me to do there anymore...

I and Me is a bit so so. Maybe yes, maybe no,

only time will tell...

I’d like to thank the guys at Ratalaika for taking

the time to talk to me. You can follow updates

on the developer’s future projects via the official

website - but the team is most active on Twitter.

- Adam Cartwright

Do future Ratalaika projects still have a

chance of landing on Vita? Any unannounced

ones that you can give us some hints on?

I think we will keep making Vita titles all through

2018 and 2019! As long as the game runs it will

land there. Some may not if they don’t run well

enough, but we will be doing our best to launch

as many games as possible. I think we could

have ~10/12? We have more games for 2018

and 2019 already registered with Sony =D


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