June 2019 Part 2 LIVE Magazine

Part two of our LIVE Magazine featuring Spider Man. Plus an interview with Timothy Zahn and reviews of Dragon Ball Heroes and Super Broly!

Part two of our LIVE Magazine featuring Spider Man. Plus an interview with Timothy Zahn and reviews of Dragon Ball Heroes and Super Broly!

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IVEJUNE ISSUE PART 2 <strong>2019</strong>

Go to page 28 for more details on SPIDER MAN TM FAR FROM HOME and how you could win some double passes (Australia Only)

From the Editor<br />

Hello and welcome to the second part of the <strong>June</strong> edition of<br />

Gametraders Live!<br />

This is part two so if you havent seen the first part please feel free to<br />

check that one out! As you may have noticed this one is Spider Man:<br />

Far From Home themed and we are very excited and thankful to Sony<br />

Pictures to say that we have a wonderful article exploring the behind<br />

the scenes of the movie.<br />

We also have an interview with Timothy Zahn as well as reviews for<br />

Dragon Ball Heroes and Super Broly by our writer Paul Monopli.<br />

We hope you enjoy the magazine and as always if you are interested in<br />

writing for our magazine please email live@gametraders.com.au<br />

Emily Langford<br />

Emily Langford,<br />


What’s inside<br />

Spider man: Far From Home Making Of pg. 22<br />

Ten<br />

Interesting<br />

Games From<br />

E3 <strong>2019</strong> You<br />

May Have<br />

Missed<br />

pg. 56<br />


HEROES<br />

&<br />


pg. 34 & pg. 8

THE <strong>LIVE</strong> TEAM<br />

EDITOR & DESIGNER: Emily Langford<br />

WRITERS:<br />

Scott F. Sowter, Entertainment Review and Opinion<br />

Paul Monopoli, Interviews / Retro Editor<br />



Adam Cartwright, Evan Norris & Taneli Palola,<br />

VGChartz<br />



Pg. 14<br />



Pg. 28

MOVIES<br />





,tv&<br />




Dragon Ball Su<br />

For an anime movie, the latest<br />

chapter in the Dragon Ball franchise<br />

was a huge success in theatres.<br />

Coming off the back of the Dragon<br />

Ball Super TV series, this film is both<br />

a continuation and a self contained<br />

story that can potentially appeal to<br />

non fans of the franchise.<br />

After this meeting the King visits<br />

his son, Prince Vegeta IV, only<br />

to find another child with a high<br />

power level. Seeing him as a<br />

potential threat, the King exiles the<br />

child, Broly, to the distant planet<br />

Vampa, a dire land where only the<br />

strong willed could be expected to<br />

survive. Broly’s father, Paragus, in<br />

Before resuming the main Dragon<br />

Ball story, we are teleported back<br />

to a time before Goku was born.<br />

King Cold, the galactic tyrant is on<br />

his way to the Saiyan homeworld,<br />

Planet Vegeta. The purpose of this<br />

trip is to inform the king, also called<br />

Vegeta, that he will be retiring from<br />

an attempt to save his son steals a<br />

ship and heads to Vampa to rescue<br />

him. Unfortunately the ship crash<br />

lands, leaving the Saiyan father and<br />

son stranded. The problem is that<br />

Broly has a problem controlling his<br />

extremely high power level, leaving<br />

Paragus with two problems.<br />

the business of planet pillaging. His<br />

empire is left to his son, Frieza, a<br />

vicious alien with a short fuse.

per Brolly

Five years later, Frieza has recalled all<br />

of the Saiyans back to Planet Vegeta. A<br />

Saiyan warrior, Bardock, has his suspicions<br />

and Vegeta are safe, as are their brothers<br />

Tarble and Kakkarot. But what of Paragus<br />

and Broly?<br />

as to why the emperor would need to do<br />

this. The only conclusion he can draw is<br />

that Frieza intends to destroy the Saiyan<br />

race. A planet full of warriors could be a<br />

threat to the tyrant, so better that he kills<br />

them all now before they can rise against<br />

him. Bardock’s suspicions turn out to be<br />

true.<br />

The movie fast forwards us back to the<br />

present day, shortly after the Tournament<br />

of Power has ended. The former baby<br />

Kakkarot, now known as Goku, and Prince<br />

Vegeta are continuing to harness their<br />

fighting skills. They are joined by Vegeta’s<br />

wife, Bulma, his daughter Bulla, the God<br />

of Destruction, Beerus and his attendant<br />

Before Frieza can annihilate the planet<br />

and its people, Bardock and his wife Gine<br />

ensure their sons are safe. Raditz is already<br />

off world with the young Prince Vegeta,<br />

though their baby Kakkarot is still on the<br />

planet. They send the young Saiyan to a<br />

Whis. After six of the Dragon Balls are<br />

stolen, the gang, minus Beerus who is<br />

baby-sitting Bulla, head to the known<br />

location of the last one. There they find<br />

Frieza’s henchmen, who are joined shortly<br />

after by the galactic emperor himself.<br />

distant planet called Earth, where they<br />

promise to return if they are wrong in their<br />

assumptions. Shortly after, Planet Vegeta is<br />

no more.<br />

The Saiyans have faced Frieza twice<br />

before, though this time the emperor has<br />

bought a surprise. The emergency beacon<br />

activated by Paragus all those years earlier<br />

Frienza sends a message to the young<br />

prince that his planet was destroyed by<br />

a giant meteor. His colleagues, including<br />

Nappa and Raditz ponder this. It makes no<br />

sense, but there is little they can do. Raditz<br />

had finally received a response. Broly is<br />

now a member of the Frieza force, and<br />

he is ready to take his revenge on the<br />

son of King Vegeta. The battle is about to<br />


If you have just come off the back of<br />

Dragon Ball Super you will immediately<br />

notice the new animation style. The new<br />

animation director, Naohiro Shintani,<br />

brings a more fluid, manga-esque style<br />

to the Dragon Ball franchise. It is a little<br />

jarring at first, though it looks a lot nicer<br />

than the Dragon Ball Super and Super<br />

make him a part of the main series canon.<br />

The voice actor for Broly, Vic Mignogna,<br />

had expressed his desire for this to happen<br />

in our earlier Gametraders interview. Vic’s<br />

wish has now been fulfilled and Broly has<br />

been given a richer back story than the<br />

one he received in Dragon Ball Z Movie 8,<br />

as well as more speaking lines.<br />

Dragon Ball Heroes anime. Lines look<br />

like they were hand drawn, bringing new<br />

dimension of visuals to the series. With<br />

fast paced fight scenes and attention to<br />

detail, this movie is a feast for your eyes.<br />

The problem long time Dragon Ball fans<br />

may have with the movie is the rewriting<br />

of the series back story. In the 1990 TV<br />

special, “Bardock: The Father of Goku”<br />

Bardock attempted to lead a rebellion<br />

The story was written by Dragon Ball<br />

creator Akira Toriyama. Though Broly had<br />

already featured in three movies, Toriyama<br />

wanted to return to the character and<br />

against Frieza, and faced him before the<br />

tyrant destroyed the planet. In this movie<br />

he does attempt to stop Frieza, though<br />

with less dramatic effect.

against Frieza, and faced him before the<br />

tyrant destroyed the planet. In this movie<br />

he does attempt to stop Frieza, though<br />

with less dramatic effect.<br />

Actually, it is still possible that Bardock was<br />

hit by Frieza’s blast and went back in time<br />

100 years to became a Super Saiyan… At<br />

the end of the day, canon is in the eye of<br />

the individual fan.<br />

The movie follows the Dragon Ball Minus<br />

storyline, written by Akira Toriyama in<br />

2014. This version features a less abrasive<br />

Bardock, who shows genuine affection for<br />

his sons and wife. The 1990 special saw a<br />

cold warrior who could not care less about<br />

his offspring. There is also no mention of<br />

Gine in this version of events. With this<br />

major change, its 2011 sequel, Episode<br />

of Bardock, which saw the character<br />

becoming a Super Saiyan, is also now<br />

relegated to the same section of fandom<br />

If you are happy to mentally rewrite a bit<br />

of Dragon Ball history and ignore the flash<br />

backs in the original Frieza saga, then you<br />

are going to have a great time with this<br />

movie. The visual effects are amazing, the<br />

music is well paced and the main theme,<br />

Blizzard, is very catchy in both Japanese<br />

and English. If the abrupt ending to the<br />

Tournament of Power put you off the<br />

series then this is the tonic that will heal<br />

that fan wound. Enjoy!<br />

as the Star Wars Legends stories.<br />

By Paul Monopoli



Sitting in a booth at Supanova Adelaide,<br />

surrounded by a wall of novels was the one<br />

and only Timothy Zahn. A valuable contributor<br />

to one of sci-fi’s greatest franchises, the novels<br />

were the latest addition to the Star Wars<br />

Universe and the latest in the newly revised<br />

Grand Admiral Thrawn saga. After having my<br />

Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade action figures<br />

signed, we sat down and had a discussion about<br />

his career and his return to the new Star Wars<br />

expanded universe canon.


“<br />

Heir to the Empire was the first book<br />

that had been allowed to go after<br />

Return of the Jedi, so I was the first<br />

novelist who was allowed to use all the<br />

movie characters in books.<br />

As the man who kicked off the original<br />

expanded universe, Timothy starts to<br />

explain how it all came about:<br />

Lucasfilm looked over the document,<br />

rejected some ideas and made some<br />

suggestions. This would be the process<br />

for each subsequent story in the trilogy.<br />

“Heir to the Empire was the first book that<br />

had been allowed to go after Return of<br />

the Jedi, so I was the first novelist who was<br />

Though the planning was done book by<br />

book, Timothy had a master plan he was<br />

working towards:<br />

allowed to use all the movie characters in<br />

books.”<br />

“I knew right from the beginning, before<br />

I submitted the outlines, I knew where<br />

He was given carte blanche to take Luke,<br />

Leia, Han and the gang and create a whole<br />

new trilogy. Along for the ride were a few<br />

characters of his own creation, including<br />

the story and the characters were going<br />

to end up… I wasn’t “OK, let’s hope I can<br />

come up with an ending”, I already had the<br />

ending set up in my mind ahead of time.”<br />

Thrawn, Mara Jade and Talon Karrde.<br />

Lucasfilm had no input into the creation of<br />

these characters or the story, though they<br />

had to give the go ahead before the story<br />

could be written. This meant some extensive<br />

planning was needed.<br />

The other stand out character from this<br />

new trilogy was the future wife of Luke<br />

Skywalker, Mara Jade. I asked Timothy<br />

about her alleged inclusion in Return of<br />

the Jedi. I told him that I would watch<br />

the Jabba’s Palace scenes as a youngster,<br />

“I wrote out an outline, about… ten pages<br />

for the first book, and a couple for the<br />

trying to catch a glimpse of the Emperor’s<br />

Hand. To that Timothy laughs:<br />

next two, because I knew that by the time<br />

I actually finished the first book I would<br />

have had other ideas and plot threads, and I<br />

“She’s just off camera. That’s my take<br />

on it.”<br />

didn’t want to go too deeply into the others<br />

until I knew where I was starting them.”

After the Thrawn trilogy was released<br />

Kevin J Anderson created the next trilogy,<br />

setting Mara up as somewhat of a lost<br />

write that novel, I have no input into<br />

it whatsoever, and she didn’t care. My<br />

character, my fault!”<br />

girl. There was no longer a proper head of<br />

the Empire she could team up with, and<br />

she refused to join the New Republic. She<br />

would often venture to see Luke Skywalker<br />

and seemed to be keen to continue<br />

training her force powers. This relationship<br />

blossomed throughout the books and<br />

comics, and she continued training her<br />

force powers through video games such as<br />

Timothy explains that while he did create<br />

the story and characters, his contract<br />

dictates that ownership of these assets<br />

become the property of Lucasfilm once the<br />

deal is signed. For him, the trade off was<br />

that he was the one who got to write the<br />

story. That meant more than the creation<br />

of the characters.<br />

the Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight expansion.<br />

I had to ask Timothy how much input<br />

he had in the storylines of his characters<br />

beyond his own books:<br />

Timothy is aware of the character arcs<br />

of his characters and the additional<br />

backstories that were written for them,<br />

such as the video game TIE Fighter<br />

“Beyond my books not at all. The<br />

characters are owned by Lucasfilm, and if<br />

the Lucasfilm people and the publisher,<br />

Bantam and then Del Rey, agree on what’s<br />

going to be done by a certain author,<br />

I have no say about it. I have no input<br />

into it. In fact I was once cornered at a<br />

convention room party by a woman who<br />

was very upset with me for what Mara<br />

Jade had been doing in the most recent<br />

showing Admiral Thrawn rise to the rank<br />

of Grand Admiral. When Disney rewrote<br />

the canon almost everything that took<br />

place outside of the movies was set aside<br />

into a “Legends” mythos. This allowed<br />

Lucasfilm to have these “campfire” stories,<br />

as Timothy calls them, that they can pick<br />

and choose from whenever they see fit.<br />

As for Thrawn, this new version of the<br />

character worked out well.<br />

novel. And I had to explain to her I didn’t

“I didn’t have to worry about that backstory<br />

when I did the (new) Thrawn novel a<br />

couple of years ago. So I got to rewrite the<br />

was making a return, and he was offered<br />

the chance to revisit him within the new Star<br />

Wars universe.<br />

backstory. So yeah, other people had done<br />

back stories, other people had done other<br />

things. Fortunately some that I didn’t have<br />

to incorporate, and the parts I did have to<br />

incorporate worked OK.”<br />

“They were feeding me scripts (for Rebels)<br />

for the upcoming season, so I could see<br />

where Thrawn was ending up, since my book<br />

is a prequel to that. What I could do is look<br />

at what they were doing and incorporate bits<br />

Thrawn had been announced for the third<br />

and fourth seasons of Star Wars: Rebels.<br />

of that as kind of foreshadowing or setup in<br />

the book.”<br />

Timothy was informed that his character

During the events of Rebels Thrawn<br />

interacts with other well known characters,<br />

such as Grand Moff Tarkin. To Timothy it<br />

appeared that these characters had some<br />

existing familiarity with each other. This<br />

gave him the opportunity to incorporate<br />

first meetings into his book. I noted that<br />

Thrawn and Tarkin took their time meeting<br />

each other in that book, though Timothy<br />

explained that he had other events that<br />

needed to take place before that could<br />

happen.<br />

When asked how he felt about the Disney<br />

Star Wars canon rewrite, Timothy was<br />

understanding of their position.<br />

“Once they decided to do new movies<br />

and didn’t want to be restricted by all the<br />

books and comics, which I understand,<br />

what they could have done is gone<br />

through everything and decided what was<br />

canon and what wasn’t. But to do that<br />

they would need to know exactly what<br />

they wanted to do with Star Wars for the<br />

next fifty years. That’s impossible to do.<br />

They’re making it up as they go along like<br />

all the rest of us do.”

There are no plans to bring back Mara<br />

Jade at this stage, though Timothy<br />

informed me that Thrawn’s original side<br />

kick, Admiral Pallaeon, is once again<br />

pitch a story including her to Lucasfilm,<br />

though he once again explains that they<br />

have the final say on whether she will<br />

return or not. He is hopeful it will happen:<br />

canon. In the last battle in Rebels Thrawn<br />

calls for Captain Pallaeon, who could<br />

possibly climb the ranks to once again<br />

become an Admiral. Zahn explains there<br />

was a reason for his lack of inclusion in<br />

his novels:<br />

“You know, it’s only been a couple of<br />

years since Thrawn arrived in Rebels…<br />

and you know, they’re looking at the<br />

popularity of Thrawn, and they’ve gotta<br />

be thinking “what else could we bring<br />

back from Legends that the fans would<br />

“The thing was, when I did (the new<br />

book) Thrawn, if I had Pallaeon there,<br />

it’s still a very different dynamic. It’s no<br />

like?” So I’m happy to let them have time<br />

to make the right decision, i.e. the one I<br />

want.”<br />

longer the master and the learner as<br />

Pallaeon was more or less the Dr Watson<br />

to the Sherlock Holmes. If I’m going to<br />

do a different dynamic I may as well do<br />

a different character, so I came up with<br />

Eli Vanto who’s now going to be learning<br />

along with Thrawn and finding his way<br />

through the Imperial fleet.”<br />

I finish by lamenting the fact that Luke<br />

has now passed in the storyline, and<br />

there was no mention that he was<br />

married to Mara Jade in this continuity.<br />

Ever the creative mind, Timothy Zahn<br />

has a plan that could make that fit in<br />

with The Last Jedi, though as always,<br />

that is up to Lucasfilm. Though with her<br />

Timothy confirms that if he can find a<br />

logical place for Pallaeon to return in the<br />

novels he will definitely make it happen.<br />

Mara Jade fans can rest assured that the<br />

same rule applies to her. He has plans to<br />

former popularity still quite high within<br />

the fanbase, it is my opinion that fans<br />

of the former Emperor’s Hand may have<br />

something to look forward to in<br />

the future.<br />

Written by Paul Monoploi



Making Of<br />

Where Tom Holland’s first solo outing as<br />

Spider-Man introduced us to the webslinging<br />

icon in the familiar surroundings<br />

of New York City, the eagerly awaited<br />

sequel is set to be a worldwide event.<br />

“This is so much bigger,” says Holland,<br />

fresh from a morning spent bounding<br />

across the backlot at Leavesden Studios,<br />

the London base of Sony Pictures’ epic<br />

new adventure Spider-Man: Far from<br />


After several appearances in the<br />

Marvel Cinematic Universe (the<br />

“MCU”), including worldwide box office<br />

in London. “This will be the first truly<br />

international Spider-Man movie,” boasts<br />

Carroll.<br />

sensation Avengers: Endgame, we are<br />

familiar with Spider-Man swinging<br />

between skyscrapers. The sight of him<br />

above the historic canals and bridges of<br />

Venice in Italy will be something new.<br />

After the events of Avengers: Endgame,<br />

Peter is excited to get away on his class<br />

trip and spend some time with his<br />

friends – like any regular teenager. “One<br />

of our mission statements on this film<br />

“We went for the title, Far from Home,<br />

because it is a fun call-back to the first<br />

movie, but also because the big idea<br />

was to get Spider-Man not just out of<br />

his comfort zone, out of New York City,<br />

was to remind people why they loved<br />

the first movie,” adds Carroll. The fact<br />

that Spider-Man is not a prince, he’s<br />

not from another planet and he’s not a<br />

multibillionaire, he’s just a teenager.<br />

but out of the States,” explains executive<br />

producer Eric Carroll. Peter Parker is<br />

going on a school trip to Europe: a<br />

chance to see the world and then save it<br />

“I really want that aspect of a 16-yearold<br />

with superpowers to come across<br />

again,” insists Holland.<br />

once more.<br />

All Peter wants is to set aside the<br />

Produced by Kevin Feige and Amy<br />

Pascal, written by Chris McKenna and<br />

Erik Sommers and again directed by<br />

the hugely talented Jon Watts, the<br />

storyline will spin between Mexico,<br />

Venice, the Alps, Prague, Berlin and<br />

the Netherlands, before culminating<br />

superhero business and have a good<br />

time only his dream vacation keeps<br />

getting interrupted. With the world<br />

forever changed after Avengers:<br />

Endgame – and now under threat --<br />

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is asking<br />

Spider-Man to step up more than ever.”

“This is the dynamic everyone got really<br />

excited about when we started thinking<br />

about ways we could take this movie,”<br />

enthuses Carroll. “You would have this<br />

grizzled Cold War spy and the teen who just<br />

wants to get back to his vacation.”<br />

“It’s an interesting combination,” laughs<br />

Holland, “because obviously Peter is kind of<br />

upbeat and Nick Fury is so scary. Let’s just<br />

say, it’s been a fun ride.”<br />

With the rest of the Avengers otherwise<br />

occupied, alongside Agent Maria Hill (Cobie<br />

Smulders), Fury recruits Spider-Man to help<br />

investigate an outbreak of catastrophic<br />

explaining that they put Spider-Man in<br />

situations where he has to outthink his foe.<br />

“He can’t just use force.”<br />

"No one ever said<br />

being a friendly<br />

neighbourhood<br />

SpiderMan was<br />

easy."<br />

events. The work of antagonists the likes<br />

of which we have never seen before —<br />

Elemental Creatures. Based on classical<br />

mythology, each is a giant, humanoid<br />

version of<br />

one of the traditional elements: fire, water,<br />

earth and air.<br />

Not that he will have to tackle these<br />

creatures alone. Spider-Man: Far from Home<br />

sees the debut of comic book favourite<br />

Mysterio (by day Quentin Beck), played<br />

by the brilliant Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback<br />

Mountain). With glowing green body<br />

armour, transparent helmet and scarlet<br />

“They had thought they were legends,<br />

but then they thought Thor was a legend<br />

and he showed up one day,” notes Carroll,<br />

cape, according to Carroll, this enigmatic<br />

new arrival resembles “the lovechild of Thor,<br />

Doctor Strange and Iron Man.”

“Jake’s amazing,” says Holland. “He’s<br />

seamless in and out of character.<br />

Sometimes it is quite disconcerting<br />

May (Marisa Tomei) and not-so-adorable<br />

minder Harold ‘Happy’ Hogan (Jon<br />

Favreau).<br />

because you think he’s just talking to you,<br />

then you realise he is doing the scene<br />

right now. I have learned a lot.”<br />

There is also the tricky matter of his<br />

serious crush on schoolmate MJ, given<br />

such winningly offbeat charm by Zendaya.<br />

For all the CGI used to create the<br />

Elemental Creatures, as well as Spider-Man<br />

Sassy, self-reliant MJ will play a much<br />

bigger part in the sequel.<br />

and<br />

Mysterio’s more elaborate heroics, Watts is<br />

determined to keep his filmmaking as real<br />

as possible.<br />

Beyond all the realism provided by the<br />

character relationships, locations, sets and<br />

costumes, Holland’s enthusiasm to do his<br />

own stunts remains impossible to quench.<br />

The 100-acre Leavesden Studios backlot<br />

features a devastated Mexican street, large<br />

parts of London’s Tower Bridge and a<br />

sprawling subsection of Venice built across<br />

a huge tank. A tour of the soundstages<br />

reveals the interior of a Stark Industries<br />

“I don’t do everything,” he insists. “I am<br />

very happy for my double to do it if he can<br />

do it better.” Nevertheless, he rehearsed<br />

key moves for “weeks and weeks”<br />

beforehand, getting back into character.<br />

super-jet and an Italian restaurant in New<br />

York about to descend into chaos.<br />

“At the end of the Venice sequence, with<br />

Mysterio and the Water Elemental Creature<br />

With the film’s extensive sightseeing<br />

bookended with sequences in Peter’s<br />

natural habitat of New York, Holland’s hero<br />

will be reunited with his adorable Aunt<br />

fighting, they clip a bell tower,” says<br />

Carroll. “It is left to Spider-Man to try and<br />

keep the tower from toppling onto the<br />

crowds, while the bell keeps hitting him

the face. We have an actual tower on an<br />

actual gimbal that an actual Tom Holland<br />

is going to get into and we<br />

are going to throw an actual bell at him.”<br />

There is also a new look for Spider-Man.<br />

Care of Nick Fury’s clandestine division of<br />

superspies (which have evolved from the<br />

remnants of SHIELD) there is what Holland<br />

calls his “stealth suit”. It is jet-black from<br />

head-to-toe with “flip-up” spider-eye<br />

goggles and presents a radically new<br />

approach to the character. This will be the<br />

first time in Spider-Man’s onscreen history<br />

he will sometimes be seen out of red and<br />

blue.<br />

“He’s keeping a low profile,” says associate<br />

costume designer Michael Mooney. “You’ll<br />

see there’s no spider symbol, but we<br />

kept a badge space, hinting that this was<br />

some kind of old SHIELD suit. Plus, we’ve<br />

updated the web-blasters.”<br />

No one ever said being a friendly<br />

neighbourhood Spider-Man was easy.<br />

Written by Ian Nathan


Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take<br />

on new threats in a world that has changed forever.<br />

Starring Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon<br />

Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr with Marisa Tomei and Jake<br />

Gyllenhaal.<br />

Directed by Jon Watts. In cinemas July 1.<br />


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gameS<br />

TOP 10 GAMEPL<br />


<strong>2019</strong><br />





AY<br />




Dragon Ball Heroe

s: World Mission<br />

Card collecting has always been a<br />

popular pastime in Japan. Houses<br />

are smaller, so children owning<br />

large collections of toys is a near<br />

impracticality. Cards are smaller, fit<br />

in folders or small boxes, so they<br />

child. Playing arcade games has<br />

also always been a popular pastime<br />

in Japan, with many Westerners<br />

flocking overseas to check out the<br />

various game centres scattered<br />

across the land.<br />

are ideal for the average Japanese

In late 2010 the Dragon Ball franchise<br />

married these two activities together in<br />

the form of Dragon Ball Heroes. Finally<br />

you could collect cards, then take them<br />

place your cards on the pad and move<br />

them around the battlefield. The buttons<br />

were used in combat and to select menu<br />

options.<br />

to the arcade and use them in a game.<br />

The Dragon Ball Heroes arcade machine<br />

featured a large screen, with a flat pad and<br />

3 buttons on either side of it. You would<br />

Home releases of Dragon Ball Heroes were<br />

scarce until recently. The Nintendo 3DS<br />

received three home ports, though until<br />

“<br />

...The strategy is in managing<br />

which characters are going to<br />

attack during which round...<br />

this year that was the only way to play<br />

game away from the arcade. As a person<br />

who does not live in Japan, this is where<br />

am still buying cards online and building<br />

teams for my next trip there, so I can just<br />

jump right in to the game.<br />

my experience with the series begun. I<br />

imported a Japanese 3DS and purchased<br />

all three games are they were released.<br />

Fast forward a couple of years and I found<br />

myself in the land of the rising sun, where<br />

I was able to collect actual cards and<br />

play the game. When I am not in Japan I<br />

Obviously I am a fan, and I’m not the only<br />

one. Dragon Ball Heroes has spawned its<br />

own subset of Dragon Ball culture, with<br />

a promotional anime and more than one<br />

manga series appearing in various Jump<br />

comics. Some of the characters from the

series have made their way into other<br />

Dragon Ball games including Fu who<br />

could be found in Xenoverse 2. Figures of<br />

characters created just for the game can<br />

additional cards and items, then take them<br />

to the arena to battle it out against various<br />

opponents. This is where your adventure<br />

begins.<br />

also be purchased in Japanese toy stores.<br />

After familiarising yourself with the<br />

In 2016 the game was refreshed to<br />

become Super Dragon Ball Heroes (from<br />

this point known as SDBH), including new<br />

cards and missions. This is where we find<br />

ourselves with this title, Super Dragon Ball<br />

Heroes: World Mission.<br />

gameplay, the story ramps up with Great<br />

Saiyaman 3 recruiting you to help find out<br />

why various Dragon Ball villains are making<br />

their way to the real world. The story is<br />

rather flimsy, and it really is nothing more<br />

than a skin on top of the shallow gameplay<br />

behind SDBH.<br />

I had seen the marketing for this game<br />

while in Japan, and I was anxious for a<br />

release in the West. While I own the 3DS<br />

What? Shallow gameplay? I thought you<br />

were a fan?<br />

games, they are in Japanese, which makes<br />

it difficult a person who does not speak<br />

the language. Thankfully this game is in<br />

English, making gameplay so much easier.<br />

While I am a fan of Super Dragon Ball<br />

Heroes, even I can see that the gameplay<br />

is very limited. Each game takes place over<br />

a maximum of five rounds. If you fail to<br />

While this title does accurately replicate its<br />

arcade counterpart, Bandai Namco have<br />

included a story mode, taking place in a<br />

world where SDBH is the equivalent of<br />

an e-sport. Players can visit stores to buy<br />

defeat the enemy in that time you lose.<br />

The aforementioned grid you place your<br />

cards on is split into four segments. The<br />

front, red section is for high attack and<br />

defence, the orange section is for mid

attack and defence, the yellow section is<br />

for light attack and defence, and the blue<br />

section is to recharge your energy.<br />

you place the card. The yellow section only<br />

uses one energy slot, while the orange uses<br />

two and the red uses three. The strategy is<br />

in managing which characters are going to<br />

Each card has a maximum of four energy<br />

slots that are used up depending on where<br />

attack during which round and who is going<br />

to recharge and be used later in the game.<br />

The actual fights are where the gameplay<br />

is let down. When you are attacking or<br />

defending you are faced with a bar that<br />

moves back and forth at various speeds.<br />

You hit a button to stop the bar when you<br />

think it is as high as it can go. If your bar<br />

is higher than your opponent, then you<br />

attack or defend successfully. If you fail then<br />

they defend your attack or successfully hit<br />

you. This element of the game can become<br />

frustrating fast, and it why I only ever play<br />

the arcade game two or three times before

I am done for the day. Sadly this is how<br />

you ‘fight’ in the game, so it is a core<br />

component of the gameplay. Sometimes it<br />

is enough to make you rage quit and while<br />

it works in an arcade it does not translate<br />

arcade game the machine spits out a new<br />

card for you to use. In this game you are<br />

given tokens which can be used in a gacha<br />

store, which in its defence is another way<br />

you can get cards in Japan.<br />

well into a home release that debuted at<br />

$79.99.<br />

If you find yourself becoming bored or<br />

frustrated with the story you can jump into<br />

The game is nice to look at, though it<br />

far from stretching the abilities of the<br />

Nintendo Switch. It looks pretty much<br />

the arcade mode, that contains missions<br />

found in the arcades in Japan. The problem<br />

is the gameplay is just more of the same.<br />

like a direct port of the arcade game with<br />

little to no enhancements. On the other<br />

hand, the music is excellent. Over the years<br />

many themes tunes have been created for<br />

Dragon Ball Heroes. You can hear these<br />

and other themes from the Dragon Ball TV<br />

series in various missions of the game.<br />

I do find myself going back to SDBH,<br />

though only for a couple of games at<br />

a time before I get bored and return to<br />

whatever RPG I am going through at the<br />

time. The gameplay is frustrating, so it<br />

must be the Dragon Ball license bringing<br />

me back for more. It’s not the worst<br />

The game features over 1100 cards to<br />

collect, with over 300 different characters<br />

to use. It may seem like a lot, but when<br />

game you could ever have in your Switch<br />

collection, but don’t pay full price! $79.99<br />

is just not worth it!<br />

you look at the final 3DS game, Ultimate<br />

Mission X, and realise that that game<br />

contains 3300 cards you start to feel a little<br />

By Paul Monopoli<br />

short changed. Each time you play the


A LOO<br />




This is the eighth entry in a series of articles<br />

I’m writing that will look at all of the games<br />

available in a particular genre on the Vita. The<br />

articles will highlight all Vita-native games, as<br />

well as any backwards-compatible PSP and<br />

PS1 titles that can be downloaded in English<br />

(i.e. from the EU or NA stores), and will include<br />

some commentary on how well those games<br />

run on Vita and whether they fill any missing<br />

gaps in the library.

The stealth genre is one that some would<br />

argue doesn’t even exist – many titles<br />

include stealth elements, but actually fit into<br />

one of a number of other genres like action,<br />

platformer, or third-person shooter. Ever<br />

since the breakout success of the Metal Gear<br />

franchise (in particular Metal Gear Solid),<br />

though, the genre seems on much more<br />

stable footing and it demonstrated that you<br />

In recent years we’ve seen other things<br />

like Assassin’s Creed, Hitman and Splinter<br />

Cell continue to push the genre forward,<br />

although it still has somewhat limited appeal.<br />

Thankfully, the Vita has a healthy selection of<br />

stealth games available (and even more with<br />

backwards-compatibility), meaning if you’re<br />

looking to do some sneaking on the go then<br />

you’ll be well served with the console.<br />

can have a veritable blockbuster on your<br />

hands relying only on stealth mechanics as<br />

the main gameplay element.


Ever since the release of Metal Gear<br />

Solid in 1998, Hideo Kojima’s stealthaction<br />

epic series has gone from<br />

strength to strength, and two of the<br />

most well-received entries landed on<br />

reviews from critics, who commented<br />

on the extremely solid porting job,<br />

although many were disappointed<br />

that Peace Walker wasn’t included,<br />

making it an incomplete package.<br />

the PS2 – Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of<br />

Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake<br />

Eater. Both were ported to Vita in the<br />

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection in<br />

2012, which provided a fantastic way<br />

to play them on the go.<br />

Despite its resounding sales success,<br />

few games have attempted to copy<br />

the style of Metal Gear Solid aside<br />

from spoofs like Never Stop Sneakin’<br />

(aside from Konami’s own Nisekoi<br />

Yomeiri?!, a visual novel with a few<br />

Based on the expanded versions of<br />

each (Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance<br />

and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence,<br />

respectively), the games followed the<br />

further adventures of Solid Snake<br />

(and Big Boss) in the increasinglyconvoluted<br />

storyline about patriot<br />

control and individual freedom. The<br />

stealth elements are incredibly welldeveloped,<br />

allowing you to cling to<br />

walls, camouflage to hide in tall grass,<br />

and take down foes silently – in fact<br />

you can even go for a no-kill run in<br />

both titles. It received very positive<br />

stealth elements thrown in). One<br />

title that did attempt it is Volume,<br />

an ambitious indie from Mike Bithell<br />

(famous for Thomas Was Alone)<br />

that apes the formula of the PS1<br />

title Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions.<br />

Including elements such as cones of<br />

vision and corner-peaking, as well as<br />

using sound as a hook to allow you<br />

to sneak past guards, it received a<br />

similarly positive critical reception<br />

(and a limited physical release<br />

through Limited Run Games for those<br />

who like collecting hard copies!).

The Vita’s other tentpole AAA<br />

stealth release was Assassin’s Creed<br />

III: Liberation, a bespoke entry in<br />

Ubisoft’s epic open-world saga that<br />

was designed specifically for Vita.<br />

It had you hiding on rooftops and<br />

silently assassinating targets on the<br />

go. The was one of the big holiday<br />

titles for 2012 and was sold alongside<br />

a limited edition console, ensuring that<br />

it sold well enough despite reviews<br />

commenting on its cut-back features<br />

and technical shortcomings. It was<br />

enough of a success for the company<br />

to release Assassin’s Creed Chronicles<br />

on the handheld a few years later,<br />

introducing a 2D take on the formula to<br />

mixed results.<br />

Speaking of turning open-world<br />

3D stealth games into 2D handheld<br />

counterparts, another series which<br />

did this on Vita was Batman with<br />

Batman Arkham Origins: Blackgate.<br />

Switching up the gameplay to more of<br />

a metroidvania with a heavier emphasis<br />

on stealth takedowns than before was<br />

a unique proposition which offered a<br />

fun experience. However, its shared<br />

development with the 3DS was evident<br />

and resulted in a title that didn’t make<br />

the most of the console it was running<br />

on. If you’re looking for something<br />

closer to the home console Arkham<br />

games, you could try The Amazing<br />

Spider-Man, which has plenty of<br />

optional stealth for its indoor sections.

Offering a completely different take<br />

compared to other stealth games is the<br />

Sly Cooper series, which consists of the<br />

Sly Trilogy and Sly Cooper: Thieves in<br />

Time. All four games are 3D platformers<br />

at their core but encouraged stealthy<br />

play as you’ll need to do things like<br />

avoid guards, pick their pockets, and<br />

make your way through laser grids.<br />

The first is arguably the best of the<br />

bunch and offers the purest sneaking<br />

experience, but they’re all worth<br />

checking out.<br />

Offering a similarly cartoony aesthetic but<br />

just as enjoyable stealth gameplay, Spy<br />

Chameleon is a puzzler where you play<br />

as a chameleon able to change his colour<br />

to avoid detection. It’s a neat idea and is<br />

similar to Level 22, where your goal is to<br />

sneak to your office desk after being late<br />

to work without your boss spotting you’re<br />

missing. The latter provides predictably<br />

fun and hilarious results. There’s also<br />

Hitman Go, which again offers puzzles,<br />

but with turn-based gameplay as its base<br />

and it works surprisingly well - it won over<br />

a lot of reviewers.

Some stealth games in the Vita’s library<br />

got completely overlooked – one of<br />

loved it thanks to its mix of platforming,<br />

stealth and shooting elements.<br />

the biggest for me is Shinobido 2:<br />

Revenge of Zen, which I continually<br />

argue is one of the console’s hidden<br />

gems. Pitting you as a ninja in the midst<br />

of a war between clans, you undertake<br />

missions that invariably involve sneaking<br />

behind enemy lines and assassinating<br />

targets. It’s janky as hell, but incredibly<br />

enjoyable and offers arguably the best<br />

sandbox stealth experience out there.<br />

Another overlooked gem is Counterspy,<br />

a Cold War-inspired espionage thriller<br />

where you have to stop a nuclear war<br />

by collecting launch codes. I absolutely<br />

In fact, there are plenty of indie games<br />

out there like Counterspy that blend<br />

stealth elements with other ideas, the<br />

obvious one being Stealth Inc: A Clone<br />

in the Dark and its sequel Stealth Inc<br />

2: A Game of Clones. These titles have<br />

you escaping test facilities in a 2D<br />

platformer hybrid which works pretty<br />

well. Meanwhile in The Swindle your<br />

goal is to break into banks and steal<br />

all their gold, for which you’ll of course<br />

need to deploy a variety of sneaky<br />

tactics to succeed.

Then there are the games that really<br />

belong to other genres but include light<br />

stealth elements. For example, Unit 13<br />

is a squad-based third-person shooter,<br />

but you’re going to need to hide in the<br />

shadows if you want to succeed. The lands<br />

of Oddworld are filled with horrendous<br />

creatures you’ll want to avoid too,<br />

You’ll also find stealth elements present in<br />

horror games like Resident Evil Revelations<br />

2 and Yomawari: Night Alone (and its<br />

sequel, Yomawari: Midnight Shadows),<br />

where it’s better to hide from monsters<br />

than engage with them. There are<br />

elements of this in the rather abysmal<br />

NightCry too.<br />

which means plenty of sneaking around<br />

is required in New ‘n’ Tasty, Munch’s<br />

Oddysee and Stranger’s Wrath.


Sony’s first handheld housed the two most<br />

recent – and arguably greatest – entries,<br />

entitled Dark Mirror and Logan’s Shadow<br />

respectively. Following super-spy Gabe Logan<br />

across the globe as he attempts to stop the<br />

spread of a deadly virus, the series’ trademark<br />

third-person shooting elements are still present<br />

here but there’s a much greater emphasis on<br />

hiding in the shadows and taking out enemies<br />

without them spotting you (plus, both games<br />

Another franchise that wasn’t present on Vita<br />

but showed up on PSP was SOCOM, whose<br />

three Fireteam Bravo entries offer some of<br />

the best handheld tactical shooting on the<br />

market. In them, you order round a squad of<br />

troops while controlling your own player from a<br />

third-person perspective, but stealth is hugely<br />

important – a single bullet can mean death,<br />

meaning you’ll have to carefully plan your route<br />

to the target without being detected.<br />

play much better on Vita thanks to the ability<br />

to map controls to the second analogue stick).<br />

If you’re looking for a similar taste of tactical<br />

shooting with a heavy dose of stealth, you<br />

Of course, the grandfather of the genre is here<br />

too (it wouldn’t be a Sony console without<br />

it) and you can get both Metal Gear Solid:<br />

Portable Ops (plus its expansion pack Portable<br />

Ops+) and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker<br />

through backwards-compatibility. Acting as<br />

prequels to the mainline series and providing a<br />

trimmed-down version of the core experience,<br />

they still received rave reviews and introduced<br />

some interesting new gameplay ideas to the<br />

formula (my particular favourite being the<br />

could consider one of the many Tom Clancy<br />

titles. The obvious pick is Splinter Cell<br />

Essentials, the original espionage thriller series<br />

following black ops agent Sam Fisher as he<br />

carries out undercover missions without being<br />

spotted. There’s also Ghost Recon Predator that<br />

plays like an inferior version of SOCOM, or you<br />

could try the fairly terrible duo of Ghost Recon<br />

Advanced Warfighter 2 and Rainbow Six Vegas,<br />

both of which were massively chopped back<br />

from their console counterparts.<br />

ability to kidnap tranquillised enemy troops to<br />

have them work for your squad).

Then, for something completely different,<br />

there’s Manhunt 2, Rockstar’s hugely<br />

controversial sequel following a mental<br />

patient as he attempts to escape the<br />

asylum he is sectioned in. While it<br />

garnered a large amount of press coverage<br />

for its gruesome execution scenes (which<br />

You can also get Assassin’s Creed:<br />

Bloodlines and Shinobido: Tales of the<br />

Ninja, prequels to their respective Vita<br />

counterparts, although the more primitive<br />

gameplay means you’re likely better off<br />

checking out the sequels unless you’re<br />

itching for more.<br />

were censored in the final release), you<br />

can expect some tight stealth gameplay<br />

in between that has you stalking the<br />

corridors of the asylum before finishing off<br />

your targets.


While there’s precious little in the way of PS1<br />

games which offer stealth elements, there is<br />

one key title that absolutely should be a part of<br />

every Vita owner’s library.<br />

VR Missions (which offers plenty of timed<br />

simulation missions), as well as the heavilyinspired<br />

imitator Syphon Filter and its two<br />

sequels, which offer a dated but still enjoyable<br />

experience.<br />

That is of course the original Metal Gear<br />

Solid – the origin of tactical espionage action<br />

and a title that holds up just as well now as<br />

it ever has, casting you as Solid Snake as<br />

he takes down terrorists on Shadow Moses<br />

Island. You can also get the expansion pack<br />

Of course, there are a handful of other things<br />

that offer stealth elements – the two Oddworld<br />

titles, the original Rainbow Six and a number<br />

of Spec Ops games, but none hold a candle to<br />

MGS in my eyes.


As a genre, stealth has remained a niche that<br />

rarely achieves mainstream success, likely due<br />

to its slower pace and the methodical thinking<br />

needed, which doesn’t offer a particularly<br />

accessible experience. Despite this, when a<br />

stealth game gets made it tends to be made<br />

in all the other series here – blockbusters like<br />

Assassin’s Creed and Manhunt, cult classics like<br />

Sly Cooper and Syphon Filter, and overlooked<br />

gems like Counterspy and Shinobido, then<br />

you’ve got a veritable goldmine of variety in<br />

the palm of your hand.<br />

extremely well, crafted with a tonne of love and<br />

care.<br />

While it is disappointing to see things like<br />

Hitman (aside from a spin-off), Tenchu (despite<br />

You don’t have to look any further than the<br />

Metal Gear Solid series for this and the fact<br />

that Vita has access to 8 entries (if we include<br />

the visual novel) makes it basically the ultimate<br />

MGS machine on the market. When you throw<br />

the possibility of the games being added to<br />

PS1 classics) and Thief absent, there’s more<br />

than enough here to satisfy fans of the genre,<br />

making Vita a brilliant way to take your<br />

sneaking on the go!<br />

Written by Adam Cartwright



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YOUR E3 <strong>2019</strong>, SAYBY Taneli Palola<br />

10<br />



<strong>2019</strong><br />



The Electronic Entertainment Expo is once<br />

again behind us and the hype machine has<br />

gifted us with a ridiculous number of trailers<br />

and announcements to digest for the days<br />

and weeks to come. As always, most of the<br />

attention at E3 goes to the big AAA titles<br />

showed at the high profile press conferences,<br />

but somewhere beneath them there are<br />

hundreds of smaller games that often get<br />

Yet, many of these games still deserve to be<br />

acknowledged and seen by as many people<br />

as possible. Naturally, I can’t highlight every<br />

intriguing smaller title here, and there’s never a<br />

guarantee that the following titles are actually<br />

going to be good, just that they look very<br />

interesting and promising at present. With that<br />

in mind, here are ten interesting titles from E3<br />

<strong>2019</strong> that you may have missed.<br />

overlooked or just completely ignored by the<br />

vast majority of people.

Ary and the Secret of<br />

Seasons<br />

Release date: Q1 2020<br />

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch<br />

The 3D action-platformers that were very much in style a few console generations ago have been<br />

going through something of a renaissance in recent years, and Ary and the Secret of Seasons is very<br />

much looking to tap into that particular well. The main gimmick of the game is the main character<br />

Ary’s ability to control seasons, which she uses to defeat enemies, solve puzzles, and get around<br />

other obstacles in her way.<br />

You can obviously see the limits of the game’s budget, but if the gameplay and story are well<br />

designed and engaging then things like dated graphics aren’t going to be that much of an issue<br />

- for me at least. Titles like Yooka-Laylee and A Hat In Time have showed that there is definitely a<br />

market for games like this, and I think Ary and the Secret of Seasons is worth keeping an eye on.

Lost Words: Beyond the<br />

Page<br />

Release date: TBA<br />

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch<br />

One of the most interesting parts of any E3 for me is looking for games that do something different<br />

with established game mechanics. Lost Words: Beyond the Page is at its core a 2D puzzle platformer,<br />

but adds a very interesting mechanic in using words to change the stage around you in order to<br />

proceed further.<br />

Games where the story and gameplay are interconnected and affect each other in a significant way<br />

are disappointingly rare, so titles like Lost Words are more than welcome. The fact that the game is<br />

written by Rhianna Pratchett also piqued my interest. Indie platformers like these often live and die<br />

by their stories, but here the gameplay also looks to have some welcome depth to it. Definitely one<br />

to look out for when it eventually comes out.

El Hijo<br />

Release date: TBA<br />

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch<br />

An isometric stealth game with strong spaghetti western influences isn’t necessarily something I<br />

expected to see at E3 this year, but I’m more than happy that I did. In El Hijo you play as a 6-yearold<br />

boy looking for his mother after bandits raided and destroyed their farm, leaving the boy in the<br />

care of a monastery. Refusing to be separated from his mother, El Hijo decides to escape from the<br />

monastery and find her somewhere in the harsh world.<br />

There’s obviously plenty of upside to a concept like that, and while we’ve had plenty of stealth<br />

games in recent years, the rather unique setting for one combined with a beautiful art style gives El<br />

Hijo a very good foundation at the very least. The one thing that matters now is how interesting the<br />

actual gameplay is going to be and whether the game can provide a genuine challenge.

Valfaris<br />

Release date: <strong>2019</strong><br />

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch<br />

With the new Contra looking less than stellar it’s nice to see that some developers haven’t<br />

abandoned the kind of frantic, fast-paced, run ‘n gun gameplay that Konami’s once venerated series<br />

was known for. Valfraris comes to us courtesy of Steel Mantis, a relatively unknown developer, but<br />

one with undeniable talent and potential.<br />

With games like Contral and Turrican stated as sources of inspiration, and with its gorgeous pixel<br />

art visual style, I was already intrigued by Valfaris, but it was the addition of a heavy metal infused<br />

soundtrack that really caught my attention. If the gameplay lives up to the promise the rest of game<br />

is showing, we might have something quite excellent in our hands soon.

Cris Tales<br />

Release date: 2020<br />

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch<br />

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of classic JRPGs, from Final Fantasy to Breath of Fire and more, so it<br />

shouldn’t come as a surprise that when I first heard of Cris Tales I was instantly excited for the prospect<br />

of playing a new JRPG that takes influence from a classic of the 90s. It also helps that the game itself<br />

is absolutely gorgeous, with a striking art style and beautiful animations. The idea of playing in three<br />

different time periods at the same time is also very interesting and ambitious and I’m definitely curious<br />

to see how it’s going to work in action.<br />

I also love the fact that Cris Tales is using a turn-based combat system, for as much as I like the modern,<br />

more action-focused real-time battle systems in JRPGs nowadays I still miss playing games that require<br />

more strategy and thinking than fast reactions and reflexes. This could very well be a real sleeper hit, as<br />

it’s been proven several times over with games like Octopath Traveler that there is definitely demand for<br />

old-school style JRPGs.

Valfaris<br />

Release date: 2020<br />

Platforms: PC<br />

Strategy games have quietly been experiencing a restoration of sorts in recent years and much of<br />

that has been driven by small indie developers creating interesting gameplay experiences, often<br />

based on very familiar gameplay mechanics, but with some added element to make it fresh again.<br />

Per Aspera is essentially a base-building strategy game where you are tasked with terraforming<br />

Mars.<br />

I’m interested to see just how vast the game’s scale is, as the trailer makes it seem like you’re going<br />

to be building across the entire planet at the same time, rather than being separated into individual<br />

missions, but naturally the trailer could be misleading in that regard. Whatever the case, people<br />

looking for new strategy games should keep Per Aspera in mind.

Remnant: From the Ashes<br />

Release date: August 20, <strong>2019</strong><br />

Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One<br />

The developer behind Remnant: From the Ashes is Gunfire Games, best known for creating last<br />

year’s Darksiders III, which is at once a reason to keep an eye out for Remnant as well as cause for<br />

concern. The studio has shown that it has the talent to create something truly special, but so far it<br />

hasn’t really been able to put everything together in such a way.<br />

Remnant: From the Ashes is a third-person survival action shooter, where the player takes the role<br />

of one of the last remaining humans trying to survive in the post-apocalyptic wasteland overrun by<br />

monsters. The element that caught my interest was that the game can actually be played in co-op<br />

with up to two other players. In some ways this seems like a horror version of Borderlands, and quite<br />

frankly I’m alright with that.

Songs of Conquest<br />

Release date: Late 2020<br />

Platforms: PC, Mac<br />

It’s honestly quite surprising that more games haven’t tried to copy the Heroes of Might & Magic<br />

formula and give it a slight spin. Songs of Conquest is doing exactly that. It’s a turn-based strategy<br />

game that isn’t even trying to hide its influences, but there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that as<br />

long as the thing you’re making turns out to be good.<br />

The two things that initially caught my attention were the game’s visual design and the music that<br />

played in the trailer. Then when I realized it’s basically a new take on old-school Heroes of Might &<br />

Magic I was sold. They are some of my favourite strategy games ever after all. Unfortunately, Songs of<br />

Conquest still has quite a long way to go before it’s finished, so anyone interested will have to wait for<br />

at least another year to get their hands on it.

Rad<br />

Release date: Summer <strong>2019</strong><br />

Platforms: PC, PS4, NS, Xbox One<br />

Rad is a game that could just as easily end up being amazing as it could turn out to be forgettable. It’s being<br />

developed by Double Fine, a studio with a history of inconsistency, ranging from the exceptional to the<br />

mediocre and anything in between. However, one aspect where Double Fine has always shined is in creating<br />

an interesting concept upon which to base its games, and Rad is no different.<br />

Rad is an action rogue-like where the player must traverse a radioactive wasteland in order to bring life back<br />

into the world. The central conceit of the game is that the further into the wasteland you travel, the more<br />

the various toxins ravage the main character, transforming and mutating them. It seems that in mutating<br />

the player gains new abilities to help them on their journey, but at the cost of becoming less human in the<br />

process. Maybe there’s going to be some kind of trade-off, where you have to give up something for these<br />

new abilities, essentially making the gameplay a series of increasingly difficult decisions as you balance your<br />

humanity against the skills you need to survive.

Griftlands<br />

Release date: Fall 2020<br />

Platforms: PC<br />

We’ll end this one with another rogue-like, although one very different from Rad. Griftlands is a<br />

deck-building rogue-like in development by Klei Entertainment. Klei is probably best known for<br />

titles such as Mark of the Ninja, Don’t Starve, and Invisible, Inc., giving the company a reputation for<br />

always trying out new genres and playstyles.<br />

Griftlands originally started life as an RPG, but after a few years in development the game’s direction<br />

was shifted and it became a rogue-like deck building game with a strong focus on narrative. In<br />

Griftlands the player can approach situations in many different ways. You can of course simply fight<br />

your way through, but you can also negotiate, steal, or use a number of other methods to get to<br />

your goal. It’ll be interesting to see how Klei manages to make this concept work properly, but since<br />

the game is still over a year away from release they definitely have the time to do so.

Were there any interesting, underappreciated games you came across from E3 <strong>2019</strong> that weren’t<br />

included in this list? Share them in the comments below so others can find out about them too.<br />

By Taneli Palola

Evan Norris<br />

REVIEW NS:<br />


CRISIS<br />

It feels like slowly and quietly publisher<br />

Nicalis is building a video game cinematic<br />

universe in the style of Marvel and Disney.<br />

Crystal Crisis is a nice diversion that<br />

unfortunately doesn’t take full advantage of<br />

its all-star cast.<br />

Blade Strangers, with its roster of crossover<br />

fighters, was the first sign, and puzzle<br />

game Crystal Crisis, which pulls together<br />

characters from many Nicalis-published<br />

titles—including Cave Story, The Binding<br />

of Isaac, and 1001 Spikes—is yet another.<br />

It even introduces playable characters from<br />

Nicalis games in development (the video<br />

game equivalent of a backdoor pilot). With<br />

lots of familiar faces, plenty of content, and<br />

some clever puzzle-fighting mechanics,<br />

Crystal Crisis is closest in DNA to Super<br />

Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. It’s a color-matching<br />

puzzle game where Nicalis mascots duke it<br />

out in the background. Players drop crystals<br />

in sets of two, lining up identical colors to<br />

form square and rectangular clusters that<br />

double attack power. At certain intervals a<br />

spark crystal will appear. Drop a green spark<br />

crystal on a green cluster, for example, and<br />

it disappears, filling your rival’s display with

unbreakable “countdown crystals” that<br />

revert to normal after several moves. Chain<br />

together spark crystal combos and it’ll<br />

soon be game over for your opponent.<br />

push it toward the left or right wall, it will<br />

split—so you can drop a blue crystal on<br />

the far left side and a red crystal on the<br />

far right side. This adds a new strategic<br />

layer to traditional puzzle mechanics.<br />

This is well-worn territory, but Nicalis<br />

infuses a couple inventive wrinkles into<br />

the formula to make Crystal Crisis stand<br />

out. The first is a wrap-around grid. If you<br />

rotate a two-crystal block horizontally and<br />

Equally strategic are burst moves, powerful<br />

offensive and defensive moves unique to<br />

each of the title’s 20 playable characters.<br />

Princess Solange’s offensive burst move,<br />

Deluxe Countdown, changes opponents’

egular crystals to countdown crystals and<br />

increases them to 9. Astro Boy’s defensive<br />

burst move, Atomic Rotation, allows<br />

Reflection is a total game-changer. It’s no<br />

coincidence Akuji sits at the end of arcade<br />

mode.<br />

players to rotate sections of their grid to<br />

create clusters and set up chains.<br />

Arcade mode comes in many different<br />

flavors and difficulty levels. There’s a<br />

The drawback of burst moves is that<br />

they’re hardly balanced. Akuji (Akuji the<br />

Demon), for example, has a devastating<br />

offensive burst called Demon Reflection,<br />

which swaps all the crystals on your grid<br />

with all the crystals on the enemy’s grid.<br />

Now, some of the more powerful bursts<br />

require a full energy meter where lesser<br />

maneuvers require only one third of the<br />

meter, but even so something like Demon<br />

standard puzzle mode; survival, an endless<br />

gauntlet filled with increasingly-difficult<br />

enemies; inline, a variant where players<br />

must match colors in lines of three; tag<br />

team, where you swap between two<br />

characters; and memory, a challenging<br />

mode where you’ll need to memorize<br />

color combinations as each crystal’s<br />

identity is obscured once it lands. Inline<br />

is perhaps the best mode, despite (or

perhaps because of) its simplicity. A pareddown<br />

match-three game, it strips away<br />

the randomness of spark crystals and<br />

momentum-killing burst moves and focuses<br />

on skill-based matching mechanics.<br />

leaderboards to track your progress (or lack<br />

thereof). You may end up spending most<br />

of your energy in multiplayer matches, as<br />

the game’s AI, even in the “normal” arcade<br />

modes, can prove daunting.<br />

Most modes are available in local and online<br />

multiplayer, so you can pick your poison<br />

with buddies at home or with players from<br />

around the world. Online you’ll choose<br />

ranked or unranked matches, play with<br />

friends, or set custom rules. There are also<br />

The big draw alongside arcade mode<br />

is story mode, which ends up being<br />

disappointingly bland. It’s just a sequence<br />

of 1v1 battles tied together with some<br />

character introductions and an unexciting<br />

plot about a powerful red crystal.

Essentially it’s arcade mode with a<br />

MacGuffin. It’s a shame, really, in light of so<br />

many crossover characters and fan service<br />

opportunities. There is some replay value—<br />

choosing certain characters will create<br />

branching paths—but apart from that there’s<br />

no reason to return, minus narrator Peter<br />

Cullen’s dulcet voice.<br />

For folks who’ve enjoyed Tetris and Puyo<br />

Puyo games on Switch, or for those who’ve<br />

longed for a return to Super Puzzle Fighter<br />

II Turbo, this is the game for you. It’s not<br />

as refined or as well-paced as some of the<br />

stalwarts of the genre, and its story mode<br />

is a let-down, but it’s still a clever puzzlefighting<br />

hybrid with many different modes<br />

and lots of fodder for fans of games like<br />

In addition to multiple modes, Crystal Crisis<br />

includes lots of special artwork, several<br />

unlockable characters, and many in-game<br />

The Binding of Isaac, 1001 Spikes, and Code<br />

of Princess EX. It’ll be fun to see where the<br />

Nicalis initiative goes from here.<br />

achievements that will keep you coming<br />

back to achieve 100 percent.<br />

By Evan Norris<br />

Artistically, the game won’t win any medals,<br />

but its clean graphics, meaty character<br />

models, and unobtrusive UI go a long<br />

way. The only technical quirk: weirdly long<br />

loading times. It can sometimes take 20<br />

seconds to boot up story mode, enter an<br />

online bout, or wait for the next match<br />

in arcade mode. It’s hardly the end of the<br />

world, but it’s still a constant, nagging<br />

feature of the game—strange because<br />

it’s not like Crystal Crisis is pushing the<br />

technological envelope.

Evan Norris<br />

REVIEW NS:<br />

Gato Roboto<br />

Not every game needs to be groundbreaking<br />

or state-of-the-art. Sometimes<br />

the Metroidvania camp, let down only by its<br />

short running time and low difficulty.<br />

all you need is a great formula and a cute<br />

cat. Such is the situation with Gato Roboto,<br />

a Metroid clone that leans into the best<br />

of that franchise: 2D action-platforming,<br />

labyrinthine maps, hidden power-ups, and<br />

memorable boss fights. It’s a solid entry in<br />

Gato Roboto embraces that most<br />

foundational of sci-fi beginnings—a ship<br />

responds to a distress call on an alien<br />

world—but flips the script by sidelining<br />

the heroic soldier and elevating his feline

companion. While the ship’s captain is stuck<br />

in his crashed vessel, his adorable cat Kiki<br />

is free to roam the surface and depths of a<br />

mysterious world, fighting hostile life forms and<br />

automated defenses, discovering and upgrading<br />

a Samus Aran-esque power suit, and, ultimately,<br />

unraveling a surprisingly sinister and sentimental<br />

story. Overall, Gato Roboto finds a meaningful<br />

mix of genre subversion and sarcasm on one<br />

upgrades, and climactic boss encounters. The<br />

action is fun and fluid, thanks to Kiki’s agile<br />

mech suit and some flexible (if borderline<br />

loose) controls. Exploration is fun and never<br />

tedious, due to developer Doinksoft’s efficient<br />

use of space and shortcuts. Finally, for the<br />

completionists in the audience, there are plenty<br />

of hidden health upgrades and cassettes, which<br />

provide different color palettes.<br />

hand and pathos on the other. Pro tip: be sure to<br />

load your saved game after the credits roll for a<br />

cute epilogue.<br />

Those palettes, which come in everything<br />

from “grape” to “Meowtrix”, are a welcome<br />

sight, especially because Gato Roboto, despite<br />

Apart from its unusual hero, Gato Roboto sticks<br />

closely with the Metroidvania formula. It’s a 2D<br />

action-adventure game with platforming, realtime<br />

combat, large maps, secret rooms, optional<br />

extracting a lot of personality from its 8-bit<br />

graphics, suffers from a monochromatic<br />

aesthetic. It’s just not as visually-rich as other<br />

Metroidvania titles on the market.

Its two-color scheme notwithstanding,<br />

Gato Roboto manages to evoke a sense<br />

a cassette, but this is the exception to the<br />

rule.<br />

of place across its several biomes. Heat<br />

lines and plumes of fire dominate the<br />

furnace area, while leaky pipes and deep<br />

pools of water define the aqueducts.<br />

In addition, each area comes with its<br />

own unique challenges and bosses. In<br />

underwater sections, Kiki can enter and<br />

pilot a submersible. In the claustrophobic<br />

ventilation area, Kiki must disengage her<br />

power suit and travel unarmed through<br />

monster-infested vents. There are a lot<br />

of different gameplay experiences in the<br />

game despite its short length.<br />

All that said, Doinksoft does locate an<br />

appropriate level of difficulty with its<br />

extraordinary collection of boss battles.<br />

Together, these fights are the highlight<br />

of the game. There are showdowns with<br />

angry, sentient furnaces (which look like<br />

something out of Banjo-Kazooie), a battle<br />

against a flame-throwing mech over a<br />

pool of deadly lava, and an undersea<br />

skirmish with a multi-tentacled robot, to<br />

name a few. All are taxing episodes that<br />

demand patience, quick reflexes, and,<br />

sometimes, more than a few attempts.<br />

Indeed, the biggest drawback to Gato<br />

Roboto is that it’s over all too soon.<br />

While the maps and environments<br />

are varied, they’re relatively small and<br />

digestible—leading to an adventure<br />

that could be completed in three to four<br />

hours. Furthermore, the game sits on the<br />

easy side, where regular monsters and<br />

platforming segments pose little trouble.<br />

There is one difficult section where Kiki<br />

must use her spin jump to bounce off four<br />

Gato Roboto is everything you’d expect<br />

from a Metroidvania and, importantly,<br />

everything you’d want. Movement is fast<br />

and fluid, maps are vast and littered with<br />

fun secrets, boss battles are memorable<br />

and tough, and the game’s locations have<br />

a personality despite 8-bit limitations.<br />

With more substance and trickier tasks, it<br />

could be a new classic. Even without, it’s a<br />

fine example of the sub-genre.<br />

suspended mines in a row, to reach<br />

By Evan Norris

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