Friday, March 16, 2007

Latest, greatest FFXII: Revenant Wings trailer

If the new trailer for Square-Enix's upcoming DS extravaganza, Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings doesn't make you call for mama (in a good way), I don't know what will.

This one shows a number of the game's spells in action. Believe me when I say they are a sight to behold--as are the rest of the title's graphics, for that matter.

Actually, you don't need to believe me, do you? Just go ahead and click that little link at the top of this blurb--it'll take you to the video and you can see for yourself.

If you're Jonesing for more information about what could be Square's greatest portable title to date (I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that could be true), check out the preview just posted. They discuss the intricacies of the game's summon spells, and sound quite impressed overall.

Opoona starts showing its true colors

I have to admit that when I first saw screenshots of Koei's upcoming Wii RPG, Opoona, I was not too impressed. Something about it looked quite cheap--probably due to the characters being made up of simple, flatly colored balls. That they were set against backdrops that looked vaguely photo-realistic made the experience even more jarring.

Well, Koei has made me do a 180 thanks to the 2-minute video teaser they just planted on their website. In motion the game is smooth as silk, and the battles look epic indeed. I'm curious to find out more about how the game plays (using just the nunchuck attachment seems a bit weird), but until then I can definitely say my interest has been piqued.

Speaking of Saturn games on the Wii...

According to GoNintendo, the latest issue of the Official Nintendo magazine is promising readers an exclusive look at an unknown Wii game in its next issue. A few highly observant visitors to the fine Nintendo fan site have decided the star-filled image that accompanied the announcement indicates the mystery game will be none other than a sequel to one of the most highly regarded Sega Saturn games of all time, Nights into Dreams.

The game's developer has long praised Nintendo's newest system and has even commented on the possibility of a Nights sequel on the system, so I guess it's not too surprising. Fingers crossed that the rumor is true and that the game marks a return to form for the sagging Sega.

Saturn games coming soon to a Wii near you?

The rumor that Sega Saturn games will be appearing on the Wii Virtual Console has been making its way around the web for some time now, but it's picking up steam again due to some chatter coming from a DigiPen student. (The game design school is adjacent to Nintendo's headquarters.)

Nintendo certainly could go down that road if it wanted to, as evidenced by the large downloads available to those using Internet-enabled PS3s and Xbox 360s. And, as many pundits have already pointed out, Sega and the big N sure have been chummy as of late.

So, who knows? We know more systems (at least one) have yet to be announced for the VC, so the Saturn is as plausible as any.

What do you think: Are video games art?

Today's a great has just published my second feature article, which looks to answer the question "are games art?"

I spoke to a number of wonderful developers for this piece: Ian Bogost (Persuasive Games), Denis Dyack (Silicon Knights), Peter Molyneux (Lionhead Studios) Tim Schafer (Double Fine Productions) and Santiago Siri (Three Melons).

They had a lot to say about this age-old question, so if you have a minute, give it the once-through. Let me know what you think about it--and let me know what you think about the question ("are games art?") as well.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

FF Tactics remake to include online battles

A number of great sites have reported this already, but when it comes to news about anything related to Final Fantasy Tactics old news is still good news.

Apparently the PSP retooling of the classic Square-Enix SRPG will be featuring online multiplayer battles.

Players start off by setting up options like trap placement or removal. Once battles begin, each side is given a set number of moves--if one player fails to defeat the other by the time the moves have been used up, the game ends in a draw.

Probably not a feature I'd use, but it's interesting nonetheless!

Explore a treasure-filled island on your Wii

Capcom is finally ready to jump into the warm waters of the Wii with a game called Treasure Island Z.

According to JeuxFrance, the game is being directed by Eiichirou Sasaki (Resident Evil: Outbreak) and produced by Hironobu Takeshita (Ultimate Ghosts' N Goblins) and is about 30 percent complete.

Not a whole lot is known about how the game will play, though the folks at JeuxFrance say the Wiimote will be used to help solve puzzles.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Possibly coming soon: Zelda II

The folks at GoNintendo (and many other gaming sites and forums) have found some evidence that Nintendo's not-so-classic first sequel to The Legend of Zelda (that's The Adventure of Link to the uninitiated) may be coming soon to the Wii Virtual Console.

Apparently the game has shown its face to savvy Internet denizens who look at the Wii's Shop Channel using the Firefox browser on a normal PC (or something like that). All I know is that the process has predicted which games will show up on "VC Mondays" in the past, so I'm guessing the same will hold true this time.

I have distinct memories of nearly finishing this game as a kid. I was almost to the end when I got the flu. My older brother finished it for me as I watched, and I never picked up the game again. This time hopefully I'll complete the deed!

Koei prepping a game that doesn't involve the Dynasty Warriors!

Speaking of media coups, scored a "get" today by revealing that Japanese developer Koei is working on a Wii game that doesn't involve its ubiquitous Dynasty Warriors franchise.

The game, known as Opoona, follows the title character as he travels across colonies to find out what's happened to his missing family.

Opoona's most interesting feature is that it requires just one hand to play--and that one hand will be grasping the nunchuck attachment and not the Wii remote, as is usually the case.

A few screenshots have popped up that depict the game as brightly colored and more than slightly cute--right in line with the audience generally targeted by Nintendo itself.

Some guys get all the breaks

I have to say, sometimes I feel a bit miffed that outlets like MTV are able to scoop the dedicated gaming press. MTV is hardly hardcore when it comes to gaming, yet now and then they score exclusive interviews with the industry's movers and shakers. Oh, well--c'est la vie, right?

So, MTV scored a bit of a coup when they were granted an interview with Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto during last week's GDC. Not only that, but the media monster formerly known for playing music video 24/7 got the man who created Mario to spill a few before-unseen beans, if you know what I mean.

For example, the astute interview got Miyamoto to share that, in their free time, the development team that worked on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess played with the idea of integrating Miis into the Zelda universe. I'd like to see what that looked like!

Also, Miyamoto discusses the possibility of playing a Mario game with just one hand and much, much more. Thumbs up to the writer for asking "outside the box" questions--and being rewarded with some previously-unheard-of answers!

Hands on: Heroes of Mana

Nintendo fan site Cubed3 just posted a great hands-on write-up of the upcoming Heroes of Mana. Sounds like the game plays along the lines of Warcraft--an interesting twist for the series, if ever there was one.

The game certainly looks stunning to these eyes, and that alone has it on my "must buy" list. Now if only Square-Enix would announce the darn thing for the U.S.

Is Sony retooling the PSP?

Rumors have been flying for some time that Sony is going to follow in Nintendo's footsteps and offer up and retooled (smaller, lighter, sexier) version of its PSP portable system. Although Sony has thus far denied anything of the sort is on the drawing board, a recent comment from the head of the company's UK subsidiary has fans assuming the makeover will come sooner rather than later.

Ray Maguire let the comment slip during a Q&A at the launch of Sony's PSP in Education, a new project that hopes to put Sony consoles into the classroom. When asked if there are any plans to change the PSP's somewhat bulky, heavy current form, Maguire said that "in light of the company's previous redesigns of both the PSone and PS2, it was certainly possible that Sony would make a more streamlined PSP."

Celebrity Miis invade Japan

Nintendo sure does like to surprise us Wii owners. Quite a few of the Wii Channels have been revealed to gamers without much notice--the latest example being the hand-scratching Everybody Votes channel.

Hot on the heels of the big N's GDC announcement that another new channel will be coming our way soon, a new commercial airing in the Land of the Rising Sun has let it slip that a slew of celebrity-endorsed Miis soon will be available for download.

Comedian and TV personality Akashiya Sanma and former tennis player Shuuzou Matsuoka are the first two celebrities to be given the Mii treatment in Japan. Both will be sent to players connected to Japan's WiiConnect24 service soon. No word if others will follow suit, but it's a pretty good bet it will happen.

I wonder which celebrities will be cloned here in the States?

Hajime no Ippo: A Nintendo Knockout?

Here's a little something I haven't admitted until today: I've never played the boxing portion of Wii Sports. Oh, I've put in plenty of time on the game's other offerings (tennis, bowling, baseball and golf), but have yet to try boxing. I guess I've just read so many ho-hum reviews of it that I decided it wasn't worth my time. I'm also just not a big fan of the sport.

That said, I've been intrigued by Nintendo's full-fledged boxing game for the Wii, Hajime no Ippo, for some time. I'm not sure why--it's probably due to the anime-inspired visuals. Although early word on the street hasn't been much more positive than Nintendo's earlier entrance into the boxing ring, I've held out hope that Nintendo would localize it for the U.S. market so I could give it a go.

I doubt that's going to happen, so in the meantime all I (and you) can do is sit down and watch this latest video of the game in action. In my opinion it looks even better in motion than it did in stills.