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Square-Enix E3 Live Response

Square-Enix has the last publisher specific presser before the E3 show gets fully underway. While we had a lot of Square-Enix at both Microsoft and Sony, expect more on Hitman and Final Fantasy as well as a showcase of Just Cause 3.

This page will not automatically refresh. I will put the latest update at the top of the list, so if you join us late, scroll down. Here is the full E3 coverage schedule, so stick with us.


Update 14: Wow, this was a really uninformative press conference. I’m glad I could be the one that watched this for you so you didn’t waste your time. This press conference gets an F. The games will probably be pretty great, but that did not give us 90 minutes of excitement or entertainment.

Update 13: Looks like a Deus Ex game. A really polished first-person action-RPG. Set for release early next year. There is a Final Fantasy Portal App coming soon. It will have…things? I dunno, they didn’t tell us. Just that it is coming. They are announcing a new RPG product from a new studio. The studio is called Tokyo RPG Factory. They show some concept art of a snow covered world. A forest, and a village, and a weird cave made up of optics and clock faces. You can see them at Tokyo RPG Factory.

Update 12: I’m not going to lie. This press event is boring me a bit. Very little information being shared. Oh good, time for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. It was seen in a few videos yesterday, but not talked about. It is using a new game engine. It takes place 2 years after the last game. Augmented humans are being segregated and persecuted. Again, a lot of telling, not a lot of showing. New powers, choices change the story, etc. Here we go, first in game trailer.

Update 11: Reel for Hitman Sniper, Triade Wars, and Final Fantasy XV. Another video for…a new Star Ocean? Yup. Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness. Sheesh, little heavy handed with that subtitle. Confirmed for NA release on PS4. Here comes a game play trailer. Looks like a Star Ocean JRPG. Six member parties. Coming 2016.

Update 10: Io Interactive takes the stage. Hitman time. Release on December 8th. They will release new content after release. Example: Have a target that is available for 48 hours and you get one chance to finish it.

Update 9: World of Final Fantasy trailer from last night again. Now the director of the game is coming to speak. He is talking about the challenges that they had. Again talking about the game without telling us anything about it. You can form a tower with the players and monsters that change the effects of the attacks. That is a bit of news, but he doesn’t go any further into it. Coming 2016.

Update 8: Kingdom Hearts III time. First a message from Walt Disney Animation people about the game. Oh, they are proud, and there is a lot of collaboration. Apparently we are getting into the new properties like Tangled for this installment. Time for a game play video. It looks like Kingdom Hearts. Very bright and clean. Yup, there was the tower from Tangled. No characters really revealed outside of Donald Duck, Goofy, and Sora.

Update 7: The PC version of VII that is currently out will still be coming to PS4 this year, as well as iOS. Lokks like Kingdom Hearts is coming to smartphones. Hercules, Alice in Wonderland, the Seven Dwarfs in a turn-based action rpg for your phone. Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key for iOS and Android will come to North America. It will provide a link to Kingdom Hearts III.

Update 6: A teaser reel of upcoming releases. like the Final Fantasy Online expansion, Life is Strange, and Dragon Warrior Heroes. Now they are showing the same Final Fantasy VII remake movie that was shown at last night’s Sony event. More info to come this winter. Does Square Enix know they are supposed to actually covey information at a press event?

Update 5: More mobile. Expanding on the GO concept they’ve already released with Hitman GO there is now Lara Croft GO. It looks pretty. Turn based adventure. Again, not a lot of information.

Update 4: More Rise of the Tomb Raider. So far only announced for PC and Xbox One, but perhaps a timed console exclusive (probably at least a year). Today we get a behind the scenes look at how Laura Croft was created for this series. No new info here, though.

Update 3: Announcement of a new game from Platinum Games. Pretty art, heavy hitters from the RPG and fighting/action game fields as senior staff. Ah, it is a new Nier game. This will be a 2016/17 release, but looks intriguing. The first game received middling reviews in the West. However, Platinum Games has a strong track record.

Update 2: December 1st release date for Just Cause 3. Awesome. If you haven’t played any of the games in this series, it is the most ridiculous action game ever. Open world, go anywhere in it. Blow up lots of stuff. Grapple a helicopter to a boat and see what happens. Ride a motorcycle off a cliff, parachute down, guns blazing, then grapple into a convertible. Just Cause 3 gives players multiple grapple lines, and has a fully destructible environment. On top of the parachute you also get a wing suit this time. Over 80 vehicles, tons of weapons.  This game looks to be a ton of fun.

Update 1: Slight technical difficulties at the beginning on my end. I seem to have missed the intro but now it is Just Cause 3 time.

Review: Pandora Hearts

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Convoluted story plots? Lots of crying? Well, that sounds like a regular trip down anime lane. This time around we’re talking about Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki which was publish by Square Enix. In 2009 it was made into an anime by Xebec, which is perhaps best known for Love Hina and D.N. Angel. The manga recently ended in March while the anime only ran 25 episodes, like many anime of the 2009 era did. However that doesn’t take away that this series had a lot of good and bad going for it.

There will be light spoilers as a lot does happen with in the first 10 chapters of the manga that don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the actual storyline.

Oz Vessalius is about to undergo his coming-of-age ceremony, which happens to all rich people at age 15. Except that doesn’t quite happen, instead Oz is cast into a place only known as the Abyss, with the words that his sin is his very existence. From there he meets a girl named Alice, other was known as the B-Rabbit, or the Bloodstained Black Rabbit. She is a chain, which is an existence from the abyss that cannot leave without contracting with a human, and she wants to find her memories. They make a contract and escape the Abyss only to find that it is in fact ten years later and that they only have so long before their contract is up and the two of them are dragged back to the Abyss.

The main character is Oz Vessalius, the heir to the Vessalius dukedom. He’s a spoiled brat, but incredibly considerate in not letting people know he is sad, most likely due to the absence and rejection of his father. However this also creates a creepy vibe surrounding him. He’s a bit of a sadist, knowing exactly what to say to get what he wants. Oz never seems to worry about the dangers that are all around him, instead he faces them rather bravely. He almost seems to accept dangers upon himself, as though he had a death wish.

Alice the B-Rabbit is our main heroine, a chain who feels compelled by Oz’s presence. She is as equally a brat as he is. Once in the world she finds that there is a lot she doesn’t know or understand and tries to find out what she is missing. Her goal is to find all of her memories as she only knows her name and what she is, but can’t help feeling that there’s more to it. She is a flurry of emotions that never seemed to be fully realized within her, as she barely understands herself at times.

Gilbert Nightray is Oz’s right hand man, or rather servant. He was there when the ceremony went south, having been possessed by an evil chain and later nearly killed by a sword wound, and he was adopted into the House of Nightray. He like Alice’s has no memories of before he began serving the Vessalius household when he was 8. He is 24 when Oz returns and worries that he has changed too much in the ten years that his master has been away. Gilbert is very self-conscious and aware of his short comings that he often doesn’t see the good things he can do. He possesses the chain known as Raven.

Xerxes Break is an envoy of the Rainsworth house as well as a member of the group Pandora. He is a mysterious character who we slowly but surely get the pieces to over time within the series. Through laughter he hides a more serious side to himself, often pretending that his cruelty is in fact kindness. Altogether though he is a pretty straight forward character who is a lot of fun to read. He is also the only one who questions Oz and who he is. He possesses a chain as well, though I’ll leave the readers to find out what his chain is.

There is a whole bunch of other characters to talk about, but that would also include a lot of spoilers.

The art in this series is a journey to watch, it was already pretty good at the beginning of the series, but as the story progressed the art improved tenfold. Mochizuki’s line work became much softer and the emphasis on eyes became more and more apparent. Each character is unique and you never have to flounder to try and distinguish which character is which, except for specific times when Mochizuki wants you to be confused. It has both harshness and well placed softness. Now, if only the anime had done the same. Like many 25 episode animes, Pandora Hearts had pretty shotty production and a lot of cringe worthy scenes in terms of animation. It’s not a very pretty anime, but that’s why I suggest the manga if you’re going for more impressive art. However, this anime did have a splendid use of background animation, each setting being really well detailed in its environment. That is quite a plus and the anime never tries to be something it isn’t. Which, at least it knows it isn’t good?

Sound wise, well the anime did have a pretty generic opening with Parallel Hearts by FictionJunction. The first ending was Maze. Honestly none of the music really stands out, it doesn’t have a strong sense of what the anime is, and instead it falls flat in trying to convey something that we as viewers can’t grasp. In terms of voice acting we do have Kosuke Toriumi as Gilbert, known for his past roles as Kiba from Naruto or Ishimaru from Dangan Ronpa. Or Akira Ishida as Break, better known Naruto’s Gaara or Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Kaworu.  However, this doesn’t distract from the fact that this anime isn’t ultimately interesting in comparison to the manga. There isn’t an English dub, so if you plan on seeking out the anime, get ready for subtitles. This isn’t a gripe, but the anime is just not as good in comparison to the manga, and it may just be that it didn’t get the chance to be as good.

Ultimately I find Pandora Hearts to be a bit contrived in all it does, but it is ultimately enjoyable. However, I personally would go in favor of the manga, as it is a fully complete product that leaves nothing to be desired. It doesn’t ask much from the viewer, whereas the anime seems to struggle to keep up. With the manga finished however, you can fully get the feel of what Pandora Hearts is truly about! It isn’t a disappointment, the manga is incredibly fun to go through, and the anime just has a lot that could have been better.

Pandora Hearts: 7/10

Video Game Review: Life is Strange, Episode 1: Chrysalis (Xbox One)

life-is-strange-tornadoLife is Strange is a game borne of fantasy — not epic fantasy, a la Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, but the kind of small fantasy most of us have every single day. It is the fantasy of being able to take it back. To be able to take back a slip of the tongue or a whiff of the bat, to be able to take back the small actions and words that we instantly regret and replace them with what we wish we would have said. It is the ability to have the purest sort of foresight, to know without a shadow of a doubt what will happen if you make a given decision and then to be able to decide whether you can live with that decision.

Episode one of Life is Strange is subtitled Chrysalis, and the symbolism is immediate and obvious. Max(ine) Caulfield is a teenage student at a prestigious photography school, trying to find her way in a world she doesn’t quite seem to fit into. We first meet Max in the middle of a dream that involves a lighthouse and a massive, catastrophic tornado. The immediate sense of peril is quickly replaced, however, by the sort of discomfort that anyone who has dozed off in class can relate with, the discomfort of many pairs of eyes centered exactly where they don’t belong.

All eyes are on Max, and at that point, all she can do is squirm.

As she wanders glumly into the ladies room post-embarrassment, she accidentally becomes witness to a tragedy of a much smaller scale (albeit no less shocking): the shooting of a fellow student. After a few seconds of panic, though, she is back in her classroom, exactly as before, except that now she has the power to manipulate time.

It is through this mechanic that most of the actual gameplay presents itself. Aside from the typical point-‘n’-click puzzles and occasional decision making that, say, Telltale has made the norm for this sort of game through episodic adventures like The Walking Dead and its revival of the classic Sam and Max, there are the moments when it becomes desirable, or even necessary, to rewind time and change a future that Max has already seen. The puzzles that need to be passed in order to progress the story all hinge on the ability to change time, and at least for this first episode, those puzzles are relatively straightforward. There is only enough challenge here to put the player in Max’s shoes to an extent that goes slightly beyond reading a story or watching a movie…which seems about right for what developer DONTNOD was going for.

life-is-strange-01_1920So far, Life is Strange is extremely slowly-paced, with much time spent on the minutiae of a student’s day-to-day life, but the plots that are set up are interesting ones; by the time Max’s once-best-friend Chloe shows up, we actually are interested in Max’s life and are hoping for a positive outcome to…whatever is going on here.

As such, if you have room in your life for a second ongoing episodic adventure (because let’s not forget, the geniuses at Telltale remain the masters of this sort of thing, and they’re in the middle of Game of Thrones right now), you could do worse than Life is Strange. It remains to be seen just how the many decisions that are made over the course of this episode affect events down the road, so hindsight is bound to influence how we feel about it by this time next year. For now, though, the setup is strong enough to draw us in, and the cliffhanger is big enough (if a bit painfully predictable) to make us want to see where it’s all going. You can’t ask for much more.

Notes:

– The visuals here are…odd. There’s a shine to everything that gives a hyperreal tint to the world, which seems intentional, but also gives it the look of a game from a generation or two ago.

– The lip sync job here is also often way off. It’s as if every bit of the presentation wants to keep us at arms length from reality.

– Max’s too-cool-for-school routine is cute in the way it’s cute to watch an actual teenager who feels as though they are above everything. Shout-outs to various bands and movies are all over the place, and it’s a little hilarious when she rolls her eyes at another student for quoting Gandhi, and she goes and quotes Edgar Allen Poe not five minutes later. Best of all, though, is the shout-out to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Yes, this is a Square Enix game after all.

Score: 7.4

 

Mike Schiller was provided a FREE copy for review on another outlet.

Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Diamond Select Toys Partner on Tomb Raider Minimates

On March 5th, Square Enix launches Tomb Raider, which stars one of the world’s most popular video game characters, Lara Croft. The game tells her origin story, and depicts her journey from untried and untested 21-year-old to hardened survivor. To mark this new vision of a global icon, Diamond Select Toys have teamed up with developer Crystal Dynamics to create a line of Tomb Raider Minimates for their long-running toyline.

Currently in its 11th year, Minimates are a 2-inch block figure line that has encompassed dozens of brands, from the Avengers to the Ghostbusters to the Expendables. With 14 points of articulation and a ton of extra parts and accessories, Minimates offer a full play experience in a very compact package, and the world of Tomb Raider will take Minimates into unexplored territory when the first series of figures is released this summer.

The first series will have two overlapping assortments, one at Toys “R” Us and the other at comic shops and specialty stores, with a total of 12 different Minimates, to collect. A two-pack of Lara Croft with Molotov Scavenger will be available at all outlets, as will a “Battle Distressed” Lara with Armored Scavenger. Specialty stores and comic shops will also get two exclusive two-packs, in which Lara’s mentor Roth and Priest Malik are each paired with a top-secret character from the game. Finally, Toys “R’ Us will get their own exclusive sets, one an army-building pair of Scavengers, the other an army-building pair of mystery opponents.

Each two-pack will come with character-specific accessories, ranging from weapons to cell phones to Molotov cocktails – all based on items that appear in the game itself. Look for the figures to arrive on store shelves this summer. Comic shops that can pre-order the specialty assortment can be found at comicshoplocator.com.

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Square Enix At New York Comic Con

Official Press Release

SQUARE ENIX AT NEW YORK COMIC CON

WHAT: DUNGEON SIEGE III PANEL

WHERE: Javitz Center, Room 1A22

WHEN: Saturday, October 9  @6:15-7:15pm

Envisioning the world of Dungeon Siege for a new generation of consoles with Obsidian team members Jay Bakke, Dimitri Berman and David Espinoza.  The team will discuss characters and creatures, in-game environments and more and provide a live game demo for attendees.

WHAT: DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION PANEL

WHEN: Javitz Center, Room 1A22

WHERE: Saturday, October 9 @7:30-8:30pm

A look into the story and background of the Deus Ex universe and an introduction to the upcoming Deus Ex comic book series with Wildstorm writer Robbie Morrison and Eidos Montreal character designer Jim Murray.

WHAT: KINGDOM HEARTS Re:coded

WHERE: Javitz Center, Booth 1823

The English version of KINGDOM HEARTS Re:coded will be playable for the first time

WHAT: SQUARE ENIX MERCHANIDSE

WHERE: Javitz Center, Booth 1723

The latest merchandise offerings from Square Enix including a preview of upcoming products

Multi-National Manga Anti-Piracy Coalition Formed

Official Press Release

Media Release — Today a coalition of Japanese and U.S. publishers announced a coordinated effort to combat a rampant and growing problem of internet piracy plaguing the manga industry. “Scanlation,” as this form of piracy has come to be known, refers to the unauthorized digital scanning and translation of manga material that is subsequently posted to the internet without the consent of copyright holders or their licensees. According to the coalition, the problem has reached a point where “scanlation aggregator” sites now host thousands of pirated titles, earning ad revenue and/or membership dues at creators’ expense while simultaneously undermining foreign licensing opportunities and unlawfully cannibalizing legitimate sales. Worse still, this pirated material is already making its way to smartphones and other wireless devices, like the iPhone and iPad, through apps that exist solely to link to and republish the content of scanlation sites.

Participants in the coalition include the 36 members of Japan’s Digital Comic Association, Square Enix, VIZ Media, TOKYOPOP, Vertical, Inc., the Tuttle-Mori Agency and Yen Press. Working together, the membership of the coalition will actively seek legal remedies to this intellectual property theft against those sites that fail to voluntarily cease their illegal appropriation of this material.

“It is unfortunate that this action has become necessary,” said a spokesperson for the group. “However, to protect the intellectual property rights of our creators and the overall health of our industry, we are left with no other alternative but to take aggressive action. It is our sincere hope that offending sites will take it upon themselves to immediately cease their activities. Where this is not the case, however, we will seek injunctive relief and statutory damages. We will also report offending sites to federal authorities, including the anti-piracy units of the Justice Department, local law enforcement agencies and FBI.”

The coalition stated that it has currently identified thirty sites targeted for action.

Participant members of the Digital Comic Association include: Akane Shinsha, Akita Shoten, ASCII Media Works, East Press, Ichijinsha, Enterbrain, Okura Shuppan, Ohzora Shuppan, Gakken, Kadokawa Shoten, Gentosha Comics, Kodansha, Jitsugyo No Nihonsha, Shueisha, Junet, Shogakukan, Shogakukan Shueisha Production, Shodensha, Shonen Gahosha, Shinshokan, Shinchosa, Take Shobo, Tatsumi Shuppan, Tokuma Shoten, Nihon Bungeisha, Hakusensha, Fujimi Shobo, Fusosha, Futabasha, France Shoin, Bunkasha, Houbunsha, Magazine House, Media Factory, Leed sha, Libre Shuppan.

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