Archives for posts with tag: Atlus

A while back, I commented on Sega of Europe’s hesitance to announce localisations for their own games, and happily, we are now starting to see some movement in this area, as Sega and its subsidiary Atlus last week announced a partnership with Deep Silver to publish a number of titles in Europe.

Atlus fans can breathe a very large sigh of relief as, thanks to this deal, we’ll be getting both digital and physical releases for both Persona 5 and Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (it’s worth remembering that the original SMTIV didn’t even receive a physical release in Europe). Surprisingly, Deep Silver have also picked up Sega’s 7th Dragon III Code: VFD, the third game in a series that has, until now, never seen a release outside of its home nation. This is great news in itself, as many were beginning to think that the 3DS title would never see release in Europe, despite now being out in the US.

Persona 5

Deep Silver’s press release mentions that the “…publishing deal will cover the wide array of future titles for both physical and digital versions across PAL territories,” so hopefully we’ll also get some more releases out of this development; one franchise conspicuous by its absence is the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series. The latest release, Project Diva X, hits American shelves next month, while Japan has just recently been treated to a lavish port of Future Tone, the previously arcade-only outing. While the latter is currently Japan-only, there’s been no word on whether we’ll see Diva X on European shores, so whether Sega plans to publish the game itself in this part of the world or ignore it completely is, unfortunately, unknown.

It’d be a shame if the game fails to see a release here, as it’s managed to establish itself, as well as the entire Vocaloid phenomenon, quite well so far – a digital-only PS3/Vita release of Project Diva f did well enough to earn a physical release for the sequel, again on PS3 and Vita, while the second game did well enough in turn to ensure a boxed release of Project Mirai DX on the 3DS. Given their deal includes 7th Dragon, I’m actually quite surprised there’s been no word on Project Diva X, assuming it was on the table, of course. It’s hard to imagine a situation where Deep Silver would pass up a reasonably established franchise in favour of picking up an unknown property that’s never left Japan, and thus will have to build a fanbase from scratch. Strange times, indeed.

7th Dragon III

Quite how it has come to this – with Sega of America and Atlus USA brokering a deal to get games out in Europe, while Sega of Europe apparently sits on its hands – is anyone’s guess. It doesn’t do much at all for those fans that feel SoE couldn’t care less about them, but I guess at least we’re going to be seeing releases – physical ones at that – actually make it out here. If it has to happen withough SoE’s involvement, so be it. Atlus at least has prior with Deep Silver, having partnered with them to bring 360/PS3 puzzler Catherine to Europe, so perhaps this earlier business relationship is what lead to the current state of affairs.

While it may be a bit odd, at least we now know we’ll be getting these games at some point, and that’s the most important thing to take from this turn of events. We’ll just have to pray for Miku.

Sega fans have plenty to be salty about. These days, announcing yourself as a sega fanboy/girl will likely see people laugh into their sleeve rather than wind up for all out console warfare. Sega fandom seems to be based mostly on nostalgia at this point; the Tokyo-based company was a wildly creative force in their days as a platform holder, yet they’ve managed to squander a decades-deep stable of IP that would leave anyone in the industry envious.

It’s fair to say Sega have struggled a bit since going software-only. Spreading their titles out over a number of platforms in the immediate aftermath certainly didn’t help, fragmenting their fanbase in the process, and though they actually brought a lot to the table throughout the seventh generation, that was as much down to publishing quality content from other sources, like Platinum’s Mad World, Bayonetta and Vanquish. Despite pushing hard into the mobile space in recent years, they’ve still managed to put out quality software, though it’s often from their western studios like The Creative Assembly and Sports Interactive. What fans really want to see is more in-house developed content both announced and, perhaps more crucially, localised. Indeed, it’s been a tough ride for western fans of the company; though Sega have seen critical success with the likes of Valkyria Chronicles and Yakuza, both franchises have faced issues escaping their home territory (to say nothing of those still waiting for Phantasy Star Online II), and more often than not, when we do get a new title in a classically-Sega series, it’s dreck like Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Fans have simply lost patience with the company.

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All of which makes it kind of exciting to hear Sega Games CEO Haruki Satomi say that the company wants to do better, both at home and away. Apparently, they’ve been learning from the way Shin Megami Tensei developer Atlus works, having purchased them in 2013. Satomi told Famitsu (courtesy of Siliconera), “As far as the Western market goes, we learned a lot from Atlus. If we can make a title with proper quality, I believe there’s a good chance for it to do well even in the West for players that like to play Japanese games.”

This may seem something of a no-brainer – put out good games and people will buy them, right? – but I can see why it wouldn’t be quite as simple as that for a large company like Sega. Atlus puts out quality games, but they are fairly niche titles, and their presentation reflects that. Their games aren’t extravagant graphical powerhouses, but this also means they aren’t subject to massive, bloated AAA budgets – they know what kind of game they want to make, and crucially, the audience that will buy it, and budget and create the game accordingly. Sega as a whole are a far larger concern, and they would surely want their games to sell to a wider userbase. Learning from Atlus, and finding and defining their audience, is undoubtedly a good first step, however.

Moreover, Sega has a bit of a history, pre-third-party development, of making quality games, only to see them sit on shelves and fail to shift consoles. In such circumstances, it’s kind of easy to understand how they could have decided that was no longer a winning strategy, leading them to focus on other areas, perhaps pushing games out the door whether they’re ready or not. In his interview with Famitsu, Satomi specifically calls out a renewed focus on quality, rather than ship dates. “I’ve been talking to the employees about how we should start putting serious consideration into quality from this point on. Especially in North America and Europe, where it’s always been more of a focus on schedules, I believe that if we can’t maintain quality, it would be better to not release anything at all.”

The juiciest morsel from the interview, though? Answering a question about whether or not Sega have any high quality titles for release this year, Satomi offers the news that they may have something to show at this year’s Tokyo Game Show in September: “Since we’re seriously considering quality,” said Satomi, “I can’t make that promise for the time being, but I believe we will announce something for home console at Tokyo Game Show.”

Speculation over what this could be has been running rampant in the days since; just what could this TGS announcement be? Some fans have been going especially crazy with it, suggesting that Sega are months away from launching the Dreamcast II, and while I’m sure these people have their tongues lodged firmly in their cheeks, I have to admit that I am unreasonably excited by this interview. Maybe it’s an aftereffect of the knowledge that Shenmue III is actually, legitimately happening, but I’m genuinely enthusiastic about Sega for the first time in God knows how long. I have to wonder if that Kickstarter has had an impact at Sega, and given them the kick up the backside they needed to take a look at themselves and realise things could be much, much better; Shenmue has a damn good chance of finishing up as the most successful video game Kickstarter ever, and with that still fresh in people’s minds, TGS would be an excellent time for Sega to reintroduce themselves.

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OK, the Dreamcast II is a pipe dream, so let’s talk about something marginally less impossible: what I’d like to see is a return to the glory days of Sega’s development teams. I want the AM departments to mean something to gamers again, I want to see labels like Overworks, Smilebit, and Team Andromeda come back. I want to see the triumphant return of classic IP like the fantastical Panzer Dragoon, the ridiculously cool Jet Set Radio, the funky oddities like Space Channel 5 or the beautiful one-offs like Skies of Arcadia – some of my favourite games of all time. Hell, at this point I’d be incredibly happy to get some more of the HD remakes the company were putting out just a few years ago, when rumours swirled that both Skies and Shenmue were on the to-do list. As a fan, I just want Sega to be relevant again, and I want a chance to play new games in those series that meant (and still mean) so much to me, or at least see a return of that rampant, crazed sense of creativity that led to so many new ideas back in the Dreamcast days – I never knew I wanted to skate with my gang through Shibuya tagging graffiti, be an unhinged cabby in San Francisco or a jetpack-toting future firefighter until Sega showed me that I did.

But that’s probably asking for way too much too soon, right? So maybe the best idea would be to first give us back some of those older games we’ve been missing for years. With Shenmue back in the headlines, the time is ripe – more so than it’s ever been – for HD remasters of the first two games to hit modern platforms and maybe create a whole new generation of fans before the crowdfunded new game hits. Then follow that up with HD remasters of Skies of Arcadia, Jet Set Radio Future, and maybe give us some more Saturn stuff like Panzer Zwei and the awesome Fighters Megamix. Sure, that’s playing to that sense of nostalgia that perhaps isn’t too healthy a focus for a company looking for a way forward, but maybe Sega need to remind us why they were so great before they ask us to trust in the future? Besides, we’re talking about a company with a wealth of quality content locked up in the vault that they’re absolutely crazy for not capitalising on sooner. They should be using that legacy as a foundation to build upon – remind us why you were great, then show us you still can be. And hey, maybe after that they can try and entice pioneers like Yu Suzuki, Yuji Naka, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Yukio Futatsugi back into the fold, the visionary creators of some of the most timeless, inventive games in the history of the medium. And then, y’know, give them all their teams back with their proper names, wink wink, nudge nudge.

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Of course, I’m probably getting way, way ahead of myself here (that Shenmue III excitement-hangover is a long one); but if Sega have truly learned from Atlus, and really intends to identify its audience and then give them what they want (which shouldn’t be too difficult, considering many of us have been shouting at them about it for a fair while now), then hopefully the company can see success, and fans can rediscover why we used to love their games so much. If it takes a while, so be it; Satomi speaks of valuing quality over scheduling, so let’s see them stick to that.

But when it comes down to it, whatever we see unveiled at TGS, I just hope it’s good. I really want Sega’s output to excite me again, and Satomi seems to understand that, too: “Sega in the ‘90s was known for its ‘brand’, but after that, we’ve lost trust, and we were left with nothing but ‘reputation’. For this reason, we’d like to win back the customers’ trust, and become a ‘brand’, once again.”

I want that too. I want those blue skies black.

WP_20130510_005Today, the wait is over. Persona 4 Arena, the gorgeous-looking fighting game jointly made by Atlus and Arc System Works (they of Guilty Gear/Blazblue fame) has finally made it to European shores. The game was delayed for almost a year (having released in Japan last June and the States in August), and was the subject of much fan anger after it became the first PS3 game to be region locked, ensuring that European gamers looking to import the game had little choice but to wait for today.

Atlus have described Persona 4 Arena as a canonical sequel to Persona 4, with a storyline taking place in that game’s rural town of Inaba two months after P4‘s end. A number of Persona 4 characters make their return in Arena, as well as some characters from previous title Persona 3. I’m tempted to fire it up right now, but as I’ve not yet finished Persona 4 Golden, I’m wary the ending will be spoiled for me, so I will have to be patient. This didn’t stop me from pre-ordering the Limited Edition, however. So let’s have a look what’s inside.

WP_20130510_004Here’s the OST, Limited Edition box and the game itself. The standard copy also comes with the same soundtrack disc.

WP_20130510_006Here we have a Teddie and Midnight Channel keyring, as well as a set of Chie’s badges.

WP_20130510_009Lastly, we have a lovely canvas tote bag (which I’m sure I’ll never use, but hey, it looks nice), an artwork card and a 300-piece P4A jigsaw puzzle! I doubt I’ll ever complete the puzzle – where would I put it? As I understand it, the image on the artwork card depicts the finished puzzle.

Many will be worried that much of the competitive audience will have moved on in the 10/11 months since Persona 4 Arena launched in other territories. For me, it’s not an issue – I’ll most likely be playing it solo to enjoy the story once I finally finish P4G. If you’re interested, and not put off by the lengthy delay, go and grab a copy!

Kojima teases new ZoE title

A full-fledged sequel to 2003’s Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner has been outed by creator Hideo Kojima.

At a Japanese event to showcase the series’ upcoming HD collection, the audience was treated to artwork and a scale model from the as-yet untitled ‘Enders Project’. The game is apparently still in an “experimental” phase, and Kojima is looking to use the Fox Engine to power it. In the meantime, we have the aforementioned Zone of the Enders HD Collection, due some time this year, to look forward to.

Platinum announce Anarchy Reigns delayed in the west

Sega has delayed the Western release of Platinum Games’ brawler Anarchy Reigns, even though the game is ready to go.

A note on Platinum’s website confirmed Sega has changed the date to TBC (to be confirmed), and added: “While our work on the game is finished, localised, and ready to go, as publisher, Sega gets to make the final decision as to when it is released. The Japanese release date, however, remains unchanged for 5th July 2012.”

In a video, a Platinum rep noted: “The game is fully localised. If you buy the Japanese version or any version, it’s going to have all the languages in it.” So if you’re planning to import, at least language won’t be a barrier.

Persona 4 Arena confirmed for Europe

Atlus has announced that PS3/360 fighting spin-off Persona 4 Arena will be released in Europe.

The game, which is a collaboration between Atlus and BlazBlue developer Arc System works, features characters from Personas 3 and 4 and is set after the latter game. The characters are drawn in Arc System Work’s trademark hand-drawn style, and we can presumably expect it some time after its August US release.

Sony developing Shadow of the Colossus movie

Much-loved Team Ico classic Shadow of the Colossus is to be adapted into a feature film at Sony Pictures.

According to a report on develop.com, Chronicle director Josh Trank will helm the film. He apparently sought out the project, having been a fan of the game. There are no details yet regarding script-writer, cast or release date.

Wii U controller undergoes subtle redesign

An image posted to Twitter has shown a subtly different Wii U tablet to the one we saw at last year’s E3.

The photo came from the Twitter feed of a quality assurance tester at Traveller’s Tales, developer of the Lego “insert-franchise-here” games (and Sonic R! Come on!), and shows that the pad now has actual analogue sticks, rather than the 3DS-style slide pads it previously sported. The start and select buttons have also shifted position.

Personally, I think this is a positive change. As much as I like the 3DS’s sliders, they’re good for a handheld. On a home console, I think they’d feel inadequate.

Are these the only changes we’ll see? We’ll no doubt find out for sure at E3.