The character action genre is hard to fully define considering how wildly different one title can be from the next, but it largely comes from the stylish combat defined by Capcom’s 2001 milestone, Devil May Cry. DMC’s action design was so strong that it could seamlessly transition between melee and ranged combat, where you can launch an enemy into the air with your sword and juggle them with gunfire. These fast fights are made from a simple yet complete moveset that works well at different distances. Director Hideki Kamiya translated hack ‘n slash games and brawlers into three dimensions, emphasizing twitch action and fair but challenging difficulty by imbuing it with fighting game mechanics and systems that grade your performance in real time. It offers players the means to create spectacular combat sequences where the goal isn’t just to defeat your enemy but to stylishly wreck them.
To understand how it all came together, we have to look at DMC’s family tree.
Continue reading “Devil May Cry And How Character Action Burst Onto The Gaming Scene In Style”
Action games are complex ways of playing with action figures, equipping the one connected to your controller with more than just karate-chop action to live out heroic battles against evil. These figures have always been a great way to let a show or comic’s fans act out their favorite character’s stories, but videogames directly provide the means to embark on adventure. Unfortunately, both games and figures have a problem with how many characters a player can hold at once, but Hideki Kamiya’s The Wonderful 101 lets you simultaneously control an army through a season long television show that proves that even the smallest heroes can defeat galactic threats if they unite.
Continue reading “Unleashing The Wonderful 101’s Box of Action Figures”
If Metroid has a central emotion, it’s a claustrophobic anxiety created by its desolate, foreboding atmosphere. The original game used ambient music and otherworldly imagery to choke the player as they descended into the planet Zebes and subsequent titles further explored the sense of anxiety, but it wasn’t until Metroid Fusion that the series characterized the threat, creating a strong foe that stalked Samus Aran and actively pushed the bounty hunter back on her heels. While this SA-X was a great way to mirror Samus’ abilities and turn the classic weapons back at you, its scripted appearance and limited scope left a lot of room for improvement. But with Metroid Dread, the series was finally able to make a fully reactive A.I. that nimbly navigates the environment to stalk Samus, instilling a gripping paranoia into the gameplay unlike it had seen before.
Continue reading “Atmospheric Pressure: Navigating Metroid Dread’s Oppressive Depths”
The five destroyers in BAHRAM’s air armada equipped with particle cannons and support turrets are perfect for wiping out any who oppose the political faction, and only a high-performance super machine that combines an artificial intelligence with human ingenuity can overcome it. In Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner, you systematically breach this fleet by unleashing locked-on lasers and homing missiles, and melt the ships’ cores with point blank fire from your high-output Vulcan Cannon. The battle above Vascillia is an epic mission that requires man and machine to harmonize into one being, and represents the important relationship that has built between the two.
Continue reading “Integrating With Zone of the Enders’ Man-Machine Interface”
Survival depends on your ability to properly manage your supplies in a complex world where dangers lurk around every corner. With Dead Rising, Capcom reworked the survival horror concepts of its more famous zombie-fighting series to challenge players to survive three days against an endless mob of monsters and your own hunger. By fighting his way through the Rogue-like structured brawler, photojournalist Frank West will document an absurd horror-comedy about dying and coming back again.
Continue reading “Surviving Deadline: An Exposé on Dead Rising’s Absurd Zombie Apocalypse”
Where a story needs to give its characters the abilities to accomplish their goals, a videogame needs to directly translate those skills into mechanics players use to overcome every obstacle in their way. Both mediums use tools that challenge characters, one of the most powerful of which is creating a rival that fiercely stands in opposition to their primary mission. In 2009, Rocksteady Studios fully translated one of pop culture’s greatest characters into a videogame and pitted him against his equally well-established foil. By locking Batman and The Joker inside Gotham’s mental-clinic-turned-prison, Batman: Arkham Asylum brilliantly explores one of culture’s greatest rivalries over one long night.
Continue reading “Psychoanalyzing Batman: Arkham Asylum’s Multiple Personalities”
Human consciousness required tools that let it produce abundant resources so people could transition from simple survival to prosperity, which allowed humanity to further discover the world and find a place in it. Tools advanced into machines given more sophisticated logic, motor, and communication systems through developments in electronics, networking, and artificial intelligence. But a world is like a person- the more it becomes one thing, the less it’s like something else. Nier: Automata examines how machines are becoming the new owners of our world but will continue a tragic human legacy, by using videogames to give us a glimpse at how machine logic is coding its own soul.
Continue reading “The Soul in Nier: Automata’s Machine”
The concert in Super Mario Odyssey’s New Donk City is a celebration of one of videogame’s most influential series, sung by Pauline, the damsel-in-distress-turned-mayor from Donkey Kong. With the city freed from Bowser’s clutches, the festivities showcase Mario as he enters a warp pipe, transforms from 3D polygonal model into 2D sprite, and runs through a steel-beamed obstacle course packed with coins and lava pits, and ends with a barrel filled course thrown by the cranky ape. This homage pays tribute to Mario’s amazing history, and shows how Odyssey combines decades of level design techniques to create unique courses in living worlds.
Continue reading “A Platforming Odyssey: Running and Jumping Down the Path Super Mario Trail-Blazed”
Vanillaware’s 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim starts with massive machines destroying Japan while the young Iori Fuyusaka emerges from the fleeing mob and climbs aboard a giant robotic Sentinel to fight back as her classmate Juro Kurabe watches on. It’s a classic scene for the big robot and kaiju genres, until it loads a top down view of the city and gives you control of Iori’s mech until Juro arrives in his own. What follows is a mind-blowing game fusing multiple genres across hundreds of years, starting in the middle of its narrative and telling thirteen different mysteries that reveal how each character was led to this life-defining moment. 13 Sentinels blends two completely unrelated game styles to create an experience impossible for either by itself, ultimately showing how experiences shape myths that prepare people to keep society from repeating mistakes and lead it in new directions.
Continue reading “Humanity On The Rim: How 13 Sentinels Combined Genres Into A Narrative Juggernaut”
Early first person shooters created virtual proving grounds for an emerging digital warrior class to test their combat skills, but as games became more intricate, new player archetypes branched out. By the end of the Nintendo 64’s life, Rare had learned to construct complex environments built with infrastructure stalked by reactive guards, while providing players with a large toolset to deal with them. The product turned them into versatile special agents rather than warriors, culminating in 2000’s brilliant Perfect Dark.
Perfect Dark’s intricacies are apparent as early as the first level. Your mission to smuggle the defecting Dr. Carroll from dataDyne is easy on the lowest difficulty, only asking you to reach the bottom of its tower, but adds more objectives that explain the whistleblower’s actions from there. The opening helipad leads down to the executive floors and this large office with two women. If you quickly knock out the tall blonde calling for security you’ll get Cassandra De Vries necklace, smartly introducing dataDyne’s CEO.
Continue reading “Running Perfect Dark’s Training Program”