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”
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts’ second level, Logbox 720, takes place inside a fictional videogame console, where players can ride ribbon cable roads up its many levels, swim down coolant tubes, and ride spinning discs featuring other Rare games such as the original Banjo-Kazooie. Inside they are tasked with completing challenges including repairing an antenna and rescuing engineers from a deadly firewall, armed with any vehicle, from cars to planes and mechs, that they can build. Not only is this is a great showcase of how videogames are stripped down simulations of the real physical world generated by electronic architecture, Nuts & Bolts teaches engineering principles by providing a powerful workshop and rewards thinking outside its virtual box.
Continue reading “Behind the Steering Wheel For Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts’ Crash Course in Engineering”
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”
Just as genes create an infinite number of organisms with only a few components, game series continually adjust their mechanics and structure to keep their designs fresh. Since its first release, the Alien-inspired Metroid series has dealt in biological themes including consumption, growth, and fusion, even when transitioning from 2D sprites to 3D polygons. But evolution is tricky as it risks sabotaging the design’s strengths, and after almost a dozen entries Metroid was in danger of bursting apart. Samus Returns is a remake that attempts to return to the series’ design on a cellular level by synthesizing its side-scrolling gameplay with polygons, reclaiming the genetic heritage that built the series and its heroine.
Continue reading “Metroid’s Genealogy: What Samus Returns Reveals About a Series’ Evolving Design”
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 their 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”
Of all entertainment forms, videogames have an unparalleled ability to simulate real activities, simplifying them into versions that are often more accessible to players than the original. Yu Suzuki successfully defined many of videogame’s most important genres by translating action sports into personal games. Suzuki realized that the key to making a game personal is in how physical, how true to real life, you can make it for the player. Over decades of legendary titles, Suzuki grew Sega’s arcade reputation by giving players tactile game experiences in three-dimensional worlds to become one of the medium’s most influential designers.
Continue reading “He Dreams in 3D: Tracking Yu Suzuki’s Gameography From Hang-On to Shenmue”
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”