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Aquaplus Broke Promises With ‘Utawarerumono’ Going Mobile

The days of Aquaplus “campaigning” against mobile games with the Utawarerumono series is officially over.

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Yet another well-loved, long-time franchise is slated to ride the current trend of mobile game adaptation. Worse, it would seem that it never originally intended to.

Aquaplus revealed a few days ago its announcement on the newest addition of the Utawarerumono game series. Officially named Utawarerumono: Lost Flag, it will be introduced as a mobile game and will soon be available to Android and iOS this year.

Long-time and well-known game franchises going mobile is a delicate issue among its equally long-time fans. On paper, there is nothing to lose. You have a new game, plus a medium where you could popularize the franchise or series into future fans of the series.

However, classic games going mobile would not be as widely panned as they are today if not for the significant issue in this kind of trend is milking the series or franchise for maximum revenue. As succinctly described by another article discussing this issue, the charm is traded for profit.

Many elements from the original series that are already loved by its fans become suddenly traded for in-game service purchases, time-gated locked content, or worse, imbalanced and game-breaking loot boxes. The idea is now universally hated by a lot of gamers, that not even the likes of Blizzard exempt from being called out for riding the mobile game bandwagon using its older, well-established titles.

“Utawarerumono’s newest title seems to be a mobile game, but take a look at this announcement from some time ago.”

Which brings us to Utawarerumono: Lost Flag.

The biggest irony to the game’s reveal is that the entire “revival” project of the series had the slogan: “Taking games back from smartphones” (ゲームをスマホからとりもどす), which was the primary marketing campaign held by Aquaplus when they were promoting Mask of Deception in 2015. As of Lost Flag‘s reveal, it would seem that the slogan has finally lost its meaning, both to the company itself and to the series that previously tried to uphold it.

Japanese comments on the official teaser trailer also strongly referenced this announcement with disparity — or opinions that generally shows the negative views that are typical to what gamers of today usually think when classic titles turned to mobile adaptation.

As for the series itself, Utawarerumono has — for a few decades — enjoyed its status as one of the most pivotal transitional series towards the popularization of Japanese anime, manga, and games through the internet. It started as a visual novel in 2002, and has since then; the series received a lot of sequels, adaptations, and spin-offs across different relevant entertainment media.

Despite not having any actual game releases outside Japan, Utawarerumono has a considerably large international fan base — a small group that extends their admiration through providing the complete fan translation of the game.

While other alternative media releases for the game continue to roll out well after the first game release, no new titles followed the latter. This however, changed in 2015, when Aquaplus released Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception. As an official sequel, it expanded the story of the first, and introduced a whole new cast of characters, as well as chronologically continuing where the original 2002 game left off.

The release of a brand new title under the franchise presumably took off very well. Because another sequel, Utawarerumono: The Mask of Truth was released immediately next year in 2016, which follows directly where Mask of Deception left off.

In 2018, the original Utawarerumono was remade for the PS4 and PS Vita, using the same visual style and graphics as the two previously released sequels. In that same year, Utawarerumono: Zan was released, which is essentially a musou-style series spin-off.

At this point, Utawarerumono has become pretty much a modern franchise, combining its old fan base with the new, younger generation of the recent years. With the announcement of Lost Flag, the series finally steps into the mobile market, seemingly much to the chagrin of its longtime fan base.

Would Aquaplus at least make the experience of playing Utawarerumono: Lost Flag a wholesome experience, despite apparently breaking their claim not to take the series in such business direction?

We’ll just have to wait sometime this year to find out.

Christian is a passionate geek who loves to let everyone know the latest in science and technology. He is also a gamer at heart and is often looking for a balanced compromise that could allow him to present both sides of his interests appreciably.

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‘Touhou: Lost Word’ Takes The Touhou Series Deeper Into Mobile

At the very least though, the game may perhaps become Touhou’s most collaborative fanwork collection ever.

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NextNinja and Good Smile Company (yes, that Good Smile Company) opens with a massive announcement of an upcoming Touhou Project game title. Officially named Touhou: Lost Word, it is designated as a mobile RPG to be released for iOS and Android devices.

This shocking reveal of a new game project comes not only as a simple report but rolls along with the launch of an official Twitter page and website. The Twitter page currently has all posts related to upcoming in-game promos at the start, while the official website presents character profiles and a link to a teaser trailer.

Game details are still not available at the moment, though we can draw a few speculations from the in-game promo details and the fact that it is a mobile RPG. The character profiles at least, confirm that main Touhou regulars Reimu Hakurei, Marisa Kirisame, Remilia Scarlet, Youmu Konpaku and Reisen Udongein Inaba will be present.

As for the teaser trailer, both the video and the YouTube channel was also created today. Like all the other sources currently unveiled though, no other important details were revealed by this short 15-second announcement.

Notable though, despite the lack of details for the game itself, producer Masayuki Yamagishi did state that the game project will be a massive collaborative effort between many different creators. We presume that ZUN, the series original creator, will also be involved in some advisory manner with the project.

The information that this will be an “official” Touhou Project game alone (in terms of development) is already a headline unto itself, but for Good Smile Company to be involved is also a slightly weird surprise. Though the company did dabble in specific product-related game console titles a few years back, it is far better known for its Nendoroid and Figma series of plastic figure products.

As for NextNinja, the subsidiary game company currently has two games under its portfolio, Grand Summoners (iOS, Android) and Kyub (Xbox One, PC). Not much impression on its game list that would provide clues on Touhou: Lost Word’s, however.

This is not exactly the first time that Touhou Project was involved in the development of a mobile game. Touhou Cannonball, a game currently in development by Quatro A in collaboration with Aniplex, was unveiled last March of this year.

Nevertheless, the development of another mobile game for the franchise would strike most of the series’ fans as weird. Touhou Project has been long known as one of the largest franchises that are built upon a solid foundation of fanworks whether it is a fan-made game, artwork, music, or even readable media such as comics.

The series did have a few titles released for commercial game consoles, such as Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity by Ankake Spa. But these were technically ports, and the original versions were still fan-made games for the PC.

Would Touhou games initially developed for mobile devices be a good or bad thing then? We certainly hope it does become good, at least game system-wise.

As for the collaborative element mentioned at the announcement of the game, it most likely points to media stuff for the game. As it is a mobile RPG that would have certain gacha elements to it, it is very perceivable that the artwork and theme music for character-based stuff will feature many different talented artists from many Touhou fan circles.

This will be in a manner that is very much similar to other mobile games that commission artwork from various artists, such as Idola or SINoALICE.

Should this be proven to be true, Touhou: Lost Word may be the biggest collaborative visual and audio fanwork collection that will ever be made for the franchise. And maybe, just maybe, it might even include some of ZUN’s glorious original Touhou Project artwork.

Touhou: Lost Word is currently holding a pre-registration campaign for all players that are interested to avail the starting in-game promos.

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Google Stadia Reddit AMA: Most Important Questions Answered

And the speculation continues.

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Google’s Director of Product Management Andrey Doronichev hosted a Reddit AMA today that was aimed at answering more specific questions by potential users for the upcoming Google Stadia. We’ve picked up some of the most important questions, along with Doronichev’s responses to them.

1. When you say 1 [game] per month are you talking about a growing pool with 1 added each month? Or are you talking about a single rotating free to play game per month?

Growing pool as long as you’re a Stadia subscriber!”

To compare, a Playstation Plus subscription and the current Xbox Live Gold subscription model is about the same, only the game library size depends on what is available on that month.

2. Does the controller support Bluetooth audio? Can I use Bluetooth headphones on Stadia?

“The Stadia Controller comes with a headphone jack for wired audio, but won’t support Bluetooth audio at launch in November. If you’re playing on the computer or a Pixel phone you can connect the BT headset to it directly and use it in Stadia.”

Take note that this is about pairing the headset directly to the controller. In most cases, you can still pair it with the phone or unit (PC, Chromecast, etc.) that you intend to play Stadia on. Plus, his “won’t support at launch” statement basically hints at future updates for this specific issue.

3. Is there anything being done to combat Data caps? Or is that purely on us to converse with our ISPs? 50 dollars extra a month for me to just NOT have a data cap.

” I can’t predict the future, but I’ve seen that ISPs adapted in the past – I saw it when I was at YouTube – and we’d expect that to continue. For players concerned about data usage we’ll definitely have some tools in the Stadia app to manage your data usage to adapt to your unique data situation, but I’m not sure if that will be on day one or a bit later. “

Which means we’re on our own for now when it comes to data caps. His point about YouTube eventually getting ISPs to update was kind of notable though, but it is still not certain whether the same trend will happen to Stadia.

4. What Stadia feature are you most proud of that hasn’t been talked about or you don’t think is getting much coverage?

“Me playing Assassin’s Creed on my son’s dirt-cheap Chromebook. It almost feels like a glitch in the Matrix…. It can’t be happening… but wait… it works! “

Seamless access plus device usability has indeed been one of the primary selling points of Stadia’s demo and introduction.

5. Will Stadia have its own Global Chat and Friends System, or will it depend on the game developer to implement this features?

“First and foremost, I personally think of Games as the main social platform of the future. So we’re investing a lot in Social, Communications and Safety on Stadia. At launch you’ll be able to manage your friends list, create parties and use platform-level voice chat. And that’s just the beginning. We also have a healthy pipeline of social features going forward.”

A basic required feature if we are to assess. Doronichev even reiterated the point on several questions that had the same general query.

6. Are there going to be Free-To-Play Games on Stadia?

“We are proud of Stadia’s launch portfolio and it’s just the beginning! I certainly hope to have a few free to play games to announce in the next few months. Not ready to share any now, though. We are constantly announcing new games, so any answer I can give you now will be out of date quickly. Stay tuned!”

Destiny 2 counts as the very game this user asked, technically. Like, the first game that Google Stadia will feature at launch.

7. Will there be Mod Support for Stadia?

“In November, no. We’d like to in the future. We’re working with developers now to find the best way to do this.”

More hints. More hints!

8. Is there a general time frame on when we can stream to devices other than the Pixel 3 that you could give us?

“We’re aiming to get more devices supported next year. I really want to have Stadia gameplay on every mobile device, across Android and iOS at some point. But it’s a hard technical challenge and will take us time. Just need to start somewhere. So we’re starting with the device we know the best and can provide an optimal experience – our latest Pixel phones.”

We guess that would be a given to promote the service on Google’s latest mobile hardware. But good to know that they acknowledged the need to make it available to more devices at least.

As with every Reddit AMA, not all questions are going to be answered. However, there was a peculiar pattern to the questions that never had any response from Doronichev.

Basically, all questions related to latency and the actual specifics of data usage were usually not given answers. Which was kind of dubious, as latency and data usage was two of the core issues that many gamers have wanted to know ever since Stadia was announced.

This is because naturally, latencies still occur due to the limitations of electromagnetic waves and electric currents. Yes, that includes the best of internet speeds or network setups. Many skeptics argue that Google’s claims about Stadia being faster than your response time to visual stimuli are unachievable, farfetched even.

On the bright side, the AMA did at least get one question about data caps through (no.3), though it was never really addressed directly either.

As for the rest of the answered questions, they were mostly simple clarifications to the announcements and bits of information that was already previously announced.

Should we all just settle with it and find out at launch? Here’s to hoping that our sacrificial test subjects early adopters would never have to raise such concern.

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Resident Evil 5 And 6 Invades Nintendo Switch This Fall

A perfect release date for the classic survival horror high-octane action franchise.

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The official Twitter account for Resident Evil gave an update with a message that unveiled the official release date of the previously announced Resident Evil 5 and 6 for the Nintendo Switch.

That initial announcement was made during this year’s E3 when Capcom briefly presented a bunch of different updates concerning the franchise. The short 35-second trailer gave a montage on how the two games are to be visually rendered on the console, with tantalizing teasers on how the Nintendo Switch is set to optimize its co-op play modes.

Details on how exactly the two games would be ported on the Nintendo Switch was understandably quite scant. Even after a month later, there are still no specifics other than the short montage. How it will be released (either as download or as hardware) was not specified either, although it is very unlikely that it will have a ROM cartridge release, at least for North American players.

Perhaps the biggest, and probably obvious catch to this announcement is that unlike Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5 and 6 are fairly centered on co-op mechanics. Both single-player story modes of the two titles require the player to interact with a partner AI or be able to find another player to control either character.

Thus the Nintendo Switch could perhaps be the best game console for both titles, as evidently presented by its E3 2019 teaser trailer.

In Resident Evil 5, this started with Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar. The implementation of the partner AI here was not as perfect. But as it was the first time for the game to implement such a feature, it was quite understandable. Even if getting Wesker to catch live rockets can get quite annoying.

This was vastly improved in Resident Evil 6 when the game not only introduces one pair of characters, but three whole pairs of different characters meant to survive and go through stages of the entire story. Several more commands became available, and its core co-op mechanics became much more integral to the story’s progression compared to Resident Evil 5.

In addition, the AI itself was so much more useful and “competent” in terms of regular combat compared to either Chris or Sheva.

The teaser trailer already showed a split-screen co-op mode, when the Switch is docked, and when it is on Portable Mode. While using Joy-Cons to control either character is already a given default. It is quite questionable how playable it could be when the console’s 6.2-inch screen is split further into two for each player.

Because unlike games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, where screen estate is evenly split for a two-player mode, the trailer shows the traditional quarter-screen split for the two Resident Evil games. This already pushes it into 4-player Mario Kart territory, which, as we all frustratingly know, definitely needs a lot of squinting if you’re going to do it on Portable Mode.

Even worse if you plan to do it on Lite.

A dual-screen mode would have been perfect for such co-op play, if not for the current technical limitations of the Nintendo Switch. Perhaps sometime in the near future, if Nintendo finally relents and opens such Wii U-esque feature for its users.

Then again, you still have the option to go for classic two-player co-op mode on a bigger screen in Docked Mode.

Both Resident Evil 5 and 6 will be available at the Nintendo eShop with an online retail price tag of $30. In North America however, a more bundled version, featuring Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 will instead be available as a single product for $60. The release date is officially set on October 29th as per yesterday’s announcement, which makes the purchase just in time for this year’s Halloween.

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