G.Rev's, Senko no Ronde was a curious shooter/fighter hybrid that was brought to the UK in 2007 under the pseudonym of WarTech. For those who've never played it - which, judging by the measly sales figures, is almost everyone - the gameplay can be loosely described as a top-down Virtual On with both players trading salvoes of projectiles.
Last year I felt sorry for American bikers. Not only did crippling noise and emission regulations result in their YZFs having less top-end compared to our pokier (and probably shinier) European counterparts, but for some reason nobody bothered to publish SBK-09 stateside.
It's been a long time since the Cerberus jumped through the window, but ever since the popularisation of the survival horror genre some 14 years ago, I can honestly say that only a few games have ever made me feel genuine unease. But although my top unsettling moments include the psychological rollercoaster of James Sunderland and fumbling with the Camera Obscura while being chased by an eerie procession of poltergeists, in terms of handheld horror, there isn't a single DS title I'd refuse to play in the dark.
Although England has a history of international football tournament failure, here in the UK we're nonetheless renowned for our sporting patriotism - by which token UFC 2010 should make a good impression. Last year's game only had one English fighter, Michael Bisping, but for 2010 we're getting The Ultimate Fighter 9 winners Ross Pearson and James Wilks, as well as Dan "Dhalsim" Hardy - a Brit who survived an armbar and kimura submission attempt by legendary Welterweight Champion GSP. Other 2010 British additions include Terry Etim, Mostapha Al-turk and Andre Winner (unconfirmed), as well as James McSweeney for DLC. Get in.
When Eurogamer asked if I would go to the SBK X press event on their behalf, my first response was, "will I get to take an YZF-R1 around Silverstone like I did with MotoGP 09/10?" Obviously this was meant in jest. But what they said next pretty much sealed the deal anyway: "no, but you'll get to spend a day at a swanky hotel, and Carl Fogarty will be there". Four times World Superbike Champion Carl Fogarty. In!
Recently, a friend of mine asked me what the attraction was with RPGs, because as a devotee of Call of Duty and FIFA, all he could see was grinding drudgery. After half-heartedly conveying the usual arguments about tactical battles and general escapism and quickly deciding this was just another case of "each to their own", I got sidetracked, discussing the importance of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest in Japan. What I didn't expect was his follow-up question: "what's the third most popular RPG series?"
As a company known for its 2D devotion, SNK nonetheless has a long-running and unfortunately mediocre fascination with polygons. Although games like The King of Fighters XII and Metal Slug 7 help support the relevance of sprites in the age of gigahertz processors, 2D-to-3D revamps like Metal Slug 3D and, cough, Maximum Impact have been underwhelming to say the least.
When it comes to RPGs, I always endeavour to leave myself enough time to finish the game and write the review well before my deadline, and normally this involves around four days of upgrading to increasingly shiny swords and killing different types of cockatrice and chimera.
Two years ago I would have struggled to get enough people together for some casual games of Third Strike, yet now the European fighter scene is once again thriving and it's all thanks to the spectacular Street Fighter IV. What an awesome year it's been. Now we're on the verge of the next instalment in the SFIV saga, and fans are hoping for more than a mere update.
The current generation of MotoGP games hasn't had the smoothest of rides in terms of consistency and quality. After MotoGP '08, fans were left wondering whether Milestone would reprise its role for the 2009 season, but the Italian company went back to the Superbike World Championship instead. So as an alternative, Capcom opted for Monumental Games - a studio founded by ex-Climax employees - for the new MotoGP developer. But the question is, after two years in development, will Monumental finally be the one to do MotoGP justice?
Way back in late 2000 when I was feverishly beside myself with the imminent prospect of Tekken Tag Tournament, I remember stumbling into my local games shop looking for something to take my mind off the PlayStation 2. Browsing across the shelves my thought pattern went along the lines of "tactical espionage action, done that... another game with that stupid bandicoot... when are they going to release the ninth one... a strawberry-flavoured condom wielding a pair of Uzis..." Followed by a brief pause then WTF?!?
I've always been more concerned with improving my Street Fighter skills than keeping up with the latest Marvel or DC adventures, but when X-Men vs. Street Fighter hit the arcades - eventually evolving into the adrenaline-pumping Marvel vs. Capcom 2 - there wasn't a fighter fan in the land who could resist its crossover charms.
This week I was given the privilege of blasting a brand new Yamaha R1 around the Stowe circuit at Silverstone. Although it was on a cold morning where I couldn't get any heat into the tyres, for those brief 20 minutes of amateur riding I was reminded of all the reasons I love biking.
Videogames have always had the capacity to spark anger, fear and joy in me, and although I've never been so enraged as to damage a controller by hurling it, I have felt the exhilaration of an epic Street Fighter win and the agony of a crushing boss defeat. But one thing games have never made me do is cry. Aeris' death made me feel a slither of remorse, but nothing game-related has ever persuaded me to secrete anything from my lacrimal gland. With one notable exception.
If I ever find myself in charge of naming a fighting game, I probably won't go with "Melty Blood". I'll probably opt for something sensible instead, like "Cul-de-sac Fisticuffs", or "Binge Drinking Brawler". And even if I'm brainstorming during a David Lynch marathon, I probably won't piece together "Hologram Summer Again, Tri Hermes Black Land" as a subtitle. As a fighter which has never seen a Western release, Actress Again's nonsensical full name is an indication of its very hardcore heritage.
If you're looking for the current beat-'em-up champion here in the West, look no further than Street Fighter IV. Upon finally reaching G1 earlier this year, after many hours in championship mode, a glance at the leaderboards revealed I was still ranked below 6000 more dedicated players. Eek.
Sitting down to my first round of Tekken in over a year, I'm a little concerned. As a fan of the series since Tekken 3, I've always been a solid Law or Yoshimitsu player, with both characters' 10-hit combo strings hardwired into my brain. But with my opponent sat next to me, a look of serene assurance across his face, it occurs to me that this year's Street Fighter IV addiction may have dulled my 3D fighter fundamentals. I needn't have worried. After a shaky start and some mild profanity, the Jeet Kune Do chef scraps a round-three victory with a well-timed one-inch punch. Yep, this is going to be an all-nighter for sure.
It's been a good year for the 2D fighter crowd, not least because Street Fighter IV and BlazBlue have shown how dragon-punch and charge motions still have what it takes to thrill and enthral. Step back a year and the console scene was again being dominated by the 3D behemoths. From January to December we saw the cleanest fatalities ever in Marvel vs. DC Universe as well as a revamped Super Smash Bros. on the Wii. But the fighter highlight of 2008 was arguably SoulCalibur IV - heralding the return of demonic swords and cheap bojutsu.
When Cross Edge was first announced, the odds of a European release didn't seem likely. A supposed collaboration between Namco Bandai, Capcom, Nippon Ichi, Gust and Idea Factory, it was set to feature characters from the likes of Mana Khemia 2, an RPG which even now doesn't have a European release date. Further scepticism was also raised by the inclusion of characters from Spectral Souls and Absolute: Blazing Infinity - the latter being a tactical RPG for the 360 which has never been released outside of Japan. Nevertheless, not only has NIS America already brought Cross Edge to the states, but KOEI has found time to publish Cross Edge in Europe. Well, guess it makes a change from Dynasty Warriors.
The current decade has been an interesting time for SNK and The King of Fighters series. After the lacklustre Capcom Fighting Jam in 2004, it seemed Capcom had bowed out of the 2D fighter race, and from then on the only serious competition SNK faced was from Guilty Gear - although both Melty Blood and Arcana Heart get props for spicing things up. But now in 2009 everything has changed. Capcom has exploded back onto the scene with Street Fighter IV, and Arc System has answered with the seminal BlazBlue. From SNK Playmore's own mouth "the fight has evolved", but despite all the hype, The King of Fighters XII doesn't feel like much of an evolution.
Back when Guilty Gear X hit the PS2 in 2002, 2D fighting games like Capcom vs. SNK 2 were being overlooked in favour of flashy 3D numbers such as Dead or Alive 3 and Super Smash Bros. Melee. But those who did pick up this quirky curio discovered a fighter with personality in excess. Guilty Gear X had a rich anime presentation, heavy metal music, instant kill moves and a deranged doctor wielding a giant scalpel - all of which combined to set it apart from the output of Capcom and SNK.
Why isn't the UFC as popular as boxing? Are the MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters of the UFC not superior in overall combat, demonstrating that fighters of a single discipline invariably have inherent weaknesses when their respective rulebooks are thrown out of the window? Well, the UFC certainly fields some of the world's most talented combatants, but it doesn't always deliver the most entertaining fights. For every bloody slugfest - where two stand-up fighters beat each other senseless for three rounds - we get a first-round submission finish, where a dominant ground fighter trips up his opponent before forcing him to submit with some manner of ankle or arm lock. An impressive demonstration of hand-to-hand combat, yes, but not as entertaining as seeing someone knocked out with a tornado kick to the face.
Back when weekends involved nothing more than GoldenEye and Mario Kart, I remember renting a Dreamcast after my stingy parents refused to upgrade my N64. One of the games that came in the box was the intriguing Ultimate Fighting Championship. As a group, my friends and I had a fair amount of experience with Tekken 3 and WWF War Zone, but UFC was unlike anything else. The standing combat was a less flamboyant Tekken, but the intricacy of the ground game eluded us almost entirely. If one player managed to pin the other to the floor, frantic button-mashing ensued, with the dominant fighter usually battering his opponent for a KO. It clearly had depth that rewarded skill and good timing, but ultimately I was too smitten with Soul Calibur to care.
Released in 1996, the original Resident Evil not only shifted PlayStations, but cemented the survival horror genre in gaming history. The game's original intro FMV uses real-life actors and features a scene where STARS Alpha member Joseph Frost is graphically ripped apart by Cerberus. Capcom had the intro toned down for the game's western release, warranting a 15 classification by the BBFC, although the PC port by Westwood a year later retained the intro with an 18 certificate. Either sets the tone.
Hands up anyone who thought Square Enix would ever release a fighting game made up completely of Final Fantasy characters? Okay, so maybe the DreamFactory-developed Ehrgeiz hinted at it, but I honestly didn't see this coming. Dissidia offers players the chance to fight as either the lead hero or villain from Final Fantasy I through to Final Fantasy X, in full real-time bouts a million miles away from the series' turn-based staple. Time to see whether Squall's Gunblade mastery really is a match for the Buster Sword-wielding Cloud.
Holy #*%$! I've just seen the Japanese intro for Street Fighter IV and it looks absolutely killer. Screw objectivity, I'm going to say right now that from my impressions of the Street Fighter IV arcade game and from what I've played so far of the console release, Street IV could very well be the greatest fighting game ever made. With Eurogamer's review going live tomorrow (Monday 16th February), I'm taking a look back at the different Street Fighter games in their many different arcade transitions. Hold onto your sticks people.
Why does it always take ages for the UK to get the latest 2D fighters? The Japanese have been enjoying Street Fighter IV in their arcades for nearly half a year, America got a console port of Arcana Heart with Europe once again overlooked, and as far as I'm aware there's only one BlazBlue arcade cabinet in the country at the Casino in London - not very helpful if you live in Cornwall. But after many months of waiting the UK is at least getting a console port of Battle Fantasia for the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Playing Street Fighter IV on Xbox 360, we're trying to recall the last time we were so hyped about the release of a fighter. Enthusiasm grew during the build-up to Soul Calibur IV, as did our anticipation for Virtua Fighter 5 a year prior, but it's an age since a fighter has been so prevalent in actual office banter. With the console release of Street Fighter IV weeks away, the trash talk about who's going to rush down who has started to turn nasty. How we've missed it.
The King of Fighters series was once staple fare for hardcore 2D fighter fanatics. During the mid to late nineties, Capcom's CPS-2 arcade board was far more popular in the arcades than SNK's own Neo Geo MVS board. Anyone who could afford the Neo Geo AES home console, let alone the GBP 100+ price tag of each new game, had to have a real passion and a high disposable income. But for all those gamers who looked for choices beyond the sublime Street Fighter Alpha and Marvel vs. Capcom series, The King of Fighters games offered something familiar - with a fresh twist all their own.
The world is most definitely at war. It may not be top of the Xbox Live charts, but Call of Duty is king of the All-Formats Top 40, and with double experience points this week for LCE owners, now seems a good time to relate what we've picked up from the last few weeks running around the internet shooting people in the dogs. Thankfully, Eurogamer's recent intern Matt Edwards happened to write some of it down. Quite a lot, actually. Here's what he reckons.