|

Better games for serious hardware

by

Get the Playstation 4 revved

“Gran Turismo Sport” is Sony’s long-running “Gran Turismo” game’s PlayStation 4 debut. The first “GT” was released in 1997 on the PlayStation 1, and 20 years later, “Gran Turismo” is still going strong, holding on to its title as “the real driving simulator.”

Polyphony Digital develops the “Gran Turismo” games, and the studio is full of staff who love cars. Not only has Polyphony worked with Nissan on the GT-R car’s interface system, but studio honcho Kazunori Yamauchi races cars in real life. That love and realism is evident in all of the “Gran Turismo” games.

The first “GT” title with the “Sport” moniker, this PS4 version is also the first to support Sony’s PlayStation VR headset for an even more immersive gameplay experience. Note that VR will only be supported in a VR Tour Mode, which has been designed to really show off the virtual reality effects.

Unlike previous mainline games, however, “GT Sport” doesn’t have a dynamic weather or day-night cycle. But it still promises to be the most beautiful “GT” game ever released, supporting 4K televisions, true HDR, and running at a crisp 60 frames per second.

Like the other games, it’s packed with cars, with over 170 vehicles to race, including, for the first time in the series’ history, a Porsche. Polyphony was finally able to feature the German car maker after its exclusive license with Electronic Arts ended.

Because “Gran Turismo” releases are always a big deal, Sony is also offering a special “GT”-emblazoned PS4 bundled with the game for ¥43,178. “Gran Turismo Sport” will be released on Oct. 19, with the regular edition priced at ¥7,452.

www.gran-turismo.com/jp/products/gtsport

‘Pokemon’ is ready for the Switch

The Nintendo Switch is this year’s hot new piece of game hardware. It already has an inventive and excellent fighting game called “Arms,” and it’s about to get another one: “Pokken Tournament DX,” the Switch version of “Pokken Tournament.”

“Pokken Tournament” was originally released in July 2015, and the following year it was released on the Wii U. Developed by Bandai Namco, it’s like “Pokemon” meets “Tekken,” Namco’s iconic fighting game series, and it was designed to be a fighting game that anyone could enjoy — from novices to experts. The consensus so far is that it’s achieved that aim.

The Nintendo Switch version is an enhanced release, with pocket monsters that were in the arcade release but didn’t appear in the Wii U version, such as Croagunk, Empoleon, Darkrai and Scizor. The owl-like Decidueye, which wasn’t in either the arcade or Wii U versions, will also be fighting for the first time in the Switch release, along with new assist fighters Popplio and Litten. Another “Pokken Tournament DX” addition, besides Switch-specific controls, is a new three-on-three mode that should appeal to team-fighting game fans.

“Pokken Tournament DX” is ¥6,458 for either the packaged or download version.

www.pokemon.co.jp/ex/pokkenDX

Getting into the ‘Knack’of it again

“Knack II” has been dubbed the sequel that no one actually asked for, but the early buzz around the game has suggested that it might be worth getting. The first “Knack” game was bundled with the PS4 when the console launched in Japan. Developed by Sony’s Japan Studio, it was an inventive platformer that, unfortunately, didn’t quite live up to expectations.

“Knack II,” however, furthers the game’s original concept of Knack, a character who is composed of various artifacts that he accumulates to increase size. This time, Knack has more brawling moves, making the battling more interesting, and has a new ability to shrink to a small size to traverse varied platforming stages.

“Knack” was originally created by Mark Cerny, the brains behind the PS4’s technical architecture. Now, four years later, the Japan Studio’s sequel is unexpectedly better than gamers thought it would be. It certainly surpasses the first game. For a sequel, what better praise is there than that?

“Knack II” will be released on Sept. 28 for ¥5,292.

www.jp.playstation.com/software/title/knack-2-ps4.html