Digital | ON: GAMES

The future is bright for gamers

by Brian Ashcraft

Swimmingly good gameplay

Sick of shooting guns and fighting monsters? How about a gentle deep-sea swim as a dolphin? That’s exactly what indie game developer Tigertron is offering players of its “Jupiter & Mars,” which is proving to be one of this year’s most unusual PlayStation 4 games.

Set in a future beyond mankind’s disappearance, this first-person, single-player game has the player controlling Jupiter, a dolphin who is accompanied by a computer-controlled buddy named Mars. Echolocation is used to reveal the underwater seascape and Jupiter blows bubbles, called Vortex Rings, to free sea creatures trapped in human-made trash, while fending off harmful jellyfish.

Tigertron developer James Mielke cut his teeth at Tokyo-based Q Entertainment, which at the time was headed up by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, a designer famed for blending music with outstanding graphics. With stylish vector graphics and soothing electro beats, Jupiter & Mars (priced at ¥2,800 on PS4 and PlayStation VR), proudly bears the influence of Mizuguchi-led games, such as Sega’s revolutionary Rez. It is also not just a chic and chill gaming experience, but one with a message that resonates with today’s environmental concerns.

bit.ly/jupitermarsjp (Japanese), bit.ly/jupitermarseng (English)

Welcome to the digital future

A revolutionary event is happening on May 7 in Japan. Microsoft will release the first digital-only home game console. Called the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, it has similar hardware to the Xbox One S, but no Blu-ray disc drive. Downloaded games are instead stored on the console’s 1 TB hard drive. All this allows Microsoft to offer the console to gamers for over ¥5,000 less than standard machines. It’s initial release is priced at ¥26,978, bundled with Forza Horizon 3 and Minecraft.

Since music and movies have largely become digital-only, it seems inevitable that video games should follow. Digital downloads are already prevalent on Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo hardware, but the Xbox is the first home console to take the digital-only plunge. It’s precedent is the PSP Go, a digital-only version of Sony’s PlayStation Portable handheld. This year, Google is also launching its cloud-based gaming platform Stadia, which doesn’t even have a traditional console.

In a KonMaried world, the lack of game discs may help declutter many gamers’ living rooms; however, owners of the Xbox One S All-Digital Edition won’t be able to benefit from the glut of cheap used games. Disc games are unlikely to vanish entirely very soon but, like CDs and Blu-ray, it may be increasingly elbowed out by digital downloads.

bit.ly/xboxdigitaljp (Japanese), bit.ly/xboxdigitaleng (English)

Celebrate with a Guilty Gear pleasure

| © ARC SYSTEM WORKS

For the past two decades, “Guilty Gear” has been one of the most enjoyable fighting game franchises around. Filled with stylish characters and killer heavy metal music, there is nothing quite like it. In an ongoing celebration of the series’ 20th anniversary, game studio Arc System Works is releasing a special 20th Anniversary Pack on the Nintendo Switch.

“Guilty Gear” first debuted in 1998 on the PlayStation and was created by South Africa-born game designer Daisuke Ishiwatari. A brilliant illustrator and artist, he created the characters and, as an accomplished heavy metal musician, composed the score. He also voiced the bounty hunter character Sol Badguy since Guilty Gear’s inception.

The “Guilty Gear 20th Anniversary Pack’s” limited-edition version — which promised the first “Guilty Gear,” “Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R,” a Sol Badguy-themed pouch, an art book with never-before-published images and a 20th-anniversary sticker — was so popular, it immediately sold out. But don’t despair, the regular version, which includes the two games and is priced at ¥3,456, will be available from May 16.

bit.ly/guiltygearjp (Japanese), bit.ly/guiltygeareng (English)

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