Yeah, I'm twelve. What, you didn't notice before?
It's like they were waiting for me. The demo of this game is only currently available on Japanese Live, but once the download was through, I was greeted with a completely localized English-version demo, complete with ESRB rating. As such, I would like to thank From Software for their hospitality, and then proceed to criticize their videogame.
Like RE5, Ninja Blade is a clear stab by a Japanese dev to appeal to a western crowd. The demo opens with a pack of ninjas getting an action movie pep talk before hopping out of a helicopter-- one piloted, of course, by Michael Bay's Wacky Black Guy. Demons, the city, kill 'em all, you get the idea. From here, the game begins to play itself.
Bookending every actual action sequence is a series of Dragon's Lair-styled quick time events. Signaled by an "oh shi--" closeup on the ninja's eye, you tap a button to very distantly participate in some action setpiece. I'm not big on these in action games, and this one proves no exception. For a "cinematic action game", the presentation during these is pretty weak: even if I'm not doing something exciting, the game should be trying to sell the idea to me that I am. But here, the font is plain, there's little fanfare over the button I pressed, and the game is about as excited as I am, which is to say it's not.
What's worse is what happens when you flub one of these: you don't ever actually get shown the outcome of your failure. The ninja will not miss his critical shot with ninja grappling wire or get eaten by the giant spider or anything like that. It just stops at the exact point you missed, goes sepia, and inexplicably rewinds to the start of the cutscene. Now you can watch it all over again! Oh boy! Thankfully, the events are really, really easy, and you're not likely going to run into this problem unless you screw up on purpose like I did.
The game itself gets relatively less exposure in this demo, but it's well enough put together. Your ninja has three weapons that are about what you would expect-- medium swords, light daggers, and a heavy broadsword-- and shuriken for a sidearm. Like Devil May Cry 3, you can swap them off with the d-pad while you fight and even mid-combo, which opens up some fun clobbering possibilities. Combat doesn't really get far past the mashing stage in this demo, unfortunately. There are plenty of random mooks to kill: in one neat bit, you run down the side of a building while killing everything you pass. But if the system goes any deeper than "mash X until the game tells you to hit Y" I didn't get to see it, and the player character was surprisingly devoid of the kind of cool movement features we see in ninja games. You know the stuff. The wall run, the double jump. The stuff ninjas do.
At the end, you fight a very standard action game boss, and the game cuts off halfway through the fight for a "coming soon!", which left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. So yeah, From either needs to show me their game gets better than this (ie: make a better demo), or they need to make a better game. Good luck, guys.
Despite this being a happy otaku wai wai super kawaii funtime website where I talk about sugoi Nippon anime geemu, it's important to note that it's the West leading the videogame industry right now. We should furthermore note that anybody who tells you otherwise has their head up their ass. Ten years ago, it would have been kind of nuts to say that in the distant future, one of Japanese gaming's flagship franchises would turn out a game almost entirely in the image of a Western one. Back then, the East and the West in gaming were far more isolated from each other and games bore little resemblance to each other. But now it's the future, it's the global gaming scene-- thank God!-- and Resident Evil 5 feels like the Gears of War mod for Resident Evil 4.
This is well and good with me: though perhaps marking a permanent departure from the "survival horror" genre it created, RE4 was one of my favorite videogames of last generation. The timing, the structure, the difficulty, everything was just right. There is only a tiny bit of RE4 left here, and it's the combat system: you still need to stop, aim and fire while giving careful consideration to your ammo: your knife will only get you so far. Weapons feel the same, as do the toughness and reactions of the zombies, who you'll remember have graduated from Romero-style zombies of the early games to fast undead with a modicum of intelligence. The up-close melee hits, while significantly less powerful than RE4, are still at least satisfying.
But now you have a partner! Neither protagonist Chris Redfield nor buddy Sheva really show any kind of personality in this demo, so we'll discuss the buddy as a gameplay device. Capcom has tried to make her as unobtrusive as possible, and I do applaud them for having the good sense to have my bullets go through her when she runs between me and a horde of zombies, but that just covers up for the fact that the AI is dumb enough to run into a crowd of zombies in the first place. You can also, thankfully, locate your buddy at any time. These little bits of help seem more like concessions to the fact that an AI probably can't be expected to effectively deal with the ever-changing combat situation in the first place, and they point to how the game probably ought to be played: with a real buddy. Even the demo has online multiplayer, and while I haven't tried it myself, I would imagine holding off the locals with a pal is an awesome time.
By putting itself in direct competition with Gears-- by way of full-on imitation-- the game does raise a question: "who's going to play this over Gears?" Whether RE5 actually breaks out of this and becomes a distinct entity remains to be seen, but I can't deny it's fun.
Alas, Seta, you must now walk off into the sunset beside your bike, with your ass sticking out just a bit in a bid to get horny middle-aged salarymen to Insert Coin. There's a shelf at Book-Off that's lined with copy after copy of artbooks from the Super Real Mahjong strip mahjong arcade games. Nobody bought them when you were alive, Seta, and nobody will buy them now. But I'll miss you. You and Jaleco-- also gone, oh Lord, gone forever after making the only strip mahjong game to star Norio Wakamoto-- taught me mahjong. You've put me that much closer to being Akagi, and I won't forget that.
Meanwhile, Studio Fantasia, responsible for the game's tasteful (I kid) artwork and animation, went on to make such hits as Agent Aika and Najica Blitz Tactics. The moral of our story? Videogames aren't recession-proof: tits and ass anime is.
Now that I think about it, I realize I've actually managed to cover every recent release by Arc System Works on this blog. I guess I really like those guys, so it doesn't seem right not to talk about the interview they just did over at Gamasutra. And since only industry people seem to be allowed to comment there, I guess this is my alternative. A WALL OF TEXT.
To lead off, kind of a bomb about Battle Fantasia (DI is Guilty Gear series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari):
If there was no one
on the team who could do 3D graphics, why did you decide to proceed with that?
DI: Those were the company orders.
Yow. Considering it's 3D by people who only do 2D, Battle Fantasia's graphics actually turned out quite well. The models obviously aren't up to the mark set by AAA games (though I will note that concentrating on said graphics seems to cripple a lot of AAA games off the bat), but they show the kind of detail and personality that is typically reserved for, well, 2D sprites. You can see where the influence on SF4's crazy-faced characters came from if you just take a look at this game. Even Guilty Gear 2 has a lot of really cool-looking stuff that animates really well: it's just that due to the nature of the game (running around a map or flicking through a menu or fighting at all times), you never actually get to see it unless you make the conscious decision to do so. Try standing still with Valentine if you want to see her balloon hit on her awkwardly for a minute and a half or so.
I'm not going to use a direct quote here, but the rumors about Guilty Gear that fans had suspected-- that the rights to GG are wrapped up with Sega/Sammy-- turned out to be entirely true. What's more interesting is that Ishiwatari says Arc was only directly involved with Guilty Gear XX up until #Reload, the first of three revisions. To this I say, "really?" I noticed Ishiwatari's name disappaearing from the credits from Slash on, but he seems to give the impression that nobody at all at Arc was working on Slash, Accent Core, or black sheep Isuka. It doesn't make a lot of sense, especially considering Arc has published most of their recent output themselves. One possiblity: does Sega/Sammy own all profits from the arcade version, and Arc only have rights to home releases of GG? It's the only thing I can think of.
Here's an excerpt on the difficulty of Arc's games, something I've commented on before.
DI: For the original Guilty Gear, and I think this is true for any person playing any game really, there comes a time when you hit a wall in terms of difficulty, and you have to decide whether you'll keep at it, or stop playing. In designing games, you have to decide when the player is going to hit that wall, early on, or later. I prefer it to be later, so that even beginners can enjoy themselves.
And it's a bit subjective for us as designers, as we're the ones who have to control the difficulty and complexity. We have to be very careful that this "wall" doesn't just turn people away, no matter how bad at or uninterested in the game they might be.
That said, we also want to
cater to our core audience by implementing solid and more complex gameplay that
rewards those who really delve into it. It's sort of difficult to explain. In
my own opinion, no matter what the game, it's important to make sure that
beginners and non-gamers can pick it up, and have fun just mashing the buttons.
My personal theory about GGXX's popularity among gamers and especially anime fans in its heyday is that it was very pretty and very mashable. Obviously there's a very deep system behind this, and a masher is going to lose against even a player with basic skill, but most players are going to be mashing and it's extremely important for a fighting game's commercial success that it be superficially playable as well as rewarding for the expert. This characteristic, by itself, easily put GGXX in Soul Calibur's territory for a "get out and play with your big nerdy friends" game.
GGXX went through a lot of revision and a lot of rebalancing, and it's a much better competitive game now, at Accent Core, than it has ever been. But it never kept the popularity it had at its very first release (which, from a competitive POV, ended up fairly busted). It's funny, because I look at Arc's fighting games as expert-only affairs where the "wall" comes down about an hour after you've learned all the moves and are left to figure out some really tough combos, but I have to admit, they do kinda work as beginner games. Except Guilty Gear 2. Maybe I'm just appreciating GG's curve in relation to Fate/Unlimited Codes'? Scoops! Scoops Haagen-Dazs!
Ishiwatari and Blazblue lead designer Toshimichi Mori on console online play:
far, the technology that would equal the zero lag environment of an arcade just
doesn't exist yet. (Ishiwatari)
To tell the truth, I'm a skeptic about making fighting games work online on the consoles. When you're playing against someone, I think the best communication comes from the fact that you have to share a physical space with your opponent and face off against them. (Mori)
Being as we are outside of Japan, on a rather barren arcade landscape where the players are great distances from each other-- even the big US spots are kinda jokes by comparison to what they have in Japan-- we don't have the luxury of just ignoring online play. We don't have a zero-lag environment for any game, as contrary to the unqualified claims of publishers, reviewers and such, that is still science fiction at this point. Still, there are services like GGPO and 2df, both of which I was a little surprised the Arc guys didn't know about. They're running emulators and exclusively play older games-- as I recall, the emulators are actually running two copies of the game on one computer, so it would be impossible to use with current-gen stuff-- but these programs offer the closest to a lag-free experience that anybody's come up with for online fighting games. Speaking of old fighting games aging like a fine wine, just go on GGPO or 2df to play some Street Fighter Alpha 2, and you'll see a game that's truly aged gracefully.
On top of that, current-gen fighting games have made serious steps forward in online play, to the point where I don't mind playing Virtua Fighter 5 casuals online at all, despite the game losing some consistency compared to real in-person matches. And Mori is obviously right about the appeal of in-person communication: outside of a couple of niche spots with seriously hardened competition, it's nearly impossible to have the old arcade experience, with people actually interacting and helping each other out with the game. Never mind the "WE JUS' GOT A REAL MATCH" excitement that's just impossible to capture when everybody is at home in front of their Xbox.
The physical community has almost completely been supplanted by the internet and its rich information bases (buried though they may be in a stream of excrement). As ever, it's going to come down to the community--not the across-the-world devs and not the publishers-- to get together and spark that excitement when they have the chance.
It was kind of depressing when I met up with my VF friends a while ago and realized, despite playing with them for months and months, I hadn't, you know, seen any of them since the game came out for 360.
About difficulty and the claims by the Street Fighter IV team that the goal of the project is to be an easier fighting game for new players:
Sure, people like us who work with games, or fans of
fighting games can do a hadouken or a
shoryuken without thinking much about
it, but for somebody just getting started? Those moves are pretty tough! You
can't expect new players to just whip those moves out every time. (Mori)
This is a big thing that designers especially may not be thinking of. I had the pleasure of teaching basic Street Fighter II to a very enthusiastic but inexperienced student a month or so ago on HD Remix, and the bulk of the lesson was just teaching the motion that intimidated me as a kid, and that I had already internalized years ago: quarter circle forward. The fireball. They're just not something that other videogames ask of the player, these joystick yo-yo tricks. It took forty minutes just for fireballs to start to come out 50% of the time, but after that, the motion starts to get committed to muscle memory. From there, senior student didn't have much trouble with the hurricane kick or the dragon punch at all. That's the process. There is no shortcut and no easy way to learning the move.
If you really want to have a "technique training" mode, like in Street Fighter EX or more recently (but not as effectively Fate/Unlimited Codes), then you have do a real tutorial that's going to show the player the basics, step by step. Most fighting game players don't know how to play fighting games. It's kind of an elitist statement, but there it is. The games don't teach, for the most part, and I think that's a huge mistake for them. Only so many people-- yours truly being that type-- will actively bang their head against a game to learn it. And games should reward effort, but they should also give the player a little inkling of how to get up there. The tutorial mode in Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution remains the only time I've ever seen a developer really attempt to teach a fighting game outside of rote memorization of techniques.
Of course, you could make a videogame that encapsulated the fighting game experience for absolute beginners and non-gamers with the easiest and most manageable interface possible. Street Fighter could easily be pared down to a game on the level of the new Prince of Persia. And that would be Rock Paper Scissors. An indie dev might want to put together that game for Live Arcade or Steam or something. Online play, please.
This has been public knowledge for some time, but it doesn't appear to be something that anybody has paid any attention to. Abunai (Dangerous) Sisters is an odd little scam anime (or "scamime") that, upon its release, will only likely be successful as a strong contender to the High Throne of Bad Anime, the one currently being fought over by champion bad anime like Musashi Gundoh, Gundress, and Odin.
First strike: this is an anime based on Japanese celebrities. Specifically, the Kano sisters. As far as I can tell, they are a couple of Japanese Paris Hiltons who are known mostly on account of their gigantic fake tits. I love boobs and all, but these two don't really do it for me. Maybe back in the 80's: both women say they're in their 40s and in all likelihood they aren't sisters at all. Anyway, somebody out there got the idea that Kano sisters + anime would = gold, so they hired Production IG (Production FUCKING IG, people!) to make a short anime about the sisters as sexy secret agents.
You can kinda see the angle at this point. Certainly animation would take the years off the sisters, and god knows nothing sells a cartoon like tits and ass. But the characters have been re-imagined into, well, Bratz dolls. So now the angle is turning them into Hello Kitty-style merchandising characters and taking over Japan with cheap keychains and t-shirts and coin banks and shit, or so we must assume.
But take a look at the way they're selling this direct-to-video anime: it's a fan-gouge deal where the more people buy in, the lower the price goes. The publishers are even generous enough to offer digital trading cards to sweeten the pot. At lowest, assuming over 90k sales, the price of this 90-minute DVD would be $65 or so: at highest, a staggering $340. Only otaku would buy into this kinda shit, and indeed, the Kano sisters even went to Otakon to promote this totally insane deal (Japanese press coverage of this over Jam Project's appearance angered Most Dangerous Hironobu Kageyama in the process, I read someplace).
So at the very least, Abunai Sisters, being created by one of Japan's prestige animation studios, being sold to presumably obsessive fans at a "do you think I'm stupid?" price, must be of some quality. The turd should at least be glossed, we hope. Of course not. Here, then, I present to you the first and only released episode of the "sexy comedy" Abunai Sisters, in its entirety.
Stunning, isn't it? I'm frankly impressed at how much shit they can pack into those three minutes. The sisters' terrifying midget doppelgangers and their malformed, wobbling CG tits are the direct opposite of sexy, and what jokes exist are so forced and terrible I'm not even sure they count at such. And the best line-- "Something abunai must be happening nearby!"-- is seriously up there with "What a kawaii morning!" for rage-inducing pidgin language. Production IG in particular ought to be ashamed: the production values are about what I'd expect from a dollar DVD in the kids' section at Walmart (how about that Thunder Prince, eh guys?). That shark didn't even move!
For the low price of $340, kids, 87 more minutes of this awful crap awaits you, so get on it with the preordering! You've only got till March, and only 78 other people to date have put up the cash! That last figure is especially nasty, considering it doesn't come anywhere close to breaking the first order threshold for a price drop (1500 copies) and the publisher projected as many as 90,000 sales. So the Abunai Sisters are a resounding (but memorable) failure before they've even gotten out of the gate. Can't say I feel bad for them.
As we all know, economic times are rough, and the exciting world of otaku blogging is no exception. In that spirit, it's probably about time to tell you all that Subatomic Brainfreeze has come under the sponsorship of a large business association whose name I cannot reveal, as it will have me killed as I type. This conglomerate contacted me recently by visiting me at bars, restaurants and such, writing "PLAY JOHN WOO PRESENTS STRANGLEHOLD" on my coaster or my napkin in blood every time I went for a piss. Eventually the game arrived in the mail with a quantity of piano wire and well, here we are. Enjoy the great taste of John Woo Presents Stranglehold!
This game is intended as a sequel to the classic Hong Kong action movie Hard Boiled, one of those movies that you oughta see if you haven't seen, in game form. The designers' goal here, then, was to emulate the kind of flashy, improbable violence we see in John Woo movies: gunning down guys while sliding down a rail, under a table, jumping backwards off a wall, and so on. I love these movies-- it's impossible, or at least wrong, not to love these movies-- and who wouldn't want to be Chow-Yun Fat as he runs his double-pistol death tornado through town?
So here it is, after all those years. You are Inspector Tequila (Chow-Yun Fat) and you are shooting everybody, often while in midair in a game that is basically Max Payne with Cool Tricks. Of course there's slow-motion, and by default it kicks in whenever you are somewhere potentially awesome: diving away from bullets, sliding down a bar, swinging down a zip wire, what have you. You have to consciously attempt to kill in flashy ways, as there's a meter at the bottom of the screen that fills up and allows you to do some neat tricks: my favorite is granting a pistol the ability to snipe at long range. There's obviously a lot of focus on the environment in a game like this, and it's all destructible, you can interact with all of it, and there are a lot of action movie setpieces around the levels. Conveniently placed rock formations, street lights, and piles of wood are marked by a shining light that translates to "shoot me and I will rain down mightily on your enemies". At the end of a level, the game gleefully informs you of the cash total of all the collateral damage you've caused.
The environments are good, but in the levels I've played the maps were not so hot, particularly the second stage, where you have to blow up loads of unmarked, unseen pieces of the background to progress. People say it's not immersive to have a big flashing light every time, but it's no good to have the critical object you need to shoot to keep going blend into the background either. On top of that, the level was an endless collect-em-all session where I found and destroyed round after round of drug labs when the gimmick got old after the first one. Not fun, guys! Not fun at all.
To its credit, the game does a good job of not giving a damn, just like a good action movie should. Does it make sense that these bad guys would hang out around dangling street lights and highly flammable oil barrels? Really, do I give a shit about the neighborhood remaining intact? I shouldn't! I hear a lot of talk lately about how the game and its narrative ought to be tied tightly together, that the narrative should always explain the action and the action always should explain the narrative, and any other way of doing things is just no good. But then, Jonathan Blow is a pretentious douchebag. You know what's good about Stranglehold? I neither need nor want to ask "why". In this reality, the nonsensical, the illogical, and the outright stupid are simply natural. So it's got that going for it. I like a game that knows what it wants to be!
As I progress through the game, I will be checking in periodically to let you know if the game has changed at all, but I personally get the feeling that it will not in any way, especially not the level design. Thanks again to the shady individual who sent me a free copy of Stranglehold! Individuals, corporations and crime syndicates are always welcome to send me free videogames, anime, or other objects for review that might normally cost me money, if they are willing to accept a review on a tiny otaku-blog as repayment.
There's this show running on Imaginasian TV right now called Kurokami. It aired just a couple hours ago and will be running again shortly, if you get the channel: not many off the East and West Coasts do. You shouldn't really bother, but I figured I would give you a heads-up and at least tell you what's up with the show.
The sole reason I watched this was that the distributor tried something interesting: Kurokami is actually a brand new show. It hasn't been out on DVD for a year, it didn't run on TV in Japan two years ago. It's running in Japan simultaneously with the English-dubbed broadcast on Imaginasian. This is a pretty neat model, and I hope to see more simultaneous broadcasts like this (please avoid Crunchyroll, thank you kindly). The only problem is that Kurokami is a bit shit.
Based on a Korean comic targeted to Japanese readers, Kurokami is a pitch-perfect replica of tired manga cliche: a sullen, antisocial young lad with a number of inexplicably doting women in his life falls in with a magical girl. The girl-- perhaps the centerpiece in character design here-- is:
If this is your first anime you might not be tired of this character type, but you're here so you are. The protagonist ducks out of social situations to rattle off amazing cookie-cutter teen angst zingers like "THE SYMPATHY OF OTHERS WEIGHS HEAVILY ON ME". You're supposed to wait for character development at a point like this, but I don't see these characters going anywhere that isn't predictable from miles away. So far all the show has going for it is quality fight animation. The plot clearly hasn't had a chance to begin yet, so I can really make no comment on the overarching narrative.
From the overbearing, pretentious air of teen whine that pervades this episode, I'm not sure I really care what the hell happens in this story. This week's episode actually culminates in two desperate grabs in a row at edginess: the finale is so shamelessly manipulative and over-the-top that I pointed and laughed at my TV all the way through the ending credits. Kurokami may not be very good, but it's a perfectly targeted work: it's for whiny teenagers who'll mistake this shit for "deep". The show will probably be fairly successful.
It's certainly been a genre renaissance for the fighting game: a couple of years back we would have prayed for a problem as sweet as "too many games coming out, can't play them all". But here we are, with a spectacular year behind us and some of the brightest spots still to come in the new year. Life is quite fine for us aficionados of digital rock-paper-scissors.
Eighting (formerly fan-favorite arcade shooter developer Raizing) has been making 3D fighting games for some time, going all the way back to the rather rough Bloody Roar series. Like Treasure, they're excellent game designers who, realizing that strong design and original IP aren't profitable these days, simply do licensed products based on established properties. And by all accounts, they do good work: I never cared for the Naruto Gamecube games, but in their day they were wildly popular and very much preferred to their PS2 competitors by Cyber Connect2.
Having put together so many fighting games, 8ing knows what they're doing, and Capcom trusted them with perhaps the developer's biggest project yet: Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom. Eighting did a fantastic ground-up revival of the Versus series with all the accessible gameplay and wacky tricks we expect of it, but also an attention to techincal detail that was lacking in Capcom's own Versus games (a let's-see-what-sticks negligence that eventually resulted in the happy accident known as Mahvel).
Fate/Unlimited Codes is the game that 8ing made just before TvC (they released to consoles the same week, though), and their approaches are very, very different. TvC is a fairly heavy fighting game, but on the surface it's very accessible, with easy moves, lenient inputs, and simple combos for every character. The game goes deeper than that, as always, but a total beginner will still at least be able to work out the basics. Fate, on the other hand, is an experts-only game where the design philosophy seems to be that Guilty Gear's famously complex combo system didn't go far enough. There is no "easy combo" in Fate: at least no easy combo worth using. Even the basics in this game are precisely timed strings along the lines of Sol's Dust Loop (seen at 1:10 here) in Guilty Gear. You don't just juggle the opponent in the air and end the combo: you're often juggling from the ground or bunny-hopping around to complete an extremely strictly timed air combo. For example, here is one for my favorite character. I can do about half of that combo, at best.
In most games with combos like this (Hokuto no Ken is perhaps the best example, and likely the most thoroughly broken, overblown combo game of all time), these ridiculous strings appear because the combined efforts of the players to win go beyond what the designer originally intended. When you first see some of even the simplest combos in Fate, you might think them exploits or glitches or something. In Fate, on the other hand, this is not the case: the game knows about these combos and it is happy to demonstrate. Be careful with the enemy AI in this game: by the end of arcade mode the game will be embarassing you with combos that take a couple hours each in training mode to learn. As you will eventually see in Mission mode, these characters were actually built to do these things. It seems to have worked out: they're playing this at Tougeki this year, which is about the greatest honor a fighting game can recieve.
In theory, the combo is a wholly unecessary part of most fighting games: if you land a simple jab in a game like Melty Blood or Guilty Gear or Fate, the rest of the damage is a usually foregone conclusion. The significant thing was not that the player landed the combo, but that he broke the opponent's defenses. The game could make the jab land 25% damage every time it lands (and adjust damage for other hits accordingly) and little would actually change. But at the same time, that idea isn't terribly exciting, and even if superfluous, combos are simply fun and rewarding to pull off in and of themselves. And as with anything that's fun, people... take it to extremes. I've played a lot of fighting games, and Fate/UC has some of the hardest execution I have ever seen in one, with tons of moves that are hard just for the fuck of it: one weak special move requires that you make six button taps not too fast, not too slow, but just right, without even a visual cue to let you know what the hell you're supposed to be doing. It makes me miss Battle Fantasia. Oh, Battle Fantasia. You wanted them to be concise. You wanted them to be elegant. But they just didn't want to listen.
That said, you can't say a needlessly convoluted combo-based fighting game doesn't fit Type-Moon's needlessly convoluted fantasy visual novels. Just sayin'. Yes, it took me this long to bring up that the game is based on Fate/stay night, which you might have gathered already. We should probably address what this game has for the average Type-Moon nerd, which is to say a lot. There's a lot of respect for the source material here, with many attacks mirroring the events of the game (the shot from the game here is also what happens when Gilgamesh throws Saber).
In arcade mode, the game has an original story written by ol' Nasu himself, so if you can read that, knock yourself out. From what I saw, it wasn't much you wouldn't expect. The bulk of the single-player mode here is the mission mode, though, where quite a few scenes you'll remember from the original Fate game are present. The goofy minigames (mostly involving the parts in the story where Shirou gets hurt) give me a good, long, laugh, but you're gonna have to work your ass off to get them: missions are mostly about doing combos, and combos, as we have established, are hard. Still, if you do, you can run away from BerserCAR. Don't you want to run away from BerserCar?
I can really only recommend this game to people who are either already hardcore fighting game players or people who really love Type-Moon. If you're only in the latter group, be warned of the kind of difficulty we're talking about, and do not expect to clear Mission mode: hell, I don't expect to clear Mission mode. If you're into both, then you're peculiar, you're like me and we love the game.
Over on Canned Dogs they were (and I was) talking about how they're trying to remake the rather awful Nitro+ Royale into a proper, professional-grade arcade fighting game, the way Melty Blood was successfully transitioned into a big arcade favorite in Japan. Unfortunately for creator Nitroplus, their game is so bad that no matter what happens, it's probably not worth saving. It's kind of like if someone had decided to have people play Rise of the Robots at Evolution. In the discussion thread, Urobura came up as a game that deserved an arcade port more than Royale, and well... I can't believe I'd never played Urobura. The joke of the title is lost on me, but it comes from the Japanese abbreviation for the popular Tsukihime fighting game Melty Blood, and the game is certainly a kind of Melty Blood.
Made by evil geniuses in ASCII's 2D Fighter Maker, the game is an intentional parody of Melty Blood featuring gimped approximations of its play mechanics, threadbare production values (including music I'd swear I've heard in other videogames), and characters reimagined as perpetually frowning, bored-looking shadows of their former selves. Character choices range from the Tsukihime cast to increasingly bizarre guest appearances ranging from Saber to the swimming Rei clones from Evangelion to a piece scribbled into a fifth-grader's notebook during a particularly boring class. The game is brilliant. Not good, mind you, just brilliant. And yes, it needs to be brought to the arcades. On April Fool's Day, in every Melty Blood: Actress Again cabinet in the world.