Saturday, 16 February 2013

Ni No Kuni - Wizard's Companian

For those who own a Playstation 3, Ni no Kuni is the game you need to be thinking of owning if you don’t have it already.  Co-produced between Level 5 (of Professor Layton fame) and Studio Ghibli (of Studio Ghibli fame), it’s something of a dream team solution in making an RPG that feels right to play and looks beautiful.  It’s a worthy addition to any gamer’s collection.  I’m not here to talk about the game though.  I’m here to talk about the book.

As the game progresses the main character is given a magical tome, the Wizard’s Companion Book, which contains over 300 pages of information about monsters, weapons and all other kinds of other info in the game.  You can browse through it for hours reading up on all the details of the game’s world, while collecting extra pages as the game proceeds.  The book is translated in its entirety within the game and as an additional bonus was included as a hardcopy with the limited ‘Wizard’s Edition’ of the game.  It’s a lovely little book, and well worth owning for those who want to enjoy the game as much as possible.  However things were a little tricky for some fans…

Only those who were particularly clued in, organised, or just plain rich were able to get the book as it was only made available at a premium price, and in quantities that meant it sold out on pre-orders alone.  Many people missed out and are now forced to squint at the book through their screens as opposed to being able to casually leaf through a real one.

I can’t help but feel someone missed a trick with this situation.  The game was heavily promoted from around 8 months before the game’s release, and fully successful in getting everyone interested and wanting to buy the game.  But once having successfully created near ravenous demand, why not try and fulfil it by supplying enough of your product?  The publisher consequently made less money than they could have done, while auction dealers now reap massive rewards as fans fight over the remnants.

As a final blow there is also a DS version of this game in Japan, unreleased in the west.  This game was reportedly deemed too financially prohibitive for release as the game is only playable with the book and could therefore only be sold as a bundle pack.  I guess throwing money at publishers is not enough proof that there is demand for this game at any price.  Sadly the DS boat has since sailed for pastures new (3D ones anyway), so I don’t see it happening now.

I don’t mean to moan as it’s a fantastic game.  Go buy it now and accept the compromise, it’s all you’re going to get.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Street Fighter v. Red Hawk

Street Fighter II: The Movie.  It's a rubbish title for a film to be honest, but as good an anime as you could hope for if you were a fan of the video games.  Made in 1994, it has a simplt plot that is sufficient enough to keep you interested n the action, and the action itself is properly choreographed and suitably punchy.  It's a personal favourite from the 16-bit days.

A year passes...

Hitting cinemas in South Korea in 1995 was a film called Red Hawk, a homemade animated film about a superhero who goes round beating up generic bad guys while in search of his missing brother.  It's not a great film truth be told.  While a lot of effort has been put into animating the near-constant stream of martial arts action, the plot is a shocker, characters flat and despite the fair quality of the art it is curiously missing any kind of charm.

Korea is well known for its animation production, with both America and Japan frequently farming work out to be completed there, but it is less known for its own product.  Red Hawk is something of a forgettable curio were if not for the fact of a fight in the middle of the film that bears a striking resemblance to the opening fight from the Street Fighter movie.

I'm not pointing any fingers here, but there's definitely something between the two, and its even more obvious in motion.  I'd have taken more pictures of proof if Red Hawk didn't look so awful on Manga's budget release of it.  Take a look and decide for yourself...