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More 'The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel' on the Way

November 9, 2017 2:00pm
by Mike Tamburelli

We've been absolutely spoiled by JRPGs recently. Whether you've been tearing through Atlus' latest masterpiece in the demon-collecting Persona franchise, playing the latest DLC episodes of Final Fantasy XV, or even indulging in the tranquilizing atmosphere of Blue Reflection, the genre has offered something for everyone recently.

Though, if you were to ask me about a series that I've seen the most raw passion for recently, that honor would undoubtedly go to Falcom's 'The Legend of Heroes' series. The games have not appeared on the cutting-edge of video game platforms, at least not with the titles released outside of Japan so far. Instead, the story of the current "Trails" chapter of The Legend of Heroes begins with 2004's The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky for Windows PCs. It was released on the PlayStation Portable 2 years later. Spanning seven other games, the latest arc known as Trails of Cold Steel has seen its most recent overseas releases on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. Only with Trails of Cold Steel III has the series finally made the jump to the PlayStation 4 and the current generation of consoles. That game is scheduled for an international release next year. In addition, all of these titles have seen, or will soon see a release on PC.

Falcom released their financial results for the fiscal year that ended September 30, and have used that unusual platform to offer some exciting announcements. After Trails of Cold Steel III is released overseas, don't expect that to be the end of the story. The company has indicated that it will continue on the PlayStation 4 with a brand-new title, to be released during this fiscal year. In addition, Trails of Cold Steel I and II are receiving PS4 ports, bringing the whole tetralogy to that platform. There's been no word on exactly what enhancements these ports will bring, but I think that it's safe to assume that they'll look even prettier.



The series has featured a massively-interwoven tale and some of the most engaging tactical action and turn-based hybrid RPG gameplay I've ever had the joy of experiencing. Top that off with engaging characters and a tinge of humor, and you have yourself an adventure that more-than-deserves to be experienced by a wider audience. It's absolutely fitting, then, that some of the series' biggest fans, and Falcom evangelists in general have taken to using the hashtag #FALCOMHIVE when announcements are made or they discover brand-new players getting into the series. It's a community of positivity that I wish I saw more of within gaming.

If you are interested in seeing what all the hype is about, I would urge you to check out XSEED Games' official synopsis of the first title in the series below:

Taking place on the same continent as the fan favorite Trails in the Sky offshoot of Nihon Falcom’s storied The Legend of Heroes franchise, Trails of Cold Steel (Sen no Kiseki in Japanese) is the first in the series to tread Erebonian soil and explore the inner political conflicts of this oft-mentioned powerhouse nation in detail. With a standalone story that also delves into the expansive lore that has become synonymous with the series, players can enjoy school life and bond with fellow students to earn new abilities in battle, take advantage of speedy, tactical turn-based combat with the newly-developed “ARCUS” system, and take part in dramatic events that stand to shift the balance of power between Erebonia’s feuding nobility and commoners.

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Kenshi Yonezu Releases Latest Music Video 'Flamingo'

October 22, 2018 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Earlier this week saw the release of Kenshi Yonezu's long-awaited ninth single, a sadistically playful tune by the name "Flamingo". Accompanied by an all-new music video which debuted on the rapidly-rising talents YouTube channel, "Flamingo" was joined by the announcement of two other songs composing the three-track single release that is set to drop on October 31, 2018. 
 


Shot in and around the parking lot that plays host to the adorably hidden Chinese restaurant Derika, the music video for "Flamingo" is the perfect match for the tone set by Kenshi Yonezu's lyrics. Getting straight to the point, "Flamingo" is very much a Yonezu song, but that's by no means a problem. Much like previous releases, "Flamingo" is a story expressed not just through song, but also Kenshi Yonezu's expressive movements and off-color music video.

It's totally questionable whether Kenshi Yonezu himself, or music video director Tomokazu Yamada, is an avid follower of Twitter trends, but I found myself immediately grabbing my phone when I noticed the filming location for this video -- it was all too familiar. As it turns out, this exact spot was the center of a recent viral tweet in Japan detailing the restaurant and sharing praise for its off-trail location and cheap prices. Well, either that or he's a diehard fan of Hiroshi Fujiwara, given it was this exact store that inspired him to launch his The Park-ing pop-up store in Ginza following his chance encounter with Derika while returning to his car.

Either way, there remains no doubt to the testament that Kenshi Yonezu is one of the biggest talents in Japan right now, and that's a trend that isn't looking to slow down any time soon. Several months ago the airwaves were filled with "Lemon", Yonezu's eighth single and a major turning point for the artist. Whether it was on television or the streets of Tokyo, your favorite music stores, or even arcades, you couldn't step anywhere without hearing Kenshi Yonezu's infectious life-after-loss ballad.

While it remains to be seen if "Flamingo" will have the same lasting effect, this certainly won't be the first time I've had a song called "Flamingo"  stuck in my head for weeks on end. 

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PlayStation Releases Lineup Video ft. Taku Takahashi, YUC'e, hy4_4yh, Kamura Micau

October 22, 2018 1:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

There's no denying it when I say that PlayStation Japan absolutely kills it with their lineup videos each and every time they're uploaded, regardless of what console you have your hands on. Consistently bringing on some of the biggest names in the Japanese music scene, we've seen anybody from banvox to tofubeats, with this latest four-person combo taking things to new heights. Bringing together the respective talents of Taku Takahashi, YUC'e, hy4_4yh, and Kamura Micau all together for a four-and-a-half-minute fever-dream, the video can be checked out below:
 


Filled to the brim with rave stabs and other high energy elements, we're sped through nineteen upcoming and currently available titles at lightspeed to the flow of rap duo hy4_4yh and Kamura Micau layered over Taku Takahashi and YUC'e's signature sounds. If you're familiar with these trailers, you likely already know what's going on, PlayStation Japan throws their most anticipated upcoming titles at you all at once while you're left bouncing around your room to whatever incredibly produced track they bring forward this time. It's a formula that's still yet to disappoint, though this certainly does raise the bar.

We're of course seeing a number of titles in the lineup that I can't wait to get my hands on, including SEGA's upcoming JUDGE EYES, as well as Square Enix's much-anticipated Dragon Quest Builders 2, so that ends up amplifying the hype by about a million. With such a flavorful mix of both veteran and up-and-coming musicians brought together for this video, it'll definitely be interesting to see how PlayStation Japan one-up's themselves next time. Now we just wait and see who's next.

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Kindan no Tasuketsu Release 'Early Years 2012-2016' Compilation Album

October 22, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

Alternative pop music group Kindan no Tasuketsu are a difficult group to digest, and an equally difficult group to understand. Their music is seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time, and it remains truly difficult to really describe their activities with any level of comprehensive understanding. I've attempted a few times in the past to share their music, most of which I listen to a whole lot, but I just genuinely couldn't put words together to describe the group. But here I am once again, giving it a shot, following the release of their latest compilation album "Early Years 2012-2016". 
 


For a band that's constantly evolving, four years is a massively expansive time to compile; yet across a tracklist spanning twenty-six tracks, Kindan no Tasuketsu piece together a semi-coherent image of their history through sound. I had most definitely not heard every single one of those aforementioned twenty-six tracks, which honestly made the whole listen-through all the more exciting. There are a few tracks that the group obviously want you to direct your attention to, including the fittingly dreamy single "nemui" which originally released in 2012, having received its own music video earlier this week.
 

It'd be slightly odd for a group to suddenly drop a compilation album like this, were they not teasing a "season 4" of Kindan no Tasuketsu via their various social media accounts. So with an entire "season" of new music on the way from the group, it's cozy being able to divulge in their history via the "Early Years 2012-2016" album. We're sure we'll be seeing more music in the coming months -- if not weeks -- so we'll be sure to keep you updated when it finally drops. Until then, you can check out even more information on the group via their official website.

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Latest Pokémon: Let's Go! Trailer Reveals Post-Game Master Trainers

October 19, 2018 2:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

It was just earlier this week that I was sharing some news about the release of a new trailer for Game Freak's upcoming Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! titles on Nintendo Switch, but it doesn't look like The Pokémon Company is ready to stop dropping teasers just yet. Uploaded to The Pokémon Company's official YouTube channel, the latest trailer gives us a look at some of the post-game content we'll be able to enjoy, namely the "Master Trainers" system that's being implemented.
 


I'm not really sure how cool I am with post-game content just being shown like this, I actually like a bit of surprise, but none-the-less it's pretty neat to see in action. The new "Master Trainers" system effectively introduces a master for each of the original 151 different Pokémon, a trainer that specializes in that Pokémon exclusively, who you can battle with that same Pokémon to earn the title of "Master Trainer". It's a really interesting system, though I really hope that the game doesn't provide you with the particular Pokémon for the battle and leaves trainers catching and training their own. 

Set to release exclusively on Nintendo Switch on November 16, further information on both ​Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! can be found via the games' official website. Those interested in getting their hands on the upcoming games, as well as a limited-edition Pokémon: Let's Go! Nintendo Switch, be sure to check out our ongoing giveaway, here.

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NASA Announces Designated 'Godzilla' Constellation

October 19, 2018 1:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

One of the more interesting pieces of information to cap off the working week, NASA has officially announced an all-new constellation that you can spend your time looking for in the sky -- the King of Monsters itself, Godzilla. The pop cultural icon joins numerous other characters in the sky, bringing just a little more light to our night alongside Hulk, The Little Prince, Mt. Fuji, and mythological legends Hercules, Perseus, and more. I've never been too good with constellations, but a full visualization of the new Godzilla constellation can be seen below:



Made up of numerous likely blazar, a definite blazar, a starburst galaxy, a gamma-ray pulsar, and an unknown entity, the lining is much like other constellations in the fact that you'll definitely have much of your imagination do the work. NASA states on their official website to describe how the constellation came to be " Godzilla's trademark weapon is its "heat ray," a fiery jet. This bears at least a passing resemblance to gamma-ray jets associated with black holes and neutron stars."



Obviously there are a lot more technicalities to the Godzilla constellation that I'm not even going to bother trying to wrap my head around, but for those who are interested in checking it out, NASA has created a page to detail it all on their official website.

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Funimation Annoucnes End of Licensing Agreement with Crunchyroll

October 19, 2018 12:00pm
by Lachlan Johnston

In a somewhat shocking turn of events, it was announced today that Funimation will be ceasing operations with Crunchyroll beginning next month from November 9, 2018. The announcement comes just a year after the acquisition of the anime distributor by Sony Pictures Television, to which Funimation CEO Gen Fukunaga shared that the acquisition directly correlates with the decision to stop collaborative efforts between the two companies. Originally announced in 2016, the partnership brought together the catalogs of both anime giants and allowed customers to reap the rewards of both services in numerous ways.

While subscribers to both platforms are likely to feel a little bit of a hit, it was shared by Funimation's Gen Fukunaga that FunimationNow subscribers will have access to several hundred subbed series, but are going to be losing a handful of dubbed series. In addition to this, some content licensed during the partnership will remain on both platforms for now, with currently simulcasting series such as My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan remaining on both platforms. Both platforms have shared that they will disclose what content will be removed at a later date.

While this is quite a substantial loss for Crunchyroll, it's been reported that the breakup was executed on good terms between both companies. In addition to this, it's been detailed that Crunchyroll's sister company VRV will be replacing FunimationNow on their streaming platform with content from anime streaming service HIDIVE in the next few weeks. While the timing for this new HIDIVE partnership seems like far too much of a coincidence, Forbes reports that insiders have stated it was unrelated.

It'll be interesting to see over the next few months how Sony plans to proceed following their withdrawal of Funimation from the Crunchyroll/VRV partnership. It wouldn't surprise me if this withdrawal is Sony's way of showing that they mean serious business when it comes to taking Funimation to the top, and that is something that will certainly prove interesting from an industry standpoint. Until we find out, however, you'll be able to keep up with everything Funimation on Crunchyroll until ​November 9, 2018. We'll be sure to keep you updated as further information is revealed. 

Source: Forbes, Funimation

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‘Kaiji’ VR Game Heads to Smartphones

October 18, 2018 2:00pm
by Jacob Parker-Dalton

While fearing for my life isn’t usually my idea of fun, when it comes to Nobuyuki Fukumoto’s gambling series Kaiji, I can just about stomach some immobilizing dread. Indeed, nothing allows you to do so more than the Kaiji VR game, which has been a constant staple in Japan’s many “VR attraction” venues in recent years. Now, that attraction is making it’s way to smartphones - giving even more people the chance to experience Kaiji’s dread first hand.

Titled Kaiji VR: The Nightmare Bridge, the game seeks to replicate Kaiji’s experience crossing a bridge suspended between two buildings, as was one of the ‘gambles’ featured in the second part of the series. Simply reading or watching the arc was nerve-wracking enough, and I can promise you that it’s even more terrifying in VR, having had the opportunity to test it out for myself last year.

It’s worth noting that the VR game has already seen two ports for PlayStation VR as well as Nintendo Switch last year, but the game’s port to smartphones means greater accessibility, especially for those who can’t simply go and experience it in the VR attraction venues. And what a perfect time to do so, with Kaiji spinoff Tonegawa currently airing, and the manga having just entered a new arc.

The difference between the various ports over the years are interesting, as although the PSVR version of the game was more or less exactly the same as the original version since the Switch doesn’t support VR, the version available on the console uses a third person camera in some instances as well as gyro controls. I sincerely doubt that the non-VR version on Switch can capture the same dread you’re able to feel when playing the game in VR, so it’s great to see that version available on smartphones is the VR version - for which you’ll, of course, need some sort of VR goggles/phone strap.

The recent activity in properties related to Kaiji is curious, with both spinoff manga Tonegawa and Hancho receiving an anime adaptation, and now with this surprise smartphone port of the VR game. I can only hope that this is to gauge interest for a third season, so if you haven’t checked out the VR game yet, then I’d recommend you do - if only to tell MADHOUSE that we want a third season already. Kaiji VR: The Nightmare Bridge is available now on the App Store and Google Play for 360 yen.

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