This is Jetsetter, Digital Trends’ weekly column exploring the world of import video games and the video game industry outside the US.
The biggest video game releases of the past week have all had some international flavor. Lara Croft’s return to the gaming limelight brings a healthy dose of a British Imperialism-fueled high adventure back to video games. Tomb Raider doesn’t feel like a truly international game, though. British hero, multi-national enemies, and an adventure on the high seas can’t drown out the deeply American feel of all the shooting.
No, the Jetsetter special of the week is surely SimCity, a game for people that lets them build a city to reflect their experience in an ever-urbanizing planet. No game in 2013 captures the global experience like SimCity, and that includes that massive corporate disregard of players and the feeble attempts to police intellectual property. Didn’t matter if you were in Idaho or India this week, playing SimCity was almost impossible because of Electronic Arts incompetent anti-piracy and IP-control policies. It’s a brave new world.
There were other developments around the world. For one, Square-Enix continued to expand its development abroad, even while all eyes were on Tomb Raider. Meanwhile one Canadian studio embraced classic Japanese game design. Speaking of Japan, Namco and Imageepoch talk about how changing culture is shaping role-playing games. And last but not least, one of the kings of role-playing game has returned to the genre.
* Square-Enix opens new dev studios in Mexico and India.
Square-Enix producer Takehiro Ando told Famitsu last week that the famed Final Fantasy company is backing off making more social games like Circle of Mana and Knights of the Crystals. Too many imitators in a too crowded market. He also said that Square felt like it was disappointing fans by not making “internally made epic and famous consumer games” more often, and that more are on the way. Square’s latest round of expansion saw it opening mobile game studios in India and Mexico. “We are looking to secure early entry into each market with newly developed mobile content,” said Square, “It’s relatively early days for us there and we’ll keep you updated.”
* Canada’s Sunny Tam calls back to Gradius in Danmaku Unlimited 2.
Jetsetter loves it shooters. Not Halo and Killzone, mind you, but old school shooters. Shooters to us are games like Under Defeat HD. Shmups! Bullet hells! That’s the stuff we crave. Japan has for thirty years been the primary purveyor of 2D shooters, but the wholly bad ass Danmaku Unlimited 2 is actually the work of Canadian natives. So crack a bottle of Labatt Blue and grab your iPhone 4 to enjoy their wares.
It was just a couple of weeks back that NIS America announced that it would bring the slickly animated role-playing game Toki Towa to the US under the name Time and Eternity. The game’s a bit of a weird mishmash. On the one hand, it looks like the sort of pervy anime RPG for dudes that NIS America trades in, but it’s also a game about planning a wedding. Could this actually be pervy looking anime game for women? Nope. “It’s made for guys,” says producer Kei Hirono, “Within the game is a healthy amount of ‘eros, you know, things that aren’t exactly for girls. We have never intended it to be for girls from the beginning. [Currently] in Japan, it’s a lot more difficult for men than women to get married, so we thought it would be kind of an interesting theme to deal with.”
* Lord British goes all the way back to his Ultima beginnings with Shroud of the Avatar.
Richard Garriott is back! One of the game designers responsible for making role-playing games a cornerstone of the gaming world has spent more than six years away from the industry. Now he’s back with Shroud of the Avatar, an RPG modeled on his classic Ultima series. It doesn’t look quite as British as Ultima Online did, but it does do classic fantasy well enough. Garriott’s trying to raise $1 million on Kickstarter to fund the game. As of this writing, with 28 days left to go, he’s raised more than $500,000. Go Lord British, go!