14th Jul2013

Tales of Grace F Review

by Kuro Matsuri

Tales of Graces F Kuro Matsuri Video Games Review

The Tales games are a long running series that started back on the Super Nintendo with Tales of Phantasia.  Tales of Graces started off on the Wii in Japan only, but was later released on the PS3 in Japan and America as Tales of Graces f.

At its core, it is a typical Japanese RPG.  You travel from one location to another, watching cut scenes for the story, and fighting enemies along the way.  You gain experience points, leveling you up and increasing your stats.  But, that’s just the beginning.  Tales of Graces has a wide array of systems that make the game more complex and interesting.  At the same time, you don’t need to understand all of the systems in order to have fun playing the game.  This gives it a nice balance, allowing both casual gamers and serious JRPG fans to enjoy the game thoroughly.

The Systems

On top of a typical leveling system, there is also a Skill system.  In this system, you gain Skill Points which then apply to Titles that you earn by going through the story or by accomplishing certain feats.  These Skills include stat increases, new attacks, new abilities, and upgrades to those attacks and abilities.  It allows you to have more control over the capabilities and skill progression of your characters.

There’s also a flexible crafting system, called “dualizing”.  It allows you to create a variety of new items, from new weapons and equipment to consumable items for battle.  You can even upgrade the same weapons and armor multiple times, allowing you to create better and better equipment.

To help you get the items you need for dualizing, as well as to help you in battle, you are given an “eleth mixer”.  You can select items that you want, giving you a certain percentage chance of that item being generated, at a cost, as you walk around.  Additionally, it allows you to select food dishes that are cooked during or after a battle based when certain conditions are met.  And, finally, it also lets you equip spell books that do a variety of things, such as reducing damage in battle, increasing your movement speed, or making your eleth mixer improve at a faster rate.

Even shopping gets a neat system in which using a shop will earn you stamps.  If you get 10 stamps, you unlock a new item that can be purchased from that shop.

To help the player understand all of these systems, tips are provided in little bits as you play through the game.  Additionally, on the easier difficulty levels, you can ignore many of these systems and just play through the game without it slowing you down.

Tales of Graces F Fighting Gameplay

Fighting System

As with any RPG, the fighting system is arguably the most important. Tales of Graces has a fast-paced real-time battle system where, in addition to determining which attacks to use, which enemy to attack, and what items to use, you also need to carefully time your attacks and spells, as well as block or dodge enemy attacks.  This is a staple for the Tales series, and one of the aspects that separates it from many other JRPGs.

As you fight, to give yourself the best chance of winning, you need to be aware of the different types of attacks you have and which ones your enemy is weak to.  This isn’t always critical for winning a fight, but it always helps you do more damage.

You can change characters at any time, including mid-battle.  However, you will have to adjust your play style at least a little bit for each character, because they each have their own nuances and abilities that significantly affect what methods are effective from one character to the next.  This variety goes a long way in keeping the game fresh as you play through it, which can take anywhere from 80 to 120 hours for the first full playthrough if you are taking your time.

Unlike many other JRPGs, you can change the difficulty at any time, except in the middle of a battle.  You might think it unfair, but it is balanced by a risk and reward system.  On a fight-by-fight basis, the higher the difficulty, the more experience points and Skill Points you get, and the better items you receive.  Thus, it is to your advantage to always play on the hardest difficulty you can manage.  This setup allows newcomers and veterans alike to enjoy the game from beginning to end.

Multiplayer

Tales of Graces supports up to 4 simultaneous players, but only during battles.  Additionally, it only supports 4 players when you have 4 characters on your team, which is for most, but not all, of the game.  In order for other players to join, though, you have to know a couple of things that aren’t immediately clear.  First, you have to make sure that the second character in your team is the one that player number 2 wants to play as.  The position of the team member dictates which controller gets to play as that character.  Second, that character must be set to either semi-manual or manual modes, which you set character by character.  The game does not auto-detect that you are trying to play with multiple players, nor does it have a clearly labeled option for enabling multiplayer.

That being said, the multiplayer is a bonus to an already good JRPG.  Still, due to the unclear way in which it is enabled, it leaves significant room for improvement.

Tales of Graces F Story

Story

If there’s anything that is more important to an RPG than the fighting system that consumes the majority of the player’s time, it’s the story.  In Tales of Graces, the story manages to have multiple layers of story arcs that are entirely contained within other story arcs, which each layer getting larger and grander than the one before it.  By the end of the game, you do have a story that can arguably be described as epic.

However, to get to all of this story, you will have to put up with a number of clichés.  The primary story arc starts with amnesia.  Trust and betrayal are reoccurring themes.  The story includes sub-plots like child rebellion and a love story.  It even includes a coup d’etat, complete with a revenge plot.  There are a few more clichés later in the game used as plot twists as well.

As long as you can get past the clichés, the story is very enjoyable.  Additionally, Tales of Graces goes one step further by including a complete After Story without requiring DLC.  The extra story occurs 6 months after the end of the primary story, and significantly expands the backstory of the main antagonist.  Without this extra story, the game would feel incomplete due to the way that the main story abruptly ends.  However, with this extra story, it adds an extra dimension to the overall story.

Replayability

For many players, replayability will not even be a consideration with this game due to its length.  If your goal is simply to enjoy the story, the game can be a 40 hour experience, but a typical playthrough can easily exceed 100 hours.  Even so, Tales of Graces offers an attractive New Game+ option.

Different accomplishments during a playthrough will earn you points that can be spent when starting a New Game+ to unlock more starting titles, skills, and more.  You can double how fast you earn experience points and skill points, or even multiply that rate by 5 if you have enough points from a playthrough.  With these upgrades, it makes it easier to handle the higher unlocked difficulties, like Evil or Chaos, while also making the game generally more fun.  Even if you play over 100 hours on your first playthough, you will likely be tempted to at least try out the New Game+.

Tales of Graces F Presentation

Presentation

If you enjoy colors in a video game, this game will give it to you, but that is unfortunately the nicest thing that can be said about the presentation.  The graphics are nice overall, but they are far from perfect.  There are some scenes in which the characters inexplicable shake, and some scenes are surprisingly blurry, including the title screen.  This likely stems from its origins on the Wii.

In general, though, the presentation is colorful, and doesn’t detract from the gameplay or the story too much.  Just don’t expect it to compare with similar titles that are built for the PlayStation 3 from the beginning.

Score

Story: 7

Gameplay: 8

Presentation: 6

Replayability: 9

Overall: 7.5

04th Mar2013

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Mark of Mastery Edition Review

by Kuro Matsuri

Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance Mark of Mastery Edition

Welcome to the Kuro Matsuri Video Games review of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance: Mark of Mastery Edition.

Kingdom Hearts 3D, a.k.a., Dream Drop Distance, is a continuation of the Kingdom Hearts series.  In fact, if anything, it is the culmination of the series so far.  It refers to nearly all of the previous iterations of Kingdom Hearts.  In part, that is what makes the Mark of Mastery Edition of Kingdom Hearts 3D so impressive; at least in part, the bonus items reference all of the previous iterations.

First, here’s a note of everything that comes with the Mark of Mastery Edition of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance:

Kingdom Hearts 3D Mark of Mastery Edition Contents

The Mark of Mastery Edition comes with a variety of items.  The box is multi-layered with a white and grey design on the outside, and a black and grey design on the inside.  Of course, it comes with the game.  In addition to the game, it also comes with a set of postcards that go through every iteration so far of the Kingdom Hearts series. This includes the Final Mix re-releases, so there are quite a few high-quality postcards with very pretty and clean art on them.  It’s practically an art collection for the series.  In addition to that, it also comes with a set of 5 AR (augmented reality) cards.  These serve multiple purposes within the game.  The first is that it allows you to specifically place your Dream Eaters (the monsters that are on your side) onto a location and circle around them with the camera as though they were really there.  Additionally, some of them allow you to get rare Dream Eaters by scanning them; Dream Eaters that cannot be obtained any other way.  Don’t worry; if you don’t have these, don’t think you’ll be at a significant disadvantage.  The secret Dream Eaters are modifications of Dream Eaters that you can normally get in the game, but with marginally improved characteristics.  It’s a nice touch for the collector, but it won’t hurt the experience in any way for the non-collector.

Finally, it comes with a protective case for the 3DS with a Kingdom Hearts design on it.  The protective case is in two pieces.  The top piece has a nice black-on-clear design on it, while the bottom piece is only clear, serving only to protect.  As such, I’ve chosen to only use the top piece, as it adds a nice style, but it doesn’t prevent you from using the charging dock included with the original 3DS.  As a note, this case will not fit on the 3DS XL.  Here’s what the top layer of the case looks like on my red 3DS (note, the Keyblade attachment is not included):

Kingdom Hearts 3D Case

Overall, the Mark of Mastery Edition includes a nice array of extras.  It includes practical items, like the 3DS protective case.  It includes digital items, like the Dream Eaters you get for scanning the AR cards.  It also includes collector’s art items, like the postcards and the AR cards themselves.  All-in-all, it is one of the better collector’s editions out there.

Now to the actual game:

Pacing: 4/5 Stars (Above Average)

The pacing is always limited when you’re talking about a handheld console.  Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance does a good job of balancing portability and pacing.  Generally, a portable game needs quicker pacing, and the ability to put the game down at any time.  Dream Drop Distance achieves this by providing a mechanic by which the user is encouraged to play for shorter periods of time; it’s called the Drop mechanic.  After a set, but unspecified, amount of time, you will be forced to switch between Sora and Riku.  It can be jarring, but it does provide a sense of urgency.  Additionally, it manages to break up the action into bite-size chunks; perfect for a handheld experience.  That being said, if you are attempting to experience the entire game in one go, it can mess things up, and it can be frustrating.

However, it does allow you to immediately switch back to the character you were playing as, which alleviates a lot of the frustration.  You do lose out on some bonuses during the switch, since you gain optional bonuses by getting enough points between drops, but the bonuses are fairly nominal, and going without them doesn’t seem to make a huge difference in your capabilities.

Story: 4/5 Stars (Above Average)

The story brings all of the stories from the previous Kingdom Hearts games together.  All of them play a role, even Kingdom Hearts: Coded.  They culminate into one experience that explains a lot, albeit in the same obfuscated way that all Kingdom Hearts stories seem to go about it.  If the story wasn’t so contrived, this would be an amazing story from beginning to end.  Instead, the story comes of as “good, but hard to understand”, meaning that the level in which you have been involved in the other Kingdom Hearts stories will heavily dictate how much you enjoy the story in this one.

Don’t worry, though, if you have missed some of the previous games.  It provides flashback sequences, as well as text-based re-caps, of many of the previous games’ stories.  This means that you can miss some games and still get the grand sense of the overall story.  However, if you haven’t played any of the previous games, the grand over-arching plotline will likely be lost on you.

Presentation: 5/5 Stars (Superb)

Given the resolution of the 3DS, the graphics are very impressive.  It runs smoothly the entire time, and it proves entertaining throughout.  This honestly seems like some of the best graphics the console can manage, even though it is so early in the console’s career.  All-in-all, nothing is really missing from the presentation in Kingdom Hearts 3D.

3D: 5/5 Stars (Superb)

Not everyone likes 3D, but it does add some extra depth in Kingdom Hearts.  It does take some practice to hold it still enough to fully enjoy the 3D without it getting in the way, but it manages to be engaging even at the highest 3D settings once you get used to it.  If you can’t manage to get used to the 3D effects, you can turn them off without any real hindrance to the gameplay experience, but you will be missing out on just how interactive and immersive the 3D gameplay can be.

Gameplay: 4/5 Stars (Above Average)

The new Flow Motion abilities are great fun to play around with.  They allow you to travel across the areas at great speed, and they allow you to perform relatively low risk and relatively high-damage attacks to enemies in the middle of a battle.  Given the time constraints forced upon you by the Drop mechanic, this fast-paced movement is much appreciated.  But, more than that, it’s outright fun.  Darting around the level at high speeds just makes the experience that much more entertaining.  Unfortunately, it does manage to expose some of the flaws in the levels when you hit unexpected invisible walls, but they don’t interfere as much as you might expect.  Overall, the gameplay is very polished and very clean.

It does borrow from the previous game in the series, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, for the Deck Commands.  At any point, you can press X to perform the highlighted special attack or spell.  This lets you customize how you play quickly and easily, while almost always allowing you to continue being effective.  Additionally, since this is only a part of the fighting mechanics, there’s plenty to do outside of the Deck Commands, giving you lots of flexibility in battle.

Kingdom Hearts 3D also allows you to train Dream Eaters to fight by your side.  These Dream Eaters effectively replace the roles that Goofy and Donald played in some of the previous games.  They are your computer-controlled allies, and they can be powerful.  Creating new Dream Eaters and leveling them up also provides a way for you to increase your own skills and abilities, similar to the way the Sphere Grid worked in Final Fantasy X.  You build up points and use them to travel around each Dream Eater’s grid to unlock new skills, stats, and abilities.  It allows for a lot of customization of the gameplay, letting you play how you want to play.

If only it weren’t so complex and confusing.  There are so many aspects that allow you to customize how you play that it can be overwhelming at times.  However, if you just continue to play and “go with the flow”, if you will, you’ll find it very enjoyable.

Exploration: 5/5 Stars (Superb)

The Kingdom Hearts games, at least in part, are known for their relatively linear paths that also allow for plenty of exploration.  More so than other games in the series, there is a lot to explore in Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance.  There’s enough branching paths and open areas that it can be difficult to thoroughly explore all of it as you look for more treasures, but that’s exactly what makes it interesting.  Even in the early levels, it can be quite the challenge to find every treasure box and fight every special enemy Dream Eater.  If you want to complete the game, you will have a lot of fun continuously exploring each of the worlds to find every nook and cranny in your attempts to collect every item available.

Replay Value: 4/5 Stars (Above Average)

Thanks to a New Game Plus feature, you can carry over the Dream Eaters you’ve created in a previous game.  They lose their levels and abilities, but it goes a long way towards helping you complete the Dream Eater bestiary as you play through multiple rounds.  Additionally, beating the game on the initial hardest difficulty, Proud Mode, unlocks a new difficulty, Critical Mode, giving you extra incentive you play through the game once more as you increase your Kingdom Hearts skills.

Difficulty: 3/5 Stars (Average)

Let’s face it, the difficulty in Kingdom Hearts as been up and down throughout the series.  The first Kingdom Hearts had plenty of challenge, and the second Kingdom Hearts was way too easy.  358/2 Days was awkward to play, and Birth By Sleep was very smooth to play, but both were reasonably difficult.  Dream Drop Distance really falls somewhere between all of these.  The challenge level is pretty low, even at the hardest difficulties.  That being said, it is nowhere near as easy as Kingdom Hearts II was.  It will provide a reasonable challenge on Proud Mode, and a real challenge on Critical Mode, but nothing extraordinary; that is, unless you want to go for a Level 1 Critical Mode play-through by blocking all experience points.  That certainly does prove challenging.  But, one step below that is only a reasonable challenge, and nothing more.

Overall: 4/5 Stars (Above Average)

All things considered, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is a lot of fun to play.  It ties lots of previous Kingdom Hearts stories together in a meaningful way, and provides a reasonable challenge.  It also features a drive for collection by keeping track of how many treasures you’ve found, as well as providing you with the option to create more allies and level them up to gain new abilities and stats.  This is one of the better games in the Kingdom Hearts series, right up there with Birth By Sleep and Kingdom Hearts II.  It is well worth the purchase.

Enjoy the game!

-Kuro Matsuri

16th Feb2013

Xbox 720 / Microsoft Durango Launch Info, Rumors to Final Specs

by Kuro Matsuri

Xbox 720 Durango Rumors and Specs

This is Kuro Matsuri Video Game’s roundup of the rumors surrounding the launch of the Microsoft Durango, commonly known as the Xbox 720.  At this time, there seems to be less information about the Durango than there is about the Orbis, but it will be updated as new information comes out.

The first piece of this rumor is simply about when final official information should be available: and it currently looks to be E3 2013.  It has been confirmed that Microsoft will make a major announcement at this year’s E3.  While they will not confirm that it’s about the next Xbox, many sources think that it’s the most likely time for the next Xbox to be announced.

Now, let’s dive into the available details:

Name: There’s really no consensus about what the name will be.  The codename has been leaked as “Durango”, and the community at large calls it the “Xbox 720″.  No confirmed information is out there at this point. Not confirmed.

Processor: Sources say that the CPU will be a 64-bit 8-core 1.6GHz processor, but the brand is not yet known, though some sources say it will be an AMD like the Orbis is expected to have. Estimated processing power in Flops is not yet available.  Not confirmed.

Graphics Card: It looks like the graphics card will be a Radeon Direct3D-based 800 MHz GPU, with a claimed 1.2 TFlops (1.2 trillion floating-point operations per second) in raw power.  Not confirmed.

Memory: Current leaked specs are showing 8GB of DDR3 RAM, which, compared to the Xbox 360′s 512MB, is a vast improvement.  That memory is shared between the CPU and GPU, but there’s also a small 32MB faster-running cache for the GPU to us.  Not confirmed.

Storage: The Durango is expected to have an HDD of an unknown size, and it seems increasingly likely that it will utilize 50GB Blu-ray discs, read at 6x speeds.  It could go the route that the Wii U did, and have a slightly modified proprietary Blu-ray format, but probably won’t so that it can have Blu-ray playback.  Some sources say that Blu-ray playback will not be available, though, so it’s pretty much up in the air at this point.  Not confirmed, some sources disagree.

Controller: There’s been practically no information on the controller for the Xbox 720.  It’s expected to be practically unchanged.  Not confirmed.

Compatibility: There is not yet any information about backwards compatibility or region protection.  However, it appears that the Kinect will be compatible.  The big news here is that there is information being spread around that states that the console will not be compatible with used games, which most gamers hope is not the case.  Not confirmed, some sources disagree.

Extras: This is where things get exciting, yet still very unconfirmed.  First off, there’s the small chance that Microsoft’s demoed and very impressive IllumiRoom technology could make it to the Xbox.  It will probably be as an add-on, if it’s available at all, but if it is available, it will be very impressive.  See below:

Additionally, some sources are saying that there will be virtual reality and/or augmented reality glasses, currently codenamed Fortaleza, or unofficially known as Kinect Glasses.  These could potentially be even more interesting than the IllumiRoom technology, but appears to be a later add-on, estimated to be launched some time in 2014.  Not confirmed, lots of variations in sources.

Price Point: Completely unknown.  Wild speculation is placing it between $400 and $500.  Not confirmed, practically no sources.

Launch / Release Date: Many sources are putting the release date as late 2013.  That would be a fast turnaround from E3 2013, though.  Not confirmed, but many sources seem to agree.

The information will be monitored and updated over time.  Both the Durango and the PS4 are looking like significant improvements over their predecessors. Feel free to browse our sources:

http://kotaku.com/xbox-720/

http://www.gadgetreview.com/2013/01/microsoft-durango-xbox-720-specs.html

http://www.vgleaks.com/world-exclusive-durango-unveiled-2/

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/121326-Microsoft-Says-Its-On

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2012/12/the-status-of-microsoft-and-sonys-next-consoles-plus-a-whole-bunch-of-other-gaming-secrets/

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57454653-1/kinect-glasses-coming-from-microsoft/

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2405922,00.asp

(Last Updated 02/16/2013)

02nd Feb2013

PlayStation 4 / Orbis Launch Info, Rumors to Final Specs

by Kuro Matsuri

PlayStation 4 Orbis Speculation

Kuro Matsuri Video Games will be paying close attention to the details surrounding the launch of the new PlayStation.  The information below, unless otherwise noted, are rumors or supposedly leaked information.  Confirmed information will be tagged as it comes in.

First off, when can we expect official information to start coming out?  It looks like it’s February 20th at 6PM EST when Sony has a conference.  Unofficial sources have confirmed that the PlayStation 4 / Orbis will be announced at that time.  Here’s the teaser trailer (which basically shows nothing):

The conference has occurred! The Playstation 4 is officially announced! (2/20/2014)

Sony has launched a Press Release about the PlayStation 4 specs.  The information from that press release is included below. (2/21/2013)

Jack Tretton has made some statements during an interview with Forbes.  Information from that has been added to this post.  (2/23/2013)

So, here’s the details that are floating around out there right now:

Name: It will be called the PlayStation 4!  Confirmed by PlayStation directly.

Design: The design of the console itself is unknown, but Jack Tretton has stated that we can expect to see the console my E3, or possible sooner.  Approximate time confirmed, design not confirmed.

Processor: Current leaked information states that the processor will be an 8-core AMD processor (Jaguar).  The cores will be split into 2 clusters, simulating a setup with 2 processors that have 4 cores each. Claimed performance: 102.4 GFlops (102 billion floating-point operations per second).  8-core AMD x86 confirmed by Sony Press Release, pictured below.

PS4 Tech Specs

Graphics Card: The graphics card appears to be an AMD R10XX-based card that shares memory with the processor.  It will run at 800MHz and produce an estimated 1.843 TFlops (1.843 trillion floating-point operations per second).  The GPU is on the same die as the GPU.  Confirmed by PlayStation Live Event and Sony Press Release (above).

Memory: Most sources are saying that the PlayStation 4 will have 4GB of RAM, with a 176GB/s transfer rate.  Some sources, though, are saying that Sony wants to try to get 8GB of RAM into the system before it launches.  Compared to the 256MB (system) + 256MB (graphics) that the PlayStation 3 had, either is a vast improvement.  During the PlayStation Event, the RAM was confirmed at a full 8GB of GDDR5 high speed RAM.  Confirmed by PlayStation Event and Sony Press Release.

Storage: Sources say that the PlayStation 4 will have a Blu-ray drive with pretty nice specs, running at around 6x, cmpared to the PS3′s 2x.  That should help with some of load speed issues and required installs that some games have had in the past.  It also looks like at least one SKU will come equipped with a 500GB HDD.  All details confirmed except size of the hard drive.

Controller: It looks like the Dualshock will live on, but it will be modified a bit.  First off, the middle area could be turning into a touch-pad, similar to the one on the back of the PS Vita.  It will include a front-facing speaker, much like the Wii controllers.  The top of the controller will include the PS Move light, allowing you to use the normal controller as a Move controller.  Additionally, Sony has listened to a lot of critics and made the analog sticks a little bit concave, allowing for a better grip.  Here’s a couple of the leaked images for the PS4 controller (keeping in mind that it is a prototype, so it could look a little different at launch):

These are the prototype controllers that were leaked:

ps4 controller prototype

PS Orbis Prototype Controller

Here’s an official picture:

PS4 Controller Back View

It looks like the leaks are true.  The PS4 controller will act as a PS Move controller, as necessary.

Some sources have suggested that there will also be a Share button, but the leaked prototype does not have that button.  It’s not impossible for it to be added, but it seems unlikely.  Confirmed, with Share button, by the PlayStation Event.

Compatibility: The PS4 will remain compatible with Blu-Ray movies, but will not maintain compatibility with PS3 or PS2 games.  However, as a compromise, they have announced some service to announce the live streaming of PS3, PS2, and PS1 games on the PS4.  While they have not announced cost, this appears to be the compromise between PS3 full backwards compatibility, and the limitations of the new system.  PS1, PS2, and PS3 games will be available via streaming.  Depending on the costs associated with streaming, time will tell if it is worthwhile for the consumer.  Additionally, Sony has confirmed that you’ll be able to “suspend” the console at any time and resume gameplay where you left off when you return.

As a bonus: Sony has announced that the PS Vita will support instant cross-platform play with the Vita – did your kids interrupt your play time with Call of Duty?  Immediately switch to the Vita without losing any game time!

Partially Confirmed by PlayStation Event, Real-Time Switching between Home Console and Handheld Console Completely Confirmed.  Gaikai technology will be used to live stream PS1, PS2, and PS3 content, but no details have been released on pricing or whether or not you’ll be able to play the games you already own in this way.

Extras: Confirmed: the system will continuously record your current activities to allow you to share them with friends.  Additionally, some sources are suggesting that the PlayStation 4 will support 4K resolutions, though it’s highly unlikely that games will be anywhere near that even if it does. A new rumor is suggesting that the PlayStation Eye will be upgraded to a dual 720p camera setup with a 4 microphone array, which would significantly upgrde the accuracy and capabilities of the PlayStation Eye and the PlayStation Move.  The system has been confirmed to support automatic recording of live gameplay, as well as sharing of that gameplay through a quick button press to social media networks.  They have also confirmed live gameplay feeds, which can be set up in advance.  The PlayStation Event has confirmed that at least some games will be cross-compatible with common systems like your tablet or your phone; you might be able to plat the next Gran Turismo on your PS4 and your iPad or iPhone, or on your Android phone or tablet!  4k output unconfirmed, sharing and live stream sharing capabilities confirmed, live streaming to more than just the PS4 (including phones and tablets) confirmed, upgraded PlayStation Eye confirmed (but it is not known if it will come with the system or not).

Controller and Playstation 4 Eye Specs

Price Point: A Japanese newspaper (Asahi Shinbum or 朝日新聞), which generally has pretty good info, is pricing the PS4 at 40,000 JPY, which probably means a US price of $400 USD.  The PlayStation Event DID NOT announce the price of the system.  Not confirmed.

Launch / Release Date: A few sources have suggested Christmas 2013 as the release window for the new PlayStation, but only for Japan and USA.  Europe would get it some time the following year. Jack Tretton from Sony has confirmed that it will be released in the holiday season of 2013.  Confirmed through a Jack Tretton interview.

Launch Games: The games that are announced for launch include:

      Knack cute game, reminds me of Trine except that it’s 3D, interesting setting.

      Killzone: Shadow Fall – impressive scale, futuristic environments

      Drive Club – 1st person racing gameplay – can see competitors on the track in real time – certainly has potential as a high end racer

      Infamous: Second Son – political commentary, player on the wrong side of the law, intense

      Witness – Thought-provoking, RPG-like, vague information revealed

      Deep Down, Working Title – looks a lot like Dark Souls, sounds fun

      Watchdogs – be a whistleblower – steal from normal people while you catch the bad guys, without getting caught yourself

      Diablo III  – going to be available on the PS4… and the PS3.  Hopefully it won’t have always online DRM.

Destiny – a new Bungie title, “shared world shooter”, limited information available. Not Sony exclusive, but will have exclusive content.

More info: According to the interview with Jack Tretton, more information will be coming during E3 in California (June 11 – 13), Gamescon in Germany (August 21 – 25), and Tokyo Game Show in Japan (September 19 – 22).  Confirmed.

As a bonus, here’s a series of high-resolution controller pics directly from Sony’s Press Release

Official PS4 Controller 1

Official PlayStation 4 Controller Image 2

Official PlayStation 4 Controller Image 3

Official PlayStation 4 Controller Image 4

Official PlayStation 4 Controller Image 5

There we have it.  The important pieces of information summed up in one place.  To dig in further, feel free to look through some of our sources:

http://www.edge-online.com/news/playstation-4-revealed/

http://kotaku.com/5980781/report-sony-will-indeed-announce-the-next-playstation-on-february-20

http://kotaku.com/5980841/report-the-next-playstation-will-record-gameplay-and-let-you-share-it-online

http://www.vgleaks.com/world-exclusive-orbis-unveiled/

http://www.vgleaks.com/rumors-ps4orbis-touchpad-details-estimated-launch/

http://www.vg247.com/2013/02/08/ps4-could-come-bundled-with-a-dual-camera-playstation-eye-rumor/

http://www.asahi.com/business/update/0207/TKY201302060568.html

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-orbis-dual-shock-4-leak-analysis

https://us.playstation.com/meeting2013/

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=514512

http://www.ustream.tv/PlayStation

(Last updated 2/21/2013)

01st Apr2010

PS3 Region Locked!?

by Kuro Matsuri

Sony has announced that they releasing a new update (they haven’t said when) that is going to make all future game releases completely region locked. No more importing unless you own a Japanese PS3.

As for the current library of region free games, the developers are allowed to release a patch that makes them region locked, but they aren’t required too. However, if they do release such a patch, you will be forced to install the patch if you want to play while your online. So, if you’re heavy into importing and can’t afford to buy a Japanese PS3, you might want to disconnect your PS3 from the internet whenever you play your imports.

Thankfully, Japanese Game Source has a Japanese PS3, so we’re not effected too much. As a result, we’ll be able to continue bringing you reviews on Japanese releases, so you can keep coming back here if you’d like.

Update 4/2/2010: Ok, this was an April Fools joke, just in case you didn’t already guess that by now =P

31st Mar2010

Valkyria Chronicles Live Action Movie! Is It an April Fool’s Joke?

by Kuro Matsuri

Valkyria Chronicles Live Action Movie

So, Famitsu has announced that Valkyria Chronicles will be getting a live action movie. Seriously! The game with art that is intentionally styled as though it was hand painted is going to become a movie with real people and real-looking scenes. Unless they plan to filter it to make it look hand painted, but what would be the point of that?

At any rate, the whole thing looks very official. There’s even a picture of the director and a storyboard image. But, alas, the date on the article clearly says April 1st. Is this the first of today’s looong string of April Fool’s Jokes all over the internet? It seems likely, but only time will tell!

If you want to see the story for yourself, head over to Famitsu (Google translated, for fans who don’t read Japanese).

23rd Mar2010

Nintendo 3DS: Nintendo’s Next Handheld

by Kuro Matsuri

Nintendo 3DS Announcement

Nintendo has announced what their next piece of handheld hardware will be, but with very few details about it. All that is known so far is that:

  • -It’s called the 3DS
  • -It can display 3D without the use of special glasses
  • -It will be backwards compatible with DS and DSi games
  • -It should launch somewhere in the huge window of between April 2010 and March 2011

It is expected, among other things, to:

  • -Have 2 cameras and 2 screens like the DSi
  • -Possibly be launched in Japan before other regions
  • -Be pretty awesome

Rest assured, Kuro Matsuri Video Games will definitely take a close look at the console at launch to see what Japan only games are available.

Source: Kotaku

28th Feb2010

Final Fantasy XIV Closed Beta Release Date Announced

by Kuro Matsuri

Final Fantasy XIV

Yes, the Final Fantasy XIV Beta now has an official launch date. March 11, 2010. This is only the PC Beta, so those who bought Final Fantasy XIII in hopes of getting into the PS3 Beta will have to wait a little longer. This news is straight from Vanafest 2010, so feel free to go check out their website to confirm it for yourself.

Kuro Matsuri Video Games is, of course, in the pool of applicants to get into the FFXIV Beta. If we get in, we will be sure to bring you lots of news and videos about it.

07th Nov2009

Final Fantasy XIII Will Include Final Fantasy XIV Beta! (Update: Sorta)

by Kuro Matsuri

Final Fantasy XIV

Yeah, you read that right!

Reports (mainly leaked scans from Jump Magazine) are showing that a Final Fantasy XIV “Campaign Code” (which really means “Beta Code”) will be included in the Japanese version of Final Fantasy XIII, which will be released December 17th of this year!

source

Japanese Game Source should have access to FFXIII by the end of the year, and we will continue to bring you updates on the both FFXIII and the FFXIV Beta. You can expect a full review by the end of January, so be sure to check back regularly.

If you’re interested in getting Final Fantasy XIII, and getting into the Final Fantasy XIV Beta, then you can buy Final Fantasy XIII now to enjoy the next upcoming Final Fantasy titles.

Have fun playing! -Kuro Matsuri

UPDATE! So, it has been announced that the “Campaign Code” is NOT a Beta Code, but rather it is a code to get some sort of free additional “goodie” in-game for Final Fantasy XIV (source). ‘Tis a shame, really. I was looking forward to spreading information about BOTH games when it came out!

UPDATE! It turns out that the “Campaign Code” does give you a free goodie in FFXIV, but it also allows you to apply for the PS3 version of the closed beta. Not quite direct access, but it’s certainly better than nothing!

Have fun playing anyway! -Kuro Matsuri