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Brad Pitt and Fried Chicken: How Yakuza’s Localization Team Brought 19th-Century Japan to Modern Americans

Believe it or not, Brad Pitt played a part in bringing the latest Yakuza game to American audiences. Well, sort of. The Yakuza games are known for their specific (and sometimes absurd) depictions of life in modern Japan, expertly translated for American audiences by the studio’s localization team. But the crime-drama franchise faced a new challenge when it transposed its story to the 19th century in the 2014 title Like a Dragon: Ishin! Parts of the game take place in Kōchi, a region located on the island of Shikoku in southern Japan, but explaining the local Tosa dialect to foreign audiences proved difficult. Then, the team had a breakthrough.

How 'Splatoon' carved a welcoming niche in the brutal shooter game genre

When Nintendo launched Splatoon in 2015, it catapulted the ink-splatting game into an environment rife with hostile players and graphic violence. Here was another online shooter, but one seemingly meant for children, with a cartoonish look and what amounts to ink-filled water guns instead of assault rifles and rocket launchers. Seven years later, Splatoon 3 continues to draw fans as likely to celebrate their newest in-game fashion as they are a big win, in contrast to hyper-competitive shooters that once defined the genre.

Psychonauts 2: How Double Fine Cooked Up Its Most Unexpected Level - Art of the Level

When you think of Psychonauts, you may envision large areas with quirky enemies, difficult platforming feats, and special abilities. Psychonauts 2 is full of brilliantly designed levels that make smart use of all these features, but Compton's Cookoff, the second full 'brain' world in Psychonauts 2, is unlike anything that has preceded it - both within the game itself, and platformers in general. To find out more about how it came together, and the changes it underwent during development, IGN picked the brains of members of the Double Fine development team to break down how such a hearty, memorable meal of a level came to life. This is Art of the Level.

Bringing NEO: The World Ends With You’s Stylish World to Life in the West

Localizing a video game is a monumental task under the best of circumstances, but there’s an additional layer of pressure when working on a sequel with a devoted fanbase that has held out hope for over ten years. This was the situation Square Enix’s English localization team found itself in while developing NEO: The World Ends With You, a direct follow-up to the 2007 JRPG The World Ends With You. The team went through great lengths to capture and expand the tone of the original, but that was...

"Feast and famine": How the pandemic influenced games public relations

"Feast and famine": How the pandemic influenced games public relations Is the pandemic a blip or the herald of a new age of public relations? 2020 was a real Tale of Two Cities scenario for the games industry. It was the best of times, with record-breaking revenue and significant increases in the number of people playing video games. It was the worst of times, with countless delays, layoffs, and an untold amount of human suffering.

Meet the Artist Bringing the Original Metroid to Life in a Bold New Way

Some retro games have a reputation for inscrutability, and Nintendo’s sci-fi classic Metroid is one of them. With Metroid’s sprawling map and hidden collectibles, navigating the 1986 NES game carries as much challenge as facing off against the likes of Mother Brain and Ridley and often acts as a barrier keeping new players from trying the game. However, one artist is trying to change that so people can enjoy Metroid with ease — and even get some new Metroid fiction into the bargain.

Why Nihon Falcom's 'Trails' series has never cracked the West

Role-playing games are a story-heavy genre by nature, but for all 16 Final Fantasy games, five Suikodens, and 11 Dragon Quests, few series weave together continuous narratives. Nihon Falcom sought to change that with its Legend of Heroes: Kiseki series, or Trails in English. Conceived as part of a goal to create the grandest RPG epic of all, the Trails series tells a weighty tale of political intrigue, personal drama, and social unrest spread across 10 games, with more on the way. Yet, for all its narrative ambition, the series remains largely unknown outside Japan.


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Starfield review

Starfield is about humanity peeling back the mysteries of the universe to understand its place in the cosmos. Except when it’s about exploration. Or pirates. It has an anti-war message, sometimes, when it isn’t promoting the military. Sometimes there’s smuggling, but you can be a space cop, or a space cop who smuggles contraband and beats up debt defaulters. No one in Starfield really cares what you do most of the time, though some of your companions get a bit unhappy if you murder people. I don’t really know what to make of Starfield. After roughly 90 hours and nearly two weeks, I have no idea what it wants me to think, do, or feel about any of its themes.

Baldur's Gate 3 Review - A True Soul Stirrer

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a surprisingly human tale. That may sound strange to say about a game with space lizards and brain worms at its center, but behind the hags and psychic tadpoles, Baldur’s Gate 3 is about a group of very broken people trying to find their way in life and maybe save the world. Or turn it into a smoldering heap of agony and misery. It depends on how you feel that day. Whether you choose peace or something less savory, Baldur’s Gate 3’s intricate writing and impressive emphasis on experimentation make it one of the most unforgettable games in the genre.

‘Final Fantasy XVI’ Is a Messy, but Quietly Brilliant Next Step for Square Enix’s RPG Series: Video Game Review

If you’re looking for a breathtaking blockbuster, Final Fantasy XVI isn’t it. Square Enix’s latest entry in the long-running RPG series is often messy, oddly paced and frustratingly restrictive in its vision. More frequently, though, it’s subtly brilliant, with a bold and ambitious narrative, nuanced character development and some of the genre’s best localization and voice work. It’s a significant departure for the series and one that pays off, despite a few missteps along the way.

Octopath Traveler II Review - Two Is Better Than One

In an age where remakes and retro-inspired projects try recreating what classic games of old felt like, Octopath Traveler II accomplishes something impressive. Despite being rooted in modern design with a host of conveniences, it effortlessly captures the spirit, style, and sense of adventure of the best RPGs from the SNES era, while still innovating and showing there’s life in turn-based battles yet. The feat is even more remarkable, considering Octopath II’s most significant changes are small and subtle.

Forspoken: A Formulaic, Albeit Thoughtful Take On the Open-World Genre

Final Fantasy maker Square Enix and Final Fantasy XV team Luminous Productions set themselves a monstrous task with Forspoken. Releasing an open-world fantasy game in such a crowded landscape to players growing increasingly tired of these games’ endless task lists and vast worlds seems like folly. However, this isn’t just another big-budget game, even if its large world and combat may seem superficially reminiscent to recent hits like Horizon Forbidden West. It builds on its inspirations in subtle, clever ways, and while it may not have the deepest or most original story, Forspoken is a refreshingly personal tale that brings some welcome twists to the usual formula.

Dragon Quest Treasures Review

An adorable Kitty Shield smiles up at me from my latest treasure haul. The local appraiser, unmoved by its cute design, may say it’s not worth much, but that just means I get to proudly hang it on display in my vault instead – it’s not the most valuable piece of my hoard, but I look on it with satisfaction nonetheless. That Kitty Shield is a suitable metaphor for Dragon Quest Treasures as a whole: It’s far from the richest jewel in the Dragon Quest crown, but a laid-back structure, charming world, and endless stream of rewards make it a relaxing RPG still worth admiring.

Digimon Survive lost its way

The itinerary for a class trip typically includes safe, normal things — visiting a historical landmark and learning how to cooperate with people from other schools, for instance. You’re less likely to encounter classroom-sized spiders or intense personal trauma, and hopefully, you won’t be responsible for a friend never returning home. But these are just some of the everyday tribulations for the unlucky band of middle schoolers in Digimon Survive. Developed by Hyde, Digimon Survive shoulders the heavy burden of evolving the series’ traditional blend of monster breeding and turn-based role-playing — namely, with the addition of visual-novel elements. But that burden proves a bit too heavy to carry. The visual-novel aspects seem ideal for the story Digimon Survive wants to tell, but whether from a lack of confidence in its own characters or a misunderstanding of what makes visual novels a powerful storytelling medium to begin with, it falls short of its abundant potential.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 review

It was when the Welsh cat girl punched a mutant in the face, cutting their villainous monologue short and kicking off a spectacular mid-game boss battle, that I realized Xenoblade Chronicles 3 was my new favorite RPG. I had my suspicions prior to that moment, though – when the story explored Taion’s background and presented him as a complex, interesting character instead of the stereotype usually applied to black people in video games, for example. I wrote earlier this month that developer Monolith Soft’s Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a leap forward in storytelling for the series, and spending more time with it only furthered my belief that this is one of the finest RPGs of the past few generations.

Wolfstride review

Ota Imon has something interesting to say with Wolfstride. I just hope it finds the right voice to say it with next time. A dog, a gangster, and a witch walk into a bar. This is where you'd expect me to say “Stop me if you've heard this one before,” but I won't because you haven't. Wolfstride from Ota Imon is different from other games—a self-described RPG for grown-ups that wallows a bit too frequently in immature humor just because it can. While the mech fights are lacking and Wolfstride never fully builds on its narrative promise, the carefully considered setting and unique cast make it a refreshing spin on an often stagnant genre.

Criticism and Analysis

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13 years later, Final Fantasy 13 still tells one of the series’ most ambitious stories

Final Fantasy 13 launched worldwide 13 years ago, and, since then, it’s developed a bit of a dodgy reputation. Environments that amounted to little more than bland hallways, a convoluted plot with a penchant for proper nouns, yet more changes to the battle system, and a dudebro hero whose heart of gold can’t mask his innate annoyingness came to define this awkward entry in the storied series. However valid some of these criticisms might be, they overshadow one of the more complex and important stories in the series, and perhaps even the genre as a whole.

Soul Hackers 2 is the answer to Atlus’ Persona problem

After Persona 3’s US launch in 2007, the high school sim series gradually became the face of Atlus. It did this at the expense of almost everything else in the developer’s stable. Shin Megami Tensei releases slowed down, Etrian Odyssey seemingly ran its course, and Catherine – for better or worse – was never followed up. Spin-offs like Soul Hackers and Digital Devil Saga, meanwhile, disappeared completely. It’s a happy problem for any developer to have. When studios find something their audiences want to buy, they naturally focus on that instead of other, riskier projects. But it does mean Atlus has fallen into something of a style rut, crafting narratives that could only fit either the Persona brand of school stories or the broad moral philosophizing of Shin Megami Tensei games. Into this mix steps Soul Hackers 2. More than just a second shot for a long-discarded series, it’s a chance for Atlus to reinvigorate its storytelling – exploring themes, settings, and ideas that don't have a home anywhere else.

Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is better for leaving the series' god obsession behind

If Tetsuya Takahashi is making a Xeno- game, you can bet it probably has something to do with gods and the shackles of corrupt religion. Xenogears – the Xenoblade series’ PlayStation 1 ancestor – is dripping with subtle and not-so-subtle references to spiritual traditions and wrongheaded religious authority. Not to mention the standard themes you often expect to find in RPGs: killing gods and freeing humanity. Xenoblade Chronicles 3, however, does away with gods completely and kills its authority structures in the first chapter. It’s a much stronger, more thoughtful and lasting experience because of it.

Commerce and Products

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Asus ROG Ally Z1 Extreme review: A powerful Steam Deck alternative

Five months after Asus launched the Asus ROG Ally, the handheld gaming PC is finally in a position to pose a real challenge to Valve’s Steam Deck. We spent three weeks with the Asus Ally Z1 Extreme, the console’s slightly more expensive, more powerful version, and Windows 11 quirks and odd layout design choices aside, we came away impressed with how it handles some of the more demanding modern PC games. Depending on what you’re after, the Asus Ally isn’t just a good Steam Deck alternative. It’s even better.

The best Black Friday PlayStation deals on Amazon so far

Shopping season is here again, and Amazon is kicking things off early with some hot Black Friday PlayStation deals, including a console bundle complete with Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2. You can grab Square Enix’s dark epic Final Fantasy 16 at a discount, dive into Cal Kestis’ latest Star Wars adventure, take a trip to medieval Baghdad in Assassin’s Creed, or get behind the wheel and go stupidly fast in Hawaii in Ubisoft’s most recent The Crew racing game. There’s plenty to sink your teeth into, an

The best Persona gifts for fans

The Persona series has become one of gaming’s shining stars, with deep characters, thoughtful stories, and unforgettable music. From Persona 4’s excavation of subconscious truths to Persona 5’s stylish, jazz-filled railing against corruption, the series is full of dark themes, touching relationships, and amazing tunes that linger long after the credits roll — even longer if you surround yourself with Persona merch. In case it’s tough for you to know where to start (and you can’t tell Mementos f

Genki Switch Dock Review: Everything to All Users

The Genki Switch Dock is perfect if you use devices on the go a lot, but a bit pricey if you just want a more portable Switch dock. I really feel for the Human Things team. When they planned the Genki Covert Switch Dock’s release, there was absolutely no way to know 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic would make testing the Covert Dock in its ideal habitat basically impossible. Fortunately, the Genki Covert Dock has a lot more to offer than just hooking your Switch up at a big party. It’s an excell


U.S. senators ask the FTC to review "cynical and opportunistic" Microsoft Activision deal

Four United States senators want the Federal Trade Commission to assess the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal more closely on the grounds of its potential harm to the labor market and existing Activision employees. The letter, penned by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, and Sheldon Whitehouse, raises a number of concerns aside from the immediate effect such extensive consolidation may have on the games and technology sectors, including Microsoft’s poor reputation in labor relations and the ethical implications of allowing the deal to proceed.

Analysts react to Sony's PlayStation Plus revamp

After much speculation, Sony Interactive Entertainment has announced its subscription service revamp. As rumored, It’s a tiered plan that will combine the current PlayStation Plus format with the cloud gaming platform PlayStation Now, and offer a library of roughly 400 PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 games for subscribers at the middle and high tiers to play for free. The platform is in line with what Bloomberg’s sources reported late last year, and while it won’t revolutionize the PlayStation ecosystem, some experts believe it doesn’t need to.


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Naraka: Bladepoint Wiki Guide

Welcome to IGN’s Naraka Bladepoint guide, a comprehensive collection of everything you need to know about 24 Entertainment’s battle royale. Naraka Bladepoint is a twist on the usual “last person standing” formula, with a heavy emphasis on exploration and, if you’re playing in teams, combining your skills to sweep the field. It can take some getting used to before Naraka’s unique style of action clicks, but and that’s where we come in.

What To Do First In Elden Ring: Best Route, Weapons, And Important Map Locations

Elden Ring features the biggest world From Software has ever made, and with its open design, it can be tough to figure out what to do first. You can do practically anything, but should you? Should you fight that Tree Sentinel on the horse that's roaming near the starting area, for instance? No, you definitely should not, but by using the beams of light pointing from Sites of Grace, you can start heading in the right direction. That being said, you could miss some great opportunities if you only rely on those to learn what to do first in Elden Ring, but our tips will help make things easier.

Destiny 2 Parasite quest steps, including Of Queens and Worms

Parasite in Destiny 2 is an Exotic grenade launcher - sorry, worm launcher - which has arrived alongside The Witch Queen in Year 5. The quest to unlock Parasite comes once you complete the campaign, and even then, there is a lengthy set of steps yet to go. The journey to the Parasite Exotic takes you to some of the expansion's most dangerous places, so if you cheesed your way through the final campaign battle, make sure to grind your power level to at least 1520 or thereabouts. Your reward is

Spiritfarer Items Guide: Every Important Item and How to Get It

The world of Spiritfarer is vast and full of nifty items to collect. Some are only good for making extra Glims — Spiritfarer's currency — while others are vital resources you'll need to upgrade your ship and help ease your passengers into the beyond. We're rounding up every Spiritfarer item, where to find these items, and what they do to help make your own journey smoother. We've broken things down by item type and included where you can find them, key notes about them, and what they're used for.


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Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is a step up in JRPG storytelling

Xenoblade Chronicles 3’s opening scene shows developer Monolith Soft isn’t prepared to shake up the trope-filled JRPG toolbox, and I’m here for it. Yes, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 opens with two massive armies facing off in a sci-fi battle. But, instead of greeting you with a ream of exposition and a hero swishing and slashing across the battlefield, we meet Noah, one of the game’s protagonists, telling us to “forget the giant robots, focus on the people dying beneath their feet”.

Eville Preview: Wouldst Thou Care For a Murder?

The sun peeks through your curtains and signals the start of another lovely day. You get up, and, remembering the local herbalist needs some materials from you, get ready to head out. The birds are singing, and all is well — except the village mayor is lying dead five feet away from your doorstep. Welcome to Eville, a town where murder and other deeds most foul are afoot. It’s a social deduction adventure from VestGames, but don’t let the tagline “Art thou sus?” fool you.

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town Preview — Fields of Promise

Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, the first brand-new Story of Seasons game in four years, is out on Nintendo Switch this month. I’ve been spending the past few weeks getting a feel for the pioneer lifestyle courtesy of XSEED and can tell that, even after a few seasons, things are only just getting started in Olive Town. Instead of a big overview about the game (because that’s what full reviews are for), I put together a few of Pioneers of Olive Town’s best and not-so-hot standout featu