Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin Patch Adds Visual Enhancements To Go With a Steep Discount

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is getting some visual enhancements as well as some additional content thanks to a new patch. The patch finally fixes the bug that made the game run slowly on PC if your characters had hair, reducing the frame rate for some players.

It also includes quality of life improvements including adjustments to the game’s use of anti-aliasing as well as higher inventory limits for certain crafting items. Final Fantasy Origin is a game full of loot and things to pickup, so it is a welcome addition.

All 28 Jobs in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

In terms of content, it adds a Battle Simulator side mission that allows players “to try out jobs, equipment, and abilities” With the 28 jobs available in the game, the Battle Simulator sounds like a great way to test out new builds and playstyles.

If you’ve been hesitant to pick it up, there is now an up to 25% off discount for the game across all platforms. You can snag all the chaos of Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin on sale in both PlayStation and Epic Games Store until May 25. It is discounted on Xbox until May 26 at 3AM PST.

In our review, we said that while the game’s story doesn’t come together until the end, its “respectable combat keeps this reimagining of the original Final Fantasy on track.” If you need help staying on track, be sure to check out our video detailing some of the best tips for surviving all the chaos in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

Casey is a freelance writer for IGN. You can usually find him talking about JRPGs on Twitter at @caseydavidmt.


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Facing Worlds Is One Of The Greatest Multiplayer Maps Ever

Facing Worlds

The original Unreal Tournament, first released in 1999, launched with a ton of maps, most of which have long been consigned to the Recycle Bin of history. There’s one, however, one very simple map, that has stood the test of time: Facing Worlds.

It’s a simple, fundamentally broken map, one that features two stone towers linked by two small land bridges, a symmetrical murder rock that is wildly unbalanced, favours snipers above all else and by today’s standards wouldn’t even make it to a whiteboard in a brainstorming session, let alone into the retail release of a game.

And yet! And yet. We love it all the same, because as busted as it is, it’s beautiful. It’s simple. It captures everything about the game it was a part of, and everything we loved about shooters at the time. 

All of which, and more, is explored in this excellent video about the map by Noclip, which is rightly critical of its flaws (by 2022’s standards), but also right to point out that, like so many other games and moments from the dawn of the 3D age, they’ve endured and are regarded as classics because the technical limitations of the time created a sort of purity, a distilled experience born as much out of what the developers couldn’t do with these new, 3D spaces as what they could.

If this has got you feeling all sentimental about the map (and the game itself), you can read more on it in this 2014 feature we ran on the site:

Above us, the moon. Beneath us, the Earth. In front of us, a massive, three-story tower. Overlapping bleeps and bloops accentuate the eerie calm. We’re blasting off into orbit, and you might know where we’re headed. Never before, nor since, has Capture the Flag been so much fun.

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The Top 10 Beat ‘Em Ups To Play Right Now

Beloved RPG maker Vanillaware took a chance with Dragon’s Crown in 2013, and it paid off. The studio applied its role-playing expertise, storytelling chops, and famous art direction to a cooperative hack ‘n slash adventure that, frankly, was a blast. The game has since become a cult classic that has left fans pining for a sequel to this day. Until that day (hopefully) comes, they’ll have to settle for Dragon’s Crown Pro, an enhanced re-release that sports a 4K presentation, cross-platform play, all of its DLC, and even a rerecorded orchestral soundtrack. Dragon’s Crown Pro is a strong option if you prefer more RPG with your brawler. 

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DC’s Wonder Twins HBO Max Film Axed

Just over a month after announcing casting for the Wonder Twins film headed HBO Max, Warner Bros. Discovery has dropped the film, Variety reports.

Warner Bros. announced back in February that it was developing a film based on the DC characters known as the Wonder Twins, a pair of alien twins named Zan and Jayna. The twins can touch hands, transforming each into some kind of water and some kind of animal. The twins also have a monkey named Gleek, because that’s how this stuff worked in the 1970s. The pair first appeared on the infamous Super Friends television show that cinched Aquaman’s status as DC’s biggest joke for the next forty years. Despite the presence of an alien who can turn into a bucket of water and his monkey buddy.

Little was known about the Wonder Twins picture other than the principal casting of KJ Apa and Isabel May as the twins. Variety notes that the film reportedly had a $75 million budget, and was likely a casualty of Discovery CEO David Zaslav looking to cut $3 billion in costs from at the company.

Meanwhile, a bunch of other DC films are on the way or in the works. DC League of Super-Pets hits on July 29, followed by Black Adam on October 21. Shazam! Fury of the Gods caps out the year on December 16. Next year we’ll see Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom on March 17, 2023, and finally The Flash on June 23, 2023. Currently filming or in development are a Batgirl film, a Blue Beetle film, a third Wonder Woman film, and more.

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Battlefield 2042 Removes 128 Breakthrough Multiplayer on PS5, Xbox Series, and PC

EA announced that it would be removing Battlefield 2042‘s 128 Breakthrough multiplayer mode on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC and will stick with the 64 player count version. The change will be reflected in Update 4.1 when it releases on May 19.

“When reviewing the available experiences in All-Out Warfare, we felt that the 128 player modes are better suited for Conquest where gameplay spaces are larger, and where you have a more natural fit for sandbox gameplay,” said EA on its website.

EA notes that the player count was reduced as it felt like each individual player’s contributions were reduced due to the sheer intensity and chaos during combat that come with having 128 players on one map.

“As a result, squads in Breakthrough 64 have a better opportunity to work together, to flank the enemy, place a spawn beacon, use their plus menu to attach suppressors, then clear, and hold a point – one squad helping turn the tide as an example,” EA continued. “We believe that the move to 64 players will bring back the pacing that helps celebrate these moments of teamwork and PTFOing, and will be keeping a close eye on how our changes help to improve the experience ahead of the start of Season 1.”

There are other changes to the game within the 4.1 update, including weapon re-balancing with improved base recoil and Specialist adjustments, such as Angel no longer being able to grant Armor Plates with his Supply Bag and Irish’s Fortification System recharge time being reduced from 25 seconds to 20 seconds.

Battlefield 2042 hasn’t had the best time in the spotlight. It was late with features such as adding a Scoreboard and voice chat functionality. At one point, it even had fewer concurrent players on Steam than previous entries in the franchise. EA reportedly also blamed the timing of Halo Infinite’s surprise multiplayer release on Battlefield 2042’s troubles.

In our Battlefield 2042 review, we said, “For a game claiming to be the future of Battlefield, 2042’s impressive Portal options make it clear that it doesn’t stack up to the past. Instead, it’s those same customization tools that could come to define it in time.”

George Yang is a freelance writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @yinyangfooey


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Are We Doomed To A Future Of Endless Pop Culture Mash-Ups?

A collage of all the fighters in Multiversus with the Iron Giant standing behind them all.

Image: WB Games / Kotaku

WB Games recently released a new trailer for its upcoming Smash-like fighter Multiversus. In it, characters like Harley Quinn, Bugs Bunny, and Shaggy fight each other before Superman and the Iron Giant show up at the end. While some enjoy the trailer, other viewers are disappointed to see the Iron Giant, a massive robot who famously chooses a path of non-violence in his film, again used by WB as a generic, warlike robot, completely contradicting his established character.

The iconic robot first appeared onscreen in the classic, and fantastic, 1999 animated film The Iron Giant, an adaptation of British poet laureate Ted Hughes’ novel The Iron Man. In the film, the Giant is a robot from outer space, built for war and destruction, that crashes on Earth and is discovered by a young boy. The kid helps teach the robot about life and death, and inspires it to be more than what he was designed to be. Eventually and uh…spoilers here for a 1999 animated film…the Iron Giant sacrifices himself to save the kid and his whole town from a nuclear weapon.

The entire premise of the film is that the Iron Giant is more than just a “gun.” As director Brad Bird famously pitched to WB, the movie really is: “What if a gun had a soul, and didn’t want to be a gun?” The Iron Giant has moments in the film where it acts violently or destructively, but these are always treated as mistakes that the Giant needs to grow beyond. The Iron Giant might technically be a superweapon, but he’s not a killer. He chooses to be more than a gun. And he saves the day not by fighting a big battle, but by heroically and nonviolently sacrificing himself for the greater good. So having him appear in Multiversus, a game about characters beating the shit out of each other, even if presented in a comical and cartoony tone, feels wrong to those who grew up with the film.

But even worse than making the Iron Giant fight people, this is just another example of how all of pop culture—all past films, TV shows, and characters—are being slowly merged together into a giant gray mush that some call the multiverse, but I find really boring and sad.

Multiversus, Warner Bros’ upcoming free-to-play multiplayer fighting game heavily inspired by Smash Bros., is a typical example of this trend. And like Nintendo’s Smash, this free-to-play brawler will contain a large library of characters from different franchises and properties. But all of the characters in Multiversus are directly ripped from the large corporate library of WB parent corporation Warner Bros. Discovery. Included in this giant collection of classic TV shows, movies, games, and the like is the beloved 1999 animated film, The Iron Giant. And because WB owns that character, it can toss it into a giant blender alongside Bugs Bunny and Batman to create a fighting game that only highlights how few companies own so much of our pop culture.

To be clear: I’m not angry or offended that the Iron Giant is in this game. I do think it’s dumb and I think the moment in the trailer calling back to the Giant’s heartrending sacrifice at the end of the movie is cheap and shitty. I also hate the idea of the character being shoved into a game to earn a few more nostalgia points regardless of if it runs in direct opposition to the themes of the beloved robot’s film, which was about a powerful weapon deciding not to fight. To change. To rise above the circumstances of their creation.

Sure, I’d love it if Warner Bros could stop using the Iron Giant as a cool action robot, like he was in the already-forgotten film Ready Player One. (That movie that predicted a future where humanity stops creating new art and just plays with old stuff in one giant metaverse…which seems to be pretty prophetic now, huh…)

But the real problem is that a single company like WB Discovery can—and does—own so much of pop culture. Between Disney, WB, and Universal, a large and vast swath of classic film, TV, movies, books, and other media are all owned and controlled by a few boardrooms. And this phenomenon will only grow more pronounced as large corporate mergers and buyouts continue to proliferate.

This is a bad situation for people who want original stories or unique experiences. Instead, companies like Epic, Krafton, and others continue to push toward a Ready Player One-like metaverse. In that future, all of our favorite characters and stories are mashed together into a gray goo of nostalgic comfort. And now more than ever, these mega-mass-media conglomerates own more shit and seem more than willing to play ball.

As a result, it has become easier than ever for other companies and publishers to license characters or make deals since only a handful of companies seemingly own it all in 2022. No longer does Epic or other devs need to knock on 40 doors to get track down rights to famous heroes. And far fewer original creators of these characters and worlds have a say in how their creations are used. Instead, companies looking to cash in on crossovers can now easily unlock a treasure trove of internationally recognized cartoon villains or video game stars in one fell swoop.

And of course, the handful of companies that now own all that valuable IP can now go and spend some of their own millions on competing metaverse projects and crossovers. They’re all dying to be a part of that growing trend of mashing everything together, like kids playing with toys in a sandbox.

Read More: Twitter Reacts To Call Of Duty’s Weird Attack On Titan Crossover

All of this is why, in 2022, every battle royale and free-to-play online game under the sun is crossing over with anything even remotely popular. Godzilla in Call of Duty? Sure! Evangelion in PUBG? Why not! Slipknot in Smite? Uh…okay! Whatever. Ryu in Fortnite? Fine. Hell, Disney has published at least three separate mobile games in the last few years that revolve around mixing together all its various characters and IP. It’s becoming harder to find big games that are simply themselves and have zero crossover IP or special cameo characters or costumes.

Look, I don’t mind a few companies having fun with some of their characters. But when everything is merging into everything else, it becomes tiring and sad.

I mean, did PUBG Mobile really need a Baby Shark event? I start to worry that more beloved characters, like the Iron Giant, will end up as nothing more than roster fillers in future crossover events and games. Sure, a few cameos are fun, but eventually, this goes too far (if it hasn’t already) and we end up in a world where there are like four games, two TV shows and five movie franchises all made up of everything spilt into a few multiverses owned and controlled by megacorps. That just seems so boring.

I really don’t want to live in a world where all media is just “The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny” made real.

  


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Tango Gameworks: A Decade Later

Introduction

It took more than 10 years, but Shinji Mikami says his original vision for Tango Gameworks is finally coming to life.

Mikami established Tango in 2010 after nearly two decades at Capcom, directing games like Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4, and a few years contracting for Platinum Games, where he directed Vanquish. His vision: give younger developers a chance to direct their own games and provide opportunities they might not get at other companies. Or, more bluntly, as he told Polygon in 2014, let people under 40 direct games.

“If you’re over 40, you’re somewhat out of touch with the people buying your games,” Mikami told the outlet, “and when you’re young, you don’t know enough about the industry. When you’re in your 30s, you have the right balance – you’re energetic and have your ego and can focus without distractions, but you have enough experience to manage people and know the business.”

Charitably, it actually took seven years for Mikami’s vision to become real, marked by the release of The Evil Within 2 in 2017, directed by John Johanas. More cynically, and if you’re Mikami himself – now 56 – it took 12 years. Nevertheless, as he sees it, Tango’s here now. And its latest game, Ghostwire: Tokyo, is a line in the sand.

Tango Gameworks’ latest game, Ghostwire: Tokyo

Early in Tango’s history, Mikami gave many interviews about his vision. But at the time, it was just that: a vision. Somewhat speculative and certainly unproven. However, in the run-up to Ghostwire’s release, and with the advantage of 12 years of hindsight, we decided to revisit Tango’s mission statement. Talking to three higher-ups within the company – Mikami, producer Masato Kimura, and Ghostwire director Kinji Kimura – we learned how Tango finally got here and what it plans to do next.

Funding The Dream

Funding the Dream

As noble as his intentions may have been when founding Tango, Mikami directed the studio’s debut project, the survival horror game The Evil Within, released in 2014.

Mikami will be the first to tell you he still likes directing games. But he’ll also tell you that in the case of The Evil Within, him sitting in the director’s chair had less to do with a personal investment in the project and more to do with business.

Image source: Tango Gameworks

Shinji Mikami

“I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this, but I did need to be the director in order to manage the completely new team under this new studio,” he tells Game Informer via a translator. “And also, there was this thinking where I probably needed to be the director in order for the funding to come in.”

Even though the game was marketed as his return to survival horror, a genre he helped invent and popularize with the first Resident Evil, Mikami spent his post-Capcom, pre-Tango years turning down proposals for new horror titles. Even in the case of The Evil Within, Mikami tells us, “at the time, yeah, if there was a chance not to work on a horror game, then maybe I would’ve considered that.”

“It’s not bad,” he adds. “It’s just; I wish I could’ve raised the quality a little bit more.”

After The Evil Within, John Johanas was the first new director within Tango to get the chance to lead a project – at least that we’ve heard. How he got it is a bit unorthodox. Johanas joined Tango in August 2010, shortly after the company was founded. Before joining, he was an English teacher for Japan’s JET Program, a government program built to teach foreign languages in Japan (and a common way for people to get working visas to move to the country).

Image source: Tango Gameworks

Masato Kimura

Johanas translated a “huge” Japanese novel into English as part of his application process, gifting it to the studio head. Mikami was surprised, but admits he wasn’t interested in Johanas being an English teacher. Not to mention, he doesn’t read the language. Nevertheless, Johanas got the job. “[I] saw there was passion in his eyes,” Mikami says.

Johannes spent his first three or four years creating game design documents and then levels for The Evil Within. When Tango had an opportunity to develop DLC, director duty went to Johanas, who led development on “The Consequence” and “The Assignment,” both released in 2015. Then he directed an entire game: The Evil Within 2, which was critically well-received if not successful commercially.

Johanas is already working on his next game as director, marking the first developer at the studio publicly announced as director of more than one project. “He’s entering his prime,” Masato says.

But Johanas is certainly not the most recognizable name from Mikami’s stable of new directors. That would be Ikumi Nakamura. But it’s complicated. And ropes in Tango’s latest director, Kinji Kimura.

Politics

Politics

On paper, Nakamura seems like the ideal director for Mikami’s vision. By the time she got to Tango, she’d had a long career in the game industry – also at Capcom and Platinum, though she didn’t work directly with Mikami – helping develop the extremely well-liked Ōkami at the former and Bayonetta at the latter. According to Mikami, based on her work as a concept artist on The Evil Within, Nakamura’s talent was “above and beyond” other developers. “The next step for her was definitely to be the director,” he says.

His instincts were correct – and then some.

At E3 2019, Nakamura announced her directorial debut, Ghostwire: Tokyo, during Bethesda’s press conference. Almost instantly, she became an internet celebrity due largely to her endearing speech. It made Nakamura one of the more-recognizable game developers in recent years, and it also put her new project on people’s radar. “Considering the game industry at the time, it was pretty clear that if she were to come on stage as a creative director, she would become very popular at a speed much faster than anyone else,” Mikami says.

Again, his instincts were correct, but fate had other plans. In September 2019, Nakamura left Tango Gameworks, two years before it wrapped work on Ghostwire.

Nakamura’s departure is complicated and something we spoke to her in-depth about in 2021. Alongside the health issues she was experiencing, Nakamura struggled under the pressure of developer-publisher relationships; she didn’t like the stress of Bethesda, Tango’s parent company, having complete control over her project.

Image source: Ikumi Nakamura

Behind-the-scenes look at Ikumi Nakamura at E3

“I was a creative director, so this is literally my baby,” Nakamura told us. “My four-year-old baby. So, to let that go – ask any mother to let her baby go. It was that gut-ripping.”

As to be expected, the Tango employees we talked to wish Nakamura the best in her career; she’s listed in the “Special Thanks” portion of Ghostwire’s credits. Shortly before the release of her former project, Nakamura formally announced her new independent studio, Unseen, marking the next stage in her career. “She made the world and art for Ghostwire, and we very much appreciate the work that she’s done,” Mikami says.

Kinji Kimura, who began on Ghostwire as a game designer, took Nakaura’s place. With his new job came a learning curve. Kinji is quick to point to Mikami as a mentor, especially when it comes to how to direct a video game. That’s not to say Mikami isn’t also taking lessons from his younger staff.

Getting Bored, Powerfully

Getting Bored, Powerfully

If there’s one thing that comes up repeatedly in our interviews with Tango, it’s the idea of the customer experience. And almost every time it’s brought up by Masato and Kinji, they immediately point back to Mikami.

“His mentality goes far deeper in regards to customer experience than everybody else probably thinks,” Kinji says. “That has been a very big learning experience for me.”

Image source: Tango Gameworks

Kenji Kimura

According to Masato, in his current role within Tango as executive producer, Mikami pulls back on projects. He stays in the background; he’s a few steps behind, watching over things.

However, Mikami has a lot of experience directing video games – a few of them considered the best, or at least most influential, of all time. Even if he isn’t currently in the director’s chair, that experience isn’t going to waste; it’s passed down to a newer generation.

On Ghostwire, Kinji says Mikami was instrumental in teaching him how to focus on the customer experience, be “adamant” about achieving quality, and deal with the stresses of being a director. He also learned when to throw out ideas.

“I’ve learned about the responsibilities of what we need to focus on,” Kinji says. “Sometimes that’s a very difficult decision to make, but it’s all in [service] of trying to hone down on the customer experience.”

Mikami says he chose Kinji to take over Ghostwire due to his ability to process and understand complex information. He was passionate about making a good game, too, which helps. Lastly, Mikami says he has a strong and healthy mental mindset, which is something he looks for in directors.

Now that he’s had a chance to see two of his directors successfully ship games, Mikami says he’s also learned from the younger members of his staff. The easy answer is learning how to work more efficiently from home, a symptom of the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic. But also a surprising answer: Mikami says he’s learning how to be more selfish.

“It’s probably more of a reminder,” he says. “But as I get to this age, it gets harder and harder to be selfish about what I want to make.”

Which begs the question: does Mikami see himself directing another game? Yes. He’s said as much in other interviews, recently telling VG247 that he wants to make “at least” one more game. He tells us, though, it will probably be more than one.

Tango Gameworks’ latest game, Ghostwire: Tokyo

“I think it would be plural,” Mikami says. “I’m not thinking about when to actually stop, or making the last [game]. I probably would not be able to just stop.”

“I’ve been working with Mikami-san for a very long time,” Masato follows up. “I can tell you that he is probably going to be making something for the rest of his life.”

When Mikami returns as director, time will tell. Masato told VG247 in the same interview mentioned above that Mikami will not lead Tango’s next game. That might be Johanas’ new project, which Mikami recently told Weekly Famitsu (via Video Games Chronicle) is “the complete opposite of horror.”

Either way, 12 years after first establishing his vision, Mikami’s track record stands solid; two out of three isn’t a bad number. But Masato also sees this approach to game development as a unique advantage. Tango is doing things differently. And according to him, it all starts with Mikami, a man, he says, that gets bored easily.

“But in a very powerful way,” Masato says. “He wants to do something new all the time. He’s looking for something cool and new. It always starts with the idea; it always starts with the game plan, the plan for the game. If he has a good plan for a game, then he chooses a director for that plan. It’s always about the game and the game design. That comes first. That’s why you’ll see us being a little bit different from other studios. We do see that as an advantage.”


This article originally appeared in Issue 345 of Game Informer.

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Hatching Tie-In Game Is Tamagotchi-Inspired With A Horror Twist

Developed in collaboration with IFC Midnight (distributor of horror movies like The Babadook and The Autopsy of Jane Doe), Hatching is a Tamagotchi-esque game–but with a horror twist. It’s based on the Hatching movie, which was released in theaters on April 29 and can be streamed online as of May 17, and is developed by Airdorf.

You can get Hatching for free either through itchi.o or via the Apple store, if you want to play it on your iPhone.

Now Playing: 13 Games That Defined Horror

The gameplay is very simple and quick. You pick up an egg, take it home, and click on the options that show up on screen. No spoilers for what happens, but just know it’s not as wholesome as raising a real Tamagotchi.

Airdorf is also currently developing Faith: The Unholy Trinity, a pixel horror game inspired by the 1980s “satanic scare.” It doesn’t have a release date yet, but there’s a demo currently available, if you’d like to get a preview.

In other horror game news, rumors around Silent Hill have started resurfacing again. From the way speculation about Bloober Team’s involvement in a Silent Hill remake to Konami possibly reviving the franchise in a major way picked up online, it’s clear Silent Hill players really want the beloved horror series to come back.


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Rogue Jam 2022: Winners Revealed

IGN and Rogue Games teamed up to produce the first-ever Rogue Jam that not only offered publishing deals to indie developers, but also $800,000 in total prize money that will be used to help bring these games to life. Now, the winners have been revealed.

Throughout five episodes over the past few weeks, a team of judges that includes IGN EVP and CCO Peer Schneider and former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé has selected the top games in five categories – Huge Potential Winner, Eye-Poppingly Beautiful, WTF?, Overall Winner, and Audience Choice.

If you’d like to watch all the episodes before seeing all the winners, be sure to check out each one below before checking out more details of the victorious games and a video preview of each one.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead for Rogue Jam!

Rogue Jam Episode 1: Huge Potential Winner – Enter the Chronospherse

Enter the Chronosphere won the Huge Potential award at Rogue Jam 2022 and took home $50,000 and Rogue Games right of first refusal. In Enter the Chronosphere, players must master a turn-based “bullet hell” roguelike game where the action only takes place when they move. While this allows players all the time in the world to plan their next move, the challenges that wait will still require precision and careful thinking.

Rogue Jam Episode 2: Eye-Poppingly Beautiful Winner – I See Red

I See Red won the Eye-Poppingly Beautiful award at Rogue Jam 2022 and won a cash prize of $100,000 and a Rogue Games publishing deal. In I See Red, players take on the role of a space pirate who loves nothing more than invading enemy spaceships and stealing weapons and other goods. The game is a fast-paced, frantic twin-stick shooter that also proudly wears its roguelike aspects on its sleeve.

Rogue Jam Episode 3: WTF? Winner – Zapling Bygone

Zapling Bygone was named the ultimate WTF? game at Rogue Jame 2022 and is taking home $100,000 for that honor and a Rogue Games publishing deal. Zapling Bygone is a mix of open-world, roguelike, and metroidvania styles and puts you in control of a hive mind that must platform through the world, defeat their enemies, and wear their skulls to absorb their consciousness. These skulls give you new powers that help you navigate an alien world.

Rogue Jam Episode 4: Overall Winner – Seadog

Of all the games to enter Rogue Jam 2022, Seadog took home the ultimate prize to become the Overall Winner. In doing so, the developers earned $500,000 and a publishing deal with Rogue Games. So, what is this game that secured victory above all others? It is a game about a skateboarding frog that also happens to be a sailor.

Seadog puts players aboard a ship that is stranded in a ship graveyard and tasks them with traversing through the world by using the skateboard and the many tricks this sailor frog can learn. You won’t be alone in this mission, however, as you will be accompanied by your ship’s captain – an A.I. that’s stored on a flash drive.

Rogue Jam Episode 5: Audience Choice Winner – Mysplaced

In the final episode, Mysplaced took home the award for Audience Choice alongside $50,000 and a Rogue Games right of first refusal. This Zelda-like game doesn’t shy away from its inspiration and should feel right at home for those who loved the top-down entries of the franchise like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, specifically the remake! While not much has been revealed about the game, we do know it follows a hero who finds himself in a mysterious world.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.


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The Zelda-Inspired Indie Game That Is Causing A Commotion

The very Links Awakening-looking Mysplaced, with the hero running past some grass toward a windmill.

Screenshot: Soheyl Ghiami / IGN / Kotaku

A recent entry in IGN’s peculiar indie developer-funding competition, Rogue Jam, has raised eyebrows for its obvious visual similarity with Nintendo’s 2019 Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. In response, many are attempting to whip up some sort of controversy, as if this isn’t how art has worked since the dawn of humankind. In fact Mysplaced, the game in question, looks fascinating.

Mighty money powerhouse IGN has somehow turned indie development funding into a reality TV show. Rogue Jam is a heavily sponsored series of videos in which a collection of industry figures—including Reggie Fils-Aimé—judge unsigned, in-development games, with a view to one getting a deal with publisher Rogue. In the most recent episode, they decide on the Audience Award, where at some point an audience apparently voted for their favorite games from a selection, creating a final four from which the panel picks just one.

Within all this over-produced, bewilderingly edited creation, is Zelda-lookalike Mysplaced, and its co-creator Soheyl Ghiami. The whole episode plays out as an uncomfortable confusion of asking unknown indie developers to pander to major industry figures who would otherwise ignore them, so IGN can sell Galaxy Racer ads. (Make sure to check out 26:36, when “DUH-DAH-DUUUUUN” music plays out after the most banal Reggie comment about a game called Cold Fortune, as the show throws to imaginary commercials.)

Despite the name looking like someone was trying to remember that pre-Facebook social site, this is in fact a game that immediately looks an awful lot like the recent remake of Link’s Awakening. And to the panel’s credit, they don’t condemn the game for its visual similarity to the 2019 Switch remake, but in fact focus more on issues with difficulty, and of course how it will differentiate itself from its inspiration. (Although Reggie rather oddly requires that this specific game be “something that…a player’s going to say wow, this is something new, and not at all what I’ve ever done before.”)

However, others have responded far less kindly. Multiple sites are reporting the story through the lens of outraged fans, with words like “rip-off” in their headlines. Meanwhile, IGN framed the entire episode around the sense that there should be some controversy here: Its cold-open has Reggie declaring, out of context, that when a game looks too similar, the “community can be harsh.”, and its promotional blurbs using phrases like “unashamed clone” and “A Shameless Zelda Clone.”

This did the trick, and audience reactions are hostile. “They bout to get sued into oblivion,” says one response on Twitter.

“Imagine using words like reminiscent and inspired when discussing what amounts to complete plagiarism,” says another, before flouncing and bemoaning the state of modern games journalism.

Which all betrays a deeply peculiar lack of understanding of the history of art. Art has, since the first Neanderthals put paint to cave wall, been a process of copying. It is only in the last one hundred or so of the intervening 64,000 years that humans have decided this is somehow an inherently wrong act.

If anything, it speaks to the wholly successful brainwashing of an entire species by the copyright industry. Rather than celebrating that someone else is able to create a thing that looks like something we previously loved, we leap toward accusations of a crime, toward declarations that the individual making some art will be joyfully and righteously crushed by the behemothic corporation that did something similar first.

Mysplaced, with the game's character chatting to a chef in a kitchen.

Screenshot: Soheyl Ghiami / IGN / Kotaku

The thing is, it’s simply not plagiarism to copy an art style, and even in our times of rich musicians successfully claiming ownership of the order of musical notes, you still can’t sue someone for making a game that looks like your game. “Steal” the assets, and then sure, lawyers get rich. But create a simulacrum, and you’re good. Which, fascinatingly, seems to cause people to veer from “CALL THE POLICE!” to, “Well it’s morally wrong then, isn’t it?”

Except, pick any period of art and you’ll see precisely the same, and indeed this being celebrated. Picasso and Braque didn’t sue Metzinger, Léger, Gleizes, and Delaunay for “ripping off” cubism. Michelangelo and del Sarto didn’t issue cease and desist notices to the Mannerism movement. Art copies art, always has, always will.

What makes Mysplaced so much more interesting is that the husband-and-wife development team have taken Links Awakening’s palette as a foundation for a different type of game. Ghiami describes it as far more metroidvania in its approach, with the intriguing twist that it will require real-world research to solve some of its in-game puzzles.

I argue this ought to be encouraged! In fact, I think it should go far further. I’ve long believed that one of the saddest aspects of modern game design is that AAA developers spent hundreds of millions creating extraordinary, expansive worlds, and then they’re thrown away after one game. Let people “rip off” that world, create their games inside it. Let this industry be one where people freely and joyfully share their art, whether by giving it away, or encouraging others to learn from it, to mimic it, such that they can then develop it and find their own personal style. One that, then, is copied by others!

Anyway, Mysplaced went on to win the vote not only of IGN’s audience (by the slimmest of margins) but also that of the four industry judges, meaning the creators get $50,000 to put into development. So, despite the framing by IGN, and that of others reporting on it, this has been a victory of sharing, for taking inspiration!

It’s unclear from the video how much further involvement Rogue will have with the game, and we’ve contacted them to ask about that, and if they fear a response from the notoriously litigious Nintendo.

 

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