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Feature

Where Did The Fun Street Fighter Music Go?

My anticipation for the recently released Street Fighter V probably came from a different place than most people. I’ve only ever really followed the series as an observer who watches tournament matches, and as a listener of the games’ soundtracks. For me, then, Street Fighter V’s release held two possibilities: new tournament material after eight years of Street Fighter IV (2008) and its iterations, and new music. Whatever you think of the mechanical changes and viability of certain characters, Street Fighter V is sure to offer a lot of the former for passive appreciators like myself. As far as the…

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Feature

How Japan shaped nostalgia in games

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. For Shigeru Miyamoto, the inspiration for The Legend of Zelda (1986) series lay in the natural beauty of his hometown of Kyoto, Japan. As a young boy, the Nintendo designer behind Mario, Zelda, and Pikmin would take hikes around nearby forests, rivers, and old Sonobe Castle ruins. It was on one such hike that Miyamoto happened upon a cave that fascinated him. He returned to it a few days later, shook off his nerves, and, armed with a homemade lantern, journeyed into its mysterious depths. It was this feeling of discovery and…

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News

Lo-fi survival horror returns next week as Back in 1995 comes out

The year 1995 was a turning point for the videogame industry. It was the first year of E3—now the biggest videogame awards and announcement show, which still runs annually. It was the year of the release of Sony’s PlayStation in Europe and North America (it had been released the year prior in Japan), as well as the release of the now cult-regarded system Sega Saturn (also released in 1994 in Japan). While the systems’ most notable games didn’t see release until a year or so after, 1995 was the start of something new. The dawn of a new generation—and a delightfully…

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Feature

Idolm@ster and the mechanics of depression

I don’t know precisely when it was I realized that I suffered from depression, but it certainly wasn’t from playing a videogame. Maybe it was from watching a red-haired, mecha-piloting girl mentally tear herself apart under the weight of her own expectations, and feeling a similar sense of despair in my own weighty ambitions that I failed. Maybe it was from re-reading the same fantasy novels about a particular boy wizard over and over again, feeling that the only escape I ever had from reality was in those books. Maybe it was from listening to early 2000s emo bands that…

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Feature

The demolition of Japan’s videogame history

In the eastern region of Kyoto, Japan, there lies an area named Higashiyama, filled with shrines, temples, and the Kyoto National Museum. It was here in Higashiyama that Nintendo built an office complex with buildings adjacent to one another that the company’s greatest designers worked in. Almost everything videogame-related that Nintendo developed before the year 2000 came from the complex known as 60 Kamitakamatsu-cho—from the original Game & Watch and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), to Donkey Kong (1981), Super Mario Bros. (1985), The Legend of Zelda (1986), and Metroid (1986). But while these games can still be played the buildings…

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Article

Cats finally take over the world with mobile game Neko Atsume

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Neko Atsume is a smartphone game where players can watch cats. They can’t pet them, or call to them, or scratch behind their ears. The most a player can do is buy a treat or toy and place it in a backyard. If the player is lucky, the toy will attract Snowball, a furry white kitty who enjoys playing with rubber balls. Or, if the player is really lucky, the toy might even attract Pumpkin—who eats all the tuna he can get his paws on. Yutaka Takazaki, the creator of…

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Feature

Pop, politics, and everything in between: the virtual families of netlabels

It’s approximately 7 p.m. on a Monday night in California, and across from me sits the bleach-haired Zeon Gomez of Ulzzang Pistol, an artist of Los Angeles-based netlabel Zoom Lens. Yet for Gomez, it’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. He resides across the world from my foggy little city in the United States, approximately 16 hours ahead in the Philippines (Manila, specifically). Dividing us is an extremely common window: a computer screen. The household item not only used for the sake of hosting our lengthy conversation over Google Hangouts, but a tool for maintaining friendships across countries and oceans, discovering…

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Bringing otome games to the other side of the world

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Otome games—visual romance novels targeted at women—don’t often find a wide audience outside of Japan. Not only do they struggle to market towards women in countries where dating simulators are less of a cultural staple, but the games’ protagonists and stories are often coated in a Japanese context, causing some of the magic to get lost in translation. Even breakthrough titles in the otome genre usually meet small niche popularity when compared to their male-oriented counterparts. That being said, some otome games have broken the barrier, finding their foothold in…

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Feature

Splatoon makes a splash in Japanese esports

Japanese players embraced Nintendo’s colorful, team-based squid shooter Splatoon with open arms (or tentacles) in 2015. Featuring half-squid, half-human creatures who can swim through the ink that blasts from their guns, Splatoon is a fast paced and accessible game making a mark on Japanese esports. Following its release in May, the game moved over 800,000 copies across the country and boosted Wii U sales. Japanese players are spending more and more time with these squids, too. In fact, many U.S. Splatoon players now express dread at facing off against competitors from across the Pacific because they are just too good…