On tonight's episode shot on location in Tokyo, the X-Play crew explores the fabulous world of Japanese games and the culture surrounding them. Like our preview of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. Mario wears a lot of hats -- not in the literal sense, as he's rarely seen without the trademark red "M," but more in the sense that he golfs, races, and hosts some wild parties. While not his highest-profile gaming exploit, Mario is no stranger to role-playing games. From the Square-developed Super Mario RPG on SNES to this year's GBA sensation, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the plumber has been adding his own twist to the genre for years. And X-Play examines his latest foray into RPGs, and why falling flat may actually be a good thing.
We'll say this for Koei: it knows its fan base. For years, the company's Dynasty Warriors series has exploited a heady mixture of Chinese history and button mashing almost to exhaustion. With the recent release of Samurai Warriors for the Xbox, it finally turned an eye (and the same formula) on Japan. The result is, shockingly, pretty much like Dynasty Warriors with different characters and weapons. Check out our review to see why.
The '90s were, for a while, the heyday for companies like Capcom, and in 1991, the company released a game that changed the face of gaming. Street Fighter II wasn’t the first attempt at a truly deep 2D fighting game (SNK’s World Heroes and, the arguably better Fatal Fury 2 were neck-and-neck with Capcom), but Capcom’s more mainstream approach and success in arcades created a revolution in fighting games. The original Street Fighter was an interesting, if almost unplayable attempt, but with the sequel, Capcom struck gold. Then, it proceeded to pound the series into the ground with an incredible amount of minor upgrade releases to the point where “beating a dead horse” should have become the company tagline. Find out if a walk down memory lane is a good thing with our review of Street Fighter Anniversary Collection. Smarty Jones may have piqued interest in horse racing for the time being, but it's only a matter of time until the sport sinks right back down into the depths of obscurity with other "games" like croquette and yard darts. Truth be told, if you couldn't bet on horse racing, we doubt it would exist at all. Of course, this hasn't stopped the Japanese from becoming completely obsessed with it, and the latest fad from the land of the rising sun to come stateside is horse racing video games. See how Gallop Racer 2004 saddles up on tonight's episode.
With the tactical RPG genre being stronger than ever, Disgaea and La Pucelle Tactics developer, Nippon Ichi Software, has opened up its own US publishing branch. Why not? After all, the company is practically unopposed in the genre. As a sequel of sorts to the two aforementioned titles, no one would've blamed NIS America -- the company's new name in the States -- for merely tweaking a formula that has proven successful. Instead, Phantom Brave introduces genre-changing mechanics to make the spiciest tactical-RPG gumbo X-Play has ever tasted.
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