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The announcement that Capcom's Monster Hunter Freedom Unite was made just over a week ago, but even so I couldn't help but be surprised to find it on display at their E3 booth. Even if it was tucked away in a quiet, forgotten corner.
I jumped in after someone left a quest partway through, just to see how it all works. And I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn't set the bar for touch controls or anything, but the interface works pretty darn well. Moving is done with a virtual stick on the left side of the screen, swiping the screen moves the camera while tapping resets it behind the character, and a series of virtual buttons and sliders on the right allow you to attack/block/dodge roll with relative ease. It took some getting used to as this control scheme is more in-line with the classic system from the original that relied on attacking with the right analog stick, but overall it worked quite well. making the button for harvesting, climbing, and so on contextual was also a good call.
The verdict is still out until we get the chance to review Monster Hunter Freedom Unite later this summer, but so far it's looking like a very respectable port of one of Japan's most popular series.
The official word has just been given over at Capcom Unity: Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is officially coming to the US App store. And it's coming soon!
Unlike Monster Hunter Dynamic Hunting, Freedom Unite is a fully-fledged adventure. You'll be tracking and hunting monsters through a variety of environments, gathering materials to create your own items, collecting parts to craft better weapons and armor - everything that made the series a major success overseas is here.
There's still no word on price, but if the Japanese App Store listing is any indication it seems safe to assume Monster Hunter Freedom Unite will go for around $15.
Ever wanted to play Super Smash Bros. while on the move? Of course! Anyone with sense would want that! While Nintendo haven't quite made the move to mobile just yet (but we can hope, right?), that doesn't stop a similar experience from hopefully coming to iOS soon, courtesy of zGames. That title is Fright Fight, a horror-themed game inspired by Mario's brawling ways.As is increasingly common these days, Fright Fight's development is being supported by a Kickstarter campaign which has just launched. As the project page explains, the hope is that Fright Fight will be the first 3D cross-platform mobile fighting game, with the plan being to port it to systems such as OUYA and Nvidia Shield as well as iOS and Android. Free-to-play, many of the pledge rewards relate to the acquisition of in-game coins or the unlocking of characters in order to give early backers an extra edge. It's shaping up to look pretty good so we had a word with Game Designer, Pavel Shtangeev, to learn more.
148Apps: Inspiration has clearly been taken from Super Smash Bros. but what other games have inspired Fright Fight?
Pavel Shtangeev (PS): Devil May Cry series: Additional inspiration for [the] battle mechanics, Diablo series [for the] RPG elements, Pokemon series for some gameplay elements and RPG mechanics, Awesomenauts [for some of the] gameplay elements, world and level design, art style. A lot of other games have minor influence on the game: Marvel vs. Capcom, DOTA, Quake III, etc. The list can go on forever.
148Apps: Has anything non-gaming related inspired it? Such as in terms of the choices of characters available?
PS: A lot of classic horror novels and movies influenced our decisions for worlds to include and characters to add. Still, we added twists to most of them. For example the vampire character is a combination of Carmilla from a classic novel of the same name and a mad variant of Luigi Galvani.
148Apps: How long has Fright Fight taken to develop?
PS: Right now, it's been 9 months in development.
148Apps: What challenges have you faced with making Fright Fight cross-platform?
PS: Unity3D makes things much easier, but certain problems still occur. These problems are mostly related to different form-factors of devices. NVIDIA SHIELD uses hard buttons instead of gestures so we put some tweaks here and there and remade all menus to fit both control schemes. OUYA uses bigger displays and this requires more advanced camera behavior, etc.
148Apps: The trailer suggests there will be RPG elements to Fright Fight. Can you elaborate on these?
PS: The game introduces a lot of classic RPG elements to the fighting formula: stats, skills, perks, etc. Right now, all characters already possess a full set of stats that can be upgraded through the course of the game. Moreover, each character is packed with an individual skill tree that allows customization of his attacks and play style. We have plans to introduce even more RPG elements by adding gear with different skins, items, and accessories and create pets that can aid characters in battle.
Thanks to Pavel for taking the time to answer our questions.
With the game already offering 3 different arenas, 4 different characters, and a fairly strong gesture-based control scheme, Fright Fight is shaping up nicely. Hopefully, by meeting its Kickstarter goal, the game will soon enjoy bot AI, and if the goal is beaten, new characters and arenas. For now, why not check out the teaser trailer and consider supporting the campaign?
The Game Breakers and Capcom have joined forces to bring VFX beat-em-up king Viewtiful Joe to Combo Crew as an extra playable character.
Players who are interested in using the goofy silver screen superhero can unlock him via in-app purchase for $1.99. To celebrate Joe's arrival (and possibly soften the blow of shelling out an extra $2 for a new character), Combo Crew is also going on sale for $0.99 until September 3.
Better "Henshin-a-go-go" check it out!
When the App Store first launched, five years ago, many of us were merely pleased to see any kind of game on there. It hadn't really occurred to anyone just what could really be done here. After all, so many years of Snake clones and earlier mobile versions of Gameloft titles, only go so far. 5 years later, we now know that some very impressive titles from the console and PC gaming catalogue can be converted across, and with some impressive results. Here's a look at our favorite four surprising console ports.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Arguably the most impressive port yet, the recently released XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a truly stunning game. Besides being one of the finest Turn Based Strategy games in years, its conversion is second to none. Touch screen controls are perfectly implemented here, and no compromises have needed to be taken. Those used to $0.99 purchases might feel it's a trifle expensive at $19.99, but there are a ridiculous number of hours of enjoyment to be had here.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
A delightful surprise for many, when it leapt onto the App Store, this classic BioWare RPG still stands tall today. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic won't hold its players' hands, potentially confusing newer games, but it's worth figuring out. It offers an exceptional story based gaming experience, the kind of which is rarely seen. The controls might not be perfect here, but it's forgivable thanks to being such a brilliant game.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Rockstar Games has done a fine job of converting some of its titles to iOS. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is the pinnacle, thus far. The strongest and most popular of GTA titles, it looks stunning on iOS as well as offers some appropriate controls to ensure everything feels smooth and well focused here. Most importantly, it's an ideal example of a title no one would have really expected to see five years ago.
Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD
It might not have the graphical prowess of the other entries here, but Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD was quite the delightful surprise when it made its way to iOS in its full entirety. Capcom has released many great console ports to iOS, but this one just about fought off the Street Fighter series for top spot. The series is like little else out there, requiring players to take the role of an attorney, as they explore crime scenes and use evidence appropriately throughout the court case. The adaptation is stunning, and a worthy example of how DS games can be translated to iOS.
Jason Citron is, without a doubt, a visionary when it comes to the App Store. His first game, along with then business partner Danielle Cassley, Aurora Feint launched with the App Store on July 10, 2008. It was, at the time, a quite ambitious game with graphics and compelling gameplay that outclassed many of the so-called larger games released at the time. Aurora Feint was the first review we posted here on 148Apps, and an early consumer favorite, reaching over one million users in the first nine months.
Aurora Feint integrated game-wide top player lists and some social interaction, also unseen at the time. Other developers were clamoring for those social gaming network features included in the game, simple as they were initially. That led to the launch of OpenFeint in early 2009. During it's three year run under Jason Citron, OpenFeint reached a total of 120 million players through integration with 7,000 games. OpenFeint was sold to Japan-based mobile gaming giant GREE in 2011 for $104 million. Jason left the company shortly after that. GREE closed down OpenFeint in 2012 when the company changed direction.
Jason Citron has taken all of his experience and his wish of creating a core gaming audience on the iPad and recently founded his next company Hammer & Chisel. Developing a MOBA type game, Fates Forever for the iPad is their first announced game.
Let's talk a bit to Jason about his experience in these past five years with the App Store.
148Apps: How has the App Store changed your professional life?
Jason Citron, Founder of Open Feint, Hammer & Chisel: Entirely! The year before the App Store was a really pivotal year in my life. I had quit the console games industry to attempt to start my own company. This was the time of "Web 2.0" sites. Facebook had just opened up their application platform. So I was working on these various website ideas that had elements of games in them. Fortunately, they weren't doing so well and I switched to building an iPhone game. That project shipped and eventually morphed into OpenFeint, which was a success beyond my wildest dreams. Having the opportunity to build and run a company that employed 100 people and had such a big market footprint was incredibly humbling and educational. I compare the experience to a trial by fire Business School. Now, I'm taking all those learnings and applying them to start Hammer & Chisel, my new gaming company.
They say that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. I suppose I was prepared to start a company and the App Store turned out to be the perfect opportunity. Lucky :-)
148Apps: You were first on the App Store with the original Aurora Feint. What was it like developing for the App Store back then?
Jason Citron: I actually started developing for iPhone before the official SDK was even announced. It was using this unofficial iPhone OS programming toolchain. I worked on some prototypes for a couple of months. One was a multiplayer fighting game that used the wolverine character sprite from Marvel Vs. Capcom! When Apple released the real SDK I had this hunch that the App Store would be like a new console launch: the few games "on the shelf" on day 1 would get a ton of customers. So I got a bit more serious and teamed up with my cofounder to start on Aurora Feint. We ended up building that game in just under 3 months. It involved a lot of all nighters, sleeping in the corners of the office, and general insanity. We submitted to Apple the day before the App Store opened and got approved as one of 400 launch apps.
I actually have a distinct memory of waking up the morning the App Store opened. At 10am it was supposed to "turn on" so people could start downloading apps. I had our database open and kept hitting refresh to see if any players had launched the game. I was expected to get like 100 users in the first week. We ended up with something like 1,000 in the first hour. It was shocking. So began the crazy ride of the App Store.
148Apps: In the five years since launch, the App Store has gone through considerable changes. The number of users has skyrocketed along with downloads, prices for paid apps has stabilized way lower than many expected, free to play has dominated the top grossing charts. If, knowing what you know about the App Store now, you could go back and influence your path five years ago, what would you say?
Jason Citron: Honestly, the whole last five years was so rewarding for me that I don't think I would change anything. But, I suppose if I had to pick something, I think we should have made Aurora Feint use a respectful free to play monetization scheme. We had priced the first game at free and got a LOT of players. The second one we priced at $7.99 hoping to "upsell" people. We found out that first Christmas that $0.99 was the most successful price point for paid games. That failure led us to quickly pivot the company to the OpenFeint idea.
Like I said, not sure I would really change anything :-)
148Apps: What have you seen on the App Store, outside of apps published by
you, that has surprised you most?
Jason Citron: I expected very different kinds of applications to be popular on the iPhone, as opposed to say the PC Web. It turns out that almost every successful iPhone App has been a reinterpretation or straight up clone of a PC product but with a modern twist. For example, instagram is really just "flickr on the iPhone." The popular F2P sim games are all mostly the same as the Facebook games that came before them. Etc. This isn't to be disrespectful to any of those apps. Many of them are awesome. But I was surprised at this. I've since long changed my opinion on what that means for starting new businesses on new platforms.
148Apps: Any predictions on what the App Store will be like five years from now?
Jason Citron: Ahh predictions. Five years is a long time. Honestly I have no idea. If I had to wager a guess, not much will change. There will be many more customers. The economy will be bigger. There will be new waves of apps that have come and gone. Tablets will be much more significant then they are now. You'll have human beings who literally don't know what corded phone is. Who've never used a normal PC. Their expectations of what apps do for them will most certainly be different.
These days we tend to overestimate how much technology will change in 3 years but underestimate how much it will change in 10. Five years is comfortably in the middle.
Thanks very much to Jason Citron for his time.
Capcom has released Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright Trilogy HD to the App Store, featuring the first three games in the Ace Attorney series, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice For All, and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations, all re-created in HD. Prepare yourselves to defend the innocent and find the truth to save the day. The first two episodes of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney are free, while the rest cost $5.99. Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations cost $6.99 each, or you can unlock everything for $16.99.
By the way, the Trilogy also comes with an Everyone Object mode, allowing you to communicate your displeasure of everyday situations by tweeting "Objection!", "Hold it!", and "Take that!" along with an animated image from the game. That sounds fun to me! Well, for a little while, at least.
Pocket Gamer reports that Street Fighter IV is currently available to download for only $0.99 cents as part of Capcom's summer kickoff sale. The brawler features 14 characters with 11 different environments and an arcade mode to fight in head-to-head battles with your friends via Bluetooth.
Earlier we took a look at the history of Real Racing as well as that of Firemint itself, then it was on to the nitty gritty details of the Real Racing series' gameplay design issues. Now it’s time to talk about what could be one of Real Racing 3’s most revolutionary features: Time Shifted Multiplayer.
Of Two Minds
Most iOS gamers are familiar with the idea of asynchronous multiplayer at this point; one person takes a turn and submits it, then next person takes their turn whenever they’re able, and so on. Many iOS multiplayer games use this mechanic to great effect these days; Robot Entertainment’s stellar Hero Academy, OMGPOP’s Draw Something, and Playdek’s Penny Arcade The Game: Gamers vs. Evil are just a few examples.
It’s great for playing anything turn-based on the go because it enables players to jump in and make their move whenever it’s convenient for them. Taking a break to get lunch, turning off the phone for a few hours during a long trip, or even taking a break partway through a match are all possible thanks to this particular form of multiplayer.
Real-time multiplayer games are a bit more difficult to execute on iOS devices. Not so much because the technology isn’t there, but because the very nature of mobile platforms creates a different sort of “flow” for users who aren’t tied down to a particular location. And Game Center is still in its relative infancy, so setting up a match among friends typically requires a decent amount of prep work. Especially given the sheer number of titles available for most Apple products these days. Capcom’s Street Fighter IV Volt and Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 are both examples of this particular multiplayer type, and both fun games, but setting up a match takes more work than it does on many gaming platforms.
The fast paced nature of the gameplay and the speed with which most bouts are completed fit the real-time online play well, but it still requires players to find a good spot to stop for a moment if they want to get a match or two in. Or they could also always play to their heart’s content while relaxing at home or any other location with proper seating and wireless internet.
Real Racing 3’s Time Shifted Multiplayer is a sort of amalgamation of both asynchronous and simultaneous play, and could very well lead to some significant changes in how we play mobile games with other people in the near future.
“What could we do if we had no limitations?” is the mantra that was used throughout Real Racing 3’s development according to the game’s Development Director, Kynan Woodman. “The answer to that question for many of us," he said, "is that we would be able to play against our friends and other real people anytime and anywhere.” It might not seem like a big deal but not everyone has the same daily schedule.
Anyone who’s ever tried to play games online with a friends who lives in another state, even one that’s in the same time zone, knows just how problematic it can be at times to try and coordinate. Being able to play with friends without needing to adhere to a specific schedule means everyone can play when they have a moment rather than having to set aside a specific time or possibly turn down an open invitation.
And thus Time Shifted Multiplayer was conceptualized. Without worrying about whether it was “possible” or not, they got to work figuring out a way to combine the accessibility of asynchronous play with the pulse-pounding action of simultaneous play. In essence, it’s meant to be the best of both worlds.
Blazing a Trail
Firemonkeys hasn’t revealed the exact details of Time Shifted Multiplayer just yet, but it has explained the basics of how everything comes together in practice. When a Real Racing 3 player begins a race against someone else it’s not actually a direct competition.
Rather than racing against their opponent directly they’re in fact racing against “... their fully interactive time-shifted double," Woodman said, "which emulates their performance and skill.” In other words it’s like racing against their ghost, only this particular ghost is tangible. This “non-ghost” can be driven off the track, react to other racers jostling for position, and all the other stuff a real player would do automatically.
Imagine racing against a snapshot of another person; a sort of virtual player that’s compiled from data based around their particular skill level and performance. If left to its own devices it’ll achieve a time similar (if not equivalent to) the player’s original run, but that’s only if it’s left alone. This is, in essence, what Time Shifted Multiplayer is.
It’s never a good idea to get too far ahead of things when it comes to speculation, but it’s also incredibly difficult not to get swept up in all the Time Shifted Multiplayer madness. It’s a technology that combines the two primary forms of online play iOS users have come to rely on for all of their games, and as such stands to create quite a stir once more and more titles begin to adapt similar techniques. Fusing the play anywhere/anytime convenience typical of most mobile multiplayer games with the more directly interactive (and often more competitive) nature of real time multiplayer certainly seems like a brilliant idea on paper.
Firemint (and now Firemonkeys) has been on an interesting road trip up to now; full of all kinds of unexpected detours, the occasional paint job, maybe a trade-in here and there, picking up a few new passengers along the way, and bittersweet goodbyes to those who've been dropped off. Of course it's not over yet. There's still a lot of road to travel. We’ll have to wait until next month to see how well everything Firemonkeys has experienced and created comes together for the newest pit stop, but the potential is definitely there.