News: Lara Is No Lazarus

...Even as Square Enix took a gun to their own proverbial foot!
Poor Lara has taken a mauling…

Tomb Raider Fails to Rise

Fallout 4 is a big deal. The game might have not blown anyone’s mind with respect to innovating upon the Fallout 3 formula, but in terms of sales potential the game is a monster – and Square Enix and/or Microsoft were literally insane to launch Rise of the Tomb Raider within the same week. The jury is still out on how Rise of the Tomb Raider performed in North America, but in terms of UK sales [the most Microsoft-friendly region of Europe] it is fairly safe to say that the title underwhelmed.

The game is known to have sold fewer than 60,000 copies in the UK, with the breakdown thought to be 48,200 on Xbox One and 8,500 copies on the 360. By contrast Fallout 4 sold 482,000 copies for the week, with the PS4 version alone selling more than the combined first week sales of both Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5. 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot managed to 183,000 copies during its first week on sale in the UK, meaning that the PS4 version will have to sell roughly twice as many copies in its first week in order to merely place it on par with the performance of its predecessor, a feat that is unlikely to happen for three important reasons. It will be a year old game that will have been languishing on the shelves for a full twelve months, its release will follow the highly anticipated release of Uncharted 4, and the reason for the game’s delay has been due to Square Enix fuckarsing about with Microsoft exclusivity shenanigans, a practice which only serves to hurt Playstation owners.

Square Enix would have anticipated that holding back the launch on the PS4 would harm that version’s sales, and this would likely have been factored into the money that Microsoft paid to them to secure exclusivity. That being said, it becomes increasingly unlikely that either party would have predicted that exclusivity would have harmed Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s sales by quite this much. This is a classic lose-lose-lose-lose situation. Microsoft money will not compensate Square Enix for lost sales, Microsoft has wasted money seeing as Tomb Raider exclusivity has clearly failed to cause much of a spike in Xbone sales, Sony-based Tomb Raider fans are artificially prevented from playing the game for twelve months, and Xbone owners miss out on having this money spent on something more useful to them. The funny thing is that Square Enix’s reason for doing this was in order to grow the Tomb Raider brand by pairing it with Microsoft’s advertising muscle, yet they have only succeeded in shrinking the audience and pissing off Playstation owners with their lack of coherent communication about the game’s exclusive status.

Amusingly, at least one Sony executive was not above concern trolling Square Enix’s misfortunes this week, as the senior product manager, Chris Brown, took to twitter to proclaim:

Poor Tomb Raider. UK sales: Rise of the Tomb Raider <63k. And #Fallout4 - despite Microsoft Xbox One support - still sold better on PS4.

He was then joined by the director of Driveclub, Paul Rustchynsky, who opined:

Don’t worry Tomb Raider will do just fine next year when it’s released on PS4 next year ;)

One is inclined to disagree with Rutchynsky, as, even if Square Enix can avoid putting it up against a massive title like Fallout 4, it still seems unlikely that Rise of the Tomb Raider will do anywhere near as well on the PS4 as it should have. Smart PS4 owners will not pay $60 for a year old game, and are likely to either wait until the game falls in price, else Gamefly it. At any rate, the game’s performance in America is still an unknown quantity, so it is still possible that strong support in the US could compensate for a weak showing in the UK. Whatever the case, launching during a crowded holiday season is perhaps not the finest hour for Square Enix corporate strategies.

It is genuinely baffling that Square Enix has not attempted this until now...
Project Setsuna is set to take its cues from the finest JRPG of the SNES generation.

New Details Emerge About Project Setsuna

Project Setsuna is a JRPG being developed for the express purpose of appealing to fans of 1990s style JRPGs, which means that Project Setsuna is a JRPG being developed for the express purpose of appealing to! It promises exploration across vast world maps, through towns, and even inside houses! Square Enix has desperately needed to make an RPG in this vein for about ten years now – one that scales back its graphical ambitions in order to scale up its design ambitions [one is deathly weary of their visually opulent one-note facades]. Happily for fans of gaming’s golden era, Square Enix has this week seen fit to update the game’s website with several new descriptions.

Traveling to the farthest ends of the earth, the escort group progresses onward visiting various towns, preparing equipment, and defeating wild monsters along the way. We are pursuing the fundamental enjoyment of an RPG where the progress is truly felt. has previously mentioned that the game features an ATB battle system, and based on that coupled with seamless battle transitions we theorised that the game would be using an ATB similar to the one found in Chrono Trigger. As it turns out we were bang on the money, with the site now confirming that Project Setsuna uses an iteration of the ATB 2.0 battle system of Chrono Trigger – meaning that players can look forward to the flexibility that that system affords, such as range playing a part in attack strategies, and the ability to time the attacks of party members in order to create useful combinations. Built on top of the excellent foundation offered by ATB 2.0 is the Setsuna system. The Setsuna gauge will fill up as characters perform actions, take damage, and as time passes in battle. Players can then tap into this resource through correctly timing their button presses during battles, which will add additional effects to attacks.

The site also details two of the game’s party members, Kuon and Yomi. Kuon was a mysterious wanderer who eventually took up residence in the game’s starting village, and is regarded as a sister by the game’s titular sacrificial character, Setsuna. Kuon apparently feels a strong sense of responsibility, and experiences a certain amount of friction with the game’s silent protagonist. Meanwhile Yomi is a veteran of a previous sacrifice pilgrimage, leading the party to seek his advice on the journey at hand. He is often times excessively cheerful, and as such he is sometimes mistaken as a fool. Yomi appears to be the ‘old man’ character of the group, which probably means he is about thirty.

The usefulness of emulation will depend to a large degree on the extent to which Sony is prepared to support it.
A robust PS2 library would make the PS4 an instantly more attractive proposition.

PS2 Emulation Finally Hits the PS4

The road to PS4 backwards compatibility has been a long and windy one. PS3 backwards compatibility is still no nearer to becoming a reality, and will probably always be relegated to Playstation Now, yet PS2 emulation has long been rumoured to be on the cards. Because of the lack of official confirmation along with the relative scarcity of information pertaining to the project, it has often been easily dismissed as merely being a rumour, yet ultimately this week has seen the debut of PS2 emulation on PS4.

Given that PS2 emulation on the PS4 is something of a holy grail, it is somewhat curious as to why Sony decided to put it out there with so little. Instead of crying it from the rooftops Sony stealth released it this week through the emulation of Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter, Star Wars: Racer Revenge, and Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, all games that are only available to buyers of the Star Wars Battlefront PS4 console bundle, limiting their penetration somewhat among PS4 owners. Make no mistakes however, these games have been tested and they are definitely running on emulation. For one thing they show the PS2 logo when launching, and for another they also emulate the function of the PS2’s memory cards in much the same way as was done with PS2 Classics on the PS3.

In terms of technical aspects, game performance is much improved, with at least one of the games seeing a boost in framerate from 30fps to 60fps. Resolution also sees a welcome boost, although not to 1080p as one might have hoped for. Instead the resolution is set to 1292×896, which is a little bit better than 720p. The games also enjoy full trophy support, which leads one to speculate that they are using individual emulation wrappers rather than a comprehensive system-wide emulation solution – this in turn likely means that we never be able to play back our existing PS2 disc collections.

...And that's as it should be.
There is always a tsundere one…

Anime Spotlight: Anti-Magic Academy: The 35th Test Platoon / Taimadou Gakuen 35 Shiken Shoutai

Anti-Magic Academy is a fantasy harem series which is situated around an academy which specialises in training up witch hunters to seek and destroy magical threats. Events focus around the 35th test platoon, which has been nicknamed Small Fry Platoon, on account of the fact that it is comprised of individuals with uncooperative personalities and other such personality defects. Of course, if Small Fry Platoon could but overcome their personal ticks then they have the potential to become the top class in the school. Takeru Kusanagi is inexperienced as a commanding officer, yet he is caring and supportive of his fellow team members, making him well suited to leadership. Ōka Ōtori is the loner prodigy of the group, so readers will already know who plays the role of tsundere. Of course this party would not be quite complete without the emotional one [Usagi Saionji] and the genius one [Ikaruga Suginami], so we had better add those ladies to the mix to get a proper harem.

Anti-Magic Academy debuted on October 7, and is scheduled to run for twelve episodes – there are currently seven episodes available. The series is simulcast on Crunchyroll Wednesdays at 10:45am PST.


  1. I find the whole Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusivity situation funny. Perhaps Square Enix will learn to not make a large scale AAA game exclusive to a console that has been playing catch-up since its launch. Did they not learn anything from the Tomb Raider reboot? That game came out multi-platform immediately and STILL didn’t make enough money. Releasing the same week as Fallout 4 also probably didn’t help.

    (In fact, looking back even further, the first Tomb Raider game back in the ’90s was supposed to be a Sega Saturn exclusive, and that version completely bombed. You’d think Crystal Dynamics would’ve passed that info along to SE that PlayStation owners enjoy their Tomb Raider)

    I’m really looking forward to Project SETSUNA. It’d be nice to play a JRPG that hearkens back to the days of yore. I miss towns and world maps.

  2. I doubt Square Enix cares about the poor sales. The money Microsoft gave them for the yearlong exclusivity is probably enough to make them happy. As for the PS4 version, I doubt they’ll really market it if Final Fantasy XV is really coming out. And if it’s gonna cost full price, it better have all the DLC that it’s bound to receive on Xbone.

    I’m sad that the game has been buried like this. I feel for the developers. I hear the people that played it really enjoyed it.

  3. I understand that, by all accounts, Rise of the Tomb Raider is at worst an exceptionally competent game. So, it’s certainly the sort of experience that most main-stream gamers would likely enjoy. Unfortunately, money has come together to ensure that, at least for the present, there won’t be an audience for it.

    We need Setsuna. The world needs Setsuna. I need Setsuna. Get on it.

  4. I quite enjoyed 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot (on PC, of course. What am I, hourly?). In fact, it may have been my favorite game of 2013.

    I am quite upset that the Windows-based version was delayed, not because additional time necessary to ensure a competent port, but to give a console I have not bought and will not buy an exclusive to bolster its flagging sales. A quite-packed release schedule early next year (and likely holdovers from this year’s holiday releases) means that it will have to be relegated to “oh yeah, Steam sale today” status rather than a full-price purchase. Sorry, CD and Square.

  5. @Lane:

    I am quite upset that the Windows-based version was delayed, not because additional time necessary to ensure a competent port, but to give a console I have not bought and will not buy an exclusive to bolster its flagging sales.

    This is the worst part of it; a perfectly decent game has been sacrificed on the altar of avarice to a god which is already dead.

  6. I had hoped, perhaps naively, that with the advent of all three major consoles being run on x86 platforms and using GDDR5 based GPUs that we might see a grand unification of the platforms, with games both major and minor enjoying cross-platform development and greater compatibility. I had hoped that publishers would realize that ensuring a game was as widely available as possible was a sensible business strategy now that “porting” doesn’t require such arduous work.

    Instead, I find just the opposite is true, and from Square, a company that has recently begun to reinvest in the PC market by releasing some truly excellent PC versions of its games both recent and classic, to pull a stunt like this verges on madness. I cannot believe that the blood money Microsoft coughed up to get an “exclusive” title like Rise of the Tomb Raider outstrips the money Square could have made off PS4 fans and PC fans. Especially given that the last major release for the PS4 was what, the expansion to Bloodborne? Another “exclusive” that we know will appear, as almost all From Software games have, on the PC and Xbone eventually?

    The point of this already too-long rant is that with the homogenization of hardware and the maturity of code bases we are seeing of late, we ought to be throwing our money at publishers who realize three markets is better than one or two. Instead, we see hardware manufacturers getting graspy trying to justify why I should purchase their console over any other, when that’s backwards. Given what consoles do nowadays, I would choose the console that provides me the best interface, the most power, and the fastest times switching between Netflix or Plex and playing a game. Win me over with competent hardware and I’ll stay for the games. Don’t expect me to buy hardware just for a game. That’s when you’ll lose me.

  7. Especially given that the last major release for the PS4 was what, the expansion to Bloodborne? Another “exclusive” that we know will appear, as almost all From Software games have, on the PC and Xbone eventually?

    Sony’s Japan studio was involved with the development of Bloodborne, so, I may be wrong here, but I wouldn’t expect to see it on Xbone. PC is still a fairly strong possibility, but then Demon’s Souls never made it to PC.

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