Igarashi on making Bloodstained a game for fans, making more games, Bloodstained’s female lead

A portion of a Gamasutra interview with Koji Igarashi…

GS: So you’re making another Igavania, as the fans like to call them. Is this because it’s something you truly wanted to do, or is it more for the fans?

KI: There’s no doubt that I love this genre myself. But in a related topic, I think the answer to this question is what makes us different from “indies.” When I think of indie, I believe an indie game is based on a developer’s personal preference.

For Bloodstained, this is a title that started out on Kickstarter to answer the fans’ wish for another Igavania game, moreso than what I want to create. I feel that it is my duty to answer the fans’ wishes first, and so I’ve been shaping the game’s vision in that direction.

GS: Are you hoping to make the perfect vision for this kind game and move on to something else, or do you want to keep working on Igavanias as long as people want them?

KI: We’re hoping to create new kinds of games eventually, but right now we want to focus on franchising Bloodstained and have it really stick with the gamers. We’ll be creating at least one more game in this genre. This time around we wanted to emphasize that nostalgia, and focus on recreating the same gameplay experience players got in the past. In the future, we will continue adding new ideas and features regardless of whether we’re staying with this kind of game or genre.

GS: Bloodstained has a female lead, which is great. Japan’s bosses use to say having female leads would mean a game wouldn’t sell. How do you feel about that?

KI: A large reason for choosing a female lead was the Kickstarter. When we thought about collecting funds from Kickstarter, and thought about the modern social movement in America, having a female lead felt right, but also calculated. But in the end I could care less whether the lead is male or female as long as the game is fun to play. I did have a challenging time coming up with the story, but that could be said for a lead character of any gender.

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The Pokemon Worlds 2017 Is a Wrap – Full list of winners and recap vid

Check out the full list of tournament videos here

The final matches have concluded here at the 2017 Pokémon World Championships and the new Champions have been crowned! Before cheering fans here at the Anaheim Convention Center and online around the world, the best Pokémon TCG and video game players gave it their all to take home the title.

Pokemon TCG Finals

Junior Division Final: Tobias Strømdahl (NO) vs. Minaki Hasegawa (JP)

The Pokémon TCG competitors kicked off the action on Sunday morning, starting with the Junior Division. Tobias Strømdahl of Norway faced off against Minaki Hasegawa of Japan. Both competitors were playing Gardevoir-GX decks, an intriguing matchup where being overaggressive can prove extremely costly. This dynamic played out in the first game as the players traded big hits once the action heated up. Ultimately, Tobias managed to hold on in an exciting opening game.

He wasn’t so lucky in the second game. Minaki was first to play and got off to a great start; Gardevoir-GX deck users prefer to go first because they can begin evolving quickly. After Tobias failed to get anything going, he conceded to give him plenty of time for the final game.

Tobias regained his footing in the third match, and was able to attack Minaki’s Kirlia before they could fully evolve into Gardevoir-GX. The key to his match was wise use of the Guzma Supporter card to create favorable head-to-head matchups for his Pokémon. And in the end, Tobias managed to edge Minaki in a riveting match to become the Pokémon TCG Junior Division World Champion!

Watch the match between Pokémon TCG Junior Division World Champion Tobias Strømdahl and Runner-Up Minaki Hasegawa.

Senior Division Final: Zachary Bokhari (US) vs. Michael Long (CA)

The awesome action continued as the Pokémon TCG Senior Division finalists Zachary Bokhari of the United States sat down across from Michael Long of Canada. This was a battle of Water-type Pokémon, with Zachary playing an Alolan Ninetales-GX deck and Michael playing his well-practiced Greninja BREAK deck. The big question going in was whether Zachary could use Giratina to limit the damage Michael could do with Greninja BREAK’s Giant Water Shuriken Ability.

In the first match, Zachary was able to execute his game plan smoothly, getting Tapu Koko into play early to spread a little damage among all of Michael’s Pokémon. With that done, he could bring up Alolan Ninetales-GX and use its Blizzard Edge attack to knock out Greninja BREAK in one shot, or KO weaker Benched Pokémon with the Ice Blade attack. Zachary had the magic touch in drawing Double Colorless Energy to keep up the onslaught seemingly every turn, and he eventually took the first match.

The second game was one of Sunday’s most interesting . Zachary opened with a terrible opening hand, and had to discard it with Professor Sycamore on the first turn. By contrast, Michael was able to get running with an early Frogadier, getting his Bench in proper order right away. Zachary had to play catch-up with aggressive play, which meant a lot of cards hitting the discard pile via Professor Sycamore and Ultra Ball. But Michael was also down to few offensive options himself. In one of the most memorable moments of the tournament, Michael’s Froakie used Bubble successfully in consecutive turns to cause Paralyze on Zachary’s Active Pokémon. Unable to attack, retreat, or switch out, Michael ran out of cards in his deck for a stunning game-two loss.

The decisive game three started very much in Zachary’s favor, as two of Michael’s valuable Frogadier were among his Prize cards. Michael played valiantly, staying in the match by using Super Rod and Rescue Stretcher to retrieve important Pokémon. But Zachary stayed aggressive and took the last game without conceding a single Prize card, earning himself the title of Pokémon TCG Senior Division World Champion.

Watch the match between Pokémon TCG Senior Division World Champion Zachary Bokhari and Runner-Up Michael Long.

Masters Division Final: Diego Cassiraga (AR) vs. Nanto Suzuki (JP)

The Masters Division World Championship finals featured Diego Cassiraga of Argentina versus Naoto Suzuki of Japan, two players who demonstrate the best of what Pokémon TCG gameplay has to offer. Diego brought a Gardevoir-GX deck, while Naoto went with a Garbodor and Golisopod-GX deck. Beyond the decks being played, this was truly a battle of minds, with every decision made under utmost focus. The crowd was definitely in for a treat.

Opening the first game, Naoto was able to set his Bench up quickly, while Diego struggled to get going. Diego began with two of his Kirlia among his Prize cards, which meant he’d have to rely on Rare Candy to get his game going—something he doesn’t want to do with Garbodor and Trashalanche lurking. But it was Naoto’s other Garbodor, with Garbotoxin, that had a big impact on this game, shutting down Tapu Lele-GX’s Wonder Tag and Gardevoir-GX’s Secret Spring Abilities. Fortunately for Diego, a couple well-timed Field Blowers gave him the window he needed to eke out a victory in the first game.

The second game was more even, with neither player willing to go on the offensive too early. Despite the deliberate pace, fans were treated with the opportunity to watch two competitors at their top of their game. Throughout the tournament, these were players who very rarely made mistakes. The second game was notable once again for Naoto’s Garbodor and its Garbotoxin Ability, this time affecting Diego’s Octillery and the drawing power of its Abyssal Hand Ability. At the perfect moment, Diego drew a Field Blower off the top of his deck, allowing him to remove the Pokémon Tool card attached to Garbodor, and thus shutting off Garbotoxin. Diego then played N to get Naoto’s hand down to a single card. Naoto didn’t get the card he needed and was forced to pass, opening the door for Diego to become the new Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion! This is the third top-8 finish for Diego in the 13 years he has attended the Pokémon World Championships.

Watch the match between Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion Diego Cassiraga and Runner-Up Naoto Suzuki.

Pokemon VGC Finals

Junior Division Final: Nicholas Kan (AU) vs. Tomás Serrano (ES)

The Junior Division finals pitted Australia’s Nicholas Kan against Spain’s Tomás Serrano. Nicholas was a heavy favorite coming in—not only had he won the three previous International Championships, but his Championship Points total of 2310 this year absolutely dwarfed Tomás’s 365. None of that mattered once the finals started, though; both Trainers needed to win just two of the three games in front of them to become World Champion.

Nicholas scored a key knock out on Tomás’ Hariyama early in the first game with Gyarados’ Supersonic Skystrike. Losing the Arm Thrust Pokémon so easily lost Tomás his best solution to Snorlax, but the duo of Oranguru and Gigalith battled back to give Tomás the advantage. Nicholas kept up his conservative play, however, and without Hariyama on the field Tomás was unable to break through Snorlax in the match’s first game.

Tomás needed to make some adjustments to perform better in the second game, but the Pokémon prodigy Nicholas Kan showed off his impressive skills by making his own adaptations. Nicholas opted to use the Snorlax who won him game one as a decoy in game two. Instead of quickly defeating Tomás’s Hariyama again, Nicholas allowed it to try to attack his Snorlax, which he withdrew and replaced with Gyarados. This enabled him to score a quick knockout on Oranguru before it could help Gigalith run wild the way it did in game one, and put him in an excellent position to take the match.

Check out the VGC Junior Division Finals here

Senior Division Final: Hong Juyoung (KR) vs. Yuki Wata (JP)

2016 World Championships Runner-Up Yuki Wata matched up against three-time Korean National Champion Hong Juyoung in a star-studded Senior Division final. This was a rematch of a quarterfinal bout at last year’s World Championships—where Japan’s Yuki Wata came out on top.

Juyoung’s strategy focused on wearing down Yuki’s Tapu Fini so that he could set up Trick Room with Porygon2 and go to town with his slowest attackers. He seemed to be succeeding in game one—aided by some misfired Muddy Water attacks—but Yuki’s Kartana unexpectedly stuck around in Trick Room long enough to catch Juyoung’s Mudsdale with a Leaf Blade, earning Yuki the first game.

Mudsdale and Tapu Fini continued to be key Pokémon for the remainder of the series. Yuki looked to find more ways to protect his Tapu Fini long enough to take care of Juyoung’s Mudsdale, while Juyoung grew much more conservative about the risk to which he was willing to expose the Draft Horse Pokémon. The Senior Division finals was one of the closest matches we’ve ever seen, with both sides narrowly surviving attacks and making decisive predictions to gain advantages.

Check out the VGC Senior Division Finals here

Masters Division Final: Ryota Otsubo (JP) vs Sam Pandelis (AU)

The Masters Division finals pitted 2017 Japanese National Champion Ryota Otsubo against Australia’s Sam Pandelis, who was returning after a top-16 finish at last year’s World Championships.

One of the key characteristics of Ryota’s team is a wealth of Pokémon capable of dealing large bursts of damage, which can allow him to take advantages early in matches. Sam’s Ninetales ensured his team would be able to stand up to Ryota’s assault by setting up an Aurora Veil aided by Light Clay. Even though Ryota was able to dismiss Ninetales on the first turn of the game, it wasn’t enough. Sam’s Garchomp and Xurkitree were able to boost their stats under Aurora Veil’s protection, setting up a decisive game one victory for the Australian.

The Japanese National Champion brought his Whimsicott in game two, giving him access to Tailwind so that he could match Sam’s Mandibuzz. But it was Marowak’s Brick Break attack that proved decisive for Ryota in Game Two. The Fighting-type move can break barriers like Ninetales’ Aurora Veil, which allowed Ryota to break down Sam’s primary strategy.

The third game opened with one of Pokémon’s strangest interactions. Ryota attempted to use Z-Nature Power, a move that gains increased priority because of Whimsicott’s Prankster Ability. Even though Z-Nature Power normally becomes Twinkle Tackle on Misty Terrain, a Dark-type Pokémon’s immunity to moves enhanced by Prankster still applies. Whimsicott targetted Mandibuzz, so Ryota lost his Z-Move for nothing on the first turn of the match. Despite the early miscue, Ryota rallied, making for another unbelievable match.

Check out the VGC Masters Division Finals here

Once again, congratulations to the 2017 World Champions, including our Pokkén Tournament World Champion Tonosama and Runner-Up Mikukey_HOMURA!

And look forward to the 2018 Pokémon World Championships, coming next summer to… Nashville, Tennessee!

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Game Of Thrones Has Truly Stopped Making Sense

Spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 6, “Beyond the Wall,” below

Things are not working out for our heroes on Game of Thrones, as Season 7, Episode 6, “Beyond the Wall,” saw Jon, Dany, Sansa, and Arya all in precarious positions, teetering on the brink of total failure and major losses. It’s just too bad so much of it barely makes sense.

The show has had trouble getting the details of timing, place, and motivations right ever since its first forays beyond the books on which it used to be based. Remember when Jon took on the mutineers at Craster’s keep back in season 4, and not one person present mentioned that they’d recently had three children and a simple giant as house guests? That event, which had no analog in the source material, was the first of Game of Thrones’ many major logical missteps. And it just peaked in “Beyond the Wall.”

Forget, for a second, the absurdly convenient series of coincidences that somehow brought Jon Snow, Gendry, Jorah Mormont, the Hound, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros, and Davos together for one glorious suicide mission. The real problem is that their quest makes no sense, which they would have realized if the show had time for them to actually stop and think about anything.

Sure, it’s easy to say in the bloody aftermath: Dany just lost a dragon, a devastating blow to the forces of life, and for what? So Jon could capture a wight and bring it King’s Landing, to get Cersei on their side? But they should have realized even in the thick of it: There’s truly no universe in which Cersei would ever team up with her Targaryen and Stark enemies.

Facts and evidence have no effect on Cersei’s actions or positions. If she’s going to remain at all consistent as a character, she’ll come up with some justification for dismissing what’s before her eyes, should the captured wight ever actually reach her. The plan was hopeless to begin with, as several of those involved–chiefly Tyrion–should have been prescient enough to realize.

The second massive problem: There are no rules to what makes you a wight, and the plot is suffering because of it. Is it dying beyond the wall that turns you into a frosty soldier? Do you have to get stabbed or bit by an existing ice zombie? Why do they need to find the actual forces of the dead to capture one of them, when Jon, at the very least, is aware that corpses in the North tend to turn on their own (which is why he burns Thoros’s body)? Sure, it would have been out of character for him to coldly kill a guy ten feet past the wall to find out, but what about whoever got owned by that zombie bear? They could have turned around right then and avoided this whole travesty, if anyone (characters or the show’s writers) was using their brains.

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That’s not even getting into the minute-to-minute details this week. Why on earth did they undertake the journey north on foot, instead of horseback (besides the show’s already strained budget)? Why did the Night’s King let them sit on that rocky island for so long without even trying to send his extremely expendable forces across? If the narrative excuse is he was using them as bait, how could he possibly know that they had any connection with the dragon queen, or that she’d foolishly try to rescue them?

Just how long were they sitting there, anyway? Game of Thrones has become unbelievably sloppy with distances and timing, but the usual excuse of “they’re just not showing the travel on-screen” really doesn’t hold up here. Exact numbers don’t exist, but there are easily thousands of miles between Dragonstone and the Wall, not to mention the distance the group might have traveled north of that. For Jon and co. to even reach Eastwatch should have taken far longer than this current war would allow, making the entire plan unworkable to begin with. Then for Gendry to jog back to the Wall, have a raven sent to Dany, and have Dany fly all the way back should have rightly taken weeks. Instead it all seems to happen in the space of a single day, or at most a few, which is simply complete and total nonsense.

More questions: Why did the Night’s King throw his magic ice javelin at the dragon in the air, instead of the one right in front of him, which also had Dany on its back? Afterward, why didn’t Dany turn Drogon around and roast his freezer-bitten butt, instead of letting him ready a second spear? How many times can Jon be rescued by convenient and predictable deus ex machina, a thing the show has relied on more and more in recent seasons, and what the heck was Benjen doing there at all? How was Jon able to drag himself up out of freezing water, onto ice, while wearing layers and pounds of water-soaked fur? Most importantly, why didn’t Jon just get on the dang dragon when they told him to?

Why exactly is Arya so mad at Sansa? What has Bran been doing this whole time? Where is Ghost, or Theon?

Elsewhere, why exactly is Arya so mad at Sansa? What has Bran been doing this whole time? Where is Ghost, or Theon? Why did Sansa send Brienne far away after being specifically advised to keep her close? There are discussions to be had and theories to debate about the characters’ rationales and reasonings, but Game of Thrones, in its penultimate season, no longer has the time or the inclination to care about these details. The series that used to spend episodes and seasons laying groundwork for big pay-offs is now only interested in the latter, and it’s suffering for it.

Without the A Song of Ice and Fire books on which to lean, Game of Thrones the show has trouble standing up under its own weight. It’s flashy and full of fan service, and viewers (myself included) love it for that. Who among us doesn’t, deep down, enjoy watching these plot threads finally, finally coalesce and resolve? It’s all happening, from Jon and Dany’s romance to the Starks’ family reunion. It’s just not making a whole lot of sense in the process, especially as Season 7 rockets toward its finale. And although it’s painful to admit, Game of Thrones the show has proved a poor replacement for the thoughtfully crafted, exquisitely plotted, and painstakingly detailed books that have yet to be completed.

As always, George R.R. Martin can’t write quickly enough. I’m eager to get back to the real thing.

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Review: Yakuza Kiwami

Review: Yakuza Kiwami screenshot

Remakes in the gaming space have kind of gone the way of the dodo. With HD remasters being a lot easier to produce, most publishers don’t feel the need to commission full-on restorations of their back catalogs anymore. The last time we saw some truly extensive remakes was back in the early ‘00s with Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (both on GameCube, coincidentally).

Whether or not Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio’s intent with Yakuza Kiwami was to fully remake the original classic or just update it is irrelevant; the end result is that we’ve gotten a smoother, prettier version of the first Yakuza title that doesn’t take advantage of every update done to the series over the years.

It still makes for a kick-ass game, even if it’s not the definitive version of the legendary title.

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