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|[ 05/14/03 ] = Did The Haircut Come With The Sunburn?
Hearing the recent wave of news with the coming E3, I have to say I was floored with what I've seen thus far. About this time every year, developers release a bit of info on what they will showcase at E3. Can't really remember what developers released info on last year pre-E3, but with what has been leaked so far, there's lots to be excited about in 2003. Here is my take on the projects Capcom has planned for 2003.
To start, Capcom's plans for 2003 already seem like they will surpass that of the previous year. With the initial disappointment regarding the future development of 2-D fighters, in 2003 Capcom had decided to pull out of the arcade industry. Although somewhat expected after seeing the plummeting figures of Capcom's arcade releases in the past two years, the announcement hurt. It hurt especially for those who had been born and raised in the arcades, playing the Capcom classics that we all know (or should) and love still today. Arcade games are essentially what put Capcom on the map and made them what they are today. For this reason, it was painful to hear that Capcom had made such a decision. Although it's not easy to forget a decision with such a profound impact on gaming, Capcom's 2003 plans sound good enough to convince fans that the developer still cares.
I was joyed when Capcom made their first endeavor into the realm of cell-shading with JoJo and Auto Modellista, and liked the smooth, sleek graphics and cool effects of both titles. However, I was more hyped when Capcom actually started to use the technique seriously with the recent Megaman Transmission. Not that Auto Modellista and JoJo weren't serious titles, but they were more of a testing ground to see what Capcom's staff could do with the technique after seeing what other developers did with it (Sega, Namco). Seeing Megaman in full cell-shaded glory via the GameCube-powered Megaman Transmission was awesome (despite what the softies at EGM have said). Seeing it was a life-changing experience (I will never be the same). Ever since Sega released Jet Grind Radio (the first game to utilize the technique of cell-shading), I always imagined what key Capcom names like Street Fighter or Megaman would look like if they were cell-shaded. While I thought the gameplay of Jet Grind Radio really was fresh and innovative, I often wondered what it would be like to have the side-scrolling jumping and blasting action of the Megaman games. I had hoped that Capcom was considering all of the possibilities of using cell-shading in their games, and they did not let me down. After testing the technique of cell-shading in the racer Auto Modellista, Capcom developed the beautifully animated Megaman Transmission and brought my dream of a cell-shaded Megaman to life. With Megaman Transmission, gamers saw the greatness that Capcom could create using the next-generation animation technique of cell-shading. Just look at the game. It is nothing short of awesome. Fans like myself could not help but to be hungry for more after seeing what Capcom did with Megaman Transmission (and Auto Modellista). Thankfully, it seems Capcom has taken enough liking to the technique of cell-shading to give hungry fans more in 2003. Gaming in 2003 already looks better than in 2002...
Recently, Capcom has released tidbits on titles Megaman X7 and Crimson Tears. Some say you can tell a lot from pictures, some say you can't. Some say that pictures don't lie. I say that from the pictures I've seen, the two games look beautiful. Powered by the PlayStation 2 hardware, Capcom has used the animation technique of cell-shading to make Megaman X7 and Crimson Tears visually stunning. Megaman X7 adds a new character to the already playable X and Zero, and is said to have a mixture of "2-D and 3-D" stages (whatever that means). My guess is that the game will play like a mixture of Strider 2 and Megaman 64, by the stage description given. Sounds good, in my opinion, because Capcom needs to put in some tweaks here and there in the action ("platformer") formula to keep people interested. I don't think that the Megaman X series needs this to survive, but I do think it is an interesting addition. This game was under wraps for a while, and the long wait was worth it from what I've seen. I think that Megaman X7 will be an unexpected rival of the highly-anticipated Metal Gear Solid 3. I would be nice to see Megaman X7 actually make the cover of a few magazines in any country (even if its a mag that makes me sick).
Capcom's most recently announced title: Crimson Tears. As if the title didn't already hint enough at the content, this game features sleek anime characters in a dark futuristic world, with lots of punching, kicking, big swords, thongs, guns, and explosions. Aesthetically, the game reminds me a bit of Sega's recent Shinobi, except that Crimson Tears isn't 3-D rendered as Shinobi was. Playable characters include two female knockouts dressed to kill, along with the standard male hero we've seen in just about every action title to date. Also in Crimson Tears are what appear to be some furious cinematics to help convey the story between the brawl sessions that take place. Oh man, this game looks like it will kick ass. Didn't get exact details on the gameplay, but it looks like the game will play somewhat like Final Fight, with the usual assortment of punches, kicks, and weapons to use against the enemy. Anyone who has read past articles on this site knows that I'm a fan of side-scrolling fighting games, and Crimson Tears looks like it will deliver the blistering action of a genre that is considered to be forgotten. Maybe the game will even take steps in the evolution of the side-scrolling fighting genre with its cell-shaded beauty. It would be great to see side-scrolling fighters make a come-back. I can almost taste it. Even if the game does venture out a bit and borrow elements from other genres to deliver a solid gameplay experience, I think the game will offer something that recent titles haven't. As much as Capcom has polished the graphics, I think that the gameplay will turn out to be just as polished. Together with Megaman Transmission and Megaman X7, Crimson Tears will show the graphical excellence capable of being produced through the technique of cell-shading. Can't wait to play Crimson Tears!
As if I wasn't already pleased with Megaman Transmission, excited about Killer 7, and to some extent looking forward to Viewtiful Joe, Capcom goes and gives me more to be excited about in 2003! The developer has once again come through, and is about to deliver two more cell-shaded action games complete with Capcom's signature animation and design. We all know of the greatness that Capcom has brought us in the past with their signature animation and design, right? I'm not a greey person, but seeing how well Megaman Transmission turned out, and how MMX7 and Crimson Tears are shaping up, I'm eager to see what Capcom will do with cell-shading in future titles (especially fighters). Brace yourself, Konami, Capcom's 2003 action line-up will be ready to take on your two Metal Gear Solid titles for 2003! Needless to say, Capcom has thankfully embraced the technique of cell-shading to animate a good number of their new titles, and things are looking pretty good.
Not stopping there, Capcom also announced an upgraded version of Auto Modellista in development for the GC hardware that will have new tracks, among other extras not found in the original title. Still, the releases of Killer 7 and Viewtiful Joe are on the horizon, as well. While I am anxious to see how Killer 7 turns out, I have to honestly say that I don't really like the design of Viewtiful Joe as much as the other cell-shaded titles Capcom has planned. However, I'm holding off judgment a bit until I have played it, since it looks like it based a bit off the "platformer" formula that I consider to be fun. I'll have to play Viewtiful Joe first, and then maybe I'll be a bit more excited. From what I've seen in the videos and screenshots, the effects look cool, but other than that, I'll have to really play this game to see just what the buzz is about. Oh man, I just noticed this is sounding like an article just on cell-shaded games. Alright, on to the closing line of this section. Hopefully Capcom will continue to develop with the technique well into the future and establish a reputation for quality cell-shaded animation just as they have with 2-D animation.
Just as in 2002, Capcom is giving gamers of the action genre more than they can chew (this is a good thing). Almost definitely due to the success of Megaman Zero, Capcom has revealed a bit of Megaman Zero 2. I had hoped that with the success of MMZ in the US that Capcom would consider a sequel, and before I knew it they had. From the screenshots it looks great graphically, and if it contains the gameplay that made the first game shine, it should do just as well (if not better). Still more, Capcom has released lots of information regarding Resident Evil 4 and Dino Crisis 3. Although I consider Resident Evil second to Megaman, I have to say Resident Evil 4 looks good. I think it's nice to see Capcom developing the latest (and possibly the best) entry on the GC hardware; the game looks like it could sell hardware single-handedly. The series has always been dark, but the darkness of RE4 walks a thin line between between horror and mental instability. Capcom has brought their own idea of "survival horror" to all new heights in Resident Evil 4. Sure, the game won't scare you when you're playing it; you'll be scared after you play it. Resident Evil 4 looks like the kind of game that will have you sleeping with the lights on.
An online cooperative Resident Evil game will also hit the PlayStation 2 hardware in 2003. While I think that the long-awaited cooperative option is a great addition, I'm a bit worried about a stateside release of this game. Due to the game system's reliance upon network compatibility, gamers outside of Japan might not be able to experience the intense cooperative zombie-blasting action that the game promises to deliver. Even if there is a US release planned, I would'nt to get too excited, considering how Capcom has pulled the plug on so many other titles in the past. Seeing how Capcom VS SNK 2 EO for XBox was the only Capcom fighter out of many to make it to the US from Japan with the online battle option intact, I'd be surprised if a US release of Resident Evil Outbreak actually came through. In the past with titles like Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, Spawn, and Capcom VS SNK, and even in the present with Marvel VS Capcom 2, Capcom USA has shown that they aren't concerned about the cries of fans for online play. Thus, it would be good if Resident Evil Outbreak actually came out in the states and Europe, but there's still doubt in my heart about this one actually making it past the stage of being formally announced for release. Then again, it is a Resident Evil game, and Capcom has made the series a priority since its debut years ago; maybe it can go either way.
Moving on, a Maximo sequel, Red Dead Revolver, and Dino Crisis 3 have been revealed in addition to the various other aforementioned action titles slated for a 2003 release. Fans of the action genre will love Capcom just as much as (if not more than) they did in 2002; the sequel to Maximo is among us! Yet another title I had hoped to see actually came to light! Although I guess the fact that a good number of casual gamers actually liked the first Maximo, I really didn't expect to see a sequel. Can't say much about the game from what I have seen thus far (hopefully Headquarters will tell us about it from E3), but it looks like it will deliver the same solid gameplay as the original. Long live the legacy of Ghouls & Ghosts! Maybe this paragraph was pointless...but I just had to say how I am looking forward to playing the sequel to what was probably the best 3-D action title of 2002.
After a brief scare over whether it was one of the 18 canceled projects Capcom had spoke of in recent news, Red Dead Revolver is still alive! I'm so glad that Capcom didn't decide to can this game. With the classic theme of Gun.Smoke and gameplay similar to that of Gamshara (have you heard of me?), Red Dead Revolver looks fun. At first I was wondering just what Capcom was planning to do with the game, but to my surprise they have decided on a gameplay system that is actually a bit rare these days. If Capcom can dumb the controls down enough to attract casual gamers (e.g. your favorite plump editors), I think Red Dead Revolver can sell. With Red Dead Revolver, Capcom can silence the hollow complaints of EGaMers and GamePros about diversity in Capcom games. Dino Crisis 3 for the XBox has also been shown, and from looks of it will have deeper gameplay than that of previous entries. Of course, Dino Crisis 3 features some of the biggest, meanest dinosaur character models in videogame history. Hopefully I get around to playing Dino Crisis 2 before I get Dino Crisis 3. It will be interesting to see if this game can take a bit of thunder away from Devil May Cry.
Lastly is the 3-D Onimusha fighter Capcom has planned for a 2003 release. Finally! From what Capcom has released on the game, it looks like an arena fighter similar to that of Power Stone 2, Spawn, and Heavy Metal. With up to 4-Players battling it out simultaneously, this game should be as much fun as Power Stone 2 was (and still is). As for the character cast, anyone who has played any of the Onimusha titles can probably guess what kind of characters will be playable (as well as which ones will be bosses); needless to say, it should be fun battling it out in a free-for-all with the interesting cast of Onimusha. Can you imagine battling it out with some of the bigger characters that have shown up in previous Onimusha titles? Absolute chaos! The stages (at this point) also look nicely rendered in 3-D, and resemble that of the battlegrounds found in the Onimusha series; the absolute coolest stage I've seen depicts a beatifully-rendered forest with brilliant rays of sunlight beaming in through bamboo as far and high as the eye can see. A sight to see. Capcom's Onimusha fighter also looks like it has its fair share of chaos just as Power Stone 2, Heavy Metal, and Spawn did, with flashy effects exploding onscreen (lightning, etc.). I wasn't very excited about this title upon hearing the first news about it because Capcom hadn't mentioned anything about gameplay, but the recently shown running version looks a lot more interesting.
With lots of Megaman, an Onimusha fighting game, Red Dead Revolver, a Maximo sequel, and Crimson Tears, those who like to play video games will have no excuse for boredom in 2003. 2003 looks like it will be an especially good year for Capcom (compared to last year). With Capcom's recent abandonment of arcade development, fans needed something to raise their hopes, and Capcom's plans for 2003 seem to be at least working as a worthy diversion. Of course fans can't forget Capcom's decision to pull out of the arcade industry that made them what they are now, but at least fans still have lots to look forward to at home in 2003.