About ashuzuki

I am a social scientist and researcher at a University in Geneva. I have a strong interest for many genres of video game and video game marketing.

This week in video games news

The six highest-rated JRPGs of all times are all on PS VITA!

The Website gamesranking gives a list of highest-rated “console style” rpgs –  that is turn-based JRPGs – according to mainstream reviews. The top 6 list is here: Persona 4 Golden, FF IX, Chrono Cross, FF VII, Chrono Trigger, and FFX (out this year), and they are all on PS Vita, whether as native titles or as PsOne classics.

Take that Sony, free advertising!


The last save point’s most wanted – Release dates & Backlog

Most wanted list

  • APR 2013 Deadly premonition – The director’s cut (PS3)
  • APR 2013 Dead Island Riptide (PS360)
  • APR 2013 Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen (PS360)
  • SUM 2013 Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn (PS3)
  • FAL 2013 Armored Core Verdict Day (PS360)
  • FAL 2013 The Walking Dead Season 2
  • FAL 2013 Lightning Returns
  • FAL 2013 Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD
  • DEC 2014 Torment : Tides of Numerana


  • Project Hell
  • Dark Souls II
  • Phantasy Star Online 2(Vita, PC, PS3?, PS4?)
  • Final Fantasy X [ X-2 HD Remaster
  • Tales of Xillia
  • Final Fantasy Versus XIII
  • Deep Down
  • XenoNext
  • South Park the Stick of Truth


Started [Just Started | Half Way | Almost Finished | Currently Playing]

  • [JS] Metal Gear Solid Peacewalker
  • [JS] Sam and Max Season 3
  • [HW] The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword
  • [HW] Xenoblade
  • [HW] Radiant Historia
  • [HW] Xenogears
  • [AF] Tokyo Jungle
  • [AF] Way of the Samurai 4
  • [AF] SMT Nocturne
  • [CP] ZombiU
  • [CP] Persona 4 Golden
  • Cave Story
  • Shiren the Wanderer
  • Binary Domain
  • Valkyria Chronicles
  • Persona 2 Innocent Sin
  • Crisis Core
  • Malicious
  • Dokuro
  • Holet Dusk Room 215
  • Last Window: The Secret of Cape West
  • Infinite Space
  • Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
  • Corpse Party


  • Ico
  • Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
  • Dishonored
  • Izuna, Tales of the Unemployed Ninja
  • The World Ends with You
  • Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney
  • Hotel Giant
  • Animal Crossing Wild World
  • Chocobo Dungeon
  • Etrian Odyssey III
  • 999

On shelves

  • Unchained Blades (3DS or PSP?)
  • Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward
  • New Little King Story

Vita most wanted edition

  • God Eater 2
  • Malicious Rebirth
  • Phantasy Star Online 2
  • Soul Sacrifice
  • Atelier Meruru Plus
  • Fate/Stay Night [Réalta Nua]

Finished (2013)

  1. Theatrythm Final Fantasy
  2. Dragon’s Dogma (100%)
  3. The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
  4. Ni no Kuni (gave up 15 hrs in)
  5. Crimson Shroud (diddo at 5 hrs)
  6. Hitman Absolution
  7. Nintendo Land
  8. Metal Gear Rising Revengeance
  9. To the Moon

This week in video games news

My biggest influence and all time favorites! part 1: Secret of Mana

I’ll follow my wife and list here my favorite games of all times and those that shaped my tastes in later life. The first posts will focus on RPGs, but of course I play other genres too.

I played many story-driven games of every kind before 1994, like the MacVenture series, Adventure of Link, The Battle of Olympus, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest or the D&D adaptation Realmz. However, up until this point, I don’t think I saw video games as something other than a fun distraction. I distinctly remember being über-excited by the release of A Link to the Past, but Zelda never left a strong emotional imprint on me afterwards. I had fun playing it, imagining stories about it, but it did not change the way I see things when I was doing something else.

All this changed with Secret of Mana, the first game that left a strong, lasting, impression on my young self, which showed me the power of video games as an emotional medium and, more importantly, which shaped my tastes and expectations for the future. It’s difficult to pinpoint what exactly this game did so right, and what magical recipe was impossible for Square to replicate afterwards (Seiken Densetsu III was “better” on paper although it lacked the “je ne sais quoi” that made the second so unique, and it was all downhill from Legend of Mana onwards). The setting of Secret of Mana was simple, almost simplistic in the beginning (the characters are referred too as “the Boy”, “the Girl” and “the Sprite”, I mean how much simpler can you get than that?), simple like a biblical tale or a Greek tragedy, and while it grew deeper as the story progressed, it mostly rested on symbols and the player’s interpretation of the relationships. I think it was the first game I played where several stories weaved together seamlessly, and looking back on it, one of the main storylines, the quest save a girl’s fiancée whose body was possessed by demon, was and still is quite unusual, as it implies a particular relationship between the protagonists. It was also the first time I found game music to be of higher quality than some mainstream music, and the first time I was seduce by the artwork of a game.

As I said earlier, Secret of Mana forged my tastes in video games, and my aesthetic tastes in general. First of all, I expect my final bosses to at least wear some nuances of pink and blue. Kidding aside, Secret of Mana was my first exposition to japanese cuteness, an acquired taste that was perpetuated by games such as Windwaker, Radiata Stories, Harvest Moon, Atelier, and that probably explains my obsession with Satos in Phantasy Star Online (I had like 5 of them). This taste explains why I love  Evangelion’s Penpen or Naruto’s Pakkun, and why I am never bothered by a childish look of medium (although I was never attracted to Pokemon, but cuteness is not the reason): in the world of Mana, childish appearances were the prerequisite of a serious and tragic story.

I am one of those players who not only like a good story and good characters in a game, but who believe those can save or even make a game. Those great tales, like Xenosaga, Metal Gear Solid 3, Nier or Radiata Stories don’t have to have a happy ending to offer an enjoyable experience. Just Like Twin Peaks or The Sopranos, many great games have deeply sad, emotionally charged stories, and Secret of Mana was the first game to make me understand that.


Nintendo should buy the rights to Xenosaga (petition inside!)

Petition time again!

Xenosaga is a critically acclaimed videogame series published by Namco Bandai. It was supposed to be a 6 parts epic Nietzschean space opera but the publisher cut short and stopped the series after 3 episodes.
After the developper was bought by Nintendo, they produced Xenoblade, which quickly became known in critical circles as the best JRPG of its generation and enjoyed a strong commercial success.
These are the perfects circumstances for Monolith soft. to finish its grandiose series, and Nintendo – their owner – can make it happen.

Sign here if you want Xenosaga 4!


Do franchises that try to widen their appeal actually gain sales ?

There are basically two ways to manage a game franchise. Either you try to cater to your fan base, by giving them what (you believe) they want, or you try to go out of your “niche” and appeal to what (you think) gamers that were not interested in the first titles want.

What franchises ought to do is a very divisive subject among gamers, with part of the community feeling betrayed or at least misled when they  franchise is trying to appeal to the “casuals”, and other, just as vocal, gamers bashing on what they see as “entitled crybabies”. Hence, why not at least to assess whether or not trying to widen a franchise’s appeal actually helps or hinder subsequent sales.Of course, it is impossible to attributer any causal effect sales-wise to any particular choice that was made by the marketing, publishing or developing team. However, it might be interesting to see what happened to franchises that tried that strategy. After all, contrary to popular wisdom, Action-JRPGs have sold less than Turn Based JRPGs this gen,  so looking at sales can only teach us interresting things.

It’s complicated to know which franchises we should examine, which are the one that tried to “widen their appeal”. To avoid relying on my sole gamer’s experience, I’ve tried to look on forums what franchises were accused of trying to widen their appeal. Here and there, names were named, and I then looked at VgChartz to see what was the verdict of Sales, the God of the Free Market.

There are a lot of title sales I tried to look for, like the original Fallout, Street Fighter III, and so one, but could not find, probably because data are too old to be public. As I already spent a whole article on Kitase’s approach of Final Fantasy, there is no reason for me to dig into that again, but if you see another franchise I should look into, please say so in the comments.

I. Franchises that did not gain or lose any sales by trying to widen their appeal

Mass Effect

Divisive among the divisives, Mass Effect 2 decided to take the franchise closer to Gears of War and further from Bioware’s older titles. Mass Effect 2 sold 2.85 on 360 and 0.26 on PC, while the first episode that was less shooting oriented sold 2.61 on 360 and 0.53 on PC. In the end, removing RPG elements neither hurt nor helped the franchise, eventhought one can make a case that it hurted in the long run since Mass Effect 3 sold lower numbers than 2 on PS3 and 360.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil 4 is famous for having completely reinvented the franchise by adding a strong action element, and, at the same time, dubbing down the survival horror element. Being such a critical success, we can imagine RE4 to have greatly surpassed, sales wise, the titles before it. Well, it’s not the case at all.

Resident Evil 3 on PSX sold 3.72 while Resident Evil 4 on PS2 reached a close equivalent of 3.62. On Gamecube, where Resident Evil 4 first came out, it sold 1.69 million copies, a number that is only 11% higher than what the remake of the original Resident Evil sold on the same console three years before (1.42).

Splinter Cell

I cannot make the direct comparison between Conviction that did away with a lot of the franchises stealth element, and the preceding title as VgChartz does not give any data for sales of Splinter Cell : Double Agent on PS2 and XBOX. However, Splinter Cell Conviction sales on 360 (1.96) is actually in between the original Splinter Cell (3.02 on XBOX) and Pandora Tomorrow (1.48). I’ll let you decide wether or not it is a success.

II. Franchises that lost a significant amount of sales when the tried to widen their appeal

Dragon Age

Dragon Age II has gathered so much criticism that it’s difficult to pinpoint what hurted its sales, but much of the fan’s ire was at least partly directed toward the dumbed down, action oriented combat. On PC, Dragon Age II sold about as much as Dragon Age Origins. However, The franchise lost 60% of its sales on 360 and 57% on PS3.

Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden 2 on 360 sold close to a million copies (0.96) while Ninja Gaiden 3 on the same system achieved only 10% of this number. On PS3, Sigma 2 sold 0.75 while Ninja Gaiden 3 sold 0.16. In the end, Ninja Gaiden sales went down 84.5% from number 2 to number 3 – a result of loss of quality or of a dumbing down of the game’s notorious difficulty ?

21 days of video game news June 29 edition

European Ni no Kuni Collector’s Edition revealed

Wii U release date, price this fall