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Arc System Works is known, at least in the West, for its anime-style fighting games. With XBlaze Code: Embryo, though, it’s dipping into another side of one of the BlazBlue universe, straying away from intense combat and floating into the gentle waters of the visual novel. Despite the fresh (to us) approach, is XBlaze worth the journey? READ MORE

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Graham Russell and Andrew Passafiume look at Intelligent Systems’ strategy-RPG series, Fire Emblem.

The evolution of the Fire Emblem series has largely been from capability to intention. On the surface, the formula hasn’t changed much; you’re still moving units around top-down square grids and pitting them in menu-based combat. Once you dig below the surface, though, you’ll see that the series has become increasingly defined by how and when it chooses not to progress. READ MORE

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Whether or not you’re a fan of importing games, nothing can really beat playing something in your native language. It’s sometimes hard to know just what is going to make it to the West and what isn’t, though. In the second edition of the Guide’s Localization Radar, we’ll take a look at the likely candidates to get picked up in the near future.

The time since the last Radar has been absolutely full of localization announcements, from the likely (Monster Hunter 4) to the not-so-much (A-Train 3DS). So… what else is out there to make it out of Japan? Oh, don’t worry: plenty.

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The crew gathers for a little Mario Kart 8 action, as well as some game chat! Join Andrew, Henry, Graham, Lucas, Chris Ingersoll and Chris Dominowski for some racing, Shovel Knight discussion, musings on what it means to be American and more!

To watch the show and chat with us live, check out this page every other Thursday at 8 p.m. Eastern and follow us on Twitter for special streams.

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I’m not proud that I’ll probably go see the fourth Transformers movie. I could tell myself, “Henry, you’re an adult. You don’t have to go see a movie you don’t want to see.” It’s no use. I’ve seen the first three movies and everybody’s talking about how horrible it is. How dare I deprive myself of such collective misery?

The first movie was fine, in no small part to Steven Spielberg encouraging director Michael Bay to restrict computer-generated imagery and use more practical effects. The fight scenes were fun to watch because you could mostly see what was going on. There’s no accounting for taste, but giant, transforming robots fighting is a genuine treat to watch. But the key factor was perspective; I could see what was going on. READ MORE

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While many releases are packed into the last three months of the year, there’s more than enough going on in the rest of the calendar that can be easily forgotten by the holidays. Progress Report is our way of remembering: a quarterly look at the laudable and notable in the games industry. This installment covers April, May and June. Check out the previous installment here. READ MORE

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Laura Kate Dale is a games journalist, co-founder of the website IndieHaven and creator of the upcoming title You Are The Reason. Staff writer Chris Dominowski talked to her about the state of gender diversity in games, how it affects both the fields of games creation and journalism and some games that incorporate gender diversity in thoughtful ways.

Chris Dominowski, Snackbar Games: You have been in games journalism for quite a while, and in that time, you have been pretty prolific in your work. What made you want to get into games journalism, and what inspired you to help start IndieHaven?

Laura Kate Dale: Video games were always something I have had an interest in. At a very young age, I was given a Super NES by my older brother as a birthday present, and there was just something about that as an antisocial child who wasn’t very good with other people. It was a really good place to have adventures and interact with other people — even if they weren’t real. For me, it was just a nice escape, and a way to have some fun even if I wasn’t good with talking with other people. READ MORE

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I’m torn.

On one hand, Munin is a well-assembled puzzle game. On the other, it’s almost completely devoid of plot and wastes the Norse setting completely. You play as the titular Munin, one of Odin’s two messenger ravens. The other raven, Hunin, is mentioned once in a screen of text and then never seen again. Loki has transformed Munin into a mortal man, and Munin must scour the world for his feathers. After collecting all of them, Munin can return to Odin who will, presumably, slap Loki on the hand and make him promise to be a good boy from now on. READ MORE

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The worst outcome for a first-time game designer is, ironically, capturing lighting in a bottle. Yes, you get all the benefits that come from a brilliant creation that captures the hearts and minds of players. But what can you do for a follow-up that could possibly compare favorably? This was the situation in which Greater Than Games found itself as it had to release its new cooperative space-ship deckbuilding game Galactic Strike Force in the wake of its monumentally-successful cooperative comic book superhero game Sentinels of the Multiverse. Did the team recapture the magic of Sentinels, or did it hit the somewhat inevitable sophomore slump? The answer is a little of both. READ MORE

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Ubisoft’s recent push towards releasing smaller, downloadable titles alongside its big hits has been a positive step in the right direction. It began this trend with Child of Light and is continuing it with Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Utilizing a striking art style, provided by the publisher’s UbiArt framework, Valiant Hearts covers a time in history rarely presented in the medium and, thankfully, does so with a level of sophistication you don’t often see in games about war.

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