In recent years, the gaming industry in Japan has fallen into a bit of a crisis. Games sales are down and developers have been “westernising” their games in an attempt to bolster sales in America and Europe. With a few exceptions, this plan seems to have failed.
I have a theory why.
Western audiences love the total madness of Japanese games and by westernising their franchises, the Japanese developers have lost what made their games unique. That is why I am very happy to tell you that Asura’s Wrath is the most bat-sh*t insane game I have played in a very long time.
Unlike most games, the cut scenes in Asura’s Wrath require interaction and you need to keep a firm grasp on your controller, ready to jab a button or twizzle a stick while watching the story unfold. Capcom have called this “synchronic impact”, it doesn’t affect the story in anyway but it will help towards your overall score at the end of the level. The cut scenes are rendered in real time so you have limited control of the camera during the talking (or more likely, shouting)
Although the game is not finished, it certainly looks impressive. Characters have a distinct anime design, all spiky white hair, big eyes and pointy beards but it’s the textures that give the title a unique look. Rather than smooth human skin, the gods have a furrowed appearance – as if they are made from clay and have been covered in thumbprints.
As well as fighting gods, there are plenty of grunts for Asura to tackle. They are all designed to resemble animals, including gorillas and a giant tortoise with missile turrets on its back. Developers of Asura’s Wrath, CyberConnect2, have previously worked on Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm and you can see many influences from that series in their new game, there is a lot of shouting, a lot of glaring and an awful lot of wacky hair styles.
Asura also appears to be part robot as, when he carelessly loses his arms (which he seems to do an awful lot), the shoulder joints show mechanical cogs and sparking wiring. Asura occasionally sprouts two extra pairs of limbs when he’s seriously annoyed, a nod to the Hindi mythology of the game.[drop]For the hands on, I played two sections of the game. In the first, Asura faces off against a god called Wyzen who towers above him, roughly the same size as a Titan from God of War. Furious battling commences and the first sequence ends as you would expect with the 1,000 metre tall god pirouetting into the sky, crossing his legs and landing arse first on Asura.
Not happy about the god literally bumming him to death, a button mashing sequence follows in which our hero lifts the giant bottom off his face and then proceeds to pummel the backside until tender and, with one final blast, punches the tubby deity off the planet into space. I told you it was insane. Stay with me.
We’ve seen giant boss battles before, so far so God Of War, but in the next sequence the now miffed Wyzen morphs into a new form which is roughly eight times the size of planet Earth, reaches down from space and tries to squash Asura with his continentally large fingertip.
The second section I played finds Asura on the Moon (as you do) and battling another god who, thankfully, is a similar size. Asura must dodge shockwaves and pillars of light to reach the god and give him a whack or twenty. The deity then draws his sword and tries to slice Asura in half but he catches the blade which then starts to extend.
And extend.[videoyoutube]The view switches to space and you can just see the thin gold blade with Asura impaled on the end reaching out from the moon towards Earth. Asura plummets through our planet’s atmosphere, losing an arm as he does so, and slams into the ground.
Then 238,857 miles of sword slices into his chest.
When not being impaled by ridiculous swords, Asura scampers about the landscape in a spritely fashion and the combat feels weighty and powerful. The game mixes and matches styles. As well as punching various monsters, there are short on-the-rails sections which resemble a third person shooter.
Asura’s Wrath will be released in Europe on February 24th 2012 and is shaping up to be a rather unique game. Part anime movie, part God Of War style brawler, part shoot ’em up, all delicious Japanese weirdness.
The game has ‘cult hit’ written all over it, I hope it finds an audience in the west.