Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cosmic Star Heroine Announced, Detailed

If you've been following either Robert Boyd or Bill Stiernberg of Zeboyd Games, chances are you've heard of CSH at some point in time.  CSH were the initials given for the name of the new IP Zeboyd was going to work on following Penny Arcade Adventures 4 and while I had thought "Cosmic Star Heroine" was just a working title (because it fit), it turns out that was the actual title it announced with today, which has been known for months. fair, since Alyssa L'Salle, the protagonist of the game (pictured above) has also had a twitter account since March and nobody really figured it out, either.  Hilariously, that just re-enforces a little something about the character and works well in the favor of Zeboyd Games proper, since this is a neat little tidbit of info to come out after the actual announcement.

You see Alyssa L'Salle, in the context of Cosmic Star Heroine's world, is one of the greatest spies in the world (galaxy?) until she stumbles across something she's not supposed to do.  Apparently rather than dealing with her themselves, the Galactic Government whom she worked for instead simply outs her, drawing the attention of all her fans and enemies from the far corners.  After all, when you do what Alyssa does for a living, you're going to make a lot of enemies.  Powerful enemies.  So what better way of getting rid of her than by letting all of those enemies find her at once?  After all, maybe if they're really, really lucky, they'll fight over her.  At least, that's kind of the mental picture I'm getting from the little plot blurb from the actual announcement post.
Here’s a short plot teaser:
Alyssa L’Salle is one of the galactic government’s top agents and always manages to save the day! But when she accidentally uncovers a dark conspiracy, her own government outs her as a legendary spy and the people’s champion! Sure, now she has hordes of adoring fans but every villainous organization she’s ever crossed in her career knows who she is and is out for her blood! Can she save the day once more while she faces her greatest challenge… Everyone!?
Zeboyd Games has more or less made a rather big name for themselves by making Parody RPGs in the form of Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves the World, and likely to a lesser extent with the Penny Arcade Adventure games, but Cosmic Star Heroine will nonetheless mark a departure from that.  A slight one, however, in that the game will still be an RPG, but it will be humorous instead of an outright parody which is absolutely fine.  Where it will likely make itself a little more apparent is with the different approach to mechanics the game is seemingly going to take.  First off, the Combat Map is gone and the game takes a more Chrono Trigger approach to it by simply having the enemies on screen with movement patterns of their own (that can chase you if you get too close) and allowing battles to happen right there on the exact same map with no transition.  This is something that...has honestly been lost even since the days -of- Chrono Trigger, so to see another game embrace it is heartening.

There are two big, big things about Cosmic Star Heroine's announcement that have me really hyped, however.  First off is the line "Players will be able to customize their own spy headquarters by recruiting more agents (think the Suikoden series)" for the obvious reason of it mentioning HQ-building like the Suikoden series.  If you haven't played any game in the Suikoden series, it's likely because you didn't play PS1 RPGs and you heard from a friend that Suikoden (or, more likely "this stupid game") 3 and/or 4 just aren't very good.  (3 is interesting, but I've learned that 4 is almost universally reviled and I don't own it regardless)  If you could believe it, there's a 5, and it's actually good, except it's almost definitely the very last Suikoden game that will ever be because Konami likes series that sell, but don't bother to make their developers make series worth selling.  (Except MGS, obv, but that's Kojima for you.) 

What made Suikoden good, however, is that it gave you large, large casts of characters (107 that you could recruit over the course of the game, not counting your MC) that all had some worth.  They weren't all battle-worthy, but they had neat things to say, or they did things at or to your castle that added a little flavor to it and was just one of those nice detail things.  They also served a big purpose later on in the games during the "War battles" that were not very commonplace, but nonetheless important.  Long story short, by the end of a Suikoden game, if you had a character in your army, there was a chance you knew -something- about them beyond "Oh, this character has a neat quirk" because they managed to make a large cast of characters most of the time, not just a large cast of party members.  It's a very, very distinct difference that games I won't mention by name, Chrono Cross, should have honestly paid more attention to in their own inception and creation.

The other important part, the part that is actually more important than the Suikoden part, is that this game and likely the games following CSH (or perhaps even preceding its release? Eh? I'll get to that in a second) will be coded in Unity.  Unity, for the unfamiliar is a development tool that is compatible with basically every announced and released platform with the singular exception of the 3DS that I know of.  So what does this technically mean for CSH and Zeboyd Games?  That they can put all their further games on whatever the hell they want.  What does it -actually- mean, according to Robert Boyd?  That they're aiming for PC, Mac (possibly) and PS4/Vita as platforms with a huge lean towards "definitely" on the Vita, with Bill Stiernberg personally pushing for Cross-Buy if it does indeed hit PS4 as well.  Basically what it means is that unless something drastic happens, Zeboyd Games will finally be publishing on Sony consoles so those of us with terrible PCs and no XBox 360s (admittedly, this is a small, small portion of people that I think is only myself) can finally witness first-hand what they're capable of, which is definitely important.

Though I can't help but hold out hope that this will not be the first game the Vita sees bearing the Zeboyd branding on it.  A while ago, as Robert Boyd became more and more enamored with the Vita and more and more enamored with the battle system they'd created and fine-tuned for the PAA games, he posited a simple question:  "Would you like Vita remakes of Cthulhu Saves the World/Breath of Death VII if it meant delaying our new game?"  Of course, it didn't quite end just there as it started picking up some steam when theory was put into practice - Breath of Death VII's first dungeon was completely recreated in PAA4's graphics engine in less than a single hour, making it clear that such a transition would not be harsh, and the realization that hitting a new platform would not only give them experience in developing -for- that hardware, but to also improve on what was there already.  This eventually spawned what such a game would look like if it ever saw the light of day, as said by Robert Boyd himself at NeoGaf:
Cthulhu Saves the World All-Stars
PC, PSN (definitely Vita, probably PS3/Vita cross-buy)
Includes remakes of Breath of Death VII & Cthulhu Saves the World
Remakes would have visuals on par with Penny Arcade's On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4.
Gameplay would be rebalanced & would include some of the stuff we've added in the PA series.
Would also include two new "games" - Breath of Death XIII-2: Undead in Time and Cthulhu Saves the Galaxy.
Breath of Death XIII-2 would be inspired by Space Quest IV. i.e. you'd travel to other "installments" of the Breath of Death series.
Cthulhu Saves the Galaxy would be a direct sequel to CSTW.
BoDXIII-2 & CSTW would probably be about as long as BoDVII each. Maybe a little longer.
Truly, it's a thing of beauty.  However, I haven't heard word one of this happening since it was dreamed up (and then reported by several sites as a thing that was definitely happening since they missed the whole context of the situation) and I do worry that with CSH officially announced (though I suppose they might not have started work on it yet) that this was quietly swept under the rug.  Regardless of whether or not Cthulhu Saves the World All-Stars will ever see the light of day, however, it does of course reinforce that Zeboyd Games is enthusiastic about developing for the Vita which is the important part to take away here for those of us who really, really love our Vitas.  Which I suggest is just about everyone who actually owns one.  So no matter what game actually does end up coming out first, I'm happy to say that I'll be putting money aside specifically for it.  Since that's something I'll actually be able to do.

gotta say, if Alyssa doesn't make one Burn Notice reference, however, I'm gonna be disappointed

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