Or rewrite history

Mike Williams and I reviewed Assassin’s Creed Unity today. It’s… hmm. It’s complicated. I really like a lot of things about Assassin’s Creed and have from the beginning, but the series still suffers from a lot of the same problems that have plagued it from the start. It’s worth slogging through those issues in order to be able to stroll through elaborately rendered recreations of historical cities, but I really wish they would shore up the weakness.

But I know they won’t, because it’s one of those series that has become too big to fail. The changes I’d like to see would make the games less “accessible,” meaning less likely to sell the requisite five million copies per entry or whatever. As they say in Unity, c’est la vie.

Or as my computer’s autocorrect wants me to say, chest la vie. But enough about Senran Kagura!

Speaking of violently killing people, I managed to finish up the editing on my next Game Boy World entry: Fist of the North Star.

As a game, it’s not all that great. However, it did give me the opportunity to talk about early manga localization for five minutes, so that’s pretty rad.

7 thoughts on “Or rewrite history

  1. I don’t know much about early manga localization, but it IS really fascinating to look at the western artists who first started adopting manga conventions in the 1980’s back when most people hadn’t actually read any (especially not in English). Frank Miller’s an obvious choice, but my gateway was TMNT (which I suppose is, itself, a Frank Miller book once-removed, given its many winks to his Daredevil run — Splinter, the Foot, the origin story, and so on); it was the first comic I read that would go on for pages with no dialogue at all.

    The only other comic from the black-and-white funny animal boom of the day that’s still being published is Usagi Yojimbo, which may be the quintessential Japanese-American comic series. (Sakai is still cranking them out, and Dark Horse recently released a really nice 600-page collection of his early-1990’s work that only costs around $25.)

    The other series that immediately comes to mind is Scott McCloud’s Zot!, which does a pretty great job of blending Silver Age superhero whimsy with down-to-earth relationship drama, and wraps the whole thing in eastern-influenced models, layouts, and pacing.

    Much as I love McCloud’s nonfiction work, I’ve sure missed his storytelling. Looking forward to The Sculptor.

    …none of this actually has anything to do with Assassin’s Creed. Or Game Boy. And very little to do with early manga localization. But hey, here it is anyway.

  2. Funny enough, this is the first GameBoy game I’ve ever played. Even at 9 years old, I knew it was garbage. Still, I was weirdly attracted to the anime after playing it, but just imagine my young mind seeing that for the first time. Head exploding indeed.

  3. @ Thad: I seem to remember The Waltrips and Adam Warren being the first non-Japanese artists to really try to do their take on manga in the west. I read their stuff because I was desperate for anything manga-esque, but looking back most of it is terrible. Still, they helped get the movement started, for better or worse.

    As For Fist of the North Star, I managed to get a friend to buy it for his Gameboy based on the cover art alone. he actually played it through with most of the characters and then gave the game to me when I finally got a Gameboy. I could never play it well because of the screen blur, but always imagined those tiny 10 pixel tall guys to be the cool anime people on the cover. Imagination is a wonderful thing.

    • I’d probably give the nod for Americans pioneering the manga style to Ben Dunn, who was doing all kinds of licensed and original (Ninja High School) stuff with Antarctic in the mid ’80s.

  4. Sorry, should have watched the video before posting the first time. The Super Gameboy really fixes the visuals of the game. If only to see how much worse it can get, try playing on a B&W Gameboy and realize that the projectiles are nearly impossible to see due to blur. And the contrast of the bg is too high and makes your characters hard to distinguish.

    As for the popularity of the franchise in Japan, I think the lone samurai themes are what sold it to kids there. It appealed to me as a young boy, but looking back, it was probably the graphic nature of it that drew me in. I was 12 for pete’s sake.

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