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For the time being our weekly column will appear here!

For many the JRPG has lost its way in recent years. While titles like Final Fantasy have sped up their combat and lost the world map in an attempt to woo the western market, smaller development houses in Europe have been paying homage to the classic gameplay of old Japanese games. Look at the surprisingly deep Rainbow Moon on the PSN last year..

Tipped to buck this trend is Level 5’s Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (12+, PS3, £39.99), released today. Stepping out with animation wizards Studio Ghibli is a potential masterstroke in lots of ways – well known and loved by western audiences, Studio Ghibli don’t compromise on story in their animated films, and this alliance leaves Level 5 the creative freedom to express themselves through the game’s exploration and combat. Expect emotional immersion rarely seen this generation.

The darker side of animated films can be found at the large plastic castle, and Disney’s forthcoming film ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ is to get its own game. The title character is a retro arcade character who leaves his cabinet at night, joining the other games. Those of you who have been enjoying the sublime Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed kart racer will have spotted the character, and racked your memories of Sega classics for his appearance. You’re not mistaken, he is a new invention.

Wreck-It Ralph, (3+, 3DS, DS, Wii, £29.99) is an Activision game. Movie cash in, or an introduction to old school arcade gaming to a new generation? We have our doubts…

The government’s tax breaks for the creative sector comes into effect in April 2013.This should lessen the risk of producing new games and enable them invest more in staff, letting Scottish companies rely on big producers less. It should also help graduates to start their own wee companies. At a time when the rest of the Arts and Culture are being squeezed, this could be a shot in the arm for Scotland’s many games companies..

In the meantime Blazing griffin’s failure to Kickstart The Ship 2 hasn’t put others off. Former Rockstar North developer Gareth Murfin has launched an eye-popping shooter on kickstarter enititled Genocide Dolphins. We haven’t spotted any Dolphins in the video. Or genocide, actually. But behind the trippy design it looks to have real depth. see for yourself:

Geordie Gareth has been away from Scotland too long it would appear, he’s obviously missing the nightlife..

If you’re interested, check out his Kickstarter page here

First Look! The Ship: Full Steam Ahead

With all the fuss surrounding The Ship and Blazing Griffin‘s giveaway during the Sick Kids Save Point weekend, it seemed a good idea to pop along to the Edinburgh company’s launch of their kickstarter project The Ship 2: Full Steam Ahead.

First look at Paul Scott Canavan’s concept art

It was clear from the designs and concept art on display that the sequel to The Ship is not going to be set in the 1920s. From the flight goggles adorning developer Trevor Fountain to the intricate designs and drawings of lead designer Richard Firth, we could see the new game will be unashamedly Steampunk.

To create a sequel to a classic game by scrapping the setting seems a bold and potentially dangerous move by Blazing Griffin. Head of design Stephen Hewitt explained their process behind it.
“We were looking at a sequel to the Ship and we thought why not try another historical setting.” he explained.
“Many games these days are shadows of shadows of shadows. Steampunk is trending and, you know, it’s fun. But we’re not copying other Steampunk, we’re creating our own. You’ll never recapture that first moment when you experience something and think ‘this is awesome’ unless you innovate and change it up.”

The Ship: Murder Party was developed by Outerlight in 2006 and Blazing Griffin acquired the IP in November last year. The new Steampunk sci-fi setting is typical of a company committed to detail and world building.

“It’s a way of stamping our mark on the game” added Hewitt, “But we won’t mess with the winning mechanic. You’ll still hunt each other down. Blazing Griffin is about creating worlds – with the story we like to do that extra work: not just games stories. Proper stories.”

The intricacy of Firth’s work belies a background away from games. Functionality is given equal weight to form. Also on show were designs for spacecraft for Distant Star, pencilled for release in Spring. Firth has been taking photos of rosebuds in his garden for inspiration for spaceship designs: an incredible amount of detail again, for what will essentially be a simple space strategy game for tablets.

“We’ve written 7,000 years of history for Distant Star” Media and Communities Manager Phil Harris told us, “We feel an IP isn’t just for christmas -and it doesn’t just have to be games. Also, it wouldn’t just be us creating our worlds, we’d encourage things like fan fiction and our players to take ownership.”

There’s no doubt the Ship: Full Steam Ahead will be community led. After all, Blazing Griffin are asking them to pay for it. If they raise $200,000 the game will be multiplayer only. If they reach $1,000,000 the game will be free for everyone on Steam (no pun intended). The kickstarter pages will go live on the 31st, and are accompanied by a hilarious silent movie promo video.

No clearer mark of their community credentials though, than their involvement in Sick Kids Save Point. Blazing Griffin co-founder Peter Van Der Watt not only watched and enjoyed the live streams of The Ship during sksp, he got involved!

“I decided to jump in and play.” he told us. “I was watching the stream so I knew exactly where they were. I hid and waited, jumped out and murdered him, and then could hear the fallout on the stream. It was so funny..”

So we’ve revealed your tormentor John Stowe! Blazing Griffin have hinted that they’d like to be involved with SKSP next year, and we’ll hold them to it!