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I could also call this “the manifold merits of saving your Photoshop documents.” I had a minor power-related crash that wiped out about two days of progress, but thankfully I’d taken some screenshots for here beforehand and I’m able to recreate some of the work. But since the progress I was gonna talk about got eaten now I don’t have anything too much more interesting than a low punch. Which is a punch, where the target is not the throat but the reproductive organs. I’m sure you are familiar with the effect thereof.

Instead I figured I’d talk about the game itself. Touch of Death is going to be all those kinds of things we’ve mentioned before, but I wanted to get passed the buzzwords to lay out the gameplay. Just don’t tell Adam I’m spilling the secret info.

The format will bear similarities to Rhythm games (but not Music games) in that your input is derived from the touchscreen and you have to act in response to the game’s prompts. In this case, we’ve replaced flying colored buttons with flying colored ninjas, and instead of having one command per color you have four directions (top left, bottom left, top right, bottom right) to aim attacks at the Ninjas. Hit the Ninja at the right time by pressing the correct region of the screen (not the Ninja itself) and you knock him out. Hit it at just the right time and you get a perfect hit and possibly some special reward.

So one will jump in from the left and you tap upper left to smack him, just as someone attacks with a sliding kick from the right. You press lower right and you flow from that high left strike to a crushing low right strike, then strike the next guy in line with a high right strike. Keeping the combos going lets you attack faster and get more points.

When engaged by a big squad, it’s going to look really awesome. You’ll have fast, intuitive controls that allow you to battle like a Kung Fu master against a horde of foes, with awesome looking animations of the main character changing poses and stances to defeat all incoming attacks. I’m pretty excited about this part!

Anyone who has played and enjoyed River City Ransom should get a lot of fun out of Touch of Death’s combat. That game, as well as the Hammer Fight scene from Old Boy, were big inspirations for the kind of “endless roving back-and-forth battle” feel we’re going for.

So in practice, the player will be tasked with watching the approaching ninja hordes, and knocking them off one-by-one as they rush in to attack you. Some will present unique challenges, like the colors that only attack low (and thus can only be defeated by the correct facing low strike) or the colors that mess with your head by asking you to switch between high and low strikes, or might attack from random angle after a smokebomb!

Each encounter with these ninja mobs will occur at set places within the level. The most basic encounters are open fields or stretches of road where all you do is battle them as they run in. Some areas will place obstacles in your way to limit your vision, making you stress your reaction times harder.

The specifics are going to depend on how fun each kind of attack is to defend against, something we’ll be testing exhaustively ourselves and which our Beta testers will be invaluable in. We’d like to give the “Hardest” difficulty an old quarter-munching Arcade feel if we can, but we’re not sure if gamers of this generation can handle the Nintendo Hard difficulties of the past. The gauntlet has been thrown.

There’s more planned that I could tell you—levels and collectables and other fun stuff, but this Diary entry is long enough already. Tune in next time to hear more about the levels and some of the fun stuff we have in store there. Leave a comment if there’s something you’d like to hear more of, or if you’d like to submit an idea for a Game Analysis next Saturday!

The How and Why

How:  The game will be designed with a concept similar to Rhythm games. You keep the tempo, follow the pattern, and when you get in the groove everything turns to pure awesome. And you get a lot of points!

Why: Not only is this easy on the thumbs, but it lets you focus on the action and really enjoy it rather than covering up the fun stuff with your hands. It also gets a nice pulse-pounding action sense that feels very much like fighting. And we might get to play with the musical beats too!

Spacelab Signing Out

No tricks this time, just some straight-out developer diary commentary. We’re speeding up production so there’s going to be a lot to talk about in the next few weeks. Stay tuned to the blog and the Touch of Death website for our latest info from behind the scenes at Lunar Giant!