Trance Vibrator

Rez

Rez, developed under the codename K-Project, Project Eden, and Vibes, is a rail shooter video game released by Sega in Japan in 2001 for the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, with a European Dreamcast release and United States PlayStation 2 release in 2002. The game was developed by Sega's United Game Artists division, which contained several former members of the disbanded Team Andromeda, the Sega development team behind the Panzer Dragoon series. It was conceptualized and produced by Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Mizuguchi is now well-known for more his more recent games, including Lumines, Every Extend Extra and Meteos. His company, Q Entertainment released a high definition version, Rez HD to the Xbox Live Arcade in 2008.

The game is notable for replacing the typical sound effects found in most rail shooter games with trance music, with sounds and melodies created by the player as they target and destroy foes in the game, leading to a form of synesthesia, enhanced by an optional Trance Vibrator peripheral. Although Rez was critically acclaimed, it did not get much commercial attention in the United States.

Story

The game is set in futuristic computer "supernetwork" called the K-project where much of the data flow is controlled by an AI named Eden. Eden has become overwhelmed with the amount of knowledge gathered on the network, causing her to doubt her existence and enter a shutdown sequence, which would create catastrophic problems everywhere should she be able to complete this. The player plays the protagonist hacker, logging into the K-project system to reboot Eden while destroying any viruses or firewalls that happen to inhibit progress, and analyzing other sub-areas of the network to gain access to Eden's location. The K-Project name and much of the game's visual and synesthesia inspiration comes from the Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky, whose name is mentioned at the very end of the game credits, whereas the Rez name was inspired by the Underworld track of the same name.

Gameplay

Rez is a rail shooter in which the player takes control of an onscreen avatar traveling along a predetermined path through the computer network. The player cannot affect his or her movement in any way. The player targets foes by holding a "lock-on" button while moving an aiming reticule over up to 8 enemies. Once the "lock-on" button is released, the avatar fires shots that home in on each target. Failure to hit an enemy or projectile in time may cause a collision, which reduces the player's current evolution level by one and changes the avatar's form. The game is over if the avatar is hit while at its lowest possible level. At higher evolution levels, the avatar appears as a humanoid figure, while it appears as a simple sphere at the lowest level.

Some enemies drop power-up items when destroyed. Two different items enhance the player's avatar by increasing his/her "evolution bar" by one and three points respectively. Another item enables the player to trigger an "Overdrive", which releases a continuous shower of shots at all enemies on the screen for a short period of time. In some game modes, score bonus items also appear periodically.

The game consists of five main areas. The first four are divided into ten sub-sections and conclude with a boss battle. The final area contains a larger number of sections and a boss rush, in which the player must fight variations of the bosses from the first four areas. The player then goes on to the network's core to restart Eden in a final boss battle.

The final area features a variable difficulty scale, depending on the player's performance in the first four areas. According to Sega, this system was employed to make the game more accessible to casual players, while also making it more challenging for experienced players, thus potentially increasing its replay value. In addition, completing all five levels unlocks alternate gameplay modes, color schemes and secret areas.

Unlike most games, Rez contains almost no sound effects or spoken dialogue. Instead, the game is set to trance music, which plays in the background and gradually evolves as the player moves among sections. The music is enhanced by musical effects (such as trills and drums) generated by the player's actions, enemies and surroundings. Player actions are usually locked to the rhythm of the music, such that shots and hits against enemies occur exactly on each beat (as opposed to occurring in real time). Graphical elements such as the polygons that make up the player's avatar, as well as background elements, also "beat" in time with the music. In reference to these coordinated effects, Sega focused its marketing of Rez primarily on the game's qualities of "synesthesia", the association of different senses and stimuli with one another.

Trance Vibrator

A "Special Package" version of the PlayStation 2 release of the game was sold in Japan only, including a USB device called a Trance Vibrator, which pulses in time with the music. The intended use of the device would be to hold it, put it in a pocket, or sit on it while playing (a pouch was provided to protect the device); similar to the DualShock, it would vibrate in time with the music, but stronger than the DualShock's own feedback, helping to extend the synesthesia to the player's feeling of touch. While not explicitly marketed as a sex toy or masturbatory aid, it has reportedly been used as such. The devices are available from various aftermarket retailers for (as of 2006) approximately $35 USD. The trance vibrator is also compatible with Space Channel 5: Part 2 and the Japanese version of Disaster Report.

Reverse-engineering efforts to allow the Trance Vibrator to attach to and be controlled by a PC have been successfully executed in Japan, resulting in a device driver for Microsoft Windows XP and Windows 2000. Drivers are also available for Unix-based operating systems such as Linux.

The Xbox 360 version, Rez HD utilizes up to three additional controllers for the trance vibration functionality in the game.

Music

A soundtrack was released with the following track list:

  1. Keiichi Sugiyama - Buggie Running Beeps 01 (5:20)
  2. Mist - Protocol Rain (7:08)
  3. Ken Ishii - Creation the State of Art (Full Option) (6:33)
  4. Joujouka - Rock Is Sponge (7:31)
  5. Adam Freeland - Fear* (Rez Edit) (5:06)
  6. Coldcut & Tim Bran - Boss Attacks (Remix) (7:15)
  7. EBZ - F6 G5 (7:48)
  8. Oval - Octaeder 0.1. (3:22)
  9. Ken Ishii - Creative State (6:20)
  10. Oval - P-Project (5:38)

* Though this song is titled as Fear in the game, its real name is Mind Killer.

Reception

The game received an award from The Agency for Cultural Affairs Media Art Festival in Japan.

Rez HD

Reviews
Publication Score
1UP.com A+
Eurogamer 10/10
IGN 8.6/10
Gamespot 8.5/10
Gamerankings 89% (40 reviews)
Rez HD was announced for release on Xbox Live Arcade by Microsoft during their pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference held in September 2007. Mizuguchi noted during the Show that "I always dreamed of a high-def wide screen and very good sound. Now the future has come", and described the game as "100 percent the same game" as the original Rez. Mizuguchi noted that he had to get the license back from Sega to remake the game even though he made the original (because video games are considered as work for hire), and that there are no plans for a 360-compatible Trance Vibrator peripheral though the same functionality is provided through the use of extra Xbox 360 controllers (up to three more). The title was ported to Xbox Live Arcade by Japanese game developer HexaDrive.

The game was released on January 30, 2008 to positive responses from reviewers.

Regarding releases on other systems, Mizuguchi has noted that there is "no reason" not to provide Rez HD on platforms other than the Xbox 360.

References

External links

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