Rez (video game)
|Developer(s)||United Game Artists|
Microsoft Game Studios
October 13, 2016
|Genre(s)||Rail shooter, music game|
Rez is a rail shooter music 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. His company, Q Entertainment, released a high definition version, Rez HD, to the Xbox Live Arcade in 2008. Rez Infinite, a remake designed for the PlayStation VR virtual reality unit, is expected to be released October 13, 2016.
The game is notable for replacing the typical sound effects found in most rail shooter games with electronic 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.
The game is set in futuristic computer "supernetwork" called Project-K 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 Project-K 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 Project-K 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.
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 does not control the overall path, only the avatar's position on the screen. 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 pulsating 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 or 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 boss for each area features a variable difficulty scale, depending on the player's performance leading up to that point. 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 electronic 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.
Rez was the idea of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, a cumulination of ideas he had during his career to that point. Mizuguchi was first drawn to video games from the game Xevious, finding that the game's sound effects were like music to him. Later, while in university, he was introduced to the game Xenon 2 Megablast, and found the game giving him "a sense of a new medium, the idea that games as an art-form can exist". Following his graduation, he started working at Sega on the arcade cabinet version Sega Rally, which included a cockpit-style design to immerse the player in the game. Mizuguchi began forming the concept of a game around "a full body experience" from this work.
In 1997, Mizuguchi was on travel in Europe and had been taken to the Street Parade in Zurich, during which there was a large electronic dance music concert attended by around 300,000 people. Mizuguchi was taken in by the sights and sounds around him from this, and recognized how this experience was similar to the inspiration that Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian painter, had used to "[paint] a canvas of the sounds that he saw". He saw this tie to his previous ideas and envisioned a game where one would shoot down enemies in time to the beat of music that would put the player into a trace, forming the basis of Rez. He and his team began to research how to structure this game, visiting clubs and attending Taiko drumming festivals, as well as watching videos of various street bands. He recounted the video of one Kenyan band that was "influential" towards Rez's design, himself having watched it over 100,000 times; in the video the music started with silence, then a single beat, and more instruments then began layering into the song as the music drew in small dancing crowd. Mizuguchi wanted to programmatically recreate how the music and sights drew that crowd in, figuring this was the essential element to his envisioned game.
The music and gameplay was developed following a call and response approach, similar to that of what a disc jockey would do to get reaction from the crowd. As they developed the game, they developed the mechanic of quantizing the notes, so that regardless of the player's imprecision that they would play out on the beat, which they "felt like magic" to players of any skill level. This quantization mechanic would go on for other games Mizuguchi developed including Child of Eden and Lumines. The game's story, though obstinately about hacking a computer system, was envisioned by Mizuguchi as a metaphor for life's journey.
Rez was developed under the codenames K-Project, Project Eden, and Vibes, They eventually adapted Rez as a shortened formed of the word "resolve"; Mizuguchi further felt the name appropriate as it also had made a comparison to the movie Tron and the actions of characters in that being "de-rezzed".
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. Mizuguchi had found the DualShocks haptic feedback to be too weak for Rez, leading to the development of the stronger Trance Vibrator.
It has been noted in the gaming media, that Trance Vibrator can be used as a dildo or sex toy. In 2007, ScrewAttack ranked the Trance Vibrator the #1 best gaming peripheral in its "Best Gaming Peripherals" for this reason (though the reason given in the video was far more sexual for comedic purposes). The devices are available from various aftermarket retailers for (as of 2006[update]) approximately $60 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. Sam Hocevar also wrote a driver which is part of the Linux kernel.
The Xbox 360 version, Rez HD, uses up to three additional controllers for the trance vibration functionality in the game.
A soundtrack entitled Rez / Gamer's Guide to… was released on January 23, 2002 with the following track list:
- Keiichi Sugiyama - Buggie Running Beeps 01 (5:20)
- Mist - Protocol Rain (7:08)
- Ken Ishii - Creation the State of Art (Full Option) (6:33)
- Joujouka - Rock Is Sponge (7:31)
- Adam Freeland - Fear* (Rez Edit) (5:06)
- Coldcut & Tim Bran - Boss Attacks (Remix) (7:15)
- EBZ - F6 G5 (7:48)
- Oval - Octaeder 0.1. (3:22)
- Ken Ishii - Creative State (6:20)
- Oval - P-Project (5:38)
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The game received an award from The Agency for Cultural Affairs Media Art Festival in Japan. Rez has been one of the chosen Dreamcast games to be shown at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's 2012 exhibition, The Art of Video Games.
By 2003, the PlayStation 2 version had sold over 100,000 copies.
Toonami reviewed it in 2004. SARA referenced the Total Immersion Event Trapped in Hyperspace, which preceded a cameo by Swayzak, the TIE's antagonist.
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 he "always dreamed of a high-def wide screen and very good sound", and described the game as "100 percent the same game" as the original Dreamcast version. Mizuguchi noted that he had to get the license back from Sega to remake the game even though he made the original (because Rez was created as a work for hire), and that there are no plans for a 360-compatible Trance Vibrator peripheral, although the same functionality is provided through the use of extra Xbox 360 controllers. The title was ported to Xbox Live Arcade by Japanese game developer HexaDrive.
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.
A port of Rez for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR was announced in December 2015, called Rez Infinite. The remake will include support for 1080p resolutions and 3D audio sound. In addition the version features a new level called "Area X". Although the game is intended for VR play it is not mandatory and can be played without the setup. Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the producer for the original Rez, is leading the development of the title under his new studio, Enhance Games, effectively a one-man studio with outsourcing of some programming and art development as to avoid issues that Mizuguchi had faced at Q Entertainment. Mizuguchi had left Q Entertainment some years prior after becoming dissastified with the company, and spent the intervening time teaching and working on small mobile and music games. He opted to return to gaming after seeing the potential for virtual reality, creating Enhance Games to redevelop Rez for VR gaming. Development of Rez Infinite is being aided by Monstars and localized by 8-4. Rez Infinite is expected to be released on October 13, 2016.
- Jungle Rumble – a music game for PlayStation whose art director worked on Rez
- Audiosurf – music generated game for PC
- Child of Eden - a "spiritual sequel" to Rez
- iS – internal section – futuristic shooter for PlayStation
- Vib-Ribbon - music-generated game for PlayStation
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Media related to Rez (video game) at Wikimedia Commons