Rev It Up Interview Series #3 - Garient Evans

The Rev It Up Interviews series has returned for the third time and I had a pleasure to interview Garient Evans, who is a director of Zen United. He's been working at the company for at least three years now and he's been working on games like Guilty Gear, Blazblue, Arcana Heart 3 and more. Even more, he has been involve with the competitive Fighting Games Community in the UK and he has been working with Top Fighting Games Players with in the Community!

RIUP - Please tell me a bit about yourself.

Geraint Evans- Haha, that's kind of a vague one! I'm Geraint Evans, I'm Director of Zen United. Er, I'm 34 years old and I live in Bristol.

RIUP - How did you get into gaming?

Geraint Evans - My first taste of gaming was when I was 3 or 4 - my dad brought home a ZX Spectrum and I was completely obsessed with it - it had some terrible simple games and tech demos written in the manual that my dad had to type out. It took for ever - but I was totally transfixed by the fact that you could make stuff move on a TV yourself. I've been obsessed with games ever since then - and have grown up playing games on pretty much every format.

There have been certain games over the years that have really grabbed me - I think Street Fighter II was probably the first game I ever got crazily obsessed with. I used to save all my lunch and bus money and play in my local arcade - The Silver Rooms - after school, and then miss my bus home and get into all kinds of trouble.

I wasn't really supposed to be in there - I was really young back then and all the other people in there were much, much older and all smoking and drinking - my parents must have thought there was something really dodgy going on, but all I wanted to do was play Street Fighter. I was really irritated by the fact that everyone played Ryu and Ken - apart from one Dahlsim player, I was the only one who played different character, Chun Li. I kinda made it a personal mission to get better and better. Even when the SNES version came out - which cost me like £70 back then - nothing really compared to the excitement of those times playing where I wasn't supposed to.

Over the years games have been swapped out - Zelda, F-Zero GX, Phantasy Star Online, I went though a phase of making Half Life levels to play with mates - basically, games have always been a huge part of my life in one way shape or form. After college I started writing about games for different magazines and websites - and did that for about ten years, before I ended up where I am now. I've been really lucky to be able to turn being around videogames into a job.

RIUP - You've been apart and work for Zen United. How long have you been working for Zen United and What is it like working for the company?

Geraint Evans - I've been here for three years now. It's amazing - I get to work on games like Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena and Arcana Heart 3. I really love 2D fighters - and it's great to be able to work on them - and help bring them to a wider audience. 2D fighters were, for a long time, not really given the love and attention they deserve, it's great to be given an opportunity to change that.

RIUP - So what kind of games do you guys promote?

Geraint Evans - Well, we've been working on Arc System Work's games as you know. We're also looking to release a new 2D fighter - which I can't really talk about yet - but we're very excited to be involved with, and will surprise a lot of people I think. We're hoping that the FGC can get behind it after we announce it - so that we can look at bringing more fighting games like that over.

One of our newest projects is Rice Digital ( ). For ages I've been playing doujin games in my spare time and really enjoying them - Touhou, eXceed, Ether Vapor, RosenkreuzStillette, Recettear - just a whole bunch of games that, for whatever reason, get hardly any coverage, and certainly don't get as much love as they deserve - and events like Comiket happen in Japan and the western games media is like... 'so what?'

I wanted to try to change that a little - or at least provide a platform where people can read and write about these more niche kinds of games - and also try and work with great companies like Nyu Media who are trying really hard to bring those kinds of games over to a western audience. Nothing gives me more pleasure than taking a game no one has heard of bringing it to them and hearing them say, 'you know what - this is really cool...'

RIUP - What is it like to work with players who are part of the competitive fighting games community in the UK?

Geraint Evans- Honestly? Amazing.

I originally came into contact with the UK FGC in 2010 - I just started at Zen and I invited Bullet Proof, Izanami and Tim119 to come down for a few sessions. Ever since then I've met so many really lovely, lovely people - and I really enjoy meeting up with you guys.

People always moan about how the Arcades are all dead and how online gaming is destroying the social side of gaming - but I don't think that's true. I think it's people's apathy that's destroying that side of gaming. So, yeah, I have maximum respect for the UK FGC, because it's you guys who actually put yourself out there, travel to events and tournaments - make the effort to attend.

Month in month out, you have these communities who are going out of their way to keep the offline scene play happening. Booking venues, running streams, promoting events - moving equipment around the country, setting up tournaments. There's so much work involved. So much love for their own individual scenes, whether it's Proving Grounds in Newport, Electronic Dojo in Birmingham, the Manchester and various London scenes - those pockets of players are helping to keep the spirit of competitive play alive. I just wish more and more people would have the courage to leave their homes and actively participate.

RIUP - Persona 4 Arena will be coming out in Europe very soon. Have you got any plans for the games release?

Geraint Evans - Yes, absolutely - although nothing i can talk about in great detail I'm afraid! We are making something special to make up for the wait that you guys have all endured. That's something we're very conscious of. We've also got some events lined up too and a couple of nice surprises too. We'll announce all this a little closer to release.

RIUP - Has there been any good reception for games like Persona 4 Arena, Arcana Heart 3 and Blazblue?

Geraint Evans - Yeah absolutely. BlazBlue has done amazingly well over here - against many people's expectations. Lost of people said Arcana Heart 3 shouldn't be released in Europe as a physical game - and we proved them wrong with that. Arcana Heart 3 went on to do really well - it surprised a lot of people. As for Persona 4 Arena? It's got loads of really positive media attention - and it won lots of awards last year, so hopefully we'll be able to replicate that.

RIUP - How would you explain to someone who hasn't played a game similar to Persona 4 Arena?

Geraint Evans - That's a tricky one - I think compared to Arc System Work's other games it's much more accessible than BlazBlue or Guilty Gear. Actually, I don't think 'accessible' is really the right word - Persona 4 Arena still has that Arc feel to it, there's still that depth and heavy focus on combos but i think it's much more inclusive - as in, more people can have fun with it from the word go, it's definitely more broadly appealing. Exectution is a little easier, the tutorials in the game are much better - I think it's more enjoyable to a wider range of players that BB or GG - I'm hoping that Marvel players for example will take some time to look into it. It's also A LOT of fun to play, very fast, very colourfull - gorgeous to look at. I think Arc have really nailed the art of creating 2D fighters, I can't think of any developer that really gets close to what Arc's teams can do with sprites. Their development process, and attention to detail is just insane - and it really shows in the finished game.

RIUP - Have you got any favourite players that you like to watch? If so, Who??

Geraint Evans - Actually, Hurricane Rev and Kyzer! Well, certainly back when I was introduced to the FGC. I remember watching you play each other at SvB - I'm a very bad Tao player in BB, and I remember getting destroyed by you a few times in casuals and then watching you fight in the finals. Was kinda depressing actually, because it made me realise just how much I needed to learn - I guess that's the benefit of actually going to these events.

I also like watching DragonLord's Bang - he'd come down to Sodium Showdown and blow us all up on a regular basis. I also like to see Gamester's Rachel - he doesn't get to many events, so was really glad to see him make it up to this years SvB and get some practice in with some of the higher level players like Kiba.

I like watching Ravage C play P4A too - I consider it a personal victory if I take like 1/3 health from his Kanji in any given round - but he's no match for me on Vertical Aquapazza, so I guess were even! And DBlanks too - watching his Yukiko means my Yukiko has gone from Terrible - to just Really Rubbish - so some improvement there!

Also Frost and Pawndriver playing Arcana Heart - those guys make AH3 look like a completely different game to the one I play. It's like a sickness.

RIUP - Blazblue Chrono Phantasma is the next new BlazBlue game to come out and we are a bit away from getting our hands on it for our consoles. But do you think that the game will be hugely refreshing to all the Blazblue players?

Geraint Evans - Yeah, absolutely! I think the whole point of Chrono' is to really give BlazBlue a big freshen up - with some new characters and some interesting new mechanics. I'd love to be able to go into it in more detail, but the truth is, I've not managed to get my hands on it yet - so apart from what I've seen on Youtube, It's hard for me to make a really informed comment - other than to say it looks amazing. And I really want it!

RIUP - In your opinion, how do you feel about the new characters in Blazblue Chono Phantasma?

Geraint Evans - I think if there's one thing that Arc can be relied on to do, its deliver interesting character designs and mechanics. They don't do clones, they don't do anything average or mediocre - for Arc it's all about what they create that offers something different, an interesting play style - so I'm really looking forward to seeing what the new characters have to offer. Not sure who I'll pick over Tao, probably Bullet or Amane - though I'm still interested to see what changes have been made to Tao.

RIUP - Are there any events that you will be attending this year?

Geraint Evans - We'll be at MCM I think - and also London Gaming Con - those are the two I'm planning at the moment, though it's likely we'll do more though the course of the year too - and of course, I'll be turning up at various FGC though the year as always. Right now though, my focus is 100% on Persona 4 Arena...

RIUP - Any shout outs that you would like to say?

Geraint Evans - Oh man, too many to people- Ravage C and DragonLord Z, Frost, Reyokarna and Zoular - and the rest of the NGi crew. Temp in Wales and the Sodium Showdown guys - hope to see them up and running again - Bullet Proof and Ryza - oh and Kyzer and Kiba too.

Zen United Links:

Twitter (Blazblue):
Facebook (Blazblue):
Twitter (Persona 4 Arena):
Facebook (Persona 4 Arena):

Rev It Up Interview Series #2 -ThunderNinja02

The Rev It Up Interviews Series #2 is Officially Up and this time round, I had chance to interview a Dead Or Alive 5 player, Thunder Ninja!! For those that don't know. he has been a very long Hayabusa player since Dead Or Alive 2. He used to enter national tournaments for Dead Or Alive 4, such as the Championship Gaming Series Qualifers in the UK when it was around. Within in this interview, he discusses about why DOA is such a unique game and he shares his views on Virtua Fighter Characters joining the Dead Or Alive 5 Cast! 


RIUP - Tell me a bit about yourself

ThunderNinja02 - I'm a gamer, and have been for 7-8 years or so, my main games are Dead or alive, Halo and Assassins Creed. i have followed these games ever since they started..

I'm 19, live in London England, and I'm a dancer, (for who you'll have to be nice and ask me privately =P ) i also do a bit of writing here and there, writing things like stories, songs and the occasional poem.

RIUP - How did you get into gaming?
ThunderNinja02 - well, my older brother had a n64 when i was around 6-7, so my first games where things like the legend of zelda, Mario kart and pokemon =P, and then we had the old xbox and the ps2, this is when i got really into Dead or alive and Halo, also played final fantasy 10. following on from that my friends, Sickone95, introduced me to the xbox 360. because i was a wii user at the time. and i ended up getting my own, along with the 4th and 5th DOA, halo3 onwards and started with assassins creed.

so in a nutshell i got into gaming through influences from others

RIUP - Knowing you that you're a DOA player, what is it about DOA do you like about and what kind of things make the game stands out from that likes of games such as Tekken Tag 2?

ThunderNinja02 - well, i have always liked dead or alive from the start, its character were very interesting and beautifully made and the gameplay was easy to pick up on. leaping forward into DOA5, i think dead or alive 5 stands out from TTT2 because its stages are very fun to play on, and rounds are never the same. again back to the characters, the only other character outside of DOA that i like is Rain and Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat. the DOA characters always had a certain flare about them ,my favourite duo being Ryu Hayabusa and Kasumi. with Ryu being my main and Kasumi as a secondary character, 

I also believe that visually Dead or Alive 5 is a step above TTT2, VF5 and Street fighter. especially in the stages, but this is my opinion, im not trying to put down the other fighter games 

RIUP - Do you think that DOA5 is the best DOA game out of all the DOA games in the past?

ThunderNinja02 - in some ways yes i do, visually the game is beautiful, and the stages are very well designed and constructed. the gameplay is very similar to doa 3 rather then 2 or 4. it is still easy to pick up. some moves however are ridiculous and hard to pull off

it is probably one of the more fun to play DOA's. because its easy to pick up, my friends get the hang of it easily and we have fun on the game. The online mode however is a bit of a let down for me. its slow to find other players and the rankings are all over the place. plus in dead or alive 4 yu can grab a online friend and play tag team with 2 others, in doa5 you cant do that.

however i believe that the gameplay, visuals and the fact that it is easy to get into over shadows the disappointing online service. and knowing team ninja they will fix all the issues sooner or later

RIUP - Do you make any gaming vids? If so, What type of Gaming vids to you create?
ThunderNinja02 - yes i do make gaming videos, usually its just random videos but i am starting my first lets play series.and i aim to do more,

RIUP - If there was like someone who hasn't even played DOA before in their life, how would you explain to that person?

ThunderNinja02 - Dead or alive 5 is a fighting game in the Dead or Alive series, developed by Team Ninja in partership with Sega AM2 and released by Tecmo Koei simultaneously for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in September 2012. It is the first DOA game to have a multi-platform release since Dead or Alive 2 as well as the series' first installment that was released for the PlayStation 3.

Dead or Alive 5 features guest characters from Sega's Virtua Fighter fighting game series and several new gameplay mechanics, as well as improved graphics and more realistic visual style than its predecessors. Its plot is set two years after the events of Dead or Alive 4, telling the interrelating stories of various characters in connection to the new DOA tournament and the continuing hunt for Kasumi's evil clone.

The game received generally favourable reviews.

RIUP - There has been recently been quite a big update for DOA5, which includes changes to all of the characters moves changes and just recently released costume packs round 9 (aka Fighters Pack). Do you think the changes made the game better? Also, what other DLC things would you like to see in DOA5?

ThunderNinja02 - I have actually not had the chance to play around with the new patch because at the time i write this the patch is not out for the xbox 360 yet.

i like the concept of the DLC stage in DOA5 and would love to see more. i would actually like to see some dlc for free characters in the game, maybe stick ein and leon back in. along with tengu because he all had his own style of fighting. i would actually like to see some NEW costumes for all characters. all i see so far are re-colours and re-inventions of old costumes from previous DOA games

RIUP - Are there any games that you are looking forward to playing this year
ThunderNinja02 - I am looking forward to the new tomb raider game. i like the look of it and the story seems to be quite interesting. and im also looking forward to the new Pokemon X and Y on the 3DS, because i missed out on black and white.

im not sure if the rumours are true but if they are, the new Super smash bros for the wii U and the 3DS would be a good game to look forward to

RIUP - Do you think the Virtua Fighter 5 characters are a good addition to the DOA cast? Should there really be Dead Or Alive 5 x Virtua Fighter game?

ThunderNinja02 - Personally i think that only sarah was a good edition to the the game, akira and pai just seem to not fit into it quite as well as sarah, plus i have seen sarah used far more times then the other 2.

a doa5 versus virtua fighter would be good to see, espcially in thing like the stages and how it would lay out the commands..... because in street fighter v tekken it had the street fighter controls

RIUP - Speaking of the new tomb raider game, what do you actually think of it? Have you seen the Multi Player for it?

ThunderNinja02 - I have seen footage here and there and to be honest the multiplayer looks impressive right now, might review for my youtube when i get my hands on it

I actually think that, aside from multiplayer, the story looks very gripping and seems to be a new step in the way lara croft is viewed, in previous games she had that femme fatale feel, but here in this game she just looks like a inncoent women that just wants to survive and get home

RIUP - Are you a Casual Gamer or a Competitive gamer and Why?

ThunderNinja02 - for DOA i would like to think that i can be both, like on my youtube if you watch my gaming night with snotgurgler and sickone95, that is me just chilling and casual. but then in my tournament videos for the DOA5 alpha version is my more competitive attitude....

however in games like halo 4, im told i should play competitively but i prefer to play halo 4 in a casual manner because i always have and always will play it... but if i have to up my game in halo and DOA then i will

RIUP - Any shout outs that you want to say?

ThunderNinja02 - nothing much, just a few shoutouts to my twitter followers, my subscribers on youtube, Snotgurgler and Sickone95 for being in my videos..... and one to my DOA team (Seleene Scale, Currently inactive) who are Leifang12, lavendergirl, hurricane rev, sakura madoi and BlasianPersuasi


ThunderNinja02 Links:

Rev It Up Interview Series #1 - Rident

The Rev It Up Project is very proud to present the very first of Rev It Up Interview Series! The Rev It Up Interview series is about interviewing people who are within the gaming community, whether they are casual or competitive gamer and who are really well known in their community. Now to start this off, I had a pleasure to interview Rident, whos been a gamer since at a very young age. He's been a part of the Koei community and he is a fan of series for Dynasty Warriors, Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider. Although, he is generally into any type of game. Even more, he is a part of a game group called Gamrs, which was founded early last year and since then, he's been holding online community events for games like Dead Or Alive, Dynasty Warriors and more Koei Titles............

Hurricane Rev - Please tell me a bit about yourself.

Rident - My name is Steve, though I’m better known as Rident through the internet and social community. I work as an accountant, though I tend play, talk and write about gaming as a hobby in my spare time.

Hurricane Rev - How did you get into gaming?

Rident - I got into gaming at a young age from pretty much when my Brother got his Spectrum ZX. I guess I must have been about 2 or 3. I didn’t play so much then, but loved to watch it until I eventually got my proper hands on a gaming unit which was an old Tandy tennis game (Pong) with dials and switches.

Gaming properly became part of my life from the days of the Commodore 64 which was bought as a family gaming unit and later progressing through the console cycle with the likes of the NES, Sega Megadrive, PlayStation, etc.

Currently I play across PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. My favourite franchises/game series being Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider and Dynasty Warriors. I do enjoy a vast selection of game genres with the exception of sports including FPS, 3rd person shooters, puzzle/strategy, RPG and fighting games.

Hurricane Rev - Now you are a part of Gamrs. Can you tell me what it is about and how long have you been a part of Gamrs?

Rident - It started after running our first successful TK Day event which was a community event designed to encourage players and fans of Tecmo Koei brand franchises to get playing, discussing and meeting online together for a day. This included online lobbies of Dead or Alive 4, and online play of Dynasty Warriors 7, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 and Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce to name a few at the time.

We held small competitions and set up a discussion page etc for fans to post online ID’s and set up games. Following this, the core team that got involved with setting up TK Day got talking to discuss starting up our own blog page and podcast which was how GAMRs came about.

We were all fans of gaming, anime etc and all had quite similar tastes especially when it came to Tecmo Koei games. We founded GAMRs around March 2012 as what was initially Gaming, Anime and Manga Reviews. We decided after a while we would prefer to stick to news and opinion pieces as opposed to reviewing like all other sites do. So I have pretty much been there from the start.

We have since continued to put out a fortnightly podcast with some special guests, created new game related video content and have continued to put out our TK Day community events.

Hurricane Rev - Are there any games that you are really looking forward to playing?

Rident - The main titles I am looking forward to this year are Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires, Tomb Raider, Last of Us and hopefully Dynasty Warriors 8 (if it gets localised). There are titles like Watch Dogs, Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite and Metal Gear Rising that I’ll keep my eye on.

Hurricane Rev - Are there any events that you will be attending?

Rident - The only events I have planned for this year so far will be MCM London Expo in May and October and Eurogamer Expo in September. If any other events are announced that interest me I will consider them too.

I am planning to run another TK Day weekender event early in March with the GAMRs team, which will focus on the latest new titles Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires and Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2. We would love to host in another online Dead or Alive 5 tournament too, but don’t have the resources this time.

Hurricane Rev - Do you think that the gaming scene/community is growing each year and getting stronger?

Rident - I personally love the gaming scene and communities and find myself constantly becoming more and more involved. I love interacting and debating with different fans and similar minds who share my hobby and love of particular game franchises.
I would say the communities are getting bigger as more people are becoming aware of them through the likes of social media and more community friendly and professional consumer events like Eurogamer Expo.

A few years back I wasn’t really part of any gaming community, but through social media I have been able to connect with more and more people from around the world to talk about gaming and share experiences and nostalgic memories with. Before I was a bit shy to do that and didn’t know many within my close social circles that I could talk about video games with, but now my social circles both on and off the internet have increased a lot.

I was there when Tecmo Koei established the TK Family community and believe it is probably the strongest community that I follow and am a part of. This has helped me to find and meet fellow fans of the Warriors series and many new friends and fans during the Dead or Alive 5 campaign, which is one fighting game I have great passion for even though I lack some key skills and coordination.

Hurricane Rev - I've seen you were interested in the competitive fighting games scene for games. What interest have you got for that community?

Rident - While I used to love heading down to the arcade cabinets or play games like Street Fighter, Dead or Alive and Tekken on my home consoles with my Brother or friends in a slightly competitive manner, I never really quite had the top level of play to compete and win all too often so kind of took a back seat and played more of the solo arcade and story modes and spectated more matches.

As games evolved and more genres and titles came about I didn’t play so many fighting games as I was always occupied with something else. Also I didn’t have that same connection with friends to play at home so was really out of the loop and practice. I still kept up-to-date with the latest Tekken releases after DOA moved onto Xbox consoles though only ever played them solo.

It wasn’t really until the Dead or Alive 5 campaign that I learned more of competitive fighting games and that community. EVO during 2012 was probably the first big tournament I spectated that featured fighting games and I was hooked. I wanted to learn more about it and hopefully attend some of the more local events after Dead or Alive 5 had launched more as a spectator than competitor for the thrill and atmosphere of being in that environment and meeting the players.

Unfortunately I have not really had much in the way of time or money for travel when these events have kicked off, so have not had the opportunity yet. I did however take what I had learned of the structure and rules and applied it in a community Dead or Alive 5 tournament online. It was tough, but an experience I wish to do again some time.

Hurricane Rev - What did you think of Sony's presentation?

Rident - I didn’t start watching with too high an expectation other than an official console press announcement which is what we got with a few extra words/demos thrown in.

Some I have spoken to have been either underwhelmed by it due to higher expectations or were quite excited and left wanting more. I would put myself more in the latter category and expect more game reveals, features and seeing the actual console during the Sony conference at E3 this year.

Hurricane Rev - Were there any features on the PS4 that you really like and it stood out to you?

Rident - I liked that there was a lot more use being made of the PS Vita, which has not had such a good start. Even though I don’t yet own one, it is something I feel is necessary to boost some life into the handheld console and actually entice me to pick one up sooner.

Other features I liked, but may not use a lot are the short video and screenshot sharing at the touch of a button. The streaming however is something I would use, especially to add more content to the GAMRs video features.

The feature that excited me most was the fact it will allow for downloads to happen more in the background due to backup CPU chip. This plus the ability to play a game while it is downloading which is great news considering how long it can take to download full game titles.

Hurricane Rev - Do you think Microsoft will come up with something bigger?

Rident - I can’t really say whether they will come up with something bigger as such. I’m sure they will bring us something which integrates nicely with other Microsoft products such as Windows Phones, Tablets and PC’s. I think they will go for a more family entertainment approach than Sony did with their closer focus towards gamers.

Would be interesting to see the partners Microsoft will be working with to offer expanded features on their next console. I would expect something that uses Kinect and Skype as ways to communicate with friends using the system. I would expect it to be made likely to connect Skype calls from console to PC/Tablet/Phone easily and that features revealed with their SmartGlass technology released last year will be expanded.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what Microsoft have to reveal as well as everything Sony didn’t tell us yesterday. Plus I can’t wait to see what titles will be released during the launch windows for both consoles.

Hurricane Rev - Any shout outs that you want to say?

Rident - I would love to shout out to those who have helped me to build and enjoy my social community such as Chin Soon Sun who helped introduce me to many people in the industry.

Also to the awesome TK Family community which includes all the Warriors and Fighters who I have connected with and shared my social experiences with these last few years.


Ridents Links:

We Are Gamrs Links

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