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Friday, June 25, 2010

.hack//Link manga vol. 1 Impression

.hack//Link volume 1
With online gaming, built in wi-fi and the current generation of consoles going strong it’s time for a new .hack// that does not just mimic massive multiplayer online gaming but see’s it realized. While fans wait for this reality we’ll just have to continue to make do with Tokyopop’s line of manga and novels based on the .hack// universe, which is not a bad thing. The latest offering, .hack//Link volume 1 is unique in that it brings together every major story arc, the characters in a new and unique setting that adds a layer of freshness to the franchise while maintaining the mystery fans love with .hack//.

The Story
– The popular MMO The World has been shut down for three years and is nearing it’s much anticipated re-launch. Avid gamer Tokio Kuryuu masters every game he touches and cannot wait to play The World as he was too young to play three years prior. The day is here and only one problem, Tokio did not enter the drawing to receive access to The World R:X.There is hope as new transfer student Saika Amagi approaches Tokio with the game disc he desires. No sooner has Tokio inserted the oddly colored disc then he’s waking in the The World to a battle between legendary Kite as he battles Fluegel, leader of Schiksal. As Kite falls he asks Tokio to take up a quest to retrieve the Akashic Records, to help restore the world. As Tokio finds and helps Tsukasa, meets Subaru and battles a member of Schiksal he reveals hidden powers and players hidden in the shadows. Just what kind of game has Tokio been thrust into by Saika?


A .hack// story that does not involve direct player characters but rather a more Digimon sucked-into-game experience that’s full of mystery and recognizable faces. The setting is the world in which The World exists and has a history involving all the major players from Haseo to Kite and Tsukasa. The World is alive and well but throwing a normal person, Tokio, into the game, one being hacked yet again by a mysterious group continues the mystery heritage of the franchise while spicing it up with a sweet new twist. As a fan and gamer the story really shines by taking such great content in a new direction.


The Design & Art
– The Digimon comparisons really shows in Tokio’s design with big spiky hair and goggles. The character design is already set for the main characters while the new Schiksal baddies fit right in with a few hacked changes to their design. The world settings are also established and familiar so nothing new there. The use of odd sized and placed panels on action based pages highlights said action and allows the story to jump off the page. The art, by Megane Kikuya, is delicious, some of the best seen in any manga adaptation of .hack//.


Why Gamers Should Care
– Fans of .hack// will love the new twist on The World and the teaser about a new game at the end. The core story separated from past .hack// titles is more like a Digimon title in the kids sucked into virtual world, which is cool. Bottom line is this is one gaming franchise that is still very relevant thanks to the manga line. Fans, no question why you should care, for other gamers check it out and hope, wish for your favorite game to get such good manga treatment.


Overall,
it’s new .hack//, a new twist on a great franchise that brings together all the main characters in an art design that is serious, happy and fun all at the same time. Easy to read, follow and enjoy the past is explained in easy detail to noobs while bringing back fond memories to fans of the franchise. For the more hardcore fans check out the parody based
.hack//4koma.

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