REZ is a musical rail shooter developed by
United Game Artists and
Sega for the
PlayStation 2 . It was
Japan on November 2001, followed by releases to the United
Europe in January 2002. The game has since seen two
remasters: REZ HD, released to the
Xbox Live Arcade
Xbox Live Arcade in 2008, and REZ
INFINITE, developed for
PlayStation VR and released to the PlayStation
Network in October 2016 and
Microsoft Windows in August 2017. Inspired
by the work of Russian painter,
Wassily Kandinsky , the game was
developed under the working title K-Project, and was conceptualized
and produced by
Tetsuya Mizuguchi . Rez is notable for replacing the
typical sound effects found in most rail shooters with electronic
music . The player creates sounds and melodies as they target and
destroy foes in the game, leading to a form of synesthesia .
The game's development team contained several former members of the
Team Andromeda , the
Sega development team behind the
Panzer Dragoon series. Rez Infinite, the latest version of the game
created for virtual reality , was released to widespread acclaim, and
is widely considered to be one of the best VR games to date.
Back in 2007, a beta-build version of Rez was released for the Sega
Dreamcast exclusively in Japan, titled VIBES as a promotional item for
the then-upcoming Rez HD for the Xbox 360.
* 1 Gameplay
* 2 Synopsis
* 3 Development
* 3.1 Music
* 4 Release
* 4.1 Trance Vibrator
* 4.2 Rez HD
* 4.3 Rez Infinite
* 5 Reception
* 5.1 Rez
* 5.2 Rez HD
* 5.3 Rez Infinite
* 6 Legacy
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 References
* 10 External links
Rez in-game screenshot on the
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.
Occasionally enemies drop one of two power-up items when destroyed.
The power-ups either enhance the player's "evolution bar" by one or
three points, or they enable 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 many 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
Sega focused its marketing of Rez primarily on
the game's qualities of "synesthesia ", the association of different
senses and stimuli with one another.
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 a
virus named Swayzak, invading the mainframe of the Project-K system to
reboot Eden while destroying any defense programs or firewalls that
happen to inhibit progress, and analyzing other sub-areas of the
network to gain access to Eden's location and reveal the true being at
Tetsuya Mizuguchi in 2007
The development cycle for Rez began at Sega's newly created United
Game Artists studio (a conversion of Sega's
AM9 consumer division to a
subsidiary company) between 1998 and 1999. Developed under the
codenames K-Project, Project Eden, and Vibes, the name Rez was
eventually adopted as a shortened formed from the word "resolve".
Tetsuya Mizuguchi 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". Concept
Rez was the idea of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, a culmination 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 versions of Megalopolis (a non-game simulation set in a
futuristic Tokyo) :13 and
Sega Rally (a racing game utilizing Sega
Model 2 's 3D GPU ), both of 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 " 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 trance, forming the basis of Rez.
Moving from his previous office in Haneda to another in the
considerably more vibrant community of
Shibuya , Mizuguchi and his
team began to research how to structure this game, visiting clubs and
Taiko drumming festivals, as well as meeting with VJs
including those of the Mommy's Endorphin Machine collective. :18–19
He was particularly drawn to watching videos of various street bands,
and 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 a
small dancing crowd. In 1998, Mizuguchi attended
Burning Man and had
the opportunity to experience a similar phenomenon in person as he
walked during the evening from his campsite at the periphery of the
event toward the epicenter where the light and music had attracted a
large crowd of which he became a part. :7 Figuring that the capacity
for music and sights to draw in a crowd would be the essential element
to his envisioned game, Mizuguchi began exploring how to
programmatically recreate this effect. Gameplay
The musical 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. In parallel with the development of the
game's narrative and aesthetic, the team developed its 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 soon became
the central focus of the game and it would go on for other games
Mizuguchi developed including
Child of Eden and
Lumines . :26
The team's decision to adopt the rail shooter mechanic largely came
about from the common game development experiences of the various
members of the team. Mizuguchi's
Sega Rally arcade games developed
AM5 division fall within the racing genre, and seven team
members including lead artist
Katsumi Yokota , programming director
Mitsuru Takahashi, and game designer Katsuhiko Yamada had all
previously worked to develop the
Panzer Dragoon rail-shooter series as
Team Andromeda . :18, 26 Visuals
Visual design for Rez underwent a number of changes during
development of the game. Early on, Mizuguchi had entertained and soon
rejected the idea of using visuals inspired by the artworks of
Kandinsky, :29–30 however other early versions explored themes of
hip hop culture (inspired by the virtual band ,
Gorillaz ) and the
evolutionary history of life . Early designs for the player avatar
also underwent numerous changes from a spaceship, to a running woman,
to a racecar. The visuals produced by the team during the early phases
would frequently be reined back in order to retain a central
primitivism and purity, :19 and little definitive progress was made
toward an overarching visual style until the arrival of Katsumi Yokota
(who had previously provided visuals for
Panzer Dragoon video games
and more recently had been working on the anime,
Yokota's interpretation of Mizuguchi's central aesthetic of a move
from darkness, silence, and individuality to light, sound, and
community, expanded on the team's evolutionary concepts with an
emphasis on primitive planktonic and other oceanic forms. Although the
concept struck a chord with Mizuguchi, early playtests showed that
players couldn't clearly identify enemies, and that enemy death
sequences interfered with player line-of-sight. :30 These problems
were solved when team member Jake Kazdal introduced Yokota to the
music visualization plug-ins for
Winamp that were beginning to be used
in clubs by
Shinjuku VJs, and wireframe models inspired by depictions
of virtual reality were adopted. :33 Narrative
The game's story, though ostensibly about hacking a computer system,
was envisioned by Mizuguchi as a metaphor for life's journey.
Primarily sensory rather than plot-driven, the development of the game
narrative began with the concept of a connection between life and
music. Rez team musician Nobuhiko Tanuma (then using the pseudonym
Ebizo or EBZ) had developed a theory of "
Techno Dance Music
Architecture" (TDMA) and had worked to integrate the idea of a
progression of increasing complexity. Joining the team after some of
the most basic concepts had been formed, team artist Katsumi Yokota
worked to incorporate visual elements that would illustrate this idea
of a progression of music and life and provide a meaningful narrative.
The culmination of this process was the poem displayed as text in the
game's "Area 5" where it is revealed line by line. The poem ends with
the question, "Who am I...". Mizuguchi has suggested that the question
is intended to provoke the realization that the player is "not a
hacker but a sperm ", that Rez is "the story of conception" set
against an AI background, and that the awakening of the character of
Eden is a reference to the theoretical technological singularity .
From the outset, Tetsuya Mizuguchi's concept of the game was one that
emphasized and utilized music as a means to draw the player into the
game. Drawing inspiration from the soundtracks of games like Xenon 2
Megablast (1989) and
Xevious (1982) (especially
Haruomi Hosono 's 1984
Xevious remix single), Mizugushi and
Katsumi Yokota began
investigating different musical genres that would evoke emotional and
psychological responses appropriate to produce the primal and
synaesthetic experience Rez was intended to provide. After hours of
investigation it was concluded that due to its digital simplicity
which allowed a designer to isolate a single note and to alter the
timing of the overall rhythm, the techno genre offered the greatest
promise for producing the desired effects. :37–40 While the Rez team
musician EBZ continued to move the project forward with placeholder
Fatboy Slim and Underworld , music coordinator Masakazu
Hiroishi set up a series of European meetings between Mizuguchi and
techno artists including
Adam Freeland , Keiichi Sugiyama,
Aphex Twin . :40 In the months that followed, the project went
through an intensive period of matching music to visuals requiring
multiple iterations of back-and-forth alterations in which both music
(sometimes from the first note) and art (including entire bosses )
were significantly modified. :41
Although designed to emphasize music, Mizuguchi has stated that he
did not intend the game to be considered a music game . The idea that
musical skill would be a prerequisite for full appreciation of the
game was something that both Mizuguchi and Kobayashi were anxious to
avoid. Instead, the team adopted a quantization mechanic for the
gameplay that allowed even players without natural rhythm to interact
musically with the game through a process of "locking on" to enemies.
This mechanic formed a core theme along which the gameplay developed.
REZ / GAMER\'S GUIDE TO…
SOUNDTRACK ALBUM BY VARIOUS
January 23, 2002
Video game soundtrack
Music Mine Inc.
A soundtrack entitled Rez / Gamer's Guide to… was released in 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 ">'s "Area X":
* Hydelic - Singularity X (4:21)
* Hydelic - Butterfly Effect (4:18)
Rez was officially unveiled to the gaming press on June 26, 2001 at
PlayStation 2 party. Concerned with upheavals at
Sega related to the recently announced shift from console development
to third-party software development, and feeling a lack of support for
the Rez project, Mizuguchi was anxious to make an impression with his
presentation of the game. To achieve this he bleached and dyed his
hair pure white and made his presentation—a solo demonstration of
himself playing the game live—without saying a word after taking the
stage. Mizuguchi's intention was for the game to primarily speak for
itself and the reaction he received from both
Sega and Sony executives
was exactly what he had hoped for. In wrapping up the party, Sony
Computer Entertainment chairman and former
Sony Music president Shigeo
Maruyama took the stage and gave specific praise for Rez, suggesting
that it would "not only make, but change history for music in games".
Working together, marketing teams from both
Sega and Sony developed
innovative strategies to market the game including co-promoting it
with electronic music festivals. :52 The
Dreamcast and Sony
PlayStation 2 versions of the game were released simultaneously on 22
November 2001 :56
Trance Vibrator in protective pouch.
With the goal of enhancing the player's experience of synaesthesia,
Mizuguchi has made a number of experiments into the realm of haptic
feedback . Beginning soon after the release of Rez, Mizuguchi
approached Sega's arcade division to propose an arcade version of the
game which would include a cockpit chair parts of which would vibrate
in time with the music. :60 This idea never materialized, and
Mizuguchi considered adapting the
DualShock controller's haptic
feedback for use in Rez, however he found it to be too weak for the
game, and this lead him (through UGA) to approach ASCII to design a
peripheral whose haptic function would be similar to that of the
DualShock, but stronger. A "
Special Package" version of the
PlayStation 2 release of the game was sold in
Japan only and included
USB -based haptic feedback device called a Trance Vibrator—a
smooth computer mouse -sized peripheral that pulses in time with the
music. The intended use of the device is to hold it, put it in a
pocket, or sit on it while playing (a pouch was provided to protect
the device), and thus to provide players with a closer approximation
of synaesthesia by extending the game's music to the player's feeling
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 ) 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
Sam Hocevar also wrote a driver which is part of the Linux
Xbox 360 version, Rez HD, and the PS4 version, Rez Infinite, use
up to three additional controllers for the trance vibration
functionality in the game.
Rez HD was announced for release on
Xbox Live Arcade
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
Mizuguchi noted that he had to get the license back from
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
Xbox Live Arcade by Japanese
The game was released on January 30, 2008 to positive responses from
reviewers. Rez HD is also included on the Qubed compilation for Xbox
360 along with
Lumines Live! and
Every Extend Extra Extreme .
Regarding releases on other systems, Mizuguchi has noted that there
is "no reason" not to provide Rez HD on platforms other than the Xbox
Mizuguchi presents a Rez postmortem at the 2016 Game Developers
Rez Infinite is a port of Rez for
PlayStation 4 ,
PlayStation VR and
Microsoft Windows . It includes support for
1080p resolutions and 3D
audio sound. In addition, Rez Infinite features a new level called
"Area X" in which the player is offered 360 degrees of visual freedom
and is no longer confined to a rail but can travel in any direction.
:58 Area X was developed using the
Unreal Engine , with visual design
supplied by Takashi Ishihara at the request of Mizuguchi and designer
Osamu Kodera. Enemy AI within Area X was also improved and Mizuguchi
composed a new poem on the theme of birth to act as a coda to Yokota's
poem in the game's Area 5. :59
Although the game is intended for VR play, a
PSVR is not mandatory
and Rez Infinite can be played without the device. Tetsuya Mizuguchi,
the producer for the original Rez, lead 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 was aided by Monstars
and localized by
Expanding on previous Rez-related haptic feedback peripherals,
Mizuguchi showcased an updated version during his presentation of the
game at PlayStation Experience 2015 —the Synaesthesia Suit. With 26
actuators capable of providing complex haptic sensations to a player's
arms, legs, and torso, the Synaesthesia Suit worn by Mizuguchi is a
bespoke one-of-a-kind item, however he has suggested that "the
experience of playing Rez Infinite in the suit truly brings players
inside the game and its music". :60
Rez Infinite was released on
Microsoft Windows on August 9, 2017; the
version includes optional support for
HTC Vive and
Oculus Rift VR
headsets and their respective handheld touch controllers.
9/10 (DC, PS2, PSVR)
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Rez received an award from The Agency for Cultural Affairs Media Art
Festival in Japan.
Reviews for the game began to emerge shortly after its release.
Writing for Games in 2002, reviewer Thomas L. McDonald described Rez
as "a game that carves out its own niche: the art-house abstract
musical rail-shooter", and emphasized the game's differences from
traditional rhythm games while noting that "the result is awesome, but
trying to describe it in words is like trying to sculpt
Simply put, it's like nothing you've ever seen before." The game
would go on to receive "Runner Up" in the category of "Electronic -
Puzzle and Classic" in Games's annual "The Games 100"
By 2003, the
PlayStation 2 version had sold over 100,000 copies.
In 2009, Edge ranked the game #49 on its list of "The 100 Best Games
To Play Today", calling it "Astonishing to watch uniquely absorbing
to play". In 2012, Rez was listed on Time 's All-TIME 100 greatest
video games list.
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Rez HD was rated the 13th best
Xbox Live Arcade
Xbox Live Arcade of all time by
a September 2010 listing.
Awards for Rez Infinite
The Game Awards 2016
Best Music/Sound Design
Best VR Game
Game Developers Choice Awards 2016
Best VR/AR Game
Rez Infinite received widespread acclaim from critics. Review
Metacritic assigned the game a score of 89 out of 100, based
on 44 reviews, making Rez Infinite the highest rated
PSVR game on the
site. The game received unanimous praise for its immersion, sense of
place, visual and sound design, and its new level Area X. Despite the
age of its previous iterations, many reviewers considered it to be the
PSVR title to date, and an essential game for anyone owning the
device. Martin Robinson of
Eurogamer called the game a "modern
masterpiece", and Alexa Ray Corriea of
GameSpot considered it to be
"a new classic". Lucas Sullivan of
GamesRadar thought that the game
"achieves its full potential with PSVR", while Edge summarized "Rez
Infinite is 15 years old, and the best VR game of 2016."
Reviewers praised the choice to remake the game in VR, and agreed
that the game was best played in PSVR. Corriea praised the remastering
of the visuals noting that " have been replaced with updated, crystal
clear pieces of the cyberworld." Vince Ingenito of
IGN thought that
the use of VR "elevates dramatically", and Dominic Leighton of The
Sixth Axis commented that the game "looks, and feels, like an
experience tailored solely to the format". Ingenito lauded the game's
control systems, noting that the aiming via head tracking in VR was
"amazingly intuitive". Edge thought that the game was played best with
head tracking whilst standing up, but cautioned "if you're a
head-nodding dancer, perhaps invest in a neck brace." Robinson
thought that in VR, the game gives "a sense of presence and ceaseless
motion unlike anything else out there."
The gameplay was well-received, though opinions differed on its
length. Ingenito thought the game was "surprisingly deep despite its
relatively simple gameplay". Chris Carter of
Destructoid thought the
game was unique and "challenging as well on higher difficulties", but
Leighton considered the game to be "relatively easy". The game's
bosses were praised; Corriea considered them to be "most complex and
challenging sections" of the game, and Carter thought they were
"worth replaying multiple times." Infinite's new level, Area X, was
widely considered to be one of the best parts of the game. Robinson
considered the level to be "something else entirely", while Edge
called the level "astonishing". Sullivan noted that the game's run
time "will be a stumbling block for some", but still considered the
game to be a "must-buy". Similarly Carter and Corriea thought the
game was essential, but were left pining for more.
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Rez was chosen as one of the
Dreamcast games to be shown at the
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Smithsonian American Art Museum 's 2012 exhibition, The Art of Video
Otocky – an early 1987 Famicom Disc System game examined during
development and commonly regarded as a precursor to Rez
* iS – internal section – a futuristic shooter released in 1999
Vib-Ribbon – a 1999 music-generated game for PlayStation
Lumines – a 2004 game created by Mizuguchi to explore the
concept of synaesthesia
Every Extend Extra – a 2006 game created by Mizuguchi to explore
the concept of synaesthesia
Audiosurf – a 2008 music-generated game for PC
Child of Eden – a 2011 game created by Mizuguchi as a prequel to
Jungle Rumble – a 2014 music game for PlayStation whose art
director worked on Rez
* ^ A B The eventual release title of the game Rez is commonly
attributed to inspiration from the Underworld single, "Rez ", as well
as to the concept of becoming "de-rezzed" from the 1982 film,
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Rez (video game) at Wikimedia Commons