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Go West! Sixty-Five: A Surge of Sacrifices

Mar 10 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of February 23 - 29: Playstation 3: Ar no SurgeGustOnline Price: $67.99 Ar no Surge is an interesting game for a few reasons. For some, it's the long awaited new Ar Tonelico title, while for others, it's Gust finally making good on their promise to make the Surge series into something more than just an odd visual novel/dating simulation. I can't speak as to whether it successfully satisfies either of those crowds, but I can't fault them for trying. Ar no Surge combines the mythos of Ciel no Surge and Gust's Ar Tonelico series into one game, serving as both a prequel and a new potential launching point. Familiar characters from both series make appearances in key roles, and music is once again a major part of the thematic focus.The game follows two sets of characters, Delta and Casty, as well as Earthes and Ion. Each group starts in a different place, but ultimately these two narratives supposedly come together in search of the truth of the world. If nothing else, it seems a bit more grounded/serious than the weirdness that plagued Ar Tonelico 3.  Character models look good but I'm not exactly sold on the combat system yet. You battle enemies in waves as a pair, but the whole thing looks a bit bland. I've yet to try the free demo on JP PS+ though, so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.  I have a lot of respect for Gust, but to be quite honest I'm more excited for the eventual next Atelier game right now. I'd recommend against importing for now; even the bland Ar Tonelico 3 managed to get itself localized. Playstation Vita: Soul Sacrifice DeltaSony Computer EntertainmentOnline Price: $49.99 It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since Soul Sacrifice first hit store shelves in Japan. It marked the beginning of the Vita finding its footing (even just a little) in Japan, and the system has been relatively stable ever since. It was a great little game with an interesting story based on Arthurian legends, had some cool bosses, and a unique take on the hunting genre. There were certainly problems with game balance and content, but it was a solid first effort. Soul Sacrifice Delta is to Soul Sacrifice as Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is to Monster Hunter 3. Delta takes the original SS and expands on it, tweaks it, and polishes it up. Fifteen or so new monsters, new combo magic, upgraded visuals, more music, and new story chapters have all been added to the package making for a beefy experience. I've only spent six hours with Delta, but I've already seen a load of new content that have helped to make the whole thing feel fresh despite how much I played the vanilla version. On a mechanical level, I think this is a far superior game; it feels as though the development team have figured out what works and what doesn't. The leveling system has been refined, and players are no longer scavenging for offerings to power their magic on the battlefield. You can now align yourself with one of three factions, making for a more interesting online experience as well. I can't wait till we get to the point where these kinds of games stop getting called Monster Hunter clones. Capcom's giant franchise has spawned a new genre, and I'm more than happy to welcome new attempts at doing something different with the formula. Chances are pretty solid that Delta will get localized, so I recommend waiting. If you understand Japanese though, I recommend importing. The vanilla version's English language release made changes that I think took away from the narrative. [And that's that! A short list of releases, but I've been enjoying Delta quite a bit so it isn't a complete loss. This week brings with it a handful of new releases, so look forward to the next edition of Go West!]
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Huzzah! New things to play!
Welcome back to Go West!, your [yet again not] weekly column about Japanese video games, sushi, and longingly gazing outside at the soon-to-blossom cherry trees. This entry is coming to you folks a bit late, but at least ther...

Go West! Sixty-Four: You got Puyo all up in my Tetris

Feb 08 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of February 2 - 8: Playstation 3: Super Heroine ChronicleBandai NamcoOnline Price: $79.99 [Vita: $70.99] At long last, Bandai Namco's latest strategy RPG has hit the PS3 (and Vita), but is it any good? I have no clue. Super Heroine Chronicle brings together a bunch of female anime characters from a wide variety of series for a game not at all unlike Super Robot Wars. Combat is conducted on a big field, but when you move your character to attack the enemy, the game cuts to bigger, more detailed 3D models for a flashy move alongside some character animation. If it sounds like and looks like SRW, it's probably based on SRW.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing though. Most Super Robot Wars fans will speak pretty highly of that series' combat, so if Super Heroine Chronicle has managed to emulate even 50% of it, that's probably a good thing. The main drawback here is that the roster is what'll make or break the appeal of this game. SHC pulls from a lot of C and B string TV anime that run the gamut from ok to terrible. There are definitely some gems in here (Kyousogiga for example), but for the most part the big shows are missing in action. There's absolutely no chance of this ever making it over the big pond. Potential importers? Take a look at the list of characters and see if you're feeling it. Otherwise I'm gonna say pass.   Playstation Vita: Puyo Puyo TetrisSegaOnline Price: $50.99 [PS3: $50.99] [Wii U: $51.99] [3DS: $50.99] I've put about ten hours into Puyo Puyo Tetris since grabbing it on Thursday, and my addiction doesn't look to be going anywhere. I know some of you might be giving me a strange look right about now, but the reality is that Sega has hit another home-run with Puyo Puyo Tetris, the unlikely crossover between two of the best falling block games of all time. Every conceivable way of playing is included in the package, along with a host of online options that make for one of the most robust digital puzzle leagues I've ever seen. Want to watch replays between the two top players in the country? Just flip to the online mode and check out the replay library. As if that wasn't enough, Sega included an adorable and often hilarious fully voiced Adventure mode that does a great job of getting new players used to the variety of additional game styles. These feature a mix of classic characters from Compile's Madou Monogatari series, and Sega's Puyo Puyo Fever franchise. There are also a host of new characters representing the Tetris side of things, each one more screwed up in the head than the last. If you've ever been interested in either of these franchises, import Puyo Puyo Tetris. The chances of it hitting the west are close to zero at this point, as much as it pains me write.  Still on the fence? Check out my full import preview early next week for more details. Nintendo 3DS: Dragon Quest Monsters 2: Iru to Ruka no Fushigi na Fushigi na KagiSquare EnixOnline Price: $55.99 As much as I love Dragon Quest, I just can't seem to bring myself to care about the Monsters spin-off series. The whole "collect monsters and fight" concept doesn't really excite me all that much in a DQ setting. Dragon Quest Monsters 2 is a ground up remake of the second game in the series, meaning it's pretty much nothing like the original for the Gameboy Color. If you played SE's DQ Monsters remake, you should know what to expect from this. It features a completely 3D world running on what seems to be the same engine, a slightly more fleshed out story, and some more monsters. The biggest addition that Monsters 2 adds to the equation is the robust online system. Network battles, various personal settings, and all sorts of different modes make taking your monsters onto the net a lot less of a hassle. There's just a whole lot more to do here, which is important for this kind of game. There's no doubt that this'll sell well right out of the gate, but I just can't bring myself to care. Hurry up and announce Dragon Quest XI please. [And that's all for this week! Not a whole lot hit shelves, but at least they're all somewhat relevant. Next week will be a bit more dire, but fear not. Big things are on the horizon. Until then, feel free to follow me on Twitter and on Twitch where I stream JP games. Catch you later, smooth criminals.]
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The game of the generation has arrived
Welcome to another riveting, awe inspiring, and emotionally draining edition of Go West!, your [inconsistently] weekly column about Japanese video games and some masochistic idiot. This week, the game of all generations hits ...

Go West! Sixty-Three: Gundam in your Gundam on the Gundam

Feb 01 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of January 26 - February 1: Playstation 3: Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Full BoostBandai NamcoOnline Price: $76.99 Let me tell you two useful pieces of information. First off, Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost is an expensive game, whether you're importing or buying locally. Secondly, it's also one of the best multiplayer arcade games currently available. Yeah, I just dropped truth bombs all over your faces. Full Boost is the upgraded version of last year's Extreme Vs release, meaning it has more mobile suits, more fields, more everything. Balance has been tweaked and tier lists shuffled around, which of course means that veterans are either going to have to relearn their mobile suits, or find a brand new one. Considering how expansive the roster is at over ninety giant robots, most people won't be left wanting for new combatants. Arcade mode provides a suitable challenge, and the list of giant bosses is far improved over prior Vs titles. There's nothing like taking on the giant Shamblo from Gundam UC. Two player splitscreen is still included in the package, though now the battle field is split vertically instead of horizontally. It's an odd change, but I found it rather easy to get used to the new perspective. The arcade mode is now playable online with a friend, so if you want to take on E route with your far away pals, you totally can. But really the core of Full Boost is its two vs two multiplayer, and it doesn't disappoint. I was only able to jump online for a few matches before I was summoned to play locally, but in the brief time I spent with the game it ran smoothly and without any hiccups. I got my ass kicked, but it didn't at all feel like it was the result of heavy lag. I've been playing hours of local MP since picking up Full Boost on Thursday, and while there are some frame rate issues, these weren't present when playing online or single player arcade modes.  The sad truth is that Full Boost will never see an English language release. The good news is that the Vs series has a strong following in NA, and you don't have to look very far for guides and videos on how to play. In fact, I recommend the Official Topic over on NeoGAF if you're thinking of jumping in. There's very little Japanese in the menus so this is a very import-friendly kind of game.   Playstation Vita: Disgaea 4 ReturnNISOnline Price: $59.99 I love SRPGs, but I have a very difficult time playing them on a large TV screen. I personally find that these sorts of experiences are best when taken in small chunks at a time, which is why portables are the perfect platform for them. I've always dug the Disgaea franchise, but every time a new entry hits stores, I end up waiting for the eventual portable release. Case in point: Disgaea 4 Return. If you've already played D4, you know what to expect from this rerelease. It features all the DLC from the prior version, and also includes a few brand new story campaigns. The game looks super sharp on the Vita's screen, especially compared to the blurry sprite work of Disgaea 3.  All said, Disgaea 4 Return is a great port of what looks to be a great game, so I'm looking forward to digging in more when I have some free time. I'd be willing to bet NIS is going to bring this one west, so I suggest holding out till then.   Ebikore + AmagamiKadokawa ShotenOnline Price: $48.99 I've had my eyes on Amagami for a long time. You see, Konami's Tokimeki Memorial was my first experience with a true dating sim. I'm talking the kind of game that requires you to build stats, study hard, and plan dates so that you can woo the girl of your dreams. TokiMemo did some incredible things for its time and essentially went on to create an entire genre, one that seems to have faded away in recent years.  Amagami is something of a spiritual successor. It takes the TokiMemo formula and adds a new layer of paint to it. I don't know if mini-games have the same amazing goofiness seen in Konami's franchise, but nonetheless I respect that they went back to the genre's origins. Ebikore + Amagami is a port of the PS2 game from a few years back, but doesn't have much in the way of new goodies. Instead it sports a higher resolution so that players can better enjoy the really strong art. I'm actually very tempted to pick this up at some point. Those who have watched me stream Tokimeki Memorial know how fun/funny these sorts of games can be. Unfortunately, the high price tag is holding me back right now. I doubt this'll ever make its way west, so if you're up to the challenge, don't be afraid to import.   Nintendo 3DS: Toushin Toshi: Girls Gift RPGImageepochOnline Price: $60.99 I asked folks on Twitter, and they answered. The next reader-voted game I'll be covering is Imageepoch's Toushin Toshi, the remake of an eroge RPG from back in the day. You win. I hope you're all happy. I've only played a few hours into it so I'm not exactly in a great position to speak in depth about it, but thus far Toushin Toshi seems like a totally competent RPG in many respects. The battle system, one on one first person-ish combat, is fast and to the point. The visuals are colorful and the UI is easy to navigate. The soundtrack seems to be fairly solid and the whole thing feels like a more complete game than Imageepoch has produced in years. That being said, there's just something about it (beyond the harem antics) that's leaving me cold. I can't quite put my finger on it yet, but rest assured I'll figure it out by the time I have full coverage up on the site. In the meantime, wait patiently as I piece together my thoughts. On the plus side, it's nowhere near the train wrecks that were Time & Eternity and Exstetra. That's gotta count for something, right?   Playstation Portable: Arabian Doubt: The Engagement on DesertQuinRoseOnline Price: $59.99 The heroine, the men, the civilians; nobody is an innocent in this sequel to one of QuinRose's most beloved titles.  Our heroine is the princess of a country of criminals, the sole daughter of the king of thieves. Having grown up around so much evil for all of her life, all she's ever wanted was to fall in love, have a normal marriage, and live a normal life. She doesn't want to be in a relationship built on evil. Her father gives her an ultimatum: raise 10,000,000 gold in 25 days and she doesn't have to marry the husband of his choosing. Through some miracle, she manages to win, and proclaims that from here on out, she'll do as she pleases.  She was supposed to have inched closer to normality... Our heroine returns home one day only to find it empty, a single letter from her parents left behind. They've embarked on a journey, leaving the kingdom to her. Despite knowing that her country is rotten to the core, she decides to stay and lead while her folks are away. It is then that a diplomat from a neighboring country comes on official business. By some stroke of bad luck, it's her ex-boyfriend! Will our heroine ever be able to find a normal life? This is QuinRose bringing their A-game with the sequel to one of their quirkier otome games. I just wish they'd hurry up and make the jump to Vita. Fellow otome developer Idea Factory has already started to release titles on Sony's latest handheld, so I can only hope it's just a matter of time. If you're looking for a fun and quirky otome visual novel, QuinRose is always a safe bet. Jump on in if Japanese isn't a problem.   Shinobi KoiutsutsuIdea FactoryOnline Price: $58.99 Let's have a warm welcome for Idea Factory's first otome game release of 2014, Shinobi Koiutsutsu! Insert applause here. Our 16-year-old heroine lost her parents at a very young age, and subsequently was forced to raise herself. She worked and worked so that she could pay for school and rent, all the while following her dream of becoming a ninja. One fateful day, she meets the head master of the most prestigious of ninja schools, and is invited to take the special student exam. In order to achieve her dream of being a badass ninja, she accepts the invite and makes it in. On her first day however, some strange ninja technique has made all the men fall in love with her?! Not really putting your best foot out with this one, eh Idea Factory? I like the idea of ninjas, but a school? Seriously? You couldn't just have it not take place in a high school? QuinRose wins this week's battle. [And that's that for this week! Expect Toushin Toshi coverage going forward as I play more of the game, and keep your eyes peeled for next week's edition of Go West! I've got a pretty good rhythm going here, so who knows, maybe this will manage to be weekly for a while! Huzzah!]
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Imageepoch returns in a blaze of glory
Welcome to the latest and greatest Go West!, your [why-do-I-even-try-to-be-timely] column about Japanese games, life in Japan, and Idea Factory.  Ladies and gentlemen, this week is actually a very special one. The latest...

Go West! Sixty-Two: Put Your Guns On

Jan 25 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of January 19 - 25: Playstation 3: Sengoku Basara 4CapcomOnline Price: $65.99 Are you ready to put your guns on? Are you ready to party? If the answer to both of these questions is "yes," then Sengoku Basara 4 was made for you. The latest in Capcom's fairly long running series of hack n' slash games, Sengoku Basara 4 doesn't look to try and shake up the formula too much. You still get to pick from a roster of Sengoku era generals and kill hundreds of people while trying to become the one true ruler of Japan. If you've played a Dynasty Warriors game, you probably have a fair idea of what to expect here. Where Sengoku Basara has always set itself apart is in its overall tone and aesthetic. If I were to describe it in one word, it'd have to be "whatthehellamIevernlookingat." Yes, I cheated. Sengoku Basara 4 takes things even further into crazy town, with the addition of new grunt enemies that can work together to put you down. This doesn't sound like anything nuts until you actually see it happen in-game: enemies link up to form giant human pyramids, rolling wheels of doom, and even tornadoes. You haven't lived until you battle against human tornadoes while in a theme park with a roller coaster in the background. Yes, that's a thing that actually happens. As per the usual, SB4 has a great OST that blends arcade-style beats to more traditional sounding Japanese tunes, making for an energizing score. Visually, Sengoku Basara 4 is definitely a bit better than its predecessor, probably due to the fact that this latest entry is PS3 exclusive rather than Wii/PS3 again. Character models look great and the whole thing runs at a fast clip. It's not an amazing looking game by any stretch of the imagination but it gets the job done with its colorful art style. Unfortunately for folks out west, Sengoku Basara 3 sold terribly when it released over there. This doesn't come as much of a surprise, but it does make 4's chances of localization look rather dire. My fingers are crossed for you guys and gals.    Playstation Vita: Utakumi 575SegaOnline Price: $67.99 The latest rhythm game from the folks at Sega, Utakumi 575 is an original IP that uses the 5-7-5 haiku structure to construct music using the Vocaloid software. It's a very complete package with lots of tracks, costumes, locations, and a whole editing suite so that players can insert their own haikus into songs. The whole shebang runs at 60fps and native resolution, which is even a step above Sega's own Project Diva F. That being said, these are very different beasts, and just because you like Project Diva doesn't mean you'll enjoy Utakumi 575's special brand of music action. There's a bit of a barrier in place for folks who don't know Japanese, and the whole affair is a lot less flashy than Project Diva. I'll have a full preview up next week, so be sure to check it out if you're interesting in giving Utakumi 575 a shot.   Dragon Ball Z: Battle of ZCapcomOnline Price: $62.99 The first new Dragon Ball Z in quite some time, Battle of Z tries to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack by being a team based multiplayer battle game. Players can make teams of four and fight it out with each other using any of the 70 playable characters. The story mode covers pretty much the entire Z saga, but the real focus here is definitely on the multiplayer. I'm pretty sure that at this point you're either excited for this or don't give a crap. If you're on the rocks, check out the free demo on the NA PSN and see if it's up your alley. No reason to import this one.   Playstation Portable: -8Idea FactoryOnline Price: $56.99 From the outside, Rei Yaotome looks like your average high school girl. The sad reality is that she has the unfortunate ability to attract unfortunate men to her. The end result? She tends to get wrapped up in unfortunate incidents that have gone on to have an extremely unfortunate effect on her life. Case and point: she ends up enrolling in Mogura Academy, also known as Z Academy. Here, unfortunate students from all around the country are gathered into one place so that they might fill in the blanks missing in their unfortunate personalities. Unfortunately for Rei, her penchant for attracting unfortunate men continues to torment her at Z Academy. The only way out? To find true love. By combining two unfortunates, perhaps the holes in their hearts can be filled up.  I typed the word "unfortunate" a grand total of nine times in the above synopsis. This might come as a surprise, but Idea Factory uses the word even more in the official Japanese version. I take off my invisible hat to them. -8 is Idea Factory's first release of the new year, and it's quite fitting that it's an otome game for the PSP. From what little I know about it, it sounds like a quirky little romcom that might be right up some of your alleys. If you have a firm grasp on Japanese, I say give it a shot. Happy New Year, Idea Factory.   Kiniro no Korda 3: Another Sky FEAT. JINNANKoei Tecmo GamesOnline Price: $57.99 Hey Koei Tecmo Games, I hate to break it to you, but including FEAT. JINNAN in your game's title in bold letters was kinda off-putting. But hey, I'm just some guy. When Kanade Kohinata was but a child, she was fascinated by the violin. As the years passed and she became better and better at the instrument, she would go on to win many awards for her spectacular play. Now a second year in high school, she lacks the twinkle in her eye she used to have. At this rate, her future in the world of music will be all but gone. She decides to move away from home and attend a new school so that she might relearn music and rekindle her passion. It's at this new school, Jinnan Music Academy, that she meets increasingly talented fellow musicians. After months of practicing, she and her friends qualify for the country wide music competition. Will Kanade be able to regain her love for the violin and win first place with her friends!? A closer look reveals that much like KT's other otome series, Kiniro includes some light RPG elements like being able to give NPCs food to gain their favor. Where things really start to get crazy are the rhythm game portions. As an ensemble, Kanade and her friends will play music at various tournaments and events. These segments play out like a traditional music game where buttons must be pressed in time with the music.  As far as I've heard, Koei Tecmo is a name you can trust when it comes to otome stuff. If you've been looking for something meaty to sink your teeth into, Kiniro might just be it.  [This week annihilated my wallet, and sadly it looks like next week is set to be even worse with Gundam Extreme Vs FULL BOOST, the horrifying return of Imageepoch, and a few other big games hitting store shelves. Wish me luck folks, and catch you all later!]
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In which parties are had, and songs are sung
Welcome, dear readers. Today is Saturday, January 25; a very special day by all accounts. Why is it so special you ask? The answer is as simple as understanding the universe. Today is the 62nd edition of Go West!, your [prete...

Go West! Sixty-One: Elliot's Longest Day

Jan 18 // Elliot Gay
New releases for the week of January 11 - 17: Playstation 3: Short Peace: Ranko Tsukigime's Longest DayNamco Bandai GamesOnline Price: $66.99 It took me approximately one hour and fifteen minutes to play and complete Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day, the game packed in with select versions of Katsuhiro Otomo's Short Peace anthology film. In that brief period of time, I bore witness to three eye'd little sisters, giant angels riding S&M demons, school girls turning into dragons, live karaoke dance parties, and both CG and traditional animation. I swear to all that is great that I was not intoxicated. If you want to watch the complete play-through, it's up on my Twitch channel. Given its short length, I can't possibly recommend that Suda 51 fans pick up Short Peace just for the game. That being said, Longest Day is a fantastic little blend of animation and gameplay design. About half of the experience is composed of various types of animated cutscenes, each one utilizing an art style different from the last. Upon completing the game, I couldn't help but nod my head at its inclusion in the Short Peace package; this is very much a short film in line with the rest of the collection. Fortunately, $66 also gets you the rest of the Short Peace anthology, meaning if you have an interest in the film, this is the way to go. There are multiple versions of Otomo's latest on store shelves, but this is the only one that includes Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day.  I doubt the game will ever see a release out west, but if it does, it'll probably be as a cheap downloadable title. Playstation Portable: Chou no Doku Hana no Kusari: Taishou Irokoi IbunPrototypeOnline Price: $56.99 It's the seventh year of the Taisho period. As war claims the fortunes of those within the country, the young Yuriko Nomiya sits in her room alone on the night of her birthday. A party is being held in her name, thrown by her formerly influential father. While on the one hand, it seems as though this is meant to celebrate her birthday, the truth is much colder; the goal is to find Yuriko a husband so that she might turn around the fortunes of the Nomiya family. Determined to help her parents, she departs only to discover that the party hall has been attacked by revolutionaries, and her father was assassinated in the chaos. Overwhelmed by despair and grief, Yuriko understands but one thing: this is only the beginning. Prototype hits the ground running this year with its first otome game release of 2014. While I'm sure we all know this narrative will eventually lead to romancing one of a few different men, I openly admit to being intrigued by the initial premise. It's dramatic, mysterious, and the whole thing seems to lack the overly flowery atmosphere that these sorts of titles often have.The irony of course being that the official site is covered in flowers. Whoops. I'm not huge on the art style, but if you're an otome game fan who digs old school Japan, this very well might be worth picking up. Nintendo 3DS: VitaminX Evolution PlusD3 PublisherOnline Price: $40.99 I have no idea why the VitaminX series is so popular, but here we are with a re-release of an enhanced version of the game. Long story short, you play a young female teacher who gets put in charge of Class X, a group of somewhat hard to handle young men. Along the way you find love, stress, and all kinds of drama. It's super typical as far as the genre goes, and if I'm to be completely honest, it's the otome series I probably care the least about. If you're a fan, you know what you're getting into. [And that's that folks! After a long hiatus, I'm super glad to be back in the swing of things both with Go West! and the site as a whole. I have some neat things in store for 2014, so keep your eyes peeled for awesomeness. Catch you all next week with the release of Sengoku Basara 4!]
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I can barely hold all these games
After approximately four hundred bajillion hours of travel across the world, I'm back in Japan. I'm still alive. That's right folks. Welcome back to Go West!, your one and only [insert-time-frame-here] column about new Japane...

Go West! Week Sixty: Lightning Returns to Arland

Nov 24 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of November 17 - 23: Playstation 3: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIIISquare EnixOnline Price: $75.99 Fun fact! I quite liked the original Final Fantasy XIII. My first experience with the game was a 70 hour playthrough in Japanese back when it first came out, and despite its linearity, I really dug the battle system, music, and general world. I get why there are people who weren't fond of it, but I enjoyed my time with the game. Sadly, XIII-2 did nothing for me. It didn't help that SE decided to shift the focus to Serah, the one character I didn't give a crap about.  Enter Lightning Returns. I played a little bit of LR back at TGS and came away surprised by how much fun it was. The one character battle system appeared (again, short demo) to have some cool depth, the areas were massive, and the music seemed strong. I have yet to pick up the final game, but I've been hearing mixed things all around. Some folks seem to be digging it a lot, and I know others who have already sold the game back. I do intend to play through LR before its western release, so look forward to impressions whenever that happens. In the meantime, don't import. If you're a fan of the Japanese voice actors, you're better off waiting. Square Enix has announced that the JP audio will be a free piece of DLC following the release of the NA version.  Playstation Vita: Shin Atelier Rorona: Hajimari no Monogatari ~ The Alchemist of Arland ~GustOnline Price: $58.99 Every time an Atelier game is released in Japan, I tell myself I'm going to finally give this beloved franchise a fair shot. Time passes, and of course that never actually happens. I am a man of false promises. Shin Atelier Rorona might finally be the game to bring me into the fandom though. The reason is simple: it's a remake of the first PS3 Atelier game, one which many folks have said was the roughest of the bunch. If I can start in chronological order, I feel like there's a better chance of falling in love with the franchise. So what exactly is new in Shin Atelier Rorona? Quite a bit actually. As is always the case with these kinds of releases, Shin has a load of new costumes not just for Rorona herself, but all your party members as well. There are a few new dungeons, additional party members, and brand new events to experience. Combat has also been revised and designed using the Meruru + battle system as a base. Perhaps the biggest change however, is the inclusion of brand new character models. The original Rorona used a chibi art style that didn't represent the original character designs very well at all. Gust has gone back and created new models that are much more accurate to the original art.  If you're concerned that Shin Atelier Rorona won't make it out west, don't be. Koei Tecmo has done a decent job of getting these games into English, even if they barely advertise them. My advice is to hold off for now. Nintendo 3DS: One Piece: Unlimited World RedBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $58.99  It feels like Ganbarion has been developing One Piece games for over a decade now. Of course a peek at their gameography reveals that their first game as a studio, One Piece: Grand Battle!, was released back in 2001. Well then, I guess they reallly have been making One Piece games for over a decade. Whoops! Unlimited World Red is their latest game, and it's quite the looker. When you've been dealing with the OP franchise for so long, I imagine you begin to really understand the characters on a fundamental level. Character animations are looking great, and the pseudo cel-shaded look gives the game a very clean style on the 3DS. Unlimited World Red is the first Unlimited game to feature four player coop action against bosses, taking a page out of the hunting genre handbook. Sadly, the multiplayer is local only. I'd say there's a pretty good chance of Unlimited World Red hitting EU, but NA always seems to get that shaft when it comes to these games. Playstation Portable: Snow Bound LandIdea FactoryOnline Price: $57.99  Geruda has lived a happy, peaceful life with her childhood friend Kai. One day, Kai finds a wish-granting mirror and decides to bring it home. Kai, Geruda, and the rest of the folks present look deep into the mirror when suddenly a blinding light explodes out of it. They lose consciousness and are enveloped in the mysterious light. When they wake up, the mirror has disappeared, and they find that a strange power has awoken within them... Good ole' Idea Factory here to save the day with another romantic adventure featuring super powered characters. Huzzah! The art style is pretty bland here compared to IF's normal output, but it's still a lot better than most of their competitors. I have no witty retort to offer here, so if you're interested in otome games, I say go for it.  Hanasaku Manimani5pbOnline Price: $58.99  Nanao was just an ordinary Japanese high school student. One day, she heads out to participate in a local summer festival, and ends up getting caught in a time warp that sends her far into the past. She wakes up in the turbulent Edo period, surrounded by unfamiliar sights and people. Struggling to figure out how to get back to her time, she's saved by a mysterious young man. The wheel of fate begins to turn... I wish you could hear me actively groan as I wrote up the above synopsis. I can't begin to stress how tired I am of these time travel stories where Mary Sue characters get sent back to the past. If you're going to do a 'lost in time' style narrative, I'd like to see these publishers try their hands at sending folks into the future. That could have some interesting results, but oh well. [And that's all for the 60th edition of Go West! GW! is now an old man and/or woman, so congratulations to us? Next week is looking like an odd one, so prepare for more snark and sass. In the meantime, thanks for reading and catch you all next time!]
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Lightning strikes thrice
Greetings ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 60th edition of Go West!, your [inconsistently] weekly column about Japanese video games, a foreign guy in Japan, and Idea Factory.  When I first started Go West! nearly...

Go West! Week Fifty-Nine: Eating Gods All Day Everyday

Nov 16 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of November 10 - 16: Playstation Vita: God Eater 2Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $57.99  Folks out west might not realize it, but God Eater is kinda of a big franchise for Bandai Namco. The original was one of the first games in a post-Monster Hunter world to put its own spin on the then-new genre. Rather than copy the slower and more deliberate gameplay of MH, God Eater went in the opposite direction by favoring fast ground and aerial combat. There was also a stronger focus on telling a story, and it certainly helped that legendary composer Go Shiina handled the score. The end result was a brand-new IP that sold hundreds of thousands of copies on the PSP, and still stands as the most successful non-MH hunting game to date. Three years later, and God Eater 2 has finally hit store shelves. It's been a long and winding road up until now; the original reveal trailer from 2011 was met with a fairly negative response due to the shift in art design. Project G.E. then went quiet for an entire year. The week of Tokyo Game Show 2012, God Eater 2 resurfaced with a sharp but familiar art style, and the announcement that it was in development for both the PSP and the Vita.  Since then, Project G.E. has made great strides in terms of reaching out to the community and working with them to make changes to God Eater 2. The large demo launched over the summer served as a way of getting feedback from fans, and it seems to me like it was an effective strategy. Long story short, God Eater 2 is an immensely fun game. It doesn't appear to be nearly as complicated or as huge a time sink as Monster Hunter 4 is, but I think it does an incredibly respectable job of presenting hunting fans an alternative to Capcom's series. The combat is fast and responsive, Go Shiina's soundtrack is as beautiful as always, and visually the game looks great on the Vita. The story that God Eater 2 has to tell isn't particularly new or groundbreaking, but it's a fun romp with a huge cast of characters.  If I had one large complaint, it'd be the lack of online multiplayer. I get that that isn't particularly a huge deal for many Japanese gamers; local MP is king here. That doesn't make it any easier to accept for someone like me who wants to play with friends far away. Adhoc Party is still way too much of a pain in the ass to use on a regular basis. That being said, the developers have stated in interviews that they plan on updating God Eater 2 once a month with new free DLC and changes to the system underneath the hood. Hopefully if things pan out, they'll end up patching online into the game. It certainly wouldn't be the first time something like that happened. As for the chances of God Eater 2 going west are concerned? I have absolutely no clue. At best, I think there's a chance of it hitting English language territories as a digital-only game.  Fingers crossed.   Nintendo 3DS: Seisou no AmazonesArc System WorksOnline Price: $58.99  Quietly announced, and perhaps even more quietly released, Seisou no Amazones is undoubtedly a game of some kind. I'm 60% sure of this. It's a shame that every article I've read about Amazones in Japanese magazines has done a terrible job of explaining what sort of RPG it is. One thing I do know is that it features a cast of female characters, many of them dressed like something out of a bondage magazine. A quick glance at the Official Website reveals that it's a first person dungeon crawl in which special attacks are discharged by rubbing the touchscreen (their bodies).  Yeah, I don't know either. I highly doubt we'll ever see Seisou no Amazones go west, so if you're looking to potentially blow sixty dollars, be my guest.   Medarot Dual Kabuto/KuwagataRocket CompanyOnline Price: $57.99  You might not necessarily recognize the name, but I can guarantee you're probably a little bit familiar with the franchise. There was a time when Medarot existed in English speaking territories as Medabots. Yeah, I see you in the corner nodding your head. Don't try to hide it. At one time a JRPG series for kids, Medarot makes the jump into action RPG territory, not unlike Level 5's Little Battlers eXperience games. The core of it is still intact though; you mix and match from a huge number of different parts to create your ideal super fighting robot. The campaign looks to be quite lengthy, featuring a number of cameos from previous titles. Like all multiplayer action games over here, Medarot of course features 4-player local and online play for story missions, and a host of co-op quests as well. Huzzah! This new Medarot release has two separate versions, each with their own exclusive bots. This isn't very likely to head west, so if you're looking for some nostalgic action, this might be a good grab.   Model * Oshare Audition Dream GirlAlchemistOnline Price: $56.99  I know there are probably folks out there looking at the inclusion of Model * Oshare Audition Dream Girl and wondering if I've lost my sanity. No worries, I lost that thing a long time ago. That being said, the reason I included this game is because it genuinely looks fantastic. It's a model simulation title in which you're able to create a super-customized avatar and take her through the world of Japanese talent. You take jobs at TV stations and events, write articles, bond with your co-workers, and find true love. Of course the big draw is the intense customization options for creating new outfits. There are over 5,000 different items you can use to pretty up your model avatar, and over 50 endings available in the game. That's kind of nuts. Model * Oshare Audition Dream Girl is the sort of game that sneaks under most folks' radars, which is a total shame. If you're into fashion and simulations, I say give this one a shot. You might be surprised.   Playstation Portable: Arcana Famiglia 2ComfortOnline Price: $58.99  Being a sequel to a fairly popular otome game with an equally popular anime adaptation, Arcana Famiglia 2 is the kind of release that I really don't have much to say about.  According to the synopsis, Famiglia 2 takes place a few months after the end of the first game. Life returns to normal for the family, and signs of a peaceful winter begin to pop up here and there. A mysterious group of traveling merchants appears at the mansion, and Mondo starts to act strange. Thus begins the tarot cards' tale of the 'lovers.' Yeah, I don't know what any of that means. I'm just going to assume that series fans can decipher some meaning out of the above.  If you're a fan of the franchise and have no problems smashing through Japanese walls, import away! [And that's all for this week folks. God Eater 2 is undoubtedly the highest profile game to see a release on the Vita in Japan, so it'll be interesting to see what sort of effect it has on hardware sales over the next week. November 21 is looking positively stacked, so prepare for a big Go West! Catch you all later!]
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God eating like it's 1995
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to yet another edition of Go West!, your [running out of ways to imply not-weekly] column about Japanese video games, a man who has forgotten how to love, and Idea Factory. This week we feast on gods. Make of that what you will. In the meantime, the rest of us will be talking about video games or something.

Go West! Fifty-Eight: I Hate Everything

Nov 10 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of November 3 - 9: Playstation 3: Akiba's Trip 2AcquireOnline Price: $68.99 (Vita - $63.99) I honestly wasn't expecting to have such positive impressions of Akiba's Trip 2.  A third person sort-of open world action game, Akiba's Trip 2 is about running around an accurate recreation of Akihabara and beating the living hell out of vampires. These creatures don't immediately burn up in the sunlight; you have to strip them down to their underwear so that their skin is exposed to the light. In your quest to rid Akiba of this monster menace, you'll likely strip hundreds of men and women to their undies, though not before wailing on them with an anime poster or two. The whole thing is pretty outrageous as far as premises go, but Acquire wears the goofiness on its sleeve. Lots of dialogue choices help you shape the main character in both funny and interesting ways, leaving it up to players to decide how cool or weird they want to be. Enemies all have quirky spoken dialogue for when you try to strip them down, and NPCs walking by freak out and flee the scene. It's ridiculous, but Akiba's Trip 2 marches proudly on. The whole thing wouldn't work as well as it does if it wasn't for the ultra-slick presentation. I've been playing the Vita version of the game and I was taken aback by how great it looks. The UI is slick and easy to navigate, and the actual in-game graphics are impressive. The characters are cel-shaded, helping cover any lack of detail they might have. Digital Akiba is fun to wander around especially if you've been to the real place; dozens of actual locations are littered throughout the area. From what I can tell, the main story is fully voiced, another important feature for a game like this. If anything, I'm a bit concerned that the combat could grow stale over the next however many hours. Right now the game has been drip feeding me new information (counters, nonstop strips), but it feels like my move list is relatively small. That being said, each weapon you use controls differently from the last, so it might just be a matter of having to switch things up as I progress through the game. I bought Akiba's Trip 2 on a whim, but it has turned out to be quite the pleasant surprise. Thus far it doesn't seem to share any crossover with the first game, so if you're looking to import, don't worry about missing out. As for its chances of going west? Who knows at this point. XSEED bringing over Senran Kagura for the 3DS pretty much means anything is fair game. Playstation Vita: ExstetraFuRyuOnline Price: $59.99  Exstetra is that feeling you get in your stomach when you realize the bread you just ate was moldy. It's the headache you wake up with after a night of heavy drinking.  Exstetra is the game that you, the readers, wanted me to play and write about at length. Far be it from me to deny you all the coverage, so here I am with the game locked and loaded in my Vita. I can already feel the chills running down my spine. Curse you all. Long story short, Exstetra is a traditional RPG in which Ryoma, a high school student with no memories, is transported to a strange alternate world. As it turns out, Earth and this crazy fantasy place are both on the path of destruction. Fortunately, he's the chosen one capable of saving both worlds through his Prisma powers. He isn't alone though! Other Earthlings have been brought over to help, and by delivering a kiss to their lips, Ryoma can give them the power to fight the evil forces lurking in the shadows. I'm not going to spoil the fun by posting my impressions of the game here. Be on the lookout for a First Impressions in the near future; it's going to be a grand ole' time.   Nintendo 3DS: Metal Max 4: Gekkou no DivaKadokawa ShotenOnline Price: $64.99 While the Metal Max series might never have been huge, it was nonetheless a beloved set of RPGs with a unique premise. Taking place in a post apocalyptic Mad Max-like world, the Metal Max games put players in control of a group of characters each with their own vehicle. Instead of four party members swinging swords around, you had four people in tanks, jeeps, and a whole bunch of other vehicles. The 2D sprite work was pretty fabulous, and the art style the games had taken on over the past few years was appropriately gritty but still fun. Enter Metal Max 4. The latest entry in the series and the first new game on the 3DS, Metal Max 4 makes the jump from beautiful 2D sprites to 3D models, and the whole thing is worse off for it. This-- combined with a terrible new art style that just screams amateur-- brings the whole package down. Metal Max may have never been completely serious in terms of the setting or story the games told, but one look at the above image just leaves me scratching my head. This series deserved better. Playstation Portable: Glass Heart Princess: PlatinumIdea FactoryOnline Price: $58.99  Himeno Kyouko is perfect. She's the pride and joy of the academy, though she does have one flaw: she doesn't know how to handle matters of the heart. One day, fellow classmate and potential love interest Tenma recommends that they form an idol group. Things go well, and she and her friends end up performing in front of the entire school. They win first place for most interesting exhibit at the school festival, and receive a special ticket for a four night trip to an island resort. Just what sort of hijinks are in store for Kyouko and her friends? A quick glance at the feature list of Glass Heart Princess reveals a packed game. There are five separate story modes, with the biggest one being the island resort arc. I had high hopes for the game's narrative after seeing the above screenshot, but sadly it looks to be a pretty cut and dry harem story. Oh well. If you're into that kind of thing, you could do a lot worse than an Idea Factory visual novel. Just be ready for nonstop Japanese text. [That's all for Go West! 58. If there's anything you want to see coverage of in the future, or if you have a suggestion/criticism, feel free to share it in the comments below. I'm always up for switching things around and trying to improve the column. In any case, catch you all next week!]
Go West! 58 photo
In which everyone has sweet chocolate kisses
Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another riveting edition of Go West!, your [not-at-all] weekly column about new Japanese games, Idea Factory, and a writer who continuously makes bad decisions. This week I opene...

Go West! Week Fifty-Six: Root of Blue Equals More Commas

Oct 26 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of October 20 - 26: Playstation 3: BlazBlue: ChronophantasmaArc System WorksOnline Price: $66.99  Attempting to describe how BlazBlue: Chronophantasma is different from its predecessors would take way more time and space than what I have right now, so I'll just give you folks the basics. It's a brand new game. Regardless of what it may look like at a first glance, BBCP is a new experience. Arc Sys has taken all the characters and tweaked them significantly, adding a host of buffs and nerfs. In fact, I've had to completely relearn my main from the ground up. The five additional characters (seven if you include the DLC) all play uniquely, making for some interesting new match ups. Nearly every stage is brand new, the UI has been completely updated, and a host of new systems have been stripped away and added. There's also a brand new story mode continuing the story of Ragna and co. Arc Sys went out of there way this time to add routes that describe what happened in the Japan-only novels. Now you too can be as confused as the rest of us when playing BlazBlue.  Huzzah! If you're a hardcore fighting game fan who has to have the game in your hands ASAP, feel free to import provided you don't mind Japanese menus and dialogue. Everybody else? Wait for Aksys' English language release.   Root Double: Before Crime * After Days Xtend EditionYetiOnline Price: $66.99 Yes, I am as shocked as you all are that a name this awful exists. Root Double appears to be a good ole' fashioned story of nine folks who get trapped in a laboratory after a mysterious explosion locks them in. People start to die, and the exit is sealed shut for some strange reason. Mysterious things are happening left and right, but there are two people who could be the key to freedom; the rescue squad captain who has lost his memories, and the young high school student who got dragged into the incident. With the help of these two individuals, will the nine innocents be able to make it out alive? I can't say I care much for the artwork, but after playing 999 for the first time a few years ago, I've found myself addicted to "escape" games. There's something gripping about following the story of a few men and women trying to find their way out of a desperate situation. That's no guarantee that I'll ever play Root Double, but it at least earned a mention. If you're into visual novels and have no problem with walls of Japanese text, I say go for it.   Playstation Portable: Diabolik Lovers More, BloodIdea FactoryOnline Price: $58.99 Sorry, Idea Factory. If it wasn't for Root Double up there, you would have totally won the award for worst game name of the week. I mean, what the hell is with that comma? Where did you even get the idea that that would work? Hell, I'd be willing to look over some of your titles if you'd like. For free even! [Editor's Note: Agreed. That comma is downright offensive.] Despite dealing with all sorts of woes and troubles, Yui has managed to lead a somewhat normal life with the Sakamaki brothers. One evening however, four vampires appear at the mansion. Much to Yui's surprise, they're transfer students at the same school the Sakamaki bros attend. Ruki, Kou, Yuuma, and Azusa; just who are they? As it turns out, they've come to declare war against the Sakamaki clan. Just what is going on? The hell if I know. You guys and gals know the drill by now. Import only if you're not afraid of scary kanji characters. [That's it for this week. While there were only a scant three releases worth talking about, next Thursday is going to be pretty damn huge. Prepare your wallets for the upcoming war; it won't be pretty. Till then, see you folks next time!]
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Idea Factory, your naming sense is terrible
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another riveting edition of Go West!, your [occasionally] weekly column about Japanese video games, an insane man, and awful names. This week? A somewhat depressing handful of games. To be fa...

Go West! Week Fifty-Five: Fairy Fencing Tales

Oct 12 // Elliot Gay
New releases for the week of October 6 - 12: Playstation 3: Tales of Symphonia: Unisonant PackBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $67.99 At Tokyo Game Show a few weeks back, I really wanted to love Tales of Symphonia: Unisonant Pack. Truth be told, I've never played the original Gamecube Tales of Symphonia to completion. At the time, I just wasn't feeling the game and ended up putting it off to the side. Years later I'd go on to become a fairly big fan of the Tales series, but I never did go back to Symphonia. I figured this new double pack might be a great way to experience the original title in high definition.  Unfortunately, the TGS demo left a fairly sour taste in my mouth. As far as HD remasters go, the Unisonant Pack is on the weak side with muddy textures, some slowdown issues, and a UI that looks ugly at the new resolution. Sure, Tales of Symphonia certainly wasn't some graphical showpiece, but running the game on the Dolphin emulator produces better results in my opinion. Still, for those of you who have never played the Symphonia games, this isn't the worst deal in the world. Just lower your expectations a bit. If you're a diehard Tales fan who must have their games in Japanese, feel free to import. Everybody else? Wait until next year. Fairy Fencer FCompile HeartOnline Price: $67.99 Compile Heart and I have a complicated relationship.  On the one hand, I don't particularly enjoy their RPGs. Clearly there is a market for them, or else they wouldn't get localized with such consistency. In that sense, I respect them for not abandoning their English speaking fanbase and for keeping their sales expectations realistic. Fairy Fencer F is something of a departure for them, though it may not seem like it at first glance. Gone is the primarily female cast, replaced with a wider variety of character types of all genders. That may not seem like much when you take a look at the designs themselves, but considering Compile Heart's previous games, it's a fairly big step. The story still seems to learn toward CH's light hearted roots, but no longer is it the parody-heavy sort of narrative that fans have seen in the Neptunia series. As generic as Fairy Fencer F looks like it might be, it's actually CH's first bigger -budget shot at a traditional JRPG. I know there are Compile Heart fans out there, and it's for you all that I plan on picking Fairy Fencer F up later this month. Expect coverage and perhaps an import review when it's all said and done. For everybody else? There's no doubt in my mind that this'll eventually go west. Playstation Vita: Dangan Ronpa 1&2 ReloadSpikeOnline Price: $50.99 It fills me with great joy to see how far Dangan Ronpa has come as a franchise. Initially a strange little niche game, it quickly captured the hearts of gamers with its wacky characters, interesting narrative, and wonderfully stylish presentation. The Dangan Ronpa games are exceptional takes on the traditional Japanese adventure game, and I can't recommend them enough to gamers looking for something different. Reload packages both games together in higher res for the Playstation Vita. Both releases are largely intact, though the original Dangan Ronpa receives a plethora of updates that put it more in line with its sequel. The end result? The definitive versions of both games for a relatively low price. As far as Japan tends to go, this is actually a legitimate bargain. I advise those of you looking to import to hold off and wait for the upcoming NISA release of the first Dangan Ronpa. While it sucks that you folks out west won't be getting both games simultaneously, it makes sense considering how text heavy they are. In recent years, the Japanese adventure game has made real strides in the western marketplace, and I can see Dangan Ronpa helping to further that cause. Vote with your wallets, ladies and gentlemen. Getsuei Gakuen: KouArc System WorksOnline Price: $58.99 Let's be real for a second. Getsuei Gakuen: Kou doesn't have an official site to speak of. It's a doujin game based on a light novel, which Arc Sys swooped in to publish on a wider scale.  I doubt anybody out west has even heard of the damn thing. None of that matters.  The novel with which the game is based on was written by none other than Tomokazu Sugita. Take a moment to think about what that means, then go watch this video of Sugita impersonating Norio Wakamoto. Your day is now perfect. [And that's all for this week's rousing edition of Go West!. I know most of you beautiful people are probably enjoying Pokemon right about now, but try not to forget about the smaller releases. They deserve your love too! Till next time folks.]
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The few, the proud, the brave
Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another rousing edition of Go West!, your [sometimes] weekly feature about Japanese games, Idea Factory, and a man quickly losing his sanity. A...

Go West! Week Fifty-Four: The Legend of Heroes

Sep 28 // Elliot Gay
New releases for the week of September  22 - 28: Playstation 3: The Legend of Heroes: Sen no KisekiNihon FalcomOnline Price: $76.99 (Vita version: $65.99) After nearly a year and a half of ranting and raving about the Kiseki series, I think I'm just about running out of things to say about it. Sen no Kiseki is the sixth mainline game in Falcom's premiere JRPG series, and it's the first entry to take us into the Erebonian Empire. Oft referenced, Erebonia has been a specter looming over the entire series for nearly a decade, which makes Sen that much more important in the grand scheme of things. Taking control of Thors Military Academy Class VII, players get to spend each in-game day doing quests, progressing the main story, exploring, and deepening their relationship with the other characters. It may sound somewhat Persona-esque, but in reality it's the same exact system used in previous Kiseki games. The only difference is that it's more organized now, allowing you to keep track of the timeline. Of course one of the biggest changes Falcom has made to the series is the jump to full 3D. Gone are the super deformed sprites, replaced with human sized character models. It's clear that Falcom isn't exactly a studio with hundreds of people at their disposal, but the game still looks good. The visuals are bright and colorful, and while character animations can be a bit janky, I think Falcom has done an admirable job of translating the Kiseki look to full 3D. I'm just over eleven hours in, but thus far the Falcom sound team has hit it out of the park. The soundtrack is a great mix of early Kiseki-like themes and the more fast paced sounds of the later games. In my short time with the game, I've already heard three different but amazing battle tracks. Unlike the last entry in the series, Sen no Kiseki has quite a bit of voice acting thrown into the mix. Most of the main story sequences are voiced, though occasionally main character Rean goes silent despite the rest of the cast speaking aloud. It's an odd choice that I'll just chalk up to budget restraints. As amazing as my experience has been so far, there is one glaring problem with Sen no Kiseki. The load times are so awful that I can't help but laugh. I've been playing the Vita version of the game, and there are points at which the loading can take 30+ seconds between screens. It's absolutely ridiculous, and the only reason I'm not freaking out about it is because Falcom has already announced a patch in the upcoming days. Thank goodness. As for you importers out there, only take the dive if you're familiar with the series and have at least played the first three games. Everyone else? Wait for XSEED to release Trails in the Sky SC on PSP/Vita/PC. It's worth the wait.   Arcadias no IkusahimeNISOnline Price: $67.99 A 2D action RPG not unlike Vanillaware's Odin Sphere or Princess Crown, NIS' Arcadias no Ikusahime sees players take control of Princess Prume (no clue on how this is romanized) as she fights beside her comrades to save her kingdom.. There are three different types of battles that have combat mechanics unique to them. Princess Battles are smaller scale scuffles that see the Princess and two other characters do combat with various enemies. Players can switch between any of the three party members at anytime. Large Skirmishes have the Princess take down a huge monster of some kind with an entire squad of soldiers. The final battle type sees the field divided into two. The Princess' team falls on one side, while the enemy's is on the other. Combat ends when one team is completely wiped out. Visually the game is a delight, with a distinct art style that manages to be cute without being overbearing. Character designs are largely inoffensive, not really venturing into the creepy territory that these sorts of titles sometimes tend to do. Ikusahime also features a relationship system that allows you to better your bond with comrades by bringing them with you into battle. A quick glance at the guides seems to imply a game teeming with depth, though admittedly I haven't actually heard much in the way of impressions. Given that Arcadias no Ikusahime is a NIS title, I would suspect it'll make its way west sometime in the near future. Hold off on importing for now.   Oreimo: HappyenDBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $71.99 Would you look at that! It's an Oreimo idol simulator game from Bandai Namco Games! I'm so surprised I can barely contain the sarcasm in the text I'm typing out. Oreimo: HappyenD sees series star Kyosuke become an idol producer for one of five different girls, as he trains them on their road to stardom. Photoshoots, live performances, lots of dating, and romantic hijinks await him on his journey to the top.  In typical Bandai Namco Games fashion, there's loads of expensive DLC you can buy if you want to see your favorite character in all kinds of dress/undress. It seems to me that they essentially looked at The Idolmaster and half heartedly copied the formula. Whatever works, I guess. I suppose if you're a massive Oreimo fan, you'll probably want to look into this. The alternate endings are pretty much guaranteed to be more satisfying than the way the actual series wrapped up. Just be ready for loads of Japanese text.   Rui ha Tomo wo Yobu5pbOnline Price: $67.99 Back in 2008 when it was first released on PC, Rui ha Tomo wo Yobu was described by the developers as a "new beautiful girl entertainment ADV." What the hell does that even mean? The game follows the story of Tomo Wakutsu, a feminine man who was raised as a girl for most of his life due to a small mark on his body. When his mother passes away, Tomo discovers in her will that she wishes for him to continue living as a woman. It goes without saying that this way of life eventually leads to all sorts of trouble. One day, he discovers a group of five girls at his school with the exact same mark. These girls have also led difficult lives. They decide to form a pact to stay friends forever, watching each other's backs as they try to solve their problems.  So yeah, Rui ha Tomo wo Yobu is definitely an adult visual novel. You folks know the drill; import only if you have the Japanese chops to power through walls of text.   Playstation Vita: Kosyoku Meikyu Rinbukyoku: La Role De FortuneYetiOnline Price: $57.99 Somewhere in a quiet neighborhood lies a charming little cafe. The gentle sent of tea permeates the interior, and the female owner greets customers with a gentle smile. The hero of the story, Yukito Nanami, finds an advertisement announcing that the cafe is looking for part time workers. Despite the strange sensation he gets from the place, Yukito begins working there. Time passes, and one day a wooden box arrives at the cafe. The inside of the package is filled with stuffed rabbits, and a mysterious young girl who calls herself Saki. She tells Yukito that the cycle of fate has been corrupted. If he does not return the cycle to normal within the week, he will be unable to escape death, and those closest to him will suffer a similar fate. With only a week left, can Yukito escape this twisted fate? I think I'd be more willing to give this a chance if it weren't for the incredibly generic character designs. The above synopsis could make for an interesting horror/thriller visual novel, but instead I get the feeling that the focus of the game will still inevitable fall on Yukito romancing one of the girls rather than escaping death.  Oh well. Import only if you're up to the Japanese challenge.   Playstation Portable: Hyakumonogatari Kaidan RomanceQuinRoseOnline Price: $59.99 Kaidan Romance is actually a sequel to a previous QuinRose title that was featured in this very column. It's the story of a young Dragon God princess with the ability to wield fire, and her everyday life with her fellow youkai classmates. Kaidan Romance picks up with the main character either already in a relationship, or right on the cusp of starting one. Since the characters already know one another, the game features more romantic events and a much faster pace overall. I suspect that if you're already a QuinRose fan, this is probably on your radar.    Meiji Tokyo RenkaBroccoliOnline Price: $58.99 Mei Ayazuki was just a regular high school student until the day she met a strange man named Charlie. Suddenly and without warning, Mei is teleported Meiji era Tokyo, a strange and foreign place to her. Through Charlie's guidance, she ends up at an upper class party filled with historical figures she had studied in school.  Through Mei's interactions with these great men, she learns that she has a special ability which allows her to see the true form behind things. In this distant era, will Mei ever be able to return home, or will she find a love that transcends time and space? My basic understanding here is that this is just a reverse version of the Sengoku era time travel stories that flood visual novels for men. To that end, I'm going to have to say pass. There are better otome games out there that aren't recycling the same boring tropes. [That's all for this week! Unfortunately, Go West! ended up missing quite a few big releases over the past couple of months, but now that things have slowed down that shouldn't be a problem anymore. You guys and gals know the drill; leave a comment, question, or request below, and I'll do my best to get to it. See you all next week!]
Go West! 54 photo
The Erebonian empire strikes back
Long time no read, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to the one and only Go West!, your [not-at-all] weekly column about Japanese import games and the geniuses at Idea Factory. I know, it's been nearly two months since GW! 5...

Go West! Week Fifty-Three: Killer is Zero

Aug 03 // Elliot Gay
New releases for the week of July 28 - August 3rd: Playstation 3: Killer is DeadKadokawa ShotenOnline Price: $77.90 All right, so maybe I lied a little bit about the whole nothing special thing. That being said, by all accounts Suda 51's latest project, Killer is Dead, looks to play like a fairly typical 3D action game. You pull off simple combos using a few buttons, so those of you looking for the next Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Rising would be wise to search elsewhere. Like most Grasshopper/Suda 51 joints, Killer is Dead is the sort of game you play for its crazy style and equally as insane narrative. While in some ways similar in theme to the No More Heroes games, KiD goes for a darker look and slightly more serious narrative slant. I say serious, but Killer is Dead is still filled with quirky mini-games, super sexualized female characters, an abundance of weird pop culture references, and plenty of hijinks. Suda 51 games tend to plummet in price fairly quickly around these parts, so I'm gonna hold off until I can snatch KiD for less than 5,000 yen. As much as I tend to enjoy Suda 51 titles, nearly $80.00 is simply too much for this sort of game. Everybody else? Feel free to pick up KiD when it hits your respective territories. Sangoku Hime 2: Ouki Houkou Kakusei Meshi DaigiSystem SoftOnline Price: $73.90 I'll be writing about games with Sangoku in the title until the day I die. I just know it. Sangoku Hime 2 is yet another strategy RPG that uses the famous Romance of the Three Kingdom as its base to tell a story that nobody cares about. Also like those other games, all the generals and characters have been replaced with big breasted anime girls with all your favorite character traits. Tsundere girls? Check. Girls wearing glasses who also happen to be clumsy? Check.  At this point I can't even pretend to be interested anymore. Unless you're a huge fan of these kinds of games and happen to have a massive Japanese vocabulary, I suggest skipping this one. Again. For the first time.   PS Vita: Mind=ZeroAcquireOnline Price: $59.80 I was totally ready to put my foot in my mouth regarding Mind=Zero. All the magazine articles and previews leading up to release painted a grim picture of a low budget JRPG aping Persona 3's style but lacking its own identity. Still, the character art in the promos looked decent enough, and if the developers (ZeroDiv) could properly emulate Persona 3's excellence, Mind=Zero definitely had a chance at greatness. Sadly, all signs point to that not being the case.While the actual promo art looks fine, the in-game portraits are less than great looking. It doesn't help that the in-battle character models don't resemble their art work at all. Most of Mind=Zero looks like an early PSP game, which is pretty sad considering even the smaller developers have been doing great work on that platform these days. The dungeons are also apparently pretty subpar, making for a disappointing experience on the whole. According to weekly Famitsu, the game takes 20 or so hours to clear, which strikes me as rather short for this sort of RPG.  I'm mighty curious as to whether or not anybody will pick this up for an English language release. There are plenty of better JRPGs available for the Vita here in Japan that deserve localizations though, so don't be surprised if Mind=Zero finds itself in limbo. [That's all for this week's edition of Go West!. Yes, I know that there were barely any games this week. Unfortunately I am incapable of forcing publishers to release more stuff over the summer. Perhaps one day I can use the power of shonen haato to make people bend to my will. One day. In any case, thanks for reading as usual, and see you guys in week 54!]
Go West! 53 photo
Witty description here
Fifty three weeks, ladies and gentlemen. Do you know what this means? Absolutely nothing at all. Huzzah! Welcome to another edition of Go West!, your [sometimes] weekly column about new Japanese import games, Idea Factory, and high school kids. This week? Nothing all that special, actually. Let's get this average train moving!

Go West! Week Fifty-Two: OBJECTION!

Jul 28 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of July 21 - 27: Playstation 3: Dragon's CrownAtlusOnline Price: $89.90 Vanillaware's latest has finally hit store shelves here in Japan, but is it any good? For what it's worth, I think Dragon's Crown is significantly better than any of their other games. There's a polish here that prior VW titles really lacked, and I'd like to think that has something to do with Atlus' involvement.  Dragon's Crown is a multiplayer sidescrolling brawler with RPG elements including but not limited to levels, equipment management, loot, upgradable abilities and the like. The story is much more beefy than I think anybody was expecting; there's plenty of text in the opening hours, and the narrative is fairly involved even if it isn't all that interesting.  The main draw comes in the form of the action, which is satisfying in the same way that Capcom's old Dungeons & Dragons brawlers were. Combat is simple but fast, and each of the different character classes have a fairly large list of moves at their disposal. I've been playing as the Elf, and while she lacks HP and doesn't hit nearly as hard as other characters, she's fast and has a wide range of attack options that make her a blast to use. Like all Vanillaware games, Dragon's Crown does suffer from repetitive environments. Unlike those other titles however, DC's status as a brawler makes it easier to forgive because of the pick up and play nature of the genre. Another issue is that online multiplayer is not unlocked at the beginning of the campaign. It took me about three and a half hours before I was able to play with other folks over wifi. For those of you looking forward to couch coop, fear not; local multiplayer is available from minute one. I've been playing primarily on the Vita, and it's a great fit. Doors, chests, secret paths are all accessible by tapping them on the touch screen, while in the PS3 version you have to use the right stick to move the cursor over the object or location. It's a pain in the ass in the latter, and super easy and intuitive in the former. Unless you have an amazing TV capable of doing Dragon's Crown justice, I actually recommend the Vita version. Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi EXTRA5pbOnline Price: $66.90 Ketsui is an old game.  Developed by the shooter experts over at Cave, Ketsui was originally released in Japanese arcades back in 2003. The game was eventually ported to the 360 in 2010, and three years later here we are with a PS3 port courtesy of the ladies and gentlemen of 5pb. In the interest of transparency, I admit that I've never played Ketsui let alone seen it in action. I'm the last person who should be vouching for its quality. Nonetheless, Cave games are pretty reliable, and given that Ketsui is region free, I say shooting fans should go for it. The Witch and the Hundred KnightsNISOnline Price: $66.90 At long last, The Witch and the Hundred Knights has finally hit stores. It's not a strategy RPG, nor is it a rogue-like. Instead, it's a top down action RPG in which you control tiny little soldiers who work for a buxom witch. The story is fairly typical NIS fare, so the real draw here comes in the form of gameplay. Managing your troops and units is likely to be a time consuming process, as is choosing the right weapon and knowing when you're outclassed.  I was initially really excited for Hundred Knights, but as time wore on and NIS went quiet on the project, my hype pretty much vanished entirely. The game doesn't look all that exciting and in a summer of big and small releases alike, I don't have the time to risk on stuff like this. It goes without saying, but those of you interested should just wait for NIS to bring this one over.  PS Vita: Xblaze Code:EmbryoArc Sys WorksOnline Price: $59.90 This is a weird one. Supposedly, Xblaze takes place in the same world as BlazBlue, Arc Sys Works' most recent fighting game franchise. The folks over there claim that if you're a BB fan, you'll get a lot of subtle references and connections to that series when you play through this new PS3/Vita visual novel.  You have my interest. Anyhow, Xblaze is a little bit different when compared to its other visual novel peers. Not unlike Type-Moon's Mahou Tsukai no Yoru, conversations don't play out with a few characters staring directly at you onscreen. Instead, you see characters talking to each other, and some camera movement that does a lot to emulate watching an anime despite the images being static. It's a novel (hah) technique that really does make the experience that much more enjoyable. I'm planning on picking this up sometime in the near future, but I have way too much on my plate right now to be able to run through a text heavy visual novel. For those of you thinking of importing? I'd recommend waiting a few months. Aksys has been bringing over all the BlazBlue games, and given their penchant for localizing visual novels, Xblaze going west is certainly not out of the question. Nintendo 3DS: Ace Attorney 5CapcomOnline Price: $57.90 I have a confession to make. The Ace Attorney games are a part of one of my favorite series of all time. I first stumbled upon them back in college, and I haven't looked back since. I remember playing Ace Attorney 4 in late 2007, loving the hell out of it, and anticipating an announcement for Ace Attorney 5. Much to my chagrin and despair, that announcement would never come.  Until last year, that is. I'm three hours into Ace Attorney 5, and I'm still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I'm finally playing it. While I haven't put in as much time as I'd like to, it's immediately clear that the development team truly get Ace Attorney and why people love it. The new characters, Kokone in particular, are charming and hilarious. Phoenix is still a goofball, but now he's just a little bit more confident. Apollo continues to put a smile on my face with his hot blooded attitude, and Trucy is as adorable as ever. I can't stress enough how amazing the character models and animations are. I reviewed and enjoyed Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney earlier this year, but AA5 is on a different level entirely.  This is truly a game for Ace Attorney fans. I am planning on writing a full import review when it's all said and done, so keep your eyes open for that in the near future. Fantasy Life LINKLevel 5Online Price: $48.90 I put a stupid amount of time into the original Fantasy Life. In fact, I opted to download the game rather than buy a physical copy because it's the sort of time dump that you want to have on you at all times. I've spoken at length about this game in the past, so I'll save you all the pain of having to listen to me ramble about it again. LINK is essentially a value re-release of the original Fantasy Life, including the recent DLC that adds a brand new area to the game, raises the level cap, introduces new quests/loot, and allows you to finally play online with your friends. Many of these changes serve to essentially push Fantasy Life toward being something resembling an MMO. The standalone DLC will run you 2,000 yen, so if you've never owned a version of Fantasy Life, you're better off just buying LINK and making life easy for yourself. There've been rumors circling around that this'll be making its way west sometime in the near future. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but I'd recommend just waiting for the eventual localized release. Playstation Portable: Daiya no Kuni no Alice: Wonderful Mirror WorldQuinRoseOnline Price: $60.90 In true QuinRose fashion, Wonder Mirror World isn't quite the Alice in Wonderland story you're all familiar with.  This is a fairytale world, so why are shop owners part of the mafia, gun fights commonplace, and danger present around every corner? It's a realistic world in which everybody is the main character of their own dark narrative. Our heroine is suddenly forced to move, and finds herself in the mysterious country of Daiya, a place where war and violence are normality. Oddly enough, the people here are the same as the folks back at her other home, only nobody remembers her. It's as though... she were trapped in a mirror world! In this strange world of opposites, can our heroine find love? Sure QuinRose. Sure. You know the drill. Import only if you have the Japanese chops to fight through huge blocks of text. Toki no Kizuna: Hanamusubi TsuzuriIdea FactoryOnline Price: $58.99 Before I write up a goofy melodramatic synopsis for Toki no Kizuna (no relation to Tokitowa), can we just take a moment to appreciate how sexy the above image is? None of that BS first kiss crap. Just a passionate moment shared between two hotties. I can live with that. Apparently Hanamusubi Tsuzuri is a sequel/fan disc of sorts, split into a few parts that tell different stories. The first section is the story of the heroine and her man of choice, deepening their romance on a day to day basis. The other two sections are much more dramatic, featuring character deaths, friendships, and all sorts of melodrama. Unfamiliar with the series as I am, I don't have any context for this stuff so I'm going to have to apologize for my ineptitude. That said, the art for Toki no Kizuna looks sexy, so I say go for it.  Yeah. I'm easy to please. [That's all for the 52nd edition of Go West! folks. I hope you enjoyed this week's festivities, and let me know if you have any questions about any of the above games. I'd be happy to answer anything if I'm capable of doing so. Also keep your eyes open for our eventual Ace Attorney 5 import review. It's bound to be a doozy.]
Go West! 52 photo
Take that!
Welcome to Go West! 52, the latest and greatest edition of your favorite [not] weekly column about Japanese video games. The middle of summer should mean a lack of good games to play, but alas, this week we have a few huge releases. Like dragons, crowns, pretty boys, yelling objection, and reading lots of text? I got just the thing for you. Let's dance, pretty soldiers.

Go West! Week Fifty-One: The Floodgates Open

Jul 01 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of June 23 - 29: Playstation 3: Atelier Escha & LogyGustOnline Price: $66.49 I've had my eyes on Atelier Escha & Logy since its announcement not too long ago. Gust's Atelier series has evolved in some interesting ways this generation, and it feels like Echa & Logy is the culmination of their efforts. Having not played it myself I can only speak in broad strokes, but the game looks beautiful. The visuals resemble 2D animation, an achievement in and of itself. In a first (?) for the series, Escha & Logy features two playable characters, each with their own play-style and narrative. I love the fact that the story changes in subtle ways based on the view point you're playing from; it's a cool way to keep players coming back to the game over a longer period of time. I recently grabbed Atelier Totori Plus in an effort to finally dive into this series. Hopefully it won't take me too long to catch up. I wouldn't worry about having to import Escha & Logy. Recent Atelier games have all found themselves overseas not too long after their respective Japanese releases. Just be patient.   Gundam BreakerBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $77.49 Bandai Namco's latest Gundam game is quite a bit different from the sort of stuff franchise fans are used to. Yes, it features the typical giant robot combat we've all come to expect, but the real draw of Gundam Breaker is its focus on customizability.  You see, you're not actually piloting a full sized mobile suit in Gundam Breaker; each mech is a model kit with interchangeable parts. By completing missions, you unlock more parts than can be used to make your ideal mobile suit. Ever wish you could put a Zaku head on Wing Zero? Gundam Breaker will help you make that dream come true. There are over a hundred different mobiles suits in the game, which makes for a stupid amount of parts that can be used. There doesn't appear to be anything in the way of a proper story mode, so folks who are craving some Gundam action should feel free to import without fear of missing out on a dramatic narrative. On the other hand, if you prefer to do your mech fighting on the go, I suggest waiting for the upcoming Vita version. We still don't have a release date for it, but I can't imagine it's too far out.   Eiyuu Densetsu: Sora no Kiseki the 3rd: Kai HD EditionFalcomOnline Price: $38.99 If you read Go West!, you probably already know what Sora no Kiseki and why it's important. If not, I highly suggest running out and buying a copy of Trails in the Sky (localized version of the first game) for the PSP. You won't regret it. Sora no Kiseki the 3rd: Kai HD Edition is the third game in Falcom's RPG series to get an HD rerelease on the PS3, and quite possibly the last. 3rd is actually my single favorite game in the series, mostly because of how amazing the story is. It's a smaller tale that brings together the entire cast, digging deeper into backstories, and pulling back the curtain on the greater conflict at hand. It's probably the most important entry in the series thus far, and the folks at Falcom have been strongly recommending that folks play 3rd before even touching Sen no Kiseki.  If you've been buying the HD releases up until now, there's absolutely no reason to skip this one.   Memories Off 6 Complete5pbOnline Price: $68.49 Memories Off 6 Complete combines Memories Off 6~T-wave~ and the after story Next Relation into a single disc release.  Huzzah! As far as I can tell, Memories Off 6 is as traditional a visual novel as can be in this day and age. The protagonist can choose from five different heroines, each with their own dramatic story and romantic beats. Unlike so many visual novels I've written about in the past few months, Memories Off plays it straight, which is refreshing in a way. I spend so much time writing about goofy, weird, or awful VNs that it's easy to forget there are ones that focused on character melodrama. I have no idea if this is any good or not. I'd imagine the fact that there are six numbered games in the series is at least a decent indicator that Memories Off is a popular series. Folks looking to import have two choices, the PS3 version or the Vita version. There's no difference between the two, so if you're the kind of person who likes being able to play visual novels in bed, I suggest rolling with the Vita release.   Memories Off: Yubikiri no Kioku 5pbOnline Price: $68.99 Much to my surprise, Yubikiri no Kioku is actually its own standalone game and not just some random Memories Off 6 gaiden. Cool. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Yubikiri no Kioku is the inclusion of an American study abroad student named Lisa. I'm curious as to whether or not the developers went the easy route and made her the hamburger loving stereotype that pervades Japanese media. Like Memories Off 6, this looks to be a straightforward romance visual novel, which is totally fine with me. I'll probably never play it, but the world could always use more decent VNs. There's cross-save functionality across the Vita and PS3 versions of the game, so feel free to pick your poison.    Playstation Vita: ToukidenKoei TecmoOnline Price: $58.49 I had completely written off Toukiden after spending some time with its abysmal demo from a few months ago. It was clunky, it looked lifeless, and the whole thing felt like a complete and total ripoff of the Monster Hunter formula. The map system was the same, and even the life bars and organization of the UI felt like a cheap knockoff of Capcom's hugely successful hunting franchise. It looks like I owe the folks at Omega Force an apology. Four hours into it, and Toukiden is a much better game than I was ready to give it credit for. The character models are super detailed, the monsters are imposing and quite frankly terrifying, and each weapon has its own feel/play style. Of all the hunting games to come out thus far, this one feels like it has the best handle on the elements that made Monster Hunter so successful. Where it differentiates itself is through its focus on story and characters. Taking a page from the God Eater school of hunting, you can bring AI partners with you into battle, making the load on your shoulders that much lighter. The characters are all cool in their own ways, so I imagine players will likely settle on their favorite team of badasses. The uniquely Japanese setting does a lot to add atmosphere to the locations and armor sets. For those of you wondering, armor sets in Toukiden do have an effect on your stats, unlike so many other hunting games. Toukiden also features internet play with three other players, making group hunts a lot simpler to organize. Unfortunately I haven't had the chance to try it yet; servers have been kind of glitchy over the past few days. By killing demons, you unlock Mitama, the souls of fallen warriors. These warriors provide you with different skill sets that you can equip to your weapons and level up. According to the back of the box, there are over 200 unique Mitama, which is neat considering each one has its own piece of artwork and voice to boot. These characters were designed by Hidari, who Atelier fans are probably quite familiar with. So yes, Toukiden is quite good. In fact, I might even be enjoying it more than Soul Sacrifice, the last hunting game to hit the Vita. To be fair, I'm not the only one who's been surprised by the game's quality; Japanese blogs have been posting similar impressions over the past few days. Given that this is a Koei Tecmo title, I recommend waiting before importing. It's certainly not too farfetched to think they might bring this out over in NA. EDIT: Apparently this was confirmed for NA release this year and I'm just an idiot. Whoops!   Nintendo 3DS: Etrian Odyssey Untold: Millennium GirlAtlusOnline Price: $59.99 I doubt anybody asked for a remake of the original Etrian Odyssey. Fortunately Atlus didn't give a damn, because Etrian Odyssey Untold is a great new entry in the popular dungeon crawling series. The biggest change to the formula comes in the form of a story mode with set party members that have personalities and names. Map making, dungeon running, FOE's; it's all still there, but now there's a much stronger focus on narrative and characters. I know not everybody wants a story in Etrian Odyssey though, which as it turns out Atlus realized as well. Want to play a straight remake of the original game? Selecting classic mode will allow you to create your own party and go on adventures without having to deal with any of that story stuff. Neat, right? The excellent FM soundtrack makes a return after its curious absence in Etrian Odyssey IV. New items called Grimoires allow you to equip characters with different skills that they couldn't learn within their own class, making for a wider range of customizability options. Acquiring new Grimoires seems random, so I'm hoping they don't become too rare later on. In a first for the series, Bones contributes animated cutscenes to the mix. Characters are also voiced, though Untold is not a fully voiced production. I'm only four hours in, but I'm loving my time with Etrian Odyssey Untold. As far as importing goes, I recommend holding off. Atlus has already committed to bringing this one west.   Digimon World Re:Digitize DecodeBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $53.99 Remember that PSP Digimon World game from 2012? Yeah, this is the same game. Like any good enhanced port, Re:Digitize Decode features some bonus content in the form of a new playable character and story arc. In case you're not aware, this game is something of a callback to the original Digimon World game for the PSX. If you were curious about this one but never grabbed it for a PSP, I say go for it. I've heard good things about it and I doubt we'll ever see this one go west, unfortunately.   Little Battlers eXperience W Chou Custom Level 5Online Price: $42.99 Yay! More Little Battlers! By which I mean boo, more Little Battlers. Level 5 has been running this franchise into the ground with these constant updated versions, not that the games were particularly great to begin with. They're overly simple action RPGs that don't have much going for them beyond the customizability of the mechs. Even then it's nothing to get all that excited for. Honestly? I don't recommend this series to anyone. Pass.   Playstation Portable: Urakata HakuokiIdea FactoryOnline Price: $58.49 Idea Factory brings us more Hakuoki this week, this time in the form of an alternate "what if" scenario.  Our main character is Kozue Kirishima, a young woman who lived with her older brother after the death of their father some time ago. Tragically, her brother is murdered, and she picks up a sword while vowing to get revenge for her family. It is then that she meets a group of men working to change Japan. What sort of effect will these men have on her, and vice versa? Will she be able to get revenge for her brother? The Official Site points out that while characters from the original Hakuoki do appear in the story, you cannot in fact romance them. The new cast looks cool though, so I don't think it's a huge loss. Not to mention the Hakuoki games aren't exactly centered around the more romantic elements. These are period dramas more than anything else, and people looking to get into the series should know that before diving in. There's definitely a chance that Aksys could localize this. Those peeps are crazy.   Solomon's Ring: Chi no ShouPlan PeaceOnline Price: $31.49 Our heroine's quiet town has a single festival every year, where folks can go wild and have a grand ole' time. Even the library, a place normally quiet and peaceful, is super busy. It's here that three mysterious men call out to our heroine. While thinking it to be a bit suspicious, she still agrees to walk around the festival with them. All of a sudden, a person disappears before her very eyes. Unable to take in the horror of what just occurred before her very eyes, things only proceed to get worse for the heroine. Really? You agree to go walking around a festival with not one, but three mysterious men? Seriously? Main character, get a grip on yourself please.   School Wars: Sotsugyou SensenQuinRoseOnline Price: $59.99 I'm not sure what I was expecting from a QuinRose game called School Wars. With February coming to an end, graduation is in sight for our heroine. Things had been crazy for a while, but the thought of graduating and leaving it all behind is still tinged in sadness. Not being able to see her friends anymore, preparing for a brand new life; it's as stressful as it is exciting. One day, she's called to the student council room, a place where only bad things have happened over the past few years. With an unsettling feeling in her stomach, she reluctantly heads to meet the student council president. The president informs her that from here on out, the students will be receiving firearms, close combat, and battlefield tactics training. What the hell is going on?! With one month left before graduation, it looks like things are going to be crazier than ever! QuinRose what are you doing? Stop it. What is this? None of this makes any sense. You know the drill. If you're looking for a nutty otome game, QuinRose is always a safe bet. [That's all folks! It was a packed week this time around, but things look to be slowing down for now. There are some heavy hitters arriving at the end of July though, so keep your eyes and ears peeled for the next Go West!. Adios!]
Go West! 51 photo
Why so many games? Why?!
I feel like this is some kind of divine retribution for letting me off the hook over the past few weeks. Hello folks, and welcome to the 51st edition of Go West!, your (not) weekly column about Japanese import games. This week? Way more games than I was expecting. In the interest of wasting no time, let's just jump right into it, shall we?

Go West! Week Fifty: Video Game Idols and Walking Fish

Jun 23 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the Week of June 16 - 22: Playstation 3: Daisenryaku: Dai Toua Kouboushi  - Tora Tora Tora Ware Kishuu Ni Seikou SeriSystem SoftOnline Price: $76.49 You may not know it, but the Daisenryaku series is pretty famous here in Japan. They're not praised for their deep strategy gameplay, amazing graphics, or top of the line writing. No, they're known for being some of the absolute worst retail releases in the gaming world. Like clockwork, Daisenyaku games are nominated for being the shittiest game of the year nearly every single year. It's impressive in some ways. One look at the Official Site will speak volumes. The game looks like garbage, and Japanese bloggers are already excited to get their hands on the next big piece of crap.  Unless you like playing awful games (a legit hobby), I recommend you stay far, far away from Daisenryaku.   Playstation Vita: Kami Jigen Idol Neptune PPCompile HeartOnline Price: $59.49 I asked, and the people have spoken.  That's right, I'll be writing a full import preview and review for the brand new idol simulation Vita game, Kami Jigen Idol Neptunia PP. I've put in a little over an hour into the full retail game, limiting what I can actually talk about, but here's what I know so far. The main character is a normal real world student who gets summoned into the Neptunia world by the four goddesses. A super popular idol group has started to monopolize the people's love. In order to fight fire with fire, our heroines decide to become idols themselves, asking you to serve as their producer.  Neptunia PP then gives you the option to choose from one of the four goddesses. You then spend the majority of the game organizing their training schedule, setting up concerts, and serving as cameraman/technical coordinator during said concerts. It's not unlike The [email protected] in the sense that while the game is heavily focused on music, it's not a rhythm game at all. All your time is dedicated to going through menus, talking to your idol, deepening your relationship, and making each concert a success.  The visuals are bright and colorful, and much like in the mainline Neptunia games, character portraits have some animation to them. I've only gone through a single concert, but the dance choreography was pretty underwhelming compared to [email protected] I'm hoping things get a bit more intricate, but as of right now, Neptunia PP feels like it might be a bit thin. Keep your eyes open for more coverage in the coming weeks.   Playstation Portable: Shiratsuyu no KaiIdea FactoryOnline Price: $59.49 It was just supposed to be a single night at an old shrine with some friends. Tell some scary stories and recounting legends about a place that time forgot was the order of the evening.  Then things got complicated. Our heroine and her friends stumble across a secret door in the shrine leading to an underground passage. At the end of this dark hall...? The old legends, sacrifices, an Earth God; These were only supposed to be stories that had been forgotten in the flow of time. The key to it all is the heroine's bloodline... Idea Factory gets dark and mysterious this time around. My relationship with IF has gotten to the point that I'm genuinely interested in their visual novels, and Shiratsuyu is no different. The art style is appealing, and I've always enjoyed a good mystery. After Hakuoki, I find myself wondering how prominent the romance element actually is in most of their games. Premises like the one above don't exactly lend themselves to pure love stories all that well. Still, if you're in the market for an otome game, you probably can't go wrong with Idea Factory's latest.   Ro-Kyu-Bu! Himitsu no OtoshimonoKadokawa ShotenOnline Price: $59.49 As the coach of the girl's basketball team, you agree to go to a training camp with your elementary school girls. The goal? Get them ready for a big basketball tournament at the end of September. Wacky hijinks ensue! Walking in on your students in the bath, getting hit on; romantic comedy at its best! Game of the forever! I'm sorry, I can't even pretend to be enthusiastic about this. Moving on!   Nintendo 3DS: Ninja JajaMaru-kun: Sakura-hime to Karyu no HimitsuHamsterOnline Price: $48.49 Wow, talk about a blast from the past. Ninja JajaMaru-kun was a 1985 Famicom title by Jaleco. There were a host of sequels and spinoffs developed over the following years, with the final game, a Nintendo DS title, having been scrapped sometime in 2006. I don't know if anybody out there was begging for a new Ninja JajaMaru-kun game, but here we are in 2013 with Sakura-hime to Karyu no Himitsu. Gameplay-wise, the whole shebang looks like a return to the more simple side scrolling 2D platformer style that the original game took on. There are five chapters, and each one contains three levels. Visually it doesn't exactly impress; Sakura-hime looks like it'd be a better fit for the eShop rather than a full priced retail release. I can't imagine that anybody at Hamster is expecting huge sales from this. Nearly $50.00 is a lot of money to pay for what is probably a  fairly paper thin, if fun, experience.  Import only if you're some huge Ninja JajaMaru-kun fan. I guess. Sayonara Umihara KawaseAgatsumaOnline Price: $48.99 Speaking of blasts from the past, this week marks the return of Umihara Kawase, a fantastic physics puzzle/action game original for the Super Famicom. Players step into the shoes of Umihara Kawase, a 19-year-old who has become stranded in a strange world of walking fish and monsters. Your goal is to reach the end of each level using your trusty rope, swinging from platforms. There's little in the way of a narrative, but the moment to moment gameplay is extremely compelling and well thought out.  The last completely new game in the franchise was Umihara Kawase Shun for the PSX back in 1997. Yes, it's been a long time since we last saw this series. Sayonara Umihara Kawase takes place a year after the original games, with our leading lady now 20 years old. She's not the only playable character this time around: the game has you play as a young elementary school version of Umihara, her childhood friend Emiko, and her future descendent named Yokoyama. The latter is apparently from the future and can affect time in some way. It doesn't seem like they're changing up the formula too much, but the series has never needed that kind of shake up. Part of Umihara Kawase's appeal has always been its pinpoint, easy to understand but hard to master gameplay. I haven't heard much in the way of impressions, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one. If you have a Japanese 3DS and dig Umihara Kawase and/or like physics-driven puzzle games, I say take the dive. The language barrier is more than likely very low. [That's all for this week. Hard to believe Go West! is fifty, but here we are. Thanks a lot for joining me on this wild journey, and get hype for Go West! 51; there's going to be a handful of really interesting titles released this coming week. Until then, stay frosty people!]
Go West! 50 photo
Dancing and singing and OH GOD A WALKING FISH
The big fifty.  We did it, ladies and gentlemen. We made it to number fifty. That's a whole lot of Japanese games, and a ton of Idea Factory. Thanks guys and gals. I love you all very muchly. In more important news, Japa...

Go West! Week Forty-Nine: All the Shmups

Jun 02 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the Week of May 26 - June 1: Xbox 360: Dodonpachi SaidaioujouCaveOnline Price: $69.90 As much as I enjoy vertical shooters, I'm terrible at them. I'm a casual fan in that sense, but that doesn't mean I can't respect a great Cave shooter when I see one. Enter Dodonpachi Saidaioujou, the latest entry in Cave's beloved Dodonpachi series. Saidaioujou actually hit Japanese arcades back in 2012. What makes this new game different from the last few entries? Saidaioujou switches up the formula a bit by taking place in a brand new world with new characters. Additionally, the new Dress System allows you change your character's costumes, effecting the power of your different attacks. Basiscape, Hitoshi Sakamoto's studio, composed the soundtrack, which means complete audio bliss. This port also includes a new Xbox 360 mode which adds a new character, more new systems, and a variety of other little changes. Provided it actually plays well, Saidaioujou for the 360 might just be the definitive version of the game. As luck would have it, Dodonpachi Saidaioujou is region free. The chances of this one going west are painfully low, so if you're iching for some bullet hell action, I suggest taking the dive. You can never go wrong with a Cave shooter. Shooting Love. 10-Shuunen: XIIZeal & DeltaZealTriangle ServiceOnline Price: $59.90 Up until this week's Go West!, I had never heard of Triangle Service. After doing a little research into the company, I discovered that they have been making arcade games for the past ten years. They're a small company, and their homepage is certainly a reminder of that fact. That out of the way, Shooting Love isn't a lavish production. Compared to your average Cave game, it's not particularly colorful or interesting to look at. Normally this is the point at which I tell you that Shooting Love is anything but generic. That it's actually an amazing shooter that every fan needs to own. ... I have absolutely no goddamn clue if any of that is true. I've said this before, but I'm no shooter aficionado. I'm pretty much dead weight when it comes to this genre. If you're familiar with Triangle Service's games and are looking to import, do so without fear; there's no way this is headed west.   Playstation Vita: Haiyore! Nyaruko-San: Nafushigatai Game no You na Mono5pbOnline Price: $70.90 I've never seen Nyaruko-San. I'm not particularly all that interested in watching it either, yet here I am writing about the new Vita game, courtesy of 5pb. Is it just me, or are they getting around quite a lot recently? Anyhow, Haiyore! Nyaruko-San doesn't follow the first season of the series, but instead tells an original story. There are multiple endings for the characters, which should come as no surprise to people who have played visual novels based on anime properties. Like any anime game trying to convince potential buyers that it's worth their time, Nyaruko-San has some gimmicky special features. The first one is the Flag System, which literally has a flag pop up onscreen whenever you reach a branching point in the story. This way players don't have to waste time trying to figure out where the routes split off. You want to go back and see a certain ending? This is designed to make that process simple. The other system is the Chaos;Lotto. Every now and then, something resembling a slot machine will pop up onscreen. The slot machine will determine who will be doing what to another character. There are supposedly a bunch of strange story events hidden throughout the game, accessible only via the Chaos;Lotto. Yay, I guess. You already know whether or not you want to buy this. Personally, I can't recommend wasting money on this kind of throwaway anime game. If you're planning on importing, make sure you're prepared for walls of Japanese text.   Playstation Portable: Jansei Utahime * Chrono StarBoost OnOnline Price: $64.80 In doing research about Jansei Utahime * Chrono Star, I started to feel a bit of deja vu. Everything about the game seemed so very familiar; the characters, the weird mahjong-like game within the game, and even the logo. As fate would have it, Chrono Star is related to Chrono Magic, an odd game I wrote about a few weeks back. Goodbye, Chrono Star. I will not miss you. Norn9: Norn + NonetteIdea FactoryOnline Price: $59.90 There would be no Go West! without Idea Factory, just as there would be no Idea Factory without Go West!.  Ok... neither of those statements are true, but it's what I'd like to think is reality. It helps me get to sleep at night in the very least. A Japan both nostalgic, and yet somehow different. A government run by and for the people. A prosperous nation by all accounts. With a bright future ahead of them, the youth of Japan hold their heads up high and walk forward with hope. But was there ever really an era like this? A strange world in which nostalgia and countless mysteries intertwine. This is the secret history you do not yet know. Fine, Idea Factory. This Norn9 business sounds pretty cool. The character designs are appealing and the story sounds interesting enough. I like that IF is playing with history a little bit closer to home, rather than the same old feudal era stuff. The cast is huge (16 characters), and even the music playing on the official page is pretty solid. Will I finally bite the bullet and purchase an otome game?  Find out next time on the next exciting edition Go West!. Import only if your Japanese skill level is high enough to conquer the vast mountain that is the visual novel. [And just like that, Go West! 49 is over. Next week is going to be kind of a big deal for this column, so hopefully I can do something special. If there's something you want to see or read, leave a comment below and let me know. This is for you guys and gals after all. Until next time, ciao!]
Go West! 49 photo
A shmup for you, a shmup for me!
Come one, come all! Welcome to the latest edition of Go West!, your [occasionally] weekly column about Japanese games that probably won't ever be released out west. This week? Uh... well, some games I guess.  In any case, let's make like a tree and get this party started!

Go West! Week Forty-Eight: A Tale of Angels and Demons

May 26 // Elliot Gay
New releases for the week of May 19 - 25: Playstation 3: Kamen Rider: Battride WarBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $70.90 I'm honestly surprised it took this long for Kamen Rider: Battride War to happen. The Kamen Rider franchise is spectacularly popular in Japan, and a game designed around Dynasty Warriors-like combat is guaranteed to print money. Impressions from around the Japanese side of the net confirm what I think most of us were expecting: a mindless hack and slash extravaganza. Featuring nearly every Heisei era of Rider, Bandai Namco's latest is just one giant fanservice vehicle. I think the best way to look at it is as though it were one of the yearly Rider films only in game form. It's not significant, it doesn't have much substance, but it'll leave you with a childlike sense of glee. Sometimes that's all you need to justify a purchase like this. For over $70, I can't see too many non-fans making the jump. If you're a huge Kamen Rider nut however, this is probably a must have. There no reason to wait either; this isn't going west anytime soon. Z/X -Zillions of enemy X- Zetsukai no CrusadeNippon Ichi SoftwareOnline Price: $67.90 The year is 20XX. Mysterious gates leading to another world have started to appear across the planet Earth. With these gates come humanity's greatest threat: Zillions of enemy X, codenamed ZEX. The largest of the gates are located in America, South Africa, Japan, Argentina, and France. It only took the ZEX seven days to push humanity to the brink of extermination. That week would later go on to be called the "Days of Apocalypse." Ok that's kind of cool. Z/X takes place in a post apocalyptic wasteland where humanity is fighting to win back their freedom and right to exist. There aren't nearly enough Japanese video games that take place in this kind of setting (save for SMT), so the more the merrier! The catch? It's a card game. The main story is told from the perspective of five different characters (one for each gate), and battles are conducted using cards that have sealed away the ZEX's powers. Outside of combat, the main story plays out in adventure game format, meaning portraits and lots of text/voice. Z/X isn't exactly the sort of game I'd expect NIS to develop for the PS3. Its production values seem fairly low, and the whole thing looks like a much better fit for a handheld device. There are probably better complete packages available for much less. Be that as it may, if you absolutely must have a story driven card-battle game, just make sure your Japanese is up to the challenge. Playstation Vita: Valhalla Knights 3Marvelous EntertainmentOnline Price: $66.50 I'll never understand how or why Marvelous keeps pumping out Valhalla Knights games. Barely anybody in America ever buys them, and Japan isn't a whole lot better. These games sell abysmally. EDIT: I've been corrected by the good folks at XSEED. Apparently the VK games do pretty well in the US. My bad! Valhalla Knights 3 has gotten almost nonstop coverage in Famitsu for the past three or so months. Every issue has a multiple page feature that tries its best to convince you, the Vita owner, that you absolutely must buy VK3. What unique gameplay elements are they using to coerce potential consumers? A hostess club feature that allows you to sit with a female character and do all sorts of perverted things with her. I wish I was joking. Of course, there's large scale combat, exploration, and some kind of story in place, but I've read very little about any of that. Marvelous has chosen to push the fanservice elements so hard that they've completely eclipsed the core gameplay. It's as amazing as it is ridiculous.  I've got zero interest in picking up VK3, but if you're looking to import, I recommend waiting; XSEED is bringing the game out west. Nintendo 3DS: Shin Megami Tensei IVAtlusOnline Price: $67.90 The king has returned. For a lot of people, Persona 3 & 4 were your introductions to the wonderful world of Atlus RPGs. In my case, it was the PS2 classic Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne that caught my attention. I would stay over a friend's house every weekend, playing it with my buddy and going nuts over the crazy demons, blistering difficulty, and dark story. Some of my fondest high school memories are of me and my friends sharing Nocturne tales. I suppose you could say that it was the water cooler game of my teenage years. When Shin Megami Tensei IV was announced last summer, I can't even begin to describe how excited I was. Ten years is a long time to wait for a sequel that may never come, and I had pretty much given up hope. Yet here I am, 16 hours into SMTIV and loving every minute of it. There are differences for sure; a return to first person battles, save anywhere, lots of little changes here and there. At its core though, this is a SMT game through and through. I know some long time fans were concerned that the Persona series might have negatively influenced IV. Fortunately that isn't the case. This is the same dark, sometimes terrifying, often super challenging SMT you know and love. I won't get too into the details right now, as I'll have a full import preview going live in the coming days. If you have any questions you want to see answered, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I'll try and address them in the preview piece. Playstation Portable: Rakuen DanshiTakuyoOnline Price: $67.90 Our heroine hasn't been back to her hometown in a decade. Now a second year in high school, she's always struggled to say what's truly on her mind. Instead, she just lets herself go with the flow. Constantly meeting strong willed men left and right, she finally decides to do something about her troubles. She learns of a computer program that contains tens of thousands of speech patterns. By selecting the onscreen options, rumor has it she'll be able to communicate like a normal person. With things finally looking up, she vows to herself to become better at saying what's on her mind. One day, the need for the computer program disappears, and she falls in love with a boy. However, it would appear as though it isn't just one boy that's fallen for her... Nope. Can't say I've ever been a fan of the whole magical item that makes you better at communication bit, and Rakuen Danshi looks to be centered entirely around the concept. The art is awful, and there's nothing special about the setting.  Pass. 0-ji no Kane to Cinderella: Halloween WeddingQuinRoseOnline Price: $59.90 Born into a low class family, our heroine's life is turned upside down when her mother re-marries into a wealthy house. Before she can begin to get used to her new life, her step father passes away in an accident, leaving behind massive unpaid loans. She considers cutting ties with her new step sister and returning to her old life, but inevitably prioritizes her new family over her own needs. She gets a job to help pay the money back, meets a pair of mean sisters, and reunites with an old friend. In some ways, it's not so different from her old life. One evening she has a dream about her childhood. She's reminded of a traumatizing event that she had tried to forget up until now, and becomes determined to face her past head on. Just what exactly happened? Touche, QuinRose. You never disappoint me in my time of need. I'm still not particularly fond of the art style in their games, but the stories are consistently interesting and creative. One of these days I promise to get around to a QuinRose otome game. It's just a matter of which one at this point. [And that's a wrap for this week folks! Thanks for joining me, and if you have any questions regarding Shin Megami Tensei IV or about the series in general, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I'm always more than happy to help. I'll be back next week with a handful of niche games to talk about, so stay tuned. Cheers!]
Go West! 48 photo
The king is back.
Welcome to Go West!, the weekly column about Japanese video games, cute 2D boys, and trying to overcome Idea Factory Stockholm syndrome. It's time to party! Why the jovial atmosphere you ask? The answer is rather simple, my d...

Go West! Week Forty-Seven: Summoning some Muv-Luv

May 18 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of May 12 - 18: Playstation 3: Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse5pbOnline Price: $67.90 I watched around 15 episodes of Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse before getting distracted and ultimately never returning to it. Despite its myriad of pacing issues, I actually enjoyed most of my time with the show. The biggest problem, and likely the reason I still haven't gone back to it, is that the production values are awful. Animation studio Satelight can be remarkably hit or miss with their work, and sadly Total Eclipse fell into the latter category. Which is probably why I'm at least somewhat interested in this visual novel adaptation of the novels/anime. By taking away the low quality animation, it's easier to focus on the story and the characters instead of picking apart the poor artistry. According to sources, the Total Eclipse visual novel covers the entirety of the anime series and beyond, which means this could very well be a great pick up for fans of the series. If you're a hardcore Muv-Luv fan, you'll probably want to add this to your collection. Just make sure your Japanese is up to the challenge.   Playstation Portable: Summon Night 5Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $56.90 After Summon Night 4 hit the PS2 back in 2007, the mainline series went quiet for nearly seven years. There were spin-off games released in the interim, but hardcore SN fans were itching for a true numbered sequel. For a while, it looked like that was never going to happen; series developer Flight-Plan closed up shop in 2010. In July of 2012 however, something surprising happened. Namco Bandai announced that Summon Night 5 was in development, and to help raise excitement for it, they'd re-release the first four titles. Since then, SN and SN 2 have been made available on the PSN as PS classics, and SN 3 and SN 4 were released for the PSP as enhanced ports.  Summon Night 5 takes place hundreds of years after the evens of Summon Night 3, in an alternate dimension. I've only played a few hours into the game, but from what I can tell, it's fairly welcoming to folks new to the franchise. There are tons of references and even characters from previous games, but none of that has gotten in the way of actually enjoying the story. As a late PSP release, Summon Night 5 looks quite good, utilizing Live2D technology to make character portraits look more animated. In-battle character models are big and detailed, and the lovely art style helps the whole thing go down that much easier. The opening animation is handled by Ufotable (Fate/Zero), and as expected, it's beautiful. I've found myself sitting through it every single time I boot up my Vita. For those of you looking to grab the DL version to play on your shiny Sony handheld, fear not. Summon Night 5 looks fantastic on the Vita screen. Truth be told, I had never played a single Summon Night game before this, so I can't make any legitimate comparisons to previous games. I'm still making my way through tutorials and trying to get used to the incredibly high difficulty level, even early on. My one complaint thus far is that the in-game tutorial is completely useless. Instead of guiding you through the many systems, Summon Night 5 just throws dozens of boxes of text at you, which ends up being tedious and ineffective. It's not a game breaker, but it is annoying that I had to ask other players how to do certain things.  Unfortunately, Summon Night 5's chances of ever going west are extremely low at best. None of the numbered games have ever received an official localization, and it certainly doesn't help that 5 is a PSP game. If you're interested in the franchise, I'd suggest just jumping right in. All the mainline entries can be played on a PSP or Vita, and from what I've heard, they're worth it. [And that's all for this week folks! The big releases continue next week, with the long awaited Shin Megami Tensei IV finally hitting the Nintendo 3DS. Expect impressions and more Japanese game goodness in Go West! 48. Until then, stay cool folks.]
Go West! 47 photo
A fan favorite series returns after nearly seven years of silence.
Good day, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the 47th edition of Go West!, your [not-so-weekly] column about Japanese import games and Idea Factory.  With the Golden Week rush having come and gone, Japan has once again set...

Go West! Week Forty-Six: El Psy Congroo

Apr 30 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of April 21- 27: Playstation 3: Steins;Gate: Senkei Kousoku no Phenogram5pbOnline Price: $75.90 After the moderate success that was Robotics;Notes, 5pb returns to their big money maker, Steins;Gate. With a sequel already in theaters, the time is ripe for a new game. Senkei Kousoku no Phenogram takes place across multiple different world lines, in which players take the role of each member of the lab team. Their individual perspectives bring new light to their personalities and backstories, and also ties into a larger overall narrative. There is in fact a core story that takes place on the true world line, but I've read very little about the game in an effort to keep myself unspoiled. Unlike Robotics;Notes, the newest Steins;Gate sees the return of Huke, the popular character designer who made the original game's visuals so special.  Quite frankly, I have no idea if this is any good. I'll be seeing the new film this week, but I'll probably hold off on Phenogram until it drops in price or eventually hits the Vita. You folks know the drill: stay clear if you don't have the Japanese skills to handle lots of text. In the meantime? El, psy, congroo! The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC: Kai HD EditionFalcomOnline Price: $54.90 Not too long after the release of FC on the PS3, Falcom has went ahead and ported its sequel, Trails in the Sky SC, to Sony's home console. All of this is part of what I can only assume is an attempt to get all of the mainline Trails games onto the PS3. With the sixth game in the main series, Sen no Kiseki, releasing on Vita and PS3 this fall, I can imagine it's important to Falcom that every game in the series be available for all of its potential fans. It's a smart move, and a good way to not divide your fanbase. SC is a massive game, and the point in the Trails games where the story opens up into the sprawling epic that it has been for the past decade or so. I know fans out west have been waiting for over a year to see the continuation of the story, and I can only hope that these PS3 ports end up finding their way to English speaking markets. I know for a fact that XSEED hasn't given up on bringing this series over, so don't throw in the towel yet. Xbox 360: CaladriusMossOnline Price: $75.90 Developed by the makers of Raiden IV, Caladrius actually has some big names behind it. With music handled by Basiscape (Hitoshi Sakamoto), and character designs by Yasuda Suzuhito (Durarara!!, Yozakura Quartet), it feels like this vertical shooter just kind of came out of nowhere. It takes on a gothic horror aesthetic, and features the standard list of shooter features like boss rush, score attack, and worldwide leaderboards.  I don't own a 360 and I'm more of a casual shooter fan, but even I can tell that there's a lot to like about Caladrius. The price is a bit nuts, but if you're a big fan of the genre, this looks like it might be worth picking up.  Playstation Vita: PhotoKano KissKadokawa ShotenOnline Price: $74.90 I downloaded the Vita demo for PhotoKano Kiss last week on the off chance that it might actually be good.  After powering the game on, I was confronted by my in-game little sister who likes to sing and dance. After posing a few times so that I could take uncomfortable photos of her, she then went into a song and dance routine. Game commands kicked in, and I found myself playing an incredibly basic and tedious rhythm game. I then closed the demo, deleted it, and moved on with my life. You should too. Meikyuu Cross Blood: InfinityCyber FrontOnline Price: $66.90 The Vita is getting a surprising amount of first person dungeon crawlers these days. Meikyuu Cross Blood: Infinity was originally released for the PC back in 2010, and then ported to the 360 the following year. Players can build their own party from scratch, choosing from a variety of classes and skill sets. You're part of special squad X, in charge of fighting off the monsters that have occupied Tokyo. The men and women in X all possess special powers that allow them to combat these otherworldly beasts.  Everything else seems fairly run of the mill as far as dungeon crawlers go, but if you're really hurting for a new one, you could probably do a lot worse than Cross Blood. Kajiri Kamui Kagura: Akebono no HikariLightOnline Price: $68.90 Looks like visual novels are finally finding their way to the Vita. I'm very interested in seeing how these sell early on, especially compared to the near constant releases that the PSP sees every week.  Kajiri Kamui Kagura is a story of magic and war, and the truth that resides beyond absolute defeat. It's actually a really gorgeous looking visual novel with beautiful cover art to boot. I hadn't heard a thing about it till I saw it in a store this weekend, but the artwork was totally eye catching. To be honest, I initially thought this was an otome game until I did a google image search. You've been warned. I have no clue if the story holds up or not, but in the very least it distinguishes itself from the myriad of generic VNs through its fantastic aesthetic. This very well might be worth grabbing. Just be prepared for loads of difficult Japanese. Even I was a little intimidated by the name. Sangoku Koi Senki: Otome no Heihou!PrototypeOnline Price: $66.90 Hana is a high school girl who has never known love. One day, as part of a school assignment, she hits up the library in hopes of finding information on the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. She finds a strange book with a knight on it, and in a flash of white light, loses consciousness. Upon waking up, Hana discovers herself to be in a world not unlike the one in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. She ends up getting dragged into a series of events that could very well change the course of history.  Oh hey, it's the opposite of those terrible visual novels in which a male character gets sent back in time and changes history. I'm sorry, but flipping character sex doesn't make this concept any less tired and generic. Pass. Nintendo 3DS: Starry * Sky: In SpringHoney BeeOnline Price: $74.90 As our main character draws ever closer to the end of her first year in high school, new experiences await! Her relationships with her two childhood friends are no longer so easily described in words; what is this feeling building in her chest? Things take a turn for the crazy when Tomoe Yuu, a student from France, transfers to her school. With his arrival, nothing will ever be the same. This is so utterly generic sounding that I literally have nothing to add here. I guess if you're a fan of the franchise, go for it? Playstation Portable: Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere PortableKadokawa ShotenOnline Price: $66.90 Oh look, another licensed anime game. This time it's a cross between a traditional visual novel and an RPG. Oh, it's based on Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere? Never mind then. Solomon's Ring: Mizu no ShouPlan PeaceOnline Price: $37.90 One day, a strange man pops out from a mirror and tries to drag our heroine back inside with him. As she struggles against him, a second strange man appears and tries to attack her. What does fate have in store for our heroine? Wow, what an incredibly lame synopsis for a generic looking otome game. I can't believe I'm saying this, but where the hell is Idea Factory when you need them? [And that's a wrap for this week folks. There are no new releases during Golden Week, so we'll be taking another brief break over the holiday. Go West! will resume next week though, so fear not! In the mean time, play some games, go learn Japanese, and I'll see you you all next time!]
Go West! 46 photo
A fairly big week of new releases.
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to a new edition of Go West!, your [almost] weekly column about the latest Japan-only games!  After nearly a month of light releases, we're finally back to normality this week with a whopping ten new games. Huzzah! Without further adieu, let's get this show on the road, shall we?

Go West! Week Forty-Five: Slaying Dragons and Friendship

Apr 21 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of April 14 - 20: Playstation Portable: 7th Dragon 2020 IISegaOnline Price: $66.90 The third game in the 7th Dragon franchise, 2020 II doesn't do much to shake up the formula established by the last entry. It still takes place in a future where poisonous flowers have blossomed all throughout Tokyo, and giant dragons roam the land and skies. Players can choose from a variety of different classes, create their own party, and go on quests to take down the monsters and save the world. 2020 II adds a new character class, the idol, to the game, and a bunch of new customization options that let players construct their ideal party. One big plus for anime/game fans is the addition of dozens of selectable voices for your characters.  2020 II is Sega published, but developed by the nefarious Imageepoch, known for such hits like last year's Tokitowa (2/10). The first game wasn't awful, but it was a significant drop in quality compared to the original DS game, which was a loving tribute to the hardcore RPGs of yore. It's kind of a shame to see this franchise become just another RPG series, but I suppose it's better than how other Imageepoch projects have turned out. Hatsune Miku fans also might want to take a look at this one, as it features a plethora of Vocaloid music, and the diva herself even makes an appearance in-game. I won't be picking this one up. Outside of the Fate/Extra series, Imageepoch has burned me far too many times for me to take the risk again. Everybody else? Import away! Just be ready for lots of Japanese RPG stats. Amnesia CrowdIdea FactoryOnline Price: $66.90 In August, [she] vanished. On a quest to regain her memories, she had worked alongside the spirit named Orion. But one day in August, she disappeared. She would find herself, through a twist of fate, wrapped up in an incident that would change everything. Separated from her, [he] tried his best to get in contact, but to no luck. In order to save her, he finds himself wandering the city.  The girl and the boy. This is a suspense story told from both of their perspectives. I know this got an anime adaptation earlier this year, but I literally know nothing about it. I believe Amnesia Crowd is some kind of sequel, so fans of the original story might do well to track this one down if they're really into the franchise. Just be prepared for lots of untranslated Japanese text. Getsuei no Kusari: Sakuran ParanoiaTakuyoOnline Price: $71.90 The story takes place on an island far removed from the mainland. Unknown to most people living on land, the island is home a beautiful town called Koukashi. Prized for its appeal to tourists, Koukashi is hit hard when certain events lead to a significant drop in visitors. With the future of the island in doubt, a group of youths called themselves the Koukaseinendan take it into their own hands to try and make things right. Our heroine, Megumi Fuyura, is a young woman living on the island. Having lost her parents when she was very young, she's tried to live out her days in peace. What she doesn't realize is that she too will find herself involved with the fate of the island and all those who live on it. Getsuei no Kusari sounds inoffensive, and the set up actually seems like a good fit for a tale of romance. The art looks good, and everybody enjoys a great period story, right? If you're into otome games, this one may just be a keeper. Though I'd suggest staying clear if the thought of Japanese text terrifies you. Jansei Gakuen Chrono MagicBoost OnOnline Price: $71.90 In the far off future, there exists a magic school called Elsister. A place where students gather to learn the ways of magic, rumors of a strange incident have begun to make their way around the school. There's something strange in the underground storage area. If anybody gets close, they immediately pass out. When they regain consciousness, they find themselves in a random school hallway, and time has went back to before they tried to enter the storage area. The students have begun to refer to the strange presence as 'Chrono of the storage room.'  Thus, a group of curious girls force their way into the room. What is the truth that awaits them? Will they be able to take back their time?! And then they all played mahjong or something, along with weird rhythm based mini-games and exploding clothes. I'm not even joking. I'm gonna go ahead and say PASS. Nintendo 3DS: Tomodachi Collection: Shin SeikatsuNintendoOnline Price: $51.90 You might not realize it, but Tomodachi Collection is positively huge here in Japan. If Animal Crossing is about building your own world, Collection is about watching people interact in said world. Basically, the 3DS makes use of the Mii's you have on the system (or received through streetpass) and sets them on their way to live their own lives. Mii's hook up, get married, have children, hang with friends, and do all sorts of weird things with one another. A big part of the fun is seeing two completely unrelated Mii's interact with one another, often leading to hilarious results. This is a funny game, made all the better because every bit of dialogue is fully voiced.  I don't doubt that this'd be a difficult game to localize for a lot of reasons, but I do think Nintendo could have a huge western hit on their hands if they did. Tomodachi Collection appeals to the same type of people who love Animal Crossing, and we all know how many of those folks there are out in the wild.  [And that's all for this edition of Go West!. Things are going to be picking up soon, starting with next week's release of the Steins;Gate visual novel. Hopefully the release schedule doesn't let up, and we'll have plenty to chat about over the next few months. Until then, stay awesome, and feel free to follow me on twitter (@RyougaSaotome) for magazine scans etc! See you folks next time.]
Go West! 45 photo
Another light week of releases!
After a brief hiatus, Go West! is back to supply you with your [almost] weekly dose of Japanese games coverage! This week? Well... not a whole lot actually. At least my dear friends at Idea Factory give me some company. Yeah, it's been kind of dead around these parts. That being said, there are still a few interesting titles worth chatting about, so let's get on with the show!

Go West! Week Forty-Four: Fate/Ninja Moon Types

Apr 02 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of March 24 - 30: Playstation Vita: Sei Madou MonogatariCompile HeartOnline Price: $74.90 Folks may not realize this, but Compile's Madou Monogatari series goes back quite a long way. The first game was released for the MSX back in 1989, and at the time was a first person dungeon crawler. The last full blown release was in 1998 for the Sega Saturn, so the fact that a new game hit store shelves is sort of a big deal for some people. Or at least it would be if the series looked anything like it used to. You see, Compile Heart is a completely different beast compared to the old Compile, and they're much more focused on the hardcore otaku market. As such, Sei Madou Monogatari is a much more moe-fied product than its precursors. Cute and scantily clad characters run through dungeons to collect ingredients to make curry. Sei Madou Monogatari abandons the first person perspective of the earlier games, opting for an isometric view of the field that's a bit more becoming of a rogue-like such as this. I personally haven't picked this up, though I hear it's quite a bit of fun, despite looking like a PS1-era game in some places. Most of Compile Heart's recent output has found its way west in some form or another, so I'd hold off on grabbing this one for a little bit.  Muramasa RebirthVanillawareOnline Price: $53.90 The other big Vita release for this week is a port of Vanillaware's 2D action RPG, Muramasa. The game is just as beautiful as it was on the Wii, if not more, but otherwise it doesn't add a whole lot to the original game. There're actually four new scenarios coming to Muramasa Rebirth, but all of them are going to be arriving in the form of paid DLC; undoubtedly lame considering there's pretty much no new content in this Vita version.  On the plus side, Rebirth does add a jump button, which fixes my biggest problem with the original Wii release. Having to press up to jump in a game like this was damn near game breaking, and I'm happy that I can finally enjoy the game this time around. As for why this release is important for the rest of you folks? Aksys Games will be bringing this one over to the west, and they'll be doing a full re-localization of the game. Ignition's terrible translation of the original Wii release felt more like they were paraphrasing each line, often leaving out interesting little details and quirks. It's an extremely shoddy translation for a game that's actually written quite well, so I'm looking forward to Aksys Games finally doing it some justice. Don't import this one. Playstation Portable: Fate/Extra CCCMarvelous EntertainmentOnline Price: $66.90 After countless delays, Fate/Extra CCC has finally hit store shelves. I was a bit concerned that overall interest in the game had died down due to the push backs, but according to the word on the street, it's been selling quite well. Fate/Extra CCC is the quasi sequel to Fate/Extra, in that rather than continuing right off from the end of the first game, it functions as an alternative scenario. Or at least that's what the developers have been saying for some time, though after playing four hours for myself, I have my doubts about the truth of those statements. In addition to Saber, Archer, and Caster, Fate franchise fans can now select Gilgamesh as their servant, which I'm sure will lead to lots of fantastic moments of Gil nudity.  Otherwise, this plays almost exactly like the first game, only with some minor adjustments here and there. Dungeons now have save points within them, fixing one of my biggest frustrations with Fate/Extra. There was nothing fun about spending an hour or two in a dungeon only to get unlucky and be killed by some random enemy, having to start over from your old save file. The story itself is a bit slow to get going; it took me two and a half hours before I hit the first tutorial fight and dungeon. That being said, the premise seems interesting, and if you're a fan of Sakura, she's already gotten more screen time in the first four hours than she did in the entirety of Fate/Extra. In fact, this is starting to feel a lot like the Heaven's Feel route to the original Extra's Unlimited Blade Works. A year ago, I would have told you that there's no chance that Fate/Extra CCC would ever make it overseas. Now? I honestly have no clue. Aksys Games has been picking up PSP games left and right, and it wouldn't really surprise me all that much if they went ahead and threw Type Moon fans a bone. Dungeon Travelers 2Aqua PlusOnline Price: $64.90 I still can't believe Dungeon Travelers got a sequel. What exactly is Dungeon Travelers, you ask? Well, it's a first person dungeon crawler that takes characters from the popular eroge, To Heart, and throws them into an RPG setting. Each female character is dressed in as little clothing as possible, and everybody finds themselves in hyper sexual situations in which their clothes fall off. Even monsters take the form of attractive, scantily clad anime girls! Wacky hijinks for everybody! I'm sorry, I just can't take this game even remotely seriously. I'm totally cool with fanservice, but this is just a big ole bag of 'what the hell.' I suppose you could import this if you're a big To Heart fan, but wouldn't you rather read the superior visual novels instead?  Megpoid the Music SharpParaphreOnline Price: $64.90 I honestly don't know much about Megpoid.  I know that it's a rhythm game not entirely unlike the Project Diva series. I also know it stars Gumi, a popular Vocaloid created by INTERNET, but powered by the Vocaloid2 tech. I've seen her albums around all over the place, but I don't think it ever registered that she's popular enough to get her own music game. Honestly, it looks like a kind of low budget Project Diva knock off. I could be completely off the mark on this, but unless you're a massive Gumi fan, I'd recommend just grabbing any of the Project Diva games instead. Those are proven rhythm titles. Geten no HanaKoei Tecmo GamesOnline Price: $66.90 Our heroine is a young ninja who has lived in a small village all of her life, training for her next mission. One day a letter arrives from Oda Nobunaga's castle, requesting her presence. As it turns out, his generals want to 'keep' her. Surrounded by Oda's closest men, and forced to pretend to be a princess, just what are the feelings building inside of her heart? ... Huh. That's not exactly what I expected. The premise sounded interesting at the start, but left me feeling cold by the typical 'she falls in love with everybody' direction. I'd love to see this scenario done well, but that'd require the romance to grow organically. Still, if you're an otome game fan and you dig Japanese history, this could be a wise pickup. Just make sure your Japanese is up to the task. Gakuoh -The Royal Seven Stars- + MeteorAlchemistOnline Price: $74.90 The setting? The super high class Genesis Academy, a school city for rich, famous, and talented youngsters. The main character, Hiroto, is the prince of a tiny world far off from planet Earth. Unfortunately for him, he's not even close to being next in line for the throne. Wanting to flee from the tedium of everyday life, he looks to study abroad at Genesis. His mother gives her blessing, but on one condition: he must conquer Genesis and become its absolute leader! Attractive classmates, bonds of friendship, and lots of love making later, will Hiroto be able to conquer Genesis Academy?! I got nothing on this one. It sounds generic. It looks generic. Just writing about it makes me feel generic. Pass! Princess ArthurIdea FactoryOnline Price: $64.90 No, this isn't Fate/Stay night. I know, that makes me sad too. There once was a holy sword. It was said that whoever could pull this sword from its place of rest would become the next king of the land. Many would step up to the challenge, but only one individual would able to unsheathe the blade. That person would not be of royalty or of wealth; she would be an innocent young girl. Forced to live the life of a king, the young girl would go on to receive instruction from the legendary wizard, Merlin, and even meet the Knights of the Round Table. The young girl would stand on the battlefield holding the holy sword, tears streaming down her cheeks as she wondered why she was chosen. This young girl would go on to know love. And through her love, she would take up her sword and cut open destiny with her very own hands, so that she might change the destiny of her beloved. Idea Factory, I gotta hand it to you. This week you've managed to stand above the rest of the crop. I'm a huge Fate/Stay night fan, and this really doesn't sound half bad. I'll probably never play this game, but I can at least nod my head and pretend it's worth playing. Otome game fans might want to look into this one. King Arthur lore is always a blast. Rebellions: Secret Game 2nd StageYetiOnline Price: $72.90 Fourteen young men and women are trapped on an island, bombs wrapped around their necks in the form of tiny collars. Each are given a PDA with a specific mission that they must fulfill in order to progress in the game. Anything goes; murdering your fellow game players is even encouraged. If a player does not complete his/her mission, the bomb around their next explodes, killing them instantly. In order to survive, will these young men and women make new allies, or will they pick up a weapon and put it all on the line? A new game begins. So basically, this is Battle Royale? Because that's certainly the impression I'm getting from the synopsis. If the art style were less generic, I'd actually be pretty interested in picking this one up. Anybody play the first game? Shinigami Kagyou: ~Kaidan Romance~QuinRoseOnline Price: $68.90 The average person may not realize it, but there are spirits wandering towns all over the world. The main character of this story is a fairy with a special job: she's a grim reaper in charge of taking the lives of the living. At night, she leaves her company to do the dirty deeds. One day, a man she was supposed to have killed has reportedly come back to life. Confused and unsure of what to do, our heroine finds herself mixed up in events that will go on to completely change her everyday 'life.' I can always count on QuinRose to deliver a interesting premise, despite how unappealing the artwork is. I like the idea that the heroine just goes around killing people everyday, as it makes for an exceptionally dark setting from which the narrative can grow out of. I know there are a few QuinRose fans reading this column, so you folks'll have to let me know if this is as cool as it sounds. [And that's it for this week, romeos and juliets. It was a significantly more packed edition of Go West! than I was expecting, but what can you do when companies release their PSP visual novels all at once? The release schedule should be slowing down for a bit, but there's still some good stuff on the horizon. Make sure to leave your questions below, and keep an eye out for Go West! 45. Catch you all later!]
Go West! 44 photo
Fate/Extra CCC finally hits stores.
Salutations, and welcome to Go West! 44, your [sometimes] weekly column about the latest games to hit store shelves in Japan. I'm your host, Elliot, and I'd like to take you on a magical journey into the deepest, darkest abys...

Go West! Week Forty-Three: Gotta go, gotta go

Mar 24 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of March 17-23: Playstation 3: Disgaea D2Nippon Ichi SoftwareOnline Price: $73.90 Here we go folks. Likely to be NIS' biggest release of the year, Disgaea D2 has finally hit store shelves here in Japan. Given how poorly their last few releases have performed, I can only hope that D2 pulls in the numbers that NIS needs right now. Disgaea D2 is being billed as a true sequel to the original Disgaea, once again placing Laharl in the lead roll. Joining him are the usual regulars, and a host of new characters including a female version of our anti-hero, and a young girl proclaiming to be his little sister. The visuals have seen a minor upgrade; bigger, more animated sprites that, while still not to the level they could be, do a decent job of acting out the carnage on screen. Having not purchased D2, I honestly have no idea how much better it plays when compared to its precursors, but it reviewed fairly well in Famitsu. There's no way Disgaea D2 won't make its way to the west, so fans just need to be patient for the time being. Given that NISA always includes dual language options, there isn't much point in importing this one outside of needing to play the game right now. Hold off. One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: $86.90 (PS3), $74.90 (Vita) I wasn't expecting too much from this one. I'd heard mixed things about the original Pirate Warriors (QTE, lack of content), so needless to say, the sequel wasn't exactly on my list of must-have games. Yet the more I read about it, the more it seemed like a genuine improvement over the original game. I decided to run with the Vita version, though I'd heard nothing about how well it performed on the little Sony system. Much to my surprise, One Piece Pirate Warriors 2 is pretty damn great on the Vita. The visuals have seen a bit of a downgrade (lots of pop up), but the frame rate is shockingly steady. It feels good to smash through enemies as Luffy and his crew, and the controls are responsive. The original story is fully voiced, and unlike the first game, Pirate Warriors 2 looks to have an almost excessive amount of content. There're over 36 playable characters, online coop, unlockable side missions, and a wealth of collectable items. Needless to say, you could probably play this game for a very long time. This is my first Warriors (Dynasty Warriors style) game since high school, so I really don't have much issue with the gameplay. It's fun, it's fast, and it looks great.  That being said, I really would love to see CyberConnect2 take on a One Piece game. The work they do on their Naruto games is second to none, and I'd give anything for Eiichiro Oda's epic series to get the same treatment. Sigh. A guy can dream. I have good news and bad news for folks looking forward to playing this. Good news first: One Piece: Pirate Warriors 2 is going west. Bad news: only the PS3 version will be making the trip. This is a prime example of a Vita port that's pretty much on par with the PS3 version, making this a damn shame, but I suppose that's the way the cookie crumbles. Little Busters! Converted EditionPrototypeOnline Price: $72.90 You might remember Little Busters! Converted Edition releasing for the Vita early last year. This is the exact same game, only now you can play it on your Playstation 3! I honestly have no idea what this Key visual novel is about, and quite frankly, I'm not in a rush to find out. Key franchises do very little to excite me, so as far as I'm concerned this is a pass. If you're a huge fan of Little Busters though, it might be worth it for the sharp, HD artwork. I'll leave that decision in your more than capable hands. Pro Baseball Spirits 2013KonamiOnline Price: $84.90 (PS3), $72.90 (Vita), $44.90 (PSP) Pro Baseball Spirits is actually a pretty beloved sports franchise here in Japan. Last year's version sold the best of the PS3, but now that the Vita has had more time on the market, I'm curious as to what kind of split we're going to see between versions of the game. The PS3 release will undoubtedly be the most popular, but I'm expecting the Vita game to pull ahead of the PSP. I guess we'll see come this Wednesday. If you're interested in grabbing this, I've been told that there are some good guides out in the world for newcomers to the series.  Playstation Vita: Atelier Meruru PlusGustOnline Price: $66.90 Oh Atelier. I really want to sit down and play with you. Seriously, I do. Alas, my backlog is too large, too filled with games, that I fear I might never get around to you. At least you're on a portable console though. That means the possibility of me playing you is higher than zero. That's something, right? This week sees the release of Atelier Meruru Plus, an enhanced port of the third and final (for now) game in the Arland series. The usual additions are present and accounted for; DLC characters, new costumes, artwork, and of course a new dungeon. I'm actually really impressed with how quickly Gust has pumped out these ports. It might not seem like much, but having a steady stream of RPGs for the Vita is slowly making it a very viable portable machine. Oddly enough, it looks like we won't be seeing a port of Atelier Rorona, but that doesn't mean it won't show up in some other fashion... As far as a western release is concerned, given Koei's ridiculous mishandling of Atelier Totori's Vita release out west (yes, that was a thing that happened), I wouldn't be surprised if the game just magically popped up one day on the Vita store. Keep your eyes and ears peeled folks. Playstation Portable: Tiger & Bunny: Hero's DayD3 PublisherOnline Price: $66.90 It's no secret that I loved Sunrise's super hero action series, Tiger & Bunny. Despite its second half issues, I got a kick out of seeing Kotetsu and Barnaby run around solving crimes. It's a shame that there hasn't yet been a good game based on the property. Being a show about people with remarkable powers fighting evil, you'd think that Tiger & Bunny could make for a really cool action game. Alas, Hero's Day does nothing special with the franchise. Instead, it's another visual novel-like experience, in which you make choices throughout the story that will lead to different endings. One cool element is that players can select from one of the different heroes at the beginning of the game, and experience the story from a different perspective. Kotetsu and Barnaby are the only available routes at the very beginning, but more open up as you make progress in their stories. If I'm going to spend this kind of money on something Tiger & Bunny related, I'd rather just pick up the movie on BD. Pass. Natsuzora no Monologue PortableIdea FactoryOnline Price: $55.90 Thank the heavens. I don't know what I would have done if there wasn't an Idea Factory game in this week's edition of Go West!.  The setting? A small town by the ocean. Ogawa-chan has lived there all of her life, just watching the days pass by. In the middle of the town, is a large and beautiful tree. 30 years ago it grew, bringing tourists from all across the country to gaze upon it. Now, it's just a sad reminder of days long passed. Little did Ogawa-chan realize however, that one day the tree would begin to sing. That was when July 29 began to loop endlessly. Dammit Idea Factory, this kind of narrative leaves me no room to crack jokes. Fine, you win this week's battle. Don't let your guard down though; I've got my eyes on you. If you're confident in your Japanese and you're looking for a solid otome game, Natsuzora no Monologue might very well be the game for you.  World Neverland: Kukuria Oukoku MonogatariAlthiOnline Price: $44.90 Truth be told, I was completely ready to make fun of World Neverland. I've never heard of this series before, and a quick look at screenshots led me to believe it was a low budget affair that would probably be a waste of time. It still looks super low budget, but World Neverland a series that's been around since 1997, and prided itself on its life simulation elements. You see, World Neverland is a life simulator in which you become a citizen of a city, and go on to live your life however you see fit. You can meet the love of your life, get married, have kids, become rich, even become a knight so you can protect your country. The visuals look low budget, but the actual concept is a great one. Given that its managed to survive for 16 years, I'm not about to talk crap about World Neverland, even if I don't intend on ever playing it. If you know what this franchise is all about, you're probably going to buy this whether or not I give you a thumbs up. Everybody else? I recommend doing a little research if the concept sounds interesting to you. [And that's all for this week folks! Vita's been having a relatively strong month here in Japan, but the dust is starting to settle as we head into the final week of March. There are a few very cool games coming out in the near future, so don't blink if you don't want to miss the action. Also, if you're looking for Soul Sacrifice hands-on impressions, check out the latest episode of the Red Sun Gamer Podcast, in which myself and a few other gentlemen here in Japan talk about the game at length for over 90 minutes. Cheers, and catch you all next time!]
Go West! 43 photo
Dream it! Don't give it up Idea Factory!
Welcome to the 43rd edition of Go West!, your weekly (sort of) column about Japanese video games, importing, Idea Factory, and one writer's love/hate relationship with the latter. This week, we've got another load of new releases that are bound to appeal to quite a few of you folks. Let's jump right into it, shall we?

Go West! Week Forty-Two: The Meaning of Life

Mar 10 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of March 3 - 9: Playstation 3: Hatsune Miku Project Diva FSegaOnline Price: $84.90 The formally Vita-exclusive Project Diva F finally hit the Playstation 3 this week, bringing with it some minor improvements. It goes without saying that the graphics have seen a fairly beefy upgrade, but this port includes some new modules so that you can further change Miku and co's appearance. Huzzah? In all honesty, I have a hard time recommending Project Diva F over its handheld older brother. I personally think these kinds of games play better on portable systems, and the improvements aren't enough to warrant such an expensive purchase. Project Diva f has been available long enough that fans should be able to find it for quite a bit cheaper than the $84.90 asking price this new release demands. That being said, if you're a huge visual buff, this might be a good chance to experience your favorite vocaloids in HD. Being a rhythm game and all, the language barrier is pretty low on this one. If you're on the fence, check out Chris' import review here. Playstation Vita: Soul SacrificeSony Computer EntertainmentOnline Price: $69.90 Sony's betting a helluva lot on Soul Sacrifice's success. The latest title by former Capcom employee Keiji Inafune, Soul Sacrifice is being advertised here in Japan as a hunting title, not unlike Monster Hunter. This is no coincidence: Sony is hoping that SS will appeal to the same crowd and become the system seller that the Vita so desperately needs right now. There's absolutely no way of telling whether that'll end up happening (it's selling well so far, at least), but if nothing else, the game is a whole lot of fun. Perhaps the biggest difference between Soul Sacrifice and Monster Hunter, is the former's strong focus on single player content and storytelling. You see, 90% of the game takes place in a magical book, where the main character relives the memories of different mages. In the world of Soul Sacrifice, mages battle against fierce monsters that were once human. When the beast you're fighting has been defeated, you can choose to sacrifice or save them. Sacrificing them increases your magic level and your chances of receiving better magic. Choosing to save them will result in obtaining a new AI partner willing to help you on quests. The story will change in subtle ways, making it worthwhile to replay older missions. You can also team up with three friends locally or online, and take on any of the many side quests that Soul Sacrifice offers. This is where the game really shines, as there are a variety of magics that require four players in order to use. Sacrificing your friends is as hilarious as it is useful, and I can certainly see myself playing this for a long time to come.  I wouldn't recommend importing, as Soul Sacrifice releases in the US at the end of next month. You're better off just being patient and waiting, especially considering how much text and story there is. Tales of Hearts RNamco Bandai GamesOnline Price: $74.90 It looks like Namco Bandai isn't finished with Tales games on the PS Vita just yet. Unlike Tales of Innocence R however, Tales of Hearts R (formerly a DS title) sees changes that are arguably for the worse. The original game was the last mainline Tales game to contain a 2D combat system. It certainly wasn't as good as the PS2 Destiny titles, but it held its own in many ways and was an absolute blast to play. The sprites moved well, and it was a refreshing change of pace from the 3D Tales games that have popped up since Symphonia. Unfortunately, in bringing Tales of Hearts to the Vita, Namco Bandai has abandoned the 2D gameplay and refitted the game with a new 3D engine. It's not awful, but it's definitely a step down. If anything, the 2D bonus game it comes with is much more appealing. If you're hungry for some portable Tales action though, Hearts R will likely satisfy your apetite. No word of whether this is going west or not, but Innocence R never did, so I wouldn't hold my breath on this one. Playstation Portable: Ultraman All-Star ChronicleNamco Bandai GamesOnline Price: $68.90 Shuwatch! Ultraman All-Star Chronicle is a strategy RPG that gathers together fifty Ultraman characters into one game for a battle to save the universe. With a brand new story, there's quite a bit here to satisfy even the most picky of Ultraman fans. One look at screenshots reminds me of Super Robot Wars, which shouldn't surprise anybody too much considering the publisher. Unlike SRW however, attack animations are rendered in full 3D. As much as I've always dug Ultraman, I can't say I care much for the games. The rubber suits look great onscreen, but when rendered as 3D video game characters, they lose a lot of their charm. IThat being said, if you are a fan of the games, you could probably do a helluva lot worse than All-Star Chronicle. Just make sure to prepare yourself for that language barrier. Uta no * Prince-Sama: All StarBroccoliOnline Price: $64.90 Poor Nanami. Despite the fact that she managed to graduate from Saotome Shining's school of performing arts, she's still in something of a pinch. If she can't manage to make her big break before her second year with Shining Studio's is up, she's a goner! Couple that with thirteen princes, each with their own unique musical and romantic demands, and you can imagine Nanami's going to have a crazy year. Just who exactly will she end up with, and will she have her big break? Thirteen princes, people. There's so much opportunity for love here that I don't even know where to start. Can't say I find the premise very interesting, but otome game fans will probably eat this one up. Import only if you're confident in your Japanese abilities. Eikoku Tantei MysteriaMarvelous EntertainmentOnline Price: $66.90 Emily's life has been wrought with hardship. Her parents were murdered when she was very young, and it has become her life's goal to find out the truth behind the incident. Enlisting the help of Sherlock Holmes, Watson, and many others, Emily solves one case after the other, leading her closer to the truth, and to true love.  These summaries never fail to make me laugh, especially when the premise is so serious up until the whole "and then you fall in love with everybody" part. I'm a sucker for a good mystery, but this doesn't look like the sort of thing that'd appeal to more than just a very niche audience. As always, if you're looking to import, be aware of the difficult level of Japanese. Sora wo Aogite Kumo Takaku PortableCyber FrontOnline Price: $64.90 Oh cool, this next one is kind of creepy. As the main character, you essentially adopt a young dragon girl and raise her, teaching her how to be a better dragon. Being her guardian, you can alter her personality and skills based on the decisions you make. The decisions also change the course of the story, leading to new sub events and more wacky adventures with your dragon sort-of-daughter/lover. Yay! Nope. Nope nope nope. [And that's that for this week's edition of Go West!. The next few weeks are looking to be just as jam packed, so stay tuned for more gaming goodness. See you folks next week!]
Go West! 42 photo
Souls are sacrificed and tales are told.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Go West!, Japanator's column about Japanese video games, imports, Idea Factory, and self inflicted pain! We've hit week 42, which means I should probably say something profound here. Video gam...

Go West! Week Forty-One: Professor Phantasy Boob Ninjas

Mar 03 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of February 24 -  March 2: Playstation 3: Macross 30: Ginga wo Tsunagu UtagoeBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 8,171 Yen ($90.90) Finally. After years of short, anemic bonus games packaged with the Frontier film DVD/BDs, Bandai Namco Games has finally released a full, proper Macross title. Huzzah! Macross 30 is a game celebrating the 30th anniversary of the franchise, bringing together every series for one giant action RPG experience. Set one year after the Vajra war seen in Macross Frontier, 30 stars S.M.S. pilot Leon Sagaki. After being shot down by an unknown enemy, our hero crash lands on the planet of Ouroboros where he's rescued by Aisha Blachette, the young Zentradi leader of S.M.S.'s Ouroboros branch. Crazy things are happening on the planet however, and the two youngsters discover a sleeping girl named Mina Forte. Time and space start to go all crazy, connecting them to the heroes and stories of the past. The combat in 30 is handled similarly to the previous two Macross bonus games, Trial Frontier and Last Frontier, so those of you looking for some fun dogfight combat need not look any further. Outside of your ship, you'll be engaging in visual novel-esque progression, having conversations with other characters and making decisions that change the course of the story. As much as I really want to dive into this one, Macross 30 is simply too expensive for me right now. The pricing is absolutely insane, and it blows my mind that Namco Bandai Games can get away with charging this sort of cash. That being said, if you're a big Macross fan (why wouldn't you be?!), you're eventually going to have to pick up 30. Just beware of that language barrier.  Sharin no Kuni, Himawari no Shoujo5pbOnline Price: 6,283 Yen ($69.90) To be honest, I was fully prepared to write Sharin no Kuni off as another port of a forgettable PC eroge, but it looks like maybe I was a bit quick in jumping to conclusions.  Taking place in an unspecified nation referred to only as the 'wheel country', Sharin no Kuni creates a setting in which all facets of society are heavily influenced by 'special high class individuals' who possess complete legal authority over all others. They have the ability to confer 'obligations' upon lesser individuals, forcing them to abide by these absolute rules or risk confinement in labor camps. Kenichi Morita is our main character, a young man who's trained for years to become a special high class individual. As his final test, he's sent back to his hometown where he's tasked with rehabilitating three people who've had obligations imposed upon them. Posing as a student and forced to confront the past he tried so hard to flee from, Kenichi has one hell of a wall he has to overcome. Yeah, that's pretty goddamn interesting. I have no clue as to whether or not Sharin no Kuni is able to pull off its seemingly lofty narrative goals, but I'd love to give it a shot. Have any of you beautiful readers played the PC version? Is it any good? If you're looking to check this out, be warned that it's a visual novel with plenty of text. Non-Japanese readers need not apply. Playstation Vita: Senran Kagura: Shinovi VersusMarvelous EntertainmentOnline Price: 7,182 Yen ($79.90) That's right everybody, this week marks the arrival of Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, the infamous game about boobs, ninjas, and exploding clothes. If that sentence doesn't excite you, then you should probably just skip ahead to the next release. Though I have to warn you: Shinovi Versus is actually a fun little game. I know, that sounds like blasphemy coming from me, right? Hear me out for a moment before you assume that Idea Factory games have caused me to lose my mind. From the five hours I've put into it, I'm amazed to find that I'm enjoying myself and looking forward to playing more Shinovi Versus. The characters are big, colorful, and animate well. The action is fast and fun, with an interesting counter system in place and unlockable combo paths. Levels are designed more like Power Stone battles than actual multi-area stages, making it much easier to just jump in and have a good time. That's not to say it doesn't have problems: the camera, lock-on system, and the load times are all pretty awful. Nothing completely game breaking, but I do hope these things get patched. The developers have already announced there's a balance update coming for the online multiplayer, so my fingers are crossed that they keep working at it. I haven't mentioned the fanservice element because, well, you know exactly what you're getting here. For more details and an in-depth look at the game, keep your eyes out for a full preview piece coming soon. Phantasy Star Online 2 Special PackageSegaOnline Price: Free to download and play, 5,654 Yen ($62.90) for a hard copy. Considering how successful this game has been for Sega in Japan, I suspect it could very well end up being the Vita's killer app for a large group of gamers out there. This is Phantasy Star Online 2 for the Vita, pretty much unchanged from the PC version that released last year in Japan. Downloading and playing the game is still completely free, and much to my surprise it runs extremely well on the Vita hardware. Want to play with your PC friends but worried that the Vita version isn't compatible? Fear not, PC and Vita gamers can play together with no problem. Your PC character is also playable on Sony's little system and vice versa. I played through the PSO2 Vita beta earlier this year, and while it doesn't look like too much has changed in the final release, that's not really a bad thing. This is a super fun game and it's quite frankly a little bit crazy that Sega's just letting Vita owners grab it for free. Why would anybody ever purchase the physical edition of the game, you ask? The answer is simpler than you might expect. the PSO2 download is about 4gb, meaning you gotta open a fair chunk of space on your memory card. Additionally, the game'll be getting frequent updates just like it's PC big brother, so I'd imagine that'd start to take its tole fairly quickly. The packaged copy of the game doesn't require an installation, so you'll only have to worry about the updates. For you importers though, the cart version holds much more value. If you live out west and purchase a hard copy of PSO2, you'll be able to play the game on your Vita without having to switch over to a Japanese account. Yeah, that's a pretty big deal as far as I'm concerned.  One last warning, PSO2 is an online game, meaning there is no offline component.  Nintendo 3DS: Professor Layton and the Azaran LegaciesLevel 5Online Price: 5,744 Yen ($63.90) Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the final Professor Layton game. Maybe. Probably not. In the hopes of investigating a supposed living mummy, Layton, Luke, and Emmy travel to the snow covered land of Snowrassa. Not a a mummy in the traditional sense, the trio discovers a young girl named Aria frozen in the ice. A member of an ancient race of people known as the Azarans, Aria is freed from her sleep but has lost all of her memories. Hoping to get her memories back, Layton and co travel around the world in search of answers. If you've ever played a Professor Layton game, then it should go without saying that Azaran Legacies doesn't try to shake up the formula in any significant way. There are over 500 new puzzles waiting to be solved, and unlike the previous releases, the characters get to travel around the world to multiple locations.  Look, if you enjoy Professor Layton and have been playing them up until now, I see no reason why you'd pass on this. Except, you know, waiting for the eventual English language release. Playstation Portable: Shining ArkSegaOnline Price: 6,373 Yen ($70.90) I'm so excited to be writing about a new Tony Taka Shining game that I almost don't want to write anything about the game at all.  Shining Ark stars a boy named Freed from the island of Arcadia. Covered in old ruins of a civilization long since passed, Arcadia is fairly isolated from the rest of the world. One day while minding his own business, Freed stumbles upon a beautiful and mysterious girl named Panis. The catch? She has a single black wing. Through the power of her singing voice, Panis is able to gather animals around her in an almost angelic showing of power. Drawn to her innocent and pure personality, Freed gets swept up into a series of events that will change the lives of a great many people. He'll also meet a lot of Tony Taka female characters who all look exactly the same and have hideous fashion sense. And some animal dudes too, I guess. Panis also sounds like penis, so that's something. Shining Ark continues the recent Shining trend of borrowing Valkyria Chronicles amazing combat system. I would much rather have a new PSP VC game, but this is clearly a battle I'm not going to win anytime soon. If you've enjoyed any of the most recent Tony Taka Shining games, you'll probably dig this one too. Just beware of that language barrier. Stellar * Theater PortableCyber FrontOnline Price: 6,193 Yen ($68.90) There are aliens in this universe. In our seemingly normal, ordinary world, aliens exist. Our planet is protected and watched over by those who possess the power of the Zodiac. Our hero has lived out his days peacefully and normally, free from the knowledge that the world is much greater than it appears to be. That all changes one day when he meets a girl possessing the powers of the Zodiac. Three mysterious girls transfer into his high school, and his childhood friend who he had since long parted ways with once again appears before him. Just what is going on? No. No. No. Onigokko! PortableAlchemistOnline Price: 7,452 Yen ($82.90) The story of a young hero who defeats the evil oni and claims their treasure, Momotaro is a well known fairy tale here in Japan. Time has passed since that era, and a phantom youkai thief named Ura has appeared. Sending letters proclaiming his intent to steal from his victims, Ura always completes the job with flashy moves. Proclaiming himself to be a descendent of the oni that Momotaro had once slain, his mission is to take back the treasure that was once his. His next target? The very island that the oni once lived on. One day, a new exchange student arrives at the island's school; a mysterious young man with a strange air about him. His true form? The mysterious phantom thief, Ura! I don't think I'd ever actually play this myself, but I like the idea of taking a well known Japanese fairy tale and working around it to tell a story. I doubt Onigokko even tries to do anything original with the idea, but I still think it's kind of quirky and neat. Import only if you have the Japanese skills to make your way through a visual novel. Solomon's Ring: Kaze no ShouPlan PeaceOnline Price: 3,677 Yen ($40.90) One day, Lily is attacked by evil demons wielding dark magic. Saved by three demons called the Solomon 72, they seek a contract with the young girl. Absolutely terrified and confused, Lily flees the scene. Days later, the three demons appear before her once again, warning her that the world is stuck in a time loop in which the same week will repeat itself for all eternity. What is the fate of Lily? The fate of the world?! What a terribly dull sounding otome game. In a crowded market of games, Plan Peace is doing very little here to convince me that Solomon's Ring is any better than anything else that's already out there. I'd say hold off on this one unless you're a big fan of Plan Peace releases or something. [And that's all for this week, lover boys and girls. If you think the release schedule was wacky this time, just wait until Go West! 42 rolls around. This month is jam packed with Japanese video games, so stick with me as I explore the deep, dark secrets of the industry... or just play games I guess. See you next time!]
Go West! 41 photo
Huzzah! Big releases all over the place!
Welcome back to Go West!, your weekly column about Japanese games, Idea Factory, and boob ninjas. This week? Lots of games! Feels like it's been a while since we've had such a packed week. Edition 41 brings with it a host of ...

Go West! Week Forty: Hands on with Dragon Quest VII

Feb 09 // Elliot Gay
Releases for the week of February 3 - 9: Nintendo 3DS: Dragon Quest VII: Warriors of EdenSquare EnixOnline Price: 6,553 Yen ($72.90) This is it. This is the big one. I can't even begin to describe how excited I am to see what the sales numbers are going to be like come Wednesday. Dragon Quest is a colossal force here in Japan. It's a franchise that in one way or another, nearly everybody in the country is familiar with on some level. I have coworkers who don't play video games anymore, but when you bring up Dragon Quest, they get nostalgic and start rambling about their childhood memories. It's huge. This past year saw the release of Dragon Quest X, the first online-only entry in the series. As such, the number of copies sold has been significantly lower than any other numbered game in the franchise. This much was to be expected though; Final Fantasy XI didn't immediately sell millions at launch either. That being said, there was a huge number of Dragon Quest fans who ultimately didn't play DQX due to its online nature. Enter Dragon Quest VII for the Nintendo 3DS. A complete 3D remake of the original Playstation game, DQVII for the 3DS might as well be a brand new numbered entry in the franchise. The original release is known for being one of the ugliest games in the series, but Square Enix's work on this remake completely wipes those memories away. This is a great looking game that does a fantastic job of recreating Akira Toriyama's vibrant and weird artwork. No, Dragon Quest VII doesn't look as amazing as VIII on the Playstation 2 did, but it's easily the best looking numbered game on a handheld. There are some nagging issues here and there; when traversing the open fields connecting areas, there's quite a bit of popup. At the end of the day though, these minor grievances do little to impact the enjoyability of Dragon Quest VII. Perhaps the biggest change, at least in my mind, is the brand new orchestrated soundtrack. That's right, the entire OST has been remade using a full orchestra, which brings a weighty feel to the dramatic and often times emotional story. This might not seem like such a big deal, but trust me when I say it might be hard to go back to non-orchestral DQ soundtracks after this.  I'm only four hours in, but I've already hooked. This is one of the only Dragon Quest games I haven't played, so I'm really excited to get to experience this new version for the first time. Eric is also playing the game right now, so keep your eyes open for some more coverage as we get further into the story. I'd suggest holding off on an import unless you can read Japanese. However, if you're looking for a game to help you study, this might be a good option: every kanji character has furigana above it, much like Level 5's offerings. For everybody else? Hang tight. My brain will explode if SE and Nintendo pass on this. Playstation Portable: Heroes VSBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 6,373 Yen ($70.90) Have you ever wanted a game in which you could play as Gundams, Kamen Riders and Ultramen from all over? Heroes VS has you covered. Bringing characters from all three franchises together for a huge crossover, Heroes VS is an action RPG with a heavy focus on give and take. By stealing your opponents SP, you're able to inflict HP damage on them. By building up your SP by stealing your opponents, you become able to use final attacks that end the battle in your favor. Interestingly enough, combat also seems to make use of different collectable cards that inflict certain effects.  The story is told from two different perspectives: Team Justice (good guys), and Team Vice (baddies). There is no traditional exploration, as all movement takes place on what looks like a map used for a board game. It seems like the main focus is on fanservice delivered through the crazy combat. I would imagine if you're a big fan of these properties, this is the sort of thing that excites you. I've always been a massive Kamen Rider and Ultraman fan, but crossover media has never really done much to get me hyped. That being said, those of you with an interest might want to look into this one. Just be careful of the rather high language barrier. [And that's all for this edition of Go West!. The next couple of weeks are looking equally as devoid of new games, so I apologize in advance for the somewhat barren wasteland this has become. March is shaping up to be a warzone, so maybe I should just consider this the calm before the storm. Until next time peeps!]
Go West! Week 40 photo
A slow week is saved by a true hero.
Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the 40th edition of Go West!, the weekly column about Japanese video games and self inflicted mental pain. I'd like to tell you that for this joyous milestone, there are dozens o...

Go West! Week Thirty-Nine: So many visual novels

Feb 03 // Elliot Gay
New releases for the week of January 27 - February 2: Playstation 3: Accel World: Kasoku no ChoutenBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 7,182 Yen ($79.90) Anime games for everybody! Kasoku no Chouten is the sequel to last year's Accel World game, continuing where the story left off. Very basic action RPG gameplay is the order of the day here, but that's not why fans would be buying this game anyway. With fanservice galore and a storyline that differs from the anime series and novels, I'm sure there are plenty of AW lovers who would get a kick out of this title. I'm just not one of them. Since Kasoku no Chouten is also available on the PSP, I wouldn't expect much in the way of visuals. Quite frankly, there are better games out there that you could be spending your hard earned money on. If you're a super hardcore Accel World fan though? Sure, go for it. Xbox 360: Love Tore: Bitter VersionBoost OnOnline Price: 7,002 Yen ($77.90) I think this marks the third time that I've had to write about a Love Tore game, against all odds. Because one version wasn't enough, Bitter adds new girls for you to dance and romance with using Kinect's shoddy motion detection. Your goal? Take these potential love interests to the World Dance Championships and kick some booty. Huzzah! If the above tsundere girl is any indication, fans of generic things are in for a real treat. Everybody else? Feel free to move on. Playstation Vita: Sengoku Hime 3: Tenka wo Kirisaku Hikari to KageBoost OnOnline Price: 6,193 Yen ($68.90) Oh hey, another tactical RPG in which all the historical figures from Japan's feudal era are actually moe girls and they do battle! Who's excited? Come on? Anybody? No? Ok then. Moving on! Playstation Portable: Kisou Ryouhei Gunhoud EXG.RevOnline Price: 3,497 Yen ($38.90) Finally, something worth talking about!  Gunhoud EX is an oldschool 2D sidescrolling action game in the same vein as the kind of action games from the early 90s. Fast paced and full of crazy amounts of gunfire flying across the screen, EX is an enhanced version of a PC game, now with more weapons, bosses and the like. It's not a particularly high budget title (the price reflects that), but it makes up for it via its classic gameplay. One look at a trailer is all it takes for me to jump on board. At times, the Gunhound EX resembles a bullet hell game. This doesn't come as much of a surprise considering G.Rev's pedigree (Kokuga, Under Defeat HD), but it's nonetheless awesome. If you have a PSP or a Vita, I recommend giving the demo a download before importing. You can get a good idea of what to expect and whether or not this'll be up your alley. VitaminZ Graduation D3 PublisherOnline Price: 6,193 Yen ($68.90) Like the series or not, it doesn't change the fact that VitaminZ is a hilariously awful name. With graduation looming closer and closer, there's no way the boys and girl of Seitei Gakuen would ever graduate from high school peacefully. In the three months before leaving school, witness their stories as they reveal sides of themselves that you've never seen before! Yeah, not for me. If you're a fan of the series though, I'm sure you can't afford to miss out on Graduation. Import only if you have a high level of Japanese. Tasogaredoki: Kaidan Romance QuinRoseOnline Price: 6,373 Yen ($70.90) While Idea Factory might have abandoned Go West! this week, the always awesome QuinRose swoops in to save the day with another crazy otome game.  In the boundary beyond time is a magical academy capable of switching between a school for monsters and a school for humans. Our main character is a young woman with super strong monster powers but no way of controlling them. As spring approaches, a new semester begins and our protagonist finds herself thrust into crazy romance with the denizens of the high school. With the school festival fast approaching, will she be able to find love? Tasogaredoki is actually a sequel of sorts, which explains why the premise is so generic by QuinRose standards. Still, I have it on good authority that they do good work in the otome game industry. It's probably a safe bet that if you like these sorts of visual novels, you'll be happy with your purchase. Just be prepared for lots and lots of Japanese text.   Renai 0 Kilometre Portable AlchemistOnline Price: 6,193 Yen ($76.90) Just look at those faces; clearly Renai 0 is a work of art. Once upon a time, there was a house in which a single mother lived with her five daughters. Next door to them was a house in which a single father lived with his four sons. The mother had always wanted a son, while the father had always desired a daughter of his own. One day, they both came to a realization: why don't they swap kids?! Three months later, the plan is put into action, and our young hero finds himself surrounded by beautiful woman calling him big brother. His new life begins now! Ok, regardless of whether this is based on a pornographic game or not, even I have to admit that this premise is ridiculous. If the above facial expressions are any indication, the whole thing looks to be pretty tongue in cheek. I won't be picking this up, but Renai 0 may very well be a fun ride. Non-Japanese speakers need not apply. [That's all for this edition of Go West!. Next week seems to be thin on releases, save for one very big new one: Dragon Quest VII for the Nintendo 3DS. Expect impressions and the like next weekend! Until then folks, feel free to leave questions and such in the comments below. Ciao!]
Go West! photo
There's a little something for everybody this week.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Go West!, your weekly column about Japanese video games, and Idea Factory concoctions. While I'm sure you beautiful people noticed a lack of import love last week, fear not! I have returned from my deadly battle with the flu so that I can bring you joy and prosperity. This week, I come bearing a smorgasbord of visual novels. Your mileage my vary.

Go West! Week Thirty-Eight: Digimon are the champions

Jan 19 // Elliot Gay
New releases for the week of January 13-19: Playstation 3: Dream C Club Zero: Special Edipyon!D3 PublisherOnline Price: 7,468 Yen ($82.90) How many times has Dream C Club been released at this point? This is a super special port of a Vita port of a PS3 port of an Xbox 360 game. Huzzah! New goodies include more costumes for the hostesses to wear, more songs for them to sing, and a variety of other inconsequential goodies for you to enjoy with your female of choice. Unlike most dating sim-type games, Dream C Club genuinely creeps me out because host/hostess clubs are not nice places. Lots of not so happy stuff frequently goes on behind the scenes, and the whole thing just makes me feel bad.  But hey, if you enjoy these games, more power to you. This one is never going to be localized, so if you think it's worth your hard earned money, go for it. For what it's worth though, I'd recommend going for something like THE [email protected] instead. It's got the gameplay and polish to make it worth playing. Playstation Portable: Digimon AdventureBandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 6,838 Yen ($75.90) Jo and Mimi forever. I have something to confess. I was never a Pokemon sort of kid. In actuality, Digimon was where my allegiances were, back in the day. The reason was fairly simple: the TV show that aired every Saturday morning completely captured my imagination in all the right ways. That Bandai Namco Games went and adapted the entire TV series into a PSP game fills me with a deep joy. A turn based RPG that covers the entire first season of the show as well as the films, Digimon Adventure is high on fanservice for old school fans like myself. Honestly, if it wasn't so expensive, I'd probably grab a digital copy of this in a heartbeat. Visually, it captures the feel of the anime quite well, though reviews seem to imply that there isn't a whole ton of depth to be had. Still, it's certainly tempting, and I'm sure that once the price drops I'll be all over it like Tai on Matt. This is definitely never going west, so feel free to import if your Japanese is good enough. Wizardmon 4 life. Otometeki Koi Kakumei Love Revo!! 100kg Kara Hajimaru-KoimonogatariIdea FactoryOnline Price: 6,207 Yen ($68.90) Oh Idea Factory, what goodies do you have in store for me this week? I can hardly wait! The main character is a 2nd year in high school. When she was but a child, she was an adorable girl who won every single beauty contest she entered. There was no way she could ever lose. Yet she let her guard down, and ended up eating far more of her favorite snacks than she should have, causing her to grow to a large 100kg! Oh no! Amidst all of this, 5 gorgeous students from school move in to her father's apartment building. With the promise of romance in the air, our heroine can't help but be excited. What she finds however is disappointment, as the boys pay her no mind whatsoever. Her older brother steps in and tells her that if she can drop the pounds, she'll be able to get any man she wants! Just where will her diet and love take her?! Oh Idea Factory, I'm just going to close my eyes and pretend I didn't see this one. Koukon no Sinsemilla PortableCyber FrontOnline Price: 6,568 Yen ($72.90) You know, Cyber Front appears often enough in this column that I'm starting to feel some kind of attachment toward them. I guess it's kind of like Stockholm Syndrome or something. Kosuke grew up in a small rural village known for its traditions and legends. After the sudden death of his mother, he ends up moving away. Now a college student, he returns to the town during the summer for a part time job his aunt offers him. While there, he's reunited with old faces and new ones as well. These girls are the key that will lead him to better understanding the countryside and its appeal. But one day, something appears to threaten his everyday happiness. While in the mountains, he encounters a strange monster that, if unchecked, could destroy everything he knows and loves. What kind of answer will Kosuke's determination lead to? Huh. That actually sounds a lot better than I was expecting it to, at least based on the art. I can't say it's enough for me to actually want to play it, but hey, if you're looking to try a new PSP VN, this might not be a bad place to start.  [And that's all for this week folks! It feels good to be back in the swing of things, and I'm looking forward to bringing some new and big things to the column this year. Thanks for sticking with me, and don't forget to check out the Red Sun Gamer Podcast, of which Eric and I are apart of. We're a bunch of guys in Japan who talk about life here and Japanese videogames. See you all next week!]
To save the digital world!
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to 2013's first edition of Go West!, your weekly column about Japanese video games, Idea Factory, and the guy suffering through it all. After a long holiday hiatus, I'm back with a meager list of new releases. I know, I shed a single silent tear too. In any case, follow me after the break as I dig into some PSP games.

Go West! The top import games of 2012

Dec 27 // Elliot Gay
Top five import titles for 2012: Number 5: Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f (Playstation Vita)Publisher: Sega Online Price: 6,750 Yen ($84.90) For fans of the rhythm genre, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva f was a must-have title in 2012. Featuring a list of new songs and modules for your favorite Vocaloids, Project Diva f is a game full of content. Visually, it's the best looking game in the series and the Vita screenshot feature means you can capture every stunning moment. I put quite a few hours into this beast, but don't take it from me, our resident Project Diva fan, Chris, reviewed the game in full.  In a year that featured two Vocaloid rhythm games, Project Diva f comes out on top and deserves your import bucks. There is a PS3 version hitting Japanese store shelves early next year, so if that's your preferred console of choice, feel free to wait it out. Either way, you can't go wrong with Sega's latest.   Number 4: Time Travelers (Playstation Vita, Nintendo 3DS)Publisher: Level 5Online Price: 5,080 Yen ($71.90) While the rest of the games on this list were about as excellent as I had expected, Level 5's Time Travelers came as a something of a surprise. Coming from the mind of Jirou Ishii (428), Time Travelers tells the story of a group of five unknowing heroes who come together to save the world from an insane group of terrorists. The game plays out much like a visual novel, though with 3D models and many more dialogue branches. The game can be completed in a brisk ten hours, but in that period of time you'll laugh, cry and feel all the feels. There are some odd moments of Japanese humor here and there, but Jirou Ishii once again proves himself a fantastic storyteller. The only bummer? Time Travelers is text heavy, meaning if you dont have a solid handle on the Japanese language, you might want to steer clear for a bit.    Number 3: Ys: Foliage Ocean in Celceta (Playstation Vita)FalcomOnline Price: 6,550 Yen ($82.90) Look, if you haven't already experienced the awesomeness of Falcom's Ys series, I don't know what to tell you. These are some of the best action RPGs on the market, and Foliage Ocean in Celceta carries on that tradition. Fast paced action, beautiful visuals and amazing music are the order of the day, as Celceta delivers on pretty much everything you've come to expect from a great action game.  Seeing Falcom's take on the story of Ys IV is also fascinating, as we finally get our first real look at Adol's childhood and his reasoning for becoming an adventurer in the first place. Unlike the excessively wordy Ys Seven, Celceta does a a solid job of reining things back and letting players explore the gigantic ocean of trees on their own. Each section of the world is interconnected not unlike a Metroid game, which gives Celceta a different sort of feel from its precursors.  Falcom proves once again that they're the masters of the action RPG.   Number 2: Nayuta no Kiseki (Playstation Portable)Publisher: FalcomOnline Price: 5,700 Yen ($72.90) What? Two Falcom games on one list?! Blasphemy! I know, I know. While it seems unfair, at the end of the day, Nayuta no Kiseki hits all the right notes, telling a personal story of a group of friends coming together to overcome their differences. Beautiful music, bright visuals that push the limits of the PSP, and fantastic replay value make for an unrivaled action experience. To be honest, if it weren't for the game below, Nayuta would have been a fairly easy pick for the top import title of 2012. The development team behind Nayuta had hoped to create a Kiseki game that would give new fans a chance to experience the signature storytelling style of the franchise, thus providing a good entry point to the series. As far as I'm concerned, they succeeded. An action RPG at its core, Nayuta puts a heavy focus on combat, which makes it feel more like the Ys series at times. By bringing in the simple ability to jump, the way levels are designed changes entirely. If you were a fan of Ys VI and Oath in Felghana, this is your game.   Number 1: Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (Nintendo 3DS)Square EnixOnline Price: 5,760 Yen ($72.90) If you've read my Bravely Default review from a few weeks ago, then you know exactly how I feel about Square Enix's latest Nintendo 3DS RPG. Developed by Silicon Studio with a scenario penned by the excellent Nataka Hayashi (Steins;Gate), Bravely Default is an old school JRPG featuring turn based combat and an elaborate job system that allows for a deep level of character/party customization. The music, handled by the talented Revo, is a refreshing take on the sounds one expects from an SE RPG. Beyond the excellent gameplay and production values, where Bravely Default truly shines is its story. Subverting many genre tropes and cliches, BD is game that at first appears to be the standard, predictable JRPG fluff. As the layers begin to unravel, Hayashi's influence becomes increasingly clear. It's not a stretch to call this Bravely Default: Steins;Gate. Saying anymore would be a spoiler, but just know that you're in for one hell of a ride. Bravely Default is an incredible RPG in a year of magnificent Japanese games. It wasn't easy picking a single game for this spot, but if any of the top five deserve it, it's this one. I don't care how you do it, but please just find a way to play this game.  [That's all folks! What import titles did you enjoy this year? Get any Japan-only games for the holidays? Want some more recommendations from moi? Sound off in the comments below!]
It was a great year for games.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a very special edition of Go West!. It's the holiday season, which means it's time for me to drop a list of the top five import games of the year. 2012 hosted a massive list of Japan-only gam...


Go West! Week Thirty-Seven: Trails in the Sky HD

And I guess other games too.
Dec 16
// Elliot Gay
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to another insanity filled edition of Go West!, your weekly column about Japanese games and Idea Factory. This week sees a modest number of games hit store shelves, so there's plenty to talk...

Go West! Week Thirty-Six: Games, games, games!

Dec 08 // Elliot Gay
Releases for November 25-December 1 & December 2-8: Wii U: Monster Hunter 3 UltimateCapcomOnline Price: 5,151 Yen ($64.90) Releasing a Wii U premium set that comes with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a brilliant idea on Nintendo's part. Hell, I picked up a Japanese Wii U today at launch and ended up going with the Monster Hunter pack as well. As for the game itself? My system is still updating (hah), so I'm unfortunately in no position to talk about the game proper, but for those of you who have been following the 3DS version, it's pretty much the exact same game.  Except for a few very big differences. The most obvious one being that MH3U is in HD. Textures have been updated, and icons have been fixed so that they're not a blurry mess on HD sets (looking at you Portable 3rd HD). Ultimate was a beautiful looking 3DS game with some fabulous lighting effects thanks to Capcom's MT Framework. This has allowed them to up-port in such a way that Ultimate still looks quite great. It's not the next gen Monster Hunter many of us want, but this is still a pretty damn solid way to pass the time until that title arrives.  The other big difference is that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate for the Wii U has full online multiplayer built in. Unlike the 3DS version of the game, you'll be able to take your badass hunter online with three other friends. As many MH fans are aware, the hunting genre is one that really does lean heavily on players helping one another out. Having a veteran player around to teach you the ropes is the difference between giving up seven hours in, or becoming a monster slaying mamajama. Other additions include the ability to transport your save file back and forth between the Wii U and 3DS version, something I'll be taking advantage of quite a bit I imagine.  I'd hold off on importing this one. Capcom's bringing both versions of the game west, and there's no reason to buy a JP console just because you can't hold off for a few months.  Playstation 3: Super Robot Wars OG 2Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 7,690 Yen ($96.90) It only took a bajillion years, but Bandai Namco's cross over mech anime strategy RPG extravaganza has finally made its way to current generation home consoles. Rather than going the licensed route on their first outing, BN has returned to its OG series. As expected, OG 2 sold super well its first week, burning through most of its shipment at just over 200,000 copies.  I have a hard time balancing my love and hatred for strategy RPGs, and Super Robot Wars both fascinates me and frustrates me with its long and beautiful attack cinematics. On the one hand, they're just so goddamn cool. On the other, they're completely non-interactive and after 50 hours, I find it hard to stay excited about them. Nonetheless, SRW fans know exactly what they're getting into here, only now the whole thing looks beautiful in HD.  Feel free to import this one since we all know it'll be a cold day in hell before this hits western shores.  Yakuza 5SegaOnline Price: 8,405 Yen ($105.90) Yakuza 5 is so goddamn expensive that it has completely put me off to buying it in the immediate future. Seriously, even by Japanese pricing standards, this is ridiculous and Sega really needs to take a long, deep look at itself in the mirror. Shame on you Sega! Go to your room and think about what you've done! All [non] jokes aside, There's a reason why the Yakuza series has made it to a fifth game. Despite being very different titles, the Yakuza series is very much so Japan's Grand Theft Auto, and 5 seems set to light up the charts with its multiple cities. Hell, I'm excited to visit the in-game version of Fukuoka, a city I hold very near and dear to my heart. As for whether or not you should be importing this, it's kind of up in the air. Sega has done a really good job of bringing nearly every game in the franchise over, and considering this is a mainline title, I don't think fans should have much to worry about. Plus, who really wants to pay $105.90+?  Xbox 360: Love Tore: Mint VersionBoost OnOnline Price: 6,597 Yen ($82.90) You all remember Love Tore right? That delightful Xbox 360 game about dancing with hot high school girls and winning their love via your crazy moves? No? You'd rather forget about it? Ok. You win. Let's all just move on with our lives. PS Vita: Fate/Stay Night [Realta Nua]Kadokawa ShotenOnline Price: 6,024 Yen ($75.90) This is actually a bigger deal than some of you might realize. Fate/Stay Night found a lot of its massive success due to the original Realta Nua release for the PS2. By stripping the game of its pornographic content, Type Moon was able to reach a much wider audience that has stuck with the franchise to this day. Hell, just look at the numbers that this Vita port did last week: over 30,000 copies sold. For an old visual novel like F/SN, that's quite impressive. Also, unlike practically every VN ever made, F/SN was never ported to the PSP, making this the first time the game has been playable on the go. What does this mean for you folks? Quite a bit, potentially. In the past few years, a surprising amount of visual novels have made their way overseas in official capacities. Games like 999, Virtue's Last Reward, Hakuoki, and even the Phoenix Wright games have helped to make western audiences a little bit more open to the idea of a game that is composed of primarily text. Last year, Aksys Games localized and released Fate/EXTRA, a dungeon crawler with a strong focus on story, told mostly through text. Next year, they'll be releasing the Hakuoki spin-off action game. If there was ever a time for Fate/Stay Night to get picked up, this is it. Don't lose hope folks. This new port features brand new Ufotable animated openings for each of the paths, sharp visuals and an extra bonus game. While there's no new story content, it's not hard to argue that this is the definitive version of Fate/Stay Night. If you're confident in your Japanese skills, definitely pick this one up. Atelier Totori PlusGustOnline Price: 6,024 Yen ($75.90) This is one of those franchises that I've always wanted to try, but never got around to. Plus gives me the perfect opportunity to finally see what all the fuss is about. Even on the Vita, Atelier Totori Plus is a beautiful looking game. The semi-cel shaded visuals and charming art style do a lot to cover for the low detail environments and textures. This upgraded port also features a new dungeon, additional playable characters and new costumes. Given that I'm unfamiliar with the original game, I unfortunately can't speak to the extent of these new features. Sorry about that! Unlike Ciel no Surge, Atelier Totori Plus is a fairly orthodox RPG, so I can totally see this making its way west. The localization is already done, so there wouldn't be a ton of work involved. I recommend holding off for a little bit, unless you're a huge fan of the franchise.  Nintendo 3DS: Professor Layton vs Ace AttorneyLevel 5Online Price: 5,555 Yen ($69.99) Welcome back Phoenix and Maya, we missed you two like crazy sauce! Oh hey Layton, Luke. I guess you guys are ok too. That pretty much sums up my feelings on Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney. After spending ten hours with the game, it feels more like an AA game with some Layton puzzles as a bonus. The Layton games always had an investigation element to them, so the only thing to distinguish those portions from the AA half of the game is the puzzle aspect. The game is broken up into chapters, most of which seem to finish with a trial in which Phoenix tries to prove the innocence of an innocent. This is the same Ace Attorney you know and love, the biggest difference being that you now have to cross examine groups of people rather than individuals. Things can get a little crazy, but it's as exciting as you remember it to be.  One thing that's really been taking me off guard is how great the production values are in Layton vs AA. Level 5 has never been known to slack when it comes to putting money into their properties, so maybe it shouldn't be so surprising. Nonetheless, Ace Attorney games have always been fairly low budget affairs, so seeing Phoenix and Maya with all the bells and whistles is genuinely exciting. The music is great, the visuals are fantastic, and the UI is beautiful. Character models take some getting used to, but once you see their crazy animations, you'll warm up to them as fast as I did. Amazingly, Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney still hasn't been announced for an English language release. Considering how successful the Layton games seem to be in western territories, this strikes me as a huge mistake. This game is a great way to get people to reminder Phoenix and Maya, thus drumming up interest for AA5. Make it happen guys and gals! UnchainBlades EXIVFuRyuOnline Price: 5,786 Yen ($72.90) UnchainBlades EXIV sold awfully last week. I think it's safe to say this short lived franchise is probably dead. The UnchainBlades games are first person dungeon crawls, with characters designed by a huge group of famous and not so famous character designers. That's really its primary selling point; the gameplay itself isn't going to blow any minds, and the story is as cliche ridden as you can imagine. There's fun to be had here, but for $72.90, there are much better games out there.  Skip this one. Playstation Portable: Kamen Rider Chou Climax HeroesBandai Namco gamesOnline Price: 6,024 Yen ($75.90) These Kamen Rider fighting games seem to sell well enough to warrant a fairly consistent release schedule, though I'm not sure who is actually buying these. There's not enough depth here to draw in the hardcore fighting game fans, and I feel like younger kids would be more interested in the side scrolling beat-em-ups that give them instant gratification.  I guess if you're a huge Kamen Rider nut, this'll probably quench your thirst for more rider kicks and flashy poses. Everybody else? Feel free to pass on this one. Saint Seiya Ω Ultimate CosmoBandai Namco gamesOnline Price: 4,992 Yen ($62.90) Saint Seiya brings back memories. I have very clear memories of watching the show when I was a child, and it's probably one of the many reasons I do what I do today. That being said, Ultimate Cosmo looks like a rather unfortunate cash in on the brand. It's a one on one 2.5D fighter with some light story elements. Now you too can recreate your favorite Saint Seiya moments! Sort of. Not really. I love fighting games, but rarely are these PSP fighters ever worth the money they cost. I say pass. School WarsQuinRoseOnline Price: 6,024 Yen ($75.90) When Idea Factory fails me, I always know I can count on QuinRose to deliver the good times.  After losing her father in an accident, our heroine has given up all hope of ever graduating high school. In a sea of despair, she's given a single opportunity to get an education. Transferred to the specialty school, Hareai High, what she finds is more than she's prepared to handle. As it turns out, Hareai isn't just a specialty school; it's a front for a training ground designed to raise soldiers and those who deal in mafia business/weapon's trafficking and the like. Vowing to graduate at all costs, our heroine makes it through to her senior year, which is where shit gets real. QuinRose, if you were a person, I'd hug the ever living hell out of you. The premise for this game is ridiculous on so many levels that I couldn't help but crack a smile as I wrote the above synopsis. You win this round. Import if you like insanity and have a firm grip on Japanese (but not your mind). Kimi ga Aruji de Shitsuji ga Ore de: Oshie Nikki PortableMinato StationOnline Price: 5,944 Yen ($74.90) Interestingly enough, Oshie Nikki is much more than a generic visual novel; it's actually an escape game! As the butler of the house, you accidentally get locked in a room with no way out. Being the butler, there's no way you can just break the doors or windows without receiving a heavy punishment. The goal of the game is to find a way out, all the while romancing the girls of the house. Or something. Yup. Just got play 999 instead. [And that's all for this week's giant edition of Go West! folks. Thanks for joining me, and feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments below! I'd be more than happy to help if I can. You can also reach me via my Twitter account: @RyougaSaotome. See you guys and gals next week!]
Three times the games! Or something.
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to a jam packed edition of Go West!. Week 36 is practically leaking games from every single orifice, due in no small part to there being no Go West! last week. As a result, here I am buried under a metric ton of Japanese releases. Huzzah! We've got a lot of ground to cover, so follow me after the break as I fight witches while riding yakuza wyverns. Or something.

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