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The Legend of Heroes photo
The Legend of Heroes

Love is eternal: Trails in the Sky SC launches next week

Pigs have finally learned to fly
Oct 23
// Salvador G Rodiles
Well, folks: I'm happy to announce that we now live in a world where pigs have wings, and hell has frozen over. In other words, XSEED has revealed that The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC hits the PC and the PSN ...
Suikoden 1/2 photo
Suikoden 1/2

Oh man, Suikoden 2 is out, go get it now now now

Get HYPE for 16 years ago!
Dec 09
// Josh Tolentino
Oh, finally. It only took, like, sixteen years, but Suikoden II, one of my favorite games of all time and one of the greatest RPGs ever made, to come to downloadable platforms on this side of the pond. Konami's made the thing...
Sword Art Online photo
Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment releasing with 'Infinity Moment' HD remake

Go once more into the world of Aincrad
Apr 30
// Brittany Vincent
[As originally posted at Destructoid.] If you're still into Sword Art Online, you probably didn't watch the second half of the first series. Just kidding. I bet you're on pins and needles waiting for the Vita release,&nb...
PSN photo

Sony unleashes JRPG sale on PSN for Golden Week

It's a digital fire sale!
Apr 29
// Pedro Cortes
April 29 is the beginning of Golden Week, a series of holiday over the course of several days that's been converted into a sort of national spring break. In order to celebrate it this year, Sony is discounting a ton of Japane...

Final Fantasy Type-0 photo
Final Fantasy Type-0

Final Fantasy Type-0 fan-translation to be released this August

Or so they say
Mar 08
// Tim Sheehy
For many of us, the effort to translate Final Fantasy Type-0 seemed like a project that would never near completion. The game released in Japan back in 2011, and while so many had been waiting on pins and needles for Square ...

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.]
Go West! 64 photo
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-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!]
Go West! 62 photo
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! 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!]
Go West! 60 photo
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...

God Eater 2 photo
God Eater 2

Action packed eight minute God Eater 2 play video

All the Gods you can eat
Nov 11
// Elliot Gay
As far as first attempts at hunting action go, Namco Bandai's PSP game God Eater did a bang up job. Rather than outright copy Capcom's success with Monster Hunter, they went in a different direction by amping up the speed of...

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!]
Go West! 56 photo
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...

XSEED photo

Corpse Party on sale and more from XSEED this Halloween

Just in case you need some nice and cheap horror
Oct 24
// Eric Koziol
Have you been sleeping well? Been looking for a way to remedy that? As it is October and October means scary movies and stuff, right? (Interestingly enough in Japan that time is summer, actually.) So XSEED has let the prices ...
Oreimo PSP photo
Oreimo PSP

2012 Oreimo PSP game now sorta FTP on iOS

If you wanna romance Kirino, you're good to go
Oct 23
// Elliot Gay
So this is kind of random. Namco Bandai's 2012 Oreimo Portable ga Tsuzuku Wake ga nai PSP game has hit iOS for the low price of free.  Sadly we've entered an era where free is now somehow synonymous with paying more...
God Eater 2 OP photo
God Eater 2 OP

God Eater 2 opening anime is cool as ice

Ufotable delivers the goods
Oct 13
// Elliot Gay
Animation studio Ufotable doesn't exactly handle a whole lot of projects at once, but they put a ton of care and effort into the stuff they do work on. Case in point: God Eater 2's beautiful anime opening up top. For those o...
God Eater 2 trailer photo
God Eater 2 trailer

Latest God Eater 2 video highlights Alisa's episode

She's come a long way since the first game
Oct 12
// Elliot Gay
Namco Bandai's latest hunting action game, God Eater 2, is right around the corner. With its release set for next month, the hype train is chugging along.  This time it brings us a trailer for Alisa's Character Episode....
God Eater 2 photo
God Eater 2

God Eater 2 and The Idolmaster collide for DLC action

And not a single person was surprised
Oct 01
// Elliot Gay
Namco Bandai is teaming up with Lawson convenience stores and HMV to bring preorder The Idolmaster Million Live! DLC to their upcoming PSP/Vita game, God Eater 2.  That's right! Now you too can dress fan favorite Alisa l...
TGS 2013 God Eater 2 Vid photo
TGS 2013 God Eater 2 Vid

TGS 2013: God Eater 2 offscreen Vita TV video

Spoilers: they don't win.
Sep 20
// Elliot Gay
I had the opportunity to go hands on with the most recent build of Namco Bandai's upcoming PSP/Vita hunting game, God Eater 2. Before my preview goes up however, I'm here to deliver an eight minute video of folks playing the...
Trails in the Sky SC photo
Trails in the Sky SC

Launch those trailers! Trails in the Sky SC is going west

XSEED and Carpe Fulgur deserve a big salute!
Sep 06
// Salvador G Rodiles
Actually, when I meant trailers, I was talking about using a catapult to launch a bunch of trailers into the sky as a way to celebrate XSEED's new accomplishment. With the help of Carpe Fulgur, the awesome group that localize...

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!

Review: Class of Heroes 2

Jul 25 // Brad Rice
[embed]29172:2661:0[/embed] Class of Heroes 2Developed by: AcquirePublished by: MonkeyPaw Games and GaijinWorksRelease Date: June 4, 2013MSRP: $24.99 What better school to go to than one where you get to study the fine art of being a hero? At Crostini Academy, that's exactly what you do: work your way up through school by battling monsters, saving damsels in distress, and running all the mindless quests for teachers that you could imagine! As an intrepid group of students at Crostini, you can pick up tasks at the Library's bulletin board, where teachers and students can request work for a hero (such as yourself) to do for them. This serves as the main form of interaction and plot development throughout the game. The quests will range in the requirements, but fall under familiar categories: fetch quests, boss battles, item deliveries, and collecting dropped items. There are others as well, but these are some of the more common tasks. I'll admit early on that I haven't completed the game -- I've logged 40 hours in the game, but it's still just a drop in the bucket compared to getting 100% completion. One of the main reasons for this is that despite a majority of the quests being easy or simple to complete, there are always battles that prove to be major roadblocks unless you've leveled up quite a bit. So, I grind. A lot. Perhaps to an excessive level. But that behavior becomes addicting, as quests will frequently drag you into dungeons that provide serious challenges. Several academies make up a network of schools that serve as landing spots and provide you with quests, a place to rest and recover, and robust shops. If you're into the whole "alchemy" game mechanic -- combining raw items to make gear -- then the schools provide that as well. In between the schools are dungeons and towns. The towns provide small areas of relief, providing an inn to recover at and a shop to buy items in, but little else. The dungeons, meanwhile, are where you spend the bulk of your time. They are square-based maps with random encounters, traps, and treasure. Combat in the dungeon has your party split into two rows of three: fighters up front and long-range fighters and spellcasters in the back. From there? It's turn-based combat. It takes a lot of trial and error to get your party right, but it's worth investing the energy early on into building the right players. The game hands you a variety of races, balanced towards fighters, spellcasters, or right in the middle. Adjust their abilities slightly, and pick their classes. It allows you to gear the party closer towards your fighting style, and have characters that you're slightly more invested in because you created them. Depending on who you are, this is either a big plus or a real roadblock: the game doesn't hold your hand going into it. You are essentially thrown into the game with the expectation that you've either already played Class of Heroes or read through the instruction manual. I did neither, and it took me a few days to realize that Gaijinworks had extensive paperwork on their website. It makes the adventures much less maddening, and turns it into an easily addictive romp. My biggest criticism of the game sits with the plot, because many of the scenes we see throughout the more casual encounters feel like throwaways. The weakling turns to the badass teacher to try and win their respect. The little guy tries all the get-heroic-quick schemes. The evil girl always getting in your way is easily flustered and a push-over. A lot of it falls into familiar tropes, and while the translation of it all is good, it's not enough to keep me reading every line. The more central plot is well-written, and it's clear when that stuff is coming up, but I don't feel as though the plot is something to really attach yourself to with this. The visuals are surprisingly good, coming from a game that originally debuted in 2009. The character drawings are just fine, owing a lot to the fact that that all the battles and cutscenes are done with still images rather than animated sprites or character models. The music is pleasant but far from memorable, and puts you in the right mood for the game. When I sit down to play, I found the hours go by pretty quick. And by the time my battery dies on the Vita? Then it's a real struggle to just set it down, and not pull out the plug and keep playing for JUST another hour or three. The gameplay is great and it makes for the perfect game to while away the hours, but don't expect this to be more than a popcorn game: lots of fun and plenty delicious, but it doesn't carry any real nutrition. If you've got a Vita, and are big into RPGs, then Class of Heroes 2 is a good way to fill a void between big-named titles. You can always put it down and pick it up again in a flash. 6 -- Alright (6s may be slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy them a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.)   
Review: Class of Heroes 2 photo
GaijinWorks and MonkeyPaw bring us dungeon crawling
Class of Heroes 2 is a game with a "wouldn't give up" story. Back in 2012, the game failed to meet its Kickstarter goal. Despite all that, MonkeyPaw Games and GaijinWorks promised to continue working on the gam...

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-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!]
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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!

BRS The Game photo
BRS The Game

Rejoice: Black Rock Shooter The Game hits PSPs this month

Years and years later
Apr 10
// Josh Tolentino
This slipped under Japanator's easily-distracted radar array last week - why, oh why did we hire cats to man the monitoring stations? - but it's pleasant to know either way: NIS America has, after a long enough del...

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...


Rejoice! Aksys to bring PSP otome game Sweet Fuse to NA

It's that game where you're Keiji Inafune's niece
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// Elliot Gay
The PSP is the console that just refuses to die, almost 10 years after its North American launch. The good folks at Aksys Games have announced that they'll be bringing Idea Factory's otome game Sweet Fuse: At Your Side (Bakud...

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