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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.]
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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!]
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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
Feb 15
// 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...

Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment has infinite dating

Feb 10
// Josh Tolentino
For what it's worth, one of the most interesting aspects of Sword Art Online to me wasn't so much its fighting or scale or plot (definitely not the plot), but the idea of what folks do when they're trapped in a virtual ...

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

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


Gaijinworks wants to make Class of Heroes 2 UMDs for you

Feb 06
// Elliot Gay
Long live the PSP. You might remember the Class of Heroes 2 Kickstarter from last year headed up by Gaijinworks. The idea was to raise enough money to justify creating a deluxe physical version of the PSP game, along with all...

Nice, Heroes VS's staff shows you 12 ways to duke it out

Eternal, Maximum Drive!
Feb 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
Time sure flies by when you are piloting a giant robot, kicking evil to death, or changing into a giant form that lets you take down enormous monsters. As Compatible Hero fans wait for Heroes VS to arrive on Februa...

Review: Corpse Party: Book of Shadows

Feb 04 // Chris Walden
Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (PlayStation Network)Developer: Team GrisGrisPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease date: January 15, 2013MSRP: $19.99 First of all, there really isn't any point in you playing this game if you haven't reached the end of the first game. Doing so will leave you confused about most of the characters and events, as well as why certain characters end up with memories from the first game. That's a little misleading I suppose, as like I've already said, this isn't a sequel. Book of Shadows takes scenarios from the first game and expands them a bit. Some things happen differently for one reason or another, so you get to see some new things along the way. For example, the first scenario you play follows Naomi and Seiko. However, instead of heading straight to the ritual scenes, we get to see Seiko...have a sleepover at Naomi's place? There's also some nudity and plenty of touchy-feely antics? Okay, it starts off a little misleading, but soon enough we're wandering the halls of Heavenly Host. The events play out a little differently this time around, but I'll get back to that. As I mentioned in the intro, gameplay is a little different this time around. When you aren't in the typical visual novel-style conversations, you'll be navigating a map of Heavenly Host to systematically explore different rooms to figure out how to progress. While you are in a room, you enter 'search mode', which allows you to move a reticle around the screen in order to explore the environment and potentially pick things up. Half visual novel, half point-and-click. Nothing wrong with that at all. Ditching the sprite art certainly improves the overall look of the game. The art is very impressive and looks great on the PSP, so while I personally didn't mind the sprite art in the first game, I wasn't too hung up about it. Everything is static, so don't expect to see any moving images. Most of the dynamic effects are done using image layers, camera shakes and colour flashes, which works pretty well at making it look like there is more action happening than there actually is.  The music is as great as the last game, there's no question about that. One thing I did want to point out is that you should definitely play this game with headphones. The game uses directional sound extremely well, making people speaking behind you actually sound like they're coming from that direction and so on. It definitely helps to build the right kind of atmosphere, so be sure to try it out. It's kind of a shame that a lot of the sound effects are terrible, in particular the sound of a hammer being dragged. It sounds almost like it was ripped from the Internet, so it's kind of a shame.  There are some real gruesome death scenes waiting for you too. One in particular during the second scenario left me feeling pretty ill, as while it isn't graphic visually, it did a good job of describing what was going on. This isn't a criticism, far from it, as they are undoubtedly written extremely well. I'm also certain that people will find them, well, enjoyable. On the flip side, if you aren't a fan of seeing the shocking demises of school children, then perhaps you will want to consider giving this game a miss. The 'bad ends' far outweigh the interesting dialogue, so just be aware of that if you got squeamish during the death scenes in the first game. Decision making certainly doesn't hold as much importance as it did in the original Corpse Party, for a few reasons. As you are largely playing scenarios you have already seen, you tend to know where to head and what to do. This isn't the case for every scenario due to the differences in how the stories play out, but it also seemed that decisions really didn't have too much of an effect, either. When you go to pick up an item, you'll be prompted to decide whether you want to pick it up or not. 90% of the time you simply have to pick it up to progress, and leaving it only serves to make your game last a little longer while you work out that there's nothing else to do and you need that item.  One of the most annoying new features of this game is the school map, in particular the number of rooms there are to explore. You are often given a section of the school to explore at a time, with obstructions and holes stopping you from walking all over the place. However, because sections of the hallway count as separate locations, there are often around 25 or more screens available to explore at one time. The first time I saw this menu, I was well and truly overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start.  I soon learned that the hallways usually had nothing going on, and that if they did, the game would stop you when you 'walked through' them to play whatever scene you had triggered. That's fine, right? Well no, as near the beginning of the second chapter, you need to look in the hallways to find a particular item, and it doesn't stop you if you manage to walk through the room it's in. There are way too many of them (on the second floor I counted 18, and this doesn't count those on the floors above/below), they reuse the same two or three pictures and most of them serve absolutely no purpose. You'll spend way too much time stepping through each section, looking around and finding out yet again that you've wasted your time in doing so. Key hallway sections, sure, keep those, but there really was no need for all of them. It's not a deal breaker, but it's definitely the most aggravating feature in Book of Shadows. Can I really say that this game is a simple expansion of the story in the first? No, not really, and that's because there isn't any mystery. Throughout the first game you were kept on your toes, curious as to what was really happening in Heavenly Host, thinking about who Sachiko is and wondering whether you can make it out alive or not. The horrific death scenes fit well, but you were soon back at it, trying to lead the students to survival. There is none of this in Book of Shadows, because we already know what happens. Rather, Book of Shadows is a large collection of gruesome student deaths.  The charm of the goofy characters is also somewhat lost here. It's not like they've really gone anywhere, but we don't really learn anything important. Most of the dialogue involves characters in terror, pain or both, and we aren't finding out more about what kind of people they are, as we largely already know. I guess you could argue that in the case of Seiko, we did learn something new (or rather, we had something confirmed), but it was unnecessary from a story standpoint. We've swapped the adventure gameplay for a clunky point-and-click system and changed the death/s at the end of each scenario. That's about it.  I guess I wouldn't have felt nearly as disappointed if it wasn't that Book of Shadows seems more about seeing the 'bad ends' than seeing the conclusion of a gripping story, like the original. For me, Corpse Party was about the narrative and the characters, both of which we seem to have lost somewhere in the transition. It's still going to creep the hell out of you, and for that it should be commended, but it's a darn shame that there isn't more too it.  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: Corpse Party: BoS photo
Do not play directly after eating.
It was a little over a year ago that I parted my review of Corpse Party by wishing that the sequel would also end up getting localised. Here we are with another game in the series in a language I understand, and while it's no...

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

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


Fate/Extra CCC gets another character introduction video

Jan 31
// Elliot Gay
It's hard to believe that Fate/Extra CCC is finally hitting Japanese shelves in March. I'm still looking forward to seeing where this quasi-sequel goes, though I have to admit that the Sakura lookalikes have ridiculously stu...

Shaft's Fate/Extra CCC opening is very Shaft-like

Jan 24
// Elliot Gay
Despite my feelings toward Imageepoch, I'm actually reasonably excited for their upcoming PSP game, Fate/Extra CCC. The first title was a solid dungeon crawl with a fantastic story, so I'm looking forward to jumping back int...

PSA: Persona and other Atlus titles on sale for Euro PSN

Persona, troll boulders, a funny way to say 'droplets', and the holy Trine-ity
Jan 16
// Josh Tolentino
Are you a fan of deals? Sure you are! That's why Atlus is offering those of you European deal-lovers that also happen to be game-lovers a deal...on games. Atlus-published ones. On the PlayStation Network.  From now until...

PSA: Corpse Party sequel coming soon

Party time!
Jan 09
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, fans of horrific games and disturbing scenes: more Corpse Party is on the way to your PSPs and PS Vitas soon. And by "soon", I mean "next week", as XSEED's terrifying sequel, Corpse Party: Book of Shadows ...

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

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

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

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

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