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 games sure are fun, aren't they?!
Moving on, March's rampage of game releases has finally begun, meaning Go West! is going to be very busy for the next month. This week sees several big titles hit store shelves, as Sony makes their big Vita push in Japan.
Releases for the week of March 3 - 9:
Hatsune Miku Project Diva F Sega Online 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.
Soul Sacrifice Sony Computer Entertainment Online 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 R Namco Bandai Games Online 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.
Ultraman All-Star Chronicle Namco Bandai Games Online Price: $68.90
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 Star Broccoli Online Price: $64.90
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 Mysteria Marvelous Entertainment Online 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 Portable Cyber Front Online 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!]