Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, to the one and only (occasionally late) Go West!, the weekly column about Japanese video games that you may never get the chance to play!
Week seventeen is unfortunately a slow one, with little in the way of what people would consider big releases. There is one title that certainly deserves attention, so make sure to read on to get my quick first impressions of it. Otherwise, expect the weekly quota of visual novels from the usual suspects.
Follow me after the break as I scratch my head over strange cover art choices and slam my face into my computer screen over stupid visual novel plots.
Releases for the week of May 27-June 2:
Guild 01 (Nintendo 3DS)
This is probably one of the strangest packaged releases I've seen out of Japan in some time. Guild 01 is a compilation of four different games, each developed by either a famous game designer or talent. The image used above is from Liberation Girl, developed by Suda 51 of No More Heroes fame. Rental Weapon Shop, a game in which you play a blacksmith who makes weapons for RPG heroes, was designed by Japanese comedian Yoshiyuki Harai. The third game, Aeroporter, is a puzzle/simulation game in which you control the conveyor belt to distribute luggage to the correct areas designed by Seaman creator Yoot Saito. The final game, Crimson Shroud, was designed by Yasumi Matsuno, of Vagrant Story fame. The idea behind the Guild project is that it'll be an ongoing series that showcases works from different developers in the industry, which I think is a really neat, experimental kind of idea. The lower price point (for Japan) certainly makes it easier to swallow.
I haven't had the chance to dive too deeply into any of the four games, but I did play a bit of Liberation Girl and Crimson Shroud. Liberation Girl is a free roaming shooter in which you control the school girl president of Japan while she pilots of a mech to fend off an alien invasion. From what I can tell it's full voiced, which is a welcome surprise. The opening animated sequence is also beautiful. You use the stylus to target multiple targets and then release it off of the screen to unleash homing laser attacks. I've only played the first stage but I had a good time with it and am looking forward to sitting down to finish it.
Crimson Shroud is an interesting game that plays almost exactly like a table top RPG. You roll the dice to decide if certain actions are taken, explore dungeons and get into battles. It actually feels a lot like a visual novel as well, as it's built almost entirely upon text with very limited visuals; there are no character animations to speak of. The music is beautiful, composed by Hitoshi Sakamoto of Valkyria Chronicles and Odin Sphere fame among others. The story itself is definitely engaging, dealing in the kind of fantasy that fans of Mitsuno's works will be right at home with. The biggest problem with Crimson Shroud is that it can have some awful load times, which surprises me considering the limited visual nature of the title. You'd think that wouldn't be a problem.
It remains to be seen if the other two games in Guild 01 are any good, from what I've played the package is interesting enough to justify the price. I'm really doubting that this is ever going to go west, so if you have a Japanese 3DS you might want to consider snatching this up, even as a collectors item. Just be weary of the strange, somewhat terrifying cover art. I have no doubt it'll haunt you in your dreams.
Dragon Quest Monsters: Terry's Wonderland 3D (Nintendo 3DS)
I'm a big fan of the mainline Dragon Quest series. There's something undeniably fun about the classic adventure formula that they typically adhere by. Unfortunately I've never touched any of the spinoff games. Dragon Quest Monsters is one such spinoff series, putting the focus primarily on breeding and training the various DQ monsters. There's a story to be had, but they typically aren't the reason you're going to be playing for hours on end. I've never felt the pressing desire to play these games for that very reason; I have no interest in a game that focuses entirely on the monsters.
That being said, Terry's Wonderland 3D looks quite good considering it's a remake of the very first game in the series. If anything, it makes me yearn for a Dragon Quest XI on the Nintendo 3DS. A man can dream, right? I'm really not sure if this will go west or not, but considering you folks did get Joker, there's certainly a decent chance. I'd say hold off on importing unless you absolutely must have the game in your hands this very moment.
Tsuyo Kiss 3-Gakki Portable (Playstation Portable)
And here we go.
Tsuyo Kiss 3 is a port of a PC eroge about a high school boy Leo and his quest to finally get a girlfriend in the 3rd semester of school. With old friends poised to graduate, he joins the student council in an effort to help out, only to find himself grow close to the various girls he works with. Things happen and lots of people probably have sex.
Except that this is the PSP version, so you won't be getting to see any of those naughty bits. You know, I can understand portable versions of eroge that had a stronger focus on telling an interesting story, but stuff like this always confuses me. The primary focus of the game is clearly the sex, so why would you go for the version of the game without it?
Import only if you have a powerful command of the Japanese language.
unENDing Bloody Call (Playstation Portable)
The place? A city called Glazheim. In this alternate version of Japan exists both humans and non-humans. The main character Futaba is just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. Little does she know that her father is the head of a secret organization called Flycall that wields a tremendous amount of power. On her way home from school one day, she finds her house in disarray and her mother missing. Some men attempt to kidnap Futaba, but she's saved by two twins named Reimei and Shiro.
Yeah, I think I'm done. At least the name is so ridiculously stupid that it's funny. That's gotta be something, right? Import if you like generic main characters with no real personality traits of their own.
Phi Brain: Kizuna no Puzzle (Playstation Portable)
It's a puzzle game based on an anime series about puzzles that Chris apparently hates.
Abunai Koi no Sousashitsu (Playstation Portable)
The heroine is a new recruit for the police force but is almost immediately recruited into the special task force filled with beautiful male officers! They treat her coldly and with little respect, as she wonders whether she'll be able to make it in her new environment. Without warning, a huge crime occurs! Her adventures with these beautiful and hunkalicious cops begin now!
If you read the above synopsis and found yourself interested in grabbing this visual novel, be my guest. To everyone else? I'm sorry you had to read that.
Kamisama to Koigokoro (Playstation Portable)
"I'm an apprentice sister! My dream is to become a dignified and respectable sister!"
So began the busy yet satisfying life led by the heroine of this tale. One day, three priest apprentices appeared at the church. Their looks betrayed their personalities however; they were a devious lot. She thought that they'd all be able to get along since they had the same goals, but alas, it was not meant to be. However thanks to her kindness and warm demeanor, she slowly began to close the distance between them...
Game of the year all years.
[That's it for this week folks. It was a short one this time around, but next week promises some very big releases that I'm excited to talk about. As usual, if you have any questions or requests, leave them in the comments section below. Overlooked Gem of the Week also makes a return next time, so stay tuned!]
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