Go West! Week Thirty-Two: A return to zero

10:00 AM on 10.20.2012 // Elliot Gay

See what I did there?

Welcome to a ridiculously barren edition of Go West!, in which I go to the store and buy Tokitowa so that I can give you folks the coverage you want.

We're talking about a three game kind of week, folks. That's not to take away from these releases; they're all quality titles in their own right. The problem is that there's just not much to talk about.

I'm gonna try my damnest to entertain you beautiful people regardless, so follow me after the break as I tell a story of love, revenge, and sacrifice.

Actually... probably none of the above. Let's go!

Releases for the week of October 14-20:

Playstation Vita:


The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki Evolution
Kadokawa Shoten
Online Price: 5,788 Yen ($72.90)

A high res up-port of Falcom's fourth game in the Kiseki series (Trails in the Sky), Zero no Kiseki Evolution brings with it a host of improvements over the first edition of the game. In a first for the series, and perhaps any Falcom title, Evolution features complete voice acting for the entirety of the main story. While this might not seem like such a big deal, fans of the Kiseki series know that these games have ridiculously massive scripts with gigantic casts of characters. Fully voicing a title like this is no small feat, which is why Falcom had to let other companies (CharaAni, Pyramid) handle the development of Evolution.

Additionally, the entire soundtrack has been remixed by the always charming and talented folk from JDK Band. Considering there's something like 80+ tracks in the game, that's no easy task. New side quests have also been written specifically for Evolution, along with a host of mini-games that take advantage of the Vita's many strange features. Lastly, there's been a significant visual upgrade that puts Evolution on par with the PC version of earlier titles in the series (Sora no Kiseki FC/SC/3rd). It's not going to blow any minds, but there's no denying that Falcom's strong attention to design and world building really shine in this up-port. 

Unfortunately, Evolution isn't without problems. Amazon reviews and 2ch impressions are pointing to freezing issues that appear to plague the game. I've barely touched my copy, so I can't speak from personal experience, but I hope this gets patched soon. The Official Website has updated with a statement saying that they are aware of the problem and looking into it currently. Fingers crossed that we don't have to wait too long.

If you don't have at least intermediate level Japanese, Kiseki games aren't worth the trouble. If you do have the ability though, I can't recommend this franchise enough. It's my favorite RPG series of all time, and the more people who experience it, the better.

Playstation Portable:


Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer 4 Plus
Chunsoft
Online Price: 4,359 Yen ($54.90)

The Mystery Dungeon series goes as far back as the age of the Super Nintendo. Hardcore rogue-likes, they show no mercy on the players who dare explore the dangerous territories within.

Which basically means that I won't go anywhere near these games. 

Shiren the Wanderer has always enjoyed niche success in Japan, and this latest release, an update of the fourth game, will likely do decently as well. New additions include Twitter compatibility, which is sort of neat. It's a way to communicate with fellow players while traversing the terrifying dungeon floors on your own. Despite the SNES-level graphics, Shiren does a fantastic job of making you feel alone and stressed out. No matter how powerful you are, there could always be a more powerful enemy waiting around the corner. Very few games nowadays are able to make those sorts of situations as stressful and exciting as they should.

If you're a fan of the genre, you've probably played the Shiren games to death. If you somehow you missed 4, this is the version to grab. 

Hakuoki: Yuugi Roku Ni - Matsuri Hayashi to Taishitachi
Idea Factory
Online Price: 5,788 Yen ($72.90)

Even when a week is slow on releases, I can always count on Idea Factory to hold the fort. Thank you, Idea Factory. You are a loyal and honorable friend who I shan't forget.

Their latest release is a spin off Hakuoki title that sees Chizuru going on dates with members of the Shinsengumi, playing games at a local festival, and generally trying to woo some hearts. There's a very light mystery element involved, but if you're looking for the cut throat drama found in the first PSP game, you should probably skip this one. Those of you who wanted more romance however, would do well with keeping your eyes on this one.

Just remember that this is a visual novel at its core, and requires a strong level of Japanese if you're to understand what the hell is going on. If that's not a problem though, I say go for it.

The Hakuoki franchise is popular for a reason.

[Thanks for tuning in to yet another edition of Go West!. This column wouldn't exist if you beautiful people weren't out there reading and commenting. Don't forget, I'm always open to taking questions about games, Japanese games, or life in Japan in general. Also: after taking a vote on Twitter, I purchased the first 2D HD anime RPG, Tokitowa. I'll be doing hands-on impressions and a full review for the game, but I'll also be live-tweeting every time I play, so keep an eye on my official Twitter account here! Catch you folks later!]




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Elliot Gay, Contributor
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Elliot is an associate editor for Japanator and can be found contributing to Destructoid on occasion. He lives in Japan and can be found on Twitter @RyougaSaotome. more   |   staff directory

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