Tired of having nothing to do as you are trying to avoid the harsh summer heat? Well, Atlus is here to help, since the PSN is taking 50% off select Atlus titles until July 31st.
To those that have been meaning to randomly jum...
Jun 30 //
Elliot Gay Releases for the week of June 24-30:
Atelier Ayesha ~Koukon no Daichi no Renkinjutsu~Publisher: GustOnline Price: 6,440 Yen ($79.90)
I've been meaning to jump into Gust's Atelier series at one point, but it's been difficult over the past few years with the recently concluded trilogy of games. With Ayesha, I'm thinking of finally taking the dive now that I don't have to worry about character continuity. If reviews and early impressions are to be believed, Atelier Ayesha is looking to be a fantastic new entry in the franchise, with the lovable characters and beautiful visuals that series fans have come to expect.
I love the idea of a more laid back, cheerful kind of Japanese RPG that doesn't put its focus on some gigantic, world changing narrative. I love character focused media, so I'm thinking this might scratch that itch. The standard version of Ayesha is a little bit pricey, so I might hold off for the time being. As it stands though, this one is definitely on my short list.
Considering the last three Atelier games have gone west, non-Japanese speakers should hold off. From what I gather these titles have a lot of text and dialogue, so you'll want to be able to keep track of what's going on.
.hack Sekai no Mukou ni + Versus Hybrid PackPublisher: Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 6,850 Yen ($84.90)
Despite having spent absurd amounts of money on the .hack franchise during its initial run, I still find the initial concept to be fascinating; a corrupt MMORPG that can kill you if you die in-game. As I've said before, I've never played anything past the first four games, so a lot of the later twists and plot points are completely lost on me. I've been meaning to get around to it but you know, life, writing and other things kind of get in the way.
This hybrid pack packages the recent CG .hack feature film together with a brand new .hack Versus 3D fighting game from Cyber Connect2. If this is anything like previous hybrid packs, I wouldn't expect serious amounts of death from the game, but it's still a cool deal considering media here in Japan can get pretty expensive. I've yet to see Sekai no Mukou ni, but I've heard it's a fun couple of hours for .hack fans. I'll hopefully be picking this up at some point.
I'm really not sure if Bandai Namco has any intent of bringing this over. They've been pretty good about this franchise (save for .hack Link), but you never know these days. Import if you don't like waiting for confirmations. The Versus game has a story mode so expect the language barrier to be a bit of an issue. The movie also goes without saying.
Robotics;NotesPublisher: 5pbOnline Price: 6,850 Yen ($84.90)
Robotics;Notes is the one game out of this entire list that I've picked up this week. The next game in 5pb's 'science adventure' series (Steins;Gate, Chaos;Head), Robotics;Notes follows a group of high school students trying to make a real-life giant robot. I've only played the first couple of hours thus far, but the two primary characters, Kaito Yashio and Akiho Senomiya, are incredibly charming and easy to like. In a fun twist on the norm, the female character is the one who's really into robots and trying to make a real one. Kaito is more or less just along for the ride at first, being more of a fan of fighting games than anything else.
Much like Steins;Gate, I'm expecting something of a slow burn leading into a more serious, drama packed storyline. I haven't met any of the secondary cast properly, but the game does give you a small peak at the cast's chemistry at the very beginning of the game. There's also a very cool moment within the opening seconds of Robotics;Notes that will no doubt put a smile on Steins;Gate fans.
I wouldn't expect this to head west anytime soon. It's not impossible, but I don't predict an English language release until well after Steins;Gate gets some kind of official debut. Import only if you have advanced Japanese skills.
Hakuoki: Reimeiroku NagorigusaPublisher: Idea FactoryOnline Price: 6,440 Yen ($79.90)
Oh hey Idea Factory! Fancy seeing you here this week. If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were hanging around just to give me some kind of pillar for the column! You sly dog you!
But wait, this week you're bringing us a brand new PS3 Hakuoki game? I can dig that.
A quick glance at the official site for the game reveals a true sequel in the franchise, with all of the main cast making a return including main character Chizuru Yukimura. I've read that Chizuru wasn't exactly a spectacular character in Japanese, so I'm not really sure that her return is something to celebrate but you know, opinions and all that jazz.
I've still been waiting on hitting up the Aksys' localized PSP game in the hopes that Sony picks up the pace and makes it Vita compatible. If you're a fan of otome games or just very solid visual novels, we at Japanator highly suggest you check it out.
As for this new PS3 game? Keep your fingers crossed that somebody eventually picks it up. Feel free to import if you have confidence in your Japanese.
Zero: Shinku no ChouPublisher: NintendoOnline Price: 6,360 Yen ($78.90)
Also known as Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly out west, Zero: Shiku no Chou is a remake of a PS2 game from 2003. This Wii update improves the character models and overall graphics, adds an over the shoulder camera and the ability to use a flashlight using the Wiimote. The FMV sequences have been redone, there are new areas and they've even added a brand new two player mode which is a first for the franchise.
The Fatal Frame series is scary as hell. If you're lamenting the death of Silent Hill as a quality horror series, Fatal Frame is fortunately still going strong and I'd advise you to find a way to play these games. It's a shame that Nintendo seems content with letting the series stay in Japan at this point, but such is the state of Japanese gaming. At least folks in Europe are getting some love.
I'd recommend hacking your Wii's and importing the European version when it eventually releases. Show your support for quality horror titles!
Culdcept Publisher: NintendoOnline Price: 4,670 Yen ($57.90)
You'd be forgiven for thinking that Culdcept is a traditional RPG after looking at the above screenshot. In reality, it's a cross between a card and a board game, and a well-loved niche title over here in Japan. These games aren't massive sellers, but they have their fans. I've personally never played a Culdcept title before, so I'm probably the least qualified person to talk about this game.
I've heard very few negative thinks about the series so I'd imagine this will probably live up to the standards set by previous games. No word on whether this is getting localized, but it might be worth holding off given how text heavy it looks to be.
Detective Jake Hunter: Rondo of Revenge Publisher: Arc System WorksOnline Price: 4,750 Yen ($58.90)
I never played the first Jake Hunter game back on the DS, but I've heard some fairly positive things about it. It's an old school adventure game in the same kind of style as Ace Attorney only instead of playing a lawyer, you're playing as a proper detective. I know the first game has a small but devoted following, which is a shame considering I really don't know if this is going to make it out west.
Hopefully Aksys picks this one up too; they've been doing a really good job at grabbing niche Japanese titles and they did publish the first game to boot.
Unless you're fluent in Japanese, I'd suggest taking a wait and see approach.
Generation of Chaos 6 Publisher: Idea FactoryOnline Price: 5,640 Yen ($69.90)
Idea Factory just can't stay away from me can they? I'm sure of they were an actual single person, they'd have confessed to me by now. The question is, am I really looking for that kind of relationship?
But I digress. Generation of Chaos 6 is the...er... sixth entry in the GoC series, which has seen some limited exposure in the west during the early PSP heydays. That was a rough time, when owners of said console were starved for good RPG's. Funny how things ended up by the end of the system's life though.
I've never played a Generation of Chaos before, but they're strategy RPGs. I'd honestly suggest picking up a known quantity like something from Dept. Heaven or any of the dozens of great SRPG's for the PSP.
Non-Japanese speakers beware; this genre is typically filled with lots of stats that will be a pain in the ass to read through without the appropriate language skill.
Arabians Lost ~The Engagement on Desert~ Publisher: QuinRoseOnline Price: 6,040 Yen ($74.90)
You're the princess of a kingdom called Gilgatar, who is unfortunately surrounded by some of the most evil politicians and royalty imaginable. You just want to lead a normal life, have a normal wedding and find your own normal happiness. Unfortunately, for the sake of the kingdom and its future, your father, the king, knows that he has to marry off. There is a way to avoid this however! If you can raise approximately 100,000,000 dollars, you can get by without having to be wed. In order to accomplish this ridiculous goal, you resort to learning how to commit robbery, slowly raising your skills bit by bit. By using the people around you and everything available to you, you must accomplish your goal!
I was ready to dismiss Arabians Lost until a friend of mine told me that QuinRose games generally have ridiculous premises and insane characters. After reading the synopsis above, I'm inclined to agree with her.
If you like things that are so crazy they're awesome, you should probably look into this one. Non-Japanese speakers need not apply.
Dies irae ~Amantes amentes~Publisher: LightOnline Price: 6,440 Yen ($79.90)
The year? 1945. The place? Germany. There were rumors of people being forced into experiments that turned them into powerful super humans. Whether these tests succeeded or failed, nobody is sure what really happened. Hell, nobody knows if these super humans ever actually existed.
They are called the Thirteen Holy Knights of the Azure.
When they return, it will mark the end of the world.
Fast forward to the year 2006. A normal high school boy gets into an accident on the way to school that leads to him and his best friend having a battle to the death. Lots of shit goes crazy, the Holy Knights return, and a battle to decide the fate of humanity begins.
Ok, so this actually sounds pretty awesome. Super human teenagers battling super human nazi soldiers to decide the fate of the world? I might actually have to look into this one. Anybody else familiar with the original PC version? Apparently it comes out in August, quite a while after this PSP version.
Since this is a visual novel, I'm sure you folks know the drill by now. No Japanese, no luck.
Hakuisei Renai Shoukougun Re:Therapy Publisher: Cyber Front Online Price: 4,750 Yen ($58.90)
This is kind of a strange one.
Kaori is a girl who very nearly died when she was a child. Saved by the kind people at the hospital, she realized then and there that she wanted to do the same for others. With the goal of saving lives, she would work toward becoming a nurse and some ten years later made her dream come true. Now working at a small hospital just outside of the city, she finds herself interacting with many different kinds of people on a daily basis. Old friends, new friends and fateful encounters await Kaori as she grows as a woman and experiences life.
From the looks of it, the cast appears to be 99% female, which is certainly not something I'm used to. The concept sounds sincere enough, but looking at the character designs, I'm not convinced that they can pull off the deeply emotional narrative the developers seem to be going for.
Visual novel. Japanese. You know how it works.
Koisentai Love & Peace The P.S.P.Publisher: Broccoli Online Price: 5,640 Yen ($69.90)
In Koisentai Love & Peace The P.S.P., you become Pink Ranger, one of the warriors in the Love Rangers. Your job? To use the power of love to create world peace and harmony. What awaits you in your journey is a super romantic battle comedy the likes of which you've never seen!
Further commenting on the above translated synopsis would only take away from how amazing the game sounds, so I think I'm just going to leave it at that.
Ouka Sengoku PortablePublisher: AlchemistOnline Price: 6,440 Yen ($79.90)
What a shame. We were doing such a good job this week of not having to deal with generic love comedy visual novels! Oh well. I suppose one couldn't hurt.
One day, the main character receives an acceptance letter from Sengoku High School. I'm sure you can imagine the rest with a name like that.
In a stunning twist not unlike the forty billion other generic visual novels that try to provide their own "unique" look at the Sengoku Era of Japanese history, Ouka Sengoku will likely be utterly forgettable and a waste of time. There are better looking and sounding visual novels out there than this. Don't waste your money.
[And that's all for this week folks! Let me know what you want to see or what you want improved in the comments below. Remember, I write this for you lovely folks out there and I'm more than open to making a few changes! Be sure to check out the Red Sun Gamer podcast as well. It's a weekly show where me and a few other folks in Japan talk about Japanese video games, life and everything else! See you all next week!]
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the one and only Go West!, the weekly videogame column in which you watch Elliot struggle to keep his sanity as he dives deep into the heart of Japanese games.
This week we have a lot of ground...
Though its technical name is [email protected] Shiny Festa, it's a rhythm game about a bunch of nonexistent singing/dancing idols, so I say [email protected]: Project Diva is as good a title as any for this new PSP offering. Beyond that, ...
Jun 23 //
Elliot Gay Releases for the week of June 17-23:
K-On! Houkago Live HD Version (Playstation 3)Publisher: SegaOnline Price: 5,070 Yen ($62.90)
Hougako Live is an HD port of the PSP rhythm game from last year, so if you played that you'll know exactly what you're getting yourself into with this one. Given the shocking lack of K-On! videogames on the market, I imagine this'll probably do pretty well amongst the super otaku crowd. I've never played it (and won't), but it looks like Sega reused a lot of the gameplay mechanics from their Project Diva series. In that sense, you can at least trust that it'll play well.
K-On! does absolutely nothing for me, so I could care less about this one. If you're a big fan though, you could probably do a lot worse than to import Houkago Live; there's no chance this is going west. The language barrier should also be quite low if other rhythm games are any indication.
Shutsugeki!! Otometachi no Senjou 2 (Playstation 3)Publisher: System SoftOnline Price: 6,690 Yen ($82.90)
This is apparently a strategy RPG game, though I'd prefer to think of it as anti-clothing propaganda. Look at the disturbed face of the anime character above; clearly she's being attacked by the clothes that are clinging to her body. As the main character, it's your duty to use all sorts of weapons (tanks, missiles, grenades) to destroy the evil clothing parasites so that she can once again be free.
I have absolutely no idea what this series is about so I won't even claim to know what I'm talking about. I guess if you played the first game and dug it, you'll like this too? The language barrier is strong with this one. Don't expect this to ever go west. I'd sooner turn into a giant cat woman before that happens.
Arcana Famiglia: Yuureisen no Majutsushi (Playstation Portable)Publisher: ComfortOnline Price: 5,880 Yen ($72.90)
I'm as quick as any to rag on otome or galge that have silly as hell premises. Living in Japan, you see a lot of crap floating around, making it hard sometimes to find the diamond in the rough. There are good games out there, and Arcana Famiglia looks like it could be one of them. An otome game at heart, Arcana follows a special guard unit of the mafia called the Arcana Famiglia. Through a contract made with a guardian named Tarroco, these soldiers are able to use the power of the arcana, fighting in a tournament called the Arcana Duelo. The main character, a girl named Ferichita must use her powers to defend her master from outsiders, working alongside her fellow arcana wielders.
I've seen games from this series floating around before and found myself immediately attracted to its dark, black-heavy art style. For all I know, Famiglia could fall into the same old tropes that 80% of other otome games fall into, but I'd like to believe this could be something cool. I'll wait on a price drop before I take the dive though.
If you dig otome games, you could probably do a helluva lot worse than this. Strong Japanese reading ability is a must though!
Kenka Banchou Bros. Tokyo Battle Royal (Playstation Portable)Publisher: SpikeOnline Price: 5,070 Yen ($62.90)
Kenka Banchou is one of Spike's major series, having made a new game nearly every year for the past few years. They're 3D brawlers that take some open world game elements and simplify them a bit for portable play. I enjoy them, but I actually preferred the spin off from last year, Gachitora, which was essentially Great Teacher Onizuka in video game form. I guess that was only a one off though as Spike has once again returned to letting the player control a delinquent instead.
This time around there are two main characters, brothers in fact. Expect the same kind of craziness as before, just more of it. Kenka Banchou has made it west before, but I'm doubting we'll ever see another PSP entry over there. If anything, it's a shame that Gachitora ended up getting overlooked.
Pokemon Black 2/White 2 (Nintendo DS)Publisher: NintendoOnline Price: 5,230 Yen ($64.90) White Version. Black Version.
I have a confession: I never completed Pokemon Black or White. I bought a copy of White, played and enjoyed it but once I got to the Elite Four I got distracted and never went back to it. I will say though that BW was the first time in years that I cared enough about a Pokemon game to actually buy and play it. The whole thing felt pretty new to me and scratched that nostalgia itch just right.
That being said, BW2 is a bit of a departure from the normal formula. Rather than simply releasing the same game with some small enhancements like they usually due, Nintendo made a direct story to the original, moving forward through time and making changes all over the place. This isn't a new region, but there's enough new here to justify the number. BW actually saw some measure of success for actually having something that resembled a real story and cast of characters, so Nintendo probably wanted to capitalize on that.
I picked up a copy of Black 2 today using some of my points at the local anime store, netting me the game for free. I'm looking forward to seeing what's new here and hopefully finishing the damn thing.
I wouldn't recommend importing unless you absolutely have to have your dose of Pokemon sooner rather than later. Pokemon games will always go west.
[And that's all for this week folks! A somewhat slim week with a few big releases. Next week is looking pretty ok as well, but as we head further into summer, releases are getting to get sparser and sparser. Fear not! I'll be here as always to suffer through endless galge and otome games. You can count on it. If you can't get enough of me or Japanese video games, check out Red Sun Gamer, a weekly podcast about Japanese games and living in Japan. We're awesome, I swear. See you folks next week!]
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Go West!, your favorite column for your weekly dose of Elliot playing and talking about games so you don't have to!
This week sees a scattering of game releases across all the consoles, w...
Here's some news that should tickle folks who fancy weird JRPGs (Hi Elliot!): The masters of proactive niche game licensing at XSEED have gotten proactive on a new niche game, namely the hilariously named UnchainBlades ReXX, ...
Now yes, I know this site is called "Japanator", which would nominally keep Korean news off our radar - not until we launch our peninsular offshoot "Joseonator", anyway - but I'd think this news is significant enough to put u...
Jun 16 //
Elliot Gay Releases for the week of June 10-16:
Persona 4: The Golden (Playstation Vita)Publisher: AtlusOnline Price: 6,660 Yen ($82.90)
This is the big one folks. I know a lot of people who are waiting on purchasing a Vita specifically for this game, and I can't really blame them for it.
Yes, I realize that it's an up-port of a PS2 game from 2008, but I'll be damned if it isn't something to get excited for. The original Persona 4 was one of the freshest RPG experiences I'd had in years at the time, and I'm more than happy getting another chance to experience it with new content. I picked up my copy Wednesday afternoon and have been glued to my Vita since.
What sort of new content has been added to Golden? Before even diving into the game proper, there is an option on the title screen called "TV Listings" which directs you to a TV guide of sorts with all kinds of extras. These range from unlockable videos of the two live concerts from 2008 and 2009 to trailers from every single Persona game. Anime cutscenes are unlocked as you go through them and the "TV Listings" section even features all the in-game music.
The Golden is widescreen and looks fantastic on the Vita's screen, with sharp character art and colors that pop. Anime cutscenes are also rendered in 16:9 as well, so there's a visual consistency throughout. I'm only seven hours into the story, but I've already encountered a fair chunk of new content including new characters, social links and even getting the ability to finally explore at night. The battle theme, Time to Make History, is ridiculously catchy and even if you're not a fan, getting the advantage on the enemy causes the original theme to play. Everybody wins.
For those of you who somehow missed Persona 4 when it first released, make sure you grab this when Atlus releases it in the States later this year. In the meantime, I recommend picking up Persona 3 Portable for the PSP; I prefer P4, but P3 is also a fantastic title.
Keep your eyes peeled for an import review of Persona 4: The Golden, coming sometime soon. Maybe.
Super Monkey Ball Banana Splitz (Playstation Vita)Publisher: SegaOnline Price: 4,810 Yen ($59.90)
I'm genuinely surprised that Super Monkey Ball is a series that still seems to be doing somewhat well for Sega. It makes an appearance on pretty much every single platform with very few new elements to differentiate between entries.
This time around you can tilt your Vita around to move the monkey ball, along with all sorts of other gimmicks that you're unlikely to ever use.
There isn't likely to be much in the way of a language barrier on this one, so if you absolutely love Super Monkey Ball and need to get your fill, go right ahead. I doubt this will be any better/worse than the other games in the series. If you can wait, Banana Splitz will be going west this October.
Akiba's Trip Plus (Playstation Portable)Publisher: AcquireOnline Price: 4,170 Yen ($51.90)
Yes, Akiba's Trip was released not so long ago for the PSP. Looks like Acquire figured they could release an enhanced version and maybe make a few more yen.
This new Plus version of the game now features full voice acting for all story related cutscenes, which is sure to be a positive for a lot of folks out there. This update also includes a newly revamped Akiba that better reflects the real world area, which is pretty cool for players who've been there at least once; kind of like The World Ends With You in a way. There are some changes to character models, additional quests and generally more things to do, so if you held back on importing the first time Akiba's Trip Plus is definitely the version to grab.
Normally I'd say this had no chance of going west, but these days the small publishers seem to be snapping up niche PSP games left and right, so who knows?
Bakudan Handan (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Idea FactoryOnline Price: 5,860 Yen ($72.90)
I'm extremely interested in Bakudan Handan.
This might come as a surprise given that it's a new Idea Factory otome game, but Bakudan is actually quite different from the normal ilk we see every week.
Saki Inafune and six others are trapped in a theme park, forced to clear certain objectives over the course of seven days. If they fail to succeed at this goal, they'll be killed. Will Saki be able to work together with her fellow game participants and save Keiji Infafune?!
No, you didn't read that wrong. Main character Saki is actually related to Keiji Inafune of former Capcom fame, who makes an appearance in-game to boot.
Bakudan's bright and colorful visual style reminds me of an Ace Attorney game rather than the typical Idea Factory art. In fact, a quick look at some screens in this week's Famitsu reveal a gameplay system that looks remarkably close to an interrogation sequence. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise when the game's character design was handled by Tatsuro Iwamoto, character artist for the Ace Attorney series.
I'd love to see Aksys pick this up and give it a shot; I'm intrigued enough that I might just download it off the PSN when it eventually makes its way there. Keep your eyes and ears on this one ladies and gentlemen.
Root Double: Before Crime * After Days (Xbox 360Publisher: YetiOnline Price: 6,660 Yen ($82.90)
That's one helluva name.
This is a visual novel about big breasts and the generic female characters who wear them. As Mike Michaeal Stevenson, it's your job to make sure these young women become mobile suit pilots. The end goal? Leading them into battle against the famous Gunpam pilot Chur Amero. Action, drama and suspense are all guaranteed in this visual novel for the ages!
Or something like that. Actually, probably nothing like that.
[That's all for this week folks! I know a lot of you are super excited for Persona 4 to make its way west later this year, so if you have any questions leave them below or feel free to tweet them my way. And if you like podcasts, Japan and Japanese video games, be sure to check out Red Sun Gamer. It's a weekly podcast by myself and a bunch of Japan-side folks who talk about import gaming and life in Japan. See you next week!]
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to another edition of Go West!, your weekly column about Japanese games, stupidity and Idea Factory.
This week has a couple of releases that I know you folks are excited about.
Super Monkey Ball!
Oh, and some game about pursunas, Japanese kids and Scooby Doo. The hell if I know what you kids are into these days.
Follow me after the break as I face my inner self.
I'm really not sure what Square Enix is thinking with this one. On September 20, SE will be releasing a port of the Nintendo DS/iOS version of Final Fantasy III, with a couple of interesting new features. Of course the game w...
Jun 10 //
Tokyo Jungle (Playstation 3)Publisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentOnline Price: 4,810 Yen ($59.90)
Perhaps one of the strangest games to come out of Japan in some time, Tokyo Jungle takes place in the post apocalyptic wasteland of Tokyo after some mysterious incident occurred, seemingly ridding the world of humanity. With no people around, animals begin to make the metropolis their home, fighting one another for territory and the right to keep on living. The game is divided into survival mode and story mode, the former of which sees you pick an animal of your choice and fight to live as well as breed. Playable animals include but aren't limited to dogs, cats, chicks, elephants and even dinosaurs. Yeah, that last one surprised me too. As you earn points and progress through survival mode, the story mode unlocks, giving you the chance to solve the mystery of what exactly happened to humanity and the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to pick Tokyo Jungle up yet, but I've been hearing relatively good things about it. The game's animation is rather chunky and unrealistic, but it actually adds to the charm of the game when you see a small animal jump six or seven feet up into the air. The survival mode is also reasonably brief (about 30 minutes), meaning that running through it with each individual animal isn't going to eat up your time. Part of the game's appeal is in the strange situations you find yourself caught up in; a friend of mine described a sequence in which he had his deer hide in a box, Metal Gear Solid style. If that's not game of the year material, I don't know what is.
Fortunately, Tokyo Jungle is in fact going west, so you'll have something to look forward to in the near future. Hold off on importing!
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Battle Destiny (Playstation Vita)Publisher: Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 5,610 Yen ($69.90)
If you played any of the Gundam Battle games across various consoles, you should know what you're getting into with Battle Destiny. You can select from dozens upon dozens of mobil suits from the Gundam Seed universe (books et all) and take them through the game's campaign mode. You have the option of choosing which faction you want to link up with, meaning you can go through the single player multiple times to get a different experience.
The game also features four person multiplayer, though it's adhoc only. This strikes me as a remarkable missed opportunity considering the Vita's capabilities. Being able to play with other Gundam fans across the world would have been an immediate selling point for both Japanese buyers and importers.
Another feature allows you to create a custom pilot with their own specific abilities and weaknesses. The game also promises country-wide challenges and events that will be distributed via the Vita's internet capabilities. This sounds cool and all, but it's still no replacement for the weak multiplayer.
The game looks clean enough but it's no Gundam Extreme VS. Like most handheld Gundam games, this isn't likely to ever see the light of day in English. If you're a big Seed fan, I'd definitely recommend importing.
Hello Kitty To Issho! Block Crash V (Playstation Vita)Publisher: DorasuOnline Price: 4,410 Yen ($54.90)
Block Crash V is a sequel to the... uh... long running block smashing video game series that uses the Hello Kitty brand. This isn't the Hello Kitty you know from your youth though; these are human versions of Hello Kitty characters that are moe-fied and made to be appealing to both Japanese little girls and the otaku of Japan.
Honestly, if you choose to spend nearly $55 on this, it's your choice. It's not going to stop me from making a frownie face at you as yo do it though.
Storm Lover Kai!! (Playstation Portable)Publisher: D3 PublisherOnline Price: 5,050 Yen ($62.90)
A school year not unlike a turbulent storm was about to begin for Yuna Igarashi. Having transfered to Saint Luis High School due to a job opportunity her parents took. Saint Luis takes pride in helping to nurture its students' indepdent spirits, which just so happens to lead to a lot of strong willed youths gathering in one place. Overwhelmed by the strong personalities surrounding her, Yuna will come into contact with many kinds of men. From strangers to friends and from friends to lovers, what waits for her at the center of all this turbulence?!
Yup. It's an otome game. Please join me as I weep over the lack of a proper Idea Factory title this week. The world clearly isn't what it used to be.
[That's all for this week folks. Sorry to keep things so short, but time has not been plentiful over the past few days. I do have one treat for you though! If like Japan, Japanese games and maybe even me, check out Red Sun Gamer, a weekly podcast about all of the above. Me and a few other gentlemen who live in Japan chat about the latest Famitsu news, game releases and all sorts of slice of life madness. Kid tested, mother approved. Go give it a listen, and see you next week!]
E3 is done and over with. While your milage may vary in terms of whether you were disappointed (me), or if you thought it was the greatest thing sliced bread, most people seem to agree that there was a lack of Japanese presen...
Jun 03 //
Elliot Gay Releases for the week of May 27-June 2:
Guild 01 (Nintendo 3DS)Publisher: Level 5Online Price: 4,000 yen ($49.90)
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)Publisher: Square EnixOnline Price: 5,290 yen ($65.90)
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)Publisher: NetRevoOnline Price: 6,250 yen ($77.90)
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)Publisher: AsgardOnline Price: 5,850 yen ($72.90)
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)Publisher: Arc System WorksOnline Price: 4,810 yen ($59.90)
It's a puzzle game based on an anime series about puzzles that Chris apparently hates.
Abunai Koi no Sousashitsu (Playstation Portable)Publisher: QuinRoseOnline Price: 6,090 yen ($75.90)
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)Publisher: TakuyoOnline Price: 6,650 yen ($82.90)
"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!]
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 lit...
Considering how far Fourze is at the moment, I was not too surprised to hear that all 40 Astro Switches are going to appear in All Kamen Rider: Rider Generations 2. Besides having access to Fourze's four States, you will be a...
It's not just up to the live concerts and the PS Vita's AR gadgetry to help Miku's presence brighten up the grim reality of three-dimensional life. Sega has taken it upon itself to go at least a little ways towards making you...
May 26 //
Elliot Gay Releases for the week of May 20-26
Steins;Gate (Playstation 3)Publisher: 5pbOnline Price: 6,700 yen ($82.90)
I'm sure for many of you the anime series was your first contact with Steins;Gate. All things considered, it was pretty damn great. The original visual novel from which it's based on? That much better.
As far as visual novels go, Steins;Gate sports some impressive production values and an aesthetic that just puts it above and beyond what a lot of games in the genre attempt. Its cast of characters, a bunch of well-meaning and kind of crazy dorks, is easy to like and cheer for. The story, while occasionally falling into the standard plot holes inherent with this kind of narrative, manages to be compelling, dramatic and more importantly, emotional. It's a fantastic game that deserves a massive audience, so I'm incredibly glad that 5pb realized that porting to the PS3 could improve their sales. The Xbox 360 is a corpse over here.
Honestly, I have no idea if this will ever go west in an official capacity. There's been a lot of talk of our pals over at JAST possibly grabbing the rights, but the whole situation appears to be rather complicated. Hopefully you folks won't have to wait too long either way; Steins;Gate is not a game to miss.
Steins;Gate: Hiyoku Renri no Darling (Playstation 3)Publisher: 5pbOnline Price: 5,970 yen ($73.90)
Two Steins;Gate games for the PS3 in the same week? Huzzah!
Hiyoku Renri no Darling is essentially a parody game that takes the S;G cast and throws them into a story significantly more focused on romancing the women. If you were a fan of the original game and want more from the characters or maybe felt that Okabe should have gone after 'X character' instead, Darling is for you. From what I've heard, it's a pretty funny and light experience so if you have the cash laying around and can read Japanese, go for it.
Even if the original game heads west, don't expect this one to.
I'll probably be waiting on a price drop. I'm definitely interested though.
The [email protected]: Gravure For You! Volume 8 (Playstation 3)Publisher: Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 9.690 yen ($119.90)
Here we go again.
This latest Gravure For You! pack is all about wedding dresses and... uh... pastel bikinis. I know how much you've been waiting for the latter.
So I have to ask; are any of you folks actually buying these BD/Game packs? I know we have some pretty big [email protected] fans here at Jtor, but I can't help but wonder if anybody can provide some real impressions of these 'expansions'.
Mushihimesama HD (Xbox 360)Publisher: CaveOnline Price: 6,700 yen ($82.90)
Cave shooters are awesome. This is one of those irrevocable facts of the world and I'm sure that if you've ever played one, you probably agree. Unfortunately on a financial level, Cave isn't doing so hot these days. In fact, they're edging closer and closer to being a company that doesn't exist anymore.
Which means we all should be buying their games. I actually played Mushihimesama for the first time a few days ago on my iPhone and I've been having an absolute blast. Unlike the Dodonpachi series, the aesthetic really appeals to me and the slightly more simple gameplay systems feel fantastic. Yes, I understand that over $80.00 is a ridiculous price for this kind of game, but if nothing else you should grab the iOS version and go crazy. Shooters don't get much more pure or fun than this.
Also keep in mind that Mushihimesama HD is region locked.
Samurai & Dragons (Playstation Vita)Publisher: Sega Online Price: 4,030 yen ($49.90)
Samurai & Dragons confuses me to no end. This is actually a packaged version of a free game, except this comes with some bonus items and paid items that you'd have to purchase in-game if you had the download version.
Using a free to play model, Samurai & Dragons is a mix of town building/management gameplay, a card game and an online, 4 player action game akin to Phantasy Star Portable or Monster Hunter. Being free, the visuals are certainly not going to blow anybody away and I personally found it to be kind of dull. There are better games you could be playing for the PSP or Vita, so I don't see the point in paying nearly $50 dollars for some extras.
Boku wa Koukuu Kanseikan : Airport Hero 3D Haneda with JAL (Nintendo 3DS)Publisher: Sonic PoweredOnline Price: 5,890 yen ($72.90)
This is a game about planes. You fly them. You can also be a hero in 3D.
Elminage Gothic: Ulm Zakir to Yami no Gishiki (Playstation Portable)Publisher: StarfishOnline Price: 6,050 yen ($74.90)
Elminage Gothic is the latest entry in the classic dungeon crawling RPG series. I admit to not knowing much about it save that the games have been around for a little while now. The aesthetic kind of straddle the line between what you'd expect from something more western, but still with that obvious Japanese influence. Case and point; massive breasts. With Wizardry a shell of its former self, I hear that Elminage does a good job picking up the torch. Dungeon crawling fans might want to take notice.
This is likely not going west, so make sure you have RPG import experience before taking the dive.
Juuza Engi ~Engetsu Sangokuden~ (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Idea FactoryOnline Price: 5,890 yen ($72.90)
Juuza Engi takes place during the Han Dynasty in ancient China and seems to involve ancient creatures and beautiful men.
More importantly is the fact that was developed by Idea Factory, meaning we've found our IF game of the week! At this point they've become something of an old friend to this column; I can't even begin to imagine the horror of a Go West! with Idea Factory rearing its beautiful, bi-shounen head.
Uta no *Prince-sama: Debut (Playstation Portable)Publisher: BroccoliOnline Price: 5,660 yen ($69.99)
Debut catches up with our crazy cast of would-be idols one year after the graduation audition challenge as they continue to strive for true stardom. Lots of crazy hijinks, romance and passion ensue!
I know this franchise is super popular amongst a lot of women around here. It's hard not to walk into an Animate and see shelves of Uta no Prince-sama paraphernalia. Clearly the characters are the main draw here, but I'm not particularly interested in the whole idol thing, men or women.
Import only if you've got the Japanese skills to handle a visual novel.
Suigetsu Ni -Portable- Publisher: GN Software Online Price: 6,300 yen ($77.90)
Born and raised in a small town in the middle of nowhere, Fujimihara Moriya has a fateful encounter one day after heading to the range to get some Bow and arrow practice in. It is there that he sees two beautiful girls playing in a small pond. After heading home, Fujimihara is shocked to find the two girls there; it turns out they're the daughters of his father's close friend and for the time being they'll live together. Ruh roh!
Do I really need to even comment on this? Seriously?
I'm just going to walk away now.
[So I'm going to try something a little bit different this week. I want you guys to leave any questions you might have about Japanese games or anything related to them in the comments below. I'll do my best to answer them in next week's edition of Go West!. I think it could be interesting to have a sort of dialogue running about how people feel about Japanese games and the like. With that said, chime in below! Anything is fair game.]
Welcome back to Go West!, your one stop for info about all the best Japanese releases of the week. We've entered the sixteenth entry of this column as of today. Do you readers know what that means?
Absolutely nothing. Well, e...
After losing a one on one duel against the man formerly known as Battosai the man-slayer, I have finally been able to obtain some more information related to Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Swordsman Romantic Story Sais...
May 19 //
Elliot Gay Releases for the week of May 13-19:
Persona 2: Eternal Punishment (Playstation Portable)Publisher: AtlusOnline Price: 6,050 yen ($74.90)
While not quite as special an occasion as when Innocent Sin was finally released in America last year, it's still worth celebrating that both Persona 2 games have been given a new lease on life. Eternal Punishment was the P2 game that managed to find its way to English speaking countries way back when, leaving RPG lovers confused over the constant references to a prequel they didn't know existed. EP changes things up a bit by putting you in control of Maya, one of your party members from IS. Tatsuya, the former main character, returns to the cast, now with the ability to speak! Ironically, Maya becomes a silent protagonist despite being a chatter box in EP.
This PSP rerelease adds a new scenario to the game following Tatsuya and exploring what exactly he was up to between the games and in the background. Atlus has yet to announce an English language release for the game, but I really wouldn't worry too much about that. With both Gungnir and Growlanser IV releasing in America this year, I'd be more than just a little surprised if Atlus skipped over a mainline Persona game.
Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai: Portable ga Tsuzuku Wake ga Nai (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 6,050 yen ($74.90)
Can't go a week without some kind of anime related game, right? This time around we have the quasi sequel/expansion to Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai: Portable.
Much like the last game, Tsuzuku Wake ga Nai plays like a typical visual novel in which you pursue a certain girl of your choosing. This latest title adds more of the characters from the show and light novels, along with a barrage of strange routes that lead to endings you're not likely to ever see in the canon series.
Unlike your average visual novel, Tsuzuku Wake ga Nai also has character portraits that move and animate based on your conversation and the choices you make, which helps to at least differentiate itself from the ridiculous amount of anime games out there.
This has zero chance of ever making it to English speaking territories, so if you're a die hard Oreimo fan, be my guest and import.
Bunmei Kaika: Aoiza Ibunroku Saien (Playstation Portable)Publisher: FuryuOnline Price: 5,890 yen ($72.90)
Who doesn't love a good time travel teen romance? Bumei Kaika puts you in the shoes of a 3rd year in high school, who through the power of a magical mirror is sent back in time to the Meiji period. It is there that she meets the protectors of the land who have been bestowed with the power to keep the peace of Japan.
And of course lots of romancing happens in between all of the country-saving.
I have no problem with romance visual novels, but it bothers me a lot when the main character takes on a super passive role. It's bad enough when the men are like that in eroge, but it sucks even more when the women take on that role in Otome games. Oh well. There's an audience for this kind of thing, so if you find yourself excited to grab Bunmei Kaika, just make sure you have a solid level of Japanese.
Danzai no Maria: La Campanella (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Karin EntertainmentOnline Price: 5,890 yen ($72.90)
Danzai no Maria takes place in an era of Japan in which industry saw unprecedented growth and culture blossomed. With people's belief in God at an all time low, darkness began to lurk below the surface. A 14 year old girl named Maria is dispatched to Japan from the Vatican as a new exorcist. Enrolled in in a mission school in Tokyo, she becomes a member of the school exorcist squad. Wacky hijinks, battles and romance ensues.
Ok, this is an improvement over Bunmei Kaika in the very least. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about the whole exorcist squad concept though; we've seen it a thousand times before and at this point I'm convinced it's just an excuse for the artists to go crazy with vague religious symbolism and character fashion. Non-Japanese readers steer clear!
Brothers Conflict Passion Pink (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Idea FactoryOnline Price: 5,890 yen ($72.90)
Due to a wacky set of coincidences, our main character's father remarries and she finds herself with tons of new brothers! She starts her new life with her brothers under the family name Asahina. Will she be able to make it through her day to day life, surrounded only by men?
I feel like I've heard this summary before, only with a man instead of a woman.
Soukoku no Kusabi: Hiiro no Kakera 3 Ashita he no Tobira (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Idea FactoryOnline Price: 5,890 yen ($72.90)
After briefly looking into Soukoku no Kusabi so I could translate a synopsis, I found that it's not just a sequel in name only; the game actually continues from the events of the last title. As such, I have no idea what this franchise is about.
If you're a fan of the previous games though, go wild.
Overlooked gem of the week:
Tales of Phantasia X (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Namco BandaiOnline Price: 3,740 yen ($46.24)
"Oh no he didn't!"
Oh yes I did. With the next mothership Tales title getting revealed in a few weeks time, what better opportunity to open up old wounds and talk about Tales games that never made it out west? I know what you're probably thinking right now my dear readers; Tales of Phantasia did get an English release on the Game Boy Advance! Sorry, but I don't count broken, poorly programmed piece of shit ports as legitimate releases. I'm sure most people who have played that mess of a port will attest to the fact that nearly every other version of Phantasia is light years ahead of what English speakers ended up getting. That's a shame too, because the first game in the Tales franchise holds a special place in my heart as my personal favorite in the series.
Tales of Phantasia X is actually something of an extra feature included with Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon X. It also just so happens that X is by far the best version of the game, hosting a series of improvements over past attempts at making the classic a little bit more modern. The previous PSP release, Full Voice Edition, didn't actually live up to its name, lacking quite a few areas in which characters had not been dubbed over; X mostly fixes this. Additionally, the developers added a new playable character into the mix named Rondoline, who serves to tie the plot together with Narikiri Dungeon X. All of the added features from the first PSP Phantasia are included as well; new battle sprites for the characters, a grade system and a few other treats here and there.
If you've never played Tales of Phantasia, you'd be surprised at how different the story it tells is when compared to more modern Tales games. The focus was less on the characters and more on the narrative that's told in multiple acts throughout the game. The game follows the story of young swordsman Cless and his friend Chester as they return from a hunting trip to find their town lit ablaze and everybody they care about dead. They vow to get revenge for their families and friends, beginning a journey that spans hundreds of years. That's right; this is a story about time travel.
Despite having a lesser focus on the characters, Phantasia contains a fun, easy to like cast. There's something inherently classic about their characterization that makes you want to stick with them to the very end. This same feeling extends to the narrative which, despite being filled with holes typical of a time travel story, still manages to entertain and push the player forward.
The gameplay shows its age, but the battle system is still fun if not a little bit simple. It's very clearly the base from which the super fast and action paced Tales games of today drew from, but it lacks the complexity and depth that a recent title like Tales of Graces F has. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but keeping your expectations in check is never a bad idea.
The original Tales of Phantasia was released in 1995 for the Super Famicom in Japan, late in the system's life cycle. Despite that, Namco's little RPG did a lot of new and innovative things for its time, leading it to become the massive Japanese franchise we know and love today. In my opinion it's a classic of its time and if you at all enjoy RPG's, you owe it to yourself to play a little bit of JRPG history. You might not feel as strongly about it as I do, but there's still a lot of fun to be had with Phantasia. It's just a shame that the west never got the version they deserved.
( Note: If you look hard enough, there's a complete translation patch of the PSX remake, which was also a solid game in its own right.)
Long time no see, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome back to Go West!, your weekly update on the latest import games out of Japan. Where the hell have I been these past two weeks you ask? Fair question! If you follow my twitter, y...
About a week ago, Imageepoch's upcoming PSP RPG Sol Trigger got smacked with a release date; August 30th. This week, it gets smacked with a delay pushing it back to October 4th. Huh?
Yeah, I'm as confused as you are. I could ...
I think we have found the answer to why Level-5 has taken their sweet time with the upcoming Gundam Age game for the PSP. It turns out that they are taking the Pokémon route by releasing two versions of the game in the...
I think I am in need of some serious help right now, because I am getting more envious of Elliot every time a new trailer for Nayuta no Kiseki pops up. Now that we are seeing more gameplay footage on how ...
A few months back, Imageepoch announced their final PSP game, Sol Trigger. Supposedly their biggest budget title up until now, Imageepoch has been pushing the game as the last truly epic RPG on the system. Whether that's the ...
It has been two years since we read about a Rurouni Kenshin game unsheathing its sword on the PSP. Two years have passed since then, and the wandering swordsman is ready wander his way back to the PSP for a new game that is s...
I wish I didn't have to deliver this heart breaking news, but someone has got to do it.
XSEED Games has officially announced that their planned localization of the beautiful Vanillaware RPG Grand Knights History has been canc...
Apr 28 //
Elliot Gay Releases for the week of March 25-31:
The [email protected]: Gravure For You! Volume 7 Publisher: Namco BandaiOnline Price: 9,840 yen ($119.90)
What's there to say at this point? You'e either on board and grabbing every release on a monthly basis, or you don't give a flying shit and skip over this paragraph. For those of you that are sticking around, Volume 7 includes bloomer costumes and summer school uniforms.
Excitement! Wonder! Awe!
You'll also be getting some episodes of the anime series as a bonus, but nobody cares about that right? It's all about the photography!
Conception: Please Have My Baby! (Playstation Portable)Publisher: SpikeOnline Price: 6,150 yen ($74.90)
I have to admit that I'm more than just a little bit curious about Conception. The premise, have babies with one of many priestesses and send said children on dungeon crawling quests, is absolutely insane. It's for that very reason that I think the game has a lot of potential to be rather interesting. Spike has developed some great, quirky games in the past (Kenka Banchou, Danganronpa), so I'd be more than just a little surprised if the gameplay failed to live up to expectations. Conception also scored well in Famitsu last week, though that isn't saying a whole lot these days.
The game has a nice, clean and attractive art style that certainly makes it easy on the eyes. The question is whether the whole baby making mechanic is handled well or not. This could either be a weird, creepy game or a weird, hilariously awesome one. I'm hoping on the latter.
I'm waiting for this one to hit the PSN before I play, but if you're planning on importing make sure you have decent Japanese or experience with JRPG's. This one is definitely not going west.
EDIT: I might very well stand corrected. According to an Engish press release that Spike Chunsoft put out while I was asleep, Conception may very well be heading west. Keep your eyes open for more info coming soon.
Steins;Gate: Hiyoku Renri no Darling (Playstation Portable)Publisher: 5pbOnline Price: 5,980 yen ($72.90)
More Steins;Gate is never a bad thing as far as I'm concerned. I haven't picked this up yet, but I plan to do so somewhere down the line following a price drop. Darling takes the characters from the popular visual novel/anime series and drops them into a more traditional romance VN in which you pick a girl and pursue her. Think Steins;Gate if it lacked all the science fiction and drama.
A game like this is clearly targeting people who are already fans, but I'm ok with that. It's not as though the source material was lacking in the first place. Just keep in mind that if you plan on importing, the language barrier is going to be super high.
No chance of this one going west.
Ao no Exorcist: Genkoku no Labyrinth (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 5,330 yen ($64.90)
Based on the popular manga and anime series, Genkoku no Labyrinth looks to be a by the numbers adventure game. I really wish develops would try a little harder when they have such rich, interesting source material to draw from. I'd be much more interested in playing an Ao no Exorcist action/adventure game or something of the like. Hell, the Fairy Tail games have been seeing some success with that formula.
Don't import unless you're some super crazy Ao no Exorcist fan that has to own every related piece of media. Even then I'd recommend waiting until the price drops.
Mirai Nikki: 13 Hitome no Nikki Shoyuusha Re:Write (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Kadokawa ShotenOnline Price: 4,920 yen ($59.90)
Oh hey, look! Another adventure game based on an anime/manga series? Imagine that!
... Moving on.
Game demo, Papa no Iukoto o Kikinasai (Playstation Portable)Publisher: Bandai Namco GamesOnline Price: 6,150 yen ($74.90)
Yup. I get it, Bandai Namco. You folks really love anime. For the love of God please stop making these crappy adventure games. Please.
Shin Sangoku Musou VS (Nintendo 3DS)Publisher: KoeiOnline Price: 5,720 yen ($69.90)
Musou games get a lot of shit for not evolving much between entries, but they must be doing something right given how well they appear to sell. This latest 3DS entry adds online multiplayer and co-op to the mix, though I'm not convinced that Musou players are all that excited about four way battles. I guess we'll see come next week!
Hands-on with Ciel no Surge:
Ciel no Surge: Ushinawareta Hoshi e Sasagu Shi (Playstation Vita)Publisher: GustOnline Price: 4,900 yen ($59.90)
This is a weird ass game.
That being said, I'm intrigued enough to not regret my purchase. Ciel no Surge is the first game in a brand new franchise developed by Gust, makers of the well loved Ar Tonelico and Atelier games. This first entry however plays like absolutely no title they've ever developed. Primarily an online experience, the game casts you in the role of a mysterious being that is capable of communicating with the mysterious heroine Ion. Incapable of speaking directly to her, you're able to talk to her through your mind and heart and occasionally via touching her. Sounds like an odd version of Love Plus right?
Where Ciel no Surge starts to differentiate itself from the standard visual novel/dating sim, is in the importance of the story and world that Gust is developing. Ion has last her memories and it's up to you to dive into her heart to restore them. Why is this seemingly simple task important? Easy question to answer; the world is ending. Due to environmental issues involving the sun and the barrier that protects the planet, living on the surface is not such a safe experience. As such, a complicated ceremony designed to choose the next savior who will go on to somehow change the fate of the world. Unfortunately for Ion, she remembers absolutely nothing of this.
So what's a disembodied hero to do? Well you can start by just being friends with Ion. Given that she lives alone and knows so little of the world around her, she more than welcomes your presence, creepy as it might initially seem. By tapping on Ion, depending on what she's in the middle of doing, she'll get up and talk to you about random topics. Occasionally you'll be given options that you can select, changing the flow of the conversation. You can also have her go out and look for items to make clothes, food or other various objects with. Keep in mind however that you won't be able to see Ion for a while if you send her out.
One of the big features in the game is the fact that Ion operates in real time, regardless of whether the Vita is powered on or not. In other words, if you log in at 3:00 am, you can expect her to be asleep. If you ask Ion to make new clothing or an item, it'll take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Fortunately, as long as she's present, asleep or not, you're able to dive into her heart and unlock new memories.
In order to do that, the game connects you to the internet, linking you with all the other players of the game. The idea is that the other users are all different versions of 'you' who are helping alternate Ion's. Once you're in Ciel's heart, you create these pixie-like creatures called Sharl by scanning in barcodes. You can then select different Sharl that will go on to fix broken parts of Ion's memory. Each broken section is affiliated with a certain element, so the speed varies based on which Sharl's you choose for the job.
To be honest I haven't had the chance to fool around in Ion's heart too much. The game servers were down for maintenance the other night so I couldn't log in. I'm still not entirely sold on the gameplay, but I'm intrigued by the community elements that allow you to communicate with fellow players and help one another. I'm just a little bit worried about server issues. The game in its current form has its fair share of bugs that I'm hoping get patched sometime soon.
Visually the game is a nice mix of 3D character models and layered 2D backgrounds, but where the game truly shines is in its audio. Ciel no Surge is fully voiced which is quite impressive given how much the game has to tell you at any given time. Additionally, the music should please anyone who's loved an Ar Tonelico soundtrack; a lot of fantastic vocals and beautiful all around. I'll definitely be eyeing the soundtrack.
Given that Ciel no Surge is designed to be a long lasting gameplay experience, it's far too early to pass judgement on the game. As it is, I'm still somewhat confused about what I'm supposed to be doing and it would appear as though I'm not the only one. One look at the in-game message system revealed other players who also weren't sure what they should be doing. Nonetheless, I'm intrigued by the story and concept, so I'll be sticking with this one in the long run.
Don't expect this to make it out west. This is undoubtedly a big, niche title that would have a hard time finding an audience. If you do plan on importing, make sure you have a Japanese dictionary ready.
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