Blimey, I forgot about this thing. It was nearly a year ago that the Wii Mini launched in Canada, and earlier this year for the UK release. I say that loosely, because I've still yet to see a Wii Mini being sold at retail, ju...
After a seven-year run, production on the Wii has stopped. According to Nintendo of Japan, manufacturing has ceased on the little console that could. Hell, it ain't so bad. After all, the little bugger ended up selling over a...
Sep 09 //
Pandora's Tower (Wii)Developer: GanbarionPublisher: XSEED GamesRelease Date: April 16, 2013MSRP: $29.99 [Buy]
After being inflicted with a strange curse, our hero’s love interest Elena is slowly losing her humanity with each passing day. With the help of an old lady named Mavda, the main hero Aeron must venture into the Thirteen Towers to extract the flesh from the Masters that reside in the highest areas of each dungeon. Armed with the Oraclos Chains, Aeron is ready to obtain the tasty morsels that are needed to cure Elena’s curse. Too bad for Elena, she has to go against her principles as a vegetarian for the sake of recovery.
For an interesting premise, Pandora’s Tower starts off rather slow. While the game’s story has to do with Elena and Aeron’s relationship, I didn’t feel any sort of attachment to the game’s romance themes. It doesn’t help that Aeron isn't that expressive, since his personality gets in the way of the love story's great potential. Thankfully, the story has other great aspects, since part of Pandora’s Tower’s premise has to do with the mystery behind the Thirteen Towers and the strange curse that changes people into beasts. Overall, the plot outside of the romance was the real meat of the game’s storyline. Even though the bond between both characters starts off weak, things do pick up in the later part of the story, as you start to see some strange occurrences after the first half of the game.
During your interactions with Elena, players can give her presents to make her happy, which includes items that can change her appearance – such as clothes or jewelry. Depending on your bond, you’ll be able to trigger different events between Elena and Aeron. I will admit that I found them annoying at first, but the exchanges between both characters manage to grow on me after things picked up in the story. As you’re exploring the Thirteen Towers, players have to worry about the state of Elena’s curse, so you’ll have to return to your base to feed her the flesh of regular enemies to keep her from changing. At first, the whole process can be a little tedious, but each area ensures that you can create some shortcuts to lessen the blow of traveling back and forth between locations. Since you’ll have the option to interact with Elena during quest, the motivation to move forward will grow with each passing hour.
While you’re working your way to get to each boss, Aeron is capable of using his chains to work his way through the floors of each Tower. The chain have some useful features that include throwing enemies and objects, binding things, and extracting flesh and items from the corpses of your slain foes. Other than combat, the same features with the chains will be used to solve the puzzles in each Tower. If you’re in the mood to get up close and personal, Aeron has access to some melee weapons that can be used to create combos with the A button. When enemies aren’t going down too quick, players will have the ability to do a charge attack to speed things up. However, the chains still play the bigger role, as they are the main weapon against the Masters that dwell in the Towers. Each Master has a core, and it is up to the players to use their wits to exploit each boss’s weakness. In a way, the battles are like a mix of Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus, due to the puzzle-like elements that players must go through to reach the cores.
Since the chains play a big role in the game’s system, I found the Wiimote and Nunchuck to be the most effective controller, since it’s easier to aim the chains. While we’re still on the topic of controls, the Z button on the Nunchuck (Or the L or R buttons on the Classic Controller) will allow you to block or dodge attacks from you enemies, which is an important skill to master. Not only do you receive damage from enemy attacks; your items have a chance of breaking in the heat of battle. Despite the slight drawback from this system, the broken items can be repaired at Mavda’s place. While it sounds like a bit of a pain, Pandora’s Tower is a bit forgiving in regards to its checkpoints and death system. As long as you fail in a manner that doesn’t involve Elena changing into a hideous monstrosity, players will be sent back to the last area where a checkpoint was triggered. Before you label the game as being a cakewalk, you’ll actually be grateful for this feature when you realize how useful it is when a certain boss is giving you trouble.
With an intense scenario present in Pandora’s Tower, you would think that the game would have a phenomenal soundtrack to go with your adventures. Sadly, the music is very limited in the game, as the level themes for each Tower remains the same, which can get a little repetitive at times. There are even a few times when the stage themes go silent while you’re exploring the Towers. Besides the level themes, the battle themes have a bit of a Jaws vibe, due to the buildup that occurs with each verse. This actually works well with the tone of each fight, since it can inflict a bit of panic to players who are having trouble with certain enemies. Once you reach the boss, you’ll be welcomed by an intense orchestrated theme that has a glorious chanting that will make your spine tingle as you’re trying to figure out the weakness of each boss. This theme is perhaps one of the strongest in the game, and it really sets the mood for the fights against the Tower Masters. You’ll also encounter some soothing tunes when you’re relaxing at the observatory with Elena, which acts as a balance to the songs found in the Tower.
Pandora’s Tower may not be pushing the Wii’s limits in the graphics department, but the modeling and texturing found in the game still holds up. The architecture within each Tower goes well with the elemental themes, and the Tower Masters were given some creative designs. Perhaps the only downside is that a good number of the Towers are palette swaps of the previous ones, due to the recurring theme that’s shared between the Masters. While the room placements are different, the puzzles and basic structures are recycled in each swap. Despite the lazy development behind the later Towers, the bosses were at least given their own unique designs and patterns.
Despite the fun times that I had with saving Elena from her curse, the North American version of Pandora’s Tower is filled with a few glitches. Other than the freezing glitch that was reported a while back, the game kept freezing when I would select the 11th or 12th Tower from the observatory. Based on the way how the last two Towers work, the glitch might be associated with their design, since I never encountered this issue during my adventures in the previous Towers. At the moment, the closest remedy that I found was to wait a few second between each loading segment in the level select screen, which prevented the issue a good number of times. Luckily, the glitch doesn’t mess with the game’s date, so you won’t lose anything if this problem occurs – unless if you didn’t save beforehand.
Putting that glitch aside, Pandora’s Tower is still a good adventure to overcome. You might have to deal with the slow pacing during the early stages of Aeron and Elena’s relationship, but the reward will come to those who put their time into strengthening the bonds. For a game that was developed by a company that worked on games based off of One Piece and Weekly JUMP, Pandora’s Tower is a fine piece as an original title by Ganbarion. The system with the Oraclos Chains plays out in the manner of how a chain should work, and puzzles still manage to give off a sense of accomplishment. As long as you have the patience to deal with the game’s early problems, you’ll be able to exit Pandora’s Tower with a big smile on your face after you achieve the true objective. With that being said, Pandora’s Towers still deserves the rightful title of being the final game to close off the Wii’s excellent lifespan.
7 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)
Sometimes in life, the only way to nurture a relationship is with the power of meat. Just when you thought that the Wii has sang its last song; the system breaks free from the chains that control its life. Formally known as the last piece of the Triforce in Operation Rainfall’s goal, Pandora’s Tow...
It's 2013, and the Wii has yet to sing its last swansong, because XSEED is planning to release Pandora's Tower in North America during the spring season of 2013. Thanks to the Wii U's ability to play Wii games, no one will fe...
The Wii Mini is puzzling. I'd be lying if I said it didn't look neat, but it's also kind of a shame that the Gamecube compatibility and online parts have been stripped from the console. Can't complain when it'll only cost you...
Nov 29 //
The Last Story (Wii)Developer: MistwalkerPublisher: XSEED Games Release date: August 14, 2012MSRP: $29.99 [Buy]
With so many games starting off with a cutscene or narration, it felt great to see The Last Story take players into the middle of a dungeon. While it's nice to have a breathtaking scene that bring us into the story, the gameplay is also an important factor to consider for any game that will eat away your precious time. Once we begin the first dungeon, we start off playing as a mercenary known as Dagran, who's in the middle of a mission with his other mercenary buddies. As players start to figure out the mechanics of the early battles, we then begin to control Zael, the game's true protagonist. We then continue the mission, which involves the group clearing out a cave from these reptile-like creatures called Reptids. Zael then experiences a tragic event that gets resolved through an ancient power that will change his entire life.
I am going to be honest here, as a main character for a story, Zael fails to hold up the potential that lies within The Last Story. Sure, he has a big dream about becoming a knight, but his attitude and reaction to things feel like your average protagonist that we have seen a million times. To some extent, he almost feels like Vaan from Final Fantasy XII, except that Zael is involved with the story; whereas Vaan was only tagging along for the ride. While he has the ambitions and dreams to push the story, Zael lacks that feeling that draws players into his story. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast falls in a similar case as Zael. While their characteristics are more interesting, they still lack that impact that makes them stand out. However, what makes each character shine in the story is their actions and decisions, which contribute to the story's theme that revolves around the price that comes from accomplishing certain goals.
Among the main cast, we have Dagran, Zael's closest comrade and go-to guy that helps Zael get out of trouble. Then we have Yurick and Mirania, who tend to keep to themselves, but are opposite in their personalities. We also have Syrenne and Lowell, who fall into the category of the fierce drunk and womanizer. And last but not least, we have Calista, the princess that's caught in the conspiracy that Zael drags himself into. Though I will admit that a good chunk of the main cast has some deep backstories, but their performance keeps them from making this tale into a true masterpiece.
Luckily, the plot of The Last Story takes us into a series of conflicts that reign from an ongoing war between the people of Lazulis Island and a reptilian race known as the Guraks, to a tale of conspiracies that will bring out the tale's true colors. And at the center of this story is the power that Zael inherited in the beginning of the game, which brings out a sense of mystery in regards to the history behind the island. In fact, the war is the least of your concerns, since the current ruler of Lazulis is connected to a history that is filled with murders and betrayal. As Zael's powers is used to aid the kingdom, you begin to realize that he is only a tool that's being used in a bigger picture.
While this story would feel great at home with any of Sakaguchi's previous works, it lacks the emotion and substance that we adored from titles such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. One thing that made both games very memorable was the emphasis placed into the cast, which results in the players caring for each hero. And yet for some reason, Sakaguchi's charm is lost in The Last Story. Either Sakaguchi has lost his touch in storytelling, or he wanted to experiment with a story that's dominated by the events and actions that unfold. However, Sakaguchi did a good job in laying down the pieces for a story that focuses on the different shades of gray, since I found myself getting surprised when certain outcomes defy the laws of black and white.
Despite my complaints about the story, The Last Story's battles feels rather chaotic in an intense and enjoyable way. The fights feel similar to Uncharted, if Uncharted focused on swords, crossbows, and magic. In this battlefield, you have to make do with what you have, because the environment is an important factor in winning each fights. Players can have Zael hide behind walls and structures, run up walls for a Vertical Slash, or use a Horizontal Slash on nearby foes after jumping out of a hiding spot. While you are able to do normal combos, it's best to take advantage of every special skills, since enemies tend to hit really hard. You also have a crossbow, but its purpose is to draw attention, destroy certain objects, or take out mages and other archers from a distance. If you come across any objects that you can't destroy, then you could use your handy spell casters to cast their magic, which can cause environmental damage to most foes. Another great thing that makes The Last Story's battles different, is that you will eventually get to use up to six people in your party. In other words, you won't have to worry about investing time on trying to balance out your party's levels, which is something that I would love to see in more RPG games.
If there's one thing that can hinder your combat style, it's that the default controls can feel very awkward. As an action RPG, having the option on auto-attack feels out of place, since you have no control of when you want to strike or dodge. And even with the controls on manual, the attacks will be the least of your concerns. With the lack of a good tactical system, your party members are acting beyond your control, which can get a bit worrisome in most battles. However, you can assign commands to them when your SP gauge is full, which can also be used to trigger the stronger skills you get later on. Other than that, players will have to utilize Zael's Gathering ability to the fullest.
Gathering allows Zael to resurrect allies, draw all enemies towards him, and regenerate health as he hits enemies. Even though your allies can revive on their own, if Zael revives them, then they are rewarded with temporary buffs. In a way, the Gathering system is there to keep Zael's party members from becoming the center of attention in battle. Since you can turn your Gathering ability on and off, players can manage the way how enemies target certain characters.
For a game that features battle system that requires players to be on high alert, The Last Story is actually quite forgiving when it comes to deaths. Characters are given five lives before they are considered fully dead, and their lives go back to five at the end of each battle. This may sound like the game is holding the player's hands, but you'll be thankful when realize how these lives will come in handy. Besides your save point, there are checkpoints scattered across the game, which eliminates the frustration of losing countless hours to one annoyingly cheap enemy strike. In the end, these elements makes up for the fragility present in your entire team.
When Zael is not battling people, you can take the chance to explore the kingdom as you discover new quests that expand the game's story. Since each quest is given the narration treatment of the main quest, it manages to give an illusion of importance to the players. You can also upgrade your weapons and equipment with materials, which is more essential in combat than your actual level. One neat thing about the equipment is that you can obtain special abilities within each category of gear, which allows players to their preferred setup for each character. And for those who love to color code their characters, The Last Story grants players the option to change the color of the equipment that you wear, which is a nice little novelty that you don't see much in JRPGs. And to those that find crafting systems to be time consuming, The Last Story keeps it simple by using one or two materials that can easily be found by replaying dungeons.
You can also test your skills online to battle other players, or team up with others to fight most of the bosses from the main story. Other than obtaining exclusive online gear and materials to upgrade them, the online mode in The Last Story feels like it was tacked on there for the sake of having a multiplayer option. The combat system is too simple to be used in a competitive match, and the stages don't feel big enough to allow players to exploit their opponent's actions. Perhaps if there were some stages where you could inflict environmental damage on your opponents, the deathmatches would be more entertaining.
For a Wii game, Mistwalker did a good job with the graphics in The Last Story, since each area manages to shine well. The waters have the shiny ripple effects, the lighting illuminates each area with different shades, and the characters have a unique smooth-like texture applied to them. During the cinematic cutscenes, you can see the areas, ships, and fortresses grace the scene with each actions that takes place on screen. In fact, The Last Story takes the cake in regards to being one of the best looking RPGs on the Wii.
Fans of Nobuo Uematsu's work might be a little disappointed with the soundtrack present, since none of the songs in The Last Story stand out as much as his previous works. It's not that they are terrible, it's that they lack that special touch that makes each Uematsu song a glorious orchestrated spectacle. Considering that the man has done a lot of good songs, there might be a chance that he was experimenting with a new style as well.
Since XSEED's localization of the game is based off of Nintendo of Europe's release, The Last Story features the British voice acting from NoE's version of the game. Even though it goes well with The Last Story's fantasy setting, the voice acting lacks that emphasis on emotions that would normally make each line an engaging piece of dialogue. Not to say that the voices are bad, it's just that they feel a bit empty at times. And on the side of the English text, don't let the spelling throw you off, since the game uses the grammar of old English. So expect words like colour and armour to appear throughout the game.
The Last Story may not be the next big hit by the great Hironobu Sakaguchi, since it looks like Mistwalker was experimenting with a beast that they have yet to tame. Folks that are looking for a story that takes different turns might find something to look forward to. As long as you don't mind the typical characters, you might find The Last Story's plot to be rather enjoyable. Otherwise, there are better RPG games for players to explore on the Wii, such as Xenoblade. Hopefully, the team has learned their lesson from this title, since Mistwalker has the potential to make their next big game into a wondrous treasure.
6.5 -- 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.)
A synonym of Final. Not having the opportunity to play Lost Odyssey, I was stoked about having the chance to play a new game by Hironobu Sakaguchi. And while Operation Rainfall's efforts made this whole thing possible, I stil...
As much fans most otaku are of companies like XSEED, NIS America, Atlus USA and other publishers that specialize in bringing niche Japanese titles overseas, sometimes its easy to forget that sometimes there's more to think ab...
Since Super Climax Heroes is coming out on November 29th, this gave Eighting the opportunity to give Wizard the ability to use his Flame Dragon Style in the game. And just like Rider Generation 2, Fourze will also have ...
I will have to say that Eighting (Bloody Roar series, Tatsunoko vs Capcom, Marvel vs Capcom 3) manage to take things up a notch with Kamen Rider: Super Climax Heroes, since they are changing up the gameplay by allo...
Wow, extra gamepads are COSTLY Mark your calendars, importers and Japanese gamers, for December 8th, 2012 is when Nintendo are putting the Wii U, their latest piece of home console hardware, out on shelves. Note that these are the Japanese prices, whi...
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...
It's not called Dragon Quest Online or Dragon Quest MMO. It's actually called Dragon Quest X, making it a numbered, core franchise release. And yet, everything I've heard and read about it to date, suggests that it's an MMO,...
As details for Square Enix's upcoming Wii/WiiU MMORPG Dragon Quest X started pouring in, the developers revealed that the game would have a special 'Kids Time' that would allow users to play for free. This being the first Dra...
You know what's better than seeing actual gameplay of an upcoming game? Watching someone play it while adding some nice and silly commentary to the experience. Today, Japanator/Destructoid/Flixist Editor Bob Muir edited and f...
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...
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