Go West! Week Thirty-One: Image Epoch bravely tries again


And they just keep failing.

Welcome folks to yet another edition of Go West!, in which I talk about the latest and greatest (worst) Japanese games on the market. 

After taking a break last week due to a slim release schedule, we're back in full force with a strong lineup of titles that are bound to make everybody shoot rainbows out of their eyes. 

Image Epoch is looking to show the world how JRPGs are made, while Square Enix takes a step back and looks toward the past for inspiration. Meanwhile, Namco Bandai Games takes every franchise ever and somehow manages to make a game out of it.

Follow me after the break as I spin around in circles and dramatically scream at the sky. 

Releases of the week for 9/30 to 10/6 and 10/7 to 10/13:

Playstation 3

Image Epoch
Online Price: 7,340 Yen ($92.90)

Oh Image Epoch, you keep trying over and over, yet you still can't seem to catch a break.

Before I go into talking about it, I should clarify that I've yet to play Tokitowa, though I'm planning on it. I have however watched over six hours of gameplay, and in the very least I can say that Image Epoch's latest release has a host of issues. Beyond the incredibly weak story and super cliche characters resides a game that appears to be lacking in content. I saw a combined total of four enemy types in the videos I watched, with a ridiculous lack of variety in the environments as well. The battle system looked fun enough, but everything around it seemed relatively weak.

I'm more than ready to eat my own words though, and you can bet you'll be reading first impressions on the front page a couple weeks from now. As it stands, I'm extremely skeptical even if I do think that what Image Epoch is trying to do is legitimately interesting.

There's been word that Image Epoch is planning a localized version of Tokitowa for the west, so I'd wait it out a bit before choosing to import.

Nintendo 3DS

Bravely Default
Square Enix
Online Price: 5,760 Yen ($72.90)

This is the one. This is the biggest of the big this week, and in my opinion a return to form for the folks over at Square Enix. I've put six hours into the final version of Bravely Default, and let me be the first to tell you that it's every bit as good as you hoped it would be. With a scenario penned by Naotaka Hayashi of Steins;Gate fame, and a score penned by Revo from Sound Horizon, Bravely Default feels like a classic RPG from the 90's that everybody just kind of forgot about.

The story kicks off fast and furious, wasting no time introducing the four main characters and their individual goals. Diverse villains cycle in and out, each one possessing a different job that unlocks once you've beaten them in battle. If you've watched any of the gameplay trailers, you already know that Bravely Default is a beautiful looking game. What I'm sure you didn't know about is how fantastic it looks in 3D. Each pre-rendered background is layered in such a way to best take advantage of the 3D effect. This might be the first 3DS game I play through entirely with the slider turned up.

Revo's score is a mix of heavy electric guitar and a strong orchestral background. Coming off of Ys Celceta, I was surprised by just how much Bravely Default's soundtrack reminded me of some of Falcom's best. That's as high a compliment as I can give it. If you haven't given it a listen yet, check out the wonderful battle theme here.

There's been no word from Square Enix about a possible localization, and given Final Fantasy Type-0's depressing fate, there's no guarantee that this is going to make it west. Keep your fingers crossed folks, because it'd be a damn shame if Bravely Default didn't get the love it deserved.

Project X Zone
Namco Bandai Games
Online Price: 7,103 Yen ($89.90)

In case you're not aware, Project X Zone is an SRPG that brings together characters and franchises from three huge companies, Sega, Capcom, and Namco Bandai.

I got to play this one at TGS, and my impressions were generally postive. I'm still concerned that Project X Zone doesn't have the depth to sustain itself for the 50+ hours, but initial buzz seem to point toward a more stable experience than Namco x Capcom. While I picked up a copy on release day, I've yet to try pop it in. But if the demo is any indication, it'll at least be filled with nostalgic fanservice. There's something undeniably amazing about seeing the cast of Sakura Taisen go up against zombies from Resident Evil. Though admittedly, it does hurt a little bit to see some of my favorite characters from dead franchises make their return via an SRPG, but I digress.

If I can manage to clear this one in a reasonable amount of time, keep your eyes out for an import review sometime in the near future. While Harada, the producer of Tekken, is honorably making a push for Project X Zone to go west, I wouldn't hold my breath. The licensing issues here are a nightmare.

If you have experience importing the Super Robot Wars games, you should be right at home on this one. Play away!

Playstation Portable

Sol Trigger 
Image Epoch
Online Price: 5,918 Yen ($74.90)

This one actually came out last week, and according to Image Epoch is the last true JRPG for the PSP.

As it turns out, they've been keeping quite the secret from folks interested in picking this one up; Sol Trigger is actually a canonical sequel to Last Promise Story. If any of you dear readers actually purchased the latter at full price, I am so, so sorry for your loss. 

According to 2ch impressions, Sol Trigger isn't much better either. Very similar to LPS in terms of its general structure, it struggles from having a poorly written story and super linear progression. There's no doubt that the game looks pretty fantastic, but at the end of the day strong visuals can't save a broken game.

If you're really itching for a new PSP RPG and have nothing to play, I suppose you can still do worse than Sol Trigger. Being a JRPG, expect huge quantities of hard to understand text.

Importers beware.

Summon Night 3
Bandai Namco Games
Online Price: 4,100 Yen ($51.90)

I've never actually played a Summon Night game, but I've been told they're fantastic. The series has seen iterations on a wide variety of consoles and has a small but dedicated fanbase.

The first version of Summon Night 3 was released for the PS2 back in 2003, and with Summon Night 5 recently announced, Bandai Namco decided to re-release the game for the PSP. In fact, Summon Night 4 for the PSP is coming down the pipe sometime in the near future. 

As far as I'm aware this is a pretty barebones port, but it's a great opportunity for folks who didn't catch the games during their initial run. Unfortunately this series never really got a proper chance out west, not unlike Super Robot Wars. If you're an experienced importer, definitely give this one a try. 

Diabolik Lovers 
Idea Factory
Online Price: 5,760 Yen ($72.90)

This wouldn't be Go West! without our dear friends at Idea Factory paying a visit. 

Yui is just your average everyday high school student. You know, except for the fact that every now and then she might see a ghost or some kind of poltergeist. With her motto being positivity, Yui never let any of that sort of thing get in the way of her carefree life. In her second year of high school, due to her father getting a new position in another city, Yui is forced to transfer to a special night school for rich and famous kids. There are rumors of vampires there, and after being forced to live with six hot studs who have terrible personalities, things can't seem to get worse.

Except of course it does. I'm sure you all know where this is going so I'll spare you the details. If you're into this kind of otome-ge, you know what to do.

[And that's it for this week's Go West!. Thanks for joining me in my ridiculous rambling, as per the usual. If you have any questions about the above games or about the Japanese gaming scene in general, feel free to hit me up on my twitter account or in the comments below. See you all next week!]

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Elliot Gay
Elliot GayContributor   gamer profile

Elliot is an associate editor for Japanator and can be found contributing to Destructoid on occasion. He lives in Japan and can be found on Twitter @RyougaSaotome. more + disclosures


Filed under... #Go West! #japan #Japanator Original #Nintendo 3DS #PS Vita #PS3 #PSP #top stories #Video games



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