Go West! Week Thirty-Three: Visual Novels for all


So many.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another massive edition of Go West!, your weekly column about Japanese games that will probably never get released out west. 

This week saw a whopping bajillion visual novels hit store shelves, a few of which are quite high profile. Former Xbox 360 exclusives make their way to the PS3, and one classic gets a remake. Fans of idols also have plenty to be excited about, which four titles ready to worm their way into your hearts. Violently.

With that said, follow me after the break as I take deep breaths and try not to pass out from visual novel overload!

Releases for the week of October 21-27:

Xbox 360:

Phantom of Inferno
Online Price: 6,582 Yen ($82.90)

Kicking things off this week is a rare Xbox 360 exclusive release, this one a remake/update of an older visual novel penned by the famous Gen Urobuchi (Fate/Zero, Madoka). Phantom of Inferno was also adapted into a two cour anime series a few years back, leading the NitroPlus team to revisit the game. This update features revised character designs and a retooled story that puts it more in line with the anime narrative. Apparently there is a new route/ending that closely mirrors the way things played out in the show. I can only hope that the absolutely contrived final scene got fixed, seeing as the rest of the TV series was so solid.

I'm not one to port beg, but I'm really disappointed this is a 360 exclusive. With more and more formerly exclusive visual novels finally making the jump to the PS3 (see below), I hoped that NitroPlus would had followed as well. I really want to play this, but seeing as I no longer own a 360, it looks like I'll be playing the waiting game instead. Le sigh.

For all you importers out there, keep in mind that this is a visual novel, and thus heavy on Japanese text. Purchase at your own peril.

Playstation 3:

Online Price: 5,868 Yen ($73.90)

I find this franchise to be absolutely fascinating. I had dismissed it as being another typical galge with generic character designs. While my opinion on the latter hasn't changed, I've come to find out that this universe is much more interesting than I initially gave it credit for. Of course, it would appear as though this first game, in the very least, is a typical galge. Many have told me that it's absolutely a necessary piece of the overall puzzle, but I can't help but want to skip over it to get to the good stuff.

Muv-Luv was an Xbox 360 exclusive for some time, so it's good to see that PS3 owners will get a chance to enjoy this ever so odd franchise. Import only if you've got the Japanese chops to handle the walls of text.

Muv-Luv Alternative 
Online Price: 5,868 Yen ($73.90)

According to fans of the series, Alternative is where shit gets real. The main character of Muv-Luv is zapped to an alternate universe in which the world is being taken over by aliens called BETA. Everybody he knew has become soldiers fighting in this war, and the life he once knew is gone forever. With the future of Earth at stake, can he save the people he cares about most and protect the world?

I don't know the answer to that question, seeing as I've never played this game. I am however up to date with Total Eclipse. It's got pacing problems, but when the TV series gets dark, it's more than worth watching. I can only hope that Alternative gets as raw as TE sometimes can.

I'm going to wait on a price drop before I grab this, but fans of the series can't go wrong in importing. Unless, you know, you don't know any Japanese.                                   

Playstation Portable:

The [email protected] Shiny Festa: Funky Note/Groovy Tune/Honey Sound
Bandai Namco Games
Online Price: 5,709 Yen ($71.90)

It feels like it's been forever since I last got the chance to write about [email protected]. A lot has happened in the time between the final Gravure For You! and now. For one, my student lent me the entirety of the [email protected] anime on BD because she said it was a "must watch." Twenty five episodes later, and I think I finally get it. That's a tale for another feature, but long story short, I like [email protected] quite a bit now. Whether I like it enough to buy one of the games? It'll take some time before I'm ready to answer that question.

That doesn't mean Bandai Namco won't keep pumping them out though. The latest set of releases, three games with minor differences between them, are actually pure rhythm games. If you've played any of the PSP Project Diva titles, you generally know what kind of gameplay you're in for here. Shiny Festa is filled with unlockable outfits and songs, ensuring that you'll be playing for some time. The story isn't anything to shout home about, but it's nice that there's one at all.

If you're a big [email protected] fan and always wanted to play one of the games, this is a perfect place to jump in. Unlike the full blown idol simulator, Shiny Festa is primarily a rhythm game, meaning text won't be nearly as big a barrier to overcome.

Pia Carrot e Yokouso!! 4: Natsu no Kioku 
Online Price: 5,947 Yen ($74.90)

I remember reading about Pia Carrot in an issue of NewType back when the US version of the magazine had first started. In a way, it's kind of nostalgic to be writing about the franchise at this point. Unfortunately, it's also a fairly generic harem galge.

The main character returns home during the final summer vacation of his high school life, only to be met by his beautiful childhood friend. She introduces him to the restaurant she works at, Pia Carrot. Through a series of wacky circumstances, he ends up working there with the beautiful staff. Hijinks ensue and plenty of loving is had.

You already know if you want this or not. Import only if you have the Japanese to properly enjoy it.

Hyakki Yagyou Kaidan Romance
Online Price: 5,947 Yen ($74.90)

I always anticipate new Quinrose titles with a kind of childish excitement; their synopsis' are ridiculous and I can only imagine the games themselves are just as out there. 

The setting is a high school that magically morphs between being a school for humans, and one for monsters.The main character is a princess of the dragon king line, capable of controlling flames. Unable to properly control her powers, she's had them sealed away for the time being. Being a princess and all, she performs admirably as a top notch student in front of her peers. She struggles with living a life that isn't hers however, and after meeting somebody that she can finally show her true self to, she slowly begins to open up her heart.

There's so much awesomeness in the above synopsis that even I'm tempted to buy this and do a feature on it. Who knows what the future holds?

Nintendo 3DS:

Kadokawa Shoten
Online Price: 5,391 Yen ($67.90)

No... I refuse... you can't make me write about this game! 

Every time I close my eyes, all I can see are the terrifying faces of those monsters. It's like their eyes are following me no matter where I am. Why won't they leave me alone? Why won't they just let me live my life?! 

I can't do this anymore! It's too much for my mind to handle! 

Import only if you hate yourself. You're better off buying the AKB48 PSP galge. Trust me.

[And that's it for this round folks! As per the usual, thanks for tuning in and suffering through the good and the bad with me! I'm still playing through Tokitowa, but hopefully I'll be able to finish sometime in the near future so I can write up a full review. In the mean time, feel free to check out any prior editions of Go West! you might have missed! If you have any questions about any of the above games, or Japanese games in general, please post them 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 #PS3 #PSP #top stories #Video games #xbox 360



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