Japandemonium - Delirium of Disorder

Greetings from rainy-as-all-get-out Montreal, and welcome to this week's Japandemonium. I hope you all had a chance to read my E3 journal. I didn't receive any comments on it, so either you all hate it (which makes me sad) or you just didn't want to put fingers to keys. There's a reasonable amout of news to cover this week, so let's get to it.

Dengeki's sales figures for Japan look even more grim this week than last. Many RPGs from last week's list have fallen out of the Top 20. Most notable is Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, which tumbled all the way down to 39th position. Konami can't realistically expect too many more sales for the game, meaning that it was a collosal flop. Since its release on May 8th, the game has managed to shift only 27,000 copies, which is pretty abysmal. The other major loser this week is Idea Factory, which released Ex-Chaser in a market hostile to just about anything on the Xbox. A scant 2,675 copies of the RPG were sold. To put this figure in perspective, you need to know how poorly the console is selling in Japan: 970 Xboxes were sold last week, leading to a total of 56,000 for the year. For comparison, the antique PSone is currently outselling the Xbox on a weekly basis and has sold 44,000 units during this year. Numbers for the week ending May 25th are below.

Pos. Title Publisher Plat. Sales Total
6 Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart Square Enix 11,697 510,395
8 Fire Emblem Rekka no Ken Nintendo 11,163 189,753
12 Lost Kingdoms II From Software 8,514 8,514
13 Pokémon Sapphire Nintendo 7,440 2,183,526
15 From TV Animation: One Piece Ocean's Dream Bandai 7,175 100,067
19 Pokémon Ruby Nintendo 6,650 2,128,482

The latest issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly has a snippet that should interest fans of Yu Suzuki's Shenmue series. According to the creator, the series is in limbo right now: "The story is already completed. The problem is that we have not decided whether or not to move forward with designing the game yet. If there's a demand for it, we'd love to make it, but it is undecided." Unfortunately, sales of Shenmue II on the Xbox weren't exactly stellar. We can only hope that Ryo gets to exact revenge on Lan Di some time in the not-too-distant future.

Team Entertainment announced a collected soundtrack earlier this week for a few past Enix titles. Simply titled "Star Ocean & Valkyrie Profile The Best Sound Track," the set contains tracks from all the Star Ocean games and the cult hit, Valkyrie Profile. All songs have been remastered for the collection, and gamers who get the jump on their peers will be rewarded with a few bonus stickers. The two-disc set is slated for release in Japan on July 2nd, for 3,200 ¥ ($27). As if the CD wasn't enough, a live performance of tracks from the CD is being planned for Tokyo on July 19th.

Star Ocean & Valkyrie Profile The Best Sound Track

With Harvest Moon: Mineral Town already released in April, what's a virtual farmer to do until the arrival of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life for the GameCube in August? If you're in Japan and have an i-Mode-capable phone, you get in on the mobile phone farm action, thanks to Square Enix. As of late April, the company has offered a version of the game that, according to the screenshots, looks remarkably like the Game Boy Color installment. All the usual features are there: crop growing, animal raising (cows and chickens), and relationships. There are five different towns in the game, each of which will give you varying amounts of cash for your crops and animals, so its worth your time to check them out to not screw yourself out of hard-earned money. Seasons are important for more than just your crops: In spring you'll marvel at the cherry blossoms, and in winter you can even go skiiing. For a mobile phone game, Harvest Moon offers a detailed, engrossing experience. Check out some screens from the game below.

i-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Moon

i-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Moon

i-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Mooni-Mode Harvest Moon

With closed testing of MU coming to an end soon, WebZen and Game On have announced a new, limited-duration feature. Until June 5th, gamers will be able to take part in "battle soccer." This is played like regular soccer, except it uses attacks to kick the ball. The games are contested by guilds, with the guild making it to 100 points first winning. There was also a special tournament on Saturday, May 31st, to commemorate the international friendly soccer match between Japan and South Korea.

Falcom is gearing up for the release of Ys 1 & 2: Eternal Story on the PlayStation 2. To commemorate the game's release, the company has announced a limited edition, featuring bottle-top figures of the main characters and a diorama. Bottle-top figures are a popular tchotchke in Japan, with several game campaigns accompanied by a few. The limited edition will set you back 9,800 ¥ ($83), while the regular version will run 6,800 ¥ ($57). Both are set for release in Japan this summer.

Ys 1 & 2 diorama

Ys 1 & 2 dioramaYs 1 & 2 diorama

The last item this week is a bit of hardware news. Barely a month after announcing a revision of the PlayStation 2, Sony is at it again. The company announced the PSX, a redesign of the console that is designed to take control of your digital life. The sleek unit contains the regular PlayStation 2 innards, complemented by a 120 GB hard drive, ethernet capabilities, TV and broadcast satellite tuner and a DVD recorder. The machine will use Sony Memory Sticks to save games. i-Link support has been dropped, but the unit will support USB 2.0 peripherals. The inconvenient location of controller ports at the rear of the unit highlights the PSX's fashion-over-function attitude. Pricing details have not been released, but the all-in-one machine will be released in Japan at the end of the year and early 2004 in North America and Europe. Images courtesy of GameSpot.


I wanted to use my closing space down here to once again extol the virtues of U.K.-based gaming mag Edge. The most recent issue has got an interesting analysis of multiple facets of the video game industry, including looks into video game PR and the review process. With this last topic, the editors experimented by eschewing scores for all reviews for the month. A lot of gamers have a tendency to skim through web sites and magazines and just extract the numbers, which leads to them missing the whole point of a review. Personally, I think that scores should be dropped for precisely this reason, but I think that many editors are afraid of losing large sections of their audience. It seems to me that people approach reviews with the wrong attitude, and, especially when reading reviews of game's they've already completed, they take it way too personally. What are your thoughts on this? Send me an e-mail (or, write up an editiorial) and let me know where you stand. Till next week. Take it easy.

Exeunt all

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by Alex Wollenschlaeger    
Sources: [Impress Game Watch, Dengeki, GameSpot Japan]

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