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JAPANDEMONIUM
It's back, baby! April 29, 2007
Ohhhh-Hisashiburi desu!

Boy, it's been a while, hasn't it? Japandemonium is back with a brand new otaku at the helm! This column needs more love than the PS3 game lineup. So, let's clean up the cobwebs and dust this thing off like an old NES cartridge.

Some things will change, some things will stay the same. I don't want to rock the boat too much right from the start. We'll look at the Dengeki Ratings, check out the hot stories of the week and even get educational down in the Culture Corner. Being as it's my first column, I have no e-mail to respond to so I'm counting on you guys to write me for next time.

Alright, let's check out the Dengeki. We've got an RPG right at the top: Super Paper Mario! Wait... what? It's not an RPG? I see, it's an "Action platformer" with "RPG elements". Sort of like how Reese's Puffs are a breakfast cereal with candy elements. I'm counting it. Next up, in 3rd place, is Persona 3: Fes for the Playstation 2, and Final Fantasy on the PSP comes in 5th, giving us all a sobering look at the progress of RPGs over the past 20 years.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Super Paper Mario Nintendo
3 Persona 3 - Fes Atlus
5 Final Fantasy Square-Enix
11 Reez no Atorie Gust
30 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker Square-Enix
31 Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix Square-Enix
33 Pokemon Diamond Nintendo
34 Tamagotchi Appure! Niji Adventure Namco Bandai
41 Pokemon Pearl Nintendo
48 Dijimon Story: Sunburst Namco Bandai
50 Dragon Ball Z: Harukanaru Gokuu Densetsu Namco Bandai
Source: Dengeki
Square Enix

Hitting the PSP on May 10th, Final Fantasy Tactics: The Lions War, is showing on small screens across Japan. For those of us on the West side, the movie is available on the game's main site at http://www.square-enix.co.jp/fft/. Don't be intimidated by the Japanese characters everywhere, there's a nice big ENTER button that will bring you to the main menu. Then just click Movie&Download at the bottom right and choose the top option. Now sit back and enjoy.

The commercial mainly showcases the amazing cutscenes being added to the game. There are a few quick shots of the gameplay, but nothing that we have not already experienced on the Playstation. If you watch closely, you can get a glimpse of new characters to be added to the PSP version. The art style matches the mood perfectly: Soft tones, pale colors and everything has a "storybook" feel. Those who may have been let down by the "cinematic" remakes of Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI will not be disappointed this time around.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The Lions War is set to breathe new life into this classic with new job classes, characters and battle scenarios. The Onion Knight, previously from Final Fantasy III will be a playable class, as well as the Dark Knight, which previously was only available to Gafgarion. The only thing more satisfying than killing him repeatedly, is doing it with his own abilities. Also, anticipate FFT drawing connections to the world of Final Fantasy XII, as popular characters from the game are reported to be making an appearance. All in all, it's shaping up to be one of the most exciting remakes to date. Unfortunately, a US release date is yet to be named, but look forward for Final Fantasy Tactics: Lions War to release in Japan on May 10th!




Source: Dengeki
Marvelous InteractiveMarvelous Interactive's latest replacement for real life, Kawa no Nushi Tsuri will be released on June 28th for the Nintendo DS. The game will now include the ability to catch and collect insects and local flora in addition to fish. As you can see in the screens below, the innovative dual-screen feature of the DS will allow you to interact fully with your surroundings. Also, a scrapbook has been added to show you pictures of your catch and a nice, educational description in case you're cramming for your next biology exam.

Fishing has always been very popular with the Japanese, and it's prevelant amongst a wide variety of RPG games. Unfortunately, when we need mutated forest animals to compliment our fishing skills, we already have Animal Crossing, so a state-side release looks unlikely. In the meantime, enjoy these screenshots!








Source: The Magic Box
KoeiWhat says "Japan" better than giant, cool-looking monsters? A delicious bowl of ramen perhaps, but this story's about the former. Koei has released some nice artwork detailing some of the monsters Japanese gamers can expect in their upcoming MMORPG based on the "Three Kingdoms" era in Chinese history. Most will recognize that period in history through their series of Dynasty Warriors games. Unfortunately, for fans outside Japan, the game is currently in closed beta with no known plans for an overseas release.

History buffs should instantly recognize the names of the four gods who have already appeared: Seiryuu, the blue dragon, and Byakko, the white tiger. Below, is Genbu, the turtle along with the Dragon King and Rosie O'Donnell. I'm sorry, let me check me translation notes... ah, that's actually a poisonous beast known as "Hi" (hee).





Source: Famitsu
To wrap up news, let's take a look at the recent announcement of the Famitsu Awards. RPGs were all over this one, taking home awards in many categories including having two RPGs both take Game of the Year.



Game of the Year Grand Prize: Final Fantasy XII & Pokemon Diamond/Pearl

Special Prize - Novice Game of the Year: Blue Dragon

Special Prize - Best Hit of the Year: Pokemon Diamond & Pearl

Outstanding Achievement in High Performance: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Outstanding Achievement in Multiplayer Action: Monster Hunter 2

Outstanding Achievement in RPG: Persona 3



Source: Famitsu
Ha ha! Get it? Anyway, this section will be a little sparse this week. I intend to educate the hell out of it over the coming days and weeks, but I'll need your help! Don't hesitate to send your questions on anything Japan related. For now, I'll just talk about myself. (I'll do that other weeks too!)

I'll be your new Japandemonium host for a while, so why don't we get acquainted. For a primer, you can check out my Bio Page. I just came to RPGamer recently, and I've been helping out with Editorials, Translations and now this column. I have a lot of experience with Japan and the Japanese language and I'm more than happy to share it. I meet a lot of people who show interest in studying abroad, or doing a teaching program and they tend to have a lot of fears and misconceptions. Especially now, with the school year winding to a close, going to a foreign country for work is probably an option weighing on a lot of peoples' minds.

I could post some pictures, but I'm getting hungry. I've got an album up on my Facebook account called "Waiting For Ramen". The title picture is me performing said act while looking insightful, because I'm just that damn deep and emotional of a person. Feel free to check it out, there's some cool pictures in there... a little "slice of life" if you will. Or as the Japanese call it "suraisu obu raifu". Yeah, I just made that up. I told you I was really hungry. Anyway, check it out, I have tons of pictures on my computer to save for other days and other Corners.

Another thing I want to do with the culture corner is throw out some fun, educational stuff as well. For today's column I'm going to teach you about the Four Gods of Chinese mythology. "What, Chinese!?" Clam down, I'm doing it to teach you the kanji and their meanings. As I mentioned above, these gods have been debuting in an MMORPG based on the Three Kingdoms period in the Chinese Han Dynasty. Final Fantasy XI fans may recognize them as well, when they were added in the Rise of Zilart expansion. Here is the simple meaning behind each of the names:

Simple, huh? It's interesting to see how something so foreign and exotic is in actuality just a plain description of characteristics. I guess that's why we all say "anime" instead of "cartoon", or "sushi" instead of vinegary rice. :)

Hope you enjoyed this first effort and let's continue to make beautiful columns together. Oh, and send all criticism in the form of a compliment.

Thank you,


Bret "CactusLeaf" Mayer

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