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JAPANDEMONIUM
Chart Toppler June 18, 2007
Konnichiwa

Konnichiwa, mina-san. I'm back from Florida (State motto: Choose your own speed limit.) They have some pretty good sushi and sashimi down there, which was nice. Otherwise, the whole state can just break off and float away.

Nah, it's not that bad. :) The beaches were nice to walk on, if not for all the erosion. Nothing like walking along a 2 foot path of sand at a 45-degree angle.

So, what's #1 on the Dengeki this week? An Evangelion-themed Pachinko game. How sad is that? Forget swords and sorcery, I want to drop metal pellets into a machine and watch them bounce around. Oh, and take out the part where you can win money, please.

Pokemon Diamond and Pearl seem farther apart than ever. One must have cooler monsters than the other, because I would assume most people buy both.

Position Title Publisher Platform
4 Final Fantasy II Square Enix
13 Kurikin Nano Island Story Nintendo
16 Final Fantasy Tactics The War of the Lions Square Enix
17 Super Paper Mario Nintendo
30 Pokemon Diamond Nintendo
32 Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings Square Enix
34 Dragon Quest Monsters Joker Square Enix
38 Shining Wind SEGA
40 Pokemon Pearl Nintendo
49 Magician's Academy Enterbrain
Source: Dengeki
Gust"A story of the will and desire of the young." That is the main theme of Mana-Khemia, a new game from Gust being released just in time for summer, June 21st. The subtitle, "Academy of the Alchemists," gives a hint of what this game will be about. The picture displayed at the main site also reminds one of Full Metal Alchemist in its grandiose style.

So how do you play this game? Well, you collect all sorts of different items, which you use in "recipes" to perform alchemy. Recipes can be obtained in a variety of ways, such as bought from a store, found in a treasure box, or received in a cut scene. The "ingredients" are farmed and gathered on your own. In the picture below, the player is using a boomerang to get some lumber.

There are many different types of accessories that you can construct from the ingredients you gather. Some items may appear to be the same, but they all have different attributes. The accessory below gives an HP boost to all friendly players within range.

The battle system looks very exciting as well. I'm a 2-D gaming fan, probably because I grew up with all the classic sprite-based RPGs. Well, this game is all about sprites. The animations look very slick, and the special moves are as spectacular as ever. You build up a "Burst Gauge," and when full it allows you to execute a variety of "Finish Burst" moves to decimate your enemies. If you open the character profiles on the official site, you can find click-able movies that demonstrate the attacks in all their glory.

I guess this is starting to sound like a review more than anything, but the game does look really cool. It's definitely worth an import for RPG fans. In the meantime, be sure to look over the site. All the navigation is done in English, so it's easy for anything to look around.

In the meantime, let me introduce you to the main playable characters! Check out my mastery of MS Paint:

Vain Aureolus
Birthdate: September 28 (Libra)
Age: 16
Likes: His cat, Sulfur
Dislikes: Social situations

Philomel Hartung
Birthdate: June (Gemini)
Age: 16
Blood Type: O
Likes: Alchemy
Dislikes: Spicy food

Gunnar Damm
Birthdate: December 10 (Sagittarius)
Age: 19
Blood Type: AB
Likes: Living in the moment
Dislikes: This boring world

Loxis Rosenkranz
Birthdate: August 24th (Virgo)
Age: 17
Blood Type: A
Likes: Nothing
Dislikes: Ignorant people

Anna Laemmle
Birthdate: August 5th (Leo)
Age: 12
Blood Type: A
Likes: A prim and proper life
Dislikes: Slovenly people and places

Titil Mimi Nike Mele
Birthdate: March 6th (Piscies)
Age: 16
Blood Type: B
Likes: Singing and exercise
Dislikes: Staying still

Mupe Oktavia Wondraschek VIII
Birthdate: Unknown by Earth time
Blood Type: Something besides blood flows through him
Likes: Chivalry and righteousness
Dislikes: Foolish people

Pamela Ibis
Birthdate: ???
Age: ??? (Looks about 17)
Blood Type: ??? (probably O)
Likes: Things that are cute, like her teddy bear
Dislikes: Things that aren't cute


KOEIContinuing with their open tests of Romanace of the Three Kingdoms Online, KOEI has expanded on the battle system, which is ready to be utilized by the player base. It is still in the Beta-test phase, but on June 29th and June 30th, players will have a chance to push these new abilities to their limits. Keep in mind the chart below is translated by me, so none of the names or terms are official.

Skill Type Skill Name Description
Offensive Skills
Life Stream Attack
Damages enemy and slows their recovery time
Flame Attack
Engulfs the enemy in flames
Pulverize
Does damage while target is fainted
Mind Tear
Removes one status effect from the enemy
Power Slam
Strikes the ground, causes the enemy to faint
High Velocity
Recover quicker after using your next offensive skill
Great Strength
Gives your next physical attack an immense damage boost
Severe Attacks
Increases the damage of attacks against an enemy for a short period of time
Camouflage
Prevents the enemy from striking back
Defensive Skills
Disperse Energy
Raises defense against energy attacks and recovers energy if damaged
Contain Energy
Decreases damage from all attacks
Abuse
Goads the enemy into attacking you
Drop Halberd
Allows you to take the enemy's weapon from them
Full Body Attack
Adds a random amount of damage to your current attack
Tactical Skills
Full Swing
Adds damage and a knock-back effect to your attacks
Thunderous Shout
Lowers the accuracy of surrounding enemies and recovers energy based on the number of enfeebling effects they have
Fallen Spirit
Causes the enemy to faint
Lock Energy
Reduces the enemy's recovery rate
Stop Legs
Paralyzes the enemy's legs, rendering them unable to move
Silence
Silences the enemy, rendering them unable to cast magic
Invert Energy
Damages the enemy's armor, lowering their defense
Projectile Skills
Pin Down
Binds the enemy where they stand
Explosive Arrow
A furious attack that deals damage and interrupts magic casting
Flashing Arrow
Ignores target's defense
Sealing Arrow
Displays target enemy on the mini-map and causes them to take extra damage from physical attacks
Weakening Arrow
Weakens an enemy, lowering their attack power
Spread Fire
Strikes multiple targets at once
Black Magic
Ice Storm
Does freezing damage to the enemy and anyone who crosses target area
Heavenly Blast
Uses your energy to damage all enemies within area of effect
Focus Mind
Lowers activation time and energy cost for skills
Scorching Hellfire
Fire a ball of flame at the enemy, doing great damage and rendering them unable to act
Deep Breathing
Covers you in magical armor, raising your defense and energy recovery rate
Absorb Energy
Steals target's energy
Ingrate's Curse
Curses the target, causes their healing abilities to do damage
Strengthen Spell
Increases the power of your next energy-based ability and reduces casting time
Support Skills
Liberate
Removes all movement-related enfeebles from target
Resist Pain
Reduces damage from all attacks and recovers energy when damaged
Blessing of Gaia
Recovers large amount of life for target friendly player
Healing Wave
Recovers large amount of life for all friendly players around target
Transfer Soul
Gives your life energy to heal target friendly player
Redirect Pain
For a short time, recover a portion of health every time you take damage
Rebirth
Bring target friendly player back to life
Lotus Flower
Remove the penalties inflicted by death
Source: Dengeki

I received letters from a few ladies since the last column. I'm not one to leave a girl in peril, so let's get right down to answering some questions.

Japanese Mail

Hey Bret,

I'm a recent fan of your articles at RPGamer, so I've decided to write in. Personally, I've always wondered about how the Japanese address letters--how in the world does one go about doing that in Japan? Where do the names and addresses go, what about postage stamps, and do you obviously have to write those things in Japanese (even if the letter is meant for overseas)?

Thanks,
Kathy

Counter-point

Addressing a letter in Japan is pretty similar to doing it here. If you're mailing within Japan and writing in Japanese, you place the zip code first, then list the address from largest area to smallest. For example, prefecture, city, town, person. So my address was:

Shizuoka-ken
Fukuroi-shi
Urara 2

Urara being the name of the apartment complex

If you're writing in English, or mailing from outside of Japan, you can write it the same way in English letters. It will still be understood and shipped to the correct address. If you're mailing from Japan to overseas, you can use your native language. The country should be indicated of course, so outside of that, they don't have to worry about the address or whatever language it's in.

Do's and Don't's for Japan

Konnichiwa!

How are you? I have some questions because I am going to Japan this summer. I will be studying in Tokyo for three weeks and Kyoto for one week. First of all, I was wondering if you have any "Do's and Don'ts" for visiting Japan. I know some things (like how to bow correctly) but are there some less obvious things that I should keep in mind? Secondly, is there anything that I should definitely make sure to see while I'm in Tokyo? I'm not allowed to go beyond Yokohama, Chiba City, Omiya and Kashiwa, though.

You mentioned in a previous column a game called "Toro to Kyuujitsu." Are there any other games that would be good for a beginning Japanese student? They don't have to be strictly educational, it could just be a game that has a simple enough vocabulary. Hopefully I haven't asked too many questions. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

Sayounara,
Annalou

Counter-point

First off, Kyoto is a wonderful place to visit. Be sure to visit a lot of the historical sites, sample the local food and take the Keihan train line down to Osaka (and check out the towns along the way.) As for Tokyo, just stepping outside your residence will surround you with sights to see. Although you're not allowed to stray I guess, you should still have more than enough excitement to fill three weeks.

For a serious Japanese student, you'll want to pick up an "denshi jisho" or electronic dictionary. It's a little flip-open device that contains a English-Japanese dictionary, Japanese encyclopedia, kanji dictionary, and many other functions. It's invaluable if you're going to continue studying and translating the language. I actually only know seven words of Japanese.

As for games, for simple Japanese check out a line of Playstation titles made by D3. They make the "Simple Series" of games, which are all very generic and focused on one function. For instance, The Chess, The Solitaire, The Racing, or for an RPGamer.com visitor: The Dungeon RPG. Those are the actual names. Since they're so simplistic and specific, you'll have a great stepping stone to understanding and learning the Japanese text. So pick out the game that matches your favorite activity (there's literally hundreds to choose from) and you're set! Here's my favorite:


Ha ha! Just kidding! ... moving on...

Alright, so I'm going to give you some classic Do's and Don't's. It'll be like a brain dump as I dig into my past so get ready. As a bonus, just for you, I'm going to be serious about them so pay attention! This is a lesson you can take to the ginko.

DO act courteuous and bow to those you meet. Females usually place their hands together in front of their midsection while bowing.
DON'T overdo it... most times 45 degrees max is more than enough. It's nice to bow in response to another bow, but don't get caught in an infinite loop with it.


DO try many different restaurants and foods, no matter how many tentacles it might have. Even if you hate it, it still makes for a good story... like that time I tried raw horse, Lois.
DON'T be intimidated by new places to eat and drink. You'll almost always be welcomed heartily. You'll meet new friends in the most random of places.

DO learn how to use chopsticks. Yea, it's tough, but it's an endless source of amusement for your new Japanese friends and it's part of good table manners.
DON'T forget to say "itadakimasu" before a meal and "gochisousama" afterwards. It's not just polite, but let's the cook know their effort is appreciated.

DO go to karaoke bars. It's a great way to bond with people and it's fun as balls. You get a private room usually, so you only have to let loose in front of friends.
DON'T watch, sing! Try the Japanese songs too!

DO try fugu. It's a popular delicacy prized for it's taste.
DON'T try fugu. It's really expensive and filled with deadly poison.

DO go to a yakiniku restaurant. It's a place where you order raw meat/fish and grill it yourself. Another great place to bond with new friends while you cook food together.
DON'T forget to remove your meat from the grill before it's black.

DO travel a lot. Trains are pretty cheap, extremely reliable, and can take you to many historic places in under an hour.
DON'T drive anywhere, ever.

DO get a cell phone. I don't even need to explain why.
DON'T commit until you're sure about your phone plan and what charges you will need to pay. For such a short stay, you'll want something you can cancel easily (although there will certainly be a fee.)

DO go to Akihabara. I assume since you're on RPGamer.com, you'll be swept up in the mecca of electronics, gaming and anime that Akihabara is famous for being.
DON'T spend all your money there! You have to eat!

DO talk to everyone you meet. Say "hi," say "konnichiwa," but just reach out to people.
DON'T be afraid to use Japanese. A lot of people get stage-fright and have to ease into Japanese conversation like a hot bath-- that reminds me!

DO visit hot springs! They are some of the most relaxing places on Earth.
DON'T be ashamed if you have to get naked. Spas and hot springs are a wonderful experience, so try to feel comfortable and relaxed. It is possible to find more private places if need be, but the real old-style, authentic ones are not as concerned with modesty.

OK, so where was I? DON'T be afraid to converse in Japanese. You have precious little time so just jump right in and practice. They are impressed no matter how little you know.

DO take lots and lots of pictures.
DON'T forget your camera!

DO enjoy yourself and have a great time!
DON'T forget to write into Japandemonium and tell us how it went!

If anyone can think of some Do/Don't pairs, feel free to write 'em in. I don't know when lil' Annalou is leaving, but maybe if we throw up some new ones next week they can be of use. Maybe we could combine them all into a gargantuan Do/Don't chart that comes to life and terrorizes downtown Tokyo. Maybe I need more sleep.

Mata ne,


Bret "CactusLeaf" Mayer

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