Before I begin, I would like to apologize for missing last week's update. I do my best to provide a column that is chock full of Japanese goodness each week, but due to some difficulty in traveling back to Japan and the resulting problems at work, I wasn't able to do a column for Valentine's Day. I made a mistake about the time my flight left and got a slightly late start to the aiport when I was supposed to fly home. I rolled in to the Louis Armstrong International Airport just 20 minutes before my flight, and evidently, that's not enough time for international travel. After much pleading with a useless person behind the counter who rolled her eyes at me, I had to spend one more day in New Orleans than was originally planned. Personally, I didn't mind the extra day, but GEOS did. They were none to happy with me missing a day's work. Nothing major, but it was still a bummer.
But now things have more or less settled down. I'm back in Japan, and I'm writing my column as usual. I'm also cooking some rice in the rice cooker that this column gets its name from. It was a Mardi Gras gift from my fiancee last year. I was planning on going out to eat tonight for some self-fry buffet yumminess, but the place is closed. I wonder if they've gone out of business. I certainly hope not... That place was yummy.
There's more news in this week's column than you can shake a stick at, so let's get this party started!
It's a decent week on the charts for RPGs. Plenty of games, but only a couple made it to the top ten. Most of the games on the chart are nothing new. These games have been on here for a while, and I don't see them coming off anytime in the near future. The top spot was taken by Dragonball Z Budokai 3, but the number two spot is held by a new RPG. Despite not being an RPG, I'll mention Catch! Touch! Yoshi! for taking 5th place just because I have that game, and it's really fun. Do yourself a favor and check it out when it comes Stateside
Sony recently announced a new action RPG for the PSP. The game, Tenchi No Mon, is an entirely original game that is scheduled for release sometime this year.
Roughly translated, the title means Heaven's Gate, and that seems to go with what is known about the game at this time. The player will assume the role of a swordsman traveling through a land where a mad war god was sealed away. Details are scarce, but it is known that up to 150 sword skills can be learned which can be combined to make combos and special attacks.
So far, there is no mention of a US release, but in the meantime, take a look at these beautiful screen shots.
September 16th-18th will be the dates for the 2005 Tokyo Game Show. TGS 2005 is surprisingly about two weeks earlier than in past years to avoid conflict with a pachinko conference. The 16th is a Friday, and that day has been set aside for all the business aspects of the show leaving the next two days for nothing but nonstop Japanese gaming goodness. This year, 15,000 attendees are expected to see displays from 130 different companies. A strong showing is expected from online gaming and mobile phone gaming sectors, but the tabletop gaming is possibly being phased out.
For those unfamiliar with TGS, it is somewhat equivalent to Japan's version of e3. It is the largest gaming convention in Japan, and due to the bad timing of its scheduled dates, I'll be staying at home and possibly pouting.
Two games will soon be finding themselves being drawn as manga, the popular comic books of Japan. The first is Phantom Kingdom, also known as Makai Kingdom. A one time comic will appear in Shonen Ace drawn by Hajime Sagawa. It will be titled "Phantom Kingdom - Makai Saizensen 2005." The comic will appear in the April issue which goes on sale February 26.
The other game to be appearing on the pages of a managa magazine is
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Drawn by Shiro Amano, it will be gracing the pages of Shonen GanGan which was made fmous by running Full Metal Alchemist. The first issue containing a chapter will go on sale March 11 across newsstands in Japan.
The box art for the upcoming Egg Monster Heroes has been released. The game is a rather interesting title that will soon be finding itself on the DS. The hero of the game is the young, yet stupid, lord of the Almamoon Kingdom. The lord has the ability to summon great and powerful monsters from a magical egg, but he normally just goofs off. To prevent him from getting worse, the lord's minister and educator, Sebastian, takes him off to an island to train, and that's when the trouble begins.
The game features some innovative controls. The battles will take place using the touch screen rather than using the buttons. Summon monsters can be brought into battle by tapping on a treasure chest icon, and then damage is dealt out by tapping on your monster's body and then the monster's body that you wish to attack. Your monster will use what you tapped and hit the enemy in the area you selected.
Unlike the other games in the series, this one will be appearing in the US, although no date has been set.
In my continuing coverage of Tantra, it has been announced that there will be an update to the beta version. The new update will include new quests, but most importantly it will open up a new area of player killing. In this special area, there will be no karmic penalty for killing other players.
Some information has been unearthed about the upcoming Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song. Long ago, in the depths of history and myth, there were four monster kings that sided with the gods of evil. But during the age old war between good and evil, they decided to jump ship and join the good guys. Currently, they're neutral fence sitters. When you meet them in the game, the player is left with the choice of fighting them o r accepting their demands.
While that's not much to go on, those that pre-order the game will be getting some pretty nifty goodies as bonuses. Gamers who put down their cold hard yen in advance will get a music CD for free containing music tracks from the SaGa games and some piano arrangements by Kenji Ito, the composer for all the games in the series. Quantities are limited, so those of you wanting it had better get to Japan soon to make your pre-order.
Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song is set to be released on April 21. A US date has not been set at this time.
Koei's Nobunaga's Ambition will be hitting PCs in several new territories soon. The game is slated for release in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao. A Taiwanese game maker will manage sales and service for the game in all three territories. Nobunaga's Ambition is set for release sometime this spring.
This week, I've got three questions because one just BARELY beat the buzzer. I'm a little saddened by the lack of emails, but at least the ones I got were ones. I do my best to answer any and all questions regardless of content. Send one off and see your name in the next column!
Do the Japanese celebrate Valentine's Day? If so, how is it different from the way it is celebrated in the US? Thanks in advance.
That's a good question. The Japanese do celebrate Valentine's Day, but it is a bit different. It's still February 14, and they DO give Chocolate like we do. But Valentine's Day is for women here. That's right. Women buy the chocolate and give it to the men. This day is for women who have trouble expressing their feelings to tell the one that they care about just how they feel.
Chocolate comes in mainly two forms. The most common is giri chocolate, which roughly translates to 'duty chocolate.' Most women and girls will give some chocolate to all their friends and male co-workers. This is somewhat expected of them, so there are low priced chocolates available for them.
The other type is hon-mei choco, and that's the good stuff because it means 'home made.' Women tend to make something special out of chocolate for the one they really care about. It usually takes a long time to make, and it's really special to get some hon-mei choco. Oftentimes, it is something dipped in chocolate or something similar.
But the Japanese are always looking to cash in on a holiday, so they invented White Day to be exactly one month later. White is a very important color in Japan, and it was decided that the men's day would be done in white. The rules are somewhat similar. Men buy candy for women, but they are always just a LITTLE more expensive. Although men don't make anything home made. It's all store bought. To compensate for this, men buy candy AND a gift for the one they care about.
Hope you all had great Valentine's Days!
Hi there, I hope all is well.
How was your Valentine's day? My real question is, how is the big 'ol X-Box doing there in Japan? We don't see many games for it made in Japan, and most magazinese say that it is not doing well there. At videogame stores, is there a smaller selection fo games for it? Have a nice week.
My Valentine's Day was good in a way. Since I was supposed to be flying home the day before Valentine's Day, my fiancee and I celebrated a week early. It was a really nice time. My actual Valentine's Day was spent mainly flying far far away from her, although I did get to spend a few hours of Valentine's with her.
As for the XBox, it is as you say. It's not doing well at all here. I've seen them in Osaka in the big gaming stores, but I've never seen one in Niihama. Even our biggest game stores don't even carry it. Sofmap in Osaka had a small section for it and had one on display out front. Other than that, I've never seen Microsoft's monster box over here. The leader by far is the PS2 with the GC a distant second. To give an example, at one game shop, there is a rack devoted to the GC. There are three racks, front and back, devoted to the PS2.
Microsoft being American, means that their console is more or less American too. That's just how Japan is.
Just in time!
Using my latest art books to start and hone my Katakana skills, I've
come across the kana "tsu" and the kana "su." I was always under the
impression that tsu was exactly as su. How should I read it/pronounce
it? And, should I be reading it literally? Reading Perfect Works for
Xenogears, I noticed a lot of the names are the same, but if I read
them as I would in English and how I would in Katakana, it would be
V-er-J, instead of... right... anyway, are there rules to reading it?
I assumed it was a lot easier to read than our symbols. Oh, Katakana
is fun anyway. Learn it, everyone! It seems to be mainly used for
names and certain foreign words, and it's not that complex. Next stop,
Hiragana. Thanks, Sensei.
Tsu definitely exists. It is similar to 'su' in pronunciation, but there is a slight 't' sound before it. It is mainly used as a way to add a final 'ts' in words since the 'u' is kinda dropped.
Other than that, long vowels are usually 'R', 'V' is expressed as a 'B' in katakana, and 'u' is sometimes dropped. There's no hard and fast rule for that one. Just takes practince to read katakana English. You have to keep in mind that they do not have all of our vowels or consonant sounds. So, you have to make do. That's why Final Fantasy is 'Fainaru Fantaji' in katakana.
Hope that helps!
Well, I leave you to your week. I'm going to make strawberry pancakes out of the very very yummy Japanese strawberries and then go to work. This week was a bit short on letters, but that let me catch up on the backlog of news. I just wish I could catch up on my backlog of games. I'm at the end of Metroid Prime 2, and I still haven't started MGS3. My mom sent over my copy of Xenosaga 2 in English, so I'll have both versions of that one. That'll just make me MORE backlogged, but now that I've watched almost all of MS Gundam on DVD, I'll be devoting my spare time back to gaming.