It seems like forever since I have sat down to write Japandemonium. So much has happened since then. I have gone to L.A. to see E3, been to my wife's graduation, and moved back to Indiana from New Orleans. Before I know it, I'll be moving again, this time to Philadelphia. I've not been to the City of Brotherly Love in a very, very long time, so I'm really looking forward to it.
In gaming news, I got to play a LOT of cool stuff at E3. For those wondering what I thought of the games, the 'Best Graphics' award goes to Heavenly Sword for the PS3. It flat out blew me away. 'Most Fun' is probably a tie between Super Mario Galaxy and Castlevania Portrait of Ruin. 'Most Exciting Announcement' has to go to Super Paper Mario even though it was only a video. The game looks REALLY fun. 'Most Disappointing No-Show' goes to Mother 3. I feel like Nintendo really let me down on that, but I still think the Wii is going to be very worth getting. 'Most Disappointing' has to sadly go to Zelda Twilight Princess. Granted, the controller will be tuned a LOT before the game goes on sale, but I was still rather disappointed that trying point the remote was really hard. I also felt that the button mapping was confusing. But like I said, they have until November to tune it up, and I fully expect it to rock my world when it hits shelves. 'Best in Show' is tough. The Wii was really, really cool, but then again, the PS3 was also very impressive. The price point for the PS3 was pretty disappointing, but I still think it'll have enough value to make it worth it to me. All in all, the show was a LOT of fun, and I can tell that I'll be a very poor man come November.
As for this week's title, it is the verb for 'to travel' in English. I figured that was a fair title considering I've traveled across the country both east to west and north to south. My wife also set out yesterday for a month-long trip China. So that said, let's pack our bags and get this party started!
In the weeks since the last column, the chart has dropped a fair bit below ten titles. In fact, if it weren't for some games that seem to linger forever in roughly the same spots, the chart would be all but barren. At least the top spot seems to change frequently. This week, the top honors go to Tetris DS.
Sony Computer Entertainment Japan has unveiled a few more details about the upcoming Brave Story: The New Traveller. The game is a new chapter in the Brave Story series.
This time around, the hero is an 11-year-old boy who is venturing into the world of illusions to try to save his sick friend. Like other games in the series, The New Traveller will take place in the same world as the others, and a few familiar faces are expected to show up. For example, Wataru and Meena, heroes of their own Brave Story game, will be joining the lead character and his companion, Yuno.
As for the game's system, it will be standard RPG faire with random encounters on the world map, but there will be a few extra features. One such addition is the "extra attack" system. By hitting a weak enemy with an extra strong attack, the extra power can carry over to damage nearby foes.
Brave Story: The New Traveller will be hitting shelves sometime this summer, but as of yet no price has been set.
Atlus has announced that the upcoming Persona 3 will have a limited edition release. Those that order the game on playstation.com will be treated to 22 tarot cards used in the game, a pin badge of the in-game school's logo, and three postcards with character illustrations.
The game is set to hit Japanese shelves on July 13 for 9800 yen. The game was recently announced at the E3 convention in L.A, so North American gamers can expect to get their hands on this game sometime soon.
Falcom Japan is porting the Eiyuu Densetsu, known as Legend of Heroes in the US, series from the PC to the PSP with the upcoming port of The Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki. The game follows a young heroine named Estelle as she takes up quests against monsters and criminals to ensure the safety of the common people. Other quests may range from finding missing children to battles between countries.
The Legend of Heroes VI: Sora no Kiseki is set to hit Japanese shelves on September 28 for the standard price of 5040 yen.
Marvelous Interactive has revealed some details for the upcoming Valhalla Knights. The game will feature a high degree of freedom with the player being able to customize skills and parameters in almost any way they choose. Players will also be able to pick from many different jobs.
The game will also feature a "Grand Logic Battle System" in which players move in a six by six grid, and the other characters follow behind doing what they've been told.
Currently, Valhalla Knights is set for an August release. If that's too long to wait for more information, feel free to check out the game's official site.
With the return of Japandemonium comes the return of the Culture Corner. I felt bad for not replying to all these letters sooner, but believe me, I've wanted to. Between E3, moving across the country, and Caroline's graduation, I've been booked pretty solid, but there should be a column every week for a while. So keep those letters coming, and I'll keep answering them each week.
Hi Again Jordan,
It's confirmed I'll be taking another trip to Japan. I'll only be there for 4 days 6/1 to 6/4, and trying to plan out what I should do while I'm there. I'm going with my brother, who has never been, so a handful of sites I know I'll take him to. However, I'm trying to figure where I didn't go during my first trip that I'm hoping to get to.
I'll be based in Yokohama or Tokyo. Doubt I have time to venture too far out. I'm drawing blanks looking for a new place I didn't' go to, however, I am very interested in going to watch a small concert (I listen to a ton of jpop and it seems that there are so very many little concerts that are constantly happening.) I'm not looking for big names, so hopefully that makes it easier to find, but I have no clue where to watch something like this, how much it would cost, how far in advance I would need to get tickets, and how to get tickets themselves. Also not sure if my basic Japanese would be sufficient to navigate my way to getting tickets.
One last question would be what is your favorites spot(s) or must go spots in the Tokyo area?
I don't know much about getting tickets to concerts, but I do know a bit about the Tokyo Area. There is plenty to do in just Tokyo for several days. I'd recommend you definitely hit up Shinjuku and Akihabara for walking around/shopping. There's also the Tokyo Tower; a trip to Tokyo isn't complete without it. I also enjoyed Harajuku; some of Japan's 'fashion' is.... interesting. Yes... interesting. You can also swing by the Fuji Television Building. It's some of the most interesting architecture I've ever seen.
As far as going outside Tokyo, you should hit up the Nikko Shrine. I'd love to have gone to it, and if you have time, you can do some hiking around Mt Fuji. If you get a chance, climbing it is an amazing trip, and I'd definitely recommend it assuming you go in climbing season.
I'd toss out some other suggestions, but my travel guide is packed in a box somewhere. I have the DK travel series book for Japan, and I'd strongly recommend picking it up. It has tons of good info for Tokyo and the surrounding area.
Hope this helps!
Howslife? Everything okay?
Yes, I can write short mails, but I always feel kind of guilty doing it. I
always take care when writing mails or even posting things on message
boards. It's also what I like to see myself: when somebody writes to me -
or posting a reply in your case, I'd like to see a long reply. It feels
like somebody really cares when they do. I don't talk much in real life,
but when writing I feel like I can express myself better - I think because
there's more time to think and nobody to interrupt. It's not often people
like that - I get mostly ignored because my posts (or sometimes even
mails) are too long, but I am really glad that you always have great
replies! I don't have a nice story like Nour has, but it's great to write
to this column! This is probably my only posting-spot (if that's a word)
on the Internet!
About that e-mail you got that had a reply on my mail (he/she didn't have
his/her name under it), I certainly didn't mean it like that. I actually
can't see how it could be meant like that, except for that girls like to
TRY those games. But then again, English isn't my native language, so I
don't know. The reason I said music and puzzle games is because those are
two of my favorite genres of gaming (together with shmups and other
arcade-like games). I play them a lot (or actually used to, now I don't
have that much time) and that's why I know. Whenever a girl's coming over,
or my little and/or big sister watches me play a music or puzzle game
there's more chance of them trying it - and even end up liking it. I guess
it also intrigues women more in trying those devices (PnM-controller,
GF-guitar, KR-microphone, etc.) whereas guys think it's rather silly.
Well, until you've convinced them to try once, and then they're hooked!
I actually have almost every Bemani-game + controller (no ASC though). I'm
only missing the last IIDX, PnM because of money. And I really want the
new Drummania/Guitar Freaks V, because that's my favorite (I prefer rock
and and also play a little drums and guitar myself).
I was actually hoping for a story from you where you confused a sentence
because there weren't spaces at all. Does that ever happen? Like when you
don't know whether one character belongs to which part of the sentence?
But I guess it's easier to separate words when there are 3 (or 4 with
romaji) different writing systems. I should actually read more about the
There was actually this top 100 lately of videogames that the Japanese
to answer the question of Joanna. I have no idea how reliable it is, but
it was conducted by Famitsu - the most-respected videogame magazine (or so
they say). It's funny to see how FFVI is quite low, while it's praised by
many most Western gamers as the best FF. It's not my favorite either
though or even close, but that's just me...
The reason I wrote so little last week was because I was editing a AMV
(Anime Music Video for those not familiar) and only had 10 hours of sleep
in 3 nights and about 50 hours of editing in 3 days. It was my first and
I'm totally not in that scene (it seems there is some sort of a scene) -
mostly because of the spoilers, but I was entering for a contest for an
anime convention here in the Netherlands - Animecon 2006 (Nour, you're
going too?). It's actually the first one I'm going and am going because my
cousin and my little sister are going too and it seems like fun to visit
it once (and see my AMV on a big screen!). So have you visited one once?
What is it like? And have you ever been to one in Japan and if so, what
are the differences? I heard there are quite a lot in the USA, right? Are
there differences, like ones that focus on certain types of anime (mecha,
shoujo, etc.) or ones for doujinshi-artists, cosplayers, etc.?
If somebody else want to tell about their experiences of anime conventions
(or can send links to articles and such), I'd like to hear about it too
(sorry if this sounds like a hijack!), especially the Dutch ones. The
convention here in The Netherlands is quite tight in their rules, you
can't bring food, drinks, bags, take pictures, use a mobile phone, etc. I
hope food isn't too expensive and that's it's big enough (it's 3 days).
But it's not until in July (I have to update my knowledge about anime and
of course watch some more anime)!
Well, I think that's it, enough written for this time! Thanks for your
reply and until next week!
PS. I hope you're posting the great news about SNK vs. Capcom Card
Fighters for the DS that's going to be released in both Japanese and
PS.2. If gashappon-games cost 200 yen, how much are the UFO Catchers? Have
you ever seen an empty UFO Catcher machine?
"We all know that birds fly, but now can
you tell me where they are actually flying to??"
I don't mind that you write long letters. It shows that you care enough to type a lot, and I generally have time to reply.
I can see what you meant in your previous letter, but I do think you might have struck a nerve. Girls are often stereotyped as non-gamers, or even if they DO play games, they aren't seen as serious or challenging players. That said, music and puzzle games ARE a lot of fun, and I do see a lot of girls playing them. In fact, I met my wife through DDR. DDR is also one of the few games I know that is truly split pretty evenly.
If you wanted a story about me having trouble reading Japanese, you should have asked for one. When I was in university, we had to read a children's book. You'd think for a fourth semester Japanese student, it'd be pretty simple, but I had trouble identifying where the particles were. But after a while, I DID get the hang of it. While I know that's not a humorous story or anything, it is a true story, so I suppose you should take it for what it's worth.
As for the list of the top 100 games, I find it a bit odd. Granted, it WAS done by Famitsu, but the list is dominated by new games. The fact that it was topped by a Final Fantasy seems strange too. It almost seems more like a list of the 100 most recent games. I suppose there is some merit in it, but I dunno.
Since you mention Anime conventions, I've been to several. I really enjoy anime, and I enjoy the subculture enough to go to the conventions. If you can't tell by my sig, I love Gundam and most anything mecha. But really, I watch just about anything. I'm not picky when it comes to TV in general.
Sorry this feels a bit rushed. I'm not running out of time, but at the same time, I don't have loads of it. I didn't sleep well last night, and there's still a lot to do. But before I go, I was only kidding about gashappon games. Gashappon cost either 100, 200, or 300 yen, and UFO catcher games are usually 100 yen a play, but I do believe I've seen 200 yen games. As for seeing them empty, it's not a common sight. They generally put a few things in them and restock as prizes are won instead of putting 108998797 little prizes in.
Thanks for writing in once again!
Hi there sensei,
I think that tame was in the sentence last time...oh well, maybe not ;)
This time i don't have the time to ask many questions. In Holland we have
a vacation now for a week (yay!)
Yesterday i bought the lovely dvd of FF7AC. I didn't watch the second dvd,
but the first dvd contained a nice extra: All the important story of FF7
in Japanese (subtitled of course)! I like it that way to train myself a
bit. So, did you watch the movie and like it? I remember once you said
(when you were in Japan)that you were going to wait for the US version
because it's much cheaper and with subtitles. I found it great (AAA), but
i would have liked it more if there were a bit more story and the
characters would come more often (like Barret etc.).
Also what do you think of OSTs of games like FF? Do you own any game music?
Next time my letter will be a bit longer. And of course you deserve a bit
of nice words after all that hard work :)
I picked up Final Fantasy Advent Children a couple days after it came out in the US, and I greatly enjoyed it. I liked the movie back when it came out in Japan, and I was looking forward to an official translation. Though I will admit, I do prefer the translation I found online, I DO like being able to put the DVD in my up-convert DVD player. It looked SO nice in 1080i. I'm glad it ended up well for S-E. AC COULD have been another Spirits Within.
As for game music, I have several soundtracks. I am a huge fan of the Final Fantasy OSTs, and I'll listen to most anything by Mitsuda. I also enjoy music from Wild Arms. On the non-RPG front, I have the entire soundtrack to Dance Dance Revolution up to Extreme for the arcade. I'm a DDR nut, and I can sing almost any DDR song as the E3 away team found out. I got my share of stares for bouncing and singing along to Bumble Bee...
I hope you enjoyed your vacation week. I've not had work in a while, but I've been plenty busy. Take care and send me another letter for next week!
Konnichiwa, J-san, a nice, quick question for you. We talk about Japanese RPGs making it to the U.S. However, I've often wondered how American-produced RPGs, such as Baldur's Gate, Fallout and most recently Oblivion are perceived in Japan. I don't know if any of them have been released there; with the X360 available in Japan, though, Oblivion at least would have a platform for release beyond the PC (which I know isn't an extremely popular platform for gaming in Japan currently.) So I was wondering: are there many fans of such games in Japan? Do they "import" like many fans of "lost games" in the U.S. do?
Thanks for the answers!
I think games of that sort DO have a following in Japan, but it's a smallish sector of the gaming whole. But considering that few games are US exclusive, I don't think there'd be that much need to import from here. That said, I'm sure there are a few people that have done it. With 120,000,000 people, it's bound to have happened at least once, right?
Thanks for the letter!
I know I haven't written in a while, but I haven't had any
questions. . . Till now. I've gone to Japan once, but I stayed in
western style hotels. I still think it was a great experience, but
most everyone I hear from (including you) claims that going to a
ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) is what you should do.
I'm not totally fluent in Japanese; I barely knew enough to get
around. I've also heard that there are a bunch of customs regarding
bathing and such that one should know before going there.
Do you think it's worth it to go the a ryokan without being 100%
fluent? Or even if you can speak, but don't know the customs?
Thanks for the advice,
PS. Unfortunately, I'm not getting Metroid Prime Hunters, because I
need to save for all the amazing games coming out around Q3 this year
(have you noticed how many there are? Between Rogue Galaxy, Tales of
the Abyss, Okami, and of course FF XII, I'm gonna go broke!), but I
do have Mario Kart. If you remind me of your friend code, and give a
time (Pacific Standard) maybe we can race.
PPS. I've heard various things about E3. I've never been there
myself, but I want to. However I'm not entirely clear on what you
have to do to get in. Is it only members of the press and industry?
Over 18 years old? Just pay to get in? It'd be cool to have that
clarified. Thanks again!
Ryokan are really, really cool, but they are generally more expensive. If you've got the cash, definitely hit them up. It's worth it just for the experience, and if it's a ryokan that serves dinner, it'll be worth it for that alone. I wouldn't worry too much about not knowing customs. When in doubt, google for them and get a rough idea before you go. But mainly, I just did what everyone else seemed to be doing. When in Rome...
As for fall, it will be VERY expensive. Several good games, the PS3, AND the Wii all hit in a short time span. I've never dropped over 1000 on games before, but I can see that happening very easily. I will be so poor, but such is life. It'll be a lot of fun to play all that stuff. Now I just have to have time to actually PLAY the games. Here's hoping for that.
Thanks for the letter, and take a look below for the E3 question. I'll see if I can set up some MK in the near future, but I dunno. I've not had much free time these days.
Hi, Im a long time reader and this is my first email. I noticed that you mentioned that you were going to E3 but isn't E3 closed to the public? I would like to go to E3 one day and would like to know how. Anyway, I hope that you have a great time at E3!
E3 is primarily only open to members of the industry like the press, the exhibitors, and employees of exhibitors. At the show, about 30-40% are press. I'd say another 10% or so are exhibitors, and about 50% are exhibits only people. These guys are employees and are really lucky to be there. There is one other category of person. Some people buy their way in with what's called a Super Pass. It's almost as powerful as a press pass, but it costs around 700 dollars per day. The other badges are free, I think.
As for me, I had a GREAT time at E3. I can't wait to go again next year. Thanks for writing!
It's been a long couple of weeks. If feels good to get back to something that resembles regular, though I don't think I'll be getting on a regular schedule any time soon. With yet another move on the horizon, it may be a couple months before things settle down, but I'll do what I can to keep Japandemonium going.
Catch you on the flip,