Weekends come and go so quickly. Before I know it, it is already Monday night. I look forward to 8 p.m. on Saturday night each week. Then I can clock out and head home for the weekend. I get two whole days just to myself to catch up on sleep, video games, and shopping. But as fast as the five days of work go by, the two days of the weekend go by even faster. It's funny how time flies when you're having fun, but it drags when you're bored out of your mind. Wouldn't it be nice if we could flip that around? At any rate, I have but ten short days until I go back home. They'll pass by fast enough.
In gaming news, it's no surprise, but I'm still playing Dragon Quest VIII. I think I'm around 90 hours of gameplay, and I still have the final dungeon to go through. But before I'll take that on, there is yet at least one optional dungeon to tackle. Plus, there is an extra dungeon after you finish the game. So I think I am nowhere near finished just yet. I did, however, finally find and kill a metal king slime. In all of gaming, there are few joys as great as watching one of those big smiling things disappear after Yangus connects with his axe. Speaking of which, for those of you that have yet to start playing, you want Yangus to use axes. I cannot stress that enough.
I'm also greatly enjoying Mario Kart DS. As good as Double Dash was, I think this one might just be the best yet. I finally unlocked everything, and if you want to play me, my friend code is 425261-694272. Just pop on our IRC chat and message me. I'd love to get a game in sometime.
As for this week's title, it means "postcard" in Japanese. America is all about greeting cards. In fact, I think Hallmark has created holidays just so they can sell more cards with Christmas cards being the peak of it all. Thankfully, in Japan this trend has not caught on. I've never seen a store that specializes in cards like we have in America, but they are all about postcards. I just had to fill out over 50 postcards to my students wishing them a Happy New Year. Everyone here goes out and buys a stack of these things, which they then send to every single human being they might just happen to be acquainted with. The government loves it, because the postal system is still regulated by the government, but that might change.
Before my hands die from too much writing, let's get this postal party started!
It was a so-so week on the charts. The influx of new titles into the chart has slowed down a fair bit. Only three new titles made the top ten, but one of them managed to take top honors. Resident Evil 4 for the PS2 is the best selling game this week. Incidentally, it's the only PS2 title in the top 15. The DS claimed six of the top ten spots, and had 18 of the 50 overall. The PS2 barely beats it with 19. It's amazing how well the DS has been doing.
Let's see those numbers!
Atlus recently updated their website for Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner, and it revealed many new tidbits of information.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it is a remake of the original game that was released on the Sega Saturn in 1995. The game plays in one of two windowbox formats, but videos take advantage of the PSP's widescreen LCD. Of the new features, the first is that the game has an easy and hard mode, both of which are selectable at the beginning of the game. Also new to the remake is the ability to save anywhere in the game. Still another new addition is a demon encyclopedia. It will show stats of the various demons the player has acquired and will allow other demons to join. And to top it all off, a new bonus dungeon filled with new, extremely powerful bosses was added.
There are also some more subtle changes including the addition of kanji for item names and skills, and the interface, battles, VICE system, controls, item abilities, and auto-mapping functions have all been tweaked this time around.
Shin Megami Tensei Devil Summoner will hit Japanese shelves on December 22 for the standard price of 5040 yen. As of yet, there has been no word of a North American release. The series has had little luck in crossing the pond, but the more recent titles have made the trek.
Those that decide to pre-order Square Enix's upcoming DS game Seiken Densetsu: Children of Mana will receive a "Rabee" screen cleaner that can double as a cell phone dongle. For those unfamiliar with the series, Rabees are rabbit-like monsters that are common to all the games.
Seiken Densetsu: Children of Mana will hit Japanese shelves on February 23 of next year for the standard price of 5040 yen.
Atlus also updated the website for Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou. The newly unearthed information reveals a new character named Kaya Daidoji, the daughter of the wealthy Daidoji family. She is a kind and quiet girl that attends a prestigious private school for girls. She seems quite normal, but the Daidoji family hides a secret. Thus, Kaya becomes one of the most important people in the story.
Also announced is that the game will put as much emphasis on detective work as it will battles and leveling. Besides using various demons in battle, they can also be used to interrogate suspects, hunt for hidden items, or access places Raidou can't get to by himself. Players will also be able to control any of his demon allies at any time, but solo demons can still get into battles. Should they encounter an enemy, the demon will be on its own.
Those wishing to try out their own detective skills will be able to do so this winter as long as they have 7140 yen to spare. In the meantime, take a look at these trailers.
As reported last week, Sony recently announced Blade Dancer, a new PSP RPG that follows the adventures of a young man named Shane as he travels to a mysterious island called "Fuu" to finish his training. He dreams of a mysterious woman that is in trouble, and he promises to save her. He believes it is more than just a dream, and he's the type of person to never go back on his word. So he sets out to find her, and it seems that she really does exist. It seems that she is trapped in a huge flower. Upon rescuing her, he finds out her name is Tess, but he also discovers that she has lost all her memories. She doesn't even remember calling for help in his dream.
The scans also gave some insight into the battle system. The game will be real-time, but it will not be action-based. Players will choose commands from a menu. During battle, Shane will be able to use "Lunar Power" that draws from the world's seven-colored moon, Lunadia, to do special attacks. As the battle progresses, the bar fills up allowing for stronger attacks.
Some light was shed on what happens before battles as well. Enemies are visible on the field map, and there will be a convenient marker to point out enemies from a distance. The relative level of the enemy can be determined by the color of the marker, and players can click on the marker to find out the type and number of the enemies.
Transitions from the field to battle and from the field to towns will all be seamless. Another feature is that the passage of time will be displayed in detail. Both the sun and moon will move across the sky in real time while you play.
Finally, Sony gave some background on two of Shane's companions. With the game's LAN support, friends will be able to control Gozan or Feris Hihitel. Gozan is a monk, and he is a bit on the big side. He looks frightening at first glance, but he's really a nice guy. He came to the island of Fuu to investigate some ancient ruins that are said to be there, and Feris is one of the few actual residents of the island. It seems that she has a natural ability to cure people.
Blade dancer is set for release in Japan on March second. If and when the game is announced for North American release, look to RPGamer for the scoop.
Two letters this week, both asking some interesting questions. It's always good to get mail, and pretty soon, I'll be doing another Christmas issue that will be ONLY mail. So send in some emails for that too.
That said, on to the letters!
Quick question inspired by your banner there at the bottom of the last column...
How popular is ddr in japan right now? I was there approximately this time last year and i could only find one or two machines in tokyo and no one was playing anyways. I do know that beatmania, pop'n, and drum mania and all that are still alive and well there, what's the deal??
Sadly, DDR is somewhat passé. There IS one DDR machine in Niihama. It's a busted old 4th Mix Solo. It's 100 yen a play, and the buttons are what would be expected for a machine as old as it. I pretend it doesn't exist so I don't get sad.
As you mentioned, Pop 'n is huge here, and Taiko Tatsujin is quite large as well. I've seen a few other Namco music games including one based on shamisen, an instrument similar to the banjo. It was REALLY hard, but I enjoyed losing.
As for other musical games, I wouldn't know. Niihama isn't exactly the cultural mecha of Japan. I can get most any game I want, but the arcades are SORELY lacking. Coincidentally, I have a lot more pocket money.
Thanks for writing!
Howslifeminesbusy? This will be a short one (or shorter than usual) as I
don't have much time. First things first, thanks for awnsering my
questions (even though you missed some again - but it doesn't really
matter). I had no idea that the plan of you teaching there was only until
february. I though you were already settled there and already had a degree
(or whatever you call it). So tell us what your plans are when you come
back, I think we all want to know!
I don't have many questions, but are those Go-games good on the
PS2/PC/whatever? I heard that - as of today - there's still no good Go AI
(unlike chess, Go takes way more computational power)?
As for Mika Nakashima, she's quite popular from what I know. My little
sister listens quite often to her and she's quite good from what I hear -
she's got this jazz-style, so not your average J-Pop. She already has 2 or
3 concert DVD's out, 4 videoclips DVD/UMD's and I think 3 albums. Oh yeah,
and she did the Gundam Seed ending too I think. I think Live-eviL (or
whatever the name was) had some fan translations made of some of her
videoclips which torrents exists of. That's where I know her from. And
she's quite a beauty too!
That guy is pretty lucky to talk to her like that. I wonder if all
Japanese idols are that nice!
Oh yeah, something I also wondered, about translations/localizations of
Japanese games/anime, how do they translate the names to the American
common names? I mean, sometimes when a name gets translated to - let's
say - "Jack", I always wonder what the Japanese equivalent is to "Jack".
Or what they base it on to change a name into "Jack". Do you have any
Well, that's it I guess, hope I'm on time!
PS. If we're talking about Mario Kart, are you that bad or that good, if
you talk about the blue shells?
"We all know that birds fly, but now can
you tell me where they are actually flying to??"
As always, you made it JUST in time. In Japanese, we would describe you as 'giri giri.' That means just barely making it. I also tend to be giri giri when I go to classes. I'm never late, but I'm also never early. I see I am not the only person with this quality.
As for my degree, I got that in America. I graduated in 2004 with degrees in Asian studies and chemistry. I moved to Japan two months later. My work doesn't require any special degree, but to get a US work visa in Japan, they do require at least a bachelor's degree in the field of your choice.
As for Mika, I did a google search for her name and gundam, and sure enough I found it. She performed "Find the Way," the ending song for episodes 40-50 of the original Gundam SEED. Upon finding it on a stream site and listening to it again, I do remember it. But it's been over a year since I watched SEED. I need to go back and watch it and Destiny again back to back. It'd be a 100 episodes of Gundam, but it wouldn't be the first time I've done that....
In more Mika news, yeah that guy IS lucky. I'd like to talk to an idol sometime. She is quite popular and rather pretty, too. She is known for having big eyes. In Japan, big eyes is a sign of beauty, and that's why anime does it. It's also why Ayumi Hamasaki has had surgery on her eyes to make them open wider. To quote a fellow teacher Azrael, "The result of all this is that she no longer looks like a Japanese person, but like some creepy, bug-eyed elf." Honestly, have to agree to an extent.
As for the anime question, sometimes characters have western sounding names. I don't know why they do this, but I guess they think it just sounds cool. Also, some names sound American, but they are also Japanese. Naomi exists in both languages. But sometimes you end up with something like Sailor Moon. Usagi was changed to Serina for some reason. It seems that the US wouldn't understand why her name means 'bunny.' Or in another girls' anime, the main character of Princess Tutu (an EXCELLENT anime, by the way) had her name changed. In Japanese, her name is Ahiru. Literally, this means 'duck,' and she can turn into one. In the US, her name was changed to 'Duck,' and fans were NOT happy. As for why it happens, I have NO idea. And since you asked, 'Jack' would be 'Jyaku.' It sounds almost the same.
As for Go, I've never played any computers, but I do play in real life. The game is really hard, and it wouldn't surprise me if computers aren't as good at it. There are MANY more possible moves than chess. For one, the board is 19 x 19. I'd be interested in playing one, and I might pick one up before I go so I can practice. It's a fun game. I need to start playing on Yahoo again.
Sorry if I miss a question. You tend to bombard me with questions, and I love answering them. If I miss one, send it in next week. Sometimes I'm in a hurry and DO miss one, but I advise you to try not to beat the buzzer. One of these days, I'll actually be early and you'll miss out. Of course, this day may not come soon...
Oh, and the Mario Kart? I'm usually in the lead.... only to have it snatched by another staffer. We here at RPGamer are pretty durn good. I almost always lose, but I put up a good fight. I usually get terrible luck with weapons despite using an item kart. Who knows how the game would play without weapons.
Thanks for the email. It's great that you think up something every week. Keep 'em coming!
And there you have it, a column that is actually on time. I managed to pull myself away from DQ8 long enough to write this thing. Now I'm huddled under my heater with my laptop warming my lap. It's FREEZING cold in here. I love snow. I really do, but I love snow in Indiana where houses have this stuff called insulation. The Japanese should look into it. It's good stuff.
Catch you on the flip,