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JAPANDEMONIUM
 
satsuki no nijuuyouka
Nanja korya?!
Kanpai!

As I've mentioned on various occasions, the Japanese are suckers for limited edition or seasonal snack items. Some sections of the convenience stores or supermarkets are in a regular state of flux as inventory changes. My reaction to the new items can usually summed with: Nanja korya?!.

Note that this is not proper Japanese, though it's certainly accurate as the language is spoken. It's a double contraction of Nandewa korewa? and translates roughly as "What the heck is that?"

Summer is almost officially upon us, and so the most frequent causes for this reaction come from the drinks aisle. This wouldn't be the first time I've talked about odd drinks, but we have a couple winners this time.


The first item, Green Cola is a self-described blend of "raw materials derived from plants such as fruits." That includes malt extract for some reason. It tastes a lot better than it sounds. The "green" part relates to health, I guess. It has no artificial colors, no preservatives, and no caffeine. Fortunately, I'm about over the jet lag now so I don't need that last. But the real winner is...

Pepsi. Again. After making cucumber, sno-cone, shiso, and azuki-bean sodas, someone at Pepsico must have felt like really pushing the envelope. This year, Pepsi Baobab.


The baobab is a large, bulbous tree native to eastern Africa and certain small asteroids. Up until now I wasn't aware that it was edible in any way shape or form. Tastewise, Pepsi Baobab is a bit like carbonated tea with a dash of cola. It's not the best thing I've ever tasted, and I've definitely had worse (most of it courtesy of Pepsico), but in the end I only finished half the bottle before pouring it down the drain. I think I'll stick with Green Cola this summer, though.

Last week, I had a few things to say about Pokémon, and I did not check some of my facts that well. A couple of readers on the forum were nice enough to call me to task on it. Mainly, the new game will not be in an alternate version of Kyushu, as that's where Pokémon Ruby/Sapphire takes place. The 90-degree rotation of the map threw me off.

Also, my info for the sales promotion involving the shiny Legendary Hamsters was incomplete. The promotion is tied to sales of early tickets for the next movie, and these special tickets are on sale until June 10th. The Pokémon should be received at the movie theater.

Famitsu's Lovely Lady Lab has only had one update so far this month, but I think it's one that RPGamer's own JuMeSyn is going to love. It's no secret that he's the site's resident Super Robot Wars fanboy, and our latest lovely lady is taken straight from that series' newest release, The Lord of Elemental. Now introducing the pilot of the mystical mecha Zamjid, Mio Sasuga.


Source: Famitsu Weekly
Position Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 Last seen at 1 Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 Square Enix
10 Last seen at 12 NieR Replicant Square Enix
11 Last seen at 7 Pokémon Ranger - Path of Light Nintendo
15 Last seen at 14 Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G (PSP the Best) Capcom
17 Last seen at 10 Pokémon Heart Gold / Soul Silver Nintendo
18 Last seen at 15 Legend of Zelda - Spirit Tracks Nintendo
22 Last seen at 19 Dragon Quest IX - Sentinels of the Starry Skies (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix

Acquire Games has an interesting recent history when it comes to RPGs and RPG-ish titles. There's Dungeons and Dam, Class of Heroes, and of course the Badman series. Lots of variety, lots of style. So, what's next?








Available for download on the PSP June 25th, Bakumatsu Revolution is a "historical" dungeon RPG, sort of. The reason for the qualifier is, even though it's (very roughly) based on the turbulent times that led from the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate to the rise of the Imperial Meiji government of Japan, in appearance it seems to have more in common with the manga Gintama. Certainly, the featured characters bear no resemblance to their historical namesakes. Several of them do not even share the same gender, much less appearance or outlook.






The cast includes the top three members of the Shinsengumi (the Shogun's secret police force) -- Kondo Isamu, Hijikata Toshizou, and Okita Souzi -- on one side of the revolution, and two Imperialist revolutionaries -- Sakamoto Ryouma and Saigo Takamori -- on the other. I'm sure most of them are rolling in their graves...

The game itself is designed specifically with four-person co-op or competitive play in mind. It's playable in groups even if only one player has an actual copy. Single-player attempts are described as being frustratingly difficult in the Famitsu article, and overall it's obviously meant to be played in Japan's active ad-hoc gaming culture. It's not likely to ever leave the country.

The most interesting part of this title has to be its price, though. Download titles run the gamut of pricing, running from the same price as a physical copy all the way down to one dollar on X-Box Live. How many digits are in this PSP downloadable's price tag? Just one, and that digit is zero. I'm not sure how they're managing this, but the price listed in the article is quite definitely "free."

Source: Famitsu Online

Save the world. We've all done it a time or dozen, living vicariously through our digital protagonists. But what about the NPCs? Have we ever considered how they feel? What if they too want to save the world? Well, now they're getting their chance. In Boku mo Sekai wo Sukuitai! ("I Wanna Save the World Too!"), protagonists aren't chosen by fate -- they have to work for it.


This is the second Wii-ware offering from PoiSoft. Its first game, Ou-da~! (a pun on "Order!" in English and "I'm the King!" in Japanese), was a kingdom-building sim with a tongue-in-cheek approach, and now it's bringing heroic aspirations to that same world. It's not just that one guy in particular has decided he wants to be the hero. Everyone wants to be the hero these days. It's a regular competition, and the game's Simulation Mode is chock full of ways to compete. There are rankings lists for leveling, wealth, problems resolved, even for the total number of statues dedicated to a character's valor.




The game's Adventure Mode is a bit more standard and every inch the normal JRPG experience. There are dungeons to explore, approximately one hundred skills of various types to master, and monsters to slay. While it doesn't seem to break the mold in any particular way, attitude can be everything. That's one thing this game seems to have in spades. Unfortunately, I can't say for sure as I don't have a Wii to play it on. Japanese Wii-philes can have it for just 1000 points, though.






Source: Game Watch

It's been about a month now, so it's time for some more news of Tales! Specifically Tales of the World - Narikiri Dungeon Cross Edition has some nice new things for us to see. Let's start with the video screens.







Not bad for a former GBC title, no? The twins get top billing, of course, but there's also their fairy guardian, their weird green mascot thing, and Dhaos -- whom everyone who has played Tales of Phantasia should know all too well. What's interesting is the gray-haired girl with not much clothing. The article on Dengeki asserts, and a quick google confirms, that she's completely new to the game. Her name? Londrine E. Effenberg, and her connection with Dhaos is both real and completely unexplained at this point. She kicks butt, though.















Also new to the game is the face-chat option. While recent games in the series have included this means for character expression and interaction, the original Narikiri predates all of them. This bodes well for the devs expanding and improving the story.





We also have some new character classes to admire. The Thief, the Heavy Fighter, the Sage, and the Magic Fencer costumes are all available for the twin heroes' quick-change skills. Time to get serious.












And finally, there's the combo system -- again a battle mechanic which just couldn't be available in the original version. The Chain Partner System makes use of the game's pathetically cute green mascot, Kruur. It's not obvious just from appearances, but Kruur is actually an accomplished shapeshifter that just likes to look like an overweight Pokémon. Like a split-image technique from a ninja anime, Kruur copies a character to double or triple the number of hits landed on an enemy.







That's all she wrote for this week, at least concerning any Tales games. I'm almost regretting not owning a PSP right now. Maybe I'll dig up my copy of the GBC version...

Source: Dengeki Online

In the modern gaming age, post-game content has come to be expected. Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 2 is no exception, and intentionally keeps one of its cooler-looking villains in reserve for after clearing the game.



Cap'n Claw may be the scurviest pirate in the Seven Seas, but if the player uses a post-game option to change the weather options in the islands, even he needs to come in out of the rain. That doesn't mean he's going to be happy about it though.




You and the cap'n, making it happen.

Source: Reuters
So far, the star power consists of Charlie Sheen's uncle...

Well well, it's been a little while since we last corresponded. Events of late have put me on the phone with tech and warranty people, which makes me ask: if a gadget I theoretically purchased in Japan had a problem, what kind of assistance could I expect on its behalf?

Gaijin

You bought it from a big denkiya store? You got the papers that came with it? No problem! Japanese service is very good. "Bending over backwards" is the phrase that comes to mind.

You mentioned US portion sizes flabbergasting you, so why not tell the audience about typical Japanese food portions? Has the concept of the buffet made any headway?

Gaijin

Well... Let's start by describing my usual diet. About 7:30 in the morning I usually have a soy bar or bakery item, an apple, and a drink. About 12:30 I have lunch somewhere between my apartment and work -- curry, ramen, udon, or Chinese. Between 7:30 and 8 in the evening, I have a bakudan onigiri, which is a ball of rice around a core of fish, shrimp, or chicken and wrapped in seaweed paper. I usually get a small bag of peanuts as well.

My biggest meal is lunch, and even then the plate is usually half the size of a plate in an American restaurant. My diet is heavy on rice and other starches, average on veggies and fruit, average on fish, light on meat, and almost completely lacking in dairy. Needless to say, it takes a while to get used to American food. Also, my usual evening mealtime is almost three hours later (relative) than the usual dinnertime for my family in Oklahoma. Add in jet-lag throwing my body-clock off, and my stomach gets really confused.

For quite awhile, I thought 'to' was the usual word for 'and' in Japanese. Then I started seeing 'ya' used in about the same context while playing... a certain game you can probably guess. How many words serve as 'and,' and am I off-base with thinking either of the above is correct?

Gaijin

In Japanese, "to" is actually closer to "with" in meaning. In practice it also covers "and" in most situations when it is implied that the objects in question are usually together. The particle "ya" is more often used when listing items that may or may not be included together, and doesn't imply any intrinsic connections between them. It's similar to when you say "This, that, et cetera" in English. The particle "mo" can also mean "and," in the sense of "one more."

It seems Hatoyama has made quite the mess with the military base on Okinawa actually not going anywhere. What's the feeling on this issue from people you talk to? Speaking of Yukio Hatoyama, what are the chances that he'll actually meet his modest goal of staying in the PM's office longer than Shinzo Abe?

Gaijin

The Futenma situation was there long before Hatoyama got involved, and has been a divisive issue in Okinawa for almost five years now. I haven't heard much about it here in Kumamoto, but I'm sure that if I were working in Naha I'd be hearing earfuls.

Regardless of whether or not Hatoyama lasts longer than the previous two PMs (i.e. longer than a year), the fact remains that he is going to last longer than the last few non-LDP prime ministers. Morihito Hosokawa only lasted nine months. Tsutomu Hata lasted two months. Tomiichi Murayama lasted about a year and a half, but he was in charge of a really shaky coalition government that only survived as long as it did because the LDP let it (while they were consolidating for a complete recovery of control). Those were the only three non-LDP prime ministers in the last 50-some years. In comparison, Hatoyama's actually doing a decent job of creating and holding a government. Unfortunately he's also stuck in what would be a bad position for any Prime Minister, regardless of party affiliation. I'm pretty sure he'll make it to the one-year mark, and hopefully past that.

As for this week's title, it refers to a movie called Werewolf that actually got Joe Estevez, then let him drop out of the script less than halfway through in favor of a lot of other people. Was that a wise decision? Only by viewing the movie (preferably with MST3K's help) will you know.

JuMeSyn

Gaijin

I'll have to take your word for it. I hope you get all your tech problems resolved soon!

Weather is weird. I know I've said this before, but it is. We're getting rainy-season storms a month early. The low temperature today was 51 degrees F, which would have been chilly for early April. The thermometer is looking to act the yo-yo for the foreseeable future. Oh fun.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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