Here's a heads-up. Sometime back, Yahoo's Babel Fish translation service was replaced with Microsoft's Bing translator. I decided to give it a whirl since it's always good to double-check one's work when sorting through articles in Japanese. The Babel Fish translator has helped me pin down difficult vocabulary more than once. The Bing translator, unfortunately, failed to identify a verb as a verb on several occasions. While I do not normally expect internet translators to be able to work their way out of a hypothetical paper bag when it comes to complicated sentences, this was simple: "He rebels against fate." Bing somehow made this into "Destined for revolution," which means that it completely missed out on what the actual verb of the sentence was (kakumei suru, "to revolt, rebel"). Reducing the Japanese text sample to just the verb (in this case, removing the direct object) changed it into "To the revolution." I should stress that I left the verb intact. It should still have parsed as a sentence.
No matter how sketchy the grammatical translations might be on Babel Fish, at least I could trust it to keep the parts of speech straight. It also allowed me to look up alternative translations for words, which Bing does not provide. So I say to anyone in need of a quick, partial translation of Japanese text: stay away from Bing. There is no way it can lead you right, the way it is now.
Is your desktop too empty? Do your shortcut icons lack pizazz? Well, Nippon Ichi Software has just the thing for you! As part of the big 20th anniversary shebang, NIS is offering a downloadable Prinny pal to liven up your PC.
It walks! It squawks! It explodes! Oh, and it also forwards NIS company tweets, asks questions on behalf of the NIS marketing division, and is just a cute little bugger overall. Get yours today!
Once more we turn to Toki to Towa (Time & Eternity), and once more we're back at that wedding. As beautiful as the game is, I really hope there's more to it than just this one scene repeated over and over again. Today, we have two characters who are less connected to the festivities, but moreso to the calamities of the big event.
From the start we've known that a fortuneteller foretold disaster for the wedding ceremony. The actual seer in question, Makimona, looks less like a wise prophet and more like the evil fairy in a fairytale who curses the heroine just for kicks. It's also quite likely she has a connection to this guy:
This is Biecodo (spelling check pending), the apparent leader of a group of assassins. First seen in a flashback to six months before the wedding, when Toki first met him, he and his cohorts later show up to ruin a perfectly good wedding. I'm beginning to wonder if this game involves some in media res storytelling, to make this sort of presentation work right.
Toki to Towa now has a release date: October 11, 2012. This is the same date as Project X Zone, so unless my finances are doing immeasurably better, then I'm going to have to hold off on one or the other until November. Which is unfortunate, because this game does have a pretty limited edition going for it. Standard soundtrack, 48-page art book, and download codes for eleven custom themes. As I think I've mentioned before, I like the artist who did the designs for this one.
I probably won't be able to get it though. C'est la vie. Shikata nai tsutai.
Nowadays, Kemco seems to be focusing mostly on cellphone and iOS games, but it's a company with a very long history. Here's a little gem from 1990.
This is Nekojara Monogatari. Nekojarashi is a type of long-stemmed grass used as impromptu cat toys across Japan. One possible way to put the game's title in English might be "Catnip Chronicle."
Nekojara Monogatari is getting a 3DS downloadable release next week (July 25), but the original game was for the GameBoy. As such, it doesn't have the most compelling of plots. The player takes the role of a boy who just won the lottery. Instead of a cash prize, however, he is "awarded" with the honor of becoming a cat. For some reason he isn't okay with this. While the King of the Cats can't really get why the boy can't just enjoy his new species, he's willing to let him return to humanity if certain conditions are met and various quests are dealt with first. For the most part, it looks to be inspired by both Dragon Quest and some early console adventure titles like Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom.
I might try this one out sometime. It looks pretty decent for such an early handheld title.
That's not all Kemco has lined up for downloads in the near future. Sometime in August, a title called Genso Chronicle will be available for PSP through the PlayStation Store. Previously, it was only available for iPhone and Android, so this seems to be a step-up for the developers, a group called Hit-Point. More material has been added for the PSP version, including character-specific events, a battle arena, and a point system that can be used to get better weapons.
The story seems to be generic enough, with a dashing young hero trying to save his childhood friend from forces unknown after the destruction of their hometown. The main thing that sticks out is that every party member is partnered with a guardian beast that helps during battle. As a character's bond with the beast deepens, more options become available in combat.
With a price tag of just 600 yen (about US$7.60), this looks to be a pretty decent budget title for those lucky few Japanese students who do not have enough to do during summer vacation.
Level-5's 3DS title Fantasy Life has been a long while in development. The first info we got for it dates to September of 2009, and the game still hasn't received a firm release date. That's supposed to change soon, however, and Level-5 has gifted us with some more screenshots to boot.
To make it clear, this is not a normal RPG experience. Like the title says, it's more about living life in a fantasy world than it is about saving said world. This is probably a major factor in why it's taken so long to get the game to market. There are just so many different lives to choose and different things to see and do. I mean, every single one of the following characters actually represents a character class that the player can choose in this game.
In no particular order, there are prospectors, sorcerors, needle-workers, soldiers, carpenters, lumberjacks, blacksmiths, hunters, alchemists, cooks, mercenaries, and fishermen. And those are just the ones included in this particular Famitsu article. The game incorporates a thorough (for a Japanese title) character creation system, giving the player control over the character's face and general shape, not to mention a choice of voices for necessary lines to be spoken in-game. While this may seem odd to some, the character designer is none other than Yoshitaka Amano of Final Fantasy fame. He has also done much lighter, more cartoonish fare, so it's not really that strange after all.
Again, this game is supposed to be out later this year, but no definite date has been set. An announcement is supposed to be forthcoming, however. Until then, we can only wait.
When I saw the teaser video for Kami-sama to Unmei Kakumei Paradox last week, I was struck by the possibilities that lay in the title. The paradox of free will and choice coexisting with an omnipotent deity in the cosmos seemed to be pretty heady for a Nippon Ichi game. Then I read the plot introduction on Famitsu this week, and realize that I may have set my expectations a little high.
Like most of the games from NIS, this one is all about cute girls. Oh, and there's this guy as well:
Renya Kagurasaka was a typical high school student save for one detail -- he could never win at any game that involved luck of the draw. Any time he played any sort of lottery (a popular set of festival games in Japan), he lost. Then one day while shopping he signed up for one last lucky draw. He turned the wheel, the little ball popped out, but instead of the typical white of a losing draw, he got a strange, golden orb.
Next thing he knows, he's been deified. As the God of Choices, he holds the power to rebel against fate and really change the lives of people around him. We'll just have to wait and see how he manages with that. Of course, every deity needs helpers, and the Powers That Be have granted unto Renya four assistants to guide him through his new state of being.
Starting from the top, we have Lyriel Saotome (perky), Sherriel Ayanokouji (busty), Chloel Ryuzaki (feisty), and Lanayel Hakucho (creepy). Together, they possess all the physical, mental, and emotional attributes of a standard harem comedy. Hopefully this game will play out a little better than that.
I'm still waiting for the typical NIS deluge of media and information to occur. Until then, we have no idea what this game's combat is like, or even if it has combat. We still don't even know for sure what system it will appear on. Just gotta wait and see.
From the Forums
After the accident with the nuclear plant, my girlfriend started going a bit nutty because of the radiation spreading around and what not. Well, recently I started looking into japanese language school in Japan and, naturally, she went nutty again. She's afraid of all the side effects like getting cancer and babies born with birth defects and stuff. So, does the government or anyone really warn about some of those types of things? Do they give ideas on how to prevent it, or how to avoid sickness and stuff? We live on the other side of the world and my girlfriend is paranoid, so how do the people who actually live there feel about the whole mess?
Well, I can definitely say that the government could have handled it all better. There were signs of coverups and misreported radiation levels for a month or four after the earthquake. Still, unless you are planning on crashing the party at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor, you should not have anything to worry about. This site has a basic run-down of how safe it is to travel in Japan (hint: pretty safe all-around). Show it to your girlfriend, and that should keep trouble at bay. Well, unless she finds out that you keep calling her "nutty" in public forums.
Thanks for writing in!
The weather has yet to make up its mind. It's been either cool with heavy rain or sunny and sweltering, every single day this week. It's like the weather has taken on the persona of an anime-cliché "split personality" character.
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,