I had a bit of a surprise this week. Nothing bad, thankfully. Nothing particularly good, either. It was just something that I hadn't really expected to happen, and now I have to say something I never really expected to say.
I like the newest Pepsi flavor.
Seriously, Pepsi's latest oddball flavor is actually decent. After flirting with such flavors as cucumber, sno-cone, shiso, azuki bean, montblanc pastry, and baobab, Pepsico has finally delivered something that I don't mind drinking more than once. My mind is blown. I don't even like regular Pepsi, much less Pepsi Nex (the only sort sold in Japan on a regular basis) or any of the variety flavors the company's released up to this point. So what's the latest flavor that I'm enjoying so much?
Caribbean Gold Pepsi, with white sapote. I had never heard of this fruit before, but I'll be enjoying the soda version for the rest of the summer.
Most of you all might have noticed, but there's a current console that's sadly underpresented in Japandemonium, and that's the XBox 360. That's understandable, though, as the vast majority of RPGs for that console are either US-developed or co-developed for the PS3 (and also US-bound). There are a few exceptions here and there, such as Students of Round. Like it, Japan-exclusive 360 titles tend to be ports of PC titles. Here's a new one to add to the list:
This is Meirou X Blood, or "Labyrinth Cross Blood" with a "Reloaded" tacked onto the end to show that it's a port. Developed by Experience and published by Kadokawa, it was originally released for the PC last December. This November, it will also be available for the 360.
Cross Blood is set in a twisted version of Tokyo, its buildings and inhabitants warped almost beyond recognition by mystic forces. People may disappear, only to be discovered later aged and drained of vigor. Into this bizarre milieu of urban sprawl turned dungeon, the special forces unit known as X must venture. Players may build their own party out of over twenty different classes, and tweak their creations further by assigning support characters called Bloods. Two Bloods, a main and a sub, may be assigned to any given character, with their own stats and abilities to add to the mix. The game itself is a dungeon-diver, similar to Students of Round or Etrian Odyssey. I was able to find a promotional video on Dengeki, so let's take a look at that:
Kemco has produced a lot of cell phone games in recent years. I reviewed one earlier this week. While I wasn't terribly impressed, that game was made three years ago. More recent titles from the house of Kemco look much nicer. Like this one.
Makoroshi no Hagane, or "Steel of the Demon Slayer", was developed by Exe-Create for DoCoMo's iPhone download service. Its personalized genre designation is "Dynamic Warfare RPG". In this particular game world, there are three nations at war. The first is a nation of magic users, the second a nation of ironworkers. The third nation specializes in hexes and other dark skills. None of the three are on particular good terms with the others.
One of the more attractive features of the game, according to Famitsu, is that MP effectively does not exist. Instead, it looks like skills and magic depend on a point system that either replenishes automatically after battle, or regenerates during combat. Either way, there's no real limit to how often one can use special attacks.
Makoroshi no Hagane is available now, through Kemco's iMode portal.
Crossover games are one of the more interesting phenomena of recent years. The fact that they can happen at all is often a testament to the flexibility of Japanese publishing rights laws (cf. Super Robot Wars). In recent years, we've seen Cross Edge, Trinity Universe, Cross of Venus, Shonen White Comic, and Queen's Gate Spiral Chaos, each of which took disparate elements and characters and tied them together in odd and nonsensical ways. Well, Bandai-Namco is at it again, with this next mashup title.
This is Heroes Phantasia. Take a moment to look at the faces in those scans. Recognize anyone? I'm kind of surprised by how many of these characters I know, considering I haven't really watched most of the series in question. There are ten series involved, so let's make this into a list.
Sorcerous Stabber Orphen
R.O.D. Read or Die
Darker than Black: The Black Contractor
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Shooting Star
The article in Famitsu notes that there are also original characters, but isn't about to divulge more information on that just yet. The game's story takes place in a world split in twain, with Reality being a region in the heart of Japan that has been devastated by disasters which may not all be natural. Somehow this region has become linked to a second, fantasy world called Adroath, and the results of this breach in the dimensional barriers surely does not bode well for any of the characters involved.
The screens above give some idea of how battles in this game work out. There are four to a party, with each character being mapped to a different button. It looks a lot like the battle system in Valkyrie Profile. The cursor buttons can be used to switch around characters in formation, which affects the abilities they can do in battle, i.e. available skills are linked to where the character is standing, front or back.
Heroes Phantasia is going to be on the PSP, and should be out sometime this winter. Right now, it's officially 60% complete.
So, I've been playing a ton of Chantelise (since I'm reviewing it for
the site), and I've been starting to wonder more and more about the
popularity of doujin games. Have there been any that are worth sharing
over the last little while? I mean, I've noticed EasyGameStation
actually has a doujin game for Threads of Fate, which I find pretty
interesting. How popular is it to make doujin games of established
franchises, and is it equally popular in terms of more original works?
As I understand it, most doujin games of that sort are made for the original game's fanbase, and their popularity rarely expands beyond that. The last one I reported on was Romancing Clannad, which was based on both the love-sim title and Square Enix's Romancing SaGa series.
Unfortunately, my best source for doujin game news (the doujin equivalent to RPGamer, more or less) announced a server change back in April, saying that they would be back in a few days. Five months later, and the site is still down. Without it, I'm largely left sifting through links from various doujin circles, most of which do not update regularly. Sho ga nai.
Also, I hear you've been collecting random PlayStation oddities.
Anything good in the recent bargain bins?
Well, the first things that come to mind are the two RPGs of the Pandora Max series, Dragon Knights Glorious and Rubbish Blazon. The Pandora Max series was a set of PSX titles by Pandora Box. Most of them were adventure titles, but #1 and #3 were not only role-playing games, but were actually set in the same world and so are a real series in that respect. Looking them up on Google now, I find that the entire Pandora Max series was released on PSN back in 2009.