As a long-term resident of the Land of the Rising Sun, I've sort of accumulated responsibilities. I have various projects to do for my school, most of them self-imposed. I've had the government pension plan forced upon me. And last week, I got to pay my quarterly dues in the form of taxes.
Back in March, I got my financial overview as per what I owe the government. If I were still working for a major company, this would be handled for me, probably at less expense. As it is, I have to fork over a sizable part of my monthly salary four times a year. Many foreigners in Japan try to dodge this, and to be honest most of them are in the country for so short a time that the government doesn't care. I'm not in that situation, and so I pay. All the while I think, "I could buy two PS3s for that much...."
C'est la vie. Shikata nai tsutai. Death and taxes. Game characters have got it easy in comparison. I'd much rather face down Ganon than the local tax office.
Last week also marked a special milestone for Famitsu magazine. It was the eight-hundred thirty-second issue. This may seem odd, unless you know the Japanese number substitution games. Just as 2 and 4 can be used in English to replace "to" and "for" in informal texting, each number can be assigned a syllable in Japanese that matches its pronunciation. Actually, with onyomi (Chinese reading), kun'yomi (Japanese reading), and English loanwords, it comes to four or more pronunciations per number. The number 8 can be pronounced hachi (shortened to ha), yo, ya, or eito. Number 3 can be san, sa, zan, mi or surii. Number 2 can be fu, bu, ni, or tsu.
The importance of 832 lies in one particular combination. Ha-mi-tsu. Get it? Anyhoo, this issue also had a little present for the readers. It was just a postcard, but it's the thought that counts.
Time to play catchup! First things first, we have a lot of screens and character designs for 7th Dragon 2020, courtesy of Dengeki. There are several things showcased in this update, the first being the Psychic class.
Why is it that the psychic girls always wear the skimpiest clothes? Anyway, this class specializes in powers not of this earth. Depending on how they are trained up, they can become strong attackers or powerful healers.
Aside from them, there are a few other characters of note this time around. One of them sings the game's theme song, "SeventH-HeaveN."
Hatune Miku is one of the best known vocaloids on the market, and in her 2020 incarnation, she appears as part of one of 7th Dragon 2020's secondary quest lines. While I doubt that she'll be joining in the fray anytime soon, that would be kind of cool. She does make an appearance in the game's opening movie, though.
Last, we have the political side of the story. Alien dragons can't just arrive from the depths of space and lay waste to Japan without the international community taking note. The Murakumo organization is so pivotal to the elimination of the dragon threat that it has regular conferences with dignitaries like this guy.
This is Jack Mueller, President of the United States in 2020. Just what POTUS has to do with the greater plot of the game isn't yet known, but the US military has been mobilized to contain the spread of the invasive draconic ecology that pervades Japan. Presumably a nuclear option will become a plot point later in the game.
After all, it wouldn't be a disaster movie without the looming end of the world, would it?
No bones about it, Monster Hunter is one of the greatest success stories of modern J-gaming. This means that knock-offs are inevitable. We've had God Eater and Lord of Arcana already. Now it's time for another attempt to cash in on the genre, courtesy of Game Arts.
The first bit of news is that Ragnarok Odyssey will appear on the Playstation Vita. When it will arrive is still unknown, but it's likely to beat the first (and as yet unannounced) Monster Hunter title for that system by a good margin. It of course features monsters that are several times larger than the heroes, and thus the four-person multiplayer will probably be a necessity at times. Some of the monsters in the video below look to be built on the same scale as Shadow of the Colossus. The player character list includes the usual types — Swordsman, Assassin, Hunter, Mage, and Cleric — as well as a Blacksmith character who wields massive hammers with slow but crushing force.
As mentioned, there's no release date yet, but a playable demo is supposed to be available at the Tokyo Game Show next week.
Last time we looked at Heroes Phantasia, we had some scans and a few screens. While we don't have any new information on this game, we do have lots more pretty pictures to look at. See for yourselves.
Here are the battle screens:
And the event screens:
And a handful of special character attack screens. I admit to cherry-picking these, as I have more than enough screenshots on my hands right now. We've got one for each major series character, though Keroro seems to have outsourced his.
The past year and a half has seen the rise of the social gaming networks in Japan. Yahoo's Mobage and its competitor, GREE, run regular TV commercials, and the numbers seem to be up. It's interesting to see just where these networks are going with their games as well. Recently, it's been the "battle royale" genre that's succeeded the most, but the special GREE-focused booklet in the latest issue of Famitsu shows that RPGs are still a heavy presence. Granted, these aren't traditional console RPGs we're talking about, but rather browser- and mobile phone-based games. Still, out of the forty titles showcased in the booklet, there were seventeen RPGs mentioned. I'm skipping Final Fantasy: Knights of the Crystals for now, since that's already available through Facebook. Here are the rest.
On the left, we have Tanken Dorilland, a game focused on exploration and monster-hunting. On the right, there's Cerberus, a sword-and-sorcery simulation RPG with three major factions.
Next, on the left: Pirate Kingdom Colombus, an RPG with a focus on founding and building up the player's own pirate kingdom. In the middle: Monster Planet, a very obvious Pokémon clone. On the right is Dragon Collection, a card-based monster-collection title.
For the next six, we descend into the depths of brand-recognition. Gundam Masters, Masked Rider Wars, Crows / Worst (major manga title over here), Tengai Makyo, Resident Evil, and Yakuza all have brand-derivative GREE RPGs, either in the works or available right now.
Here are three more on the radar. Space Chronicle is a self-styled "space opera RPG" featuring a boxy robot and a cheerleader alien. Ninkyoudo, "The Chivalrous Path", is all about wandering swordsmen proving their worth to the world. Finally, from the same developer there's Kaizokudo, which seems to be similar, only with pirates instead.
And then we have the big surprise. Nestled into one corner of the Knights of the Crystals - Ultimate Job System spread was this bit. Emperors SaGa. While it's definitely not the sort of new series entry that anyone wanted, it's a sign that Square Enix hasn't written the IP off yet. Here's hoping for the other Romancing SaGa remakes, though.
I'm going to let the scans speak for themselves on this one.
That's right. Type-Moon and Marvelous Entertainment are once again bringing the Fate series an RPG. Fate/Extra CCC follows the same continuity as Fate/Extra, with the history of the Grail War being rewritten. Of course, mysterious new characters are introduced, however they remain nameless for the moment. It's also unclear what their relationship is to each other, though it would seem that the girl with the devil horns is the Master, and the purple-haired girl is her Servant. That probably makes no sense to anyone unfamiliar with the source material, but oh well.
Dragon Quest 25 Anniversary NES & SNES Dragon Quest I - II - III*
Ico & Shadow of the Colossus**
Monster Hunter Portable 3rd (PSP The Best)
Makai Kingdom Portable
Ao no Kiseki
*The Dragon Quest 25th Anniversary Collection will have multiple price tags, at least in the big stores where I am. Specifically, Tsutaya is offering a discount to all gamers under the age of 25. As it's only a 250 yen difference, however, it's more symbolic than anything else.
**Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are being sold both separately and as a bundled set.
I have just read your review dedicated to Metal Max 2 Kai for the GBA and it seems that the game is not all that different from its SNES counterpart (which was thankfully fan translated into English). It fact, this game does great justice to the word 'port'. But what about the sequel, Metal Max 3? Have you had a chance to play it? It was made specifically for the NDS and from what I have seen and played, it is pretty good. The upcoming Metal Max Reloaded will make use of the same graphical engine introduced in the third game. I hope you have a chance to play the series on the NDS if you have not already.
Y'know, I haven't paid much attention to fan translations in years. Guess I should. Anyway, I haven't tried Metal Max 3 yet, mainly because it's still fairly expensive. A full year has passed since its release, and it's still priced around $40, used. I'll definitely pick up the entire series eventually. Metal Saga: Season of Steel is going for about ten dollars, so I might get that one next. As for Metal Max 2 Reloaded, as I said last column, I won't be playing that one for quite a while, mainly because I played the GBA port to exhaustion.
On a slightly different topic, I would like to ask you about the Japanese language and why it contains so many borrowed English words. And I am not just talking about words that end with an 'o'. I am talking about words like 'toraburumeikaa', 'doragon', 'dorama' and words found in titles such as: 'Poketto Monsutaa Burakku Howaito', 'Sutaa Ooshan Sekando Sutoorii'. I guess video games need to have an international appeal, but what about the other ones? Could you please talk about this phenomenon? Thank you in advance!
Well, in the case of any and all video game titles, the answer would be "to sound cool." As for the deeper reasons behind all the loanwords, that's a bit more complicated. First, Japanese is something of a closed language when it comes to adding core vocabulary. This may seem an odd thing to say, given the sheer number of loanwords, but we're talking about the core words of the language, the ones that can unequivocally be said to be Japanese, accompanied by their own kanji symbols. This vocabulary does not expand very quickly, for any language. However, Japanese got into the industrial era a lot later than any of its Western counterparts, and so it never had the time to develop a lot of language for modern items and concepts. Because of this, there was a great need to borrow words in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I think this turned into something of a habit after a while. You can still see a lot of German loan-words in scientific areas, French loanwords in cultural areas, even a few Russian words (like noruma, from the Russian word for "quota"). The younger generation in particular likes to add random words, often because the closest Japanese counterpart has connotations through its kanji that aren't always welcome. For example, many prefer miruku (milk) instead of gyuunyuu, because the Japanese symbols really mean "cow udder (liquid)." Other times, a loanword might be used to differentiate between Japanese and Western versions of the same thing, like how doragon always refers to a Western dragon, but the Japanese ryu refers to Eastern dragons. Dinosaurs are still kyoryu though.
Something similar can be seen in the Paraguay Guarani language of South America. Like Japanese, it entered the modern age fairly late, and a lot of its words for technology had to be borrowed from Spanish. There, however, the government has tried to curb the influx of foreign words by introducing Guarani-styled new words for things like television and computer. I'm not sure how well that's worked out though.