There aren't many game companies in Japan that can host their own stage events on an annual basis, much less do so with as much fanfare as the Tokyo Games Show. Level-5 just happens to be one of the few, and proved it again last weekend. As this is a company that publishes more RPGs than anything else, that means there's a lot of stuff to report in Japandemonium. So, with one exception, this is going to be a Level-5-centric column. I doubt anyone is going to complain.
In last week's Famitsu there was a big, two-page advertisement for the Level-5 World event, showing the protagonists from all the upcoming games and series. One, however, was shown only in silhouette. We know who it is now, and what his game is as well.
The video above is the official promo for Youkai Watch, the newest cross-media project out of Level-5. While the game's genre has yet to be announced, it could easily fall into the monster-collecting sub-genre of RPG. The hero's name is Keita, who just happens to find an accursed capsule machine while out in the woods one summer. Popping open a capsule, he frees Whisper the ghostly butler and gains a funky watch at the same time. The watch allows him to observe the hidden side of reality where the youkai live, and also to summon them to his aid in various situations.
Aside from Whisper, several other youkai are featured, some with traditional names and others with made-up names. As could be seen, fighting will probably be a big factor, but there are other ways to use these fey creatures. The miniscule Makuro-baba (Little Black Granny) can nest under a person's chin, hanging by the earlobes, and make a person speak their innermost thoughts out loud. In the case of the girl in the video, she was scared to tell her mom that she had "only" scored second-best in the class on the latest math test. That's Japan for you...
There's no word on what platform this will be on, either. I'm hoping that it'll be on something I currently have, as this game has all the makings of something I would love.
Level-5 is really making the most of its cross-media franchises. In this case, cross-media means that not only is there a game, but also an anime, a manga, and as many collectibles and models as possible. In honor of last month's release of The Little Battlers, one of the big stores downtown marked down LBX model kits by 20%. So I decided to pick one up on Wednesday, just for fun. Here are the results.
Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
That's not the only news we have about The Little Battlers today. A follow-up of the game with the secondary title Boost has been announced for next month. Boost is supposed to build on the original game with a greater number of parts and options for the game's LBX. One of the newest models is the Ypsilon, a dual-wielding LBX that is apparently a tertiary main character. I would try and list all the other parts and weapons mentioned in the article, but I can't be too sure what some of the names actually stand for, and in any case they probably wouldn't make too much sense. So instead, let's look at the pretty pictures.
One of the fun things about Inazuma Eleven Go media is seeing just how extreme the devs make the basic experience of soccer into. Will there be explosions? Psychic phenomenon? Ancient chthonic deities summoned from the darkness? How about all of the above?
Inazuma Eleven Go will be out in early December for the Nintendo 3DS. It will come in two versions, named Shine and Dark.
For all those who think that gamers need to get a life, we finally have a good rejoinder. Fantasy Life is a game that presents the player with twenty "lives," or job classes, with which to live their fantasy existence. Moreover, there are apparently three major cities to base that life in. The following screenshots were taken for a play report, Famitsu's version of a game impression, in which the player chose the role of Royal Knight in the city of Kulburg. King Eric sends him on a mission to fight monsters in a local cave, but whether or not other "lives" are as action-packed remains to be seen.
Other jobs that have been noted include Pilot, Woodcutter, and Miner, while the icons on the list would suggest quite a few more, covering the gamut of possible occupations. This game is scheduled to hit the 3DS sometime next year, and I will definitely be checking it out then.
When I was young, I read a lot of old pulp fantasy fiction, especially the works of Burroughs and Howard. My copies were mostly reprints from the 50s and 60s, and the cover artists seemed to have a preference for slightly Rubenesque women with small amounts of chainmail covering their bodies. So what does this have to do with anything?
Because this would also be an apt description of the heroine of Code of Princess. Solange Branchefleur de Luxe is described as serious, kind-hearted, but also a little klutzy. So how does a princess like this get chosen to wield the sacred sword of the kingdom? Who knows. But it will involve a lot of side-scrolling action, with the player able to move Solange back and forth between two lines of action. There's also supposed to be quest-style cooperative play options as well as battle-royale competitive play.
Code of Princess is being developed by Agatsuma Entertainment, a company better known for its family-friendly Anpanman franchise. In fact, when I first looked up the company's name, I checked it three times just to make sure I got the name right. The art and world designs are by Kinu Nishimura, of Capcom fame. It's definitely an odd matchup for Agatsuma, though.
Code of Princess is due out on the 3DS sometime next spring.
I've been re-reading a few mangas in my collection recently, and I am
not seeing many "college students" character that works to help pay
for their own study. There are plenty of part-time job episodes for
high school students lead, but I cannot recall anyone other than AMG's
Morisato Keichi who works to pay the bill (and he only does it
occasionally). Looking back at my own experience, none of my Japanese
friends worked while in college either. Is there an expectation that
if your family can't pay the bill then you just go ahead and drop out,
rather than trying to work your way through?
I think it really depends on which school you go to. The road to a high-status university in Japan usually begins around 5th grade in elementary school, when the aspiring student starts cram school to prepare for a good junior high school. By the time the kid gets to the university level, that means that he or she will have been taking supplementary classes two to six nights a week every week for almost eight years, at a cost equivalent to a local community college in the US (in the case of the best-regarded cram schools). Anyone who can get through all that will certainly have the family financial security to pay the way through most of university. Even if it's otherwise, most college students see their college life as a four-year reprieve between the hell of secondary education and the drudgery of an office existence, so they try to avoid work. There's also the issue of job availability. Japan's population distribution is decidedly umbrella-shaped, and a lot of older people try to bolster their pensions with part-time work at convenience stores or similar locations, putting them in competition with college students who might want similar light employment. Oddly enough, there aren't many high school students seeking work at all, mainly because high-schoolers are already working their tails off just to survive class. I do know that students in that age range need special dispensation from the school to work at all.
Basically, it's complicated and really different from US work culture.
So I need a way to tie this part of the column into Level-5 as well. What to do, what to do... Well, I'm definitely picking up Ninokuni for the PS3 in a couple weeks. I'll be sure to write an impression for you all by the end of November.