shimotsuki no tsuitachi
Saigo Made Tsutsuku

Why yes, it has been a long time, hasn't it? An entire month has just flown on by. I had to get something up in time for my Japandemonium anniversary, however, and that would be... right about now. Unfortunately, this is probably going to be my final JP anniversary as well. As you all might have noticed, the quantity of JP-exclusive titles has been in decline for a long while now, and the material in this column is all I could scrape up over a month. At least, it was all I could get that was not already US-bound, DLC-related, or iOS. Japandemonium has been dancing on its last legs for months, and to be frank I'm a little burned out.

We've come a long way since the glory days of the DS and PlayStation 2, when obscure titles were coming from the woodwork out to populate the niche gaming press. It was possible to get five completely new titles to cover per week for the longest time. Now, it feels like most of what's out there is just another layer of hype on the current big-name game, the one that's already seen plenty of coverage. And that's not what Japandemonium is about, I think. JP and I have lost that sense of discovery that kept me going through issue after issue of Famitsu. I haven't even bought a copy of that magazine in months, because all I have to do is make a cursory check of the table of contents and a few quick flip-throughs in the store to realize that there is nothing new that I couldn't find online (or that I've already covered).

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are more games out there that you the audience want to hear about. And if you all would let me know what those games are, I'd probably increase coverage. As it is, right now I have the choice of soldiering on and commenting on the same two or three games with every column, or just skipping for a week or three and working on other projects. I wish there were a third option, but that's up to the industry to decide.

I'll keep up the good fight for as long as I can, but I cannot promise updates with any level of regularity. Just letting you all know that.

10/21 ~ 10/27 Title Publisher Platform
1 Pokémon X/Y Pokémon Company
4 Monster Hunter 4 Capcom
15 Tales of Symphonia Chronicles Bandai-Namco
22 Fairy Fencer F Compile Heart
24 Youkai Watch Level-5
28 Mario & Luigi Dream Team Nintendo

AliceSoft and its flagship series Toushin Toshi have been around for a long time, but next January the series will go where it's never gone before — actual console hardware. Toushin Toshi - Girls Gift RPG will appear on the 3DS, but with a few caveats. Unlike every other game in the series, it will be lacking in sex. Seriously, that is what the series is known for. The title refers to the "Battle God City" and its famous tournaments. Every year, powerful warriors gather with their lovely companions cheering them on. Losing combatants must give up their companion to the victor, who may then use the girl in any way desired for one night. Obviously, this is not going to fly with the usual 3DS audiences (Starfrost Amazons notwithstanding).

Though I can see that the cheesecake factor is still strong in this one. Apparently, instead of being able to solicit sexual favors from the girls in this game, the hero can receive gifts in the form of skills that grow in power as the relationship deepens.

It does say a lot about this game that only one of the six available screenshots from Famitsu actually features combat. What we can see looks pretty pedestrian.

Not much is said about the story, though it is supposedly based on the game Toushin Toshi III. It seems that the hero's betrothed (blue-haired girl) is a point of contention between him and his main rival (the dude on the right). Other than that, I have no idea. Not even the promotional video helped, though it did provide some embarrassing cheesecake. See for yourself, if you're in the mood for that sort of thing.

Toushin Toshi: Girls Gift RPG hits the shelves on January 30th, 2014.

Source: Famitsu Online

The year is 20XX, and a killer is loose in Tokyo. He shows no mercy, leaves no witnesses, and has the entire city gripped in a reign of terror. The police and the military have proven useless against him, so what is the government to do? Hire a bunch of teenage paranormal investigative warriors. This is Japan, after all. Operating out of Hinowaku High School in central Tokyo, the Special Operations Division X works in conjunction with the government and the Center for the Paranormal and Occult (CPO) to pursue bizarre cases and investigate the mysterious labyrinth known as Babel that has recently appeared in the heart of the city. All in a day's work in Tokyo Shin Yoroku Operation Abyss

This being a crazy neo-futuristic magical dungeon crawler, the student body is probably obligated to dress like this. These are three of the recruitable classes, by the way: the Royal, the Divine, and the Martial. At least, that's my best interpretation of Oujutsushi, Seijutsushi, and Bujutsushi. Note the elements of the student uniform in the first two, and the slightly fetishized shrine maiden outfit (complete with hip-openings) on the third. Operation Abyss is a first-person dungeon crawl, so the normal rules apply. The bulk of the party is composed of player-created peons, with a handful of plot characters to provide a connection to the narrative.

So here are a few of the plot characters. The one on the left is the head of the Special Operations Division X, so of course she looks like a pop star. The one on the right is the student body president. The one in the middle is apparently an android, because why not.

The monsters, on the other hand, all look sort of monochromatic in blue.

So if you're in the mood for another romp in the dungeon-crawling style, Cyberfront has what you're looking for. This game is scheduled to be on sale January 23rd, 2014, on the PlayStation Vita.

Source: Dengeki Online

Our last game for the day is slightly old news. I first heard of this one not long after TGS, which means it's been sitting on my backburner for over a month now. In many ways, it's the most interesting game on this list: Ar no Surge, brought to us by Gust. Here's the story blurb:

Planet LaCiela, home to both humans and the higher lifeforms known as Genome. Long ago, its verdant lands were devastated, and all attempts to migrate to other worlds were blocked by the Ferion Divide, also called the "Shield of the Gods." Barred from reaching the stars, the people settled into habitats along the Divide. They live an existence without sunrise or sunset, without seasons to define the passing of time. Still, they have grown accustomed to it, and even thrive. They build their houses of wood and metal, simple in their craft, and dream of great arts now lost to them.

However, peace is fleeting. From parts unknown come the Shaar. These mysterious beings capture people, taking them away to God knows where. None can withstand the song-magics that the Shaar wield.

Then, after a millenium and more, the impenetrable barrier of the Divide finally opens to reveal some of its secrets. From the other side come a group of people called the Ancient Seeds, knowledgable in both the song-magics of the Shaar and the lost technology of the ages. With a new redoubt and new skills to bring to the fore, now is the time to seek out the Shaar, reveal their mysteries, and defeat them once and for all.

The heart of the new human civilization is the city of Ferion, ruled by the Heavenly Gun Princess. Its tall towers represent the decaying grandeur of the old world, and in its depths, the last members of the original colonial expedition force, the Ancient Seeds, sleep in cryostasis. As it lies right between the great Divide and the Shaar-plagued outer lands, it's become the most populous habitat by default, in a "rock and a hard place" sort of way.

The two named heroes of the day are Delta Lantaneuille and Ar Ciess (RCS?). Delta is an Ancient Seed, awakened to help defend Ferion. But that's in the past now. While he was once a member of the Genomus team, he has since retired for reasons unknown, and works as a short-order cook in a restaurant on the outskirts of the city. That situation probably won't last long. Ar Ciess is a robot of unknown design, specs, or purpose. No one's sure why he was made, but considering his skill with weapons it's likely he was a military model.

This game was apparently conceived as a merger of the Ciel no Surge and Ar tonelico series, and from what I can see it plays as such. In battle, Delta and Ar Ciess are accompanied by a song-magician, and much of the action in combat centers on keeping the enemy away from her. In towns, the player can synthesize new equipment or use the Genometrics system to explore the psyches of party members (in other words, Diving).

Ar no Surge will be on the shelves on January 30th, 2013, for both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita.

Source: Dengeki Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Tears to Tiara 2: Descendant of the Overlord AquaPlus 10.31.13
Hyperdimension Neptunia Re:Birth1 Compile Heart 10.31.13
Cardboard Senki Wars Level-5 10.31.13
Okami (PS3 the Best) Capcom 11.7.13
Exstetra Furyuu 11.7.13
Metal Max 4: The Moonlight Diva Kadokawa Games 11.7.13
Demon Gaze (PS Vita the Best) Kadokawa Games 11.14.13
Gods Eater 2 Bandai-Namco 11.14.13
Starfire Amazons Arc System Works 11.14.13
Medabots 3DS Kuwagata/Kabuto Rocket Company 11.14.13
New Atelier Rorona: The Story Begins Gust 11.21.13
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Square Enix 11.21.13
Criminal Girls: Invitation Nippon Ichi 11.28.13
Source: Dengeki Online

Sadly, I do not know when the next Japandemonium will be. I'm hoping for a monthly update if at all possible. We shall have to see.

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

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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