The Gaijin's Japandemonium 2010 Halftime Report
1st Half
The Highlights So Far
Jan.End of Eternity
Feb.Endless Frontier EXCEED
Mar.Keroro RPG

The year's only half done, but what a busy year it has been! Even with some of the biggest titles coming out a month before the start of the year, there's been lots to talk about, gamewise. So what's the scoop from the Land of the Rising Sun? Let's see....

The year opened with End of Eternity in January. Better known in the West as Resonance of Fate, this title had a deep battle system, an innovative world, and an insane amount of visual customization. While not for everyone, it was an impressive way for the PS3 to start 2010.

Two years back, I made the mistake of skipping over SRW: Endless Frontier in favor of a far less deserving title. Last February the sequel, Endless Frontier EXCEED arrived in stores, bigger and better and full of what made the first game popular: robots, boobs, explosions, boobs, combat, boobs, music, boobs, hilariously cheesy plot, and of course more boobs. What more could a gamer want?

An anime wrapped in an RPG wrapped in a parody, March's Keroro RPG was an odd duck. Backed by the acclaimed Tales Studio and some of the whackiest background story imaginable, it managed the difficult task of being a good licensed title. No mean feat, considering the general quality of games based on popular shows or movies.

The month of April goes to Nier. No, not the one that you played, the other one. Nier Replicant, featuring a different protagonist with different motivations and different skills, outsold its Gestalt counterpart by an order of magnitude in Japan. How they compare to one another is something I neither know nor much care about. It does make one wonder how the split-system sales approach would have worked overseas, though.

May was a good month for remakes, as both Medabots and SRT: The Lord of Elemental received impressive graphical makeovers. Originally for the GBA and Super Famicom, respectively, both commanded a decent core of fans, but even so the news of their rebirth was a bit of a surprise.

Originally I'd planned to make June's featured game the sequel to last June's wonderfully alchemic surprise, but then along came Bakumatsu Revolution, the co-op dungeon-crawling PSP title that dared quite a lot. At a time when historical dramas have reached the height of popularity, it took some of the leading samurai of an era and turned them into bratty children, sleepy-eyed trollops, and flaming transvestites. And then they had the temerity to make it free-to-download. Kudos to Acquire Software, even though I have no idea what they were thinking.

2nd Half
The Best That Is Yet To Come
6Pokémon Black/White
5Jikan de Phantasia
4The Another Country

Now it's time to look forward to the next six months, and what is (or what we believe to be) available soon. I'm pretty sure this section will be accurate this year.

First, we must bow to the inevitable. Pokémon Black/White is coming, and it's going to sell millions. And we all will be among those millions, most likely. Huzzah for comfort games!

For gamers with a bit of time on their hands, there's Jikan de Phantasia. Sporting a similar combination of high-speed action and retro sprite graphics that made its spiritual predecessor, Half-Minute Hero, such a hit, this title for the PSP will be stopping clocks and causing delays in productivity starting in mid-July.

While it was on the upcoming sales lists for much of the previous year, Ninokuni - The Another World, finally has a release date set for this fall. Soon enough, RPGamers across Japan will be enjoying this beautifully animated Ghibli/Level-5 collaboration. And that's not even taking into account the recently announced PS3 quasi-sequel.

It's not often these days that you see a game that makes you wonder just what the design team was smoking. Super Dimensional Game Neptune is one of those games. Set in an allegorical representation of the Japanese game industry, it comes complete with console wars and demonic agents of piracy. I'm keeping my eyes on this one just because it's so weird a concept.

For a change of pace, the #2 slot isn't going to a game title this year, but to a game console. Nintendo announced the new 3DS a few months back, and had a lot more to tell us about it at E3. If it can do half the things Nintendo says then it's going to be a good replacement for my old DS, which is going to turn five years old later this year..

And last we should have a moment for all those potentially great games of 2010 which we have yet to hear about. There are certain to be a few. Last year we didn't know about Strange Journey or Atelier Lina until September, and both of them were worthy of mention. Word is that the folks at Atlus have a new MegaTen title in the works, and they're surely not the only ones with surprises up their sleeves. Whatever comes up, Japandemonium will be there to try and keep up with it all.

Your man in Japan


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