Japandemonium - Off the Hook

Evening all, and welcome to another edition of Japandemonium. I have to admit, I'm in a much better mood than I was last week. Not only did I sort out my Game Boy Advance SP woes, but the weather is also getting a bit better up here in Canada. Despite the fact that it was -5°C here today, I went outside with only a T-shirt (pants too, mind you) just for the hell of it. It was the "warmest" day we've had here in a while, and it felt like a waste to not feel the sun on my bare arms for a bit.

The latest Dengeki numbers are in and RPGs fared a bit better than last week. Sales for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance were very good, considering that the game only went on sale on February 14th. Retailers have stated that the game appears to be selling at a one to one ratio with the Game Boy Advance SP, which also hit stores on the 14th. Namco's tactical RPG Venus & Braves debuted in fifth place, although with only ~50,000 units shifted. Nintendo will be ecstatic to see that the Pokémon series is still as popular as ever. By the time you read this, combined sales for the GBA installments will have crossed 4,000,000 units sold. Below are the numbers for all the Top 20 RPGs for the week ending Sunday, February 16th.

    Position; Title (Publisher), Console, Sales this week; Total Sales
  • 2. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Square), GBA, 225,993, 225,993 (including GBA SP bundle)
  • 5. Venus & Braves (Namco), PlayStation 2, 48,206, 48,206
  • 7. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Square EA), PS2, 41,691, 41,691
  • 9. Pokémon Sapphire (Nintendo), GBA, 27,050, 1,994,220
  • 10. Pokémon Ruby (Nintendo), GBA, 26,530, 1,951,215
  • 14. Makai Senki Disgaia (Nippon Ichi), PS2, 15,588, 85,881

Have you ever fancied owning a piece of a non-Earth planet? If so, then Enix has a wacky campaign just for you. The company announced a new tie-in for Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time on Tuesday that would entitle ten winners of a random draw to earn actual, honest-to-goodness land deeds for Mars. Applications will be accepted on Enix' web site, from the game's launch day, February 27th, until the end of March. The deeds will be processed by Lunar Embassy Japan, a subsidiary of the US-based Lunar Embassy Corporation. Don't expect to take up residence of your plot of land anytime soon, though.

Star Ocean 3 Mars CampaignStar Ocean 3 Mars Campaign

In more Star Ocean 3 news, Team Entertainment has announced release details for the game's multiple upcoming soundtracks. Four soundtracks, spanning six discs, are planned, with the first double-disc set scheduled for release on March 19th at 3,300 ¥ ($28). This CD will come with a collector's box to hold the rest of the soundtracks. The second two-disc volume of the original sound collection will retail for 3,200 ¥ ($27) and see release on April 9th. Two weeks later, on April 23rd, the arranged version will hit shelves at 2,800 ¥ ($24), with the final disc, a voice mix album, following on May 14th, for 2,800 ¥ ($24). Click here for a large image of the soundtrack promo material, or just check out the cover art below.

Star Ocean 3 Soundtrack

And, as if that wasn't enough Star Ocean 3 music in the offing, Enix is also planning a live performance to commemorate the game's release. Official details have not yet been finalized, but the event, featuring progressive keyboard artist Motoi Sakuraba, is slated to go down on the 25th of May. Sakuraba previously did aural work for such notable seies as Namco's Tales of... and the Star Ocean titles, as well as Valkyrie Profile. Further details as far as ticket prices are concerned will be released as the date approaches. Enix will be giving priority for ticket sales to those who fill out a questionnaire at its web site.

Besides the Game Boy Advance SP itself, last week also saw the release of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance in Japan. As the Pearl White GBA SP & Final Fantasy Tactics Advance bundle is probably not going to see release over here, and because numbers were limited enough that it's a virtual certainty that none of us is going to get one, I thought it might be neat to at least get an idea of what the bundle looks like. The pics below, courtesy of the friendly folks over at importer NCSX, show the unit itself, the cell-phone strap, and images from the full-color manual.




Japan is all abuzz with MegaTen fever, now that the PlayStation 2 remake of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne has finally hit shelves. As you would expect (if you've been reading the past couple week's column), Atlus held a promotional event to celebrate the game's launch on Thursday. This time, Kazuma Kaneko, the game's character designer, appeared on his own, sans regular cohort Cozy Okada, who had to cancel his apearance due to ill health. The creator answered questions to a packed room in Akihabara, followed by an autograph session. Hopefully sales for the game will surpass that of Shin Megami Tensei Nine, which floundered despite a similar media blitzkrieg from Atlus.

Shin Megami Tensei 3 Launch EventShin Megami Tensei 3 Launch EventShin Megami Tensei 3 Launch Event

If you're a die-hard fan of the MegaTen series, and you have a couple thousand dollars lying around that you don't know what to do with, then Atlus and NEC have something just for you. The two companies have announced a special-edition Shin Megami Tensei III La Vie series laptop. The notebook, which will retail for an impressive 208,400 ¥ ($1,760), contains an Intel Pentium III-M 933 MHz processor, 256 MB RAM, 30 GB hard drive, a DVD/CD-RW combo drive and a 12" screen. The shell of the laptop is decked out in the design of the game's protagonist's tattoo, and--if $1,800 is too much just for a pretty exterior--it comes with some SMT3 screensavers and wallpaper, too. It's interesting to note that this is a big enough deal that NEC has an announcement for the notebook on its corporate home page. Yes, it's expensive, but if I had the money...

Shin Megami Tensei 3 NotebookShin Megami Tensei 3 Notebook

Atlus also launched a community website for Shin Megami Tensei III on Thursday. The site will serve as a central location for all news MegaTen, and it is replete with forums and a virtual museam of official and fan art. Access to the site is free, but it requires registration.

A few weeks ago I mentioned "Black Mages," a Final Fantasy Battle Theme compilation CD. Digicube and Square announced this week that there will be a live performance of songs from this CD in Shibuya on the 26th of April. This concert will feature the CD's rock remixes, and, of course, the disc will be available for purchase, too. Final Fantasy series composer Nobuo Uematsu, who created most of the music being performed, will be at the event as well. Tickets are running 4,200 ¥ ($35) and are on sale right now.

In closing, I would like to make a personal comment regarding Nintendo's recent and upcoming Game Boy-related hardware releases. The GBA SP is proving very popular, and, somehow, the company never anticipated this, meaning that many people are left without one. It has also been revealed that the Game Boy Player, which will allow you to play Game Boy Advance and Color games on your TV, will also only be available in limited quantities at launch time. Also, in North America, the company will only be releasing the Jet Black unit, meaning that those you with Indigo and Platinum hardware looking to color coordinate are out of luck. While there is no chance that Nintendo is going to lose market share because of these hiccups, it's still disappointing to see the company take such a half-hearted approach at releasing its own product. Or maybe I'm just bitter because I have to wait for my stuff. Yes, that's probably it.

Exeunt all

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by Alex Wollenschlaeger    
Sources: [Impress Game Watch, Dengeki]

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