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Japandemonium - Horror of Yig
Japandemonium

We're getting to that time of the year when most of the previously announced games are out, or nearly so, and there's not all that much on the horizon until E3 rolls around. Japan and North America saw the release of a lot of RPGs over the past week. Whether this is a good or bad thing is proportional to the thickness of your wallet or the empty space on your timetable. Unfortunately, I have reached the stage of my life--as I would wager a lot of you have--where it's not money but time that is keeping me from savoring the cornucopia of games on offer. There are worse situations, I suppose. For now, let's have a look at what's going down on the other side of the Pacific.

The latest sales figures from Japan, courtesy of the fine folks over at Dengeki, have been released, and it should come as little suprise that Atlus' latest offering, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, took the honors for the week. The company's media onslaught resulted in somewhat low first week sales of slighty over 150,000. Not spectacular numbers, but still respectable. Square's Final Fantasy Tactics Advance held on to the number two spot, and, for the first time since their release in November, the Pokémon games fell out of the Top 10. Namco's Venus & Braves did not do at all well in its second week on the shelves, and I would not be surprised to see it booted out of the Top 20 next time. This week saw some high profile releases (see below for specifics), so expect more volatility next week. Below are the numbers for Top 20 RPGs for the week ending February 23rd.

    Position; Title (Publisher), Console, Sales this week; Total Sales
  • 1. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne (Atlus), PlayStation 2, 152,676, 152,676
  • 2. Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (Square), Game Boy Advance, 64,540, 290,533
  • 11. Pokémon Sapphire (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 17,758, 2,011,978
  • 12. Pokémon Ruby (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 15,617, 1,966,832
  • 14. Venus & Braves (Namco), PlayStation 2, 13,160, 61,366
  • 15. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Square EA), PlayStation 2, 12,521, 54,212
  • 18. Makai Senki Disgaia (Nippon Ichi), PlayStation 2, 9,155, 95,036

To celebrate this week's release of Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio ni for the PlayStation 2, SEGA held a commemorative event at the Gigo Amusement Center in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district on Tuesday. Throngs of gamers queued up for hours to spend the evening in the company of the Overworks development team and their newest creation. Those on hand finally got their hands on the completed product and got to soak up the Sakura Taisen fever running rampant in the city. SEGA had something else to keep people's hands busy, too, setting up some UFO catchers for attendees to grab two sets of six limited edition badges. Besides the autographs and photographs that are expected as events such as this, there was one other--rather bizarre--attraction. Special meals were set up for each of the game's characters. Yes, actual food, on display. Check out the pics below for the proof.

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Following hot on the heals of the Wednesday showcase, SEGA was at it again on Thursday, Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio ni's release day (see pics of the early morning hysteria below). This time, the media circus set up tent at the AsoBitCity in Akihabara, where the Overworks crew teamed up with a couple of the game's voice actresses to promote the title on its big day. Tickets for the event were were limited to 200 lottery winners, and the fortunate attendees got to hear RED director Oji Hiroi (left below), Overworks president Noriyoshi Ohba (right below) and the rest of the creators on hand speak about the PlayStation 2 re-release. One lucky gamer also walked away with a very nice signed commemorative lithograph (seen below).

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Sakura Taisen Launch eventSakura Taisen Launch event

Despite the fact that it was only announced in late November, Dragon Quest Monsters III: Caravan Heart is already gearing up for release in Japan. Enix and Tsutaya, one of the country's largest video/game/DVD chains, are teaming up to give gamers who preorder the game a neat little cell-phone strap. The strap has a slime on the end, which also serves as an LCD cleaner, perfect for polishing that phone or Game Boy display. Numbers are limited, so run, don't walk, to your nearest Tsutaya. Dragon Quest Monsters III: Caravan Heart is slated to hit stores March 29th.

Dragon Quest Monsters CleanerDragon Quest Monsters CleanerDragon Quest Monsters Cleaner

This past week was a biggie for RPGs in Japan, but that doesn't mean that its all good news for gamers. Enix confirmed on Thursday that Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time, which was released the same day, contains a bug that can crash the game during battles. The company issued an official apology on its web site today, and said that it was searching for the cause of the problem. There is no word yet on what the company plans to do to compensate affected gamers. This disappointing news comes after the game was first delayed in October, and then had its release date pushed back up again in December. Hopefully Enix will take care of this blunder long before the game's official North American release.

The latest issue of Japan's Weekly Famitsu magazine has hit stands, and it contains reviews for a couple recent RPG releases. Star Ocean 3: TIll the End of TIme eked out a Gold award, while Chaos Legion, Capcom's new action RPG, came in a little further back, with Namco's Tales.... debut on the GBA bringing up the rear. Below are the individual scores awarded by the four editors for each game. I've included the review scores for Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturune and Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio ni (both of which scored well), which I neglected to include last time.

    Title (Publisher), Console, Editor Scores (Total)
  • Star Ocean 3: Till the End of Time, (Enix), PS2, 9 / 8 / 8 / 7 (32/40) Gold Award
  • Chaos Legion, (Capcom), PS2, 8 / 8 / 7 / 7 (30/40) Silver Award
  • Tales of the World: Summoners Lineage, (Namco), GBA, 6 / 8 / 7 / 7 (28/40)
  • Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, (Atlus), PS2, 9 / 9 / 9 / 9 (36/40) Platinum Award
  • Sakura Taisen: Atsuki Chishio ni, (SEGA), PS2, 9 / 8 / 9 / 9 (35/40) Platinum Award

Speaking of Chaos Legion, Capcom decided to celebrate the game's completion with--what else--an event in Tokyo on Thursday. As mentioned above, the game is a gothic style action RPG with extensive cinemas and voice acting. Chaos Legion features vocal performances by Ishikawa Yui, Ryo, Manabu Oshio, and Ken Kaito, all of whom were at the event to discuss their input into the game. Producer Yoshinori Ono chatted about the process of making the game, and gave the fans on hand a glimpse at the making of the television commercial. The finished game was also available for gamers to try out ahead of its March 6th release.

Chaos Legion EventChaos Legion EventChaos Legion Event

Chaos Legion EventChaos Legion EventChaos Legion Event

That's it for this week. All this Sakura Taisen news made me think: I've been waiting to play a Sakura Taisen game for many years now, but for various reasons I never got around to it. Frankly, I'm rather surprised that no domestic publishing house has ever taken a chance on the series. There have been many more questionable games that have been localized, so I can't think of any valid reason why Sakura Taisen should get the perennial snub. I think that it's time that companies start taking some chances again. What do you think? Drop me a line and let me know. Till next time.

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


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