Japandemonium - We Close Our Eyes

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's Japandemonium. Actually, that's a bit of a misnomer, since there's not all that much going on right now in Japan. Just about every big release scheduled to the first half of 2003 in Japan has already hit stores, and now the industry is collectively gathering its strength for next month's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. As this is going to be my first trip to the annual event, I thought that it might be interesting for those who can't be there to get a first hand account of a newbie's first experience of the sensory overload that is E3. There is usually a ton of coverage of the show, but not all the much that describes what it's like to be there, so I've decided that I'll be keeping a diary, with plenty of photos of the show. But, that's enough about me for now. Let's have a look at what's new in Japan.

The latest weekly sales figures have been released by Dengeki. Last week saw a ton of new games in all genres hit stores in Japan, which knocked a number of titles down from their previous positions, or out of the Top 20 completely. Bandai's mecha-RPG The 2nd Super Robot Wars Alpha took the honors for the week, selling impressively with over 300,000 units shipped. Enix' final release before the big merger with Square, Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart, took second place, while Square's own. Final Fantasy X-2 managed to hang strong, only dropping a couple of places. Check out the specifics for all the RPGs that made it into the Top 20 during the week ending March 30th.

    Position; Title (Publisher), Console, Sales this week; Total Sales
  • 1. The 2nd Super Robot Wars Alpha (Bandai), PlayStation 2, 322,058, 322,058
  • 2. Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Hearts (Enix), Game Boy Advance, 191,672, 191,672
  • 4. Final Fantasy X-2 (Square), PlayStation 2, 80,406, 1,837,887
  • 10. Rockman EX 3 Black (Capcom), Game Boy Advance, 31,783, 31,783
  • 11. Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 31,063, 182,133
  • 14. Arc the Lad: Seirei no Koukon (Sony), PlayStation 2, 25,807, 117,300
  • 16. Pokémon Sapphire (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 19,042, 2,097,129
  • 17. Pokémon Ruby (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 18,833, 2,046,415

Though it didn't make it into the Top 20, I wanted to mention Atlus' release of Shin Megami Tensei for the Game Boy Advance. The popular series' debut installment was massacred by the market, ending up in 40th place with a mere 4,000 units shifted. The demon-filled dungeon crawler was first released for the Super Nintendo in 1992. By all accounts the game is flawed, but with an intriguing story that makes up for any shortcomings. North American fans that have liked what little exposure they have received to the series might want to consider checking out the franchise's humble beginnings.

Shin Megami Tensei

As you can see in the Dengeki chart above, Nintendo's Pokémon games are still selling well in Japan. The company announced this week that to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the opening of Tokyo's Pokémon Center, it will be unleashing a special, Pokémon edition Game Boy Advance SP on the not-so-unsuspecting public. The metallic orange GBA SP (seen below) features new critter Torchic etched onto the unit's lid. The handheld is set for release on April 25th for 12,500 ¥ ($104), the same price as the regular version. Don't expect to find one easily, though, as supplies will be limited. Preorders will be accepted at the Pokémon Center site from April 11th to 21st, and those interested in picking one up would be advised to do so as soon as possible.

Pokémon edition GBA SPPokémon edition GBA SP

Digicube announced this week that it will be releasing a maxi single for Square-Enix' upcoming quirky RPG, Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D. The disc will contain four songs taken from the game's full soundtrack, and there will also be some multimedia components that can be accessed via computer. Gamers will be able to take a peek at Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D's opening movie, ahead of its release later this year. The maxi single will hit stores on April 23rd for 1,260 ¥ ($11), while the game itself is currently set for release on June 26th.

Hanjuku Eiyuu Soundtrack

The fine folks over at importer NSCX have got something for those of you with a hankering for slime and a pocketful of cash. For a mere $25 Enix fanboys and fangirls can get their tentacles on a 10" diameter slime (larger blue and orange ones in pic), or a 14" diameter gray blob monster. If you scoff at such piddly showings of affection, there is also a 15" slime to scare your neighbors, which will run $40. The slimes are covered with a satiny material and are sure to be the envy of friends and family.


In more soundtrack news, Nippon Ichi revealed this week that a soundtrack for the recently released PlayStation 2 title Makaisenki Disgaia is in the works. The score was composed by Tenpei Sato, whose previous credits include such diverse titles as La Pucelle and the ChoroQ and Rhapsody series. North American gamers might know his work from the first Rhapsody title, which was released for the PSone in 2000, but according to the composer himself, his work on the sequel, which did not see domestic release, far surpassed that of its forebear, possibly giving domestic gamers a skewed view of his talent. The Makaisenki Disgaia soundtrack will include both instrumental and vocal tracks, and the package artwork is being handled by the game's character designer. The soundtrack is scheduled for release in Japan through Pioneer LDC for 3,000 ¥ ($25) on June 28th.

I don't have all that much to waffle about in closing this week. I will mention Capcom's Auto Modellista, which I tried out this weekend. From the minute I saw it I've been anxious to play the game, since melding cell-shading and realistic handing seemed like a cool idea. The end product left me a little disappointed, however, mostly because the handing of the cars is a bit too floaty. I also put some good time into the new Zelda game, and needless to say, it rocks the proverbial casbah. If you still haven't bought it (highly unlikely, given the column's demographic), I suggest you get off your heinie and pick one up immediately. That's all from me. Remember to keep those logo submissions coming. I have some really good ones already, but I'll unveil the winning entry at the end of the month, so there's still a lot of time. Until next week, take it easy.

Exeunt all

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

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