Japandemonium - Skank Now, Apocalypse Later

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week's Japandemonium. The big story in the video game industry right now is actually taking place behind the scenes. There's just over two weeks to go until the Electronic Entertainment Expo descends upon Los Angeles and unleashes an unholy amount of content on the not-so-unsuspecting public, which leaves most of us running around frantically trying to organize last minute details. Despite all this, there's still a steady stream of information coming out of both Japan and North America.

The latest numbers for Japan have been released by Dengeki, and it would be fair to say that RPGs massacred the competition. Eleven, count 'em, eleven RPGs made it into the Top 20, although, admittedly, combined sales barely topped 250,000. Square Enix took the top spot with the release of the first expansion for Final Fantasy XI, Vision of Ziraat, which had a sell-through rate of around 85 %, leaving many stores sold out after the weekend. The company came in second place as well with Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart, which has proven quite popular, selling over 400,000 copies. It's unfortunate to see that Victor's Harvest Moon: Mineral Town didn't fare well at all. The game only sold around 24,000 copies in its first week of release. Bandai's .hack//MUTATION plummeted down the rankings, no doubt due to the fact that those still into the company's four-part game have already picked it up. The other new entry on the chart is Zoids Saga II by Tomy, which sold just over 10,000 copies. Check out the full details for the RPGs in the Top 20 for the week ending April 20th.

    Position Title (Publisher), Console, Sales this week; Total Sales
  • 1. Final Fantasy XI: Vision of Ziraat (Square Enix), PlayStation 2, 93,760, 93,760
  • 2. Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Hearts (Square Enix), Game Boy Advance, 33,372, 404,811
  • 4. 2nd Super Robot Wars Alpha (Banpresto), PlayStation 2, 24,852, 438,982
  • 7. Harvest Moon: Mineral Town (Victor), Game Boy Advance, 23,880, 23,880
  • 11. Final Fantasy X-2 (Square Enix), PlayStation 2, 14,091, 1,917,624
  • 12. .hack//Absolute Encirclement (Banpresto), PlayStation 2, 12,441, 93,927
  • 14. Legend of Zelda: The Four Swords (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 11,211, 229,677
  • 15. Rockman EX 3 Black (Capcom), Game Boy Advance, 10,490, 74,656
  • 16. Zoids Saga II (Tomy), Game Boy Advance, 10,456, 10,456
  • 19. Pokémon Sapphire (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 9,420, 2,130,277
  • 20. Pokémon Ruby (Nintendo), Game Boy Advance, 8,790, 2,078,682

The most recent issue of Weekly Famitsu has a significant lack of RPG reviews, but the one that did get the attention of the esteemed publication's reviewers is none other than Konami's Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow. The game, which is set for near-simultaneous release in Japan and North America in early May, fared well and garnered a Platinum award. Check below for the individual editor scores.

    Title (Publisher), Console, Editor Scores (Total)
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, (Konami), Game Boy Advance, 9 / 10 / 8 / 9 (36/40) Platinum Award

Not content with just bringing its flagship series to the online world, Square Enix announced a quirky MMORPG this week that should raise some eyebrows amongst the PC online community. Developed by Atelier Double, Bakusou Yankee Damashii is (probably) the world's first online game to focus on bikers. Players will be able to become members of virtual bike gangs, who will then perform bad-ass activities like fighting for turf, playing Chicken, and going for relaxing rides around the city. Convenience stores are littered throughout the game, which offer gamers a place to not only shop for Pocky and other hardcore foods (okay, maybe that's not entirely accurate), but also to commit that most heinous of societal crimes: loitering. You will, of course, be able to fully customize your appearance, outfit, and ride. There are a couple different metal steeds to choose from, such as bicycles, motorcycles and mopeds, all of which can be tricked out to your heart's content. Precise release date and pricing information has not yet been released. In the meantime, you can check out the game's official Japanese site over here. Square Enix has also divulged the minimum system requirements for the game:

Windows 98, 98SE, Me, 2000, XP
Celeron 466 MHz
128 MB RAM
Direct X 8.1
NVidia GeForce 2 MX
56 kbps modem

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Nintendo was going to be releasing a limited edition Pokémon Game Boy Advance SP. The metallic orange unit, adorned with new critter, Torchic, is being released to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Tokyo's Pokémon Center. The handheld was released in Japan on Friday at the Pokémon Center, and, if anything, the spectacle proved that the franchise still has legs in its home country. By the time the store's doors opened, earlier than usual, at 9 o'clock, there were already over 300 Poké-heads in line. To avoid bedlam inside the store, staff ushered in the throng in groups for over an hour. Below are some pics from the festivities.

Pokémon GBA SP release

Pokémon GBA SP releasePokémon GBA SP release

Pokémon GBA SP releasePokémon GBA SP release

One of the more unique titles coming out in the near future is Konami's Boktai. The game, which was conceived by Hideo Kojima, makes extensive use of sunlight in the actual play mechanics. The player takes the role of a vampire hunter, and your ability to do away with the living dead is dependant on direct exposure to sunlight. You'll be able to advance in the game without exposing yourself to Sol, but you won't be able to finish. The company is currently demoing the game to the public at a number of locations around Japan. Konami has a few demo kiosks in a modified truck that is roaming the country and spreading the good word of playing games in the sun. Below are some pics from Tokyo, where the game is currently on show. Next stops include Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka.

Boktai demoBoktai demo

Boktai demo

Boktai demoBoktai demoBoktai demo

Boktai demo

Not much to see this week, but some interesting stuff nonetheless. Square Enix' new online biker RPG seems pretty interesting. If you can't be a deviant in real life, doing it virtually is the next best thing. It'll be interesting to see if the company decides to localize it. I wanted to remind you all that I'll only be accepting new logo submissions until Wednesday. If you missed the earlier announcements, I'm looking for a 125 X 75 pixel GIF to use as the new logo for the column. Your art will be on the front page for the world to see. The artist whose entry I choose will receive an oh-so-lovable Vivi plush doll. That's it from me. See you all next week. Click here for an image of the Vivi doll.

Exeunt all

Missed an installment? Check out the archives.

·Discuss this story in the RPGamer message forums    

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

<- Back