Japandemonium - Dead Man's Party

Evening all, and welcome to another issue of Japandemonium. This week's installment is a little short, thanks to the absolute bedlam that was E3. In case you missed it (hah, not likely), check out our full coverage over here. This was my first trip to E3, and it was without a doubt one of the most fun times of my life. We worked hard, but we had a blast. Make sure you check out the staff's journals, which should be going up in the next couple days. Despite E3, there was still some news out of Japan that I thought would be worth mentioning, so let's get to that.

With the attention of Japanese video game publishers firmly focused on E3, there were few new releases in Japan last week. In fact, the entire Top 50 of the Dengeki chart contains only two new entries, one of which was Idea Factory's Generation of Chaos 3 for the PlayStation 2. Despite the fact that sales for the week were slow, RPGs managed to tough it out, taking 11 of the Top 20 spots. What's even more impressive is that the Game Boy Advance seems to be the console of choice, with the PlayStation 2 running a distant second. Konami's new Castlevania title didn't do too well, perhaps indicating that gamers are tired of the 2D side-scrolling iterations of the series. Nintendo must be disappointed to see GiFTPiA nearly out of the Top 20 in only its second week. The game has yet to break 50,000 sales, which is particularly dismaying when you realize that it's one of only a handful of games in the Top 50 that are not either sequels or anime tie-ins.

I don't mean to sound negative, but it seems to me that things have to change. The industry is doing well, but without new, original titles the good times aren't going to continue. We can help slow the descent into the quagmire of sequels by putting our faith, and money, in games that try to do something new. It's up to us to show publishers that we want to experience new ideas, too.

Pos. Title Publisher Plat. Sales Total
3 Fire Emblem Rekka no Ken Nintendo 22,722 164,152
4 From TV Animation: One Piece Ocean's Dream Bandai 20,943 82,231
5 Dragon Quest Monsters: Caravan Heart Square Enix 20,544 486,030
6 Generation of Chaos 3 Idea Factory 20,500 20,500
9 Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow Konami 19,400 19,400
14 Pokémon Sapphire Nintendo 10,936 2,169,276
15 Pokémon Ruby Nintendo 10,873 2,115,342
17 GiFTPiA Nintendo 8,686 49,500
18 2nd Super Robot Wars Alpha Bandai 8,561 477,856
19 Mega Man X3 Black Capcom 7,950 101,593
20 Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Nintendo 7,720 256,097

Square Enix was on the receiving end of good news this week, a period that witnessed the one year anniversary of the release of Final Fantasy XI. The company announced that there are now more than 600,000 users of its foray into the world of MMORPGs. This is particularly impressive, considering that by the end of 2002 the company had only just broken even on the project, with 200,000 subscribers. This number is sure to swell when the game finally sees its North American release later this year.

Fans of Final Fantasy X-2 will want to pay attention to this next tidbit. DigiCube announced this week that it will be releasing "Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania." The 736 page A5 format (5.8" X 8.3") softcover book will contain tons of information, covering all facets of the game. Shelling out a mere 2,000 ¥ ($17) will net you a tome containing character designs, world map overviews, a guide to the game, artwork, interviews with the game's creators and more. As a bonus, those that reserve the book at select stores will be given a neato strap featuring the newcomer to the main trio, Paine. The participating chains include: Yodobashi (select stores only); 7-11; Tsutaya; Bic Camera; and ES! Books. Reservations are currently being accepted, ahead of the book's release on May 31st.

Final Fantasy X-2 UntimaniaFinal Fantasy X-2 Untimania

Square Enix celebrated the impending return of the Hanjuku Hero series by hosting a couple of events in Japan this weekend, in Tokyo on Saturday and Osaka on Sunday. The event in Tokyo took place in the famed Akihabara prefecture and featured Nobuo Uematsu, composer of the game's score, and the producer, Takashi Tokita. The two creators had their hiking garb on for the "pilgrimage," which took them to several stores around the neighborhood. There was a demonstration of the game, and attendees were given the chance to meet Uematsu and Tokita. Uematsu also showed off the packaging for the Limited Edition soundtrack. Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D is set for release in Japan on June 26th.

Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D EventHanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D EventHanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D Event

Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D EventHanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D EventHanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D Event

Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D EventHanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D Event

That's it for this week. I wanted to make sure that I updated today, so I didn't have time to add too much more. My E3 journal, complete with loads of pictures, should be up by Monday. I'll add the link as soon as it's up. I read a press release yesterday that said that there were 62,000 people at E3. I don't know about you, but that's pretty impressive. The video game industry is healthier than ever, despite the poor global economy, but my comment above stands. If publishers don't stop pushing developers to only make "safe" games, things could get very bad. Unlike the movie and music industries, there is no such thing as a modern console game made for very little money by one person or a small group. We need to support the more quirky and original games to ensure that our pastime continues to exist. Till next week, take it easy.

Update: You can check out my E3 journal over here.

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

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