Japandemonium - Only Entertainment

Hello all, and welcome to this week's edition of Japandemonium. There's been a lot going on in the video game industry in Japan, but most of it has been unrelated to role-playing games, meaning that this week's column is a little on the short side. Don't shoot the messenger, or something like that. Let's get it on.

Wow! Japanese gamers must be very light in the wallet right around now. With most of the preceding weeks witnessing a handful or less of new releases, a full 18 new titles made their way to store shelves this week. Total weekly sales skyrocketed, with the anime-inspired racing game Initial D taking first place. The best-selling RPG for the week was Square Enix's Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D for the PlayStation 2, which surfed into outlets on a wave of promotion on the publisher's part that resulted in a healthy 100,000 units being lapped up by egg-hungry Japanese gamers. A few other RPGs of note also saw release, including Koei's tactical simulation sequel, Sangokushi Senki 2, and Gust's newest Atelier game, Atelier Viorate. All these new releases gave Mother 1+2 an understandable bump down the ranks, but Mr. Saturn is still hanging on tough in 4th position. Below are the specifics from Dengeki for the week ending June 29th.

Pos. Title Publisher Plat. Sales Total
3 Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D Square Enix 97,943 97,943
4 Mother 1+2 Nintendo 36,767 171,667
7 Atelier Viorate Gust 31,726 31,726
8 Sangokushi Senki 2 Koei 27,974 27,974
16 Pokémon Box Ruby & Sapphire Nintendo 7,118 131,835
17 Pokémon Sapphire Nintendo 7,045 2,221,735

Barely a week after Square Enix revealed that the upcoming Drag-On Dragoon (Drakengard in North America) was nearing completion, the company has announced a firm release date for the title in Japan. Gamers can expect to get their dragon-fix in a big way when the game swoops into stores on September 11th. For an idea of what this rather different Square Enix game is all about, check out our hands-on impressions from E3.

As reported last week, Atlus and Media Factory are teaming up to release a card game based on the popular Shin Megami Tensei series, specifically the third installment, Nocturne. It was announced this week that the companies are planning to show off the card game at the Hobby Expo, which takes place at the Tokyo Big Sight today, July 7th. The cards will be on display, and representatives will be on hand to go over the setup of the game. A couple of contests are being planned as well: a cosplay contest and an illustration contest. Cozy Okada, the series' producer and character designer Kazuma Kaneko will serve as judges for both events, and the winners stand in line to win rare Shin Megami Tensei swag. Attendess will also be able to pick up a promotional card (pictured below) from the upcoming game.

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne promo card

Atlus has also announced that those who pre-order the trading card game will be able to pick up the very nice limited edition poster pictured below. Quantities are limited, so head on to your local Akihabara merchant and request one today (get one for me too, please).

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne promo card

Square Enix surprised everyone this week by announcing a new Dragon Quest game. This, however, is not your father's Dragon Quest. Titled Kenshin Dragon Quest: Yomigaerishi Densetsu no Ken (Swordmaster Dragon Quest: Resurrection of the Legendary Sword to us), the game is a stand-alone sword-wielding, dragon-slaying romp.

And by stand-alone, I mean it stands alone. The game is not made for any console. Rather, the unit is a fully self-contained experience, with a 40 cm-long sword and a crest-shaped box that plugs straight into your TV. The box senses your motion with the sword, and it also serves as a "memory card." Square Enix recommends that the box be placed on top of your TV and that you stand about 1.5 meters from the screen. By holding the sword parallel to the screen (i.e. upwards), it serves as a shield. Movement is achieved by pointing the sword straigh-ahead, parallel to the ground.

The company has stated that the game was designed to attract new gamers who might not have been around since the series' debut in 1986. The solitary screen shot released thus far does suggest that the game is indeed an RPG of sort. We'll be able to tell for sure when the 6,980 ¥ ($59) game hits stores on September 19th.

Swordmaster Dragon Quest Swordmaster Dragon Quest

Idea Factory announced a new card-based strategy game for the PlayStation 2 on Friday. Cardinal Arc: The Neverland Card War features a Magic: The Gathering-like system with over 200 unique cards, but there is also a healthy dose of Risk-style territory acquisition. There are a variety of different card types, including: units (each with unique statistics); magic spells; structures (like bases); and dominators. Dominators are basically the game's bosses, which are playable in two-player versus-mode after they've been bested by Gallahad, a roaming hunter/gambler who serves as the game's hero. Once a dominator has been taken down, you take ownership of all your opponent's cards. All of this action takes place upon the backdrop of a Heaven-vs.-Hell yarn. Cardinal Arc: The Neverland Card War is slated for release in Japan in August for the for the devil-liscious price of 6,800 ¥ ($58).

Atlus also got into the new game announcement spiel this week, revealing that the it is working on a prequel to 2001's Busin: Wizardry Alternative (Wizardry: Tales of the Forsaken Land in North America). Very little is known about the game so far, but Atlus has stated that Busin 0: Wizardry Neo Alternative will take place several hundred years before its predecessor (or successor, as it were) on the continent of Benoa. The game will hit the PlayStation 2 in Japan by the end of the year. More information is set to be released by the middle of July.

And with that, I'm calling it a day. It seems that we've hit that middle-to-end section of the hardware generation where the companies have already put out their first games and are now gearing up to crank out the sequels. Since the announcement of all three next-gen consoles is probably coming up at next year's E3, I wonder how many developers are already preparing to create games for the new systems? I did read one interesting rumor this week. In the latest issue of EGM (#169), q-mann is claiming he's heard rumblings that the PSP, Sony's handhand, will launch with a sequel to little game you might have of named Final Fantasy VII. Seems too good to be true, but it would definitely spell success for the console if it were. Happy speculating!

Exeunt all

Missed an installment? Check out the archives.

Sources: [Impress Game Watch, Dengeki, Atlus, Famitsu, Idea Factory, Square Enix, Asahi]

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by Alex Wollenschlaeger

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