Japandemonium - London Dungeon

Hey everyone, and welcome to this week's Japandemonium. First, I want to thank Gabe for filling in for me last week. As chance would have it, my trans-Atlantic relocation coincided with this year's Tokyo Game Show, which is not good news when ISPs are screwing you around. But, things are just about settled right now, and it's full steam ahead for the forseeable future. Let's jump right back into it, shall we?

With the 2003 Tokyo Game Show quickly vanishing in the rear-view mirror, publishers in Japan are flooding shelves with product--not all of it desirable from the look of things. A full 18 new games were released during the week ending September 28th. The best performing title according to Dengeki's numbers was Koei's Shin Sangoku Musou 3 Mushouden, which shifted just under 290,000 units in four days. The top placing RPG was Bandai's Sunrise World War, a strategy RPG that features characeters from Sunrise's most famous anime series. Atlus will not be at all pleased to see how poorly Shin Megami Tensei 2 performed in its first week; the Game Boy Advance re-release shifted a pathetic 2,786 copies, ending up in 46th position. It could be that punters' attention was captured by the higher profile games that came out this week, but the wise money is on the game sinking almost immediately. This is bad news, since the poor performance of both re-releases in Japan almost certainly seals the fate of possible localization, meaning that we're going to go that much longer before being able to swim in the possessed pools of Atlus' seminal series. Check out the full details for the best performing RPGs below.

Pos. Title Publisher Plat. Sales Total
4 Sunrise World War Bandai 25,781 25,781
8 Tengai Makyou II Manjimaru Hudson 20,885 20,885
9 Drag-On Dragoon Square Enix 20,855 193,895
14 Shinyaku Seiken Densetsu Square Enix 9,529 245,595
15 Tales of Symphonia Namco 9,388 268,384
18 Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life Marvelous Interactive 8,244 54,096

Japanese market watchers might be interested to know that Grand Theft Auto 3 finally hit Japan last week. The game performed reasonably well, managing to sell a very respectable 125,000 copies, which is not bad at all in a week that saw a deluge of new titles.

On Friday, Square Enix announced details for the latest Final Fantasy concert. Fronted by series composer Nobuo Uematsu, the tour will make stops in six cities around Japan, including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Yokohama, Fukuoka and Hokkaido. Tickets for the shows will go on sale in the near future, with the actual tour scheduled for March 2004. For full details of venues and dates, head over to Square Enix's homepage.

In a related story, Square Enix also announced membership renewal details for Nobuo Uematsu's fan club. The priveledge of being part of the overworked composers hangers-on will set you back a seemingly-whopping 4,000 ¥ ($36). This is not nearly as much as it initially seems, though, since everyone who pays before October 15th will also receive a limited edition DVD containing footage of the Black Mages Live concerts from earlier this year. Black Mages is a remix CD containing heavy metal-ized versions of Final Fantasy battle themes. It was performed to rave reviews in Tokyo back in April of this year. For coverage of the previous shows, check out this past edition of Japandemonium.

If you saw last week's media update, you know that Nippon Ichi, developer of the underappreciated-by-the-mainstream Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, is working on a new game titled Phantom Brave for the PlayStation 2. Character designs are being taken care of by Takehito Harada, who just got off visual duties on Disgaea. Despite the near-identical appearance, though, Phantom Brave's gameplay system promises a much more free-form experience. Instead of the traditional grid-based combat setup of tactical games (including Disgaea), the game will offer free movement in regions determined by player stats.

The game stars a 13-year-old girl named Marone who lives on one of the islands that comprise the game world. Instead of those messy people, however, Marone is kept company by Phantoms, disembodied spirits that are able to possess objects. In fact, that's exactly how the game's unique item system works: items are strewn around the maps, and they are available to the party after being taken over by Phantoms. When used during battle, items and weapons can gain levels.

The story focuses on Marone and an 18-year-old Phantom named Ash who are a problem solving team, taking on cases given to them by inhabitants who send them requests by throwing messages in bottles into the sea. All that is known right now is that Marone solves cases in order to get enough money to get by, but details of the encompassing story are sure to be revealed in the near future. As of now, there are no solid release details for Phantom Brave. We can only hope that the solid support of Disgaea in North America will convince a North American publisher to localize the game.

As Gabe reported here last week, Square Enix's Cross Gate recently passed the 1 million subscriber mark, and to celebratethe occassion the company is going to make it a whole lot easier for those few MMORPGers out there who still want to give the game a try to do so. On November 6th, Square Enix will release a commemorative package containing Cross Gate and the first expansion pack for the low, low price of 2,980 ¥ ($27). As a bonus, the pack will also contain the demo version of Bakusou Yankee Damashii, making for one all-consuming package of software. If you're one of the million-plus gamers out there currently whiling away the hours in Cross Gate's world, you'll be pleased to hear that the second Cross Gate expansion pack is rapidly nearing completion, with release set for December 18th at 5,800 ¥ ($52).

Those of you out there that have been thinking of picking up Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne might want to hold off for a little while. The game's principle creators, character designer Kazuya Kaneda and producer Cozy Okada, announced at last week's Tokyo Game Show that Atlus will be re-releasing the game as Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne Maniacs in January 2004. Why the new name, you might be asking yourself? Atlus has decided to incorporate some new content, the most interesting of which is that the game will feature Dante from Capcom's Devil May Cry series. Also on the menu are more subtle changes like a new scenario and new items. Check out the images from the event below, courtesy of Impress Game Watch.

Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne Maniacs announcement Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne Maniacs announcement Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne Maniacs announcement


That's all from my side for this week. As of next week I should be back on track, updating every Sunday. I'm also going to get started on sorting out the rat's nest that is the Japandemonium archive. I never realized just how much I would be covering in this here column, and that oversight is now going to cost me dearly.

I'll be back on Sunday. Till then, take it easy.

Exeunt all

Missed an installment? Check out the archives.

Sources: [Impress Game Watch, Dengeki, Gamespot, Square Enix]

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by Alex Wollenschlaeger

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