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Dengeki Ratings I Mistwalker Shows Off I Lost Magic Spells Out Details I Japanese 360 Launch Unarmed I Suikoden V Celebrates in Style I Yggdra Union Gets Classy I Pokemon Escape Dungeon En Masse I Tales Becomes Commonplace I Culture Corner I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Aethelready November 24, 2005


Konnichiwa

As most of you are no doubt aware, RPGamer's usual Japandemonium columnist, Jordan Jackson, is off this week spending a lovely time in the city of Kyoto. He does a wonderful job with this column each week, ensuring that the site's readers get to hear the latest scoop from the world of gaming in Japan, but rather than let all that news fall by the wayside with his absence, I elected to fill in for him as a guest columnist this week.

So, with that being said, introductions would seem to be in order. My name is Bryan Boulette. Some of you may have seen that name before, as I've been working on news and media for the site. Though, I've not posted much this week; how could I, what with the week we had last week? Truly, the 15th was a banner day for RPGs, with five of them seeing release at one time. Most of my time while at home has been spent playing the entirely fantastic Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, which I am preemptively awarding the Aethelred Game of the Year award. Meanwhile, when I'm at work I've been occupying myself with the dreadfully mediocre Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion, which has given me lines I'll treasure forever, such as "I didn't have eaten a unusual today..."

When Jordan said he'd be away and needed someone to fill in, I jumped at the chance, mainly because the stuff we cover in this column is quite interesting and absorbing to me. But it's a funny thing, this column. On the one hand, I love the stuff we cover in Japandemonium, as a lot of fascinating stuff goes on in the gaming world which ends up being exclusive to Japan, whether it's incredibly cool merchandise or really enjoyable, clever games. But on the other hand, it'd be nice if this sort of column weren't necessary at all -- imagine a world where there was no need for a Japan-news column because all of the cool, interesting games that Japan gets came out here, too, and all of the bonuses and merchandise reached foreign shores as well.

Well, it's a nice fantasy, but it'll never happen, and that's why we have (and need) Japandemonium. With that being said, let's get right into the news, because there's a lot that's been going on this past week.



 Dengeki Rankings

While RPGs fared pretty poorly last week, they made a slight comeback this week, led by the newly released Pokemon games for the NDS and GBA. The first slot, however, went to a non-RPG: Kiddou Senshi Gundam SEED: Federation vs ZAFT. This news should make RPGamer's resident Sensei quite happy, as all of his loyal readers should be aware of how much a Gundam fan he is.

Aside from the new Pokemon additions, there hasn't been much change this week, aside from Mushiking dropping lower. Here's the chart:

Position Title Publisher Platform
2 Pokemon's Mysterious Dungeon Blue Nintendo
3 Pokemon's Mysterious Dungeon Red Nintendo
31 Kingdom Hearts (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix
39 Mushiking: Battle of the Beetles Sega
49 Final Fantasy X (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix


Source: Dengeki Online



 Mistwalker Shows Off
Mistwalker

Mistwalker, the company formed by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, has been keeping itself busy with two titles in development for the Xbox 360. The first, Blue Dragon, features character artwork by acclaimed designer Akira Toriyama of Dragon Quest fame, and music by Nobuo Uematsu, the composer for the bulk of the Final Fantasy series.

Toriyama, who also worked on Chrono Trigger, is considered to have a particularly distinctive style. He's holding true to form with Blue Dragon, and now the game's look is becoming clearer with the surfacing of a two page feature in Weekly Shonen Jump and one screenshot.

According to Sakaguchi, the game is currently 40% done, and the company is aiming to release it in Japan before the end of 2006. Mistwalker's second title, Lost Odyssey, isn't as far along as Blue Dragon, but that hasn't stopped Sakaguchi from teasing the game up a bit. The latest issue of Famitsu has confirmed that Mistwalker plans on releasing a demo of Lost Odyssey sometime in the spring or summer of 2006.





Sources: Weekly Shonen Jump | GameFront



 Lost Magic Spells Out Details
Lost Magic

Taito has released some new details on its upcoming RPG for the Nintendo DS, Lost Magic. While many of the DS's RPGs have made use of its unique abilities in only tangential ways, Lost Magic promises to fully incorporate the system's touch screen controls into the gameplay. Magic is as integral to Lost Magic as the game's name indicates, and it's in the spell system where the DS's touch screen will come into play.

In order to cast spells, a player will need to draw runes onto the touch screen with the stylus. To do this, the player will press the left shoulder button to bring up the array screen. There, the player will draw the rune for the spell he wishes to cast. These spells will increase in power the more the player uses them. There are six different elemental types of spells in Lost Magic: Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Light, and Dark. Each element has its own set of usable runes, meaning the player will have quite a few available options when it comes time to draw a rune on the touch screen.

If the basic spell set wasn't enough, Lost Magic will present even more flexibility by allowing players to combine different runes. To do this, the player will simply draw two runes and connect them together to create an entirely new spell. The ability to mix together different runes brings the total number of possible spells up to 300. But don't think connecting just any runes will work, as the elemental types still play a role when combining runes. Only elemental spells with the proper affinity will be able to combine.

Lost Magic, which features animation sequences done by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata's anime film company Studio Ghibli, is set to be released on January 19, 2006. The game will cost 5040 yen, which translates to roughly 42 U.S. dollars.


Source: PlusD



 Japanese 360 Launch Unarmed
eM eNCHANT arM

When Bethesda announced that its new Elder Scrolls game, Oblivion would be delayed into 2006, it meant that the Xbox 360 launch in America would be bereft of new RPGs. Now From Software has made a similar announcement in Japan, leaving only the 360 version of Final Fantasy XI for the launch of Microsoft's latest console. From Software's oddly named [eM] eNCHANT arM has been pushed back from its original release date of December 12, 2005. The game will now be coming out one month later, on January 12, 2006. The company did not provide a reason for the delay.


Source: GameFront



 Suikoden V Celebrates in Style
Suikoden V

Konami's Genso Suikoden V will be released to Japan on February 23, 2006, a date which comes just a couple of months after the series' tenth anniversary. It's a bit hard to believe, but the first installment of Genso Suikoden on the Sony PlayStation came out ten years ago, on December 15, 1995. Since then, the series has gone on to see four more regular installments, counting the upcoming Genso Suikoden V; two gaiden, or side story, text RPGs; a card game; and a strategy RPG. Through it all, the series has maintained its emphasis on keeping each Genso Suikoden game interconnected with the others, and as the series turns a decade old, Konami is looking to continue that emphasis by releasing a ton of preorder and limited edition bonuses for Suikoden V that stress the series heritage.

The Limited Edition version of Genso Suikoden V will allow collectors to get their hands on a 200 page guidebook featuring character illustrations, musical scores, and more. It will also contain the game's soundtrack, which will also include a few bonus arranged tracks and some unnamed mystery songs. But wait, there's more! The bundle will also have an artboard and a reversible jacket for the game's box.

Gamers who preorder Genso Suikoden V will also be treated to a "Premier DVD." The DVD will contain the game's promotional videos, information on the 108 Stars of Destiny from all four prior Genso Suikodens, interviews with the some of the development staff that have brought the series to life, and some musical tracks.


Source: Game Watch



 Yggdra Union Gets Classy
Yggdra Union

Sting has updated the website for its upcoming Game Boy Advance strategy RPG, Yggdra Union, providing a few new pieces of artwork as well as revealing several new classes that will be playable in the game. The new classes are: the axe-wielding Bandit; the bow-and-arrow using Hunters; the female Griffon Riders, who soar through the sky and are strong against Knights, but weak against Hunters; and the Assassin, who can end the lives of his enemies with secret knowledge. They join the previously announced classes of Fencer, Valkyrie, Knight, Necromancer, Witch, Sword Maiden, and Undine.

Yggdra Union is being hailed by Sting as the "spiritual successor" to the developer's Riviera: The Promised Land, and though the two games share few story or gameplay similarities, one look at the identical artistic styles makes it clear the connection that Yggdra Union and Riviera share.

Yggdra Union tells the story of Yggdra, the last survivor of the royal family of a defeated kingdom as she flees to safety. Her kingdom invaded and destroyed by the power-hungry Emperor Gulcasa, she turns to the noble bandit king Milanor in the hopes of restoring her land to its former glory. The player will guide Milanor through unit-based strategic battles when Yggdra Union is released in Japan sometime next spring.









 Pokemon Escape Dungeon En Masse
Pokemon Mysterious Dungeon

On November 17, 2005, Nintendo released the two versions of its Pokemon Fushigi no Dungeon, the dungeon crawling turn-based RPG which sees gamers playing as the lovable creatures. It would seem that Japanese gamers were particularly eager to help lead the Pokemon to safety, as 100,000 of them escaped from the retailers' shelves in just the first day of release. The impressive figure can be derived by adding up the sales totals for Pokemon Fushigi no Dungeon Blue, for the Nintendo DS, and Pokemon Fushigi no Dungeon Red, for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance.

Both of the games were developed by Chunsoft, which has previously worked on other dungeon crawlers such as the Torneko's Great Adventure series. Nintendo has opened a webpage for both games here.


Source: GameFront



 Tales Becomes Commonplace
Namco

Tales of Commons was the second game in the prolific Tales Of series to see a release in Japan's booming mobile phone gaming industry. The game did well, and so just a few days ago, on November 21, 2005, Tales of Commons saw its second chapter go live. This chapter introduces a new playable character, Yuu, who becomes the fourth controllable character in the game. Though mobile phones are seeing more and more RPGs released in Japan, Tales of Commons distinguishes itself from the herd by featuring full voice-overs for all battle and event sequences. Tales of Commons costs an access fee of 525 yen, which equals just under $4.50 USD.


Source: Game Watch



  Culture Corner: Ask Aethelred

There's just one letter this week, and there's no culture to speak of, making the title something of a misnomer. That said, let's get to the letter... now.



Kannotations


Hello!

Howslife? I'm a regular e-mailer of Japandemonium (who sends his letter always last minute) - as you may, or may not, know. So I have to send an e-mail, but I actually have no clue what type of questions to ask. Normally I ask something about Japan, but I don't know whether you can, or cannot, understand Japanese (even though my guess would be somewhat, as you need to provide us our weekly Japan news fix). Actually, I'm kinda curious what news you will bring us!

So maybe you can tell us what the connection is between you and Japan? Have you ever been there? What Japanese food do you like? How about Japanese girls? Sorry, I really don't know what to ask!


Aethelred

It's nice to get a letter, even though I'm only doing a guest column. And this is a pretty good letter, too. Let me see, now. I don't speak much Japanese at all, but I do know a bit. Thankfully, despite this shortcoming, the site has a wonderful translator named Adrienne Beck who is much more adept at the language than I, and she scoured the internet for the Japanese news fix you readers crave. Much of the news I've written about today was either found by her or translated by her, and so she was definitely an instrumental part of this column for which she deserves our thanks.

As for me, even though I don't speak the language, I certainly feel a connection with the country. It's difficult to be as much of a gamer as I am and not feel a sense of gratitude to Japan for the contributions it makes to the gaming industry. I play games mostly for one genre, RPGs, and American-made RPGs have, quite simply, never appealed to me the way those from the East have. Whether it's the story, the gameplay, the music, or the entire package, I've just felt much more of an affinity for Japanese RPGs. I'm also a fan of Japanese animation.

I've never been to the country, but I do intend to go at some point. I have a few friends that speak the language fluently, so ideally I'd be dragging them along with me. The food, I love. Sushi is one of my most beloved meals, even if my wallet won't let me eat it as often as I'd like. As to the girls... well, sure, I like Japanese girls, but I also like to think of myself as pretty much an equal opportunity sort.



I'm gonna ask something anyway! I had a question in my head about Japanese music charts, what's popular and not, because it seems that most (or all) on the Oricon-chart (it's the right name, right?) seem to be Japanese artists (or is it a Japanese-artist chart only?). So what's up with that? I actually don't whether you can answer this or not, but if not, I'll just pass it on to Jordan next week?

Do you listen to Japanese music (except the usual OST's)? J-Pop, J-Rock, or whatever? Any recommendations you can give? I like Maaya Sakamoto (who works together with Yoko Kanno) and my lil' sister is fan of The Indigo. The latter sound pretty good, but I haven't really listened to it yet.


Aethelred

Ah, well, there you go, mentioning Yoko Kanno. Here's the thing: Kanno is, quite simply put, one of (if not the) the most brilliant, talented, and innovative composers of the past sixty years. I'm primarily a fan of classical music, a genre at which Kanno excels. But her incredible talent is such that she's not limited to that one musical genre; instead, she can compose in such a wide variety of unique and eclectic styles. So, naturally, I listen to her music a lot. This would include all of the Cowboy Bebop OSTs and the Stand Alone Complex OSTs, which are her best works in the field of anime composition. Her oft-forgotten video game stuff, though, is also spectacularly good. The highests are the Nobunaga's Ambition: Record of Military Affairs, Nobunaga's Ambition: Legend of the Supreme Ruler, Nobunaga's Ambition: Chronicles of Heaven, Uncharted Waters, Uncharted Waters II: Special Edition, and Napple Tale soundtracks. I can also tell you that I am very eagerly awaiting the Ragnarok Online II soundtrack, which she is composing. I won't play a minute of the game, but the music, I'll cherish.

I don't listen to too much J-Rock/J-Pop, though I like some of it, and I've watched enough anime to have sampled a good variety. While writing this column, I mostly had "Song of Four Seasons," the ending theme to Samurai Champloo, on an endless loop, because it's the sort of song that's easy to get lost in. Also, I have a friend who is a much larger fan of this stuff than I am, and he pretty consistently sends me some of its highlights.



Well, that's my ramble, I hope you can ramble further on it. Keep up the good work as news-poster and whatever more you do for RPGamer (and the RPG-community)!

Douggie

PS. I hope this one comes on time!


Aethelred

You did make it on time... of course, it helped that I ran the column a couple of days later than when Jordan normally runs it. Thanks for writing and for the kind wishes.



 Sayonara

And that wraps up this edition of Japandemonium, as well as my stint as a guest columnist. I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Also, happy holidays to all of our American readers... even though I had to spend most of the day at work (which wasn't all for the bad, as it did give me the opportunity to finish writing this column). Sensei will be back from Kyoto to resume his column duties next week, so look for him to continue to provide the latest in Japanese news then.

Have fun, kids.


Bryan Boulette




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