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Dengeki Ratings I Grasshopper Contacts Massive Media Update and Pre-Order Bonus I Nintendo Takes Pokémon on the Road I Xenosaga I + II Pre-Order Goodies I Tales of the Tempest Pre-Order Campaign I Itadaki Street Going Portable I Utawareru Mono Opens Official Site I Kingdom Hearts Gets Nuked I Culture Corner I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Itadakimasu February 21, 2006


Konnichiwa

Amazingly enough, I've now been back in my home country for two weeks. Sadly, I've begun thinking in English almost completely again, and I'm afraid my Japanese will quickly start to disappear. I suppose it couldn't be helped though. I'll still have a love for the language, and I will do what I can to keep my skills. I suppose it's only natural though. I DO live in America now. Speaking and thinking in English should be expected of me. But every once in a while, I see something in an anime or a picture that reminds me of my home across the sea. I miss it, but at the same time, it sure is good to be home.

In gaming news, I've finally finished off Kameo: Elements of Power, and I have to admit that the game is very, very pretty. At first glance, it looks like it could be handled on a PS2. The graphics ARE good, but they're not that much better than some of the best stuff current consoles put out already. The real show of power is that the game never slows down, even when there are hundreds of orcs moving on screen. No matter how many things you throw at the game, it never slows down, and that's saying something. I can recommend it for everyone looking for some fun on their 360. Some of the fights can be a bit annoying, but the game is satisfying on the whole. It's not the best game I've ever played, but I'm not sorry I bought it by any means. I just hope that I enjoy Dead or Alive 4 as much as I did Kameo when I get it arrives next week.

In RPG news, I have finished around half of Wild Arms Alter Code: F. The game is an improvement over the original, but there are a few bits that are annoying. They've taken away most of the force abilities, so only Cecilia can summon Guardians now, Jack seems to have a lot fewer quick draws, and Cecilia no longer has Mystic. That change alone makes bosses a LOT harder. No more relying on a quick potion berry to save the whole party. At least gimmel coins allow you to restart a fight if you lose it, but you sacrifice any gained EXP. The net result is that you can lose boss fights easily, and it means you have to level a lot more. Still fun, but it's got a few problems the original didn't have.

As for this week's Japanese word, I was talking to my wife trying to pick a good one, and she suggested this one. We've been talking about food all week since I've finally got a kitchen again. It's generally translated as 'Thanks for the food!' The Japanese always say it before they start eating. My wife and I usually say it too, hence her suggestion for the column title.

That said, let's clap our hands and humbly prepare to receive this week's batch of news from the other side of the planet.



 Dengeki Rankings

This week we've got a decent thirteen titles making the top 50, but it seems that none of them can top More Brain Training for Adults. It seems to have a death-grip on the top of the chart along with the English training game from last week and the original Brain Training game. Of those that were RPGs, all but one are returning titles from last week's chart, although they've all slipped a bit.

Position Title Publisher Platform
8 Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII Square Enix
16 Eye Shield 21 Max Devil Power! Nintendo
17 Ar Tonelico Banpresto
18 Mario and Luigi RPG 2 Nintendo
20 Pokémon's Mysterious Dungeon Blue Nintendo
24 Pokémon's Mysterious Dungeon Red Nintendo
29 Kingdom Hearts II Square Enix
37 Slime Mori Mori 2 Square Enix
39 Tales of the Abyss Namco
40 Rockman EXE 6: Dennoujuu Grega Capcom
41 Mother 1 & 2 (Value Selection) Nintendo
42 Rockman EXE 6: Dennoujuu Falzer Capcom
48 Final Fantasy IV Advance Square Enix
49 Final Fantasy X (Ultimate Hits) Square Enix


Source: Dengeki Online



 Grasshopper Contacts Massive Media Update and Pre-Order Bonus
Contact

Grasshopper has updated the website for its upcoming Contact, and it is chock full of new screens and artwork. But for those that would rather see them all collected in one spot, your wish is granted.

Grasshopper also announced that those that pre-order the game will receive a special DS case featuring the game's protagonist Cherry on one side and the game's antagonist Mint on the other when they pick up the game on March 30. The case is designed for the original DS, but the new DS Lite will obviously fit in it as well. The game currently has no announcements for a release outside of Japan, but if you find yourself there with 5040 yen to spare, it can be yours.



































Source: Game Watch



 Nintendo Takes Pokémon on the Road
Pokémon

Nintendo is planning on launching a traveling amusement park based on the Pokémon franchise. The first stop will be Taipei, Taiwan for a three-month period starting in June. They are expecting it to draw one million visitors during its stay there. The park was first opened in Nagoya to coincide with the World Exposition and had over 4.5 million patrons. But if you don't live in Taiwan or Nagoya, fear not. Nintendo is considering taking the park to the US, Shanghai, and Europe but has not commented on these plans.

While I have never actually been to the park, I have seen it several times as I went by it on the Shinkansen. At the time, I didn't know that it was meant to be a traveling amusement park, but I wasn't very impressed with it. It looked kind of similar to the traveling fair that hits my hometown every July, the kind that sets up in two days and is gone by the end of the week. Aside from a big ferris wheel, the park seemed pretty much devoid of any rides that I thought looked fun. But so long as the kids enjoy it, I suppose that's all that matters.



Source: Yahoo News



 Xenosaga I + II Pre-Order Goodies
Xenosaga I + II

Namco just launched an advertising campaign detailing what those that pre-order the upcoming Xenosaga I + II will get. They will be receiving a calendar and mousepad featuring the cast of the game. The calendar even fits inside the mousepad, so you'll always know what day it is while using your computer.

Gamers can pick up all this on March 30 for 5229 yen. No word on whether this will leave Japan, but considering the first two games did, this one is looking likely.








 Tales of the Tempest Pre-Order Campaign
Tales of the Tempest

In more Namco pre-order news, it has also been announced what those that pick up Tales of the Tempest can expect if they are among the first to own the game. Gamers will also score the illustrated guide book and a 32-page "Tales of the Tempest Official Fan Book" featuring interviews, trivia, and commentary.

Tales of the Tempest is set for an April 13 release for the standard 5040 yen. As to whether or not this one will come to North America, it's a bit of a crap-shoot. The series has mixed results in leaving Japan, so it's anyone's guess as to whether this one will be seeing any other markets.







 Itadaki Street Going Portable
Square Enix

Square Enix is taking the Itadaki Street series to the PSP with Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Special. The game is sequel to, rather than a port of, Itadaki Street Special, which was released in December of 2004 for the PS2.

The series is a bit of an interesting mix. It combines traditional board game elements like game boards, dice, and game pieces with action and fighter elements when two pieces occupy the same space. In some ways, it is similar to Nintendo's Mario Party series, except it features maps, items, and characters from both the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games.

This is the the first time for the Itadaki series to go to a portable system, but there is little chance of this game to go so far as seeing foreign shores. But considering that the PSP is region free, it'll be import friendly for those wanting some gaming on the go.


Source: Game Watch



 Utawareru Mono Opens Official Site
Utawarerumono

Aquaplus, famous for the To Heart series of dating sims, and Flight Plan are teaming up to make a strategy RPG for the PS2 called Utawareru Mono. The game is set in a medieval Japan, and it focuses on the adventures of a man named Hakuoro. He has no memories of his past; his earliest memory is waking up severely injured in a small village. In fact, Hakuoro isn't even his real name; it was given to him by the villagers since he couldn't remember his own name. Since Hakuoro is so touched by the villagers concern and effort, he decides to stay and help them until he is completely healed.

Things go well until the harvest comes in and the local overlord demands an unfairly high tax of food. Throw in a few other problems, and Hakuoro is both an outlaw and the leader of the village's revolt.

Utawareru Mono is set for release sometime this summer. In the meantime, feel free to check out the game's official website.


Source: Insert Credit



 Kingdom Hearts Gets Nuked
Kingdom Hearts

In one of the stranger video game tie-ins I've seen, Nissin, inventor of Cup Noodles, made instant ramen featuring Kingdom Hearts. If you'd care to see some of this ramen, you can go to the Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka. For those wondering, the Kingdom Hearts ramen was chicken flavored.




Source: Kotaku



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

It was a bit of a slow week for letters this week, and I suppose that's not so bad. I had a job interview that ran WAY over what I expected, and I got caught up making one of our logos and ran out of time. I guess it's just my nature to always be giri giri. But don't let my poor management of time keep you from sending in letters, and feel free to send some to Bryan Boulette. Some of you may know him by his IRC and board nick, Aethelred. He'll be filling in for me next week as Caroline and I visit our families. Mine's in Florida, and hers are in Texas, so we'll be pretty busy. I shall return to my normal columnist duties the week after.

That said, let's get to the letters!



Onsen and DDR


Hey Jordan. I have two questions for you this time around.

First of all, in regards to the Japanese onsen/spa/hotsprings, would it be acceptable to, say, wear a swimsuit, instead of wearing nothing? Or are there specific rules you have to follow, and being naked is one of them? Or, alternately, is there no rule against it, but would there be kind of a bad social stigma in being too self-conscious/shy to just wear nothing, like everyone else does? I'm probably not going to ever be in Japan myself, thus this question is based on nothing more than idle curiosity. But there's nothing wrong with those kinds of questions, is there? ^^;

And now for something completely different, and less nudity-oriented, but still Japan-related none-the-less! I'm sure you've seen Japanese import arcade machines around in the good ol' US, such as DDR, right? Well, I can't remember which version it was, but I saw one where a message would display on the screen, specifically stating that sale or use outside of Japan is *illegal* (for all I know, all versions might say this). I've seen the same thing in various other arcade games. Well, I'd like to know... is it true? Or is this just the video game companies' way of trying to scare Americans (and other countries) into not importing their games? I've never heard of an arcade owner being sued by Konami for buying/owning/operating a DDR machine, or anything like that, but then, I don't really keep up with DDR news very well. Have you ever heard of anything like that happening? Or.. maybe it is illegal, but it's one of those 'crimes' that the Japanese companies just don't really mind, like doujinshi? Also, to add a third question to the arcade paragraph: if it actually is illegal to import Japanese arcade machines, well, what about console games? I've noticed on the back of some console games, there's a white box with the words "For Japan Only", but I haven't seen any specific mention of it actually being illegal. The way it's worded, "For Japan Only" could easily be taken as simply a suggestion, rather than a command, and easily be ignored. ;)

Keep up the great column! ^^

~Silvermist~


Sensei

Yay! You asked about two of my favorite things. I really miss onsen, and I wish we had them here. Sadly, I did not get to go one last time due to the rush at which I left. Bathing in America just isn't the same. ;_;

As for wearing a bathing suit, that would actually be a bit of a no-no. The bath is considered pretty sacred in Japan. The water is supposed to be kept clean for everyone to use. Hence, when you go to an onsen, you are supposed to clean your body at one of the shower stations before entering the bath. People bring their towels with them into the bath, but it is considered taboo to let it touch the water. Only clean bodies are supposed to be in the water and nothing else. Granted, you'd be a foreigner, so they'd probably not say anything. But trust me, it's best if you don't. It would be really offensive to them. Just take all the stares and keep your eyes to yourself as best you can. It's not that bad. I used to walk around without being self-conscious at all after a couple trips. There is nothing wrong with the naked body, it's just that our culture has said we have to cover up. Their culture is different. It's always best to leave your cultural standards at the border when you go to another country, and when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

As for the DDR, I am 99.999999% sure that the reason it is illegal is due to licensing and royalty issues. Most of the songs in DDR are licensed for use ONLY in their county of origin. This is the reason that the games come out in Japan and have loads of good songs. We buy the home versions and all the good songs are gone. What happened to fan favorites like Butterfly and Dam Dariram? Licensing issues. Aside from that, there really isn't any reason that the games can't be brought over.

While I'm on the topic, I never saw a single US game. If I did, it sure looked like a Japanese game, but there really weren't that many arcade games that would be popular in America besides fighters. And those were all Japanese cabinets. At least half of most arcades are dedicated to tight clusters of purikura machines, the little picture sticker machines. I know we have them in America, but they're HUGE in Japan. At 400 yen a pop, they're MAJOR moneymakers, and every girl in the country has them all over everything she owns.

Another major section of the arcade will be set aside for Mushiking and the few clones of it. You'll be able to spot it right off by the gaggle of elementary kids with their trading card books full of cards for special attacks. There is also a music and rhythm game for girls, but it will only have a couple girls around it while Mushiking will have tons. I noticed that the average game lasts a few minutes, and at 100 yen a pop per player, they were making a killing. Whoever thought up combining beetles, janken (Japan's version of rock, paper, scissors), and collectable card games is a genius. It's the new Pokémon.

Well, thanks for writing. Hope I helped!


Sorry


J-sensei, welcome back to the U.S. I have a question regarding translations. I was looking at the Disgaea anime website, (http:// akaitsuki.net/) and I can't understand much. Specifically, I want to know about the cast, and the Netherworld News (stafu & kyasuto, and makai nyuzu). Is it just me, or is the actor playing Laharl the same one from the game?

Thanks for helping,

Nick


Sensei

I took a look at it, but the kanji went over my head. That combined with my extreme lack of time means that I'm not really able to do anything that you couldn't do with Google language tools. Sorry. If it's any consolation, I'm REALLY looking forward to both Disgaea 2 and the anime. I'd love to know what the news was all about, but I just didn't look at it in time. Gomen.

But thanks for the letter. Maybe I'll be able to give you more help on your next one. Next time Gadget, err... Nick. Next time!



 Sayonara

And thus my column comes to a close. When I started writing this, I had no job. Now I'm happily employed at Best Buy. A bit of a change from teaching, but considering all the crazy stuff I've done before, I'm not really shocked by this. My life has taken so many drastic turns that I've lost count.

Since Bryan will probably fail to mention it, have a great Mardi Gras next week. Rather than enjoying the festivities on Bourbon Street, I'll be visiting family. I really have enough beads anyway. I've seen more than enough parades in my day. See you all in two weeks!

Catch you on the flip,


Jordan "Release the robotic Richard Simmons!" Jackson




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