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Dengeki Rankings I Hanjuku Eiyuu 4 ~ The Seven Heroes Release Date and Info I Sony Confirms PSP Popolocrois Bug I Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 8 I Tales of Legendia Gets Two New Characters I New Y's Title in the Works I Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song Battle Info I Culture Corner: Ask Sensei I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Kamera no Kitamura February 28, 2005


Konnichiwa

It's been over a week since I got back to Japan, and it seems that last week's little mishap has more or less blown over. It comes as a relief to me, because I really didn't know what would happen at all. It seems that life is more or less back to normal. I'm back on my old time schedule, playing video games in the morning, and talking to my fiancee at night. It definitely seems as though I have gotten back to the old routine pretty well.

In gaming news, I recently started playing Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I've had it since Christmas, but I've not had time to start it. Well, I finally did. I'm going to advise each and every one of you to go buy it right now if you have not. It is so much better than MGS 2 in so many ways. For one, it's a lot harder. You don't have your radar, and your guns don't have supressors that work forever anymore. And since you're out in the open, it's harder to hide, but that just makes it more fun. Because you have to camouflage yourself and hide out in the open, there is a lot more tension. A guard will walk RIGHT up to you, and you find yourself saying 'Please don't see me... please don't look down...' Then, he walks right past you and you jump up behind him and hold him up so you can take his girlie magazine. Then the giggling starts. But seriously, the game is much more of a rush than the other two.

In other gaming news, like so many of you, I have finally gotten my English copy of Xenosaga II. I've only played a little of it. In fact, I'm almost at the EXACT same point I am in the Japanese version: the second save point. I would be playing it right now, but if I did that, I wouldn't be writing this column, now would I? Sometimes even with me, work has to come before pleasure. At least I find this work pleasurable. I find it odd that Xenosaga I was the only game I ever paid for overnight shipping, and now I own two copies of the sequel. I also find it odd that they changed the voices in this one. The voice cast remains the same in the Japanese version from what I can tell. So, I should have this one polished off in a couple weeks tops. Feel free to ask me about it at that point.

Other than that, there's not much going on. This week's column takes its name from a chain of camera stores from which I purchased my camera a few months ago and at which I have been printing pictures, thus continuing my trend of naming the column after something I have used or eaten recently. The only other thing I've got is that I finally finished watching all of Mobile Suit Gundam. Since I haven't got anything else to say, I guess it's time to get this party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

There are tons of RPGs on the chart this week. If every single reader came together with a stick in both hands, there just might be enough of us to shake sticks at them. Not surprisingly, the top spot was taken by Devil May Cry 3, but we have a newcomer coming in slot number five. It's from a company that I've never heard of, but Dengeki calls it an action RPG, so I'll stick it in my column. I don't really argue much with their chart. It wouldn't do any good anyway. I don't think it can talk...

But anyway, let's see some numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
5 Gladiator - Road to Freedom Aatein
8 Popolocrois: Pietro Monogatari SCE
9 Shinseki Yuusha Taisen Atlas
12 Radiata Stories Square Enix
19 Super Robot Wars: Original Generation 2 Banpresto
26 Pokemon Emerald Nintendo
27 Dragon Quest VIII Square Enix
28 Megaman.exe 5 Capcom
29 Legions Sign of Necrom Bandai
30 Itadaki Street Special Square Enix
36 Digital Devil Saga: Avatar Tuner 2 Atlas
37 Rengoku: Tower of Purgatory Hudson


Source: Dengeki Online



 Hanjuku Eiyuu 4 ~ The Seven Heroes Release Date and Info
Square Enix

Square Enix recently set the date for its upcoming Hanjuku Eiyuu 4 ~ The Seven Heroes. The game will see a Japanese release on May 26. As a 'major title,' this will put it second in line after Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song. This still leaves the release date of Final Fantasy 12 up in the air, but for every game that comes out, that brings us one game closer to one of the most anticipated games of the year.

For those who are unfamiliar with this game, it picks up right where Hanjuku Eiyuu Tai 3D leaves off. It seems that the Almamoon Kingdom is once again in trouble. Details are still surprisingly scarce, but it is known that the game will take place across seven stars.

As for the battles, they will come in two forms. The first will be 100 on 100 battles that will use a mix of 2D and 3D elements and look to be just a little on the confusing side. The second will come in the form of three-on-three party-based Egg Monster vs. Egg Monster battles. It even seems that some of the Egg Monsters' designs came from magazine readers in a contest.

At this time, there is no mention of a US release, but at least you can look at these screen shots.

Sources: Magic Box I IGN




 Sony Confirms PSP Popolocrois Bug
Sony

Sony has confirmed that Popolocrois Pietro Ouiji no Bouken has a couple bugs. Specifically, in Chapter 2, if you fall down to the lowest level, it becomes impossible to continue on with the story. A similar bug has also been found. If the game is saved inside the elevator in Chapter 4, the data becomes corrupted. So far, no bug fix has been mentioned, but if one is available, it could probably be downloaded using the PSP's built in wireless abilities.

Source: Magic Box




 Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis Chapter 8
Square Enix

The latest installment of Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis has hit DoCoMo i900 series cellular phones. This newest chapter is centered around Icicle Village where the Turks get some unexpected back-up when Soldier First Class Zach shows up. Players can build this town into a base of operations or goof off in a monster-hunting game.

As always, the fee for this new installment is 525 yen and is another reason that I drool over i900 phones. The other being that they flat out rock the house.


Source: Impress



 Tales of Legendia Gets Two New Characters
Tales of Legendia

Character designer Nakasawa, famed for "Samurai Champloo" and the "Kill Bill" animation sequences, has announced that the upcoming Tales of Legendia will be getting two new characters. The first one is an elusive and quiet 16-year-old boy named Jay. He is the kind of person that keeps himself one step removed from things so that he can properly analyze them. This often lands him in the position of party adviser, but his advice is never pleasant. Jay is sarcastic and sharp tongued.

The other character is a pleasant girl named Grune. She is completely unflappable. No matter what happens, she remains her usual calm and composed self. Thanks to this, she is not a panicked mess about having amnesia which makes her a mystery to everyone, herself included. She knows nothing other than her own name.

The game is only 50% complete at this time, so more information will surely be coming soon.

Source: Impress




 New Y's Title in the Works

Falcom has announced the next title in its popular Y's series. The new game will be titled Y's; The Oath in Felghana, but that's all we know at this point. The only other thing we know is that Falcom has put up a page on its website for it, but there's nothing there. For those interested, you can click here to see the one page site.

Source: Dengeki




 Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song Battle Info
Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song

Some more information has been released about Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song. This time it's about the battle system.

Adding to the freedom of choosing any one of the eight main characters, players will have the ability to customize their chosen hero in any way they want. There will be no experience points nor leveling, but the actions you take during battle will lead to certain parameters going up, much like Final Fantasy II. Of course, higher parameters means stronger characters.

And of course there are special attacks. If you encounter an enemy that is stronger than you are, there is a chance that a glittering sphere might light up over your character's head. Once it's lit, the character will move without any command and dish out an attack that is much stronger than any of their current attacks. It seems that the stronger the enemy, the greater the chance that this will happen.

Romancing Saga: Minstrel Song is still set for an April 21 release.


  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

This week, I've got a nice little batch of questions. Feel free to keep 'em coming, and I'll keep answering them best I can. After a couple weeks, I should be able to answer questions about Xenosaga II so if anyone wants to discuss that one, hold off about a week. Anything else is fair game though.



Katakana Question


What are those dashes and dots between Katakana? I assume the dots are for nouns that have more than one words, but I'm slightly confused at what the dashes are. I take it they're used for pauses.Did you finish Xenosaga Episode 2? As a huge fan of Xenogears, I have to profess, it didn't meet the standards. The battle system is not as good as either Xenosaga Episode 1 or Xenogears. The story was good, but it's clearly not up to par with the other ones either. Probably a better ending than Episode 1 though.

Jatsuya


Sensei

Ah, another question on katakana. I'm not exactly sure which dots you're talking about, but I'm guessing that they come in pairs, right? If so, they cause altered sounds. For instance, 'ta' becomes 'da.' That's the only time I've seen dots like that. I suppose you could have something that looks like a bullet to separate words, but that's not common.

The dash looking one is a piece of cake though. It may look like an English dash, but it's actually not. It is something akin to the small 'u' used in hiragana. When used, it extends the vowel sound so that it lasts two syllables. This is often used to simulate an 'r' sound. Take my name for instance. Jordan is written 'Jyoudan' in romaji. When katakana are used, it's 'jyo' ('shi' with two dots and a small 'yo'), a dash, 'da,' and 'n.'

Hope that answers your question. If I didn't answer the dot part right, send me another letter and tell me where you've seen it. I'll see if I can take a look at it and give you a better answer.

As for the Xenosaga question, I've only played a little bit of it, so I'm not the best one to comment. But from what little I've played, I like it so far. Expect more about it in the next week or so.


X Box Again


Hello Again,

I just wanted to hear your thoughts, if any, concerning the latest RPGamer announcement that Sakaguch-san's Mistwalker is teaming up with Microsoft for two exclusive titles. And if you've talked to any Sakaguch-san fans about this, what they have to say. You said in this past week's Japandemonium that the X-Box wasn't doing well at all so I'm just seeing if there's any reaction that you've heard in over there about it?

Jon


Sensei

Honestly, I don't know what to say just yet. It's too early to call it. These games may very well be games that will convince me to buy the system, or they may just be two more games that I'll never play. When more comes out about this, I'll be able to make a decision. If I like them, I'll probably buy the new XBox because I'll surely find some other games for it that I'll enjoy.

As for my thoughts on Sakaguchi-san making this move, I applaud it. I can't blame him for going for a company where some of his old co-workers happen to be. Then, there's also the large sums of money that they gave him, but the main thing I applaud him for is finding a company that will let him be a big duck in a small pond. Sakaguchi-san is a very creative man. Microsoft will let him have more control than probably any other company. This may be a good or bad thing depending on what he's imagining. But I still applaud him for finding a company that might be a good match for him.

As for talking to other fans, I haven't had a chance to yet. I'll run it by my gamer class and see what they have to say about it.


Two for one!


Hi, I've sent you a letter before about your apartment. Since you said you had not gotten many letters, I thought I would send you a second one.

I was wondering, being a big fan of Bioware (Neverwinter Nights) and Blizzard (World of Warcraft); what do the japanese think of western RPG's? Since they are all pretty much fantasy rather than anime style.

Second question: Do you like pachinko? (hope i spelled it right)

Thanks,

Alex


Sensei

You know, now that I think of it, I've never seen any ads for western RPGs over here. I don't know if it's just that they aren't popular, or if games like World of Warcraft have been released here yet. My guess is that the Japanese DO play them. They love MMOs. You might try sending an email to Rage. He's the resident guru of all things MMO. I don't follow them much because I actually LIKE having a soul.

As for the pachinko question, I've never played it. I have WATCHED it before. As best I can figure, they don't build pachinko parlors to hand out free money, so if you play long enough, you'll lose. It does look interesting and simple, but then again, so do slot machines. I'm trying to save every yen I can to buy a ring, so I can't be throwing them in machines that provide little for it.


Just in time!


hi there

i wondered how japanese relate to board game and card game? i know yu-gi-oh is pretty popular as card game while the game of life (even if it is an occidental game) is popular as a board game but what with game's like magic the gathering or monopoly

also in the last mail i sended you i wondered why japanese loves hamster so much and you said that the love for beetles is even more strange then i thought of something

what's with the japanese and the poo? is everywhere! arale put them on her head,one of the evil guys of one piece has them painted on his jacket and one of the game of mawaru made in wario consist into opening a safe lock to take a golden poo (not to mention that the poo is painted on the almighty wario man costume too...) i know it's a weird question but it always bothered me ^_^'

hope you can answer (maybe with the help of some japan guy :D)

Pippo Pappo


Sensei

Yeah, it seems that the Japanese are interested in board games, and they especially seem to like card games using regular playing cards which they call 'trump.' As for other games, I don't know of any American ones offhand. I've never seen any Magic the Gathering cards here, but I've seen plenty of other customizable card games or just collectable cards.

As for your other question, um, I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about. I've never seen One Piece or played Wario Ware, so I'm not the best person to answer that question. Sorry.


Japanese and RPGs... who would have guessed


Hello Jordan,

thank you for posting your column every week - I really enjoy reading it. Please keep it up!

Well, I have a somewhat strange question which kept me puzzled for a while. My question: Why do the Japanese enjoy playing RPGs so much? Well, when I hear something about Japan, people always say: "They have long many hours, Japanese school children have to study a lot, people spend a lot of time at their working places." So I wonder when do Japanese people find their time to play so many RPGs? Games of this genre usually are very time-consuming, especially if you take your time to find secret bosses and to do all subquests.

Has playing RPGs something to do with Japanese culture? Well, I live in Germany (a reason for my poor English - I read a lot, but I write so seldom in English ;) ) and here you r! eally are considered to be strange when you love playing RPGs. People here love shooters, GTA or sports and racing games. Only few buy RPGs - and if they do they buy Final Fantasy episodes.

It would be great if you were able to help me solve this mistery :)

Best regards,

Lathander


Sensei

Yes, the Japanese DO play a lot of RPGs. They also study or work an awful lot as well. The truth is, they don't have time for games, but they forego things like sleep to make time. One of my students trades a couple hours of sleeping time each night for games.

As for why they play RPGs so much, I think it does have a lot to do with the culture. Anyone that has seen a Japanese comic or cartoon will see that they have much deeper stories than most western ones. They really love long, deep, and engaging stories. They probably also enjoy the escapism that gaming allows. As busy as they are, I can see why they'd want to get out of reality to relax.

But RPGs aren't the only games they play here. Racing games are quite popular, as are sports games, especially soccer games. Then there's the pachinko and Mahjong games that you just don't see anywhere other than here.

I think that the Japanese play a much broader range of of games than people think, but their intense love of RPGs is the one that is made most famous. If you come here, you'll see.

Well, I hope that I was able to answer your question, and don't worry about the English skills. I find that people who say 'Don't mind my English, I'm from ______' speak better English than most Americans do. Americans have terrible grammar....



 Sayonara

Anoher week is now behind me. Another month is also behind, but before it passed, it left me with a valuble lesson. Maybe going to the bank 30 minutes before closing on the last day of the month is NOT a good idea. Go figure.

And now I'm left with the hardest question I've had all week. Do I play MGS 3 or Xenosaga II? Hrm...

Catch you on the flip
Jordan "Indecision might be my biggest problem" Jackson




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