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Dengeki Ratings I Gurumin Digs Up Correction and Pre-Order Goodies I Shining Wind Blows In Three New Characters I Final Fantasy 3 Gets Teaser Website I Final Fantasy XII Soundtrack Dated I Tales of the Tempest Howls at the Moon I Innocent Life Hits Shelves I Culture Corner I Sayonara
JAPANDEMONIUM
Puramoderu April 27, 2006


Konnichiwa

Another week has gone by, and now it's time to write another column. It's amazing that I've been home over two months now. E3 is in two weeks. I remember back when it was just a dream to be there, but I'll be on the show floor in just a few days. It's crazy to think that time has flown so fast. It seems like only yesterday I was on the home team helping post E3 stories last year. This year I'll be on the away team seeing the show with my own eyes. Where does the time go?

In gaming news, I have picked up Metroid Prime Hunters, and the game is hard. It also tends to be painful; my hand cramps pretty badly when I play it. It's going to take a LOT of practice to get good without hurting my hand. After several attempts, I killed the first boss, but I've not even THOUGHT of going online. When I do, you can all add me to your lists. My friend code is 3393-7214-1982. I expect it to be a lot of fun.

In other gaming news, I picked up Mario Party 7 for my wife. If you own a GameCube and have never played a Mario Party game, you need to fix that. They are a LOT of fun. We've unlocked almost everything in 7, and we've been enjoying double dates with another couple to play it. I'd recommend it to anyone with a GameCube, especially if they have a significant other.

As for this week's title, it is Japanese for "plastic model." The Japanese have a knack for shortening English words, so the "plastic" is chopped down to "pura." The rest is pretty easy. As for why I chose that, well, I was struggling to think up something. Then I looked over and saw my two perfect grade Gundams looking back at me. They're still in their respective boxes and need to be assembled. I will enjoy building them both after E3. Models aren't easy to move once you put them together, so I'll have to wait. It's a miracle that the three I finished survived the trip from Japan. I can only hope I'm that lucky twice in a row.

That said, let's get this party started!



 Dengeki Rankings

The chart wasn't as full as past weeks, but it's been a long time since I've seen RPGs take the top THREE spots. While I'm not surprised to see Mother 3 take the top spot, I am a bit surprised to see it top a Dragon Quest title, even if it was an offshoot from the main series. With that in mind, Dragon Quest Young Yangus and the Mysterious Dungeon sold less than 10% of what its 'sequel' sold at launch. That said, I still hope it comes to the US.

Another thing that I don't see very much of is a game hitting the chart more than once. Final Fantasy XI swept the charts and claimed three different spots, one of which was the number three spot. All in all, it was a very impressive showing for the game, and a relatively fun chart to boot.

That said, let's see those numbers!

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Mother 3 Nintendo
2 Dragon Quest: Young Yangus and the Mysterious Dungeon Square Enix
3 Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan Square Enix
10 Pokémon Ranger Nintendo
14 Final Fantasy XII Square Enix
20 Final Fantasy XI: All in One Pack 2006 Square Enix
34 Seiken Densetsu: Children of Mana Square Enix
35 Mother 1 & 2 Nintendo
43 Final Fantasy XI: All in One Pack 2006 Square Enix
45 Tsubasa Chronicles Vol 2 Ariga


Source: Dengeki Online



 Gurumin Digs Up Correction and Pre-Order Goodies
Nihon Falcom

A reader wrote in to say that we got the Gurumin story all wrong. He was so kind as to give a brief description of the game, so here it is.

The game centers around 12-year-old girl named Parin who moves to a new town with no children in it. She finds what looks like another girl who is being threatened by a dog. Parin rescues the other little girl and discovers that it is really a ghost.

To thank Parin, the ghost girl and her brother take Parin to a crack in the back wall of the town. Though it looks like an ordinary wall, it is really a portal to another dimension, the Ghost world. Parin makes friends in the new world and then discovers that phantoms with unknown intent are threatening their world. Parin also discovers a sacred drill, which she pulls from a stone, and thus, she begins a quest to defeat the phantoms, rescue all the kidnapped ghosts, and get back all the ghosts' belongings that were stolen when the phantoms ransacked the ghosts' hometown.

The game is described as an "acrobatic drill action RPG," but according to Tom, it is more of a platformer in nature.

On behalf of RPGamer, I'd like to thank Tom for his email that not only alerted us to this incorrect story, but included a new one to replace it with.

In other Gurumin news, Falcom has announced the pre-order bonus for the game. Those wishing to be among the first to own the game will be treated to the "Falcom Demo Collection 2006" UMD, a collection of demos and videos of upcoming Falcom titles, when they pick up the game on June 29 for 5040 yen.




Sources: Game Watch I Tom, "big Falcom nut" and helpful reader



 Shining Wind Blows In Three New Characters
Shining Wind

Sega has unveiled three new characters for the upcoming Shining Wind, the next game in the Shining series. The game does not yet have a solid date at this time nor an announcement of a North American release.


Houmei - Though she doesn't look like it, she is actually a dragon-man, one of the multiple beast races in Shining Wind. She is over 3000 years old and is feared as a legendary magic user.

Hyou'un - He is also a dragon-man and is a specialist in hand-to-hand fighting. A member of the water-dragon clan, he is regarded as one of the five strongest generals of the beast races. He seems to know Houmei well...

Jincrow - He is a ninja crow-man that no one knows much about. He lost his left wing in an accident long ago, and it has since been replaced with a mechanical one.


Source: Famitsu



 Final Fantasy 3 Gets Teaser Website
Final Fantasy III

Square Enix has opened a teaser site for the upcoming Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS. Currently, there is only a flash video on the site, but more is promised to come later.

The game was recently confirmed for a North American release and more information will be announced at E3 in two weeks.





 Final Fantasy XII Soundtrack Dated
Final Fantasy XII

Square Enix set the release of the original soundtrack for Final Fantasy XII. It will go on sale May 31, and as previously reported, it will include 100 tracks spanning four discs. The collection will come in both a limited and regular edition, with the former coming in a DVD-size case and including a 28-page booklet.



Source: IT Media



 Tales of the Tempest Howls at the Moon
Tales of the Tempest

Bandai Namco announced that the upcoming Tales of the Tempest will have a new twist; two of the characters are lycanthropes and can turn into werewolves. So far, only two characters have been announced that have the ability to transform, and details of how and why they can change form has not been revealed.

Tales of the Tempest is set for release in Japan sometime this year for the standard 5040 yen.



















Source: Game Watch



 Innocent Life Hits Shelves
Japandemonium

Marvelous Interactive released Harvest Moon Innocent Life on April 27. To celebrate the release, some new screenshots are now available for your viewing pleasure.

No word on a North American release, but with E3 two weeks away, anything is possible.











Source: Jeux France



  Culture Corner: Ask Sensei

It seems that the Culture Corner is here to stay indeed. Once again my inbox was overflowing with awesome letters from readers. Hopefully, things will stay that way. Reading and answering emails from you guys is the biggest reason I keep doing Japandemonium. So keep 'em coming, and this will stay my favorite section forever!



Golden Week


Hi Jordan,

Long time no see, haven't written since you came back from Japan. Seems you've been super busy with work now that you are back, but I'm sure it's well worth it since you get to spend more time with Caroline.

On to my title which is the question I had.

I've heard you mention about Golden Week, and did a quick search on it that showed the days that make up the golden week. I noticed that it wasn't exactly one week like M-F, so what days do you actually get off? and since it's a different holiday each day is there a big event for each of those days? Did you celebrate it in any way?

Guess to add to that, my thoughts of Japan and I noticed it when I was there is that they work so very much that I can't possibly imagine a vacation for them, what exactly do they do? In anime you see kids go to the Beach, countryside or mountains is that true and what do adults do?

Side note for me I may be heading back to Japan for a short trip with my brother in May and will have more questions as to what a "second" trip should be like XP Take Care,

David


Sensei

Golden Week happens when it happens. In my case last year, I had a break from Thursday to Wednesday. It's one week, but it wasn't the way we think of our breaks. In Japan, you don't get things centered around a Monday to Friday break. I'd be nice if they did, but that's just not how they do things over there.

As for what 'adults' do, they often travel. Many of my students went to visit family or just sightsee. Kyoto is a VERY popular destination for Golden Week, and a TON of people go there. Oddly, Tokyo is almost empty due to the fact that half of Tokyo's population is in Kyoto enjoying temples.

In my case, my family came to Japan and we took a trip to Kyoto, Nara, and Tokyo. It was one of the coolest trips ever, and I'll remember it for the rest of my life. I'd like to take my kids there sometime when I eventually have them.

Finally, if you go back, feel free to send some more emails. I'd be glad to help you with your trip to Japan. If I can help someone and pay my experience forward, that'd be awesome. Please tell me of your plans before you go.

Thanks for the email, and do stay in touch!


Japanese Proficiency


Hi sensei,

I took up japanese 1 this semester in col in order to actually be able to understand and play the japanese games that never made it to the US. Incredibly hard module aside, i had a question about the japanese language proficiency required to play Japanese rpg's.

I now am proficient in reading kana and have a decent vocab, but only know about 100 primary kanji, the basic LAJ1201 level stuff. Since I suppose there must be a limit on the number of kanji used depending on the age group of the gamers a game is intended for, what is the average level of kanji required to properly understand and play story heavy games like, say, xenosaga? What about primarily action games like Ys?

I am planning to take the JLPT soon after another module (god knows the first one was torturous enough, with 5 tests per week, but the ability to play rpg's months before their US releases is priceless), but I was curious about just how proficient i need to be. Many manga i read often have kana translations for most kanji, but i have seldom seen something like that in a game.

Aditya


Sensei

Japanese games can be HARD. Really hard. I didn't get very far in Xenosaga II because of that fact. The language barrier just kicked me in the rear, but I was able to get through all of Paper Mario 2. I COULD have gotten through Wild Arms Alter Code: F if I'd wanted to, but lack of time got me. Basically, games that have furigana, hiragana over the kanji, are playable, but those that do not have them can be almost impossible without a STRONG background in the language. It's hit or miss as to whether or not they'll include furigana, but it'll always help.

Good luck with games. I struggled a bit with Jump Super Stars, but I could sorta make my way through. I also did pretty well with both Katamari games I played. You'll need a good dictionary if you intend to finish a lot of games, but if you're willing to sink the time into one, you'll be OK. Be warned, it will take you a LONG time if you want to read everything.

Thanks for writing, and I hope that helped.


Tongue Tied


Hi Senseichan.

When I read about the big knot in Japanese ties. I was thinking that maybe it was like (what I was calling) a double-winsor knot, which gives a nice wide knot. Considering how many emails are in the spam folder, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a letter for me in there, Ah. Well I did try send a tie e-mail, put I guess you were unlikely to have seen it amongst your 1876 spam. (Or just wasn't suitable, I wasn't really expecting it to go in the column, but I can't tell if it was missed.)

I was worried before about the attached picture coming out right. But unfortunately it might also double a way to look too suspicious!

Anyway I'll try send it again, just in case.

Notes:

- You may have to mirror image it, if you wear your ties round the other way. (I.e. thick-end anti-clockwise instead of clockwise.) Or if you watch yourself in a mirror, to tie it.

- If you skip step 4, you get what I thought was (single-)windsor knot. (Some of the websites called this one the double-winsdor.)

- If you skip step 2, you get a half-windsor knot. (-Me & some websites.)

Otherwise, one of those other "double-windsor knots" which worked quite well, was a triangular one (wide at the top and thin at the bottom.)

Here's a link to that one:

http://www.krawattenknoten.info/krawatten/Krawattenknoten/knoten/windsor.gif

(But their half-windsor wasn't as nice. It doesn't undo very well at all!)

I hope one of those is correct, or at least close enough for your satisfaction.

P.s. That Hedgehog is enormous and..and you've turned into a BFG !..... or perhaps those pics were scarily large .


Sensei

Your letter got mixed up somewhere. I'd have sworn I included it in the column, but it's not hard for things to get misplaced. My inbox has around 4000 emails, and my spam was over 2000 by the time I uploaded.

As for the knot in question, it isn't the right one, although it is a bit ironic. I JUST learned how to tie a full windsor knot. It's not THAT bad once you do it a couple times, but it wasn't easy at first, either. The Japanese tie a modified four in hand knot that I don't remember how to tie. It's a very fat, square knot; windsors are triangular in shape. It was really cool, and I wish I could do it. My boss showed me once, but I never tied it enough times to remember it. I tied a half-windsor every day for work. It's my favorite knot, although I have taken a liking to the full windsor. I wear a lot of spread collars, so it'll be useful.

At any rate, thanks for the letter. I need a good picture to remind me how to tie that knot for my second wedding. It'll still come in handy. If I ever find out how the Japanese tie their ties, I'll draw it and post it on RPGamer.

Oh, and yeah, I am a big guy, but the pictures are huge. They're 5 megapixel shots. I'm six foot one and 193 pounds, so that's not small by any means. Sonic is roughly the size of one of my fists. He's such a cool pet. I'm thrilled to have him.

Sorry for missing your letter last week and thanks again!


Hanami


Konnichiwa J-Sensei, I have returned with a vengeance!! Haha not really, but I have become more interested in developing questions regarding the state of anime/games/japan/etc.

First, I'd like to retort against Douggie's letter from the last letter column, as he mentioned "I know every girls likes to try those music games (DDR, PnM, Karaoke)". This may not have been his intent to classify these games as 'girls games', but it comes off that way. I'm only irked by it because I play these games often, and am involved in the music-gaming community (it's fairly widespread but not as common as other games since it's a heavily arcade-based medium). In fact, music-gaming is probably the sole reason I have so many unfinished games sitting on my shelf. Alas, the price I pay, but my point is that, by no means, are music games marketed or meant for girls (case in point: the beatmania IIDX series of games caters to an anime fanservice fanbase through the artwork used in the games' music videos...actually, the upcoming IIDX 11 RED features a song from Suikoden, and the recent American release of the game, "beatmania", features Metal Gear Solid music...actually not surprising since IIDX is made by Konami).

Secondly...did you pick up Children of Mana? It was on sale on playasia for $19.99 one weekend, and, despite my limited proficiency in Japanese (by college's end I'd like to be much better, so I decided to minor in it), I'm having an awesome time with it. Not to compare game sites, but IGN did a whole article on "Whether or not to port Children of Mana [the weekend of it being on-sale]." If you didn't get it, it dropped down to about $25, but I anticipate that is due to an impending yet unannounced US release.

Third...you were in Japan for a while right? How was hanami? I plan on going to Japan next summer (either through study-abroad or just vacation) and the one thing I want to do that I won't is to view the cherry blossoms. Despite being a gamer, I'm a fan of outdoor nature (when my sinuses can handle it)...speaking of, how are the allergens? I want to teach through JET or NOVA after college, and I'd need to know how many bottles of medication I should bring with me :D

Finally, I have a concern regarding the expansion of gamer culture in the US. It used to be that only nerds played video games, but now even the people I called preppies in high school have XBOXs (unfortunately) and are familiar with Halo and Super Smash Bros. Is this the direction that gaming should be heading?? I guess I feel like games are being destroyed in a small way by making a large part of the fun and/or replay value reliant on multiplayer gaming. This applies to MMORPGs as well...I think WoW is soul sucking (I'm a Computer Science major and 1 out of every 5 people in my major here is a WoW player)...I played it for two months and quit because it got old very fast (I used to play Everquest back when it first came out, and I was addicted to Diablo II for a long time). I think MMO games lost their appeal when they became mainstream


Sensei

I found that music and rhythm games were played pretty evenly between both boys and girls. If anything, boys probably played more, but that's probably because more boys play than girls at this point. Girl gamers DO exist, but their numbers are a bit smaller than males, but that will not be for long. It'll be 50/50 soon and already nearly is.

As for Children of Mana, I have yet to play it. I never finished the last Mana game I played, so I didn't bother to import CoM. I may play it eventually, but the series is not one of my favorites. Maybe I will give it a shot again later. It's not that I DON'T like them, I just don't love them. And as pressed as I am for time, games I don't love don't get played.

Since you mentioned Hanami, I'll talk a bit about it. I really enjoyed it. Everyone just has a nice picnic where there are many sakura trees and has a good time. The trees are beautiful, and every time the wind blows, petals come down like snow. The ground is also covered in sakura petals making it look pretty. I wish American culture had something similar, not just for the flowers, but for what it's about. Americans seem to want to get together for something we do/make. We have a cookout. Or we have a picnic on the 4th of July before the fireworks. The Japanese DO have a picnic, but it's second to enjoying the trees around them. I found that the Japanese have an appreciation of nature that was just stronger than what I found in America. Granted, that's a bit of a sweeping generalization, but I find it true enough to say it with confidence.

And for your final point, I think it's ok that even preppies and frat boys play games. I still identify with the gamer crowd, but I don't think the fact that games have gone mainstream has hurt us at all. Some people have lost their identity maybe, but that's not a bad thing either. We shouldn't let games define us. We should define ourselves. Enjoy what you enjoy because you enjoy it. Don't worry that a lot of people now play them too. It is for this reason that we get more games now. If RPGs hadn't gone mainstream, we wouldn't get to play some of the quirkier titles like Contact. Or Katamari Damacy.

Keep playing what you like, and you'll be happy. That's my belief. At any rate, thanks for the email. Feel free to write in again!


Kanji


Hi sensei, Too bad that you can't read my kana. oh well. But Hey, thanks for your translation about kimi no tame ni dekiru koto. However, i found an online chinese shop, stating that the meaning is: i can do anything for you. Is this also a possible meaning? I'm trying my best to understand the Japanese sentence as good as possible. But lately i don't have much time (homework and lots of homework).

E3! I can't wait to read your live journal. This should be fun! I hope you like it there. My dream is to visit The Tokyo game show atleast once. I think it's a bit better then the E3, because i like Japanese and rpg games more.

And I checked the boards on gamefaqs, according to them the game is not region free ƒ However, i did hear rumors that Ubisoft is planning on publishing the game in America and Europe (You go Ubisoft!).

And as for importing games from Japan only in hiragana and katakana, isn't it better to import a game with kanji characters as well? Hiragana and Katakana might be easier to read, but they are actually harder to understand. In hiragana you have one reading with different meanings (Sometimes even 7!), so it's harder to find out what they are saying. Through kanji you know in an instant what they are talking about. The best games to import are the games with kanji (not too hard, like Dynasty Warriors games full with hard kanji) like Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga.

Hehe, another letter for you, sensei. You know, i might look like a noob for writing only 4 letters. But actually i began reading your column since februari in 2005! It was in a hospital, i had a surgery then and i was full with blood on my nose ( l couldn't breath through my nose and still can't). And then a nice lady lended me her laptop to use the internet. Rpgamer was a new site for me, and then i found your lovely column. I kept on reading it since then, but never really bothered to write a letter. I always thought that my letters wouldn't be answered. I guess i was wrong back then. So what i'm trying say is, that Japandemonium is a very important column to me and so as you. Reading your live in Japan is so great and you are such a nice guy! Okey, i'll shut my computer now. Hope to see you next week.

Love, Nour


Sensei

Holy smokes, did you have 'tame' in there last week? I TOTALLY missed that word. If you did, then the translation you found is correct. It most certainly is "I can do anything for you." 'no tame ni' translates as "for" or "because of" To give an example, if you were saying I brought my umbrella because it was raining, you could use 'no tame ni.' There'd be a better way to do it than that, but that's ONE way of doing it.

Kanji is simpler in a way; if you recognize the kanji you don't have to mistake two words 'spelled' the same way. But you can generally tell from context what word they mean. 'Kumo' can be 'cloud' or 'spider', but I don't think people would make the mistake of fluffy white spiders or an eight-legged cloud. The best case are games that include kana over the kanji. Those are not uncommon, but not all games feature them.

Also thanks for the kind words. We're not paid here at RPGamer, so stories like that are the very reasons I continue to do this. I never imagined that I'd have an impact on people just by writing a simple news column every week. You just made my day and probably tomorrow too. Thank you so much for saying that. It means more than you may ever know.

Thanks for the letter. I look forward to your next one!


Final Fantasy Fondness


Dear J-sensei,

When it comes to Final Fantasy, have you ever met people who were more fond of the Nintendo FF games (FF1-6) or more fond of the Playstation-era FF games (7-12, including spinoffs) while you were in Japan? I'm just a bit curious because my sister, me, and a friend of ours who imports his games had a pretty heated discussion a few days ago about the possibility of a Kingdom Hearts 3 and what Final Fantasy characters should be included.

Also, I found a GREAT resource on learning how to speak Japanese (http://www.japanesepod101.com/). They have 10-minute audio lessons, you can download them onto an MP3 player, and best of all, it's free. Thought I'd like to pass this along to everyone else.

Joanna


Sensei

I found that most people played the newer games. This isn't a surprise since they're newer. There are lots of people that get nostalgic for older games, but a lot of my students were kids. Kids have a rough time playing stuff before their time, and the older gamers played the newer games for similar reasons. That said, a couple of my students had a special place in their hearts for the old school games, but the PlayStation and newer are the ones they play most.

As for the lessons, that's mega awesome. It reminds me a lot of some of the stuff I used to see on Japanese TV at night to help them learn English. I haven't signed up yet, but from what I read on there, I'm tempted to pay for a one year subscription so I can further my Japanese. If only I'd had that while I was IN Japan.... I'd pay for the kanji flashcards alone. At any rate, thanks for one of the best links EVER.


'Short' Email


Jordan,

Howslife? Sonic looks cool! What does he eat? If you want him to learn to do the spin dash, maybe you should give an example and do a spin dash yourself in front of him (if you're going to, then I would like to see a picture of that)!

I actually have not much time (explain next week), but here's a very small question: why don't Japanese use spaces in between words? Isn't it confusingbecauseitslikeyou'rereadingstuffthatwrittenlikethis, right? Or is there some sort of system to it, that I seem to miss?

Thanks for answering another letter!

Douggie

PS. Wasn't it with the 360 that it was region free and even worldwide versions of games exists - as in English/Japanese/Italian/Spanish/etc. all on the same DVD?

PS2. E3 sounds like fun, but if I hear stories of people standing in line for an hour to play a demo of something, it's kind of a turn-off - you really need to go multiple days to see everything! I always do like to hear about the freebies people get!

PS3. Do you think that the people who are good at the UFO Catcher games have such a machine at their homes? (I know they probably don't, but that would be such a crazy thing!)

PS4. I think my PS. is larger than the actual letter itself!

"We all know that birds fly, but now can
you tell me where they are actually flying to??"


Sensei

I feed Sonic a mix of freeze-dried mealworms and ferret food. He seems to love both of them. I enjoy feeding him out of my hand. I never could get my hamster to do that, and yes, some videos of spin dash training would be AWESOME. ^_^

As for the 360, I think you've got it confused for the PS3. The 360 only uses DVDs, but the PS3 will use BD-Roms. With the massive amounts of space on them, they'll be able to put multiple languages on the discs.

I've also heard that the lines can be long at E3, but that's a small price to pay to be there. I can't wait to go. It's been a dream of mine for a VERY long time. I'll have a full write up in my lj, and I'll have some stuff here as well. There might be more, but we'll have to see what kind of/how much swag I get.

As for having a UFO catcher game at home, I don't think many people have one. While it'd be a GREAT way to practice, you'd have to pick up your own stuff. I think some people are just naturally talented at it. Me? I suck, so I keep my money in my pocket. I like to play the 'gashappon game.' I win every time. 200 yen goes in, little bubble toy comes out. It's similar to the 'vending machine game,' but the prizes last longer. ^_^

And finally, the space thing isn't an issue for them. We're used to spaces, but they don't have them. It's just part of their language. We have trouble thinking like that because English has spaces, but once you get used to Japanese, you can read it without. When dealing with languages/cultures other than your own, don't forget to check your rules/norms at the door. Our way need not apply to theirs.

Thanks for the letter. I was unaware that you could send a short letter. Feel free to send another next week. I look forward to it.



 Sayonara

It's been a busy week, and the coming weeks only look busier. I suppose that's natural for this time of year. That said, you still get your weekly dose of Japanese news.

The column will probably be up next week, but no promises. With pre-E3 stuff needing to be done, I don't know if I'll be able to squeeze one out, and I know there will be no news columns the week OF E3. Forgive me if there is no column next week, but I'll do what I can to provide something.

Catch you on the flip,


Jordan "Not enough hours in the day..." Jackson




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