||The Killer Japanese Seizure Robots
||August 2, 2005
Yet another week and month has managed to slip by me. Days fly by so fast I barely have time to see them, let alone live them. Four short weeks ago I was writing about the 4th of July and the fireworks in America I was missing. Now I watched Niihama's Fireworks Festival from one of the best spots in the city. In under a week I will be boarding a plane to fly to Houston to see my fiancée and meet her family. I am strangely not worried about this prospect at all. I look forward to it. I just hope I can tame the flow of time and get it to slow down for even just a single week.
In other news, as some of you may know, I did QnA last week for RPGamer. It was a fun experience, and I have to say I got better at it from my end by doing just questions. Hopefully, I will be able to finish Culture Corners more quickly now. That section takes a surprisingly long amount of time since I print so many letters each week. It doesn't help that I tend to have some long-winded responses. But I take any chance I have for improvement in my work. If I can provide better work faster, it means I can do more for this section of RPGamer. If there are suggestions for things people would like to see, send them to the Culture Corner, and I'll see what I can do.
In gaming news, I still have none. I tried to emulate The Legend of Zelda and go for a swordless run, but it seems that Macs don't emulate the NES very well. (I will point out that I do in fact own this game, more than once.) I find this strange because any PC can emulate the NES so easily. Had I thought about this issue a bit more, I could have done it on my GameCube, but I forgot that I brought that disc to Japan. Silly me....
In more kinda gaming news, I will soon be playing Makai Kingdom. My fiancée has the game waiting on me, and I will begin playing it two weeks from now. I will also be playing either Kirby Canvas Curse or Meteos. Anyone that has these games is still more than welcome to write in and give me their thoughts. I will buy one of them in roughly 7-13 days.
As for the title of this week's column, it comes from a link passed to me in the staff channel. I'm going to warn you that this link may scramble your brains. For those bold enough to enter, this link made me giggle a lot. You have been warned, but make sure you have your speakers on. The embedded .wav is actually REALLY good.
That said, let's get this seizure-inducing party started!
This week, the chart has expanded a bit due to games slipping past the top 30. This has allowed for a few new games to sneak in there, just like I had predicted. The chart is quite full of RPGs, but sadly they do not occupy the top spot. That honor goes to Sengoku BASARA, an action game by Capcom from the people responsible for Devil May Cry and Resident Evil. With that in mind, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's probably pretty good. Might be something I'll be picking up when/if it comes out in America. If not, I can always get it later at a tiny discount.
Also new to the chart is another DS RPG. It seems the little handheld is doing quite well mainly due to its large software library for its age. The PSP is lagging due to so few games coming out for it, and a small percentage of those are original games. Granted, I still love my PSP, but I find myself playing the DS more. Although I do like that the PSP is getting more functionality with the 2.0 patch, the PSP is not much smaller than my laptop. Text entry is similar to that found on a cell phone. I'll need some kind of mini-keyboard before I embrace using it for that purpose. But the new functionality is nifty. I'll give it that. That said, I'd like some more games for it. In the meantime, the DS gets my love.
So, let's see those numbers, shall we?
Idea factory has announced their newest project, a new brand called "IF TYPE
Rei." The first game under this new brand is an original fantasy simulation RPG game called Rebirth Moon for the PS2.
Set in a world where holy tree-like organisms called "Yugu Trees" produce energy to run something called the "Noise Net." The story takes off in a country filled with ancient ruins, and in one of these ruins, mysterious objects called "Cubes" were discovered 23 years prior to the beginning of the game. These Cubes grant special powers to certain people that allow them to create and use powerful weapons called 'Sougu' which means 'Thought Tools'.
One day, a traveling merchant, Ires, and his father find a dying man. The man passes something that shouldn't be be able to exist; a black Cube. The story goes from there as Ires tries to decode the mystery of the Black Cube.
The world is also comprised of many organizations. There is the Guild, which handles the official research on Cubes, sells the parts needed to created Sougu, and oversees the registration of Sougu wielders. Under the Guild is Tempest, a collection of Sougu wielders that operate as a sort of police force that oppose the Baldar merchants, an organization that resembles the Japanese Yakuza more than regular merchants. There is also the Yugu Church that teaches a religion based on the Yugu Trees.
As for battles, players will spend time in their home base with their troops. The "Noise Net" can be used like the internet to browse for quests that can be completed in any order. Upon winning, event scenes are revealed to advance the story and flesh out characters.
The individual battles are turn based, and with every turn made, your character's speed increases, making movement that much easier. ATK raises with each attack, and DEF increases with every hit received. Also, like other Idea Factory titles, combos will be possible if characters attack consecutively. There are also "Flash Combos" that involve using Sougu to do massive damage. This fact becomes increasingly important since every character in battle constantly regains HP as the fight progresses.
Characters will also have a particular skill set to draw upon, but those skills will change each time they are used, sometimes not for the better. Luckily, should there be a skill that is particularly liked, it can be locked for future use.
One final note about this brand is that there is also an anime mentioned on the official site. The only other details there are that there will be two versions. The standard edition for Rebirth Moon will sell for 7140 yen, and the limited edition will retail for 9240 yen. The game is due for release sometime this year, but there is not a specific date on the site at this time. Look to RPGamer to keep you updated as news rolls in.
With the October 13 release of Square Enix's Code Age Commanders coming ever closer, the pre-order goodies have finally been set. Gamers with a burning desire to reserve the game will get a hard-bound, 40 page, all color "Code Age Commanders -Visual Code-" artbook. Also included will be a blue case with an original design so that you can keep the game and artbook together. All in all, it's a neat little package for 7140 yen.
As was previously reported, Hudson announced a new entry into the Far East of Eden series for the XBox 360 called Far East of Eden: Ziria. So far, there is not much known about the game except that it will not be released until 2006 in Japan, but Hudson did offer a taste of what's to come. The graphics are pretty, but they look as though they would be at home on the PS2 right now. It is uncertain whether or not these are representative of the final level of graphics.
As more details surface, expect full coverage in RPGamer.
In more Slime Mori Mori 2 news, all the images from the website have been downloaded and saved. Feel free to take a look at what is shaping up to be an interesting game.
With the upcoming release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, fans looking to pick up the DVD will now know what the box looks like. Square has released the front cover of the box art.
In other Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children news, Square Enix is releasing a Gashapon set for the movie. The set will include Cloud, Tifa, Kadaj, Roz, and Yazoo, and all will feature a strap for attaching them to cellular phones. This Gashapon will be of the 200 yen variety and should be available nationwide.
The movie is still set for a September 14 release for a price of 4800 yen for both the DVD and UMD versions.
After a week's absence to go to Kobe and climb Mt. Fuji, it seems that my letters have gone back to a normal amount. That's OK. Lots of letters are fun, but I AM doing QnA this week, so I'll get plenty of it. That's not to say that you can't send me letters on a regular basis. Send me letters, and I'll answer them all. Even silly ones.
Looks like the only thing left to do is give you guys my weekly Japanese lesson and get started on this week's letters!
That said, let's get started!
Just wanted to clarify... I asked whether or not Japanese people
seem *corny*, not "horny". ^^; Sorry, but I didn't want people to think
I watch, well, that kind of anime. 8-) To expand my question, I was
referring to how in anime people tend to wax poetic about hearts and
friendships and free will and love and gooshy stuff like that (the kind
of thing Americans generally wouldn't be caught dead extrapolating on,
at least the ones who aren't flower children).
Ok... I have no idea how I misread that word. I even checked your email from last week, and it said corny back then too. So umm.... the good news is the whole staff had a good laugh over this, and I still think the answer was good. Even if it's not what you asked...
Honestly, the main reason that things are hammed up so much in those sorts of anime is the target audience. Most people that anime like that were originally targeted for are girls, and they tend to like more romantic scenes than males do. That's not to say that all do or that men can't like romantic stuff, it's just that they cater to people that will probably watch the series.
In reality, some of it is true to an extent, but it's really overblown from what I've seen. Most people just aren't THAT corny. It is taken to a bit of an extreme in anime, but isn't most anime taken to an extreme? That's just how it is.
At any rate, thanks for writing again. Sorry for misreading your letter... I swear my mind isn't in the gutter ALL the time....
im not an expert by any means, but i wish that you had mentioned
something about the cultural differences between asia and america when
responding to SKs questions about the rpg market in your column on the
27th (mostly because i love that stuff)... i would guess that it could
have a lot to do with asian cultures having a richer history of
storytelling... in the US, we pretty much have nothing (the 'old west'
doesnt really amount to much)... :)
i would guess that this would have an impact on the interest in
story-driven games (as opposed to action-driven)...
Entire books can be written on this subject. Culture does play a big part of it, but I think Americans like good stories too. We just also tend to be more inclined to play things that let you fly solo. RPGs tend to have big stories, but they also have big teams. Teamwork is important here. Americans like to be the last one standing and save the day. I think that factors in to games that each country makes. At least it sounds really good, so that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Thanks for the email!
Alright this is the down-lo on Cloud.
He failed to become a Soldier so he instead become a regular
guard. In the mission at Nibelheim Sephiroth found out he was a
creation with Jenova cells which resulted in him losing it and killing
the entire town. Cloud was injured in that massacre, but him and Zack
were found be Hojo and infused with Mako and Jenova cells (this was
also done to about 50 other people), to be like Sephiroth (he was born
with them already infused).
Cloud's Mind trying to piece together what happened in Nibelheim
and his embarrassment of not become a Soldier created a different
memory then which actually happened, creating an unstable mind with
false memories. Also i think the Jenova cells also let him be more
easily controlled by Sephiroth (this is just speculation though).
As for Shinra's cover-up about Nibelheim, they sent a team to
repair the mako factory, but instead that team destroyed the entire
town, plus the Mako plant creating monsters. I would find that a good
reason the cover up the actual happening.
I'd say it's been at least six years since I even touched FF7. But when this was proofed, Alethea, our resident FF7 guru, noticed an error. THIS is how it went down. Shinra did send a team to repair it, but Sephiroth killed the people and burned the town. Shinra rebuilt the town and hired actors to replace the townspeople. Evidently this can all be found in the library, and now that she mentions it, I might maybe remember it.
I am on PSP! Don't be -- 2 LoNg 2 spell
You aren't the only one to send a letter via their PSP. I sent one to Cast with my legally upgraded PSP. I actually have a Japanese PSP, so I'm allowed to have that update. It is spiffy, but I don't see myself using it much. Glad you're enjoying yours. I've enjoyed mine since the day it came out in Japan. So no jealousy on my part.
congratulations on your hike to Mt. Fuji! How long did
it take you to climb that mountain? and I don't see any
snow on your pics. I thought it was always snowy up
Since i love to hike, i gotta try that in the far
future if i ever get a chance.
how much free time do you get away from work anyway?
i mean you get to write japandemonium, write Q&A.
climb a mountain, play games,and so on. And you seem
to be making a good salary too.
finally, how long are you staying in Japan? are you
limited? Does "japanese MIB dudes" bother you for
staying in japan?
Great work! Keep it up!
The actual climbing time was around 5 hours to get to the top. I took some breaks in there, and one of them was over 3 hours. I started my climb at 6:30 p.m. and topped out around 3:30. With breaks, that works out to be about right.
As for time, I have a fair bit of time. GEOS gives me two consecutive days off each week, Sunday and Monday. My working hours are also kinda strange in that I start at 1 and finish at 10. This gives me an entire morning to play video games or do whatever I want. I'm paid enough that I can afford to do some traveling on the side with my weekend. Two days is enough to get someplace, check it out, and come straight back. I also get larger breaks twice a year, but I won't get another of those until Christmas. But that's not counting next week. I'm taking a week of my paid holidays to see my fiancée and family.
It's not a bad life over here. You make enough to do a lot if you want. I'd prefer I had more time in my evenings for stuff, but it's nice that I begin work late. I can fly in the day before work and take an overnight boat back to Niihama. Works out pretty well I think. There are good points to both ways.
Thanks for writing though. I have plenty of time for JP, even when I'm a bit late... I had a good reason though. You can trust me on that.
I figured these questions would come some day...
How goes it honorable czar of all things
Japan-related? The meat of this letter is simply to
tell you that you really can't go wrong with either DS
choice. I personally liked Kirby more, as Puzzle
games, regardless of complexity, just don't seem to
last as well for me but both are phenomenal. Kirby
could be...a little more difficult I guess (barring
the Subgames--Paint Roller took me some time to get an
A rank on) but it's such an interesting concept that
I'd say Kirby even with the additional $5 US required
to attain it. Both are wonderful.
A quick point about Japan. You made it a point about
people making less of a to-do about sexual things. It
got me thinking about America--regardless of how much
the news media seems to try and scare us into and out
of various things and how voiced the complaints that
our culture is perverse and our styles far too overtly
sexual are (I think that sentence structure works...)
kids are screwing around really, really young.
Everything starts earlier and earlier these days and
I'm wondering if that problem exists similarly in
Japan. As a bit of a stretch, it seems like our
emphasis and general putting-in-the-spotlight of
sexual stuff makes the taboo aspect all the more
tantilizing for the newly-rebellious youngsters. Since
the opposite attention seems to be given in Japan, is
the outcome, too, opposite to that of my America
Dunno if I'm reaching or not...I found it an
interesting ponderance anyway. Great column--keep
doing what you do!
Thanks for the info on games. It seems that I can't go wrong with either, so I'll buy whichever is there. If both are there,I might just toss a nickel.
As for the second question, you're actually a fair bit off base. As mentioned before, Japan is a highly sexual country, and their age of consent is FAR lower than ours. It is not uncommon for girls to lose their virginity in the bigger cities really early, and school girls are notorious for using sexuality to get things. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of people who really like school girls, and there are girls that are willing to exploit people into becoming sugar daddies for that purpose. In the cities, school girls hike their skirts up so high that they may as well not be wearing them at all. It's kinda sad really. Some do it for the attention, but others do it for more. This is also the country that used to sell used panties with pictures for large sums of money, sometimes over the equivalent of 100 dollars.
As to the effect this has had on the population, it's hard to say. The Japanese don't release numbers on diseases, and I heard that a member of the ministry of health said that Japanese bodies were different and that they couldn't get AIDS. Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard the Japanese claim that their bodies are different or better than our bodies, so it is possible that some people believe this. I don't know the numbers, but with things like that, I'm glad I am faithful to my fiancée. Who knows what's out there. It'll be interesting to see what happens in 20 years or so here, but I'm not so sure I want to know.
At any rate, thanks for the email! It's an interesting topic, that's for sure.
Are you still in Japan? I am in the Kanto area for one more year. I just bought Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana because it was getting good reviews, and after noticing the artwork, I checked the box and sure enough it was another Nippon Ichi Software title. Is there anything they can't do right? They have been releasing a flurry of good games with excellent artwork, so i hope they can just maintain this level of quality. It would be nice if Squeenix could take a hint and get moving on the Dragon Quest 8 translation for North America.
Yeah. I'm still in Japan. Doesn't look like I'm going anywhere anytime soon. I have plans to stay here for a few more months.
As for NIS, yeah, they do seem to rock the house. I really enjoy the games, and I'm looking forward to more of them, and you aren't the only one looking forward to DQ8. I might pick that up myself. It does look spiffy.
Thanks for writing!
Been waiting on this one...
This is a question I've been meaning to send in for
quite some time.
Some time ago, while I was playing Katamari Damacy, I
rolled into the bathroom on one of the stages and
picked up the toilet paper and air freshener arranged
around the distinctly Japanese toilet. It made me
wonder about the differences in Japanese and Western
A quick search on the internet revealed some useful
guides on how to use a Japanese toilet (I remember you
posting one such guide in the staff channel a while
back). Apparently, the squatting position is the most
natural for humans. No surprise there. However, there
is one disadvantage. As a Japanese site put it so
eloquently, "If you lost balance you gonna fall back
on ****!" Holding yourself up is a requirement for
using these toilets, unlike the Western ones that
invite you to take a seat.
So here's the question, which may be a bit personal
for you, as you will have to draw on personal
experience: what do you think of Western toilets
versus Japanese toilets?
I figured this question would happen sooner or later too, and I can offer more than one view on it.
I guess I'll just get started with traditional Japanese toilets. More or less, they are porcelain bowls set into the ground. They're actually nicer than you'd think. To use one, you face it and squat down. I also advise stepping out of one pants leg, but that's just to make sure there aren't any accidents. Then you do what you need and call it good.
In some cases, the toilet is raised up on a platform. I see these kinda like western toilets without seats. I use them backwards and use my hands behind me to stay propped up while I hover. I've not learned how to hover yet, but that seems to be a uniquely female skill. I prefer those I think, but I wash my hands extra good just in case.
On the other end of the spectrum are the all-singing, all-dancing toilets. Japan makes some western toilets that come with everything except windshield wipers. Some features on the best ones include heated seats, deodorizers, two different bidets, background music, and massage. There are even ones that sense you walking into the bathroom and open and close the toilet lid for you. Good grief. I will say they are quite nice to use though.
There's also a class of regular toilets that have little spigots on top. This is to wash your hands without wasting water, but there's never soap. As the tank fills, you can rinse your hands. It's a nice idea, but I never use it. I've never heard of anyone else using it either.
Now for my opinions. Personally, if I have to go, I'll use whichever I can find. GEOS had a traditional Japanese style for months before switching to a mid-range, all-singing, all-dancing western toilet. I prefer a regular toilet, but I do not find Japanese style to be uncomfortable at all. Granted, I don't read many books on them, but they're not bad.
My family is another story. My brother and mother would NOT use a Japanese style toilet at all. They'd rather hold it for a LONG time. They were also surprised when they'd see Japanese people take Japanese toilets over western ones. But I don't think being that stubborn is good for you, so I just do what I need when I need to. At least I have the benefit of being male. It makes it easier most of the time.
So there you have it. That's probably more about my bathroom usage than you ever wanted to know. Hope this has satisfied your curiosity. Thanks for writing!
Another week, another column. This one went up a day late due to me getting some really super awesome news. After that, I lost all concentration and wasn't able to finish. But the good news is that there will still be a column before I leave for the US. I'll do my best to make sure it's online before I leave.
Catch you on the flip,