Kotoshi mo Yoroshiku!
Happy New Year! If you are reading this from any place that does not follow the Chinese lunisolar calendar, then it is now the Year of the Horse! Our equine friends have a special place in the hearts of the citizens of Hi no Kuni (Kumamoto), and by "hearts" I mean "stomachs." Baniku (horsemeat) and baryouri (horse cuisine) are a tradition in central Kyushu since I'm not sure when.
In the butcher shops and delis of Kumamoto, you can pick up horse products of many sorts. The most famous and popular would have to be basashi, strips of horse tartare served with soy sauce and shredded ginger, but it's also possible to find ground horsemeat, horse flank steaks, horse croquets, and even horsemeat curry. Many stores also sell bayuu, which is supposed to be quite good for the skin.
Horses aren't just celebrated in the kitchens and baths, however. The city's professional soccer club, Kumamoto FC Roasso, apparently takes its name from a (misspelled) Italian word for roan horses, a fact that is reflected in the team's logo.
Conveniently, the Aso region of Kumamoto has some of the best grazing land for horses in Japan. There are many ranches up in the highlands and even the high mountains where horses may be seen, and several are now tourist attractions. And of course, there is the annual Fujisaki Shrine Festival on the Autumnal Equinox, which features many, many horses in traditional fancy dress. In the weeks leading up to the festival, the individual krewes sponsoring the horses will lead them around business areas in Kumamoto neighborhoods and pray for the continued success of the merchants.
So in essence, Hi no Kuni is a place where, at one time or another, every part of the equine experience is appreciated.
As is traditional every year, the various companies of the gaming industry have sent via Famitsu their well wishes to their loyal customers.
#1 - Arc System Works, Idea Factory/Compile Heart, Aqua Plus, and Acquire!
#2 - Atlus, SNK Playmore, MTO (kitties!), and Imageepoch (boobies!).
#3 - Kadokawa, Capcom, Gung-Ho, and Gambarion!
#4 - Grasshopper Manufacture, Craft & Meister, GameFreak (Pokeymans!), and Koei-Tecmo!
#5 - CodeMasters, Konami, Comcept, and CyberConnect2... but what's Shinigami Messiah?
#6 - Square Enix, Spike-Chunsoft, Sega, and Sony Games!
#7 - D3 Publisher, Nippon Ichi, Nihon Falcom, and Microsoft Japan (pony!).
#8 - UbiSoft, Level-5, and Rocket Company (robots!).
#9 - Bandai-Namco (Pac-Attack!), Platina Games, Furyuu, and Bushi Road!
And to finish things up, Broccoli, Bethesda, 5pb., and Marvelous AQL!
In a move that should surprise precisely no one, Square Enix's retooled Bravely Default: For the Sequel has a sequel. I can't recall exactly when this was announced, but I saw the first bits of propaganda in Famitsu not long before Christmas. Through the amazing magic of scanners, I can share it with you now.
Set "a few years" after the events of Bravely Default, the literally-named Bravely Second follows the story of Magnolia Arche, a soi-disant "Devil King Buster" who claims to come from the moon. She's proud of her Lunarian heritage, and as one of the few remaining members of her race she's quick to defend their honor.
As a direct sequel that comes only a few years after the first game, Bravely Second can be expected to cover a lot of the same topography. In fact, in one of the scans you can see the clockwork city of Ancheim on the horizon. In the foreground is Istantar, the world's brand new magical academy city. Supposedly, they're studying new and interesting forms of magic therein.
What other new things are to be found in this sequel? What courageous heroes, what exotic locales? Some poking around Youtube got me the following video, and it is... odd. Like, Bioshock levels of odd, which sounds weird when talking about a quintessentially FF experience.
If the Japanese dialogue is throwing you off, at the very end Magnolia addresses the silent PoV-holder as Tiz as she sorta flirts with him. Honestly, if this is representative of the whole game, then Bravely Second is going to be a much more interesting title than Bravely Default was for me.
edit: As it turns out, this video was a special post-credits goody in the new edition of the game. Silly me didn't feel like shilling out good money when I already had the original version, so I missed out on it.
The last time we heard about Natural Doctrine (which I am not typing out as intended because all those caps gave me a headache), we heard about a world split by war, with humans and demihumans vying for precious resource macguffins. Despite all the talk about refuting expectations of the natural order, i.e. "humans good, monsters bad," and how the actions of the humans may be just as bad, the game still has a uniformly human cast of characters. Well, that hasn't changed one bit, with two new party members making themselves known.
Introducing Nebula the overly proud mageling and Tatiana the gunner imp. Thus we continue with the humanocentric model of storytelling. The article does note that the war-orphan Tatiana has lost faith with humanity and prefers to pal around with orcs, which is something, I suppose. The next question is, how sympathetic does this game actually make the demihumans? Are we at least presented with alternative races that look like they could be the good guys in this narrative?
And the answer is.... nope. Here we have three demihuman races — the Goblins, Orcs, and Lizardmen — and three nonhuman races — the Dragons, Minotaurs, and whatever the Gleon is supposed to be. I'm sensing a strong theme of "Good-looking vs. Ugly as Sin" here. C'mon, guys. Give me something thought-provoking here. I found the three trolls from the latest version of The Hobbit to be more sympathetic than these critters.
It's that time again. No, not time to floss, nor time to reorganize your backlog. Nope, it's time to talk about Super Robot Wars. Specifically, we have Super Robot Wars Z - Jigoku-hen, latest and officially last of the Z branch of the series. For the record, the game bears the secondary title "Hell Version," but the kanji have been jiggered with so that now the meaning is closer to "Prison of Time Version." Given the transdimensional mindscrew that is this game's backstory, that is likely to be a very literal and convenient bit of portmanteau there.
I've decided against listing every single mecha series or movie to be referenced in this game, partly because any interested parties will have already played the first two Z games and thus know most of them. Let's focus on what's new. According to Famitsu, there are four sets of source material in this title that have never appeared in an SRW game before, plus another eight that haven't been seen in a Z game prior to this. If we remove every "new" item that is Gundam-related, and also the two movie-related Votoms listings, we are left with one completely new series and six new-for-Z sources. The true SRW newbie is Aquerion EVOL, which is a new one to my ears. The new-to-Z sources include Top wo Nerae! Gunbuster, two instances of Evangelion, and three instances of Full Metal Panic.
Does anyone else get the feeling that Bandai-Namco likes padding the numbers when talking about these games?
Anyhoo, those super-robot enthusiasts in the audience can expect to see this one in stores on April 10th, 2014 (4102014, palindromic!). It will be available for both the PS3 and PS Vita. However, if I'm reading this right then only the PS3 will have the option of a physical copy. The PS Vita version will be download-only.
|Borderlands 2 (GOTY Edition)
||Take-Two Interactive Japan
|Tokyo Shin Yoroku Operation Abyss
|Ar no Surge - A Prayer to the Barren Star
|Disgaea 4: Return
MESSAGE FROM JAPAN FOR YOUR ATTENTION
For Your Attention:
I am Kokoschki Zwang i worked as the Doucments Caretaker to late JACOBOWSKY BLASCHKO who was an International Businessman and real estate developer here in Fukushima . He met his death during theTsunami earthquake disaster here in Japan,
Late JACOBOWSKY BLASCHKO has a safe deposit funds with a Vault House Abroad. please click on link to see more details:
All i need is your assistant as a partner to have the claims of the safe depsoit funds in your favor i have the Original legal deposit Certificates, If interested kindly do contact me only on my private Email:(It's a trap!).
Congratulations, Mr. Czech-Chinese fake lawyer dude with a terrible command of spelling, grammar, and punctuation in the English language! Your poorly veiled Nigerian email scam was the closest thing to a Culture Corner letter my inbox has seen in the last five months. May it keep the virtual dust bunnies warm.
The last three issues of Famitsu have certainly been plentiful, haven't they? I actually have enough material to do another column next week! The only thing I'm missing at the moment is letters for the Culture Corner (hint hint).
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,