Well, it's been a little more than a week since April 1st, so I guess it's time to come clean. As of the time of writing, the April Fools' poll has gotten 21 votes, plus one more to my email. The results are:
Souken Bukyoku and Dark Quest -- zero individual votes each. I'm not so surprised here. I added these two to the column mainly because I had the pictures handy, and it's awfully hard to verify the existence of a Japanese mobile phone game if you can't read Japanese. I figured they'd make good decoys if nothing else. Still, they are exactly as described, or at least as was described in the slightly vague blurbs from Famitsu and Dengeki.
City of the War God III -- 6 votes, but one of those was changed shortly after, so 5. If one wants to get really technical, the game's title is Toujin Toshi III, and the title given in the column is just the best translation I could put to it. Since I have done the same thing to a fair number of games in the past, I don't really consider that one to be a lie, but others might disagree. In any case, I think this game got votes largely because of those "censored" pics of Haruhi Suzumiya giving everyone a rude gesture. Note, while I said I had the pics to prove that this game was pornographic, I never said I would post them. I considered doing some sort of HTML finagling to make them available to anyone who investigated thoroughly enough, but in the end decided that the boss-man would not appreciate me uploading hardcore Japanese porn onto the site's servers. In any case, the game is completely real.
That leaves us with Lost Memory, which has 6 votes posted, plus 1 vote changed to it, plus one write-in via email, for a grand total of 8 votes. The most commonly voiced sentiment was that it looks like something made on RPG-Maker. Oddly enough, it was made on RPG-Maker. I never said that it was not. What I did say was that I had bought it at the local Daiso for 100 yen, and that is completely true, as are the screenshots. Click here if you don't believe me.
So, in answer to the four people who voted "All fake," gotcha. To the five people who voted "All real," you're either very astute or very gullible. Also very right, but don't let it go to your heads, okay?
Unfortunately, there was one item I had planned for April-foolery which never happened. I'd gotten some sketches together and talked Unpetitmax (he of Fan Art fame) into spoofing a few screenshots of a "new" addition to a certain popular series. I didn't want to put it in the column because 1) I wanted to do an about-face from last year's 95% fake column, and 2) I wanted it to have some shred of credibility by making it not look like I was behind it. So I tried to arrange some other way of getting it on the site, but due to bad timing on my part and a hiccup in communications, it never happened. It's a shame, but what can you do? We'd be pushing our luck to wait another year before using these pictures, because a new sequel to this series could be announced at any time. Might as well show them now, I say.
Anyway, I hope you all had an interesting and surprising April 1st. Now, on to the column!
So, I'm looking things up on Dengeki, and I see Square's name pop up on one news item. Of course I click it. What I am not expecting is the other brand name that appears in the topic title -- MySpace. Square Enix now has its very own MySpace page, though whoever they had write up the obligatory blurb section needs to review his English grammar some more.
The point, however? S-E has produced their very own MySpace-based flash game featuring a character from Final Fantasy XII, Dive II Hunt -- The Adventures of Sorbet. Guide the little Moogle as she explores the ocean looking for rare fish to catch.
The following pictures may be in Japanese, but the application is also available in English. Poorly written English, but still understandable.
Recently the Dengeki site restructured several of their regular features, including the Top 50 weekly sales rankings. It's now the Top 20, and a few other alterations have made it much less easy to work with. So for a while I'm going with the Famitsu Top 30 sales list to see how it goes. Since Famitsu and Dengeki don't always get their numbers from the same sources or update for the same periods of time, the numbers will not match what was reported last week.
Just as the school year was coming to an end here in Japan, Acquire Games announced that their popular dungeon-exploration RPG, Class of Heroes would be seeing another few semesters of action. Class of Heroes II will see more of its predecessor's gameplay, with four new majors and a variety of school events added to the curriculum.
Of the two new majors shown, the first one will be causing some confusion for future translators, I think. The translators of the first Class of Heroes game chose to translate the Hunter class as Ranger, but now there's a new class also called Ranger in the Japanese version. This new major looks to be an upgraded version. Completely new, on the other hand, is the Doll Master class, which looks to have some zany potential. As for the rest, only time will tell.
Okay, here's something I've never heard of before: visual combat books. From the descriptions I have read, they seem to be a table-top role-playing game where the players each possess a book representing a character in the story. All the rules for play, as well as the narrative of the current adventure, are to be found within the book. This brings us to the Queen's Blade series, a combat-centered role-playing game based on a tournament storyline more in keeping with a fighting game. The tournament in question is definitely a high-stakes affair, with the victor claiming the title of Queen for the next year. Appropriately, every single playable character in the series is female, and all the art that I have found for it can be described simply as fanservice.
While the Queen's Blade series has made some inroads into other media, it's mainly been in ways that reflect the game's narrative or artistic style -- visual novels, computer dress-up games, fan comics, and an upcoming animated adaptation. To go along with the anime, the series is going to make an even bigger jump, to the Playstation Portable.
Now presenting Queen's Blade - Spiral Chaos. I'm not sure why the PSP, or handhelds in general, should attract so many tactical titles, but here's one more to add to the list. So far, at least nine characters from various editions of the original game are known to be in this version, as well as two original characters, Cute and Jeanne. What strikes me as interesting is the actual combat sequence when two units engage. The game shows its roots here, as it goes into what looks like a fighting game mode, complete with health bar along the top. I'm not sure how far the fighting game style goes, however. That is something I'll have to look into.
What I'd rather not look into is the nature of that pink goop splattered over one character on the first page of the scan. Some things are better left unknown.
We have news of A Witch's Tale! After a long, long wait, Hitmaker and NIS have finally released some information about the game. For those needing a recap of what's known about the game so far, here's an excerpt from last summer's impression, courtesy of Ilchymis:
"According to local legend, it has been approximately 1000 years since a tribe of powerful and deadly Witches snuck out from the netherworld and invaded the relatively peaceful surface world. Wielding dangerous magic spells and potent incantations, the dark Witches proceeded to take over the surface world by force, leaving many surface dwellers fearing for their lives. When all else seemed lost, a mystical woman named Alice appeared, using her own brew of the enchantresses' dangerous magic against them to send them back to their own world. While all has been relatively peaceful since Alice sealed them all away, rumor has it that the Witch Queen still lurks beneath the surface world, waiting to take back the world that was almost hers. "
Here's what we can now add to the known information. The main character, Liddell the titular witch of the game, has gotten herself into a classic "Don't Open This Book!" situation. Namely, she ignored her better judgment and opened the damn thing anyway. Now there's an ancient and rather angry witch roaming the world, and Liddell and her reluctant partner Roux have to fix all the ensuing chaos and seal the witch away again. The target of the witch's rage seems to be the princesses of the seven kingdoms, each of whom are now cursed.
First stop is the Kingdom of Sweatea (that's pronounced Swee-TEE-a), nominally ruled by the Princess Gretel. She's in a coma at the moment, however. Other known kingdoms include Coltea, ruled by Gretel's twin sister, an oriental kingdom ruled by Princess Kaguya, and an undersea realm ruled by Aqua the mermaid. And yes, those are the Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat in the last two pictures.
To finish things off, here are some nice screenshots:
Well, the new school year has begun, and I've got a whole new fresh batch of cute little kids to work with. Also, next Sunday is Easter, so today is the last of my meatless meals days. Come Monday, I'm breaking out the Skittles. Oh how I've been missing those things...
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,