I've always been a big fan of mythology of all sorts, and I've done a lot of reading on the subject. I can't claim to be an expert, but I'm familiar with anything even tangentially referenced in any video game I've ever played. So I was surprised to find out that there was a major error in my knowledge of one of the most frequently referenced groups of deities in the entire video game industry.
These four panels lie at the cardinal points of Nagasaki's Chinatown. On the north end is Genbu the Black Tortoise, at the southern end is Suzaku the Vermilion Bird. At the eastern entrance (right by the place with the really good chanpon) is Seiryu the Azure Dragon, while on the opposite end from him is Byakko the White Tiger (or sometimes the White Fox, in Japan). Together they're known as the Four Sacred Beasts, or shiseijuu (among many other similar names) in Japanese.
My mistake? It's really kind of minor, but I'd been mentally refering to these guys as the Four Kings of Heaven (shitennou in Japanese). The Shitennou are a completely different group of deities, but ones which (probably because the numbers) have sometimes been conflated with the Sacred Beasts in games. Shitennou is commonly used to refer to any group of four powerful enemies, like Pokémon's Elite 4, and it makes sense to also allocate an element to each of those enemies, and since there's a set of four elementally aligned beast gods already available, it just makes sense.
Anyway, it was cool to find these plates while I was on vacation. I've tried to count all the games I know that have references to the Four Sacred Beasts, but I lost track. Between bosses, characters, random monsters, items, and special attacks, they're just really common in the genre.
JuMeSyn will probably have some comment to make over my misuse of German in the title here. "Boobs triumph over all" makes for a good tagline when talking about Queen's Gate Spiral Chaos, no matter how badly I mangle the grammar. Of course, there's a bit of irony in this choice, as the game's newest cameo character is pretty much the polar opposite of every other lady in the game in one important way.
I know that the game devs are feeling the need to cater to every imaginable fetish ever to come out of Japan, but a loli character? Magical girl Ink Nijihara is a character from, of all things, an otaku-targeted series of English instruction books called Moetan. This explains some of her special attacks, at least.
The other new character is neither loli nor cameo. Luna is a pop idol among the game's Usagin (bunny people) population, and a new antagonist as well. She rarely goes anywhere without her entourage, who assist her in battle.
Are we spending too much time covering this game? Probably, yes. Is it still a guilty pleasure? Oh, definitely.
As the title of this section might suggest, we're talking online gaming for a moment. Bandai-Namco has a new online title available for Yahoo and Mobage (one of the biggest Japanese mobile game providers). Appropriately, its title is Browser Quest.
In battle, the player uses motions of the mouse cursor to slash monsters with his sword, point-clicks to stab with a spear, or click-and-drag around a monster to cast magic. Several players can band together to form parties, though how that would work in a more traditional style of combat interface I am not sure.
In an earlier column, we had a short look at the sorts of people the player may choose in the online version of Tengai Makyo, the newly available Jipang 7. This being Tengai, there just have to be a small crowd of oddball characters decorating the landscape. To celebrate the game's official opening, we're showing you a few now. While names have been provided for all, it's a bit much to list all of them with their respective story backgrounds if no one can play the game in English yet. Suffice to say it's the sort of whackiness we've come to expect from Red Company.
While we're at it, here are some screens of the game in action. As it uses card-based combat instead of action, there's less of a premium put on graphics, but more put on art and design. A major premise is that, in a war-torn land, everyone needs to fight for what they need, and the game encourages the players to work with the item creation system to find new means of battle.
Anyone who wants to try this game out in spite of the language barrier, the game's site is here.
About two weeks back, I found some new material for To Heart 2 Dungeon Travelers. I knew I wasn't going to be able to do a column that week, so I set it aside for the next. Well, I forgot it was there. Right now, I'm trying to decide which is more embarrassing, that I forgot about it, or that the game is what it is. Have a look.
Being an RPG cash-in on a popular dating sim title, it's to be expected that Dungeon Travelers be blatantly fan-servicey. While nowhere near the extreme presented by games like Queen's Gate, this is still not the sort of game I'd want my girlfriend catching me at. Still, if you're into that sort of thing, here are some samples of actual artwork and screens from within the game.
Adding to the embarrassing cuteness, AquaPlus is going the CCG route.
To Heart 2 - Dungeon Travelers will be coming to the PSP on May 26th.
Famitsu Weekly has been undergoing some changes recently. That is, the last few issues have been decidedly shorter than those just before the big earthquakes. Last week's issue was barely 150 pages, which is about a hundred short of the norm. I was lucky to get anything out of it, really.
Some might remember this game from the news post last week. In it, we were introduced to Ceres and Ende, the heroine and hero of the story. Ceres is the shrine maiden for the city of Rhadamanthys, capitol of Elysium. Following a monstrous assault on the city, Ceres is wounded, cursed, and slowly losing her humanity. A mysterious trader named Graeae gives him a useful piece of knowledge, though -- in order to break the curse of the Beasts, he must climb the Thirteen Towers of Mourning, defeat the master of each, and use a weapon called the Orichalcum Chain to rip their hearts out, so that Ceres may eat them and be healed. Weird stuff, and I'm interested in seeing how far they take the classical Greek references.
One good bit of news that some might appreciate is that, though it's for the Wii and has a weapon that natural lends itself to motion controls, actual use of the Wii-mote is optional. The game can be set to use the classic controller only, so those of us with less than optimal hand-eye coordination might still have a chance.
Spring is in the air, and so it's time to clean house. We have another slightly delayed media update for you all. There's not much more to say on the basics of Unchained Blades Rexx that hasn't been before, but we have some new character art. All of the following seem to be non-party characters, but they're definitely plot-important.
There's really not that much going on this week. The only thing of note was a quick trip to the dentist to get a cavity fixed. Other than that, I finally picked up the Scott Pilgrim books in Japanese. I'm looking forward to when the movie opens in theaters on the 29th.