First, I have an apology to make. Apparently, I misunderstood the article I read on Dengeki, about Rydia's mobile-phone game. For some reason, I was under the impression that the game took place within the timeframe of the original game, and there being nothing to contradict this directly in the article in question, I presented it as such in the column. I was in error, and I apologize to the audience and to the Bureau of Fact-checking and Verification, who very kindly forbore reinstalling the shock bracelet.
With that said, there's only one more thing of note this week: I love my new scanner. It's light, compact, and makes really nice pictures. You'll be seeing a lot of these in the near future, I assure you. The last three weeks of Famitsu Magazine contained articles on no fewer than twenty different role-playing games, and even after forwarding the more popular ones to other staffers, there's still a lot of material for me to use here in Japandemonium. So, hajimemashou!
A recent survey by Net Asia, an information-gathering company that works through Japanese mobile phone websites, reports that out of just over 400 women aged 15 to 29 surveyed, over seventy percent of them owned one or more video game systems. While this was lower than the reported ninety percent of men in the same age range who had game systems, this was still pretty impressive.
So are the game companies maximizing the potential for this market? It's hard to tell, though I have seen stores do a whole shelf of "recommended by girls for girls" games before. The usual titles and series included many social adventure games, but also several RPGs, including the Atelier, Sakura Wars, and Princess Maker series. This was interesting to find out, at any rate.
Proceed to the Next Level
Corporate sponsorship of sports teams has a long history in Japan, and tends to be far more blatant than in America (yes, that's possible). The Japanese League baseball teams, for example, are all more readily identified by their parent company than by their home city (or even their team name, sometimes). When you read the sports column, they don't talk about the Fukuoka Hawks, the Yokohama Bay Stars, or the ... the... I can't even remember where the other teams actually play, to tell you the truth. The cities just aren't part of the team name. Instead, we have the Softbank Hawks (mobile phone company), Hanshin Tigers (department store), Yomiuri Giants (newspaper), Nippon Ham Fighters (pork products), etc. This has been going on since the late '40s. Quite often, the parent company will sell naming rights to the team's home stadium to another company with which they have business agreements -- that's why the Hawks play at the Yahoo Dome these days.
More recently, soccer teams have started to follow the same route. Not to the extreme that baseball has, but the sale of stadium naming rights has become more common amongst the more recognizable soccer teams in the country. Fukuoka Avispa FC, for example, recently sold the naming rights to Hakata-no-Mori Stadium, legally changing it for the next three years.
Changing it to what? Level 5 Stadium. I guess they weren't content with just making games about soccer. You have to admit, though, it makes for good advertising.
And lo! There was information available about Inazuma 11! With a release date "sometime in the spring" (to quote Famitsu), Level 5 has definitely been busy marketing their latest game release. New characters abound, including school teachers and strange, middle-aged men, perky girls volunteering / forcing themselves into the position of team manager, and your home team's full starting roster on page 4. The hero, as it turns out, is the team goalie. A variety of other scoutable characters can be seen on page 3.
The game's Story Mode seems to focus on the rivalry between the elite Imperial Academy and the underdog Denmon Jr. High. Specifically, someone wants to have Denmon razed to the foundations, and then have the foundations broken into little bits of gravel. If there isn't a big turnaround in the school's attendance, then that might just happen soon. In order to prevent it, something or someone is going to have to find a way to attract more people to the school, raising attendance and leading to better funding. For the player, this means building up the best soccer team possible, and gaining fame at the big tournaments.
If you look closely at the bottom of the second page, you can see most of the Denmon team lying bruised and bloody on the ground after a scrimmage with the Imperials. This might take a while.
Life is a journey, or so some people say. Others describe it as one, big board game, with or without fixed dice. The newest entry in the Dokapon series, Dokapon Journey, strives to be both. A member of the suguroku style of games (e.g. Game of Life, Itadaki Street, Dragon Quest III's mini-game), in it the player traverses the board / worldmap in search of adventure.
And there's much to be had. There is battle and treasure a-plenty. Players can choose between four classes at the start of the game, as well as choose for gender and coloration. Dragoner, Thief, Mage, or Knight -- each brings different skills to the table, allowing for different styles of play.
Speaking of which, there are three game modes available. The first is Scenario Mode, which is where the RPG elements shine through the most. There's a definite story to follow, as well as a cast of supporting characters. The second, Normal Mode, is more board game than RPG, and is multiplayer. One cartridge will allow for download play with up to three other DS players. The third, Battle Royale mode, is another, more cut-throat version of multiplayer
So, where did we put the dice?
With the release of the new Pokémon Ranger - Batonnage, Nintendo has started a different sort of promotional affair. Instead of the usual big events at their Pokémon Center stores, gamers are now able to go to DS download stations at various major electronics and gaming stores across the country, and through them gain access to secret missions. From the game's launch date (and possibly ongoing, since I haven't seen an end date mentioned), the stations allow access to the "Manaphy's Egg" secret mission, and starting April 26th, a Darkrai mission and a Riolu mission are available as well. These last two have a definite stop-date, however -- after June 15th, they will no longer be available this way.
With a song in her heart and a knife at your throat, this Queen of Diamonds, the Steal Princess, is ready for action. As there are more than 140 stages to play through in this game, she had better pace herself.
In these scans, we see a few new characters for this game. There's the fairy-like Kukuri, who has long served Princess Anise's family. There's Prince Leukaon, and the rival Princess Charlotte, who seem to form something of a love triangle with the main character. Finally, we have Kir, a treasure hunter and professional rival.
All in all, this game looks to be far more Action/Adventure than RPG, but the same could be said of many other games on RPGamer. It also looks like a lot of fun, so I'll leave it on my "probably buy sometime" list, for now.
There are a lot of games out there, and it's quite possible to miss stuff from time to time. Here are a couple games I've just recently heard about. One was just announced recently, with almost no information out as yet. The other was apparently announced a month or two ago, but I only found out about it last week.
First, we have Ellark, a new MMORPG in production from Square Enix. The twist is that this is going to be a mobile phone MMORPG. There aren't too many of these out yet -- maybe ten at most. I'm still not convinced that the mobile networks have the bandwidth to really play one right, either. Since we have next to no info on this game, all we can do is speculate, however
Next, we have Sekai wa Atashi de Mawatteiru. Literally, the name of the game means "The World Revolves Around Me." From what I've read, it sounds interesting -- instead of the usual angsty young hero, the story's all about the world's most self-centered princess. She's convinced that she's the most important person on the planet, and with her pet parrot and a pair of mimic slimes in tow, she's out to make sure the rest of the world knows it too. As I said before, this is the first I've ever heard of it, but according to Famitsu, this game is #11 on their "Rookie Title Ranking" list of upcoming games. I expect to see more of this game in the future.
Yes, the Gallian Militia is recruiting heavily in preparation for the battle against whoever the other side happens to be. So eager are they to gather new cannon fodder for the front lines, they are offering up some impressive recruiting bonuses to avid gamers in the Tokyo and Osaka areas.
In celebration of the release of Valkyria Chronicles next week, Sega has a special giveaway in mind. Anyone who walks into Akihabara's GiGo store (10am ~ 8pm), or the SofMap Nanba-ten Zaurus 1 in Osaka(11am ~ 9pm) with a receipt for Valkyria Chronicles from one of various major game stores in the area will be entered in the drawing. Prizes include t-shirts, a bag, and a series of collectible post cards.
Just an Oklahoman Otaku/Gaijin
YO!!! I have a simple yet long question(s): I wanted to know how to move to Japan, like the steps you took to get there? Also I wanted to know how to become an english teacher in japan.. If you could possibly help me out with these things I face... and just knowing you are from Oklahoma has givin me new hope!! I thank you with or with out a reply.
The Anonymous Oklahoman
YO! I have a semi-long answer for you! Let's take it in steps:
First, decide where you want to apply. If you want to try for JET, their applications are usually available through your university, or through the Japanese consulate, and get that app in early, like in September (deadline is usually the first week of December). If you want to apply to one of the eikaiwa companies, such as Nova, GEOS, or Aeon, then you can find applications on their websites.
Step 2, wait for a response. The companies usually recruit the heaviest in spring and fall, but interview pretty regularly throughout the year. JET does most of their interviewing in the early spring. This will be an invitation to interview
Step 3, get to the interview. JET interviews at the nearest embassy or consulate (for you, Houston). The companies have various offices across America, none of which will be near Oklahoma City, I'm afraid.
Step 4, wait to hear from them after the interview. This may take a week or two, or only a few days, depending on who you're dealing with. If they want to hire you, they'll send you the necessary paperwork to fill out. Some of it will have to be sent back to them, probably, and the rest will be needed for your visa.
Step 5, get the visa. This means you'll have to get down to Houston, which is about 8 hours or so south of you by car. The consulate opens at 9 am, and you'll probably be in and out by 9:30 if you've got all the right papers.
Step 6, arrange airfare to Narita or Osaka Airports, and meet up with the company greeters. Congrats, you're there!
This email is more personal than column related. If you can't be bothered, no hard feelings, as I am sure you get emails like this all the time. I will be traveling to Japan with my sister in June, which will be right after we graduate from university. We planned on staying in Tokyo, and we were tentatively planning on staying two weeks. Obviously we wanted to get the Tokyo experience but we were also planning on visiting Hokkaido and Kyoto. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on things to do/see, hotels/inns to stay at, what you think a good amount of time would be for us to do enough "stuff" would be, etc... We both speak extremely rudimentary Japanese but are up for anything.
Well, Tokyo is a nice place to visit for a few days, but it starts to wear on you. The noise, the light, the overcrowding... most tourists I've talked to only stayed a few days to see the usual stuff before heading to more scenic locations.
Kyoto is a very nice choice of destination, however. It still retains a lot of the classic architecture that got paved over in Tokyo, and there are lots of cultural points to see as well.
As for Hokkaido... any particular reason you want to see Hokkaido? It's nice, true, but also nice and empty for large stretches. The big event of the year would be the Snow Festival in February. If you're open for suggestions, I'd recommend Kyushu as a nice alternative. Fukuoka City's considered one of the best places for foreigners in the country, with most of the amenities of Osaka or Tokyo, with about a tenth of the population. In various other parts of the island, there are: the huge Tenmangu Shrine at Dazaifu, the Nagasaki Memorial, Kumamoto Castle (one of the biggest, and best-restored castles in the country), Mt. Aso (one of the world's largest volcanic craters), and Kagoshima's Mt. Sakurajima. Oita City has more hot springs than any other part of the country (third most active spot in the world, after Iceland and Yellowstone), and Miyazaki City has the best surfing in the country.
As you could probably guess, I've spent most of my time in Japan, in Kyushu. Not that I'm biased or anything...
So what kinds of things are people out there interested in? What famous bits of Japanicana have you always wanted to see? Feel free to write in!
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,