Sorry for the delays, folks. The last few weeks have been a bit busy, and not just in the good way (i.e. snuggling with the fiancée and shopping for rings). It's also been hectic weatherwise, which isn't good for me. I mentioned the headaches a while back, but I failed to mention the insomnia, the torpor, and the bouts of hyperactivity that also sometimes hit with certain combinations of meteorological phenomena. The bibliomania that occasionally keeps me up through an entire night and into the next day... well, I can't blame that on the weather, but it certainly doesn't help things.
My biggest issue recently has actually been my ankles, which is a bit surprising for me. While the weather for the past month has strongly encouraged me to make better use of the bus routes between my apartment and my classroom, I'm still averaging at least five kilometers a day on foot. That's down from the eight to ten kilometers a day I was doing from 2008 to 2011, about six days a week. To be honest, I'm not sure how I've avoided issues with my Achilles' tendon prior to this point, so to have it flare up on both ankles now, when I've actually cut back on my walking a bit... that's annoying and weird.
So since I have no classes this week (hurray for Golden Week!), I decided to have something down about my problem. There's a sports therapy center not far from my apartment that I've made use of on occasion, mostly for my arms. Over the course of an hour I had both legs lightly electrocuted, massaged, examined via ultrasound, coated in mentholated balm, and then wrapped tight in bandages. Total cost to me? About nine bucks. I really cannot complain too much about the national medical and insurance coverage in this country.
In our first slightly delayed news item this week, Compile Heart has announced that it is forming a new subsidiary brand for work on an original fantasy RPG. Most details about the game are as yet unknown, but the lineup of talent is impressive. Yoshitaka Amano, the Neptune dev team, and Nobuo Uematsu's Earthbound Papas are all involved. The name of the project is Galapagos.
While it might seem a little random at first, it really isn't. The term "Galapagos syndrome" is well known in Japan. It refers to the effects of having large industry of any sort being compacted into a fairly small geographic area, turning insular, and then experiencing a radical form of intellectual evolution as the industry expands to fit every possible niche within that area, often to a degree that makes the resulting products unmarketable to the outside world. It's used to explain the marvelous variety of cell phones in Japan — not to mention how the rest of the world ended up ignoring it all to bypass Japan with the smartphones. It's also a good way of explaining the plethora of games and oddball genres that were born in the land of the rising sun and somehow cling to their economic niches beyond all odds.
Basically, in choosing this name Compile Heart is giving the industry and the market a message. The list of collaborators says that this game should be very pretty to look at and good on the ears. The name says that this is going to be one heck of a niche title, from a company that deals pretty much only in niche titles.
Oh, and on the Galapagos website, the tagline reads: "Nihon no tokutei o-kyaku-sama" muke ni tsukurareta RPG, or "An RPG made for our special Japanese customers." Whatever it is, it's going to be interesting. Comprehensible to the outside world, though... that might be debatable.
The PC/browser division of Square Enix is back in force with Sennen Yuusha - Tokiwatari no Tomoshibito (Millennial Hero - Bearers of Light Across Time), which has just gone into closed beta testing.
It appears that Mr. Akihiko Yoshida is back, with avatar designs very much like the ones found in Four Warriors of Light and the Bravely Default games (both for 3DS and browser). Again, this is unfortanately a web-based browser title. Unlike BD: Praying Brage, however, it seems to use side-scrolling combat, or at least something like it.
The beta will end on Tuesday, May 7. Hopefully it does better than Final Fantasy XIV. Millennial Hero is being done in partnership with Yahoo! Games of Japan, so anyone who wishes to try it in the future will have to bear that in mind.
With all the trending in the industry towards mobile and smartphone gaming, it's nice to see things working in the opposite direction sometimes. Two years ago, Yuugen Kaisha: Brave Company made the jump from cellphones to 3DS, becoming a full-fledged physical game cartridge in the process. Now, it looks like another popular title is about to take the plunge.
Puzzle & Dragon Z is a popular smartphone title these days. GungHo Online Entertainment is handling the port. While it's not clear whether this will be a physical release or just a downloadable, the fact that it's scheduled for a 2013 winter release would indicate the former. If it were just an upgraded version of the iOS release, it would probably be available for download much sooner than that.
This game is really on the limits of my coverage radar, as it looks to be a puzzle game first and a RPGish hybrid second. At least it has a large number of collectably cute critters to obtain.
While the second Dusk title's main theme is as different from its predecessor's as night and day, it's definitely nice on the ears. I'm looking forward to when Atelier Escha & Logy hits the shelves at the end of June. I just wonder what Gust will do for the follow-up next year.
For a limited time, Gust is also bringing back its tapestries from the Arland series. I seem to recall these being on sale before at various times, and now they're back. The first one, with the midget Rorona, can be ordered from the online store until May 12th. The second one, with just Rorona and Totori, is available for order until May 26th. The third one, with all three heroines together and their proper ages, can be ordered until June 6th. If you want all three, the deadline is May 12th, and you also get a nice microfiber cloth.
Each of the tapestries measures 120 cm tall by 55 cm wide. The cloth is somewhat smaller than that, but still a useful size. It's 5000 yen for each, or 15000 for the full set plus the cloth. They're available for order through Dengekiya: first, second, third, and the set.
Y'know, any time now the floodgates of industry should open and we'll all be inundated with the news of random RPGs popping up all over. At least I would like to hope so. The crazy days of the PS2 and DS are long past, unfortunately. That more than anything else has helped delay this column. It's just hard to get worked up over a lot of the stuff showing on the regular news sites.
My rampant bibliomania isn't helping my work ethic any, either. Gotta get that under control before the 23rd, definitely.