Trains in Japan can be convenient, even when they're not exactly straightforward. Last Sunday, I had to get to the town of Hita, Oita Prefecture. Unfortunately, there's a lot of mountains between Kumamoto and Hita, and there aren't any direct bus routes. The rail system was able to accomodate my needs, though it took three trains on two separate rail lines to get there. And in the end, I couldn't even get all the way to Hita. The train only went as far as Ukiha Station, several stops downtrack, and the connecting train wouldn't be there for half an hour. Thankfully I had someone willing to pick me up there instead of Hita Station like we'd planned.
The reason for all this travel? My lovely fiancée was with her family that day for their monthly religious observances, and they'd decided to throw her a birthday party that evening at their cousin's restaurant.
"A kiss in time saves nine." That's the sort of moral only a Japanese manga or game could apply. For Furyu's latest offering, Exstetra, that seems to be the only way to lead in. The Famitsu article even describes it as a "Kiss that saves the world RPG" in very large letters. But that's Japanese marketing for you. What's the game actually about?
Firstly, it's about a world, Ameisia, that looks a lot like Tokyo. Rather, it looks like Tokyo maybe two centuries after World War III, when all the vegetation has had a chance to grow back. Into this brave new world come a crew of typical Japanese high school students ™.
The leader of this teenage troop is Ryouma Narusawa. It's sort of implied that he has a connection to Ameisia, but whatever that is even he does not know. In any case, he's been appointed the leader of the Prisma Knights — an elite force of magic-wielding warriors whom he apparently inducts with a kiss (hence the opening paragraph). The girl in the orange beret, Shiho Inaba, joined in this way. The average looking guy on the right is Masaru Mitarai, whose last name unfortunately reads as "toilet" in Japanese. Somehow, some way, he's also a Prisma Knight.
It's not all hugs, kisses, and free love in Ameisia, however. Monsters abound, and it's the Knights' job to save the world by wielding EXS, a force pulled from the very monsters they destroy.
Much like Furyu's Unchained Blades games, Exstetra will be seeing a dual release on 3DS and PS Vita. The expected shelf date is October 17th.
Have you ever thought yourself, "Man, the Super Robot Wars games are fun, but I wish the developers would try something without giant robots"? Well, the guys at Bandai-Namco have gone and done it, providing the world with the strategy RPG that no one really asked for.
If you peruse through that entire list, you'll find an interesting range of old and new series with some very different levels of cuteness, cheesecake, lesbian subtext, and misogynistic male characters. How they fit it all together is anyone's guess (which is pretty much par for the course for something like this). There are also at least three original characters who are shown at the end of the video.
The first two are Noelle and Meru, students at the St. Montblanc Academy of Mystical Studies. Noelle is on the "Magical Magician" track, while Meru is on the "Magical Yoyo" track. Watch their combat portion of the video, and that makes marginally more sense. The third original character is Claude, a young man who apparently spends a lot of time bouncing around the multiverse. He's been out there so long in fact that his memory resembles swiss cheese, for all the holes it's got. It's probably not going to get better anytime soon, either. From what we know of the game's style and cast list, it's obvious this game is going to be hopping dimensions about as often as Project X Zone did.
Super Heroine Chronicle does not yet have a release date. At a guess, it might be out by the end of 2013, but more likely spring of 2014. It will be available for both the PS3 and PS Vita.
Recently Level-5 had some big announcements. Three of them, in fact. Unfortunately, they're all for Android and iOS.
Our first game is called Wonder Flick, which seems to borrow some of the aesthetics of Fantasy Life in the way the player's avatar can be outfitted for different jobs. Apart from the really nice artwork we don't have much info on this game. No real screenshots, no details on combat, nothing but a few names for the creative team. The director is Akihiro Hino (Dragon Quest VIII, Inazuma Eleven, Prof. Layton, Ninokuni). The character designer is Nao Ikeda (Final Fantasy XIII and the Seiken Densetsu series). Boss monster design is by Takuzo Nagano (Prof. Layton, Inazuma Eleven). Finally, the music is by Nobuo Uematsu (do I really need to list this?).
Following a completely different aesthetic, we have Chikyuu Kaimetsu-teki B-kyuu Kanojo. Translating the title doesn't help much, since it gets us something like "World-shatteringly B-Grade Girls" or something similar. Here's a video.
Despite the utter cheesecake of the character art, the story is rather grim. Sometime later this century, an alien vessel known only as the Black Ship appeared. Three days later, most of the earth's cities are gone, along with about half of the world's population. With less than a week to go before the Black Ship can finish the job, the earth's forces have mustered their final line of defense. For no apparent reason, they're all ridiculously sexy women (not that this has ever mattered much to a Japanese plotline).
What the video doesn't show is that, also for no apparent reason, this game's combat is based entirely around slot machines. We've seen stuff like this before, but I'd have expected something a bit more sophisticated from Level-5. The game's ladies change outfits as the points begin to rise, and when the slots go into Fever Mode the rather revealing class B costumes make an appearance. You can't spell cleavage without cleave, which is about the only way this sort of power-up ever makes sense.
The third and final smartphone game for today is Majin Station. This one is the handiwork of Jirou Ishii (Time Travelers and 428), Yuusuke Kozaki (Fire Emblem Awakening and Liberation Maiden), and Takeshi Oga (Gravity Daze). Again, there's not much in the way of hard material on this title just yet, but in it the player must take on the role of the sixty-ninth heir to the title of Abe-no-Seimei. That's the Japanese equivalent of naming yourself the next Merlin, by the way. Much like his or her famous ancestor, the hero(ine) is an expert at the summoning and binding of demons, and is now riding the rails around Japan, challenging the shades of past heroes to gain greater power. From the things said in the Famitsu article, it seems like the game is the sort that encourages players to get out and examine the real world with some augmented reality software. More than nine thousand train stations across the country are said to be involved, which makes the AR aspect even more likely.
Of these three games, B-Grade Girls should be available for download in July, but the other two don't have firm dates yet.