For the second half of May, I have only one bit of advice to give to you all in reader-land: Never, ever, lose your wallet in a foreign country. For that matter, never use one of those long-style wallets that slip out of the back pocket so easily at certain times, like when you're using the toilet or riding a bicycle. However stylish you may think they be, it's not worth the time and torment.
So, what does one do if one loses one's wallet in Japan?
First, go over the area with a fine-toothed comb. It's a Japanese social convention that lost items are often picked up and placed in easy-to-see locations, despite evidence that they never get found anyway. I've passed by the same set of bike keys every day for the last month, for example, and there's a baseball cap hanging on a fence near my apartment that's been there for two weeks. Still, it never hurts to check.
Second, find the closest koban (police box) to the area you think you lost it in. Explain that you dropped your wallet (saifu wo otoshimashita), and then detail the important items that were inside it. These may include: unten menkyousho (driver's license), gaikokujin toroku shomeisho (foreign residency card), cash card (same word in both languages), and an approximate of how much money was in it. The policemen will help you fill out the right forms, then give you a piece of paper to show that the report has been filed.
Step three, replace everything. This is both the easy and the hard part, depending on what's in need of replacement. Video store cards can be replaced in a matter of minutes. Foreign residency cards require a new photo, not to mention knowing the right office to go to. As it turns out, sometime in the past two years, the city hall ceded all handling of these cards to the Dept. of Immigration, so I had some extra walking to do. Once I actually arrived (and waited for lunch hours to be over), it only took five minutes. Cash cards can take three or four weeks to replace, so you'd better pray you haven't lost your bank book as well. You can use that to withdraw money via the bank teller, if necessary.
This has been your public service announcement for the year. Seriously, do not use those razzafrackin' long wallets. Not worth it.
Well, my Year of Gust game for May turned out to be another stinker. Meru Purana follows the model set by Falcata, being more of a group game where each player takes turns managing their band of nomads as they wander the wilderness and interact with others. Unlike its predecessor, Meru Purana completely lacks a map. Unfortunately too much like its predecessor, the game is also a big bundle of incomprehensibility. It's hard to tell what the actions taken during the game actually mean, or how they impact the situation. At more than one point, I initiated a battle, and by the time it was over I had no idea which side had done what, which side was in fact mine, or if I'd actually won the encounter at all. Gust never made another game in this style, and it's obvious why. I don't think the company could survive another one.
So for the rest of the month, I played Planet Laika, which is a whole different sort of incomprehensibility. Despite being developed by Quintet and published by Enix, Laika is not an RPG. It's an adventure game with occasional battle interludes, and the battles are strange events in and of themselves. The player's character has a little ball of light weaving back and forth in front of them, and this must be used to deflect enemy blasts back towards their origin. The X and O buttons can move the light ball forward and back, but that's about it. It's about as strategic as Galaga in that department.
Storywise, on the other hand, Planet Laika is frickin' insane. The main character and his friends are on a mission to the distant Martian colonies, with the goal of locating the last group sent to investigate the strange effects of the Face of Mars. The Face (in reality an odd outcropping of rock made human-looking through low-res photography and pareidolia, but in this game the real deal), is the last known artifact to show what the human race used to look like, apparently, because everyone else in the game is some sort of animal-human hybrid (usually canine). Shortly after arrival, the main character's three crewmates all succumb to various mental issues due to the Face's insidious purple influence, but our hero is immune mainly because he's already four kinds of nuts. Namely, he has three separate alter-egos taking up space in his cranium, and at certain times in the game the player can cause these alternate personae to self-actuate.
So... remember those sorta insane anime from the mid to late 90s? The ones that just liked to screw with your brain for no good reason, make you question the very nature of reality, and then end on the most arbitrary, incomprehensibly flatulent note possible? Planet Laika is like one of those.
And it's still easier to understand than either Falcata or Meru Purana were.
Bandai-Namco seems to be in the mood to close out things lately. Last month, we saw the final game of the Super Robot Wars Z saga, Hell of Time (and yes, that appears to be the official secondary title, since it appears on the player's guide). This month, another part of the series comes to an end.
For the full, tongue-tying title, we have Super Robot Wars Original Generation Saga Masou Kijin F: Coffin of the End. There's not much doubt that this is the final Masou Kijin game, not with a title like that. Those who have played the previous games in the series should know exactly what to expect here. For those who have not... whew, where to start? The Masou Kijin games are set in La Giyas, a mystical pocket dimension located inside the dirty sphere of Earth. It is true to the "super robot" section of the title, with gigantic mecha dominating the scene, but instead of science these behemoths are powered by elemental spirits. An entire Backtrack podcast would be necessary to keep track of the twists and turns of the story, but suffice to say that it's brain-bending. So instead of story details, we have some pictures. They may be worth a few thousand words.
Whatever happens in this one, there's more than one earth-shattering kaboom involved. For more, check out the video.
SRWOG Masou Kijin F: Coffin of the End will be out on August 28, 2014. It will be on the 3DS. There will also be a very nice collector's pack, though it'll set you back a pretty penny. See for yourself:
Over the years, I've seen many odd choices for adding "RPG elements" to existing non-RPG properties. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes you just have to wonder WHY? This next item falls in that last category, for me.
Taiko no Tatsujin is a major series of beat-rhythm games in Japan, with over a dozen editions of the arcade game and almost twice as many home versions on various consoles and portables. Today we're looking at the latest iteration, Don to Katsu no Jikuu Daibouken (Don & Katsu's Time Adventure) and its purported RPG elements.
I'm not sure how the pseudo-battle on the top of the screen connects to the basic rhythm game template on the bottom, but it seems to hit some of the other major points. There's a variety (okay, three) of locations to visit, party members to recruit, and historical figures to interact with. Specifically, the player can get Oda Nobunaga, Marie Antoinette, and a kangaroo-dinosaur thing on their side. The game's psychedelic enough, what's a little more, after all?
To stay in keeping with the theme of RPG-ishness, there are boss battles. The big bads are flashy and weird, and even have special skills that obscure or otherwise affect the beat-rhythm part of the screen.
Taiko no Tatsujin: Don to Katsu no Daibouken is on shelves June 26. If I ever find this on heavy discount, I might be tempted to try it and see how far this "RPG elements" actually extend.
It's time for more Atelier Shallie goodness! First, we have a bit of sad news. The release date was pushed back to July 17, thus breaking Gust's incredible streak of releasing a new PS3 title on the last Thursday of June every year since Atelier Rorona came out in 2008. Perhaps as a way of apologizing, the company offers pie and cookies.
Unfortunately, I'm a little late with imparting this information unto you, as the collaborative event at Akibahara's Patisserie Swallowtail began and ended two weeks ago. Still, they look nummy, don't they? I guess we'll just have to settle for character art.
We have two new folks and a few familiar faces. First is Homura, treasure hunter and swashbuckler extraordinaire. He also happens to be a homunculus, a race not known for their flamboyance or aggression, though they love their shiny-shinies. The second new character isn't a party member, but the leader of the regional merchants association. Raul organizes a lot of the trade and treasure-hunting in the area around Stellade, and is a good person to know in any circumstance. As for the familiar faces, I'm sure any fan of the series can identify these people.
Unfortunately, there's still no sign that the gaping Ayesha-shaped hole from Escha & Logy will be filled in this third game of the series. We still have a month to go, however. Something may turn up.
|Toukiden (PSP / PS Vita the Best)
|Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
|Ken no Machi no Ihoujin - The White Palace
|Legend of Heroes: Ao no Kiseki Evolution
|Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki (Super Price)
Rainy season has begun, and I've already suffered through one lousy headache as the skies went from rainy to sunny this weekend. Being a human barometer can be useful, but I'd rather skip the part where random teeth ache and I can feel pain in my Eustachian tubes. The sunny period's come to an end, though, so we should have a few more days of rain before it becomes an issue again. What fun things to look forward to, this time of year...
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,