fumizuki no yokka

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! While no one really does anything for the holiday over here, I'll probably be lighting up some fireworks this weekend. Weather permitting, of course. There's roughly a zero-percent chance of fire hazard, what with all the rain we've had lately, but then again, we've had a lot of rain lately. Take a look.

(photo courtesy of Mayumi Nishida, Kumamoto City)

See that railing in the middle of the lake? That's an island, and it's usually about two and a half meters above the water line. While it's still not as bad as last year's flooding, my daily commute has certainly been a wet one. That's what I get for living in a sub-tropical zone with an annual monsoon season.

More and more often, Square Enix is using material from the Romancing SaGa games to promote its online and multiplayer titles. Most recently, it's been announced that material from the awful GREE game will be included in a special event for Rise of Mana — and we're not talking about cards or collectibles here.

Gera-Ha the lizardman is from the first Romancing SaGa game, the one that finally came to the US as the PlayStation 2 remake, but the rest of the featured material involves the villainess Rocbouquet and the evil Ant Queen, both from Romancing SaGa 2. I tend to consider myself a moderate sort of guy, and it takes a lot to get me worked up, but... WHY OH WHY, SQUARE ENIX?? Why can't we have an actual game or another super-remake for this series?? You keep teasing us with modernized assets from RS2, then put them in other games! If a game series is so popular that you can use it to market your other IPs, then why not just make another game for that series??!

Seriously, S-E, where's the real love for the SaGa fans? *sigh* Okay, I've got it out of my system now. I'll let you all look at the sales rankings now and give myself a chance to cool down.

Source: 4gamer
6/23 ~ 6/29 6/16 ~ 6/22 6/9 ~ 6/15 6/2 ~ 6/8 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
1 * * * New Arrival! Freedom Wars SCE Japan
3 * * * New Arrival! Taiko no Tatsujin: Don & Katsu's Excellent Adventure Bandai-Namco
7 3 3 4 Last seen at 3 Youkai Watch Level-5
15 5 2 1 New Arrival! Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Atlus
18 20 22 18 Last seen at 23 Monster Hunter 4 Capcom
19 12 15 17 Last seen at 17 Pokémon X/Y The Pokémon Co.
29 10 4 * New Arrival! The Legend of Heroes: Ao no Kiseki EVOLUTION Kadokawa Games
30 21 23 24 Last seen at 24 Puzzle & Dragons Z GungHo
Off-list - - 16 New Arrival! Ken no Machi no Ihoujin - The White Palace Experience
Off-list - - 21 Last seen at 4 Hyper Goddess Belief System Noir - Ultimate Divine Black Heart Compile Heart
Off-list - - 28 Last seen at 27 Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment Bandai-Namco
Off-list - - 30 Last seen at 22 Moekuro Chronicle Compile Heart

Just this week, Mistwalker president Hironobu Sakaguchi announced that his company is working on a new iOS RPG by way of a teaser site. Here is what we have right now.

The title and a cast illustration. It's not much to go on, though Terra Battle is an interesting choice of title. There's also a plot blurb to add. Like the rest, it's just a teaser, and about as enigmatic as the rest:

"For when they meet, the force of their combined wills shall set in motion the cogs of destiny, and the secrets of the world shall be unveiled."

I might have spruced it up a bit for flavor, but that's about what the Japanese quote says. Evocative and at the same time meaningless without context, but then again, it's a teaser site. Aside from the above, we know that this game will have a simultaneous Android and iOS release sometime in September. More details forthcoming.

Source: Famitsu Online

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea was supposed to have arrived in stores last Thursday, but some ineffable snafu has derailed Gust's attempt at the record for most regularly consistent release schedule for a PS3 series and delayed the game until the week after next. Unfortunately, that means it comes out just a few days before I take my big vacation with Nozomi to meet the extended family in the US, so I might not have a chance to get around to it for a while. We can still talk about it though, so here are the last few bits of character art, including both new and familiar faces:

On the left, we have the newest kid in town, Albert Pelian. He's the only son of the region's merchant dynasty, recently returned from Central with a broad, modern education and dreams for the future. He's enthusiastic about the automata, the independent machinery left over from the age of alchemy, and its potential for advancing the Stellade region.

In the middle we have Linca, who at the age of thirty is totally rocking those new glasses. Her official job title is "poster girl" and secretary for the merchants association, which, given her incredibly serious and not particularly imaginative nature, should provide lots of interesting scenes... possibly at swordpoint.

And on the right, we have the bastard of alchemy himself, Keithgrif Hazeldein. Where he goes, Ayesha Altugle probably won't be far behind, so we may actually find out what's going on with that plot thread sometime soon.

Finally, we have the opening credits to Atelier Shallie. Like its predecessors in the Dusk series, it's an atmospheric little music video, but one with a very different mood to it than Ayesha or Escha & Logy.

Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea is set for a slightly delayed release on July 17th.

Source: Dengeki Online

Last month, I took a look at Shining Resonance and commented on the peculiarity of having a demonstrably non-humanoid protagonist, the dragon Ilburn, in an RPG for once. Well, fast-forward to a week or two ago, when I caught up on my news list and saw the most recent screens and art from that game:

The extremely bishonen kid up there is also Ilburn, in a more conveniently portable form. He does fight in both forms, but when the imperial dragon-slayers are after you, obviously a good disguise is in order.

Here's the leader of the dragon-slayers, by the way, Georg "Black Wolf" Zalbard. To be honest, when I look at him and Ilburn, I know who's going to win in a fight, and it's not going to be Pretty Boy. It's a good thing that Ilburn has some allies to watch his back during all this.

The Dragon's Players are a set of musically inclined adventurers who can dish out the damage directly as well as stand back and give moral and musical suppoert when Ilburn's fully draconic self does battle with the big guys. The blonde elf girl is Kilika Trois Alma, heir to a lineage of mystic songstresses. Agnum Brethart is, not surprisingly, a fire magus who bears the moniker of "The Explosive Sound." And then there's Rinna Mayfield, the Caller of the Travelling Breeze, whose magic staff looks like it was crossed with a French horn.

So, will this colorful crew of melodious mavericks triumph over the devious audacity of the dragon-slayers? Only time will tell — specifically six months of time, since this game's not due out until December 11th.

Source: Famitsu Online
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Fantasy Hero - Unsigned Legacy Arc System Works 7.3.14
Demon Gaze - Global Edition Kadokawa Games 7.3.14
God Eater 2 (PSP / Vita the Best) Bandai-Namco 7.10.14
Youkai Watch 2 Ganso/Honke Level-5 7.10.14
Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea Gust 7.17.14
Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines SCE 7.17.14
Dead Island: Double Zombie Pack Spike/Chunsoft 7.24.14
Tokyo Shin Yoroku Operation Abyss 5pb. 7.24.14
Child of Light - Special Edition UBISoft 7.31.14
Source: Dengeki Online

The first game on this month's release list was Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy, which we haven't actually talked about much on this site as of yet. Let's change that. Here's the basic plot: Once upon a time, there was a tranquil, quiet world. Its people lived within the great forests, which provided for them as they in turn tended to the trees. Food was plentiful, the world was peaceful, and life was good. So of course, things had to change. A bright flash of light cleaved the heavens, and from it emerged the Decoders, an army of strange beings bent on subjugation, murder, and mayhem. In a single night, the entire world fell before the onslaught. Twelve long years later, the enslaved denizens of the world may have found a way to throw off their yokes and take back the paradise they had lost. All they need is a few good heroes...

This kid, for example, seems to think he's Kamen Rider. At 17, Acress Bresbeat is just old enough to remember the initial invasion, and that seems to have done a number on his psyche. When he and the other characters were offered access to something called the Hero Arts, he jumped right in. The sword, the hair, and the insufferable smirk are all indicators that he's the main protagonist of this game.

These three are the people who will have to put up with the typical teen hero antics, it seems. The Masked Shout, Howl Keyling, and Ashta Little Hasqui all have their own reasons to fight, and their assorted Hero Arts play up to their strengths. Shout has the strength of ten men, for example, while Howl and Ashta use their preferred hardware for all it's worth. Fists, guns, and robots should make for some interesting combat variety, at least.

The two ladies here are Glam and Lily Belsheen, mother and daughter, respectively. They're the ones who are handing out Hero Arts like it's Halloween candy, and also serve as the navigators for this adventure. The last character is the mysterious Oblis Fortegard, who takes on the stereotypical dark-and-brooding rival role quite well.

Unsigned Legacy is an action RPG of the "run around and bash stuff" sort, with large dungeons to explore and tons of enemies to take out. In this, it sort of sounds like Soma Bringer, but hopefully with the Vita as a platform the multiplayer will be more accessible. The four known playable characters have very distinct styles, with two brawlers wielding sword or fists, and two long-range attackers with guns or combat drones. The multiplayer is confirmed as being up to four-player co-op in style.

Anyway, this game became available for download yesterday, July 3rd, for the low cost of 1980 yen, or about twenty bucks. If I had a Vita, I would be very tempted to try it.

Source: Dengeki Online

For the longest while, I had a regular segment on Japandemonium that I called "On the Radar." It was reserved for the small-name titles that occasionally popped up in the back pages of Famitsu Weekly, often getting a single mention before vanishing into the ether. That part of the magazine still exists, but there have been fewer and fewer RPGs haunting it in recent years. Ever since the PS2 and DS finished their mutual reign over the genre, there have simply been fewer small-scale RPGs in development (not counting cell phones or iWhatever games), and the ones that are out there get more attention on the internet sites, usually. There are signs that this is changing, however, as the advent of download-only 3DS titles promises to revitalize and repopulate the discount JRPG market. Like so:

These are both downloadable games available starting this month. The one on the right, The Denpa Men FREE RPG! lives up to its name by having a zero yen price tag. It promises daily stages and limited-time events, and probably includes microtransactions (but doesn't say as much in the blurb). The other title is ExCave: Ikai no Madoushi-hen (The Magus of Another World), which appears to be a dungeon-exploring action RPG and/or roguelike, published by Kounan Denki Seisakujo (referred to in the copyright info as Mechanic Arms), which I will admit to never having heard of before this. It's actually the second game in its series, apparently, since the first Excave game was released last fall. The gameplay seems like standard hack-and-slash, with two characters using different combat styles and a plethora of dropped items. At 1300 yen (about 13~14 dollars), it's also the second-cheapest non-iWhatever game in the magazine this week.

I have no idea how good either of these games are, nor do I really care. What's important to me is that there are developers out there who are trying to bring back the second- or third-tier game market that produced so many of the weird little games I loved for the PSX, PS2, and DS. Adding diversity to the gaming ecosystem is never a bad thing, even if it means more stinkers at times.

To diverting diversity!

Source: Famitsu Weekly

At the end of this month, my wife and I are going to the US for some sun, fun, and family interaction. See you all in August!

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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