The game industry in Japan is a broad and varied plane of existence, with all manner of genres springing from the fertile minds of its creators. While we obviously focus on just one for this site, RPGs, that's not the most numerous example to be found. Just this past month, there were nine adventure titles published, as opposed to seven RPGs (accounting for multiple versions or platforms for the same game). The adventure genre is itself quite varied, though the majority of its games these days tend to be more like interactive romance novels. Some companies, like D3 Publisher or Idea Factory, are especially good at churning them out, and between them accounted for a vast majority of PSP titles published in the last two years of that portable system's relevence.
Still, these are a far cry from the adventure games I remember playing as a kid. I'm thinking of the old Sierra On-Line games, most of which seemed to have the word "Quest" in the title. Series like Space Quest, King's Quest, Quest for Glory (which I might have reviewed once, or twice, or thrice in the past month); those were some of the big games of my childhood, and I've been trying to share them with my high-level fourth grade class.
The humor does go over their heads quite often, but they still like telling me to do this or that (in English), and they've developed a morbid curiosity as to how Roger Wilco (of Space Quest fame) will die this time. One boy even looked up a Let's Play of Space Quest V: The Next Mutation on YouTube so he would know how to beat the WD-40 collections android. He got a good amount of English practice in, trying to tell me how to beat that Terminatrix.
It's kind of sad that this variation of the genre has receded so much in Japan. Most of the adventure titles out these days are either choose-your-own-romance novels or too blood-splattery for kids. Oh well, there's always hope for the future. At least I've got two fourth graders semi-obsessed with old VGA games that are twice as old as they are.
The next time you pour yourself a nice warm beverage and settle in with the game of your choice, consider using this item now available on Square Enix's online store.
Yes, this is a Golem mug. Yes, the eyes appear when you pour a warm liquid in. Yes, I really want one for myself. Unfortunately, they don't go on sale until August 5th. They're priced at 1850 yen on the E-store, and a little more than that at S-E's official shop in Tokyo.
I've mentioned the nature of Gust's regular scheduling when it comes to the company's output, and how this year the timing was a little off. For a while, it looked like the Atelier series was off for a year, to be replaced by the action-oriented Yoru no Nai Kuni — which, by the way, we have a video for. Let's enjoy that first.
It covers most of the stuff we discussed last time, but it's nice to see it all in motion. It's also not our main title for this segment.
So as it turns out, Gust does have another Atelier title coming up. Somewhat to my disappointment, it doesn't seem to be connected to the Dusk sub-series at all, which means there will be a lot of plot holes from that trilogy left unplugged. Atelier Sophie - Alchemist of the Mysterious Book appears to be the start of a whole new subset for this series, going back to the basics of one girl, one workshop, and a whole lot of puni-puni monsters, but with a few new twists to the way things work.
Sophie Neuenmuller is the titular alchemist for this time around. She lives on the outskirts of a sleepy little town, trying her best to make things. It's not an easy task, since there are few texts to study from, and no masters of the craft to teach her. She gets along as best she can, random explosions notwithstanding. And then one day, she finds a book, one that's willing to tell her far more than she thought she needed to know. You can see the book on the right side of the art above, in fact. Her name is Plachta, and for an unknown number of years she's sat (in literary form) on a shelf in Sophie's grandmother's house. At some point in the story she gains the ability to manifest a human-ish form, which is apparently customizable.
As mentioned before, there are some new twists and new systems introduced for this game. For one, the alchemy process appears to be a bit more puzzle-oriented in parts, possibly related to the discovery of new item recipes. For another, Atelier Sophie is the first game in the entire series to introduce a day/night cycle as a time mechanic. Busy town streets become empty after dark, and different ingredients may be found under the moonlight than could be seen in the light of day. There is definitely some potential here.
Atelier Sophie - Alchemist of the Mysterious Book is currently scheduled for release on September 25th, simultaneously for PS3, PS4, and Vita. So, who's ready for some puni-bashing?
So, has anyone out there played Monster Monpiece? Don't be embarrassed; we won't judge. I'm only asking because Compile Heart has recently announced the third game in this series. So, does Genkai Tokki Moero Crystal follow in the footsteps of its moé-tastic predecessors and their predilection for freeing mind-controlled cuties by stripping off most of their garments? Probably, but we don't have screenshots right now. Instead, we've got character art.
The young ladies are about what one would expect of a Compile Heart game. Luanna and Lulshi fit the slightly naughty-while-nice fashion sense of CH's dominant moé style quite well. I'd call attention to the hero in the middle, Zenox, who is actually described as a "lucky lech" in his main description. See anything wrong with those weapons of his? Those aren't swords. It really does seem that he's dual-wielding a pair of oversized "vibrating massage wands", and whether all those monster girls are going to enjoy the upcoming battles remains to be seen.
The story is also about as one would expect. In the great temple of the world, there lie two treasures of infinite importance: the Panties of Light and the Brassiere of Darkness. One day, a sneaky, thieving seal called Black Ottonius stole the Brassiere, and condemned the world to a slow destruction. It's up to Luanna and Zenox to prevent the further crumbling of reality, along with the game's mascot character, Otton the Panty Hunter. Unlike his pal Ottonius, Otton got caught in the act, and is now doing some community service by saving the community. He also refuses to take the Panties of Light off of his head.
I am constantly amazed (and a bit disheartened) that Compile Heart consistently succeeds with this sort of thing. For those interested in a highly fan-service-y train wreck, Genkai Tokki Moero Crystal will arrive in stores September 25th.
A little over three years ago, we reported on a downloadable PSP game called Ore ni Hatarake'tte Iwaretemo (You're Telling Me I've Got to Work!?), which was about a young shut-in forced to find any sort of work he could in order to survive after his parents passed away. He somehow managed to work from home as an adventure organizer for local heroes. Apparently the development studio, E-Smile, made out well with it, because there's a new chapter in the story ready for download now.
Ore ni Hatarake'tte Iwaretemo -tori- went online June 12th, and appears to be similar in many ways to its predecessor. I'm not sure why it has that -tori- tacked onto the end, though. As near as I can tell, the only use that particular kanji has in Japanese is to be the zodiac sign for the Year of the Rooster. Its story definitely follows the same curve, as the player avatar is a twenty-something slacker who hates work and yet cannot pay the bills, so he's introduced to the wonderful world of the adventurer dispatch industry. It's up to the player to hire and manage adventurers to take on various tasks on the island of Tilka Lili.
At least four of the characters shown in the 4Gamer article have actual names to go with their occupations: Ileena the fencer, Emiliano the thief, Nelen the novice, and Fleur the archer. There are other recruitable characters (presumably without defining personality traits) from at least six class types. Here are a few examples from the fencer, novice, cleric, and wizard classes.
Once the player has assembled a team, it's up to him or her as the manager to get them properly outfitted and trained within the limits of the purse, and then send them off into the unknown for adventure, glory, and hopefully enough cash to finance the next quest. Oh, the romantic life of a professional agent.
So if anyone has a Japanese Vita account and thinks this sounds interesting, be sure to check it out. As I said, it's already been available for download for three weeks now.
Some forms of conflict are eternal. Such is the nature of the war between humans and drakes in the 7th Dragon series. In the first game, it was the humans fighting back against the draconic oppressors. In the second game and its follow-up, it was a near-future Earth fending off an invading horde of scaly extraterrestrials intent on dracoforming the planet. For the fourth game of the series, Seventh Dragon III: Code VFD, the stakes and the scale expand beyond the usual dimensions. This time, it's a full-on war for the past, present, and future of all humanity, as dragons attack the ancient realm of Atlantis, the almost modern-day city of Tokyo, and the far-future civilization known as Eden.
These are all the screens that I have for now, but I did get a look in this week's Famitsu earlier today as well. This game will cover all three time periods in some manner, and there are specific new character classes tied to the past and future realms. The time is set for the counter-draconic assault to begin. Prepare yourselves, because October 15th is the day that all scale breaks loose on the 3DS.
Wow, there was a lot more in this column when it ended than when it started. Big thanks go to Nyx for sending more and more stuff my way. If it keeps going on like this, I might have a second column for this month, if I can squeeze it out before I go on vacation. It's my parents' fortieth anniversary this year, and we're celebrating on Oahu!