Hey all, long time no see! Last week was the summer inservice week at my school, so I spent my days cleaning and painting playground equipment instead of doing columns. That about sums up all the boring stuff that happened last week. The exciting stuff was happening elsewhere.
As of two weekends past, I'm an uncle (again!). This is Little Ray (Big Ray's my brother-in-law). He started out at 8 pounds 7 ounces, and I'm sure he's already putting on weight.
So... how long should I wait before introducing him to RPGs? Eight years? Nine?
It's the end of another month, and so it's time once more for Hiroyuki Maeda's Lovely Lady Lab!
First up, we have Feles, the heroine of Earth Seeker. This Wii action-RPG came out at the end of June here in Japan, and is set in a far-future terraformed paradise populated by bizarre bio-mechanical beasties.
Our next Lab entry is a trio, starring Arle, Ringo, and Amitie, three major characters from the Puyo Puyo series of puzzle games. Arle was originally the heroine of the Madou Monogatari series of RPGs, though she's probably more popular this way.
And last is Fei-yen, from the fighting game series Dennou Senki Virtual-On Force. It was released for the Xbox 360 back in December, but I guess Sega has recently released an expanded version or something like that.
If you read through the sales rankings above, you'll have noticed that Class of Heroes 3D didn't last long. In fact, it was on and off the list before I even had a chance to update. That's not getting Acquire down, however, as the company has already announced another semester for the school-themed dungeon-crawler series. The new game, Class of Heroes Final: The New Student's a Princess! will be for the PSP, and it's not known how final that Final part of the title will be. This is the game industry, after all. This time, the game is based in the newly founded Mordial Academy, so Acquire has decided to show off the new school uniforms.
I've never played any of the games in this series, so I'm not sure what all might be new in this title. Certainly, everything seems to fit with what I know of the series, but the article in Famitsu makes a special point of talking about how the direction pad on the PSP can be used to pan the camera around in dungeons. Characters from Class of Heroes 3 will be making appearances, and the story seems to focus on the princess alluded to in the game's secondary title.
There's no release date available for this game as of now, not even a vague time of year. We'll just have to wait and see.
From the folks who brought us Arc the Lad comes a new cooperative title. Unfortunately, it's for cellphones only. Mononoke: Wanted is a self-described "monster hunting RPG". The mission segments look to be focused on mononoke (Japanese spirit) incursions in the real world, but there's also a "battle royale" setup involved that plays on the current fad in Japanese mobile-gaming.
Thursday of last week, Nora's Studio hit the shelves. I've already beaten it, but I'm going for a second or third time around before I say anything more on the subject. Instead, it's time for some show and tell.
This is what I got with my copy of Nora's Studio. The first image is actually a postcard. The second is the front cover of an art booklet full of original character sketches. The third is the front and back of set cover, which can be used to hold the card, the booklet, and an arranged soundtrack CD.
Dragon Quest Heroes 3: Of Pirates and Plob is due out in maybe six months. I'm looking forward to it, but mainly because I'm already pretty sure what all is going to be in it. Experience with the first two games tells me that this game will have a lot of carryover in terms of story and characters, i.e. it'll have almost the exact same premise and basic lead-in to the plot. The following screenshots support this, as they feature the same set of friends who have accompanied the hero through Attack of the Plob and Rocket Slime.
Also, the tank battles from Rocket Slime were apparently so popular that they've been carried over into ship battles in this game. That's nothing new. We have some dungeon screens to look out now, though. Apart from the requisite weird ruins, this game will include a ghost-filled haunted house, it seems.
Queen's Gate Spiral Chaos hit the shelves yesterday morning, so this will be the final piece of cheesecake we'll be showing for this game. Honestly, I've covered this title far beyond what's usual. Normally I cut off coverage past a certain point, usually when the Japanese reporting switches from the basics of gameplay to massive spoilerage of the plotline. I do this for myself as much as for my readers, since I don't like to have the big surprises ruined for me either. That said, neither concern is really valid if all I'm doing is presenting cameo fluff for a game that I'm never going to play, so here we go!
The first of our last cameos is a mouthful: Yagyuu Juubee Mitsuyoshi. This character is named for a famous Japanese samurai of the early Edo period, but obviously some creative alterations have been made. She's a main character in the anime series Hyakka Ryoran Samurai Girls.
Next is Cham Cham, from the Samurai Spirits series, specifically the one known as Samurai Shodown II in the US. She and her little monkey companion hail from the Green Hell of South America, and I suspect she looks a lot cuter here than she did in her original appearance.
Our third and truly final cameo for this game is "Painkiller Kotone", who has an... interesting history. She's a doujin character, meaning that she doesn't come from a professionally published series of any sort. Kotone is the creation of Keuma, leader of a doujin circle of plastic figurine designers. This guy is not known for his discretion in character designs. In fact, he has the honor of actually being asked to remove his wares from Comiket, one of the biggest doujin conventions in Japan, because his original Kotone figurines were too anatomically explicit (naughty parts barely hidden behind a pack of saline solution). Considering what sorts of things crop up on doujin circles, this is saying something. Anyway, if you all want to hear more about this character's sordid history, check out this plastic model review here. Be forewarned, this link is definitely not safe for work. She may be the only character in this game where the devs had to add more clothing to her character design.
Hot Enough For Ya?
Just wanted to let you know, that some of us in the States feel your rain pain, too. The Midwest, most notably Colorado has been experiencing the same rain dump you have this week. Every day since the weekend, sunny days become treacherous stormy days with torrential downpours.
I know my family would love to have my rain pains. They've had thirty-something days of 100+ degree weather so far this summer.
Just last night I had to make like a boat and practically float myself home in the short but dramatic downpour.
I have, on occasion, had to go to work in a swimsuit because there was no chance of staying dry. My wallet and cellphone were bundled into a series of plastic bags.
We've managed about an inch of rain an afternoon all week... but considering the average annual statewide precipitation is 17 inches, that's saying a lot.
That makes me wonder, what's the annual average precipitation in your area? I've seen some sites average it 40+ inches. Does your area get more or less or is that pretty even a statistic?
Japan's rainfall averages vary a lot from island to island of course, but the best number I've heard was an average of 1500 millimeters (about 59 inches) a year. Most of that is concentrated within the brief span of the rainy season (usually June or July), with typhoon season making up a lot of the rest. Kumamoto's driest month is December, with an average of 62 mm (2.44 inches), and the wettest is June with 424 mm (16.69 inches). This year's rainy season has been a little longer than normal, or at least it felt like it.
Typhoon #6 has probably thrown off that average a lot as well. According to the morning news, the city of Kochi in Shikoku got 1190 millimeters of rain in a 72-hour period because of that storm. That would be 46.85 inches in three days.
Hope you get some dry weather soon!
Well, we got it. The heat index is killing us now. Thanks for writing in!
It's summer. It's hot. The cicadas are deafening. That is all.
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,