It's not always easy to come up with something to say at the top of a column. Sometimes, the thing you want to talk about turns out to be a bad idea. In times like those, I prefer to sleep on the matter, so I did. My dreams weren't much of a help, but they were entertaining.
The one I remember the best was dominated by my attempts to find something to write about for this column, in fact. For some reason dream!Me was obsessed with this magazine article about Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray, and spent a lot of time trying to get these pictures into digital format so they could be used in Japandemonium. Just why they were so important, I do not know. Further progress was hampered by the fact that I kept losing the keyboard to my computer within the soft folds of a truly enormous bed. I have a laptop and sleep on a futon, so I'm not sure how that part worked.
And then things got weirder. In my dream, I clicked on a link and physically entered the column. Not the current installment of JP, but a very old version that was apparently titled "Lol, What? Japan?" and presented like a Saturday Night Live news skit. While trying to figure out where I was going, I blundered into another bit of RPGamer history, the old Circle of Sages Q&A column, except that it was now an MTV-style reality show run by a much younger Jimmy Kimmel, and the contestants had to give their opinions on things like, "If RPG character classes were financial planning strategies, what would they be?"
Fighters, as it turned out, were safe, solid investments that made only slow gains in strength/capital, but weren't that interesting or versatile. But on the other hand, if everything went pear-shaped, they always had a sword handy to fall upon.
I guess the lesson here is, never ask me about my dreams. They're just weird.
Let's get things started with a little bit of nothing much. Nippon Ichi has recently announced a new game, Refrain no Chika Meirou to Majo no Ryodan. The title translates as "Refrain's Underground Labyrinth and the Witch Brigade", which is about on par with the usual NIS naming conventions. What's it about? No one knows, though obviously underground labyrinths and large numbers of witches will make an appearance. Tatsuya Izumi (Prinny!, Witch and the Hundred Knight, etc.) is in charge of the project, and Takehito Harada (Disgaea et al.) is handling the character designs. It's a first-person dungeon crawler for the PS Vita, and that is about it for the information that anyone has on this game. For that matter, the main source article on Famitsu can't even decide which meaning of "refrain" is most applicable here. Still, we have a teaser image, for what it's worth.
NIS always has a good presence at TGS, so it's likely I'll be seeing this one later in September. Until then, this game's a refrain without a verse. As for when it will actually be released, since this is the first we're hearing about it and all of the copyright tags are for 2016, it's safe to say that it will be out next year.
For the past month, I've been messing around with the original 7th Dragon on the DS, and it's given me an appreciation for the media now coming out for 7th Dragon III code:VFD. For instance, I previously reported that 7th Dragon III has action across three temporal zones — Atlantis of the past, Tokyo of the near-present, and Eden of the future — without realizing that the world of the first game was in fact called Eden, and that it held a sealed city of a lost civilization called "Tokion". If I'd known that, I wouldn't have been so confused by the series' move to Tokyo for the two 2020 games.
But let's talk characters. Like the rest of the series, code:VFD allows the player to put together a team of fighters in any combination they want, with many character models and color palettes available. Here is a sample of what the future and past time zones have to offer:
Each of the above pics represents one of the choices available for these four classes. Kitty-eared models are available for all of them, if that's your thing. From the past world of Atlantis, we have the Rune Knights and the Fortuners. Rune Knights seem to be a blend of healing, offensive magic, and the knightly defense skillset, while Fortuners are shown to have the same musical magic used by the Princess class of 7th Dragon, which means they're strong support class with some dirty tricks, most likely. From the future world of Eden, we have the Mage and the Vanisher. The Mage is run pretty close to standard, from what I can tell, but the Vanisher is a high-power tank class that uses actual magic gunpowder to fuel explosive attacks.
For all that it's on a newer system with much better graphics, combat in code:VFD looks very similar to the DS original. So if grindy dungeon crawls and dragonslaying are your thing, this is probably the game for you. To finish up, we've got intro gameplay videos for the Fortuner and Samurai, from Tokyo of the near-present.
7th Dragon III code:VFD is still on track for release on October 15th, for the 3DS.
Acquire has had some interesting game concepts in its time, and there are some odd RPGs out on the iOS devices, so it should come as no surprise that when this company decides to work on that platform, weird things happen. Case in point: Galactic Sushi, a hack-n-slash free-for-all RPG.
In a galaxy far, far away, people still love their sushi. The only difference is, the ingredients list is a bit tougher to work with. In fact, the Gyojuu are a menace that can only be combatted by hungry stomachs with lots of soy sauce and wasabi, and it's up to a dedicated corps of sushi chefs to go out their and cut them up for the gustatorial enjoyment of gourmands across the universe. Oversized sushi knives and fish tenderizers seem to be the weapons of the hour.
As a bonus, we have a 15-minute video of four guys doing score attack runs on Galactic Sushi. I started it a few minutes in, when the actual game footage begins.
Blame it on the phone-text generation, perhaps, but a lot of random foreign phonetic symbols have been trending in Japan over the last few years. Not that anyone knows what they are or where they come from, of course — the biggest key to popularity is how they fit into a text emoticon. The lowercase omega, ω, is a good example, as it can easily be converted into a kitty face: *ω*. That is in fact how it is used in the recent Compile Heart RPG, Omega (*ω*) Quintet. In a soon-to-be released RPG from D3 Publisher, that little Greek letter is used for a different visual cue, however.
Omega Labyrinth, spelled with an ω, is a rogue-like dungeon-crawler with a very specific design esthetic in mind for its heroines, one that ties into the basic gameplay in novel and risque ways. As the heroines hack and slash their way through dungeons of monsters, they become charged with ω-power. "Omega power" by itself sounds cool enough, but D3 Publisher just had to use the lowercase letter, and so... well... There is a visual component to this ω-power that can be seen in the portrait art, and it's exactly what one would imagine. As the ladies fill with power, their outfits struggle to contain their burgeoning assets.
The story takes place at the Amberyll Academy, a finishing school for young ladies in a high fantasy setting. While excelling at the usual lessons on poise, grace, cosmetics, and melee combat, the young heroines are convinced there's a better (read: quicker) way to success. According to school legend, somewhere on campus lies the mythic Grail of Beauty, which can grant any desire. True to form, the heroines are convinced that what they really need is a cup size lying somewhere higher up in the alphabet, and so they dive deep into the forbidden dungeons beneath Amberyll to try and make their dreams a reality.
Not shown: the semi-obligatory PS Vita touch-screen game, where the player molests encourages the young ladies to reach their fuller cup sizes potential.
Omega (ω) Labyrinth is scheduled to arrive in stores on November 11.
It isn't good when you can say that the typhoon was the highlight of the week. At least the weather's cooled down a bit since then. It's also been raining almost non-stop for the last three days. C'est la vie. C'est le Japon.