It's that time of year again! The time of year when I can dress even more ridiculously for class and not get in trouble for it. The time of year when I can wear a black cape with red trim to my part-time side gig and not have to remove it immediately. The time of year I can legitimately show Ghostbusters in class and claim it's educational, sort of. I mean, these kids know all these visual references from Luigi's Mansion and Yo-Kai Watch Busters, but have never seen the real deal? Sounds like time for some education to me!
Oh, and I also got to walk and ride my bike all over town dressed like this.
This was my main Halloween costume this year, for the school party I had last weekend as well as for this weekend's side gig. It's not the only one I wore this week, though. For some of my classes in the middle, I went the cheap route. For them, I was the Hyakkin Kaijin (Phantom of the Dollar Store), using only what I could get for a hundred yen (plus tax) per item.
It's a hard job, keeping up with all those trick-or-treaters, but at least I have my trusty sidekick, Hyakkin Kaijin Jr. to rely on.
Now enough with the funny business! It's time for a column!
Wow, I let this one go too long without updating. Maybe I should have put it in my indie column when I had the chance? In any case, I'll be splitting this in half, with the last week of August and most of September up here, and then continue through October a couple articles farther down.
Here's one I've been saving up for a while. In fact, it's the very last bit of Tokyo Game Show news to be had this year. I promise.
So I've played almost every single game in the Metal Max/Saga series, one way or another. There was no way I was going to pass up playing the most recent, not to mention most surprising, addition to the list. I still have no idea how Success is getting away with this, seeing as Kadokawa owns the main series now.
Metal Saga - Ark of the Waste is an iOS game that takes a lot of its base material from the PS2-era RPG Metal Saga. I could recognize all the monsters as coming from that older game, though it's telling that none of them appeared in the later DS games. This one appears to be 100% a case of Success mining what parts of the series actually still belong to it.
The touch controls worked well enough, though I was thankful for the extra displays mounted at head level. I know they were hooked up to the iPhones so that other people could see what I was doing, but as it turns out, I found the iPhone easier to use when I wasn't even looking at it. With that larger screen already there, I could treat the phone as a controller. That still didn't make the game much fun to play. Still, props to the developers for making the series' signature drum can into the touch-control cursor button.
The main point of the game seems to be that, using the titular Ark as a base, the player's party must go forth in their tanks and fulfill standard smartphone RPG quests. Locations are occasionally added to the main map, but otherwise there is no way to explore — and for a series so thoroughly steeped in the thrill of discovery, this can only be seen as a disappointment. They didn't even have a dog in the party! Pochi the battle dog (or a close cousin) is featured in the game's main art, but they couldn't even put an intrepid canine killing machine in the party?
OK, so I am more than a little disappointed with how this turned out, though I cannot say that I didn't have my worries from the get-go. At least I got something to take home with me.
I just wish we'd hear something about a Metal Max 5 some time soon.
It's said that things come in threes. Good things, bad things, Pokémon games, and now Yo-Kai Watch games all seem to follow this pattern. Yo-Kai Watch 2 was released in two versions, with a later third that managed to stay on the sales rankings until late September, and now Level-5 is adding a third to its spin-off game, Yo-Kai Watch Busters.
The original pair of Busters games, White Dog Squad and Red Cat Gang, took their titles from Koma-san and Jibanyan, the white canine and red feline youkai who stand as the regular mascots for the series. The newly announced third version of Busters is dedicated to the mascot of Yo-Kai Watch 3 (soon to be released overseas): USApyon, the space rabbit.
Yo-Kai Watch Busters: Getto-gumi (or, as I'd translate it, Moon Rabbit Regiment) is different from most third-version games, though. It is in fact a massive, free DLC update to the existing games, timed for release alongside the new Yo-Kai Watch movie next December. Included are a new protagonist, Buster USApyon, several major plot characters from the movie, new monsters to fight, and a new big boss, all of which amounts to a new campaign appended to the game.
I doubt most people reading this would have a copy of the Japanese game, but if you do, the DLC is available from Dec. 12, 2015.
And if anyone else cares for spinoffs of this series, there's a Yo-Kai Watch version of Just Dance coming out for Wii U one week before that.
Back in 2014, I had the opportunity to play a certain Vita game at the Tokyo Game Show indie games area. Airship Q was this fun mashup of action RPG, metroidvania, and Minecraft, and it was a wonderful surprise to see it advertised prominently in every issue of Famitsu for the past month.
Airship Q is the story of a girl and her brother who, driven by the dream of scientific inquiry, build their own airship to explore the mysterious floating islands in the skies above their homeland. Unfortunately, a resident of those isles takes umbrage at this, shooting their ship, the Question, and marooning them. When the heroine wakes up, she finds that she's been morphed into a humanoid kitty-person, and her brother Lemuel is nowhere to be seen.
It's up to the heroine to figure out what's up with the witch of the skies, as well as the mysteries behind the islands themselves. Who created them? Why are they falling apart? What can be done about it? In the meantime, she has to make do with the items at her disposal to create everything she needs to survive the ordeal and maybe return safely to good old terra firma.
Airship Q is due out on PS Vita November 19th, while the Playstation 4 release date is still TBA.
Up until about a year ago, all my students were playing Puzzle & Dragons endlessly on their smartphones. Around that time, they all shifted to playing a new one, Monster Strike. I know the game was around for a while before this, but that was when it first came to my attention. There's one big sign that the game is popular in Japan, though:
Yes, they're making a 3DS adaptation, similar to the handheld's version of Puzzle & Dragons. There's an actual story, wherein an average Japanese eighth-grader™ is contacted by a weird little mascot critter from another world™ in the hopes that he (and his various new friends and acquaintances) can prevent the takeover of two worlds by the nebulous forces of darkness™. No, this isn't the most original plot in the world, but what can you expect? It's just there to justify the gameplay.
If you want an explanation of how the game plays... I'd say just google some videos of the smartphone version. There are plenty of them out there. The thing always reminded me of games a much younger myself would make up in lieu of not actually knowing how to play billiards. There will be plenty of ricochets and collisions, though; the trailer tells that much.
OK, so maybe the graphics outside of battle are pretty impressive as well, for a game based on a smartphone title. It's giving me a strong Digimon vibe, to be honest. In any case, Monster Strike will be arriving in a store near me on Dec. 17. I'm sure I know plenty of children who are getting this one for Christmas.
Let's finish this right with some trailers, shall we? First up is one for Nippon Ichi's newest, Coven and the Labyrinth of Refrain
In the mysterious city of Refrain, there is a dungeon. No one is sure what lies in its depths, because most people are soon overcome by the dark energies within and die of strange illnesses. One day, however, a witch named Doronia comes to town. (It should be noted that in the space above her name, "Baba Yaga" is given as an alternate pronunciation). In her possession is a magic grimoire which holds the vital force/information for a large number of warrior puppets. These puppets have the appearance of real people, but not the will, and more importantly they are not affected by the labyrinth's miasma.
What will Doronia discover in the depths? And, as quoted in the video above, who shall have the last laugh? Who, for that matter, will do the laughing? That remains to be seen, but so far this one is looking nicely gothic.
And now, on to...
... a new smartphone title from Bandai-Namco and CyberConnect2. It is the first installment of the so-called "Project N.U.", titled New World - Ginrui no Otome, or "Girl of the Silver Tears" (though I have to note that I've never seen that particular kanji for tears before).
Anyway, the trailer says, "Another world unfolds in the palm of your hand. A world that should be destroyed, but is not. A new world, revived. A place that awaits your promised return." After that, we get snippets like "The Ancient City", "The girl awakens", and "The flames of Megiddo." And finally, "Gather in the city (of Maku Anu) and the legend shall begin." Some poking around on Google Japan tells me that Maku Anu is the name of a city in the .hack games.
Any fans of that series in the house and willing to comment?