Last weekend was Thanksgiving in the U.S. and Labor Day here in Japan. Due to scheduling fun and games, this meant I had a four-day weekend to spend with my lovely girlfriend, Nozomi. So, did anything interesting happen during our weekend out?
Yes, you could say that.
That's a 2.75-carat cut alexandrite (her birthstone) that she helped me choose on Amazon, apparently not suspecting my ulterior motives. Amazon's inordinately quick delivery time allowed me to surprise her Friday morning with a bended knee and a sincere question. Her answer was a most emphatic "Yes!"
After that, the rest of the weekend just flew by.
So if you look up in the sky and see a figure floating by on a wispy cumulus, it's not Son Goku or a Lakitu. It's just me, up on Cloud Nine.
Ever since March of 2011, the Tohoku region of Japan has understandably been struggling. One of the biggest hits was to its tourism industry, with even areas unaffected by the disaster suffering a record lack of travelers. Many government groups and corporations have worked to promote interest in the country's northern end in order to bolster the local economy. Even Nintendo is doing its part.
From December 8th to January 6th, people who visit the Tohoku Pokémon Center in Miyagi will receive a special event Victini for Pokémon Black/White (1 & 2). This little cutie is a level 100 powerhouse that comes with the special move V-Create plus the signature attacks for Reshiram, Zekrom, and Kyurem.
It's only available at this one location, excluding special one-off events in Iwate and Fukushima, so anyone who wants one will have to do some traveling. Which is the entire point, really.
Once upon a time, there was a DS game about evil dragons and toxic flowers. It was a popular little game despite its punishing difficulty, and eventually a sequel was born. This second game was quite different, however -- the dragons were attacking a futuristic Tokyo and there was the threat of nuclear annihilation hovering over it all. In the end, the dragons were vanquished.
Which isn't to say that there aren't more of the buggers out there. Last week, Sega announced the existence of 7th Dragon 2020 II. One year has passed, and the hordes have returned to the Land of the Rising Sun with the intent to dracoform the planet with their alien ecology. Once again the Murakumo organization, colorful defenders of Earth, must fight back against the draconic onslaught.
2020 II maintains the robust character creation standards of its predecessor while adding another character class: the Idol. This hero of song and dance uses his or her high charisma to urge allies to victory. They also boast a variety of support skills. There may be other new classes to be revealed in the future as well.
7th Dragon 2020 II will be released for the PSP sometime next spring.
While Demon Gaze, the next title from Experience and Kadokawa Games, has most of its story focused on its evil-eyed protagonist and his demon-enthralling stare, monsters aren't the only ones he can enlist into the ranks. the game also has a character creation system that lets the player mix and match occupations and racial types. Here are a few examples.
There are seven jobs available. The three pictured above are Fighter, Paladin, and Samurai. Presumably the others are less physically oriented.
There are also five races to choose from. Shown above are Humans, Elves, and Nei (cat people).
After it's all taken into account, there are forty-five different character illustrations to choose from while making a party.
And as a nice change of pace, for once the monster-of-the-week isn't a cutesy girl. The Astro is the first male demon to be shown for this game, and his berserk form provides a little bit of beefcake in a game seemingly dominated by perky boobage.
We haven't seen much of One Piece: Romance Dawn on here recently, but that was mostly an editorial decision on my part. The last half-dozen or so publicity videos released were all about fifteen seconds long, and it really didn't seem to be worth my time. I figured that eventually a longer promo video would have to appear. Lo and behold...
This gives a good overview of how the game works, with combat, map movement, special skills, and manga/anime-style story presentation all included. Granted, only fans of the series will be able to understand a lot of what's going on in the video, but it all looks interesting at least.
One Piece: Romance Dawn will be in stores on December 20th.
I read a question about cell phones in your last column and that made me recall an article I read in a newspaper (an actual paper newspaper) that said Japan is not nearly the powerhouse it was when it comes to phones and that they've basically been passed-by by smart phones. So I was wondering in your experience what the smart phone penetration is in Japan, how their cell phones compare to smart phones, and why you think Japan has been crushed by Apple/Samsung etc, or if I'm just plain wrong.
"Crushed" isn't the word I'd use. The Japanese mobile phones are still a large part of the market over here, partly because they've had so much time to adapt to the socio-ecological niches of the country. The iWhatevers are gaining in popularity, and all the major service providers now offer them, but they're still pricier than regular phones by a long shot. The trendy portion of the populace is buying into them, as are a lot of foreigners, but it'll be a long while before they really push the older style phones out of the market. And who knows? The phone makers might have their own answer to the iOS phones coming up. The Japanese have never been ones to shy away from adopting and adapting, after all.