Adjectives in Japanese are funny things. They come in two sets, one that is followed by -na but otherwise functions like a noun, and one that ends in -i, and has its own special rules of conjugation. Japanese i-adjectives can be altered for past tense or negativity, altered into adverbs or verbs (sometimes), not to mention a variety of other phrasal alterations. One such is -sou, which if added in place of the -i gives the adjective the meaning of "It seems/looks..." So, omoshiroi (interesting) becomes omoshirosou (looks interesting). Oishii (delicious) becomes oishisou (looks tasty). There is one adjective, however, which does not conform with this, and it's the one that's perhaps the most known among gamers and anime enthusiasts -- kawaii, or cute. That's because there's a close homophone, kawaisou, whose meaning is anything but cute.
I think we need a story here to illustrate what this word means. Last Tuesday, I was rushing to work when I saw two high school girls stopped on the side of the street, pointing and aiming their cell phone cameras. As I walked up, I saw this tiny little calico kitten, three months old at most, with a massive, weeping eye infection. It was too weak to run, and quietly accepted some gentle petting from me while I tried to wipe away some of the pus, mewling just a bit in a tiny voice.
In my mind, this is the epitome of kawaisou. Not cute, not nice, but sad and pitiable. I really wish I could have taken the kitten with me, but aside from the fact that I had to run a bit to make it to work on time that day, my girlfriend doesn't see the charm of pets. I had to leave the little lady with the two students, who were encouraged by my example to actually pet the kitten by the time I had to run. I told them she really needed to go to a clinic, and I can only hope they did so. I don't think the calico would last much longer otherwise.
I don't like doing music updates often on JP. Really, every game that comes out these days seems to have an accompanying soundtrack release, and I don't feel like keeping up with it all. From time to time we get something special, though, and here's one:
The better part of a year after its initial release, Muramasa - The Demon Blade gets a massive soundtrack release. There's three discs, with a total of 57 tracks covering all the music used for the various stages and bosses. The beautiful sleeve art is just a bonus. It's all in stores Dec. 16th, for 3675 yen.
The last two years have seen a boom for the "retro" look in games. After bringing the first Badman game to western shores, with plans for the second come 2010, Nippon Ichi has decided to jump on the bandwagon with the very appropriately titled Classic Dungeon.
The story itself is about what one would expect of a dungeon-crawling experience, which is sort of the point of this experiment, wouldn't you say? There's the typically mysterious realm of Manoakuzu, filled with monsters, traps, and loot, which provides most if not all known justification for visiting there. The actual blurb in Dengeki says "The Promised Land, the Forbidden Ground, yada yada yada...", as if to convey just how self-consciously cliché the setup is.
There's a secondary title to mention, The Circle of Assistance. This magic circle plays an important part in how one survives the game. There are nine characters in the game to bring together, plus a cat, which can be placed at points on the circle. The central spot is reserved for the character who actually goes out and whacks stuff, while the characters surrounding him or her serve as support, blocking attacks or slashing at monsters. The actual setting of the circle strongly affects the defensive and offensive bonuses of all characters.
Our first three characters seem to be the stars of the show, since we actually have background info on them. First is Pudding, a young lady who decides to hunt for treasure in Manoakuzu. Since she has absolutely no experience doing so, she drags along her friend Souma. The third character is Coco, who arrived in Manoakuzu after falling off a cliff. She's not quite sure why or how that happened, though.
The other characters are Despina (white hair), Sundae (dark hair), Battleblow (red hair), Dodohige (bearded guy), Sherbet (purple hair), Bob (afro), and Crostine (the cat). As well, Classic Dungeon allows the player to create a custom character to explore the dungeon with.
Atlus has a history with light novels. The original hit that led them to success, Megami Tensei, was originally a light novel. Many of their later titles have been novelized. Several of their games, such as the Persona titles, fall under the Gakuen Juvenile genre of school-centered fantasy, same as the Tokyo Majin Gakuen series. Now, the creative minds behind both series are bringing a new title to the genre.
Tokyo Mono Hara Shi - Karasunomori Gakuen Kitan (rough translation: Tokyo Exorcist - The Mysterious Tale of Ravenwood Academy) is an RPG wrapped in an adventure title. Like the later Persona titles, but moreso and without the calendrical system. The story revolves around a set of cards called the jugon-hanafuda, literally "the cursed illustrations", which are sealed in a small wooden box. At the start of things, the main character finds this box in his school library and lets all hell loose by accident. Now he and his four friends (in the scans, from left to right: Zero, Ichiru, Toushi, and Minori) have the pleasure of getting the cards back in the box before they have a chance to bring about the end of existence.
The game's system is similar to the MegaTen model in that there are 3D, first-person dungeons involved. That's about as far as the resemblance goes, however. From the screens available, it actually looks a bit more like an FPS, but there's got to be something stranger to it than that. Various actions, both for fieldwork and combat, are mapped to the circle, triangle, and square buttons, which are clearly visible in the dungeon-exploring screens. The enemies, the "Hidden People", appear directly on the dungeon map, without any transition to battle screens.
There's much about this title that strikes me as strange, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Well, guys. I've got one heck of a weekend ahead of me. The Japanese Language Proficiency Exam is this Sunday, and I'll be up in the wee hours just to get to the testing site on time. Wish me luck, because I think I might need some.
And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,
Your man in Japan,