Cell phones are fun things, aren't they? Mine is just full of options that I only half understand, since I can only make out about half the user's manual anyway. But the built-in camera is nice, and has provided this column with many a picture so far. I'm going to have to get a memory card for it soon, though, so I can save some of my better high-quality pictures. Nice as they are, 900k graphics files just take up too much space.
As a game platform, however, it leaves something to be desired. Low battery life, cramped controls, and myopia-inducing screensizes make for an unhappy player. I might mention a few games from time to time that are worth the hassle though.
Anyhoo, enough about me. Here's the column!
Any avian enthusiasts in the house? This past Wednesday, Square Enix presented Japanese birders with an invaluable opportunity to brush off the old cell phone cameras and get some snap-shots of that rare bird, Chocobo fantasticus.
The Shinjuku Sakura-ya gaming store played host to the event, held to celebrate the release of Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon - Labyrinth Forgotten by Time, for the Wii console. A festive Chocobo in a Santa hat handed out free copies of the soundtrack, and happy fans could have their pictures taken with their favorite oversized chicken.
This week's ratings list was pretty good, overall. Nine RPGs made the list, three of them new. The DS once again dominates the field, which should come as a surprise to no one at this point. For anyone interested, the #1 game for the past week was Wii Fit, the exercise program from Nintendo. The marketing has been pretty intense for that title, with Nintendo doing its darnedest to sell the console as an item for the entire family. Looks like it's paying off now.
This week, Square Enix has a new game available on its Squeni portal site, available through AU's EZ-web mobile network. Makaitoushi SaGa has been remade before, and the version made for the WonderSwan Color portable system seems to have made a good transition to its new hardware, with some tweaking done to the layout in order to make it easier to work with.
Remakes seem to be the theme for this week, with three new titles being added to Sony's Game Archive. Two of these are RPGs, while the third is a fighter. For the sake of symmetry, we'll include the picture for that one, too.
Blue Breaker Burst is the fighting game. It and Falcata are available for download and play on the PlayStation 3 and PSP game systems, while Arc the Lad is PSP-only. These three are all old PlayStation games, from the mid-1990s. I can't even find information on Falcata, except that it was one of the first games from Gust, and was apparently a huge flop of a strategy game.
Congratulations are in order. Bandai-Namco Games, producers of the popular "Tales" series, have announced a special milestone this week. The series, starting with the original game, Tales of Phantasia in 1996, stretches across over a dozen sequels and spinoffs on six consoles. Its most recent installation, Tales of Innocence, sits high on this week's Dengeki sales list.
So it shouldn't be too surprising to hear that the Tales series has, counting all games together, reached a sales total of 1,000 man units. Man is a special Japanese counting unit, equalling 10,000. So, with a bit of basic math, we get 10,000,000 copies sold in the last 11 years. Not bad for an RPG series lacking the words "Fantasy" or "Quest" in the title. Moreover, only a relatively few games in the series have ever been ported out of Japan, so the Japanese market makes up 87% of the total sales figure, with America sitting at 8% of the total, with 3% in Europe, and 2% over the rest of Asia.
Ever had the need to just get away from it all? The need to escape the daily grind - the classes, the chores, the work, the slavering, soul-eating monsters? Yeah, we've all felt that way. In the recent title Persona 3, the characters even went and did it, taking a summer holiday in the middle of the game. Too bad they didn't watch more horror movies though -- the monsters always find you, in the end.
And that's about how the new cell phone spin-off, Persona 3M starts off. It's set within that short summer holiday from the original game. During their short stay on Yakushima, the members of SEES find their dreams haunted by the memories of the demons left behind them in the big city, and a new dungeon, similar to the twists of Tartaros, appears. Welcome to Oneiros, the Labyrinth of Dreams.
This game, like the other main P3 spinoff, Aigis: The First Mission, is for cell phones, and has actually made a decent attempt at translating P3's game design into a vastly different environment. Gone are the team AI, the Social Link system, and most of the battle animations. The Dream Labyrinth of Oneiros is still in 3D, with an adjustable camera (using the 4 and 6 buttons), but the battles are now random encounters, instead of monsters wandering around the screen. In most ways, the game has been reduced to the bare essentials in many spots, and still shines. For anyone who enjoyed the older Megami series games, then Persona 3M is the game for you.
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I have come to the conclusion that I should probably write you a letter every week. The trick though will be coming up with things to say...Tales on Innocence was released on the 6th wasn't it? Do you like the Tales series? I imported Tales of the Tempest a while back. I suppose "imported" isn't actually the right word though because I bought it while in Japan. I'm still not good enough at Japanese to understand much though. Knowing katakana is coming in handy though for reading things like raifu bouteru (Life Bottle) and reberu apu (level up).
I have several problems with understanding Tales of the Tempest, one of which is my lack of kanji knowledge. On a good day, when my brain is working, I know about 50. The textbook I used for my first year (Adventures in Japanese 1, I'm now on 2) had only 17 kanji in the whole thing. Consequently, when I went to Japan last summer, I had to ask the sensei to write furigana over almost all of the kanji on the board when my classmates typically knew what they said.
My second problem is the informal style/grammer I haven't learned. I'm not sure which. I just started learning something other than -masu form and -te form so I'm not that experienced yet.
Third is my general lack of competence, though I suppose the only thing I haven't mentioned yet is vocabulary so I should say my general lack of vocabulary.
Someday, I'm going to get to the point where I can play Japanese games and understand them fully, or die trying. Fortunately though, I find learning nihongo to be a lot of fun.
...I really rambled this time. Now how do I turn all that into some relevent question? ... .... ......Ah! What would you say is/was difficult for you about learning Japanese?
ima kafeteria ni ohirugohan o tabe ni ikimasu. onaka ga peko peko desu kara. (I'm going to eat in the cafeteria now. My tummy's rumbling)
Aww.. I was only mostly joking about the letters last time. You don't have to feel obligated or anything.
But yeah, when you get Japanese games, you have to resign yourself to not understanding much at first. When I started playing, back in college, I focused mainly on identifying frequently appearing kanji. Granted, you're not likely to need the kanji for various weapons (at least, I've never found a use for it), but it makes for good practice with the reference materials. Since your command of the grammar is still pretty limited, I'd say focus on recognizing the parts of sentences more than the actual meanings. Even if characters are using more advanced or slangy versions of Japanese, they'll still follow pretty regular patterns that you can learn to recognize, and link back to grammar you do know. A good example is a common variation of the negative, -n, i.e. shiranai becomes shiran.
In any case, yeah, definitely don't worry too much about understanding anything until you've learned more of the basic grammar.
Whew, am I tired! Between the end-o'-the-year schedule, and an annoying dust allergy, I am running ragged this week. If I didn't seem my usual, eloquent self this time around, I blame it on the exhaustion. Good night, all, and I hope you enjoyed the column.