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The Year In Review!

Welcome, everyone, to the Japandemonium Reviews: Year in Review Edition! It's been a busy year here in Hi no Kuni, with fifteen games completed and reviewed. It could have (and perhaps should have) been eighteen games, but what can you do? Anyway, I'm here with the RPGamer Content Queen and Media Maven, Nyx, to give commentary on this odd selection of games that few will probably ever play.

Gaijin

Appropriately, this portable Atelier title features a wagon. That's not the only major change it brings to the series formula, too.

Nyx

The Big Wheels keep on turning, Proud Lina keeps on yearnin'. She be rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin' on a wagon.

Gaijin

Sing it, Nyxie. This is an Atelier with some big wheels, but training wheels aren't among them. It's much meatier than its predecessor, Atelier Annie.

Gaijin

Aliens, mutants, and artifacts, oh my! For a game that was based on a series of chocolates and collectible figurines, it was surprisingly good.

Nyx

But daddy, I want a Chocovader! And I want it now, now, NOW!

Gaijin

Nice Verruca imitation.

Gaijin

Here's a game that's simple as candy and twice as saccharine. You can't argue with cuteness, though.

Nyx

The Poms are soooooo cute! I want to hug them and squish them and kiss them and love them forever and ever and ever.

Gaijin

Don't smother them now! But yeah, cute is this game's M.O. And "La-La-La (Means I Love You)" is its theme song.

Gaijin

Eithéa was really pretty, and I really wanted to like it, but...

Nyx

Think of Eithéa as the Passions of RPGs, filled with a plethora of animé clichés and linearity as bad as Final Fantasy XIII.

Gaijin

Correction, Nyx. Linearity WORSE than Final Fantasy XIII.

Gaijin

Cell phone games don't get a lot of coverage on this site, but this post-apocalyptic tidbit does its best to represent.

Nyx

This game is like a poem written by Sylvia Plath. It's beautiful when you look at it, but it makes you want to kill yourself then after.

Gaijin

I'd rather compare it to e e cummings. Full of meaning, but could've used more punctuation.

Gaijin

Three separate timelines, over a hundred bizarre creatures, eight years till it all goes kablooie. I can't say I've ever seen a game like this one, before or after.

Nyx

*sings* I saw mommy's head attached to Santa Claus~~~

Gaijin

Man, there's an image I'm never getting out of my head... Weirdness quotient exceeded.

Nyx

Mad Max: The RPG. In pocket-sized form for all your madness, mayhem and carnage. OH YEAH.

Gaijin

And who can say no to a cute widdle puppy dog with a bazooka? That should sell the game right there!

Gaijin

On a remote desert island... there's nowhere to hide and nowhere to run... The scare is all part of the fun...

Nyx

With infinite glee, it's going to be she who slaughters us all...

Gaijin

And extra points for the proper use of Deep Ones and Elder Gods within a game plot.

Gaijin

With design and animation by Ghibli, not to mention plot and gameplay by Level-5, this game was just amazing. No other way to describe it. Even my dad thought The Book looked cool.

Nyx

While it may not be a doorstopper à la Brandon Sanderson, that is one book of power at 352 pages. Did I mention it's necessary to play the game? Yeah, ya do.

Gaijin

Who doesn't like a puzzle, after all?

Gaijin

A heartwarming tale about a young girl who uses alchemy time manipulation to make stuff and help people.

Nyx

Wait, this ISN'T Atelier?

Gaijin

Nope, that it isn't. Coulda fooled me, though!

Gaijin

Who remembers A Boy and His Blob? The folks who made this game certainly do.

Nyx

Can this game morph into ball so I can boot it back to the landfill it belongs in?

Gaijin

Now, now, it wasn't that bad. Though you could morph Mui into a little smiley turd....

Gaijin

I tip my hat to Racjin for taking a mediocre game and turning it into this.

Nyx

If only more remakes were this effective.

Gaijin

Amen, Nyx. Racjin is getting my money every time from now on.

Gaijin

It's good to see Square Enix take a chance on something for once. Between the plot, the setting, the gameplay, the battles, and the interaction, this game could only be described as a longshot.

Nyx

You gotta hold the game, HOW?

Gaijin

Yeah, exactly.

Gaijin

What does it say when a company can shoehorn two PS2 games into a DS title, and have it come out the better?

Nyx

And then Shion and Allen were like ILOVEYOU, but then KOS-MOS got jealous, 'cause she wasn't involved. So she cried, and then Gnosis was like ILOVEYOUTOO, so then she didn't feel left out. Also Momo, totally got launched into the stars on a rocket because she felt left out, and then everyone lived happily ever after, THE END. Oh oh, and then I wrote another sequel where bad stuff happened. Boo. But then KOS-MOS punched the bad stuff IN THE FACE! Yaaay!

Gaijin

Y'know, that would have been pretty funny. The actual story of the game was even more complicated, and the fact that this game is all storyline makes it even more of a brainbender at times. At least it avoided most of the gameplay pitfalls of its PS2 incarnations.

Gaijin

Here's an odd one to translate. The title could be "The High Road of Weirdness." Not too accurate, but it makes more sense than some other names. Unfortunately, the game fails to be as interesting as its own title.

Nyx

We liked this game better when it was called 'Life is a Highway: The Game,' and believe me, you didn't want to ride it all night long.

Gaijin

It's definitely hard to take a road trip if you can't hardly pack anything in your bags. Monsters need to learn to carry their own weight, I say.

Well, 2011 was certainly a busy year. That's six DS titles, five PlayStation titles, three Gameboy Advance titles, and a cell phone game. I might have been able to add Metal Saga: Season of Steel to this list if it hadn't bogged down so much in the fifth act. That one should arrive eventually, and more are sure to follow. Other games on this year's list include Moon, Kurikin, Blue Sphere, and (maybe) another go at The AIRs. 2012 should prove just as interesting, I think.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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