Welcome, everyone, to Japan Service?a new column here on EGM where I’ll be taking a look at some of my favorite finds when it comes to news, announcements, or interesting tidbits from the world of Japanese gaming.
Throughout my years of playing video games, I’ve long had a love for the weird and wonderful creations of those talented developers living on the other side of the Pacific ocean from me. While the Japanese industry has changed quite a bit over the years?and not always in a good way?it’s still a source for some of the most interesting, creative, or downright bizarre experiences you can have with our favorite form of digital entertainment.
The rules for what I’ll be covering in Japan Service are simple: it has to be developed in Japan*, it has to be based around or focused on a title or franchise of Japanese origin, and/or it has to be something that wouldn’t be big enough for us to write a dedicated news posting to it.
* I reserve the right to be a liar and break this rule at times in order to talk about other Asian-developed games.
Gentle readers, let me take us back to a day?April 2nd, 2014?when someone wise beyond their years wrote the following words about classic PlayStation 2 titles being released digitally for the PlayStation 3:
“I wouldn?t fret too much, as I can?t see this being the end of Atlus USA?s efforts to bring their PS2 catalog back for fans to enjoy (and purchase) once again.”
The person who wrote that? It was me, of course! And what did we get this week? A digital release of one of the most beloved MegaTen PS2 titles, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Yes, Nocturne lives again as a digital download?and it’s still the version of the game that features Dante instead of Raidou. Crazy.
So, what about my previous comment now? Do I still think more PS2 SMT games will be cropping up as digital downloads? Well, given that we got the first Raidou Kuzunoha game, I have to assume we’ll also be getting the second. (Unless there’s some technical issue preventing it.) The big question, of course, is Digital Devil Saga 1 and 2. I’ve got my fingers crossed that those will be coming down the line as well.
And, I mean, we could look at this line from a recent Atlus newsletter:
?Is that it? Are there more PS2 classics to come? It?s getting hot in here with all these SMT releases??
But, pshh, who are you going to listen to: the company who publishes Atlus games and has “Atlus” in their name, or me?
However, can we take a moment to say how impressive the efforts to bring PS2 games to the PS3 have been? There really seems to have been a major push to go after the harder-to-find or nichier titles, instead of just slapping up any random PS2 release that would work. There’s still those rare titles that I’d love to see show up?Rule of Rose, Haunting Ground, Kuon, and more?but the PS2 classics effort has already won my respect.
Now, if only these PS2 game were playable on my PS4.
While we’re talking about the PS3, let’s get into a new game that’ll be coming for it (versus re-releases of older games).
Like, for example, Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest from Fruitbat Factory.
Okay, boy?where do I even begin with that sentence. My initial reaction was, “Who in the world is Fruitbat Factory?” Turns out they’re a publisher who has dealt with localizing Japanese PC games for English-speaking Steam users, and now they’re taking their first stab at the console market. To them, I say welcome?the more localizations, the better!
Now what about the game itself? Originally developed by TENCO and published in Japan by 5pb, the premise of Eiyuu Senki is a simple, grounded one:
“In a world where powerful nations run rampant and heroes battle one another for supremacy, the great nation of Britannia seeks to unite the world through peaceful means while the European Union has adopted an aggressive policy and the Seafaring Nation of Vinland thrives on pillage and plunder. Far in the east, the small nation of Zipang is stuck fast in a quagmire of civil unrest.”
Okay, sure. So far, so good.
“In the midst of all this, our memory-loss stricken main character has a fateful meeting with a Hero of Yamatai, Himiko. Together they settle Zipang’s internal disputes and set off into a world covered with the burning embers of war.”
Alright, so we’ve hit the protagonist with amnesia. Cliche, but if I chastised every Japanese game that went that route, I wouldn’t have time to do anything but that.
“In this fantastic adventure, the player finds themselves in an alternate world populated with famous characters of history and legend – who also all happen to be beautiful maidens – and must fight their way to world domination. “
?wait, what. They don’t actually mean what I think they mean, do they?
Oh but they do! A moefied female version of Nero! Beethoven! Billy the Kid! Oda Nobunaga! Marco Polo! Galileo! Just some of the legends of history that Eiyuu Senki will now let you imagine as kawaii waifu!
Oh, and that video up above? That was an official promotional piece straight from TENCO themselves. How can you not love a Japanese company that does something like that? You can’t, that’s how!
While there’s no official release date for the English version of Eiyuu Senki just yet, my pulled-out-of-the-air guess is that it’ll be sometime this year. (If it’s 2015, that’s a heck of a lead time on the announcement.) Fruitbat Factory is shooting for a simultaneous launch in both North America and Europe, and I’m also going to go out on another limb and say this’ll be a digital-only release.
?s-stupid Columbus-san. It’s n-not like I asked you to discover America or anything!
If there?s one thing you can always count of from Japan?s gaming scene, it?s releases with names that confuse, baffle, or amuse us Westerners.
..but, wait, no. This third installment isn’t about making fun of the name a Japanese company has given a game?it’s about mentioned how awesome of a name a Japanese company has given a game!
Because, this week, we’ve got something magical. Something genius. Something spectacular. This week, we’ve got AKB48 At Last an Official Music Game Came Out.
Yes, you read right: J-pop supergroup AKB48 finally has an official music game, and it’s out now. Know how I know those hard-hitting facts? Because the game’s name is AKB48 At Last an Official Music Game Came Out! The game’s name tells me everything I need to know about it. It’s a music game! It’s official! It’s available for purchase!
Can you imagine the revolution that could happen in our industry if all games had titles that told you everything you needed to know about them? Actually, maybe that would be bad, as subtitles like “The Same Crap You Played In The Previous Version, Just With Some New Armor and Quests” or “This Game is a Buggy Mess” might not be the best of marketing plans.
Oh, and before any of you smarty pants out there say anything: yes, there have been AKB48 games previously. None of them, at least to my knowledge, have ever been music/rhythm games. So my beloved AKB48 At Last an Official Music Game Came Out does not lie, and how dare you ever think it might!
AKB48 At Last an Official Music Game Came Out is currently available on the Japanese iOS and Android digital shops as a free download with in-app purchases.
- 05.11 – Kero Blaster (PC, iOS)
- 05.20 – Ace Combat Infinity (PS3)
- 05.27 – Mind Zero (Vita)
- 06.24 – XBlaze Code: Embryo (PS3, Vita)
- Spring – Monster Monpiece (Vita)
- Spring – Wonder Momo (PC, Android)
- Summer – Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed (Vita)
- Summer – Hyper Dimension Neptunia Re;Birth1 (Vita)
- Summer – Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment (Vita)
- Fall – Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3, Xbox 360)
- Fall – Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth (3DS)
- Fall – Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (Vita)
- 2014 – Natural Doctrine (PS4, PS3, Vita)
- 2014? – Eiyuu Senki: The World Conquest (PS3)
- 2015 – Persona 5 (PS3)
- 2015 – Persona 4: Dancing All Night (Vita)