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Japan Service: What’s New This Week in Japanese Gaming

Posted on March 5, 2014 AT 06:52pm

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.


Goodbye Despair, Hello Again Bear!

Sorry for the slight vacation folks, but print deadline duties called me away from my weekly look into the world of Japanese gaming. Not entirely, however, as the next issue of EGM—hitting newsstands early next month—will include eight pages of back-and-forth conversation between yours truly and a legendary name in the Japanese development scen. It’s a fantastic interview, but I won’t spoil who it was with just yet.

Instead, let’s talk about all of the big game announcements that have been going on in recent days! There’s a lot to cover, so this week’s Japan Report will be dedicated to nothing but titles that have now been confirmed for English-language release here in the good old US of A.

First up, I know I’m a little late to this one, but I simply cannot mention anything else before I mention the announcement from NIS America that they’re bringing over the sequel to one of my favoritest recent games: Danganronpa.

Indeed, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair will be bringing another heaping helping of Monokuma-fueled despair to North American (and European!) Vita owners this fall.

“Jabberwock Island – once a popular tourist destination, this now uninhabited island remains oddly pristine,” reads NIS America’s press release. “You and your classmates at the elite Hope’s Peak Academy have been brought to this island by your super-cute teacher for a ‘lovey-dovey, heart-throbbing school trip.’ Everyone seems to be having fun in the sun…until Monokuma returns to restart his murderous game! Trapped on this island of mutual killing, your only hope of escape rests in solving the island’s mysteries. But be warned—sometimes the truth can be its own despair…”

After waiting so long of the first game, knowing that I’ll get to then play its sequel less than a year later fills my heart with joy—and despair! (Or is it desp-bear?)

Losing My Shirt Over Niche Japanese Games

Seriously though gals and guys, Danganronpa 2 isn’t even the craziest announcement we’ll be covering today. Except, the big news to blow my socks off when it comes to upcoming localizations couldn’t blow my socks off—for I had none on at the time!

This morning, as I tried desperately to wake up after a long night of proofing print pages, I grabbed my trust iPhone 5S—the gold model, naturally—and did a quick bit of browsing to get my brain up and running. And what do I see? XSEED Games is bringing Akiba’s Trip 2 to the States this summer (on PS3 and Vita) as Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed!

It seems like, every time I have to come on here and mention how a game “I never, ever thought would get an English localization” is coming over, a week or so later I find myself saying it again.

And, seriously, that’s especially true here. Akiba’s Trip—a name that’s a play on words, as it can also be read as “Akiba Strip”—sees the player running around Tokyo’s infamous electronics district trying to defeat evil vampire-esque creatures called Synthisters. These creatures—who look human, mind you—can be defeated by exposing them to sunlight, so to do that… you have to strip them of their clothing, allowing the sun’s rays to hit their skin.

How is this game coming to the States?! Seriously, I’ve no clue—but I’m glad it is. Even if it doesn’t end up being my kind of thing, I’m still eager to try it, and I’ll always support those crazy niche Japanese games being given a chance over here.


UFO abducts Raiden, teleports it to North America

If you’re a fan of great Japanese shooters—like, real shooters, not stuff like Doom or Gears of War or other such nonsense that stole the “shooter” genre title—then you’ve probably got an import Xbox 360. Because, really, that’s where most of the great selection currently is.

However, PS3 owners love shooters too, even if it’s easy for them to feel a little ignored sometimes. Well good news you PS3 owners, because UFO Interactive has a gift for you!

Yesterday, the company announced that they’ll be bringing over Raiden IV: OverKill—an enhanced edition of the Xbox 360 release–to the PlayStation 3 as a digital download via PSN on April 29th. Even better is the price: $19.99.

One of the new features in the PS3 version of Raiden IV is the titular OverKill Mode, which brings with it “new mission stages and a revamped scoring system.” Of course, everything you love about the Raiden franchise is no doubt also there, and the game’s online features allow you to share both your high scores and your favorite replays.


Demons do exist (on your Apple mobile device)

Last—and lord almighty not least—is yet another shocker, but in a totally different way. It’s not that I never thought the original Shin Megami Tensei, first released on the Super Famicom in Japan twenty-two years ago, would never get an English release—it wasn’t in my thoughts period. I mean, there was no reason to lament the lack of an English version, because of course there would never be one. It was a game lost to time, and that’s how it would always stand.

And then, it happened: Atlus USA announced a localized version of the game would be hitting iOS on March 18th.

Do I want to play Shin Megami Tensei on my iPhone? Of course not! Other than Threes or Space Invaders Infinity Gene and Cave’s iOS shooter ports, I loathe the idea of using a touchscreen to play videogame entertainment like some kind of uncivilized animal. But you know what trumps my hatred for mobile phone gaming? The ability to play the original Shin Megami Tensei in English.

So yes, this wasn’t the way it was meant to be—but hell, it was never meant to be from the start. Somehow, the great gods of gaming were caught sleeping on the job, and Atlus snuck a localization past them that will forever be studied as an anomaly in the fabric of time/space relations.


Coming Soon

  • 03.11 - Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky (PS3)
  • 03.18 - Shin Megami Tensei (iOS)
  • 03.25 – The Witch and the Hundred Knight (PS3)
  • 04.01 -  Ragnarok Odyssey ACE
  • 04.15 – Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars (Vita, 3DS)
  • 04.22 - Demon Gaze (Vita)
  • 04.30 - Steins;Gate (PC)
  • Spring – Monster Monpiece (Vita)
  • Spring – Wonder Momo (PC, Android)
  • Spring – Yumi’s Odd Odyssey
  • Summer - Akiba’s Trip: Undead & Undressed
  • Fall - Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
  • Fall - Persona Q: Shadows of the Labyrinth
  • Fall - Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
  • 2015 - Persona 5
  • 2015 - Persona 4: Dancing All Night
  • ??.?? – XBlaze Code: Embryo


Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got started via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as can realistically be crammed in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk Eric on Twitter: @Eric_EGM. Meet the rest of the crew.

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