Game Plan Japan News Report 03.28.12
Posted by Ernest Lin on 03.28.2012
More info on the new Atelier title, Phantasy Star Online 2 announces pricing & smartphone versions, UnchainBlades ReXX and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy coming to US, new games from Namco Bandai and Square Enix teased, & more!
Konnichiwa and welcome to another Game Plan Japan! Every week I will be bringing you the top stories about games from a small country named Japan. Some games I report on you will know of. Other games you will never have heard of and will never make it stateside. This past weekend I got caught up in the hype and went to watch The Hunger Games film. I was not entirely impressed with it as a whole since it reminded me too much of the Japanese novel and film Battle Royale and the movie The Truman Show, both of which I am a fan of. Plus I did not like the cinematography style, pacing, or how hard they were trying to make it PG-13 when it really needed to be R-rated. Before any of you Hunger Games fans bother me, I intend to read the books & just bought the eBook versions from this amazing sale. Definite strengths of The Hunger Games were the high production values, the costume design, and the cast of actors, especially Jennifer Lawrence who played the protagonist Katniss Everdeen. She will be one to watch as already she is a pretty great actress. In my book, The Hunger Games gets a 3.5 out of 5.
Enough film critiquing! This week's news focuses mainly on a lot of new games from initial announcements to further details on future games. So without any hesitation, here is this week's Game Plan Japan!
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Themes and Avatars Come to PSN
To celebrate the launch of Puella Magi Madoka Magica Portable (PSP) a few weeks ago, the game's publisher Namco Bandai and Sony are releasing Madoka Magica custom themes on the Japanese PlayStation Network! The PSP game is an adaptation of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a series many, myself included, consider the best anime of last year. Despite, its bright pastel appearance, the story is filled with darker, more mature content that transfers well for a video game. If you're interested in the original anime, subtitled episodes are released weekly on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Crackle (a Hulu Plus paid subscription is available on PS3 & Xbox 360; the Crackle app is available for free on Xbox 360). See all the PSN items here!
Last week's column had some teaser information about a new Atelier game. A lot more information about the game has come out in this week's Dengeki PlayStation magazine including the game's title: Atelier Ayesha. The new character designer unknown last week is Hidari, who did the character designs of the anime Fractale and Natsu-iro Kiseki. The game's story follows two sisters named Ayesha Artool (voice actress: Marina Inoue) and Nio Artool (voice actress: Mariya Ise). When the younger sister Nio disappears, Ayesha finds clues to her sister's whereabouts and begins an adventure to find her.
One of the Atelier Ayesha's new gameplay systems is called "Connect the Memories" in which events throughout the game are recorded in Ayesha's journal and upon reviewing them, Ayesha is able to level up in some way. Also, within the battle system, there is a concept of cost added to the mix. For example, there will be additional cost needed for the player to attack enemies from a farther distance.
Phantasy Star Online 2 is Free-To Play & Getting Simplified Smartphone Versions
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the announcement of the PS Vita version of previously PC-exclusive MMO Phantasy Star Online 2. Now the game is receiving more portable support with newly announced versions for iOS and Android! Now before, you count the PS Vita out, it does have many advantages over the smartphone versions. Phantasy Star Online 2 on PS Vita has cross platform play with the PC version while the smartphone versions will only be able to play with each other. A number of aspects of the smartphone versions are simplified including controls and the character creator and there will be social game elements added. Both iOS & Android versions of Phantasy Star Online 2 are expected during winter of this year, in between the PC's release this summer and the PS Vita's release in spring of 2013.
Another important announcement from Sega is the fact Phantasy Star Online 2 will follow many other MMOs by being a free-to-download and free-to-play title. As you may have guessed, that means the game will be embracing the micro-transaction model so you will have to pay to acquire certain items in-game. If you are eager to try PSO2, Sega has scheduled a closed beta beginning in late April for 100,000 players who will each be allowed 24 hours of playtime.
A new game called Xblaze from Arc System Works has been announced and is the first entry in a new franchise titled "Adventure Project." The announcement was made during the BlazBlue Continuum Shift 2 national Japanese tournament this past Sunday. BlazBlue producer Toshimichi Mori revealed the day before that the second entry of the "Adventure Project" is in development as well. There is suspicion that Xblaze has connections to the BlazBlue franchise since in the presentation at Sunday's tournament (viewable below), some text call Xblaze "another Blue story."
Last Friday, Square Enix opened a teaser site for a new game to be release this summer. On the teaser site, plays a video, available below. Crystal and summons like Odin and Titan are mentioned in the video's texts. Illustrations are done by Masaki Hirooka and Yusuke Naora. Ideas on what the game could be? Looks to me that it could be a mobile or portable game. Since the URL is http://cc2012.square-enix.co.jp, some suspect the CC stands for Crystal Chronicles, as in the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series. However, upon some research, Square Enix recently registered the domain name crystalconquest.jp so my bet is on Crystal Conquest being the game's title.
Source: Square Enix
New Namco Bandai Action Adventure Title Teased
Namco Bandai is also teasing a new title of their own with a website that went up this Monday. The website features a pulsing X and text reading "??? X action adventure." Is there significance to the X? Is it Tekken X Street Fighter? A different cross over game? Or a Xenosaga HD Collection?
Source: Namco Bandai
Update: The ??? in the original website animation has been replaced with the other PlayStation face buttons in a new banner animation on the teaser site, no doubt confirming that this new game will be released on a Sony platform.
AnoHana Anime Being Adapted into a PSP Adventure Game
The anime Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day, aka AnoHana) is being made into an adventure game by developer guyzware according to Famitsu magazine. You'll play as protagonist Jintan and progress through the anime's story along with new additional events. Expect it to be released this summer!
UnchainBlades ReXX Coming To North America for the 3DS eShop & the PSP PlayStation Network Store
FuRyu's dungeon crawling RPG UnchainBlades ReXX will be released in North America by XSEED Games to only the Nintendo 3DS eShop under the name Unchained Blades according to the table of contents of the latest issue of Nintendo Power. UnchainBlades ReXX was released last summer in Japan for the 3DS and PSP. Many were wondering if the game would be localized with some famous names behind the title including Takashi Hino (worked on the Lunar series), Toshio Akashi (worked on the Lunar and Grandia series, Nobuo Uematsu (former music composer of the Final Fantasy series. There is no word on if Unchained Blades will get a physical copy release, but fans should be happy it's being localized in the first place. If anything, hopefully we see more digital distribution of Japanese games since it's easier and less costly for companies to localize them.
Update: In a press release today, XSEED Games has confirmed that Unchained Blades is coming to the 3DS via the Nintendo eShop and also PSP via the PlayStation Network store.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Releases in North America & Europe This Summer
The Final Fantasy rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for Nintendo 3DS has been confirmed for release in North American and Europe during summer 2012! There wasn't a doubt in my mind that Square Enix was going to localize it. If you are a hardcore Final Fantasy fan, you'll love Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as it covers all games in the 25 year franchise and includes more than 70 songs.
Source: Square Enix
Gamearts Announces Side Scroller Dokuro
Lunar and Grandia developer Gamearts revealed in this week's Dengeki Playstation magazine their next PS Vita project is a side scrolling action game called Dokuro. You play as a man named Dokuro who must save a princess from her prison. Dokuro is able to transform into a handsome state in which he's able to hold the princess and perform attack simultaneously. Dokuro looks like a fun indie game with an art style not often seen in Japanese games - a nice change of pace from the usual anime-look. Currently, there's no time frame for its release, but a demo is planned for the future!
Duke Nukem Forever (X360 & PS3) at last will be available in the Land of the Rising Sun. I doubt anyone over there cares, especially with the launch of Kingdom Hearts 3D Dream Drop Distance (3DS) on the same day. No doubt, that will dominate sales this week and probably the following week as well. There's also another volume of Idolm@ster photography game this week, Idolm@ster Gravure 4U! Vol.6. SIlent Hill HD Edition comes out this week and includes the second and third games of the series.
The PS Vita gets three sports games: pinball-like golfing game @Field, Let's Try Bass Fishing Fish On Next and Japan's equivalent to the MLB The Show series, Pro Baseball Spirits 2012 (also available on PS3 this week). Also coming to PS Vita is Sega's free-to-play, pay-per-item game Samurai & Dragon
Above is Konami's The King The Demon King and the 7 Princesses: New King Story (PS Vita), a sequel to the critically-acclaimed Little King's Story (Wii). It's quite an overall from the original with a completely new visual style, character designs, and added love elements. Seven princesses - sounds like a harem to me!